Amoeblog

Interview with Rock Photographer Alissa Anderson - Part 1

Posted by Miss Ess, March 4, 2010 05:40pm | Post a Comment
devendra banhart

Devendra Banhart - Benicassim Festival - 2005

Alissa Anderson is one fabulous rock photographer! She has dedicated herself to chronicling the likes of Vetiver, Devendra Banhart, Joanna Newsom, Neil and Pegi Young, Michael Hurley, Vashti Bunyan, Papercuts, Conor Oberst, Espers, Lavender Diamond, CocoRosie, Tussle, Citay, and bunches of other musicians currently making the scene, taking candid live shots, as well as promotional stills and also shooting multiple album covers . She has born witness both here in San Francisco and across the world to one of the most vibrant and exciting music scenes ever, and has documented it all for our visual pleasure. I recently interviewed Alissa to learn more about her work, what inspires her, and her peak artistic moments. Because there are so many photos (some exclusive!) in this interview, there will be two parts. Part Two is right here!

Best of a Rapid Decade: One per year plus a few too good to not mention...

Posted by J. Mark Beaver, January 6, 2010 04:00pm | Post a Comment

In recently trying to fill in a friend on what I'd spent the last year or two listening to, I realized that my personal taste tends to gravitate towards some element of either Folk form (any hint of hill-folk finger-pickin' or Ozark/Appalachian melancholy and I'm in), Psychedelia or the tendency to extend a theme for a good long jam (a category in which I include a lot of the Jazz that I like), or just a great, funky groove.

With those qualifiers in place, the following is a year by year review of the last decade which somehow got past me with out noticing it. I mean, really?!! 2010?!!!  I didn't see it coming: 

2000: Album of the Year

Air's enjoyable and wacky Moon Safari had been on the decks for a couple years before they contracted for the soundtrack to Sofia Coppolla's Virgin Suicides. The resultant score is absolutely sublime and marked the French electronauts as contenders to watch.

For myself, it was the defining sound of the millennium's new year.
















Shelby Lynne released a killer country-soul gem, I Am Shelby Lynne, that echoed early material from the likes of Bonnie Raitt. Thinking that it was a brilliant debut from a talented 32yo unknown, I was eventually shocked to find that it was her 6th album. I listened to it for months.

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Get Your Medieval Rocks Off with Helena Espvall and Masaki Batoh's Overloaded Ark

Posted by Kelly S. Osato, September 29, 2009 08:00am | Post a Comment
 Helena Espvall and Masaki Batoh second album overloaded ark on drag city
The last time Helena Espvall (of Espers) and Masaki Batoh (of Ghost) got together to create an album the end result resembled the kind of sound-tapestry two people of like-minded musical musings might weave over an ocean of space and time. Their first record (self-titled on Drag City) generated a quiet excitement from those of us at Amoeba familiar with the "new folk" weirdness of Espers and the psych-rock wyrdness of Ghost and seemed a sound-marriage of sorts where faded-about-the-edges Scandinavian tunes and other haunting works, both borrowed and original, mingled freely on relic-esque instruments. Nothing there suggests the kind of epic, blast-from-the-distant-past sonic onslaught of Overloaded Ark, Espvall and Batoh's second release on Drag City and the latest source of a new take on a very, very old favorite song. 
overloaded ark helena epsvall masaki batoh second album drag city
Overloaded Ark's opening track, titled "Little Blue Dragon," is a better known by the name of the merry dance it was originally composed for way back in 14th century Naples: the saltarello. It is played in a very fast triple-meter and named after its leading leap-step, in Italian, saltare. Of course, the composer credit for this song goes to the ubiquitous Anoymous who rules the bulk of any Early Music bin selections, but a version of the song, aptly titled "Saltarello," was made famous by that eclectic, neoclassical Australian band better known as Dead Can Dance (and if you've ever been to a Renaissance Faire or a Goth gathering where "dark" world music fits the rotation then I'll bet you a flagon of mead you've heard it before). Another version of the song, performed by Corvus Corax --- an outrageously outfitted German band who champion medieval music and authentic instruments, seems to share the same vein Espvall and Batoh tapped to give their "Little Blue Dragon" life. Espvall and Batoh's take on the Black Death era romp pounds out a feverish pace with traditional instrumentation at the forefront and electrified psychedelic meanderings fleshing out the background. It's really the perfect sort of aural "pants-ing" I felt I needed as a listener expecting to hear an extension of Espvall and Batoh's past works, only to be blown away with their new attitude. 

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Greg Weeks of Espers and Language of Stone Records Chats

Posted by Miss Ess, January 27, 2009 06:02pm | Post a Comment
Greg Weeks is an exceedingly multi-talented musician at the forefront of the so-called "Folk Revival" that's been going on for several years now with his solo albums, including this year's The Hive, and his band Espers. He is also single-handedly helping keep alive the art of analog recording with his studio in Philly, Hexham Head. AND he has his own label, Language of Stone, distributed by Drag City, for which he plays A&R man. Then there is also Greg's other baby, The Valerie Project, which involves a group of Philadelphia musicians who created a soundtrack to play along live at screenings of the 1970 cult Czech film Valerie and Her Week of Wonders and debuted back in 2007. Between all these various artistic endeavors, it's a wonder Greg had time to chat here! Read on to hear about the thrilling new projects Greg is taking on, where he finds inspiration, and what songs are currently defining his life, among other things.

greg weeks

Miss Ess: What was it that got you into music in the first place?


Greg Weeks: I'd have to say rsolid gold dancersadio ... or the Solid Gold dancers. Probably radio.
 
ME: Can you describe the exact moment?

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Something Old, Something New: Helena Espvall & Masaki Batoh's self-titled CD/LP out now on Drag City!

Posted by Kelly S. Osato, September 18, 2008 12:39pm | Post a Comment

Helena Espvall and Masaki Batoh

 

When I first learned that Masaki Batoh, enigmatic frontman of the wondrously magical avant-psych band Ghost, and Swedish-born Helena Espvall, vocalist, guitarist and cellist of the equally magical folk-rock outfit Espers, were to release a record of their collaborative efforts, a wave of excitement swept me out of my shoes and into a frenzy of inspired musings that lead to an impulse purchase of a bottle of Framboise Lambic. After many repeat listenings of Helena Espvall & Masaki Batoh, their simply self-titled releaseI can safely say that not only does the record pair well with the sweet, frothy drink, but also complements those early Halloween  decoration displays that are beginning to pop up all over town. The record and the drink spurred a flip through my battered old D&D Monster’s Compendium which led me to conjure a mental picture of a romantic tapestry woven by two modern day minstrels who, after recognizing their great esteem for one another, slipped away from their bands’ respective gypsy caravans silently in the night, running away together to the far reaches of the northern wilderness, making beautiful music together all the way.