Aural Slate Recordings: “No Tears” – Lo Moda

So I’m alive and well in Boston, just not so well with the having of free time. Fortunately I was able to help finance one last project out of Baltimore, putting one of its criminally underappreciated bands on wax for the first time. I’m happy to say Lo Moda tracked a 4 song 12″ EP limited to 300.

If you are in the area, be sure to drop by Windup Space tonight for the release show tonight with Monster Museum.

Enjoy this last track off the EP, and check out the page at Aural Slate Recordings for more info on the release as I get a chance to put it up.

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Livewire: Future Islands @ The Penthouse (2010.06.13)

Words and Photos: Greg Szeto

This is kind of shameful to admit, but I think this might be my first show outing in over 3 weeks. Science is an unforgiving mistress, and a stickler about intellectual monogamy sometimes. Nonetheless, I’m very glad I chose this particular show to venture out. I’ll try not to dwell on the oppressive cons of the night (mainly the sauna-like heat-sweat-humidity bog that left a film on my camera equipment).

Instead, I will say that this was a triumphant Baltimore return for native sons (and daughter) Future Islands and Lower Dens (unfortunately I walked in right as the Art Department was wrapping up). The packed Sunday night show was giddy and gleeful. Most importantly, Future Islands delivered a righteous set, clearly honed and toned by the tour to a dance-happy crowd.

Their set was filled with a nice balance of tracks, spanning recent releases In Evening Air and In The Fall (including the still grand guest-vocals of Celebration’s Katrina Ford) while also remembering to pull out old faves. “Long Flight” and “Tin Man” have easily emerged as favorite tracks both recorded and live, while ”Little Dreamer” shines as brightly as ever. William’s bass work was more propulsive and lithe than I ever recall hearing it, Gerrit’s synths swelled powerfully, and frontman Sam Herring resembled a poor man’s cyborg, strapping into his corrective, post-surgery support boot before launching un-fazed into his famed rager of a live performance. At times, things were a little worrisome as the crowd ebbed into the band’s space (with someone nearly taking out William’s pedal board with a lunging stomp). The only quibble with the performance was nagging feedback that occasionally broke the flow. That technical issue aside, we got a special treat from both acts.

Dave Carter did an admirable job with difficult source audio from this show. We hope you enjoy it.

Future Islands
The Penthouse
June 13, 2010
Baltimore MD, USA

J. Gerrit Welmers – keyboards
William Cashion – bass
Samuel Herring – vocals

Streaming player:

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MP3 links:

1. Inch of Dust (4:47)
2. An Apology (5:00)
3. Pinocchio (4:10)
4. Tin Man (4:12)
5. Long Flight (5:45)
6. Walking Through That Door (5:21)
7. Old Friend (4:57)
8. In the Fall (feat. Katrina Ford) (5:47)
9. Vireo’s Eye (6:30)
10. Little Dreamer (4:31)
11. The Happiness of Being Twice (3:26)

Total time: 54:30

ZIP link:

Entire set in mp3 format


AKG 414 mid/side pair -> Zoom h4n 48/24 -> Nuendo (stereo encoding, limiting) -> MP3

Recorded by:

David Carter(carteriffic@gmail.com)

Aural Slate Recordings: “Weeds” from Small Sur’s Bare Black

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MP3: Small Sur – Weeds

Just so everyone knows that I haven’t been completely resting on my laurels in regards to Aural States and affiliated enterprises, I come to you with an offering. I’m very proud and excited to present to you, reader, the track “Weeds.” It serves as the opener, and first single, from our label’s third record: Small Sur‘s Bare Black EP.

With this EP, Small Sur take their music to new heights of beauty by laying down some breathtakingly lush sounds, expanding their instrumentation (guests include Susan Alcorn, Geoff Graham, Natasha Tylea-Cooke, and Kate Barutha), further refining their exploration of space and almost spartan arrangements, and embracing some gorgeous and organic drones. We’re beyond thrilled with this special release, limited to 200 physical CDRs with gorgeous letterpressed packaging and art from Justin Lucas. As always, digital downloads will also be available in FLAC and MP3 formats.

Check the EP page on the label site for more details, track previews and links to buy online.

Album art is forthcoming, as well as a phenomenal EP Release Show on Friday July 9th at the Windup Space with Lo Moda, Moss of Aura (J. Gerrit Welmers of Future Islands), and Ghost Life (Wheattie Mattiasich + ex-More Dogs). This is a doubly-relevant show since Lo Moda will be providing the fourth release on Aural Slate Recordings later this year. Stay tuned for more developments!

Video: Double Dagger – “No Allies”

DOUBLE DAGGER – “No Allies” from Matt Porterfield on Vimeo.

Today is the last day to leave a comment on our Masks review as part of the Double Dagger Does Europe contest.

The guys hopped across the pond yesterday, premiering the above video for “No Allies” on the site for influential British music illuminati, NME. The video was directed by local film luminary Matt Porterfield (Metal Gods, Putty Hill, Hamilton) and was shot in the venerable, now-retired first home of Charm City Art Space. CCAS moved up to bigger digs earlier this year in the form of the garage next door.

Contest: Double Dagger Does Europe

So I feel bad for leaving the site dormant for a bit while I get my act together. Therefore, I’ve arranged a little well-timed contest.

The local punk mavens in Double Dagger are kicking off a European tour next week. Also, our most frequently heard voice of Thrill Jockey, Paco Barba, is leaving the esteemed label. As a parting shot, he sent over 5 copies of the limited, hand-screenprinted 18″ x 25″ poster for Masks (pictured to the right) for us to give away.

Entry is simple: head over to my review of Masks, and leave a comment with your email. Preferably something interesting about the release, masks you wear, encouraging send-offs to DD for their tour, other DD-related anecdotes or miscellany. I’ll randomly pick 5 winners on May 12, when DD starts off their tour in Nottingham.

The only restriction is that the winner must be able to pick up the poster from downtown Baltimore. I’m too lazy/busy to ship.

If you are in Europe, be sure to check out one of the dates listed below:

Read the rest…

Album Review: Future Islands – In Evening Air (Thrill Jockey)

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MP3: Future Islands – Tin Man

This album is one of the most anticipated releases from a local artist in 2010. The anticipation is partly because, ever since their transplant here from North Carolina, Future Islands‘ rapturous live shows have caught on like wildfire, and partly because it serves as their debut on Baltimore fetishist label Thrill Jockey (who I hear may have signed yet another prominent Baltimore musician’s solo efforts). I am a bit ashamed to admit that I underestimated Future Islands. Frankly, I couldn’t have imagined they would deliver this strongly on an album. Until hearing their TJ 12″ EP and LP releases, I was convinced that Future Islands’ music was a gem that shone most brilliantly live, and lost the majority of its lustre in the studio.

Wave Like Home, put out on UK label Upset! the Rhythm, was characterized by a fair bit of mania, yet also (paradoxically) a uniformity of approach and tone. The parallels and comparisons to more prominent Wham City affiliates abounded. Synths were riding high and dominant in the mix, bass rumbled along turned to 11 (most often functioning as rhythmic propulsion), and Herring’s voice was unflinchingly raw and big. Though they surely traveled through many moods, they felt fleeting and devoid of any true weight. To my ears, their vision on that record was relatively less ambitious, aiming more to catalyze a dance party than anything else. In doing so I think that release was as close as Future Islands will get to channeling the electricity of their live shows onto a recording. However, with their closing track, they provided the best hint of future directions, delivering a standout ballad in “Little Dreamer.”

With In Evening Air, Future Islands seem to have had an epiphany. Read the rest…


People often ask me how I do so many things at once. There are two answers to that question: 1) very carefully, and 2) sometimes I don’t. Right now, answer number 2 is in effect.

When life offers you some momentum, you run with it as fast and as far as you can. And that’s what science has done recently, offered me a glimmer of light. And for the next few weeks, I want, and need, to focus on chasing that down as hard as I humanly can. To facilitate that, the posting frequency here at Aural States will be going WAY down during that time (you’ve probably already noticed the trend from this week). There will still be the occasional post here or there, particularly from our venturesome contributors like Dave Carter and his Livewire column, as well as some of the other contributors. But you likely won’t hear a substantial peep from me (aside from a few things going on at our label division) until a few weeks down the road.

For those of you so inclined, you can check out what I’m up to in my other life here, or for the more scientifically inclined, get all the gory details here.

Album Review: Soft Cat – Wildspace (Waaga)

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MP3: Soft Cat – Silver Babies Sun

Soft Cat plays the Windup Space tonight with Secret Mountains, European Swans and Shaun David Gould. Doors at 8:30pm, Show at 9pm. $5 cover, 21+.

Soft Cat is a project with a remarkably mature sound given its relatively short existence.  Formed in 2009 by Neil Sanzgiri (Talking Tiger Mountain, Voot Cha Index), he wasted little time in recruiting a plethora of our city’s musicians to aid him in realizing a lush musical vision, including Andy Abelow and Bob Keal of Small Sur, and Adam Lempel and Brendan Sullivan of Weekends. So enthusiastic was he about his new-found home of Charm City (following a move from his native Texas) that he helped curated the huge weekend of like-minded music called Soft Fest at the aptly branded Soft House.

This darkened vision of folk presents dreamy, leaden layers that form a sound as mysterious as it is dense.  Sanzgiri’s vocals are often plaintive, wistful, full of yearning. His heavy-lidded style is perfectly suited to their hazy sound. The album also draws on remarkably varied instrumentation including flute, saxophone, banjo, violin and more, in addition to the standard drums and guitars layout.

Read the rest…

Livewire: Matmos @ 5th Dimension (2010.03.26)

Photos & words: Greg Szeto

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MP3: Matmos – Complete Live Set

Matmos are a Puckish pair of experimental electronic troublemakers who played a fully quadrophonic set at this show, opening for UK trio Konk Pack and like-minded locals Leprechaun Catering. Fortunately, I think the set still translates very well after compression to 2 channels. They also swelled their ranks mid-set by recruiting a host of friends who layered real live instruments into their musique concrete offerings, including drums and most notably, local experimental catalyst John Berndt‘s saxophone. Matmos once again proved their deft compositional chops, and stand atop the hill as one of a select few experimental musicians who can get a crowd thinking as easily as they get them moving.

Total time: 44:07

Recorded by:

David Carter(carteriffic@gmail.com)

Album Review: Double Dagger – Masks EP (Thrill Jockey)

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MP3: Double Dagger – Pillow Talk

Double Dagger continues to strain my objectivity. My experiences, both live and recorded, are steadily forming a mountain of good will that probably abolishes what little critical credibility I have in the first place, leaving only awe-struck fawning. Still, I can’t resist saying a few words about their latest (highly enjoyable) EP.

Three of Masks‘ five tracks were recorded along with the rest of 2009′s More at the Current Gallery in early 2009, and it certainly feels like More v2.0 in some ways. They’ve clearly taken their sound by the reins by springboarding off their maturation with More, and seem to be settling into their ideal balance of acerbic and soothing elements. However, they’ve taken a step back to more spartan, lo-fi production and song structures here. The result is an EP that hits less like a masterful and adventurous recording (More) and more like their off-the-rails live show, which isn’t a bad thing.

Read the rest…

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