Ardath by Birth Day

By: Derek Spencer

Ardath is as elusive an album title as I have encountered. A smattering of google searches reveals a British tobacco company as the only catalogued namesake, implying that Ardath is an album named either for it’s destructive and addictive qualities, or otherwise as reference to something personal and decidedly unobtainable. The impalpable name suits the 5-track EP all the same, perhaps augmenting the conceit of mysterious dystopia that LA-based musician Birth Day seems intent on summoning. Deconstructed pop pairs with discordant ambient on Birth Day’s unsettling 2016 debut.

Opener “Link’d” best demonstrates Birth Day’s palette, consisting of icy dissonance, glitched-out synths, and phantasmal filtered-vocals. Tension builds as the voice of yesterday’s fallen popstar rises in classic zombie fashion. On “Bedroom Jester”, Birth Day continues to play with distance and depth, as a single alto melody gives way to the croons of dozens of fettered specters, each presumably a fractured bit of singer/producer Sonya Lanelle Chávez.

The percussive elements of Ardath leave enough propulsion for listeners to dance, but only in the way that dancing can be a mental exercise: a way of answering a question or exploring a thought. With tracks like “blind” and “Seashore”, each clocking in around one minute and devoid of distinct rhythmic features, it’s easier to think of Birth Day as walking us through a process or along a path, as opposed to imagining that Chávez’s vision lies in any one place for long.

Demonstrating a surprising command over dynamics and composition, Birth Day will hopefully have the opportunity to flesh out her work on longer, more immersive releases. For now, Ardath serves as a seductive taste-test, successfully tempting listeners toward some unknown end.


People Named Michael

By: Derek Spencer

There’s a lot of god damn people named Michael in this world, and it feels like half of them have requested I review their god damn music. This post is for a bunch of you musicians named god damn Michael.

Michael Sterns

Hello Michael Sterns (or “Mike”, as you call yourself on your bandcamp page). I appreciate your honesty here Mike. There are a lot of people making music alone in their dorm rooms these days. It takes grit to fess up. You could have left that to my imagination, Mike, leaving me to imagine you as a solo artist with his own studio band. But you’re an honest guy, Mike, a real stand up guy.

You’re also a precise guy. Like on that song, when you sing “when I was 22/and you were 19”. Those aren’t round numbers, Mike. Those are specific numbers, and I appreciate that attention to detail. Mike, you’d be surprised how rare attention to detail is these days. Trust me, I know.

Anyways, I like your shit, Mike. You have gumption. You have real pizzaz. You pull back and push forward. Dynamics! You got em. Tone! You think about it. Real high quality stuff here Mike. You got the whole singer-songwriter thing down. I mean, sometimes I wish you were saying different words, but cringe-inducing earnestness is part of the indie game, isn’t it?

Biggest negative here has got to be these sound effects. Man. If I knew how to make memes I would do one where Bernie Sanders likes spoken word interludes and Hilary thinks it’s a good idea to put lightning sounds and alarm clocks in your tracks.

You know, you’re doing yourself a disservice by calling this album Collegiate Daydreams. That name makes me think your too young for this to be good. And maybe you are young, and maybe this isn’t good in the professional and/or critical sense, like maybe you can’t make money doing this, or like maybe you could have made money doing this but only if you had a time machine to go back and release the music years ago. But, point is, you don’t sound like a Collegiate Daydreamer, Mike. You sound like maybe a twenty-something go-getter. Or like at least, like, a graduate underachiever. You get what I’m saying, right Mike? Of course you do.

Michael Blackmond

Michael fucking Blackmond. You record under the name Dora the Destroyer, but you’re a Michael, through and through. It’s in your music. Don’t hide from that.

Anyways, Michael, I gotta hand it to you. You and Mike up there are repping the Michael crew well with your honestly. Glad to know Michaels like you are out there ready to disclose the fact that you recorded all of your prog metal songs in your living room. Thanks!

I like when you get all metal with it. The thumpity thump suits you, Michael. Sometimes, though, you get all leggity-leggi-wah with your metal, and it kinda feels like I’m playing Sonic the Hedgehog. In fact, did you score any Sonic the Hedgehog games? According to this list, you didn’t, but maybe you have an alias?

Anyways, I imagine that the word you’d like people to describe your music with is “soaring”. and I’ll give you that, Michael, sometimes this music soars. But sometimes it putters, too. Sometimes, I’m not really sure what to think. You got these Joe Satriani vibes that really take me out of my Sonic space, you know what I mean? I think you do. Oh and the synths! Really not working for me, Michael. Gotta say.

End of the day, I could see this being fuck-wit-able. I don’t think anyone will ever fuck to this music, but that’s a whole different question. Thanks Michael!

Michael Byrne!

Michael Byrne! Sausage suit in a Sam Adams! Your email says (not making this up, readers) that you go by Dirty Mike, and I think that’s god damn swell. I like how your friend is named Uncle Jesse too. The album here, folks, is Die Until Ur Not Alive Anymore… by The Raspberry Keystones.

Dirty Mike, it says in your email that you aren’t really sure what genre your music is. I think that’s a good question! It’s a little bit puzzling to me too, if I’m being totally honest. Let me say this, your music sounds like strung out teenagers rapping over Animal Collective‘s Campfire Songs. But with surprising wit (at times!)! I think we are permitted to call this “experimental”. Does that work for you?

Anyways, Dirty Mike, y’all got some promise here! Sure, we’re missing some vital production elements that might be necessary to qualify this as listenable music to the majority of the population, but what they’ll call “stupid shit” I call a “niche product”.

Middle track “Above Ground Places” stands out to me as the most captivating composition. It’s like your version of a banger.

The covers are a bit baffling, both in choice and style, but that’s okay! This EP seems like a great place for ol’ Dirty Mike and Uncle Jesse to stretch their wings and figure out what works. In this humble reviewers opinion, covering “Sleepwalker” might not be your strong suit. But now we know!

Past and Future Michaels

There are quite a few Michaels I didn’t get to here. But don’t worry! I will endeavor to review all people named Michael before anyone else gets reviewed.

ALBUM REVIEW: The Other Master by Andrew Reddy

By: Derek Spencer

“I’m da bad man.  I’m da bad man.  You fuck with me? I’ll make you sad, man.”

We sat down with Andrew Reddy, aka Ireland-based music producer Andrew Reddy, to talk about his 2014 full-length release: “The Other Master”.

I will literally just review whatever music you send me: Give us a brief bio of yourself.  Where do you come from?

Andrew Reddy, aka music producer Andrew Reddy: Shall I compare myself to a universe?  Posture as to the origin, the moment where timelessness turned into timeliness?  Shall I sweep all the chaotic particle and metaphysical elements surrounding my existence into a concise idea, strictly bound between heavy letters and cumbersome words?
I will begin with birth, as it is the rational place to start to answer such a question, even if it is an entirely dishonest answer.  I was birthed, as many have been, from a canal, riding down a landslide of viscera and amniotic fluid.  It was this trauma that first taught me that pain is real.  I oft think back to this moment when composing sick tunes.
My mother was a dairy maid, my father the CEO of a modest tech start-up.  When I was 5 I saw them in coitus through a cracked door, one hand on the udder, the other on the mouse. When I was 10 I had an existential crisis involving a Halloween decoration and an overwhelming sensation that things had to come out of me so that I may feel complete.  when I was 12, I sat on the pavement through a monsoon, praying that I would be bludgeoned to death with the flying wicker-corpse of a small island community.
Throughout my years, I have always smelled things that weren’t there: rotting raccoon fur at mother’s Thanksgiving dinner table, gas leaks in the Everglades.  I have always loved inanimate objects while men and women pinned away for my affection, grasped at my feet as I walk over them to embrace a lovely pile of bricks.

I will literally just review whatever music you send me: I like your album art.  Is it supposed to make people happy, sad, or both?

Andrew Reddy, aka music producer Andrew Reddy: I think when I drew it I wanted people to feel pretty sad, but then I feel like it made me kind of happy when it was done.

I will literally just review whatever music you send me: What is music?

Andrew Reddy, aka music producer Andrew Reddy: Music is the collection of melody, rhythm, tempo, harmony, beat, feel, water, tune, and soul. The more important question is ‘what is music for?’  In that regard, I have fewer answers.  My friend says that music is for baiting comets into greet us and warm our homes.  I sometimes wonder if music is the mind’s response to the body’s aimless dance.  This might be a question that the scientists never figure out, I’m afraid.

I will literally just review whatever music you send me: Can you hum one of your tunes for us?

Andrew Reddy, aka music producer Andrew Reddy: Yeah.
One man alone a push a hump inna yuh (Hum Hum)
Nuh bag a man nah jump inna yuh (Hum Hum)
Gynecologist nuh find nuh lump inna yuh (Hmm Hmm)
Nuh man neva bruk off nuh stump inna yuh (Hum Hum)
Or Trump Tower Donald him a reel fi yuh (Hum Hum)
And surgeons dem all a cling fi yuh (Hum Hum)
Man all a tek poison pill fi yuh (Hum Hum)
Congress a pass a bill fi yuh (Hum Hum)

I will literally just review whatever music you send me: Who is the bad man?

Andrew Reddy, aka music producer Andrew Reddy: “I’m da bad man.  I’m da bad man.  You fuck with me? I’ll make you sad, man.”

I will literally just review whatever music you send me: Thanks, Andrew.

Bottom Line: Andrew Reddy’s psych-ambient collection offers listeners an ever-expanding array of distant noises and disassembled melodies.  Summoning images of expansive plains under night sky, The Other Master’s atmospheric landscape is both affecting and tedious, disconcerting and comfortably experimental.  Outstanding tracks include Urizen Wept, with its gratifying bass harmonic-, synth-, and woodwind-centric crawl, and Ossuary, an ephemeral near-20-minute-track pieced together from feedback, acoustic plucking, and mediated electronic noise.