The Merch Table: June 2017

Merch Table

Illustration by Paul Grelet

Every month, The Merch Table brings you the best and most bonkers merchandise you can find on Bandcamp. We commend bands and labels that get a little creative and think outside the tote bag. Whether it’s a fashion accessory, a piece of art, or something entirely unique, The Merch Table showcases inventive, original—and, occasionally, downright strange—stuff that you might want to get your hands on.

To mark the official start of summer we’ve got fly T-shirts and slick baseball hats for all your festival needs.

Sad Chasey Cassette

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With its extremely slow ‘90s R&B slowed to a crawl over haunted house beats, this new vaporwave tape is glitch heaven. In case you’re unfamiliar with vaporwave’s philosophical implications as a critique of post-capitalism, Sad Chasey’s album art, a display photo depicting an escalator, is here to remind you that this is music for malls.

Rakta Pin

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This Rorschach test as a butterfly pin makes for a very fine addition to the front pocket of your jean jacket.

Discos Capablanca Embroidered Unicorn Shirt

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This is the 21st century’s answer to the Unicorn Tapestry and a phenomenal way to show your support for this out-there Berlin-based dance label.

D∆WN Baseball Cap

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We are huge fans of D∆WN here at Bandcamp Daily. In fact, you can easily spot us walking around Brooklyn en masse sporting these baseball caps.

PPU Record Bag

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The perfect transport tote for the rare 7’’ diamonds in the rough you’ve been searching for since The Land Before Time was a thing.

Ally-Jane Grossan 

Have a merch item you’d like to share? Drop us a line: merchtable@bandcamp.com

An Introduction to Avant-Garde Electronic Music in Poland

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RSS B0YS by Natalia Kabanow.

In recent years, there has been a steady increase in the reach of Polish underground music, in terms of both sonics and audience. That development didn’t come out nowhere; the country’s rich history of experimental cinema and animation fuelled a tradition of avant-garde music in the mid-20th century, deploying pioneering tape sampling methods alongside early synths to soundtrack many experimental short films. Warsaw-based audiovisual duo (and sisters) WIDT offer up a short history lesson: “In 1957, the Studio Eksperymentalne Polskiego Radia (Experimental Studio of the Polish Radio) was found by composer Józef Patkowski,” they explain. “This was the place where the soundtracks were produced and [where the] most significant creators came from.”

Since Poland was still deeply under Soviet pressure at the time, it was only possible for this outpost of experimental electronic music to emerge during the détente in Russian influence that followed Stalin’s death in 1953. By 1956, Poland had became noticeably more autonomous, and censorship’s reach gradually declined. In the 1980s, groups like Germany’s Tangerine Dream were hugely popular, and homegrown Polish pioneers like Marek Biliński were starting to experiment with electronics, finally outside of the context of soundtrack work.

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Album of the Day: Jack DeJohnette, Larry Grenadier, John Medeski & John Scofield, “Hudson”

The members of the jazz supergroup Hudson share a language created in cities: by dense hive-minds of musicians, the spaces where they cross-pollinate, and audiences who amplify the buzz. But as with many people who grow older, the four members of the group eventually moved out of town—in this case, up the Hudson River north of New York City.

That happy accident of mutual proximity, and master drummer Jack DeJohnette’s 75th birthday, spurred this new project, which also features John Medeski (keyboard instruments), Larry Grenadier (bass) and John Scofield (guitar). They form a multi-generational crew of improvisers, particularly noted for working at the nexus of jazz, funk, and rock. (See: Medeski Martin and Wood, or Miles Davis c. 1969, or the bulk of Scofield’s discography.) Yet their first album isn’t an overt fusion of a style x + style y. Their mergers are more subtle, gestures from musicians who have lived through a lot, and who now freely supplement their common dialect at their own leisure and discretion.

About half of Hudson is original compositions, with the remainder written by folk and rock musicians connected to their home region: Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, Jimi Hendrix, and Levon Helm of The Band. The latter portion is read with a deceptive cleanliness, with Scofield clearly stating melody lines; at times, Hudson comes close to being a rather overqualified instrumental cover band. Sensing as much, the quartet attempts to match its musical choices with the lyrics of the originals—see the messy apocalyptic breakdown on “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall” or the unsettled wistfulness in “Woodstock.”

DeJohnette takes the vocal mic on the New Orleans-inspired mixed-meter shuffle “Dirty Ground”; his “Song For World Forgiveness” transforms into a rock ballad. The band sounds more conventional on the hard-bop blues throwdown “Tony Then Jack,” or on the Spanish-tinged churn of “El Swing.” All this makes their opener a red herring, as the collective, groove-driven improvisation “Hudson” suggests this meeting of minds might be a loud, high-intensity jam band. But by their closer, “Great Spirit Peace Chant”—literally a group chant, inspired by the native inhabitants of the Hudson Valley—it’s the range of what they attempt which echoes loudest.

Patrick Jarenwattananon

Mark McGuire Is Addicted To Recording Music

Mark McGuire

During our chat with Ohio-based producer Mark McGuire, a group of deer began circling his car. “Oh, whoa,” he says. “That’s sick.” Just another day in the life of a musician whose art is based on these kind of chance encounters.

For McGuire, a solo experimental player and former guitarist for Emeralds, the outside world means everything. He’s genuinely amazed by the universe, which might seem flighty to those who don’t know him. But it’s that same cosmic wonder that informs his music. To hear McGuire play is to be convinced he’s possessed by something far beyond the natural world.

His music ventures from idyllic, expansive acoustic guitar numbers to icy, wandering electronic pieces. That they fit so naturally together is a testament to McGuire’s ability as a composer and visionary. His songs toggle between the electronic and acoustic, the improvised and composed. Somewhere in the middle, McGuire sits happily, looking up at the stars and seeing things that are invisible to the rest of us. (The deer thing really happened, though.)

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A Brief Guide To The Weird World Of Finland’s Circle

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Photo by Kimmo Metsaranta.

“The biggest misconception about Circle is that we are the best band in the world. We are not. But we are dangerously close to being one.” —Jussi Lehtisalo

They may categorize their music under the slightly misleading heading “New Wave Of Finnish Heavy Metal,” but in reality, the long-running group Circle defy all pigeonholing. An ultra-prolific collective of hyperactive genre-straddlers, they indulge themselves in metal, krautrock, psychedelia, ambient, jazz, prog, art rock, soft rock, and other assorted fusions. They also have a habit of adorning themselves in spandex, leather bracelets, and other outrageous stagewear.

Formed in 1991 by Jussi Lehtisalo in his hometown of Pori, Finland, Circle have long experimented not only sonically, but conceptually, too. A prime example of this occurred back in 2013, when the band changed its name to Falcon to record the Frontier album. At that same time, the Circle b(r)and name was “leased out” to a completely different set of musicians, who recorded Circle’s Incarnation album. To complicate things even further, the usual, longstanding line-up continued to perform concerts as Circle, with occasional Falcon songs appearing in setlists.

If that hasn’t confused you enough already, try keeping up with Circle members’ myriad sideprojects. These include Ektroverde, Steel Mammoth, Iron Magazine, Krypt Axeripper, and Pharaoh Overlord. Making matters even more confounding, Pharaoh Overlord once released an album called Circle on the same day that Circle released an album called Pharaoh Overlord. According to Lehtisalo, this was an attempt “to turn both bands into a mechanical phase error in which Pharaoh Overlord would continue Circle’s career and Circle would continue on Pharaoh Overlord’s path. It’s easy to understand when you think of Judas Priest and Iron Maiden swapping places.” Such bewildering ideas make most artists’ albums look conceptually straightforward.

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