5.3.19 by Ryan Masteller
\\NULL|Z0NE// . We wish we understood you. We wish we could pin you down. We wish you were more predictable so were ready for you. We wish, we wish, we wish.
But that’s not even true. Not by a long shot.
One of the things that makes this Athens, Georgia, label a favorite is its unpredictability, and our baffled and flailing attempts at keeping up are a comedy of intense personal errors. What’s the point if we’re force-fed the same thing all the time? Michael Potter, who runs \\NULL|Z0NE//, would never cave to sameness – he’s a slave to variety. And for that we as listeners and paragons of the underground and the outsider, cheerleaders of artistic freedom, trailblazers of taste and cultural cache can rest assured that there will always be something valiantly interesting from Potter’s camp.
I’m actually sort of embarrassed for anyone who thinks like my first paragraph up there.
SKINNED OR SUNBURNT – SKINNED
Sahada Buckley’s skinned or sunburnt project allows the violinist to realize her compositions as part of a quintet. Indeed, Buckley’s joined on piano by Brad Bassler, drums by John Norris, clarinet/bass clarinet by Kathryn Koopman, and bass by Jamie Thomas. After a few iterations that lean toward the abstract and experimental, the players teasing out some of the more unconventional predilections, the quintet opens up, really flourishing in the spectral jazz of “ethereal green” as the violin and piano dance around each other over a galloping rhythm. “hab’ galest” is like a German-language chain-gang blues tune, although I’m not sure “hab’ galest” is German. (Somebody check me on that.) But these two centerpiece tunes fracture back out into raw experimentalism once again, with “skinned” tripping back down mushroom-glazed twilit forest paths. Buckley and crew won’t leave the jazz alone though, and “temper tantrum” appears out of nowhere like a #BlackLodge smoky club in a clearing, offering the promise of taking off the edge but more likely enhancing it. The tape ending on strange, unhinged laughter over dissonant piano chords doesn’t help. Gives the whole thing an unpredictability … something we’ve already championed as a good thing around here.
PLAKE 64 AND THE HEXAGRAMS – ALL HAIL YEAH
Alex Homan is a psychedelic bodhisattva with an ear for dense arrangement. Freak folk for the spiritually ascendant, “All Hail Yeah” invites listeners in and assimilates them into the all-seeing oneness at the center of the mind, the galactic manifestation of eternity through sound. That’s a fancy way of saying that Homan’s work as Plake 64 and the Hexagrams is far out, man. At times utilizing acoustic guitar and a soothing, multitracked vocal delivery, at others tapping the primal sound sources available within the bowels of various synthesizers (I’m assuming), Homan embraces the – dare I repeat it – unpredictability of his creative whims and crafts a variety of earthy yet mystical zones. By the time he’s ascending “The Mountain” (and then descending it) by tape’s end, he’s fully encapsulated every impulse of his into a single sprawling trek, a fitting and fantastic end to “All Hail Yeah.” Maybe you can hoof it up that magical mountain yourself, get a little inner peace while you’re at it.
Each tape comes in an edition of 50.