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Records of the Week
THEOLOGIAN Some Things Have To Be Endured (Crucial Blast) lp 17.98
We made this a Record Of The Week when it first came out on cd last year, now it's the turn of this new vinyl version! Gatefold packaging, new artwork, digital download included! Here's our rave review..."Some things have to be endured, and that makes the pleasures so much sweeter!" So spoke the villainous Frank Cotton in Clive Barker's first Hellraiser movie. It is interesting to think back, and realize that Coil had their proposed soundtrack to that same movie rejected with some citing that Coil's themes were 'too frightening' or (more likely) 'not commercial enough' for a major studio motion picture. Anyone with ears who has listened to Coil's unreleased themes to Hellraiser will not find anything frightening or scary at all. In fact, Coil was quite reverential to somebody like David Shire, especially with his minimalist and maudlin score for The Conversation, with Coil composing everything on the Fairlight synthesizer, which itself had a distinct sound but one that didn't fall in line with the Goblin / Carpenter axis. Had Coil turned in to the film studio something like what they produced on their grand statement to the apocalypse in Horse Rotovator, it might have sounded close to where Theologian ended up on this death-synth industrial opus. Here, Theologian - the project of a cold-hearted character simply given the name Leech - has employed the talents of a host of female vocalists from the darkwave and noise underground. The conceit has a similar feel to Lustmord's recent album The Word As Power; and thankfully, both albums transcend any notion of female tokenism. Furthermore, both albums do not suck. Far from it for Theologian; as this album triumphantly extends the M83-produces-Swans analogy that we posited regarding the 2012 epic The Chasms Of My Heart album. After a garbled, witchy cackle that introduces the album's first track "Black Cavern Myopia," Leech uncorks a dark-minded, power techno rhythm, crunched through distortion, echo and sinister atmospheres featuring the deep-in-the-catacomb vocalizations of Hecate's Rachael Kozak. A more familiar militantly bashed rhythm keeps with a Swans-styled corporal beatdown on "The Conjoined Deviant Procession" with the monotone chanting delivered by Kristen from Sewer Election. The vocals never really come to the foreground throughout the album, instead they swirl and commingle amidst the metalgaze hiss, powerdrone murk, and audio sickness from Leech's decomposing productions. Even when he employs the talents of opera singer Melissa Kelly (the only vocalist not hailing from noise culture), her voice is cocooned in billowing reverb as it flutters throughout the ghastly synth melodies and blackened industrially crushed doom plod on "Ectothermism." Aside from Sewer Election and Hecate, we've not encountered any of the other vocalists, but their legion is Rachel Maloney (Tonikom), Nikki Telladictorian (Prometheus Burning), Patricia Benitez (Fetish Drone), Gillian Leigh Bowling (Teloahqaal), Christiana Key (Delphic Oracle), Joan Hacker (Factoria), and Shari Vari (Void Vision). Leech has crafted monstrous, ghastly album of lurching rhythms and totally downer melodies - think the Cure's Pornography remixed by Vatican Shadow. So good!
MPEG Stream: "Black Cavern Myopia"
MPEG Stream: "The Conjoined Deviant Procession"
MPEG Stream: "Gore-Stained Ramparts"
MPEG Stream: "Ectothermism"
18+ Trust (Houndstooth) 2lp 36.00
Debut full length from this boy/girl duo, who traffic in a twisted strain of avant electro pop, dark and moody, gleefully profane, and woozily hypnotic. It's a dizzying concoction, equal parts the murky slo-mo soul of groups like Vessel, oOoOO, the low slung downtempo of Portishead, and the eighties new wave pop of Berlin maybe. Trust unfurls like skeletal minimal electro pop, all primitive drum machine and glimmering synths, but this is far from straight up electro pop, it's twisted and experimental, with a drugged out witch-house feel, and yet somehow remaining glistening and futuristic and super polished. We also get a Blade Runner / Blue Velvet vibe, especially in the vox, the female vocals detached, sung-spoken, icy and witchy but so creepily sexy, just check out "Midnight Lucy" which might be our favorite of the bunch, with a cosmic bleeping, blooping melody, surrounded by clouds of birdsong, the boy, for some reason, clearing his throat occasionally, while the girl gets all ice queen, and delivers some of the record's best/most ridiculous lyrics. There's some sort of rapping too, but the chorus is a killer, it's the sort of track that you could imagine spinning in a scene from some weird art film, a dance floor filled with dead eyed club zombies, shuffling slowly in clouds of dry ice, it's mesmerizing and hypnotic, a slow motion anthem, that twists and turns continually, with some falsetto crooning woven in, the song gradually fading out in yet another cloud of birds. The bird theme resurfaces on "Crow", a sort of subtle banger with a beat crafted from the caw of a crow. And while it's really the girl's show, the boy's vocals are pretty great too, and all over the map, a hushed whisper most of the time, but sometimes slipping into some proper crooning (check out "Almost Leaving"), and when he raps, he somehow sounds a little bit like a less ridiculous Hawd Gangstuh Rappuhs MC's Wid Gatz!The sound is in constant flux, whether it's the crumbling ambience of "Jets", with its stuttery, syrupy groove, or the echo drenched dubbiness of "Drawl", that dubbiness wrapped in thick rumbling synths, or the barebones dreaminess of "Leaving", or the hazy hip-hoppiness of "OIXU", which features some nasty vox, which when slathered in vocoder remind us a little of a more wasted Uffie, or the string laden "Son", which also features some super weird FX heavy pitch shifted vocals. The tracks the boy sings reminds us of Tricky a lot of the time, the same sort of mumbling minimal beatscapery, super moody and murky, but here a bit more fractured and fucked up. We weren't entirely sure what to make of this on the first few listens, the girl's vox are definitely a bit of an acquired taste, but honestly, it didn't take us long at all to acquire it, and now we're kind of obsessed, and find ourselves wanting to listen to little else.
MPEG Stream: "All The Time"
MPEG Stream: "Midnight Lucy"
MPEG Stream: "Dry"
A MAGIC WHISTLE Secret Museum Of Kind Men Vol. 4 (Casual Acid Tea) 7" 4.50
Huzzah! We're up to entry number four in this neat series of 7" singles inspired, of course, by those wonderful Secret Museum Of Mankind compilations of vintage ethnographic field recordings from around the world. Last time around, it was LA's Residual Echoes covering tracks from India and Tajikistan. Now it's the turn of a San Francisco Bay Area local, audiovisual artist Andy Puls. He used to be in noiserockers Neon Hunk, more recently has done visuals for Date Palms and Nik Turner's Hawkwind, and now records his solo psychedelic synthesizer music under the moniker A Magic Whistle. AMW had a great full-length lp out last year we meant to review, but it somehow slipped through the cracks, sorry. So this is the first time for us to sing the praises of AMW on our list, but we're sure it won't be the last.Two fine tracks here, the banjo-y "Bulbulon" on the A-side, another selection from Tajikistan, and "Dariko" from Georgia on the flip, a song that puts the Whistle in A Magic Whistle for sure. Both reimaginings are great examples of this 7" series' mission statement of bridging "ancient and contemporary weirdnesses", these traditional songs from Central Asia and the Caucasus sounding fresh coming out of an East Bay home studio crammed with DIY electronics.Nice hand-screened cover, with graphics by Puls.
MPEG Stream: "Bulbulon"
AK'CHAMEL The Unseen Traveler (Master Chemical Society) cassette 7.98
'The Bringer of Illness' reads the subscript on many of Ak'chamel's releases; and it's a fitting tag for the mysterious outfit of Texas witch-doctors, who seem intent on opening portals into this world to spread ill-will and malcontent from unseemly dimensions. We were immediately intrigued by Master Chemical Society's description of The Unseen Traveler: "If Smithsonian Folkways published the Necronomicon as a book on tape, it might sound like this. Psychopompic incantations and hypnotic gloom captured on cassette." That's about right for this group dedicated to crafting a fictionalized Crowleyian temple musick for tranced-out splutter on gut-strung guitars, kettle drum processionals, and deep-throated incantations. Ak'chamel's deliberately lo-fi, murky temple music conjures not only the post-industrial rituals lusting for the pagan days of Druidic Britain but also the pantheistic, impishly playful rhythms from Thai temple music as well as some choice nods to the occult ethnomusicology of their professed influences, The Sun City Girls. Super limited stock on this one, we gotta say.
MPEG Stream: "The Unseen Traveller"
ARZACHEL s/t ( Prog Temple) cd 17.98
Newly reissued on cd, remastered, with liner notes. Here's what we said about prior (Akarma, Klimt) reissues of this 1969 British psych gem... "The definitive British psych album" says Nick Saloman of Bevis Frond, in fact. It's well worth checking out for fans of early Pink Floyd, Cream, The Nice, as well as the more obscure heavy psych likes of T2. Arzachel not only had a weird name, the band members had unlikely names (pseudonyms, actually) too. Meet guitarist "Simeon Sasparella" (aka Steve Hillage, later of Gong, and solo fame), drummer "Basil Dowling", faux-Kenyan bassist "Njerogi Gategaka", and organ player "Sam Lee-Uff", actually one Dave Stewart (not the Eurythmics guy) who is better known for being in progsters Egg later on. With both Hillage and Stewart as members, this was a sort of a "super group" that didn't know it yet!The first half of this album features their poppier psych/garage numbers, including the lovely instrumental "Queen St. Gang", which seems to feature the "Hey Joe" bass line coupled with the melody from the theme to The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly! The second half of the album indulges in extended heavy psych jams of the sort Arzachel specialized in playing at London's tripped out Middle Earth club. The acid blues of "Leg" sounds like an organ-led Cactus, while the howling, epic "Metempsychosis" is nearly seventeen minutes of primitive, pounding, distortion-filled psychedelia that could be mistaken for Amon Duul II. Good stuff! With their teenage enthusiasm and ambition, the Arzachel boys managed to wax a classic - totally of their times in so many ways and yet unique and timeless as well. Doubtless Simeon, Basil, Njerogi, and Sam, with pseudonyms discarded, improved their musical skills in subsequent years, yet can anything from their later proggy careers really stand up to Arzachel?
MPEG Stream: "Queen St. Gang"
MPEG Stream: "Clean Innocent Fun"
BASTARD SAPLING Instinct Is Forever (Forcefield) 2lp 30.00
Bow down and bleed! 'Tis the punishing return of black metal upstarts Bastard Sapling, who hail from Virginia rather than the cold northern climes, though their blasting, majestically-riffed sound is so very Nordic in the grand, grim tradition. However, Bastard Sapling's take on tradition features some interesting twists, and a lot of extra oomph, no surprise 'cause most of the band are also members of a much less genre-specific metal outfit we love, Inter Arma, those ambitious masters of math-sludge-psych-post-metal. Bastard Sapling (named after a song on the debut Hammers Of Misfortune album that Andee's tUMULt label put out, we're always amused to note) find ways to diversify their brutal blackness; for instance the album's most epic track, "Lantern At The End Of Time", features an ethereal vocal cameo from Windhand's Dorthia Cottrell, and on the likes of "The Killer in Us All", they even really 'rock out', if you will. Hail!
MPEG Stream: "My Spine Will Be My Noose"
MPEG Stream: "Subterreanean Rivers Of Blood"
MPEG Stream: "The Killer In Us All"
BRANCA, GLENN The Ascension (Superior Viaduct) lp 17.98
Here's the necessary reissue of this classic Glenn Branca album from 1980, now in print thanks to Superior Viaduct. Glenn Branca has long had the reputation of being "the guitar orchestra guy" responsible for assembling huge groups of guitarists (often well known rock guitarists), to perform huge, throbbing, hypnotic and repetitive compositions - some for ten guitarists, for fifty guitarists, even one hundred guitarists. The liner notes for the 2002 Table Of The Elements collection of selected works by Rhys Chatham suggested that Branca's guitar orchestra concept was 'borrowed' from Chatham, as Branca had performed in many of Chatham's multiple guitar ensembles. In much the same way that we were surprised by the rock-ness of the early Chatham material, this early recording from Branca and his four guitar/bass/drums outfit has much more in common with the US artful noise-rock (in particular Mission Of Burma, Pere Ubu and of course Sonic Youth) than Ligeti, Penderecki, Messiaen or any of the others namedropped by Lee Ranaldo. Extended drony, atonal rhythmic explorations stretch on and on, thriving on horror-movie, minor-key tension that builds and builds and builds, before bursting into unrelenting rock rhythm 'n' riffs. Lots of the more rock parts sound like an instrumental version of North Western punk rockers The Wipers, but with lots of odd dynamics akin to Bastro or Slint and with the extended riff repetition of modern minimalism stretching the songs into droning, hypnotic master works. Throbbing and relentless, pounding and intricate, weaving back and forth between ferocious, unrelenting rock-action, and epic, complex geometric stop/start, hypno-minimalism. Great to have this back in print, once again!
MPEG Stream: "The Spectacular Commodity"
MPEG Stream: "Lesson No. 2"
C.O.B. Moyshe McStiff And The Tartan Lancers Of The Sacred Heart (Sunbeam) lp + cd 16.98
Yay! Never had this on vinyl before. This longtime AQ British folk fave from Incredible String band offshoot C.O.B. is back in print again, on deluxe 180 gram vinyl, remastered from original tapes at Abbey Road, packaged with cd version (which includes seven bonus tracks) and a large illustrated color booklet with tons of info, the works!Here's what we had to say about it the first time around:C.O.B. (Clive's Original Band) was the creation of Incredible String Band founding member and one of the grandfathers of today's fringe folk scene, Clive Palmer (R.I.P., he passed away just this year). The incredibly-named Moyshe McStiff And The Tartan Lancers Of The Sacred Heart was C.O.B.'s second and best - or at least most exotic and weird - album, released in 1972. Such beautiful melancholy! Some of the instrumentation here is similar to that of ISB (acoustic guitar, banjo, clarinet) but with lots of harmonium and the addition of a dulcimer with a widened bridge (invented by C.O.B. band member John Bidwell), an odd droning sound that darkens the mood a bit more than most stuff you'll hear from ISB. If you're a fan of British folk in the traditional and/or acid vein such as Shirley Collins, Trees, Forest, Fairport Convention, Vashti Bunyan, even Current 93, this cd promises to be a true wistful pleasure. WAY recommended!!
MPEG Stream: "Eleven Willows"
MPEG Stream: "Oh Bright Eyed One "
CISNEROS, AL Lantern Of The Soul (Sinai) 7" 6.98
With another new 7", the mainman from stoner doom legends Sleep and tranced out mesmer-metal outronauts OM continues to dig deep into his love of classic dub, a sound that has most definitely informed even his most metal of musical endeavors. But unlike the other singles from Cisneros we've reviewed, this one sounds like a full band, a little less straight up classic dub, and more a sort of subtly dubby, psychedelic jazz, a groovy skittery rhythm beneath a sprawl of swirling synths, hazy and dreamlike, like some seventies cinematic psych, the soundtrack to some lost foreign thriller, droney and druggy, melancholic and moody, the sound breaking down sometimes to just bass and drums, darkly propulsive and hushed, but those ultra minimal moments are balanced by the rest of the track (a single song, spread out over two sides) that unwinds languorously, two sides of laid back and hypnotic, tranced out retro dub-psych-jazz bliss.Housed in a plain, white, jukebox style 45 sleeve, pressed on clear vinyl.
CONVIVIAL HERMIT, THE Issue #7 magazine 9.98
Latest issue of one of our favorite metal mags (and definitely the one with the best name ever!), The Convivial Hermit returns with another massive issue, overflowing with all sorts of dark and mysterious music, metal and otherwise (with a definite focus on the blacker side of metal), from all over the globe, and as always, lots of familiar names, but even more unfamiliar ones. We've discovered so much cool music via the 'Hermit, and it doesn't look like this new issue will be any different. So here goes, the groups we know first: Finnish black metallers Ancestors Blood, avant grade Austrian metal horde Angizia, Japanese black metalheads Cataplexy, German neo-folkers Empyrium, Cascadian BM troop Fauna, Japanese doomlords Funeral Moth, Austrian blackened goth metallers Golden Dawn, Humiliation, a death metal band from Kulala Lumpur, Tolkien metal duo Summoning, Greek pagan black metalheads Kawir, long running Finnish death metal crew (and recent Circle collaborators) Stench Of Decay, Swedish black metallers Nasheim, Norwegian BM legends Isvind, Rotting Christ from Greece, SF's very own Worm Ouroboros, the long running, and now metal again (after a brief foray into electro/hip hop) Manes from Norway, experimental / avant ambient black metal drone dude Mhonos. Then there are a ton of groups new to us: Annwfyn, Asbaar, Dperd, Draco Hypnalis, Ectovoid, Raflum, Sacratus, Velm, Woodland Choir and more! And as if that weren't enough, the magazine is also packed with articles, travel diaries, reviews of shows, and records and zines, and all sorts of other cool stuff. It's no wonder this doesn't come out more often, as it seems like a massive undertaking to get each issue together, but it's well worth the wait. And it's big enough, that you could very well still be working your way through it, when issue 8 rolls around. Needless to say, HIGHLY recommended. Essential reading for all adventurous metalheads!
CROOKED NECKS Faded Flourescents (Black Horizons) cassette 8.98
Supposedly the final recording from these post-black metallers, born of a sonically similar outfit we reviewed ages ago called Frail, who were already crafting a sound that at the time we described as sounding exactly like The Cure, only with harsh shrieked BM vokills. Crooked Necks took that sound and ran with it, ending up even further removed from anything remotely black metal, a woozy, swirling, gothic gloom pop, all chiming shoegaze guitars, deep bellowed vox, chiming minor key melodies, moody and broody, soaring and shimmery, we're immediately reminded of Beyond Dawn, Katatonia too, but Crooked Necks still retains some of those harsh vokills, their sound a bit more murky and buzzy, but those elements are subtle, and deftly woven into an epic, majestic sort of blissed out post-BM metalgaze, that is most definitely more aligned with outfits like Alcest and Deafheaven and the like. Gorgeously gloomy stuff.As with all Black Horizons releases, beautifully packaged, a silver metallic ink on matte green paper 8 panel J-card, the tapes stickered green cassettes, with a printed glossy insert, and of course LIMITED TO 100 COPIES!!
MPEG Stream: "Tornado Formations"
MPEG Stream: "Shallow Pools And Unused Rooms"
CULPEPER'S ORCHARD s/t (Shadoks Music) cd 17.98
YAY, this aQ psych fave from '71 reissued on compact disc, again (we've had 2 previous editions, both sold out). Here's what we said when we first freaked out about this some years ago, with additions:A few 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.4) Julian Cope once made it an Album Of The Month on his Head Heritage website.5) This new Shadoks version includes new liner notes based on interviews with the former band members, along with previously unseen photos. No bonus tracks, though, unlike one of the earlier, now out of print cd editions.
MPEG Stream: "Teaparty For An Orchard"
MPEG Stream: "Your Song & Mine"
DEERHOOF La Isla Bonita (Polyvinyl) lp 15.98
The first Deerhoof review we ever wrote, for their first cd release, 1997's The Man, The King, The Girl, read as follows: "Amazing blend of Caroliner sludge, and Melvins slop from this local groop. (Includes members of the late great Nitre Pit.)"Ha. Look at 'em now. Something like a dozen albums later, Deerhoof, these days featuring fewer former members of Nitre Pit, are still at it, but probably nobody would mention the Melvins or Caroliner in reference to this record or other recent output. Sludge? Slop? Nope, more like pop! Still, amazing is the right word.2014 Deerhoof, on La Isla Bonita, sound a bit like a funkier (rhythmically and perhaps otherwise) Flaming Lips, super duper poppy, with a mathy dash of Melt-Banana in there too - in part 'cause of Satomi Matsuzaki's Japanese accented, sometimes yelpy, sometimes breathy female vocals, but also 'cause of all the angular quirk and curious noise amidst the extremely rhythmic catchiness. Yeah, you don't have to be told that one of the main peeps in the band is the drummer, this can get pretty funky/groovy (though in an often off-kilter kind of way). Very cool! As always.
MPEG Stream: "Tiny Bubbles"
MPEG Stream: "Exit Only"
MPEG Stream: "Oh Bummer"
DIMUZIO, THOMAS Amid Zero Echo (Substantia Innominata / Drone Records) 2x10" 24.00
The Bay Area stalwart Thomas Dimuzio has long been known for his improvisation chops with electronics and live sampling strategies, sporting a discography littered with the who's who of the avant-garde elite (Fred Frith, Chris Cutler, Matmos, Dan Burke, Wobbly, Joseph Hammer, Negativland, Psychic TV, amongst a litany of others). His albums can be filled with wildly colorful bursts of electrical jitter and post-Bayle clusterings; and at others, they can embrace the slow-motion rippling of the finest by the holy minimalists of the last century. Amid Zero Echo falls into the latter category, one that he has mastered within the Dimmer collaborative project with Joseph Hammer in particular. Guitars are what we are told to be the source material for this double 10" released on the ever reliable Substantia Innominata subsidiary of Drone Records. The four sides to this album each sport low rumbling dronecraft with variable hues and swarms, with streaks of machined feedback and motorized abrasion peppering the gravity-suck drone heaviness. Dimuzio tracks through his bleak / black spaces with glacially paced metallic buzz, evanescent mysteriousness, and some downright gorgeous chordal smolder that falls somewhere between the form destruction dronework of RST and the vacant space orchestrations from Thomas Koner.
MPEG Stream: "Haze"
MPEG Stream: "Flash"
MPEG Stream: "Shale"
DUNN, KYLE BOBBY Ways Of Meaning (Desire Path Recordings) lp 14.98
BACK IN PRINT!Ways Of Meaning is a beautifully serene ambient album from the classically trained composer Kyle Bobby Dunn. In sourcing much of his weightless tones, gossamer half-melodies, and immersive atmospherics from guitar and organ, Dunn develops a number of almost baroque flourishes throughout the haze and mist of his warm rich sounds that lean more to the sound of a medieval chorale pitched at quarter-speed than to the contemporary narcoleptic sounds of today's ambient practitioners. The looping interplay between the golden guitar tones on his "Canyon Meadow" begins to resemble an impressionist orchestration for French horns, albeit run through William Basinski's tape machinations that push all of the sounds in and out of focus. His charmingly titled "Movement For The Completely Fucked" is hardly the epithet that one might assume; rather, Dunn's placid composition for somber guitar mesmerism offers solace to whomever may be deemed completely fucked. Fans of Eno's Music For Airports, anything from Stars Of The Lid, and even some of the contemplative works of Arvo Part would be well served to check out this album. Vinyl only!
MPEG Stream: "Movement For The Completely Fucked"
DYNAMITE HEMORRHAGE Issue #2 magazine 7.00
All right! The 2nd issue is here of this cool old school style music zine, from the guy (Jay Hinman) who used to do the fanzine Super Dope back in the '90s. Slick cover, 80 pages - even bigger than issue #1. Lots of great stuff about underground music old and new - NZ legend Bill Direen is on the cover, Dynamite Hemorrhage providing both an interview and a discography/retrospective. Also, you get stuff on great Goner-label Memphis garage punks the Nots, lo-fi popsmiths Honey Radar, the 'behind the scenes story' of the Back From The Grave compilation series, and the Punk 45 series too, a "Layman's Guide to 1970s Jamaican Dub" from Jay, a primer on obscure '70s-'90s female punk/post-punk, tons of record reviews, book reviews too, and a bunch more, basically all the sort of cool stuff you want in a music zine. Classic. And it hasn't even been a full year since issue #1, so we're hoping to see #3 sometime next fall!
EYELIDS 854 (Jealous Butcher) lp 22.00
We kinda flipped for the debut 7" from these guys a while back, and while for whatever reason we never managed to get it reviewed, the killer A side from that single launches the group's new full length, and it remains a potential top pop jam of the year, total hazy, jangly Teenage Fanclub style shimmer pop, an impossibly dreamy melody, soft vocals and lovely harmonies, with shadowy minor key moments laced throughout the track's otherwise sunshiny jangle. It's another one of those records, that if you're anything like us, you might have to hit repeat 5 or 10 times before you can make it past the opener (sound sample below). But go ahead. We can wait. The Eyelids are fronted by Chris Slusarenko (who's played with Boston Spaceships, Decemberists, Elliott Smith, Stephen Malkmus and more) and John Moen, and along with the rest of the 'Lids, they fuse unabashed NZ / Flying Nun worship with plenty of sonic nods to the aforementioned Teenage Fanclub, not to mention other pop faves from the past like Eugenius, BMX Bandits, as well as early R.E.M (and other Athens groups of the time), some of that LA Paisley Underground sound, and of course the Beatles loom large, how could they not? Every track here an impossible jangle pop gem, all chiming clean guitars, wistful melancholic melodies, sun dappled strum, the vocals all sixties and softly psychedelic, and hooks galore, with every song (once you get past the first) vying for best of the bunch. There's plenty of darkness and shadow too hidden amongst the sunshine, with some tracks slipping into haunting minor key melancholia, but even then, those moments are paired with some pure pop bliss. Ovens / Tony Molina fans would do well to check these guys out too, cuz if you couldn't tell, Molina is a serious Teenage Fanclub obsessive. Definite contender for pop record of the year. And there's that single still available too, with two B sides that rival any of the songs from the record proper. Just ask if you want one of those too (you probably do)!
MPEG Stream: "Seagulls Into Submission"
MPEG Stream: "Psych #1"
MPEG Stream: "Forget About Tomorrow"
FLYING SAUCER ATTACK P.A. Blues / FSA Tapes Vol 1: Unreleased Live (Sanity Muffin) cassette 8.98
One of the most limited and sought after documents in the FSA catalog has finally got a cassette reissue from local tape archival label Sanity Muffin. Here is what we said about the original cd-r release back in 2004:P.A. Blues is a selection of unreleased live material from 1994-1997 hand picked and edited by FSA's Dave Pearce and featuring Rachel Brook from Movietone and Matt Elliott from Third Eye Foundation. Blissed out and dense, thick washes of guitar ambience and slowly shifting, dark and droning swoosh and shimmer. The focus of this disc is the lengthy side-long title track, a massive collage of live recordings chopped and edited into a single huge swelling throbbing movement. The B-side features other live recordings including a sprawling mumbling lo-fi cover of Fairport Convention's "She Moves Through The Fair". As with most things Flying Saucer attack, this is epic and gorgeous spaced out, dreamy and mesmerizing drone rock of the highest order! Limited to 100 copies, this one will go fast!
MPEG Stream: "FSA Tapes Vol. 1: Unreleased Pt. 2"
FULL OF HELL + MERZBOW s/t (Profound Lore) 2cd 13.98
Merzbow, Merzbow, Merzbow. We love the ultra-prolific king of Japanese noise as much as the next person - maybe even more, since several of us here own the 50-cd Merzbox! But, it's almost impossible to keep up - and also, when you've already got at least 50 cds of Merzbow's noise, do you really need any more? However, we do still get intrigued whenever Merzbow goes and collaborates with (or remixes) some other artist, like a rock or metal band. Maybe 'cause we like our Merzbow rhythmic, as in, with drumming. Also a little bit of, uh, music, in the mix tends to make the noise parts even MORE effective and interesting in our opinion. So this new release on Profound Lore caught our ears - East Coast metalcore band Full Of Hell teaming up with Masami "Merzbow" Akita for not one but two cd's worth of intense destructo mayhem. The blasting drum battery, filthy riffage and throat-shredded vokills are all par for the course with Full Of Hell, but the presence of Merzbow's mad noise skillz tips the scales further into the extreme and avantgarde! More "power electronics" feedback, more hellish drone and distortion, more abstract abjection. It sounds as if the pit is feasting upon itself, as FoH's fierce metal core breaks loose from its moorings and plunges into the abyss, accompanied by what sounds like 1,000 vacuum cleaners in a windtunnel, that sort of thing. Of the two discs, there's one that's presented as the "main course" with printed lyrics in the digipack, that one seems more like Full Of Hell doin' their usual thing, with a (powerful) side of Merzbow - and also, some free jazz style horns on a few of the tracks!! The other disc, entitled Sister Fawn, seems intended as a bonus, and finds FoH and Merzbow more fully enmeshed, blurring the lines a bit more, the noise to the fore with beats and demented vocals in the background. Noisefreaks can go straight to that one, the metalheads should start with the first disc...
MPEG Stream: "Gordian Knot"
MPEG Stream: "High Fells"
MPEG Stream: "Aphid"
GLASS HITS / ACCORDION CRIMES Split (Snappy Little Numbers) 7" 4.98
Two of our favorite Denver noise rock / post punk outfits team up for a killer blast of nineties style matched out heaviness. Both bands actually played with Andee when A Minor Forest was on tour recently, and that should definitely give you an idea of where these guys are coming from. Accordion Crimes though deliver something much more sinewy and tense, still channeling the Jesus Lizard and sonically similar outfits, with low slung basslines, chaining angular guitars, sung/spoken vocals, some kick ass drumming, and loads of space, some Shellac going on too, but mostly just that classic nineties Midwestern pigfuck math rocking crunch we can't ever seem to get enough of. Glass Hits deliver two short, sharp blasts, that definitely traffic in some of the same sonic tropes, the rhythm section locked tight, swinging and swagger, the guitars thick and buzzing, but it's the vocals that steal the show, a raspy, emo caterwaul, that manages to peel the paint, but remain melodic, it's hard not to love it, and hard not to imagine the singer must barely be able to talk after these guys play. We definitely get a Quicksand vibe along with the usual suspects, but if you dig that sort of old school melodic heaviness and post/math/noise rock radness, this single will definitely hit the spot. LIMITED TO 300 COPIES! Yellow vinyl, two inserts, one a full color lyric sheet, the other liner notes on vellum, all packaged with a thick, screen printed wooden cover. Includes a download code too!
MPEG Stream: GLASS HITS "Action Potential"
MPEG Stream: ACCORDION CRIMES "New Technique"
GNIDROLOG Lady Lake (4 Men with Beards) lp 23.00
PROG ALERT! Here's this eccentric English prog band's second album, from 1972, reissued on 180 gram vinyl. Over-the-top stuff, from a band that reminds us of some of our other prog faves: Van Der Graaf Generator, King Crimson, Jethro Tull (flute!), even Comus. From the fantastical cover painting (a giant disembodied hand menacing a swan rising from a lake) to the fantastical music, this is the sort of ye olde prog we love. Includes the epic, "I Could Never Be A Soldier", which sounds like something off of Wishbone Ash's Argus album, amongst other they-don't-make-'em-like-they-used-to, dark and twisted prog treats.
HORSE LORDS Hidden Cities (NNA Tapes) lp 17.98
Baltimore's Horse Lords scrawl delightfully squiggly line drawings of instrumental motorik jams that might look sort of like Laddio Bollocko, early Circle, Faust, Neu, or even This Heat if you were squint hard enough. This four-piece interweaves hillbilly-raga guitar tangles and droning stabs of saxophone through a daisy-chain of delay pedals and tape-loop accumulators that top their archetypal kraut rhythm section of one-the-one bassline throb and some serious Jaki Leibezeit worship going on behind the drum kit. Saxophonist Andrew Bernstein keeps the expository investigations through his instrument to a minimum, and he's at his best when he nestles all of the blurting / bleating notes into harmonious interlocking patterns that ripple through the echoing electronics. Similarly, Owen Gardner's guitar settles into hypno-rock, jitterbug jangle that rings with the harmonic dissonance of Chatham, Branca, or Conrad. The two of them never fight over each other, instead working to balance and complement the two instruments in their mutual pursuit of groovy art-rock. Each of the tracks exhibit a couple of start-stop-start-again-in-another-direction big changes to what Horse Lords do, but it never sounds self-indulgent or wanky. It all comes together as a profoundly jubilant mess that works very, very well. Yup, download included with this piece of wax.
MPEG Stream: "Outer East"
MPEG Stream: "Macaw"
MPEG Stream: "All That Is Sold"
HOUND DOG TAYLOR'S HAND Live At The Comet (Eider Down Records) cassette 8.98
The hands of Hound Dog Taylor were an unusual pair, as the Chicago bluesman was born with 6 digits on each hand. Though when he died in 1975, his right hand could only count to five as Taylor sliced off his sixth finger in a drunken rage. The trio which has adopted its name from Hound Dog Taylor doesn't specify which hand they are glorifying - the left with those six digits (only five seemingly capable of hitting the strings of the guitar, the sixth looking scrawny and vestigial) or the right which was the victim of self-mutilation. Suppose we could ask; but for now we'll let than question be open-ended as the eccentricities of Americana are just one of many of the areas of expertise for the modern-day avant-bluesman Jeffrey Taylor, whose best known as half of dada-collage art-rock ensemble Climax Golden Twins. Like their spiritual siblings The Sun City Girls, both Jeffrey Taylor and fellow CGT cohort Robert Millis can fucking play guitar. Old tyme Appalachian ragas? You bet! Catchy-as-fuck riffs of art-punk grooviness that earned CGT an album on Sub Pop? Yes, they did! Imagined psychedelic splatter coming from Southeast Asia? Oh, that too! Jeffrey Taylor's rollicking guitar is front and center in Hound Dog Taylor's Hand, with Mark Ostrowski and John Seman fleshing out the rhythm section. The numbers are improvisational in nature, though much of the tropes, riffs, and rhythms hit a combination of out-rock bluesiness, spy-thriller jazziness, and swampy American primitivism all laced with a pleasantly drunk, cocksure swagger. Pro duped tapes with hand silkscreened covers AND download cards. Very limited, of course.
MPEG Stream: "track 1"
MPEG Stream: "track 3"
INTER ARMA The Cavern (Relapse) lp 21.00
ALSO ON VINYL!!It's kind of a 'thing' now, heavy bands releasing an album that consists of just one long (loooooong) track. Well, actually the big year for it was way back in 1996, when Edge Of Sanity, Boris, Sabbat, and (most famously) Sleep all released one-long-song albums! But, more recently, we can cite single-song, full-album efforts from Corrupted, Pig Destroyer, Jesu, and Lesbian, among others. Then there's that obscure old aQ fave by Mistigo Varggoth Darkestra... and of course, Jethro Tull's Thick As A Brick, if you wanna go waaaay back. Ok, so maybe not enough bands have done it that we could actually make it a theme for one of our in-between lists, but still, it's a thing. And now Inter Arma has done it too.Richmond, VA's impressive Inter Arma have proved themselves an ambitious and capable "kitchen sink" metal band, hybridizing all sorts of extreme heaviness and postrock strategies, their usual compositions already pretty long and densely packed to begin with, so to discover that they'd come up with a 45 minute, 46 second long track/album called The Cavern is not exactly a surprise - but most definitely something we were excited to hear. And, yep, they pull it off, one massive majestic march-like song that doesn't end (for a long time). With some quiet and lots of loud, it incorporates raging Neur-Isis crush, bellowing vokills, mathy technical instrumental wig outs a la Don Caballero, proggy, droning chamber music ambience (like maybe something on Constellation), and even, at about a half-hour in, some heartfelt, country-flecked indie rock epic-ry with lap steel twang and clean, sincere vocals. Holy fucking wow. A lot of that we'd have expected from Inter Arma, but some of it came as a surprise - a good thing when it's a 45+ minute song you're dealing with. There's harmony guitar parts here to make you cry, also techie metal shred to spin your head; it can sound like True Widow one second, The Fucking Champs the next (or at the same time). The band brings in theremin, violin, extra synthesizers, and more, courtesy of a bunch of guest players; it's a BIG dang enterprise with room for it all, and they manage to keep kicking things up a notch every little while as the piece progresses. Granted, we'll need to listen to it a bunch more times to really begin to take it all in and understand (and critique) it as a whole, but that's some good attention-span exercise. Heck, if you can binge-watch an entire TV series any given weekend, you can spend 45 minutes getting into this 'song'. And certainly if you liked their last album, Sky Burial, you should be up for this. Another one for the pantheon.
MPEG Stream: "The Cavern (excerpt 1)"
MPEG Stream: "The Cavern (excerpt 2)"
INVISIBLE HANDS Teslam (Abduction) lp 21.00
NOW ON VINYL TOO! The cliff notes version of Invisible Hands might read something like "spaghetti-western cow-punk from Cairo with one of dudes from the Sun City Girls." The dude in question is the curmudgeonly Alan Bishop (aka Alvarius B.) here working with four Egyptian musicians, two of whom had been in the Egyptian rock band Eskenderella. As we mentioned before in the previous review about Invisible Hands' first album, this is a remarkably sensible project for Alan Bishop, known for his confrontational fuck-you-in-eyeball attitude and discordant avant-folk splutter. Where the first album had a sandblasted alt-rock prettiness about akin to Giant Sand and Calexico, Teslam finds Bishop pushing more of the insidious, diabolical aesthetics for which he is known. "Eyes In The Back Of Your Head" is a blackened, sardonic waltz with Bishop and Co. alternating between languid Morricone-esque melodies and harshly plucked Brechtian venom, all in the steampunk time of three. When Bishop and fellow Invisible Hands Aya Hemeda sing in tandem as on "Slaughterhouse" and "The Great Implosion", it's akin to the unkempt harmonies that Exene Cervenka and John Doe delivered in X.
MPEG Stream: "Slaughterhouse"
MPEG Stream: "Places"
MPEG Stream: "Eyes In The Back Of Your Head"
JEHANNE, THIBAULT Eskifjordur (Kaon) cd 14.98
Many moons ago, the French publishing house Metamkine curated an engaging series of short programmed musique concrete compositions under the banner Cinema Pour L'Oreille - that's 'cinema for the ear' to those of us with just one language at our disposal. There were some minor masterpieces of experimental sound design and tape splicing from the likes of Luc Ferrari, Michel Chion, Eliane Radigue, Lionel Marchetti, and many others. The series came to its end in 2002; but the work of Thibault Jehanne maps a very similar strategem of highly evocative compositions for processed field recordings. He even opines that Eskifordur is "a film with images," leaving the foley sound design as the sole driver of content and meaning. Hmm. Isn't that pretty much what every piece of recorded sound does? Conceptual bullshit artist or not, Jehanne is very talented with his field recordings, all of which come from the eastern coast of Iceland. This sparsely populated region is host to a rich sound environment where sea, land, ice, air, and ocean are thrust together with only a few human interlopers to witness this geophysical drama. After a crackling of ice and a smolder of what could be thermal vents, Thibault ruptures the environmental calm with a vulcanized rhythmic thud that continues throughout the first seven minutes of the album. It's hard not to think of this as a mystical manifestation of Thor's hammer crashing down on the glaciers here on Earth. A halo of electronic drone hovers behind more watery sounds and a rare human intrusion with the soft rhythmic purr from somebody sawing a piece of damp wood by hand. Thunderous raptures of calved ice or volcanic tumult collapse into the wintery wash of airplanes passing overhead. Yes, it must be said that Thibault's sound design is amazingly evocative of this particular and obviously cinematic location, preceded by the likes of Eric La Casa, Chris Watson, Tarab, and Murmer.
MPEG Stream: "Le ReVeil"
MPEG Stream: "Le Naufrage"
KHOST Copper Lock Hell (Cold Spring) cd 17.98
Copper Lock Hell is the first we've heard from this UK dronedirgedoom duo, who seem to have found the perfect home on Cold Spring, their bleak, rumbling industrialisms, paired with heaving, droned out SUNNO)))-like heaviness. Churning dirges with bellowed vokills, driven by hellish machine like rhythms, plodding sprawls of clatter and hiss, grind and crunch, all set amidst a harrowing landscape of densely layered sonics, swirls of processed vox, layered tones, and swirling psychedelic squalls, a churning, noise drenched dirgery that almost sounds like Skullflower doing doom metal maybe, or an old Godflesh record spinning in slow motion. Grinding, and corrosive, but strangely hypnotic, the tracks often shed the rhythms, leaving just cascades of crumbling distortion, wound in fields of mysterious vox, that give some of the tracks an almost alien world music vibe. There are also strangely folky bits, that seems well out of place until they're subsumed by an avalanche of oozing black riffage, grinding an corrosive, slipping into serious Moss / Bunkur ultra-dooooooooom territory for sure. But even at its most bleak, Khost will introduce some unlikely element, that transforms the sound into something weirdly beautiful, whether it's some buried melody, some fractured rhythm, fluttering flute surfacing mid metallic churn, it makes for super nuanced listening. Sure if you're just in it for the heavy noisiness and the blackened crush, odds are you won't be disappointed, but that sound is much more blurry and murky than most, the tracks here blackened psychedelic creeps, wrapped in crumbling buzz, lumbering and lurching, and pocked with all manner of sampled sounds, if you peeled away the distortion, and dialed back the vokills, you'd suddenly have something like a more malevolent Philip Jeck or a more grim, blackened Ghedalia Tazartes. High praise perhaps, but for what we initially took for just another (admittedly kick ass) slab of industrial metal/doom crush, has revealed itself to be something infinitely more nuanced, and delivers some super satisfying deep listening, fusing ultra abject downer doom with psychedelic avant soundscapery, into some impossibly epic, avant blacknoise psychdoom deathdrone majesty. FYI, there's a guest appearance on here from Eugene Robinson of Oxbow.
MPEG Stream: "14 Daggers"
MPEG Stream: "Hypocrisy Banality Possession"
MPEG Stream: "Amoral Apathy Supression"
KING GIZZARD & THE LIZARD WIZARD I'm In Your Mind Fuzz (Castle Face) lp 15.98
NOW HERE ON VINYL TOO!! The band with the best/worst name that we've ever had a Record Of The Week by (next to, perhaps, that cd-r by King Kong Ding Dong) is back! When we made this cosmic garage psych rock band from Down Under's previous release (or should we say, releases, 'cause it was two albums in one package) our Record Of The Week just a few months ago, we compared 'em to Thee Oh Sees and Ty Segall, said they fit in with that scene, and they do - this new album is on Castle Face, ta da! Right where they belong. But King Wizard And The Lizard Wizard (still love typing that name!) mostly defy easy categorization. Clearly they've listened to a lot of records (while smoking a lot of weed) from the '60s and '70s, blenderhybridizificating all sorts of classic psychedelic source material, so you get stuff here that's part Pink Floyd, part Captain Beefheart, part T-Rex (especially on "Empty"), part West Coast Pop Experimental Band, part Status Quo... There's blues harp and underwatery vocal FX; flashes of glam pop and krautrock rhythms; spacey boogie jams, with a dash of Eastern exoticism. Often all in the same song. One track, "Cellophane", comes across like Can meets Canned Heat! A little later on, the use of flute in "Hot Water" nods to early Kraftwerk. And always, trippy as they are, these tracks are hella catchy too, like we said, right in there with Ty Segall et.al., thinking King Tuff too when it gets more glammy. Meanwhile, the mellow groove and gentle vocals of "Slow Jam 1" remind us a bit of ol' Olivia Tremor Control. And finally we should mention the fantasy castle music of the awesomely titled "Satan Speeds Up" (well, it's a better title than "Slow Jam 1" anyway), the audio equivalent of the album's equally awesome cover art. Yeah! One more time, ladies and gentlemen: King Gizzard And The Lizard Wizard!
MPEG Stream: "Cellophane"
MPEG Stream: "I'm In Your Mind Fuzz"
MPEG Stream: "Satan Speeds Up"
LIBAEK, SVEN Nature Walkabout OST (Votary) cd 16.98
NOW HERE ON CD!The soundtrack reissue campaign of this Australian (by way of Norway) jazz composer keeps rolling along. A few lists back, we reviewed his score for Inner Space, a nature documentary made for television about the Ocean and its inhabitants (notably sharks!), and this week we got another knockout eco-jazz score about the Australian Outback. We have been in love with Libaek ever since the Trunk Records compilation of lost film scores came out a few years ago (now sadly out of print), and his music was also famously included in Wes Anderson's The Life Aquatic. Now that many of his film scores are seeing proper reissues, including The Set, Libaek's only non-documentary film score, and Ride A Pale Horse, from a film about about Australian Surfing, we'll try to review those as well.Nature Walkabout opens with a fanfare of horns in a swinging reverie of flutes and drums. Libaek's trademark style is both pastoral and upbeat, mysterious and lighthearted. Comparable to composers such as John Barry, Henry Mancini and Vince Guaraldi, utilizing harmonicas, pianos and vibes in endearing melodies that seem to describe the delicate nuances, both beautiful and dangerous of the wild Australian landscape and the birds, mammals and snakes that inhabit it rather perfectly. Fans of library music, nature scores and cinematic pastoral jazz, take note!
MPEG Stream: "Nature Walkabout Theme"
MPEG Stream: "Desert"
MPEG Stream: "Snake Danger"
MPEG Stream: "Budgerigars Fantasy"
LIL UGLY MANE On Doing An Evil Deed Blues (Ormolycka) 7" 6.98
More mutated musical manna from (mostly) tape label Ormolycka, after a recent barrage of cassettes. And it's an exciting one, the katest from cult rapper Lil Ugly Mane, who has somehow managed to stay deep underground, while making some of the craziest, home brewed, next level, mad scientist hip hop out there. How the world hasn't caught on yet, we'll never know. But here's yet another chance for the squares, two more sides of flipped out funkiness and kitchen sink sonic ingenuity, the A side starting out like the intro to a lo-fi 4-track Wu-Tang jam, the same sort of collaged cinematic vibe, looped vocal snippets, jazzy horns, stuttery breakbeats, the pitch constantly shifting, before slowing down to a crawl, and the song proper kicks in, a shimmering, poppy loop of ethereal female vocals and soft focus cascades of melodic glimmer, all wound around a crackly beat, a head nodding distorto-groove beneath LUM's laid back flow. The flipside is NOT more of the same, instead it's all reverb drenched rapid fire flow, murky and washed out, before the beat drops, a tinny electro groove, laced with woozy sci-fi squiggles, the sound noisy and off kilter, a little bit industrial, fractured and schizophrenic, lurching from noisy, grinding rhythmic blurts, to sprawling skeletal skitter, to weird eighties almost-electropop, the vox a distorted howl, music box melodies colliding with soundtrack synths and swaths of noisy near-psychedelia. We need a new full length BAD!Housed in a heavy full color jacket, with a printed photocopied insert.
MPEG Stream: "On Doing An Evil Deed Blues"
MAGMA Kohntarkosz (Jazz Village) lp 22.00
At last! We'd been wondering when/if it would happen: a vinyl reissue campaign has at last begun for this French Utopian apocalyptic sci-fi spiritual prog jazz fusion et cetera ensemble, the one and only Magma! Lead by drummer/vocalist/visionary Christian Vander, Magma are one of our '70s prog faves, continuing to the present day. They've been described as Sun Ra meets Wagner, and that's not the half of it. The first four records reissued by Jazz Village include three of their newer ones - and this seminal effort from 1974. It features the two part Vander composition "Kohntarkosz", one of Magma's prime masterpieces, a complex, ominous epic at the heart of the Magma mythology, full of lumbering bass, eerie synth drone, and majestic vocal chant. Vander's lyrical, piano-laced tribute to his hero John Coltrane, "Coltrane Sundia", is also included, along with an unsettling tune by bassist Jannick Top, the stirring, string laden "Ork Alarm". Classic Magma! Interesting lineup fact: this album features Brian Godding formerly of UK pop psych act Blossom Toes, on guitar. Also, note: thanks to the quirkiness of our website, we're leaving out all the MANY umlauts that each title mentioned above would normally be adorned!!
MPEG Stream: "Kohntarkosz Part One"
MPEG Stream: "Ork Alarm"
MASCIS, J Fade Into You (Sub Pop) 7" 5.98
Nice, managed to snag enough of these (well, a small handful) to list, after Black Friday Record Store Day last week, for which this was one of the special super limited releases, from Sub Pop. So, not gonna do a big write-up, as they'll be gone in a jiffy anyway - all you need to know, really, is that it's Dinosaur Jr.'s J. Mascis doing, on the A-side, a Mazzy Star cover, "Fade Into You"! On the flip, a Mascis original, "Outside", from the sessions for his recent solo lp Tied To A Star.FYI, the Mazzy Star cover was apparently originally released as a picture disc that came with a Dinosaur Jr. sneaker, some time ago. Though, we're not sure if it's the same recording or not.
MELTON, MATTHEW Outside of Paradise (Southpaw) lp 15.98
Another killer batch of sixties style power pop jangle fuzz from this aQ fave, with another out-of-time, heartthrob, Teenbeat, pin-up cover photo, featuring Melton in his ubiquitous leather jacket, this time with no shirt on, gold chain, and a bat slung over his shoulder, as he wanders though some very Paleolithic looking foliage. Kind of like Matthew McConaughey as garage rocker? It's hard to say how much of that part of Melton's schtick is a put on, it hardly matters, but it really does play into the whole retro psych vibe, with this latest, Outside Of Paradise, another gem of fuzzy, reverbed, echo drenched garage pop, that literally sounds like some lost sixties/seventies psychedelic holy grail, from the songs, to the sound, literally nothing betrays this as anything but an actual Nuggets style artifact. And like the last Melton record, as well as his records as Bare Wires, Melton once again demonstrates an impossible knack for classic, timeless songsmithery, with pretty much every track here a total garage psych earworm, and while there's little here that distinguishes most of these songs from the rest of Melton's catalog (which is not a bad thing AT ALL), he definitely continues to hone his songwriting chops, and his skills as an arranger, delivering some of the catchiest, well crafted tunes yet, with the sorts of hooks and choruses most groups would kill for, not to mention some subtle string arrangements (check out the title track, and "Take My Hand") which lend a dreamy, baroque gravitas to the fuzz and crunch, and makes for what might just be our favorite MM record yet!
MPEG Stream: "Images On The Sand"
MPEG Stream: "Find Someone New"
MPEG Stream: "Outside Of Paradise"
MORRICONE, ENNIO Lizard In A Woman's Skin OST (Death Waltz) 2lp 45.00
The latest from UK label Death Waltz seems like it must have been a dream come true for them. After having become THEE horror movie vinyl reissue label in a relatively short time, re-releasing some of the most iconic horror movie music, and inspiring at least 4 or 5 other labels to follow in their footsteps, Death Waltz have finally joined forces with the master! The godfather of suspenseful soundtracks, and no we're not talking John Carpenter, we're talking Ennio Morricone! Lizard In A Woman's Skin, aka Una Lucertola Con La Pelle Di Donna (and released at one point in the US under the title Schizoid), was a 1971 giallo directed by none other than another titan, Lucio Fulci, and like many of Fulci's best films, Lizard is a psychedelic fever dream, focused on a woman plagued with nightmares of orgies and LSD trips and murder, only to discover upon awakening, that maybe she had in fact murdered someone.The score though is classic Morricone, skittery and psychedelic, with swirling strings, woozy trumpet melodies, subtle orchestrations, whistling (of course), haunting stretches of sinister ambience, some seriously wild psychedelic grooves, and most strikingly, dreamy, wordless vocals from longtime Morricone collaborator Edda Dell'Orso. Like the best soundtracks (and many of Morricone's), the Lizard soundtrack works just as well removed from the visuals, managing to sound strangely cohesive, even while careening from sound to sound, mood to mood. The freaked out psych rock is particularly exciting, with wah wah guitars, and slithery basslines, augmented by weird sound FX, percussive chitter and spacey squiggles, but for all the groovy, Euro style psychedelia, Morricone is the master of mood, and delivers some of his most haunting soundtrackery here, whether it's some drifting, soft focus melancholia, or moving orchestral swells, ominous, super suspenseful ambience, all reverbed piano and fluttering woodwinds, or druggy, avant freakouts, dense swirling sonic collages and spaced out strangeness that sounds impossibly like modern outfits like No Neck Blues Band or Avarus. Fantastic and freaked out, one of Morricone's best for sure. And like all Death Waltz releases, the packaging is fantastic, stunning cover art, wrapped in a Japanese style obi with liner notes, includes a huge poster, and the record itself tacks on a bunch of extra unreleased cues, exclusive to this release!! And as always, EXTREMELY LIMITED!!
MPEG Stream: "La Lucertala"
MPEG Stream: "Magia Nera"
MPEG Stream: "Giorno Di Notte"
MPEG Stream: "Fondate Paure"
OLD MAN GLOOM Ape Of God I (Profound Lore) cd 10.98
Everyone's favorite simian enamored post-metal/post-doom/post-opposable thumbs heavy dirge titans (featuring members of Isis, Converge and Cave In, no less!) have returned from the caves and the treetops to deliver another bewildering slab of mysterious noise-flecked sonic sludge. Only this time it's two slabs. And they both look almost identical. And they both have the same name. That's right - The return of Old Man Gloom is heralded by a cloud of listener-confounding confusion that can only be described as "Circle-esque." Oh, and did we mention there was also a pre-release "leaked" version that went out to zines & blogs that was actually different from both of these? Yeesh, our heads hurt. But we have to admit it's refreshing to see a band with a bit of a sense of humor in a genre that has a history of taking itself perhaps a little too seriously. But there sure ain't anything funny about either of these album. Blown out noisescapes, like unnerving ethereal ancient transmissions from long dead alien civilization give way to staggering rhythmic doom, peppered with indiscernible static mutterings & world-breaking howls. Whistling feedback pleads hypnotically with swaths of ghostly reverb. The drums plod and roll enormously, like a slow motion avalanche unfolding over a millennia. It's alternately punishing, trance inducing, serene & unsettling - and sometimes it's all of those things at the same time. The ambient passages (of which there are plenty over both discs) lure the listener into a drunken state of ominous hazy hypnosis, which only serves to make those heavy sections all the more overwhelming and landscape flattening. A musical experience as aggressive, punishing & cold as it is mysterious, distant & alluring. A high evolution in instinctual primitivism! A fight-or-flight pummeling recommended to heavy-leaning, spaced-out bipeds everywhere...Note: same review here for both discs, 'cause why would you not buy both? In fact, you'd better not try and order just one 'cause we're likely to send you the wrong one accidentally. And, FYI, vinyl versions on Sige arriving soon too.
MPEG Stream: "Eden's Gates"
MPEG Stream: "Shoulder Meat"
MPEG Stream: "Fist Of Fury"
OOZING WOUND Earth Suck (Thrill Jockey) lp 21.00
Heck yeah. This nasty-named, evil-sounding Chicago metalgrind trio dish out the raging headbangables here, following up their so very appropriate split with Providence's Black Pus from earlier this year with this, their second totally sick album. 'Tis blackened and brootal, pounding and thrashy, with extreme, anguished vokills - the singer probably spends a lot of his income on throat lozenges. Speed-wise, there's plenty of 1,000 mph blasting and shredding along with some slo-mo sludge parts too. And, additionally, there's enough in the way of avantgarde noisy textures and trance-inducing use of repetition to make 'em possibly the grinding metal band of choice for fans of Kevin Drumm, Wolf Eyes, and Zs fans, as well as Slayer, which along with the geographical point of origin, helps to explain why these guys are on Thrill Jockey (home too of minimalist, mathy, "transcendental" black metallers Liturgy, of course). By the way, here's a (dumb) idea for these guys - how 'bout next time, they simultaneously release two albums called Ooze Your Illusion I and II?
MPEG Stream: "Going Through The Motions Til I Die"
MPEG Stream: "Hippie Speedball"
MPEG Stream: "False Peak (Earth Suck)"
PADE, ELSE MARIE & JACOB KIRKEGAARD Svaevninger (Important Records) cd 15.98
NOW ON CD! Here's what we said about the out of print vinyl version when we had it last year...A drop-dead gorgeous album of pure tone minimalism from two outstanding Danish composers. Jacob Kirkegaard is a familiar name around these parts, thanks to his impeccable recordings for Touch, channeling quite literally radioactive field recordings and even ear-piercing tones captured from inside his own ear; but Else Marie Pade is a figure who actually towers over her fellow countryman as she's been working with analog electronics and electroacoustic minimalism for close to 60 years. She was quite the bad-ass in her youth, fighting in the Resistance during World War II as an explosives expert (fuck, yeah!), ending up a prisoner of war from 1944 until the end of the war. During that time in the P.O.W. camp, she composed hymns to lift the spirits of the fellow prisoners. Upon release, she began studying piano; and by 1954, she quickly moved into the nascent realm of electronic music and musique concrete, becoming what many have cited as being the first Danish composer of both media. Her sensibility is one that is not dissimilar to that of Eliane Radigue in terms of long-form programs, although Pade seems more interested in tonal slippages akin to somebody like Roland Kayn. This collaborative work is a picture perfect example of what two great artists should create when given the chance to work together. The album is sourced both from Kirkegaard's 'otoacoustic' recordings (those aforementioned recordings of inner-ear frequencies) and from Pade's vault of analog electronic recordings. The six tracks of Svaevninger appear as portraits to cloud formations, an apt metaphor to the ephemeral slippages, crystalline phase-patterned hypnosis, and glassy-eyed suspended tone-floats these two produce. Think Chalk, Derbyshire, Oram, Niblock, Nilsen, Coleclough, and any number of the great electronic drone-artists / minimalists we've championed. A marvelous album!
MPEG Stream: "Nimbostratus"
MPEG Stream: "Cirrostratus"
MPEG Stream: "Cirrocumulus"
POSTAL SERVICE, THE Give Up (Sub Pop) lp 16.98
For those that didn't want to pay $34 for the 2013 deluxe triple lp reissue of this 'indie electronica' fave, Sub Pop has also now done a regular, no frills vinyl reissue too! Here's some of what we said 'bout the last reissue, sans stuff about the extras (eps and rarities) included on the triple:It's hard to believe it's now been more than a decade since the original release of this fantastic little slice of indie electronica, a collaboration between Dntel's Jimmy Tamborello (the electronics and production) and Benjamin Gibbard of Death Cab For Cutie (the bitter sweet indie jangle and that voice!) a project they called at the time The Postal Service (with a little bit of protest from the actual USPS!). Since then, their sound has served as a template for a million other bands, mining much of the same territory, sad boy, mix tape break up indie jangle pop, but all wound up in percolating beats, and warm lustrous electronic shimmer, not indie club music by any stretch, it still had that sort of homebrewed 4-track bedroom vibe that made (and makes) music like this so relatable, but it expanded the typical indie pop sonic palette, and resulted in a serious of glistening, dreamily propulsive, nearly anthemic electronic pop, that does indeed sound just as good now as it did when everyone was freaking out about it the first time around.The Give Up record originally took shape via tapes mailed back and forth between Tamborello and Gibbard. Each track is subtle variation of the following: bashfully boyish vocals, chiming music box melodies and soft jangly guitars that play off one another over a simple thumping or clicking programmed beat. Gibbard sings oh so sweetly in his melted ice cream voice while Tamborello delivers the delightfully pretty electronics and bounding rhythms. Pretty much exactly what you might expect from a project starring these two fellows. Plus there's an added aural delight here and there in the form of occasional lovely vocals by Jen Wood and Rilo Kiley's Jenny Lewis. The Postal Service's Give Up has a wonderful chemistry that swirls everything together perfectly.
MPEG Stream: "The District Sleeps Alone Tonight"
MPEG Stream: "Nothing Better"
QUIET SUN Mainstream (Vinyl 180 / Expression Records) 2lp 42.00
Great English prog group's only album, circa 1975, featuring Charles Hayward on drums (pre-This Heat). Also Phil Manzanera (Roxy Music) on guitar. Includes one of the best song titles ever: "Mummy Was An Asteroid, Daddy Was A Small Non-Stick Kitchen Utensil" (which is also one of the best tracks here, too).
MPEG Stream: "Sol Caliente"
MPEG Stream: "Mummy Was An Asteroid..."
RADIAN & HOWE GELB Radian Verses Howe Gelb (Radian Releases) cd 17.98
Huh, now this is a pretty cool, totally unexpected collaboration! Austria's Radian, longtime aQ faves who specialize in their own unique strain of instrumental, improvised, computer-processed post rock, have teamed up here with Tuscon-based indie singer-songwriter Howe Gelb of Giant Sand fame (both artists are Thrill Jockey alumni, that's probably the connection). So you get the desert-country-folk-Americana stylings of Gelb, set amidst the abstract, electronic, glitch-and-distortion infused, fractured soundscapery of Radian. Aesthetically & methodologically, this record is definitely Radian's; yet Gelb's acoustic guitar, piano, and especially voice are crucial components, spiced and edited into Radian's atmospheric, oddly rhythmic sonic constructs. It works really, really well, Gelb adding a very human, ghost-in-the-machine element to the proceedings, with his melodies, hushed spoken commentary and non-sequitur storytelling. Always intriguing, often moodily beautiful, with a sometimes-sinister undercurrent, this reminds us a bit of mysterious UK post rockers Reigns at times, also a bit of Bill Callahan's recent dub album, in a way. Highly recommended!!
MPEG Stream: "Saturated"
MPEG Stream: "From Birth To Mortician"
MPEG Stream: "Pitch And Sway Again"
RHYTON Kykeon (Thrill Jockey) lp 19.98
The wonderfully drugged out, quasi Middle Eastern sounding instrumental psych jams of Rhyton have come floating, floating back to us again, in the form of Kykeon, the Brooklyn-based trio's fourth fab release. We've been big fans of 'em so far - in fact, we made their now-out-of-print debut a Record Of The Week back in 2011. And this new one's quite lovely and hypnotic, too!Featuring the multi-instrumental talents of present and former members of No Neck Blues Band, Egypt Is The Magick #, Psychic Ills, Stygian Stride, and others, Rhyton continue to ply their unique style of psych-sploration on the six new cuts here, employing such instruments as electric saz and bouzouki, as well as an arsenal of electronic devices & effects. As usual, amidst the faux-ethnic exotica, they make good use of spacey noise and distortion, and provide plenty of percolating Can-like rhythms, and outright you-could-dance-to-it grooviness at times.The track "Topkapi" in particular sounds like a super stoned, almost dubby version of something by vintage Turkish psych/folk faves Mogollar or 3 Hur-el, for sure. The album gets nice and heavy too, with the likes of "California Black Box Vapors", doing the blown out stoner guitar jammage thing, yeah. All throughout, the band's meandering Middle Eastern psych vibe is in full, enjoyable effect. So grab your hookahs and crank this up!
MPEG Stream: "Tokapi"
MPEG Stream: "Pannychis"
MPEG Stream: "California Black Box Vapors"
RUSSELL, ARTHUR Love Is Overtaking Me (Audika / Rough Trade) 2lp 32.00
We had this collection before, for a very brief moment when it was put out in a limited exclusive edition for Record Store Day 2009, and now it's at last been repressed. The price has gone up by $14 since then (wow, vinyl price inflation is crazy) but it's still a great collection, and again probably a fairly limited pressing. Here's our original listing:AQ pal, experimental musician, yoga instructor and Root Strata label head, Jefre Cantu, was so in love with this record that he nearly insisted that he review it for our list. Being the overly busy beavers that we are, we were more than happy to oblige. Take it away, Jef...I have to admit it, I'm a late bloomer when it comes to the work of Arthur Russell. My ears didn't exactly perk up when I first heard his re-released early disco recordings a few years back (which says more about my taste for the genre at that time than his take on it). But when a good friend of mine passed along the collection of airy rock/jazz/classical mutant instrumentals that are collected on First Thought, Best Thought I was floored. And hooked. It proved to be the perfect entry point for me into Russell's storied body of work, and lead me on a path to other equally addictive outings such as his hallucinatory World Of Echo, and the weird electronic funk of Calling Out of Context. And now, thanks in no small part to Russell's long time lover Tom Lee, we have Love Is Overtaking Me' a lovely set of folksy pop songs culled from (literally) hundreds of cassette and reel to reel tapes that span his carrier from the early '70s to the year before his untimely death in 1992. I'm happy to say it's a real pleasure to listen to, as this collection highlights a side of Russell's work that's hardly been hinted at before. Tunes like the opening "Close My Eyes" or "Maybe She" are arresting to hear if for no other reason than how bare Russell sounds, his mellow croon laid blank against an acoustic strum. The opening passage on "Goodby Old Paint", a cover of a cowboy standard, may just be one of the most gorgeous things he's done, only disappointing in its brevity. It's the kind of thing I could listen to over and over for an entire Sunday morning. Joined with a full band for most of the disc, tracks like "I Couldn't Say It To Your Face", "Hey! How Does Everybody Know" and "The Letter" are sunny summer day pop songs, cast in lyrics about love, dogs, dads and full moons. Each one's a perfect bit of headphone candy, layered with hooks that may go unnoticed on the first, or even second listens, but ultimately stick to the sides of the brain for days on end. It's really staggering to think that the 21 tracks here have never been heard by the public before, and just as staggering to consider what could have become of Arthur Russell had he lived till now. Finally, the disc winds down with the heartbreaking romantic downer "Love is Back", where he softly sings over a spare constellation of keyboards & electronic beats "Being sad is not a crime...."
MPEG Stream: "Goodbye Old Paint"
MPEG Stream: "I Couldn't Say It To Your Face"
MPEG Stream: "Love Is Back"
RUSSELL, ARTHUR Tower of Meaning (Sanity Muffin) cassette 8.98
Twenty-two years after his death, the music of Arthur Russell is more alive than ever. In fact in addition to this tape, and the Love Is Overtaking Me repress also listed this week, we have the new Red Hot + Arthur Russell Master Mix tribute lp in stock, just ask! Mostly known as a left-field disco producer and classically trained cellist, Russell was also an accomplished avant-garde composer, as evidenced here. Once reissued on cd in 2006 as part of the Audika collection First Thought Best Thought that documented his orchestral work with luminaries of the New York Downtown Scene (Rhys Chatham, Jon Gibson and Peter Gordon) following his stint as musical director at The Kitchen in New York, Tower of Meaning was originally released on Philip Glass's new music label, Chatham Square in 1983. A suite of 7 movements performed by an ensemble of horn players and conducted by Julius Eastman, Tower of Meaning has a slow epic funereal vibe reminiscent of Gavin Bryar's The Sinking of The Titanic, or indeed like a Philip Glass piece in slow motion. While not quite as emotionally devastating as the Bryars piece, the horns in Tower of Meaning play out long plaintive tones simultaneously resulting in unusual intonations and harmonics as the tones overlap creating modalities of clustering chords that aurally seem to both march forward and float upward without ever quite resolving itself, the "meaning" in the title forever remaining elusive and out of reach.The Bryars connection is a bit ironic however, because Towers of Meaning was originally intended as incidental music to accompany a staging of Robert Wilson's Medea, but creative squabbling between the two forced Russell out and Gavin Bryar's took over the project. The resultant recording is only a fraction of Russell's score which included voices and other instrumentation as well. Embittered by the experience, it was Russell's final orchestral effort. Limited to 100 copies.
MPEG Stream: "Tower of Meaning"
SHOEMAKER, MATT The Late Day Spectrum (Master Chemical Society) cassette 7.98
It has been far too long since we've been graced by any recordings from Matt Shoemaker, Seattle's electro-acoustic hermit who sculpts field recordings and electronics together into vibrantly imagined visions of virulent algae blooms, prismatic growths of crystal from magma, and hallucinatory fever dreams from consuming some quasi-mystical, mostly-nausating tea boiled by a madman passing as a sage. His work has never garnered the acclaim that it should in part due to his deliberately low-profile and grotesqueries of composition that vertiginously twist and turn beyond the scope of the drone and conflate the purity of a field recording with mutations and disease. The Late Day Spectrum is the first published work in nearly four years, and the format of choice isn't doing Shoemaker any favors in expanding his audience. But this micro-edition release exhibits a further refinement of Shoemaker's craft with his sheared metallic timbres carved into elegant arcs following downright melodic phrasings, albeit at the stately pace of Morton Feldman's late period compositions. During the four year absence, Shoemaker has wandered the islands of Indonesia, and the gilded hues of gamelan have clearly struck a chord with Shoemaker, who maps similar sounds out of his tangles of wire. Beautifully eerie is this cassette, and we really do hope it ain't gonna be another 4 years til we get to hear more.
MPEG Stream: "The Late Day Spectrum"
SLEEP Vol. 1 (Very Small Recording Company / Tupelo Records) lp 15.98
Now that '90s doomlords Sleep are back together again, touring and even releasing new music (the one-sided 12" we recently listed), it's perfect timing for this release - their very first, long out of print album, officially reissued on vinyl for the very first time!! (With download, too.)Nascent underground heavies Sleep, after changing their name from Asbestos Death, put out this, their Billy Anderson produced debut full-length, way back in 1991 (when, remember, doom wasn't the popular genre it is today). The title is likely a nod to Black Sabbath's Vol. 4, as of course Sabbath are obviously a big influence - but Vol. 1 doesn't exactly swing as Sabbathy as Sleep's Holy Mountain, their stoner-groovy sophomore album, would. Instead, Vol. 1 is a darker beginning, aligned with the contemporary likes of Gore, Eyehategod, and the Melvins; its spare, lumbering riffs and unhappy vokills giving off an opiated evil vibe, more suggestive of hard drugs than friendly ol' pot. Though we're sure lots of marijuana was smoked in the making of this feedback-laced, plodding, nihilistic heaviness that anticipated the sound of Khanate some years later. Song titles like "Numb", "Anguish", "Catatonic", "The Suffering", and "Scourge" ought to give you an idea of the mindset here - this is the sort of Sleep from which you might never wake up.FYI: while we still have a bunch on hand at the moment, this first pressing is apparently already sold out at the label, so when we run out, it'll be at least a month or two before we'll see more...
MPEG Stream: "Stillborn"
MPEG Stream: "Numb"
MPEG Stream: "Wall Of Yawn"
SMITH, WAYNE Piano Lake (self-released) cd-r + poster 7.98
Winter is coming, and this new sound piece by San Francisco-based sound artist and graphic designer Wayne Smith is the perfect soundtrack for when the weather gets colder and more intensely calm and still. Smith, more well known under his Aero-Mic'd moniker, is a master of miniature electronica and ephemeral detail, pairing blithe melodies with gentle atmospheres of drones, modular synths and field recordings. Here he creates a soundtrack for an art exhibition at local apartment gallery 2nd floor projects with the poet Norma Cole and painter Leonie Guyer. The resultant "Piano Lake" is a 14 minute piece of sparse chordal clusters of piano filtered through various effects, at times sounding like a strumming guitar with blurred ringing tones that are meditatively left hanging in mid-air. Far off in the background are what sound like footsteps walking by gently lapping waters, and occasionally a high keening synth phrase will whistle out and float above, but what is most apparent is the lavish amount of open space that frames these sounds in high relief adding a sense of devotional calm and seasonal drama. Like watching a quiet snowfall on a beautiful moonlit evening, this is the kind of recording you can just put on repeat and listen to for hours. Silent Night indeed.Comes with a 15" x 10" poster on newsprint of a printed collage of floating cut-outs of various found objects Smith sourced from magazines and printed ephemera. Each cd-r comes in a plain white gatefold cd sleeve with hand-pasted collage elements. Limited stock.
MPEG Stream: "Piano Lake"
STEVENS, THE EP (Kingfisher Bluez) 7" 9.98
Killer collection of Aussie jangle pop in the tradition of Flying Nun, from this new (to us at least) outfit, who totally sound like a band out of time, in fact, you'd definitely be forgiven for thinking this was some actual obscure NZ nugget from back in the day. All dreamily lo-fi, minimal and skeletal, softly psychedelic, noisy in places and with moments of layered lushness and lots of sweet vocal harmonies, not to mention some subtly hook heavy songs that will get lodged in your head like crazy. The sound here is the rare beast that's obviously home brewed, all intimate and bedroom, but with obvious aspirations of something much more epic and polished, and it's that weird mix, that transforms what in other less skilled hands might just be generic indie pop into something super special, each track a glistening gem, eighties post punk crunch softened into something fuzzier and more melodic, and definitely a new pop fave. There's a full length out there too, also well worth tracking down.LIMITED TO 300 COPIES. Each one hand numbered.
MPEG Stream: "Teenage Satellites"
STOTT, ANDY Faith in Strangers (Modern Love) 2lp 26.00
NOW HERE ON VINYL TOO!!!While Andy Stott's last record, 2012's Luxury Problems moved even further into dreamlike murk, blurring his already gauzy sonic palette into something even more hazy and ethereal, there were brief glimpses of Stott's other side, weirdly mixed beats surfacing in the midst of hushed ambience, or a song suddenly splintering into blown out breakbeats. Of course those anomalies were somehow still deftly woven into the woozy fabric of that record's whole, geniusly disruptive variations, that perhaps hinted at not just what once was. But what might soon again be. Faith In Strangers begins as we might have expected, a darkly delicate field of reverbed piano suspended in clouds of dusty, sun dappled shimmer, foghorn moans, and plenty of space, dreamlike expanses of near silence punctuated by haunting tones and subtly layered drones, melancholic melodies wreathed in a softly psychedelic haze, a faded, washed out ambience, a sound that had it stretched out for the remainder of the record unchanged, we would have been perfectly pleased. But like Luxury Problems, Faith In Strangers seems to be more about the outliers. It's not long before delicate vocals drift in, again suspended in a softly swirling ether, but pocked by weird distorted chordal fragments, it's not until midway through the second track that the first beat surfaces, and it's a doozy, a loping, downtempo distorted dirge, the vocals much more prominent than on past Stott outings, not really that processed, sultry and witchy, the sound more like an even more abstract Portishead or Tricky's Nearly God project. Smokey and sexy, dreamily distorted, a gorgeously groovy, smoldering downtempo slab of psychedelic avant trip hop. And in fact, much of the record displays a similarly sonic trajectory, gauzy beats, sultry crooned vocals (with minimal processing, unlike the smears of collaged amorphous vocals on Luxury Problems), thick buzzing basslines, the sounds distorted, the rhythms hissy and staticky, classic drum machine sounds tangled up with some beats of Stott's invention.A few tracks, like "No Surrender", get seriously trippy, ditching any semblance of groove, and instead unfurl a haunting and hypnotic noisescape, all cascading distorted synths, which soon fragment into jagged shards, which then in turn dissolve into blurred ambience, before a barrage of crumbling beats explode into motion, lurching and stuttering, the opening sounds resurfacing in drastically reimagined form, even more fractured and fucked up. The second half of the record is split pretty evenly between big, booming, beats and experimental electro, at times raw and rough, at others dreamy and skittery, and at others, something much more minimal, the final track in particular, mostly just a processed bassline wound around wordless female vocals, everything doused in FX and laid out into softly pulsing swells, eventually laced with spacey blips and bleeps, but for the most part hushed and super abstract, which is generally what we expect from Stott, although in the case of Faith In Strangers, it's actually an anomaly, with the bulk of the record heavy on distorted rhythms, with Stott's distinctive production/sound more in service of the beats, than the other way around.
MPEG Stream: "Time Away"
MPEG Stream: "Violence"
MPEG Stream: "On Oath"
TERMINALS Singles & Sundries (Ba Da Bing) lp 15.98
Another treasure trove of classic archival New Zealand underground jams from one of our favorites from back in the day, a band that, for NZ music nerds who might not have already known, also featured past and future members of Bailter Space, Pin Group, the Victor Dimisich Band, Scorched Earth Policy and others. And while the Terminals were always dark and buzzy, dense and driving, they also always had a bit of cabaret to them, in fact in our review of their Little Things record from 1995 (reissued on Last Visible Dog), we make comparisons to Antony & The Johnstons, Interpol, Nick Cave, the Swans. It definitely has that sort of vibe, for all the murky churn and wild psychedelic squalls, the songs themselves are sprawling and dramatic, slipping easily from moody pop bombast to noise drenched kraut-psych hypnorock, and dotted throughout this collection are some serious gems, in fact opener "The Deadly Tango" has a hook/chorus that KILLS, and we've had stuck in our heads since this first showed up. That track (along with some of the others) also has a bit of eighties LA vibe, a little Scream club gothic twang to it, sonically referencing bands like Kommunity FK or the Abecedarians. This collection gathers up rarities from the group's entire career, and vary both in fidelity, and in sonic scope, with some sounding like ultra rough boommbox recordings, others like well crafted studio concoctions, but they're all great, with even the muddies, murkiest jams somehow sounding epically brooding, check out "Witchdoctors" which sculpts wild streaks of chaotic noise into epic swells, and winds them around a minimal krautrock style pulse and hazy, psychedelic swaths of synth drone, or the stripped down swampy dirge of "Black Creek", laced with some strange electronic squelches, but which otherwise is some sort of dark troubadour moodiness, or "Medusa", which is all crumbling distortion, sounding a bit like the Terminals jamming with the Dead C, which the vocals soaring, gypsy folk like fiddle, and some seriously frenzied guitar freakout. So much fantastic stuff here. Dig into this compilation, and before long you'll find yourself needing to track down all their albums proper too. Which you should! You won't be sorry. Includes a download too!
MPEG Stream: "The Deadly Tango"
MPEG Stream: "Do The Void"
MPEG Stream: "Psycho Lives"
VORDE s/t (Psychic Violence/Fallen Empire) lp 21.00
More tripped out avant blackness from Santa Cruz, and yet another twisted project from the drummer of Fell Voices. His last solo outing was as Sleepwalker, who released a couple demos a few years back that we LOVED, and now he's on his own again with Vorde, and like Sleepwalker, in a way, it's a reimagining of Fell Voices' sweeping, epic black buzz, recast as something much more warped and melodic, psychedelic and strange. Just check out the first few minutes of the opener "Hatewave", which sounds like some sort of lysergic funhouse ambience, all roiling clouds of warble whir, and woozy shimmer, washed out and ethereal, honestly we would have dug it if the whole record was just this weird atmospheric drift, but fear not, in swoops the blast and the buzz, but instead of being a furious buzz, it's more loping and hypnotic, the guitars swirling and almost cinematic, the vocals a raspy bellow, drenched in echo and delay, the track exploding at one point into something much more dramatic, the vocals following suit, a heaving, galloping heaviness underpinning over the top, dramatic crooning, a sort of black buzz cabaret, but imbuing the whole thing with a gothy, depressive vibe, all the while, the black buzz in the background gets more and more frantic and chaotic. But Vorde is no one trick pony, check out "Transformations Of the Vessel", which begins with some super melodic, almost power metal sounding guitar swirl, before the track explodes into wild dense swirls of cosmic buzz, or the cave-ish creep of "Blood Moon", which drapes spidery clean guitar and moaned vocal incantations over a bed of furious drumming, and swaths of black ambience. That doomy creepy-crawly dirgery extends into the sprawling "Crown Of Black Flame", which again, oozes malevolently, at least in the beginning, before blossoming into another blown out cloud of cosmic black buzz, the vocals this time buried in the mix, but twisted into a strange melodic mewling, again, the vibe more akin to some buzz drenched gloom that straight up black metal, those ominous, over the top vocals defining the sound, with even the grimmest, buzziest blast, when paired with that croaked demonic torch song croon, transformed into something darkly dramatic, moody and mesmerizing, all the while remaining buzzy and blackened. Especially the super melodic closer, which almost sounds like Iceage or the Holograms playing black metal, right down to the stretches of bothy guitar shimmer, and almost Joy Divisiony sounding outro.LIMITED TO 500 COPIES!! On 180 gram vinyl (with random copies on purple wax, don't ask, it's RANDOM), housed in a super striking black and purple sleeve, matte finish with spot gloss printing.
MPEG Stream: "Blood Moon"
MPEG Stream: "Hatewave"
WHITE, HARTLEY C. This Is Not What You Expect (OSR) lp 16.98
Never has a record's title more accurately described its contents, cuz we really had no idea what to expect from Hartley C. White's This Is Not What You Expect. Based on the cover, we thought this would be some sort of blues rock, but this is WAY further out. Some serious outsider, next level avant-blues-dub-reggae-funk weirdness, that careens wildly from echo-drenched, looped and layered a cappella rounds, to fractured lo-fi funk, to dirgey, groovy, doomy, psychedelia, to hard rocking, angular, buzzing, sung/spoken WTF? trippiness. White, who was living in Queens when he recorded these jams (between 1984 and 2009), was raised in Jamaica during the turbulent sixties. He conceived of his sound, which he describes as 'Whopazootic', as a musical reimagining of Bruce Lee's martial arts, White's 'broken rhythms' meant to be both offensive and defensive. Wow. But this stuff actually does kind of conjure that vibe, lots of overdubbed vocal workouts, but just as many Funkadelic style freakouts, all wound around classic Jamaican dub styles, some swirling sampled strings, some seriously confusional avant pop, dreamy psychedelic balladry, singsongy almost lullaby like sweetness, all crafted from funky basslines, fluttery flutes, skronking horns, shimmering kalimba melodies, primitive drum machines and FX heavy guitar strum, White's vocals alternately sweetly crooning, chanting hypnotically, or toasting boisterously. The label sez recommended for fans of 10CC, Sly & The Family Stone, Willis Earl Beal and Ariel Pink, and while we'd usually scoff at such disparate comparisons, in this case, that's really not that far off.
MPEG Stream: "Screaming Who-Pa-Zoo-Tics"
MPEG Stream: "Under The Radar"
MPEG Stream: "No Pressure"
ZOMES Variations Vol. 1 (Imminent Frequencies) lp 24.00
NOW ON VINYL! Here's what we said when we listed the previous, long out of print limited cassette tape edition of this back in 2012...So far we've made both full lengths from Asa Osborne's Zomes project Records Of The Week, and for good reason, each one a gorgeous assemblage of lo-fi keyboard meditations, and haunting rhythmic ragas, hiss drenched melodies unfurling over murky beats, everything blurred and bleary and meditatively blissed out. Many recent converts to Zomes might not realize that Osborne was previously the guitarist in late great Baltimore hypnorock combo Lungfish, which also of course featured mystical musical shaman Daniel Higgs, who also gets a lot of love on the aQ list. Between those two ROTW full lengths, Osborne released a cassette called Improvisations 1 + 2, which as the title suggested, found Osborne improvising on some similar sonic themes, that tape fitting perfectly between those proper albums. Variations takes up where that tape left off, with a series of short form tranced out synth mediations, rhythmless this time, so the feel is much more abstract and free, more celestial and yeah, even more kosmische. It's hard not to draw a parallel, at least melodically, to another aQ fave, Amps For Christ, Zomes' sound treading similarly warped electronic ground, with some tracks revealing playful melodies, as if reinterpretations of some old folks standard, played here on some primitive analog synth, and recorded onto old dusty tapes, while others blossom and unfold like some long lost new age prog artifact, captured surreptitiously on a handheld tape player, the strange low fidelity production and soft swirls of tape hiss adding all manner of texture and grit to the proceedings, so even at its most washed out and serene, the sound is rough and raw, the tones gristly and crunchy, everything gloriously warm and buzzy.Not much else needs to be said really, Zomes fans will want this for sure, but really anyone into tripped out lo-fi kosmische explorations and hushed minimal synthscapery should grab one of these, and will most likely find themselves falling under Zomes' sonic spell.LIKE THE CASSETTE, ALSO SUPER LIMITED ON VINYL, which is white by the way!