This is the Kit record with Aaron Dessner, release EP, tour Europe - March 03, 2014
This is the Kit are gigging again in Europe, revisiting many of the same cities they hit while opening The National’s autumn 2013 tour of the continent. Stops include capitals such as Paris, Berlin and a sold out date in London. (They've also added a May follow-up gig due to the demand.) Here are the dates:
15 Reutlinger, Germany - Burning Eagle Festival Warm-Up
17 Metz, France - La Chaouée
18 Beauvais France - La Maladrerie Saint-lazare (w/ Melissa Laveaux)
21 London, UK - The Lexington SOLD OUT
22 Manchester, UK - Gullivers
24 Rees-Haldern, Germany - Haldern Pop Bar
25 Hamburg, Germany - Nachtasyl
26 Berlin, Germany - Berghain Kantine
21 London, UK – Scala (w/ La Femme)
Speaking of The National, the tour follows close after a January recording sessions in the Brooklyn studio of Aaron Dessner. (Just in case you're new around here, Aaron is the label's co-founder & a member of The National.) There's a picture from the sessions at the top of this news story. Dessner and This is the Kit frontperson Kate Stables worked with a who’s who of American indie musicians, including Aaron’s brother Bryce Dessner, Thomas “Doveman” Bartlett (producer for The Gloaming, Glen Hansard) and Matt Barrick (drummer for currently on-hiatus The Walkmen). We expect to release the results of these sessions in autumn 2014 on This is the Kit’s third full-length, an LP consisting of the Dessner-produced tracks. (We said expect so no promises on the release date -- patience is a virtue!)
To commemorate the new activity, however, the band are releasing an untraditional EP called Wriggle Out the Remakes just before their March tour. Billed as “remixes” the EP actually includes only minimal traces of its primary source material, that source being This is the Kit’s recently reissued underground masterpiece Wriggle Out the Restless. Meant as a showcase for the durability of Kate Stables’ songs, the EP release features covers, reinterpretation & reimagining of her songs by frequent PJ Harvey collaborator John Parish, Francophone Domino Records signee François of the Atlas Mountains and Bristol pals Rachael Dadd, Ichi and Elliot E & the Ritournelles. Leading off the EP is a new song “Magic Spell,” chopped & diced into unrecognizability by Tythe aka Julian Peck. (Note that this recording of "Magic Spell" is not drawn from Aaron's sessions - rather it's the result of some studio tinkering the band has been doing on the side. The home for the original version of this song is yet-uncertain...)
Order your copy of Wriggle Out the Remakes here:
In other "content" news, the band have a trove of videos in the works. First they've released a homespun music video for “Magic Spell” (Tythe remix) which you can see below. Next up are a dozen tour diary-style clips from the autumn gigs with The National. These will be released throughout the month of March, three new videos each week. Subscribe to Brassland's YouTube channel to catch them all. The tour diaries were shot by TiTK tour manager Rasha Shaheen. Thanks Rasha!
For the detail-oriented amongst you, for their March tour This is the Kit will consist of Kate (singing/guitar/banjo) , Rozi Plain (vocals/bass) and Jamie Whitby-Coles (drums), pictured below.
We are also expecting guest appearances by Vincent Mougel (kidsaredead) and Neil Smith (The Liftmen) at some shows along the routing. And how do you ask did Kate enjoy her trip to New York City? Well, due to poor documentation of the Brooklyn recording sessions, we don't have too much to show you - though we did make her take this tough looking New York-ish selfie.
Buke and Gase debut video(s), play gigs in Asia, Tenn & NY - February 14, 2014
Happy Valentine's Day! There's good reason to open with that cheerily romantic greeting: We hear some people really love them some Buke and Gase. Take this news brief as a kind of rose bouquet to you, the B&G loving audience.
But...psyche! Anyone expecting lovely smells or great new sounds will be sorely disappointed. The main sense that will be stimulated by this post is your eyes as we introduce two new viewing experiences, starting with this video for "Metazoa"—or perhaps we should call it a "video"?
The band requested the only text accompanying the premiere of said video be what follows:
Arone's dream of Jan15 with Unadulterated Tour Footage.
Mirror back wall - stocked bar - cinema real - vivid visceral - goosebumps on moist bare skin - chopstick tip gently pressing and pulling - close up intensity - sexual but innocently - un-intending indentation - how do i draw a grimacing australian man out from behind the bar dragging a chopstick up and down his torso - painfully slow - sweating with dust or flour caking onto his skin - the woman in a cowboy hat playing violin - some sort of Bach Suite #7-3 while filming his actions with a mini camcorder? and the audience of men and women watching this as a live documentary in the velvety red back room theater - homo-hetero-friendly it was and they streamed in - i took out the garbage and glass leaving it on the cobblestones and they said it was the best performance they'd seen since hollywood.
A-ha! It all makes sense now!
Hmmm, well, no, we didn't think so either.
So, here's a kind of explanation: Since we released Buke and Gase's most excellent second LP General Dome this past January, we've been bugging the duo to make more "content" to showcase that aforementioned excellence. Kids love blog premieres, yo! (Or at least we suspect lots of new parents are weaning their digitally-inclined children on indie rock.) Anyway, since they were about to announce a half-dozen new tour dates, we bugged 'em one more time about how "Metazoa" is really catchy & ought to have a video component. (For the impatient amongst you, the catchy part of "Metazoa" comes after the noise jam part; though for the weird among you the noise jam in "Metazoa" may well be the catchy part.) Anyway the band agreed with us (something they do not frequently do), and a week or so later, they delivered that green, sheepy wonder embedded up above. (Actually the sheep are pink but you know what we mean.) In a way, we've interpreted the piece as a protest video of sorts about the demands of creating "content" in our present moment. Thankfully it's a protest whose zen-like stasis is oddly compelling & as unique as the band. (And thankfully they've yet to protest our tendency to litter our news posts with parenthetical statements.)
Ok, not the end. You still want smells & sounds you say? Well, if you happen to live in Asia, Tennessee or New York, the Buke and Gase experience will be touching down (relatively) near you in the near future, an experience we can almost guarantee will include some aural excitation & the smell of human sweat. And nothing says Valentine's Day like human sweat.
Clickity click here for details but if you just need to know the wheres & whens, here are the dates:
- Feb 16: Tokyo, Japan - Hostess Club & Weekender
- Feb 20: Manila, Philippines - Hostess Club @ Febfest 2014
- Feb 22: Singapore – Hostess Club
- March 26: New York, NY, USA - Merkin Concert Hall at Kaufman Music Center (Ecstatic Music Festival)
- March 28-30: Knoxville, TN, USA - Big Ears Festival (schedule TBD)
- April 5: Kingston, NY, USA - BSP Kingston
That brings us to the second video experience we promised, a teaser for the February trip to Asia:
And Buke and Gase said they weren't into making videos! Hrumph.
Anyway, we'll leave you with some notable facts about the upcoming shows. The February dates mark the band's first shows on the Asia continent and are part of a festival put together by our distributor in tehe region, Hostess. The festival also happens to feature our buds in The National. This will mark the fourth continent Buke and Gase have taken their music to during the General Dome release cycle, adding Australia & Asia to the already well-trodden Europe & North America territories. South America & Africa, we are open to your show inquiries.
Second thing! The March dates in both New York City and Knoxville will include the debut of a new collaboration with So Percussion, a hint of which you can hear in this recording from an early rehearsal.
And just to complete our circuit of the human senses, let's chat a brief, confusing second about taste. Last night someone passed along this brief video of yet another collaborative project called the Lickestra which (girl) Arone has contributed to apart from her daring duo with (boy) Aron.
Frankly, it's so trippy, we're not even going to try to understand or explain this one. In the true Buke and Gase spirit, you can do it yourself.
PS - Is anyone ever going to call us on the fact that we refer to these as news "briefs?"
Introducing The Gloaming & other Irish announcements - December 16, 2013
The holidays & another year's end always brings to mind fresh beginnings. Our latest signing, The Gloaming, recalls Brassland's own beginnings while plotting some new paths. Without further adieu enjoy a free introduction to the group by way of this Bandcamp download of one of their first live shows.
If that's enough to convince you to help this music make its way in the world, go ahead & pre-order the album right now:
- ITUNES (download)
- BANDCAMP (download)
- BRASSLAND STORE (compact disc)
Digital copies will be delivered on or before January 21 and physical copies by February 11.
Still on the fence? Initially introduced to us by one of our core collaborators, Thomas Bartlett (aka Doveman), we're happy to introduce The Gloaming to you via this preview of Moment to Moment, an hour-long documentary about the project set for broadcast on Irish national network RTÉ in early 2014.
The Gloaming is one of many new musical endeavors Thomas has busied himself with while his Doveman identity rests. Featuring a who's who of contemporary Irish musicians, it's an outgrowth of his long relationship with Ireland's musical traditions, starting with a kind of childhood mentorship under the tutelage of The Gloaming's principle Martin Hayes, and extending to Thomas's recent production work with singer-songwriter Glen Hansard. You can consult the band's bio for more detail, but suffice it to say this picture of young Thomas & a not-as-young but younger-than-he-is-today Martin was not accomplished with the help of Instagram filters.
Speaking of long relationships, Brassland's Éire connections are running real deep right now. Superfans may note The Gloaming doc was produced by the same folks at South Wind Blows who invited label co-founder Aaron Dessner to curate an episode of their Other Voices program at the end of 2012. And, just as we're proud to be bringing a new force in Irish music to America, we're equally proud to announce our label will soon be bringing a new/old force in American music to Ireland.
Brassland has been invited to curate a series of concerts at the National Concert Hall of Ireland in Dublin around this time next year. The first date has been announced for December 13, 2014. Presented under the name "Megafaun and Fight The Big Bull present Sounds of the South featuring Justin Vernon and Frazey Ford," it is an evening of songs collected by folklorist Alan Lomax and recreated, reinterpreted & reimagined by the musicians named in the evening's (sorta unwieldly) title. For some of you, this should already be enough to "click onward" & "add to cart." Don't let us slow you down...
- BUY TICKETS
More descriptively, Sounds of the South presents hymns, blues and folk ballads captured by Lomax in 1959 during a two month trip through Virginia, the Mississippi Delta and the Georgia Sea Islands. It was developed for our friends at Duke Performances, later presented at Bryce Dessner's MusicNOW festival in Cincinnati, and rarely seen since then. Except on the internet like so:
One of the things we love most about it is the way it unites an entire extended family of younger American musician together on stage. Most of them are based in the American Southeast: North Carolina's uncategorizable Megafaun, Virginia jazz collective Fight the Big Bull, Frazey Ford of the Be Good Tanyas and, oh yeah, that guy from Bon Iver. Mr. Justin Vernon not only gives the night some ticket-shifting curb appeal, he's a perfect example of a fellow who values his larger musical community as much as he does his own gravitational pull as a star. Apparently he's also noticed the popularity of cat pics on the internet.
We'll take you out with some blabbage about these developments from label co-founder Alec Hanley Bemis:
"It feels so right to be working with a group like The Gloaming in North America, and returning the favor by bringing an American take on musical tradition abroad. The invitation to the NCH in Dublin follows hot on the heels of recent Brassland presentations at Adelaide Festival and Haldern Pop, and indicates that there is more interest than ever in our notion of what music can be.
"Let me take you back a bit... One of the movements that excited us all when we founded Brassland in 2001 was post-rock and the unexpected popularity of mostly instrumental music. Sigur Rós and Tortoise were at the height of their powers; Tortoise-associates the Sea & Cake were one of a few contemporary musical inspirations all five members of The National shared; and groups like Godspeed! You Black Emperor gave us visions that a group like Clogs might be a breakout success. Farther afield, the unexpected crossover success of the Buena Vista Social Club showed us that instrumental prowess and a goal of exposing largely unheard traditional music was not just a recipe for obscurity.
"Essentially, the world the Brassland label was born into regarded synthesis over purity, the combination of old and new, and musical communities over individual stars. We've helped nurture these ideas continuously since we started this thing—and what's so inspiring about The Gloaming and our burgeoning connection to Ireland is how it pushes these ideas into new & unexpected directions.
"Don't get me wrong. Brassland still loves us some slow-burning, anthemic indie rock, and very soon we'll be announcing some new releases in that vein. But right now we're glorying in the fact that our take on musical tradition has endured, and that music can be forward thinking, make no concessions to current trends or fashion, and still make its way around the world and back again."
1942-2013 = Lou Reed = ∞ - November 06, 2013
“It always bothers me to see people writing ‘RIP‘ when a person dies. It just feels so insincere and like a cop-out. To me, ‘RIP‘ is the microwave dinner of posthumous honors.” — Lou Reed
There's this moment at the end of Lou Reed's Berlin concert film when his face changes from a sphinx-like scowl into a gracious glow. It's after Antony sings a cover version of the Velvets' "Candy Says." Transformed in the hands of his protege, Lou rewards Antony with a warm smile — all the more precious for its rarity.
I'm not big into mourning celebrity deaths. There was a day in 1990 when Jim Henson died (almost simultaneous with Sammy Davis!). That was memorable — it made it seem possible my culture heroes would one day go. Kurt Cobain's suicide was a big deal. But I can't remember a passing I've spent more time thinking about than Lou Reed's. Maybe because I think "live fast die young" is bullshit and say what you will about Lou he led a long, great life and died of natural causes. (However much his intense living caused those causes.)
I am writing this just after coming home from a tribute screening of Berlin in Queens. It wasn't that good, except when it seemed perfect, like that moment where he smiles. And that's what Reed's music & person seemed to be like — definitely to his fans and (from what I've heard) also to those who knew him: hard to explain & justify logically until he hit upon an emotion in a fashion so plainspoken and real it made you wonder why anyone else even tried turning thoughts into expression.
Well, here's one small reason some people kept trying: If you happened to live & make art in New York City, it seemed possible Lou might notice & cast his rare smile in your direction. Lou Reed continued to pay attention. Throughout the decade I've lived in his city, he was an impersonal but consistent presence in my bohemian New York. I'd hear through the grapevine that he visited the Ditmas Park restaurant out by where some of The Nationals lived. Once or twice I turned around in a Chelsea gallery to see him looking at the same art I was. He'd be wearing leather pants and pulling them off (sort of)— a man in his 60s wearing the same cooler-than-thou gaze on his face he practically invented in the '60s.
Or then there was that time Lou & Laurie showed up to a Buke and Gase gig at the Mercury Lounge and surprised them not only by liking it but inviting them out afterward to hang. A few months later, in February 2011, the two duos reconnected for a benefit show at the Stone just after Valentine's Day. (That's where the picture at the top of this post comes from. Note the rare Lou Reed smile.) A few months later Reed invited the Bukes to open a pair of shows for him in Paris and London. Amazing.
Lou Reed cared about art long after he could have stopped caring. Art is what drove him & fueled his work, what inspired him & made him so inspiring. And in this cultural moment where fame & page views often trump all other claims to attention, that is huge.
I firmly believe we'll look back at the Pure Fame one could achieve in 20th century pop culture as a world-historical anomaly. It's been an Age of Fame presaging our newfound Era of Niches. That makes the early 21st century twilight of the gods time for Iconic Pop Musicians. The artists I grew up loving, the artists I have grown to love most deeply, well, they are older now: Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, Stevie Wonder, Neil Young, et. al. It's unclear if new gods will ever rise up to replace them.
For now, though, we are in a unique position. We can each build our own pantheon, but all of us get to use figures anyone can recognize. If my little label Brassland is, in part, a monument to something other than itself, well, it's a pantheon dedicated to Lou Reed. Sure, in some abstract sense, Michael Jackson was more important, and Jackson's passing more epic & universal. But anyone who uses "importance" as an excuse to minimize Reed's work has betrayed how little they understand what he did. There's that famous Brian Eno quote which I'll paraphrase: “The Velvet Underground & Nico sold only 30,000 copies during its first five years but everyone who bought one started a band.” It's a statement which recognizes Lou Reed's true level of influence.
On his own, Reed recorded a lot of music that is easy to dislike — but, for those paying attention, he also recorded more memorable, meaningful songs than almost anyone ever will. "Perfect Day" > "Some Kind of Love" > "Satellite of Love" > "Walk on the Wild Side" > "Vicious" > "Waves of Fear" > "Dirty Blvd"! The hard to explain brilliance of The Blue Mask! And don't' forget the weirder ones: "Sad Song" > "Street Hassle" > "Like a Possum"! Holy fuck! One guy made all that. (Often times with one amazing bassist.)
Brassland is a tribute to Lou Reed if for no other reason than it's built around the idea that you can't judge art entirely by sales figures. Just as you'd be laughed at for comparing J.D. Salinger's or Woody Allen's "numbers" to those to 50 Shades of Grey or Despicable Me 2, you can't look at Reed's legacy in the same terms as those of contemporaneous best sellers. Yes, his work never sold as quickly as Bad Company in the 70s, or Duran Duran in the 80s, or Candlebox in the 90s. Point being, while Herman's Hermits had two big hits in 1965 — the same year VU took their name — there aren't many 21st century musicians who trace their lineage back to the creative vision of Mickie Most, whereas there've been thousands who would have had no context without the work of Lou Reed. And though VU's albums may have only sold a few thousand copies when first released, their music has continued to sell (or get passed around) just as strongly today as it did back in their day, 50 years ago. And, more importantly it is shared insistently, as a relevant example, as music so progressive & alive it sounds as fresh today as it must have back then.
A final word about poetry. For a long time, it was the ultimate compliment to a rock lyricist to say they were like a poet — viz. Leonard Cohen, Patti Smith. Similarly poets blush when compared to rock stars. The thing about Lou Reed is that he makes these sorts of comparisons fail because he was a poet and a rock star equally — audacious as anything, but able to drop a beautiful phrase that would stick in your mind forever. And, last but not least, his music nearly always had a great beat and you could dance to it.
— Alec Hanley Bemis
Bryce Dessner records with Kronos Quartet, plays Carnegie Hall - November 05, 2013
The National’s Bryce Dessner is a man of a million projects, constantly generating material for his various musical identities, the latest of which is a new record, entitled Aheym for the Anti- label. Here, we actually see him sidestepping the guitar in favor of a string quartet and when we say STRING QUARTET we mean for it to be in all caps. Bryce has "gone big" and composed these pieces for one of the most widely-acclaimed contemporary classical ensembles out there, Kronos Quartet.
Also a Brassland co-founder and member of Clogs, Bryce has been an indie rock star by day and contemporary classical composer by night for a long time now. Well, actually, maybe we should say that he's an indie rock star by night and contemporary classical composer by day — because The National hasn't done any matinee shows yet except for the occasional festival. But we digress...
Bryce's projects are so disparate and unexpected that no one realizes he is actually a Superman/Clark Kent-like figure and that the same man is behind it all, forcing Dessner to hide his identity in the contemporary classical circuit through a series of comically elaborate ruses. (Actually we’re kidding about that part, it’s just a TV show pitch we’re working on. Cue laugh track.)
We'll stop digressing now. Here's a sample from the Kronos record with animations by artist Matthew Ritchie.
The thing is, we were not kidding when we alluded to Bryce's super powers. On top of the Kronos Quartet release, Bryce has been an unusually active (super powered?) presence on the fancy venue circuit recently. He played guitar on composer David Lang's death speaks album alongside peers & Brassland buddies Nico Muhly, Shara Worden and Owen Pallett. Check out this sample:
Upcoming is a composed work for the quartet So Percussion called “Music for Wood and Strings,” which will be premiering at New York’s legendary Carnegie Hall later this month. The piece was written for instruments designed and constructed in collaboration with Aron Sanchez of Brassland’s very own Buke and Gase.
Original composition for equally original instruments? If you don't think that sounds like something worth checking out, then you can just head aheym.