- The after-hours jazzbo vibe that Microkingdom conjures on ‘Midnite Plu$$,’ the third track on its new full-length “Smooth Tendencies” (Friends Records), sounds like the left-field local trio wandered into a recording studio after being subjected to Prozac and 24 hours of “Barney & Friends.” Reeds player John Dierker forgoes his usual ecstatic playing for a series of buttery sax notes that wouldn’t feel out of place in a Haircut 100 ditty. Guitarist Marc Miller fires off a seductive power-ballad solo that makes you think he really does want to know what love is. And it sounds like percussionist/composer Will Redman provides a gentle vibes mood in the background. All of that takes place over an electronic wash that makes the whole thing feel like the Muzak in the express elevator that runs from a Crate & Barrel showroom straight to Martha Stewart’s tightly wound anus.
Spend enough time with “Smooth,” though, and you hear how this Microkingdom is the same one that delivered the spazzy hardcore laffs of ‘Dave Musustaine’ from 2010’s “Threatened Youths” cassette. Microkingdom has layer upon layer of irony, humorous aside, knowing allusion, and anarchistic irreverence built in, and with this new album the trio has a blast upending the vocabulary of the peaceful, easy-feeling music typically associated with “smooth.” And the group does it with an impressive patience: ‘Zero to Negative Diggity’ spends nearly 10 minutes winding through the kind of down-tempo cocktail that continues to drive mindless lemmings to Thievery Corporation gigs, all the while pushing and pulling at the tempo and textures until the mood becomes anxious, more “The Outer Limits” than Red Maple. “Smooth Tendencies” comes out Feb. 14, and Microkingdom plays a release show April 8 at the Windup Space, with a cassette coming out on Chris Day’s Marginal Products label around the same time.
- Speaking of outer limits, this month saw the first new Twig Harper sounds since the extremely limited “New Lost Knowns” LP in 2013. “Music For Higher Dimensional Consciousness” finds one half of Nautical Almanac delivering nearly an hour of hallucinatory, brain-massaging noise goop. If you harbor any soft spot for having your third eye poked, get it. The CD is out now via Somnimage in Bradley, Illinois, and available via Bandcamp.
- On Feb. 12, Darsombra, the local drone duo of musicians/artists Brian Daniloski and Ann Everton, embarks on sheer insanity. It plays in Takoma Park, the opening night of the first segment of its Three-Legged Monster Tour 2015, for which it plans to play more than 100 road dates between now and October. The tour page (darsombra.com/3LEGGEDMONSTER.html) has dates mapped out crisscrossing the country. Now, Booed hasn’t been the biggest fan of Darsombra’s Earth-meets-Dead Can Dance output over the years but ever since about 2012’s “Mega-Void” the duo has charted some pretty compelling terrain. Embarking on a tour this ambitious as an independent duo is pretty impressive, and Booed wanted to tip the hat.
- Finally, Philadelphia’s hard-working Chris Forsyth & the Solar Motel Band has the kind of live-band rep that creates online legend and probably doesn’t pay a single bill, so the Feb. 7 show at the 5th Dimension with Mind Over Mirrors (Haley Fohr of Circuit des Yeux), Bobby Donnie, and Horse Lords is a must.
Bret McCabeCity Paper