Cicadageddon 2013: Celebrate with Sublime Frequencies' Insect Electronica LP!

Posted by Kelly S. Osato, May 24, 2013 02:44pm | Post a Comment

You know The Great 2013 U.S. East Coast Cicada Invasion is in full effect when local restaurants begin to tout cicada-centric menu items with hearty "if you can't beat 'em, eat 'em" gusto. For those unfamilar with the phenomenon, the Cicadageddon that emerges from the ground every seventeen years, North Carolina to New England, is a fleeting affair that has everything to do with sound and vision -- the pulsating reverberations of their billions-stong buzzworthy mating calls drowning out the din of daily life, outdoor concerts and all. But you don't have to live inside the E.C.C.S.Z. (East Coast Cicada Sex Zone) to get in on the sonic action as this sort of thing happens in other parts of the world and the well-traveled field recording gurus down at Sublime Frequencies want you to indulge your senses with their oh-so-timely vinyl release of Brokenhearted Dragonflies: Insect Electronica from Southeast Asia.

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This limited edition LP pressing of the long out-of-print CD from 2004 presents for your listening pleasure the sounds of swarms of male dragonflies gathered together to join in choruses of high-pitched tones for one purpose: they're looking for sex. The ones that don't succeed in wooing and winning their mates eventually scream so loud that their chests explode and they drop dead to the ground, or so the legend goes. These recordings are a tribute to this legend.
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Droning cicadas, dragonflies, and other insects display their charm as masters of the high frequency airwaves, recorded live and unprocessed by Tucker Martine in the lush settings of Laos, Thailand, and Burma -- the occasional thunderstorm included. Enter the supernatural world where entomology and electronica converge in a tropical hallucination of alien sound. Anyone who has ever wondered if these strange symphonies could be recorded or preserved as precisely as they sound in the field need look no further. Martine has done it and you will be transported to the exact experience one would encounter in these mysterious lowlands.

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Ready, Steady, GO! My picks for RECORD STORE DAY 2013!

Posted by Kelly S. Osato, April 17, 2013 06:16pm | Post a Comment
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Hey kids! Do you know what this Saturday is?

Now, before you get all greenied on bleezing out in a cloud of puff-puff-pass for "Weed Day" or whatever the kids are calling their ritual observance of April 20th, you might just want to put a foot into your local Amoeba Music to participate in the sixth annual Record Store Day extravaganza! The limited and exclusive releases that drop especially for Record Store Day seem to increase with each passing year and the 2013 list is packed with tons of funky-fresh wax for all us vinyl nerds to gag and brag on. The Last Unicorn vinyl soundtrack movie anime america jimmy webb jeff bridges mia farrow joanna newsom man's road record store day dream album reissue german rare

When it comes to sifting my picks from the torrent I can't help but imagine how I would stack the offerings if I were HBIC of selecting RSD releases.Just off the top of my head, if I had my druthers, I'd demand a proper reissue of Don Cherry's Brown Rice LP for starters, but then I'd also have to have something berserk like a vinyl, possibly picture disc reissue of the rare Jimmy Webb written and America recorded soundtrack to the animated film The Last Unicorn, featuring vocals by the one and only Jeff Bridges. Maybe I could even convince Joanna Newsom to cover "Man's Road" for inclusion as a bonus track just to push the whole package over the top. Oh, if only I could have Record Store Day my way...but I can't complain, really. A girl can dream and there plenty to enjoy this year, here are some of the items I'm particularly excited about:

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At LAST: Kyle Field chats Little Wings' latest opus

Posted by Kelly S. Osato, April 7, 2013 03:20pm | Post a Comment

kyle field little wings Photo by Adam Zeke
Photo by Adam Zeke             

Earlier this year worlds collided when Little Wings took the stage at Cafe du Nord, one of San Francisco's best preserved former mobster speak-easy joints that maintains decidedly authentic-feeling with shadowy vibes fully trimmed in dust-covered scarlet velvet. Looking like a costumed "tourist" complete with a plastic lei and something like a Greek fisherman's hat, Little Wings breezed through a delightfully unpredictable set of mostly new songs from his first ever double LP release, LAST, his borrowed backing band (The Range of Light Wilderness I believe, sharing the bill that evening) jamming over a few false starts before eventually leaning into the billowy groove of the nearly seven-minute "Neptune's Next" that opened the show. A hushed wave broke over the crowd, and it was then that I noticed, and I could be wrong, but  I think maybe I could see that Kyle's teeth were painted.
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Accomplished visual artist, avid surfer, and "musician's musician" Kyle Field channels a great deal of his most personal energies and intuitive creative powers into recording and performing music as Little Wings, his ever-fluctuating entity that continues to inspire and challenge audience perceptions with multi-layered song cycles, subconscious-tapping lyrical head trips, and concurrent visual presentations that sometimes embrace an apparent love of adopting guises couched in a language of "the best costume for the day." Seemingly open to collaborations and improvisation, Field continues to garner praise from fans and contemporaries like Will Oldham a.k.a. Bonnie 'Prince Billy and Feist who not only named her 2010 documentary Look at What the Light Did Now after a Little Wings tune but also covered and performed it as a duet with Field as well. Though admirers may tend to paint him as something of a folk hero from time to time (this bromantic GQ piece on Kyle being a prime example), Field seems to play it close to the vest when it comes to his self-expression despite having publicly sharing so many personal pieces. I recently corresponded with him and learned a lot about the new album (2LP! out on Field's own Rad imprint via Marriage Records), what he's listening to lately, and "free friction" in surfing. Read on for the interview!

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Watch the Throne, Charge it to the Game: Getting to Know Game of Thrones 3.0

Posted by Kelly S. Osato, March 30, 2013 04:10pm | Post a Comment
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Whether you're a fan of George R. R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire epic fantasy series or just a nighttime TV junkie jonesing for HBO's explicit tits, violence, and wine approach to adapting Martin's opus into their small screen "prestige" drama, you're likely as fired up as I am for the season three premier of Game of Thrones this Easter Sunday night. Having enjoyed reading the books immensely, I'm itching with anticipation for the faces, places, and expirations, however abrupt, yet to receive HBO's patent sexpository book-to-show treatment. For those interested in getting to know the new additions to the series this season, I've compiled my own top ten anticipated new faces set to appear in Game of Thrones 3.0 (expect mild spoilers at best), including a smattering of other related hopes and fears I have concerning the page-to-performance transition (e.g. I'm beginning to think that we're not gonna hear anyone say "R'hllor").

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Also, NERD ALERT! if you're in San Francisco on Sunday and you're looking for some Throner-related nightlife I urge you to check out the Game of Thrones viewing party presented at Stage Werx beginning at 8pm with a screening of GoT season two, episode ten to get everyone up to speed. Episode one season three will screen at 9pm immediately followed by a live recording of Boars, Gore and Swords (the "third greatest," and my favorite, Game of Thrones podcast) by Red Scott and Ivan Hernandez so stick around, mingle with ye bannermen, and partake in some top-shelf insightful and opinionated infotainment.

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Rock On Their Own Terms: Japanese Women Making Music Beyond J-Pop

Posted by Kelly S. Osato, March 25, 2013 06:06pm | Post a Comment
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"Rock You in a Tatami Room" by artist Yumiko Kayukawa

It's Women's History Month and, as time would have it, I am missing the Underground Japanese Rock section that I used to upkeep at Amoeba Music's San Francisco location. Having dedicated not a small amount of my life to the study of Japanese language and culture over the last thirteen years, caring for and discovering Japanese music at Amoeba in tandem with my academic duties has been and continues to be a pleasure, though the enjoyment of filing them neatly into their own cozy little vicinity is, sadly, a notion of the past. We do keep a J-Pop section up and running, but I digress.
With this post I seek to celebrate Japanese women in music, specifically the musicians performing on the (alternative/avant-garde/experimental or whatever you want to call it) flip-side of the produced-for-mass-consumption J-Pop norm, and, even more specifically, my favorite artists in the cut. Whenever possible I have included live footage of these artists because, frankly, I find the fact that some of these performances are available at all is incredible. Case in point:


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