Tor Lundvall interview

The music of Tor Lundvall is a post-modern midnight dream, a universe that exists unto itself. As an artist, Lundvall remains an enigma, having released albums for the last twenty years and never once performed live or been pictured on his records. He remains a blank figure even as his music reveals a richly profound artistic viewpoint. The effect of his music is akin to deja vu’, its seldom clear where sounds originate or end, a calling from somewhere distantly familiar transformed. As the years passed and the releases continued, the questions piled up. Dais Records has just done the world a great service by reissuing three seminal Lundvall albums Ice, The Mist, and Under the Shadow of Trees and combined them with one new album, Turning, for a complete seasonally themed box of ghostly minimal compositions, appropriately titled The Season’s Unfold. Each album, framed by Lundvall’s dramatic paintings as artwork, throws the participant completely into this shadowy abyss. With a discography and reputation approaching Jandek/Muslimgauze proportions, the release of this special CD box set has prompted the curtain to be peeled back. For those unfamiliar with Lundvall’s deeply hypnotic textual music, this collection is a necessary antidote to rote genre-ism and conformity found in most modern music. The Season’s Unfold is a haunting example of one of today’s most mysterious composers and a perfect introduction to the mist-soaked, minimalism of Tor Lundvall. There is truly nothing else like it. Swingset was able to coax this reclusive artist into answering a few questions via fiber-optic lines.

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by STEVE LOWENTHAL on 2/24/2011 in Features, Interviews | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Salvation interview

A few years after their debut album Of Unforgiving Wind was released, I caught Salvation play at the Cake Shop in New York City. Within moments, singer Matt Adis launched into the crowd like a bullet, only to emerge moments later covered in blood and broken glass, screaming like a vicious animal. The performance continued unabated.  After their set Adis was peeled off the hood of a car outside the venue and taken to the hospital. Rumor has it he was cut so many times, that it was difficult for the doctors to find the actual lacerations through all the blood. The band’s reputation for confrontation and sheer hubris is both impressive and frightening. Among the most violently anti-social in a new breed of nihilistic hardcore punk music, Salvation are so vehemently destructive and alienating that their music rings with true outsider authenticity. They claim part of no scene, their music strictly focused on internal issues rather than the political or social. Hardcore as a form is so rigid, that what separates the wheat from the chaff is in a band’s ability to convince the audience of the authenticity of its ferocious desires. This comes across in abundance on the band’s new album Morality Interactions, released on the iconic Youth Attack label. The fact that Adis and crew have survived the wreckage of their performances to deliver the aggressive existentialism of a follow up album is somewhat of a miracle in itself. That the record surpasses all expectations in fury and intensity, speaks volumes. We caught up with Adis, who also has a new book of drawings released on the Heartworm Press imprint, on the eve of the new albums release. Those seeking a view into this distressed existence should seek both out.

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by STEVE LOWENTHAL on 1/17/2011 in Features, Interviews | Tags: , , , , , ,

Sun City Girls – Funeral Mariachi

A few years back I was speaking with an acquaintance of mine from Seattle who was also a friend and neighbor of the Sun City Girls in the late 90s. I asked him what the deal was. Did they really have magic powers? He told me that while he couldn’t go into details, he had seen the Sun City Girls do things that were inexplicable. Many have had their memory irrevocably altered. The reality of these accusations depends on ones admission to the belief of these rituals. They have power only if you think they do. The powers of the Sun City Girls’ music however are undeniably evident on their final and just released album, Funeral Mariachi.

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by STEVE LOWENTHAL on 12/7/2010 in Features, Reviews | Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

In Memory of Jack Rose

The first time I met Jack Rose, I did not like the guy. My brother introduced me to him one night at some long gone performance space in Philly in the late 90’s and I remember Jack coming at me with both barrels blazing rattling on and on about records he recently bought, records he wanted, and just records in general. These were subjects I had no problem holding my ground on, but as the conversation went on; it was clear he would command the proceedings no matter what I said or did. Any dissension from his opinion on anything – be it John Fahey, Tony Joe White or Yoko Ono – would be met with a scornful bellow delivered with a ‘motherfucker!’ at the end of the sentence to get the point across. After awhile, I couldn’t get a word in edgewise with the guy and excused myself for a false bathroom break. ‘Jesus Christ! Thanks for leaving me with that asshole!’ I told my brother when I came back from my pretend pee.

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by TONY RETTMAN on 12/9/2009 in Features | Tags:

RRR 1000

The bar has been set again by Ron Lessard, the great schemer of noise and contemporary art hero, with the release of the RRR 1000 lock groove LP. 20 artists create 50 loops each, all 1.8 seconds in duration that repeat infinitely until the listener manually moves the needle – in essence a perfect skip.  For any sane human being the concept is utterly masochistic and unfathomable. But for those with a sound complex, the various results and approaches can be both daunting and rewarding.  To what degree and duration does a lock groove reveal its merits or personality? Approached from a minimalist standpoint, one could easily site precedent of Lamonte Young, John Cage or even Andy Warhol, as artists who used extreme time expansion as a means to create hypnosis and reveal the character of a sound or image over a period of hours, days and beyond. One could make the argument that it would take 1000 days to fully get the effect of this record, or maybe more.

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by STEVE LOWENTHAL on 10/15/2009 in Features | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Six Organs of Admittance – RTZ (Drag City)

It’s taking me some time to come to the realization that it’s been ten years since Six Organs has come into fruition and become the man to blame for everything from Davandra Banhart to the decline in hair clipper sales. Not that I think it ‘feels just like yesterday’ since I first made acquaintance with the Six Organist on that grassy knoll in Amherst Common or anything. In fact, as I sit here and really think about it with brow furrowed and chin stroked, it doesn’t really feel like anything. It just feels like time has passed like it’s supposed to and you and me and Chasny have all swam many a lake of phony fire stoked by our own self indulgence, so who gives a fuck? It’s life…if we all learn to live with it; we’ll get it over with that much sooner.

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by TONY RETTMAN on 2/10/2009 in Features, Reviews | Tags: , , ,


Every so often Swingset likes to throw a party. On Nov 8th at Club Rehab we were lucky enough to feature a diverse array of sets from some of our favorite acts both old and new. Starting off the evening was the first ever set by Philadelphia’s Cold Cave, whose icy tones and anthemic minimalism translated just as well on stage as on their two recent recordings. Burning Star Core played an all solo set that ran the gamut from drone poems to violin and drum machine improv duets. Fans of Burning Star Core’s epic Challenger album were not disappointed. Finally, Dan Melchior graced the New York area with his presence once again to deliver some fiery rock and roll sermons, including tracks from his forthcoming double LP. Backed by Todd Cavallo and Chris Weingarten, Melchior showed us once again why he’s the best at what he does. Thanks to everyone who came out, especially Swingset neighbor Nikki Sneakers who provided us with the following photographs thankfully preserving the images for us and to share with those of you who could only be there in spirit. Until the next party….enjoy.


by STEVE LOWENTHAL on 11/13/2008 in Features, Swingset Presents | Tags: , , , , , ,

No Wave

If there’s going to be a No Wave book then for sure Byron Coley and Thurston Moore are the guys to do it. Released last month on Abrahms the book features tons of newly unearthed photos and flyers as well as new interviews with the major participants of the No Wave scene. While the post-apocalyptic warzone that was the Lower East Side of Manhattan no longer exists its shockwaves live on some decades later. The authors of this gracefully designed and informative journey into the nihilistic philosophies and primitive restructuring of this endemic scene graced us with their thoughts in this Swingset exclusive.

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by STEVE LOWENTHAL on 7/14/2008 in Features | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,