Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Vanadium Dream / Brown Dwarf on year-end lists

Foxy Digitalis’ Eric Hardiman has selected Brown Dwarf as his Best CD-R of 2008:

“A genre boundary crossing release that has a great sense of narrative, timing, and texture. Guitars, viola, electronics, and percussion melted together with great focus. This one got many many listens here, and I’m excited to hear more from them.”

Thanks Eric!

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Also, Dallas’ own Lee Jackson, in his stellar blog Womblife, has placed Vanadium Dream as his #6 release of 2008, alongside other heavyweight top-10ers as the Dead C, Warmer Milks, Earth, and Robedoor. Also, the Snails-related project D & N (Nevada Hill and David Lee Price) landed on Lee’s list as well, their s/t 3-inch coming in at #18. Lee also placed the Zanzibar live action at the Melodica fest in February as his number five live set of the year.

Says Lee, summing up not only Vanadium Dream and D & N but also Brown Dwarf, as well as some words of the recent live debut of The Watchers (featuring Snails Michael Chamy and Mike Maxwell):

Zanzibar Snails Brown Dwarf / D & N D & N (both Mayyrh Records) CD-R & 3" CD-R / Zanzibar Snails Vanadium Dream (Phantom Limb) CD-R - '08 must be the year of the snail in some exotic land somewhere, maybe Tanzania or Morrocco... or even the USA. It's clearly the year of Dallas improvised drone cracklers Zanzibar Snails (no longer employing the 'the'), with three quality CD-Rs hitting the racks, each showcasing a different facet of their hands-on revolving ensemble approach. Brown Dwarf preserves a live set that was performed as an opening act sharing the stage with Rahdunes, ST-37 and Suishou No Fune. This this was basically the show of 2007 as far as I'm concerned, though I didn't actually arrive at the venue till right after the Snails' set. So I was pleasantly surprised to find electronics guru/Snails member Michael Chamy's claims of spontaneous aural perfection not too terribly exaggerated when I finally threw Brown Dwarf into the changer: 35 mins of minimal bass hum separated into five segments that build from a bottomless one note subharmonic trudge to full nuclear devastation before it's over....

D & N is the duo of Nevada Hill and David Price, whose initial recordings eventually flowered into Zanzibar Snails [ed- not exactly but ....]. This self titled 20 min 3" CD was recorded in a postal exchange that resulted in 8 short tracks of hallucinogenic aural transport. These pieces have a more compositional quality than any ZS related release I've heard so far but come off as no less spontaneous or challenging via shifting tonal landscapes that suggest Spacemen 3 one moment, minimal composition the next, music concrete the next, etc. It's never less than completely consuming and richly detailed, plus one of my favorite ephemeral type spins in '08. Recorded live at home, Vanadium Dream compounds some of the heaviest cosmic elements with three extended workouts that continue the more serene moods of Brown Dwarf while upping the difficulty a few notches to conjure some truly challenging celestial voids.
This is the first Snails session to involve contributions from Mike Maxwell of SUBkommander/s.d.s., proving a solid fit with the Snails philosophy of less is more as the quartet combines oblique string vibrations, breathing electronic textures and pulsing bass hums into deeply transportive, continuous drone chasms. Not for the faint of heart, but not too harsh either. These three releases ultimately come closest to the fractured improve noise of classic NZ combos like Flies Inside the Sun and Surface of the Earth than any previous ZS releases.....

* ZS related live action note: Caught a trio set last Thursday of Chamy, Maxwell and Mark Church (current merch guru at Good Records, formerly of Bay Area weird rockers Flat Tire), performing as 'Snails offshoot The Watchers, a power electronics trio that conjures an almost devotional quality at times instead of the more trad ambient/electronic skree textures.
'Least that's the vibe I got when I arrived to a room saturating distorted Buddhist chant accompanying the alchemist scene from The Holy Mountain, which was being projected on the wall at the front of the store. Like walking into a dream. It was Church's birthday too. Good cupcakes, good tunes, good friends...yum. Next was the post industrial/apocalypse folk of Awen, a trio that brings that classic late '80s World Serpent sound (think Current 93, Death in June, Non) to the DFW area with conviction. Takes balls to make this kind of doom folk racket round these parts, but ultimately I gotta respect these folks' for the quality of their performance (Stone Breath gone militant?) over their stage presence which invoked images of Boyd Rice and fascist salutes. Still I think I can dig where they're coming from.....

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