About This Event
Doors Open:7:00 PM
Show Time:8:00 PM
Your Turn (Northern Spy Records, April 30, 2013)
Five years after their critically acclaimed debut release, Ceramic Dog, the power trio featuring Marc Ribot (guitar), Shahzad Ismaily (bass/electronics) and Ches Smith (drums), is back with the hard-hitting tour de force Your Turn (Northern Spy, April 30, 2013). Time Out New York called Ceramic Dog Ribot’s “rawest band in ages” while the New York Times wrote, “The musicianship is intense regardless of the subtext, with all three players hurling themselves into their effort.
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Five years after their critically acclaimed debut release, Ceramic Dog, the power trio featuring Marc Ribot (guitar), Shahzad Ismaily (bass/electronics) and Ches Smith (drums), is back with the hard-hitting tour de force Your Turn (Northern Spy, April 30, 2013). Time Out New York called Ceramic Dog Ribot’s “rawest band in ages” while the New York Times wrote, “The musicianship is intense regardless of the subtext, with all three players hurling themselves into their effort.” Singer/actress Eszter Balint guest appears on the album, as does experimental music guru Arto Lindsay.
Your Turn features 13 tracks, several written solely by Ribot (Cubanos Postizos, John Zorn, Tom Waits) and one by Smith. Others are group efforts by Ribot, Ismaily (Lou Reed, Laurie Anderson, Jolie Holland, Yoko Ono) and Smith (Xiu Xiu, Good for Cows, Secret Chiefs 3), two of the best young players on the New York/California underground improv/experimental rock scene. One track, “Bread and Roses,” is based on a 1911 poem by James Oppenheim. Perhaps the oddest but most fascinating track is the trio’s enlightening re-imagination of the Paul Desmond-written Dave Brubeck jazz classic “Take Five.”
Ribot, who describes Ceramic Dog as a “free/punk/funk/experimental/psychedelic/post electronica collective,” says that Your Turn was two years in the making. “Second records are notoriously hard to nail down,” he explains. “We tried to make it a few times. Finally we got it right — meaning, we got it to sound wrong, exactly like us.”
In Ismaily and Smith, Ribot has found ideally simpatico compadres. All Music Guide, in its review of the trio’s 2008 debut Party Intellectuals, said, “Shazhad Ismaily and Ches Smith are able to give Ribot just what the songs need whether it’s hazy atmospherics or ferocious rocking and have no problem heading down whichever musical path Ribot chooses.”
Where some bands flounder on their sophomore release, Ceramic Dog coalesces into an even tighter unit on Your Turn. In the years since they first played together, Ribot, Shahzad and Smith have each been down many divergent roads artistically, and when they met up again to record this new set they found they had a renewed purpose and a fine-tuned focus.
“If you listen closely, you can hear the rage, hope, disappointment, ritual excess, love and anarchy that were in our personal and collective airspace during those years,” says Ribot. “There were (and, we hope, will continue to be) several kinds of riots going on (‘Lies My Body Told Me,’ ‘Bread and Roses’). And yes, the CD is ‘political’ (‘Avanti Popolo,’ ‘Ain’t Gonna Let Them Turn Us ‘Round’). But what fun is raging against the machine if you can’t also rage against the bar line and the tonal system (‘Take Five,’ ‘Ritual Slaughter,’ the title track)?”
Adds Shahzad, “I love the songs on this record. Pain is an inevitable part of life. It follows us grimly and attaches. I’m fighting its ability to consume, and making this record was one way of doing that. Listening to it is the other.”
From the opening track, “Lies My Body Told Me,” through the closer, Smith’s “Special Snowflake,” all three perform with a rare intensity and telepathy — with plenty of fuel to power them. In “Masters of the Internet,” Ceramic Dog rails against those who feel entitled to free music, perfectly willing to screw the artists they claim to love: “The masters must be entertained/they hunger for digital content/we must labor night and day for the glory of the masses and the masters of the internet.” And in “The Kid is Back,” love was never quite as brutal as this: “I love you like old Nixon loved his Pat/love you like ol’ Hitler loved his pretty little Eva/I love you like a beater loves his bat/love you like the beast in the jungle loves his fever/c’mon baby let’s just pop the cork.”
One of the indisputable highlights is “Bread and Roses,” which was released last fall to commemorate the first anniversary of the Occupy Wall Street movement. “‘Bread and Roses’ is an old labor song,” comments Ribot, “associated with the IWW Lawrence Massachusetts textile worker’s strike of 1912. The lyrics are based on a poem written by James Oppenheimer. We changed the music, and a few of the lyrics (we figured anarcho/syndicalists wouldn’t mind), but the sentiments are the same.”
Recorded at three different New York-area studios, Your Turn was produced and mixed by Greg Saunier, the drummer of buzzy indie band Deerhoof; Smith suggested that he should produce the record. “I’ve known him and his music since our time in the same Bay Area scene in the late ’90s/early ’00s,” says the drummer. “I was always impressed with his unique approach to composition and recording — how he combines the two — and with his crazy-ass drumming. He’s also a longtime fan of Marc, so he has a valuable vantage point in terms of understanding where Marc’s music had been and where it could go. As far as mixing, I fully agree with Greg’s aesthetic. He has mixed several albums I have played on and written for, and I have always been a fan of his band Deerhoof. This album sounds and feels real to me.”
As it undoubtedly will to anyone fortunate enough to bathe in its glorious racket. “Those searching for rigorously applied formal constraints may have to wait,” says Ribot, and then he channels a bit of Cyndi Lauper: “Ceramic Dogs just wanna have fun.”
Since the inception of his new solo guitar project Hubble, Ben Greenberg of Zs and The Men has sought to exploit the guitar for its ulterior qualities, simultaneously displaying a true love for the instrument while redefining how guitar music is understood. Whether distortion-drenched or clean, Ben describes painstaking result as “cyber-dread”, an apocalyptic, beat-less quasi-electronic music, conjuring Terry Riley’s pulsing minimalist structures and Gregg Ginn’s aggressive, avant-garde rock. The first full-length record Hubble Drums is set for release on Northern-Spy Records in November 2011 in support of which Hubble will tour extensively throughout the US and Europe.
About the Hubble live performance, Ben expounds, “Every Hubble set, on a stage or in a friend’s basement or in my bedroom, is a concerted effort on my part to change the air in the room, to push it towards a state of greater resonance.” Using mesmerizing guitar mastery to create extended rhythmic patters of note groupings of varied tempo, dissonance, and harmony, Ben hypnotizes the audience with slowly developing, subtle variation, until the listener is lulled into a highly vivid dream state. The set varies between a versatile and simple set-up and the more ambitious Hubble Superposition, a quadraphonic experience that splits the guitar signal into four different singals which are routed through four seperate amplifiers.
Ben’s first release Hubble Linger (NNA Tapes) brilliantly utilized the cassette format by distilling a live performance into two side-long pieces of stereo-panning guitar. The tape was well received inciting electronic musician Keith Fullerton Whitman to claim “…I’m fairly floored by this extended solo-trance-out from Zs guitarist Ben Greenberg, who seems to have invented a device that halts time (musical, actual, and meta-physical) ; its use is put to great effect across this 60-minute blast of cycling “stereo” chord progressions and assorted haze(s) that approaches the fervour of MBV / Belong’s filtered-out high-gain wash while retaining the minimalist patina of Charlemagne Palestine piece … awesome.”