Saturday, October 19, 2013

add 0490 no-neck blues band

The ever-swathed-in-mystery No-Neck Blues Band are back with another CD to enter into their catalog (and a double LP for you vinyl freaks). Based in Harlem, the anonymous collective has been together for a decade and put out more recordings than one can find or list. Qvaris is a continuation of their spooky blend of guitars, drums, strings, keyboards, and who knows what else (typical of their releases, no credits are given) that results in improvisational swirling psychedelic darkness. This one seems to be themed, and a statement of sorts. The band continues from its fine Intonomancy offering, which blended everything from Indian ragas, Native American ritual music, free improvisation, folk, and rock to postmodern experimentalism, and moves into a suite of sorts. The tunes are shorter, intentionally more focused, and somewhat direct. This is individualistic music that reflects, refracts, curdles, screams, and whispers from the various traditions, legacies, and lineages not just in music, but in the artistic freedom of the 19th and 20th centuries as it is brought to bear in the 21st. "The Doon," at a little over five minutes, is a droning, open-ended chant-like piece where electric guitars, percussion, shakers, and atmospherics snake around one another, meandering, it seems, around one theme. But it changes subtly, shifting in tone, texture, and tension. By contrast, the skeletal funk in "Live Your Myth in Grease" is almost accessible. But its primitive, skittering drums, repetitive, edgy six-string, plodding, fuzzed-out bass, and unnameable percussion instruments gradually build a super-steamy voodoo groove. Other pieces, such as "The Qvaris Theme," which recurs in principle if not in actual fact -- with other pieces between, making it another suite of sorts -- use strings, sawing and searing along with evil-sounding percussion, organs, and guitars to create a stark, tribal dread. There is sheer beauty here too, in the album's longest track, "Lugnagall," which builds from percussive repetition to include guitars and a pump organ, and becomes a swirling frenzy of ecstasy-writhing female vocals and droned-out freak bliss. The groove and mantra-like trance pieces do not juxtapose so much as blend into the cosmic, free-form scatterations, uniting it all into a sublime, wondrous opening of the sonic skylight into the void. But it's creepy, too. Some of the songs on this album would have made a brilliant soundtrack for a filmed version of H.P. Lovecraft's The Colour out of Space. Far from the loose spectral jamming of some of their earlier releases, this is the most cohesive, enchanted music No-Neck have ever made on tape. The live show is another beast altogether, but Qvaris comes close to revealing that in all its spirit-haunted glory


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