Tuesday, November 11, 2008

To Kill a Petty Bourgeoisie @ Ghost Print Gallery 11/21

HzCollective Presents: NanoHz No.18 - an evening with To Kill a Petty Bourgeoisie's (former Richmond residents now living in Minneapolis with a new record out on Kranky Records! Also performing will be drums, accordion and sax trio Flutter from Charlottesville & Richmond. And lastly Richmond's Caustic Castle will be performing.

Friday November 21, 2008
8:00pm [SHARP]

Ghost Print Gallery
220 W. Broad St.
Richmond, VA

:::: To Kill A Petty Bourgeoisie [mnpls][ kranky records ]
[ http://www.myspace.com/tokillapettybourgeoisie ]

:::: Flutter [charlottesville / richmond]
[ http://www.myspace.com/bitterpigeonmusic ]
[ http://www.myspace.com/rhythmantis ]
[ http://www.myspace.com/ghapherybivinsdavis ]

:::: Caustic Castle [richmond]
[ http://myspace.com/causticastle ]

Artists Biographies:

Caustic Castle is the solo project of Kenneth Yates b. 1978, an American experimental musician, improviser and organizer from Richmond, Virginia. Experimenting with the no-input mixing technique, Kenneth uses the equalizer controls on the mixing board to tame the frequencies and sculpt the sound while applying various effects, filters and other electronic processing. Since 2000, Kenneth has performed in several experimental projects such as Harm Stryker [2000-2007], a politically and socially charged duo with Kelly Nourse of ConstantMauk; Insects with Tits [2006-present], a no-input duo with Roger H. Smith of Chefkirk with an underlying theme of Vegan action; and Never Work[2007-present]., a duo with Baltimore electro-acoustic artist Cory O'brien of Myo.

Flutter features local improvisers Matt Wyatt, Bob Holub and Jimmy Ghaphery focusing on highly textural, mainly acoustic sound and tonal improvisations.

To Kill a Petty Bourgeoisie
consists of Jehna Wilhelm, guitar and vocals, and Mark McGee, electronics and sound manipulation. Originally from Richmond, VA, the duo has been involved with this project for 4 years and has been supported by an ever-changing cast of players and musicians. They now reside in Minneapolis, MN where they run their own label, The Riley Bushman Recordings & Archives, which they use as an outlet to release various projects and collaborations.


The Patron begins with a sharp static blast and deep rumbles. Then, a violin (or cello?) that sounds like a long, sharp saw coming down from on high like God’s own blade. More often than not, To Kill a Petty Bourgeoisie’s debut album elicits in me (if I let the imagination go) the ghostly paranoid mist of the bombed out streets of London circa Gravity’s Rainbow in ’44? ’45? In short, it’s all bombed to hell and no one’s there – at least no one who wants to be. Jehna Wilhelm’s beautiful, hovering disconnected vocals sounds like the loveliest disaster. She’s a siren, I think. Sweet – on its own terms – closer “Window Shopping” is what I imagine Cate Blanchett’s The Good German character would sound like singing in an empty Berlin street. The whole LP, as an enterprise, is intriguingly sinister, so devilishly Double Indemnity; or as creepy as some Cold War Eastern European movie from Luc Besson. It’s an urban spy movie but not the fun kind where many people die but no one cares. Instead it is the sort where lots of people die and the audience cares (or is supposed to) even when (especially when) the people on screen do not. It is desolate, this album. I cannot ignore it. This could all be attributed to the song titles. “The Man with the Shovel, Is the Man I’m Going To Marry.” “You Guys Talk, We’ll Spill Our Guts.” “With Brass Songs They’ll Descend.” Yowza. Why the film, novel references? The Patron cannot stand on its own? Or, like many laudable works, it stands alone alongside many others. The band’s label’s website informs any reader that “The songs center around an underlying love story between two merging corporations that manage to capture the raw sentiment of isolation, profound discovery, and morbid betrayal. The Patron is about the corruption of an idea that is at first welcomed and later destroyed.” Since I can rarely understand the lyrics I’m taking their word on it. Or maybe I’ll just go by sound. The guitars on this album are a spectacular wonder of frayed and spark spraying electrical wires that sometimes sound as though they are being made to feel actual, literal pain. I think of Trent Reznor’s dirtiest guitars, from Broken. So brutal and caustic and terrible and beautiful a sound that it seems kind of impossible. How did they get to sound so jagged, these guitars? The percussion has a humanizing effect more often than not, constantly flip-flopping around, moving along the proceedings, raising a ruckus sometimes on the crash. It sounds – even if it is not – like a person on a drum kit. Again because of the titles each song seems like a setting, a scene. A few minutes, an hour maybe. Something happens to someone(s) and is observed by another someone(s). The band doesn’t so much want to tell you what happened / what will happen as let us know what they think of it. A floating detritus of sound blankets the LP; a sheen of “chchchshshsh.” Persistent as propaganda. That this LP is the work of two people is fairly surprising given the vehemence and violence in the performances. It sounds like musicians beating hell from their equipment so as not to beat a live thing. Not sentimental but not entirely thrilled about the whole thing either – whatever that “thing” is – To Kill a Petty Bourgeoisie don’t just have pompous but enviable titles. Go by sound. Or, as they might say, You guys talk, we’ll spill our guts. Originally published 12.26.07 - www.stereosubversion.com

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