Tag Archives: Baltimore

The Avant-Garde DIY Heartbeat of Strange Times People Band

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Photos by VJP Photography

The Baltimore DIY scene suffered a blow recently when one beloved underground warehouse space, Bell Foundry, was shuttered in the wake of the Ghost Ship fire for not meeting Baltimore City Fire Dept’s code. Singer Caroline Marcantoni lived in the Bell Foundry during its early days, and over time she became a consistent contributor to the Baltimore underground arts community as both a dance teacher and record store clerk at the True Vine record store. She’s also an inspired writer and teacher of feminist ideology, and has travelled all over the world in the improvised avant-garde group Strange Times People Band.

We spoke with Marcantoni about her obsession with Betty Davis, how Ghost Ship and Bell Foundry’s fates affected her personally, and why she may be bringing Strange Times People Band to an end.

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Dave Heumann of Arbouretum On His Poetic and Musical Lineage

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Where many of their psych-scene peers often seem so beholden to the “temple of riff” that they forget how to actually write a song, the Baltimore-based outfit Arbouretum travel a quieter path. Finding inspiration in the British folk-rock of the ‘70s—groups like Fairport Convention, Pentangle, and Steeleye Span—the group crafts their songs meticulously, paying close attention to the nuances of mood and tone, structure and tempo.

In a crowded cafe, on a chilly afternoon in Baltimore City, we talked with Arbouretum frontman Dave Heumann about his personal musical journey and poetic lineage, Taoist philosophy and mythology, and finding solace in nature.

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Introducing: Jenny Besetzt

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Jenny Besetzt. Photo by Cole Giordano.

In North Carolina’s research triangle of Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill, where Piedmont blues and psych-leaning indie rock are popular (Merge is headquartered in Durham), Jenny Besetzt stands out. Listening to the first two tracks on their latest album Tender Madness, it’s tempting to file Jenny Besetzt alongside the droves of Joy Division and Cure sound-alikes that have popped up over the past year on Bandcamp. But frontman John Wollaber will be the first to admit that his heaviest influences don’t come from early post-punk. Instead, he found inspiration in the way pop songs were used to create dark moods in the soundtrack to Donnie Darko.

He’s also drawn to the melancholy voice of Scott Walker, particularly on Walker’s critically maligned 1984 record Climate of Hunter, of which Wollaber says, “it sounds like he just stumbled out of the ‘70s into a studio in the ‘80s that was full of really dated synths.” There’s a similar progression in the sound of Jenny Besetzt’s latest album, Tender Madness, which landed at the number six spot on our Best 100 Albums of 2016. What starts out with dark soundscapes and wiry basslines ends up, by the end of the album, in a much lighter place, culminating in a closing trio of synth-driven pop songs that wouldn’t feel out of place on an ‘80s teen film soundtrack.

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How Quitting School and Learning About Wolves Impacted Purrer’s Songs

Purrer. Photo by Shannon Patrick.

Purrer. Photo by Shannon Partrick.

Both live and on record, the music of Amanda Glasser is a safe haven that allows her to explore her darker thoughts. So it’s no surprise that her songs can generate strong emotional reactions: At her shows, it’s not uncommon to find audience members—and sometimes even Glasser herself—crying. On her debut EP as Purrer, she is joined by Jarrett Gilgore and John Birkholz on bass and drums, respectively. In contrast to the home recordings she released under the name Saint Julien, her music as Purrer is far more dynamic. Glasser writes about serious topics—trauma, assault, and mental health—but she does so with kindness and sensitivity. Recorded in a proper studio for the first time, Glasser’s vocals and guitar work have a newfound clarity, adding depth to her open-hearted songwriting. We spoke with Glasser about quitting school, the history of wolves, and being emotionally vulnerable.

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What’s Your Day Job?: Locrian

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Terence Hannum performing with Locrian.

To call Terence Hannum “prolific” or a “polymath” is like calling a hurricane “windy.” Although best known as a founder of the acclaimed avant black metal band Locrian, Terence has released several well-received albums of soundscapes under his own name, and is also a member of the newly-minted synth outfit The Holy Circle.

An accomplished visual artist, his work has been displayed in galleries around the world in both solo exhibitions and group shows. On top of that, Terence’s zines and art books reside in the permanent collections of multiple universities and other institutions. Recently, he’s made strides into the literary world with the publication of his first work of fiction, a novella titled “Beneath The Remains,” released to acclaim.

Staying consistent within a body of work such as this would be a tremendous undertaking for anyone, let alone a happily married father of two with a full-time job. For the better part of two decades, Terence has been working as a college professor of art, first in Chicago and, for the past few years, outside of Baltimore. As daunting as it must be to balance such a wealthy creative life with the responsibilities of work and family, Terence seems to hold it together with unparalleled elegance and grace. Like only the most disciplined individuals can, he makes what would send most of us into an anxiety-riddled state of shock look easy.

We caught up with Terence to talk about life, music, art, and how he holds it all together.

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