Forgotten Bottom – Hostile Architecture (digital: self-released, 25 July 2019 / cassette: Black Horizons, coming soon)
Around here, we’ve had a bit of a history picking on the city of Philadelphia, and its residents, and especially its sports fans. But we’ve also spent plenty of time listening to and enjoying — and writing about — the variety of musical output from “The City that Bombed Itself.” And here is yet another example of that, in the form of a uniquely-orchestrated instrumental two-piece.
Forgotten Bottom, which has just recently come to my attention, includes one person we’ve mentioned multiple times on this website: swiftly becoming perhaps the most significant experimental-music violist since John Cale‘s stint with The Velvet Underground, the prolific Myles Donovan has also appeared with Disemballerina and A Stick and a Stone.
The line-up is then rounded out by Eric Bandel who plays a bit of guitar here, but mostly bouzouki. If I hadn’t already been excited to hear this project, that’s the part that fully sold me. A life-long fan of uncommon musical instruments of all ethnicities, I’ve especially enjoyed the bouzouki ever since Monty Python taught me what it was called.
(As a kid, I had this double-cassette set, which I listened to a zillion times — and “The Cheese Shop” was always one of my favorite sketches included here. While this was also performed on the Flying Circus tv show, the audio-only version included on Final Rip-Off clearly mentioned the instrument by name: check it out here, specifically from 0:40-0:50 and from 3:33-3:43.)
Heron – A Low Winter’s Sun (Sludgelord Records, 13 April 2018)
Ever notice how many really great bands there are, who are named after birds? I mean, just off the top of my head: Vulture, Cormorant, Mockingbird, Wren… and I guess to a lesser extent, Counting Crows? Anyway, it’s time to add Vancouver (BC)’s Heron to that list.
Surprisingly graceful for their size, as well as extremely stealthy and patient hunters, the heron is already no stranger to cover art (both dead and alive*), so it totally makes sense for a metal band to use that name. Just released yesterday, Heron‘s debut album is one of the first few put out by the relatively new Sludgelord Records, and it’s one I’d highly recommend you check out.
A Stick and a Stone – The Long Lost Art of Getting Lost (cassette Sentient Ruin / Breathe Plastic, CD Spirit House; 21 July 2017)
Hey… remember several months back when Bandcamp donated all of their profits one day to the ACLU to aid in the fight for equal rights for all? Well apparently that was a big success, and they’ve decided to do something similar again, TODAY.
Their announcement earlier this week said, in part (read the whole thing here):
We support our LGBT+ users and staff, and we stand against any person or group that would see them further marginalized. This includes the current U.S. administration, and its recent capricious declaration that transgender troops will no longer be able to serve in the military.
In response, we will be donating 100% of our share of every sale on Friday, August 4th (from midnight to midnight Pacific Time) to the Transgender Law Center, a nonprofit organization that works tirelessly to change law, policy, and culture for the more equitable.
That announcement also included a list of featured artists of various gender identities, and they’ve also posted a follow-up detailing hundreds of bands and labels who’ve pledged to join in by donating all or part of THEIR profits from today as well.
Of course, our archives here at Valley of Steel are filled with releases that are available on Bandcamp as well, if you’re looking for something to buy today. And if you keep reading, here’s one more recent release you may wish to consider.
Disemballerina – Undertaker (Graceless Recordings, 28 June 2014)
Disemballerina – Poison Gown (Minotauro Records, 10 July 2016)
Moving right along with our theme of not-exactly-metal music, today we’re going to cover a pair of albums by Portlandian trio Disemballerina. This ensemble first came to my attention about two years ago when harp/viola player Myles Donovan had contacted me about their album Undertaker, which had been mixed and mastered by Tad Doyle and released via the Loss-owned Graceless Records. It was described as “something like doomed chamber music,” and had cover art that was taken from a series of images where the harpist had placed found bird carcasses (in this case, a blue heron) into the photocopier at Kinko’s. With a pedigree like that, of course I was instantly intrigued.
Disemballerina, it turns out, had been formed back in 2009 by Donovan and guitarist Ayla Holland. The two have worked with a number of other musicians over the years, but their line-up is currently set with the inclusion of cellist Jennifer Christensen. Last month, the “doomed chamber” group had another album emerge — Poison Gown — through Italian label Minotauro Records, and so today we’ll tackle both of those records.