Category Archives: Project Hydra Head For Your Earholes

Project Hydra Head For Your Earholes Week 6: Dalek

Dalek: Deadverse Massive 1: Dalek Rarities 1999-2006

Project Hydra Head For Your Earholes Week 6: Dalek

After the last two duds, hopes were very low for this week’s Hydra Head For Your Earholes adventure. In fact, we were so gun-shy, we broke the rule that we had to listen to whatever we drew first. That disc promised “brutal” grindcore, so… We moved on to Dalek, a group we’ve actually heard of! Granted, we’ve heard of them because Mike Patton and Trevor Dunn recommend them, which could mean anything, including “brutal grindcore”. Feeling very, very nervous, we cued up the CD. Seeing it was 77 minutes of rarities, the nervousness only grew. Visions of brutal re-mixed nonny-nonny music danced in our earholes.

Imagine our surprise when it turned out to be awesome! Instead of brutal grindcore, we got hip-hop. Hip-hop that went from dreamy to intense to intensely-dreamy. Hip-hop is not, generally, on the ol’ stereo here at Maple Hoo because none of us are really lyrics-driven listeners. This CD, though, is a good reminder that hip-hop instrumentation can be really, really wild, and interesting, and just the kind of genre-blending-and/or-busting music that frequently is on the stereo here. (Of course, the flipside of that thinking is ending up tapping your toes and revealing in awesome music only to realize you’re bopping along to a song about the atrocities of racism in America. But, officer, the music was catchy!)

All in all, it was good to be off the dud schnide. And who knows, maybe that brutal grindcore will be really fun when we get around to listen to it?

Elsewhere in earhole news this week:

We spent Saturday afternoon in need of some bouncy, energetic work music to accompany the giant project of basting a queen-size quilt. With about twenty minutes to go, Pookie was looking for some sunshine-y, goodtime music to make those twenty minutes fly. She turned to the ol’ stand-by Wires Under Tension’s “Replicant” (one of Maple Hoo’s picks for Top Ten Album of 2012, btw).

Schnookie: This song makes me feel like I’m in a movie. It’s the end of the movie, and the camera’s panning back to show me, the newly single, newly happy woman in a big city, joyously greeting whatever comes next.

Pookie: Right, and you’ve just met-cute with Joesph Gorden Levitt on the corner!

Schnookie: Of course! JGL and I have just saved the world from some terrible fate that the rest of the city didn’t even know was going down.

Pookie: It’s “(500) Days Of Jason Bourne”!

Man, who wouldn’t want to see that movie?!

Behold, (500) Days of Jason Bourne:

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Project Hydra Head For Your Earholes Week 5: Kayo Dot

Kayo Dot, “Blue Lambency Downward”

Hydra Head For Your Earholes Week 5, or More Like Kayo Puke, Amirite?

You guys, this was such a bad album. It started out with Pookie being all excited we drew it, because she’d listened to some other Kayo Dot on Spotify and really liked it, and was all, “They’re really good!” Then we put the CD in the player, got the speakers fired up, and… oof. The first track was what seemed like an hour of the world’s most pretentious college acapella group (but the people who didn’t make the college’s actual acapella group, and had to start their own off-brand one) doing experimental theater. Then the second track seemed like the world’s most pretentious college theater students (but the people who didn’t make it into the college’s actual plays, and had to stage their own in their dorm’s common room) doing experimental dance. We didn’t hear the third track because Schnookie was laughing too hard and Pookie zapped over it. The fourth track was more of the same — a little “nonny-nonny,” a little ridiculous-poetry lyrics, a lot of WTF??? music. Who even knows what it was like after that, because we threw in the towel. We staged our photo of it under a heap of cat toys, hoping maybe Fabi could get more use out of it than we will.

But all was not lost, music-wise, last week. Because lo! Our earholes were tickled mightily by the long-awaited release of Tomahawk’s Oddfellows. We had despaired when the first single was released several months ago, because “Stone Letter” is not the most compelling song we’ve ever heard Mike Patton sing on. (That’s a polite way of putting it. “Stone Letter” sounds, out of context of the album, like lousy ’90s rock. In the context of the album it’s a lot more ignorable, and in fact even comes off as catchy and fun.) Far more indicative tracks are “Waratorium”:

and “Baby Let’s Play”:

Oh, sweet, sweet Tomahawk. Thank you so much for rescuing us from the evil clutches of Kayo Dot.

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Project Hyrda Head For Your Earholes Week 4: Hayaino Daisuki

Project Hydra Head For Your Earholes Week 4

Schnookie’s review: That 14-minute CD was 12 minutes too long.

Pookie’s review: It sounds like if Zu met Dethklok and then played the same song over and over.

In short, this was our first outright dud of the project. But the packaging was pretty funny, so there’s that.

Also tickling the ol’ earholes this week, new Dan The Automator!

This is terrific music to perk up the drab month of January. We hope this isn’t replacing the rumored-for-years sequel to Lovage, but it’s still a delightful addition to Maple Hoo’s music collection.

Also blowing our minds this week was Om’s Advaitic Songs. Yeah, we’re a few months behind on this, but we discovered it at the record store over the weekend — thanks, Elizabeth, for having your wedding reception right next to the Princeton Record Exchange! If you’re looking to have a song climb into your head and then look out your eyes, look no farther than this:


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Project Hydra Head For Your Earholes: Week 3

Week 3: Knut, “Alter”

Project Hydra Head For Your Earholes Week 3

When we fired this CD up we both had an immediate, involuntary response to each other: “Heavy”. This is an album of remixes of Knut’s previously released works, none of which we are familiar with. So while we can’t assess whether this is a redundant or navel-gazing exercise, we can say that it’s a delightful standalone. It rocked hard, it was easy to digest, and it ranged from head-bangy to contemplative to peppy bleep-bloopy and back again. Unlike last week’s entry, it didn’t spur any kind of deeper thought about its meaning, but also unlike last week’s entry, it’s actually something we’ll probably listen to in our cars.

But Favre was unimpressed.

Favre The Knut Holder

Also tickling the ol’ earholes this week:

OMG. We hit up Bela Fleck’s Banjo Summit in Princeton. We both figured it would be a pleasant evening of bluegrass, a lovely diversion for a Saturday night. Boy, were we wrong. OK, the first act was a pleasant hour of lovely bluegrass. The second act included a number that literally had us both gasping for air out of the sheer kick-assed-ness of an electric banjo with a distortion pedal. Minds were blown. HOLY SHIT. It was as extraordinary and surprising as seeing the Dirty Three at ATP last year. Here’s a clip of the second half of the number; imagine it’s been slowly climbing into your head to look out your eyes (and that you’ve been listening to over an hour of pleasant, lovely, standard banjo music):

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Project Hydra Head For Your Earholes: Week 2

Week 2: “Drawing Voices” by Drawing Voices

Hydra Head Proejct Week 2: Drawing Voices

When we first went through the box of 30 CDs after they showed up in the mail, this was the one I was most intrigued by, based on the little blurb on the label. It said:

The Drawing Voices project was founded by Craig Dongoski in 1999. The underlying aim is to use technology to exploit the hidden sound of mark-making. Through the amplification of marks being made while drawing (or writing), experiments are set up to reveal the potential of those sounds to communicate. This CD includes recordings culled from various Drawing Voices sessions used in collaboration with musician/artist Aaron Turner. In addition to the original source recordings, further layers have been added to the sonic palette, including but not limited to: washes of treated guitar textures, vocal loops, and scattered sonic shavings.

Cool, right? Well, the liner notes had a far more in-depth (read: “almost impenetrably artsy-fartsy”) description from the artist about the aims of the project, but a few sentences in it all started to be a blur to me. I’m not very good at high-concept. Once the CD started playing, though, my concerns about approachability were erased. While this is by no means a rousing, driving-on-an-open-highway, rocking-out kind of piece of music, it’s also not at all the hifalutin’, ow-my-ears experience I was starting to be afraid of. In fact, midway through the second track (“Mark”) Pookie and I started to discuss our feelings about the music and we’d both come to the same conclusion — it sounds like something you’d hear accompanying a video installation at an art museum. You know, the kind of thing where you walk into a small dark gallery off to the side somewhere, with the little built-in benches and carpeted walls, and you watch some weird video just because you’re enjoying not being on your feet for a few minutes, and then suddenly you realize you’ve watched the film three times through because the whole atmosphere is just incredibly cool. Pookie added that more than just taking her back to that film about sparks we saw at the Albright Knox Museum in Buffalo a few years ago, it just made her feel like her mind was being engaged in ways it isn’t usually, the way a good art museum does. Just so you don’t think it’s too hoity, we also felt at times that we were at a planetarium, aquarium, and rain forest installation at a zoo or conservatory. In a good way. Pookie also astutely pointed out that at times it sounded like we were being talked to by the robots from Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword.

In short, this was surprisingly listenable for being so experimental, and while neither of us listens to music to be really intellectual about it all, this was extremely enjoyable for making our minds open up and fire in different ways for 45 minutes. The standout tracks for us were the aforementioned “Mark”; “The Shrine of Wreckless Illumination”, with its snakey guitar bits (it was the most straightforwardly musical of the tracks); and “A Choir Speaks”, with the way it made its elements ebb from sounding organic to inorganic and then back again. (We’d link to some samples of this, but shockingly there aren’t any clips on YouTube. Wait, this wasn’t a wildly popular, commercial project?)


Also tingling the ol’ earholes this week:

I was digging some chill instrumentals this week at work, like super-duper favorite Alessandro Stefana (seriously, check out his two Guano Padano albums and his solo one, Poste e Telegrafi), and in slightly moodier fare, some Stephen R. Smith.

When we were rocking harder, it was to Big Business’s “Quadruple Single”, which we’d tried ordering as MP3s from their website. The files wouldn’t open on Pookie’s computer, so she sent an email through the site for assistance, and the band’s guitarist replied, emailing her the files directly. So we had to listen to them a lot, since they were sent with such individualized care and attention, right?

Futurewatch! Things we’re excited for:

Hey, remember where we mentioned Alessandro Stefana a few sentences ago? (Because seriously, you should, because everyone should be listening to Guano Padano. It’s so much fun!) Well, we learned this week that he’s got a new project coming out some time in 2013:

There was a Nora Roberts book that came out a few years ago where the hero is a painter. The heroine looks at one of his works of flowers along a roadside in Ireland and says, “When I look at it, I feel like I’m on a roadside in Ireland surrounded by flowers, and isn’t that the point of art?” Needless to say, we’ve gotten a lot of mileage out of laughing at that quote and saying, “No, no it is not the point of art.” (I should add, though, that the book, “Chesapeake Blue”, is fabulous.) This new Alessandro Stefana song makes me feel like I’m eating delicious ice cream in a sunny piazza in Italy, and isn’t that the point of music?

— Pookie

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Project Hydra Head For Your Earholes: Week 1

To kick off another year of awesome music, we picked up a grab bag of 30 CDs from Hydra Head Records.  We’re going to snag one at random each weekend, give it a spin, and then keep track of it here, along with notes about whatever else is tickling our musical fancy that week.  It’s a sort of Project365 for Your Earholes!

Week 1: “Conquerer” by Jesu

Jesu - Conquerer

I sort of cheated with this week, because I didn’t pull this at random.  Before committing to buying the grab bag, I checked out a few HHR bands, and Jesu sounded amazing.  I was very eagerly anticipating this one, and had high expectations for some mind-blowing complex post-metal weirdness.  OK, first lesson of Project Hydra Head for Your Earholes: don’t have any expectations.  This album was much more straight-forward and listenable than I imagined; it wasn’t the least bit weird or challenging.  That wasn’t really disappointing per se, but the vocals definitely threw me for a loop.  They were like something out of some “indie” band — inoffensive and airy.  I can see the track “Conqueror” being a staple on Spring playlists for years to come, but my initial reaction is that I’d like this a lot more with different vocals.

— Pookie

Also tingling the ol’ earholes this week:

Creature with the Atom Brain – it’s like what Queens of the Stone Age should sound like

Big Business – after wallowing in a lot of Mark Lanegan in December, it was hard rock week at Maple Hoo!  Hands up, indeed.

John Zorn’s “The Concealed” – it’s like a slightly more serious Dreamers


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