Thursday, September 27, 2012
New Baltimore Vinyl Gold
Not since I was a wee lad living on Pennsylvania Ave. during the heyday of Billie Holiday, while my mom was a torch singer at The Ritz slipping around with Sammy Louis, or when I was a middle-aged drunken dockworker spending every other night at The Marble Bar in the Congress Hotel in the late ’70s/early ’80s, have I seen such a rich period of music in Baltimore.
This struck me strongest the other day when I got two new local releases which spent most of the day on the Normal’s turntable.
First was the long awaited Horse Lords lp on mad Dr. Stew’s Ehse label. If you’ve ever been to a show in Baltimore, say an Afrobeat Society night or crunchy sizzly noise jams at The Bank, you have most likely seen a lean balding bespectacled man, whizzing around the rafters like a popped meat balloon shrieking “This is the greatest music I have ever heard in my life! Dear God you are infusing me directly into my heart ventricles with these sounds which have completely changed my life!! Someone feel my leg, there’s an electrified wiggle worm loose in there!!!!”
That would be Dr. Stew (seen at work below), the multi-tasking, word gattling gun, somewhat ADD wunderkind of Ehse.
With the sweet release of the Horse Lords album I am joining him up in the rafters. It’s a strange synthesis of a lost Sublime Frequencies album (one of the smoking West African chugging and skittering guitar ones) with some mean clean saxophone and electronic dynamics blowing up the stew.
For me the heady concoction catches into blazing flames when it goes into what sounds like an electronic bagpipe breakdown. Father Higgs assures me this sound is created by Professor Owen Gaertner and saxophonist Andrew Bernstein playing together in exact note/pitch synchronicity.
And with Owen (above, addressing the Prince Georges County parole board) telling me that these songs and their general music sound even better after they worked on recording together, I will have to dust off my wingtips and catch these lads live.
The second album is “My Society” by Heart of Hearts, which was performed and produced by Greg Hatem. This is a beautiful end of night album or laying late in bed on a rainy Sunday album. Greg is also a member of Mr. Moccassin and Forks of Ivy. “My Society” was just released on Bleek Records, which is based in Brooklyn and also has releases by Nature Boy and House of Wolves.
This imaginative lp sports titles like “Owls Grow Up”, “Grass Mask”, “Goodbye Buttons” and “Feather Fast” and a sound not too far away from the haunted chamber pop of Beach House, but not quite so dreamy and a little more stark and electronic. It focuses on Greg’s experience as an aviculturist, breeding and caring for finches and doves, which is not a topic often touched upon in pop and rock music.
Senor Hatem’s Society is indeed a fine one to join or visit. Thoughtful and sensitive, but resilient, fresh and bound to stay on your mind.