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Highlights of the week of 60 items on
NEW ARRIVALS List #457 (29 August 2014)

album cover KING GIZZARD & THE LIZARD WIZARD Float Along Fill Your Lungs / Oddments (Flightless) 2lp 24.00
Um, ok, either you're reading this review BECAUSE the band is named King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard, or you were just about to stop reading it 'cause the band is named King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard. If the latter is the case, please stick with it, they're actually a better band than their name might suggest (we're making this a Record Of The Week after all!!). Or, if you do think the name is cool, then they ARE as good of a band as you're hoping for. But maybe not the sort of band you'd think they'd be. It's actually kind of hard to pin down exactly what kind of band Australia's King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard are, anyway. Kind of cosmic garage psych pop?
The first disc here, Float Along - Fill Your Lungs (originally released on its own last year in their home country) starts off stonery enough with a fifteen minute spaced out extravaganza called "Head On/Pill", truly a trippy psychedelic swirl, a mind-altering mix of lilting melodies, gentle vocals, and driving motorik rhythms, with loads and loads of FX, all sorts of fuzz and distortion. It's spacey and sunshiney and somehow like a much more garage-poppy Hawkwind or Acid Mothers Temple track. Had us sold right there. But this 7-piece ensemble aren't just about the extended space rock (pop). Most of rest of the songs on Float Along are much shorter, taking elements of that first track, or not, and going to other delightful garage-pop places, variously strummy and twangy and foot-tapping and head-nodding, fuzzy and shambolic, before winding the disc up with another long, tripped out (but mellower) jam in the form of the Eastern-tinged, drone-laced title track.
THEN, there's the 2nd disc, also released separately this year Down Under, the aptly titled Oddments, which is even more varied than the 1st disc. This one starts with a Bollywood-sampling instrumental that makes us think of ol' Money Mark and the Beastie Boys, super groovy and kinda chaotic, fuzzy "hairy funk", with lots of organ and synth sizzle. The psych-groove continues on the next, vocal track, bringing in visions of early Funkadelic and Shuggie Otis. But then, as the disc spins, King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard (love typing that name out!) get back into the ramshackle '60s teen garage pop inspired songwriting that also made up the bulk of the first disc, with a dash of distorted Ariel Pink-ish dementia. The wispy vocals of "Work This Time" make us think of Vincent Gallo's solo album When, "Hot Wax" is a weird, catchy jam incorporating some "Surfing Safari" quotes, "Homeless Man In Adidas" (!) is a hushed acoustic folk number... you see, all over the place. Oddments indeed.
Overall, soundwise, King Gizzard align themselves with the Ty Segall / Thee Oh Sees type of crowd, and so it's no surprise then that they're gonna be over here in the States in October touring with White Fence. Hope we get to see that. Seems like they'd be a blast live. But King Gizzard And The Lizard Wizard's style of "garage rock" is waaaay more cosmic and psychedelic and randomly bizarre than a lot of their US contemporaries, that's for sure. We'll be indulging ourselves heavily in both these records for a while yet, trying to fully get our heads around 'em. Nice, nice, nice.
MPEG Stream: "Head On/Pill"
MPEG Stream: "Mystery Jack"
MPEG Stream: "Pop In My Step"
MPEG Stream: "Alluda Majaka"
MPEG Stream: "Vegemite"

album cover PALLBEARER Foundations Of Burden (Profound Lore) cd 13.98
Soaring, heartbreaking, really heavy and *gasp* REALLY CATCHY. The treacherous "difficult second album" from Arkansas' epic doom dealers Pallbearer is one of those records that you kind of wish every doom album sounded like, yet so few seem to pull it off. A heavy metal record absolutely unashamed to wear its heart on its sleeve and to embrace shimmering melodic bliss, Foundations Of Burden joins such classics as Solstice's New Dark Age, While Heaven Wept's Of Empires Forlorn and Warning's Watching From A Distance as a towering testament to how beautiful, cathartic, honest and human doom metal can really be. (Although we're guessing this is the only one on that list that debuted in the Billboard Top 100 - Wha???). All pretenses are stripped away. There's no concern here with sounding evil, occult or clinically suicidal. Instead this is gut wrenching, soul baring stuff. As a band Pallbearer have improved immensely since their already highly acclaimed debut Sorrow And Extinction, and no element more so than Brett Campbell's vocals. While before they took a bit of a backseat to the immense riffery, here the vocals are much more in focus, no longer buried in the sludge, sounding like some shadow cast hybrid of Ozzy, Trouble's Eric Wagner and Patrick Walker from the aforementioned, much missed and deeply mourned Warning/40 Watt Sun. The balance of weariness and drama he's able to convey really elevates Pallbearer's songs, imbuing them with a sort of classic theatrical tragedy. The production on the record (courtesy of Billy Anderson) is also perfectly enormous. There seems to be space everywhere, but also a real warmth and cohesion between the instruments - overwhelming, crushing, but strangely comforting. And as for that catchiness we mentioned earlierÉ These songs have some serious hooks, and for 10+ minute songs that move approximately apace of a huge and heavily sedated prehistoric snail, that's no small feat. But there's a real ear for songwriting and harmony here, that manages never to sacrifice the heaviness or punishing plod of the music. And while heaviness, heartbreak and humongous riffs are all well and good, the album's true highlight might come in the form of the penultimate "Ashes" - clocking in at only three minutes and consisting mostly of electric piano and vocals, it sounds like it would be more at home on a Mogwai record. It's easily the album's least heavy and most sparse moment, but it's also the most devastating and beautiful, and a perfect offset to the slow motion crushing gravity of the rest of the album. Doom album of the year contender. Metal album of the year contender. Let's just say album of the year contender and leave it at that.
FYI, the vinyl double lp version pretty much sold out already, but is being repressed...
MPEG Stream: "Worlds Apart"
MPEG Stream: "The Ghost I Used To be"
MPEG Stream: "Ashes"

album cover CRIME Murder By Guitar (Superior Viaduct) lp 19.98
Now finally, also reissued on vinyl! Thanks to local label Superior Viaduct. When we got the cd version of this on Kitten Charmer late last year, we didn't happen to make it a Record Of The Week, but probably should have. We certainly sold enough of 'em for it to have been the Record Of The Week by default. So, now that it's on vinyl, let's make it official! (Oh, and the cd version is now gone it seems.)
The first proper, non-bootleg reissue of classic material from this seminal SF punk group came in the form of a demos collection released on John Reis from Rocket From The Crypt's Swami label, and in that review, we offered this concise description of Crime: "Crime proclaimed themselves to be San Francisco's 'First and Only Rock and Roll Band'. That hyperbole of course ain't quite true but indicates the level of punk attitude you're in for. Hard rocking, fast, and snotty, Crime were violent and stylish - they kicked out the jams in SFPD uniforms and shades! This definitely belongs on the same shelf with your Iggy & the Stooges and Dead Boys discsÉ"
And now finally this long in the works, OFFICIAL singles collection sees the light of day, now on vinyl too, gathering up the groups iconic first three (and only) singles, along with what is essentially a whole record of previously unreleased studio tracks! Up first is there debut single, "Hot Wire My Heart", which was famously covered by Sonic Youth, and listening to the original, it's easy to hear why SY were drawn to it, with its droned out melodies, killer hook, and noisy guitars (especially for the time), in fact, it actually kind of sounds a little Sonic Youthy in its original form, which is pretty remarkable. The flipside "Baby You're So Repulsive" is all swaggery knuckle dragging snarl, and like the A side is surprisingly noisy and is definitely prescient, knowingly or not, of what would follow. There's some strange stuttery lurches too, which make this just slightly damaged, and a fucking killer jam that sounds as good now as it did 35 years ago!! "Terminal Boredom" is a furious blast of nihilistic punk rock, laced with plenty of poppiness, a killer main guitar melody, and some mush mouth vocals, that perfectly capture the titular mood. The flipside of that single starts out loose and sloppy, and practically falls apart, before they launch into "Dillinger's Brain", which manages to sound nearly as loose and sloppy, somehow without actually falling apart!
"Frustration" is up next, and the group inject some power poppiness into the aggro punk stomp, with a super catchy main riff, as well as more kick ass guitar melodies (sort-of leads?), before they finish off the singles proper with the B side that gives this collection its name, a Black Flag sounding doomy dirge (SF's doomed for sure), all churning creep, before things crumble into chaos halfway through, only to explode into some serious almost surf punk sounding crunch, that quickly devolves into some snarly, sonic swagger.
And if that weren't enough, there's NINE extra tracks, most of which sound like classic Crime, except maybe for the weird electronics flecked "Gangster Funk", but stick around for the crushing alternate version of Crime's classic "San Francisco's Doomed"!
MPEG Stream: "Hot Wire My Hearrt"
MPEG Stream: "Baby You're So Repulsive"
MPEG Stream: "Terminal Boredom"
MPEG Stream: "Murder By Guitar"

album cover 3RD BASS The Cactus Album (Def Jam) lp 21.00
With this recent vinyl resurgence / renaissance, all sorts of classic hip hop records have been getting reissued, which has had us listening to lots of old favorites, and debating which are the best classic hip hop records. Sure Public Enemy's It Takes A Nation Of Millions was mentioned, as was De La Soul's 3 Feet High And Rising. Scott suggested Tribe Called Quest's Midnight Marauders. We even got to discussing more obscure selections, the D.O.C.'s No One Can Do It Better, Son Of Bazerk's Bazerk Bazerk Bazerk (remember "The Band Get Swivey On The Wheels"?), Allan even suggested Kwame, which got us talking about the Black Sheep, the Dream Warriors, anyway, we were deep in one of these debates, when what should show up in the shop, but The Cactus Album by 3rd Bass. And at least for one of us, the decision was made.
Two white Jewish kids from Brooklyn, who somehow made one of the coolest, hookiest, funnest and funniest records of that era. All it should take is a quick listen to "Sons Of 3rd Bass", the whole song built from samples of Blood, Sweat And Tears' "Spinning Wheel", and holy shit it's so good, the bleating horns, the ominous piano, the way they take the horn part, loop it and turn it into a crazy stuttery melody, and the flows of both MC's, Serch and Prime Minister Pete Nice, Serch is the goofy one, but with a crazy nimble tongue, while Pete Nice's deliver is darker and more serious, perfect foils, and the lyrics are equal parts clever wordplay and cutting disses, and the music, no surprise it's so good as it's produced by both Prince Paul AND the Bomb Squad.
You've probably heard "The Gas Face", which was the big hit, it's a goofy jam, but it's also pretty great, another meticulously arranged sample heavy jam, with some sweet disses (the whole song is essentially a dis), but beyond the goofiness of that track, and the various skits, there's some seriously classic hip hop going on, the loping, jazzy, almost LL Cool J sounding "Monte Hall", the drum heavy stutter of "Soul In The Hole", and then there's the other 'hit' single, "Wordz Of Wizdom", the other classic on the Cactus Album, with samples of "Dream Weaver", even some Steely Dan, the whole thing (like a lot of hip hop of the time) wound around the 'Amen' break by The Winstons, then there's the horn flecked, woozy bass driven groover "Product Of The Environment", we could go on, but pretty much every track here is killer. And while they sample all the usual suspects, James Brown, Aretha Franklin, the Commodores, the Meters, Kool & The Gang, they also get pretty weird, nabbing samples from Tom Waits, Pink Floyd, Depeche Mode, the Doors, even Steve Martin!
So yeah, so many great records from that era, but for now, we've voting 3rd Bass, and giving all those others the Gas Face!!!
MPEG Stream: "Sons Of 3rd Bass"
MPEG Stream: "Wordz Of Wizdom"
MPEG Stream: "The Gas Face"
MPEG Stream: "Product Of The Environment"
MPEG Stream: "Steppin' To The A.M."

album cover AKKORD HTH020 (Houndstooth) 12" 14.98
Another gorgeously grim slab of blackened minimal techno from this recent Record Of The Week honoree, and like that self titled full length, this new 12" is another harrowing expanse of rumbles, and groans, deep vibrations, and cinematic sound design, all wound around skeletal rhythms and buried pulsations. Pretty sure it's meant to spin at 45, but at 33 it's transformed into something even more like SUNNO))) gone techno. The opening track is peppered with weird orc-ish grunts, and a subtly Muslimgauze vibe, while the follow up is a bit more straight up jungle, albeit still wound up in a black haze, and and slow that down for some seriously old school sounding breakbeat slugstep.
The flipside is another spare sprawl that quickly ramps up into a skittery groover, which actually does sound like it's meant to be at 33, sped up to 45, it's frantic and frenetic, but at 33, it's a head nodding pulsating come down bliss out, before finishing off with another atmospheric ambient jam, this one laced with field recordings and heavily dubbed out, murky and mysterious, the techno element sublimated into rib cage rattling low end throb, and some second half stutter step drum programming.
Housed in super striking, embossed covers, and pressed on silver metallic swirled vinyl.

album cover ALTAMONT Civil War Fantasy (Valley King) picture disc lp 30.00
Finally, the first two records from stoner rock heavies Altamont, originally released as cds on Frank Kozik's Man's Ruin label, and LONG out of print (as in 15+ years), have been rescued, resurrected and reissued by the fine folks at Valley King in the form of two super limited picture discs, both sporting new eye popping Alan Forbes artwork, and sounding as good as ever. For those who might not know, Altamont features none other that Dale Crover from the Melvins, but not drumming, nope, he's the frontman, guitar and lead vocals, with the bass and drums handled by the rhythm section from Acid King! And don't be expecting any sort of Melvins style avant-sludge, or fucked up sonic experimentation either, Altamont is all about rocking, much like Acid King in fact, but less sludge and more Southern, stoner style hard rock, you heard us, Southern stoner rock, big riffs, big drumming, drawled vox, plenty of hooks, lots of wah wah, some groovy shred too, we're often reminded of another favorite of ours, Raging Slab, which is most definitely a good thing. All that said though, all those years in the Melvins couldn't help but rub off, so there are plenty of Melvins-y moments, but generally like the popper Melvins moments, given a seriously Southern twist.
1998's Civil War Fantasy probably freaked Melvins vans out big time, but anyone into big, distorto riffs, and slithery almost Sabbathy grooviness, this stuff slays, and you might not even recognize the Hendrix cover ("Ezy Rider") if you didn't know the song already, which should give you an idea of the sound, and yeah, fear not, there's plenty of cowbell too! But it's really about the riffs, and the songwriting, both of which are pretty top notch, and we had sort of forgotten how good this stuff was, but hearing it again all these years later, we're digging it heavily!
2001's Our Darling is more of the same, plenty of swampy slither and big riff churn, if anything, it might be a bit heavier than the first, with Crover confidently slinging that axe like he wasn't actually a drummer, kicking out the jams, and unleashing some seriously shred throughout, and again, the Melvins influence pops up throughout, maybe a bit less subtly than on Civil War Fantasy, but still it's all Crover and crew, and their twisted world of southern rock, and there are covers this time around too, Johnny Thunders' "Pirate Love" and Mose Allison's (by way of The Who) "Young Man Blues", and again, like on Civil War Fantasy, you might not know they were covers, since they fit so perfectly with the rest of the Altamont originals, although the B-side does feature one particularly trippy stretch of abstract psychedelic drone-y drift, but it's surrounded on both sides by plenty more Southern psychedelic blooze rock stomp.
Each picture disc is limited to 500 copies, both feature all new artwork by Alan Forbes, and each comes housed in a stickered, heavy PVC plastic sleeve.
MPEG Stream: "Civil War Fantasy"
MPEG Stream: "Ezy Rider"
MPEG Stream: "Bitch Slap"

album cover ALTAMONT Our Darling (Valley King) picture disc lp 30.00
Finally, the first two records from stoner rock heavies Altamont, originally released as cds on Frank Kozik's Man's Ruin label, and LONG out of print (as in 15+ years), have been rescued, resurrected and reissued by the fine folks at Valley King in the form of two super limited picture discs, both sporting new eye popping Alan Forbes artwork, and sounding as good as ever. For those who might not know, Altamont features none other that Dale Crover from the Melvins, but not drumming, nope, he's the frontman, guitar and lead vocals, with the bass and drums handled by the rhythm section from Acid King! And don't be expecting any sort of Melvins style avant-sludge, or fucked up sonic experimentation either, Altamont is all about rocking, much like Acid King in fact, but less sludge and more Southern, stoner style hard rock, you heard us, Southern stoner rock, big riffs, big drumming, drawled vox, plenty of hooks, lots of wah wah, some groovy shred too, we're often reminded of another favorite of ours, Raging Slab, which is most definitely a good thing. All that said though, all those years in the Melvins couldn't help but rub off, so there are plenty of Melvins-y moments, but generally like the popper Melvins moments, given a seriously Southern twist.
1998's Civil War Fantasy probably freaked Melvins vans out big time, but anyone into big, distorto riffs, and slithery almost Sabbathy grooviness, this stuff slays, and you might not even recognize the Hendrix cover ("Ezy Rider") if you didn't know the song already, which should give you an idea of the sound, and yeah, fear not, there's plenty of cowbell too! But it's really about the riffs, and the songwriting, both of which are pretty top notch, and we had sort of forgotten how good this stuff was, but hearing it again all these years later, we're digging it heavily!
2001's Our Darling is more of the same, plenty of swampy slither and big riff churn, if anything, it might be a bit heavier than the first, with Crover confidently slinging that axe like he wasn't actually a drummer, kicking out the jams, and unleashing some seriously shred throughout, and again, the Melvins influence pops up throughout, maybe a bit less subtly than on Civil War Fantasy, but still it's all Crover and crew, and their twisted world of southern rock, and there are covers this time around too, Johnny Thunders' "Pirate Love" and Mose Allison's (by way of The Who) "Young Man Blues", and again, like on Civil War Fantasy, you might not know they were covers, since they fit so perfectly with the rest of the Altamont originals, although the B-side does feature one particularly trippy stretch of abstract psychedelic drone-y drift, but it's surrounded on both sides by plenty more Southern psychedelic blooze rock stomp.
Each picture disc is limited to 500 copies, both feature all new artwork by Alan Forbes, and each comes housed in a stickered, heavy PVC plastic sleeve.
MPEG Stream: "Saint Of All Killers"
MPEG Stream: "Short Eyes"
MPEG Stream: "Our Darling"

album cover AMBARCHI, OREN / STEPHEN O'MALLEY / RANDALL DUNN Shade Themes From Kairos (Drag City) 2lp 27.00
Another underground superstar collaboration. This time Aussie guitarist Oren Ambarchi, the Stephen O'Malley half of SUNNO))), as well as one of the Master Musicians Of Bukkake, Randall Dunn, got together to conjure up a gorgeously spooky alternative score to a film by Alexis Destoop called Kairos, as is often the case, we've yet to see the film, but the music on its own is pretty great. As you might imagine from the lineup, it's all shades of dark and ominous, sinister and menacing, haunting and atmospheric, from swirling flurries of glitchy electronics, to drowsy, twang flecked, Earth-like crawls, caked in gristle and grit, thrumming swells of industrial rumble, and dense billows of chordal shimmer, some moments dark and jazzy, others cosmic and dreamy, still others driving and droney. There are some heavy moments for sure, the second side/movement takes the skitter of the first and adds some rhythmic muscle, as well as some thick sheets of crumbling buzz, creating what almost sounds like a drone metal Necks, but laced with more psychedelia and some buried almost-Eastern sounding melodies, like a blurry, melting raga wrapped around some gristled/grizzled slow core.
After that, the sound gets a bit more mystical and abstract, much like Dunn's Master Musicians, spaced out drifts, hushed and haunting, but only briefly, before blossoming into wild, percussion heavy psychedelic freakout. Japanese psych chanteuse Ai Aso contributes some dreamy vocals on the second half of side 3, transforming the sound into a hushed, psychedelic torch song, before returning to the drone and buzz for the sprawling final movement, gorgeous arcs of warm guitarbuzz and moaning, droning tones, layered and lush, drifting drowsily, almost like all the instruments are gradually detuning, the shimmery dreamlike drift, fading, darkening, and blackening into an almost SUNNO)))-like slo-mo finale.

album cover BILDERS The Utopians R Just Out (SmartGuy) 7" 7.98
Back in the beginning of 2013, we were super thrilled to host an instore performance by legendary NZ singer songwriter Bill Direen, and it was as great as we could have hoped, all of us having been huge fans of his work, but in particular, his records with the combo Bilders, which over the years has included pretty much every notable member of the NZ underground. While the band never really broke up, we were still pretty excited to discover a brand new release from the Bilders in 2014, one that features a different line-hop on each track to boot. There might be a bit more polish, but the sound is still distinctly NZ, and distinctly Direen, his urgent, distinctive sung/spoken vox, wound around a sinewy almost post punk sounding backdrop, replete with tinkling chimes and some dreamy female background vox, and it all still manages to sound rough and raw, and fantastically shadowy.
The two tracks on the B side delve even deeper into the murk, the first all swaggery and slithery, low slung bass throb and tribal percussion, laced with wheezing organ, spidery guitars, and a surprisingly poppy chorus, while the second, is live, recorded on a recent Euro tour, and is a bit more noisy, the vocals more urgent and bellowed, the music following suit, loose with plenty of swing, both tracks a bit swampy, and blooze-y, the whole thing displaying Direen and company in fine fine form.

album cover BODY HAMMER II: The Mechanism Of Night (The Path Less Traveled) cd 9.98
Way back in 2009, we reviewed a record by a band called Body Hammer, a brilliantly dizzying hybrid of damaged hyper grind, blackened dronescapery and frenzied math metal, all housed in a dvd case, wrapped in a sumo cloth. Now here we are five years later, and the man behind Body Hammer, just walks into aQ, having moved to the Bay Area to attend Mills, and in hand, a new Body Hammer record! And while we'd like to say it's way weirder, or way more fucked up, we just can't cuz the first one was pretty demented and damaged, but what we can say, is the new one is just as tweaked and twisted, which all we could have hoped for, hell, even the first track is pretty difficult to describe, a sort of psychedelic industrial blowout, all metallic percussion, and wild electronic squiggles that could be guitar shred, but is likely something else entirely, a dizzying rhythmic workout that leads directly into a 33 second blast of furious metallic grind, only to then explode into a nearly as brief burst of power electronics, which again in turn, transforms into a blurry bit of collaged field recordings and short wave broadcasts, and thenÉ
Well, before we go track by track, it should be noted there are lots of brief tracks here, some ambient, some blacknoise, some grinding metal, some all three combined, the metal parts are totally frenzied drummachinegun style blowouts, while the more abstract tracks are all over the map, eventually as the track lengthen, the sound becomes more harrowing, the terrifying sample laced atmosphere of "A Presence", the churning black buzz ambience of "A Disappearance", laced with buried vokills and tangled guitar shred, or the slo-mo doomdrone of "The Church", but peppered throughout are dense bouts of Godflesh-like industrial metal churn, all robotic deathmarch and machine like lumber, barely there soundscapery, cinematic and haunting, tripped out psych-noise, blasts of guitar clang, and billows of hazy FX, symphonies of feedback, and finally, a hazy long form sprawl of field recording flecked, murky industrial drift, a strangely disturbing coda, for a fantastically fucked up record.
MPEG Stream: "The Iron Bough"
MPEG Stream: "Body Blockade"

album cover BORIS & MERZBOW Sun Baked Snow Cave (Hydra Head) 2lp 21.00
Originally released on cd almost a decade ago now, this killer single song collaboration is now available on vinyl for the first time ever! Here's our review of Sun Baked Snow Cave when we first listed the cd version back in 2005...
Outside of being Japanese, and VERY VERY loud, one wouldn't necessarily think Boris and Merzbow had a whole lot to offer each other sonically. But as we now know, that is most certainly not the case. Their first outing together was the legendary Megatone record, a stretched out doom drenched drone of mammoth proportions, sure there were guitars and basses and plenty of laptop fuckery and analog squiggle, but it was all smeared into a totally mesmerizing , incredibly dense drone record. Match up number two, the also LONG out of print LP only 04092001, threw some people for a loop, especially folks all ready for the drone. Instead they were given what was essentially a Merzbow produced Boris ROCK AND ROLL set. Like their Heavy Rocks record, an energetic blast of overdriven, Stooges-esque sludge stomp RAWK, but for 04092001, mixed on a Fisher-Price mixing board, broadcast through a transistor radio stuck between stations. Cool for sure, but much more noisy and messy. Which brings us to the awesomely titled Sun Baked Snow Cave, which finds Merzbow and Boris together again, and returning to a sound much like Megatone, but with a definite nod to Flood as well (our favorite Boris record btw). In fact we might go out on a limb and claim that this is the best (non-rock) Boris record since Flood!
Gorgeous ghostly guitars, simply strummed or delicately picked, each note and chord set adrift in a vast expanse of barely there sound, spare, drifting and languid. After about ten or twelve minutes the guitars are suddenly darkened by a slow building cloud of distant rumble and reverberant thunder, with lightning flashes of electronic grit, hiss and flicker. Then, about twenty minutes in, the bottom drops out (or IN) and the sky falls when a MASSIVE slab of super distorted downtuned guitar is laid out, a constant buzzing roar, over which Merzbow drapes all manner of glitch and stutter and crunch and crackle. A dizzyingly dense swirl of free noise drone, thick and slowly shifting, noisy, but in a muted controlled way. Eventually the storm passes, and the last twenty minutes of the record is one extended stretch of dreamy drift, surrounded by Merzbow at his most subtle, little smears of sonic haze, sort of like the audio equivalent of the afterimages you see when you stare at the sun. A haunting coda that gradually dissipates and fades to grey, and then black. Packaged like the cd version in an exquisite eye popping gatefold, with lovely black, white and blue metallic artwork by Stephen O'Malley. LIMITED TO 1200 COPIES!!!
MPEG Stream: "Sun Baked Snow Cave (excerpt)"

album cover CANNIBAL FEROX (ROBERT DONATI) Original 1981 Motion Picture Soundtrack (One Way Static) lp 30.00
In the late seventies and early eighties, there were a handful of jungle-sploitation / grindhouse / cannibal / horror / gorefests, that most definitely pushed the boundaries of good taste, with many of them including footage of actual animals being killed, hiring actual tribespeople to play the 'savages', at the time, films like these are reviled, and often banned, and even now, they're difficult to watch, the inherent racism and animal cruelty, but they are also fascinating, twisted, and car-wreck mesmerizing. One of the most (in)famous was of course Roberto Donati's Cannibal Ferox, also known as Make Them Die Slowly, which like most of those films, found unsuspecting folks stumbling into a world of savage cannibals, who would systematically torture, dismember and of course eventually eat the explorers. Total gross out exploitation, that definitely foreshadowed the torture porn so popular today.
And like lots of soundtracks of the era, it's a dizzying mix, of noisy, psychedelic, avant grade electronics, brooding, ominous mood music, and cheesy funk. The best tracks here are all swirling synths, fuzzy psychedelic guitars, pounding tribal drums, sounding at times like a more spaced out Goblin, and at others, like something you might hear on Hospital Records, and at others, like some droned out psych-kraut spaciness. We have to say, as much as we were mildly obsessed with this move, and movies like it, we don't at all remember the soundtrack being so cool. Seriously tripped out and experimental, heavy in places, psychedelic all over. It takes a strong stomach to watch the film, but the soundtrack is definitely pretty fantastic all on its own, sans visuals.
As always, fantastically packaged, in a heavy full color gatefold jacket, with stunning images from the film inside and out. Also included are handful of unreleased tracks not on the original score, as well an insert with liner notes from various folks involved in the film, which includes some terrifying/harrowing tales of making the movie!

album cover CARLTON MELTON Live At Hebden Bridge (Triangle Sounds) cassette 9.98
We only got a handful of these, direct from the band, and since there are only 100, odds are we won't be able to get more. Which is too bad, cuz it's pretty great. Carlton Melton doing their thing in the UK during 2012's Photos Of Photos European tour, hazy, druggy expanses of extended psych drift, sun dappled slow build epics, some pounding drum driven kraut-psych workouts, a handful of CM classics reworked live, swooping easily from hushed prettiness, to fierce, fiery heaviness, wild tangles of psych guitar draped over squiggly spaced out synths, simple motorik rhythms locked tight, anchoring the group's otherwise heavenward drift. Dense and droney, darkly rocking, psychedelic and epic, essential psychedelia for sure, and CM fans won't want to miss out. Sad thing is lots will, so those quickest on the trigger will nab one. And as if you needed to be told, one per customer.
LIMITED TO 100 COPIES, the tapes silver/purple glitter, with 12 different labels, each housed in a cloudy plastic clamshell case with a full color sticker.

album cover CULPEPER'S ORCHARD s/t (Shadoks Music) lp 43.00
Reissued on vinyl, nice! (And expensive, it's an import, but worth it, really, it's a heavy seventies progressive cult classic!)
Here's what we said when we first freaked out about this upon the occasion of a cd reissue some years ago:
Three things to note about this album:
1) Good lord, the cover! Have you ever seen a psychedelic cartoon vision of a magic garden inhabited by a freaky gnome like that before?
2) If you ask Mikael Akerfeldt of Swedish death metal / progressive rock geniuses Opeth about what his all-time favorite rare prog rock records are, along with First Utterance by Comus he'll name this one, the 1971 debut from Denmark's Culpeper's Orchard. And, now having heard it thanks to Mikael's endorsement, Allan here would too!
3) You'll probably dig this if you like the idea of blending rustic country-folk, twee hippy psych pop, and some heavy hard rock guitar riffery into one unique acid-prog experience that comes across like a mixture of Jethro Tull, Kaleidoscope UK, Yes, the Incredible String Band, and Zeppelin or Sabbath. A great freeking record.
MPEG Stream: "Teaparty For An Orchard"
MPEG Stream: "Your Song & Mine"

album cover DAWSON, SMOKE Fiddle (Tompkins Square) lp 19.98
Yet another fantastic reissue from local label Tompkins Square, this one of an ultra rare 1971 private press lp from fiddle player Smoke Dawson, who has a crazy interesting history, detailed in the extensive liner notes, the highlights being: played with Peter Stampfel of the Holy Modal Rounders in his first band; lived for years at Cafe Lena, the hallowed folk music venue located in Saratoga Springs, NY; spent years as an itinerant bagpipe and fiddle player; played with Golden Toad, a group that often opened for the Grateful Dead; survived cancer; and there's so much more, needless to say, a crazy confluence of coincidence led Tompkins Square head honcho Josh Rosenthal to meet the still very much alive Dawson, and to make this fantastic record available again for the first time in four plus decades. And fantastic it is, all solo fiddle, super emotive and lyrical, his technique rooted in classical music, but his playing intuitive and utterly unique, with some of the tracks here sounding like classic bluegrass, others very much UNlike traditional folk and bluegrass. Dawson claims his technique involves a bit of sorcery (hence the wizened wizard on the cover) and we very much believe it!
MPEG Stream: "John Brown's Dream"
MPEG Stream: "Wild Goose Chase"
MPEG Stream: "The Girl I Left Behind Me"
MPEG Stream: "The Minotaur"

album cover DIE ENTWEIHUNG The Cage (Acephale Winter Productions) cassette 5.00
This is full length number SIX (!) from this Israeli one man black metal band, and regular readers of the list might remember that we recently reviewed his Joy Division tribute (of which we have a few copies left), and while there were moments of black buzz throughout, it was fought to get a measure of what Die Entweihung actually sounded like until now. And it's not hard to see why he might end up wanting to make a tribute to Joy Division, as his sonic palette is dour and gothic, heavy on the minor key miserablism and the synths, in fact, the synths are mixed SUPER loud, so much so that it gives the proceedings a pretty demented/damaged vibe, like some sort of blackened "Final Countdown", but it's even cooler when the guitar slips into some metallic shred, and the synths and guitar get locked in strange harmonies and at times seem to duel. The programmed drums too add their own dimension, and when the keyboards pull back, the guitars crank and get super heavy, just check out the first sample, and you get a little bit of everything, even when the synth swoops back in and is laid over the loud synths, dizzying and WTF, but pretty killer too. And that's just the first track. From there on out, it's a constant battle between the manic riffing, the soaring synths, gurgling vocals, frantic drum programming, some killer riffing, dense intricate arrangements, the sound grim and blackened part of the time, almost psychedelic part of the time, and on tracks like "Time" it gets almost proggy, like some sort of psychedelic, depressive black prog, which as you might imagine, we dig a BUNCH.
There's even a Summoning cover, "Lugburz" (also the name of one of Andee's cats btw), which deftly captures the spirit of the original, and recasts it as a perfect Die Entweihung track, the synths dialed a bit back, but otherwise, a gloriously epic and majestic slab of lumbering, Tolkeinesque doom black metal buzz.
MPEG Stream: "The Train To Nowhere"
MPEG Stream: "The Cage"
MPEG Stream: "Where's That Life?"

album cover DUNNOCK A Forest Of Shattered Promise (Acephale Winter Productions) cassette 4.00
One of three new releases from local label Acephale Winter, this one possibly the most notable, as it's the debut release from the man behind the label, and apparently, he almost didn't let us hear it, but did once he was assured that our tastes in black metal ran very much toward the damaged and demented, and while this might not be as fucked up as Benighted Leams (but then what is!), it is pretty strange, and seriously far out, definitely a primo slab of outsider blackness, as is evidenced but the first few minutes, an intro of sorts that involves field recordings of rain and storms, dense rumbling drones, haunting synths, moody piano figures, a killer swath of crumbling distortion, even some strange samples, all of it leading up to the first song proper, which is a noisy, chaotic beat, EXTREMELY lo-fi, the guitars an insectoid swarm, the drums a barely there pulse, mostly just the snare audible over the churning blackbuzz din, but then some even weirder stuff starts to happen, the sounds blur and bleed, the buzzing becomes suffused with organ thrum, the vocals transformed into a sort of cult-like chant, the whole thing woozy and psychedelic, before lumbering back into more blasting stumble and howl.
Some of the other tracks are much more straight up raw black primitivism, but others are wild concoctions of atonal clean vocals, programmed machine like rhythms, and squalls of guitarnoise, there are weird lullaby like stretches that almost sound like renaissance faire children's music, there are haunting dronescapes, there are warped, blown out slowcore dirges that almost sound like Nirvana's Bleach demos, slowed way down, and doused in blown out distortion, and the record bookends with another blast of stormy field recorded ambience and a seriously confusional brief bit of sonic schmaltz right at the end. Killer stuff, warped and WTF for sure. Definitely excited to hear more...
MPEG Stream: "...Freezing From The Rain"
MPEG Stream: "Etched Upon"
MPEG Stream: "She Was Cold"
MPEG Stream: "I Told You I Was Sick"

album cover ESPLENDOR GEOMETRICO Sheikh Aljama (Geometrik) lp 21.00
First time available on vinyl, Sheik Aljama has long been heralded as one of the finer albums from the long-running Spanish industrial project Esplendor Geometrico. The recordings here began as early as 1986, but the album didn't see completion until 1991. Sheikh Alkama is laced with Arabic samples, percussion, and radio broadcasts, and given the entire catalogue from Muslimgauze who genetically fused Arabic modalities within an industrial agenda, Shiekh Aljama will now and forever be compared to Muslimgauze. There's plenty to separate Shiekh Aljama from Muslimgauze though, but context is key to understanding this album. Cabaret Voltaire may have been the earliest to use Arabic samples within a bleak form of proto-electronica; and these eerie dislocations of Arabic sounds from "the other" came as an anti-colonial diatribe against what the philosopher Edward Said described as Orientalism. Both Muslimgauze and Esplendor Geometrico took those ideas much further than Cabaret Voltaire's appetite for sensuality. For Muslimgauze, the noise and Arabic rhythms were in response to very specific contemporary political events taking place in the Middle East; but for Esplendor Geometrico, the album cites the fall of the Republic of Cordoba in the 11th Century with Arabic and Islamic culture being driven out of the Iberian peninsula. Esplendor Geometrico's mesmerizing rhythms sizzle with corrosive noise and metal-bashed clamor; and the sampled chants seem positioned more as subliminals than as overt citations. "Medinati" looks back to EG's pioneering industrial work in the early '80s, more in keeping with the direct-action pummel of Test Dept; but immediately following this is the disorienting yet hypnotizing dervish of "Descontrol" with its spasmodic dromedary rhythms and shrouded megaphone barking. Like Muslimgauze, Esplendor Geometrico builds a didactic framework and allows the aesthetics of their rhythm and noise to flourish within. It's a great album to have back in print; and very strange to think this has never been on vinyl until now.
MPEG Stream: "Baraca"
MPEG Stream: "Descontrol"
MPEG Stream: "Medinati"

album cover FLOWER TRAVELLIN BAND Satori (Phoenix Records) lp 24.00
After an all-too-lenghty hiatus, the vinyl reissue of this all-time aQ fave is back in print, and back in stock, again!!! We haven't listed it on vinyl since list #285, so it's about time - if you don't have it, you're in for a treat.
Here's what we said about Satori, long, long ago when we listed a compact disc edition of this classic Japanese '70s psych rock masterpiece...
A while back we listed this, just 'cause we happened to order a few in and some of the staff here who were previously unexposed to the wonders of the Flower Travellin Band, notably Byram, became obsessed with it (and them). It was a Japan-only import and we felt that while many might already know this album backwards and forwards, it had most certainly slipped through the cracks for too many others out there. So we listed it and got an overwhelming response. Now it's a constant seller here at AQ. And still to this day, almost any time you come into the store, you might well hear the Flower Travellin' Band blaring.
This is an album (and a band) that are not celebrated nearly enough - possibly out of misguided notions of their being another bad psych knock-off among the many crowding the record racks in the early seventies. But Japan's Flower Travellin' Band were no mere cheesy imitators of occidental rock 'n roll, they were in actual fact a full-fledged, pioneering tour de force of psychedelic progressive hard rock, equalling the krautrock heavies of the era. FTB can be compared favorably to Amon Duul's better efforts with their experimental meandering (think Yeti), and the best trancey spaceouts from Can. Yet there's never a sense that FTB lose track of their compositions no matter how far out they take a track. Perhaps because even more than these experimental Krautrockers, FTB's heavy (fucking ominously heavy) sound points to a major Sabbath, Purple, and Crimson influence. Released in 1971, Satori is the band's second and arguably best album. From the first screech/howl at the beginning of track one - "Satori Part I" (the tracks on the album are all "Satori", parts I-V) - from vocalist Joe, who inhabits a zone somewhere between Can's Damo Suzuki and Deep Purple's Ian Gillan, the album gets straight down to business. Joe's scream is followed by a foreboding bass, guitar and drum dirge that's straight up collision between Cream and Black Sabbath in which no one survives. It's got so much more teeth than either, it's not even funny, predating punk by a good many years. "Satori Part II" however is quintessential FTB Over a pounding tribal drumbeat, alternating between a buzzing sitar-esque guitar drone and a melody line that curls ripples and lilts like a plume of burning incense smoke, guitarist Hideki Ishima lays out one of the creepiest, coolest guitar leads ever. If that ain't enough, vocalist Joe's singing is like that of Axl Rose being channelled by the Sun City Girls! Even if the rest of the album were total shit - which it ain't - the cost of this cd would still be well worth it for this song alone! "Part III" - an instrumental - picks up where II leaves off but slows the tempo down to a deathly pace, which makes it even heavier. This is the Sabbath influence on FTB writ large. Replete with an improv freakout before returning to the original riff and building into a frenzied crescendo. Needless to say, if you weren't bobbing your head at the beginning of the song, you will be by its end. "Part IV" could be considered FTB's "blues" number, with Joe picking up the harmonica instead of singing. But instead of churning out the expected twelve bar formula, FTB truncate the form and construct a minimalist jam around a short riff instead. "Part V" shows yet another facet of FTB's seemingly infinite potential with Hideki (?) playing some kick ass, spooky koto-like guitar overdubbed on top of some heavy psych. Damn! They could have done ten fucking albums around this schtick alone and probably never lost our interest... sigh... Absolutely, fucking recommended!!!!
MPEG Stream: "Satori Part II"
MPEG Stream: "Satori Part III"

album cover FONTAINE, BRIGITTE s/t (Superior Viaduct) lp 19.98
Brigitte Fontaine may get filed next to ye-ye girls like Francoise Hardy and Chantal Goya, but the eclectic avant-folk records she has been making with the help of percussionist Areski Belkacem since the seventies take the pop seed and mutate it far beyond the reach of any other French chanteuse. This is a reissue of her self-titled album from 1972, and it moves through the sounds of gorgeous psychedelic folk, string and organ-backed polyphonic liturgical-style chants advocating power to the people, medieval prog stylings, bizarre poetics, spoken word, barnyard avant-jazz, and the odd bout of screaming or anti-capitalist rallying. Her seductive voice grounds a kind of dada futurism that emerges alongside the deft navigation of styles, a hallmark of her work. Brigitte Fontaine's brand of cerebral pop experimentalism puts her in a strata attained by few artists. What reference points we can dig up - Art Ensemble (of course), the best Os Mutantes records, Yoko Ono as a French situationist - don't really adequately explain Brigitte Fontaine's haunting oeuvre. Let us just say that listening to this album makes us giddy with joy (seriously!), and comes highly recommended.
MPEG Stream: "Brigitte"
MPEG Stream: "Marcelle"
MPEG Stream: "Eros"

album cover GARBAGE AND THE FLOWERS, THE Stoned Rehearsal (Quemada) lp 19.98
A little while back we reviewed a reissued of the debut from NZ noise pop combo The Garbage & The Flowers, which for many was the first time hearing this amazing outfit, but for those already well versed in the woozy ways of TG&TF there's this vinyl only collection of a rare rehearsal session, which is like an even rougher and rawer version of the group's already rough and raw sound, the detuned warble is even more woozy and druggy, the vocals echo drenched and buried in the mix, the drums a drunken stumble, the melodies angular and atonal, but strangely mesmerizing and hypnotic, slipping easily from lush warp-pop jangle to damage deconstructed art rock, and right back again. Minimal, and moody, and with lots of random studio chatter left in. It's pretty cool to hear the band talking to each other mid song, offering suggestions or directions, before effortlessly slipping right back into the song, or even more remarkable changing direction completely, as if the group just happened to be recording the actual genesis of the song(s).
Boy / girl vocals over sparkling fields of guitar glimmer, plenty of amp buzz and tape hum, extremely lo-fi, but that fidelity is the perfect fit for this band's damaged, slo-mo, Velvet Underground meets The Clean outsider jangle pop. Fans of classic NZ outfits, and all those amazing Flying Nun records, will dig this immensely. Includes a 'sing-along' lyric sheet as well.

album cover GODZILLA (AKIRA IFUKUBE) OST (Death Waltz) lp 37.00
We didn't think we'd be able to get any copies of this in at all, there seemed to be some issues with the licensing or something, but somehow, finally, we managed to get a handful of these in. A super deluxe reissue of the iconic score by legendary Japanese composer Akira Ifukube, for the classic 1954 monster movie Godzilla, that's right, the ONE, the original, the monster movie that started it all, and Ifukube's score is as much a classic as the movie itself. And what better way to celebrate Godzilla's SIXTIETH birthday (and anniversary of the movie/score) than with a deluxe Death Waltz reissue! And deluxe it is, as always, but more on that in a second. The music itself is stunning, as is pretty much everything we've heard by Ifukube (in partiuclar, his score for King Kong Vs. Godzilla, which we raved about here back in 2006), a mix of lush orchestration, sinister strings and traditional Japanese folk. There is of course the instantly recognizable theme music, with it's tense, soaring strings, but then the lilting percussive exotica of "Ootojima Temple Festival", quickly followed by the droning, plodding, ominous "Stormy Ootojima Island, which builds and builds, driven by booming percussion that sound, as they're meant to, like Godzilla's lumbering footfalls, there's the jaunty military fanfare of "Japanese Army March I", which leads right into the arrival of the monster, the strings darkening, like the skies above, as the monster approaches the shore, tense and intense, the refrain from the opening theme returning, but this time even more frantic and frenzied, and then "Godzilla's Rampage", which is so scary, and creepy, the horns moaning malevolently, a funereal dirge, a haunting threnody, and so it goes. There's plenty more, and all of it's great. Has us wanting to watch the movie again to, BAD!!
And as we mentioned, Death Waltz does another fantastic job with the packaging, this time featuring striking new cover art by Cheung Chung Tat, which is reporduced inside on a folded movie theater style poster, the vinyl is a grey swirl, the music itself is presented on vinyl for the first time ever, remastered from the master tapes at Toho Studios, there's a Japanese style obi too (of course) with some liner notes and credits, and as you might imagine, this is also VERY LIMITED!!
MPEG Stream: "1"
MPEG Stream: "2"
MPEG Stream: "3"
MPEG Stream: "4"
MPEG Stream: "5"

album cover GROSSKOPF, HARALD Synthesist (Bureau) cd 17.98
Previously reissued on vinyl via the RVNG label in 2011, Bureau B reissues this kraut-synth rarity once again, on vinyl (listed last time) and now cd, with its original cover. Here's what we wrote about it previously:
Before 1979, Harald Grosskopf was mostly known as a percussionist for Ash Ra Tempel, Cosmic Jokers and Klaus Schulze. But during one bleak summer where his longtime girlfriend left him, he fortuitously met up with two musicians who he would later collaborate with in the band You (whose 2 releases have also been reissued on Bureau B). One of them lent Grosskopf his flat for the summer and a mini-Moog and sequencers to work on a solo record. With a reel to reel and eight track recorder he received from Schulze as compensation for his contribution on some recordings, Grosskopf then had to teach himself how to use all the new equipment, which was no easy task. But his perseverance paid off as the result is one of the finer synth outings we've heard from the era. There is a nice percolating exuberance to the tracks aided with the forwarding momentum of percussion that keeps things moving along, while other tracks show a deep space ambient side. Definitely a precursor for what much of what Jonas Reinhardt and Zombi are doing nowadays. Highly Recommended!!!!
Bureau B has also reissued Grosskopf's more new agey follow-up, Oceanheart, also on both cd and lp, which we also have in stock, and will review soon too...
MPEG Stream: "So Weit, So Gut"
MPEG Stream: "Synthesist"
MPEG Stream: "Transcendental Overdrive"

album cover INTRUSION The Seduction Of Silence (Echospace) 2cd 21.00
We originally reviewed this way back in 2009, but this gorgeous disc of blurred minimal techno / electronic ambience has been reissued with a whole 'nother disc of unreleased extras. Even sans the bonus material though, The Seduction Of Silence is a gem, and well worth checking out if you missed it the first time around, and hell, probably worth buying again for the extras! Here's what we said when we reviewed it back in 2009:
Intrusion is the solo project of Steve Hitchell, who alongside Rod Modell forms the impressive heroin-house meets dub-factory duo Echospace. Just as Modell's solo recordings don't veer too far from the Echospace mantra, the Intrusion sound doesn't see any reason to break the mold either. If it ain't broke, why fix it? This is the beloved muted blur of the Detroit / Berlin axis of techno that spurned the whole Basic Channel / Chain Reaction sound and which then slowed itself down into the murky dub of Burial Mix. Hitchell and Modell have both been so captivated by this particular sound, that they've collected many of the modular synths, signal processors, and classic drum machines that Moritz Von Oswald and Juan Atkins used back in the day to perfect the mimesis of that abstracted techno that steadily cruises through the dronefields. The bulk of the album finds a hypnotizing rhythm sublimated behind atmospheric synth chords rippling in sync with the cascading wash of echo and heaping snow drifts of tape hiss; but Hitchell does make a few noteworthy detours. "Intrusion Dub" is a decidedly uptempo digidub number, with Augustus Pablo-esque trills across the melodica and an insistent hi-hat uncannily similar to the metronomic rhythms provided by Public Image Limited on Metal Box, but of course pixel-pointed into a Chain Reactive / Burial Mix cloud of digital hiss. Elsewhere, he recruits the Burial Mix toaster par excellence Paul St. Hillaire to offer his ghostly croon to the mix. Mighty fine, mighty fine.
MPEG Stream: "Intrusion Dub"
MPEG Stream: "Little Angel w/ Paul St. Hillaire"

album cover JACK RUBY s/t (Vol. 2) (Feeding Tube) lp 17.98
NOW ON VINYL! The second half of the Hit And Run double cd collection, with all the material that didn't appear on the vinyl Vol. 1, including the 16+ minute track "Destroy/Lost". Here's our write up all about Jack Ruby from when we listed the compact disc collection...
Jack Ruby was a sporadic NYC art-fuck project from the mid '70s that existed before such a thing as No Wave could be codified as an actual 'scene' or else they would have no doubt been lumped alongside Teenage Jesus & The Jerks, Beirut Slump, Theoretical Girls, and Mars. The band only managed to get into a proper studio a couple of a times and played about five shows during their brief start-stop-start-stop 'career'. By the time the band finally ceased to be in 1977, none of the founding members had stuck around to see the band dissolve. The title track to this compilation was recorded in one of Jack Ruby's very rare studio sessions, made as a demo for Epic Records who may have been looking for the next Stooges, but instead had on their hands a psycho tune of hotwired proto-punk underpinned by strutting monofunk rhythms and an unkempt guitar/violin squalor on top. What would have been the B-side to that unreleased single is an atonal carcrash of anti-rock entitled "Mayonnaise." Had Jack Ruby continued to make tracks like these two, they may have been destined for greatness; but as it is, the band was only a whisper of a footnote, barely remembered by anybody from back in the day.
If the chronology is to be understood properly, the first incarnation of Jack Ruby involved electronic wrangler Randy Cohen, who splattered sounds across his Serge synthesizer with free-noise squiggles courtesy of the mononymous performance artist Boris (later known as Boris Policeband) and mumbled anti-poetry from Robin Hall. The recordings from this incarnation of Jack Ruby comprise the second disc, very much a precursor to the libertine, DIY electronics of Nautical Almanac. When Cohen, Boris, and Hall added guitarist / bassist Chris Gray into the fray, Jack Ruby transformed into the splatter-rock outfit that earned them that one longshot possibility to record for Epic, taking up purposefully tasteless raunch-rock akin to the Electric Eels and Destroy All Monsters. Boris, Cohen, and Hall all slowly departed, with Gray finding other members to bash rhythm and thrash vocal cords. One of Jack Ruby's latter-day members was George Scott III who matriculated into No Wave royalty as a member of the Contortionists and 8-Eyed Spy.

album cover JEFFERIES, PETER Electricity (Superior Viaduct) 2lp 26.00
In 2002, the eccentric New Zealand songwriter Peter Jefferies quit making music, giving his amp and synths to friends. But the drum-kit that he pounded through the '80s and '90s ended up in the trash heap. He took a job teaching music to high-school students; and reluctantly entertained the thought of returning to his own songwriting after Amanda Palmer pleaded with him to share a bill with her when she was on tour in New Zealand. His homeland never paid much attention to Jefferies, but he long had an avid following in the States. Yes, all of us at aQuarius have long championed his work; and the original pressing of his second album Electricity was long a staple here at the shop in the mid-'90s, until the album inevitably went out of print.
Jefferies enjoyed a prolific career in New Zealand despite the relative lack of attention from his fellow Kiwis. He and his brother Graeme were the ring-leaders through the '80s of Nocturnal Projections and This Kind Of Punishment, both of which sutured the punk gloom of Joy Division to the earnest noise-making that was being broadcast from the nascent Xpressway gang (Dead C, Trash, Alastair Galbraith, etc.). The tension found in both of those earlier punk propositions carries on into Jefferies solo work especially on his 1994 album Electricity. Here, his mono-maniacal songs sit amidst linear expressions of tense piano pounding, Mo Tucker drum-kit minimalism, and crushed guitar chords as the emotionally raw arrangements for his adventurous, idiosyncratic vocals. At times his songs plead with a desperate exhaustion as he croons like a lo-fi, tape-crazed Scott Walker; and others, he barks with an insistency that hangs anger, fright, and love in his suspended vocal notes. With all of the (well deserved) attention to the Flying Nun catalogue getting reissued, here's a welcome revisiting of one of the under-appreciated masters of NZ avant-pop. Might a Plagal Grind reissue be around the corner?
MPEG Stream: "Wined Up"
MPEG Stream: "Don't Look Down"
MPEG Stream: "Electricity"
MPEG Stream: "Scissors"

album cover JOHNNY TOUCH Inner City Wolves (Shadow Kingdom) cd 13.98
If the cover art (some sort of scantily clad Wendy O. Williams character riding a giant wolf through a post-apocalyptic urban landscape) and album title (Inner City Wolves!!!) haven't convinced you already about how awesome this might be, then there's the matter of this Australian heavy metal band's name. JOHNNY TOUCH. Gotta give 'em props for picking a name that's cheesy, goofy, and great. You call your band something like that and you'd better be good - and they ARE, at playing very classic '80s sounding metal, super melodic and hot rockin', that's got some ballsy, speed-riffing heaviness to it, as well as a pop sensibility (circa LA, 1985). The sticker on the front of this, their debut album, mentions Judas Priest (we'll concur, specifically citing Screaming For Vengeance era or thereabouts) and Yngwie Malmsteen. At first we didn't really hear the Yngwie so much, but then we hit track 4, the instrumental "Radiation Axeposure", and yeah, the guitarist sure busts out some crazy fast shredding soloing acrobatics there, and elsewhere too!
Other reference points could include Dio, Savatage, Queensryche, early Metallica, Lizzy Borden, Riot, and, outside the '80s, fellow modern day retro metal bands like Enforcer, White Wizzard and local boys Hot Fog.
What we really like is that while Johnny Touch have a sense of humor (the name, and certain song titles, indicate as much), at the same time, they definitely aren't just foolin' around. Emotion-laden tracks like "Lady Stutter" are delivered straight, serious as can be. Solid '80s style metal with pizzazz and plenty of chops. The metalheads here have definitely felt the Touch.
(See elsewhere this list, though, for another Australian band with an even better/worse name, King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard!!)
MPEG Stream: "The Metal Embrace"
MPEG Stream: "Dishonorable Discharge"
MPEG Stream: "Bitch Of A Son"

album cover KILGOUR, HAMISH All Of It And Nothing (Ba Da Bing) lp 16.98
Hamish Kilgour was a founding member of legendary NZ jangle poppers the Clean, along with his brother David, and later played in the Mad Scene after moving to the US, but even after decades of playing music, All Of It And Nothing is his first solo record EVER!
The way it begins, it's fantastically moody and minimal and seriously stripped down, in fact the first few tracks are mostly acoustic guitar and percussion, and Kilgour's tentative warbled vocals. Over the course of the record, that sonic palette expands, though, adding spare, skeletal drumming, chimes, marimbas, dulcimer and vibraphone, yet instead of making it lush and layered, ends up more about adding texture, and melody. Then at some point, the sound does shift, the second half of the record getting more energetic and rocking, a little like the old Flying Nun sound, heavily beholden to the droned out strum and pulse of the Velvets, ramshackle and loose, woozy and psychedelic, those tracks placed between songs that remain dreamily lo-fi, a hushed almost bedroom-folk. That more intimate side a perfect balance to the more energetic numbers, and somehow those tracks, even with that added energy, still retain a sort of languorous, soporific energy, darkly laid back, sort of druggy and hypnotic, especially on tracks like the sprawling "Hullabaloo" which takes a dark pop gem, and stretches it WAY out, into something much more experimental and minimally mesmeric.
MPEG Stream: "Here It Comes"
MPEG Stream: "Going Out"
MPEG Stream: "Hullabaloo"
MPEG Stream: "Last Song"

album cover LABYRINTHINE Ancient Obscurity (self-released) cd-r 6.98
We loved 2010's Evoking The Multiverse debut from this Philly one man band so much, raving about that record's space out buzz drenched blackness, and epic, cosmic majesty, and we were beginning to think that might be all we'd hear from Labyrinthine, when out of the blue, this new one showed up. We're happy to report, it's just as good as the first, but pretty different sonically, where as that first one spent much of its time in ambient mode, sprawling fields of celestial shimmer and woozy, doom drift, this record gets right to it, with an opening track that's definitely blackish, but much more doomy, with some classic metal riffing, in fact, minus the raspy vokills, this borders on seriously true doom, and it sounds killer, even on the second track, the 'band' return to something much more properly blackened, but only just, the sound still infused with plenty of doominess, after a dense double kick opening, the sound slips back into a languorous lope, the fast picked guitar trills, and vocal rasps adding all the blackness to an otherwise mournful, melancholic doom. And so it goes for the first half of the record, the band unfurling, gorgeously melodic, and lushly produced blackened doom that doesn't really truly explode into black fury until track 5, which is truly black metal, furious and frenzied, soaring and majestic, the cool part being that many of the melodies and much of the guitar tone from the doomed first half remain, making even this frantic blackness feel depressive and a little bit doomy, which then leads directly back into, yep, more gorgeously plodding doominess, with tangled harmonized guitar melodies and woozy, almost psychedelic riffage. There's at least one more burst of furious blackness over the next few tracks, but really, most of the rest of the record is spent in full on mournful, majestic doom mode. And while maybe in the beginning, we were missing the Labyrinthine of old, this new record, once we acclimated to the new sound, and vibe, is still pretty fucking great...
MPEG Stream: "Enshrined In Death"
MPEG Stream: "The Boundless Plane"
MPEG Stream: "The Ichorous Portal"

album cover LEATHER SLAVE s/t (Permanent Records) lp 17.98
If you've had trouble tracking down the latest record from Swedish dirge-jazz sludge punks Brainbombs, or just wish there were more bands who shared that aesthetic, well, your wish just came true. LA duo Leather Slave sound so much like Brainbombs, it would be criminal if we didn't love that sound so much. The band lock into loping, lumbering doom-sludge-punk anti-grooves, the guitar blown out and super distorted, a single riff, grinding away, over a simple caveman beat, the vocals distorted, and sung-spoken, and again, a dead ringer for the Brainbombs, with lyrics about cutting off your fingers and then making you try on gloves, or lots of 'stabbing's, so much so that it almost sounds like these guys are taking the piss, especially when the word 'stab' is repeated, and then sort of dubbed out (or the word 'hell' on another track). But then there's something patently absurd about stuff like this anyway, which again, is probably why we dig it so much. Every track here essential a single riff, a single rhythm, with a second guitar adding some psychedelic counterpoint, very subtle though, almost like Neanderthal leads way down in the mix, the whole thing mesmerizing and menacing, like a filthy, crusty, dirgey, serial killing version of Finnish hypno-rockers Circle. Which is probably the highest recommendation we can give.
And disregard the label marking the record as 33 1/3 rpm, unless you want it REALLY sludgy, the vocals an almost death metal gurgle, while we dig that version of Leather Slave too, 45 rpm is the speed for maximum Brain-bombing. Ridiculous over the top cover art and full color insert too.

album cover LEISURE BIRDS Tetrahedron (Moon Glyph / Totally Gross National Product) lp 14.98
Latest from these sci-fi garage-kraut weirdos, and it's another heady collection of zoned out, synth heavy psychedelia, and woozy electronic kraut-pop, pop being the key here, as this might be the most poppy thing we've heard from these guys yet. Not on the first track, that one might have you convinced that you're in for something more sort of John Carpenter-ish, or maybe Trans Am-y, percolating synths, drift over tribal percussion, and layered drones, then vocodered vocals swoop in, drifting atop swirling streaks of hush end shimmer, getting briefly all krauty and kosmische, before building to a super heavy synth psych blow out. But then in comes track two, which uses essentially the same elements, but the results fall much closer to Animal Collective or Gauntlet Hair, electronic pop wreathed in synth swirl and anchored by motorik krautrock-like grooviness, but with soaring vocals, and hooks galore, the band managing to embrace a warped outsider poppiness, without losing any of their kraut-psych weirdness, which is a feat for sure. Over the course of the record, the band go full on prog ("Seven Spirals"), creepy and soundtrack ("Tetrahedron"), murky downer pop ("reT 120813") and bombastic pop-syke ("Geodesic Lines"), but all held together by the super distinctive vocals and this new found poppiness, and it totally suits them. Be sure to stick around for the nearly 15 minute closer, a track that reminds us of aQ faves and former ROTW-ers Jaill, albeit a way more droned out, repetitive kraut-drone version, all instrumental, a pop song stretched way out, and embellished with all manner of cosmic synthiness, not to mention a long stretch of hazy, droney dreaminess, before returning, and finishing off with a fierce burst of heavy kraut psych crunch. Killer!
LIMITED TO 500 COPIES!! Housed in a swank gatefold jacket.
MPEG Stream: "Patterns"
MPEG Stream: "Miner Of Light"

album cover LUNCH, LYDIA & ROLAND S. HOWARD Shotgun Wedding (1972) lp 19.98
No introductions necessary for Lydia Lunch and Roland S. Howard. These two had collaborated sporadically throughout the '80s, with an alliance between Lunch and The Birthday Party that resulted in an infernal split, live LP recorded in 1981, a near perfect single for 4AD of those two covering "Some Velvet Morning" in a round of comic-book horror / love-story genius, and the Honeymoon In Red album which is pretty much the best thing that Lydia Lunch has done outside the No Wave days. In 1991, they trekked from their respective dens of iniquity to Memphis, Tennessee with JG Thirlwell in tow to produce Shotgun Wedding. This album came after a number of years of spoken word performances and recordings for Lunch and right before Howard returned to the studio with These Immortal Souls to pen the masterful I'm Never Gonna Die Again album. With Howard recently dying of complications from a lifetime of heroin abuse, a flood of reissues seem to be in order. We can hope that Mute will do a proper reissue campaign for those two These Immortal Souls albums, as those were two of the forgotten gems in the wake of The Birthday Party's demise.
Nonetheless we have here Shotgun Wedding - a swampy, lugubrious album of druggy, shambolic blues rock with Lunch's caterwauling vocals dialing down the shrill assault and trying with degrees of success to sing along with Howard's world-weary guitar leads that are still the blueprint for a bleak, cowpunk transgression. There are a handful of covers on Shotgun Wedding, including Led Zeppelin's "In My Time Of Dying", the obscure (and unremarkable) "Burning Skulls" penned by Jeremy Gluck, and the one that really shines - a diabolically sassy cover of Alice Cooper's "Black Juju." Throughout the rest of the album, Howard's tunes are front and center, slinking and slithering through his guitar leads and Lunch spouting her sordid love songs mired more in sex and death than love. It has to be said that the album stumbles a bit from the first couple of tracks; but after that, Shotgun Wedding broods and sulks with the best of them. 1972 has also seen to including the aforementioned "Some Velvet Morning" cover at the end of the album immediately following the Alice Cooper one. Horror. Humor. Horror. Humor.
MPEG Stream: "Endless Fall"
MPEG Stream: "Incubator"
MPEG Stream: "Black Juju"

album cover MEIRINO, FRANCISCO Notebook (Techniques Of Self-Destruction) (Misanthropic Agenda) cd 12.98
Over the past five years (or so), the work of Francisco Meirino has moved ever forward by leaps and bounds. Once the man discovered what could be done with an EMF detector, his aesthetic world exploded from that of a guttural noise-monger to that of an exemplary composer of muscular electro-acoustics. In sonorizing the signals from his EMF detector, Meirino gives voice to the electrical field in any given space. Parapsychologists and ghost hunters have used these devices as citations pointing to their claims of hauntings, poltergeist activity, and residual energies from psychic distress. Not surprisingly, Meirino did engage in the realm of the paranormal by working with ghost hunter Michael Esposito on an album mapped out of EVP recordings sourced by Meirino and researched by Esposito. Audio bleedthrough, spikes of energy, crude stabs of noise, electrified drone, and disruptions of all kind are commonplace within the sonic markmaking for Meirino; and Notebook (Techniques Of Self-Destruction) stands as one of the finest albums in Meirino's catalogue. Aggressive cuts across tape and digital files reveal jagged edges between frequencies and sonorities that Meirno exaggerates and telescopes as if all of his sounds were atomic particles irradiated with x-rays and then smashed against the clinical floor of some Swiss laboratory left to wiggle, glow, and collapse without much concern from the technician doing the smashing. There is a violence to Meirino's work, and it's one that carries over from his youthful days working under the noise moniker Phroq. The violence is actually more impactful given the dynamics of Meirino's techniques and compositional artistry. It's obvious that he's been pursuing a parallel path as that of the Schimpfluch Gruppe (e.g. Rudolf Eb.Er, G*Park, Dave Phillips, and Sudden Infant); and Notebook is a worthy contender to follow in that lineage of transgressive actions and theatrical nihilism.
MPEG Stream: "Le Processus De La Signification"
MPEG Stream: "Weak Recording Of An Embarrassment"
MPEG Stream: " Techniques Of Self-Destruction Part I"

album cover MUJAHIDEEN Dead Language (Heart & Crossbone / Uganda) lp 21.00
Killer new record from this Israeli trio, who traffic in a sort of bass-heavy, gothed out post punk / punk dub, that sounds like some twisted mix of Joy Division, Suicide and Pan Sonic. Thick, super distorted pig-fuck bass drives the proceedings, each track centered around a grinding bass riff, but anchored by programmed drums, all supporting echo drenched vox, a dark dramatic croon, that is what gives the sound such a gothic vibe. The opener sounds somewhere between Interpol and Iceage or the Holograms, albeit a bit more electronic, but then things get super twisted on the second track, a lurching, stuttering, start-stop, gothic industrial churn, with some cool sampled Queen-like harmonies, and bursts of psychedelic guitar noise, and the vocals locked into dubbed out spirals. As the record progresses, it seems like the effects are gradually cranked, with tracks like "A Path" devolving into near chaos as the rhythms get all dubby as well, careening wildly in all directions while the riffs hammer away, and the vocals slip into almost rage like drones. Some tracks sound super electronic, others almost straight post punk, but usually, those two sides of the band merge and bleed into one twistedly unique whole.
MPEG Stream: "Greed"
MPEG Stream: "Vengeance"
MPEG Stream: "Culture Slaves"
MPEG Stream: "A Path"

album cover NEVER KNOWS Ink (Sleep Genius) lp 17.98
It was a teasing single, that one-sided picture disc which showcased one hell of a darkwave track enriched by the sonorous baritone from Never Knows architect and principal Marc Kate. That voice and those synth-pop aspirations / devolutions run throughout the much anticipated debut album from this former aQ staffer as well. Ink does feature a different mix of the aforementioned single "Still Life" buttressed by a myriad of tracks rich with solemnly Numanoid downbeats, Violator-era miserablism, goth-dub grooviness, and a smattering of witchy / dark-eyed techno overtures. Two instrumental tracks bookend the album, leading with "Into" a dour track of sunken electro-clad breaks and closing with the black-clad, minimal-techno wash "Exeunt" with its thoughtful nods to Monolake and Regis. Between this, Kate takes a deep breath and exhales with a voice that we likened in the past to Dave Gahan; and yes, he still croons with an impassioned vibrato of equal portent. Along with the zombie-sect hymn of "Still Life," "Becoming" is one of the more dramatic numbers on the album with a slow build of maudlin half-melodies transforming into an urgent surge of basslines and drum programming to match Kate's quickened delivery. The skittering (dare we call them 'Amen'?) breaks of "Awake" brighten the overall mood towards the end of the album, making us wonder what the hell happened to Andrea Parker after she made a couple of particularly dark albums for Mo' Wax in the late '90s. We could research it, but we didn't; and in any case here we have an opulent gem of dark atmospheres, spilling from Ink.
MPEG Stream: "Awake"
MPEG Stream: "Becoming"
MPEG Stream: "Still Life (Album Version)"
MPEG Stream: "Exeunt"

album cover OVENS s/t (#2) (Melters) 7" 5.98
More amazing stuff from the vaults from these late (maybe) great (most definitely) SF pop geniuses. Ovens was Tony Molina's grind pop juggernaut before he went 'solo', and like the Ovens cd on Andee's tUMULt label (of which these tracks were meant to be included, when it was originally planned as an 'everything ever' sort of collection), here's 4 super short, crushingly catchy timeless classic noise pop nuggets, two sides, nine minutes, a bit punkier than later Ovens stuff, but only a bit, still strummy dreamy acoustic guitars, super melodic leads, some metal guitar chug, killer vocal harmonies, impossibly hooky melodies... more pop goodness crammed into these minute long bursts than most bands manage on a whole record, equal parts Weezer, Guided By Voices, Teenage Fanclub, the Beatles (at least one blatantly and brilliantly ripped off Beatles part here, see if you can spot it), Bee Gees, the Fucking Champs, Beach Boys, Thin Lizzy, all of Molina's influences crammed into another clutch of pitch perfect poppiness.
Recorded in 2005 with Kurt Bloch of the Fastbacks, limited as always, and these Ovens singles seem to disappear crazy quick, so grab one before they're gone...

album cover PUNCH They Don't Have To Believe (Deathwish) cd 10.98
Not sure how we managed to miss these guys up until now. They're from right here in SF, and this is their third full length (we've heard exactly ONE of their 7"s), they totally kill, and they have maybe the fiercest female vocalist we've ever heard. All this talk about Perfect Pussy, fuck that, Meghan from Punch might have the greatest punk rock voice we've heard in forever, a serious paint peeling caterwaul, and the band back her up with a potent mix of classic hardcore, old school punk rock, furious grind and some seriously metallic heft. A relentless chaotic frenzy that occasionally slips into straight forward punk rock pound, but just as often explodes into grinding metallic fury that is seriously some of the fiercest and most furious shit EVER. The production by Jack Shirley (Deafheaven, Joyce Manor, Whirr, etc.) only makes it that much meaner and HUGE sounding. It's 15 songs in about 18 minutes, the longest is 2:33, the shortest (the title track) a mere :05, but every track, even that brief sonic blip totally destroys, and the crazy thing, is it's catchy as fuck, with super melodic basslines, some seriously killer riffs, and some goddamn great songs. And when they slow it down, it's SO heavy, which is only further magnified when they explode into a part as fast and furious as the previous part was slow. Holy shit. We're gonna make it a point to track down all the other Punch records, and not miss a single show, cuz as good as these songs sound on record, we can only imagine how brutal and badass this stuff sounds live.
MPEG Stream: "Worth More Than Your Opinion"
MPEG Stream: "Making Room"
MPEG Stream: "Not Sorry"
MPEG Stream: "Waiting Game"

album cover RINGBEARER The Dark Side Of The Mountain (Acephale Winter Productions) cassette 5.00
A few lists back we reviewed a tape by the oddly monikered Funeral Fornication, who trafficked in some pretty epic black metal buzz. But apparently, Jaron Evil, the man behind Funeral Fornication, suffered some sort of brain injury, that rendered him unable to play guitar, so while he recovered, he endeavored to create this, a sprawling, and equally, yet differently epic collection of Tolkien themed black ambience and neo-folk, and while at first we were expecting something super cheesy, it's actually pretty cool and weird. Field recorded forest sounds, gristly, lo-fi synth swirl, lush swells of droned out black ambience, dramatic piano stabs, faux strings, swirling FX, some of the tracks pastoral and blessed out ("The Second Age"), others more sinister and cinematic ("The Secret Stairs"). There are still moments of black buzz, like the second half of "Nine Riders", which unfurls a furious blast beat, harsh vokills and insectoid riffing, spread out beneath a layer of cosmic synth swirl, making for a strange, and quite cool juxtaposition. But for the most part, the tape is made up mostly of synthy ambience, ominous drones, mysterious sound design, and epic faux soundtracks to some Lord Of Rings style otherworld. Fantastical and fantastic.
MPEG Stream: "The Second Age"
MPEG Stream: "The Secret Stairs"
MPEG Stream: "Nine Riders"

album cover RODION G.A. Misiunea Spatiala Delta (aka Delta Space Mission) (Strut) lp 16.98
As archival collections of "lost tapes" by hitherto unknown musical geniuses go, Strut's release last year of Rodion G.A.'s The Lost Tapes was the creme de la creme. The bomb. Top of the pops. We made it a Record Of The Week and it's still steady sellin'. Fuzzed out, Eastern Bloc electro-prog funk madness from the late '70s / early '80s that's super catchy, melodic and motorik; a lo-fi, synth-laden outsider kraut-groove delight all around. Then, this year, for Record Store Day, Strut was like, check it out, there's MORE! They released a limited edition 12" consisting of Rodion's previously unreleased (and apparently, unused) soundtrack music intended for an animated science fiction series on Romanian television, circa 1983, called Misuinea Spatiala Delta (Delta Space Mission). Wow. It was limited to just 1000 copies, we got as many as we could for Record Store Day (a whole bunch) and they sold out immediately. Never got to list it. BUT, yay, somehow some more copies were just made available to us by one of our suppliers. Don't know if it's a repress or what, pretty sure we can't get more in any case. So we brought in a bunch for all of you who missed it on RSD, grab 'em while you can.
As with The Lost Tapes, this 12", which plays at 45rpm, is highly recommended! Featuring lots of swirling, spacey synth (of course!), all pew-pew-pew zip-zip-zap, this also of course includes some funky electro grooves with tick-tock electronic beats and nicely melodic synth-swoosh. Come to think of it, it's not unlike the music of T.R.A.S.E., another recent Record Of The Week. And of course if you liked The Lost Tapes, you'll like this. Let's hope they keep digging in Rodion's vaults, a Lost Tapes Vol.2 would be cool!
LIMITED! Record Store Day leftovers (???) while they last!!
(By the way, you can find some of the Delta Space Mission animation on YouTube, supposedly with the Rodion music. Looks pretty cool!!)
MPEG Stream: "Bau-Bau"

album cover SEGALL, TY Manipulator (Drag City) 2lp 25.00
Before we get into this new Ty Segall record, we should probably state right up front, that we thought about making this a Record Of The Week. And then didn't cuz we ALWAYS make Segall's records Record Of The Week. And on first listen, we didn't immediately dig this quite as much as the last few, but if we've learned anything, we can almost guarantee that in a week or two, after repeated listens, we'll probably be losing our shit and proclaiming this his best yet. So bear that in mind, and consider this a probably could/would/should have been Record Of The Week. Cuz even if it doesn't have the immediate appeal of say, Twins, or Sleep, or even the Fuzz record, it's still pretty goddamn great, overflowing with impossibly catchy songs, a little bit fuzz poppy, a little bit garage rocky, still pretty glammy, the sound lush and dizzyingly ambitious sonically, with some songs sounding like a straight up rock band, others like pure studio concoctions, with most landing somewhere right in between, and even writing this review, and finally hearing this record for the first time on headphones, not in the store, we're having second thoughts again about this NOT being a Record Of The Week.
Just have a listen to the samples below, if you're new to the world of Ty Segall, odds are it won't take long for you to be on over, and if you're already a fan, like us, you'll immediately feel right at home. The opener/title track is all organ driven fuzz, with Segall effortlessly slipping into a falsetto, wound around multiple instruments harmonizing, buzzing and jangly and very retro sixties pop by way of modern garage rock, not unlike many of his contemporaries, but then there's "Tall Man, Skinny Lady" which sounds like nobody else, urgently strummed acoustic guitars wound around groovy drums, everything wreathed in a cloud of effects, the vocals drenched in echo and reverb, the falsetto in full effect, total glam rock swagger, and then when the super distorted fuzz guitar kicks in, especially the wild shredding psychedelic leads, it's divine. And hell, we're only two tracks in.
Instead of going track by track, just know, that if you dig the sound samples below, odds are there's pretty much nothing here you won't dig like crazy, whether it's all torch songy garage rock balladry, or fuzzed out heavy psych, or buzz heavy almost metallic distorto crunch, or grandiose baroque retro-pop, or the tons of gradations in-between. We're gonna stop now, before we change our minds and make this Record Of The Week anyway. Which we might still do anyway. Needless to say, way Way WAY recommended!!
MPEG Stream: "Manipulator"
MPEG Stream: "Tall Man, Skinny Lady"
MPEG Stream: "The Singer"
MPEG Stream: "It's Over"

album cover SIOBHAN Southgate (Opal Tapes) lp 26.00
On last week's list we reviewed a tape called Omega Stamp on Chondritic Sound, from an outfit called Siobhan. That outfit turned out to be one guy, called Travis Galloway, who just happened to be from Detroit, which made sense once you got an earful of his twisted take on classic Detroit techno, one that was far removed enough that it ended up sounding like some mutant strain of gothed out zoner-house, but by way of Skinny Puppy, which is pretty much right where this new 12" on Opal Tapes falls as well, although on the opening track, Galloway injects some serious John Carpenter style soundtrackiness into the proceedings. In fact, it almost sounds like two entirely different songs crammed together, one all sinister swirling synths, the other, a murky, stuttering techno loop, and that's not even mentioning the super creepy distort vox draped over the top. The second track almost sounds like Consolidated at the wrong speed, old school industrial, rife with strange sound effects, slowed down, sort of dragging, blackly groovy, before transforming into something approaching electro, but way more distorted and lo-fi, streaks of feedback, and glitchy electronics, all over another churning hypno-rhythm, underpinned by woozy, seasick synths.
The flipside gets super electro, and about as funky as anything we've heard from Galloway thus far (which admittedly is not much), but even here, it's JUST the beat, everything else is grim and sour, dark and broody, the occasional swoop of synth is the only counterpoint to the swirling sonic murk that threatens to overtake everything, and every time the the main high melody surfaces, emerging from the morass, it's SO distorted and in the red, it briefly explodes in an almost Merzbow worthy sonic flare. The final two tracks are brief, but both take some retro electro and wind it up tight, at first letting it unfurl and a loping, woozy, warble, and then a final burst of manic old school beatsmithery, wrapped in black ash, and looped into a twisted, tone-bent techno.
MPEG Stream: "Del Ray 97'"
MPEG Stream: "Night School"
MPEG Stream: "Rail Split"

album cover SPIRAL SHADES Hypnosis Sessions (RidingEasy) 2lp 28.00
As if we didn't know it already 'cause of this being on the up'n'coming stoner rock label RidingEasy (formerly EasyRider), a glance at the fine print in the thanks list here gives the game away, with Spiral Shades vocalist/songwriter Khushal Bhadra offering special thanks to "Black Sabbath, Scott 'Wino' Weinrich, and Pentagram". Yep, Spiral Shades are another heavy psychedelic stoner doom band doing the '70s sounding Sabbathy thing, and like a bunch of other recent entries in the field (including several on the same label) they do it damn well. All the more impressive, 'cause the two members of this band live far apart, on separate continents - Bhadra dwells in Mumbai, India, while Filip Petersen, who handles guitar, bass and drums, hails from Norway. Via the magic of the internet, we assume, they made a love-of-Sabbath connection. Yep, it says here they got acquainted on YouTube! But listening to this, you'd never think communications technology had progressed past whatever it was they used back in the early '70s (rotary dial telephones? air mail letters? pot smoke signals?). The nine tracks of swinging, wah-and-fuzz infused heaviness on here sound stuck in the '70s for sure, Spiral Shades sounding VERY Sabbathy as we mentioned, a la a more esoteric, less-plagiaristic Orchid (though, it must be said, we do hear the chug of "Childen Of The Sea" borrowed by one of the tracks here). Providing a lot of verisimilitude are Bahdra's vocals, a nasal, very Ozzy-ish wail indeed. Goes great with the lumbering riffage and spiraling (that's right) distorto-delic soloing - yeah, the guitarwork can get pretty darn tripped out and atmospheric, there's a reason they called this FX-laden record the Hypnosis Sessions! Heavy head music, maaannn.
Notch another one up for the current retro-doom-psych renaissance. If you dig the recently listed likes of Electric Citizen, Salem's Pot, Sons Of Huns, Admiral Sir Cloudsley Shovell, and Ovvl, or such bands as Cathedral, Witchcraft, Lord Vicar, Kadavar, and Sleep (plus of course the old guard of Pentagram and Sabbath too), you oughtta check this out! Compact disc or double colored (red) vinyl.
MPEG Stream: "Illuminati"
MPEG Stream: "Wizardry"
MPEG Stream: "The Slowing Deep"

album cover STARLITE COFFINS Eruptionem (Sanity Muffin) cassette 8.98
The latest tape from this Oakland duo finds these guys drifting ever further into the cosmos, their crumbling soundscapes and blurred fields of synth shimmer, stretched way out, a sprawling, hushed world of minimal sound, a seemingly never-ending drone, softly pulsing, and surrounded by clouds of gristle and crackle, slowly unfurling, and emitting subtle sonic sparks, like buried melodies, and and ripple like shimmers, that background noise starts to take more solid shape on the second track, transformed from a whisper into a dense thrum, a distorted slo-mo stasis, cascading sheets of distortion burnished into woozy blurs, before finally receding and leaving just shadows, barely there voices, all set in a field of digi-dub like crackle, a woozy loopscape like some Philip Jeck fever dream.
The second half of Eruptionem dials back some of the low end, instead layering tinny pulsations into a glimmering crystalline stretch of grainy resonance, one that picks up grit and grime as it progresses, the shape becoming more and more Caretaker-like, all crackly and faded, sun dappled and wistful, before unexpectedly splintering into some lurching beats and thrumming low slung bass throb, but things quickly slip back into tranquility, the title track another SUNNO)))-like sprawl, all decaying distortion and slow motion riffage, smeared into a dream-doom haze, before things finish off with a gorgeous bit of Stars Of The Lid like dronescaping, moody and cinematic, minimal, but with a density and tension that gives the proceedings a seriously heavy heart, perfectly paired with the song's otherwise melancholy sonics.
LIMITED TO 140 COPIES, each one hand numbered, super swank 6 panel full color J-cards and light blue tapes.

album cover TWENTY SIXTY SIX AND THEN Reflections on the Future (Prog Temple) cd 17.98
Whoo-hoo! Epic awesome proggy proto-metal krautrock alert!! Germany's oddly named Twenty Sixty Six And Then concocted these heavy, organ-overloaded tracks back in 1972, jamming hard and crazy in that they-don't-make-'em-like-they-used-to mode we love, bringing to mind such much better known bands as Iron Butterfly, early ELP (or The Nice), Deep Purple Mk1, Jethro Tull and Uriah Heep, plus fellow krauts like Out Of Focus, Necronomicon, Murphy Blend, Hairy Chapter and Birth Control. It's groovy and dramatic, sometimes jazzy, often complex, definitely getting pretty wild and rippin', with kinda hoarse, bluesy vocals in English, lots of Iommi-worthy guitar soloing, a dose of Mellotron, and FLUTE!!! What's not to like? Psychedelic "hairy funk" heaviness, with both soft melodies and a harder edge, like on the mathy attack of the 9+ minute "Autumn", that reminds us also of some of our fave '70s Italian prog, too, like I Teoremi.
We should note, for accuracy's sake, that we're pretty sure this cd reissue contains the same tracks as the (out of print) one done by the Second Battle label back in 1994, called Reflections!, featuring in fact alternate, extended versions of all but one of the songs from the band's Reflections On The Future lp originally released in 1972, plus 4 bonus tracks from the same era. Which is just fine by us, if confusingly not precisely how this reissue presents itself.
Always thought this was one of the best over-the-top (yet melodic) heavies in the prog-kraut canon, nice to have it available on cd again... Connoisseurs of obscure, unfettered krautROCK will find this essential.
MPEG Stream: "At My Home "
MPEG Stream: "Autumn "
MPEG Stream: "Butterking"

album cover V/A Seven Skeletons Found In The Yard (Mississippi Records) lp 15.98
There's no stopping Mississippi, is there? The vinyl-only archival reissue label specializing in old tymey music from around the globe really hasn't ever put out anything NOT worth buying. At least, if you're into - or want to get into - the blues or gospel or Palm Wine music or country folk or Greek rembetika or whatever species of vintage roots music is being documented on each particular Mississippi lp. In this case, as with the Mississippi compilation highlighted last list, My Intention Is War, it's Trinidadian Calypso music, circa 1928-1947. Seven Skeletons Found In The Yard is a fine companion to My Intention Is War, again highlighting the darker side of Calypso. Beautiful stuff with some serious subject matter. Artists include such greats as Grower, The Lion, Lord Executor, and Lionel Belasco.

album cover WAGNER, MIREL When The Cellar Children See The Light Of Day (Sub Pop) lp 15.98
A while back we reviewed the self titled debut from Ethiopian-Finnish guitarist/vocalist Mirel Wagner, released on local label Friendly Fire, and we were pretty smitten, a haunting collection of lush, almost murder ballads, the sound crystalline and clear, but the vibe and the mood murky and ominous. Not sure what we were expecting, but it definitely wasn't something nearly that bleak and dark. And with a jump to Sub Pop, we were perhaps expecting Wagner to deliver something more polished, less intimate, less sonically harrowing than that debut, but we're beginning to think this is just where she wants to be, and while it sounds like a frightening, heart breaking place to be, she manages to make it sound strangely inviting.
Right from the opener, Wagner conjures up a mysterious world of sound, one that's mostly just guitar and vocals, the guitar generally spare, the vocals deep, and smokey, "1 2 3 4" is almost like a lullaby or a nursery rhyme, but one of those cautionary tales, that warns children what terrible end awaits if they disobey. "The Dirt" is a bit folkier, but has the same sort of sinister vibe, a dark slo-mo folk-blooze, that again, seem to be all about loss and death, the sounds as spare as they are, wreathed in clouds and shadow, and emotionally overcast, and soul baring threnody.
And even later in the record, when the sound blossoms, and the production follows suit, the music stays dark and mournful, every track some kind of lament, and when the subtle strings surface, it only adds to the pretty pathos. The rest of the record finds an uneasy balance between darkly psychedelic dreamfolk ("The Devil's Tongue"), haunting chamber folk ("Dreamt Of A Wave"), and moody almost country ("What Love Looks Like"). The more we listen, the more it makes sense that this record ended up on Sub Pop, as it wouldn't be entirely out of place on your shelf somewhere in-between Fleet Foxes, Red Red Meat, Iron & Wine and Codeine, although wherever it ended up, would darken that corner of your collection considerably. Haunting, harrowing and pretty goddamn fantastic.
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album cover WAND Ganglion Reef (God?) lp 19.98
First we've heard (other than a split single with Mikal Cronin) from these far out psychedelic garage rockers from LA and fans of outfits/folks like White Fence, Ty Segall, Mikal Cronin, Thee Oh Sees will be wondering how it took them so long to discover these guys. 'Cause the sound is pretty much a perfect mix of fuzzy, jangly crunch, dense, distorted psychedelic swirl, and retro sixties psych pop, the record opening with what is essentially a blast of psych-noise, before blossoming into some impossibly dreamy fuzz pop, the vocals soft focus and almost gently delivered over a bed of rumble and crunch, which appropriately eventually devolves into another squall of psychedelic freakout. Which is precisely how the second track begins, another swirling cloud of spacey squiggles and glitchy squelch, before in comes a crunchy, almost metallic riff accompanied by wild Keith Moon style octopoidal drum splatter, again, a perfect pop song tucked amidst all the howl and skree and noisy druggy trip out, the band seemingly constantly right on the edge between twee pop sugar sonic overload, and total damaged FX drenched psychedelic collapse, but that sweet spot is all theirs, the band claiming it as their own, and navigating it effortlessly, creating what might be our new favorite psych-pop/garage rock record, and is just the sort of record/sound that should, if all the stars align, give the above mentioned garage rock big boys a run for their money. Makes lots of sense that this found a home on Ty Segall's label (you'd easily be forgiven for thinking THIS was in fact the new Ty Segall record), and that Wand mainman Cory Hanson used to play in Mikal Cronin's band!

album cover WHITE FENCE / JACK NAME split (Famous Class) 7" 8.98
This is volume 12 in the LAMC series from the Famous Class label, where a bunch of our favorite bands offer up an exclusive song for the A side, and pick one of their favorite up and coming bands for the flipside. Past participants have included A Place To Bury Strangers, Deerhoof, Fuzz, Mikal Cronin, Wand, CCR Headcleaner, Ceremony, White Magic and more. This time around it's local sixties style retro poppers White Fence, who offer up another glimmering sonic gem, a dreamy bit of lo-fi retro pop, all hushed vox, music box melodies, tinkling chimes, and fuzzy, jangly guitars sounding a bit like vintage Kinks by way of Guided By Voices, which is most definitely a good thing. WF picked Jack Name for the B side, whose Light Show record was recently released on Ty Segall's God? label, and reviewed here, and much like that lp, the track here is a woozy bit of garage pop murk, with deep dramatic vox draped over almost cabaret sounding fuzziness, a little bit baroque, a little bit lo-fi, all blurred into a heady, psych-pop gem, which should have folks who missed out on the aforementioned full length, righting that wrong, right away!

album cover WHITE HOSPITAL Holocaust (Steinklang) cd 17.98
A shortlived project of Japanese industrial noise / power electronics, White Hospital was the duo of Jun Konagaya and Tomo Kuwahara - the former better known for his work as the janus-faced Grim and the latter fronting the industrial-mantra project Vasilisk. Holocaust was their only album, released in 1984 on Eskimo Records, an imprint that has released both the work of Grim and Vasilisk over the years. Presumably, there was a political content to the White Hospital project; but any declaration of political intent is relatively opaque behind the discordant rhythmic noise and feral vocal masochism. It is pretty damn safe to say that White Hospital was nihilistic in their outlook, screaming violently at Japanese society and collapsing the hyperactive anxiety of modernity through a decentralized aesthetic of brute force, Lovecraftian tape collages, strangely pretty organ impressionism, and an incendiary live presence which could be the missing link between Les Rallizes Denudes and Skullflower.
Holocaust has finally been reissued after 30 years with some choice bonus material including un-festive material from their "We Wish You A Merry Christmas / White Christmas" 7" - with both tracks grinding and grating with monomaniacal rhythms on junked metal and grunt-fuck utterances of lobotomized primal energies. As impressive as the pre-Missing Foundation industrial jams from Holocaust are, the live tracks are downright amazing. Joined by Yukio Nagoshi on guitar, White Hospital transforms themselves into an X-ray shedding black hole of a rock trio with Kuwahara and Konagaya laying down a monstrous trudge with plenty of megaphone barked vocals slashing through Nahoshi's incendiary guitar work that's eerily prescient of what Matthew Bower and Gary Mundy would deliver in Skullflower and Ramleh respectively. It's a safe bet that Zeni Geva got their start by emulating what White Hospital was doing live. Damn straight.
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