Music Features

Goldies Music winner Om

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Possibly the heaviest band to ever receive a Goldie from the Guardian, Om consists of drummer Chris Hakius and bass player Al Cisneros, who met in high school in the ’80s and have been playing on-and-off together ever since. Along with guitarist Matt Pike, Hakius and Cisneros formed the landmark ’90s stoner doom–Sabbath worship metal band Sleep, which you better know all about by now.
A couple years ago, after a fairly long hiatus from playing music, Hakius and Cisneros began working together again. Read more »

Goldies Music winner Traxamillion

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When I met Traxamillion, the young producer-rapper was in the lab with Balance, recording a faithful cover of EPMD's "You're a Customer" for a Mind Motion mixtape. Naturally, I would have preferred seeing Trax record an original, but watching him vibe to a classic was perhaps more revelatory. Where many producers insist on their isolation from outside influences, Trax is an unapologetic lover of music.
"Everybody's a fan," the musician, born in East Orange, NJ, and raised in San Jose, points out. "Somebody inspired somebody to make a beat, to rap. That's how I go about my beats. Read more »

San Francisco Jazz Festival: Particular and infinite

Samba and musical collaboration are a way of life, a mode of communication for Marisa Monte
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Marisa Monte is a true musician. Her albums routinely go putf8um around the world, and her shows sell out wherever she plays — whether in or out of her native Brazil — but her approach is not at all that of a pop star. Her musical background is rich and combines the samba traditions of her hometown, Rio de Janeiro, European classical opera training, and Brazilian and international popular music. Music for her is not a means to an end but a process, a way of life, as she explained by phone from her home in Rio.
"I don't do a career. Read more »

San Francisco Jazz Festival: Something else

The musical journeys and spiritual quest of Alice Coltrane
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"Music is the celestial sound. And it is sound that controls the whole universe, not atomic vibrations. Sound energy, sound power, is much greater than any other power in this world."
Swami Satchidananda addressing the audience at Woodstock, 1969

Each year, in addition to its roster of standard jazz players, the San Francisco Jazz Festival tucks a few cards up its sleeve. The past few years have seen performances by the likes of Caetano Veloso, Ravi Shankar, Orchestra Baobab, and João Gilberto, for example. Read more »

Rock between wars: Ecstatic Sunshine

No boring moments on the zippy Freckle Wars
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Vocalless but intensely lyrical electric-guitar duo Ecstatic Sunshine take risks on their first non-CD-R release, Freckle Wars (Carpark) — namely by eschewing a drummer or even a drum machine despite a tendency to craft manic post-rock buildups that seem to predict explosive toms and thundering cymbals. But these happy rockers are more interested in preparing sunshine than predicting rain. For two guys with guitars, they make remarkably unindulgent music.
"Most of the songs took us months to write," Ecstatic Sunshiner Dustin Wong said on the phone from the group's Baltimore practice space. Read more »

All that jazz

The sax, violence, and noise of Wolf Eyes
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Anyone who's experienced the aural carnage spewed by Wolf Eyes can confirm the patience required to endure their shows.
The Michigan noise-ticians — comprising Nathan Young, John Olson, and newest member Mike Connelly — vigilantly carve a slow burner of nauseating sounds and mangled rhythms into a single, decaying pulse while a thundering reverberation slowly boosts the anticipation of a jam-packed throng.
The trio toy with duct-taped noisemaking appliances, sheet metal, and tapes. Read more »

The sound of evil

Getting spooked by the Bay's Ludicra
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duncan@sfbg.com
Metal people scare me.
Not in an "ooh, I'm scared" kind of way, but in an "oh, that's sad," arrested development kind of way.
This is especially true of the black metal cabal. Black metal is supposedly the be-all and end-all of evil, and it's just so camp that it's silly. Everyone's got a fake metal name (Necronomicon or Umlaut), panda bear Kiss tribute makeup (I mean, corpsepaint), and homemade nail-spike armbands. Don't forget the unreadable band logo that looks like cleverly arranged twigs. Read more »

Online Exclusive: Method Man at the crossroads

Sitting down with the Wu-Tang Clan man
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a&eletters@sfbg.com
When a bumped phone interview with hip-hop legend and putf8um artist Method Man mushroomed into a proposed
backstage post-show encounter, I naturally jumped at the chance.

Being a devotee of the ultimately more funk-based grooves of Bay Area hip-hop, I tend not to pay
attention to the doings of NYC, and I can’t claim to have ever followed the Wu-Tang Clan in general or Meth
in particular, though I have always admired both from afar. Read more »

Surfing new turf

Christopher Willits swings between ambient bliss and grating discord
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Listening to the warm analogs, e-bowed guitar, and post-jazz swing that manifest on "Medium Blue" off Surf Boundaries (Ghostly International) — one of two new albums by Christopher Willits — you might assume that the instrumentation was performed by an ensemble of helping hands rather than simply the Bay Area electronic musician. And you'd be half right. Read more »

Hailing a Japanoise guitar maestro

Decades of Masayuki Takayanagi
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FULL CIRCLE For more than three decades Masayuki Takayanagi (1932–1991) has served as a cult figure to a small but rabid coterie of listeners searching for the roots of extremity in improvised music and free jazz. The Japanese guitarist has received kudos from renowned experimentalists like John Zorn and Otomo Yoshihide yet has remained obscure because his recorded output has been generally unavailable. Read more »