composerscompilation / splitcountry/folk/bluescountry/folk/blues ("no
depression")dvd / video
/ filmelectronicexotica / noveltyexperimentalfound sounds, field
recordings, odditieshiphop hiphop
(central / south america) international
(europe) international (french
(latin american psych/tropicalia)japan japan
(pop)jazzlocalmetal metal (black metal) metal (stoner rock)printreggae/dubrock/pop rock/pop ('60s
(goth/industrial/darkwave) rock/pop (krautrock) rock/pop (prog rock) rock/pop
(punk/hardcore)soul/funksoundtracksspoken word &
Records of the Week
ELDER Lore (Armageddon Shop) cd 15.98
Hark! By the telltale crumbling ceiling tile and violent vibrating of the floorboards we can only deduce that Massachusetts stoner-doom-sludge heavyweights Elder have returned to wreak a foul bongload of havoc upon the unwitting civilians of the Aquarian realm!! After much love received around these parts by Elder's earlier highly-reliable slabs of psychy blown-out heaviness, we were all ready to settle in for more of the same, which we certainly wouldn't have complained about, but what Lore delivers isn't really that at all. Lore is one of those dramatic forward-leaps that your average band never quite gets around to making (especially one of the stoner doom variety - a genre often a little too ready to rest upon its laurels of simple slow riffery!). Instead here we have a heaping dose of what could probably be best described as... stoner-math? Or maybe doom-gressive?? Prodge??? (That's prog & sludge combined, if that wasn't clear.) Literally within the first two seconds of album opener "Compendium", with its twitching insectoid riffing & dizzying stop start time signature, it's abundantly clear that things have changed. Don't get us wrong, there's plenty of lurching grooves & thundering drumming here for true doomheads to sway madly too, but there's also a lot of unpredictability, not only in the song structures but in the sound in general. There are shades of Tool if they'd been weened on way more Sleep & Kyuss, Mastodon if they were feeling a bit meditative, Pallbearer funneled through Fragile-era Yes, Baroness on Quaaludes. There are even flirtations with glistening drifting Explosions In The Sky style post-rock and loopy hypnotic Comus-esque psych-folk. On paper, noodly time-signature manipulation and stoned out Sabbath wizardry shouldn't really a match in Heaven make, but in a scene so rife with by-the-numbers plodding (as much as we love that sometimes) it's pretty damn refreshing to hear this kind of take on it. Above all Lore sounds like a serious shot at the quote-unquote BIG TIME from a band no one really had any right to expect it from. Lore climbs the summit of heaviness and screams confidently from the precipice! A vibrant, daring slab of tricked-out progressive doom.FYI, the vinyl version has a fancy die-cut cover, and comes with download, though we're out of 'em right now unfortunately; the jewel-boxed cd we're listing now is nice but not so fancy - and a lot cheaper.
MPEG Stream: "Compendium"
MPEG Stream: "Legend "
MPEG Stream: "Spirit At Aphelion"
AKKORD HTH035 (Houndstooth) cd 16.98
We made the debut full length from this mysterious electronic music producer/sound designer our Record of The Week a while back, comparing it to records by other electronic iconoclasts like Ben Frost, Roly Porter, Demdike Stare, Pole and the like, but also to heavier NON electronic groups like Corrupted and Bunkur, the music of Akkord simultaneously taking twisted beatscaping and gorgeous soundscaping, and giving a sort of black hole heaviness and terrifying grimnity seldom found in electronic music. This follow up cd actually collects two out of print 12"s and tacks on a couple unreleased bonus tracks. The first, titled simply with its catalog number, HTH20, is a gorgeously grim slab of blackened minimal techno and is another harrowing expanse of rumbles, and groans, deep vibrations, and cinematic sound design, all wound around skeletal rhythms and buried pulsations. The opening track is peppered with weird orc-ish grunts, and a subtly Muslimgauze vibe, while the follow up is a bit more straight up jungle, albeit still wound up in a black haze. That's followed by another spare sprawl that quickly ramps up into a skittery groover, frantic and frenetic, but somehow still a head nodding pulsating come down bliss out, before finishing off with another atmospheric ambient jam, this one laced with field recordings and heavily dubbed out, murky and mysterious, the techno element sublimated into rib cage rattling low end throb, and some second half stutter step drum programming. The second 12" included here, also titled with its catalog number, HTH30, finds two of our other favorite masters of the electronic dark arts chiming in, with their own remix takes on Akkord's already brilliantly bleak soundworld. Haxan Cloak radically reinvent whatever song it is they've chosen, it's impossible to tell, we're tempted to think it might be some confusional collage of all of them, but Haxan Cloak delivers a tripped out sprawl of his own cinematic sound design, stereo-panned heavily, weird ambient sounds swooping from speaker to speaker, draped over a skeletal digidub pulse, and a field of spare Raster-Noton like clicks and flutters, slowly building to a dense barrage of glitched out industrial crunch, the sound veering wildly from hushed pulsation, to wild rhythmic freakout, all the while, wreathed in mournful melodies and moaning drones, with at least one burst of crazily caustic electro-noise that somehow manages to sound intense and beautiful and weirdly moving and sorta heartbreaking. The other track finds Dominick Fernow, is his guise as Vatican Shadow, offering up a remix that's not nearly as overtly terrifying, much more subdued, and way less abstract, the sound like, well, like Vatican Shadow, a pulsating low slung gothic groove, a gauzy stretch of minimal batcave techno, with syncopated rhythms, and ominous low shimmer, a hazy house music that sounds like it could be some obscure Kompakt 12", but more shadowy and sinister.The bonus tracks are pretty stellar as well the first from another aQ fave FiS, whose remix starts off with a swirl of distorted strings, a noisy layered string quartet of sorts, before splintering into a cloud of digital errata, underpinned by what sounds like shards of drumline snares, the whole thing buried in reverb and delay, an in-the-red sonic crumble, that eventually settles into some serene, dreamlike drift. And finally, Regis (Sandwell District) crafts a glitchy, skeletal dubscape, that seems to settle somewhere in between Muslimgauze, Demdike Stare, T++ and Pole, minimal and murky, with all manner of distant voices and buried melodies, roiling in the background.
BLOOD SISTER Why Would You (Unpiano) 7" 8.98
Single number two from these local garage psych weirdos, and like the first, it's another blast of warped and mangled pop, doused in reverb and echo, fuzz guitar draped over loose limbed drumming and soaring almost sunshiny vocals, the whole thing a glorious concoction that would be right at home on John Dwyer's (Thee Oh Sees) Castle Face label, but is at the same time like some mutant strain of Best Coat-ian surf pop. It's no coincidence that Blood Sister features members of aQ faves Ganglians, this stuff definitely shares some of the same sonic DNA. The A side really is some sort of alternate universe Summer beach jam, al hazy, and dreamy, and laid back, but still gnarled and fractured, a drugged out chunk of feel good downer garage bliss out. The B side gets a bit darker, more minor key and angular, but then those multi tracked vocal harmonies come in, and give the sound a sort of outsider Beach Boys vibe. Seriously good shit. Don't be surprised if these guys turn out to be the next big thing. Fans of Wavves, Crocodiles, Jeff The Brotherhood and other similarly stoned garage pop miscreants will flip.LIMITED TO 300 COPIES!!
BOSSE-DE-NAGE All Fours (Profound Lore) cd 13.98
Full-length number four from the Bay Area horde, and their most fully realized work to date, but what else did you expect? All Fours is a dense, twisted, chaotic masterpiece."At Night" wastes no time - a noisy squelch and then a dive right into frantic black metal madness. Like we've said in every Bosse-De-Nage record we've reviewed, the marriage of the Slint-ish/post-rock elements and the black metal fury gets better and better. That becomes especially apparent as the first track comes to an epic, crashing close, with a simple melancholy guitar line lead by ferocious blast beats (the drumming on this record, by the way, is seriously jaw-dropping!).Despite being a band that gets lumped in with the Alcest/Deafheaven school of blackgaze, All Fours doesn't rely on the typical "huge" shoegaze guitar sound - the atmosphere here comes from a crystal clear but layered and dense production. And honestly, a welcome departure from a lot of the overblown black metal records already out there."Washerwoman" is the clear opus on this record - a song we imagine they've been trying to write since their inception. The Slint comparisons are hard to deny here (song title and content alike), but this is far from a rip-off. Everything that made Slint such a powerful band, Bosse-de-Nage captures here - subtle instrumentation, raw intensity, and powerful dynamics.By the time the record ends, you get the feeling you're watching a bands original vision and current talent coalesce perfectly - All Fours is the record Bosse-De-Nage has been working towards all these years. Highly recommended!
MPEG Stream: "At Night"
MPEG Stream: "-"
MPEG Stream: "Washerwoman"
COLLEEN Captain Of None (Thrill Jockey) lp 17.98
Has it been really eight years since we reviewed a Colleen record? We were never able to get her last release from a couple of years back, The Weighing of the Heart, which may explain some of the long gap, but Captain of None, her first for Thrill Jockey is a big change in direction and sound. Her main instrument of choice is still the viola de gamba, a baroque gut-string instrument that was said to be the one that closest resembles the sound of the human voice. On Captain Of None she plucks and processes the string sounds instead of using bowing techniques to get resonant and echoing harp and bass tones, in compositions influenced by Jamaican dub and West African songcraft. But even more of a new element in Colleen's sound is the use of her voice as a focus point. Delicate and dreamy, Captain Of None is some strange hybrid of Arthur Russell and Grouper with a tropical otherworldly vibe, and one of our favorite records released this year so far. Highly Recommended!
MPEG Stream: "Holding Horses"
MPEG Stream: "Lighthouse"
MPEG Stream: "Eclipse"
COMMON EIDER, KING EIDER Taaleg Uksur (Pesanta Urfolk) lp 28.00
Maybe you remember, a couple years ago, we got a small handful of a very limited cassette release by CEKI that came in some crazy packaging that included a charred block of wood?! It was released as an exclusive for the 2013's Stella Natura festival up in the woods near Lake Tahoe. Well, now Pesanta Urfolk, who sponsor that festival, have released this again, on vinyl, yay. Sans block of wood, but it's still a nice looking lp. Here's our review of from when we had the original incarnation...This document of local experimental ambient doom-drone outfit Common Eider (which now boasts our very own Andee on drums), features four lengthy tracks, and documents CEKE's shift into darker realms, featuring Andy Way from Sutekh Hexen on vocals, CEKE's usual haunting arrangements of ritualistic chorales, and swoonsome viola drones, are augmented by harsh, whispered vokills, that occasionally erupt into near demonic shrieks.The opener, "Uksur", is a dark ritualistic incantation, that fuses black ambience to Arvo Part like sweeping epic-ry, infusing that hybrid with a blackened malevolence, the whole thing blurred into a darkly dreamy, ashen sonic sprawl. "As The Soil Rises Up Past Our Bodies" continues the descent into darkness, layered vocals drift atop a bed of tape hiss and distant rumbles, meditative and liturgical, a harrowing and haunting soundscape that evokes barren wastelands, crumbling cathedrals and black skies casting entire civilizations in shadow, the vocals slipping into a higher register for the final movement, adding a dramatic pathos to the proceedings. Also included is an excerpt of the fantastic "Sense Of Place", which was released via aQ as a super deluxe book/cd/dvd combo (later as a stripped down bookless version), chronicling the building of a cabin in Alaska, the music split into two parts meant to be played simultaneously. And finally there's "Caribou People", which is anchored by a dreamy, softly reverbed guitar loops, and gradually blossoms into a beautifully brooding dirge, laced with clouds of buzz drenched noise guitar, woozy Spacemen 3 like basslines, and minimal percussion, all whipped up into a wildly psychedelic squall, that fades into a hazy druggy drift. Fantastic.This new vinyl version comes in matte, hand-screened sleeves with art by Kevin Gan Yuen from Sutekh Hexen.
MPEG Stream: "Uksur"
MPEG Stream: "Caribou People"
CORRUPTED Loss (Crust War) 7" 12.98
The unexpected return of Japanese doom lords Corrupted!! Unexpected mostly because after the last record, as far we knew, the group had called it quits following the departure of long time vocalist Hevi. But lo and behold, Corrupted are back, with a new singer in the form of the oddly named Mother Sii, and a single sprawling song spread out over both sides of this new 7".Beginning with an extended sprawl of hushed ambience, all moaning vocals and drifting drones, the song soon explodes into some churning, roiling, downtuned crush, a monstrous sound, tribal drumming beneath blurred riffage that is so distorted and washed out that it almost sounds like grey noise, the new vocalist delivering a hellish bellow. Tranced out and super hypnotic, the song splinters into something totally different at the end of side A, getting all mathy and angular, almost punk, before fading out, sounding as if the group played on long after they stopped recording. We sort of expected the B side to pick up right where the A side left off, but instead, the flipside unwinds metal-less, a gorgeous sinister stretch of blackened thrum, a haunting, harrowing expanse of minimal drift, anguished wails and strange sonic interference way off in the distance, surfacing occasionally, but quickly sinking back beneath the uneasy surface of the smoldering, sinister sea of blackened rumblings and suffocating drones. Here's hoping this means a full length is coming soon. And as you might imagine, SUPER DUPER limited. Nicely packaged in minimal matte black sleeves with a printed insert.
DEMDIKE STARE Test Pressings 007 (Modern Love) 12" 17.98
As we patiently wait for Demdike Stare to gather up all of their 'Test Pressing' 12"s into some kind of cd or lp box set, we continue to dig every single installment, each dramatically different than the last, and as a whole, offering up some of the best, and most adventurous music we've herd from these guys. Volume 7 is no different, the A side a woozy, skittery slab of avant ghost-dub, the vibe like something's wrong with your speakers, or your turntables, or your ears, or your MIND, the main melodic loop is slipper, and pitchy, and is soon joined by a haunting angelic chorale, all the while things get grimier and more distorted, until about half way through, the murk clears, and reveals an old school breakbeat, which is quickly surrounded by industrial clatter, and all sorts of sinister sounds, eventually the creepy, choral dub returns, the two sounds merged into some mutant staring of spectral electronica.The flipside starts out nearly ambient, before swooping backwards beats gradually drift in, then the clip of some diva vocals, looped and layered, chopped up and stuttery, the sound growing quickly funky and super old school, the beat some retro hip hop rhythm, and the chopped up voices collaged into a weird fractured and fucked up take on that sort of C&C Music Factory sound we all grew up with, a super weird analogue for the A side, but even as funky and groovy as it is, it's still shrouded in misty murk, and flecked with ominous rumbling drones, the poppiness more than tempered by Demdike's twisted production. As always, housed in simple black and white sleeves, printed with the distinctive text heavy Demdike Stare Test Pressing artwork, and very VERY limited.
GNOD Infinity Machines (Rocket) 3lp 36.00
UK psychedelic space rock weirdos Gnod drift ever further into sonic WTF territory with Infinity Machines, a new TRIPLE lp (and forthcoming double cd), that takes their mesmeric hypnorock and druggy space-psych grooves and stretches them way WAY out, into nearly unrecognizable shapes, with most of the tracks clocking in at close to 20 minutes, sidelong sprawls of dizzying lysergic exploration, some serious mad musical scientist shit for sure. The 17+ minute opener pretty much sets the stage, with 4 minutes of free form cacophony, all swirling electronics, gurgling FX, buried voices, strange samples, eventually settling into something a bit more serene, but unlike the space rock blowout we might have been expecting, the group instead unfurls some laid back slo-mo jazziness, moaning melancholy horns, over a muted rhythmic pulse, and a grey haze of shimmering drones, which also gradually builds toward something more cacophonous, but more sort of free jazz freakout, the sound flitting back and forth between moody slink and unhinged howl, like the bastard offspring of Bohren Und Der Club Of Gore and Hawkwind.We spent the rest of the record awaiting the eventual space rock crush, or some super blown out psychedelic squall, but that stuff never really comes, instead, the sound remains rooted in some sort of stretched out, experimental and minimal otherworld, equal parts jazzy groove, minimal home brewed electronica, buzzing ambience, robotic churn, fractured industrial thrum, and tranced out rhythmic pulsation. At times it sounds like Skinny Puppy, at others like Shit And Shine, and at others like nothing you've ever heard. It does get heavy at points, and loud too, but it's more caustic and machine driven, the sounds less overloaded amps and cranked pedals, and more knobs and gizmos, layers and atmospheres and beats. It's not really until the second to last track that things get even close to the Gnod of old, and even then, it remains sort of looped and motorik, a killer tribal drum jam, wreathed in buzz, and more horns, but never really turning into a 'song' proper, instead it's some sort of roiling jazzed up noise rock that again, isn't that far removed from the multi-drummered onslaught of Shit And Shine. And as if to drive that point home, the closer is a tripped out expanse of jazz laced, field recording flecked slow burn, cinematic moodiness. Fantastic stuff for sure, but for folks after more ordinary psychedelic space rocking, you might need to look elsewhere.
HOUND Out Of Time (SRA) lp 17.98
First we've heard from these Philly hard rockers, who first caught our attention with their bad ass cosmic-skull-reaper cover art, and thankfully, it ended up being a fairly accurate representation of what lurked inside, a fist pumping, head-banging mash up of classic metal crunch, fuzzed out garage punk and heavy blues-psych. There's definitely a bit of a classic rock vibe, but it's plenty fuzzed up around the edges, the guitars downtuned, chuggy and churny, the sound super hypnotic, dipping into some old school doom here and there, as well as a sort of mutant hybrid of biker rock / and skate metal. But check out "Houdini", the band doing their best Black Sabbath for sure, the reverb laden vocals buried in the mix elsewhere, getting seriously Ozzy. Or "Stupid Dreams", which sounds like it could be a rough demo for the next Ghost record, synth swaddled swagger, heavy on the hookiness. But the bulk of the record is more high energy, a groove laden barrage of frenetic, furious rockers that ooze blood and sweat, wrapped in black leather and faded denim. Way recommended for fans of Satans Satyrs, Zig Zags, Children Of Doom, Fogg and other hard rocking heavies. Probably limited too, these things usually are. And according to the sticker on the front: "Not available on colored vinyl". So there.
MPEG Stream: "Little One"
MPEG Stream: "Stupid Dreams"
KRENG The Summoner (Miasmah) lp 22.00
NOW ON VINYL!! At last, in stock on lp for us to list...The first release from Kreng since 2011, but well worth the wait. While the sound sources on The Summoner are quite the departure from his 2011 release Grimoire, the dark and disorienting atmosphere is still here. Here Caudron conducts a dozen string players, creating a twisted and droney orchestral mass that explodes and dies without warning, bringing to mind the terrifying works of Polish composer Krzysztof Penderecki. The song titles here, too, tell Caudron's story as the five stages of grief, going from "Denial" to "Acceptance". The first four tracks are dark, twisted, orchestral soundscapes, dynamic and haunted that slowly goad you into Caudron's warped world. The climax of the album is without doubt the titular track, sandwiched between "Depression" and the somber "Acceptance". The 15-minute long track features Belgian doom band Amenra (whose album Mass V we reviewed back in 2013) providing the slow, crushing trudge (with maybe the slightest, SLIGHTEST hint of uplifting melody) to bring the whole piece to a bombastic, epic zenith. Very few out there can capture the range of emotion and atmosphere that Kreng can - terrifying, cathartic, bleak, and maybe just a little bit uplifting. For fans of Gnaw Their Tongues, The Caretaker, and anything on the Miasmah label.
MPEG Stream: "Anger"
MPEG Stream: "Depression"
MPEG Stream: "The Summoning"
NUDITY Astronomicon (Iron Lung) lp 16.98
Debut release from Seattle rockers Nudity, and boy is this a hell of a first release. A supergroup of sorts, featuring members of Tight Bro's From Way Back When, The Need, Sex/Vid, and Broken Water. You might think this maybe sounds like some noisy Olympia punk, but somehow the result is totally different, and totally awesome!Think of some punked up combo of Ty Segall's riff-centric Fuzz project, Love Gun-era Kiss, and the pulsating synth-rock of Moon Duo, and you're sorta on the right track with Nudity - total '70s worship of the highest caliber. On the absolutely boisterous opener "White Hot Gold," you get what might be the rock n' roll single of the YEAR, an absolutely riffed out jammer that seriously could have come out in 1975. "(I've Got The) Death Energy" and "Carnal Heart" follow this template of high-energy no-nonsense rock n' roll, but on "Death Energy," Nudity get downright kraut in the middle, playing an extended spacey build up jam complete with vocoders and Thin Lizzy-esque dueling guitars. "Light & Grace" has a '70s blues-rock/proto-metal boogie that could easily have been an unearthed gem from some private press release (or maybe an released Satan's Satyrs track?). Then you get tracks like "Myrna Loy/Leatrice Joy" and "Here Comes the Light," pulsating, synthy, krauty jams that are equal parts spacey and heavy, along with some seriously ripping solos (sax, synth, and guitar).We recommend that you start now with Nudity and say you were listening to them from the beginning. Not to be missed! This release is lp only, however, it does come with a digital download.
MPEG Stream: "White Hot Gold"
MPEG Stream: "Myrna Joy/Leatrice Joy"
MPEG Stream: "Light & Grace"
POW! Fight Fire (Castle Face) lp 15.98
SF synth punks Pow! are back with a new full length on Castle Face and the sound is even more amped up yet darker than their debut. The songs are even more driving and garage-y, the vocals snottier and more lyrically pointed and the analog synths more retro-futuristically colder, and swirling, but with enough glitter on their grime to add a brilliant shine to the production without taking away any of their raw power. Yet, this is much more nihilistic than druggy this time around as to be expected from a band who with each release seem to be checking the pulse of our ever changing San Francisco for signs of life. When their debut, the cheekily titled Hi Tech Boom, came out it was announced at the same time Castle Face head John Dwyer of The Oh Sees would be leaving San Francisco for LA seemingly for good, and Pow's music seemed to reflect a mocking attitude to the influx of tech-money elitism into The Mission's once booming open DIY spirit. Not much since has changed here culture-wise except for an increasingly dire feeling that it's going to get worse before it gets better, so the songs on Fight Fire bathe in an air of cold fury unravelling into distorted hypnotic grooves and icy industrial-ish soundscapes. Fans of Total Control, The Mallard, Mind Spiders and People's Temple will find lots to love here!
MPEG Stream: "Eyesight"
MPEG Stream: "Floating On A Block of Ice"
MPEG Stream: "Cold Blooded Judge"
PRIZEHOG Re-Unvent The Whool (Low Frequency Extended Edition) (Sleeping Giant Glossolalia) cassette 4.00
NOW ON CASSETTE! Not sure if it's a different mix or different mastering for real, or if the parenthetical subtitle is just a clever reference to Earth 2... but in any case, if you want the most recent killer album from these aQ-fave heavies on tape, then this is it! And cheap, too...We were heartbroken when our pals, the local weirdo boy-girl-boy doom crush psych sludge trio Prizehog, decided to leave San Francisco, but we understood - hell, SF is a harsh place to live these days if you're not rich, and ultimately, we weren't surprised to see Prizehog settling in Portland, a city arguably much more hospitable to struggling musicians and artists, but listening to the sonic results of this move, you'd think they were transported to some alien planet, transmitting this new record via some sort of futuristic technology. Cuz holy fuck, if this band was one of our favorites already, they somehow still managed to up the musical ante, taking everything we loved about them before, and making it, well, more. More heavy, more noisy, more psychedelic, more warped, more twisted, more confusional, more proggy, more what-the-fuck, and really just more ridiculously, mindblowingly next level doom-sludge genius. We may be prone to hyperbole, but it still feels like we might be understating just how goddamn good Re-Unvent The Whool really is. Imagine a warped doom-prog, like some alternate universe metal Magma, processed vocodered vox, tangled up in churning spaced out riffage, underpinned by droning rumbles, and laced with twisted fragmented melodies, launching occasionally into full on sludge-pop creep, like some killer Torche jam spinning in slow motion, a gloriously glacial single digit rpm onslaught, that definitely makes the usual the Harvey Milk comparisons still pretty apt, but imagine HM if they were somehow slower, druggier, proggier and more totally and confusionally WTF. Songs explode some furious grinding metal, squalls of chugging riffage, barraged by machine gun drumming, all wrapped around the bellowed alien vox. But this is doom or sludge, or some twisted avant version, so songs inevitably slow down to a tarpit crawl, swirls of sparkling sci-fi FX surround the proceedings like glittery clouds of malevolent sonic fairy dust. And that's just one song in! And it only gets more gloriously fucked up and next level from there. It's hard to describe what's even going on, cuz some of the music here is literally so unlike anything else out there. These hairy weirdos are channeling some twisted alternate universe sonic garble, and transmuting it into fucking blown out, twisted genius ultra doom, noise pop, prog-sludge nirvana.The record seems to blackly blossom in stop motion, flitting from near stasis, to frenzied crush and back again, tribal drumming avalanches over thick, coruscating chords, synths spitting out symphonies of klaxons and alarms, the backdrop for the unfurling of an impossibly downtuned, droned out slab of multiple o'd doooooooooom dreaminess, that manages the impossible feat of being crushingly, punishingly heavy, but also, kinda pretty too. Some seriously lovely 'oooooohs' will surface in the midst of a wild chaotic squall of churning blacktar throb, or a cascade of harmonics will rain down like shooting stars over a field of grinding, corrosive crunch, it's goddamn musical alchemy, the sort of musical magic almost no bands are capable of. And then out of fucking nowhere, Prizehog will get all twangy, offering up some sort of country doom, that sounds like it should be ridiculous, and it sort of is, but it's also just about the goddamn greatest thing you'll ever hear, like Earth, Barn Owl, Morricone, Scenic, all melted down, and spit out as a creepy massively metallic Wall Of Voodoo sort of campfire crush, sounds bizarre, and it totally is, but it's a bizarre brilliance that once again, should convince pretty much any doom lover with a penchant for sonic weirdness, that these three are the sludge saviors we've been waiting for, written about in some forbidden text, a fragment from the lost metallic scriptures, and Re-Unvent The Whool, their second coming, signalling some musical rapture, where we're all engulfed in fields of musical flames, but fuck, if this is what the end sounds like, and we can only hope it is, then we say bring it on, and what a way to go.It's hard to know what else to say, other than repeat what we've always said, Prizehog should be adored, they should be worshipped the way Harvey Milk and Boris and the Melvins are, cuz maybe at one point, Prizehog were simply kids aping their heroes, aspiring to the sludge-y genius and twisted outsider metal of those other groups, but as hard as it may be for some folks to believe, Prizehog, might have outheavied, and outweirded, and outgeniused those masters, and become masters themselves, masters of fucking alien prog-doom, long haired, psych sludge, dirge-drone, damaged art pop. Fuck yeah.
MPEG Stream: "Parradiggum"
MPEG Stream: "Whoady"
MPEG Stream: "Shed"
MPEG Stream: "Gnumskull, The Ruler"
QUEEN CRESCENT s/t (self-released) lp 16.98
Along with the Nudity album also reviewed on this week's list, another rad, totally rockin' lp recorded by Tim Green (The Fucking Champs) at his Louder Studios up in Grass Valley, this one the debut lp from local act Queen Crescent, which you already know about if you follow us on Instagram (hint, hint, it's aquariusrecordssf), we posted about this right when they brought it in, with hella hashtags like #flute #heavy #psych #femalevox #badass... and that's what you get, heavy female-fronted (and female-backed) psychedelic hard rock with flute that's definitely badass. Obviously, Toronto's Blood Ceremony would be a reference point, if you like them, you gotta like this, what with the flute and female vocals and heavy '70s vibe. Also if you're into other local SF acts like Hot Lunch and Glitter Wizard, specifically, these gals are totally a part of that scene and you'll dig 'em too. They've got great vocals, a proggy early King Crimsonish vibe at times (um, the first song is called "In The Court Of The Crescent Queen"), lotsa flute which we LOVE, heavy riffs which we love too... Recommended to all non-lameos. The SF acid rock renaissance is happening, with bands like Queen Crescent!! Limited vinyl-only release, includes download code!
MPEG Stream: "Culture Vulture"
MPEG Stream: "Black Acid"
MPEG Stream: "I Wish A Muthafucka Would"
SATURNALIA TEMPLE To The Other (Ajna Offensive) lp 19.98
NOW ON VINYL TOO!!! What we said when we listed this last time, on cd:Here comes another slab of tripped out, and fuzzed/fucked up weirdness from The Ajna Offensive! This one in the form of the second full-length by Swedish drug-doomsters Saturnalia Temple, which we're of course totally stoked about. To The Other's foundation is the huge, wall of doom riffs that lumber and lurch a la Sleep records, just on a MUCH worse acid trip. While the bones of this record might be the massive doom riffs, layered around it are all sorts of screeching, barely guitar-like leads, delayed and distorted vocals, and a Hawkwind-esque repetitive psychedelia that you can't help being totally sucked into. Like labelmates Aluk Todolo, these guys have a penchant for holding a groove for as long as they possibly can, making you honestly wonder if the cd might be skipping, or if that windowpane is finally kicking in. Like Candlemass meets Oranssi Pazuzu. Or Electric Wizard meets Aluk Todolo, really. The weird leads and occasional synth (maybe? or just weirder sounding guitar) sound pretty damn unique and twisted, sometimes making you wonder if this dude actually plays guitar or he's just making it up. It all somehow works though, all twisting and bubbling into a thick black doomy murk that won't let go. The cover art on here is actually really telling - a huge vortex-like hole absorbing the weird, maze like landscape around it. If that intrigues you, or (Satan help us) makes total sense, then this record is for you.
MPEG Stream: "Crowned With Seven"
MPEG Stream: "March Of Gha'agsheblah"
MPEG Stream: "ZazelSorath"
SAVAGE DAMAGE DIGEST Issue 4 magazine 4.98
More of that sonic Savage Damage you dig, in digestible print format! Issue #4 of this great rock'n'roll zine features a cover story on The Subtractions, unheard heroes of Fresno punk circa '79-'80 (amazing what hearing one mp3 can do to obsessive zine editors). There's also reminiscences about Cleveland in the '70s from Electric Eels guitarist Brian McMahon, Italian punkers Giuda, late '70s UK DIY act Beyond The Implode, an essay about the awesome Earthless "live experience", and more, including reviews, of course. Oh, and this issue's "Triple Threat" feature honors drummer Chuck Biscuits, of D.O.A., Black Flag, Circle Jerks, and best of all Danzig, among others.As always, a good read, well researched, super enthused, full of vintage pics and fliers, we're stoked that SDD has made it to #4 and look forward to many more. 76 pages, digest-sized (duh).
SCHMIDT, M.C. Batu Malablab: Suite For Prepared Piano, Flute And Electronics (Megaphone / Knock 'Em Dead) cd 14.98
M.C. Schmidt, for those who may not know, is Martin from conceptual electronic duo Matmos. And while Martin's other half in music and life, Drew Daniel, has been more high profile over the years with his side project, Soft Pink Truth (especially with last year's polarizing yet funny take on gay subtext and black metal, Why Do The Heathen's Rage?), this is Martin's very first solo record! Quite different from what we have come to expect from Matmos, Batu Malablab is a suite for prepared piano, flute and electronics that is nonetheless a beautifully captivating and transcendent listen.Joined By Jon "Wobbly" Leidecker and Thomas Dimuzio, Batu Malablab explores the same Western fascination with Eastern music that has intrigued both populist and avant-garde artists for years from Martin Denny to John Cage. Using piano prepared in such a way to sound like gamelans, with passages of flute and occasional female voices and field recordings that extend over two side-long pieces ("Lowland Side" and "Mountain Side"), framed and nuanced after the geographical locations they reference. Toying with the once prevalent ideas of retro-academic musical explorations of exoticism while actually delivering a convincing record that exceeds the trappings of those said ideas is an amazing feat in itself, and Batu Malablab delivers both an exploration of imaginary global sounds and an incredibly deft composition in texture and feel that goes far beyond its referential touchstones.
MPEG Stream: "Lowland Side (excerpt)"
MPEG Stream: "Mountain Side (excerpt)"
SHIT AND SHINE 54 Synth-Brass 38 Metal Guitar 65 Cathedral (Rocket) lp 27.00
Texas by way of UK, noise rock weirdo Craig Clouse, under the moniker Shit And Shine, continues to craft confusional and baffling sounds that for a while seemed to move ever further away from the knuckle dragging noise rock of the group's multi-drummered early years, but on this new one, Clouse seems to have fused his two dip rate sonic paths, the confrontational pound and pummel, and the tripped out electronic minimalism into something wholly other. Not sure what the title means, we can only assume it will reveal itself upon repeated listens, but even on first spin, opener "Electric Pony 2" delivers a twisted, tranced out wallop, fusing a churning, tribally rhythmic backdrop, to shards of jagged crunch, bursts of fragmented riff rock weirdness, processed vocals, glitched out sputter, and smears it all into a sort of heady kraut-psych done Texas style. Can covered by the Butthole Surfers might not be that off the mark. Or Rusted Shut jamming out covers of early Kraftwerk? Mesmerizingly motorik and groovy as fuck, at least in some avant WTF way. And things don't get any easier to understand as the record progresses, but it's also not as willfully antagonistic as much of the $&$ catalog, instead, it's all about grooves this time around, programmed beats (or it could be live drums) locked into circular patterns, loping and cyclical, usually accompanied by some thick bass throb or rumbling low end, over which Clouse and Co. drape all sorts of sonic detritus, whether it's strange little squelches, melting tape loops, blurry samples, it all sort of oozes lysergically into one pulsing, throbbing, organic dance-drug trip out. As the rest of the record unfolds, the sounds grow more and more dense, and damaged, never drifting very far from whatever head nodding, bass bumping rhythm is serving as its anchor, the sounds distorted and crumbly, and yet, as often as the sound begins to degrade and transform into caustic crunch, it flits right back into some jazzy shuffle, or down-tempo lope, the whole thing a dizzying concoction of beats and textures, a new form of psychedelic dance music that is most definitely not designed for dancing.
MPEG Stream: "Electric Pony 2"
MPEG Stream: "C2-6"
MPEG Stream: "Goat $hit"
VETIVER Complete Strangers (Easy Sound) lp 24.00
Vetiver's beautiful new record places a welcome emphasis on textured atmospherics and rhythm that is so warm and enveloping, we just want to melt in its lovely embrace. Each track is delicately nuanced with such strong musicianship and songcraft that we feel transported every time we hear it. Frontman Andy Cabic DJ's a regular night here in SF at The Rock Bar, called Mellow Shots, exploring the deeper cuts of seventies and eighties soft rock nuggets, and Cabic is an extraordinary crate digger of some obscure far-flung sides. So it's apparent that some of the better aspects of that influence has seeped into his songwriting and arranging, while doing away with the cheesy familiarity that most people associate with music from that era. So nice!
MPEG Stream: "Stranger Still"
MPEG Stream: "From Now On"
MPEG Stream: "Shadows Lane"
VOLAHN Aq'Ab'Al (Ajna Offensive / Iron Bonehead) 2lp 23.00
Another ritual from the Black Twilight Circle, the mysterious and prolific cult of Southern California black metallers. Volahn is the work of Eduardo Ramirez, who does everything except for the drumming, and plays in (at least) two other BTC projects. There are certainly "traditional" black metal elements present here - nods to classic '80s, first wave Norwegian, Ulver-esque folk, and the more twisted elements of French black metal abound. The French connection is especially relevant here, given the Black Twilight Circle's clear structural similarity to the infamous Les Legions Noires. However, comparisons to other bands and scenes shouldn't be taken too seriously - Ramirez's riffing, song structure, and lyrics stand out as some of the most unique in black metal today, especially in the U.S.Aq'Ab'Al works as a sort of black metal lingua franca to communicate Volahn's spiritual and esoteric message: genocide of Central American native peoples, anti-colonialism, pre-Hispanic gods, and, of course, evil and death. Where one might normally find endless references to Satan, Ramirez instead directs his hails towards vengeful and violent Mayan gods - a refreshing change of pace in the otherwise predictable and stale world of black metal lyrics. The production, too, is a refreshing change of pace, a crystal clear and organic sounding recording that brings the whole record to life. The context and thematic elements of the record is important, sure, but at the end of the day, this is just a great black metal record. It has riffs, it has atmosphere, and and it's evil. What more do you want? Both cd and lp come in a beautiful packaging that houses the lyrics in both Spanish and translated to English, and the lp comes in a nice gatefold sleeve and poster.
MPEG Stream: "Najtir Ichik"
MPEG Stream: "Bonampak"
MPEG Stream: "Koyopa"
WHITE HILLS Walks For Motorists + Drives For Pedestrians (Thrill Jockey) lp+12" 26.00
NOW ON VINYL - WITH SUPER LIMITED BONUS 12" WHILE THEY LAST!! We reviewed the compact disc version last list, now we've got the vinyl, direct from Thrill Jockey, who let us have a batch that comes with the aforementioned bonus 12", entitled Drives For Pedestrians, featuring five tracks of previously unreleased material, a half-hour's worth! Only available from a handful of lucky stores, like us. Also, the record is on translucent red vinyl in rather nice packaging. Here's what we said about the album proper, last time:AQ fave psychedelic space rockers, the duo known as White Hills, are back, and taking some cool new chances with their sound. Busting out of their usual NYC haunts, this new album was recorded in rural Wales by a guy best known for working with poppier, electronic acts like Caribou and FKA Twigs. We're not sure anyone would call THIS album pop-oriented, exactly, though it's a fact that on a couple tracks here White Hills swap out guitar entirely for synthesizers - "I, Nomad" is bleeping, shimmering blissfulness. But for the most part, the usual White Hills krauty hypnorock loaded with squalls of fuzzy guitar distortion is in full effect, as expected, just somehow sleeker and provided with more precise targeting. Yes, Hawkwind is still a definite inspiration/influence/unavoidable comparison, especially on tracks like "We Are What You Are", while some other cuts here are a lot more 'new wavy' or post punk or something, equally propulsive and rhythmic but stripped down, giving more weight to the grooves, and sometimes also to the vocals (reminding anyone who'd forgotten, that White Hills are a boy-girl duo after all). The album-closing title track, laden with effects and electronics and samples, is practically funky and danceable, despite the droning guitar parts. We don't know if Dave W. and Ego Sensation were listening to a lot of Talking Heads, or, like, Herbie Hancock's "Rockit", or what exactly, but we're mesmerized by the results on that one. And if there are Moon Duo fans out there who for some reason haven't yet checked out White Hills, this disc would be a good place to start - "Automated City" sorta sounds like MD channelling the Rolling Stones in fact. While we always love White Hills, we're extra stoked on the different strokes they've surprised us with here.
MPEG Stream: "LSD or USB"
MPEG Stream: "We Are What You Are"
MPEG Stream: "Walks For Motorists"
WHITE MAGIC I'm Hiding My Nightingale (Leaving Records) cassette 7.50
Woohooo! A new release of music by Mira Bilotte aka White Magic is always something to celebrate around here and we just got in a handful of her new 4 song ep on cassette. The title track, "I'm Hiding My Nightingale" is of course a cover of the pre-Can group, The Inner Space, featured on the group's soundtrack for the German film, Kamasutra. Featuring Ariel Pink on acoustic guitar, it follows in the tradition of great White Magic covers by Nina Simone, Jefferson Airplane and Karen Dalton. "Runaway" is a beautiful ballad with slow piano builds and echoing vocals. "Mora" is more psychedelic , building upon a repeating vocal loop with hand percussion and shruti box drones while the final track, "Out Beyond The Moon" is a beautifully loping piano vamp, rhythmic and mystical that has us hoping for a new full length soon, as it's been nearly 10 years since her last one. Comes cassingle style with iridescent wraparound cardstock cover. Limited to 300 copies, and we're not sure we'll be able to get more, but there will be a 10" vinyl version coming out in July.