Have you seen the paintings in Mexico? sold as posters with that beautiful blue and the big hand with the stigmata.
"La Mano Poderosa" The All-Powerful Hand
From The forthcoming album "Atmospheric Composition and Climatic Phenomenon" part of the oral history component of "A History of the Earth"
right click download for pc
control click download link for mac
part of "A History of the Earth" (an oral history) songs I recorded including conceptual sound pieces from the dawn of time...
Heres a ton of reviews from an assortment of projects I'm involved with:
City Pages, April 2006 page 121
BEST OLD BAND
Although Salamander have been together in one configuration or another since guitarists Sean Connaughty and Erik Wivinus first started collaborating in 1992, last year's Bent Hemlock is a promising new portent for a band usually welcomed more warmly on out-of-town radio stations and concert stages than in their hometown. (Their record label is located in Australia.) A mix of the mossy, the creaky, and the downright fresh, Hemlock starts with the acidly bittersweet Brit-folk plaint "Galleon" (sung by middle-school prodigy Madeline Westby), and ends with the wheezy, weary modal drones of "An Open Transom." In between, the band waves to Leonard Cohen, nods to Nuggets, and winks at Spacemen 3 without really sounding like any of them. And their low profile masks a veritable anthill of activity. Wivinus recently embarked on a solo East Coast tour, Dave Onnen and Matt Zaun play in Blitzen, and Connaughty's 2004 solo disc, Five Hands Tall, was a haunting slab of brain-bent verbal improvising. Plus, the band members provide much of the musical and logistical support for the now annual Heliotrope music festival. It just goes to show, you don't have to be seen on the scene to have a powerful, positive effect on it.
««BEST NEW BAND BEST BAND TO BREAK UP IN THE PAST 12 MONTHS»»
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Album: Bent Hemlock
Label: Camera Obscura
“Bent Hemlock” is a leap forward for the Minneapolis psych/improv masters in Salamander. From the beginning there’s always been a welcome acid folk edge to their wall of drone, but with their fourth album the folk finally comes to the foreground, and not surprisingly, helps flesh out some of their most dynamic work. The results are a rich, hallucinatory trek through deep waters and darker shadows.
Opener “Galleon” is propelled on a windswept rush of acoustic guitars and a honey dipped vocal by guest Madeline Westby. She was just 11 when it was recorded, but the performance is as deeply evocative as Sandy Denny in her prime—no exaggeration. The song itself is a Lovecraftian vision of oceanic gloom that details the exploits of cursed sailors over a crystalline bed of foreboding. The downcast “The River Song” ambles along on fingerpicks and acid guitar splashes beneath a rough vocal. “The Somnambulist,” a raga of fire and ice, is an omen for the impassioned “Hail,” which plays like a cross between Six Organs of Admittance and John Steinbeck with Sean Connaughty’s lead vocal sounding a call that would rouse even the most downtrodden dust-bowlers.
“Clearing” is less than two minutes of ringing acoustic string work that gives way to the prog folk workout, “Portal.” Featuring a midway dive towards the darker depths, this is about as close as you’ll come to an American Comus, and Comus basically wrote the book on feverish prog folk. “Diagram,” on the other hand, is soul-searching acoustic pop with a distinctive mid 70s flavor, but it’s “The Visionary Kind” that ups the ante with its slide fuzz guitar and lumbering “hey haw” harmonies atop busy hand percussion. There’s more too, from the acid folk of “Call of the Hills” to the sadly defiant “No Harmless Target,” the fierce fever dreams of “Ascension” and closer “An Open Transom,” which fuses raga and rustic drones.
“Bent Hemlock” is an intense, grim, voyage through the watery depths and your own backyard, all glimpsed through a rather paranoid lens. Despite any suggestions to the contrary, it’s an album for our age. It’s also one of the best psych folk releases of 2005. Fans of Stone Breath, Six Organs of Admittance and The Satyrswitch (among others mentioned) should stowaway aboard this haunted vessel.- Lee Jackson
* Lee Jackson (Texaonline music magazine and proponent of proper booth plurality
s, USA), writer
Playlist of august:
1. Soft Machine ôs/tö --Every minute of this classic lp just blows me away. Only had Vol. 2 for the longest time, which is quirky, eccentric pop compared to the all out psych damaged space manifestations the Machine conjures here. Explosive production, consummate musicianship, and no guitars to get in the way.
2. Linus Pauling Quartet ôKilling You With Rock.ö--ôDance of the Bug Peopleö off the 4Æs latest stomp/psych monster is surely the freakiest stoned groove ever laid to magnetic tape.
3. Robert Wyatt ôRock Bottomö/öRuth is Stranger Than Richardö --Two pinnacles from WyattÆs post Soft Machine solo career. Proto post rock or just haunting, droning, jazzy psych rock?...you be the judge.
4. Roy Montgomery ôAnd Now The Rain Sounds Like Life is Falling Down Through Itö-- I think this guy has his own personal phone line to the heavens via his guitar and tascam 4-track, and Drunken Fish are my own personal Linda Tripp getting all the tasty details down on tape.
5. Linus Pauling Quartet ôJason Billö Consider me a fan...From the Worship Guitars MP3 singles club(http://www.hypercon.com/worshipguitars).
6. Vortex Navigation Company ôPoison in the Waterö --A fellow from the psych/drone ensemble Salamander goes it solo delivering some very spaced acoustic drones that are reminiscent of the Charalambides and Roy M. Completely hypnotic. From the Camera Obscura MP3 singles club (http://www.cameraobscura.com.au).
7. Small Faces ôs/tö--Fierce, bluesy psych pop that predates and beats Zeppelin at their own game, though they pull it off with shorter, punkier numbers.
8. Cornelius ôFantasmaö --Post pop thatÆs similar to Beck but me thinks much more inventively produced, and thereÆs a blatant Brian Wilson fixation to boot.
9. Silkworm ôBluebloodö --Fine new album of midtempo pop thatÆs as heavy as it is breathtaking. Something of an acquired taste perhaps, but they still get my vote as one of AmericaÆs finest as far as this sort of thing goes.
10. Doldrums ôFeng Shuiö-- From Richmond, VA and completely addictive. Droney psych folk/noise concoction that is, I think the word is,mind-blowing.
Sonic Youth site:
“My bandmate Sean Connaughty is a well-recognized grant-recipient type painter who sometimes has built speakers into the frames (with horn tweeters) and behind the canvases of some of his larger paintings and used his own ambient sountrax thru them for his gallery showings”
SEAN CONNAUGHTY – FIVE HANDS TALL
(Mutant Music, P.O. Box 4549, Saint Paul, MN 55104 USA http://www.mutantmusic.com/hungryghosts.htm)
There’s a living-room immediacy to the improvised campfire songs on this second solo effort from the Salamander and Vortex Navigation Company frontman that occasionally sounds like Bill (Smog) Callahan covering Tim Buckley’s back catalogue. A few “Glory, hallelujah”s and “Amen, brother”s short of a Bible-belt revival house shoutalong, “Glory” may, nevertheless find Robert Johnson doing somersaults in his grave and track 2 reminded me of Timothy Renner’s monotonic murder ballads from his Stone Breath, Snakeoil Jamboree and Timothy the Revelator personas, while track 3 is warmly reminiscent of Leonard Cohen or Tom Waits on the losing end of a couple of rounds with a few (too many) bottles of Merlot.
The terminally depressed and suicide-prone are well advised to skip over track 4, or at least hide the needles and spoons. I haven’t been this harrowingly depressed since Neil Young’s ‘Tonight’s the Night,’ as Connaughty’s naked tales of bottoming out wallow in places few junkies and alcoholics have ever visited. Ugly…frightening…heartbreaking, and extremely dark. For those with x-Anonymous Hot Lines on speed dial. (Jeff Penczak Friday, February 25, 2005
@ The Soo Visual Arts Center
Sean Connaughty must be angling for the title of Twin Cities ultimate renaissance man, throwing a CD release party for his new avant garde folk record (the starkly beautiful Five Hands Tall which features frazzled nine-minute ballads with cryptic lyrics like, “You look down at your legs one day and notice three instead of two”) that also doubles as a showcase for some of his new paintings. But wait—there’s more! The gig is also featuring a silent art auction fundraiser (with works donated by Connaughty’s artist friends) that hopes to get funds together for Connaughty to pursue some film projects. I haven’t seen this man’s film or painting work, but if it’s half as intriguing as his record, we’re dealing with a seriously skilled triple-threat here. 5-8 p.m. Free. All Ages. 2640 Lyndale Avenue S., Mpls.
Mats review of FHT Broken Face, Sweden:
Tuesday, April 26, 2005
After the goldrush #5…part 2
Sean Connaughty is a well-known figure in the Minneapolis psych/folk/drone scene as a member of Salamander and the Vortex Navigation Company. Five Hands Tall (Mutant Music) is his second solo outing and like his other groups it explores the possibilities of apocalyptic American folk and improvisation. But unlike the other groups this is all the way through a very sparse album where the vocals and improvised lyrics remain at the very front position, covering all sorts of dark and frightening subjects. It’s almost more like spoken word than singing and it’s difficult to think of a voice more suitable for all this than Connaughty’s. It might get a bit too repetitious after a while but it’s nonetheless a rewarding acoustic journey through the improvised psyche of Mr. Connaughty.
BROKEN FACE review
Salamander Bent Hemlock (Camera Obscura)
Here’s one of the most anticipated records I’ve been fortunate to treat my ears with in the last cpl of months, a brand new recording from Salamander, the much-beloved Minneapolis psych/space/improv/folk unit. I am positive that most long-time fans will enjoy this CD but I am also quite sure that they’ll be equally surprised by its relatively downcast folk vibe. With slow dark folk attributes, Salamander escorts us to a dark rural vista and when you expect the guitars from the previous records to suddenly blast in, they choose to explore the same hidden track through the outskirts of forested psych/folk all over again, and the results are just mind-bending. The improvisational component is still very much present but it’s playing a much more sporadic and concentrated role on Bent Hemlock.
The relatively short opener “Galleon” presents a solemn combination of beauty and melancholy, with the unmistakable touch of the Appalachians hovering just on top of 11 year-old Madeline Westby’s angel-like vocal delivery. Then “The River Song” is positively gothic in its presentation, a vibe that largely comes from Sean Connaughty’s unmistakable voice and I guess that the violin that meanders around the acoustic guitar just further cements this feel. Before it all sinks to the eerie depths of the ocean some tasty guitar fuzz appears on the horizon, but we can only hear it in the distance and when the acoustic brilliance of the slightly Pelt-sounding “The Somnambulist” appears it’s already long gone. The more upbeat “Portal” is closer to what we’ve come to expect from this quartet, but then “Diagram” again emphasizes on the most vulnerable side of their repertoire. “Nocturne” is just like a handful of other tracks on the album an instrumental snippet of sorts that beautifully manages to knit a strong link between the relatively different styles of the band’s two primary songwriters, the aforementioned Connaughty and Erik Wivinus. “Call of the Hills” is a Wivinus track that sets acoustic guitar strumming against a howling wall of feedback and in the middle of it all we find Dave Onnen and Matt Zaun not only providing an impressive rhythm section but also keeping the whole thing in one piece.
Despite its relatively mellow vibe, Bent Hemlock is easily one of the most haunting records I’ve heard in 2005. It’s an album of great depth of maturity, and honestly quite unlike anything you’re likely to hear this year. This better make some year-end top ten lists.
# posted by Mats @ 4:18 AM
) Salamander "Bent Hemlock" (Camera Obscura) As if to confound any and all expectations out of the gate; Salamander kick things off with supernatural 11 year old guest vocalist Madeline Westby narrating a haunted Brit-folk chiller, over stark shadows, strings and acoustic guitar on Galleon. From there we find ourselves in a dark smoky folk procession; acoustic instruments saw, drone, intone and swirl like gold wire spun in the sun. But, the sunlight here is slim, and twilight gives way to a night that never ends. Stark in the dark.This takes off in a lot of unexpected directions for a band more often identified with a heavier; or at least louder space rock rooted sound. Here it feels like a they all reached into their own genetic ancestors prehistories to illuminate the baker's dozen tracks here. By stretching into new shapes and forms, the band have to rely more on song structures than ever before, and rise to the occasion with some really evocative and fully realized visions. Psychedelic in ways they have only touched upon previously; this fourth album the most interesting, rewarding, and mature Salamander release yet.
From: Tony Dale
Date: April 29, 2005 10:41:57 PM PDT
To: Erik Wivinus , firstname.lastname@example.org, Sean Connaughty
Cc: "Hans von Seydlitz - Clear Spot \(Promotion\)"
Subject: Dream Magazine review
From Issue #5 - is it out yet?
PATRICK PORTER – LISHA KILL
(Camera Obscura, PO Box 5069 Burnley VIC 3121 Australia)
Porter’s third release on our favorite Australian label, including the criminally overlooked ‘Reconsidered’ (2000) from his old Phineas Gage project is yet another stylistic turn – this time for mainly acoustic field recordings at a house in Schenectady, NY two summers ago. ‘Good People with Bad Credit,’ with its repeated chorus of “I’m going crazy”is a gentle tonesetter that stylistically and sonically snuggles somewhere halfway between Pinup Boy du jour, Conor Oberst and Neutral Milk Hotel’s concierge, Jeff Mangum. Matters slide down the psychological razor blade from there with the jolly suicide note, ‘End Badly’ and ‘Hospital’’s anguished plea for help (“Get me to the hospital quick/Save me…save me…save me…”) is all the more poignant when you realise that it was inspired by a hit-and-run death that Porter witnessed right in front of his rented house/recording studio. The ending is so abrupt, you can literally imagine someone standing in the middle of the street one moment and SPLAT!…becoming road pizza the next.
If Jack Nicholson’s character in ‘The Shining’ had been a musician instead of a writer, he might have typed up pages of lyrics for songs as harrowingly lonely and emotionally scarred as these. The title track reminded me of dreamy, alt.country stars, The Fruit Bats (particularly ‘Slipping Through the Sensors’ from the wonderful ‘Mouthfuls’ (Sub Pop, 2003), but don’t come here looking for Wilco or Jayhawks retreads – Porter’s arrangements are much sparser…naked even… and hummable earcandy is not the order of the day.
‘Lisha Kill,’ a reference to a local river, not some socialite’s murder, also works as an alternative soundtrack to ‘The Blair Witch Project:’ admittedly bleaker, but possibly better suited to the material than all those Gothic trappings that drowned the “official” soundtrack recording. Its psychologically stark, lost in the woods with no direction home vibe is also comparable in its emptiness to Sean Connaughty’s latest (‘Five Hands Tall’) that we reviewed last issue. Lonely, latenight introspective horrorshows that you probably don’t want your babysitter listening to while protecting the life of your two year old!
The full instrumentation on ‘Window Seat’ (guitar, bass, drums and a nifty keyboard solo) adds a more polished veneer and a sense of completeness to the track, making it one of the album’s more accessible pieces, while ‘Free Kittens’ benefits from a laid-back, strummy, stoney, seventies vibe perfect for lying in burned-out basements staring at full moons. An intelligent, challenging treatise on cabin fever and the games one’s mind can play when left to its own stimuli-deprived devices. (Jeff Penczak)
· · Vol 25 · Issue 1255 · PUBLISHED 12/22/2004
Strangers in Town
Meet near-legends Cepia and Sean Connaughty
by Rod Smith
The Twin Cities abound with reverse hometown heroes--niche market artists who reap far-flung accolades while enjoying relative obscurity here. Franz Kamin, Cordell Klier, Chris Cunningham, Adam Johnson--the roster of internationally recognized local music-makers you've probably never heard of could easily fill both sides of a cocktail napkin. Some, like Berlin-based, ex-Minneapolitan laptopper Jacob Mandell, vamoose, opting for smaller frogdom in exchange for wetter ponds. Others seem perfectly comfy with being famous for 15 blocks. Tony Glover, for instance, might rarely be recognized outside of the West Bank, but he can walk around Richfield with the knowledge that his name is revered by blues aficionados from Vladivostok to San Diego.
Sean Connaughty hasn't won a neighborhood yet, although the guitarist and painter seems deeply entrenched at Lyn-Lake's Soo Visual Arts Center. A near-legend among near-legends, Connaughty's rep hinges mostly on his fretwork and vocals for Minneapolis-based psychedelic bands Salamander and Vortex Navigation Company. While neither is the touring kind, both outfits boast discs on Camera Obscura--the well-disseminated, Melbourne-based psych, folk, and psych-folk label whose alignment with Ptolemaic Terrascope magazine and the sadly flatlined Terrastock festival have helped make it a favorite among lovers of nouveau acid rock.
On Five Hands Tall, his second solo release (and first on Salamander bassist Dave Onnen's Mutant Music label), the righteous snarl he sometimes wields in ensembles is absent, as are the bands' occasional forays into songdom. Low-key and focused, Connaughty plays improvising acoustic troubador, freestyling like Burl Ives on a cocaine and Courvoisier bender over nuanced muleskinner drones. Keeping his playing and singing simple and repetitive affords the mental leeway Connaughty needs to pull the album's spontaneous narrative out of his ass.
"Glory, glory hallelujah/Teacher hit me with a ruler," he begins, by way of introducing one of the album's principal characters on album opener "Glory One." Glory, a young woman who "ran with a wicked crowd and didn't give a damn for you and me," comes and goes throughout the disc, like the shadowy Mr. Whittaker, "who knows a thing or two about baking." At his best--as when he rhymes "synapses" with "synopsis"--Connaughty could give Aesop Rock a run for his money. His occasional faltering moments work better still, endowing the album's bedroom surrealism with a goofy outsider charm.
At first glance--and listen--Huntley Miller, a.k.a. Cepia, couldn't have less in common with Connaughty. On Dowry, his five-track solo debut, the recovering bass guitarist's weapon of choice is a Mac G4 laptop. Miller deploys the computer mostly in the service of IDM (intelligent dance music), a strain of electronica that relies on melody, harmony, and personality as well as the usual beats and novel sounds. The EP is meticulously composed and obsessively tweaked. It had to be. While powerful enough to be favored by a slew of academic composers, Max, the software Miller uses, can only do what he tells it--exactly.
Despite the fuss inherent in digital sound creation, Miller is as intrepid as his improvising review-mate. Adventurous even for IDM, he strays from his chosen genre's wide and crooked path altogether on side-enders (this is vinyl!) "Countrytime" and "L2," eschewing all but the faintest trace of beat in pursuit of the drone- and texture-based sublime. Plus, unlike purely loop-based efforts, Miller's tracks are "through-composed"-fancy-pants jargon for music in which every measure is at least slightly different from the others. His appetite for abstraction renders the end result playfully baroque and surprisingly warm-blooded.
The richly contrapuntal meat of Dowry differs from Five Hands' muscle-driven near-loops in a couple of ways: Miller has to figure out and program all the minor variations that come naturally to Connaughty as he devotes most of his brainpower to maintaining a story line. Plus, Miller's stuff is as thoroughly baked as Connaughty's is red in the center. Apart from that--and the obvious sonic dissimilarities--the artists are like legumes on a knife. Neither depends on music for a living. They both record at home. Most importantly, Miller's label, the Detroit-based Ghostly International, is the electronic equivalent of Camera Obscura, an idiosyncratic indie beast whose tentacles reach every corner of the globe. Somewhere, perhaps, dwells an extremely geeked-out polymath who loves both discs. But (s)he probably doesn't live here.
· · Vol 25 · Issue 1255 · PUBLISHED 12/22/2004
City Pages is the Online News and Arts Weekly of the Twin Cities
Star Tribune 2005
Rod Smith, freelance writer
1. Kid Dakota, "The West Is the Future" (Chairkickers Music)
2. Various Artists, "The Hungry Ghost" (Mutant Music)
3. Cepia, "Dowry" (Ghostly International)
4. Skye Klad, "Plays the Musick of Cupid's Orkustra Asleep in the Magick Powerhouse of Oz" (Hand/Eye)
5. Brother Ali, "Champion EP" (Rhyme Sayers)
6. FoodTeam, "FoodTeam EP" (FoodTeam)
7. Andrew Broder &George Cartwright, self-titled (Roaratorio)
8. Escape Mechanism, "Cast of Thousands with Escape Mechanism" (Recombinations)
9. Paul Metzger, "Paul Metzger" (Mutant Music)
10. Sean Connaughty, "Five Hands Tall" (Mutant Music)
SALAMANDER | BENT HEMLOCK
CD, Camera Obscura
Wie mij tien jaar geleden had voorspeld dat psychedelische folk in de nabije toekomst ‘in’ zou raken had ik voor gek verklaard. Goed, de hitlijsten zijn dan niet bezaaid met free folk, antifolk of wat-voor-folk-dan-ook, maar dat nieuwe folkies als Joanna Newsom en Devendra Banhart op grote festivals als Roskilde (tja, je had ook naar mij moeten luisteren, Jan Smeets) staan geprogrammeerd, is toch wel een heel interessante ontwikkeling.
Het platenlabel Camera Obscura ontpopt zich zowaar als hofleverancier van nieuwerwetse folk, waarin akoestische gitaar en rustige, geestverruimende klanken centraal staan. Onlangs besprak ik nog de voortreffelijke cd van Patrick Porter, Lisha Kills. En voor Bent Hemlock, de kersverse cd van de groep Salamander, kan ik alwéér aan de paddo's.
In bijna tien jaar tijd maakte deze band vier elpees, dus van meeloperij kan je de groep niet echt beschuldigen. De dertien nummers lijken ook niet op het werk van de eerder genoemde Patrick Porter; de onheilspellende gitaarklanken van Salamander zijn vooral dreigender en minder speels. Misschien komt het door de krautrockachtige, wat ongeïnspireerde zangstijl van Sean Connaughty dat Bent Hemlock mij niet de hele vijftig minuten kan boeien. Maar ook zijn de door Salamander gebruikte traditionele arrangementen en melodieën nogal stijfjes, alsof je The Birthday Party op akoestische instrumenten laat spelen.
Laat ik zo zeggen: al is dit bijwijlen geen vervelende cd, je moet een beetje met ze oppassen, want voor je weet beland je in een bad trip. MP3: 'Galleon'
tekst: Maurice Dielemans
Bezoek Salamander's website
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Release Title: Bent Hemlock
Catalogue Number: CAM070CD
Length: 13 tracks, 51:31 mins
Release Date: 04 Feb 05
GALLEON A word to thee, who sails the sea In search of gold and freedom You'll come to naught but a watery end Should ye see the drifting galleon. They lived for rum and riches The stars did guide them well No lords, no gods, no masters The galleon served them well. With clouds of black came starless night And a sense of great foreboding The felt the strength of Fate's cruel hand A chill wind was a-blowin'. The wind had voice they knew had not Been heard in timeless aeon And in the deep below them now Awakened great Leviathan. They knew the taste of freedom Of lust for blood and gold And now they drift eternal Bound to their ancient lord. Erik Wivinus THE RIVER SONG Uncle Jim was willing to swim When he heard the crickets roar The drop of a pin and it all begins To sound uncomfortably close The distance between All the things that you see Is as close as perception allows Beneath all these a continuous ring Like the rivers endless pull Go for a swim Drop deep down in And feel what rivers feel What does it mean to be ripped out to sea Every moment you are? If you go in You can’t be the twin You can’t even be yourself It’s all swept away by the current each day By the current every day Sean Connaughty HAIL He stands above us so clean and pure He’s better than us And his shirt is starched and white And his tie is tied so neatly on his neck And he’s got all the money while we just scrape and peck At all the crumbs he leaves us isn’t he generous for offering us that? Hail to the man Hail to the man in the clean white suit And hail to the mamas, they carry the weight of two And hail to your brother He will offer up himself in your stead And hail to your sister She will take your place in the bridal bed And hail, hail, hail on us Well, I said to myself, I found my own way I found many jewels in here And I’ve seen a richness and a pattern I’ve heard the chatterin’ of the angels But they don’t listen to me They’ve got better things on their minds Even up there in the heavens The meek don’t rise above I guess its survival of the fittest in the righteous land So you forsake your meekness and say, “give it to me, give it here” Sean Connaughty PORTAL Lustrous, unearthly it glows Reflecting no light from without Oblong, milky and white You know the Key is thine. Feel it draw you in Lost memory from the Void Thoughtless to question impulses You stare into the stone. Still, feeling no fear, and staring in Time becomes abstract and meaningless Ancient presence is here So very old, beginning to share your consciousness Gradual, by slow degree The ancient one passes on secrets of aeons And now you are as one, forgetting what was Standing upon the brink, ready to fall. Hurtling back up through years Teetering up from the Void Each back to his own time Each leaving some piece behind. Into its depths you gaze Three times over three days Your world becoming elastic You know return is nigh. Now, time comes at last The ancient one refuses to heed all warnings He will not give you up, for you are as one And you both feel yourselves falling Soon you both will behold Secrets long dead, buried for years immemorial Gods whose time is long dead Here live once more, before ancient Hyperborea Protecting their lore. Living innumerable lives Hurtling backward in time Becoming many and all You live each, and each you die Monarch, soldier and slave In castle, cottage and cave Become all, yet remain none You are all and you are none Now, reach back further still Continuing down into loathsome devolution Becoming barbarian, troglodite tribe Who in turn revert to simian Now, your leathery wings beating the air Hot with magma and choked with sulphur Birth becoming death, death becomes birth And you are lost to the cycle Neither one will return again. Falling back further in time Sun growing in the red skies The continents becoming one As one becomes none again You've lost what you once sought For no seeker remains to recall What once you were is gone Both lost to cold, unfeeling Time. Here begins it all, mass without form And without head, limbs or members The end of search long forgot, yet you are here Unable to comprehend it, for you both have become Little more than one of Its gibbering minions Crawling your way through the mire Unable to know, unable to unlock the secrets Lying beneath your blind eye. Erik Wivinus (Eternal thanks to Clark Ashton Smith, whose 1933 short story "Ubbo-Sathla" provided the inspiration for these words - EW) DIAGRAM These tracks I avoid Are the ones that you laid down They’re the ones that draw a line From here to everywhere From here to everywhere I know this is a diagram I know it’s not the real deal But I can’t help but get nervous When I see you pullin’ out your steel When I see you pullin’ out your steel It’s all a simulation A depiction of what’s already done Some kind of biography It’s got nothing to do with me It’s got nothing to do with me All the birds are a sayin’ “Be kind, be kind" “Come along with me my friends” “I’ll take you all inside” “I’ll take you all inside” Sean Connaughty THE VISIONARY KIND HEY HAW They say it strictly like that They say it strictly for the man They throw their wishes out to sea And they come back in a cloud up overhead The manger is empty we’re gonna hang HEY HAW This topic is Quicksand we’re goin ‘ under This topic has not been exhausted by any means This topic depends on the papal dynasty I’m glad I wasn’t around in missionary times Cause mama was the visionary kind She dreamt about a man in a frozen lake And the statue of liberty holdin’ a rake HEY HAW All that stood before him was a woman With a compulsion to win and a suicidal love So he sits there restin’ on his fate Throw him in the river and let him go Rollin’ out to sea tossin’ on the waves Mmmm HEY HAW Sean Connaughty CALL OF THE HILLS Won't you sit a spell, son I heard tell of yer plan I'm tellin' you kid Listen to an old man. Well, I too heard the call Comin' down from them pines The voice in them hills I heard in my time. But I'm yellin' you, son The wind's blowin' ill I'm beggin' you, child Don't go in them hills. The call came to me When I was a young man There's things in them hills We just can't understand. Yer not gonna die It's not like that at all What's up in them pines Is after your soul. And the sun it won't shine It's just cold rain and hail And your poor wretched soul Will just wander and wail. It's a cold lonesome place Beyond space and time And you got no defenses From what's up in them pines. So many more in the past When the cold wind blew ill Heard the call from them woods They're all wanderin' still. And you won't get yer rest 'Neath the old willow tree You'll just wander them hills For all eternity. So laugh if you must At this senile old man For I know it's senseless Pushin' Fate's hand. But I'm tellin' you, son The wind's blowin' ill And I'm beggin' you, child Don't go in them hills. Erik Wivinus NO HARMLESS TARGET Once upon living it was not relieving it was not revealing and nor was it healing we all are inflicted with many an impulse to trust in the living to rig all our suffering once they have found you they will not deny you they take you and wrap you and endlessly follow you cannot deny them so you’d better embrace them. I cannot be everything next to your nothingness and I cannot be nothing next to your everything so disappointed in what you’ve been saying a moment is lost in this unfriendly playing a game of vindictive and selfishly praying for pity and mercy and all of its trappings when you finish carving it’s time to start adding. There’s no harmless target for your invasively cutting, decisive and well meaning surgery sharp knives are dangerous toys to be playing with what you remove you cannot replace and its senseless to try and remove all your defects it’s better to take them and invite them to dinner or you’ll come to the table remarkably thinner Sean Connaughty ASCENSION Pass through the door, like all the times before You know it will keep reoccurring Just like in times long past, so familiar The windows, the stairs and the hallways Which way now, do you go up or down Straining for recollection For so many times, each and every time The way is just beyond memory You know this hall, you know these stairs Time to begin the ascension A secret place, far from prying eyes So furtive and so clandestine. Go further in, further in, this time you will find a new way Far behind, leave them far behind This time you will open new doorways. Faster still, moving faster still The scent in the air it is changing You can feel it now, feel it calling now You know you must keep on climbing Suddenly you see the doorway That which no distant memory mentions For never before have you stayed long Enough to complete the ascension. The waking world far behind you Take the door and fling it open New vistas open up to you Can you stay long enough to absorb them? Take it in, try to take it in You know the dream soon will be ending You'll return again like all the other times You know you must try to remember You can feel it now, you know it's time The waking world it is calling It's fading now, coming crashing down You begin to feel yourself falling Faster still, falling faster still Already the details elude you... Erik Wivinus
"Birds Of Appetite" & "Skye Klad"
A trip beyond the temporal dimension ensured by a psychedelic spice-loaded double LP, and one beyond the co-ordinates of cosmos conveyed by the magmatic propellant of a space-rock band as dark and abrasive as few others...
The double vinyl package (heavyweight as in the good past times) is the third seal bearing the moniker of Salamander, an incredible quartet led by the visionary Sean Connaughty and Erik Wivinus, prophetic experimenters of future soundscapes in the previous "Red Ampersand" and "Red Mantra", and now come to a sonic turn with shades of exotic folk, of Asia and ancient Egypt, of increasingly half-acoustic and less and less noise scraped timbre solutions, partially tuned to what recently proposed by Shalabi Effect or Idyll Swords. This holds especially true for "Birds of Appetite"'s first volume, opened by the indianisms of "Vessel Is Vacant" e "Isthmus", coloured of hippy pigmentation in "Minutia Divine" (a little gothic tale set in the woods of Twink, Sam Gopal, and "Beard Of Stars"' Tyrannosaurus Rex), exposed to the heavy weather of "Sadhu", slowly self-assembling as a minimal tangram until finding a Floydian beat to the Sun's heart control room. The third side, wholly taken by "Trench Of Fire", is the more experimental and chaotic, thundering and reverberating until encompassing globular masses of scratched post-rock, without renouncing to introverted lysergic combustions of High Tide ancestry. Finale with the psychedelic gallop of "Mumpsimus' Lament" and the solemn floydescent progression of "The Wreck Of Old", liquefied in the vapours of an enigmatic organ. Music of lavish fantasy, as lavish is the packaging, wrapped in the beautiful paintings, psychedelic as well, by Connaughty. Definitely worth your money, even though the postal freight will add a sensible contribution, but be quick because this is a very limited edition...
Erik Wivinus is also member of a local legend in the Twin Cities' space-rock scene, Skye Klad (not to be confused with the almost homonyms Skyclad, champions of early 90ties folk-metal). Especially known as a stable presence of the Strange Daze festival (the one dedicated to the Hawkwind) and as organisers of the Solarium (happening that annually sets Minneapolis ablaze with its no-stop of psychedelia, free jazz and other alternative musics), the five relevant psycho-terrorists had up to now made only one impossible to find self-produced CD. "Skye Klad" restarts from zero with its really hard mixture of Hawkwind/Can space fuel and Bauhaus/Joy Division dark wave, made credible by a vocalist, Adam Backstrom, sounding as a cross-breed between Peter Murphy and Damo Suzuki. Another distinctive element is given by the virtual absence of keyboards, replaced in the topic moments by a theremin. Big emotions come from the opener "Mind's Eye" (with a surf emphasis!), from "Ionosfere"'s atmospheric suggestions, from "Toxaphene"'s vibrating freakbeat, from "Amber" and "Falling Clear"'s barrettesque hallucinations. An absolute must, almost completely downloadable from the band's site (www.skyeklad.com). A kick in the stomach of the logic of copyright and profit...
Salamander were formed in 1992 in Minneapolis by guitarists Erik Wivinus and Sean Connaughty to perform psychedelic jams in a style that merges Cul De Sac and Flying Saucer Attack, progressive-rock and ambient-rock. Doug Morman (bass) and Bryce Kastning (drums) complete the line-up on Red Ampersand (Camera Obscura, 1998), a collection of mostly free-form abstract pieces (recorded years earlier). Carved Into Water is the ghostly ambient track that best summarizes their praxis.
Red Mantra (Camera Obscura, 1999) collects more material from the vaults and a couple of new pieces. The highlight is the 25-minute Red Mantra, a Valentyne Suite for the Bardo Pond generation.
Bent Hemlock (Camera Obscura, 2005) displays the same virtues of the debut album, but the material is bit unfocused and possibly too varied. The songs feel more like raw fragments (no matter how cute) than finished goods. (Translation by/ Tradotto da xxx)
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Vortex review TMPATF
Between 1996 and 1998, Minneapolis-based psychedelic improv unit Salamander was effectively out of commission. Sean Connaughty and Erik Wivinus, two of the musicians behind the collective, kept their 4-track recorders humming with assorted side projects. While Wivinus occupied himself with Gentle Tasaday, Connaughty and former co-worker Wes Morden formed Vortex Navigation Company. THINGS MAKE PATTERNS AS THEY FALL collects two separate sets of VNC's basement tapes. As a result, the album has a distinctly split personality. "Green Pyramid (Things Not Seen)" and "Flying Low Over Green Hills," extended improvisations recorded in Connaughty's "garden basement womb," resume the mystic thread of Salamander. Guitarists Connaughty and Morden engage in fluid telepathic dialog, their entwined lines skirting, skating, and spiraling along thematic figures in trance-like response. Wivinus joins (on drums) on "Europa," a psychotropic colossus that incorporates the tranquility of Popul Vuh, the fervor of Sun Dial, and the ageless melody of "The Little Drummer Boy." VNC recordings made at Morden's house project a very different backwoods folk demeanor. "Holler" and "The Welcoming River" are shadowy and fraught with mystery, while angel-pure harmonies and a luminous blend of acoustic strumming and electric pick-work highlight VNC's reading of the traditional "Down in the Willow Garden."
Salamander - Birds of Appetite (Camera Obscura)
Minneapolis’ finest psychedelic export have once again delivered the goods on this, their third full-length (all on CamOb.) Guitarists Erik Wivinus (also of local legends Skye Klad and Gentle Tasaday – whose debuts are also available from Cam Ob) and Sean Connaughty (also of The Vortex Navigations – debut on Cam Ob as well) team up with bassist Doug Morman and skinpounder Matt Zaun (another Skye Klad member) for a collection of ethnic wyrdfolk which is lighter than their previous “Red” outings (“Mantra” and “Ampersand”) and heavier on the Floydisms, ca. “Set the Controls....” In fact, leadoff track “Vessel Is Vacant” cops the riff right out from under Water’s nose and eases its way into our cranium like a hot knife through butter. It ends so abruptly, however, I thought they left the coda on the cutting room floor.
“Ithsmus” is easier to absorb than pronounce, circling around the room like a spider ensnaring her prey in a web of guitar duals, Connaughty and Wivinus challenging each other in a series of “can you top this?” guitar runs. “Minutia Divine” has a hint of Spanish air about it, with Connaughty’s flamenco-styled guitar hovering over the proceedings as samples, loops, acoustic guitars and Zaun’s special fx rumble along like tribal warriors readying for the “sweat tent.”
Leonard Nimoy introduces the 11-minute jam, “Sadhu” (in the preamble, “Yeoman, Pt. 1”), which springboards from its early “Set The Controls…” atmospherics into referential nods to Grimble Grumble’s “Future” The Only Point of Entry” and the band’s earlier workouts like “Old Mr. Jones” along the way. It features more spacey “swooshes” over Connaughty’s crystalline electric guitar runs as Wivinus serpentines his way over, under, sideways, down and back again in the finest tradition of twin guitar gods Deebank & Lawrence (Felt) and Lever and Smithies (Chameleons.) Snippets of Disintegration-era Robert (Cure) Smith also sneak in for a few guest riffs. This is a guitar head’s fantasy come true and these two masters have adjourned as the new “heads” of the class of ’01!
Those who remember the 3xLP/2xCD compilation, Harmony of the Spheres from a few years back will appreciate the awe and mystery of the ominous “Trench of Fire” (originally a sidelong, 20-minute extrava-ganja), with its familiar opening strains of Siouxsie’s “Premature Burial” eventually yielding to Connaughty’s echoey dive-bombing kamikaze assaults on the psyche while Wivinus swabs the deck with thundering Sabbath tonnage and the rhythm section announces the arrival of the Walkyrie. The tightly focused piece takes a few minutes to find its footing (common with lengthy, improvised jams of this sort), but soon combines elements of krautrock (Can and Amon Duul II come to mind) with industrial-strength, screeching guitars (perhaps inspired by the gothic influences of Wivinus’ side project, Skye Klad) that will surely have the Cleopatra death metal kids creaming in their jeans. The sensual overload pinned me to my chair, leaving permanent imprints on my cerebellum.
The jam continues on “Mumpsimus’ Lament.” Unfortunately, the slight pause between tracks fails to take advantage of the CD technology, leaving us once again with a break in the vibe, and the appearance that we are joining our heroes mid-jam, similar to the outtakes on Abunai!’s Round Wound. Just as listeners were previously forced to turn the record over, the pause is unsettling and awkward. I would have preferred if the two tracks ran together, creating a seamless continuity so obvious in the music itself. The trade-off with this missed opportunity is a vastly superior sound, particularly over my copy of the original double-vinyl release, which had annoying, bowel-evacuating, scratch-the-stylus-across-the-record scratches at the end of each side.
The clanging bells at the onset of “The Wreck of Old 99” may be some sunken liner at the bottom of one of Minnesota’s 10,000 lakes, but I’m going out on a limb and offering an alternate reading: the (often indistinguishable) TV samples and funereal organ flourishes, to my ear, signal the end of the 20th century.
Ending this album with this particular track, in light of what’s proceeded, indicates not only the end of the century, but the end of Salamander’s “phase 1” and the start of a gentler, kinder direction. Goodbye “Old Mr. Jones.” He’s dead and buried and Salamander have embarked on a new journey to the stars. The “birds of appetite” (a pseudonym for vultures?) are circling overhead observing the carnage of our past, their tears of remorse dousing the fires of the apocalypse below.
Salamander - Live at Soo Gallery (Mutant Music)
Two sidelong instrumental jams make up this limited edition (300) recording of a rare live Salamander performance from May 20 of this year. The first, "A Thirsty End" begins like a Grateful Dead tuning session - the band doesn't seem quite sure what song to play, but soon Dave Onnen's throbbing bass picks out a groove and the twin drumming of Bryce Kastning and Matt Zaun fill in the gaps, allowing guitarists Sean Connaughty and (moonlighting from Skye Klad) Erik Wivinus (doesn't he ever sleep?) to weave their magic with a vibe that is closer to the heavy grooves on their Camera Obscura "Red" albums ("Mantra" and "Ampersand") than the more recent 2xLP Birds of Appetite. The tension eases somewhat towards the end when this listener had the sense that the weight of the world had been lifted off his shoulders.
The 15-minute "Trench of Fire" on the flip finds us in a wind tunnel with Erik's vibrating baritone guitar bouncing notes off the wall with the resulting distorted feedback crescending like tentacles of flame reaching out of the titular pit. Then it's Sean's turn to run swirling loop-de-loops up and down the guitar neck and all around the resulting maelstrom.
About halfway through, over a throbbing Sabbath-on Quaaludes stomp, Wivinus and Connaughty's guitars become flamethrowers spewing sparks at each other, into the audience, through your speakers, and into your face. I'm sure there are easier ways to get a tan, but they ain't half as fun. If long, psychedelic, improvisational guitar duels are your thing, Live at Soo Gallery should be also.
The Rolling Psychedelic Circus Tour
(Land/Salamander/Primordial Undermind/Overhang Party)
Pittsburgh, PA - Stevenson Theater 9/17/99
From Aural Innovations #8 (October 1999)
The Stevenson Theater is an obscure little place... tucked away on the lower floor of a combination art supply shop and gallery in the east suburbs of Pittsburgh. Not the easiest venue to find, and not the kind of neighborhood that you necessarily want to hang around at night, looking lost. But even with my brother (a Pittsburgh resident) in tow, lost we were, because we'd headed for Penn Circle North as opposed to South. Well, with a bit of intuition and after only a single wrong turn onto a one-way street, we did manage to find the place. I knew this would be an intimate setting with hardly a flood of publicity, but I was a little surprised to find that this 'showcase' would only attract 30 or so paying customers. That same night in Columbus, Cher was playing to a packed house at $72 a head... I'm used to these injustices, but it's still nonsensical.
Anyway, the few dozen folks that made the extra effort to support underground music (literally!) got their money's worth. Though late, we did manage to catch the last few strains of ambient/space sounds offered up by the local group Land. In fact, we were told that they didn't start playing much earlier than we'd arrived, so I guess they were aware of (and perhaps themselves anxious to see) the three acts yet to follow. AI was promised that a promo copy of their single (7" vinyl and cassette) would be sent our way, and I look forward to reviewing that next time. I liked what little I'd heard.
During intermission, I was able to chat with a few folks I'd met at various other events around the midwest, and exchange stories and newly-discovered bands to impress others with, and soon learned Salamander was up next. You know, I believe I'd pay $72 to see *this* band play in an arena with all the glitz and high-tech stage gear, though I hardly think that's their style. Unfortunately, guitarist Sean Connaughty had some obvious difficulty with his amp, though it would've been really difficult to tell exactly which funny noises were actually intended and which were the 'problem.' Isn't space rock great in that sense?! Anyway, my biggest wish for this night was met right away when they charged right into the fabulous "Old Mr. Jones." As great as this is on record, this live version just smoked! It starts out as a harmless little folksy ditty with Sean's thin wispy vocals drifting along quite nicely. But then the wide-open dueling guitar jam takes over, carried on the back of Erik Wivinus' Brockian guitar sound (oddly, a semi-acoustic Vox plugged into a carpetful of pedals) and Doug Morman's steady bass. (The band were touring without drummer Bryce Kastning, but Skye Klad's Matt Zaun filled in just fine.) This wondrous tune must've run on for about a total of 20 minutes or so, and afterwards my brother said it reminded him of (the song) "Born to Go." I would've said "Lord of Light" perhaps, but it was right from the 'Space Ritual' playbook. Salamander continued with a few more lengthy improvisational psych jams, wrapping up a 50-minute smorgasbord worthy of very high praise.
Twin Cities Reader Summer Books Issue - Volume 26 - Issue 1280 - Music
Elusive Salamander prepares for Heliotrope '05
Unplugged Amphibians Follow the Sound of Roaring Crickets
Generation gaps are for losers: Salamander and their new collaborator, 12-year-old vocalist Madeline Westby
Image by Daniel Corrigan
Download and listen to "Galleon" by Salamander from their new record Bent Hemlock from Mutant Music.
by Cecile Cloutier
June 15, 2005
Salamander can't really explain why their latest disc, Bent Hemlock, hangs together so well musically and thematically, though they have their theories. Bassist Dave Onnen (on whose Mutant Music label the album has been issued) credits recording in his apartment and thus being limited to acoustic bass. Guitarist Erik Wivinus blames too much H.P. Lovecraft. But the how is clearer. Both Wivinus and guitarist Sean Connaughty have been experimenting with solo-folk stylings of late, and they've peppered past albums with short acoustic respites. "When we started putting little folk songs on the other records," Wivinus explains at the band's northeast Minneapolis practice space/studio, "the guy at Camera Obscura told me, 'I'd like to hear you guys record a whole album's worth of this!'"
Bent Hemlock has a power and a beauty less brutal than the band's usual high-volume drama. But that doesn't mean that interplanetary improv has been lost in space. Bits of it pop up all over the record--threaded around and through songs. And "An Open Transom" concludes the record in a whir of rasping strings and delay.
Connaughty free-associates words over tunes, and comes up with mostly winners. The opening line of "The River Song" is truly memorable: "Uncle Jim/Was willing to swim/Until he heard the crickets roar." "Hail" is a Dylan-like bit of spit on a hot stove, with layers of acoustic guitars, a touch of bass, and a chime struck with nagging regularity. Wivinus's songs are less raw and intimate, but his craft serves as a contrast. "Ascension" and "Portal" could easily have popped up on a Nuggets-style comp of lost folk-psych, while the disc's opener, "Galleon," pits a pure guest vocal (from 12-year-old vocal prodigy Madeline Westby) against grim lyrics about a disastrous treasure expedition. The song helps set Hemlock's unsettling yet listenable tone.
For all their popularity in the insular worldwide underground psychedelic scene, the band's immediate concerns are local--preparing for the second annual Heliotrope Festival, which Wivinus co-curates with Pins guitarist Rich Barlow. Scheduled to appear are studio-mate Zak Sally's White Map, TVBC leader Paul Metzger, Salubrious Invertebrae, and one of the final public performances of guitarist Michael Yonkers. And, yes, Salamander and the Pins.
Salamander will perform a handful of Hemlock's songs at Heliotrope, with Westby helming "Galleon." Wivinus met Westby, then 10 years old, singing "Moon River" at a cookout for his wife's co-workers. Her first entry into the convoluted Salamander family tree was performing with Wivinus and percussionist Erik Hofferber as Confession and Recantation, backing Karl Dreyer's 1928 film The Passion of Joan of Arc at Red Eye Theater and the College of St. Catherine earlier this year.
The band's still floored by Westby's professionalism, and her supportive mother. Wivinus expresses surprise at Madeline's mom's willingness to let her " weirdo music with weirdo artists." But it just makes sense: If I had a daughter willing to travel the music universe between pop-song standards and "Galleon's" "lust for blood and gold," I'd hope that she'd have as able co-conspirators as Salamander.
Star Trib Blurb by Ryan:
A half-dozen cool things in the world of music, observed from two points of view:
Salamander, "Bent Hemlock." Previous releases have been heavy on improvisation, but this one (on the Australian label Camera Obscura) is more song-based. Best described as "acid folk," this is one of the best Twin Cities records ever made.
Smog, "A River Ain't Too Much to Love." Bill Callahan delivers another somber and mostly acoustic affair with help from Joanna Newsom (piano) and Jim White (Dirty Three's drummer). Melancholy but with his usual wicked sense of dry humor intact.
Soul Jazz Records. This label has done essential reissues from a variety of sources, on vinyl and CD. Recent releases include compilations of funky jazz, gospel soul and Studio One reggae. Everything on this label is well worth owning.
Ryan Cameron, owner, www.letitbe.com
SALAMANDER : Bent Hemlock CD Camera Obscura Kr. 135
Det vi tidligere oppfatta som space-dronere fra Minneapolis er tilbake med at album som mer enn noen gang oser av psyk/folk. Vi har sett tendenser til det tidligere, men aldri så bredt anlagt og perfeksjonert som her. Her er stadig spor av episk progressiv-folk, space-acid, psych-pop og denslags, men hovedinntrykket er mer fragilt. Tonen settes igrunnen med åpningslåten, enslags Lovecraft-aktig sak med vokal av den 11 år gamle chanteusen Madelaine Westby på vokal. Kvartett; alle slags gitarer, orgel, dulcimer, e-bow, perkusjon, bass, loops, shabai og vokal. Meget velkomment nytt album.
curator: mnartists.org - Special Projects
# of items: 28
date created: Nov 23, 2004
"The Holidays": This season includes the solstice, celebrating the miracle of human survival as part of the vast turnings of the universe, and the miracle of the sun’s return. And it includes Christmas, the celebration of the entry of the divine into the human state, in order to reconnect humanness to its divine origin. It also includes Hannukkah, a celebration of the unlikely kindness of the divine, providing an everyday sort of miracle to honor and sustain a superhuman effort of human beings on behalf of their contract with the divine. There are many reasons, both secular and sacred, to celebrate at the end of the solar year. Of course for some of us, just the fact that the thing is over is reason enough.
In any case, in America, the most religious of all modern industrial nations, these celebrations are fervently pursued. But also, in America, we have made a kind of parallel religion of commerce. Some would say this is a most excellent thing, producing greater wealth for everyone; others would take a more jaundiced view, saying it uses resources and time to produce waste, excess, and rivers of dreck. But The Holidays, this festival, is also an intense festival in the Church of Commerce.
Artists, as both representatives of the divine spark of creation and producers of things to buy, have an interest in this odd marriage of fervent spirituality and raw buying and selling. We at mnartists.org have thought long and hard about how to enter this nexus with care and effectiveness. We’ve decided to invite the participation by noted selectors of things to buy, things that are redeemd from mere objects by the light of human creativity that illumines them.
mnartists.org has invited local celebrities to help us curate a collection of gifts from the work on mnartists.org. Participants include: Minneapolis Mayor, R.T. Rybak; Star Tribune columnist, C.J.; WCCO newscaster, Mark Rosen; Rake columnist and performer, Colleen Kruse; Minneapolis/St. Paul Magazine collumnist and chef about town, Andrew Zimmern; Soo VAC founder and curator, Suzy Greenberg; Walker Art Center Performing Arts Guru and local taste maven, Diana Kim; and Owner/creator of Smart Women products, Julie Hellwich.
R.T. Rybak: Amy Rice's "Mural on 11th and Franklin"; Corey Tate's "The Bloodshot Live in Minneapolis"; and Michael Sommers.
Mark Rosen: The Blenders' "When It Snows"; Jeffrey Gambino; Laurie Lausen; Kevin Cannon.
C.J.: Timothy Gorman; Glenn Gordon's furniture; Marcia Engeltjes; Jody LaCanne.
Colleen Kruse: Kevin Vieths' "Orbit" lamp; Haim Becker's "Handmade Eyewear"; Kevin Vieths' "Segmented" rocking chair.
Andrew Zimmern: Tom Jessen's musical instruments; ShannLee Horvik's "Stone Chip Bracelet"; Carol Downing's lamp shades; Andrey Feldsteyn's "The Last Glass".
Suzy Greenberg: Sean Connaughty's "Birds of Appetite"; Kirk McCall's "without title(bluprint)";John Diebel's "Thirst."
Diana Kim: Jennifer Hatfield's "zebra people playing chess"; Adam Miller's "Sound Box #1"; Patrick A. Tupa's "Liz" and "Michael Landon"; Tom Jessen's Octave Mandolin."
Julie Hellwich: Jonathan Keller's "Where It Went From"; Ryan Sweere's "Bottlecap Jesus"; Faye Passow's "the old Future Meets the New Future."
Any piece by Sean is a masterpiece and everyone should have one of these pieces in their collection. And for the person (or Museum) with 36 feet of wall space to spare "Birds of Appetite" is amazing. - Suzy Greenberg
Bent Hemlock CD
Past Salamander releases have presented a band skilled at improvisational space rock but willing to take the occasional startling diversion into psych/folk territory. "Bent Hemlock" inverts the band's paradigm by foregrounding psych/folk, giving the band an opportunity to showcase their abilities as lyricists, songwriters and acoustic multi-instrumentalists. The improvisational component is still present (especially in the album's eerie and cinematic closing track, "An Open Transom"), but for the most part it is employed economically, played out in concentrated doses as short instrumental interludes between concise vocal numbers.
To fill out the album's sound, guests feature on cello, electric violin and percussion. Original Salamander drummer Bryce Kastning contributes to two of the albums tracks, both as a percussionist and by recording the initial parts of those tracks at his home studio. Guest strings are beautifully played by Margaret Hegg and Jane Anfinson. "Bent Hemlock" a departure of sorts for the band: a shift of emphasis and an insight into a side of their music that was always there, but not necessarily at the center of their art. Space rock and psychedelic improvisation still figure prominently in the band's live sets, and will doubtless return in future recordings. For now, these new beguiling and revelatory acoustic landscapes show a versatile outfit using all the tools in their repertoire in pursuit of new expression, and coming out the better for it. Change staves off stagnation, and doubtless this fresh approach will inform and invigorate future efforts, whatever those efforts may be.
A global ArtLink comes to SCAD
By Ally Jackson
The Savannah College of Art and Design has once again received acceptance from ArtLink, with the additional honor of being juried by Tal Danai, owner and curator.
ArtLink is the international online resource for artwork and collectibles and, for the last two years, has selected work from faculty and students around the country to auction at Sothebys.com. Among this year’s selected from SCAD were graduate students Sean Connaughty, Nancy Huggins, Alan Caomin Xie and alumna Monica Cook.
In 1996, Danai created the concept that was to become ArtLink. Namely the idea of creating an international marketplace for artists from around the globe.
In 1998, after the initial success of the ArtLink@Sotheby’s International Young Art program, Danai decided to concentrate his energy into developing ArtLink. Just one year later, CNN termed the young company "Leader of international young art."
A subsidiary of ArtLink is Spark!, a Web site offering another look at young artists. SCAD graduate painting student Stephan Chong and photography graduate students Ambler Hutchinson and Reiko Imoto are 2002 Spark! finalists.
Chong was previously selected for the prestigious Broome Street Gallery and his work is on display at the Savannah International Airport.
ArtLink runs exhibitions and auctions with Sotheby’s and Sothebys.com in major cities around the world and online. It is a resource for art in 44 countries and keeps growing. Since 1998, ArtLink has exhibited and sold more than 2,000 works of young, yet unknown artists and has placed some of their work with important collections, museums and galleries.
"A dream is but a blueprint for action," Danai said. "I want to create a marketplace that will enable good, young artists to develop doing what they chose to do in life, not having to make their living working in other jobs to sponsor their art making. I want to do it not just in New York, London and Frankfurt, but all over the world."
Connaughty, who has shown work in Atlanta’s Low Gallery, is particularly thrilled about the opportunity with ArtLink. His work, "Birds of Appetite," which is an 8-foot-by-36-foot paneled piece, is a wall-length unleashing of the subconscious.
""It is a great opportunity and a fabulous way to end my stay here," said Connaughty. "Selection by ArtLink gives me some degree of hope for the future and is inspiring me to make new work."
Huggins, who recently completed an internship in New Mexico with renowned feminist and artist Judy Chicago, is submitting her "X pieces;" four constructed wall-mounted pieces that form the letter ‘X.’ This work by Huggins is a strong series referring to women by the chromosome, painted industrially with car enamel.
The work by these graduate students and alumna is evidence of the high caliber of work that SCAD artists have to offer. It is important to note that these artists not only display technical but conceptual skills that are competitive on a global scale. The artists’ work will be auctioned off simultaneously in cities around the globe later this year.
SALAMANDER - BENT HEMLOCK
cd - Camera Obscura / Clearspot, 2005
De cover van Bent Hemlock toont een zwart-wit schilderij van gitarist Sean Connaughty waarop een detail van een plant afgebeeld staat. Een beeld dat tegelijkertijd verontrustend en heel vertrouwd overkomt. Een beeld dat meteen ook de muziek karakteriseert: meer down to earth dan de space rock improvisaties van Salamander’s vorige platen kiest de band er deze keer voor grotendeels akoestische nummers neer te zetten waarin singer-songwriter en folk de ruggengraat vormen. En dit alles natuurlijk met een donkere, onheilspellende sfeer op de achtergrond, een atmosfeer die uitermate doeltreffend neergezet wordt in het akoestische drone openingsnummer ‘Galleon’ met de elf jarige Madeline Westby als gastzangeres. Nummers als ‘The River Song’ en ‘Hail’ zijn redelijk aan de korte kant voor Salamander’s doen, maar dat neemt niet weg dat de band er voor kiest om in ‘Portal’ en vooral het slotnummer ‘An Open Transom’ de psychedelische en improvisatorische kaart te trekken. De enkele instrumentale nummers op de plaat (‘The Somnambulist’, ‘Clearing’) graven dan weer dieper in het typische raga/drone gitaarjargon dat we ook kennen van groepen als Pelt, al trekt Salamander het niet zo tot het uiterste door. Hoewel Connaughty’s en Erik Wivinus’ stemmen niet altijd weten te overtuigen, soms klinkt hun zang iets te gewoontjes, is Bent Hemlock toch een aangename en gevarieerde plaat geworden.
tekst: bart de paepe
Salamander - "Bent Hemlock"
(Camera Obscura 2004, CAM070CD)
From Aural Innovations #31 (June 2005)
Known usually for their improvised space rock excursions, on their latest album the Minnesota quartet known as Salamander indulges in their occasional acoustic folk/psych explorations for an entire album. It is, however, true to their roots, very spacey folk music, combining drones and atmospherics with the acoustic guitars.
Salamander creates various types of different backing drones to blast out folk music that is definitely out on the edge. In the rollicking Portal, I really like the way they layer the frantic strumming acoustic guitars in the middle with deep, rumbling spacey textures underneath. And on The Visionary Kind some buzzing, distorted electric guitar hums along beneath the acoustic twang. They also work up some very cool, rumbling percussion lines like the pounding on the excellent, psychedelically electrified Call of the Hills. Tracks like Portal and the haunting opening track Galleon (featuring guest vocals by Madeline Westby) show the band has a good sense of melody too. The band even delves into exotic instrumental improvisation on the darkly spacey closing track, An Open Transom.
This is gritty, psychedelic folk music in the purest sense. Well worth checking out.
For more information you can visit the Camera Obscura web site at: http://www.cameraobscura.com.au.
Email the band at: Salamander@mutantmusic.com
Contact via snail mail c/o Salamander, 3241 42nd Avenue South, Minneapolis, MN 55406 USA.
Reviewed Abbandonate le atmosfere space rock degli album precedenti i Salamander si presentano con il loro quinto lavoro in studio, “Bent Hemlock”, come alfieri della scena psyck/folk. Il brano che apre la raccolta, la ballata per voce e chitarra acustica Galleon, presenta la prodigiosa undicenne Madeline Westby, incredibilmente a suo agio tra le maglie di una musica che sembra nata secoli fa. Sean Connaughty spazza via nel giro di quattro minuti l’intero osannato ultimo album di Mark Lanegan con la vitriolica Hail. Portal inzia e finisce come un omaggio al folk nero dei Death In June, affidato alle profonde corde vocali di Wivinus, ma nel mezzo si trasforma in un delirante magma space folk che rende giustizia della nomea di maestri psichedelici di cui i Salamander possono vantarsi. Le chitarre tornano ad arpeggiare in accordature magiche con la fragile ballata Diagram. Da non perdere.
by Jeff Fitzgerald
Bent Hemlock was intended to emphasize psychedelic folk more than the band's past releases, which gave more attention to improvised music. Although much of the groundwork is laid by acoustic guitars, the psychedelic elements come into play with a fairly wide range of instrumentation, including wah-wahing electric guitar, chord organ, violin, and cello. Even given that psych-folk tends to drift off more than the average rock genre, however, this batch of dark folky songs tends to meander more than it should. There's a downer vibe to much of this stuff, albeit more placid than most drone-flavored gloomy postmodern rock is, as if some of the traits of acoustic adventures like John Fahey and Bert Jansch have been absorbed into a more rock-oriented band context. Singers Sean Connaughty and Erik Wivinus are limited in expressiveness; "Hail" almost sounds like a more tuneful, normal spin on the stream-of-consciousness drek of Jandek, as hard as that might to be imagine. The high, haunting singing of guest vocalist Madeline Westby suits the material much better, making the one song on which she appears, the British mystical folk-rock-flavored opening track, "Galleon," a highlight. "The River Song" also takes more cues from pretty British ballad folk than the rest of the material, so much so that it seems like the album gets hijacked into a more dissonant, structureless direction after the first two cuts. ~ Richie Unterberger, A...
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