One of the most unusual recent "local" releases features the sounds not of a local musician, but of a Pittsburgh building. Yes, you read that right. Wrekmeister Harmonies: Recordings Made in Public Spaces Volume One, by Chicago sound artist J.R. Robinson, features ambient tones projected into museum spaces around the world, and then re-recorded to capture that space's sonic characteristics, or "sound templates." Robinson gave this treatment to the Andy Warhol Museum's lobby in 2007. I interviewed him for CP back in January 2008, when he returned to "deconstruct that recording in a live setting with a visual accompaniment," with help from members of U.S. Maple (Mark Shippy, Matt Carson) and The Jesus Lizard (David Yow).
The resulting 18-minute track, "Pittsburgh," kicks off his new album, now available on Atavistic Records. Unsettling and cathartic, it includes shuddering screams offset by gentle shimmering passages, clashing guitars, flurries of drums, sax by Ken Vandermark (seemingly overdubbed later) and of course, snatches of conversation recorded at the Warhol. Who knows? You might even have played a part in it. For more info, visit www.myspace.com/wrekmeisterharmonies.
Several local bands and musicians have more conventional recordings out this month -- here's a partial roundup. This week, melodic thrash-metal band Crown the Lost releases Blind Faith Loyalty on the Italian label Cruz del Sur Music. The band's previous album, 2006's Reverence Dies Within, was described by CP's Manny Theiner as a "mighty torrent of blistering guitar leads, machine-gun riffage and precise rhythmic pummeling." The new album contains dizzying displays of the same, topped with the soaring pipes of singer Chris Renaldi. The release show is Sat., May 9, at the Smiling Moose; for details, visit www.crownthelost.com. This music is insane.
Also May 9, in an alternate universe, The Boilermaker Jazz Band celebrates its new album at the Wightman Community Center in Squirrel Hill. The album, Jump for Joy, includes interpretations of 19 jazz-era tunes. The show's 9 p.m. to midnight, with a dance lesson at 8 p.m. in case you need a refresher on that jumping. More at www.boilermakerjazzband.com.
Next week, there's the release of The Ballad of Philo Paul, rootsy folk-rock by singer-songwriter T. Mitchell Bell. The title track is an ode to Bell's ancestor Philo Paul, a Union soldier killed in the Civil War. The release show is May 15 at the Rhythm House Café, with a full backing band. Visit www.mitchbell.com for details.
Toward the end of the month, singer-songwriter Kevin Finn will release his debut under the name Thirteenth Rune. The May 27 release show at Club Café also features Roman Candle. More at www.myspace.com/theinsectvoice.