Bleeding All Over… Spires That In the Sunset Rise & More


It’s been a long, twisted path for Spires That In the Sunset Rise– how many bands from the psych-free-folk boom of yesteryear are still active and/or weird?- but the apocalyptic year of 2012 birthed two beautiful babies from their coven. Ancient Patience Wills It Again Parts 1 and 2 (Hairy Spider Legs) are bleak, dark, and finely whittled to show why Spires are still waving the freak flag when everyone else packed up & went home years ago. Seeing them live every chance I have has shown them to also be a relentlessly erratic and phenomenal live act, whether they’re hammering on a floor, collaborating with free jazz giant Michael Zerang or performing a completely batshit insane adaptation of Italo Calvino’s “Sword of the Sun” opening for Jozef van Wissem which sent at least half of the audience scrambling for shelter.  Their recent house show appearance (opening for a full band line-up of Kinit Her) ventured into some new freaky cosmic jazz territory with Taralie & Kathleen playing mainly looped flute and sax.

Saw Wolf Eyes recently for the first time in 9(!?!?) years and I’ll be damned if it wasn’t absolutely fucking perfect. Fog-drenched and heavy and wayyyy more like what they were doing back in the early 2000s than what I expected. Crazy Jim’s got my vote as a worthy replacement for the Mr. Connelly. Altered banjo maestro Paul Metzger opened and went in real deep. Dude can take you on a gorgeous Fahey-raga journey to the clouds, cover Debussy or flip you upside down and shake your brains out, which is what he focused on doing this night (when in Rome, right?). I’ve said it before & I’ll say it again: the dude is a fucking treasure of modern music and one should take it upon oneself to fill ones ears with as much Metzger as possible in one’s short lifetime. Most berserk show I’ve seen since Boy Dirt Car played the same venue for their first Madison show in 20 years- I thought for sure one of them was going to fall over or pass out during their set.

Brute Heart was the first band I saw upon moving to Madison, and setting up a show for them recently only reaffirmed what I liked about them years ago- dark, moody stripped-down violin post-punk in the vein of Raincoats but now ever darker & krautier. Their new album Brute Heart’s Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (Moon Glyph) is a soundtrack to the silent German expressionist classic and woven full of amazing tunes, gurgling synths and mesmerizing melodies.

SFB family album
And on the home front, yours truly is truly honored to be on a third of a massive retrospective 3-sided Second Family Band record released by the jaw-dropping Sagittarius A-Star label (run by the same immaculate mind as the late great Qbico). This free-wheeling collective has been freaking deep under the radar since the death of Davenport, and the 2-LP Family Album collects some highlights of esoteric free-psych-communal-freakout cassette releases. Side three is the first session I sat in on with the Family, keeping a moog baseline goin’ under a cosmic bellydancing groove & doing some freeform throat maneuvers… Sides 1 & 2 are essential cuts from some of those super-rare SFB cassettes of days old & are chock full of deep, dirty midwest weirdness. Sagittarius A-Star’s been doing a bunch of other great reissues of ultra-obscure free jazz, psychedelia and lately some under documented early 80s new age music played by free jazz cats. A little pricey for us new world types, but there’s some deluxe limited-edition packaging that’s utterly jaw-dropping.

Other recent releases of note spinning around the old Ear Bleed manor as of late:

Marielle V Jakobsons- Glass Canyon- Perfectly constructed drone orbs of violin & synth from member of Date Palms. Fantastic record, what new age music should have sounded like all along. Polish up yr crystals…

Holy Balm- Holy Balm- Utterly charming Aussies fusing modern underground synth dancedelia with 80s NY stripped down post-whatever a la Y Pants/Liquid Liquid. Wait, I own 3 Not Not Fun records now? Who am I?

Wire- Change Becomes Us- Their best record of the 21st century.

Richard Pinhas- Desolation Row Mr. Pinhas and pals (including Oren Ambarchi) whipping up a frothy noise rock mountain… Pinhas’ best album in a decade or two fer sure. Monster prog, lumbering slow-burners that erupt into drums & electronic squelches, and gigantic feedback drones… hmm, maybe hanging out with Oren, Keiji Haino & Wolf Eyes is rubbing off on Dr. Heldon. From what’s been popping up on his sound cloud page, Pinhas seems to be in fine form these days, especially considering the first Heldon record came out almost 40 years ago. Here’s to 40 more!

Thee Open Sex- s/t Metallic KO Stoogoid psych rawk outta Indiana with some hypnotic Shjips-type smoldering riffage and two feet grounded in that holy testament of midwestern rock & roll, “Raw Power”.

All right, an overdue and highly incomplete wrap-up of the last 8 months, but enough for now. Stick around, there’s a Conjuror album on the way and some other happenings around the corner.


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