Same Places (Slow Version)
Guitar Series Vol. III
Table of the Elements
Phono LP, laser etching, clear/mottled vinyl
Illustration by Savage Pencil
Wafting, vaporously, from the suffocating heat of New Orleans, Belong shimmers like a mirage: vaguely discernible, yet always at the edge of an unobtainable horizon. Collaborators Mike Jones and Turk Dietrich employ a singular and remarkably inscrutable studio technique (Dietrich's remix skills extend to Nine Inch Nails' "The Frail") to wholly liquefy source material - here electric guitars - into wave upon breaking wave of sound. Comparisons are frequently made to William Basinski's notorious "Disintegration Loops," and both efforts speak to intimate loss experienced on an epic, collective, and horrific scale: 9/11 and Katrina, respectively. But while Basinski's self-destructing loops articulate a one-way road to oblivion, Belong's music is not only degenerative, it's regenerative.
With "Same Places (Slow Version)," Belong evinces a slow-motion transformation - plate tectonics, wired for sound. Aural mountains melt into seas; yet icy barrens yield to breathing jungles of detail. The single, sprawling track may evoke decay, dissolution and destruction, but underfoot are tendrils of inexplicable joy. Belong sings a lullaby of obliteration, and the paradox it embodies would make both Kevin Shields and Tony Conrad proud: crushing melancholia and shuddering euphoria, inexorably intertwined.
Jonathan Kane’s February
Collections of Colonies of Bees
School of Seven Bells
Melissa St. Pierre (Japan)
Impala Eardrums: A Radium Sampler
Radium/Table of the Elements
Compact disc, poster, video (Japan)/Phono LP, white vinyl, 4/C labels, 2x posters
Original video by Bradly Brown and Jeff Hunt
For fifteen years, Table of the Elements has been the preeminent source of avant audio, championing minimal, improvised, and outsider musics of various spots and stripes. Now, as its influence radiates outward, the label presents Radium, its “rock” imprint, showcased here with Impala Eardrums, A Radium Sampler. While minimalist legend Rhys Chatham leads the way with a delightful unreleased piece from his mid-80s archives, most of the other contributors are younger folks, from a new generation of performers. It’s a diverse bunch, ranging from the raw Americana of Megafaun and Jonathan Kane, to the humid, pulsating krautrock of Ateleia and the spectral songcraft of Paul Duncan. Neptune serves up its version of home-forged proto-clangor, while Collections of Colonies of Bees and School of Seven Bells pour forth in glistening, shimmering waves. Together, these eight tracks — all previously unreleased on CD — have one thing in common: a resolute will to march headlong into the untamed brambles and briar patches of 21st-century sound.
“Table of the Elements was established in 1993, and since then has released some of the most gorgeous looking and most aurally intriguing releases to grace the music scene. Providing a home to such artists as the hugely respected avant-garde violinist Tony Conrad, harpist Zeena Parkins, Krautrock kings Faust, Sonic Youth mainman Thurston Moore, guitar god Loren Connors, Japanese noise merchant Keiji Haino, British weird-folk lynchpin Richard Youngs and the late Derek Bailey among many, many others, it is pretty easy to see the kind of influence they have had. Fifteen years on and the label shows no signs of letting up. Without Table of the Elements the world would be a far duller place.”
“This philosophy of risk works because everyone associated with the label feels like they’re doing important work, releasing important records, and they’re willing to go for broke to make it happen.”
“Table of the Elements are fearless purveyors of the wildest stuff around.”
New York Times
“A national treasure.”