Reviews: Grey Windowpane, Roadhouse Duo, Staubitz and Waterhouse (Fruit of the Spirit, March)

Subtitled with the tagline “Free Sound and Vision for the Ages,” newly minted barebones blog/netlabel hybrid Fruit of the Spirit is one of several promising independent music sources stepping up in the wake of recent events, and is probably the one I’m most excited about. Each release is simply hosted on Google Drive in whatever format and metadata the artist(s) sent—farm-to-table freshness! My three favorites of the first wave of titles (all of them duo concoctions, incidentally) are the following. I’m not sure if there’s a way to directly support the label yet, but I hope there is soon.

Grey Windowpane – Catskin (Mar 14)

Cobbled together entirely from long-distance digital exchanges of “samples, cut-ups, voice memos and instrumentation,” Transatlantic duo Grey Windowpane’s debut Catskin is a series of messy yet careful collages, each one offering a casual, almost careless strain of theatricality that gives the hour-long album a deeply narrative feel. The vocal elements are some of the strongest and most memorable, from the Black Dice–esque nonsense psychedelia and unhinged lunacy of “Drillers Don’t Trip” to the evocative layering of “Yards of Valiente” and “Shane,” but contributors Troy Curry and Michael “Ma” Turner also include plenty of more inconsequential sounds as well (the shrieking teapot featured prominently in “Friday’s Needle” is a favorite).

Roadhouse Duo – I Am Stuck Between Two Cars (Mar 15)

I don’t know anything about Equipment Pointed Ankh, the band from which the Roadhouse project(s) apparently arose, but the hazy flume ride that is this tour CD-R is more than enough motivation for a deep dive (it’s unclear when the actual physical edition was first released). Chris Bush and Jim Marlowe pinwheel through several stylistic milieus throughout the single half-hour track, New Zealand earth-drone yawns and airplane-engine guitar roar and finally the most tired, dusty dance music, but its consistent character is that of a free-flowing jam, a.k.a. exactly what I needed this week.

Staubitz and Waterhouse – Live at Mystery Train 10/1/21 (Mar 20)

It shouldn’t be surprising to anyone that Pawtucket collaborators Mary Staubitz and Russ Waterhouse are just as compelling as a live unit as they are a process duo (for most of their releases, Staubitz records and Waterhouse processes/edits), but now this 3″-length document ensures that the evidence is out there, just in case. From their diverse arsenal of turntables, garden implements, electronics, and pre-captured sounds arises a whimsical but weighty atmosphere that gives the same uncanny comfort as a shrine made from yard detritus (or limes and paper). I was initially caught off guard by the somewhat clumsy tambura drone that elbows its way in around the ten-minute mark, but it almost immediately peters out and then bounces back, wracked with the same organic instability as all of the other ingredients.

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