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Records of the Week
BEBEY, FRANCIS Psychedelic Sanza 1982-1984 (Born Bad Records) 2lp 29.00
We made the last Francis Bebey compilation from the Born Bad label, African Electronic Music 1975-1982 our Record of The Week back in 2012 (was it really 62 lists ago? Geez!). Yet, as much as love this Cameroonian musician and composer, if this new compilation was somehow more of the same, we wonder if we would bestow it the same honor. Hmmm... Guess the point we're trying to make is that this new compilation, Psychedelic Sanza 1982-1984 is an altogether different but equally amazing collection, the sound well removed from the electronic afro-pop of its predecessor. Why is that? Well. it helps to know that the sanza is an African thumb piano, also known as the mbira or kalimba, among many other names, depending upon region and design, and this compilation focuses specifically on the hypnotic ethereal music Bebey made with this instrument. Seriously, ever since the first compilation was released we've been hoping one would come out documenting this subsequent period as these are some of our very favorite recordings by Bebey. Music that is so incredibly groovy, but distinctly otherworldly, moving and hauntingly transportive that we HAD to make this one Record of the Week as well!Compiled from recordings released on the Ozileka and Original Music labels from 1982-1984, Bebey's sanza recordings are less pop structured and more tribal and rhythmic, enhanced by loping funk-driven basslines and propulsive percussion. Yet despite their funkiness, they mark a more serious side of musical study away from the humorous pop songs Bebey became famous for and into a more tonal world of ethnological polyphony. The tonal range of the sanza doesn't adhere neatly to Western tuning standards either, adding a kind of mystical quality to the overall song structure, like a primitive version of minimalist composition. There's a dreamier element as well, as the fuzzy metallic bell tones of the sanza coalesce into mesmerizing whorls of sound with Bebey's voice floating above, sometimes in keening wordless bird calls of sound or deeply sustained ragged warbles. In others, Bebey sings alternately in French, English and Duala, sometimes spoken English like in "Forest Nativity" about a jungle child born to conquer wickedness, or in beautiful heartfelt laments like the french-sung "Sanza Tristesse".The only liner notes provided are a remembrance by Bebey's son Patrick who recalls his initial misgivings with the instrument because he was trained on piano and the sanza never sounded right. Yet eventually his father won him over by gently prodding him to play and see what he could do with it. He writes, "Playing the sansa, you enter a world that enraptures you in a very serene and mesmerizing way. I think its sounds evoke a rainbow, with rain falling while the sun shines. A very peaceful feeling. It allows you to make music that truly sounds like life." Indeed!Both the cd and vinyl beautifully packaged with incredible cover art, the lp pressed on nice thick vinyl, though unfortunately there's no download code.
MPEG Stream: "Binta Madiallo"
MPEG Stream: "Bissau"
MPEG Stream: "Ngoma Likembe"
MPEG Stream: "Sanza Tristesse"
DE SAINT-OBIN, ANDRE Sound On Sound (Plinkity Plonk) lp+cd 17.98
AN AQUARIUS EXCLUSIVE!!!Yeah, Bernard Sumner may have claimed the computer as the ultimate punk instrument; but not everybody in 1982 could afford a computer to program samples while sipping cocktails at the Hacienda. Tape - now THAT is a punk as fuck tool. It was everywhere; it was cheap (not so much anymore, mind you); and the tools to edit tape could be as simple as a razor blade and a tape recorder. Andre De Saint-Obin was of this DIY mindset, a musician making the most out of the least, utilizing that aforementioned punkest form of technology. This Dutch fellow was home-taping for only a few short years in the early '80s, releasing a couple of singles and a cassette... and then he just disappeared. An impressionable Frans De Waard (the man behind Korm Plastics, Plinkity Plonk, Vital Weekly, and too many bands to mention) was smitten by that De Saint-Obin cassette back in the day, and years later, he embarked on a quest to seek out De Saint-Obin in hopes of reissuing the album. We'll skip forward through the bits about interminable internet searches and dropped conversations due to artist idiosyncrasy and flighty weirdo behavior; for here we have the glorious fruits of De Waard's labor of love - a minor masterpiece of Dutch post-punk / minimal-wave eccentricity: Sound On Sound by Andre De Saint-Obin. The title refers to means-of-production, De Saint-Obin didn't have a multitrack recorder, but rather he could overdub tracks onto a single piece of tape in the tradition of Les Paul and the earliest of sound engineers. Yup, in mono! Built up from the bottom up, starting with drum machine, then bass, the guitar, and finally voice, each of Andre De Saint-Obin's songs required considerable foresight and architectural planning. The process was a destructive one, so if he fucked up on one of the last layers, he would have to start all over again. The fact that these songs are so fractured, so lysergic, so dystopian speaks to the cracked vision of De Saint-Obin. The opening number (eponymously titled "Introduction") is an instrumental cut with swollen basslines plucked with the swaggering panache of a Peter Hook or a Simon Gallup, punched with spark-plug guitar jitteriness and mechanoid electronic rhythms. It's pretty damn close to being a perfect piece of gloom pop, but fixed to a woozy DIY axis instead of a baroque goth polish. The spasmodic anti-funk number "Dance Till I Die" sports jagged guitar fuzz and exasperated vocals above a backbeat of machined click and churlish basslines, lending to visions of Pere Ubu or James Chance in a fit of epileptic delirium. The manic-depressive bounciness of "Hey You" sways toward sexual frustration, and "I Got Plopmusic" veers towards the truly bizarre in the vein of Fad Gadget or any of those synth-punk ditties that Colin Potter put to tape around the same time. The accompanying cd, in addition to the record proper, features 5 bonus tracks, including the predatorily creepy yet captivatingly catchy "Stay Tonight" and the much sought after "Everytime We Say Goodbye" originally released on one of Alain Neffe's Insane Music compilations. Sound On Sound finds company with a few contemporaries in the head-scratching Factory Records ensemble Crawling Chaos and Pete Shelley's aptly named Strange Men In Sheds With Spanners; but was very much a precursor to what the Blank Dogs and Ariel Pink attempted several decades later.We should note that aQuarius is the ONLY shop in North America that you can get one of these, and get one you should!!! Fuck yeah!!!
MPEG Stream: "Introduction"
MPEG Stream: "Hey You"
MPEG Stream: "I Got Plopmusic"
MPEG Stream: "Desolation"
MPEG Stream: "A Tempo Cresc"
1349 Massive Cauldron Of Chaos (Season Of Mist) lp 25.00
Another precision sculpted razorslice of furious polished black metal from this Norwegian super group featuring members of Satyricon and Den Saakaldte. Massive Cauldron Of Chaos admirably lives up to its ridiculous name - all swirling arpeggio solos, inhuman double bass, pummeling blast beats, scorched blackened thrash riffery, and venomous spitting vokillz. Bar the occasional folky melody, brief mathy side excursion or hooky midpaced breakdown, this album operates at a pretty constant neckbreak pace, injecting plenty of death metal mania and thrashing insanity into its black metal brew, even going so far as to close out the album with a cover of Possessed's "The Heretic"! And it's always a grim pleasure to hear Frost behind the drumkit - sounding more like some sort of steam powered hammer machine than anything made of flesh and bone. Definitely recommended for fans of big budget BM along the lines of Watain, Behemoth or latter day Satyricon.Limited digipack w/ patch version of the cd while they last, if you're getting the cd.
MPEG Stream: "Cauldron"
MPEG Stream: "Slaves"
MPEG Stream: "Exorcism"
A WINGED VICTORY FOR THE SULLEN Atomos (Kranky) 2lp 22.00
Finally, full length number two from these atmospheric chamber-ambient drifters, featuring members of one of our all time favorite groups, guitardrone minimalists Stars Of The Lid. And like on the last Winged Victory full length, the mood and vibe is not that far removed from SOTL, the same sort of moody, broody, slow build majesty, the real difference this time around is a move toward a more electronic sound, taking the dark chamber music drift of SOTL, and adding more in the way of electronics and modular synths. Atomos, which is actually the score for a new ballet from choreographer Wayne McGregor, finds Winged Victors Adam Wiltzie and Dustin O'Halloran once again joined by an entire string section, the resulting multi-part piece is stunning, equal parts Stars Of The Lid, Rachel's, Godspeed You Black Emperor, long stretches of hushed drift, dense, dramatic swirls of stirring strings, alternately somnambulant and nocturnal, tense and intense. Dark pointillist pianos drift in fields of sun dappled symphonic thrum, long tones tangle softly into cosmic swaths of dreamlike ambience, aching melodies unfurl over swoonsome swells of deep resonant rumble, the sound at times bordering on pure chamber music, but usually evolving into something more abstract and ethereal, sometimes droned out and minimal, other times sweeping and majestic. As a whole, Atomos is stately, somber, haunting and melancholic, the record blossoms slowly and subtly, the core classical sounds giving way to sprawls of minimally processed pulsations, gauzy dreamlike drifts of cinematic ambience and hushed haunting mesmer, evoking wide open spaces, the sun rising over windswept hills, or planets glowing in the inky blackness of space, the sound of Atomos somehow both intimate and personal, vast and impossibly epic.
MPEG Stream: "I"
MPEG Stream: "II"
MPEG Stream: "III"
MPEG Stream: "IV"
ANTHROPROPHH Outside The Circle (Rocket) lp 35.00
All you basement-dwelling, drug-gobbling fuzzfiends, today's yer lucky day! Not only do we have the deluxe (and ULTRA deluxe) reissue of 2000's Everybody Knows We Got Nowhere by UK underground garage psych stoner masters The Heads, reviewed elsewhere on this list, but also this, a brand NEW album from the Heads side project with a raspberry of a name, Anthroprophh, a groop led by Heads guitar wrangler Paul Allen. This is already the 3rd lp we've had from 'em - the first, from 2012, was just Allen solo, but recently he enlisted the two guys from powerful Bristol noise rockers The Big Naturals, to make Anthroprophh a trio, as heard earlier this year on their already out of print Cardinal Fuzz lp. Their sound has expanded too, this is a big HEAVY album, going off in all sorts of psychedelic directions, you've got some of the percussive tribal krauty drift heard on their previous lps, but also lots of heads down, pedals smashed, FX dosed High Rise/Blue Cheer styled biker rock, tracks full of fuzzy, repetitive riffage, rife with distortion n' feedback! Opener "Returning" unleashes a lumbering attack of Amon Duul II inspired heavy hypno-rock, the exotic, extended jamming adorned by Allen's trippily effected, echoing frog-in-throat vocals. It's followed by the more Monster Magnet-y blacklight bashing of "Dead Man On The Scene", and then the desperation dirge of "2013 And She Told Me I Was Die", a super gnarly noisy march into oblivion. Man, those first three tracks had us at hello. Hell yeah. But wait, there's more - one of this album's several short ambient interludes, most of 'em around a minute long, is up next, and there's another after that, done with drones and noise and backwards voices. Then, more psychedelic shambolic rockin' follows (we're reminded at times of those obscure English '80 hippy punks Afflicted Man, that sort of Hendrix/Hawkwind headbang thing), as do bouts of acoustic guitar spookiness and zombie zoner ceremony, the album spinning further and further into weird realms of wasteoid rock (and not-so-rock, what with those atmospheric interludes), all of it awesome. Think Twink's Think Pink meets GNOD, and you'll get the rough idea. Freaking great freaky stuff! Some great song titles, too: "Crow With Sore Throat", "Space Box Zonk Machine", and the almost Haino-esque "Detached And In Its Own Mind Riding A Ghost Train Through A Fairground It Had Built Itself"!
MPEG Stream: "Returning"
MPEG Stream: "Detatched And In Its Own Mind Riding A Ghost Train Through A Fairground It Had Built Itself"
MPEG Stream: "Dog"
APHEX TWIN Syro (Warp) 3lp 36.00
For this review of the first record in 13 years from Aphex Twin, we turn over control to aQ pal Greg Groff, who had ALL of this to say about Syro:Richard D. James, aka Aphex Twin, while undoubtedly considered one of the key figures within dance music and dance culture, simultaneously manages to both celebrate and mock, or at least have fun with, that very same dance music and dance culture. He has one foot firmly planted on the dancefloor while he uses the other to give dance music a good kick in the ass. This couldn't be more true than on Syro, which actually might be his most danceable album in years, maybe ever. Whereas albums like, Richard D. James, I Care Because You Do, and Drukqs, might make you think you can dance to them, before throwing you horribly out of step, it's conceivable that one could actually dance to the songs on Syro, without missing a beat. This might initially suggest that Syro might be Aphex Twin's least adventurous album, his most conventional to date. Of course it could be pointed out, that relative to his other albums, the idea of Aphex Twin making a straightforward dance record is in itself sort of adventurous. If only it was that simple, if only Syro was in fact a straightforward dance record. There is a way, it seems, in which Richard D. James, is aware of the manipulative potential of dance music. The way to reach enough people, especially if they were, say, on ecstasy, to march like lemmings off the edge of a cliff, if you led them with the right beat. The "right" beat being the most repetitive and predictable, lockstep rhythm. Aphex Twin's music however has never been interested in doing this and Syro is no exception. James' music is more interested in subverting and somehow actually drawing our attention to the way in which we can be manipulated by that repetition. That may be more true than ever on Syro, simply cuz this record might actually get you to dance. But just when you start to get lost in a groove, something alien and ominous will creep in, like a spider letting you know that you've been caught in it's web. These moments, of which there are plenty, make it clear that if you came to this particular dance party expecting the usual bit of the ol' bump-n-grind, then you should prepare to have your expectations confounded constantly. These moments are akin to being at a party when the acid starts to kick in and things begin to get a bit strange.There is a lot about Syro as a whole, that brings to mind Aphex Twin's "Windowlicker". It's not that any one song is that sonically similar to "Windowlicker", although many of the songs do juxtapose dance tropes with weirder, more experimental sounds, in a way that does seem similar. But what Syro has in common with "Windowlicker" is actually more philosophical and has more to do with the content of the Chris Cunningham directed video, than the song itself. The way in which the two male protagonists show up to an Aphex Twin "hosted" "dance party", with the expectation of having nothin' but a good time, only to be caught off guard by something far stranger, and to their sensibilities, far more disturbing. This album, much in the same way, is constantly disturbing and defying any expectations of where the listener thinks it might go. Take a song like "180 db", which aside from the wavering and almost sickly tone in the background (which might already be saying something), comes across as a straight ahead banger. But just when things seem to be getting a bit too normal, this most "normal", and perhaps tellingly shortest, of all the tracks, leads into one of the strangest intros on the record, namely the tweaked "AFX 237V7" A.K.A. "Rubber Johnny"-like vocals of "Circlont 6A". Not that Aphex Twin is any stranger to confounding expectations, he's been doing it his whole career, it's just that on Syro, he might be doing it in a way that is surprisingly, and subversively subtle.And it's not just the music, the 3rd panel of the sleeve, contains a dauntingly lengthy list of all (or most of) the musical equipment that Aphex used to create Syro. It gives one the idea that one piece of equipment was used for 20 seconds here, and then for the next 20 seconds an entirely different piece was used, and so on throughout the album, maybe never using the same gear or sound more than once. Although that's fairly unlikely, the sounds on Syro are in constant flux, displaying an array of sounds, maybe more varied on any of his other albums. And if you listen very closely, you might notice that, indeed, you maybe never really do hear the same sound twice. Another reason this might be the most subtle Aphex yet, is because of how those disparate sounds are so seamlessly woven into a cohesive whole. And again, this may have the less discerning listener thinking that they are hearing something more consistent on Syro, and therefore more conventional, rather than the constant dizzyingly varied sonic concoction that is Syro. This is really a testament to Richard D. James' skill as an artist and his refinement of those skills.If there is one thing that really sets Syro apart from its predecessors, it may be the vocals. Not that James has never used vocals before, but nowhere have they been more prevalent than on Syro. Rest assured, there's no real actual singing, and in most cases the vocals are heavily affected, as to be barely discernible as human. It's probably telling that he listed his Mum and Dad's vocals right along with the other equipment in his arsenal. Cuz, really, he treats voices here as he would any other sound. He takes something extremely organic and human and turns it into something totally alien and/or machine-like, just as, in the same way, he will take a machine-like beat or sound and make it skip or sputter, or display some imperfection, that makes it seem alternately, somehow more organic or human. It's these juxtapositions between contradictions, such as machine and human, inorganic and organic, dark and light, and so on, that inform Aphex Twin's music as a whole, and help it to play with our expectations of what it is or should be. And on Syro that use of voices heightens this idea to great effect.In writing about Syro, it seems that many people have either described it as being Aphex Twin's most consistently different album, or conversely, that it's really nothing new under the sun, just another Aphex Twin album. While this is obviously a paradox, it's not surprising that Aphex Twin would invite such paradoxes. In truth Syro IS both: something new under the sun, and unmistakably an Aphex Twin album. Syro is definitely full of sounds you've never heard before, some that you have, but the way in which these sounds are manipulated and composed, mixed and matched and morphed and all tangled up, leaves little question as to who made these sounds.There's something in the music of Aphex Twin that mirrors the way Richard D. James' face is presented to us in his videos, the way in which his face gets superimposed onto other faces that are not his own. Similarly, many types of sounds and equipment that have been well explored by others somehow find James superimposed, turning them into something unquestionable all his own. Seeing Richard D. James' face superimposed on so many other faces, in one way, makes it hard to know, just who the actual Aphex Twin is, and thus, while listening to Syro, it's that mystery, that constant sonic superimposition and recontextualization, that truly makes it an Aphex Twin album. And while various sounds and rhythms might have surfaced in different forms elsewhere, there's never any doubt that this is an Aphex Twin album. It's in this way that Syro, while resolutely standing on its own, and sounding its own way, still fits in nicely with the rest of Aphex Twin's discography.
MPEG Stream: "minipops 67 [120.2] [source field mix]"
MPEG Stream: "180db_ "
MPEG Stream: "PAPAT4  [pineal mix]"
MPEG Stream: "CIRCLONT6A [141.98] [syrobonkus mix]"
ASHDOD, WIZARD s/t (self-released) cassette 11.98
We weren't at all familiar with this German dronelord / bliss-drift technician, but we got an email from him, describing himself as a "romantic drone musician", so really how could we resist? While we may have been skeptical and first, this really is some romantic dronemusic, longform sprawls of lush layered shimmer, deep resonant thrum, a slow-motion swirl of constantly shifting overtones, tracks laced with melancholy melodies, or underpinned by heaving slabs of rumbling low end, but everything smeared into something ethereal and gauzy and abstract. The track "9" alone is worth the price of admission, a haunting, heavenly, smouldering sonics, pocked with a repeating beacon like tone. Over the course of the track, that tone gradually sinks into the lush, lustrous surroundings, more and more layers being revealed, the sound getting ever richer, more majestic and dreamlike. Streaks of high end come swooping in, bleeding into the soft, gentle pulsations, the vibe somewhere between Sunroof! and Stars Of The Lid, or maybe Vibracathedral Orchestra covering Reich or Riley. At any point it seems like the sound has reached a saturation point, but then somehow, there are more melodies, more layers, and the sound is in constant flux, drifting easily from sun dappled raga drift to something more ominous, a deep rumbling thrum, and back again, it's dizzying and heady, like the best drone music, it seems to envelop not just your ears, but your whole body. There's a brief bit of hushed tranquility near the end, before the gorgeously cacophonous coda, that sounds orchestral, a psychedelic squall that sounds like a million Arvo Part pieces playing at once. Awesome! And that's just ONE song.Elsewhere, the sound gets moody and cinematic, like a lost score to some classic noir, or dense and bombastic, sounding like a prettier, less in your face, Our Love Will Destroy The World, a strangely robotic bit of mesmeric churn, that also reminds us a bit of a heavier, dronier Pierre Bastien or Strotter Inst. And there is in fact some heaviness happening, some gut rumbling, rib cage rattling low end, that sounds like it's gonna destroy your speakers, often blossoming into wild swirls of static, but it's more than balanced by the sweet stretches of whispery drift, and gauzy glimmer. Some tracks drift into spacey psych folk territory, albeit way more abstract, while others devolve into murky churns, that sound like some lost post industrial drone-dirge experiment, and of course, all of those disparate elements are somehow fused into a strangely cohesive whole. Fantastic stuff, that definitely leaves us wanting more. LIMITED TO JUST 50 COPIES!!! It's likely that when we run out we won't be able to get more. Each tape is unique, every one designed by a different artist.
MPEG Stream: "9"
MPEG Stream: "Feet"
MPEG Stream: "C.I.G."
MPEG Stream: "O"
BONG Stoner Rock (Ritual Productions) 2lp 57.00
NOW AT LAST ON VINYL, HOPE YOU'VE BEEN SAVING YOUR PENNIES...You know you're a stoner when your band is named Bong. Heck, everybody knows you are, especially if your new album is called, simply, Stoner Rock. Which is, funnily enough, indeed the name of this new disc from UK psych-doom-drone-drug faves Bong. It's a bit like calling your album Heavy Metal. Or Grunge. Or J-Pop. But definitely the sort of thing stoners like Bong would do. Funny too, 'cause while they are of course super stoney, the one thing we don't usually associate Bong with is "rocking". We've said they lumber, we've said they rumble, we've said they "unfurl", but we don't think we've said they rock. Well, ok, we just checked, a few times they've rocked, yes, but that's not the first thing that springs to mind. But apparently they do often get tagged as "stoner rock" (due to their name, natch) and so this is their response, in the words of Bong themselves: "It is a tongue-in-cheek dig at our usual classification as stoner rock and what the term has come to represent. The idea is to create our own definition of 'stoner rock' by creating an album so utterly stoned and repetitive to be a million miles away from the usual definition." Should be no problem at all for 'em, right?!This new full-length, consisting of two looooong tracks (about 36 minutes apiece) is the utterly hypnotic result. First up, "Polaris", is almost Stoner Ambient more than Stoner Rock, heavy (of course) on the drones, creating a spaced out atmosphere of DOOOOOM that, in usual Bong fashion, is huge and compelling. Closest comparison: a more cosmic sounding version of something off of Earth's seminal 2 album, made even more mesmeric by what sounds like monks moaning along.Some bands would stop there and leave it at that, utterly spent, but Bong's statement of 'stoner rock' supremacy is not yet complete, so then they unfurl the album's second track, "Out Of The Aeons", still slo-mo and quasi-ambient but a little less soporific, with the massive throb of a doom-dirge riff carrying the song along. There's also some (spoken) lyrics at one point, about some sort of alien contact, trippy stoner stuff of course, in keeping with the drone-zone destination at the outer reaches of space that the song sends you spiraling into. Also excellent is how Bong insinuate plenty of melodic filigree amidst the heads-down slo-mo cosmic grind they're doling out. So good!Not sure we need to say much more, we know a LOT of you are already big Bong fans and just need to know this is out. Waaaay out.By the way, the two biggest stoner rock fans at aQ have never, or almost never, ever smoked pot. But man do we love Bong. Maybe 'cause their unique extreme brand of, uh, 'stoner rock' actually succeeds in making us feel stoned, without inhaling (or so we're guessing).
MPEG Stream: "Polaris"
MPEG Stream: "Out Of The Aeons"
BONNIE 'PRINCE' BILLY Singer's Grave A Sea Of Tongues (Drag City) lp 17.98
Following the self-titled release he put out on his own label last year, Bonnie Prince Billy aka Will Oldham is back to serving the corporate overlords of Drag City with this new album, the umpteenth zillionth in his discography (if we've counted correctly - it's tough, especially with the man's many monikers). All BPB fans will surely want this, and if you're a fan some of these songs may sound a bit familiar, as it's a Nashville makeover of mostly tracks taken from 2011's Wolfroy Goes To Town, or associated B-sides. These songs didn't sound like this at all on Wolfroy, though - these reworkings are lush with lap steel and gospel singing, Earl Scrugg's grandson plays mandolin, there's banjo and fiddle too, it's very very Nashville all right, and as such, this could be a really good record with which to introduce fans of classic country to this indie artist. Oldham sounds a bit like a laconic Townes Van Zandt, some of the songs here so nicely sad and weary, others with bit more Nashville pro powered pep to 'em. We're liking it a lot.
MPEG Stream: "So Far And Here We Are"
MPEG Stream: "Old Match"
MPEG Stream: "New Black Rich (Tusks)"
BUNYAN, VASHTI Heartleap (DiCristina) lp 15.98
Nearly 10 years after her long-awaited return to recording in 2005, Vashti Bunyan is back with what is reported to be her final recording. To be expected, It's a delicate uber-gentle and pastoral affair with highly personal songs about life and family. Her soft dulcet voice creating beautiful folk lullabies that are lovely and oh so sweet, marked by warm atmospherics and lilting waves of sound. A longtime influential figure of British folk, Bunyan's quietude may not initially bowl you over, and indeed Heartleap is nearly the antithesis of the weathered pain of the other newly revived folk legend on this list, Alice Gerrard. But Bunyan's music has a way of sticking with you subtly over time and its long relaxed gaze into an unfettered way of life and beauty can be delightfully spellbinding and magical.Also this is perfect for hip parents looking for music to play around newborns and young children (ahem, Allan!).
MPEG Stream: "Across The Water"
MPEG Stream: "Here"
C.O.M.A. Clinik Organik Muzak Anatomik ( Danger) lp 27.00
ALSO ON VINYL... but, sadly, all the copies we could get have very slight corner bends, so please don't mailorder this if you're at all anal about such things. Shouldn't bother most folks though...We've been diggin' some killer late '70s, early '80s French punk rock lately, or "paink" as the as the recent compilation of that name has it, discovering some new obscure faves from the scene we hadn't known of before, bands to file alongside Soggy and Metal Urbain in the realm of Stooges-y, snotty, sometimes synth-laced underground French-speaking rawk from the new wave era. Here's a good example, reissued for the first time on cd (and also on vinyl too, backordered at the moment - but the the cd has 4 previously unreleased bonus tracks anyway). C.O.M.A., aka Clinik Organik Musak Anatomik (great name, whatever it means exactly!), originally unleashed this way weird and super rare full-length, their only album, in 1979. It's some intense & experimental, minimal wave synth punk, manifested with shamboblic precision, their odd "musak" loaded with blurting synthesizer, noisy guitar, mechanical drumbeats, distorted disembodied vocals (often a gravelly croak), and electronic FX galore. Some tracks are more abstract, like the soundscapey segue of "Consequences", consisting of about 50 percent feedback, while others, like "Demain", are more groove-oriented, dark and dancey new wave numbers, still loaded with synth strangeness, to which we can totally imagine stylish French punks doing some kind of robo-pogo.Yup, it's a diverse disc, wherein a moody, sparse piano piece like "Coma" could be followed by the hard-charging mechano-aggro beatdown of "Assaut", complete with wiggly wild guitar/synth solo. The sporadic mad scientist's laboratory bleep bloop of "La Valse A Mutant" kinda has a Francophone "Hardcore Devo" vibe, and definitely Devo were an inspiration on this groop, along with the likes of Kraftwerk, Wire, and The Residents. Think Devo meets Metal Urbain, you're on the right track. Great stuff. C.O.M.A. didn't appear on that Paink comp, we don't know why, they shoulda been, though maybe just a bit weirder than the others. Fans of stuff on Medical and Dark Entries ought to check it out...
MPEG Stream: "Tete De Gomme"
MPEG Stream: "Assaut"
MPEG Stream: "Demain"
CALL SUPER Suzi Ecto (Houndstooth) 2lp 36.00
From the same label that brought us that killer disc of mutated minimal techno sound design from Akkord, which we made our Record Of The Week back on list #442, comes the latest from Call Super, who apparently has a clutch of releases before this one, but Suzi Ecto is the first we're hearing, and we're digging it like crazy. Things start out pretty twisted, with a jagged stretch of creepy John Carpentery techno, very sinister and cinematic, the opening track sounding a bit like the main melody from the soundtrack to Phantasm (that's one Death Waltz should reissue!!) transformed into some avant electronica. Nothing else here is quite that noisy, but it remains plenty weird, the sound settling into something more stuttery and skittery, the fractured rhythms looped beneath blooping melodies and laser blast bleeps, the occasional jazzy shimmer, bleating trumpets, all sorta laid back and groovy, swirling and swoonsome, and that swirly swoon is all over the record, the various melodies and loops always woozy and warped and underwater sounding. At times it's like the record is melting and oozing from the speakers, at others, it's like listening to the record through speakers at the bottom of a swimming pool. That said, we're definitely reminded of the watery Detroit techno of Drexciya, somehow fused with the post Boards Of Canada, sepia toned electronica of recent aQ fave Dalhous. The record continues to sprawl and drift, touching on moments of dubbed out house, trippy techno and electronic jazziness, churning mesmeric rhythms winding their way throughout, sometimes dense and tribal, busy and polyrhythmic, other times skeletal and spare and barely there, the beats surrounded by all manner of percussion, fractured melodies, constantly shifting textures, that watery vibe a constant presence, the sound seeming to get more murky and liquid as the record progresses, the record, and the listener, sinking ever deeper, culminating in the washed out, submerged dub of closer "Acephale 1", which is where we settle on the bottom of Call Super's sonic sea, staring up at the world, everything gorgeously distorted by bottomless blue depths, now above us...
MPEG Stream: "Snipe"
MPEG Stream: "Dovetail"
MPEG Stream: "Sulu Sekou"
MPEG Stream: "Hoax Eye"
CHALK, ANDREW The Circle Of Days (Faraway Press) lp 28.00
Andrew Chalk records are the jewels of the English underground. The noise of Ferial Confine gasped with an existential blurt of obstinate tactility, violent in their self-immolation but never directing a rage outward. The gaze was inward. Then, when the drone grounded much of Chalk's classic works in the '90s and '00s, these slippery, elegiac croons of sonic impressionism dripped with an opalescent beauty that also spent a fair amount of time splashing around in the mud. More recently, Chalk has been exploring the poetic fragment, cracking the lens of British avant-folk eccentricity and scattering the results on stunningly beautiful albums like The Circle Of Days. The curious introductory track here sports a clattering of wood, recorded in situ with longtime collaborator Daisuke Suzuki, with a church nearby, whose bells chime the solemn Westminster Quarter melody. The following track pools rounded tones from Chalk's open-body electric guitar, finding a counterpart in the stoner-folk of Tom Carter's early work in the Charalambides. Piano, chord organ, and more guitar flesh out further tracks of nocturnally impressionist details that hang like constellations in the night sky, curving steadfast against the traffic of satellites, planes, and planets. The course of the second side reprises that of the first, with equally wandering expositions of intimate ambient swath, gossamer half-melody, and the soft-spoken mystical charm that has graced many an Andrew Chalk record! Very highly recommended as with everything that Chalk touches.
MPEG Stream: "Double Windows"
MPEG Stream: "Improvidence"
MPEG Stream: "Lost in the Forest"
MPEG Stream: "Threading the Labyrinth"
CIRCLE Hissi (Full Contact) lp 22.00
NOW ON VINYL FOR THE FIRST TIME EVER! The third album from the now-near-legendary Finnish hypno-rock outfit Circle, originally released on cd by the Metamorphos label in 1996. When Hissi first came out, we saw it as a major stylistic shift, but that's of course before we learned that Circle would amazingly morph through so many unexpected styles in their prolific career - all the while keeping it quite "Circular" though. When we originally reviewed Hissi, we stated that if their first full-length (Meronia) could be described as AmRep grunge meets Gregorian chants, and if the second (Zopalki) entered into a kraut-rocky chamber music realm with strings, etc., then Hissi was Circle's stab at post-rock electronica. The vocals are gone on all but one or two tracks, and Circle's trademark repetitive sound is less about riffs on this record than beats. And it's true, Hissi was mostly instrumental, there's no "Meronian" chanting (and certainly none of the faux-metallic operatics of latter-day Circle vocalist Mika Ratto, as found on many more recent albums). The whole "NWOFHM" thing that Circle & friends later invented is also far from evident, this isn't Circle in any of their bombastic, heavy modes at all. It's not truly electronica either, really, but there are a lot of keys, and effects. Synth sounds insinuate everywhere amidst the nervous percolations of the drums and percussion. It's low-key and motorik, moody and atmospheric, quite creepy even (in keeping with the cover and interior photos of a grotesque, grimacing old man marionette - turns out this album indeed was written as instrumental music for a puppet theater!). '70s avant or krautrock bands like This Heat and Faust are assuredly influences, and the darkly suspenseful, slightly jazzy results align somewhat with the likes of '90s post rock contemporaries Tortoise and the Kammerflimmer Kollektief. But, as we also said, about Hissi's original release: still like nothing else, exactly. And quite recommended.
MPEG Stream: "Kuivaamo"
MPEG Stream: "Kalat"
MPEG Stream: "Strand-Jatkumo"
MPEG Stream: "Saksi"
CIRCLE Surface (Full Contact) lp 22.00
First time ever on vinyl for this great live recording from Finland's Circle, hypnotic space rockers extraordinare. It's from way back in 1996, and was originally released as one half of a split cd with Japanese psych band Marble Sheep. That cd has been out of print for years, so it's super nice to have this newly issued vinyl version, on which (as we said long ago) Circle perform a stellar live set of their perfect cyclical drone rock - including a haunting, breathtaking cover of Hank Williams' "I Saw The Light". Other, original tracks include "Valerian", "Re-Masturbated", "Meronia", "DNA" and four more; all of 'em heavy, mesmeric Circle classics from the early days, drawn from their first three albums: Meronia, Zopalki, and Hissi. Although one track, the moody "Sprinkler", we think *only* appears here (along with that spacey Hank Williams cover).
MPEG Stream: "I Saw The Light"
MPEG Stream: "Valerian"
DEAF WISH St. Vincent's +3 (Sub Pop) 7" 6.98
We highlighted the Homeless label's vinyl reissue of this excellent Melbourne based noiserock band's debut cd-r last list, and now here's a brand new 7" from 'em, on Sub Pop! It features four songs, all churning with heavy distortion and downer vibes. The combo of noise and melody, along with the multilayered, half-mumbled, sometimes venomous female vocals, definitely incite some Sonic Youth comparisons, if SY were jamming out with ugly Aussie punks like the Cuntz or old faves Lubricated Goat. Looking forward to the presumably upcoming new full-length that we're guessing Sub Pop will be doing too.
DEATH SENTENCE: PANDA! File #05 (Computer Tapes) cd-r 4.98
Archival recordings (the final unreleased tracks apparently!)from this local noise rock outfit, 4 tracks of rhythmic, hypnotic, spaced out, psychedelic noise rock, that sounds totally alien, like some alternate dimension marching band scoring music for cartoons. Heavy, but lo-fi; murky, but strangely playful; thir sound a grinding hypno-rock churn, over which woodwinds flutter, strange vocals soar and shimmer, theremin and electronics shimmy and squiggle. Dynamic and proggy, some moments sound like Deerhoof, others sound like Raymond Scott (albeit more blown out and distorted), and still others sound like some lost seventies prog-psych freakiness. The tracks are on the short side, but DSP pack plenty into each, with long stretches of hazy hypnotic drifts, bursts of stuttering prog pop, jazzy psychedelic dreaminess, fluttery distortion drenched acid folk, and of course violent squalls of amp abuse and drum damage. But all of it surprisingly melodic, and weirdly catchy, and not sure if it's the songs or the recordings, but a lot of this is just downright pretty. And yeah, noisy. Oh, and super LIMITED too! Housed in a hand stamped cardstock sleeve, in an edition of only 50 copies...
MPEG Stream: "Bonus Round"
MPEG Stream: "Forest Of Blood"
DEN SAAKALDTE Kapittel II: Faen I Helvete (Agonia) cd 16.98
It's been AGES since we last heard from this black metal horde (all the way back in 2009), and at the time, we were pretty obsessed. Definitely a supergroup, featuring members of Shining, Diabolicum, Naer Matron, 1349, Pantheon I, Gehenna, Aeternus AND Doheimsgard, Den Saakaldte (named for a Ved Buens Ende song!) crafted a twisted avant garde depressive blackness, the sort of thing that would have sounded right at home on the Moonfog label back in the day, shades of Thorns throughout for sure, that first record a twisted mix of classic Norwegian black buzz and all manner of fucked up ambience, fractured electronics, WTF production and strange instrumentation (trumpet! accordion!). On Kapittel II: Faen I Helvete, the sound remains twisted and dramatic, although the sound is a bit more of a classic, churning epic blackness, until the vocals come in, they're a bombastic caterwauled croon, that transforms the otherwise grim buzz into something way more over the top, but compared to that first record, this is some almost traditional sounding black metal. Midway through one track, there's a stunning stretch of epic harmonized guitars, tense and intense, until the song swoops back in all melancholic and melodic, it's pretty bad ass! And even one of our other favorite tracks, the sound immediately erupts in a roiling black churn, furious fast picked guitars, progged out octopoidal drumming, bursts of frenzied blasting, it's a few tracks in, that things get truly avant, the sound a bit like a strange hybrid of a melodic modern metal dirge, and some sort of Victorian sea shanty, but instead of sounding weird, these guys simply transform it into something equally black, moody and malevolent, and sure there are some soaring clean vocals, that add yet another dimension, but it manages to stay just this side of weirdness, and instead, ends up crushingly majestic and dramatic, and so it goes for the rest of the record, a dense black sprawl of tangled black buzz, of furious metallic heaviness, of epic blackened majesty, not nearly as doomy or depressive as the first, and way less trumpet (as in, none), but the group seems to have sacrificed some of their twisted experimental streak for a sound much more concise, and more directly beholden to the classic Norwegian blackness that came before...
MPEG Stream: "Ondskapens Nodvendighet"
MPEG Stream: "Som Ett Arr Pa Sjelen"
MPEG Stream: "Din Siste Dag"
MPEG Stream: "Forbanna Idioter"
EARTH JERKS File #04 (Computer Tapes) cd-r 4.98
More electrified ragas from Earth Jerks, who now present themselves as the duo of Chris Dixon and Noel Harmonson. Both of these characters have long been part of the San Francisco scene with Dixon operating in the spaztastic spockmorgue calvacade which spawned Death Sentence Panda, Murder Murder, Total Shutdown, Cops, etc. and Harmonson is the much-revered knob twiddler from Comets On Fire and Sic Alps. The kosmische tumble for drone-on guitar and drone-on electronics drive the coyly named "Fighting A War We Can't Win" -- a long-form piece of undulating tone, fuzz, and blur that's as martial in demeanor as a ruby-red sunrise. An equally idiosyncratic title graces the toothsome minimalist fragment of "The People's Poet Is Dead." Poetic and concise for sure but hardly a funereal bone in its body, this languid duet for electronics and guitars swirling in the same universe of post-lysergic / astral projection wash conjured by Popul Vuh, Cluster, Manuel Gottsching, and whoever your favorite Krautrock magician may be at the moment. Mr. Dixon did pass on the VERY LAST copies of the first Earth Jerks discs for those of you who may have missed out on that one earlier. File #04 too is a super tiny run, and we may not be so lucky in the future.
MPEG Stream: "Fighting A War We Can't Win"
MPEG Stream: "The People's Poet Is Dead"
FADENSONNEN Badlands (One Hand) lp 21.00
BACK IN STOCK!!Badlands is the debut from this New York duo who traffic in wild, blown out, free form, noisy avant psychedelia, a relentless blistering sonic freakout spread over three tracks and thirty minutes. It might help (or maybe it won't, but it's still cool) to list the instruments used to conjure up this skree: one guy handles: "Machete Harmonic, Octave Shaking, Psycho Slide and Echo Disaster Lead Guitars, Feedback Vox, Tape Manipulation", the other is in charge of "Feral Wah, Astral Echo, and Feedback Lead Guitars, Amp Manipulation, Drums", which in a way says it all. After a brief bit of droniness, the sound splinters, and explodes into a five minute onslaught of frenzied guitar abuse, spluttery drum damage, all wreathed in thick swirling clouds of twisted FX and layered noise, but this is not straight up noise (although there's plenty of that), there are lots of dynamics going on, with stretches of scrabbly guitar, tranced out hypno-rock churn, tangled swirls of guitar psych, dense walls of crumbling, grinding, in-the-red, feedback doused dirgery, extended sprawls of effects heavy drift, and twisted droney ambience, but for all that, the sound is most definitely rooted in face melting psych-noise freakouts, which most definitely dominates the proceedings. But stick around for the 15 minute closer, the sound slowed down to a droney crawl, all grinding guitars, skittery drums, dense swirls of feedback and noise, the sound almost more psychedelic space rock than anything, but WAY on the noisiest side of that spectrum, imagine multiple Hawkwinds playing at once, each one trying to play louder and heavier than the other, the result some sort of ultra heavy, noise psych dirge, that is equal parts doom, spacey, tripped out and heavy as fuck. Where have these guys been all our lives. Fans of freaky noisy psych, line starts here. Fans of Fushitsusha, Mainliner, Burnt Hills, Heavy Winged, etc. check this shit out. NOW.Super deluxe handmade packaging, maniacally ADD line drawing cover art (a la Nick Blinko), with a heavy cardboard insert, hand taped, with more line drawings, a picture taped to one side, housed in a stickered plastic sleeve, hand numbered, LIMITED TO 150 COPIES!!!
MPEG Stream: "Machete"
FASSBENDER Demo 2014 (self-released) cd-r 4.98
Over the past few years, aQuarius pal, music obsessive, and multi-instrumentalist Monte Cimino has brought us many interesting releases of dirgey postmetal heaviness (Burial Tree), ambient drone (Time Spent), kosmiche bliss (Dark Matter Halo), and experimental new age noise (When Prophecy Fails). Now here's a demo disc from a new project he's in. Named after actor Michael Fassbender (??), this is a band playing not ambient noise nor brooding postrock, but instead straight up HARDCORE! A la '80s crossover acts like DRI and SOD. Aggro, metallic, fast and loud. Six songs in seven minutes. Monte plays guitar in this five piece, which also features members of local power violence unit Venkman and globetrotting punk vets Conquest For Death.It's very moshable, raging stuff, that slows up for some nice heavy breakdowns. Not sure what they're all pissed off about (though one song is called "Fuck You, Hipster") but they are definitely working up a sweat here ripping somebody a new one. And they've obviously got a sense of humor too. If you liked the Iron Reagan we listed last time, you'll dig this as well.No frills packaging, a plain ol' cd-r in a plastic sleeve, with black & white xeroxed cover and insert with their scrawled notes for the drummer on how these songs are supposed to be played.FYI, if you're local and want to check 'em out live, Fassbender will be playing a Southern Lord showcase gig at the Knockout on October 21st...
MPEG Stream: "Diverse Beliefs"
MPEG Stream: "Heads Up, Shovels Down"
FRIDAY THE 13TH (HARRY MANFREDINI) OST (Waxwork) lp 33.00
Horror nerds have long (and frequently) argued about what is the best horror/slasher movie ever. Contenders for the title would have to include Halloween, Phantasm and of course Friday The 13th. More than any other horror movie, Friday The 13th essentially created the template for all horror movies that would follow in its wake, a bunch of kids, in the middle of nowhere, drinking and fucking, and being picked off one by one, by some maniac or monster. And while there have been plenty of great slasher flicks, Friday The 13th still reigns supreme as the first, and maybe the best. We had sort of forgotten what the score sounded like, but the minute this began to play, we were transported back to the first time we saw the movie, the score even now is terrifying, tense and dramatic, Manfredini's arrangements are very beholden to Bernard Hermann for sure, but they're so dense and dynamic, long stretches of droned out minimalism, wild tangles of excited strings and jarring symphonic stabs, the main title music alone is practically perfect, and then when you mix in that super distinctive "ch ch ch ch, hu hu hu hu" vocalization, a sound that's as recognizable to horror freaks as the theme from Halloween, and apparently, according to Harry Manfredini in the record's liner notes, that vocalization was inspired by Penderecki! Also according to the liner notes, Dolly Parton was another big inspiration! What? Apparently, the music playing in the diner, was inspired by a Dolly Parton Sound, and that music resurfaces later on (spolier alert) at the very end of the movie, when the heroine and sole survivor is floating alone on the lake, in a boat, when suddenly Jason explodes from the water and drags her under! The music following suit, going from lilting and melodic to wild and atonal and all 20th century. So cool! The whole soundtrack rules, sinister strings all over the place, the vibe seriously harrowing and horrifying, with brief moments of respite, and of course with weird little bits of ambient music, that make (a little) more sense in the actual movie, like the very surprising second track, "Banjo Travelin'". Listening to this again, and even as much as we LOVE LOVE LOVE the movie, we can objectively say, this is one of the best horror scores EVER. And even removed from the visuals, makes for an extremely compelling listen!Fantastic over the top packaging too as always from Waxwork. A heavy gatefold full color jacket with all new artwork (an eyeball image that harkens back to the new art for the recently reissued Halloween soundtrack too, coincidence?), new liner notes from Manfredini and director Sean Cunningham, as well as a cool creepy full color printed insert. And while it looks like black vinyl, hold it up to the light, and discover it's actually swirled black and green Crystal Lake colored vinyl!!
MPEG Stream: "Main Theme"
FUNCTION / VATICAN SHADOW Games Have Rules (Hospital) 2lp 30.00
We were really excited about this match up, Hospital Productions head honcho Dominic Fernow's gothic industrial techno project Vatican Shadow, teamed up with David Sumner of Sandwell District's ominous minimal techno alter ego Function. We could only imagine what sorts of fantastically grim and murky sounds would emerge from this unholy union, would it be monolithic slabs of heartless black techno, or swirling rhythmic sprawls of pulsing murk? Our imaginations sort of ran wild, and yet somehow, we never imagined THIS. The sound is definitely still plenty moody and dark, but instead of being harrowingly abject, or bleak and brutalist, it's actually sort of blissed out, and pretty dreamy much of the time, the vibe more hazy and soft focus, lots of atmospheric drift and Pop Ambient style swirl. There are beats too, but they're not so much beats as pulsations, often buried and barely there, almost always skeletal and ultra minimal, drifting amidst gauzy stretches of woozy, washed out nocturnal murk, soft focus atmospheres, and blurred dream-state ambience, the vibe ethereal and airy, almost like a blackened new age, but one that often drifts into fields of dark, swirling, chordal thrum, and softly tangled sheets of smeared melody, glistening and glimmering and prismatic. There are hints of Wolfgang Voigt's Gas, the Caretaker, the whole Pop Ambient series, Emeralds, lots of drift and shimmer for sure, but a few spots that get downright sinister and soundtracky, like on the "nemesis Flower", an ultra minimal John Carpenter style sprawl of murky throb, rumbling synth blurts, and distant melodic shimmer. It's not until the second to last track, "Red Opium" that we get any actual techno, and even then, it's a sort of laid back, blissed out mid-tempo house music groover, the tempo loping and hypnotic, the beat surrounded by soft billows of resonant overtones and blurred melody, which leads directly into the closer, "Bejewelled Body", which is about as close to a 'banger' as any track here, a churning, four-on-the-floor throb, wreathed in electronic squelches, keening fragmented melodies, and underpinned by some seriously droned out kosmische raga-like shimmer.
MPEG Stream: "Things Known"
MPEG Stream: "The Nemesis Flower"
MPEG Stream: "A Year Has Passed"
GAMBLE, LEE Koch (Pan) 2lp 30.00
We first discovered Lee Gamble via his Diversions lp, an entire record crafted from an old box of jungle mix tapes, but made even more compelling by the fact that it wasn't even the actual jungle bits he used, but instead, the between song ambience, the tape hiss and buzz, all woven into something way more abstract. Dutch Tvashar Plumes was his next record and found Gamble actually crafting his own beats, and very much like Diversions, wrapping them in dense sonic collages, lushly layered, noisy, gritty, still rooted in classic jungle, and Kompakt style beatscapery, but doused in grit and grime.Koch seems to take up right where that one left off, although the opener is a bit misleading, and had us expecting something else all together, airy swaths of synth shimmer, pocked with impossibly deep low end pulses, a gorgeous crystalline drift, but before you know it, the sound transforms into something much more aggressive and beat driven, a pounding dancefloor banger, but again, still rife with Gamble's idiosyncratic to beat making, a churning, heavy house throb, beneath a gurgling, pitch shifted sampled vocal, groovy and funky, but also sort of sinister. The sound soon slips back into that opening ambient dreaminess, before another beat swoops in, this one more loping, and laid back, headphones reveal a whole world of sound beneath the beat, a beat that eventually grows warped and woozily misshapen, as those background sounds creep to the fore. We'd like to say that's pretty much how the rest of the record plays out, but it really doesn't, Gamble is a sonic mad scientist, and while there is definitely some sort of musical thread holding it all together, it's difficult to put your finger on just what that thread is. From the spare skitter of "Oneiric Contur", to the gauzy almost Heroin House sounding digi-dub abstraction of "Head Model", to the washed out blur-bliss sprawl of "Frame Drag", to the nocturnal beat-murk thrum of "Voxel City Spirals", to the churning blackened throb of "Jove Layup", to the skeletal avant-house groove of "Gillsman". to the warped, and woozily melty dreaminess of "Flatland"...And so it goes, constantly shifting in tone and tempo, vibe and texture, all the tracks here part of some impossibly cohesive, fantastically far out, abstract-electronic, alien dancefloor, psychedelic songsuite. Cool!
MPEG Stream: "Untitled Reversion"
MPEG Stream: "Motor System"
MPEG Stream: "Head Model"
MPEG Stream: "Flatland"
MPEG Stream: "Gillsman"
GERRARD, ALICE Follow The Music (Tompkins Square) lp 16.98
One of the legendary figures of traditional folk and bluegrass music , Alice Gerrard's new album is devastatingly beautiful, deep and dark. Most known for her collaborations with Hazel Dickens on the Folkways and Rounder labels, the ache in her voice has only made her singing more penetratingly profound over the years. Here it's a tour-de-force, its tone of resilient strength through trying times is brought up directly front and center over compelling but restrained arrangements courtesy of Hiss Golden Messenger's M. C. Taylor, who also produced. The album is a mix of traditional and original songs, from stark folk ballads to vintage country tunes, some with full band and some more spare, with her lovely banjo playing and guitar. And then there's the eight minute a cappella track, "The Vulture", which left us quietly shaking in awe. Just Incredible!
MPEG Stream: "Bear Me Away"
MPEG Stream: "Wedding Dress"
MPEG Stream: "Goodbyes"
GUM TAKES TOOTH Buried Fires (Cut Hands Remix) (Endtyme) 7" 9.98
Brand new single with what might be our favorite track from the most recent Gum Takes Tooth record, Mirrors Fold, which we recently made our Record Of The Week. The A side is the version from the full length, a wild, percussive, tribal workout, a churning sprawl of tranced out rhythms, wreathed in hazy vocal harmonies, the sound falling somewhere between Animal Collective at their most abstract and rhythmic, and William Bennett's post Whitehouse one man Afro-Noise project Cut Hands. So it makes perfect sense that GTT would recruit Cut Hands to remix that track, especially since it already sorta sounded a little like Cut Hands anyway.But Bennett takes the original, slows it way down, adds tons of distortion, and transforms it into something meaner, and darker and more industrial sounding, still groovy and tribal, but fierce and pounding, those background vocals turned into strange spectral smears, swirling around a monstrous rib cage rattling beat, flecked with stuttery percussive filigree, a whirling psychedelic sprawl of roiling rhythmic crunch, that kills! And has us super excited for the forthcoming Cut Hands full length, and kind wishing Gum Takes Tooth would get Bennett to remix their whole record!
MPEG Stream: "Buried Fires (Cut Hands Remix)"
HAIKAI NO KU Ultra High Dimensionality (Box Records) lp 19.98
For fans of freaky psych and wild heavy noisiness, an album title like Ultra High Dimensionality should definitely conjure up images of long haired Japanese bands from the seventies, of huge amps, bell bottoms, trippy light shows and extreme volume. It's the sort of title you might expect to find on a Mainliner or White Heaven record, which we're guessing was probably the idea, since this band is not in fact Japanese, but British, and are fronted by Mike Vest, he of psychedelic doomlords Bong! But this IS meant to be an homage of sorts to that classic Japanese sound, especially Les Rallizes Denudes, coupled with the downtuned crush of the Bong mothership of course, and if that sounds good to you (and why the hell wouldn't it?!), you're likely ready for some serious Ultra High Dimensionality. Forty minutes of epic heavy psych, still a bit doomy, and spacey, after all, as the saying (sort of) goes, you can take the man out of Bong, but odds are he'll likely drag some of that doominess with him, but it makes for a killer mix, just check out the opener, which sounds, as you might have surmised, like Les Rallizes Denudes by way of Bong, a loping, slow burner, all blown out psychedelic balladry wreathed in dense swirls of distorto guitar, and anchored by some hard hitting drumming, the sort of brooding slow build heaviness we could get lost in forever, total seventies style psychedelic smolder, in fact, most of Ultra High Dimensionality sounds like some alternate dimension version of Les Rallizes Denudes, which is most definitely not a bad thing, the tempos generally slow, lumbering, but seriously tripped out, equal parts doomy and psychedelic, if you ever wished those Les Rallizes records weren't so lo-fi (although, why would you?), this will definitely hit the spot. And while this is most definitely far enough removed from the doooooom of Bong, to maybe disappoint some doomlords, folks into The Heads, White Hills, Carlton Melton, and all that psychedelic space rock stuff, as well as all the aforementioned Japanese psych combos, this comes HIGHLY recommended.Pressed on 180 gram vinyl, housed in a swank sleeve, screen printed on grey recycled cardstock in metallic ink. Includes a download code too.
MPEG Stream: "Dead In The Temple"
MPEG Stream: "Strung Out Beyond The Rim"
HAINO, KEIJI / JIM O'ROURKE / OREN AMBARCHI Only Wanting To Melt Beautifully Away Is It A Lack Of Contentment That Stirs Affection For Those Things Said To Be As Of Yet Unseen (Black Truffle) lp 22.00
NOW ON VINYL!!! The 4th album from this all-star international improv unit. We're fans of Jim O'Rourke (bass) and Black Truffle label head Oren Ambarchi (drums) of course, but we're even bigger fans of dark lord of Japanese psych Keiji Haino (guitar, vocals), which is good - 'cause, as should come as no surprise, he's the dominant personality in this trio. This formation - and its slight variant, with Stephen O'Malley in place of O'Rourke - has become one of the best sources for a reliable Haino-fix. This disc (on cd for now, vinyl upcoming) consists of one 40+ minute track, that begins blissfully, with sparse, Eastern-sounding string pluck and sudden strum, eventually joined by gentle, more-melodic-than-usual singing from Haino. But does it stay that way? Of course not. Haino steps away from the mic, his guitarwork gets more tangled, the drumming more insistent, heavier bass tones begin to resonate, and then at about the 14 minute mark, some (still relatively mild) feedback amp action kicks in as well. A storm is not unleashed, not yet, but dark clouds gather on the horizon, and the air becomes thick with anticipation. Ambarchi keeps up a nervous pulse, steadily skittering away, as Haino and O'Rourke build up drones, high and low. Electronic bleepage and sci-fi FX wander in from somewhere, and we're expecting immanent cataclysm. But nay, the trio pull back, Haino returns to the mic, hushed at first, his vocals backed by Jandekian fractured folk that then gets hectic and no-wavey in recent Fushitsusha tradition. More extreme noisiness briefly erupts at about the half-hour mark, but fades, heralding a humid jungle jam, Haino on flute we think (or recorder?), Ambarchi's beats getting bongo-y. Nice. Side stepping some of our usual expectations, but not nearly all of 'em, this one's another interesting addition to this trio's oeuvre, and we're left wanting more.
MPEG Stream: "Only Wanting to Melt... (excerpt)"
HATAMI, PORYA Arrivals And Departures [Deluxe Version] (Time Released Sound) cd 60.00
Another list, another lovely sonic missive from local boutique label Time Released Sound, and odds are, long time readers of the list know just what to expect from a TRS release, something drifty and dreamy, ambient and cinematic, blissed out and shimmery, subtle electronics, maybe strings, hushed dronemusic, maybe pastoral, maybe subtly sinister, sometime sun dappled and tranquil, other times dark and melancholic, but always sonically stunning, and of course, elaborately packaged. This time around, it's another new discovery, at least for us, a soundscaper from Iran named Porya Hatami, who weaves delicate expanses of crystalline ambience, lush, billowy smears of soft focus thrum, beneath softly reverbed piano, subtle swoonsome strings, the sound a languorous slow build, but not to any bombastic climax, instead, setting layer upon layer, the sound growing ever more dense, and deep, with swirls of spacey synth deftly woven into sprawls of dreamlike, nocturnal swells. Haunting, softly distorted pulsations spread out like beacons in a thick sonic fog, the overtones bleeding into one another and creating a thick blanket of warm reveberant shimmer, each track here part of a greater whole, a lush, tranquil, serenely psychedelic kosmische ambience that seems to expand ever outward, enveloping the listener in an electronic flecked, dream-ambient web of ethereal sound.As always, there are two versions, both fantastically packaged, the deluxe version this time around, limited to just 75 copies, comes housed in a hand assembled and 'artified' sewn booklet full of aeronautic ephemera, this is in turn housed in a laser-cut, vintage hardback book cover, each inset with an antique glass identification slide. Inside there's lots more, runway diagrams, old airport photos, flight instruction manuals as well as actual pages from vintage pilot's logbooks, and finally a vintage aeronautic snapshot as well. As if that weren't enough, the cd comes in a vintage airmail envelope, and in the spine of each booklet is a vintage pencil! Phew! There's also a standard version, that one limited to 150 copies, the disc housed in a swank full color digipak.
MPEG Stream: "Farewell"
MPEG Stream: "Homecoming"
HEADS, THE Everybody Knows We Got Nowhere (Rooster) 5lp + cd 126.00
Originally released way back in 2000 on Sweet Nothing, UK space psych stompers The Heads' second record, Everybody Knows We Got Nowhere, gets the deluxe reissue treatment it so totally deserves. Cuz listening to this again now, it's crazy how much this foreshadows so much of the psych rock and space rock that's all the rage these days, and still even 14 years on, manages to put loads of those new groops to shame. While there's plenty of spaciness all over Everybody Knows We Got Nowhere, it's a much heavier proposition than most psych/space rock, sounding at times like a supercharged Loop, tranced out psychedelic hypnorock that expands into wild, swirling sprawls of endless jammage, and more often then not loops back into some sort of swaggery garage-psych stomp. But there's plenty of weirdness too, the looped twanginess of "Wobble", the groovy jazziness of "Kraut Byrds", the tripped out deliriously druggy backwards guitarscape "My My", the lo-fi kraut-psych pound of "Chrome Plated", the almost Brit-poppy "Barcoded", which almost sounds like Swervedriver, and of course there are plenty of samples throughout, it's a way weirder record than their debut, Relaxing With The Heads, but somehow, it all manages to coalesce into some tripped out, psychedelic sonic odyssey. It helps that the record is anchored by a handful of monolithic jams that will have fans of White Hills, Carlton Melton, Burnt Hills, Monster Magnet and all the rest, freaking the fuck out. Opener "Legavaan Satellite" sounds like the Stooges covering Spacemen 3 (or the other way around), the guitars so distorted and blown out, the production impossibly in the red, the sound loud as fuck. In between all of the above mentioned weird bits, there's the groovy heavy psych churn of "Could Be...", the extended super distorted low fidelity trip out of "#'75", the hazy, pulsating "Stab Railroad", all dirgey and droned out, the wah wah drenched super psychedelic freakout of "Motorjam" and the nearly 13 minute closer "Long Gone", which fuses almost jazzy drumming, with churning bass buzz, wild squalls of guitars, and dense clouds of FX, all stretched out into a heady drift, that first explodes into some seriously heady psych rock pound, before finishing off with two minutes of druggy, damaged trip out, and then some buzzing sitar like mesmer.Lots of aQ list readers likely already have this record (though maybe not, we remember it wasn't that easy to find back then), but this new version, in THREE different versions, definitely makes it worth buying again. Except maybe for the vinyl folks not willing to shell out for the 5lp set. Apparently, the 2lp version has only the original record proper. The new cd version, however, tacks on a whole extra disc of rarities and singles and B sides (including the long out of print Man's Ruin 10")! But really, this record is so good, why not just go for it, go all out and nab the massive FIVE LP box set version (limited to 1000 copies), which comes in a hardcover jacket, wrapped in a specially printed tote bag, with a poster and printed insert, and includes, in addition to the record, AND all those rare tracks you get with the cd version on vinyl, a bonus compact disc ONLY available with the 5lp set, featuring 70 minutes of unreleased material culled from the band's rehearsal tapes and cd-r archives!!
MPEG Stream: "Legavaan Satellite"
MPEG Stream: "Could Be..."
MPEG Stream: "#'75'd"
MPEG Stream: "Motorjam"
HISTORY OF APPLE PIE, THE Feel Something (Marshall Teller) lp 22.00
We went crazy when we first heard The History Of Apple Pie, a UK combo who sounded like they had time traveled here direct from the mid-nineties, a clutch of kids seemingly channeling the sort of music made right around the time they were born (!), but like some of our other favorite retro-pop combos (Yuck, Best Coast, Real Estate, etc.), they have that sound dialed in. In the case of The History Of Apple Pie, that sound is a sugary sweet concoction equal parts shimmery dreampop jangle and crunchy shoegaze fuzz, every track rife with huge hooks, soaring harmonies, swirling synths, crazy catchy melodies, the vibe definitely a bit twee, but with the occasional bout of rocking swagger, usually in the form of some muscly guitar crunch or epic My Bloody Valentine style wall-of-guitarnoise cascades. Obvious references would be the Swirlies, Veruca Salt, The Pixies, Curve, My Bloody Valentine, Heavenly and the like, and you'd be totally forgiven for hearing this new record and thinking it was actually some obscure lost shoegaze gem from back in the day, but what can we say, we're a sucker for that stuff. For people of a certain age, this immediately takes you back, this is exactly the sort of thing that found its way on many a mixtape, and was the soundtrack for all sorts of roadtrips and adventures, romances and breakups. And even though the record oozes nostalgia (at least for those of us who were there the first time around), it still sounds pretty fantastic, fresh and alive, and if not wholly original, THOAP do take that nineties jangle fuzz formula and make it all their own, crafting some truly transcendent cotton candy billows of distorted dreaminess, gorgeous soft noise psychedelia and lilting jangly fuzz drenched pop bliss.
MPEG Stream: "Come Undone"
MPEG Stream: "Tame"
MPEG Stream: "Keep Wondering"
MPEG Stream: "Special Girl"
LIMINANAS, THE I've Got Trouble In Mind: 7" And Rare Stuff 2009/2014 (Trouble In Mind) cd 11.98
We've loved pretty much every single record from this fuzzy, garage-y French dream-pop combo, who fuse buzzy guitar crunch, and simple propulsive rhythmic pound, with classic sixties French pop, swirling psychedelia, and even add a little ukelele! This comp collects, as the title suggests, all the group's various singles and comp tracks (as well as a few unreleased rarities), and really if you've yet to hear the Liminanas, this is as good a place to start as any. Some of the tracks here sound like Brigitte Bardot or France Gall if they recorded for Castle Face, and were backed up by White Fence or Thee Oh Sees, others channel the druggy kraut-psych of outfits like Moon Duo, through that sixties Ye Ye Girls sound we can't seem to ever get enough of. They do some cool covers too, a dreamily fuzzy and buzzy version of the Beach Boys' "I Know There's An Answer", they tackle Jay Reatard's "An Ugly Death", making it dirgey and breathy, and do a lo-fi, garage pop take on Darlene Love's Phil Spector penned "Christmas". The band make those songs totally their own. Perfectly fitting in with their sexy, sultry, French Garage pop originals, the vocals alternately crooned or purred, both male and female, they're almost like a fuzzier, garagier, modern day version of Serge Gainsbourg and Jane Birkin, which you know is not a bad thing at all!
MPEG Stream: "(I've Got) Trouble In Mind"
MPEG Stream: "Tu Es A Moi"
MPEG Stream: "I Know There's An Answer"
MPEG Stream: "Liverpool"
LORD TIME A Destiny Of Death (Universal Consciousness) cassette 5.98
Most recent solo record from the drummer of LA black metal grimlords Harassor, another collection of raw blackened primitivism, two side long songsuites, each one a constantly shifting soundworld, from droned out black buzz mesmer to something much more raw and minimal to straight up outsider experimentation. Droned out ambient murk transforms into a loping goat metal gallop, buzzing, droney-y churn blurs into wild noise drenched post rock lumber, a few parts get downright dreamy, the sounds coalescing into something bordering on blackened shoegaze, while others devolve into almost psychedelic ambience, swirling squalls of guitarnoise and stumbling drum damage and abstract vokills, all blurred into a strange sort of freeform dirgery. In fact, much of A Destiny Of Death is spent outside the confines of buzzing blackness, especially on side one, and while the second side has plenty of trippy ambience and weird psychedelic dronemusic moments, it's also heavier on the, well, heavy, with some seriously harrowing black buzz, raw metallic noise and hateful howling crush.Every tape individually blood splattered. And yeah, also EXTREMELY LIMITED.
MPEG Stream: "Part One (excerpt 1)"
MPEG Stream: "Part One (excerpt 2)"
MALACHAI Beyond Ugly (Double Six) lp 23.00
Took us a little while to get around to reviewing it, but we ARE excited about this, the third album from Bristol UK duo Malachai, a band originally championed by Geoff Barrow of Portishead, who released their debut on his Invada label (and plays drums on one cut here). We LOVED that album, The Ugly Side Of Love, as well as its follow-up Return To The Ugly Side, and now this one too, Beyond Ugly. The methodology on all their albums is the same - using loops and samples, as well as their own live instruments, they make beautiful (not ugly) music that sounds like a mashup of paisley '60s psych pop and proggy '70s acid rock. Retro sounds, modern technology. Fuzzy guitars, groovy organ, subtle electronic embellishments, junkshop record crackle, killer breakbeats, all stitched together DJ Shadow Endtroducing-style, tracks that are either super catchy or super moody (or both), but with sing-song melodies carried forth by the vocals, from one half of the duo, which are delivered in a sometimes soft, sometimes raspy, distinctively English "'Allo, guv'nah!" voice.The dozen cuts on this new disc run the gamut, from dreamy mellow pop to hard rock groove, several almost sounding like they could be off of one of those "Electric Asylum" compilations of vintage glammy, proggy "Rare British Freakrock", if you didn't know better. The two songs here with credited samples borrow from Bollywood and The Stranglers, though, demonstrating Malachai's inspirations range far and wide. Like their previous efforts, we're totally sold. Love it!Maybe only hardcore aQuarius customers who always read our list will 'get' this comparison, but if you can imagine a hybrid of When (circa Lobster Boys) and White Stripes, Malachai are somewhere in there. Of course, if you're that much of an aQ customer, you probably already have the other Malachai albums and know you want this one too!
MPEG Stream: "Sweet Flower"
MPEG Stream: "Holes"
MPEG Stream: "Down To Earth"
MASCIS, J Tied To A Star (Sub Pop) lp 17.98
2011's all acoustic Several Shades Of Why demonstrated Dinosaur Jr's J Mascis could still pull it off sans amplification, And Tied To A Star is more of the same. Another fantastic collection of folky psychedelic indie rock jangle, that like the last record, is essentially a collection of tracks that could have been Dinosaur Jr songs proper, but are presented here stripped all the way down, mostly Mascis's distinctive vocals with acoustic guitar, but there are drums here and there, percussion too, even some strings, and hell, it's a J Mascis record, so there's still distortion, that buzz reserved exclusively for the sweet, shredding leads, but those leads have a different effect here, when coupled with steel string strum and lilting melancholy melody, more wistful and introspective, a potent combo for sure. And like on Several Shades Of Why, the songs here are really great, some serious gems that rank way up near the top of a body of work, already pretty heavy with classic songsmithery. LP includes a download code too!
MPEG Stream: "Me Again"
MPEG Stream: "Every Morning"
MPEG Stream: "Heal The Star"
MAUSOLEUMS, THE I Am The Mausoleums / Blackened Fawns Cleanse The Earth With Fire (Chaos Of The Stars) cassette 5.98
Originally released as super limited cd-r's back in 2008, these killer slabs of twisted, outsider fuzz-pop black-gloom weirdness/genius are finally available again, now on the kvltest of formats, the cassette! Two cd-r's on a single tape! Here's what we had to say about I Am The Mausoleums back when we first reviewed it on New Arrivals List #276:You think Wold and Velvet Cacoon know a thing or two about buzz and distortion, well, those guys have nothing on the Mausoleums...It's hard to even quantify how blown out and buzzy the sound is here, it might make more sense to reference Japanese noise music cuz this almost sounds like straight up super distorted speaker melting N.O.I.S.E., on the surface at least. Until you notice a roiling whirlpool of blackened riffing and howled vocalizing, just beneath all that harsh hiss and brutal buzz. It's almost like Ildjarn or Beherit recorded by Masonna and produced by Merzbow. Blasting and relentless, face melting fury, guitars so distorted they sound like they might crumble into jagged shards, drums that sound like bursts of white noise, but all deftly shaped into riffs and songs and chunks of seriously scalding blackened metal. But then the band will unleash something like "Cicada", a gorgeous loping slowcore jam, again doused with delay and buried under a layer of distorted grit, but strangely lovely, with a bit of melancholy twang mixed in. Or the freaked out blackpsych blast of "Joan Of Arc" a track that sounds like a dense slab of pure black buzz and howl, until suddenly a gorgeous chunk of indie jangle surfaces, still dripping with distorted buzz, but so goddamn dreamy and melodic, like an even more distorted damaged My Bloody Valentine, the drums and cymbals so corroded and decayed, they balance out the dreamy jangle. Elsewhere, riffs are dipped in molten hellfire and pushed all the way into the red, crumbling distortion is draped over lilting minor key guitar, strange Greg Ginn-ish angular guitars are twisted and melted down into more black buzz...And while the majority of the record is some of the filthiest, blackest buzzingest metal you'll ever hear, the buzzing blackness is split up by all sorts of unlikely and not that black jams, the strangely skeletal Stereolab-ish post rock of "Lenin Not Lennon", the creepy black electro (replete with strangely Beatles-esque guitar) of "Insignificance", the metalized buzz wrapped Neu!-isms of "Running Through The Reeds", the warbly organ flecked garage stomp of "I Guess I'm Like A Prince, Maybe" and the Spacemen 3 like druggy drone of "Like A Prince", all seemingly out of place, but when listened to as a whole, seem to perfectly balance the extreme brutal buzz of the rest of the disc. Maybe too fucked up and far out for most metal heads, but folks into super damaged heaviness, and freaked out whatthefuck metal will dig this BIG TIME.And here's what we had to say about Blackened Fawns Cleanse The Earth With Fire back on aQ New Arrivals List #288:The long overdue return of aQ faves The Mausoleums, whose last record was a confusional swirl of grim black buzz and weird jangle pop, blown out bliss and thick dense noise. For this second record, the Mausoleums seem to have turned down the buzz (just a bit) and turned up the pop. That's right. POP. Not that there wasn't pop all over the last Mausoleums disc I Am The Mausoleum, but the opening track on Blackened Fawns Cleanse The Earth With Fire, "Livelihood", is a gorgeous organ drenched slab of crunchy distorted shoegaze jangle. And we're not talking about the new wave of "metalgaze" that so many metal bands seem to be glomming onto, this is just glorious and resplendent and soaring, shimmering blisspop nirvana, the guitars jangly but washed out and fierce, the melodies sprawling and sun drenched, the sound crumbling and gloriously distorted. In fact, one song in and we're thinking it well worth the price of admission.But it doesn't take long for the band to dip back into their other true love, the next track, "The One Who Sees", finds the band returning to a furious blackened buzz, howled vocals, pounding drums, insect like riffage, but even then, the sound is still rife with disembodied pop jangle and soaring guitar buzz, an impossible hybrid that sounds way better than it should. The next track is neither, instead a dense processed soundscape of soaring guitar feedback, little curlicues of buzzing melody, looped stuttering drums, dizzying minor key strum, all tangled up in a gloriously seasick hypnotic whirl."Thief" begins as straight up pop, like some super distorted Pavement outtake, or lost Sebadoh jam, all fuzzy jangle and simple propulsive drumming, until the vocals come in, a super distorted black metal shriek, bringing with it another layer of buzzing blown out distortion.And so it goes for the rest of the record, careening from glorious shoegaze distortion drenched buzz pop, to in-the-red lo-fi black metal crunch, but with those two various sonic strains constantly bleeding and leeching into the other, resulting in the record's finest moments, the impossibly dense, epic, majestic guitar drone shoegaze blowout of "Old Woman In The Woods", impossibly heavy, yet gorgeously melodic at the same time, the strange distorted folky raga buzz of "His Reward", the frenetic ultra distorted surfy twang of "Skeletal" and finally the brief closer, "The Bees", a lovely chunk of overdriven steel string Appalachia that near the end explodes into a brief blown out buzz-drenched burst of looped digital fuzz.
MPEG Stream: "Livelihood"
MPEG Stream: "The One Who Sees"
MPEG Stream: "Fertile Depths"
MPEG Stream: "Thief"
MELCHIOR, LETHA RODMAN Handbook For Mortals (Siltbreeze) lp 15.98
The joy of reviewing this first proper full length from Letha Rodman Melchior is tempered by the sad fact that Letha passed away recently, after a lengthy battle with cancer. Beloved by all who knew her, she chronicled her illness via a hilarious and hilariously warts-and-all blog, detailing every facet of her illness, and her struggle to beat it. Musicians and artists and friends all over the world, rallied around her, playing benefit shows, to raise money to help with her hospital bills, and while she had been making art and playing music for decades (Andee's old band toured with her old band, Ruby Falls, way back in the nineties), her marriage to Dan Melchior, a musical force in his own right, brought forth a new bout of productivity and collaboration, culminating in this, the heartbreakingly beautiful, and fantastically fanciful handbook For Mortals, a joyously uninhibited collection of ultra personal musical vignettes, hauntingly lovely landscapes of piano and clarinette, laced with mysterious squalls of soft percussion, deep shimmery drones, whipping-wind-like swirls, breaking glass, a little bit chamber music, a little bit musique concrete, a series of strange sonic collages, fusing woozy, distorted, dream pop, to fractured avant murk, buried melodies and music box like warble. Some tracks unfurl lo-fi jumbles of found sounds, loopy percussion, swirling FX, others hushed, pastoral ambience, choral vocal harmonies and field recordings. The songs are laced with glitched out electronics, occasionally wrapped around stately piano threnodies, other times blossoming into wild sprawls of crumbling, distorted noise. Here and there, ramshackle ballads dissolve into equal parts hushed piano, recordings from the hospital (the beep of a life support machine surfaces on one track) and creaking machine like clatter. Handbook For Mortals is a heady, heavenly mix of twisted, mad scientist avant noise, and hushed, delicate, home brewed songcraft, a gorgeous bit of sound art, that has now been transformed into a beautifully bittersweet, and heartbreakingly poignant threnody.R.I.P Letha. You will be missed.
MPEG Stream: "Hypatia Rilles"
MPEG Stream: "Mare Crisium"
MPEG Stream: "Marsh Of Sleep"
MPEG Stream: "Humouresques"
NEOTANTRIK Blue Amiga (Pre-Cert) lp 22.00
Neotantrik is the duo of Finders Keepers / B-Music head honcho Andy Votel, and Sean Canty of Demdike Stare (the two also run the Pre-Cert label), accompanied by legendary electronic pioneer and Buchla synth master Suzanne Ciani, Swiss jazz legend Bruno Spoerri and folk chanteuse Jane Weaver! We weren't entirely sure what to expect, in fact we somehow missed the first NeoTantrik lp entirely, but Blue Amiga is pretty stunning, a series of pieces captured live over the last year, a gorgeous collection of cinematic ambience, and blissed out synthiness. Beholden to classic cinema for sure, the sleeve was designed by Asia Argento (daughter of legendary director Dario Argento), and features giallo actress Daria Nicolodi floating in shimmering blue water, the sounds drift from the blurry, bleary, blissful hushed thrum of the title track, to the strangely soundtracky "Mimologue", which adds all sorts of percussion and mysterious electronics, to an otherwise dreamy shimmer, the results tense and intense, but still strangely lovely. From there on out, there's creepy Carpenter like synth swells, tripped out kosmische ambience, glistening crystalline drone music, blissed out planetarium ragas, avant musique concrete, and a sprawling final track that sounds like the score to some mysterious art house thriller, woozy, swoonsome swells, and keening high end melodies, deep resonant bass throbs all infused with a minor key melancholia.
MPEG Stream: "Blue Amiga"
NISENNENMONDAI N (Blast First Petite) cd 17.98
Motorik Japanese all-female trio Nisennenmondai are back, with a disc that takes the skeletal, minimalist 'choo-choo-choo' sounds of their previous outing, 2009's Destination Tokyo, to a stripped-down extreme. (They've stripped down the titles, too.) Eschewing a lot of variation, they really just lock in and go with the groove here. With standard rock instrumentation, they play what sounds like electronic music - they're an extra-tight 'live' techno band essentially, not unlike Austria's Electro Guzzi (who have a new album, Observatory, we'll be reviewing soon, too). These three long instrumental tracks of purely rhythmic attack are all tck-tck-tck, scht-scht-scht, thup-thup-thup... Ultra repetitive, up tempo percussive jitter that's sleek and steady, subtle yet urgent, constantly building up the mysterious, nervous energy. Based around live 'loops' of snare hits and bass beats, what sound like Morse code blips and Giger counter clicks, it's a brooding sort of thumping techno, with shimmering shoegaze guitars around the edges, distorted and echo-effected, creating quite a mesmeric & mekanikal, noirish mood. Sort of sounds like Circle playing a rave, really! (And we'd LOVE to experience this live!) Considerably compelling as far as we're concerned, and also kinda curious coming from a band who once upon a time sounded a lot like Sonic Youth and Deerhoof, though they've always been about the repetitive trance-induction, they've just honed that aspect and dialed back on their former noisy no-waveisms.
MPEG Stream: "A"
MPEG Stream: "B-1"
NORIEGAS, THE Bread Money / Blood Money (Chaos Of The Stars) cassette 5.98
First release from this local band of psychedelic noise makers, featuring former aQ-er Andrew Brush, who was the mastermind behind blackened shoegaze noise pop weirdos the Mausoleums (the first Mausoleums cd-r has now been reissued on cassette, and can be found elsewhere on this week's list) and runs the Chaos Of The Stars cassette label. Bread Money / Blood Money is a sprawling double album of murky distorted psychedelic jammage that sounds a bit like a twisted, extremely low fidelity mix of the Velvet Underground and Japanese psych legends Les Rallizes Denudes, the tracks are extended sprawls of minimal psych, minimal in arrangement and structure at least, but maximal in volume and intensity, the sound as much about the super distorted, blown out, in-the-red recording as the music itself, the group locking into almost bvnkvrfvnk style grooves (and yeah, at times it sounds a bit like a wilder, woolier German Oak), each track essentially a single part, looped and layered and repeated, a hard psych sonic mantra, stretched out into infinity, and like some of our favorite psych records, we can only assume that these tracks are just edits of much longer jams, as they often cut out abruptly, and start the same way, as if someone just remembered mid jam that they should push record on the tape machine. There also seems to be sax in there too, but buried in the mix, and essentially playing the part of another buzzy, droning layer. It's heady, heavy stuff, psych obsessives will be in heaven, and while the sound here is much more raw and lo-fi, anyone into the current crop of spaced out psych combos, The Heads, Carlton Melton, White Hills, Burnt Hills, 3 Leafs, Assemble Head In Sunburst Sound, etc. will likely dig big time as well!
MPEG Stream: "Notes To The Text"
MPEG Stream: "Pictograph"
MPEG Stream: "Religion Set Me Straight"
NULL, KK & ORE Components Of Circulation & Dawn Of Time (Endtyme) 7" 9.98
What might you expect from a collaboration between KK Null, mastermind behind Japanese heavies Zeni Geva, and UK tuba doom duo Ore (you read that right, TUBA DOOM!)? Probably not this. Two tracks of hushed, delicate, droned out ambience. Moody, muted and morose, long tones unfurling gradually in a field of sculpted soft static, and distant keening melodies, slow shifting textures, drifting serenely, over a surprisingly tranquil sonic sprawl, a sort of blackened, nocturnal drift, deftly processed electronics, the mournful moan of the tubas, stuttery rhythmic pulses, all blurred into something downright dreamy and hypnotic. The flipside is even more minimal, the processed tubas transformed into lush, layered swells, pocked with glitch and crackle, and wreathed in field recordings of birdsong, a strange mix of ominous thrum, and pastoral ambience, the sound gorgeously lustrous and thick, the low end massive, a dark slo-mo swirl, that gradually gathers subtle momentum, beneath an increasingly dense cloud of singing birds, that begins to mutate into a tangle of psychedelic squiggles, that is soon subsumed by the churning bass tones and strange skittery fields of clipped static and glitchy electronics. Haunting and sinister and at moments harrowingly heavy, yet somehow still darkly dreamy!Probably super limited too...
MPEG Stream: "Components Of Circulation"
OBNOX The Juke That Sat In The Corner (Chunklet) 12" 14.98
Another killer blast of blown out garage-soul punk-blooze from Lamont Thomas, who might be better known as the drummer for psychedelic noise rockers Puffy Areolas, but who on his own has been cranking out release after release of amazing hook heavy noisiness that manages to fuse the wild psych stomp of the Areolas with some impossibly deft lo-fi pop-smithery and some serious soulfulness. After a brief blast of punked out reverb drenched noise, "All Hail The Deejay" is all seventies swagger, slathered in distortion and FX, a glammy falsetto sung stomp that sounds like it could have been plucked off the last Ty Segall Record, albeit a bit more rough around the edges. "Sit Yo Ass Down" is even better, doused in feedback, with a stuttery, almost funky groove, all wreathed in thick, distorted guitar buzz, and with another falsetto chorus that KILLS. "Thanks For Yesterday" dials back the buzz for something bordering on balladic, but then in swoops "(Do) The Clap" which sounds like an even noiser, sweatier, more chaotic and sweat soaked Oh Sees, the whole thing finishing off with the brief speaker shredding blast of "Buzz Clique", a dense tangle of super distorted backwards noise-psych, that almost sounds like a garage punk version of Teenage Filmstars!!Includes a download code too!
MPEG Stream: "All Hail The Deejay"
MPEG Stream: "Sit Yo Ass Down"
MPEG Stream: "Buzz Clique"
OCTAVIUS Laws (Mannequin) lp 17.98
This Record Of The Week from back in 2012 finally back in stock!!!Around here at aQ we live for the moments of musical discovery that seem to appear out of nowhere. On a rare occasion those moments are created by an artifact dropped off in the store by the creator himself. In our age of internet buzz and blogosphere strip mining, it's exciting and refreshing to be floored by a piece of proper wax passed on in person, without us knowing a damn thing about it beforehand. This record represents one of these moments, and Laws, the brand new lp from LA's William Marshall, aka Octavius, is really blowing our minds right now, so much so that we absolutely had to jump on the chance to make it record of the week! A dizzying assemblage of fucked up outsider post witch house, damaged and deranged avant industrial and whispered, hiss-wreathed melancholic brooding downer experi-techno-pop!Laws is a multidimensional excursion through the depths of urban isolationism. The dead dreams of metropolis living and lifelong plans falling apart seem to be woven into the sonic fabric. You're all alone in this burned out city, and it's a dark, dark time. The sound is grinding, buzzing, thumping and industrial. The beats are constructed with rusted rebar shards, rattling about the charnel house floor, like some subwoofer-shook bones long forgotten. Octavius' caustic and restrained sound world creates an intensely claustrophobic mood. On tracks like "Apartments" and "Of Mask and Money", the sounds of sharpening knives and blistering white noise blasts commingle with a tense, gasping for breath vocal delivery. As the songs flow onward, layer upon layer of noisy mechanical skree stack up against beautifully stark and forlorn melodies. Haunting, discordant synth stabs add subtle harmonic depth to the tunes, as the vocals, seemingly hacked to bits, syllables left out or cut short, writhe to the beat. The sounds are abrasive and damaged and robotic, but there is never too much going on at one time and everything sits in the mix in such a way that the songs really breathe. It's got that hypnotic sonic subtlety of Berlin era Bowie mixed with the pulsating noisy gnash of Throbbing Gristle. Speaking of Bowie, one of the raddest moments on Laws comes in the form of a "cover" of "Breaking Glass". The low slung, heroin sheen funk of the original is replaced by a fiercely mechanical drum machine stomp, some heavy as fuck JK Flesh-like digitally distorted guitar chugs bashing with the beat, while cascading doppler blips and scraping synths swirl around the stereo field. The only recognizable element are the lyrics, although delivered in the by now signature manner in which Octavius uses his voice, and that is to say fractured and corrosive, hissing hypnosis. Totally bent and completely AMAZING!There are moments of dark meditation, such as "CCC CCC" and "331 155". Moody, drifting soundscapes of splintered metallic klang, ping-ponging singing bowls, bolstered with aphotic, creepy crawly Carpenter-like synth drones. Beautifully oscillating cinematic ambience laid over what sounds like a far off string section unfurling some somber, elegiac melody. Psychic TV's "Silver and Gold" comes to mind, except with a mechanical bass drum throb twisting beneath the surface. These hazy, murky moments of sonic darkness serve as tension builders. Haunting and anxious and mesmerizing respites from the churning corrosive elements that make up the bulk of Laws. "Liars & Thieves" is definitely the centerpiece of Laws. Abusive electro-psychosis, uncomfortable and polluted with an industrialized cacophony, and scrap metal pounding rhythms, Octavius allows his reflections on failure and anonymity to unravel in a harrowing, stream of conscious cypher. Imagine Tricky rapping over Coil's "Fire Of The Green Dragon". Paranoid and demented, the noise and words melding to create a bleak miasma of isolation. Moody and tense and wholly original.Laws pushes all the right buttons for us. It references the WAVES (minimal/NO/cold/synth), without getting mired in any particular sub-genre. It's noisy and abrasive and grim, reminding us of the gnarlier moments of Coil and TG, but produced in such a subtle manner that new layers of sound present themselves with each listen. It's got enough Suicide like swagger as not to get totally bogged down in its mechanized, vitriol pummel. Hypnotic and tensely mesmerizing, the album as a whole is so consistent in its vibe, we find ourselves listening to it over and over and over again, just to get lost, deeper and deeper, in its seedy sonic underbelly. Packaged lovingly in a minimalist, silver embossed white card stock sleeve, with a beautiful 16 page book of lyrics as well as some killer collage work by Brooklyn based artist Justin Sloane. Do yourself a favor and snatch this twisted gem up quick, really some of the most mind fuckingly special and original music we've heard around here in a long time!
MPEG Stream: "Apartments"
MPEG Stream: "Of Mask And Money"
MPEG Stream: "Liars & Thieves"
MPEG Stream: "331 155"
MPEG Stream: "O, How I Have Sinned"
PEOPLE SKILLS Tricephalic Head (Siltbreeze) lp 15.98
Could find very little about this loner / zoner, downer folk combo (one man band?), but it's just the sort of thing we dig, lovely, damaged, woozy and moody, a twisted troubadour, unfurling warped folk ballads and damaged drum machine driven murk-pop in equal measure. Take the opening one-two punch, the first, sounding like a more fucked up, mush mouthed, 4-track Nick Drake, all delicate steel string guitar beneath warped, warbly vocals, that sound like they're melting/decaying before your very ears, giving the otherwise pastoral sound a drowsy, druggy vibe, while the second track adds some primitive programmed rhythm, and a wheezing Casio keyboard, woven into an echo drenched balladic dirge, again with those fucked up, mumbled, FX heavy vox, draped over an otherwise lilting sprawl of spare, minimal slowcore drone-pop. The most amazing thing is that somehow the drum machine stumbles and stutters, which is very unlike programmed drums, but it gives the whole sound a fragile, fractured vibe. As the record progresses, it gets noiser and more chaotic, the sound more blown out and crunchy, the vocals distorted, the beats too, some tracks pocked with spacey electronic squiggles, and weird pitch shifted gurgled vox, others with loads of buzz and hum, static and hiss. The more experimental aspects of Tricephalic Head remind us of the late great NZ experimentalists Wreck Small Speakers On Expensive Stereos, those moments more than balanced by stretches of hushed folkiness, and weird sprawls of low fidelity kraut-psych, and flat out WTF psychedelic noise freakouts. Includes a download code.
MPEG Stream: "This Life Was In A Room"
MPEG Stream: "The Trench"
MPEG Stream: "Step Into The Light"
MPEG Stream: "The Scene Of The Poet John Berryman's Suicide in 1972"
PISSED JEANS Shallow + Throbbing Organ 7" (Sub Pop) lp+7" 17.98
Sub Pop has just reissued these abject punks' debut album from 2005, originally released on the Parts Unknown label. Pissed Jeans kicked our asses back then when we first heard 'em - and have continued to do so throughout their career after they signed to Sub Pop. It's great to have this back, especially since Sup Pop has packaged this with extra tracks, the two songs "Throbbing Organ" and "Night Minutes" from an even earlier, long out of print 7" single. The vinyl version provides those on a separate 45, while the new cd version just provides a download code for 'em (the lp comes with a download of the whole thing too, by the way).So, here's what we said 'bout Shallow when we listed it the first time around: A punk record for people who haven't bought a punk record in a while. It's not a retro exercise, but still something about this young Pennsylvania band brings back memories of '80s hardcore, Black Flag or Flipper back in the day, nasty punk scuzz with lots of badass guitar distortion and feedback, shambolic rock n' roll with rabid bite. The lyrics are sadsack smartass dumb, yowled over the band's noisy, catchy trashcan stomp, the vocalist really letting it all (down-and-)out on such songs as "I'm Sick," "Boring Girls", "Ashamed Of My Cum", and "I Broke My Own Heart." Can you feel sorry for someone who's wallowing in it? Doesn't matter, just enjoy the careening chaotic entertainment that results. The packaging features cool cartoon graphics of suburban banality.
MPEG Stream: "Boring Girls"
MPEG Stream: "Closet Marine"
PROUD, PIP A Fraying Space (EM) lp 26.00
NOW ON LP TOO! The latest collection (after two previous) chronicling the work of Australian outsider artist / primitive folk songsmith Pip Proud, comes courtesy of Japanese label EM, who gather up some of his best tracks from the late sixties and early seventies, selected by Proud's biographer David Nichols, who also provides the booklet's extensive liner notes. Fans of early Flying Nun, Xpressway and Homestead Records, will be immediately smitten. Proud, whose primitive folksmithery falls somewhere between the Tall Dwarfs, the Frogs and Sebadoh, was like a proto Syd Barrett, with a voice that's a dead ringer for Jimmy Flemion of the Frogs (R.I.P.), and his music for all its amateur primitivism, was geniusly crafted, perfect little introspective folk pop gems, the sound, the lyrics, the guitar playing, even the recordings themselves... We're also reminded of Bill Direen, the sung/spoken vocals, the raw guitar style, the lo-fi recordings, almost every track here impossibly catchy, with the oddest bits getting stuck in your head like crazy. Some tracks are haunting and otherworldly, with truly unique and bizarre guitar parts (or are those synths), the guitar playing sometimes folk, but other times percussive and more rhythmic, and still other times, weirdly psychedelic. There's one track with a full band, that is killer, all Velvets-y murky, tense kraut-psych garage pop, with truly twisted vox, and some weirdly atonal melodies, but the rest of the record is made up entirely of home recorded bedroom jams, with only the most minimal and primitively achieved overdubs, sometimes it's strange gamelan like percussion, sometimes noisy fuzz distortion, sometimes weird tangles of multiple guitar lines, all deftly woven into some of the most endearing, and mysteriously mesmerizing music you might never have heard. There are a handful of bonus tracks, as well as a huge booklet, with liner notes, rare photos and lyrics.
MPEG Stream: "Adreneline And Richard"
MPEG Stream: "De Da De Dum"
MPEG Stream: "A Fraying Space"
MPEG Stream: "Purple Boy Gang"
ROLADEX / [[PRESSURES]] Glass Statuette / The Voices (Medical) 7" 11.98
The return of Roladex one of the few contemporary artists on the kick ass new wave / synth wave reissue label Medical Records, and like their first full length, Anthems For The Microage, which we raved about back on list #445, their track here, "Glass Statuette" is another dark synthy gem, sort of Giorgio Moroder meets the Human League, pulsating synth arpeggios, romantic (but still a little icy) boy/girl vocals, robotic cold wave Kraftwerkisms surrounded by minimal programmed pulsations, and blooping, bleeping melodies, and like that full length, sounding as much like an actual reissue as anything on Medical. The flipside is the first we've heard from [[Pressures]], and it's a good match for Roladex, a bit more melancholy and minor key, the vibe dreamily wistful, the sound propulsive and motorik, all pulsing synths, and lockstep rhythms, the hazy vocodered vocals, angelic and ethereal, give the track it's human/romantic/melancholy vibe, balancing the retro/futuristic machine music beneath...Like all Medical releases, housed in a nice full color sleeve, and for this one, pressed onto heavy, transparent yellow vinyl. And yeah, also VERY LIMITED!
MPEG Stream: ROLADEX "Glass Statuette"
MPEG Stream: [[PRESSURES]] "The Voices"
ROLLERSKATE SKINNY Shoulder Voices (Medical) lp 22.00
Medical Records branches out from their cold wave / new wave / synth wave bread and butter to delve into nineties indie rock, with this vinyl reissue of 1993's Shoulder Voices, the debut lp from Irish avant pop shoegazers Rollerskate Skinny, fronted by Jimi Shields, little brother of My Bloody Valentine's Kevin Shields. While there are hints of MBV in Rollerskate Skinny's sound, Shoulder Voices actually falls closer to that of Mercury Rev, the same mix of orchestral pop bombast and twisted songsmithery, but in Rollerskate Skinny's case, with a bit more fuzz and crunch, and some super distinctive vocals, that frequently swoop into a soaring falsetto, over a sound lush and proggy, distorted and psychedelic, a dizzying psych pop concoction of dreamy indie pop jangle exploding into heavy guitar shoegaze freakouts, with long loping stretches of woozy psychedelic meander, as well as dreamy ethereal ambience. Some seriously tripped out nineties style indie prog, psych pop genius, that is definitely recommended for fans of other outfits from the era like the Flaming Lips, Mercury Rev, Laika, My Bloody Valentine, Moonshake, etc.Super swank packaging, heavy full color jackets, with a full color printed insert featuring an interview with Jimi Shields, as well as a Rollerskate Skinny retrospective written by Sean Kirkpatrick.Pressed on heavy 180 gram red vinyl.
MPEG Stream: "Miss Leader"
MPEG Stream: "Violence To Violence"
MPEG Stream: "Lunasa"
MPEG Stream: "Bring On Stigmata"
SISTER LOOLOMIE Signals (Zhelezobeton) cd-r 12.98
Sister Loolomie is yet another project from Sergey Suhovik, the Muscovite mood engineer who has graced us with luminous drones via his other pseudonyms / projects Five Elements Music and Exit In Grey. Signals is our first exposure to Sister Loolomie, which appears to be hedging more toward a '60s computer music / radiophonic feel. Compositionally, Sergey maintains the cyclical patterns of shimmer and drone found in those other projects we've long championed; but the tools, instruments, and sounds seem to be of another origin. Several of the tracks add a ring modulated / sawtoothed grit to his source material, which immediately leads to the impression that Sergey has dug up some obsolete piece of telemetry / signaling technology from the cold war era, extracting a warm, fizzing, pixelated graininess from this imagined piece of equipment. And at other times, he posits warmer tones of bitcrushed suspension, rasping half-melodies, and sunblind mirages which has us thinking of those latter day Lovesliescrushing recapitulations of lost-then-found tapes. Super limited pressing of just 100 discs, of which we have the last copies.
MPEG Stream: "No Final Decision Here"
MPEG Stream: "Prelude And Part About Pink Dream"
MPEG Stream: "Light And Cold"
SPEEDY ORTIZ / CHRIS WEISMAN split (LAMC #14) (Famous Class) 7" 8.98
Latest in the LAMC series of split 7"s from the Famous Class label, each single featuring a known entity on the A side, and then a more obscure band on the flip, chosen by the A side band. This marks the first appearance on the aQ list of Speedy Ortiz, which is CRAZY, cuz some of us here have been fans for ages, not sure how that happened, but needless to say, their track here is a gem, heavily beholden to nineties indie rock, in particular the Pixies and the Breeders and Veruca Salt, fuzzy bass beneath crooned female vox, kinda swaggery, and dirgey, but hook heavy and poppy, the chorus super Beatles-esque, soaring and majestic, lilting and melodic, and catchy as all get out. One of our favorite modern day outfits mining our favorite era of indie rock for sure.We had never heard of Chris Weisman before, and while we were maybe expecting something more indie rocking, instead, it's just acoustic guitar and vocals, the vibe sort of Big Star-ish, maybe a little bit like the Posies, dreamy vox, lush steel string strum, super dreamy and classic pop sounding, at points even reminding us of Emmit Rhodes, which is most definitely a good thing. Will for sure be tracking down more from Weisman...Like all the LAMC singles, as you probably already guessed, this is VERY LIMITED!
MPEG Stream: SPEEDY ORTIZ "Doomsday"
MPEG Stream: CHRIS WEISMAN "I Took It Off A Record"
STREET TRASH (RICK ULFIK) OST (Lunaris ) cd 14.98
THIS RECENT RECORD OF THE WEEK, BACK IN STOCK ON CD!!We LOVE Street Trash, one of the silliest, goriest, goofiest movies ever, and easily one of our favorite good 'bad' movies. The label describes the 1987 horror flick as the ultimate "melt movie", which is definitely true, although we never realized that was an actual genre. And for lots of you, that probably makes no sense at all. But it will. Street Trash begins when a liquor store owner finds an old case of 'Tenafly Viper' in his basement, some kind of cheap wine, and decides to sell it cheap. It's of course snapped up by the city's homeless population, who begin to, yep, you guessed it, MELT!! THEY MELT!!!There's also a subplot about a mean Vietnam Vet who rules the junkyard, but really it's all about the glorious gore, and again, it's not bloody gore as much as it's a sort of over the top Technicolor gore, with the hapless victims of the tainted malt liquor dissolving into greasy pools of rainbow hued goop, most notably one guy who sits on a toilet to drink in peace, and who begins to melt and drip and ooze and eventually becomes a mushy prismatic pool in (and around) the toilet bowl...And really all the rest is just window dressing, you know, there's some story and a little plot and all that, but it's all about the melting, a grossout hobo holocaust that is like that head melting scene from Raiders Of The Lost Ark stretched out into a feature length film!And like a lot of these films, we didn't necessarily remember the music, but revisiting now, we were pretty blown away. The score by Rick Ulfik is pretty cool, creepy and synthy, some tracks all weird echoey percussion, moody, haunting atmospheres, really cool stuff, but it was the eighties, so there's also plenty of goofy synthy drum machine dorkiness, and some geniusly cringeworthy, ultra cheesy sax driven groovers, what one aQ staffer described as 'trashjams', but to our ears sounds like the retro-futuristic schmaltzy VHS mall music of ex-Skater James Ferraro. One of those tracks is so good (bad?) that it gets lodged in our head like crazy, and we find ourselves not just digging it, but humming it to ourselves at odd times during the day, LONG after having actually listened to it.But the bulk of the record is made up of grim, ominous creepscapes, the whole thing in fact reminiscent of another aQ fave soundtrack, The New York Ripper, a similarly weird mix of cheesy eighties funkiness and seriously scary soundtrackery, the difference here being that most of the sound FX are left in, we're guessing because no real masters exist, so perhaps this was all mastered direct from someone's original VHS copy, and it sounds like it, as it's sort of tinny, and lo-fi, but it suits the sounds, and the movie if you've seen it, perfectly. And that's also a part of the score's charm, that most of the cheesiest tracks are bookended by the anguished FX drenched howls of some hapless soul melting, screaming in anguish, those screams turning into wordless gurgles, and usually leading right into another long stretch of creepy, synthy ambience.Then there's the final song, what we remember as the end credits track, a sort of bastardized version of Frank Sinatra's "My Way" kind of jam, with some of THEE most ridiculous and hilariously over the top lyrics EVER. In fact, we had forgotten about that track completely, and the first time it played in the store, had we all been drinking, it would have induced some seriously comedic spit takes, as it is, we were in stitches, lines like:"Shut your face, you little scumbag", "You can stop the bullshit cuz this is the end", "Oh what's this?? I'm startin' to ooze! you little creep! What's this fuckin' shit??" and of course "Your face I'm gonna reshape - I'm gonna eat your fucking eyeballs like grapes", all delivered in a dramatic croon, one that becomes increasingly more unhinged as the track progresses, and as the singer presumably begins to melt himself!So great! Easily one of our favorites in this recent spate of horror movie reissues (obviously, as it's our Record Of The Week). And the Lunaris label, the latest to throw their bloody hat in the horror movie vinyl reissue ring, did a great job, killer new artwork, extensive liner notes, the whole shebang. And like all the best soundtracks, it has us wanting to watch Street Trash again SO BAD!!
MPEG Stream: "Opening Sequence"
MPEG Stream: "Viper Theme"
MPEG Stream: "Paulie Melt"
MPEG Stream: "Mournful Theme"
MPEG Stream: "Flashback"
MPEG Stream: "Junkyard Hop"
MPEG Stream: "Wizzy Death"
MPEG Stream: "We Do Things My Way"
SUZUKI JUNZO Portrait Of Madeleine Elster (Utech) cd 14.98
BACK IN STOCK! Keiji Haino, Takashi Mizutani, Munehiro Narita, Kawabata Makoto... these are (some of) the gods of Japanese psych guitar. Add Suzuki Junzo to the list, if you haven't already. He's quickly becoming one of our faves, for blacker-than-blues guitar/feedback wrangling. Back with another solo disc for the always-on-it (and out-there) experimental Utech label, Junzo, who has played guitar for such bands as Overhang Party and Miminokoto, delivers a gorgeous, darkly entrancing mixture of both noisy, heavy-duty distorto drone whoosh and quietly lovely acoustic atmospheres. Regarding the former, the epically titled (and epic otherwise as well) opener "When The Grey Skies Turns Into Blood Red" launches right into a session of wind-tunnel psych guitar grind, tumbling end-over-end with skittering percussion accompaniment to match, courtesy of Junzo's colleague Ikuro Takahasi (LSD-March, ex-Fushitsusha, etc.). That 15 minutes and 15 seconds of amp-worship improv is beautiful in its way, as is the quite contrasting next track (and title cut), Junzo shifting gears for an intimate acoustic reverie, a la James Blackshaw or Jack Rose.Junzo is back to laying on the ghostly reverb (and some whispery hushed vocals too) with track 3, "La Notte", and the freely-textural percussion returns as well. That one's lovely enough, but then the finale, at 17 minutes even more epic than the opener (and with an even more epic title, too: "Dance Of The Inhabitants Of The Invisible Tower In The Ring Of Holy Mountain") takes us a way on a tremulous trip of slow sad strum and minimalistic string buzz. Tune in, zone out.Yeah, another very nice one from our man Junzo!! In the usual swank Utech packaging.
MPEG Stream: "When The Grey Skies Turns Into Blood Red"
MPEG Stream: "La Notte"
TARE Ritual Degradation (Eternal Death) cassette + 3"cd-r 5.98
Krust! Nekkro! Grimm! Kvlt!!! If it's evil-sounding and spelled weirdly then it most certainly applies to this filthy oily mass of lice infested, punk infused black metal that has slithered its way through the front gates of aQ HQ. Hailing from right here in San Francisco, Tare seems to be a totally new proposition, formed just last year, and they name the Finnish orthodox hordes as their primary inspiration (i.e. Horna, Sargeist, Vordr), but their blown out brand of venomous, simplified BM will surely appeal to fans of Bone Awl and Raspberry Bulbs as well (and maybe even worshippers of black metal ultra minimalists Ildjarn!). The guitars are a staticky stab, the drums a relentless minimal caveman plod, the vocals a garbled howl. If you like your black metal dirty, nasty and truly ugly then you don't want to pass this up. Plus it's housed in a swanky oversized case that includes both a cassette and a 3" cd-r (that both feature the same music we presume??).
TARKUS s/t (Munster) lp 27.00
NOW REISSUED ON VINYL, YAY! What's this? Maybe the cover, all-black but for the name Tarkus, caught your eye? This fave finally got a legit cd reissue a few years ago, and now, Munster brings us vinyl, again from the original master tapes! Released (barely, in an edition of just, like, 50 copies) in Tarkus' native Peru back in 1972, this is an album to go down in the annals of heavy rock, proudly belonging to the pantheon of proggy proto-metal!!! We'd definitely rank this with favorites of ours in that truly cult realm, other early '70s stuff like Necronomicon and Night Sun and Eduardo Bort and Steamhammer's Speech!It may be that they're named after the ELP's 1971 album Tarkus (you know, the one with that freaky armadillo/tank on the cover), but they don't sound much like ELP in any event. While progressive rock is part of their sound, this Tarkus come across more like a bizarro hybrid of Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, and some of the more out-there and baroque Italian prog outfits of the era, rather than ELP. It's music that's dark and doomy and powerful and psychedelically dosed, sometimes with really weird operatic vocals - and always with about a zillion cool, heavy guitar riffs. It's meant to be played LOUD. Shouldn't be hard to comply!With some very pretty melodies and acoustic moments, Tarkus somehow seem like a '60s garage psych act (which they previously were, Tarkus being formed by members of Peruvian psych-pop group Telegraph Ave.) in possession of a crystal ball that enabled them to gaze into the future to be anachronistically inspired by Black Sabbath's Sabotage album, which was released three years later in 1975 (we'll have to assume that crystal ball had a place to plug in earphones).
MPEG Stream: "El Pirata"
MPEG Stream: "Team Para Lilus"
TIN MAN Ode (Absurd) 2lp 28.00
First we've heard from Tin Man, aka producer Johannes Auvinen, who specializes in a gorgeously melancholy, minor key house music, downcast and skeletal, total morning-after, minimal, come down electronica. You can almost imagine this stuff playing at full volume, through huge speakers in a massive, totally empty warehouse, the floor covered with trampled rave flyers, empty cups, and discarded clothing, a sort of dance music 'world without us', Ode playing like the soundtrack to a series of images of empty clubs, of decrepit spaces, night clubs laid bare in the cruel light of day, the beats, dubby, and murky, the surrounding sounds bleary and hungover, super tranced out and mesmeric, most definitely dance music made NOT to dance to, but instead the soundtrack to an endless night, the listener hunkering down in a dimly lit corner both, waiting for a morning that may never come. A handful of the tracks here are 'vocal' tracks, which we were quite wary of at first, especially considering that with house music, that generally means some sort of cringeworthy diva vocals, but not here. On Ode, Tin Man delivers his own dour vocalizations, a softly effected croon, deep and dramatic, sung/spoken, way down in the mix, laid back and a little bit wasted sounding, perfectly complimenting the wasted nocturnal house grooves beneath. Maybe our new favorite NON dance music, dance music record...
MPEG Stream: "No New Violence (Vocal)"
MPEG Stream: "In Your System"
MPEG Stream: "Depleted Serotonin"
MPEG Stream: "What A Shame (Vocal)"
TOTAL CONTROL Typical System (Iron Lung) lp 14.98
The first track on this new record from Aussie new wave garage punks Total Control had us thinking for a second that they had ditched their garage side completely, in favor of going all 'wave all the time, just check out the first sample below. Sure the last record, Henge Beats, was laced with little bits of new waviness, but "Glass" is straight up new wave, sounding remarkably like New Order, all programmed beats, swirling eighties synths, moody, swoonsome melodies, and deep, crooned vox, it almost sounds like it could be some lost gem reissued on Medical or Dark Entries, but fear not, the next track, "Expensive Dog", is all knuckle dragging old school punk rock, a chugging, churning main riff, the vibe swaggery and sloppy, the vocals a mush mouthed bellow, way down in the mix, it's hard to believe it's the same band even, but then in swoops "Flesh War", which somehow melds the two, channeling some synthy post punk via a serious John Hughes soundtrack flashback vibe, a fuzzy riff, a pounding beat, but then over the top, swirling synths, ethereal textures, and the vocals reverting to that new wave-y croon. And so it goes, the band seemingly a little sonically schizophrenic, leap frogging from synth pop, to garage punk, and back again, with plenty of stops in the nebulous region right in between, which for us is really the sweet spot here. Although the more we listen, the more we're smitten by the even weirder, harder to pin down tracks. Like "Liberal Party", which sounds a lot like some actual obscure post punk/pop rarity, replete with angular guitar, kazoo-like buzz and horns! Or the murky electro-pop dirgery of "The Ferryman", which sounds like some lost Flying Nun B-side. Or "Hunter", which is a fantastic blast of swirling-synth, electro-wave bliss out. And while we were prepared for the record to finish with one final burst of bristly punkiness, these guys instead deliver what might be the poppiest jam here, hook heavy, synths galore, a soaring chorus, another nod to the sound of classic John Hughes movie music, and the sort of track that would be all over MTV if it was 1985...
MPEG Stream: "Glass"
MPEG Stream: "Flesh War"
MPEG Stream: "Liberal Party"
MPEG Stream: "Safety Net"
V/A Tliltic Tlapoyauak (Ajna Offensive) 2cd 16.98
The Black Twilight Circle is Southern California's answer to Les Legions Noires, the elite circle of French black metal groups which included Mutiilation, Vlad Tepes, Torgeist, Belketre, Aakon Keetreh, Moevet and a handful of others. Like the Black Legions, the Black Twilight Circle also have a stable of different 'groups', that are made up of a small handful of artists, most of whom do time in multiple bands, an insular musical community, that manages to create a surprising varied catalog considering how much overlap there is between the bands and the various members. Tliltic Tlapoyauak is a killer collection of exclusive tracks from a handful of those bands, some we knew already: Blue Hummingbird On The Left, Volahn, Dolorvotre, Tukaaria, Arizmenda, Axeman, along with a bunch more we didn't: Cempopoloah, In Lakech Ala Kin, Kampilan, Blood Play, Acualli and lots more. And like the handful of full lengths that we've managed to hear from some of these groups, the sound of the Black Twilight Circle definitely tends toward the avant, melding classic grim buzz, with all manner of sonic experimentation, just check out the opening track from Kuxan Suum, who, after a brief bit of Native American sounding folkiness, all tribal drumming, shakers and whistles, launches into a furious bout of raw, churning, tangled black buzz, a frenzied berserker onslaught, but one rife with weird angular melodies, and twisted riffage, and then part way through, the track breaks down into a cool little stretch of clean guitar shimmer, almost a sort of alien Appalachia, before launching right back into it, this time way proggier and more angular, the sound lurching and slithering and sounding almost like a black metal Sun City Girls!It's tempting to go through the whole record, track by track, as we are wont to do, cuz all the songs here are pretty incredible, but odds are, if you're into weird black metal, you are at least a bit familiar with these groups and this scene, but even if you're not, maybe especially if you're not, this is a killer place to start. The sound dizzyingly diverse, one second a wild wall of crumbling distortion swirling beneath super dramatic bellowed, almost go thic / post punk sounding vox, the next, total lo-fi grimnity, but even then, the sounds are twisted and obtuse, damaged and WTF, the mixes, the arrangements, the vocals especially, constantly lurching from gruff gurgle to wailing falsetto, to hellish shriek. There's very little in the way of straight ahead black metal to be found here, hell, we'd go so far as to say, maybe none at all. Even the most straight up buzz and blast, is only that way on the surface, and even then not for long, often sounds like it's melting, or collapsing, into a swirling black void. Elsewhere, the sound drifts into loping post rock territory, moody and meandering, while elsewhere the sound is some sort of twisted FX drenched noise rock, the demonic vokills the only truly black metal thing about it. Somehow the second disc gets even weirder, starting with some detuned downer rock, a wasted zoner sprawl of woozy, melty slo-mo creep, gothic and gloomy and crazy psychedelic, before the second track explodes into totally tranced out black buzz epicry. Later, the blackness evolves into a weird sort of flute flecked, progged out post rock, only to then erupt into a barrage, of thick churning riffage, and smoldering slow build throb, and then some murky tarpit death metal, butted up against some blackened jazziness that transforms into more furious buzzing blackness, the comp finishing off with the weirdest of the bunch, from Axeman, which begins as a weird sort of over the top cabaret ballad, replete with flanged guitars, synths, and some crazy over the top vocal bombast, only to then splinter into a wild squall of tangled buzz, with some ridiculous, super distorted shreddery, and some classic metal gallop, the song lurching from sound to sound, working it's way through several shades of black only to dissolve some sort of South American / Native American outro, bookending the opener, this time though the tribal drumming, and whistles, accompanied by some inhuman shriek. So weird. And so cool! Easily some of the most adventurous weirdo blackness being made today for sure!Killer packaging too, a full color triple digipak, with spaced out Aztec influenced cover art, and a huge booklet, printed with silver metallic ink, with a page for each of the band, including art, liner notes and lyrics.
MPEG Stream: KUXAN SUUM "Tzolk'in"
MPEG Stream: THE HAUNTING PRESENCE "Dead Soul's Scream"
MPEG Stream: BLUE HUMMINGBIRD ON THE LEFT "Storm"
MPEG Stream: ARIZMENDA "Rites Of Deconsecration"
MPEG Stream: AXEMAN "Ride Into The Night"
YOB Clearing The Path To Ascend (Relapse) lp 33.00
Trampling you underfoot or simply, softly embracing in (muscular) arms of despair, the juggernaut of heaviosity known simply as Yob is back, offering up another four looong songs (all double digit durations) of their indeed epic extreme metal, a blackened blend of doom metal and post rock, with some seriously LOUD/soft dynamics. That they're now on Neurot with the cd release of this (vinyl via Relapse) makes sense, Yob somehow sounding more Neurosis-y than ever here, though still very much Yob, a distinction that comes from the guitar and especially the vocals of mainman Mike Scheidt, who does both throat-shredding death bellows and his trademark, heavily effected, clean, soaring singing here, which we always love.This is, like, the band's 7th album, and really it's another doozy, for anyone into sheer, crushing riff sludge, majestically arranged. Track three, "Unmask The Spectre", could be this year's most perfect 15 minute marriage of melody, emotion, atmosphere, and utter heaviness - though track four, "Marrow", could be the best 18+ minutes of the same... Truly, the whole album's got plenty of all that, an over an hour long journey into the heart of the desolate dimension of Yob.
MPEG Stream: "In Our Blood"
MPEG Stream: "Unmask The Spectre"