Category Archives: Review

Mescalito Riding His White Horse: Music Book Review

For those who don’t know, Peter Rowan is a bluegrass musician and composer from the US. For those who’d like to know more about Rowan they could do a lot worse than to read Mike Fiorito’s latest book called Mescalito Riding His White Horse.

Fiorito has for some time now been interviewing musicians from around the globe, some of which have been published here on Shouts, and as a fan of Rowan’s work he managed to delve deep into the musician’s life, art and activism. Drawing from inspirations of Rowan’s musical adventures, the book becomes much more than a biography of Rowan’s life. Fiorito somehow manages to intertwine parts of his own life story, his interviews with Rowan, song lyric analysis and explorations of Buddhism.

See also: Interview: Tibetan Artist Yungchen Lhamo Sings for a Better World

It is not everyday one discovers Asian philosophy in the world of blugrass music but Fiorito manages to introduce those two worlds to the reader, and so much more, in a highly entertaining way. Woven around his interviews are fascinating happenings such as Fiorito’s dreams and a vision of the Dalai Lama, to mention a few.

Mike Fiorito. Photo courtesy of the author.

The book explores the themes that Rowan himself has covered in his songs, such as music history, climate change, eco-activism, social activism and spirituality. Fiorito tells me via email that Rowan is currently working on a new album which addresses the social injustice which some Mexicans experience in their immigration to the United States. Said album will come out next year.

See also: Native Eyez | Intikana, Social Justice Activist, By Mike Fiorito

This is a beautiful book which I recommend to fans of music and spirituality alike. It’s a trip like nothing else, part music history and part psychadelic journey telling.

After our call, when I went to sleep that night, the dream
visions continued. Now I looked forward to going to sleep,
knowing that I’d see Peter.

In one, I was at a concert dancing with Eric Dolphy and Patsy
Cline. Otis Redding played guitar and sang. There were other
people there too, some of whom I didn’t know.

Something amazing had happened. Humans had made
contact with highly intelligent beings from another world. As if
in an instant, these beings taught us how to live more just lives.
How to protect every human being. How to acknowledge the
sovereignty of trees, oceans, and rivers.

We were celebrating our liberation.”

– From Mescalito Rides His White Horse by Mike Fiorito

Mike Fiorito is the author of previously published books such as Call Me Guido, Falling From Trees, Freud’s Haberdashery Habits, Hallucinating Huxley, The Hated Ones and Sleeping With Fishes. He is currently working on a new novel. For more info check out his webpage

Wildlife Electronica: A Review Of A Lake By The Moon’s ‘Life In Warp’

“Life in Warp,” the debut album from A lake by the mõõn, a.k.a. Duarte Eduardo, is an opportunity to rethink what it means to be “socially conscious” when it comes to music. In what strikes the ear first as swathes of digitally manipulated noise and vaguely industrial, futuristic electronic free-balling, “Life in Warp” affords its listener a vivid and disorienting experience haunted by the sounds of a wide array of endangered animals from around the globe. That’s right—each and every byte of sound on the album, Eduardo states, “was created from field recordings of living beings that are, or have been, endangered since the beginning of the Anthropocene.” The result is something like wildlife-electronica—replete with walrus beats and humpback whale drones—but is so much more serious, devastating, and deferential. Everything you hear was already in some way first uttered by beings whose lives and ecosystems have been under extreme siege for decades, even centuries. Rarely is one’s listening experience shaped by such an unexpectedly potent sense of urgency, loss, and motivation to change your life and protect what remains. Proving that activist music can take any stance or form, what is most significant on “Life in Warp” is precisely this emotional resonance of knowing that all of these sounds came from someone in danger. Someone who, for now, may or may not still exist amidst our exploitative stranglehold on the Earth’s ecosystems.

The Red panda, endangered because of loss of habitat and poaching, is one of the animals whose voice is sampled on the album.

The sheer effort required for such a cohesive sounding project of bioacoustic eco-futurism is staggering from a technical perspective, as is the task of isolating something like a “beat” and building around it subtle modulations and layers of accompaniment from literally dozens of different animals. When experimental music can take the voices of endangered wildlife and lodge them in your brain with rhythmic, pulsing fervor—an achievement especially prevalent on “Solarpunk” and “Utopia o caralho!”—you know you have arrived in a truly compelling landscape. As a wildlife conservationist myself, hearing this level of sincerity and intentionality lifts my spirits and gives me encouragement about ways of moving forward gracefully in this shrinking bestiary we’ve made of the world. It can be a simple and profound gift to encounter other wild souls who strive, as A lake by the mõõn’s Bandcamp page reads, “to manifest against the narratives of fatalism and of fake hopes.” This bizarre record of electronically manipulated animal sounds is real in the realest sense, and is, despite the serious overtones, an exercise in radical playfulness.

The Bornean orangutan is critically endangered because of deforestation, palm oil plantations, and hunting.

And, of course, Shouts! out to the following contributors with whom we stand in unwavering solidarity: walruses, giant sable antelopes, humpback whales, Bornean orangutans, albatrosses, Atlantic puffins, greater sage-grouse, Amur leopards, Malayan tigers, polar bears, Japanese meagre, gracile chimpanzees, Fortescue grunters, Asian and African elephants, wattled curassows, Galapagos carpenter bees, beluga whales, royal penguins, common eiders, golden frogs, Oaxaca hummingbirds, red pandas, hyenas, Asian lions, Mexican wolves, kakapos, red wolves, northern lapwings, Pernambuco pygmy owls, Karthala scops owls, Aruba island rattlesnakes, sea otters, Aldabra giant tortoises, Atlantic salmon, golden bamboo lemurs, mountain gorillas, saiga antelopes, and the Kauai O’o bird.

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Raging, Patiently, Against Corruption In Spain: A Review Of Tenue’s ‘Territorios’

Every now and then a band will put out an egregious thirty-minute song that could be considered an entire album, one totally epic movement, both, or something else altogether. Half-hour bangers tend to be the ambitious standard fare among the more patient and cerebral black metal and doomy post-rock contingencies—less so among punk bands who display such tight and compact riffage and boots-on-the-ground angst as Galicia, Spain’s Tenue. But the Galician three-piece continue to shatter tropes and expectation and synthesize styles on their blistering new work, “Territorios,” released internationally on March 31st on numerous labels and in various formats.

Calling to mind a vein of late 90s screamo and emo-crust like Circle Takes the Square and City of Caterpillar, Tenue’s sound transitions effortlessly from torturous shrieking clangor to somber and airy interludes that build and swell with supreme dexterity against a lyrical backdrop raging against corruption in Spain, the ongoing viral effects of Eurocentric colonialism and authoritarianism, and, to translate a line of Galician lyrics, the “tireless reproduction of the violence of postmodernity.” Suspenseful arpeggiation concedes to fuzzed-out, tremolo-picked crescendos, and about every six minutes or so listeners will find themselves chewing on a new hook or riff, wondering how they got there.

The great strength of “Territorios” is how gripping and compelling each individual movement is, and how naturally and smoothly each transitions to the next. It’s hard to point out single moments on an album that feels like every second is part of an epic crescendo; the modulation of tension and softness takes the listener to a plane in which time dissolves and recedes back to the timelessness of oppression and human struggles being shrieked behind the knotted veil of such intricate and atmospheric punk rock.

A photo of the band retrieved from their Bandcamp page.

Rarely do rage and patience find such companionship in one another as they do on this album; this is a kind of musical maturity not often seen in screamo, and another reason why Tenue are in a league of their own. You, listener, will feel catharsis, exhaustion, rage, amplification, and augmentation in this album, amidst its blasts and d-beats, its frenetic rising and swelling and exploding guitar work. Tenue have taken the very real and tangible gross materials of punk rock and vaulted them to the stratosphere, where things are no less painful, despite the enormous and sweeping vantage point that few bands have captured in a single cut. Do yourself a favor and make a ritual of carving out half an hour in your day for such an emotionally charged musical experience.

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