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Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Mission Trips carries Atlanta's weirdo music baton

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  • Courtesy Mission Trips

Ever since Table of the Elements' quietly dissipated, Atlanta has been without a primary label for experimental music. And while TotE and its daughter Xeric imprint pulled mostly from national and international artists for music, each one sourced local soil for inspiration. Enter Mission Trips, a new label headed by Chris White, aka Magicicada. The label is poised to assume the role of primary champion of Atlanta's experimental scene, and has extended its reach further than just issuing new music and organizing occasional "live mixtapes" that overlap brief sets of improvisation-based music. On the publishing end, the label has just issued the first two entries of its catalog: two edition-of-50 CDs featuring cover art by Emma Ball.

The first of these two releases is Magicicada's longtime-coming Wrack with Ruin. Although White began dropping bits of the LP mid-2013, Wrack ... is best experienced as a whole. Magicicada's dark and ever-shifting sprawl of sounds presents a beautifully grotesque display. Jumping from macro-noise collages and spastic free improvisation to highly focused broadcasts of frazzled drone, White reveals his perfected hand in fine tuned post-production. The end result falls somewhere between Black Dice's sampled hysteria, Excepter's wide-eyed urban freeforms, and Autechre's post-acid IDM dirge.

Next up is the debut outing by Currency, the new jazz-improv troupe helmed by Faun and a Pan Flute member Daniel Bailey. Barter's six songs host extended jams of haunted and noirish improvisation that host the urgency and intensity of the no wave scene of New York City in the '70s, the cinematic scenery of Ennio Morricone's film scores, and demented channeling of Albert Ayler's abstract skronk. Each track explores a particular barter-able, from spices and textiles to the human voice and breath, shrouded in a claustrophobic din of instrumental noise.

Both releases present the label as a publishing house for esoteric sound. As White explains, "We are just looking to highlight Southern musicians/sounds/artists that are not easily definable. I know with Magicicada I have always existed between the cracks. It's my home, I suppose. MissionTrips is just a home for the people who sort of exist in a similar way."

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