Saturday, February 25, 2012

Part-Time Grails

Before we move on from Grails (#1, 2011), I thought it might be worth briefly touching on some of the solo & side projects.

Most recently, that would have to be Lilacs & Champagne, studio cut-and-paste mash-ups done by Alex Hall (guitar) and Emil Amos (drums-plus). And they've got a more recent Amos-collaged video!

"Lilacs" from Lilacs & Champagne (2012)

This time the pseudo-title track, following the album opener "Everywhere, Everyone." Vocal sample here comes from this 1975 Polish synth-prog, featuring Jan Hammer on drums. My opinion isn't set in stone, but I'm leaning towards "novelty record of interest." Pitchfork gave the album a 7.8 review, which even I think might be pushing it.

"Nice Man" from Lilacs & Champagne (2012)

The Pancake Repairman applies his video stylings to this pastorly-themed tune. Some of the material does really grab me, and is surprisingly good. But some parts sound like exactly what it is: two musicians trying out new approaches and technologies outside their wheelhouse, then selecting the best of the results. Obviously there are musicians and producers who dedicate all of their efforts into this kind of music, and they are better at it. Interestingly, there's also a blunt-force American-ness to certain aspects, which is atypical and thus holds a certain appeal for me. The beats are real upfront, and the samples are sometimes Vanilla-Isque in their coherence (if not their provenance).

But I'm a fan of Grails, a fan of the obscure-source re-mash, and a fan of America - so I'm lucky on this one! Lilacs & Champagne, out now on Mexican Summer.

Condensed L&C DJ set on the SoundCloud of Holy Sons.

Lilacs & Champagne
Wm. Zakary Riles [&c] is another Grails guitarist, although he wasn't too involved on Deep Politics for some reason. As far as I know, he's only got the one self-titled solo debut. To clarify, since he goes by about 18 related monikers, that's just Zak Riles, the album...

"Before the Refuge" from Zak Riles (2008)

Seems to me undeniably part of that Grails sound! So you get the more strummy "Chloe" and the more droney "Confluence." The record also has a version of the Grails classic "Silk Rd." Bassist-plus Wm. Slater apparently played the harpsichord on this album too. Perhaps obviously, I've never picked this one up - so I'm just going by internet available examples, but sounds pretty fine. Pick it up here!

Survivalist Tales!
Holy Sons, another project of Emil's, pre-dates Grails by a bit - going so far back as to 2001 (such as "Blow to the Head"), 2002 ("Festering Mind Energy") and 2003 ("Spirits High"). I won't pretend to a Holy Sons knowledge that I don't have, so let the films roll!!

"The Feral Kid" from Decline of the West (2006)

The description for this album promo is "EA rides for Partisan Industries." Ha!

Move to Sweden from The Fact Facer on Vimeo.

Unreleased track (???), from 2008.

"Arranged Release" from Criminal's Return (2009)

Burrow Away from The Fact Facer on Vimeo.

So, this is where I come in: Drifter's Sympathy. Yeah, kinda late... I know. Fortunately, most of the trial & error & bumps along the way have been smoothed over - to some degree. And these two from 2009 are really worth checking out! Here's yet another great Amos video for the title track of the latter.

HolySons - "Survivalist Tales!" from The Fact Facer on Vimeo.

There's your place-setting "Survivalist Intro" for the whole album Survivalist Tales! (2010)...

A Chapter Must Be Closed >> Holy Sons from The Fact Facer on Vimeo.

... and the big hit! If you'd like more, here's "Payoff" and "Reckless Liberation." They even cover The Troggs!

You can buy Survivalist Tales! and Decline of the West from Partisan Records. Drifter's Sympathy and Criminal's Return (along with some Grails & OM) are available at Important Records. And you can get lots of various Holy Sons (including oldests) from the original Pamlico Sound store.

And here's a new Emil Amos mixtape from Vice-Italy (web-translated).

In A Dark Tongue
Outside of Grails & Lilacs, Alex Hall has played on a couple of Harvestman (Steve von Till) songs.

"Valley of the Moon" by Steve von Till, from A Grave is a Grim Horse (2008)

No video to embed, but definitely check out Harvestman's "Eibhli Ghail Chiuin Ni Chearbhail" from In A Dark Tongue (#5, 2009) - both featuring Hall on electric guitar.

Neurot Recordings offers these records and the first coupla Grails. I also found this 2008 interview with Alex Hall.

And I think that's enough... for now.

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