Low Wormwood — Lanzhou Lanzhou
(Tenzenmen 098TZM, 2012, CD)
by Jon Davis, Published 2013-07-25Low Wormwood's full-length debut was the enjoyable (and amusingly titled) We Can't Help Kissing Each Other, and their sophomore album finds them sounding a bit more like a band and less like a singer-songwriter with sidemen. The basic style is the same, folk-rock with some electronic touches, with acoustic guitar being the glue that holds everything together, but several variations of it are presented. The title cut is a full band track with the electric guitar prominent; "A-Bang A-Mang" (doesn't translate as anything as far as I can tell) is a bouncy triplet-feel acoustic tune with trumpets giving it a mariachi mood to go with its "la-la-la" singing; "Gone with the Wind" has an ominous chromatic chord progression that keeps threatening to move to another key but holds off for two full minutes — a brilliant arrangement choice. There's even a bit of what might be called political protest (or at least social commentary) in "The Mute Bird (Dedicated to Those Who Lose Their Homes)," which has a throbbing tom-tom beat and some great guitar work — the solo is positively insane, with the tone twisted by who-knows-what effects. Other tunes present still different stylistic variations — a pseudo-ska beat, a rousing 12/8 anthem, a delicate acoustic meditation — this is not a band that tolerates having two songs that sound alike, though all have enough in common to maintain coherence. With their jangly professionalism and edgy lead guitar, Low Wormwood could easily fit with any number of American indie bands were it not for the language barrier. Don't let that get in your way of enjoying this — it's great stuff.
Related artist(s): Low Wormwood
Freedom to Spend Unearths June Chikuma's Archives – Jun (June) Chikuma is well known for her video game and anime soundtracks, but she also released an album of experimental electronic music back in 1986 called Divertimento where she indulged the kind of spontaneity that wouldn't work in a soundtrack. RVNG Int'l label Freedom to Spend is bringing this overlooked item to broader attention with a deluxe reissue. » Read more
Seaprog 2019 Lineup Almost Complete – The Seaprog festival in Seattle is scheduled for June 7-9 this year, and they've announced their lineup of performers. The revitalized Trettioåriga Kriget will cap Friday night, perennial favorites Marbin are on Saturday, and District 97 will finish off the fest on Sunday night. In support, they've booked a stellar variety of artists from the Northwest and around the world, including EchoTest, Markus Reuter and Trey Gunn, and the live debut of the amazing Troot project. » Read more
You Can Be Part of an Ambient Electronic Project – The Gesture of History is a new electronic project put together by Sam Rosenthal of Black Tape for a Blue Girl, Steve Roach, and violist Sam Shadow. The music started as an instrumental track Rosenthal was working on for a Black Tape album, but took on a life of its own and demanded further enhancements. The majority of the funds raised will go to manufacturing costs for LP and CD editions, as well as other items as detailed on the Kickstarter page. » Read more
Jazz Composer Mark Lomax, II Releases Epic 12CD Set – In addition to being a fine jazz drummer, Dr. Mark Lomax, II is a composer in residence at Ohio State University, where he has been very busy on the compositional front. The year 2019 is the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the first ship bringing African slaves to North America, and in commemoration of this, Lomax has produced 400: An Afrikan Epic, a 12 volume set of CDs featuring a variety of different musical ensembles. » Read more