Friday, March 3, 2017

Walter Gross - VESTIGE Cassette: The Witzard Album Review & WG Selects His Current Favorite Music, Books & Films, Etc. Playlist (Black Box Tapes/Alpha Pup Records)

"Walter Gross is truly a one of a kind artist, iconoclast and a master of many mediums. He is mainly known for his experimental audio soundscapes, which inhabit a space between Dustbowl Folk re-appropriations, walls of noise, sludgy Trap, Rap, and Prog-Rock. It's easy to throw a bunch of catchphrases together and make a bio seem compelling, but Walter truly walks these lines with grace and originality. Beyond being a music-maker, he is a film director and visual artist. His videos are obsessive collages and unlike so many who utilizes "found art," he brings these pieces to life and creates stunning and unique pieces with them," Black Box Tapes label head and Socially Conscious rapper-producer Tim "sole" Holland wrote within a recent BIO on Walter Gross' Bandcamp. Gross is a Baltimore transplant now living in Berlin, who has been making his own unique slightly Hip-Hop-leaning music and frantic video collages since about 2007. "VESTIGE was born out of a cathartic pain-staking process of stripping away my identity, exiting America, surviving Europe, creating in less than ideal circumstances with the least amount of resources I've ever had; while spending the most amount of time on any record, while subsequently losing all the source material in my MPC just a week before completion," Walter Gross wrote within a statement on Bandcamp. His latest release, VESTIGE was entirely written, produced, and mixed by Gross himself with mastering done by Michael J. Collins at FilthyBroke Recordings and a lone feature from SMALL BUT HARD-signed Experimental violinist Kathy Alberici (credited on VESTIGE as "Bocca al Lupo").

Walter Gross constructed and recorded VESTIGE from the ground up, creating everything from scratch and then, meticulously sampling himself... there is, however, one noticeable lone sample: Nicki Minaj's ferocious, hard-as-nails verse from "Who's Ya Best MC?" from her 2008 Young Money mixtape, Sucka Free, which Gross says was simply "an old freestyle from youtube, [it] was sort of a happy accident I threw on there just because." Nicki can be heard spittin' nearly 26 bars beneath Walter Gross' murky, almost eerily subdued production work on "Window" and even though it feels a bit out of place at first, totally works! I think the best way to ultimately describe VESTIGE and Gross' expansive body of work is that it sounds like Trent Reznor & Dr. Dre's fabled collaborative album/EP they may or may not have recorded together around the same time as Nine Inch Nails' Industrial Rock and Hip-Hop-melding 1999 double-album, The Fragile. VESTIGE is currently available for purchase for between $10-11 on either limited edition (to 100) Black Box Tapes/Alpha Pup Records cassette or digital download from Walter Gross' Bandcamp page, along with a plethora of unique, genuinely genre-less musical creations. Walter was kind enough to assemble a multi-media playlist of sorts containing his current favorite music, books, films, etc. which you can peruse through down below! Ideally, you should be able to download VESTIGE and read, watch, or listen along with the mixed media WG listed below and see if you can connect the dots yourself!


(I) The Savage Young Taterbug - Shadow of Marlboro Man

I've been a huge fan of Iowa bred-weirdo Taterbug for some years now. He was making this super-dusty Lo-fi "Pop" music that was beautiful, but this latest album of his from 2016 takes it to a supreme other lovely. He looks like he just crawled out of the corn fields and the music lives up to the crusty mystique. Highly recommended!

(II) Abul Mogard - Works

Apparently, this fella retired from a life of factory work in Serbia and started making ambient synthesizer music. It is an amazing piece full of dark beauty and wonder. I especially enjoy listening to this over and over, while I'm reading in Turkish cafes in Berlin.

(III) Black Pus/Oozing Wound - Thrill Jockey Split 12-inch

This is just great Rock "N" Roll. I love the Oozing Wound stuff—its dirty riffs, nasty drums, and all feels.


(I) Paracelsus & The Substance of His Teaching - Franz Hartmann

A great summary of the 16th century rogue physician/polymath. Very fascinating and his approach to learning is quite inspirational.

(II) The Fourth Way - P.D. Ouspensky

A concise introduction to the teachings of the Greek/Armenia 20th century mystic, G.I. Gurdjieff. It has really helped me sort [out] my own dumb brain and very useful to anyone interested in getting out of themselves and directing your mind appropriately in this crazy f**king world.

(III) Meditations - Marcus Aurelius

This is a collection from a Roman Emperor's journals; he was a stoic philosopher and it inter-twines nicely with The Fourth Way. Also, very helpful and conducive to cultivating a noble approach to everyday life.


(I) Manchester By The Sea
Written & Directed By: Kenneth Lonergan

This movie is essentially flawless. Solid writing, great acting, beautiful music; was very nice to see in an empty theatre on a rainy gray day.

(II) The Fits
Directed By: Anna Rose Holmer

Simple, poetic, magical film-making—particularly for a debut.


(I) Rick Alverson

If you've ever heard or seen Neil Hamburger (aka Gregg Turkington) then, you'll appreciate this bleak portrayal of a small-time comedian clawing his way through an American dystopia, just doing his thing. I loved it and related to it in a lot of ways. It's also super well-done and effecting.

- Lists Compiled By: Walter Gross

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