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Records of the Week
ECHOLOGIST Storming Heaven (Prologue) 3x12" 34.00
We continue to be obsessed with the darker side of techno and house music, the strains that are all murky and shadowy and mutated, the four on the floor beats slowed down to a dying-heartbeat pulse, most of the dancefloor sucked out of the sound, leaving just the twisted skeletal remains. Elsewhere on this week's list you'll find a new record from Lucy, whose sound is just that sort of dubbed out techno-murk we can't get enough of, but this new one from Echologist is something else all together. We just discovered this is the TENTH record by Brendon Moeller, aka Echologist, but the first one we've heard, and we are totally smitten. Not nearly as murky and dark as much of the stuff we dig, what Moeller does is, is something similar to The Field, creating super lush, layered repetition, little blurts and pulsations, bits of glitch and static, sculpted and woven into deep undulating electronic soundscapes, that only sound tangentially like proper techno, and instead, sound super tripped out and psychedelic, almost like some sort of avant experimental noise music, but in the guise of techno. The opener here "Frequency Of Love" pretty much lays it all out, exactly what is so amazing abut Echologist and why we knew this had to be Record Of The Week. A dense field of pulsing squelch, all hazy and gauzy, some alien machine language transformed into sound, a glorious blend of droned out raga-shimmer, and percolating electro, droney and trancey, and less about the rhythm, as the texture created by the rhythm, and when the low end drops out, as it occasionally does, the sound becomes some sort of airy drift, before the low end swoops back in and the sound gets, well heavy again, for lack of a better word. But then heavy is the word for what happens next, when the sound begins to thicken, the tones all gradually descending in pitch, those sounds suddenly coalescing into a thick, buzzing drone, which grinds away malevolently, before dropping out completely, leaving just a field of glimmering chiming melody, and a hazy keening high end drone. Fuck! We say it a lot, but that track, could easily have been the whole record, and we still would have made it Record Of The Week. We're guessing it'll take some serious will power to keep from setting that track on repeat play. But you know, fuck it, go for it. Still worth the price of admission if you never make it any further in. But if you do, you'll be rewarded with more of Echologists, haunting, propulsive and mesmeric machine music, from churning industrial crunch, to loping tranced out techno, and from squelchy and cinematic low end deep dub, to gristly static drenched skitter, and from lush, almost poppy, drone-gaze electro, to stuttery sci-fi glitch-buzz groove. But those thumbnail descriptions are only part of the equation, cuz once Moeller sets the scene, lays down the beat, loops the sample, whatever electronic voodoo he does, it's all about how the sounds develop, and pro/re-gress, tone and timbre in constant flux, the background sounds a dizzying, hyperactive soundworld all their own. The sound impossibly immersive, the sort of rare electronic music that manages to be weirdly dancefloor appropriate, while still the perfect bliss out / chill out / come down soundtrack, and equally rare in that sonically, it's way more than 'dance music' or 'techno', it's a fantastically next level mutant strain of electronica, or even more specifically, some modern minimalist avant electronic experimental soundscapery, that just happens to involve elements of techno and house music, and that we find utterly and endlessly addictive. We're guessing most of you will too...
MPEG Stream: "The Frequency Of Love"
MPEG Stream: "Next Exit"
MPEG Stream: "Storming Heaven"
MPEG Stream: "Deep Fried"
MPEG Stream: "M13 + DPO"
NADLER, MARISSA July (Sacred Bones) lp 14.98
For her first record for Sacred Bones, Marissa Nadler has put together a pretty heavy hitting band, one that features folks like Steve Moore of Zombi, and Eyvind Kang, but really, Nadler doesn't need anyone but her own bad self, her gorgeous, haunting vocals, and delicate guitar playing are practically perfect. Just check out opener "Drive (Fade Into)", the first two minutes of which are just Nadler singing and playing guitars, spare and sparse, ethereal and so lovely, lush, lustrous harmonies, the Mazzy Star vibe which was always present, is huge here, in the phrasing, the timbre of Nadler's voice, occasionally layered into gorgeous multi-tracked harmonies, and while we would have been happy with a solo acoustic record, the band deftly, and quite subtle, add perfect sonic colorations, soft streaks of feedback, shimmery swells of pedal steel, the final stretch all twang flecked and dusky. From there on out, Nadler and her band deliver one gorgeous song after another, some funereal and somber, dark, dolorous torch songs, others dark slowcore dirges, others darkly dreamy psychedelic country. A few favorites include "1923", laced with Kang's lilting strings, the track peppered with bits of effects dusted guitar swirl, all driven by some gorgeously languid, muted percussion, gloomy downer pop bliss via classic old time songsmithery, or "Dead City Emily", with Nadler's vocals soaring over a tangle of steel string buzz, everything wreathed in echo and reverb, with some surprising bits of piano and synth, the song blossoming into something impossibly expansive and lush, or the haunting dark country of "Desire", which sounds like it could have been performed by Mark Lanegan or David Eugene Edwards from Woven Hand, but at the same time, it couldn't have been anyone but Nadler. We've loved pretty much everything we've heard, and have raved about almost all of her records, but July definitely takes Nadler's sound, her voice, her songs, to the next level, and positions her as one of this generations most stunning songwriters. Certainly fans of Chelsea Wolfe and Zola Jesus will no doubt love Nadler, if they don't already, but Nadler's sound is much more pure, more classic, some of the songs here do of course have moments of gothiness, and gloominess, but it definitely transcends any micro genre classification, and manages to arrive at something truly timeless, and will definitely be vying for top spots on lots of folks best of 2014 year end lists, even though it's only February. Fantastic!
MPEG Stream: "Drive (Fade Into)"
MPEG Stream: "1923"
MPEG Stream: "Dead City Emily"
MPEG Stream: "Desire"
MPEG Stream: "Anyone Else"
3+ Kazesarai [Deluxe Version] (Time Released Sound) cd 60.00
Another list, another fantastic new release from local label Time Released Sound. By now, regular readers of the aQ list are no doubt familiar with the musical focus of TRS: gorgeous field recording flecked ambience, pastoral dream folk, hushed, haunting dronemusic, gentle electronic soundscapery, lush cinematic shimmers; each record another glimmering facet in TRS's prismatic world of sound. Their latest melancholy musical missive comes from Japanese pianist/soundscaper Masashi Shiraishi, aka 3+, who sets his delicate crystalline piano pieces amidst the rustle of crashing waves, letting his softly reverbed notes drift through fields of ephemeral electronics, or settle gracefully like leaves falling from Autumn trees. Imagine Ryuichi Sakamoto, set up on a grassy hilltop on the coast, above a grey sea, the waves crashing on the rocks far below. Occasionally strings drift in, adding a bit of near symphonic gravitas. In places, this blissed out melancholia is threatened by swaths of deep resonant buzz, or alternately flecked with the distinctive twang of a mouth harp, or even woven into a brooding dark jazz reminiscent of The Necks or Bohren & Der Club Of Gore. There are moments of soundtrack like mood music, heart wrenching and dreamlike, there are moments where the piano is wrapped in a dense fog of modern minimalism, all rib cage rattling low end, and gristly, glitchy static, and there are moments where the individual notes seem to bleed and blur into woozy swaths of sound, but throughout it all, Shiraishi proves a master of mood and melancholy, the sounds here grey and cloudy and windswept, darkly dreamy and really quite divine.As always, there are two versions, the standard, which comes in a full color digipak and is limited to 200 copies, and the ultra fancy, meticulously handmade, deluxe version, limited to just 90 copies, of which we have a tiny handful, housed in a 6" square collaged green envelope, which in turn is wrapped in a hand stamped and tagged, translucent vellum outer envelope, held shut by a full tissue 'obi' made from the pages of a 50 year old book on Bonseki (tray landscape art, a little like Bonsai). The 'obi' can be removed, and wrapped around a votive candle to make a miniature paper lantern. There's also a second inner sleeve made from the pages of a vintage book of Japanese flower and pattern design! Phew!Fans of Anton Batagov and Lubomyr Melnyk, this comes HIGHLY recommended!!
MPEG Stream: "Kazesarai - Enchained Dark And Blink"
MPEG Stream: "Myou Getsu"
MPEG Stream: "Tentolori"
MPEG Stream: "Hiltosarai"
ACTRESS Ghettoville (Ninja Tune) 3lp 44.00
ALSO AVAILABLE ON VINYL!We described the 2012 R.I.P. album from Actress, aka Darren Cunningham, like this: "subtly detailed, psychedelic sonic prisms drip playfully onto murky haunted fuzz-drones, other worldly squelches and squiggles interplay with analog drum machines, and science fiction melodies get tangled up with hazy, half remembered samples, creating an electronic alchemy that of which this world has never seen!" Tall praise for sure, but that record, was a unanimous store fave, and got played to death in the shop. So the prospect of a new record had us all pretty excited. And while we were expecting, maybe even hoping for, more of the same, the sound on Ghettoville is much darker and more minimal. Which if you know anything about us, is most definitely not a bad thing AT ALL. Things do still get woozy and alien and psychedelic, the sounds are in constant flux, but at least for the first half of the record, the vibe is super chill, low slung, and washed out. "Forgiven" sets the tone, with a sprawling, slo-mo slither, a gorgeous bit of downtempo slowcore, laced with field recordings, and little bits of gristle and rumble, but all anchored by a glitchy skeletal rhythm, and bolstered by some thick low end swells, it's the sort of dreamlike dirgery that could have stretched out for the entirety of the record, and we would have dug it just as much. If not even MORE!!! But this is Actress after all, so sonic restlessness manifests itself in the form of constant sonic shifts, although as we mentioned, things stay pretty murky in the early stages, so "Street Corp." is more of the same, an almost jazzy skitter, wreathed in crunchy crackle, a submerged bass pulsation, eventually, some soft billowy shimmer surface in the background, but again, a track that ends WAY too soon. "Corner" adds a bit of lo-fi hip-hop swagger, but casts it like those first two tracks in shadow, the edges blurred and smeared, everything sort of hazy and darkly druggy. "Contagious" is another beauty, almost metallic, industrial, a heaving distorted dirge, heavy and haunting, still super lo-fi, but with a different production, it could rival outfits like Nadja or the Angelic Process, bleary metalgaze churn that takes the dubbed out murk of Burial, and adds some serious heft. It's right around here, that Actress starts sonically drifting into less shadowy spaces, with some chiming, almost Pop Ambient shimmer, some dreamy prismatic electro, even some almost new wave-y sounding house music, but even then, the sound remains gorgeously woozy and washed out, a little bit alien, and for every moment like that, there's another one like "Frontline" near the end of the record, that takes some groovy house, and submerges it in thick, tarpit murk, gristly static, hazy thrum, and again recasts it as something swirly and shadowy and sublime!
MPEG Stream: "Forgiven"
MPEG Stream: "Street Corp."
MPEG Stream: "Contagious"
MPEG Stream: "Frontline"
ALOA s/t (Medical ) lp 19.98
Another fantastic obscurity rescued by the fine folks at Medical Records, this one from a German duo called Aloa, who were part of the Neue Deutsche Welle movement, and whose only record from 1982, this one actually, has been a long sought after rarity. Hearing this now it's easy to see why. A darkly dramatic electronic krautrock/new wave hybrid, with robotic programed rhythms, pulsing synths, playful melodies, sci-fi FX, and some super dramatic, almost over the top vocals, the opening track here an almost campy sounding electro-kraut cabaret. But it hardly defines their sound, which is really all over the map, from brooding futuristic electro, to strange spaced out minimal post punk, from fuzzy, dirgey, glammy cold wave, to synth, cinematic weirdness, replete with wild vocal ululations, it's a pretty twisted collection of Germanic electro cabaret weirdness and experimental synth pop for sure, sounding at times like some weird hybrid of the Residents and the Human League, or maybe Felix Kubin crossed with Roxy Music? Sounds weird, and cool, and it is definitely both. It's easy to see why upon its original release it was misunderstood and overlooked, cuz it's pretty damn far out, but it's also really cool, a dark gloomy avant synth wave gem, that we're seriously tempted to proclaim as one of the weirdest Medical reissues yet. And fast becoming one of our faves.Pressed on 180 gram green vinyl, housed in a heavy full color jacket, includes insert with liner notes and interviews.
MPEG Stream: "Weisser Wal"
MPEG Stream: "Deutsche Begegnung"
MPEG Stream: "Banane Zitrone"
MPEG Stream: "Lebedndig Und Vital"
AQUA NEBULA OSCILLATOR Spiritus Mundi (Tee Pee) cd 14.98
We're big fans of weirdo French psych rock outfit ANO, but it's taken us a while to list their latest, maybe 'cause at first it kinda threw us for a bit of a loop, upping the 'whatthefuck' vibe we mentioned in our review of their previous outing for Tee Pee, while still providing major doses of the spacey, fuzzy, Hawkwind/Heads/White Hills style rockin' we love about 'em. Not really sure what the problem for us was, except that every time we'd put this on and settle down to write a review, we'd seriously start spacing out and getting all dazed and confused and not know exactly what to say, which is probably as good a recommendation as any for this album!!! Apparently they used to record their music in a medieval Parisian cave (?) but for this album they decamped to an ancient chateau in the countryside or somesuch. Perhaps it's the change in venue that has made for a more varied and atmospheric, dare we say mature, record. They've mellowed out a bit here, with more in the way of dreamily quiet/creepy acoustic parts, hushed and melodic - but it's still totally freaky and strange, and never fear they DO kick out the distortodelic garage rock jams too. Ferinstance track three, "Turn On Your Mind" - a drug-gobbling throbber in the vein of Pink Floyd meets The Stooges (which kinda equals Hawkwind). That one also confused us 'cause of how familiar it sounded - aha, it's actually a song reprised from their previous album, Third, where it was simply titled "Turn On". Huh, maybe they were so high they forgot they already recorded it once? Great track in any case so no complaint. But weird. Another weird one we also gotta mention is their plodding, guttural cover of "Roller Coaster", a classic track from Roky Erickson & The 13th Floor Elevators. This ANO version is a bizarre take on the original, making it their own, which is quite a statement, since the Elevators were THEE first and most 'sincere' psychedelic rock band. We guess that Elevators lyricist and psychedelic guru Tommy Hall would most likely approve of ANO and their implied taking up of the torch, as dedicated modern-day acid rockers (and now on this album, also sorta acid folksters).So, Spiritus Mundi is another strange & compelling trip into the collective inner-mind obsessions of these French psychonauts, and should appeal to fans of both the Elevators and La Ira De Dios, the Groundhogs and GR & The Full-Blown Expansion, the Pink Fairies and Psychic Ills, amongst others old and new exploring those druggy, dark dimensions.
MPEG Stream: "Up To The Sky"
MPEG Stream: "Roller Coaster"
MPEG Stream: "Human Toad"
ARGENTINUM ASTRUM Malleus Maleficarum (Forcefield/Inherent/Anti Corp) lp 12.98
Besides having possibly the coolest, and most illegible metal logo ever, these Knoxville Tennessee blackened doomlords unleash some seriously sick sludge, that is after an extended stretch of ominous ambience, more than a quarter of the opening 12 minute track. It begins with a dark swirl of field recordings, the sound of the forest, or the swamp, insects, splashing water, all underpinned by an ominous low end rumble, the sound getting more industrial and noisy as it goes, with strange percussion, looped fractured rhythms, all over a churning collage of layered nature sounds, the whole thing seriously psychedelic... The track finally settles into a hushed stretch of clean guitar shimmer, before erupting into what is essentially slo-mo black metal, lumbering, and downtuned, the sound then shifting from that blackened buzz, to some seriously knuckle dragging doom-ic crush, eventually building to something a bit more frenzied and propulsive, the same creeping riffage, but with wilder, more chaotic drumming, before the guitars amp up too, the band getting sort of chugging and almost math-metally for the last couple minutes, finishing off with some shrieked, feedback drenched, FX-flecked, Eyehategod-worthy ultra-doom. Whew! The second track begins with some furious fast pick riffing, sheets of feedback, and then the sound explodes into some blasting blackness, a murky, noisy, chaotic black buzz blowout, rife with gnarled riffage, some true metal chug, plenty of noise, and some seriously tangled arrangements. The third track, the shortest of the bunch, again starts off with some soaring, almost Orthrelm style black-shred, before being swallowed up by another cloud of shrieking feedback, erupting into a final furious sprawl of frantic black buzz and harrowing hellish howl.
MPEG Stream: "I"
MPEG Stream: "II"
ARTIFICIAL BRAIN Labyrinth Constellation (Profound Lore) cd 13.98
With a name like Artificial Brain, and a record title like Labyrinth Constellation, when coupled with the crazy seventies van / alien war / D&D / Frazetta style cover art, you knew this was gonna be some sort of epic metal, but we were even more pleased to discover it was in fact a twisted strain of complex sci-fi death metal, gnarled and blackened, obtuse and avant, sorta like Nocturnus crossed with Portal, the sound shifting constantly from blasting, thrashing metallic crush, to grinding, confusional psychedelic metallic chaos, to tranced out black-drone-buzz, intricate and proggy, and furiously mathy. This NY horde features dudes from technical death metal outfit Revocation and and pre-Castevet death-grind combo Biolich (who we LOVE but never managed to review anything by), and really in a way, the band math adds up perfectly to Artificial Brain, a dizzying onslaught of death metal murk, and blackened math metal, sci-fi grind, laced with all sorts of subtle sonic flourishes, cool swirls of shimmering harmonics here, lush layered almost shoegazey moments there, but all settled amidst a blurred and smeared soundscape of impossibly frantic blasts, roiling clouds of monstrous Deathspell style black-buzz churn and furiously fluctuating fields of lumbering stop/start math metal lurch. Fucking fantastic. WAY recommended for fans of Portal, Wold, Dodecahedron, Timeghoul, Gorguts, diSEMBOWELMENT, Abyssal, Cremation, Mitochondrian and other purveyors of twisted, outsider, avant death metal murk.
MPEG Stream: "Brain Transplant"
MPEG Stream: "Absorbing Black Ignition"
MPEG Stream: "Wire Opposites"
B-TONG Hostile Environments (Greytone) cd 14.98
We first discovered Chris Sigdell, aka B-Tong (which, by the way, is usually written with a little circle, you know, the degrees sign, not a dash, but our website doesn't like it, so hence the hyphen), via a four way split called One Man Drone, which as you may have surmised, was a collection of one man drone-groups, and our favorite of the bunch happened to be B-Tong, whose sound was weirdly cinematic, and fantastically and psychedelically noisy and chaotic. We compared the sound to Philip Jeck mixing Goblin and Wolf Eyes! We later discovered that Sigdell played in NID, another group who utilized drones, but wove those drones into something much more cacophonous, and expansive and lushly layered. But still, ultimately, it was all about the drone.We had always hankered for more B-Tong, and while apparently there have been a bunch of full lengths, this is the first we've managed to get our hands on, and it's just as good as we remember; and yeah, if there was ever any doubt, Sigdell firmly establishes himself as an aQ-pantheon-worthy dronelord. The opener, is ominous and cavernous, laced with weird crackles and gritty crunch, kindred spirits with our own Jim Haynes for sure. The sounds oozing a sort of sonic decay, and some deft and subtle sample placement, makes the opener even more chilling. It's almost like some industrial doom, stripped down to its skeletal core. A moody, muted melody, playing out like foghorns in the distance, echo drenched chimes, and tinkling percussion, buried under grey washes of softly undulating thrum, lots of constantly shifting textures, and some seriously harrowing sound design reminiscent of Ben Frost. And the sound continues to drift southward as the record progresses, a virtual journey through dark caverns, toward whatever lurks below, fields of deep resonant rumbles, dripping water, distant billows of thunder, stretched out into weird glossolallic shimmers, thick chordal blurs that ooze and bleed ominously, splashing water doused in FX and transformed into a sort of garbled alien language. Plenty of barely there lowercase ambience, but also super active sprawls of electro static gristle, ultra creepy moans and gasps, sonar pings that disappear into the abyss, short wave broadcasts from beyond, lumbering behemoth beats, dulled into barely perceptible pulsations, smears of almost dub like throb, and keening high end tones dulled into bleary shimmery sonic ripples, all locked in a sort of hazy stasis, while all around, billowing clouds of black hum drift malevolently, and beneath this black soundworld, hushed melodies, and dreamlike sonic coloration, shift constantly creating an ethereally prismatic sonic backdrop. Fantastic. Essential dronemusic for sure!!
MPEG Stream: "Stasis Field"
MPEG Stream: "Processed"
MPEG Stream: "Estrus"
BLADE KILLER s/t (Stormspell) cd ep 5.98
Not long ago we reviewed a bunch of cd ep's in the cult metal label Stormspell's Jewels Of Gwalhur series, that quite a few of you seemed to dig, all of 'em demos by young present day bands bringing back the truest sounds of traditional '80s metal. Another one of Stormspell's recent releases is this, a 4 song cd ep by a new band from LA. Not sure why they didn't just include it as a volume in the Jewels Of Gwalhur series, perhaps, we guess, technically 'cause it's not a demo but a debut ep, but what's really the difference in this day and age? Anyway these guys (and gal, they've got a female bass player) could easily have fit in with Wildhunt, Vigilance and the other Jewels bands for sure. What you get here are four tracks of NWOBHM influenced old school heavy metal, a la Judas Priest and early Maiden. Real meat and potatoes old school metal for sure, with songs that rage and riff, soar and shred. Blade Killer acquit themselves well, the singer yowling with a rasp to his voice that at times gives us a nice hint of ye olde Paul Di'Anno, his lyrics pertaining to such subjects as, well, blade killers, and being made of steel, and not holding back, and raising your fist and going on the attack, y'know, basic stuff like that. And sometimes that hits the spot; like we said, meat and potatoes, plenty filling for an ep. But when they do a full-length, meal deal, well then hopefully they'll add a veggie or two.
MPEG Stream: "On The Attack"
MPEG Stream: "Raise Your Fist"
BLUT AUS NORD What Once Was - Liber III (Debemur Morti) cd 16.98
For whatever reason, we were unable to get the first two volumes in the Liber series from longtime aQ faves, French weirdo black metallers Blut Aus Nord. One was a super limited cd, one was an even more limited 12", but we did finally manage to get our hands on part three, and thankfully, you don't need to have heard the first two to dig this one. And while it's been a while since we've heard from these guys, very little has changed in their warped and woozy blackened soundworld. The core of their sound remains the group's weirdly detuned, and slippery riffage, a gnarled, atonal sonic frenzy, wound around furious drumming, and laced with guttural demonic rasps, the songs proper, dizzying barrages of frantic buzz and blurry fields of tangled black psychedelia, all woven into sprawling black-prog grimnity, and as always, surrounded by plenty of black ambience, and sinister dronemusic murk. Each track, which ostensibly are simply parts of the Liber III songsuite, are separated by drifting sinister blackness, which finally overtakes the proceedings for the final part/movement, which foregoes the metal completely, but instead, unfurls a field of deep, rumbling ritualistic thrum, a blurred backdrop for ominous incantations, and all sorts of garbled backwards voices. But until then, Liber III is a relentless onslaught of impossibly dense black metal chaos, the tracks lurching from midtempo lope, to frantic blast, to dizzyingly obtuse, fragmented WTF downtuned churn. Packaged in a super swank gold foil printed digipak.
MPEG Stream: "What Once Was - Liber III, Pt. 1"
MPEG Stream: "What Once Was - Liber III, Pt. 2"
MPEG Stream: "What Once Was - Liber III, Pt. 4"
BONG Stoner Rock (Ritual Productions) cd 14.98
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.Compact disc available now, with a vinyl version (doubtless expensive, as it'll be an import) coming in a few months.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"
BRANCA, GLENN Lesson No.1 (Superior Viaduct) 2x12" 17.98
Class is now in session with the much anticipated vinyl reissue of Glenn Branca's seminal 1980 debut of post-modern no-wave composition, Lesson No.1. The first release on legendary New York label 99 Records (who also introduced Liquid Liquid and ESG to the world), Lesson No.1 combined the New York school of minimalist composition (Terry Riley and La Monte Young) with the burgeoning ferocity of dissonance and feedback prevalent in no-wave and punk of the time (Sonic Youth, Theoretical Girls, and The Static). While Branca was not the first to combine modern composition and rock tropes, or lead bands with multiple guitarists (Rhys Chatham was doing that first, though his Guitar Trio recording was released much later), Branca's compositions tended to wield much more sonic power and hefty brutal dynamics than Chatham, leaning more toward heavy ear-shattering club performances at CBGB's than respectful art-spaces like The Kitchen. This reissue includes an extra one-sided 12" of the 16 minute bonus track, "Bad Smells", originally on a John Giorno compilation, Who Are you Staring At? which was commissioned for a Twyla Tharp dance piece. It also features the guitar work of Thurston Moore and Lee Ranaldo who played in many of Branca's performing bands before forming Sonic Youth. You can hear the churning origins of Sonic Youth's trademark chiming dissonance in every one of Glenn Branca's early big bang epics. Essential!
MPEG Stream: "Lesson No. 1 For Electric Guitar"
MPEG Stream: "Dissonance"
MPEG Stream: "Bad Smells"
BUNYIP MOON, THE World (self-released) cd 11.98
THIS FORMER RECORD OF THE WEEK (on list #434), NOW AT LAST BACK IN STOCK!!We can only listen to so much music in our lifetimes. That's a sad fact, one we all have to come to terms with. Or not. But if you're like us, and if you're reading this, you probably are, then much of your life is spent trying to do just that. Listen to as much amazing music as possible. And at some point, like us, you realize that your biggest fear about dying, is that there will be so much music you won't get to hear, well then, that's when you up your game, and decide to make every moment count, and listen to music ALL THE TIME. But even then, there's only so much time in the day, and the night, and you have to eat, and work, and maybe watch TV, hang out with your significant other, and yeah, most of that stuff you can do WHILE you listen to music, but odds are some music is gonna slip by you, no matter how insanely obsessive you are. So now, take the music you already own and want to listen to, and add to that a constant influx of new music to check out, which is what happens here, and while we LOVE that, so much amazing new music and so many fantastic discoveries, it really can end up being too much. We get overwhelmed, and well, we miss out on some stuff, which is exactly what happened with World, by Aussie shoegaze noise rockers the Bunyip Moon. We were cleaning up, and organizing, and going through boxes and drawers, and discovered this cd, and threw it on, and were immediately blown the fuck away. Struck by all sorts of feelings, feeling bad for taking so long to give it a listen, feeling like we COULD have been listening to this already for ages, but mostly feeling like we had to get this reviewed so all you folks out there could add one more amazing record to the stack of music already waiting to be listened to. But here's where we suggest you bump the Bunyip Moon to the front of the queue, cuz holy shit is this great. And great in that way that makes what it sounds like actually pretty tough to describe. The vibe is sorts of nineties, shoegaze-y for sure, but with a bit of a gloomy feel, deep dramatic vocals buried in the mix to the point of being nearly inaudible, everything buried beneath super distorted and blown out, crumbling and hiss drenched fuzz and buzz and thrum, total blissed out heart-of-the-sun noise-gaze dreaminess, and the drums, wow, the drums are super distorted too, bursts of wild tribal rhythms that almost sounds like swarms of bees, each song a churning jangle flecked squall of noise drenched indie rock / noise rock, at times we hear Crystal Stilts, at times Loop, at others Bailter Space, even a little Dinosaur Jr., lots of NZ Flying Nun, at least the weirder, heavier stuff, and of course all the Australian bands we love, Celibate Rifles, the Scientists, Lubricated Goat, etc, but here those influences are blurred into something fuzzy and washed out and gloriously and blissfully noisy, this IS one of those records, where we're tempted to just have a single sentence review that says "BUY THIS! It's so great, it's all we want to listen to, it's fuzzy and poppy and noisy and psychedelic, and it's one of the best things we've heard in ages, and we've been listening to it non-stop to make up for all the time it languished unlistened to." And we definitely traffic in hyperbole in our reviews, but believe us that nothing in this review is hyperbolic, this band, and this record is so goddamn good, their sound is exactly what we want to listen to, it's the sort of band we wish we played in, it's damn near perfect, warm and fuzzy, noisy and dreamy, the production is bizarre, but bizarrely perfect, it's druggy and psychedelic, and seriously heavy, twisted and experimental, laced with loops and bizarre effects, for every bit of distorto crunch, there's some super melodic jangle, more often then not, the two mashed together, there are long stretches of brooding moodiness, extended hypno-rock epics, short bursts of furious noise pop, and sprawling near-Godspeed slow builds, and even some gloomy almost new wave, and it all sounds so goddamn good. If these guys had popped up on Slumberland they'd be HUGE right now. They should be, and if all is right in the universe, WILL be, cuz really, this is easily some of the best jangle pop / noise rock / shoegaze we've ever heard.
MPEG Stream: "Kill Everything"
MPEG Stream: "Gravity Sux"
MPEG Stream: "Black Hole"
MPEG Stream: "Take Down The Crucifix"
BYRNE, JULIE Rooms With Walls And Windows (Orindal) lp 14.98
The sheepish smile of Julie Byrne on the cover of this album belies the plaintive, minimalist patter of her beguiling yet melancholy songwriting. The image could very well be a lone snapshot of this woman caught in the daylight and slightly embarrassed that her photo is being taken. The simple and earnest songs of this album paint her more as one who stays inside for the bulk of her existence, with her face shrouded behind that brown mane of hers, hunched in the corner of a bedroom where she gently strums the accompaniments to her weary songs - oftimes bittersweet, wistful, full of longing. Her intimate compositions are little more than acoustic guitar and voice (with that 'little more' often being some tape hiss, or a light wash of reverb, or the sun-flecked monochord organ solos that end each side of this album), recalling the mood of those early Cat Power recordings, Sibylle Baier's hushed hymns of everyday life, and even the moonlit folk ballads of Nick Drake. This lp was dusted off from a couple of cassettes by Owen 'Casiotone For The Painfully Alone' Ashworth for his new imprint Orindal Records. Really lovely stuff!
MPEG Stream: "Prism Song"
MPEG Stream: "Holiday"
CANTU-LEDESMA, JEFRE Requiem (For Violin & Magnetic Tape) (Infinite Grey Scale) 10" 35.00
We have an EXTREMELY limited number of these, just a handful, so we won't get into too much detail, and if you want one, by all means, be quick, cuz these will be gone before you know it. The latest from longtime aQ pal Jefre Cantu-Ledesma, formerly of post rockers Tarentel, and one of the fellas behind the Root Strata label, is a piece Cantu-Ledesma composed for the SF Museum Of Modern Art, and is a gorgeous composition for violin and tape, with violinist Tony Cross laying down gorgeously haunting long tones, processed and layered by Cantu-Ledesma, who also contributes tapes and various effects. The piece itself is simple and stunning, reminiscent of Basinski's Disintegration Loops, a single melodic figure, repeated over and over, the tone and timbre constantly shifting, a sprawl of slow, soft swells, minor key and melancholy, tense, and dramatic and quite cinematic, a mesmerizing stretch of minimal mood music, that manages to be surprisingly sonically active, while at the same time, darkly tranquil and mesmerizing. It's easy to get immediately lost in the sound, and even at eight minutes, it ends far too soon. Truly gorgeous stuff. Sadly, as we said, this is EXTREMELY limited, art gallery style. It's a nicely appointed one sided 10", with a screen printed B-side, includes a digital download, photograph, numbered insert, and there are only 300 COPIES!!! We got what we could, which wasn't many, so odds are, this is likely our, and thus your, only chance to nab a copy. You know what that means...
MPEG Stream: "Requiem (for Violin & Magnetic Tape) (excerpt)"
CAROL OF HARVEST s/t (Prog Temple) cd 17.98
Finally available again! This obscure German mystikal folk-prog outfit with both heavy and pastoral leanings released their sole lp in 1978 as a private press in a run of just 200 copies. Led by young singer Beate Krause and guitarist Axel Schmierer, Carol of Harvest's sound is an epic mix of the psych-folk of Mellow Candle, Comus and Sandy Denny, the heavy progressive rock of early Heart and Curved Air, as well as the druggy kraut-folk leanings of Gila and Siloah. The first track appropriately sets the mood with the 16 minute journey, "Put On Your Nightcap", which would be a good companion piece with Comus's "The Herald" in terms of mystic folk epics that travel to all sorts of deep sonic places, the intricate acoustic and electric guitar work matched by cosmic moog extrapolations and airy field recordings of windswept meadows. While the original lp was only 5 long songs, the cd is fleshed out with 3 live bonus tracks which are some of the heaviest tracks here. The band only performed live a few times before they disbanded, but one can tell from the vibe here that they really brought it live, especially in the rhythm section which gets the crowd really worked up on "River" and the darkly tinged "Sweet Heroin", which alone is worth the price of admission.
MPEG Stream: "Put On Your Nightcap"
MPEG Stream: "Try A Little Bit"
MPEG Stream: "River (Live Bonus Track)"
MPEG Stream: "Sweet Heroin (Live Bonus Track"
CIRCLE Incarnation (Ektro) lp 22.00
AND NOW ALSO ON VINYL!!!!!Ok, this is going to take a lot of explaining... Our favorite Finnish hypno-rock band Circle got this funny idea to change their name to Falcon (Ex-Circle), supposedly due to the pressures the musicians in Circle were feeling about the expectations of their audience, in continuing to operate under the "Circle brand" after so many years and releases. So, they became Falcon (Ex-Circle), under which guise they could follow their newfound dream of making poppy, retro-'80s hard rock - see our review of Falcon (Ex-Circle)'s Frontier album, simultaneously released with this Circle disc, below. No longer using the Circle name, they then "leased" the brand to a totally different bunch of musicians, who now have released THIS cd, Incarnation, as Circle. There's more to the plan, apparently the contract is for a year and then Circle will revert back to the original Circle guys, who will then supposedly be called Circle (Ex-Falcon). Right. So this is just the kind of ridiculous stunt we'd expect from our friends in Circle, we mean Falcon. And maybe they're just being silly and confusional, or trying to get extra publicity, but we do think it's a kind of a neat idea, certainly one that hasn't been tried before (wonder why?). And it raises a lot of interesting questions, some of them philosophical, and some of them musical. Like, is the new Circle still "Circular"?So, first off, what you need to know about Incarnation: it's a DEATH METAL album (sort of). Make that, an experimental death metal album. But made by real deal Finnish death metal musicians, most of 'em from the band Stench Of Decay, also members past and present of thrashers Speedtrap and Pyrotoxic (the latter old faves from the Thrash Clash series).Stench Of Decay have a pretty killer album of their own out on the Jussi of Circle's Ektro label that we've previously reviewed. And in that review, we actually said: "It remains to be seen if Jussi's interest in death metal heralds a harsh new direction that Circle and the NWOFHM might take, hmm? And while they sure don't sound like Circle (yet), in their own way, Stench Of Decay are quite brutally hypnotic, with repetitive riffs pulverizing repeatedly." Little did we know how prophetic that was, in a weird way. 'Cause now Stench Of Decay, more or less, ARE Circle. The heaviest Circle ever.We're pretty impressed, 'cause when we first heard about this Circle/Falcon switcheroo idea, we thought that probably it was just a ruse, and the Circle record would be made by the Circle guys anyway, just under pseudonyms or something. But nope, they really did hand over the reins to these death metallers, who even made a new logo themselves, and did the cover art. It would appear that Jussi & Co. had no hand in it at all... But the new Circle lineup DOES rise to the occasion of being "circular", somewhat. Incarnation is both a brutal slab of crushing death metal, and also a unique, experiment in tranced-out avant-death-drone sonics, that embodies the Circle penchant for mantric repetition, in its own way. The drumming is quite different, of course, motorik beats replaced with double kick blasting, and the vocals are more extreme on the low end than anything Mika used to do on the high end, and the guitars unleash gnarly shredding solos also previously unheard from the Circle camp. But, it is hypnotic, in the most dense, droney way possible.We're pretty sure open minded death metal fans, those into stuff like Portal, will dig this a lot. Open minded Circle fans too of course (is there any other kind?). Some of the five tracks thrash it up in proper metal fashion, others leave the realms of DM to sound more like Skullflower or Sunroof - like track three, "Transcending", with its building, crashing waves of doomed-out sound, almost like some imagined "extreme" 20th century classical composition, or the Gnod-like track five, "Burden", super dense and layered and propulsive, sounding like everything is going all at once, almost like several tracks overlaid, a mesmeric monster of abstract extremity. As is this whole album. So that's one question we CAN answer: yes, this is damn good and worthy of the Circle name. Also damn good and worthy of the death metal name, just imagine Incantation or Disma doing music for a Hermann Nitsch aktion. Here's another question we've got, though: will Circle, when the band is back to being the actual original Circle guys again, ever have to learn these songs that they didn't write, and try to play 'em live?
MPEG Stream: "Infamy"
MPEG Stream: "Transcending"
MPEG Stream: "Burden"
DHAMPYR Withdrawals & Candy Heavens (Acephale Winter Productions) cassette 4.98
Not sure how we had gone this long without hearing this weirdo Rhode Island black metal / metalgaze / depressive ambient horde, especially considering that a quick check on the Metal Archives site reveals that these guys (this guy?) have released SIX full lengths, and about 20 or 30 demos and splits and eps. But this latest, Withdrawals & Candy Heavens, didn't take long to convince us that we have been seriously missing out. Based on the title alone, you might envision this as something that easily could have ended up on Khrysanthoney or Starlight Temple Society, and you'd be right. Dhampyr's sounds as much blissed out shoegaze jangle, and trancey blackened buzz pop as black metal, the anguished, tortured vokill mewlings, the main tether tying the sound to actual black metal. Otherwise, the sound soars and shimmers, dreamily stumbling through sundappled post rock, and spidery minor key clean guitar buzzscapes, the opener, a sprawling near 18 minute epic, is all you really need, heady and hypnotic, droning and dirgey, trance-y and hypnotic, darkly poppy, and moodily melancholy, the first ten minutes, pure post-black metal bliss out, and then the song collapses into a sonic black hole of gnarled, tangled buzz, all blurred and smeared into a hazy psychedelic ambience, buried samples add a strange garbled alien vibe to the proceedings, all the while, the guitars unfurl achingly melodic peals, buried beneath the strange sampled softnoise dronescape, emerging on the other side, a lumbering dirge, replete with deep dramatic vox, and more wails, and a black buzz fade out finale. The rest of the tracks are much shorter, but no less dramatic or twisted, the second track, delivers a raga-like blast of fast picked soaring guitar riffs, the sans drums or vocals, almost sound like some strange avant garde experimental guitarnoise, and when the rest of the instruments swoop in, it only gets weirder, with some strange fractured rhythms, distorted drumming, and more of those wild whooping vocals, the sound blown out and on the verge of crumbling. The last two tracks split their time between, murky lo-fi drones, noisy post rock mathiness, tranced out black-psych mesmer, the final track impossibly melodic, sounding like it could be some lost demo from some obscure math/post rock outfit from North Carolina in the nineties, albeit a bit more blackened, and with some wild double bass drum blasting. EXTREMELY LIMITED!!! Only FIFTY COPIES!!! We have a bunch, but they won't last long, and once they're gone, that's probably IT!
MPEG Stream: "Charred At A Stake In Younger Times Than Ours"
MPEG Stream: "The Belching Back Of Flowers"
MPEG Stream: "Je T'adore A L'egal De La Voute Nocturne"
DIAMOND YOUTH Orange (Top Shelf) 12" 16.98
This is the first we'd heard from these guys, but holy shit were we thrown for a loop. The fact that the record is on Top Shelf, home to former Record Of The Week-ers Piano Become The Teeth, had us expecting some sort of frenzied post-metal screamo heaviosity, but when we threw it on, it was anything but. Total catchy as fuck, super produced heavy pop that RULES. In fact the first track here, "Cannonball" is one of those rare jams, that immediately become the only thing we wanted to listen to (full disclosure, we being mostly Andee, but you probably figured that out). And thus, we've listened to that song, and this ep, 5 or 6 times a day, every day, for the last two weeks, basically since we first discovered it. And while this is not the group's newest (a new ep JUST came out), it is the first we heard, and it's still just about all we can listen to. Somewhere between the bombastic prog pop of Muse, the fuzzy post-stoner arena rock of Queens Of The Stone Age, and the poppiest parts of later Cave-In records (or maybe more accurately, any of CI frontman Stephen Brodsky's solo records), but maybe more than anything, we're reminded of a long ago aQ fave and previous Record Of The Week from a band called Open Hand, and like that band, Diamond Youth manage the impossible task of balancing impeccable, super polished pop-smithery, with some serious metallic heft, and hard rocking punk rock bombast. But metalheads and punks will most likely find Orange WAY too poppy, the rest of us though, just might have ANOTHER new favorite band. Every song here practically perfect, from the aforementioned opener, to the woozy, softly psychedelic, insanely catchy "Come Down", to the fuzzed out crunch of the title track, that almost sounds like Rocket From The Crypt, given a power pop makeover, to the broody, lilting minor key closer, that sounds like it could have been a Posies B-side. So good. And we're psyched there's another new Diamond Youth record to obsess over once we've finally played this one to death... which doesn't seem likely to happen anytime soon!
MPEG Stream: "Cannonball"
MPEG Stream: "Separator"
MPEG Stream: "Come Down"
ENTHRONING SILENCE Throned Upon Ashes Of Dusk (Dusktone) cd 14.98
First record in almost ten years from this Italian depressive black metal horde, and it's apparently been in the works for most of that decade! Throned Upon Ashes Of Dusk is a desolate, mournful sonic sprawl, that sounds like it was crafted by candlelight, or in a fire lit cave. Clean spidery guitars unwind over squalls of black buzz, the drums are a simple plod, the opening a doomy death march, but soon, the drums explode into a furious double kick barrage, the vocals into an anguished wail, but the guitars remain blurry and blown out, it's not until a couple minutes in that the sound shifts, and darkens, the riffage becoming more churning and malevolent, a minor key melancholia wrapped in swirls of crumbling caustic distortion, the band perfectly pulling off the rare feat of balancing fierce blackened heaviness, and truly emotional sounding depressive sonic miserablism. The songs are long too, so it's easy to become entranced and enraptured, droned out and hypnotic, all the while the guitars subtly shifting, bleeding into a single black mass for much of the proceedings, but then unfurling a gorgeous achingly lovely lead, transforming the song briefly into something closer to the dour doom pop of Katatonia, or slipping into some super mathy post rockiness, again transforming the sound into a Slinty post-black metal, but always returning to that, bleak, black buzz that is the rotting, broken music hear of Enthroning Silence's sound. Some of the tracks are more overtly classic black metal, but even then, the riffs, and the melodies, the mood and the vibe, just ooze dark energy, furious blasting blackness recast as droned out sonic sorrow, and more often than not, those tracks are still dotted with doomy stretches, and laced with haunting depressive, slo-mo passages, while other tracks get downright gothic, gorgeously bleak, downer-doom slowcore, that sans distortion, would have fans of Codeine and Mazzy Star and Galaxie 500 freaking out, but here, bathed in black buzz, they become a glorious sort of blackened, buzzing, doom-ed grimnity that will definitely hit the spot for fans of Make A Change, Kill Yourself, Happy Days, Loss, Nortt, Hypothermia, Silencer and all the rest of those depressive black hordes...
MPEG Stream: "Autumn Embers"
MPEG Stream: "Nocturnal Reverence Of Redemption"
MPEG Stream: "The Mournful Season"
FALCON (EX-CIRCLE) Frontier (Ektro) lp 22.00
AND NOW ALSO ON VINYL!!!!Fans of the NWOFHM, get ready for the NWOFAOR. First off, please go read our review of Circle's Incarnation to get the whole back story about this release. 'Cause our pals Circle, the celebrated Finnish space/kraut/WTF? rockers, are not Circle anymore, they're Falcon (Ex-Circle). It's all part of an elaborate scheme we try to explain in that Incarnation review. But explanations are difficult, as there are multiple layers of meaning to what Circle, we mean Falcon, are up to here. On the surface, Falcon (Ex-Circle)'s debut album is all high concept hijinks, total retro '80s AOR good times party tunes love songs, a mix of arena-ready hard rock and radio-friendly soft rock with flashy guitars, melodic singing, and cheesy keyboards. Every track sorta sounds like a 'training montage' song from a movie, if you know what we mean. But we don't think it's ironic parody. Maybe homage, but not parody. If you pay attention, listen to the lyrics, it's not just joking. There's an underlying sadness, a yearning, a sincerity to Falcon (Ex-Circle)'s journey into, uh, the realms of Journey - a synth-laden, fantasy MTV rock n' roll pleasure zone. Take a close look at the cover art to see what we mean about possible divergent depths of meaning - what's that about?Listening, we're hearing hints of lots of stuff we used to hear on the radio growing up - from Billy Idol to Styx to the Psychedelic Furs to Golden Earring to Aldo Nova to Neil Young (circa Trans?), and more. These former Circle guys have gone beyond their previous forays into the "New Wave Of Finnish Heavy Metal" to get waaaay more pop than metal here, though we do hear a bit of a galloping Thin Lizzy-ish riff on "Leather Seat", sprinkled however with magical synthesizer fairy dust. Tracks like "Horses" and "Ace Of Hearts" also boogie pretty hard.Falcon (Ex-Circle)'s songs are good, good enough to make the grade as undeniable "guilty pleasures" just like some of their obvious inspirations. Almost the only thing that makes this NOT seem like you must have heard it on the radio back in the '80s is that the vocals, while melodic, can have a bit of a rough edge to 'em, plus the Finnish accent.Really, we thought the Falcon (Ex-Circle) 7" that came out earlier last year, was a one-off, that was going to be the extent of the joke. Instead it was the lead single for this album. So, as with a lot of Circle & Jussi related projects, one begins to wonder... maybe it's not a joke? In fact, Jussi insisted to us that this whole Circle/Falcon (Ex-Circle) stunt is actually an artistically significant, serious thing for him. He even wrote an essay about it, explaining what he's trying to achieve, but unfortunately we couldn't read it 'cause it's all in Finnish. He did ask us to list/review both Frontier and Incarnation at the same time, that was important. And so we comply.Of the two albums, Frontier and Incarnation, the one under the Circle moniker is indeed easier to see as Circle, on the extreme experimental/drone side of their aesthetic. Even though it's not "really" Circle. Meanwhile, this Falcon disc, actually by Circle (confused yet?), does not sound much like anything Circle has ever done. Cause these are more traditionally structured pop/rock songs, verse/chorus/verse stuff, although they can't get away from the hypno-rock repetitive thing entirely.Anyway, like we say in the Incarnation review, lots of interesting questions raised, but at the end of day, what's important is are you gonna like listening to it? Well we do, these songs are BUILT for heavy rotation and that's what we're giving this disc. At first we were like, haha, but now we're addicted!!
MPEG Stream: "Partners In Crime"
MPEG Stream: "Ace Of Hearts"
MPEG Stream: "Miami Tits"
FLAGITIOUS IDIOSYNCRASY IN THE DILAPIDATION Wallow (Six Weeks Records) lp 14.98
First off, that's got to be one of the best band names ever, right? Seriously, how can a band called Flagitious Idiosyncrasy In The Dilapidation NOT be awesome? That's right. They can't. Not be awesome. So they are awesome. And, it gets better: they're four girls, playing grindcore, from Japan. Be still, our beating hearts! Not that by listening to this you could tell they're women, and they don't make a big deal of it image-wise, nor do they want to - in fact, at one point in their career they did have an American guy playing guitar for a while, and as he put it at the time: "If you just liked F.I.D. for being an all-female-Asian band, and don't like us now, then obviously the music comes second for you. So long, see ya, we'll keep on thrashing." Can't argue with that at all, good point, but people often have a way of liking stuff to come in neat conceptual little boxes, and those of us who have that failing will be pleased to know that F.I.D. are back to an all-girl, all-Japanese lineup, on this, only their 2nd full-length album even though they've been around for over ten years. And it's only about 24 minutes long, but of course this IS grind, so there's lots of tracks (17), each packed with brutal weird grinding insanity! From the lurching doomic atmospheres to galloping thrash bash, this runs the grind gamut, always infested with vicious vokills from singer Makiko, who constantly and very effectively trades off between a higher rasping wrraahahhhhh shriek and a low grunting grhwhoorrrrhhrggh growl. The band's music is a dizzying and dynamic match for Makiko's grunt-a-thon, replete with pummeling blasting, sudden stop/start shifts, and jagged chugging riffage galore. Pretty freaking awesome like we already said, and even if we found out they were actually all white guys like almost every other grind band we'd STILL like it. (But maybe not if they changed the name, that would be disappointing, not to mention dilapidating, flagitiously so.)
MPEG Stream: "track 5"
MPEG Stream: "track 6"
MPEG Stream: "track 11"
FUNERAL FORNICATION Fornography: A Compendium Of Decadence And Defilement (Acephale Winter Productions) cassette 4.98
One of several new tapes on this week's list from local label Acephale Winter Productions, and another group new to us despite, as the title explains, having been around for a more than a decade, this tape being a sort of best of from this Canadian horde. And seeing as it's a best of, drawn from multiple releases, spread out over years, the sound, and sound quality varies greatly, but we have to say, we're digging pretty much all of it. The opener is furious drum machine driven slab of epic black metal, with a distinctly post-BM vibe, soaring and epic, with chiming guitars, the production lush and HEAVY, some cool weird breakdowns too with woozy, fretless sounding bass, and strange percussion, some foresty folk here and there, but for the most part, it's just epic and majestic, frosty, wintry black buzz. But the second track is totally different, way more lo-fi, and super symphonic, gnarled black buzz, and crumbling distortion wedded, to majestic orchestral pomp, with some classic metal chug, more weird bass, and some serious shreddery, we almost like this even more than the first track. And FF continues to confound, the third track sounding like a slightly more lo-fi Dimmu Borgir, retaining that symphonic sound, but adding dramatic spoken word, swirling synths, the results are pretty fantastic. From there on out, it seems like we're digging deep, with some tracks sounding like demos, super lo-fi, but with the same aspirations of metallic grandeur, which translates pretty well, even with the obvious recording limitations, the band also delving into blackened doom, as well as some sonic surprises like "Riding In The North", that seems to channel Borknagar, plenty of midtempo black buzz, but with dramatic piano, and some gothy crooned clean vocals, before the tape finishes off with two blasts of frosty black grimnity, one with some almost Queen sounding harmonized leads!! Killer stuff, that will definitely have us tracking down some of FF's full lengths!LIMITED TO 50 COPIES!!! Guessing these won't be around for long...
MPEG Stream: "The Weeping Tree"
MPEG Stream: "Cold Colossus"
MPEG Stream: "No One Has The Right To Exist"
MPEG Stream: "Riding In The North"
MPEG Stream: "Sorrowspell"
GEARS Jaguar Intentions (Sanity Muffin) cassette 5.98
Another mysterious synth missive from Oakland tape label Sanity Muffin, this one from a group/guy called Gears, two sidelong sonic sprawls, the A side, a heady dose of analog buzz and cosmic celestial shimmer, the sounds thick, and buzzy and corrosive, heaving swells of low end rumble, wrapped in wispy streaks of abstract melody and subtly shifting tonal variations, meditative and mesmerizing, long tones that lazily undulate, sonic ripples that pulse endlessly into the ether, the sound lush and lustrous, a dark solar sound journey into outerspace and out of innerspace, headphones strapped on, and Matrix-like, you'll be jacked into the sonic cosmos, your brain transformed into miniature motes, carried away on slipstreams of serene sound. The flipside is something else entirely, some sort of mutant hip hop, all skittery drum machines, and squiggly electronics, the celestial synths from side one resurface here, but as the backdrop for a wild tangle of beats and rhythms, a strange dizzying mix of blissful melodies, swirling textures, bumping beats and fractured digital glitchery. Over the course of the side/track, the sound shifts from churning and rhythmic, to mutated and dubbed out, from old school jungle, to near DHR crunch, the sound feels live too, as if it were a DJ set captured on the fly, but regardless, a serious sprawl of dark rhythmic energy, that in some weird way, balances the tranquility of the tape's dreamily kosmische A side. LIMITED TO 100 COPIES. Housed in super swank full color six panel J-cards.
MPEG Stream: "Side 1 (excerpt)"
MPEG Stream: "Side 2 (excerpt)"
GORGUTS Colored Sands (Season Of Mist) 2lp 32.00
NOW HERE AS A DOUBLE VINYL GATEFOLD RELEASE!!Quebec's kings of technical death return with their fifth full length and their first in over a decade - this time with an entirely rejuvenated line up consisting of some of technical metal's biggest brains (members of Dysrhythmia, Origin, Behold the Arctopus and Krallice all play key roles). And while perhaps not as blatantly and stubbornly difficult as their widely regarded career highpoint Obscura (from way back in 1998), Colored Sands is still a bizarre, and at times strangely beautiful, slab of warped avant garde death metal. What makes this record work, and sets it apart from the legion of other soulless plasticine tech-death bands that have sprouted up like exhausting weeds in the 12 years since Gorguts released their last record, is the deft balance between virtuosity and mood. Sure there are bludgeoning blast beats aplenty and there's a glut of dizzying riffery and lurching avant-grooves that seem to obey no earthly laws of conventional melody or time keeping, but there are also moments of eerie reprieve. Spindling clean guitars provide unsettling moments of stillness. There are cavernous acoustic passages that seem to be breathed forth from some dusty forgotten catacomb. And in "The Battle of Chamdo" there's even a full four plus minutes of purely symphonic staccato strings and nightmarish lurking orchestral thrums that might provide the perfect soundtrack if Paul Thomas Anderson ever wanted to make a slasher movie. These moments of calm almost end up feeling more harrowing than the moments of intense metallic mutilations, not feeling like a calm before the storm so much as a state of helpless weightlessness, like a euphoric sense of ominous peace in the final moments of drowning. It's technical savagery refreshingly peppered with a genuine sense of mystery and wonder, like an absinthe addict mad artist's splattering need to create crossed with a mathematicians obsessive attention to detail. It's a line walked successfully very rarely in heavy music, bringing to mind such stand alone classics as Dillinger Escape Plan's Calculating Infinity and Nile's Black Seeds of Vengeance. Dynamic, cinematic, and an absolute sensory overload - like an overwhelming telekinetic attack. An ecstatic seizure of frenzied challenging death metal.
MPEG Stream: "Le Toit Du Monde"
MPEG Stream: "Colored Sands"
MPEG Stream: "The Battle Of Chamdo"
GUARDIAN ALIEN Spiritual Emergency (Thrill Jockey) lp 17.98
The first record from this strange outfit was a single sprawling, psychedelic raga, all spaced out and trance-y, and driven, as unlikely as it may seem, by the wild metallic drumming of Greg Fox, formerly of transcendental black metallers Liturgy. We described that record as sounding like Liturgy meets Sunroof!, a furious raga-blast, all droned out and ritualistic, it's a record that didn't seem like it should work, but maybe because of that, became a unanimous store fave (and Record Of The Week). So we were pretty excited to hear this new one, and it does not disappoint, although it does definitely confound. We were expecting maybe raga-blast part two, but instead, the record opens with a twisted sprawl of faux world music, Fox's drumming here a tangled, and relentless skitter, all hand drums and tablas, and other percussion, all tangled up with some super busy melodic bass, some spidery guitars, and processed female vocals, go from ritualistic chant, to chopped up stuttery garble, the whole track very No Neck Blues Band-ish, albeit a bit more Eastern influenced. A little Boredoms too. But it only gets weirder from there on out. Two brief blasts of metallic drone, the first all weird vocal samples buried beneath buzzing guitars and pounding drums, a swirling psychedelic freakout that gives way to the second, a weird Dada-ist cut up of clipped vocals, peppered by cool syncopated exotic percussion, bummer it's only a minute long, would have loved to have that stretch out forever! That gives way to a heady droney sprawl of crumbling distortion, chanted vox, all blurred into heaving swells, a little bit spacey, and doomy, but all of this seems to be leading up to the 20+ minute title track, sampled spoken word which quickly disappears in a cloud of impossibly dense and octopoidal drumming, everything wreathed in a cloud of bleeping and blooping electronics, and drifting on a bed of sitar like buzz, gradually settling into a dense mathed out raga-rock groove, the drums relentlessly churning away, the sound building to a blasting almost black metal frenzy, before fading back into that tribal, rhythmic groove, only to gradually transform into some strange strain of psychedelic krautrock, motorik and mesmerizing, and again building slowly to the super intense finale, which sounds like multiple Boredoms playing at once, noisy and swirling, and dizzying, and wildly chaotic, electronics, and guitar buzz, and Fox's impossibly wild drumming, all whipped into a tranced out squall, which locks into a skipping digital stutter, before finally sputtering to a halt. Exhausting, inspiring, and truly, sonically transcendental!
MPEG Stream: "I. Tranquilizer"
MPEG Stream: "III. Vapour"
MPEG Stream: "V. Spiritual Emergency"
GUIDED BY VOICES Motivational Jumpsuit (GBV) lp 15.98
What can we say? We LOVE Guided By Voices. we love the old records, and the new records too. And nearly all of the millions of side projects. GBV mainman Bob Pollard is a twisted pop genius, and somehow, manages, even after hundreds and hundreds of songs released, out of thousands and thousands written, to churn out GBV records that are crazy good. Great even. A dizzying collection of little blasts of crunchy, fuzzy, jangly perfect pop, equal parts British Invasion and US bedroom 4-track popsmithery, hooks galore, every song impossibly catchy, wry and goofy and often WTF? Never shying away from damaged sonic experimentation, but even at the most obtuse and experimental, the sounds somehow manage to STILL be infused with some sort of pop core. You can check our reviews of the last few records for more on the GBV story, there are maybe, 5 or 6 or 8 records at this point, who really knows, and that's just POST break up and reunion, go further back and dig into the true GBV classics, Bee Thousand, Alien Lanes, Vampire On Titus, etc. But really, that's the strange thing, is Bee Thousand THEE Guided By Voices classic? Is Alien Lanes? Or is Guided By Voices a never ending work in progress? And maybe those aren't even really albums, but simply songsuites, in Pollard's epic life-long GBV micro-pop symphony? And when you think about it like that, it's actually pretty fantastic to have such a massive body of work to dig through. And to trace the development of the band's sound, progressions, regressions, and yet through it all, multiple lineups, different productions, varying fidelity, the hit to miss ratio is astronomical. We can't really think of another songwriter with that kind of record. Cuz even the misses, in the context of whatever record they're a part of, are just that, a part of the whole, and in their own slightly off way, still 'work', and often reveal themselves, less as proper songs, and more as sonic coloration for the stone cold classics, of which there are MANY. So yeah, you might be sick of GBV by now, and we'd definitely understand, but we're always happy for more. And while we might still love Bee Thousand or Alien Lanes the best, this recent batch of albums are pretty much nearly as good, and of all of those, this new one might be the best yet.
MPEG Stream: "Littlest League Possible"
MPEG Stream: "Until Next Time"
MPEG Stream: "Writer's Bloc (Psycho All the Time)"
MPEG Stream: "Planet Score"
MPEG Stream: "Alex and The Omegas"
HABITAT SOUND SYSTEM The Honeydripper (Gematria) 10" 14.98
Many of you might remember that several years ago we flipped for the debut release from Habitat Sound System, a dub-centric project lead by Preston Swirnoff (Monosov/Swirnoff, The Shining Path, etc, and our very own Irwin's brother!). It was one of the most warm and authentic sounding new dub records we had heard in ages.We've been patiently waiting for more, and the wait was so worth it! This new 10" finds HSS expanding their sound, into something warmer, more lush, more mystical. While it's still rooted in the history of classic dub, it's a looser and more expansive interpretation this time out. Any time you can make a record that sounds perfect alongside David Axelrod, Cedric Im Brooks, Count Ossie, any Ethiopiques collection, and even a Slits record, you've stumbled onto something so deliciously golden and unique!It's refreshing to hear all these analog sounds set amidst some truly rich instrumentation - organ, piano, melodica, synths, guitar, horns, flute, balafon, bass. Swirnoff and his talented entourage (David Hurley, Ilya Monosov, Zuri Waters, Manny Vega, etc) are modern masters. One minute a song is riding a thick dubbed out groove, and then suddenly in comes some tripped out psych guitar transforming the sound into something impossibly lush and hypnotic...While most modern groups trying to make classic sounding dub these days play it safe by going the predictable ultra minimal route, Honeydrippers demonstrates the exciting possibility of having a more expansive musical vision and using dub as a backdrop to that music, stretching the sound, sparkling, twisting and turning, creating a whole new sound that hits so hard, deep and emotionally resonant... Highly recommended!(There were only 300 of these pressed, and we only have a handful, so you know what that means.)
ILLUSION OF SAFETY Surrender (No Part Of It) cd-r 6.98
Somewhere, an old T-shirt from Illusion Of Safety exists (the last we saw was affixed to Sigtryggur from Stillupsteypa some 10 years ago) with a deadpan/ironic catch-phrase "Illusion Of Safety gives you that soaring feeling" next to an image of a man tumbling headfirst out of a skyscraper window. Such a calculated juxtaposition of word and image was emblematic of the '80s art world (e.g. Barbara Kruger), often speaking to the underbelly of callousness, cruelty, violence and general amorality within consumerist society. Outside of this bold piece of iconography, Illusion Of Safety has operated within a more liminal state of mysteriousness through signifier and meaning. Even in their most placid albums of soft-focus ambience, the specter of some unknowable threat lurks in the background. More common in the Illusion Of Safety catalogue is an iron-fisted grasp of that sense of foreboding and dread through psychologically tense sound design. Over three decades in existence, this Chicago based project has been whittled down to its core member Dan Burke - with a few comrades-in-arms joining him occasionally - and is probably the longest running American industrial project, having produced a very impressive body of work. The 2014 album Surrender fits comfortably next to some of the masterpieces of the IOS back catalogue (e.g. Cancer, In Session, Historical, etc.) through the trademarked juxtaposition of noxious frequencies snaking in and out of harmonic phase patterns only to snap out of existence with a razor-cut edit into an electrical burst of tesla coil noise (for example). Disjointed rhythms, mediated collages, decontextualized field recordings, and psychoacoustic phrases map this album with incredible control and precision. Illusion Of Safety proves once again that they are one of the greats of industrial culture. Grab this album before it disappears, the pro-duplicated cd-r is limited to just 100 copies. Same for the cassette.
MPEG Stream: "East Of Easement"
MPEG Stream: "Popular Delusions"
MPEG Stream: "Roller Coaster"
INVOCATION OF MAGNETIC SPIRITS Vol. 1 (Sanity Muffin) cassette 5.98
The Lower Bottoms neighborhood of West Oakland has long been a site of blight, crime, and gang activities. It's also home to the purposefully low-profile art-noise-punk venue Life Changing Ministries, which acquired its name from a African-American revival church that had held services in that space beginning in the '60s or thereabouts. When the art-punks took over the space - probably sometime around the late '90s, maybe early '00s - the space was a shithole, with squatter residue and fetid trash strewn everywhere. The people who now run the space have done a pretty decent job of making it one of the better venues in the Bay Area for the underground, noise, metal, no-wave/costume-rock, and anti-everything scenes; but it's still a very low-profile spot and the neighborhood still is not all that savory. In cleaning out all of the debris from LCM, somebody found a bunch of cassette recordings of church services; and these tapes were then passed around to various West Oakland art-rock / noisenik types lead by Ryan Brundage of the Experimental Dental School, The Geldings, Starlight Coffins, etc. And thus, loops of gnarled tape-noise, powerdrone crescendos, back-masked vocalizations, and Le Syndicat-styled mechanical churn splash sloppily amidst the distant proclamations of the power of the Holy Spirit from the unnamed preacher whose powerful baritone led call and responses through the spirited sermons and biblical readings. Such gospel recontextualizations were commonplace in the industrial culture heyday, often with the preachers saying something culturally inflamatory or with the preacher being Jim Jones. Here, the source material is often obfuscated amidst the noise and collage techniques; and in doing so, Brundage et al seek to channel the supernatural aura of the first inhabitants of LCM. Very cool!
MPEG Stream: "Extract"
IRR. APP. (EXT.) Tuberpendicular (Errata In Excelsis) cd-r 14.98
Potatoes. Leave it up to irr. app. (ext.) to shove some wires into a potato and get a whole album from the resultant audio mess. Well, maybe. We'll hazard a guess that M.S. Waldron (aka irr. app. (ext.)) ran with the idea of the perennial science-fair project in harnessing enough bioelectrical energy from a potato to power a small alarm clock. Many years ago, the British sound artist Michael Prime had hooked up biosensors to mushrooms, recording the erratic signals that strangely emanate from within a fungus; and Waldron's recording process could have something to do with this. Then again, he could have just made a big bowl of mashed potatoes and slopped around like Otto Muehl or Carolee Schneemann. Waldron's back catalogue features a considerable amount of irrational activities leading towards the poetics of audio surrealism. The name itself - irr. app. (ext.) - is a cumbersome shortening of irrational appendage extension, and plenty of other absurd ideas cohabitate with Waldron's knack for the oblique collage. Psychic surgery gone horribly wrong. Involuntary twitching of limbs from dead insects. The philosophical eccentricities of Wilhelm Reich wrapped up in circles upon circles. And now, potatoes. There's definitely a whole lot going on in Tuberpendicular, and the electrified potato salad concoction may only be a small portion of the album. Sharpened tones of biofeedback, squishy and clinical squiggles of indeterminate origin pock Waldron's cyclical sound design of percolating drones that transmit out of creaky old spaces. Really great, really convoluted collage based work that finds simpatico with Nurse With Wound, Michel Chion, and the weirder elements found throughout the history of electronic music. Limited to 200 copies.
MPEG Stream: "Tuber Receptor"
MPEG Stream: "Ollottrilotlillittaialiattat"
MPEG Stream: "Tuber Inducer "
IRR. APP. (EXT.) Ustrojenstvozagyvat (Errata In Excelsis) cd-r 14.98
No idea what to make of that title. Plop it even into a Google translation tool, and you get some nonsense about a "valentine cormorant" surrounded by a bunch of gibberish as Google wants to make this word out to be Japanese. It looks Russian to us, not that the linguistic skills at aQuarius have any command of a language beyond our own brand of English polyglot. There is a curious and eerie aura of animistic, psychic mysticism that inhabits the whirling gears, locomotive rhythms, and deeply dilated industrial clamor that might have a passing resemblance with some of the esoteric offerings from the Russian postindustrial scene. M.S. Waldron (aka irr. app. (ext.)) has been a relative constant in the Nurse With Wound touring stable with a handful of appearances on the latter day Nurse recordings. And he did travel with Nurse on their first excursion into Russia, where we're pretty sure they played Saint Petersburg and Moscow. Much is a mystery and much is gibberish in the realm of irr. app. (ext.), so the meaningless of this title in conjunction with a tenuous aesthetic linkage to a project like Linija Mass or Vetrophonia might have absolutely nothing to with the album. At the same time, it could have everything to do with it. The album seems to be sourced from bowed metals whose slashing atonal frequencies are layered and collaged into interwoven networks of discordant textures. Waldron has worked extensively with these types of sounds, even creating a brilliant homage to the Organum / David Jackman sound with the irr. app. (ext.) album "The Other Side Is Blank". But here, slippery collage-techniques and audio layering hold a lugubrious psychedelic hue that encompasses Waldron's aquatic gurglings, walkie-talkie broadcasts, metallic glissandos, and mechanical rhythms. All of which could harken to the idiosyncrasies of everyday objects (as his live set-up could literally be any given junk drawer tumbled onto a table with contact microphones affixed randomly) or perhaps more romantically, emblematic field recordings made while he was visiting Russia a few years ago. Nonetheless, this is another great album from irr. app. (ext.); and this hand-fabricated edition runs just 200 copies.
MPEG Stream: "Ustrojenstvozagyvat 2"
MPEG Stream: "Collapsible Spectra"
MPEG Stream: "Ustrojenstvozagyvat 3"
JAWORZYN, STEFAN Drained Of Connotation (Blackest Ever Black) lp 27.00
Before the word 'prurient' became affixed to a trendsetting contemporary musician with a great haircut and an even better taste in noise, electronics, and metal, this particular word could accurately describe much of the transgressive electronics of industrial culture. It was easy to find an unhealthy obsession with deviant sexuality throughout the late '70s and early '80s, often contextualized as an escape from the mechanisms of social control; and the likes of Throbbing Gristle, Nurse With Wound, and Whitehouse all titilated their audiences with the notions of sexual perversion anywhere along the spectrum from critical detachment to full-on engagement. The outspoken Stefan Jaworzyn has been privy to such sociopathic aesthetics, including a couple of stints joining William Bennett as a member of Whitehouse as well as being a founding member of Skullflower. Drained Of Connotation marks some of the very earliest recordings for Jaworzyn, dating back to 1982, well before he was part of either of those projects. These were created with just a Korg MS10 and Dr. Rhythm drum machine - two staples of the DIY / industrial / noise community - and it's easy to draw parallels to Maurizio Bianchi, Nocturnal Emissions, and Konstruktivist. A suitable sleaziness emanates from Stefan Jaworzyn's track "Sinister Eroticism In Oslo" which lashes lazer-beam synth oscillations to a slinky, yet cheap drum pattern. Yes, prurient is the right adjective in describing the track, which Jaworzyn so aptly titled. He's always been a man of choice words, and the track "Psychoanalytically Speaking, You're Fucked" is sardonically perfect. The cluster bombs of synth-noise above the sampled kettledrum loops on that track are pretty damn awesome too. Throughout the whole record, Jaworzyn articulates a brain-scrambled sense of desperation through these rough sketches of noise-laden synths that belies the cocksure swagger of his outsized personality. Limited to 700 copies, and likely not long for this world...
MPEG Stream: "Sinister Eroticism In Oslo"
MPEG Stream: "Pillars Of Excitement"
MPEG Stream: "Psychoanalytically Speaking, You're Fucked"
JEPSON, WARNER Tullian Beach Bum (Machine Excerpts) (Sanity Muffin) cassette 5.98
Warner Jepson was one of the pioneering electronic composers of the 1960s, working in the San Francisco Tape Music Center and later at the shortlived organization called National Center for Experiments in Television (seriously, there was such a place!). Through both of these small think-tanks, Jepson had the good fortune to work with an incredible amount of early electronics, most notably the Buchla synthesizer. Despite some choice commissions and some friends in high places, Jepson's explorations with electronics only amounted to one proper album - the avant-garde electronic Totentanz recorded as a score for the San Francisco Ballet in 1967. The album was originally pressed up in an edition of 300 copies and sold almost entirely at the stagings of that particular ballet. Nonetheless, Jepson purported to have hundreds of hours of material on cassette that he made during his heyday in the '60s and '70s. The story behind this cassette's discovery and release is a pretty good one too, as Mr. Sanity Muffin himself was trawling through the cassette bins at Urban Ore - a storied recycling and junk shop located on the industrial outskirts of Berkeley, California, and spied the name Warner Jepson handscrawled on the spine of a tape next to the random home dubbed tapes of REO Speedwagon, Boston, and Carole King albums. The tape turned out to be one of those lost Jepson recordings, and Sanity Muffin has seen fit to release this cassette exactly as it was found. One of the many commissions on Jepson's resume was for the David William's installation Tullian. No idea really what that was, or if this is excerpted music for that piece, or if the Tullian Beach Bum was just a riff on that title. But the sounds within are a delirious polyphony of semi-rhythmic, semi-melodic squiggles across the Buchla with echoing patterns at various timbers, reverberations, and pitches swirling throughout the sound design. There are plenty of similarities in the painterly serialist and programmatic approaches that were commonplace in the high-minded works of academic composers from the mid-20th century, all mapped out on the Buchla and tape machine. But there's also plenty of wide-eyed sci-fi expansiveness through zoner-patterned synths that have all of the awe of a Jovian sunrise seen for the first time by human eyes. Fans of Daphne Oram and Tod Dockstader will have a field day with this stuff.
JESTERS OF DESTINY Fun At The Funeral (Full Contact) lp 22.00
FINALLY REISSUED ON VINYL! AND WE'RE GONNA RANDOMLY SELECT ONE LUCKY PERSON WHO ORDERS THIS TO RECEIVE A FREE COPY OF ANOTHER VERY SPECIAL JESTERS LP (SEE END OF REVIEW FOR DETAILS)!!!We've had this on cd (reissued by Ektro, now out of print). And we've even had a couple cut-out copies of the original vinyl version, but those are of course long gone too. So it's nice that Ektro's vinyl subsidiary, Full Contact, have now gone and done a nice new vinyl reissue of this obscure, WTF? alt-metal classic. Here's what we said the first time we listed it, when the cd reissue came out...Nobody here except for Andee (who was already a fan!) had ever heard of this band before Circle mainman Jussi Lehtisalo told us he was reissuing their 1986 debut lp on his label Ektro. He also said, "Jesters will blow up the whole world!!!" Those familiar with Ektro's previous releases (discs by the likes of Circle, Ektroverde, Pharoah Overlord, and Faust) might expect these Jesters of Destiny to be avantgarde psychedelic space-rock or something like that. Well...this IS psychedelic, and it IS avantgarde. But it's no space rock/jazz/neo kraut stuff at all. Jesters of Destiny were perhaps the very first "alternative metal" band, hailing from the '80s LA scene! They were really a unique band that just never fit into any categories or made any sense, combining Sunset Strip metal, pop-punk, death rock, alt-rock, new wave keyboards, noise/sample interludes, etc. etc... Like Andee, Jussi had been a fan of this obscure act for years. He considers Fun At The Funeral to be "one of the most important heavy rock albums" ever! Being the maniac that he is, he finally tracked down the band members and arranged to do this reissue! Perhaps realizing that the typical Ektro customer might be a bit puzzled, Jussi got Jesters co-founder and bass player Bruce Duff to provide some detailed liner notes about JoD. Duff: "Diggin' back through my life circa 15 years ago has been an emotionally unnerving experience. The music, the jams, the changing line-ups, the convoluted recording contracts, the hallucinations, the revelations, the girls, the divorce, poverty, doom, despair, joy, the extremely loud amplifiersÉBut that's my business. I will tell you it all began when my friend Ray Violet invited my roommate (drummer and multi-instrumentalist Doktor Stixx) and me (the bass player) to be the rhythm section on a songwriting demo he was organizing along with his buddy Bill Irwin. Ray offered to 'pay' us by allowing us each one song of our choosing produced to our individual satisfaction. I picked a metallic, psychedelic, existentialist war yelp I'd bashed out called 'End of Time.' During the sessions, which culminated on Halloween, 1984 (talk about Doom!), Ray played me the unforgettable riff to a song about a mosh pit dance in which the participants beheaded each other with shovels - 'Diggin' That Grave.' Together, we finished the tune, and when all of the songs were completed, it was clear that 'Grave' and 'Time' stood alone and apart from the rest. We decided to form a band."Duff goes on to recount the whole sordid saga of the band and its successes and failures, ins and outs (of the band members - who included past present and future members of such acts as 45 Grave, The Mentors, and Poison!). Highlights for them included signing to Metal Blade imprint Dimension, after "End of Time" appeared on Metal Massacre V, and playing shows with the likes of Janes Addiction, Flaming Lips, and the Dickies. Lowlights include, well, uh, signing to Metal Blade imprint Dimension, plus all the stuff you'd expect to befall an '80s LA metal band that didn't "make it".What's really funny (and not discussed) is how their saga ends with a cd reissue 15 years later on a strange Finnish art-rock label! From Metal Blade to Ektro!So, that's the story about this fucked up "gleeful gloom" rock band from the Ektro reissue liner notes, and here it is back on vinyl (now 28 years into the Jesters saga!), complete with their "hit" song, "Diggin' That Grave", one we could listen to over and over and over, it's that infectious. A masterpiece of heavy psychedelic pop metal weirdness!We said at the top of the this review that we're going to randomly select one person who orders this Fun At The Funeral reissue to also win a free copy of the Jesters' second album, In A Nostalgic Mood. We have 1 original copy, a cut-out but still sealed in shrinkwrap, of the band's sophomore vinyl release from 1987, an all-covers album featuring "Electric Funeral", "Fortunate Son, "Foxey Lady", "The Girl Can't Help It", and best of all, "Spazz" (originally by The Elastik Band). It's at least an $11.98 value, free to one lucky purchaser of the Fun At The Funeral reissue!! Cross your fingers...
MPEG Stream: "Diggin' That Grave"
MPEG Stream: "God Told Me To"
MPEG Stream: "End Of Time"
KUBIN, FELIX Zemsta Plutona (Gagarn / ZickZack) 2lp 28.00
ALSO ON VINYL!Brand new music from German outsider sci-fi pop weirdo / visionary, whose "particle accelerator pop" positions somewhere between a sort of naive, alien Gary Numan, and a time traveling Brian Wilson cyborg, his pop music meticulously crafted from the detritus of classic pop music past, fused into some impossible space aged future pop, Kubin a Joe Meek like studio mad scientist, transforming pop music into something strange and wondrous, even when working with someone else's music, just check out the opening track, a killer and fantastically confusional cover of Lou Christie's "Lightning Strikes", which turns the original into a near operatic robotic future funk, channeling the spirit of Klaus Nomi (who also does a killer version of the song), but Kubin has no shortage of his own mini masterpieces, beginning with "Atomium Vertigo", which sounds like Serge Gainsbourg played by an all robot band, a krauty drum machine kraut-groove beneath fields of FX and static, while Kubin delivers his sultry spoken word, oh yeah, and of course there's the bleepy bloopy vocodered chorus. And so it goes, every track here a twisted future pop gem, from the avant electro-kraut exotica of "Nachts Im Park", to the 8-bit skitter of "Flies Without Memory", to the garbled electronic jazz collage that is "Restez En Linge", to the banging synth hop of "Piscine Ressonenzi", which has us envisioning Kubin as a producer and beat maker for the current crop of pop stars like Ke$ha, or Beyonce, or Britney... if only! And Kubin never lets up, the second half of Zemsta Plutona as chock full of electro future pop weirdness as the first, flitting from plunderphonic style forties jazz to maniacal alien electro, and from murky minimal avant-kraut weirdness to Perry & Kingsley style electronic experimentation, and beyond!
MPEG Stream: "Lightning Strikes"
MPEG Stream: "Atomium Vertigo"
MPEG Stream: "Nachts Im Park"
MPEG Stream: "Flies Without Memory"
LORELLE MEETS THE OBSOLETE Chambers (Captcha) lp 17.98
The return of this aQ beloved Mexican fuzzed out, druggy, dreamy garage rock duo, Lorelle Meets The Obsolete, made up of, if you hadn't guessed already, Lorelle, who plays guitar, organ and sings, and her partner The Obsolete, who plays drums and does everything else. And like the two records that came before, Chambers is another killer collection of droned out psychedelic garage-kraut noise pop, like a heavier, fuzzier Moon Duo, or a creepier crawlier (old) Dum Dum Girls, the songs here are stretched out and trance-y, heavy and hypnotic, there's definitely a sort of classic sixties pop vibe, reminding us at times of another aQ fave, the Liminanas, but where that band went the full Gainsbourg, Lorelle and The Obsolete, take a similar sound, and run it through a bank of FX, a wall of distortion, adding some seriously drugged out Spacemen 3-isms to the proceedings. Just give a listen to the opening track "What's Holding You", with its fuzzy bass, crunchy guitar, ethereal female vox, whirring organ drones, super dark and dreamy and mesmerizing, the sound seesawing between moody stripped down verses, and blown out fuzz drenched 'choruses', but the real pay off for psych-heads, is the whole second half of the song, where the duo lock into a total Hawkwind worthy space rock blowout, delivering the sort of heady heart-of-the-sun heaviness, that should have fans of the Heads and White Hills and the like frothing at the mouth. The rest of the record follows suit, the band displaying a brilliant knack for murky noise-pop soundcraft, transforming clouds of chaotic sound into dreamy, lilting, hook laden jangle garage, the sound effortlessly straddling the line between drone-pop mesmer, swirly psychedelic garage, and full on, unhinged heavy psych, the magic being that the songs are GREAT, and just get greater as more sounds are piled on, fantastically noisy, but again, impossibly catchy and melodic, and so goddamn good. Some of the songs do slow down, and get sort of balladic, some are all swaggery and Stooges-y, and still others tap into the sound favored by the current crop of garage rockers, Ty Segall, Mikal Cronin, Thee Oh Sees, etc. and fans of those bands, if you don't know this band already, you're in for a treat, but really, Lorelle and Mr. The Obsolete, have managed a rare feat, and taken the sound of a million other bands all seemingly trying to do the same thing, and made it ALL their own, truly unique and special, still pushing all of our garage pop buttons, as well as some of our space and psych rock buttons, but most importantly, revealing a whole bunch of other musical buttons we never even knew we had!!
MPEG Stream: "What's Holding You?"
MPEG Stream: "The Myth Of The Wise"
MPEG Stream: "Dead Leaves"
LUCY Churches Schools And Guns (Stroboscopic Artefacts) cd 17.98
And here we go, further into the shadows, down the black hole of minimal mutant techno. We've become downright obsessed with this twisted, grim, bleak strain of electronic sound, as is evidenced by recent Record Of The Weekers Akkord and Basic House and this week's Echologist, also killer releases by Vatican Shadow, Silent Servant, Prurient, Haxan Cloak, Terrence Dixon, Shed, we could go on, but needless to say, even the former technophobes here at aQ, have been fully converted and indoctrinated into the cult, now we find ourselves on a mission to dig up the darkest of blackened house, the wooziest, warped techno, the sound of spare skeletal skitter and haunting electro-creep mood music, all that we crave. Our latest discovery is provocatively titled Churches Schools And comes to us from Lucy, who is not in fact a woman named Lucy, but some mysterious guy, who is a master and crafting suffocatingly sinister techno, pulsing sprawls of blurred murk, looped and layered rhythms, opener "The Horror" is indeed horrifying, a grim field of glitch and gristle, laid over a field of rumbling swells and wreathed in grinding black static, super tense and intense, an intro maybe, but the sound oozes ominously into the rest of the record, which plays out like some alien mutant dub, long stretches of muted thrum, peppered with fractured beats, and swirling synths, bizarre samples, geiger counter like sputter, all blurred into something hazy, and dreamily druggy. "Leave Us Alone", sounds like a more blissed out Silent Servant, or a Kompakt track gone very very bad. "The Self As Another", buries its beats under ethereal swaths of chordal shimmer, the whole thing gauzey and ephemeral, as if being listened to from a great distance. "Human Triage" is like electro-dub melted down to its very essence, laced with weird bits of crumbling FX, and gradually growing more and more frenetic, but simultaneously, the sounds getting more and more indistinct, as of the whole thing would eventually blur into a single smear of sound. "Follow The Leader" is all gristly slo-mo house, throat singing, record crackle, and muted pulsations, fashioned into something hauntingly hypnotic, while "Catch Twenty Two" might be the grooviest of the bunch, but its still all crackle wreathed minimal murk. The rest of the tracks, deliver fantastic variations of Lucy's crumbling, crackly, techno-dub creep, culminating in the surprisingly blissful closer "Falling", which stretches ethereal female vocals, into a spectral chorale, all over soft focus flurries of glistening finger picked guitars, and swirling clouds of prismatic glimmer, wreathed in fuzzy barely there shimmer, and crafted into gentle swells, the end result sounding almost like a Grouper track, produced by The Field!
MPEG Stream: "The Horror"
MPEG Stream: "Leave Us Alone"
MPEG Stream: "The Self As Another"
MPEG Stream: "Follow The Leader"
MPEG Stream: "Catch Twenty Two"
MAMIFFER & CIRCLE Enharmonic Intervals (For Paschen Organ) (Ektro) cd 17.98
YAY, NOW HERE ON CD! We hadn't thought we were gonna be able to get enough of the cd version to list, but finally managed to snag a few! Here's what we said a little while ago about the vinyl edition:Been waiting for this one now for a while now, a killer collaboration between Northwestern drone/drifters Mamiffer (aka Aaron and Faith), and Finnish hypno-rockers Circle (aka Jussi and Mika), and this foursome whip up some blissed out avant garde minimal dreaminess, utilizing an old organ, in a nineteenth century stone church in Circle's hometown of Pori. The organ's lush chordal whir may form the basis of these tracks, but they are fleshed out by all sorts of elements, some you might recognizes from the members' other bands, some seem to have been conjured from the ether. Long stretched out tones, hazy layers of sonic gauze, wild keening violin melodies (courtesy of Mr. Eyvind Kang), scrapes and creaks, murky percussion, heavily processed vokills buried way down in the mix, the tracks super dynamic and nuanced, slipping easily from hushed shimmer, to howling squall, the mellower parts, truly mesmerizing, with hints of Morricone surfacing in the twang flecked dusky drifts, while the heavier/louder/more chaotic moments seem to be channeling all manner of noisiness throughout the ages, hints of free form floorcore, Japanoise, heavy drone, black ambience, but all masterfully sculpted into brooding, dramatic swaths of majestic minimalism, that seems to be constantly slipping into maximal sonic overload. Hushed and tranquil one second, tense and intense the next, whispery and woozy transformed into caustic crunch and heart-of-the-sun psychedelia. Some tracks unfold like some lost Circle B-side, Mika's strange vocals draped over flurries of acoustic guitar, simple tribal percussion, and that ever present organ drone, while others begin life sounding like some court music from the past, before morphing into something more ominous and gothic, a blackened neo-folk that would sound right at home on Cold Spring. Elsewhere guitar rumbles blossom blackly into something almost SUNN-like, which is countered by some Circle-like dramatic hypno-prog weirdness, operatic and over the top, before finally, resolving with what might be the prettiest of the bunch, the near ten minute closer, a gorgeously hypnotic slab of rumbling, whirring, shimmering dronemusick, that's equal parts barely there modern minimalism, and rib cage rattling low end assault, the end result, both harrowingly heavy, and blissfully dreamy.Compact disc packaged in jewelcase inside slipcase, nice.
MPEG Stream: "Kaksonen 1"
MPEG Stream: "Parting Of Bodies"
MPEG Stream: "Vaso Luna"
MANNING, MARC Ambience 1 (Box Bedroom Rebels) 7"+ cd 9.98
Released as a part of a 7" series of modern ambient artists inspired by Brian Eno's groundbreaking Ambient series, local San Francisco painter and sound artist Marc Manning (formerly of Tied To The Branches) delivers this epic slice of cosmic gloom. Four hazy planetary lullabies of soft-edged electronics and guitarwork, cut by distant floating vocals and a wayward descending trajectory. In addition to the 7" there is a cd of one long 70 minute track called "October", which sounds like the doomed travels of a silent running spaceship far from home. Beautifully packaged with a 33rpm hand stamped 4 track 7", a 70 minute cd, artist portrait, double sided insert, 'ambience letter' insert, and a download code. Limited to 150 copies!
MPEG Stream: "Orion"
MPEG Stream: "Saturn"
MPEG Stream: "October (bonus cd)"
MEN, THE Tomorrow's Hits (Sacred Bones) lp + cassette 17.98
We listed their Campfire Songs 12" last list, now here's the new album (on vinyl so far, cds coming soon) for which that was the all-acoustic teaser!For a band that started off in a noise-rock, post-punk vein, The Men sure have changed a lot (grown up? well no, the were already Men). In keeping with the around-the-campfire twang of the aforementioned 12", this new full-length starts off with the muscular, moody "Dark Waltz" which has a country-ish rock sound to it, like The Men performed this song while hanging around on some back porch out in the sticks - or had been listening to a lot of Uncle Tupelo. "Give What You Give" keeps up some of same vibe, sounding a bit like a twangy Pavement.The country-ishness fades away though as The Men move into pure power pop with that track and the next few - indeed, the extra-lush "Another Night" incorporates a full-on horn section, maybe channelling some '80s Springsteen or something. Uptempo powerful poppiness is indeed what The Men are all about here, as side one closes out with the anthemic "Different Days", a great song that reveals a big Replacements influence.Side two starts off with "Sleepless", a more intimate song than what's come before, with piano. But then The Men erupt into the honky-tonk freakout of the energetic rocker "Pearly Gates". There's more piano on this one as well, and horns, and it kinda reminds us of some '70s Stones footstomper. It's the longest track on the record and they really jam and get wild. Good times."Settle Me Down" mellows things out a bit, it's a lovely slice of wistful pop strum, a nice one to hum along with. Then, they may have saved the best for last, "Going Down", a more vigorous number that mixes wiry post-punk with a classic rock vibe (hints of Eddie & The Cruisers sez Andee, meaning it as a compliment!). While we loved the distortion and noisiness of this band's earliest outings, their newfound, hi-fi, clean-cut maturity (some might say Dad-rockishness) is done pretty darn well, they know how to write songs after all.Our initial stock of colored vinyl lps comes with a special value-added cassette, while (very limited!) supplies last. Like, this weekend only. The tape's a live set from Zagreb, Croatia, recorded in 2013, including a few songs from this album as well as renditions of plenty of yesterday's hits from The Men as well.
MPEG Stream: "Dark Waltz"
MPEG Stream: "Different Days"
MPEG Stream: "Going Down"
NICHOLS-RAGE, CAMERON MICHAEL Let's Play (Readymades Tapes) cd 10.98
Let's Play is the first recording by a drummer / vocalist / noisemaker from the Northwest named Cameron Michael Nichols-Rage, on which he collaborates with Alvarius B, Stuart Dahlquist (Asva, Burning Witch), Masami Kawaguchi (LSD-March), Irr. App. (Ext.), Mason Jones (Numinous Eye), Robert Millis (Climax Golden Twins), John Olsen (Wolf Eyes), Andrew Liles, At Jennie Richie, and a bunch more notable noise folks. Sounds pretty much MADE for aQ. Even moreso when you discover that Cameron is in fact, a 20 month old little boy, who just happens to be the spawn of 1/2 of blacknoize duo Blue Sabbath Black Cheer!The proud papa captured Cameron's wild free jazz drumming, and adorable vocal mewlings and yelps (like a toddler Keiji Haino?) and let the above horde of noiseniks jam along with young Cameron, and the results are pretty spectacular and ALL over the map. Lots of the stuff here has a sort of free jazz / avant rock vibe, Cameron's wild skittery loose drumming 'style' perfectly suited for that sort of thing, but then out of nowhere, the sound will coalesce into a weird churning almost industrial sounding post punk, like on the opening track, Cameron and crew locked into an angular, noise-punk groove. Elsewhere, Appalachian guitars (Cameron's?) are wound around boom-crash drum splatter, and accompanied by Cameron's free form vocal stylings. Some tracks sound like some alien avant-prog, all woozy and warped. others are surprisingly lovely, chiming gamelan like tones drifting above a bed of restless skitter, and still others are dense sprawls of warped detuned blues-murk. The most intense track is probably the Andrew Liles collaboration, that pairs Cameron's drums with moody, haunting piano, bizarre samples, and super distorted agonized screams. Harrowing stuff. But surrounding that blast of sonic intensity, are deep surrealistic dronescapes woven from Cameron's chopped and processed drumming, buzzing kosmische psychedelia, replete with soaring sitar-buzz guitars and crooned vox, and dreamy, organ drenched drifts, again, anchored by Cameron's abstract drum skitter. There's lots more as well, all stripes of free-noise, and dark drone, and black ambience and twisted post industrial weirdness, it's all pretty great too. And really, had we not mentioned it, you'd probably never guess that this was (mostly) the work of a 20 month old little boy!!! So obviously WAY recommended!
MPEG Stream: "7CV - Prelude To Night Of The Munchkinder Camaclysm / Night Of The Munchkinder Camaclysm"
MPEG Stream: "The Bent Taxis - Wish Upon Burt Lahr"
MPEG Stream: "irr. app. (ext.) - Mister Basher-Pants"
MPEG Stream: "Numinous Eye - Stay Silly"
MPEG Stream: "Andrew Liles - Fortunate Son"
PHOBONOID Orbita (Dusktone) cd 14.98
Holy mission to Mars! What a fantastic discovery, the first we've heard from Phobonoid, a one man black metal / industrial / noise outfit from Phobos, and yep, that's one of the moons of Mars, and the music on Orbita is a high concept soundtrack to the end of civilization on Mars, as viewed from Phobos, and also BY the god Phobos, culminating in the eventual meeting between Phobos and his brother Deimos, on the scorched surface of the ruined red planet. And sonically, that's sort of what it sounds like, opening with a dense cloud of blacknoize, darkly billowing, ominous and sinister, eventually frenzied riffing begins to emerge from the blackness, a roiling sonic chaos, that instead of bursting into blasting black buzz, blurs and swirls into a grinding, almost orchestral buzz, a lurching doom-drone creep, wreathed in electronic fuzz and glitched out crumbling distortion, before erupting into a blown out Godflesh style industrial dirge, the sounds mutated and on the verge of collapse, electronic flecked heaviness, that buried blackness bleeding over the mechanized rhythms and the insectoid riffing. And that's just the first track! From there on out, Phobonoid paints a bleak sonic picture of Mars' ruination, achingly melancholy guitar buzz blossoms into blackened industrial blasts, the vocals a demonic rasp, the programmed drums relentless and robotic, inhumanly fast at times, but constantly slipping back into a monstrous, crushing plod, the sound almost psychedelic, dense and lushly layered, noisy and super distorted. Throughout the 7 songs here, the sound is in constant flux, a dizzying barrage of black tarpit creep, churning atonal blasts, mechanized metallic buzz, with one gorgeously austere stretch of blurred, almost blissed out industrial ambience, before one final blast, of majestically epic mechanoid black buzz. So good!
MPEG Stream: "Phobos"
MPEG Stream: "Ex"
MPEG Stream: "Vuoto"
MPEG Stream: "Deimos"
POOBAH U.S. Rock (Ripple) cd 15.98
AND NOW THE CDS ARE HERE!Wooha, Poobah! We've previously reviewed reissues of this kickass if undeservedly obscure Ohio outfit's 1972 proto-metal debut Let Me In, and also their third album, the aptly titled Steamroller, from 1979. Now at last we've got the missing link, their 2nd album, U.S. Rock, originally released in the bicentennial year of 1976 - hence the title, and the band's patriotic pose on the cover, dressed in Revolutionary-era costume. Lead by guitar whiz Jim Gustafson, Poobah here deliver another potent dose of their gonzo acid hard rock action. There's a song here called "Let's Rock", and another one called "Keep On Rollin'", so you get the idea, yeah, they're all about the rock n' roll good times! The former is a total '50s style rave up with boogie-woogie piano; the latter a heavier, glammier Alice Cooper-ish number. But the thing with Poobah is that they've got a crazed psychedelic side to 'em, we've written before about 'em being "weird and wild and wacky" - and we're not just talking about the song here called "Crazy", definitely one for the Dr. Demento hit parade. On a bunch of the tracks they pull off some maniacal falsetto screamin', and speaking of that, get a load of the almost-kecak-like "Chicky Chicky Cha, Chicky Chicky Cha" chant featured in the song "Watch Me", that had us staring at the stereo the first time we heard it. WTF? That's entertainment!For this reissue they've added 4 bonus tracks to U.S. Rock's original ten, and really across the album there's a lot of varied moods, including some nice melodic stuff - like the dreamy and majestic "Your Way, My Way" (one of the bonus tracks, which also include a 9+ minute live version of "Steamroller").The MC5 and Ted Nugent and Grand Funk could be common reference points, to cite some big names; also Poobah are in the same realm as other underground American seventies rockers reissued by Rockadrome like Cain and Hooker - but with more unhinged hippie humor we think!Also we should mention after listing the lp last time, we got a personal phone call from the main Poobah guy, Jim Gustafson, thanking us! That was a surprise. Wow, what a nice fella! Apparently he's still got the band goin', so maybe we'll get to see 'em live out here in SF someday!
MPEG Stream: "Watch Me"
MPEG Stream: "Thru These Eyes"
MPEG Stream: "Keep On Rollin'"
POW! Hi-Tech Boom (Castle Face) lp 14.98
NOW AT LAST HERE ON VINYL TOO!!!Hi-Tech Boom is the debut from SF synth punks Pow!, and it's a doozy. Fuzzy, poppy, synth, new wave-y, not that far removed from a lot of the Castle Face stable, but with some retro-futuristic synthiness that positions it somewhere between classic Gary Numan, vintage Suicide and newer outfits like the Mind Spiders. The synths slither and buzz, even the poppiest jangliest numbers are underpinned by thick buzzing layers of synth, and peppered with wild squalls of glitched out synthy psychedelia, but for the most part, the tracks are minimal, stripped down and tranced out, the vibe sort of druggy and laid back, the vocals snotty and snarly, but laid back and sorta wasted, and while some tracks get kinda rocking, the record seems to tend toward sorta midtempo groovers and swaggery stomps, often bordering on zoner dirgery, everything doused in echo and reverb, some total freaked out electro-garage weirdness ("Sugi Walks"), some eighties post punk wrapped in distorto sci-fi synths ("Switchboard Scientist"), and hooky synth flecked garage pop ("66") in equal measure. Castle Face obsessives will no doubt flip for this stuff, and we're suckers for synthed out garage punk anyway, especially when it's all sorta druggy and hypnotic, and thus, this comes highly recommended!!
MPEG Stream: "Hope Dealers"
MPEG Stream: "Vertical Slum"
MPEG Stream: "Sugi Walks"
MPEG Stream: "Switchboard Scientist"
RAINBOWS ARE FREE Waves Ahead Of The Ocean (Guestroom) lp 18.98
Second full length blast of psychedelic stoner rock heaviness from these hippy heavies (we can only assume they're hippies with a name like that right?), and like their first, this is another batch of swaggery, Sabbath-y, pounding stoner psych riffery, with even more dramatic vocals that first time around. Give a listen to the awesomely titled "Speed God And The Rise Of The Motherfuckers From A Place Beyond Hell", which displays the band at their bad ass best. The main riff, a stone cold killer, with some seriously wailing leads over the top, the drums, bombastic and beefy, and when those vocals swoop in, totally over the top. Somewhere between the near operatic metallic howl of Mika from Finnish hypno rockers Circle, the classic metal vox of Judas Priest's Rob Halford, and the space lord motherfucker himself, Dave Wyndorf from Monster Magnet. And actually Monster Magnet is probably the best band to compare these guys too. While not quite as space-y, they have the same massive musical balls, every second here oozing major attitude, and maybe most importantly of all, they don't take themselves too seriously. It may be metal, and it may be heavy, but it sounds like these guys are having the times of their lives, and that sort of vibe is seriously infectious, and gives this a bit of a party rock vibe, which helps keep Rainbows from devolving into generic stoner rock, instead, the sound and the songs are loose and wild and wooly and fun as fuck, totally headbangable, groovy and crazy catchy too, there's also some Southern rock going on throughout, which of course reminds us of all time aQ faves Raging Slab, not to mention all the bands we mentioned in our review of the first Rainbows Are Free record (Kyuss, Reverend Bizarre, Skin Yard, Goatsnake, Freedom Hawk, etc.), and fuck, any band that lands somewhere between Monster Magnet and Raging Slab, gets a BIGtime aQ seal of approval!
MPEG Stream: "Speed God and the Rise of the Motherfuckers from a Place Beyond Hell"
MPEG Stream: "The Botanist"
MPEG Stream: "Waves Ahead of the Ocean"
RAUM The Event Of Your Leaving (Glass, House) lp 17.98
We had copies of the first pressing of this for like a nanosecond last year, sold out almost immediately, before we could review it, and then it went out of print... typical Grouper-related release behavior! But, thankfully, it's been repressed, as a new white vinyl/white cover version, and so now, finally, we DO have enough to get it up on the list, so if you've missed out on nabbing one of these so far, now's your chance, albeit most likely a very brief one. So what's the hubub? Well, this is in fact the first release from Raum, a collaborative project between Liz Harris of Grouper, and Jefre Cantu-Ledesma of Tarentel, the two crafting a gorgeous ethereal songsuite, that most definitely sounds like the perfect combination of both sounds. Lush and languorous, slowly unfurling Cocteau Twins like guitar figures, buried beneath soft shimmery billows, what sounds like vocals or maybe flute, drifting weightlessly in the ether, the whole thing gauzey and grainy, softly distorted, opener "In Stellar Orbit" does in fact sound like the soundtrack to drifting aimlessly though the cosmos, a hushed ambient komsische, that gradually fades to a muted drift, before a gorgeous, haunting coda, all high end melodies, fluttering psychedelically in a field of smeared static. So lovely. Another one of those instances where this could have ben the only track, spread out over both sides, and we would have been perfectly happy. The rest of the tracks are shorter, but still feel darkly immersive, and definitely find the duo pushing sonic boundaries. "Blood Moon", is distorted and blown out, the sounds crumbling and chaotic, but still wrapped in softly shimmering sheets of blissed out thrum, distant vocals are spectral and dreamily prismatic, a softly coruscating dirge, heady and hypnotic and weirdly heavy. The title track is a brief interlude, all that noisiness peeled away, leaving just piano and soft vocal drift, haunting and barely there ambience, a sort of moonlit pastoral chamber folk, performed beneath the stars, which morphs gently into "In Held Company", which sounds like it could be a Grouper track proper, the piano still the main melody, those ghostly vocals hovering above, the second half of the track slipping into some moody murkiness, reminiscent of an even more abstract ambient Caretaker or Tim Hecker, before finishing off with "Blood Loss", which manages to sound even MORE ethereal, all weightless hushed sonic whispers, and cooed angelic murmurings, softly smeared into gorgeously indistinct washed of dolorous dreamlike sound. Beautiful. We do have enough to list, but as mentioned above, odds are these will disappear fast, so grab one quick before they're gone, and as with all super limited stuff, one per customer please!
MPEG Stream: "In Stellar Orbit"
MPEG Stream: "Blood Moon"
ROLADEX Anthems For The Microage (Medical) lp 19.98
We look to Medical Records for all sorts of fantastic electronic music reissues, and find ourselves digging pretty much everything they dig up. So much so that a bunch of Medical releases have ended up aQ Records Of the Week. But recently, Medical has been dabbling in contemporary recordings, their first was a record from darkwave/synthwave outfit Illustration Sonore that we reviewed recently. And while contemporary releases from reissue labels hasn't always worked out so well, so far, Medical's foray into the present, has been a big success, and this, the debut from Texas duo Roladex, keeps that streak going. The label describes Roladex as sounding like Kraftwerk covering Magnetic Fields, which is really not that far off, the songs minimal and melancholy, the music bleepy bloopy, analog kraut-synth, boy / girl vocals, but we also hear Human League and other outfits from that era. Ultimately though, that label description is pretty spot on, the music fantastically robotic and krautrocky, and with the deep dramatic vocals, it's hard not to hear a little Stephen Merritt. But then there are tracks like the John Carpenter-gone-electro of "Empty Streets", or the groovy electro disco-kraut of "Nuke It Out", with its electronic squiggles, laser blast bleeps, and cascading synths, that definitely give this it's own distinct sound. The crazy thing is, that sound is so perfectly and accurately crafted, we never would have assumed this was contemporary, in every way, it sounds like some lost electro-pop / new wave rarity from back in the day, which is probably why we're digging it so much, and what makes it such a perfect fit with the rest of Medical's reissue roster!Pressed on 180 gram transparent electric blue vinyl, housed in a heavy full color sleeve, includes a poster/insert as well.
MPEG Stream: "Anthem For The Micro-Age"
MPEG Stream: "Empty Streets"
MPEG Stream: "Nuke It Out"
SELARODA Polytexturalism (Sanity Muffin) cassette 5.98
There's a bunch of new tapes on this week's list from Oakland tape label Sanity Muffin, this one the first we've heard from Selaroda, who deliver three tracks of ominous drones, and buried rhythms, a sort of moonlit kosmische, all swirling synths and muted pulsations, the first track is mostly chordal smears and shimmery drift, with a brief rhythmic intrusion, being the only thing keeping it from pure aural blissout. The second track is a brief bit of staticky swirl, which quickly builds from white noise squall, to slow-mo space-kraut slowcore, all dreamy, prismatic thrum, and skeletal programed beats, wreathed in soft streaks of Michael Rother like guitars, before bleeding right into the epic closer, which begins like some bedroom Kraftwerk, all pulsing rhythms, and time lapse electronics, deep melodic ripples, and streaks of arpeggiated synth shimmer, a hazy, futuristic new age drift, that soon ditches the drums, letting the sounds billow outwards, weightless and ephemeral, but underpinned with a slightly sinister vibe, due in no small part, to the roiling sea of electronics, and the darkly blossoming drones, slowly surfacing, that build to a rumbling climax, only to collapse into another field of dubbed out rhythms, and glitchy electronic static, which in turn, blossoms into a gorgeously epic bliss-scape, the sound of sunrises and glimmering stars, of warm blue skies and deep black space, all blurred into one long swath of rich, lush, lustrous dronemusic. LIMITED TO 100 COPIES!!! And packaged in full color, two sided, embossed J-cards.
MPEG Stream: "Moonlit Cloud Visions"
MPEG Stream: "Lavadrum vs. Aquascape"
SLEAFORD MODS Austerity Dogs (Harbinger Sound) cd 17.98
Despite the name, don't think parkas and scooters. Think, well, white rap. White rap by a pair of clever & cranky British blokes, who kinda sound like if Mark E. Smith from the Fall listened to a lot of Sensational or Kool Keith and decided to make a really WTF? electronic rap album of his own. Except there's two of him (seems to be one main guy, and a kind of a sidekick).We got turned on to the Sleaford Mods thanks to a really cool record shop over in England, Norman Records, who put this album at the top of their Best of 2013 list, an apparently controversial choice even among the shop's own staffers. Some unconventional, outside of the box thinking there! So we figured we ought to check it out. And guess what? We can see why they picked it, though we can also see why it was a bold choice. Had we heard it last year, we might have been tempted too. It's addictive! And we don't always even understand half of what these geezers are on about, that's part of the charm - the thick accents (lots of "fookin'") and the British slang, only makes more wonderfully confusional their own weird brand of free-association wordplay, resulting in plenty of cryptic non-sequiturs that may or may not be intentional, though there's plenty of obvious witticisms too. The lyrics, near as we can tell, are mainly complaints about life and society and shitty music business stuff, full of references to wankers and "donkeys".Here's some lines from the track "Shit Streets Runny" (that is, if we managed to transcribe it correctly): "Attention to detail / attention to detail / fookin' email / wap! mp3 / I need a fookin' bath / you ain't no roadrunner / you ain't no shoot shoot the runner / shit take on it / meanwhile back in the crap cave / I trod on my cape by mistake / and fell into the fridge mate / I fookin' hate Northern Soul / it's like Motown on the dole". Then the sidekick guy gets some good bits in too, like the one about "Brain Eno / what the 'ell does 'e know?"And all that, their ranting and rhyming, and even a little bit of singing, sort of, comes on top of quite catchy minimalist hiphop backing tracks, with ticktocking drum machines and laid back grooves, simple and hypnotic, making for an oddly humorous and headnodding listen indeed, full of sing-song bits that will get stuck in your head, catchphrases too - we're all going "Wobble wobble wobble" ferinstance. Maybe it's even more amusing to us since we're American, and whatever we're lacking in context is made up for in sheer absurdity. Anyway, diggin' this a lot!
MPEG Stream: "Shit Streets Runny"
MPEG Stream: "Mcflurry"
MPEG Stream: "Showboat"
SULTAN BATHERY Sultan Bathery (Slovenly) lp 13.98
This is the debut full length from Italian psychedelic garage pop combo Sultan Bathery, and if you can disregard the punny band name (that some of us didn't even notice), you'll be treated to a heaping helping of everything we love about that 'sound', a lot of fuzz, a little bit of jangle, a loy of poppiness, a little surf rock, some tripped out Spacemen 3 drugginess, all wound up into some seriously addictive, crazy catchy surf garage fuzz pop pound, that falls sonically somewhere between local garage rock heroes Thee Oh Sees, and the now sadly defunct San Diego surf pop geniuses Mrs. Magician, there's even a bit of swampy swagger that reminds us of another more obscure aQ fave, the late great Railroad Jerk, which for us is high praise indeed! And to be honest, on first listen, we weren't totally blown away, SB sounded great, but sounded a lot like so many other bands, but repeated listens has revealed this to be a serious garage rock gem, with some fucking great songs, and we find ourselves listening to this like crazy, which as always, is about the best recommendation we can give... WAY recommended for fans of the above mentioned bands, as well as other aQ faves like the Liminanas, Lorelle And The Obsolete, Davila 666, etc.
MPEG Stream: "Satellite"
MPEG Stream: "Mirror"
MPEG Stream: "Purple Moon"
SUPERCHUNK Indoor Living (Merge) lp 21.00
For whatever reason, we have never reviewed 1997's Indoor Living, from longtime aQ faves Superchunk, and coincidentally, of all their records, it seems like that one gets way less love than it probably deserves. When people are asked for they favorite Superchunk record, most probably pick No Pocky For Kitty, or On the Mouth, or Foolish, or even Here's Where The Strings Come In, and it's not hard to see why Indoor Living might get left off that list, cuz really, it's kind of a weird record, and sort of low key, with none of the tracks leaping out as a Superchunk 'classic' or 'hit', but in a way, that makes it all the more enjoyable now. Even for us, HUGE Superchunk fans, it's probably the record we've listened to the least, and digging into it now, as it's just been reissued, we're liking it a BUNCH. It's like a whole Superchunk record of deep cuts, some of which really are pretty fantastic. It sounds a bit more introspective, not as hyperkinetic or noise-poppy as some of the others, and there seems to be more keyboards too, and the songs themselves, are slower, and moodier, but there's still plenty of fuzz and crunch, and some serious hooks, and really, the least catchy Superchunk record is still catchier than most bands' least catchiest records, and that definitely is the case here. And if you're a fan, and neglected this one like we did, you don't often get a chance to (re)discover a record from a band in their musical prime, and the more we listen to Indoor Living, the less we understand what the heck we were thinking the first time around. And while, this might not be the one we'd pick as the best introduction to Superchunk, hell, it's sounding pretty goddamn great, and we'd be hard pressed to imagine hearing this, and not wanting to hear more. A new OLD favorite!
MPEG Stream: "Unbelievable Things"
MPEG Stream: "Watery Hands"
MPEG Stream: "Nu Bruises"
MPEG Stream: "Every Single Instinct"
SWEARIN' Surfing Strange (Salinas) lp 14.98
We'd been hearing a lot about this band, lots of folks calling them the 'next big thing' which tend to make us pretty skeptical. But the descriptions made us think we'd actually probably dig it, and we do. Like a lot of recent faves, Swearin' channel that while nineties indie/college rock sound (Nirvana, Dinosaur Jr., the Pixies, Pavement, etc.), and sound like they would have been our favorite band back in the day, and since it seems folks our age, never really got over THAT sound, they definitely have potential to be a new favorite. The sound is definitely derivative, but that's the point right? To these ears, sometimes Swearin' sound like a super charged Blake Babies, with Dinosaur Jr. guitars, and at others, like Pavement crossed with Sebadoh, and really, we'd be hard pressed to think of better band math than that. And although aping a sound is pretty easy, with the right gear, and the right recording, it's not nearly as easy to come up with the sort of SONGS to go with the sound. But Swearin' have it dialed in. With multiple vocalists, boy AND girl, they kick out the nineties indie rock jams, like, well, like it was still the nineties, swaggery and slackery, noisy and a little bit shoegazey, fuzzy and distorted, loose and ramshackle, jangly and hooky as hell, it's hard not to love, and really why try not to. A BIG TIME new favorite around here for sure. For fans of the Pixies, the Swirlies, Pavement, Dinosaur, Liz Phair, Superchunk, Sebadoh, Built To Spill, the Breeders, the Silver Jews and all the rest...
MPEG Stream: "Dust In The Gold Sack"
MPEG Stream: "Watered Down"
MPEG Stream: "Mermaid"
TATE, DARREN Secret Mantra (Fungal Records) cd-r 13.98
Leave it to Darren Tate to throw us for a loop, if only for 53 seconds. Smack in the middle of Secret Mantra is the untitled fifth track, puncturing all of the weirdo DIY electronic spaciousness that came before and comes after it. Just 53 seconds of Tate fingerpicking the guitar, and the melody there is so so sad, so heartwrenching, so damn near perfect a recapitulation the bleakest of British folk, and so fucking brief. Over the years, Tate has been confounding us with his uber-sparse concoctions of zoner radiophonics, field recordings of various English gardens, and slumping drone hypnosis. Secret Mantra would have nestled nicely into his extensive catalogue of eccentric soundscaping, but those 53 seconds make us wonder if Tate might have quite a second career in front of him as England's answer to Jandek, one who carries forth the traditions of indigenous folk songs but through a cracked visionary lens. As it stands, that vignette is just a tease while he turns back to the monosynth, the radio static, the bells, and the clocks that culminate in the smoldering miasma of dub-patterned rhythms and nocturnally mechanical clatter on the untitled ninth piece, which has something of an acoustic :zoviet*france: quality to its eerie repetitiveness. Secret Mantra celebrates the fifthieth album that Tate has released though his own imprint Fungal Records, and like so many of its predecessors, this is limited to a mere 100 copies. Professionally duplicated, we might add.
MPEG Stream: "Secret Mantra 4"
MPEG Stream: "Secret Mantra 5"
MPEG Stream: "Secret Mantra 8"
MPEG Stream: "Secret Mantra 9"
TEMPEL On the Steps of the Temple (Prosthetic) cd 13.98
On The Steps Of The Temple is the debut from this Arizona duo, who offer up a killer slab of instrumental post-black metal, their sound thick and downtuned, the guitars MASSIVE, slipping easily from buzzing blast, to something more churning and mathy, the songs laced with soaring melodies, subtle swirling synths, grinding and metallic one second, with lots of stop/starts and tangled almost progged out arrangements, soaring and majestic the next, with a serious post rock vibe running throughout, at times sounding a bit like a blackened, more metallic Godspeed, and at others, ditching the metal completely, and unfurling some fantastically brooding musical moodiness that manages to be tense and intense without ever exploding into actual metal. That said, the bulk of the record IS spent in metal mode, somewhere between the doomy bombast of Neurosis, the epic slow build of Isis, mixed with some serious metallic mathiness and some furious blackened blasting, with much of the record mixing being a dizzying mix of all of those, the end result something melancholy and mesmerizing, moody and metallic, atmospheric and HEAVY.
MPEG Stream: "Mountain"
MPEG Stream: "Rising From The Abyss"
MPEG Stream: "Final Years"
TRIN TRAN Far Reaches (Castle Face) 12" 15.98
First we've reviewed from this Midwestern misanthrope, a one man, synth swinging, electro-punk, garage pop wrecking machine, who sounds little bit like some musical DNA splicing experiment gone fantastically wrong, equal parts Suicide, Thee Oh Sees, David Bowie, Fabulous Diamonds, Chrome... well, you get, seriously twisted and WTF, darkly sci-fi, a little bit droney, spaced out and psychedelic. Opener "Fashion Has Happened To Fashion" sounds like Bowie's "Fashion", and not just because of the "Fashion" in the chorus/refrain (although that helps), it's stripped down and refashioned into a psychedelic kraut-garage groove, and the follow up also sort of sounds like the same Bowie jam at first, but it's soon pulled apart and reconstituted by some sonic mad scientist, into something much more sinister, wrapped in pulsing, pulsating FX drenched guitars, and tethered to a hypnotic robotic rhythm, with a killer recurring melodic flourish that will get stuck in your head like crazy. The sound is all fuzzy, crumbling guitars, swirly sci-fi synths, skeletal Casio beats, and yelped, occasionally almost falsetto vox. It's dirgey and murky one second, frenetic and frenzied the next, the sound simultaneously spacey and futuristic, raw, primitive and retro. There's an awesome pic of Mr. Trin Tran himself on the sleeve, jamming on synths, guitar strapped across his chest, weird mic contraption hung around his neck, a strange sort-of-Batman mask (of course), with some cymbals, seemingly strapped to his synths, all set up in what appears to be the dingy corner of some run down bar, adorned with a sad little string of Christmas lights, and a closet filled with empty hangers in the corner. If we had to imagine what kind of weirdo was making this music, nothing we could have imagined would have been as perfect as that pic. A sonic space alien, stranded in some podunk town, sending these musical distress signals to his home planet hoping to be rescued. We're digging these jams enough, that we're intercepting those signals, in the hopes that help might never come...
MPEG Stream: "Fashion Has Happened To Fashion"
MPEG Stream: "Eyes The Size"
MPEG Stream: "Hearts Are Serious"
UNCLE TUPELO No Depression (Sony) 2cd 15.98
One of our favorite records, by one of our favorite bands EVER, gets another reissue, this one even more deluxe than the last, but really, Uncle Tupelo's No Depression is the sort of record that doesn't need any bonus tracks or demos or rarities, a record that's practically perfect all on its own, and for fans, who tend toward the obsessive, we'll buy it again and again and again, bonus material or no, if only to give back to a band that has given us so much. This time however, there's plenty of extra radness for rabid fans, well worth buying again, more on that at the end of the review, but here's more or less what we said, last time this record was reissued, back in 2003:Belleville, Illinois' favorite sons almost single handedly made it okay for indie rockers to don sparkly jean jackets and publicly profess their love of all things Byrds and Gram Parsons, creating in the process a genre that would carry on their proud tradition to this day. From the gorgeously-twangy-country-intertwined-with-raucous-punk-rock of their early days to the lush-and -perfect-Nashville-via-Midwestern-backwater-country/bluegrass of their final years, no one can hold a candle to Farrar and Tweedy, the dynamic duo whose different (but equally compelling) songwriting styles and dramatically disparate voices helped form the foundation for one of the greatest rock bands (or country rock bands) of the last decade.And this is the record that started it all. Alt-country, No Depression or whatever it's called. Named for a Carter Family song and influenced as much by punk rock as folk and bluegrass, No Depression is a wild, rollicking, twangy, thrashy record full of amazing hooks, mournful melodies, and kick ass rock and roll. Never had a rock band managed to make country so cool (the Byrds came close, but I mean a ROCK band, a PUNK ROCK band!), opening up the ears of indie rockers everywhere. Perfectly captures the teen angst and dreary hopelessness of rural midwestern farm life, that no-way-out resignation mixed with just a dash of maybe-I-won't-end-up-like-my-folks-poor-and-miserable. It also introduced us to the amazing songsmithery of Farrar and Tweedy, whose tumultuous partnership would only last a few more years, but who would separately continue on (Wilco, Son Volt) to define the genre they practically invented.And even all these years later, this record sounds so fresh and alive and kick ass, if you've somehow made it this far without hearing No Depression, you're gonna have your mind blown. Whether you think you like country or not, this will convince you that you DO. Twangy and melancholic, supercharged, hooky as hell, nearly headbangable at times, country rock that is just so goddamn good, easily one of our all time top ten records. And any chance to revisit this gem, or to turn other folks onto it, we'll take it!Like the previous reissue, this new version also includes the vinyl only bonus track "Left In The Dark" from the Anthology 2lp, "Won't Forget" from the A Matter Of Degrees soundtrack (terrible movie, great soundtrack!), a kick ass cover of the Byrds' "Sin City" from an old 7", but also tacks on (on the second disc), the band's 1989 Not Forever Just For Now demo, with alternate versions of all the No Depression songs, and then some, as well, as well as some live acoustic tracks, and a bunch of tracks from their Colorblind And Rhymeless 1987 demo. Deluxe packaging, tons of liner notes, rare photos, and yeah, you bet your ass we bought it again!!!
MPEG Stream: "Graveyard Shift"
MPEG Stream: "Factory Belt"
MPEG Stream: "Whiskey Bottle"
V/A Bush Taxi Mali: Field Recordings From Mali (Sublime Frequencies) lp 21.00
FINALLY REISSUED, ON VINYL FOR THE FIRST TIME! One of our early faves in the great Sublime Frequencies series, originally released in 2004 on (now out of print) compact disc. What we said back then...Given the sheer volume of commercially available music that's come out of Mali (to say nothing of its West African neighbors, and the rest of the continent), one would think there would be a lot more field recordings of street musicians and the sundry other less commercially viable artists who don't attract the attention of the mainstream world music market. There certainly were labels such as John Storm Roberts' Original Music (R.I.P.) which had been hard at work on just that task many years ago, but recent years - what with "world beat" becoming a commercially viable genre targeted to the lowest common denominator - there's been less and less new, raw, unadulterated sounds to be had from the region. The first, in what is hopefully not the last, attempt from Sublime Frequencies to ameliorate this oversight comes from Tucker Martine. And what a nice collection of tracks it is. Recorded in the Fall of 1998 with, if we may say so, some incredibly nice field recording equipment, Bush Taxi Mali is like a really nice panoramic snapshot of music and sounds. The tracks range from miscellaneous street sounds, the dulcet tones of the kora (a bridged 21 stringed lute with a large calf-skin covered gourd resonator), fife and drum music, children singing and clapping, gorgeous acoustic guitar, and an absolutely frenetic wedding celebration with distorted bull horn amplification.
MPEG Stream: "Morning In Djenne"
MPEG Stream: "Bambaran Wedding Celebration"
V/A Framework Seasonal: Issue 6, Autumn 2013 (Framework Editions) cd-r 25.00
Here's the sixth in the ongoing cd series from Framework, the weekly radio series hosted by Patrick McGinley (aka Murmer) who defines the broadcasts as a "show consecrated to field-recording and its use in composition. Field-recording, phonography, the art of sound-hunting. Open your ears and listen!" All of these recordings found on the Framework Seasonal series are exclusive tracks, and as on the radio series, McGinley actively seeks out and encourages many emerging sound artists by including their work alongside some of more well known phonographers and sound ecologists. Mathieu Ruhlmann's exemplary piece of tactile slithering only cites amplified medical equipment and debris, with the hushed white noise of rumpled textures reflecting similar sounds from Small Cruel Party and Loren Chasse. One the finest composers of phonography Eric La Casa does not disappoint with his concrete-styled piece of clanging metal, military-installation rumblings conjoined with ominous bursts of thunder and seemingly indifferent field recordings to the tectonic shifts occurring throughout. Chris Whitehead's expressive chemical reactions emerge as small skittering events with echoing reverberations across plates of metal; but with the small interludes from what sounds like a muffled guitar, the piece almost recalls a super stripped down / subdued version of a Michael Morley / Gate track. Kim Walker's slow psychographical collage traces the various sites of sonic interest from the ancient kingdom of Moray located in what is now Scotland. Seafaring birds, oceanic roar, and the sounds of urban din lace this sunny sounding recording. Artificial Memory Trace, Sawako and David Velez take very hands off approaches to their straight field recordings - with AMT & Sawako recording the din of insects in the forest and Velez setting up a microphone inside an empty metal oil drum being struck by branches in the wind. These Seasonal Issues are super limited, and the proceeds of each issue goes towards the continued production of the Framework radio series.
MPEG Stream: KIM WALKER "Mormaerdom"
MPEG Stream: MATHIEU RUHLMANN "Pathetic Germination"
MPEG Stream: ERIC LA CASA "Short Cuts From A Grammar For Listening"
MPEG Stream: CHRIS WHITEHEAD "Phragmocone"
V/A Heavenly Ethiopiques: The Best Of The Ethiopiques Series (Heavenly Sweetness) 2lp 31.00
The Ethiopiques series, begun in 1997 and now running to 28 volumes, is one of the best things ever in the history of compact discs. So much amazing music, mostly from the golden years of the early '70s Ethiopian jazz/funk/groove scene, but also touching upon modern recordings and more traditional Ethiopian sounds too. Mississippi Records has been bringing some of the Ethiopiques material (back) to vinyl, having reissued a few records we first heard as part of these collections, and the Heavenly Sweetness label has done a few too. But for folks who are new to the wonders of Ethiopian music, and perhaps are daunted by the size of the Ethiopiques series - or who maybe already have a bunch of the cds in the series but want some vinyl to spin too, how about a 'Best Of'? And this 180 gram vinyl double lp is indeed a best of, a best of the best of, really, expertly selected by the guy at France's Buda Musique who put together the series in the first place. It features tracks from such now familiar names (thanks to our exposure to the Ethiopiques series, that is) as Alemayehu Eshete, Mulatu Astatke, Getatchew Mekurya, Mahmoud Ahmed, Talahoun Gessesse, and more. 20 tracks in all, culled from the full wide range of the series pretty much. Volume 1 is heavily represented, as is vol. 24, but vols. 5, 8, 13, 14, and others have tracks on here too, all the way up to vol. 28, which we haven't even gotten in yet on cd!Whether it's the sultry soulful crooning of Mahmoud Ahmed or the equally tight smoky grooves of Alemayehu Eshete or any of the others here who could lay claim to being 'Ethiopia's James Brown', or the ethnic-folk inflected saxophone instrumental from Getatchew Mekurya, or even the gorgeous piano piece by Ethiopian nun and composer Tsegue-Maryam Guebrou, this is all amazing stuff, such a nice package. But it's just the tip of the Ethiopiques iceberg. Clearly, a Best Of Volume 2 is in order, and then a Volume 3, and then...
MPEG Stream: ALEMAYEHU ESHETE "Tashamanaletch"
MPEG Stream: TESHOME METEKU "Yezemed Yebaed"
MPEG Stream: MULUQEN MELLESSE "Hedetch Alu"
V/A Live At The Bootleggers (Sutro Park) lp 14.98
Another Sutro Park vinyl release of some authentic down home blues, a set recorded in 1971 at a moonshine shack in rural Tennessee, apparently never before released. Featured artists include Lattie "The Wolf" Murrell and William Floyd Davis, along with their host, the anonymous bootlegger!! And a bunch of other unknown folks, customers who came for the bootlegger's illegal liquor and stayed to add their voices to the night's impromptu festivities, fortunately recorded for posterity by interested 'white folks' (young Swedish blues documentarian Bengt Olsson). Tracks include such blues standards as "Spoonful" and "Good Morning Little Schoolgirl", with a few also specifically alluding to drinkin' and booze. So grab a can, bottle or jug of whatever's yer poison and kick back with this archival time capsule of a damn good time being had on a Saturday night in '71. Includes entertaining liner notes on the sleeve that also help to bring the scene to life, as does Cameron Forsley's cover drawing, though the music sez it all anyway.
V/A Rajasthan Street Music (Sublime Frequencies) 2lp 29.00
Holy cow! Yet another fantastic Sublime Frequencies release, this one a double lp of Rajasthan street music from Western India, a region plagued by power failures, droughts, dried up rivers, and the ever encroaching deserts, with a history of continuous invasions, epic battles, and brutal slaughters. (Sorta sounds like this is gonna be a metal comp, but no it's not.) The people of the region are resilient, and this history and the surrounding folklore are forever immortalized in music, a sound at once devotional, traditional and celebratory, the songs on this compilation collected over a two year period between 2007 and 2008, recorded live on street corners, and in people's homes, capturing the raw emotion and deep beauty of the music, and all it embodies and represents. The sounds are super varied, from droned out ragas, trancey and hypnotic, with gorgeous lilting vocals and long layered tones, some peppered with wild percussion, and on some tracks, the singer will just break from the song, and talk to someone else in the room before slipping right back into it. Other tracks sound a bit like stripped down Bollywood musicals, soaring female vocals, buzz wreathed rhythms, and still others are groovy, hazy, psychedelic Indian folk music, shimmering strings, stunning vocal melodies. And while there are moments of meditative melancholia, much of the record seems to celebrate life, the music and voices, infused with a vitality and positive energy, that belies the trials and tribulations of the region and its people. Truly gorgeous stuff.Packaged in a super heavy, full color gatefold jacket, with tons of cool photos, and extensive liner notes, as well as a two sided printed insert, with still more liner notes, on these recordings, the region and its history, as well as notes on each song and performer.
VANTZOU, CHRISTINA No. 2 (Kranky) lp 14.98
The making of this record is almost as fascinating as the record itself. Vantzou, a member of the Dead Texan (along with one of the Stars Of The Lid guys), delivers her second solo record, which was conceived of and composed over a four year period, while she was an SAT exam mathematics tutor. She wrote the whole record using synthesizers and mutated samples, and only then went about notating the music for a proper ensemble, strings, woodwinds, brass, piano, etc. And the results are stunning. The opening track sounds like it could be a Stars Of The Lid track, big swirling clouds of sounds, flecked with starlit piano, lush and lovely and layered, far too short at just two minutes, could easily have listened to a record length version of just this song, but Vantzou and her ensemble have much more to offer, whether it's the haunting, contemplative cinematic drift of track two "Going Backwards To Recover That Which Was Left Behind", a moody balladic dream-dirge, that wreaths pointillist piano in swaths of swoonsome strings and dramatic horns, or the ominously orchestral "Brain Fog" which sounds like Bernard Hermann composing a 20th century classical version of a John Carpenter score, at least until it settles back into something again more Stars Of The Lids-ish. The whole record is darkly dramatic, and VERY soundtracky, alternately achingly lovely, hushed and harrowing, droned out and drowsy, softly psychedelic, with a few tracks introducing a very Arvo Part like choral element, while others sprawl languorously, all dusky and firelit, and a few, get downright epic and bombastic. Gorgeous, gorgeous stuff.
MPEG Stream: "Anna Mae"
MPEG Stream: "Going Backwards To Recover That Which Was Left Behind"
MPEG Stream: "Brain Fog"
MPEG Stream: "The Magic Of The Autodidact"
WARM SODA Young Reckless Hearts (Castleface) cd 13.98
Record number two from local retro garage power pop geniuses Warm Soda, fronted by none other than Mr. Matthew Melton, who avid readers of the aQ list no doubt remember from his previous outfits, the equally genius Bare Wires and Snake Flower 2. But with Warm Soda, Melton and crew continue to hone a practically perfect strain of Yellow Pills style power pop, that sounds, right down to the production, and the songwriting, straight out of the seventies. In fact, if this was 1978, we can only imagine these guys would be HUGE, playing with Dwight Twilley and Cheap Trick, and heck, it's not hard to imagine a Warm Soda Live At Budokan record, cuz holy shit, if we dug the first Warm Soda record, this one is even better. In fact, EVERY time we play this in the store, someone comes up to see what we're playing, and often ends up surprised that it's in fact actually a NEW band. But it's easy to see why, Warm Soda's sound is pitch perfect, jangly fuzzy guitars, woozy super melodic basslines, simple propulsive drumming, and Melton's whispery croon, and of course the SONGS, which are amazing, so catchy, the sort of songs, that even on first listen, sound like you've heard them before, and get immediately lodged in your head, and even after only hearing them a couple times, you'll find yourself humming them days later. Assuming it was something you might have just heard on the radio. The production too, somehow manages to sound modern, while still sounding exactly like some classic vintage recording from back in the day. And the way the choruses are all fuzzy and washed out and reverb drenched, it's hard to explain, but they seem to just soar. We could go on and on and on, as we like to do, and describe this record song by song, but why bother, if you dug the first record, or any of Melton's other projects, you NEED this, and if you've never heard anything, all it should take is a couple of the samples below to convince you, that like us, you might have just found your new favorite retro-garage power pop record!!!
MPEG Stream: "Going In Circles"
MPEG Stream: "Postcards"
MPEG Stream: "Someday You Will Understand"
WHITBY BAY Unextinguishable Candle / Black Cape (self-released) 7" 9.98
Don't know much about this UK black metal trio, other than they have a killer, and nearly illegible logo, and an amazingly ridiculous 7" cover, and that their debut 7" was recorded by none other that Weasel Walter (Flying Luttenbachers) when you hear what these guys have cooked up, a weird hybrid of primitive, grim black buzz, and blown out chaotic noise rock skree, the label suggests Ildjarn meets Harry Pussy, or Ulver crossed with Black Dice, and we definitely hear that. It's like the sounds are black metal, but the arrangements are noise rock, or vice versa, but either way, it's a pretty heady proposition, loose and chaotic, grim and black, and pretty twisted, a stumbling, lo-fi, damaged noise drenched sonic assault, that pairs relentless caveman pound with Mick Barr like squiggle shred, the sound abruptly shifting into a churning death march dirge, the vocals following suit, transformed from blackened screech, to monstrous gurgle. The B-side opens with some soaring fast picked riffage, anchored by some stiff, robotic drumming, the guitars and drums conjuring up a seriously tense backdrop for the hellish vokills, until the sound collapses into a twisted, droned out, static black buzz, guitar skree, double kick drumming, and growled vocals, all stretched out into some sort of knuckle dragging black metal minimalism, only to eventually erupt into some loping, knuckle dragging metallic churn, only to lurch right back into that cool droned out minimal noise/skree part, that we sort of wish stretched on even longer, but instead, the band finish off with one final stretch of filthy black buzz and pound. Killer stuff for sure. Can't wait for the full length. Pressed on blue vinyl, probably limited too, and housed in a nice thick sleeve with the aforementioned ridiculous and amazing cover art.
WHITE GLOVE White Glove (Crimp Wax) lp 9.98
Some of you aQ-er's might remember the Songs From A Gated Community record, by a group/guy called MSG, that we reviewed a while back, an essential WTF? slab of lo-fi Casio-driven 4-track electro nerd pop, with songs about BMX, candy, car stereos, and at the time we wrote that we weren't sure if it was actually recorded by a precocious child, or an adult channeling his inner child, and in a way, even though we now know, we still don't REALLY know. But imagine if the weird suburban outcast, the latch key kid high on pop rocks with his nose buried in comic books and purloined Playboys, who was ostensibly the 'genius' behind that MSG record, was actively sonically chronically his adolescence on record, well then this White Glove record finds that same kid, slightly older, experimenting with pot, trying to make it with chicks, and most importantly SKATEBOARDING. Yup, this is all jangly, punk pop, lo-fi, swaggery SKATE ROCK. We hear shades of the Dead Milkmen, the Surf Punks, Spot 1019, and Camper Van Beethoven even, it's got that sort of simple strummy hookiness, mostly acoustic guitar, or electric guitar through a crappy little practice amp, simple practice space drumming, each song with just one or two parts, with some scrappy, emo-crooned vocals, and lyrics about, well, mostly skating, also being attacked by skinheads WHILE skating, getting stoned, then skating, their friend Jesse's supposedly bisexual girlfriend, some girls's pretty, pretty boyfriend, drinking beer (and then skating), getting pink eye (and not being able to skate), listening to dubstep (?), you get the drift. Like MSG, the songs are fun, and funny, goofy and dorky, but actually, really pretty good, and some of the jams here are super catchy, and you'll find stuck in your head like crazy. Definitely recommended for folks into weird nerd pop, home brewed what-the-fuck songsmithery, and all manner of puerile, juvenile punky poppiness.Includes a download code too!
MPEG Stream: "Geoff & Molly"
MPEG Stream: "Skate Heaven"
MPEG Stream: "Skinheads"
MPEG Stream: "Raggae Machine"
MPEG Stream: "Stoner Blues"