Interred Views: Sister Ray

31/08/2017

Sister Ray performing at the &Loan Gallery

Nanaimo BC’s Sister Ray were a band that shouldn’t have existed and shouldn’t have ceased to be. Circa 2007 the local underground scene was, as so many such scenes perpetually are, obsessed with loud, fast, punk-inspired indie rock. Mel Mundell and Jakob Rehlinger were both in reasonably popular loud, fast bands (The Sheds and The Clap respectively), and wanted something different. Something slow and quiet. Something the audience could lay down on the floor and nod off to. That is, if they dared lay on any of the grime-covered, pre-gentrification floors of Nanaimo’s decaying downtown venues and DIY spaces. Intended as either a challenge or an affront to their audience, Sister Ray’s somnolent tempos and soft-spoken whispers tamed the beast for a short time, earning them a loyal following and respect as one of the city’s top talents, destined for greater things. Like many bands full of promise, they broke up too soon when life tore the duo in opposite directions and different parts of the continent (Jakob to Toronto and Mel to Portland). Sister Ray left behind one album, several unrecorded and forgotten songs, and a lot of unrealised plans as their legacy.

To celebrate the 10th anniversary expanded reissue of their seminal album on Arachnidiscs Recordings, Jakob and Mel reconvened via Facebook to reminisce about the rise and fall of Sister Ray.


Jakob: It was ten years ago we started the band in Nanaimo [a small city on Vancouver Island]. What are you memories of that time and place?

Mel: I remember us both having Internet girlfriends that we were pining over. I remember walking to your apartment for practice and Nanaimo feeling vaguely desolate.

Jakob: It was a wasteland we both wanted out of. Those were the peak meth epidemic years. So much boarded-up commercial space. Between the skeleton of the abandoned Malaspina Hotel and the giant pit that would become the convention centre, downtown looked like Syria.

Mel: And I remember us playing a show at the Queens and the stage seeming ridiculously high up for some reason and it altogether being a ludicrous venue for us.

Jakob: Yeah, the Queens show was ridiculous. Probably a Tuesday or something too. I think only Adrienne and Breen showed up?

Sister Ray at The Queens

Mel: Yes, we could always count on Adrienne and Breen, our super supportive fans. I remember you being in lots and lots of other music projects, ha. Is this the case still?

Jakob: I am still in a bunch of projects. I actually just put an end to BABEL which I guess was becoming my main solo project back then. I’m in Moonwood with my wife and two nice dudes and somehow I might be currently playing bass—the one you used in Sister Ray!—in a band called Stargoon with some of the same people. And I always have too many solo studio projects, like King Pong Dub System which is credited with one of the remixes on the reissue. What about you? Have you been keeping up with music?

Mel: I played in a surf-y low-fi band Bushtit for four years or so but members moved away and I haven’t done anything since. Yikes that was like three years ago! I miss it but I don’t drink and smoke anymore, a.k.a. go to bars, so I tried joining a community choir as my new band last year. And then we sang Grease songs and I had to leave.

Jakob: Ugh. No doubt. I’d heard of Bushtit. Though did I know you were even in Bushtit? Anyway, you guys were great! I don’t actually remember how Sister Ray even came into existence. Despite being fond of each other, the idea of us just getting together to make music seems absurd to me in a way. Yet, it was a serendipitous, magical pairing. Do you remember how it came to be?

Mel: Once we formed Sister Ray I wondered why we hadn’t played music together sooner. But when did we make a set plan to do so? I have no memory of the actual logistics and I too find it hard to believe. Did someone else suggest it? Did we connect over a particular band?

Jakob: Well, Nick Cave was big for both of us. Huge. The first Grinderman album had just come out and we liked it. But, no, I think that came out well after we were playing together. We were both into Swans, I think. You got me more into Teenage Jesus at the time. But nothing that really sounded like Sister Ray, exactly. We never talked about Low or slowcore bands I don’t remember. And I don’t think we were like, “Hey what if Kim Gordon or Lydia Lunch had fronted Mazzy Star?!” Do you remember being into any bands like what we were doing?

Mel: Not really. I was definitely into all of the above, including Low to some degree, but the darkwave-y stuff much more. I think Sister Ray was derived from the mood of all the music we liked in common stripped and slowed way, way, way down.

Jakob: Way down. One of our initial intentions was to be slow and quiet, which we definitely were, at least compared to what everyone else in town was doing at the time. I think I wanted to chance to play guitar a little more atmospherically than my other bands had allowed.

Sister Ray at Fascinating Rhythm

Mel: I agree, the goal was to play music as slowly and atmospherically as possible. I wanted us to play shows where the audience was laying on the floor, I wanted us to play while laying on the floor. I wanted to be able to take a complete deep breath in between notes. I remember feeling a deep sense of calm after our practices.

Jakob: I remember us both almost falling asleep by the end of practice. We’d rate it as a success if one of us was nodding off. I’ve played a few Moonwood and BABEL drone sets that almost achieve that. In some ways I keep trying to go back to Sister Ray. Have you listened to the songs recently?

Mel: I hadn’t listened to the songs recently, but I listened to the reissue all last night finally and although I cringed at times at my own timidness, it sounded better than I remembered.

Jakob: Ha! Yeah, I think you we purposely trying to not scream like in The Sheds. I guess it could come off as timid, in a way. But I hear more tender or delicate or… a better word I can’t quite place.

Mel: Ha, it’s true! There is an understated quality to the whole project that allowed for a lot of intensity I think. The bass playing is basic beyond belief, but l hope I’ve improved since then.

Jakob: I liked the super basic almost brutalist quality to the bass playing.

Sister Ray news paper clipping

Mel: I’m glad. I liked it too just think it needed to be rougher and more defined with effects maybe. Playing with you was a dream come true. Sister Ray is my favourite project I’ve ever been in. It’s the music I’ve always wanted to make.

Jakob: . It’s one of the most pure things I’ve ever done. We were really making music for ourselves, no concessions to genre or popularity, almost throwing two fingers up at everyone else at the time playing uptempo punk-inspired music. But everyone loved it. I often wonder if we’d have kept it pure or what would’ve happened if we’d carried on. I know you wanted to put down the bass and start playing guitar and I was really nervous about that. I think now, it’d have been the right choice. Get rid of the drum machine too. But will we ever know?

Mel: I wonder that too. Sister Ray was a very healing project for me and playing that way did feel more about a personal need and a lot less about popularity or accessibility. In terms of where it could/would have gone? I honestly feel like we had 10 more albums in us, ha. I can hear the drum machine holding us back at times, but I also think it kept us awake at others. I think more confident bass playing or guitar on my part would have worked. Your playing, for me, is guitar at its best and we would have needed to keep that. Reunion show! I need a project like Sister Ray in my life again. Now wish me all the luck finding a Jakob in Vancouver.

Jakob: Good luck. I’m one of a kind! As are you. Hopefully we can work together in some capacity someday.


The reissue of Sister Ray releases on 9/11 2017.

 

 

 


Radio Samson di Maria: Danger Everywhere cassette

24/04/2017

C30, home duped, hand-stamped shells, $6 CAD (+ regional shipping)

PURCHASE @ BANDCAMP

Styles: Sound collage, cut up, vaporwave, noise, chiptunes
RIYL: 8-bit video game soundtracks, 70’s, 80’s, 90’s TV reruns, ADHD YouTube surfing, Throbbing Gristle doing Revolution #9

There is very little known about Radio Samson Di Maria, except that its “legend” is shrouded in mystery.

The only information ever found was found in an article*, written by Rubens Santiago, originally printed in the June 1993 edition of Lo Specchio Rotto, an underground horror/sci-fi/experimental music fan zine based out of Woodbridge, Ontario in the early ‘90s.

The story of Lo Specchio Rotto, whose name itself was considered to be a parody of Lo Specchio (an Italian-language weekly newspaper also based in Woodbridge), is something of a puzzle itself.

The zine lasted for only seven issues, focusing almost entirely on reviews on Italian horror films and prog rock, along with articles written about apparent “haunted houses” in and around the GTA, as well as reader’s letters detailing stories about strange oddities, supernatural encounters, and a recipe, a surprisingly good one at that, for Fegato alla Veneziana.

Lo Specchio Rotto vanished without explanation, with back issues nearly impossible to find. Coincidentally, the last issue printed is the same issue which featured the article on Radio Samson Di Maria…

“WHO IS RADIO SAMSON DI MARIA???

Pirate radio station suspected of interfering with signals, graffiti, and possibly breaking and entering.

By: Rubens Santiago Local News
June 1993

After multiple complaints were made in recent weeks by listeners and radio station employees around Toronto about the interruption of radio signals with indiscernible speech, peculiar instrument noises, and distressed animal sounds, there appears to be evidence pointing towards the culprits.

Graffiti has been found on the walls underneath the bridge overlooking the Humber River, connecting Islington Ave. with Woodbridge Ave. The words “TUNE IN TO RADIO SAMSON DI MARIA” & “LISTEN EVERYWHERE, LISTEN FOREVER”, along with the call signs of several radio stations around the city (many of which had made complaints), were found printed in large, elaborate, gothic designs.

The unusual slogans haven’t been centralized to Woodbridge Ave. and Islington Ave. The appearance of similarly styled graffiti has been found inside churches, businesses and schools around town, though not depicted as flagrant as the graffiti underneath the bridge.

Citizens and police are completely baffled. The only possible link that can be connected is of recent reports regarding strange, static-sounding “music” coming from forested/ recreational areas scattered in different neighbourhoods around Woodbridge, including Airdrie Park, Boyd Park & Torii Park.

Time will only tell if the signal interruptions and graffiti will continue to appear.”

This was the first and last mention of the Radio Samson Di Maria until 2016, when local community radio aficionado, Curly Costinha, unearthed a cassette tape in the library of CJRU 1280AM, formerly CKLN 88.1 FM.

Labeled Radio Samson Di Maria – Danger Everywhere, this is a collection of sounds that possess a cultish devotion to blended layers of distorted news/cartoon samples, television/radio interviews, public broadcasting, and live music/field recordings. Cryptic overtones are aplenty; a deeper inspection of this cassette should be undertaken at your own discretion.

*As of 2017, multiple Toronto radio stations have denied any of the reports regarding signal interruptions in the summer of ’93. No photographic evidence of the graffiti was ever found, while the existence of Rubens Santiago is also completely limited to this singular article.


Video: Eiyn Sof ‘Orchard’

17/03/2017

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Check out the magical animism of Ellie Anglin‘s animated short for Eiyn Sof‘s tune ‘Orchard’. The stop-motion adventures of an owly priestess perfectly captures the dreamy, earthy mood of album Meadow Thrum from which the ditty originates.

Meadow Thrum releases at 6:28 AM (EST) on the 20th of March, the Vernal Equinox in the Northern Hemisphere for 2017. Pre-order it HERE.


EIYN SOF: Meadow Thrum

02/03/2017

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Hand-stamped CDr, lotus sleeve in poly envelope. C$6.00 (+ regional shipping).

At 6:28 AM (EST) on the 20th of March, the Vernal Equinox in the Northern Hemisphere for 2017, we’re releasing Meadow Thrum by acid-folk practitioners Eiyn Sof. The creation of Melissa Boraski, Eiyn Sof delves deep into the mushroom laden undergrowth of mystical forests of the mind.

Purchase via Bandcamp.

As a teen Boraski sang contemporary gospel in charismatic evangelical church before defecting from church and faith to the Toronto music scene in her early 20’s. The birth of a child in 2008 prompted recording at home and self-releasing on the Springskull label. She released Bloodstreams on Rick White’s Blue Fog label in 2011. The albums Black ThreadLouise L’Amour/Cowgirl Slop PopNightrifting followed on Springskull in the following years.  And the autoharp-based Chthonic Tongue was released on Ur Audio Visual in 2015. All recordings, including Meadow Thrum, are primarily solo with the exception of the occasional guest. The Eiyn Sof live formation has morphed constantly since 2008.

Boraski on Meadow Thrum:
“It’s a murmuring attempt at animating an imagined landscape, and all manner of anthropomorphic entity within. I’ve been thinking of this album as druidic lore-play; it’s some pretty decadent fantasy. Hyper visual and hyper surrealistic, as far as lyrics are concerned. Threading in a lot of ’irreverent’ and intentionally loose percussive and organic sounds among more careful and familiar melodic stuff, which is gently reflective, I think, of the overarching concept and heart of the thing: play between two worlds. Above/below.

Sound: a whole lotta sprawling polyphonic vocal stuff, including a small men’s chorus, droning, and percussion using throat, tongue and breath. Lots of table-tapping, hairbrush-bristles-on-paper, jewelry jangling, and some cutting and pasting of found battle sounds (swords clinking, drop-kicks, etc.)  And of course, analog synth (Juno 60) and piano, acoustic string instruments (toy guitars, autoharp), electric bass, and bird song- mostly cardinals, robins and grackles.”


FORAGER: Sorrow and joy… cassette

28/09/2016

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FORAGER: Sorrow and joy throng the gate, weal and woe in the same land
Format: C30 Cassette
Styles: Drone, improv, experimental guitar, new age, American primitive
RIYL: Loren Mazzacane Connors, Six Organs Of Admittance’s early work, Tom Carter, Barn Owl, M.Mucci

>>>>>>PURCHASE HERE // $6.00<<<<<<


Calgary Alberta’s Forager is guitar composition, improvisation, and experimentation by Ian MacLean and occasional collaborators. Sorrow and joy throng the gate, weal and woe in the same land is a solo recording with no overdubs.


The album represents a journey into a sacred temple. There are four gates, each with different challenges or gatekeepers. The seeker circles the temple until finding a way in. In the seeker’s mind the gates and challenges are sequential. Once inside the temple and its inner sanctum, the seeker can see that the four gates are indivisible from the whole structure, and all have equal importance, not just the gate that was used to enter the temple (and anyway, the fourth gate seems suspiciously similar to the first…would things be different for another seeker, approaching the gates differently? Or would entrance only ever be allowed once all gates have been visited?). The resulting knowledge hopefully causes one to dance between gates, trials, without worry. The drawing [a source of inspiration for the recordings] is a section of larger drawing and sequence by Masaharu Takasaki and Eiji Takasu from Japan Architect 53 Feb 1978, 14. It is titled “Confusion” or “Plan”, with no further explanation as to the utility or building. To me, it looks like a temple with four gates, surrounding a courtyard and inner sanctum.

~ Ian MacLean


SEMEN PRIEST: Pink Skyline

30/08/2016

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Artist: SEMEN PRIEST
Album: Pink Skyline
Label: Arachnidiscs Recordings
Format: C30 Cassette, real-time dubbed,
Styles: Dub, post-punk, electro, vaporwave, industrial vapopdub
RIYL: Adrian Sherwood / On-U Sound; PiL; Egyptian Lover as a reanimated mummy; Cabaret Voltaire; Bob from Twin Peaks’ 1985 rap album

>>>>>>>>ORDER HERE<<<<<<<<

Toronto’s electronic/post-punk outfit SEMEN PRIEST return with a reinvigorated sound on Pink Skyline thanks to production by KING PONG DUB SYSTEM. The Etobicoke producer cut the tempos of the tracks they’d be working on by half, creating a chilled-out environment for their menacing vocals a discordant guitars to take root.

Features the single ‘Police, Thieves & Private Armies’ — a mash-up cover of Junior Murvin’s ‘Police & Thieves’ and Vivien Goldman’s ‘Private Armies’.


BEARD CLOSET: Deadly Force

15/08/2016

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Artist: BEARD CLOSET
Album: Deadly Force
Format: Cassette. C30, real-time dubbed, hand stamped shells.
Styles: Drone, noise, experimental guitar, noise-ambient
RIYL: Thurston Moore, Keiji Haino, Alan Licht, Sunn(((O))), Eno records run through a distortion pedal

We’re honored to issue Toronto experimental guitar and electronics artist, Beard Closet‘s wordless (but not silent) scream of rage and frustration at the continuing culture of murder and brutality in North America’s police forces.

$6.00 CAD (plus regional shipping).

((((Purchase here))))


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