U.S. Maple
(Copyright © 1999 Piero Scaruffi | Legal restrictions - Termini d'uso )

Long Hair In Three Stages , 7.5/10
Sang Phat Editor , 6.5/10
Talker , 7/10
Acre Thrills , 6.5/10
Robert Johnson And The Browns: album Company No Company , 6/10
Central Falls: Latitude , 5.5/10
Central Falls: Love And Easy Living , 6.5/10
Purple On Time (2003), 5/10
Links:

U.S. Maple were basically the continuation of Shorty, having been formed in Chicago by guitarist Mark Shippy and by vocalist Al Johnson, now flanked by second guitarist Todd Rittman and by drummer Pat Samson (both formerly of Mercury Players, another band of the Chicago underground), under the aegis of Steve Albini and later of Jim O'Rourke. Gli U.S. Maple sono di fatto la prosecuzione degli Shorty, essendo stati formati a Chicago dal chitarrista Mark Shippy e dal cantante Al Johnson, coadiuvati ora dal secondo chitarrista Todd Rittman e dal batterista Pat Samson (entrambi ex Mercury Players, altro gruppo underground di Chicago), sotto l'egida di Steve Albini e poi di Jim O'Rourke.

The postmodern blues featured on Long Hair In Three Stages (Skin Graft, 1995) has actually little in common with Captain Beefheart's distorting mirrors. The process is rather related to Red Crayola's scientific deconstruction, to that program of absolute chaos that maps on a crooked geometry. The songs are not simply "containers" of ideas, they are "swellers" of idea: their role is dynamic, implying growth, rather than static, implying repetition. The sound of the guitars is fractured and incoherent, as in the experiments of Fred Frith and Derek Bailey, although still "rock" because of a less conscious and less elegant use of timbre.
Hey King opens with a spastic jamming that soon decays into a shrill fluttering of guitars, and finally a syncopated riffing announces the singer, who seems intent in remembering Captain Beefheart's Moonlight In Vermont. House Made Stuff dispenses with the instrumental section and focuses on the guitar cacophony and the werewolf-like declamation.
Johnson's demented, acid singing (a psychotic whisper that prolongs the words to a howl) is the link that keeps the songs together. otherwise they would implode or explode. Letter To ZZ Top may rely on tribal drumming and Magic Job may boast a solid bass rumble, but ultimately the players can play anything they like. There is an element of randomness that could easily get out of control and dissolve the song format. Instead, well into the song, the vocals rein in whatever centrifugal forces have appeared.
The State Was Bad is one of the "explosive" songs, in which a pause leads to a surge lead by massive guitar strumming (as in early Sonic Youth) followed by chaotic guitar chattering (as in Polvo). You Know What is a blues number and perhaps the number that best exploits the alternate current of the group. When A Man Says Ow continues the blues sequence with a heavier groove. Northwad is the most rarefied of these blues "songs", the tempo reduced to a mere formality. The last songs are also the more intense, despite the fact that each one derails its own premises. The album has only one drawback: it lasts only 30 minutes.

Il blues postmoderno di Long Hair In Three Stages (Skin Graft, 1995) in realta` ha poco in comune con gli specchi deformanti di Captain Beefheart, ed e` semmai imparentato con la decostruzione scientifica dei Red Crayola, con quel programma di caos assoluto che si mappa su una sua sbilenca geometria, per non parlare dell'assurdo patafisico dei vecchi Soft Machine. I brani non sono tanto "contenitori" di idee quanto "dilatatori" di idee: non hanno una funzione statica, di semplice collage, ma una funzione dinamica, di crescita. Il suono delle chitarre e` fratturato e incoerente, come negli esperimenti noise di Fred Frith e Derek Bailey.

Sang Phat Editor (Skin Graft, 1997) contains Coming Back To Damnit, La Click, Missouri Twist.

US Maple's guitarist Todd Rittman was also half of Robert Johnson And The Browns, a duo of experimental noise that released the EP Robert Johnson And The Browns (Transcounty Service, 1998) and the album Company No Company (CNT, 1999).

US Maple's Talker (Drag City, 1999) is a calculated act of madness. While the overall impression is one of total chaos, each sound is carefull crafted and orchestrated. Technically speaking, the main theme of the album is not difficult to discern: the proto-blues of Bumps and Guys, one of their best variants on Captain Beefheart's abstract Dada art, the dissonant blues of Go To Broises and the sleepy blues of Breeze It's Your High School epitomize their "blacksploitation" strategy, whereby the roots of African-American music are turned upside down, the same way a cubist painting can redefine still life.
On this album US Maple's surgical strike on tradition has achieved an immaculate purity. They do more than just strip rock music down to its basic elements: they dissolve those elements in a lattice of un-musical gestures. Their technique is epitomized by the deconstruction of Rolling Stones cliches that is carried out mercilessly in Apollo Don't You Crust. The last semblance of song structure collapses in Running From Kabod, and Stupid Deep Indoors, which turn tempo into an indefinite variable. So Long Bonus, on the other hand, toys with tempo at the beginning, but only to let a pathetically inconclusive guitar solo annihilate it.
By their standards, More Horror is a soul ballad, or at least an unusual display of passion and emotion, and Track 9 is almost pop music.
Formally impeccable in its rendition of the science of musical flaws and faults, this album is a genuine confession of love for what they hate.

(Translation by/ Tradotto da xxx)

Se sei interessato a tradurre questo testo, contattami

US Maple continued the evolution towards a less primitive, less acerbic sound with Acre Thrills (Drag City, 2001). But the "sophisticated" version of their art is not any more pleasant. Ma Digital opens with discordant, Polvo-style, guitar jamming over disjointed drumming and agonizing bass lines. Al Johnson's vocals hiccup like a dejected David Thomas fronting Pere Ubu at their most dilated stage. This more abstract, loose, spineless, rambling mode of the band pens the tenderly irrational bluesy-ballad-deconstruction of Rice Ain't Afraid Of Nothing. and the tense, psychedelic dirge of Chang You're Attractive. Johnson's is an art of choking, while battling sloppy, atonal guitar sounds, in an atmosphere that is not so much claustrophobic as surreal.
Nuances do matter, though. The spastic rhythm and blues of Babe is undermined by jazz convulsions. Obey Your Concert enhances Captain Beefheart's jumbled blues with stubborn guitar dissonances and the least attractive moaning and hissing by the singer. Very little of musical substance happens in these short and introverted pieces.
By comparison, Total Fruit Warning rocks and emits an epic feeling. and Open A Rose roars with garage-punk fervor, voodoo drumming and grinding guitars. The band could tackle an infinite number of styles. Style is not an issue: demolition of style is the issue.
Johnson gives the whole show a meaning with his demented mixture of sweetness and desperation. By the last childish chords of Troop And Trouble, the tragic element has jumped at the forefront and US Maple sound more romantic than the Backstreet Boys.
(Translation by/ Tradotto da Carlo Crudele)

Gli US Maple hanno proseguito nell'evoluzione verso un suono meno primitivo, meno acerbo con Acre Thrills (Drag City, 2001). Ma la versione "sofisticata" della loro arte non Š pi— godibile. Ma Digital apre con una discordante chitarra, stile Polvo, che pasticcia su una batteria disunita e su linee di basso agonizzanti. Il cantato di Al Johnson singhiozza come un triste David Thomas con alle spalle dei Pere Ubu al loro stato pi— dilatato. Questo atteggiamento pi— astratto, libero, girovago, fluido che assume la band compone la decostruzione teneramente irrazionale della ballata blueseggiante Rice Ain't Afraid Of Nothing, ed il teso, psichedelico lamento di Chang You're Attractive. Quella di Johnson Š un'arte di affogare, mentre combatte contro sudici, atonali suoni di chitarra, in un'atmosfera che non Š tanto claustrofobica quanto surreale. Ad ogni modo, le sfumature contano. Lo spastico rhythm and blues di Babe Š insidiato da convulsioni jazz. Obey Your Concert valorizza il blues confuso di Captain Beefheart con cocciute dissonanze chitarristiche e con i lamenti ed i sospiri poco attraenti del cantante. C'Š molta poco sostanza musicale in questi brevi ed introversi brani. Di contro, Total Fruit Warning funziona ed emette un feeling epico, ed Open A Rose ruggisce di fervore garage-punk, percussioni voodoo e chitarre sferzanti. La band potrebbe confrontarsi con un numero infinito di stili. Qui non si parla di stile: si parla di demolizione di stili. Johnson d… un significato all'intera opera con la sua folle mistura di dolcezza e disperazione. Fino agli ultimi bambineschi accordi di Troop And Trouble, l'elemento tragico Š balzato in primo piano, e gli US Maple suonano pi— romantici dei Backstreet Boys.

US Maple's drummer Adam Vida made his solo debut under the moniker Central Falls with the album Latitude (Truckstop, 2002). Surprisingly, this is an album of simple country-rock (Latitude) and waltzing ballads (So Lovely So Lovely) played with a minimum of instruments and a minimum of voice. Overall, Vida sounds like an artist still in search of his true voice. While they display the depressed torpor of Nick Drake's dirges, lengthy compositions like Leave Into and Famous Harbor are pop refrains performed in slow-motion: if he played them at a faster speed, they would be catchy ditties. Occasionally, one perceives an interest in "sound" per se, although the instrumentation is too spare to for it to play a major role. But Travel has the spacey, dreamy ambience of Pink Floyd's Dark Side Of The Moon and a melodic bridge borrowed from John Lennon's A Day In The Life. It can't be a coincidence.

Central Falls's second album, Love And Easy Living (Truckstop, 2003), benefits from the addition of organist Ryan Hembrey. The first album's derivative country-rock has bloomed into a seasoned roots-rock that is blessed with an oneiric counterpoint. Most of the nine songs are 4-5 minutes long, partly due to the languid tempos and partly due to a more mature songwriting and more atmospheric settings. The mood swings from the eerie Springtime, drenched in a light rain of guitar tones and slightly syncopated beats, with a melody reminiscent of the Beatles' Michelle, to the sleepy blues of The Fights Are Staged, from the swinging, autumnal Don't Concern Yourself to the nocturnal horns-tinged Morning Sky and Falling Silver, from the almost stoned trance of six-minute Somewhere Between (swooning vocal harmonies, gurgling guitar arpeggios) to the jazzy lullaby of Weekenders (with a hypnotic instrumental codas). There is hardly any moment that is wasted in these carefully-crafted compositions, all the way down to the closing ode, Wrapped Up In Gold, a cross between a church prayer and a Neil Young lament.

(Translation by/ Tradotto da Paolo Latini)

Sang Phat Editor (Skin Graft, 1997) Coming Back To DamnitLa Click Missouri Twist

Il chitarrista degli US Maple, Todd Rittman, è anche la metà di un duo di noise sperimentale che ha dato alle stampe l'EP Robert Johnson And The Browns (Transcounty Service, 1998) e l'album Company No Company (CNT, 2000).


Talker (Drag City, 1999) è un atto di pazzia. Mentre, da una parte, l'impressione generale è quella di essere davanti a puro chaos, dall'altra si hanno suoni estremamente curati e orchestrati. Dal punto di vista tecnico, non è difficile individuare il tema generale dell'album: il proto-blues di Blumps and Guys, una delle loro migliori varianti del dadaismo musicale di Captain Beefheart, il blues dissonante di Go to Broises, e il blues trasognante di Breeze it's your High School sono epitomi della loro strategia "di sfruttamento", per cui le radici della musica afro-americana vengono completamente rovesciate, nello stesso modo in cui un pittore cubista riesce a ridefinire continuamente la vita.
Su questo disco l'intervento chirurgico con cui gli US Maple dissezionano la tradizione, ha raggiunto una purezza immacolata. Fanno ben più che scarnificare la musica rock fino a farla restare coi suoi elementi basici: dissolvono quegli elementi in un lattice di gesti a-musicali. La loro tecnica è la risultante della decostruzione dei cliches dei Rolling Stones che viene fuori implacabilmente da Apollo Don't You Crust. L'ultima apparenza del formato canzone tracolla in Running From Kabod, e Stupid Deep Indoors, che trasforma il tempo in una variabile indefinita. So Long Bonus, d'altra parter, all'inizio col tempo di gioca, ma solo perché in seguito, un assolo di chitarra pateticamente inconclusivo, lo possa dilaniare.

[...]

Il secondo album dei  Central Falls, Love And Easy Living (Truckstop, 2003), beneficia dell'aggiutna dell'organista Ryan Hembrey. Il country-rock derivativo del primo album è maturato in un roots-rock stagionato consacrato da contrappunti onirici. Molte tra le nove canzoni, durano sui 4-5 minuti, e ciò in parte a causa dei tempi languidi, e in parte a causa di un songwriting più maturo e più atmosferico. L'umore saltella dalla irreale Springtime, bagnata da una pioggierella di toni chitarristici e bassi lievemente sincopati, e con una melodia che ricorda la beatlesiana Michelle, al blues trasognante di The Fights Are Staged, dalla swingante e autunnale Don't Concern Yourself ai fiati che tinteggiano le notturne Morning Sky e Falling Silver, dalla trance quasi impietrita dei sei minuti  Somewhere Between (deliqui di armonie vocali e gorgoglianti arpeggi di chitarra) alla ninnananna jazzata di Weekenders (con una coda strumentale ipnotica). Non c'è un minuto sprecato in queste composizioni amorevolmente confezionate, fino all'ode conclusiva, Wrapped Up In Gold, una cosa simile ad un incrocio tra una preghiera chiesastica e un lamento di Neil Young.

US Maple's Purple On Time (Drag City, 2003) is an accessible and unassuming work that might appeal to a wider audience (My Lil' Shocker, I'm Just A Bag, Sweet & Centre, Tan Loves Blue) but represents a big step backwards for what used to be a highly innovative band.

Singer's Unhistories (Drag City, 2008) was a collaboration between guitarist Todd Rittman and drummer Adam Vida of U.S. Maple with bassist Robert Lowe of 90 Day Men. The music was a grotesque, Beefheart-ian bacchanal of atonal guitar and deranged vocals.

Invisible Things, the duo of US Maple's guitarist Mark Shippy and Parts & Labor's drummer Jim Sykes, debuted with the brainy post-rock abstractions of Home Is The Sun (Porter Records, 2012).

(Translation by/ Tradotto da xxx)

Se sei interessato a tradurre questo testo, contattami

What is unique about this music database