1) Annie Shaw, “Dip in the Waverlee (Never Knowin)” The Upstate Soundscape Vol. II: Summer 2013
2) TJ Borden, “Street Light, Slow-Motion Car Crash” The Upstate Soundscape Vol. II: Summer 2013
3) NYMPH, “Battle Funk” New Millennium Prayer (Northern Spy)
4) Disappears, “Ultra” Era (Kranky)
5) SoundBarn, “I” The Gunpowder Conspiracy (Tape Drift)
6) Scott Valkwitch, “Live at Hallwall’s 7.31.09” InFraRed (House of Alchemy)
7) Proud Father, “So Hot (Wash Away All of My Tears)”
8) Lost Trail, “The Rushing Gust” Holy Ring of Chalk (Wounded Wolf Private Press)
9) Future Fossils, “Demo 2”
10) The Durian Brothers, “Angstbirne” The Durian Brothers/Ensemble Skalectrik 12″ Split (Fat Cat)
11) Ariel Pink’s Hanuted Graffitti, “MTV n’ D&D” Oddities Sodomies Vol. I (Vinyl International)
12) Palm/Highway Chase, “Space Again” Escape from New York (Spectrum Spools)
13) Purling Hiss, “1976” Public Service Announcement (Woodsist)
14) David Lynch, “The Line it Curves” The Big Dream (Sacred Bones)
15) BBC Channel 4, “Talking Heads Vs. Television (excerpt)” (1984)
Tag Archives: tj borden
1) Annie Shaw, “Dip in the Waverlee (Never Knowin)” (Hamilton)
2) TJ Borden, “Street Lights, Slow-Motion Car Crash” (Rochester)
3) Parashi, “Jar of Mischief” (Albany)
4) Charles Gordon, “Known Unknowns Part 2 [Live at the Vault 3.22.13]” (Buffalo)
5) Rash, “Spring” (Rochester)
6) No Shoes & One Sock, “One Foot in the Grave” (Hamilton)
7) Cages, “Lost Lipids [Live at Soundlab 9.3.12]” (Buffalo)
8) Tired Wires, “Hark” (London, ON)
9) Lea Bertucci, “Baggage Nest [Live on WFMU’s My Castle of Quiet 10.12.12]” (Rosendale, NY)
10) VWLS, “Camouflage Mercedes” (Buffalo)
Tonight at Soundlab, Detroit droners Tarpit and Sick Llama will be coming through as part of their current tour. You can see the rest of the bill HERE, which includes local support from TJ Borden and VWLS, among others. For now, check out some of Tarpit’s sounds above.
The duo will also hit Rochester on Feb. 2. See full tour info HERE.
Full disclosure: I am a sucker for solo-instrumentalist avant-garde pieces. I’ve found that immersing myself in these type of performances allows me to slip out of objective reality to the point where I could go and, say, listen to Torture Garden on repeat for a full day (true story). While I appreciate any music that pushes boundaries, solo performances where artists manage to channel deep emotion through an instrument that they have personally mastered just seem to make a deeper connection with me as a listener. Cellist TJ Borden’s album Poor Form and Extenuating Circumstances is one of those types of performances.
With this album, Borden, who is a Rochester native, exhibits a unique style, both in composition and performance. Even if you’re unschooled in the cello you can tell very quickly that Borden is inventing new and unconventional ways to play this instrument. In other words, you’ve never heard a cello played like this and that’s because you’ve probably never heard a player like this that is clearly classically trained but also just as comfortable in the anything-goes realm of noise. Thus, you’ll see Borden play both with New Music outfits like Wooden Cities and also in noisier collaborations like the Freeman-Cain-Borden trio.
The 14 tracks here, which are titled simply by their number, display a darker tone due in part to Borden’s enigmatic and often furious performance which often devolves into sonic chaos. The album offers many exceptional moments that are incredibly intricate and will astound the astute listener, such as “2” and “13.” Musically and technically speaking, Borden’s execution is top-notch and fascinating to listen to. Such a wide range of style and emotion are on display, making the album wholly unpredictable. At times the playing seems to recall a solo Eyvind Kang, both in sound and construction of the songs.
The sound of Borden’s cello is also of note; it isn’t the crisp, clean electric cello sound that most ears are familiar with. Borden’s cello is very raw and full of body, which adds to the setting of the album’s mood. The sonic presence that this album exudes is so much larger than one would expect from a solo performance that, by the end, one can’t help but wish to see Borden perform in a live intimate setting.
Review by: Roth’s Child
This is what it sounds like after Icarus falls…
Pardon the cliché, but music should be a journey of some kind. Ideally, you should be at a different place by an album’s end than you were at the start. Nowadays, too many musicians release albums that are riddled with a kind of disjointedness – all parts and not enough of a whole. Having a fulfilling musical journey is somewhat impossible under such circumstances. While I am not making the argument for concept albums, I am however making the case for a certain sense of thematic cohesion that will undoubtedly deflower the soul. We have reached an unsatisfactory point in culture in which many, if not all of us, live life in blips and parts. The bigger picture, whatever that may mean, eludes us and we are consequentially fragmented. Musicians and music in general should go against the social fragmentation and make us whole, if only for a moment. System Vandross, the new album from Buffalo cello-turntable duo Phillips-Borden, accomplishes just that.
At first, I did not know what to make of System Vandross. I admired its rough frankness, how it lulled me into a ragged dream state. I enjoyed the seesaw battle between cello and turntable, unsure if the battle was a cohesive one. Am I mistaken? I asked myself. The musicians are certainly accomplished, able to illuminate the potential irregularity of the cello (played by TJ Borden) and forlorn fluidity of the turntable (played by Rob Phillips), but for what purpose? Uncertain at first of the journey Phillips-Borden were embarking on, I needed to take a step back. I poured myself a glass of Pinot Noir and lit up a cigarette, taking in the nighttime that twirled about me. Then it hit me: System Vandross is night music. Upon said revelation, I sighed. Describing music as “night music” has always felt like a copout to me. It’s like when someone describes a particular song as “experimental,” it irks me; what exactly does that mean? In my opinion, all music is experimental, but not all music is intended for the night. In short, Phillips-Borden has created fulfilling cohesion out of irregularity and forlorn fluidity.
“Matchstick Arbitrage,” one of the album’s standouts, is a stunning deconstruction of musical and emotional anxiety. Right off the bat, there is an overreaching sense of calmness, the calm before the storm, so to speak. The cello, fixed firmly in the ground, provides the foundation allowing the turntable to explore the area all around. While the cello is jagged and frantic, the turntable is pulsating and airy. It is the juxtaposition between the two that creates, dare I say, a post-apocalyptic mental dancehall. The song moves at an almost-quicksand pace. You’re teased into thinking that an explosion will happen and though it never quite does, you’re certain of one thing: anxiety itself is an explosion, one that keeps half of you firmly planted in the ground and the other half chaotically swimming through space. When listening to “Matchstick Arbitrage,” we should dance…but not quite. We should move…but not quite. Sure-footed hesitation is a remarkable and strange feeling, one that aptly sums up “Matchstick Arbitrage” as well as the album as a whole. Try listening to the song and not have your brain dance out of your skull.
There is a tension that pulsates throughout the album: between inaction and action, redemption and damnation, between earth and air, indelibly executed by cello and turntable, courtesy of Phillips-Borden. Throughout the album, cello and turntable often switch roles. While in “Matchstick Arbitrage” the cello provides the foundation whereas the turntable roams free. In other songs, the turntable is the foundation. There is always a freeing gap present. System Vandross is the gap in-between two unreachables; Philips-Borden flings us into it, much like Icarus in his ill-fated and sun-drenched quest. It is no wonder then that there is a song entitled “Fall of Icarus redux” on the album. The song, a particular favorite of mine, begins in a cultish fashion, reminding one of a darkening pasture at the witching hour, a frenzied flock of shepherds swaying and chanting. It is ghostly, cello and turntable exposing and exploiting each other’s limitations. The turntable, open-ended, gives way to the cello’s narrow jaggedness. Together, the two instruments create a doomed dance, rhythmically painting a portrait of poor Icarus’s flight. By song’s end, we know for sure that Icarus has crash-landed. But, but, but—not all hope is lost! Thematically and musically, System Vandross is not an album about doomed flights but, rather, what happens after those doomed flights, when a new kind of hopefulness begins to settle in and the world around you is fresher than it was before. Sometimes, we must expose and exploit each other’s limitations. Through this, one may achieve a sense of fulfillment and wholeness.
System Vandross is most certainly a battle between cello and turntable, but that battle turns into a dance. And that dance into a doomed flight. Before we know it, the landscape around us is different and for the better. And so we too must battle, dance, and fly. Open up your ears and eyes, for that matter, and be like Icarus after his flight. Give System Vandross a listen.
Review by Justin Karcher
Here is a great performance from Dan Bassin, TJ Borden, and Zane Merritt, three musicians from UB’s music department that recently went on a brief tour of the Pacific-Northwest. This improv session was recorded at Seattle’s Gallery 1412 and then submitted to our Soundcloud Group. Enjoy.
Complete, unedited audio of the final performance from our July 2012 Pacific Northwest mini-tour.
IMPROVISED MUSIC by:
TJ Borden – Amplified Cello
Zane Merritt – Electric Guitar
Daniel Bassin – Flumpet and Trumpet