Week in Pop: Ben Greenberg, Fantasmes, Patrick Higgins, The Spyrals, Tapes

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Hubble hysteria, Santurce scene surveys, avant-garde NYC, psyched SF, Knoxville's new hardknock.

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Sjimon Gompers | September 20, 2013

Kicking it Bay-side with Jeff Lewis and The Spyrals. (courtesy of The Spyrals, alt photo courtesy of Fantasmes, cover from Patrick Higgins and ESP-TV)

Fall is pretty much here, as Impose's Week in Pop searches for the light at the end of the media tunnels that will give us a sign through the obfucstating over-stimulated sensationalism of hype. So we saw M.I.A. giving the NFL's $1.5 Super Bowl fine the middle finger (this time via legal action through the American Arbitration Association and not during the half-time program), while we stocked up on Nothing Was the Same Drake merch from his pop-up-shops (as our boy Aubrey Graham rescheduled his tour and made an Ellen appearance), Eminem's Marshall Mathers LP cover home is on the market, and JAY Z and Beyoncé according to Forbes are now officially the highest earning celebrity couple in case – just in case you had any doubts. But never mind the life and times and dramas of the 1%, because we bring together a series of dialogues, exclusives and new media from the new guards that are sticking it to the man and doing it their way. Get ready to hear from a few of our favorite winners from this week, in no particular order.

Kind enough of to kick off this week's feature, we present you with the always amazing Ben Greenberg who has given you pure gold with his contributions to The Men, Pygmy Shrews, and Zs; rocking us this week with new solo material from his Hubble vehicle. A few days ago we gave you the lowdown on the forthcoming of the new Hubble Eagle album available this October 26 from NNA Tapes, while we got lost in the spaced out-space-craft-engine picking in Greenberg's recharged cover of The Kinks', “A Long Way From Home“. The NASA fight and flight continues while we traverse with Ben on his Hubble project through the cosmos as we get reacquainted with the vast exteriors of frontiers that may or may not dispel our world's collective myths concerning our existential origins. Picking up where the great guitar pickers of the Leo Kottke era and everywhere (and everyone) else left off, we find that certain peace in the endless life dawning pursuits between the bars and quick-cranked chords.

We caught up with Ben in the following discussion on the latest broadcasts from Hubble, and flying 'throughout space and time like the superposition of an electron'.

Let us begin by first addressing the magnanimous elephants in the room of your work post -Pygmy Shrews and your work with The Men; where exactly is the Hubble space station now?

Right now i'm in Greenpoint, about to head up to my roof and play guitar for a few hours while the day fades through McGolrick Park.

Also just getting it out of the way, how much Takoma Records are you in-taking these days? Your guitar picking is all over the place.

Ha, not as much as I used to I guess, if you haven't read it I hiiiiighly recommend Fahey's book How Bluegrass Music Destroyed My Life. Best magical realism autobiography since Mingus' Beneath The Underdog.

What made sense for you about covering The Kinks' “A Long Way From Home”?

The Kinks song 'A Long Way From Home' has been a favorite for a long time, that whole record [Lola Versus Powerman and the Moneygoround] is really one of the best ever in my opinion, but that track in particular got stuck in my head and my heart as I spent the majority of the last year on the road. I def related to the isolation and melancholy in the lyrics and performance and I really wanted to find a way to retain and meditate on those basic qualities of the song.

Is this in some way a part of your own solo narrative of music that exists and takes place in a manner that is a long way from what we all might consider home?

Honestly, I'm not sure.

What coordinates can you tell us about the Hubble Eagle?

It can't be pinned down to a specific coordinate, it exists all around us throughout space and time like the superposition of an electron.

What telescopic discoveries have been the latest from your own self-established musical spaceship?

I saw Pharmakon blow the entire PA at the Basilica Sound Scape fest last week and it felt pretty telescopic.

What is it like juggling so many prolific projects and bands right now?

It's exhausting, but it's really the only thing worth being exhausted by.

What is next? What game plan or space flight plan can you reveal?

Haha, there's never, ever, ever a plan. What's next will be tons more touring, putting out more Men records, working on new Hubble recordings, and making more awesome records for more awesome bands. Lookout for The Pampers self-titled LP I did, comes out on In The Red the same day as Hubble Eagle!

There's something about Santurce, Puerto Rico. A cultural epicenter where a multitude of scenes and sounds from the Americas both South and North and the world beyond are developed in ways of further exploration. One of the best kept secrets from PR are the ghostly drone rockers Fantasmes, who premiere their live session of “Bare Bones” from the M

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