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Highlights of the week of 76 items on
NEW ARRIVALS List #455 (01 August 2014)
:

album cover MAR-VISTA Visions (Strawberry Rain) lp 37.00
It's nice to know that no matter how many records are reissued, or rare gems discovered, or mysterious private press releases rescued from oblivion, there will always be more. And even though sometimes we feel like the bottom of the reissue barrel has been reached, based on some dubious reissues, all it takes is a record like this, to remind us that there are truly some mind benignly fantastic records that have yet to be unearthed. And yeah, this is some truly next level, mind bending stuff. EVERYBODY here digs it, so we knew we had to make it a Record Of The Week, even though a week ago, we'd never heard of Mar-Vista. Sounds like of like a motel or something.
Originally a private press record, released in a run of just 200 copies, and packaged in blank white sleeves, and sold locally in France, this deliriously trippy and over the top chunk of French psychedelic synth prog is so good, and so weird, it really is one of those rare records, that's makes it hard to believe it could've remained lost for so long. Cuz really, anyone hearing this, would immediately freak out. We most definitely did. Apparently this duo was heavily influenced by minimalists like La Monte Young and Terry Riley, and krautrock combos like Ashra Tempel and Popol Vuh and while that's not actually bad band math when trying to describe Mar-Vista, the truth of the sound is so much stranger.
A single 41 minute song suite, separated into 6 movements, Visions Of Sodal Ye begins with primitive lo-fi drum machine (or drumming that sounds programmed), beneath whirring organs, fingerpicked acoustic guitars, droning synths and shimmering melodies, with laid back vox way down in the mix, not to mention some killer distorted psych guitar shred, the whole thing wrapped in warped sonic warble. There are plenty of weird production glitches, drop outs, and tape decay/damage from the original masters we would assume, but it only adds to the sound, a sound that soon blossoms into soaring kosmische synth swirls, anchored by more of those primitive drum machine like rhythms, and wreathed in what sounds like whipping winds, and jaw harp like spring melodies, more plink plonk, sing songy synths, and a fierce squall of psychedelic noise guitar. The movements merge into one sprawling epic, continuing with the coolest, creepiest track of the bunch, a dour, murky dirge, a tripped out sort of doom-kraut creep, with low buzzing synths, skittery rhythms, and multiple vocal lines, all wound up into a haunting, intense, organ and synth drenched lumber, that could be the weirdest heaviest French psych-prog jam EVER. That quickly (d)evolves into a cool, groovy sixties style psychedelic blow out, all cascading synth melodies, pulsing hip shaking rhythms, and super distorted theremin like squiggles over the top, before settling into some pulsating, cosmic shimmer, tinged with just a little bit new age, some serious synth prog that blossoms into awesome John Carpenter like soundtrackiness! The record/songsuite culminates in the final 21+ minute movement, a sprawling cinematic synth epic, a twisted dronescape of layered synths and extended tones, ominous and sinister, minor key and darkly malevolent, again, like it could be from the some lost Carpenter movie, all creepy slo-mo melodies, and crumbling textures, plenty of tension, haunting and shadowy and mysterious.
And generally bonus tracks are bonus tracks for a reason, cast offs, throw aways, songs that weren't good enough to make the cut, but not here, the two bonus tracks (found only on the cd!!) are crazy, and crazy cool, the first, "Synthetik Way", is a glistening, glimmering planetarium style cosmic synth workout, all lush, hushed and tranquil one second, then distorted and wildly psychedelic the next, while the second "Crash '73", is an impossibly trippy, surprisingly heavy psych rock jam, with in-the-red distorted guitar and skittery drumming, beneath a wild tangle of snake charmer synth shred, and a totally WTF twisted stuttery finale, which had us imagining a whole other record tucked away with more of this outsider synth-prog-psych weirdness…
So incredible, quite possibly the reissue of the year! Minimal liner notes, a reproduction of the original sleeve, but sadly somewhat flimsy packaging on the digipack cd...
The cd version is limited to 500 copies, the lp just 300.
MPEG Stream: "Her Eyes Are Closed"
MPEG Stream: "Death's Shadows"
MPEG Stream: "The Black Sun Shones Today"
MPEG Stream: "Crash '73"

album cover VIOLENT CHANGE Celebration Of Taste (Melters) lp 13.98
Full length number two from these local post punk noise poppers, and according to the liner notes, it might also be their last. But with VC, it's pretty hard to tell if they're taking the piss, usually safe to assume they are. And while their self-titled debut was gloriously lo-fi and ramshackle, noisy and chaotic, enough that we made it our Record Of The Week, A Celebration Of Taste manages to be even MORE, with much of it sounding like it was recorded in a cave, or a huge metal box, or underwater, on what we can only assume is probably a broken 4-track, everything with dying batteries, but then out of some impossibly impenetrable murk, will emerge a burst of crunchy, fuzzy power pop, that sounds like an unearthed gem from back in the day. So we figured this one too had to be another Record Of the Week...
Check out the opening 1-2-3 punch, "(I'm A Star) In Outer Space" is some seriously classic songsmithery, jangle guitar galore, some impossibly catchy guitar melodies, plenty of background buzz, keening vocals and hooks for days, but the tinny, no-fi production makes Guided By Voices sound like U2, but then there's "Micro Flesh", which takes that same sound, and piles on the murk, treble turned to zero, bass to ten, then slowed down, so it's a muddy, woozy, warmly creep, grinding, and gristly, before suddenly, "Faster" explodes into action, sounding like some weirdo lost Mod outfit from the sixties, this still lo-fi but cranked up, gloriously noisy and psychedelic, feedback everywhere, and buried under all that noisiness, a fucking killer, classic jam.
And so it goes, these guys dipping their toes into seventies power pop ("I Was Never Young" sounds like an outsider Purling Hiss), glammed out punk rock stomp ("Malleable Love"), all swaggery hip shaking crunch, total experimental noisescapery ("Abductors Pt. 1"), fifties style balladry filtered through cracked modern noise rock, and crumbled into something barely songlike ("Hairline-esque"), super distorted fuzz pop a la GBV ("Someone In This House")... Needless to say, we could go on and on and on. But if anything, this new one is somehow both more fucked up and damaged, and more catchy and well crafted, than their debut, that well crafted-ness pretty much entirely disguised by all the noise, and weirdo production, and detuned damage, and constantly in-flux production, and the varying degrees of shitty sound, but it's all glorious, and freaky, and psychedelic, and catchy and freaked out, and we're really really really hoping this isn't the last we're gonna hear from these guys, cuz this record is some seriously next level outsider pop genius! Fucked up and utterly confusional obviously, but then that's a big part of what makes it so goddamn great.
Includes two inserts and a download code.
MPEG Stream: "(I'm A Star) In Outer Space"
MPEG Stream: "Micro Flesh"
MPEG Stream: "Faster"
MPEG Stream: "Malleable Love"
MPEG Stream: "Hairline-esque"
MPEG Stream: "Someone In This House"

album cover GUN CLUB, THE Fire of Love (Munster) lp 21.00
We made the Superior Viaduct cd reissue of The Gun Club's Fire Of Love one our Records Of The Week last time, and now have the 2014 repress of the Munster lp reissue too! Here is what we said about the cd:
Death, drugs, sex, voodoo, evil blues, macabre horror and a sublimely detached southern gothic sensibility pervade the music of The Gun Club who sat somewhere between the margins of the "death rock" and "cowpunk" or "gothabilly" genres of the LA punk scene of the late seventies and early eighties without fitting neatly into either.
The commanding vocal prowess of Jeffrey Lee Pierce leads the band's scorched delta blues, a darkened mixture of Johnny Cash, Charley Patton and Elvis recycled through a furious yowling intensity. The band rotated line-ups often and has featured throughout their existence key players of the LA punk scene such as Kid Congo Powers (The Cramps, The Bad Seeds), Patricia Morrison (Sisters of Mercy, The Damned, The Bags) and Terry Graham and Rob Ritter (The Bags). While the band had a run of great albums, Fire of Love is largely regarded as their most influential, containing an impressive string of punk hits: "Sex Beat", She's Like Heroin To Me", "Fire Spirit" "For The Love of Ivy", "Ghost on The Highway", and "Jack On Fire", many of them produced by Chris D. of The Flesh Eaters.
Such a great album and without it bands like The White Stripes and The Black Keys simply wouldn't exist.
MPEG Stream: "Sex Beat"
MPEG Stream: "For The Love of Ivy"
MPEG Stream: "She's Like Heroin To Me"

album cover ADERLATING Gospel Of The Burning Idols (Black Plague Productions) cd 13.98
Another dose of 'blackened symphonic cinematic doom' (as we happen to have it classified in our iTunes), but really it would take a few more descriptors to adequately describe the abject soundscapes of Aderlating, a side project of Mories, perhaps better know for his other outfit, Gnaw Their Tongues. And while there does seem to be a distinct difference between the two entities, it's not always so obvious, which is most definitely true on Gospel Of The Burning Idols. The opening track could easy be either, thick layers of corrosive rumblings, keening distant melodies, guttural demonic vocal rumblings, monk like chants, swirls of blacknoise, industrial clank and clang, murky slow motion rhythms, orchestral swells, a hellish slow build that unwinds like a harrowingly hellish Godspeed.
And so it goes, Mories never-minding any sort of genera constraints, the sound slipping into a weird sort of broody slow-motion almost trip-hop one second, a grinding squall of moaning, groaning low end thrum the next, and creepy noise drenched free jazz freakout tribal rituals the next. All of these seemingly disparate sounds bleeding into one massive oozing sprawl of black sound, that's at once bleak and dismal, epic and cinematic, grim and darkly depressive, textured and nuanced, brutal and punishing.
Gnaw Their Tongues fans who have yet to discover the 'joys' of Aderlating, are definitely in for a soul crushing, ear shredding treat.
MPEG Stream: "A Vulture's Tongue Disease"
MPEG Stream: "The Burial Gown Reeks Of Semen"
MPEG Stream: "Dragged To The Smouldering Pits Of Infinity"

album cover AVES Feathers (Pest Productions) cd + canvas bag 19.98
Aves are an entirely new prospect to us here at aQ HQ. Here's a quick list of things we know about Aves: 1) Aves is from Virgina. End of list! Oh, and also Aves plays glorious coming-of-age sun-dappled blackened instrumental post-gaze-punk. Is that a thing?? Well, it is now! For the first two minutes of Feather's first track you'd be forgiven for thinking you were listening to some lost Smiths instrumental, all jangling reverbed guitar, uptempo "This Charming Man" swing, shuffling drums and walking bass. But then suddenly, and really without any warning, the song lurches into a glimmering black metal crescendo. The stormclouds of Transilvanian Hunger pseudo-blasts clashing with the sunset horizon of blissed out comfort blanket post rock. The easiest comparison here is early Alcest, but Aves have a tendency to genre hop much more, leaving the black metal tendencies completely behind for extended chunks of time, only for them to barge back in again when you'd almost forgotten they were ever there. "Nest" is all four-to-the-floor disco drums accompanied by the kind of bittersweet dancefloor sway you could easily imagine Bernard Sumner singing over. But four and a half minutes in, those hazy blastbeats muscle their way in, turning the song transcendent, before morphing into a punk rock bounce, nostalgic guitar leads swarming like transparent insects. Elsewhere, the minor key post punk swivel & pulsating anxious bass work of "Nightflight" recall classic Echo & The Bunnymen (not to mention sadly defunct Alcest spin off Amesours). "Somewhere" is the closest Feathers gets to black metal in any traditional sense (although it's still a little ways off!), its plodding mid paced beat throbbing under heartrending cascading fuzz sounding something like My Bloody Valentine covering Filosofem. While conversely, "Clouds" doesn't have even a hint of metal, channeling instead the all enveloping opiate warmth of Slowdive. We're used to hearing black metal flirt with other subgenres, but it's rare to hear black metal used so sparingly by an otherwise totally non-metal entity. It's a really intriguing and effective approach, and Aves is definitely something we'll be keeping our eyes on! Highly recommended for fans of the aforementioned Alcest and Amesours, as well as Deafheaven, Sleeping Peonies, Clouds Collide and all manner of life affirming post rock, post punk and shoegaze. Oh, and comes housed in a swank digipak, which in turn is housed in a mighty nice canvas bag with metallic silver printing. to boot! LIMITED TO 80 COPIES!!!
MPEG Stream: "Feathers"
MPEG Stream: "Somewhere"
MPEG Stream: "Clouds"

album cover BEGGARS s/t (Lotus House) 2cd 9.98
From the same label that brought us the blissed out raga ritualism of High Mountain Tempel, and elsewhere on this week's list, the psychedelic kosmische drift of Raagnagrok, comes something a little different, the first (only?) release from Beggars, a name you might not know, but odds are you know some of the players, Glenn Donaldson (Jewelled Antler, Skygreen leopards, etc.) and Steven R. Smith (Thuja, Hala Strana, etc.) as well as a member of Maquiladora. But before you go expecting some field recording flecked psychedelia, get ready for something a bit more mellow, and a lot more country. The opener "Ghost Coyote" is a twang flecked smolder, that sounds a bit like a slower, druggier, instrumental Mazzy Star, but then "Eureka, My Love", find the sound slipping into something closer to Townes Van Zandt, melancholic, sad sack country, rife with warmly organ, steel string strum, aching vocals, all reverie and softly echoey, the follow up reminds us a bit of stoner country geniuses Souled American, all druggy, and drowsy. Some of the tracks to get a little trippy, like the warmly angular melodies on "2-3-74 Floating", or the entirety of the nearly 23 minute countrified drone jam "Midget Decapitates Clown", which begins strum my and drifty, before mutating into something much more abstract and dense, tripped out and psychedelic, almost like the soundtrack to some strange psychological thriller from the seventies.
But then the second disc gets right back into it, woozy, soft psych and countrified dream folk, shades of the Grateful Dead, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, that sort of thing, lazy, hazy country folk, back porch, sun dappled dreaminess, with subtle bits of experimentation here and there, but really, pretty much straight up psychedelic country folk, that while well removed from the Jewelled Antler sound of old, is still pretty nice.
Double cd housed in a fancy full color digipak.
MPEG Stream: "Ghost Coyote"
MPEG Stream: "Eureka, My Love"
MPEG Stream: "2-3-74 Floating"
MPEG Stream: "Midget Decapitates Clown"

album cover BIRD TRAPS The Colour Fields (Black Cross Recordings) cd 14.98
Somewhere between the tape decay experiments of William Basinski, the faded memory soundtracks of Leyland Kirby's Caretaker, and the sprawling sonic shadowscapes of Stars Of The Lid, lies Bird Traps, aka Marcus Skinner. His guitars, organs and field recordings are fleshed out by a proper string section, and the results are sublime, with the strings front and center, Skinner composing and adding coloration, subtle sonic backdrops to the aching, mournful string arrangements, the whole thing managing to evoke much of the same mood and mystery as those above mentioned artists, but without distortion or decay. On the surface, the sound of Bird Traps is like some string quartet, frozen mid performance, and suspended in amber, the sounds slowed down to a crawl, and unfurling like the score to some heartbreaking time lapse film, a melancholic threnody, simple and stirring.
The first two tracks are truly majestic, it's not hard to imagine the sound here as the score to some visual survey of sweeping plains, massive canyons, snowy peaks, but it's only on the second track that the machinations behind the scenes slowly drift to the fore, a little bit of looped whir here, of subtly static shimmer there, all the while, the strings continue to soar, the arrangement spread out into delicate chordal swells, heady and hypnotic, and with a depth not easily perceived with a glancing listen. In fact, Bird Traps seem to function in two distinct manners, perhaps not intentionally, one, simply as gorgeous, cinematic string based loveliness, the other, some serious deep listening, with headphones. Tracks like "Minor Tapestry" begin to sound more like Phill Niblock, with constantly shifting overtones, layered drones, all deftly woven into the otherwise placed stringscapes.
Not surprisingly, "Loose Knit" might be our favorite track here, it's the one where the strings take on a bit more of a supporting role, the dynamics as such, that they ebb and flow, leaving wide open space for choral like organs, and for the sibilant murmur of random field recordings, all adding grit and texture to the tracks haunting, drone out drift, before returning to something a bit less shadowy for the closer, which again, finds the sound slipping into something approaching a more modern minimalism / drone arrangement, but those strings, they keep the sound alive and seemingly expanding ever outward, a sonic time lapse blossoming, sun dappled and dreamlike, mesmerizing and impossibly, and mysteriously beautiful.
MPEG Stream: "Pine Orchestra"
MPEG Stream: "Minor Tapestry"
MPEG Stream: "Loose Knit"

album cover BLACK BOMBAIM Far Out (Cardinal Fuzz) lp 21.00
BACK IN STOCK! JUST GOT A HANDFUL MORE IN...
We first heard these Portuguese psychedelic space rockers via their super limited Record Store Day release on Permanent this year, that we were never able to get enough of to review (although we might have a couple in the store still, if you want one, just ask!), so we were psyched to get this new one on Cardinal Fuzz, and on first listen we were actually reminded of Swedish afro-psych outfit Goat, the sound driven by thick buzzing bass and loping tribal drumming, over which, thick, distorted guitars soar and howl, not so much riffs, as thick gouts of sound, blurred arcs of psychedelia, shaped into strange Eastern melodies, the track spreading out over a whole side of the lp, eventually, a few minutes in, the drums exploding into something more rocking and propulsive, the guitar following suit, the result a wild, tranced out heavy psych groove that explodes into a wild squall of psychedelic heaviness, before settling into a stripped down drift, all spidery guitar melodies and that thick bass buzz, but now joined by jazzy sax, giving it a sort of jazz-psych vibe, which quickly builds to another Goat like psych-funk blowout, all dizzying guitar freakout, and churning hard psych heaviness, with the horns swooping back in for a kick ass, free jazz / hard psych finale.
The flipside is another blast of groovy psych, the guitars blown out and gorgeously in-the-red, the bass again thick and buzzing, the drums loose-limbed and sort of funky, the band again, slipping easily from churning metallic crunch, to soaring, almost progged out majesty, to super melodic pop flecked jangle, to stripped down psych-funk, and then back to tranced out wild psych freakout. So good. And so absolutely recommended for fans of Goat and other spaced out psychedelic groovers...
Like all Cardinal Fuzz releases, this is extremely limited, and we're one of the only places in the US carrying it, so these are likely the last copies we'll be able to get. Comes housed in a super swank full color jacket, pressed on clear red vinyl, with NO download.
MPEG Stream: "Africa II"

album cover BURIAL HEX In Psychic Defense (Cold Spring) cd 15.98
Clay Ruby's long running Burial Hex project is a tough outfit to pin down, with a sound that's in constant flux, from oppressive necro electronics, to haunting cinematic strings, to crumbling industrial dronemusic, to ritual lo-fi ambience. Now, on In Psychic Defense, we get a whole 'nother side of that sound. The opener is a strange, bit of gothic balladry, a grim torch song, with skittery programmed beats, beneath spidery psych folk filigree, thick warmly, woozy basslines, and Ruby's dramatic croon, nestled amidst swirls of chordal organ thrum, dense rumbles... but soon, that sound dissipates, leaving just a sonic shadow / skeleton, minimal swells, tinkling Goblin like melodies, suspended in a sprawl of hushed shimmer, haunting and moody, this stretch of brooding ambience, peppered with bursts of caustic noise, whispered vox, more slippery, sinewy bass - and then a surprising, almost hour music coda, the grim whispers and haunting drones woven into a skittery funky beat, before devolving into a final burst of low end pulses. The second track is another sprawling epic, and is another sonic aboutface, rooted in some sort of martial industrial music, a muted, murky rhythm, sweeping synth swirls, and some creepy processed vokills, it's another gloomy ballad, but this one more tripped out and almost dubby, those swoonsome string-like shimmers faded and washed out, and like the first track, there's another unexpected detour into some straight up dance music, a looped groove, also pretty house, underpinned by some of the shadowy sonics from the first part of the song, but for the most part, weirdly groovy funk, before it too transforms into a bleak psych-drone outdo.
Those two tracks make up more than half of the record, with the relatively shorter tracks exploring still more unfamiliar territory, with a real dance music bent surfacing throughout, "Fantasie" sounds like Coil at their danciest, "Und Fuge" is all glimmering synths and percolating cosmic melodies, while "To Birth The Rotted Sun" returns to the gothic doom-ed balladry of the opener, with distorted percussion, and pounded piano, wreathed in strange electronic squiggle, and pocked with weird effects, but then instead of a croon, the vocals explode in a hysterical shriek, the rhythm bursting into chaos right alongside, a weird sort of black metal / industrial torch song / neo-folk hybrid, that's pretty strange, and really cool.
Finally, "(Or: War)" is a sprawl of power electronics, dense tangles of misfiring circuitry and analog sputter, all draped over moaning low end slo-mo melodies, and pitch shifted crooning, culminating in closer "The Tower", another weirdo industrial funk workout, low slung bass, a pulsing rhythm, squelchy low end, smears of gristly static, echoey clouds of chordal thrum, but all anchored by some seriously funky grooviness. There's definitely a high WTF factor here, but then that's pretty much the case with all the Burial Hex records. Cool, weird stuff for sure!
MPEG Stream: "In Psychic Defense"
MPEG Stream: "Hunger"

album cover CAVE EVIL s/t (Emperors Of Eternal Evil) board game 90.00
Listen up nerds!! So, a few weeks back we reviewed a compilation tape called the "Cave Evil Radio Mix", that was created as the soundtrack to this truly bizarre "Necro-Demonic dungeon crawl" fantasy boardgame, in which the players take on the role of evil Necromancers, vying for domination in a dank subterranean necropolis, invoking creatures, excavating tunnels, collecting resources (metals, gore, and shadowflame) and battling the other Necromancers & their hordes to control The Pit at the center of the board. Last Necromancer standing wins.
Be warned, it's not an EASY game, there are a LOT of rules (the entertainingly written and illustrated rulebook is over 40 pages long) so this isn't for folks who find anything more advanced than Monopoly challenging. It's more complex than Settlers Of Catan too (though way cooler to deal in metals, gore, and shadowflame rather than sheep, wood, and bricks...). You kinda have to be a real gamer to get with this. But if you are, and like fantasy-horror concepts and creepy artwork (amazing stuff mainly by Fort Thunder comic book artist Mat Brinkman, also by Commode Minstrels In Bullface, and others), then this might be up your alley! For you hardcore gamers out there, we'd say Cave Evil is like a MUCH more complex (and totally black metallized) version of the classic game Wiz-War. You draw cards (spells, weapons, monsters, events), move your Necromancer and the 'squads' of minions he controls, and attempt to defeat the other Necromancers before the even-more-evil-than-thou denizen of The Pit awakens and murders you all.
The game is a limited edition, DIY production (but really nicely done!), and it's more or less out of print but we were lucky enough to get a few extra copies of it from Grux of Caroliner, who did some artwork for the game (he's Commode Mistrels In Bullface). We also recently finally got a chance to actually PLAY the game. And now we know that not only does it look amazing, but it's a lot of fun as well. Actually, a really good game, deserving of the high score the users of BoardGameGeek have given it (7.9 out of 10).
We were learning, so it took a few hours to play, like, ten turns, and we didn't come close to actually finishing the game, but are looking forward to our next session. Allan is still talking about how his Black Wizard managed to escape certain death when attacked by an Undead Dragon by using his special ability to split into two Mini Black Wizards so that one of them could run away... An ability that we thought might have been inspired by the Emperor song "I Am The Black Wizards".
For more info, check out www.caveevil.com, there's even a short trailer there showing what life's like in the cave, for real. You'll also find a more thorough (and also positive) playtest review of the game via the folks at The Comics Journal, at http://www.tcj.com/reviews/cave-evil/, which also shows lots of the cool black/white/grey artwork found on each card in the game, and the gameboard and tiles and game box itself.

album cover CHAIN, PAUL Alkahest (Minotauro) 2lp 30.00
We've always wanted to list something by Italian occult doom metal master Paul Chain (ex-Death S.S.), he's a true underground legend in the realms of magickal violet-hued heaviness and improvised downer psychedelia. We've referenced him in several reviews, when discussing the likes of Blizaro, Black Hole, and Tony Tears, but never before have we had any of Paul Chain's own stuff available to list - until now. A whole bunch of his rare '80s and '90s albums have just been reissued on the Minotauro label, and so we finally get to review 'em, starting with this sought-after classic, 1995's Alkahest. Out of print for years, it now makes a welcome return on both cd (in a miniature lp-style gatefold sleeve, with obi) and limited edition double gatefold vinyl.
Alkahest is a good entry way into the master's extensive discography, as it possesses much of his unique, weird vibe while not being nearly as experimental and abstract as some of his other albums. Instead, Alkahest functions as a solid, spooky slab of traditional doom metal, offering up plenty of plodding, heavier-than-thou riffage that any fan of Black Sabbath, Saint Vitus or Cathedral ought to happily bow down to. We mention retired UK doom gods Cathedral in particular 'cause their frontman, Lee Dorrian, who's a HUGE Paul Chain fan, happens to sing on about half of this album (a thrill of a lifetime for him), Dorrian's gruffer guest vocals quite a contrast to Paul Chain's own strange, haunted, higher register croon, and not just because there's actual lyrics to the songs Dorrian sings, while Paul Chain's vocals are, as is his wont, all purely phonetic, not in any language at all (see what we mean by him being experimental?). Dorrian's gravely gargle mellows out a bit for the mournful ballad "Lake Without Water", quite lovely with medieval lute and acoustic guitar, sort of in the vein of Sabbath's "Solitude"...
Overall, Alkahest is brimming with doomed, despairing, druggy atmosphere, the Sabbathic riffs and psychedelic soloing supported by strains of doleful church organ and hints of synth, an Italian prog/soundtrack influence definitely present. Really an excellent album all doom hounds (especially those into early Cathedral) should have in their collection! And in a way, strangely uplifting for something so hopelessly dark and doomy.
Ok, next up, Detaching From Satan by Paul Chain's Violet Theatre...
MPEG Stream: "Sand Glass"
MPEG Stream: "Three Water"
MPEG Stream: "Voyage To Hell"

album cover CULT OF DOM KELLER The Second Bardo (Cardinal Fuzz) lp 21.00
More spaced out psychedelic garage from the Cardinal Fuzz label, this one, record number two from UK fuzz merchants Cult Of Dom Keller, whose sound is a perfect fit for the 'Fuzz, all reverbed riffage, simple motorik drum pound, laid back echo drenched spacer vox, all smeared into druggy sprawls of lysergic hypno-rock that falls somewhere between Spacemen 3, Moon Duo, Loop and any number of other like minded drug rock space explorers. The opener "Plague Of All" sets the stage perfectly, with a killer main riff, that's soon bolstered by some primitive rhythmic pound, and spidery distorted guitar melody, doused in FX, and seriously fuzzed out, when the vocals swoop in, the sound gets way more spacey and drifty, the sound seesawing back and forth between ethereal space rock shimmer and swagger psych blooze crunch.
The rest of the record seems to melt and ooze and drift, the template laid down on the first track seemingly left in the sun too long, whirring organs dripping all over loping and lumbering drug-rock grooves, the guitars churning, warm and distorted, on tracks like "The Snake Keeps Changing", the vibe is practically somnambulant, tripped out and gloriously laid back, it's almost impossible to not imagine some crazy psychedelic light show enveloping you when you close your eyes and strap on the headphones. Other tracks add sitar-like buzz, swirling backwards FX, walls of crumbling distortion, some explode into serious heart-of-the-sun Hawkwind like pound, others sprawl and expand into hazy sonic supernovas of sound. Epic spaced out psychedelia for fans of the usual suspects (Carlton Melton, the Heads, White Hills, Wooden Shjips, as well as the rest of the Cardinal Fuzz roster), and SUPER LIMITED of course, pressed on tripped out swirled red/green vinyl...
MPEG Stream: "Plague Of All"
MPEG Stream: "The Snake Keeps Changing"
MPEG Stream: "Into The Sky Volcano - Beyond Burning Skies"
MPEG Stream: "The Second Bardo"

album cover CVBE OV FALSEHOOD II (Hanged Man) cassette 6.98
BACK IN STOCK!!!
First release from the oddly named Cvbe Ov Falsehood, the new project from one of the guys in aQ faves Servile Sect, and like that group, whose connection to black metal is tenuous at best, CoF deliver some seriously avant blackness, to sidelong 15 minute tracks that combine drifting drones, with symphonic fragments, layered strings, pizzicato melodies, churning blurred riffage, swirling psychedelic FX, what sounds like field recordings, the first track/side begins with what sounds like an orchestra tuning up, while in the background, the earth begins to rumble and the crust of the earth collapses into subterranean caverns. But that tectonic/Teutonic rumble, is soon smoothed out into a glorious bit of black drone drift, laced with all manner of subtle sonic fluctuations, buried industrial rhythms, the whole thing coalescing into a sort of murky kraut-psych, wreathed in dense black ambience. Soon the sound is wreathed in hiss and static, a cloud of swirling sibilant shimmer, that gradually becomes more and more caustic, before transforming into a strange staticky rhythm, churning machinelike to the end of the side.
The flipside begins with the sounds of a gamelan (we think), lush, lustrous, resonant tones, ringing out, the sky filled with the ripples of subtle overtones, mysterious samples surface from the murk, the low end becomes more active, a strangely muted melody, pulsing, super distorted, over another barely there industrial rhythm, the result a pulsing sprawl of blackened kosmische, that gradually becomes more and more abstract and tranquil, before beginning another slow build, beginning with a burbling thrum, laced with cricket like chitter, and distant keening melodies, all draped in a black sonic gauze, suddenly erupting into some serious caustic crunch, grinding and corrosive, but somehow also weirdly melodic and psychedelic, the burst brief, soon settling back into a final stretch of deep tones, and hushed ambient dronemusic.
Gorgeous packaging too. A clear tape in a black and white J-card adorned with black and white space diagrams, the whole tape then housed in a black on black embossed, textured cardstock slipcover. LIMITED TO 100 COPIES. Some of which include a Tarot card!
MPEG Stream: "Upon The Stillness Manifest"

album cover DALHOUS Will To Be Well (Blackest Ever Black) 2lp 34.00
First we've heard from Mark Dall, aka Dalhous, who on his second record, delivers a gorgeous collection of wistful electronica, and darkly textured soundscapes of blurred samples and haunting synthesized sounds. We're immediately reminded of Boards Of Canada, but Dall's sound is even more human, and organic, just check out the one-two punch of opener "First Page From Justine", a hazy smear of hushed shimmer, and slow shifting melody, dreamy and drifty, and "A Communion With These People", which expands on that ethereal thrum, letting it blossom into something haunting and lovely, almost like a more IDM version of DJ Shadow, a simple beat, wreathed in crackle and hiss, all over a bed of minor key shimmer and swirl, soft slow-motion swells of sound, peppered with fragmented melodies, and lushly textured layers, one of those tracks that could have stretched out for two or three times its length, and we would have remained utterly mesmerized. "Function Curve" foregoes the rhythm, and instead unwinds a swirling skyful of kosmische glimmer, that sounds like stumbling upon the ruins of some old planetarium show, where impossibly, ghostly music plays on, even though the ceiling that once displayed projected stars and planets, has crumbled, the soundtrack now accompanying the actual cosmos.
The whole record plays out like that, like sound out of time, music from another world, or another plane, the sound modern, but at the same time, reminiscent of so many sounds of the past, the best moments, when the sound seems to crumble and fall apart, the sonic decay present throughout, as if the record were constantly struggling against the ravages of time, and the fading of musical memories, hints of the Caretaker abound, as well as Pye Corner Audio, and even Demdike Stare in places, but the vibe is not nearly so dark, instead it's wistful and melancholy, the beats and rhythms, instead of the focal point of the record, almost seem like bridges between the ambience, rhythmic passages connecting the strange synthscapes and hushed shimmerscapes, sometimes sounding like a lost soundtrack, other times like vintage new age, and other times like the music from some strange educational filmstrip from the seventies, but throughout, it's gorgeous, fantastic, dreamy electronica that seems like it was brought here from somewhere, or some-when, far far away.
MPEG Stream: "A Communion With These People"
MPEG Stream: "Lovers Of the Highlands"
MPEG Stream: "Her Mind Was A Blank"
MPEG Stream: "Someone Secure"

album cover EARTH JERKS File #02 (Computer Tapes) cd-r 4.98
We'd like to say that the second missive from Chris Dixon's kosmische drone project Earth Jerks features the echoplexing electronics of Noel Von Harmonson (Comets On Fire, Sic Alps, etc.), but in true congressional testimonial fashion, we can neither confirm nor deny that. Dixon has long been a man about town here in the Bay Area, as a flamboyant personality showcasing his racket-making skills in the Spockmorgue / NoWave-esque outfits Death Sentence Panda, Murder Murder, and Cops (to name probably just a few). The Earth Jerks recordings are radiant coronas of analogue radiophonic worship, blossoming through extemporaneous tendrils of golden drone and hallowed tone-float. The first two tracks tiptoe upon electronic lilypads resting on moonlit pools whose echoes reflect as softly poetic but suitably kosmische arrangements akin to whatever Klaus Schulze album you'd call nocturnal. The final number spins through the commingling observation of blindingly oblivious sunspot activity and late period Spaceman 3 prescription drug abuse through the tremolo-vibration oscillation and luminous minimalism. Yup, it's a limited pressing. Something like 40 copies.
MPEG Stream: "File 02, Track 1"
MPEG Stream: "File 02, Track 3"

album cover ENGLISH, LAWRENCE Wilderness Of Mirrors (Room 40) lp 25.00
A drop dead gorgeous album from Australian drone kingpin, Lawrence English. Wilderness Of Mirrors follows along the same woolly path that he carved out on Kiri No Oto and The Peregrine. Those albums bristled with a fracturous noise that was less of the raw-nerve probing and more a blast of polar wind smashing against your skin and racing past your ears whilst peering at the smeary, gray horizon line between a sullen ocean and a leaden sky. An existential gaze of self-reflection and melancholy. Wilderness Of Mirrors offers a similar avalanche of shoegazing droneworks with English layering noise upon noise upon noise, with everything blurring into a portentous density of somber, doom-laden downtunings broken apart by sparkling radiant bursts of tape-decayed synthtone. English further slows the melodic phrasing buried within the snow-packed masses of distortion, finding his work in very good company with the likes of Tim Hecker and Christian Fennesz. The title is a reference to a T.S. Eliot poem "Gerontion" - yet another fine literary reference from the well-red English, who had adopted the quote's original sentiment along with its latter day meaning as a geopolitical meme in speaking about the prickly business of Soviets and American duplicity throughout the cold war. English posits the title in relation to his own aghast reactions to the contemporary unfolding of political crisis after political crisis; but far from being a mere political statement, English allows the album to unfurl as an allegory full of abstraction and fragmentation enshrouded in a glistening fog of emotive drone. Very nice.
MPEG Stream: "The Liquid Casket"
MPEG Stream: "Another Body"
MPEG Stream: "Graceless Hunter"

album cover EYEHATEGOD s/t (Housecore) lp 23.00
Minus a few singles and compilations, it's been FOURTEEN YEARS since we last heard from stoner sludge legends Eyehategod, and all it takes is a couple seconds of the first song with its instantly recognizable solid state feedback skree to get those warm, sonic junkie fuzzies, but after a few seconds, like a sonic fuck-you, instead of a return to doomy, stoner sludge glory, and unfurling some sort of epic, slo-mo Sabbath riff, the band explode into some furiously thrashing metal punk, frenzied and vitriolic, certainly Eyehategod in spirit, and they're no stranger to ripping it up, but for the first record in ages, it's a pretty bad ass move. But fear not, they're quickly back to their old, sludgier tricks, and quickly slip right back into the drug addled dirgery of old, churning downtuned heaviness, lurching, slithery, swampy brutality, throat shredding, glass gargling vokills, the songs dense and almost proggy, "Trying To Crack The Hard Dollar" displaying bordering on prog-sludge, while the awesomely titled "Robitussin And Rejection" lays down some seriously cough syrup thick riffage, bloody, oozing sonics that pour from the speakers like some viscous black tar sound, the track lurching into something a bit more frantic, but always slipping right back into that black hole tarpit groove these guys still do better than pretty much anyone else...
MPEG Stream: "Agitation! Propaganda!"
MPEG Stream: "Trying To Crack The Hard Dollar"
MPEG Stream: "Robitussin And Rejection"

album cover FADENSONNEN Badlands (One Hand) lp 21.00
Badlands is the debut from this New York duo who traffic in wild, blown out, free form, noisy avant psychedelia, a relentless blistering sonic freakout spread over three tracks and thirty minutes. It might help (or maybe it won't, but it's still cool) to list the instruments used to conjure up this skree: one guy handles: "Machete Harmonic, Octave Shaking, Psycho Slide and Echo Disaster Lead Guitars, Feedback Vox, Tape Manipulation", the other is in charge of "Feral Wah, Astral Echo, and Feedback Lead Guitars, Amp Manipulation, Drums", which in a way says it all. After a brief bit of droniness, the sound splinters, and explodes into a five minute onslaught of frenzied guitar abuse, spluttery drum damage, all wreathed in thick swirling clouds of twisted FX and layered noise, but this is not straight up noise (although there's plenty of that), there are lots of dynamics going on, with stretches of scrabbly guitar, tranced out hypno-rock churn, tangled swirls of guitar psych, dense walls of crumbling, grinding, in-the-red, feedback doused dirgery, extended sprawls of effects heavy drift, and twisted droney ambience, but for all that, the sound is most definitely rooted in face melting psych-noise freakouts, which most definitely dominates the proceedings. But stick around for the 15 minute closer, the sound slowed down to a droney crawl, all grinding guitars, skittery drums, dense swirls of feedback and noise, the sound almost more psychedelic space rock than anything, but WAY on the noisiest side of that spectrum, imagine multiple Hawkwinds playing at once, each one trying to play louder and heavier than the other, the result some sort of ultra heavy, noise psych dirge, that is equal parts doom, spacey, tripped out and heavy as fuck. Where have these guys been all our lives. Fans of freaky noisy psych, line starts here. Fans of Fushitsusha, Mainliner, Burnt Hills, Heavy Winged, etc. check this shit out. NOW.
Super deluxe handmade packaging, maniacally ADD line drawing cover art (a la Nick Blinko), with a heavy cardboard insert, hand taped, with more line drawings, a picture taped to one side, housed in a stickered plastic sleeve, hand numbered, LIMITED TO 150 COPIES!!!
MPEG Stream: "Machete"

album cover FALCONER Black Moon Rising (Metal Blade) cd 14.98
Ahhhhhhhh!!! Blood! Dragons! Bards!! Kings!! Longswords!!! Squires!!! Potions!!! SOLOS!!!! Yeesh, sorry. It's so rare that we get to hear actual good power metal around these parts that we sort of lose our minds and just start yelling nerd words whenever it happens. And man oh man, does "good power metal" not even start to do this album justice. Sweden's heroic spellcasters of mystical folk/power metal have returned with their eighth studio album, and after what has by many considered to be a pretty lengthy dry spell for this band (many had written them off right around their third album) Black Moon Rising is a serious return to form, utilizing the sing-song catchiness of the best power metal without any of that airy-fairy ruffly sleeved nonsense that tends to get hauled along as unwanted baggage (although a quick Google image search reveals these guys definitely do own some ruffly shirts). Instead musically Black Moon Rising sounds more like some cross between the precision killing-machine heavy metal of Painkiller-era Judas Priest and the jaunty epic medieval songsmithery of Nightfall-era Blind Guardian. It's a record absolutely chock full of awesome riffs (especially for those of us still mourning the dissolution of the glorious Mithotyn from whom this band was spawned!), pummeling drums (there are even a few blastbeats in there!) and most importantly: genuinely great songs. Plus there's Falconer's secret weapon, vocalist Mathias Blad, whose patient worldweary croon adds a certain theatrical gravitas to the record, sounding more like something from Chess The Musical than some candy-coated Stratovarius record or Journey cover band. Needless to say, anyone the slightest bit interested in power metal needs to hear this, but even those into meatier heavy metal like Grand Magus, Manowar or Doomsword should have no problem getting to this. Awesome stuff indeed!
MPEG Stream: "Locust Swarm"
MPEG Stream: "Black Moon Rising"
MPEG Stream: "At The Jester's Ball"

album cover FEMALE CONVICT SCORPION, DJ How Metal Is Time Travel (self-released) cd-r 9.98
The return of one of our favorite DJ's, and it's not that he's a friend of ours, or the fact that he plays guitar in local space rock heroes 3 Leafs, or that he also plays guitar in badass Sabbath cover band Bobb Saggeth, no, it's because his DJ Female Convict Scorpion mixes are twisted and genius, utilizing a crazy cool record collection, rife with tons of crazy cool records, and a deft hand at mixing bits of those records into something wholly new and impossibly original, imagine the bullshit mashups that were all the rave for a while, adding the vocals from some popular song to the music of another, now imagine that sort of operation performed by a perfectionist mad sonic scientist, with no regard for genre, willing to take two ridiculously obtuse and utterly mismatched sounds, and weaving them seamlessly into one. Every release has us not only marveling, and wondering how the fuck he does what he does, but it also has us desperately trying to identify the various sounds, and samples, until, eventually, we just give up, and lose ourselves in the DJFCS's world of sound.
This new one had us hoping for lots of metal, just based on the title alone, but instead, it's another dizzying sonic collage, the opener a stone cold stunner, pairing soulful vocals to tinkling chimes, and burbling liquid, the result tense and moving and experimental, but also moody and emotional, eventually the sounds all blur and smear into streaks of pitch shifted jazziness, joined by a simple groovy beat, and shards of tangled noisiness, another vocal surfacing near the end, a strange mix, some sort of old timey traditional, but when paired with the beat, and the psychedelic swirl, it's pretty fantastic.
After that, it's total switch up, into some rock steady, that ends up featuring some David Lee Roth vocals, and it's a weirdly sweet mix, before devolving into a wild chaos of drum damage and DLR's wild howling, all wrapped in clouds of glitchy, spaced out electronics. Then there's some slowed down "Billie Jean", doused in residual electro-space squiggle and wild psychedelic guitar shred, some swirling psych-soul, lovely female vocals, over a bed of kosmische smolder, and some seventies acid folk, and so it goes, vocal lines lifted from old folk songs, paired with swirling psychedelic synths, fractured beats draped over hurts of metallic guitar chug, soulful croon drifting atop lush layered beds of softly undulating drones, fluttering flutes and field recordings, backwards FX and tribal drumming, mutating into super creepy cinematic doom, and finally some eighties electro beats pulsing beneath orchestral swells, theremin like trills, and more trad-folk / world music vox, laced with strange bits of industrial clank and clatter, before eventually, and finally winding down.
Like all the past DJFCS jams, this too comes HIGHLY recommended.
MPEG Stream: "Crystal Math"
MPEG Stream: "Opposite Day In Opposite Land"
MPEG Stream: "Robot Tsar"
MPEG Stream: "How Metal Is Time Travel?"

album cover FRIZZI, FABIO City Of The Living Dead OST (Death Waltz) lp 33.00
UK horror movie vinyl reissue label Death Waltz once again dips their toes into the bloody body of work belonging to one Mr. Fabio Frizzi. They've also reissued his soundtrack to Zombi 2, and will soon tackle his classic score to the equally classic The Beyond, but hell, as long as we're talking classics, there's this, Lucio Fulci's iconic City Of The Living Dead, aka Paura Nella Citta Dei Morti Viventi, originally released in 1980, it's the first part in Fulci's Gates Of Hell trilogy (which also includes The Beyond and The House By The Cemetery), and it's a doozy. There's suicidal priest, super strong zombies who can teleport and levitate, victims buried alive, portals to hell, total Fulci madness/genius, and Frizzi's score is equally mad/genius, even removed from the visuals, it's a dizzying psychedelic ride, there are the usual elements, sinister strings, eerie synths, even some funkiness (it was 1980 after all), but there are also wild freaked out blasts of noisiness that sound like they could be some super limited floor core cd-r, there are tons of weird voices, loads of FX, guitars, proggy flute flutter, pounding piano, crazed percussion, lots of textures and drones, spaces and silence, notes and chords ring out ominously, horns moan malevolently, some super memorable melodies surface throughout, that rival the iconic themes from other movies (like Halloween), really other than that one funk jam, the whole score is maddening and maniacal, twisted and seriously psychedelic.
As always, Death Waltz has gone all out, the record is pressed on 180 gram clear red vinyl, featuring 17 remastered tracks, as well as several unreleased cues, and a 10 minute live suite recorded in 2013, all housed in a heavy full color sleeve. No insert this time, instead the liner notes are on the jacket itself, including new notes from the man himself, Frizzi, discussing the score and working with Fulci, there's also a Japanese style obi, with more notes, as well as some teasers for upcoming DW releases, and there's a huge poster of the new cover art by Graham Humphreys, as well.

album cover GENTRY LORD Signals From The Mystiverse (Stormspell) cd ep 5.98
We're so glad this actually exists - that somehow the guys in Gentry Lord thought this was a good idea. 'Cause if this band had asked almost ANYONE else if what they were doing was a good idea, the answer would have been no. But fortunately they didn't ask, or maybe, like a heavy metal honey badger, they just don't care. Anyone in their right mind wouldn't make this music, but Gentry Lord (what's with the name?) did, and it's so amazingly rad. Over, over, waaaaay over the top '80s influenced prog/power metal, so shreddingly dense and intense that it comes off as almost total chaos, like each song is really 2 or 3 songs playing at the same time. And then there's the vocals. High pitched, falsetto Mercyful Fate style. Shrieking like King Diamond with his family jewels caught in a vice. Backed by music that sounds like several Sigh albums in a blender. It's like Crimson Glory (if you remember them, '80s mask-wearing prog metal) jacked up on all the drugs and stuff that Jason Statham takes in those Crank movies. With that "everything all at once" production feel, like the first Satan's Host album. And tons and tons of reverb, a vast fantastic cosmos of reverb.
It's only a 4-song ep, but boy does Gentry Lord pack in the "music", tons and tons of bombastic synths, speedy shred guitar, blasting drums, ominous keys, popping bass, sheer shrieking insanity, even some choruses of "nyah-nyah-nyah" laughter. Just frantic batshit WTF?-ness all over the place. Maybe a good thing it's only 4 songs, really, 'cause even then it's overload. It'd be hard for the brain to process many more songs this confusionally brilliant.
We're also happy that Gentry Lord didn't make the mistake of asking a sane person what they thought of the garish cover art (the alien has a mustache!), or ridiculous album title, or their tag line "Magic Metal Mystical Experience"!! 'Cause it's all perfect, perfectly insane.
It says here: "The signals were transferred to understandable forms during Earth Years 2012 - 2013 in the CRYSTAL CAVE studio." Understandable? Uh, right.
MPEG Stream: "Secrets Behind The Veil"
MPEG Stream: "Garden Of Screaming Skulls"

album cover GIORGIO MURDERER Primitive World (Goner) 7" 5.98
Just when you thought all the bad pun band names had already been taken (Cream Abdul Babar, Earl Greyhound, Cerebral Ballzy), along comes the delightfully/ridiculously monikered Giorgio Murderer. Clever! And their name is actually kinda appropriate to their sound: lo-fi garage synth blurt, all distorted electronics, tick tick ticking drum machine beats, and sneering snotty vocals. There's four songs on this 7", including one that's a 'cover / homage / tribute / re-enactment' of the skit "Studio Time" by hiphop group Three 6 Mafia, featuring lots of sampled gunfire and dogs barking. However, our fave track here has gotta be the downer anthem "Nobody Likes You".
Apparently Giorgio Murderer is a side project of New Orleans punks Buck Biloxi and The Fucks, but we'd say quit the day job and concentrate on Giorgio Murderer, both 'cause we like the music AND the name.
MPEG Stream: "Primitive World"

album cover GRST Fire Therein (Glossolalia) cassette 8.98
For a band who existed so briefly, with only handful of live performances, and a single record to their name, San Francisco's late great black metal masterminds Weakling cast a mighty long shadow. Many consider their Dead As Dreams debut/swansong to be one of the best US black metal records EVER, and hell, who are we to argue. Andee's tUMULt label put it out, after all. It's also inspired at least three tributes/homages that we can think of, Jabladav's weirdo worshipful Dead As Duck album, then there's the band Dead As Dreams, and now there's this two song tape from Texas/Oregon black metal outfit Grst, entitled Fire Therein, on which the trio tackle two Weakling tracks, "Cut Their Grain And Place Fire Therein" and "Dead As Dreams". And on first listen, these guys do a pretty good Weakling, especially the anguished wailed shrieking vokills, the music itself is a lot more polished and less raw than the original, the organ/synth way higher in the mix, the drums too, it sounds like they've added some subtle twisted of their own, but it's obviously a pretty reverential homage, and for anyone who loves the original, which should be all of you, it's pretty cool to hear someone else's interpretation, and the fact that it still sounds so good, most definitely speaks to the power, the energy, and the uniqueness of the original. Same with "Dead As Dreams", a song we've loved so much for so long, that even hearing an entirely different version, the minute we hear that riff, that instantly recognizable melody, it gives us chills, and again, hearing a different version/interpretation, gives us new perspective, and makes us want to dig into the original all over again. Which is pretty much everything you want from a tribute/cover/homage...
LIMITED TO 100 COPIES. With cool pitch perfect Dead As Dreams styled cover art.
MPEG Stream: "Cut Their Grain And Place Fire Therein"

album cover HAYSTACKS BALBOA s/t (Aurora) cd 17.98
'Bout time we had a cd reissue of this obscure slab of heavy, hard rockin' high weirdness, the only album released by this late '60s/early '70s band, who if nothing else, should get an award for having one of the best names ever. Haystacks Balboa, just what were they on? Also, one guy in the band is a dead ringer for the MC5's Rob Tyner (big dude with honky Afro).
Originally released back in 1970, produced by Shadow Morton (The Shangri-Las, Vanilla Fudge, Iron Butterfly, New York Dolls), this is a crazy little record, part acid rock, part blues, part prog. There's lots of heavy groovin', proto-metal riffing mixing it up with proggy keyboard action a la ELP's self-titled debut from the same year. More cogently, we'd recommend this to fans of Sir Lord Baltimore, The Good Rats, The James Gang, Mountain (whom they were buddies with) and Billy Joel's Attila (don't laugh - we love that record and really wish it would get reissued too!). Or, for a more recent reference, sometimes SF's own Hot Lunch sound a bit like Haystacks Balboa, actually!
The album starts off in full-on fuzz guitar & jammin' organ mode, with "The Spoiler", the rough-edged vocals hollerin' hard. The next track, "The Children Of Heaven" is even heavier at first, with ultra-gruff deep voiced vocals and lumbering riffage, but then veers into twee thespianism and ornate keyboard melodies, the track teetering back and forth between light and heavy extremes, with some maniacal laughter thrown in as well. Next up, "Bruce's Twist" (aka "Gasbag") is rollicking number with sleazy lyrics, blues guitar licks and carnivalesque organ, hardcore honky-tonkin'. Following that, the mostly melodic epic "Auburn Queen" takes center stage for nearly nine minutes, and many moods - one of which sounds a bit like ELP doing the theme music to The Simpsons, and another of which is kind of in the mode of spooky, atmospheric Alice Cooper, like "The Ballad Of Dwight Frye", but with a dash of Tom Waits due to the especially gruff singing.
Haystacks Balboa give us the "Sticky Finger" next, a great garage-prog headbang, and then offer up another ambitious psychedelic epic, the two-part "Ode To The Silken Men", before winding things up with the mellow "Riverland", a sweet song about a place "where life is grand and wars are fought with loud rock bands". Yeah!
MPEG Stream: "Spoiler"
MPEG Stream: "Children Of Heaven"
MPEG Stream: "Sticky Finger"

album cover HAYVANLAR ALEMI Twisted Souvenirs (Unrock) lp 28.00
Yay, Turkey's answer to the Sun City Girls is back with their 3rd full-length album! We're talking real GOOD Sun City Girls, like Torch Of The Mystics, 330,003 Crossdressers, or the group's swansong Funeral Mariachi. Not a surprise that their previous record and 7" single both came out on ex-Sun City Girl Alan Bishop's Sublime Frequencies label, and that this one is on Unrock, a German imprint that up to now had specialized solely in releases featuring Sir Richard Bishop, also formerly of the Sun City Girls. The Ankara-based Hayvanlar Alemi trio (their name in English means 'The World Of Animals', btw) clearly have the Bishop brothers' seal of approval, and could be considered SCG proteges, carrying the torch (of the mystics) passed by the now defunct SCG's.
Their all-instrumental music is a similar, wide-ranging, partially improvised mixture of Western and 'world music' influences - an exciting, exotic synthesis of psychedelic surf rock and various Near Eastern / Middle Eastern / Far Eastern ethnic sounds… So if you're into classic Ethiopian groove (they are, covering Mulatu Astatke's wonderful "Yekermo Sew" here, which also appeared on that aforementioned single), and contemporary North African guitar groups like those found on many Sublime Frequencies releases, and all those cool obscure international '60s garage combos from everywhere from Turkey to Thailand we're always heralding reissues and compilations of, then Hayvanlar Alemi's jams are gonna be your jams too. Likewise probably if you dig some other excellent bands also currently doing the 'ethnic-psych' thing, like Swedish Afro-fuzz purveyors Goat or Mexican cumbia-psicodelico instrumentalists Sonido Gallo Negro.
This new lp-only album, limited to 750 copies, provides eight more 'twisted souvenirs' from Hayvanlar's sonic world explorations, which can be both heavy and atmospheric, shimmering and sinuous, fuzzed-out and groovy, often all of the above at once! Great stuff, recommended!
MPEG Stream: "Hadron Collider Twist"
MPEG Stream: "Yekermo Sew"

album cover HOT FOG Secret Phantasies Of The Dragon Sun (Stormspell) cd 11.98
ALSO AVAILABLE ON CD!
The fog rolls in almost every night here in San Francisco, but only once in a very great while is it a HOT fog. Which is to say, we've been waiting for this second album from these local, retro heavy metallers for a while now, and at last it's here, on both cd and vinyl, resplendent in eye-catchingly colorful, phantastic Alan Forbes artwork.
Gotta love these guys - though they may be dad-aged dilettantes (previously in punkier bands), they rip it up mightily, paying homage to Iron Maiden and Metallica. The goods they deliver here range from galloping NWOBHM influenced stormers like "Priest Of The Hillpeople" to sleazy, quasi-ironic party time rockers like "Tonight! (In The Night)" to triumphant epics like the 9+ minute "Agamemnon's Gambit" to doomed-out thrashers like "Epoch Of The Tyrants". There's plenty of melody, even plenty-ier of riffs, lots of shredding leads, and some sweet acoustic intros. Amateur air guitarists, flex your fingers! Also, the vocalist wails away quite convincingly, even when his lyrics are ever so slightly tongue-in-cheek.
You can be a troo grim sourpuss and complain that these overgrown teenagers are having too much fun with their metal, but we'd rather have fun too and headbang along to Hot Fog's energetic & majestic old school tuneage. Seriously, this rules. Fans of certain other Bay Area 'bangers, like Hammers Of Misfortune and Space Vacation, should check Hot Fog out, if you haven't already.
Now we've got both this cd edition on Stormspell and also the band's own self-released limited vinyl version, a 45rpm double lp 'cause they wanted a gatefold sleeve (and also for maximum fidelity).
RealAudio clip: "Epoch Of The Tyrant"
MPEG Stream: "Priest Of The Hillpeople"
MPEG Stream: "Sword Mountain"

album cover KLINIKAL SKUM Negativ Psykotelepathi Surveillanz (Chondritic Sound) cassette 8.98
Yeah, the project name and the record's title are gratuitously faux-German in their neologisms alluding to the imagined litanies broadcast from the Temple Of Psychick Youth; but fortunately, the content of Negativ Psykotelepathi Surveillanz transcends whatever lame archetype you might have toward the industrial culture and dials in picture perfect recapitulation of the psychically disturbed electronics of SPK, Factrix, Premature Ejaculation, and the Death Factory facets from Throbbing Gristle. Klinikal Skum is one of the monikers for bad-vibe monger Ryan Oppermann, whose other numerous projects run the gamut of the power electronics / black noise / death industrial spectrum. Slow plodding rhythms, static electricity charges, hammered metal bashing stomps, divebombing/doppler-effected/soul-draining tonal declensions and plenty of Videodrome brain drilling electronic sequences that point to septic surgeries, botched gravedigging excursions, and the psychic uncleanliness of derelict mental wards. Scary as shit and totally worth it. Limited to 100 copies on the seminal noise / electronic label Chondritic.
MPEG Stream: "Aktivation Doz"
MPEG Stream: "Psykollapz"

album cover KNIFECREAM Victim (Hanged Man) cassette 6.98
First release we've managed to get from this weirdo from the Northwest, whose sound is a sort of abstract doom / outsider electronica? Or something, kinda tough to describe, but if you can imagine some fucked up hybrid of Wolf Eyes and Blue Sabbath Black Cheer you might be getting close, oh but only if you imagine they sometimes made techno music, which sounds weird, and it is, but it a good way.
After a weird vocal intro, the sound is all detuned bass warble, thick rumbling dronemusic, wreathed in buzzing and flecked with little mysterious sonic events, sorta creepy and abstract and spaced out, that is until 'the beat' comes in, a simple pulse, over a bed of gurgled vocals and what sounds like bleating sheep, or maybe quacking ducks, all of which is soon overwhelmed by sheets of staticky noise, and super processed demonic vokills. And that's just the beginning, soon the sound blossoms into a super distorted down tuned creep, a noisy industrial doom death march, that quickly transforms into another weird stretch of beat driven electro-noise, strange pitch-shifted tones and unsettling vocal mewlings draft atop a bed of undulating buzz, all anchored by that beat. Soon the sound becomes sort of Butthole Surfers-ish, woozy, melty riffage, dirge caveman thump, and processed vocal drawls, lo-fi and again, laced with all kinds of FX and creepy voices. Finally, things finish off with a 10 minute epic, that might be the least weird of the bunch, at least at first, all simple spidery guitar melody, moody cello rumbling in the background, which is soon joined by more tweaked and twisted vox, the sound devolving into a churning morass of distant drones, electronic squelches, malfunctioning FX, and just a creepy grim ambience, before exploding again into some sort of pounding industrial noise-psych finale, echoey howled vocals, pounding drum machines, all wrapped in the tracks suffocating blackness and fractured prismatic psychedelia.
LIMITED TO 100 COPIES!!!
MPEG Stream: "Following You Home"
MPEG Stream: "In Your Head 1"
MPEG Stream: "In Your Head 2"

album cover KOWALSKY, GREGG Tendrils In Vigne (Root Strata) one-sided lp 14.98
Possibly the most exciting release from this Bay Area composer, electronic musician and dronologist Gregg Kowalsky. Tendreils In Vigne was one of the early releases for the esteemed Root Strata label. We got a handful of copies direct from Kowalsky as the label has been sold out of this for quite some time: and once these are gone, they are gone for good! A one sided lp documenting part of his Master's Thesis at Mills College, which entailed taking one of his electronic compositions, scoring it for a live ensemble and then conducting the performance.
Kowalsky enlisted the Contemporary Performance Ensemble, directed by Fred Frith, who also contributed violin. Recorded in 2005 at Mills college, the result was sublime. A gorgeous organic piece that references Feldman and Part and Melnyk as much as Kowalsky's previous works.
The strings are low and buzz and throb dramatically, the piano is minor key and delicate, fluttering in brief little flurries, streaks of high end run through the swirling moodiness, over the top voices soar in choral fragments, washes of cymbals sizzle, horns moan, all manner of instruments are smeared into a heaving organic whole, shakuhachi, vibraphone, flute, a sonic cloud constantly expanding, intensifying chordal whir, like some moody rock band with the bones pulled out, leaving just a gloriously amorphous sound shape, slithering and drifting, creeping and billowing, building and building, some sort of classic chorale stretched out into a shimmering dreamlike blur. On the surface, it's a dark drift, but beneath the surface, sounds are roiling and churning, a sonic sea of tension and emotion, subtly psychedelic, a gorgeous, organic, orchestral drone. Like we said, LAST COPIES EVER!
MPEG Stream: "Tendrils In Vigne"

album cover LASIK SURGERY As One Entity (Menstrual Recordings) cd 15.98
Pierpaolo Zoppo was one of the legends of Italian noise and power electronics, exploring the transgressive themes of death, disease, power, sexual extremes, etc. through the shock-inducing moniker Mauthausen Orchestra. Much of the work was released on cassette in Italy through Aquilifer Sodality from 1982-1986 after which time he went into hibernation for a decade or so. In the pre-internet means of physical mail communications, Zoppo also had strong connections to Broken Flag which released the Mauthausen Orchestra album Conflict in 1983 and advanced his work through various compilations here and there. Over the years, Zoppo shied away from collaborations, with Lasik Surgery being one of the few that he entertained before he died in 2012 from an undisclosed illness. Gianluca Favaron was his partner in Lasik Surgery - a strangely non-descriptive / demonstrative title from an artist whose boorish M.O. titles included Necrofellatio, Murderfuck, and Anal Perversions, leaving little to the imagination as to the brutality of noise found within. That said, Lasik Surgery is restrained by comparison to M.O. with the only full-throttled assault of noise coming at the very end of the album as a bloodyminded vulcanization of viscous distortion. Throughout the rest of the album, Zoppo and Favaron favor throbbing electrical systems held in check through a clinical detachment and cold-core cyclonic network of interconnected loops, drones, and medically induced pulses. While we did mention this album was (relatively) restrained, that's not to say that Lasik Surgery eschews the dark, the dank, and the grim. Hardly! Recommended for fans of the more aggressive forms of dark ambient (e.g. Theologian, Inade, Lustmord, etc.).
MPEG Stream: "As One Entity 1"
MPEG Stream: "Silence"
MPEG Stream: "As One Entity 3"

album cover LIVE SKULL Pusherman (Desire) lp 21.00
The reissue campaign for these eighties NY noise rockers culminates with this, the final EP featuring the original lineup, released immediately after 1986's Cloud One (the reissue of which was reviewed on the aQ list recently), and was the last record with the original lineup, after this record drummer James Lo would leave, and vocalist/guitarist Thalia Zedek would join, changing the sound of the band, and moving them in a new direction. A direction that was definitely hinted at here, originally a three song 12", the band (according to the liner notes) were convinced that Pusherman was a vast improvement, even over Cloud One, which had just come out, and while it might be more polished, and a bit more honed, songwriting-wise, it sounds like the logical extension from Cloud One. "Swingtime" is all low slung swagger, the production, thick and noisy, multiple guitars wound into tense tangles, the groove a lumbering churn, the sound rife with spidery melodies and strange fragmented riffage, the vocals a deep bellowed croon, the whole thing a fierce gothic blooze, far removed from the early noise rock days for sure. "Raise The Manifestation" is more of the same, another bass driven dirge, slow and loping, moody and brooding, this time female vox to the fore, the guitars once again swirling in psychedelic squalls, all anchored by some muscly bass and drums, droney and tranced out, and to these ears, like much of Cloud One, still reminiscent of what was happening on the opposite coast, with the Scream Club, and groups like Kommunity FK, the Abecedarians, Janes Addiction and the like.
The big surprise though on Pusherman was the title track, a cover of the Curtis Mayfield classic, which at the time, seemed kinda crazy, and while much has been made of the track's 'funkiness', it really doesn't sound that much funkier than the Live Skull tracks proper, tribal drumming, and a woozy, slithery bassline, wreathed in all sorts of guitar noise, and some surprising percussion, the vocals sultry and bewitching, a little bit haunting, the guitars delivering all sorts of wild sonic filigree, a dense soulful noise rock dirge that positioned the song, and the group to an extent right alongside all those other doom and gloom outfits.
The original ep is fleshed out with a bunch of bonus tracks, most live, a few alternate versions, all of varying quality, but a good impression of the band at their peak, right before the band would reconfigure and embark on phase two of their career. Like the other reissues, fantastically put together, with a massive booklet, featuring extensive liner notes from the various band members, and lots of rare photos and flyers. Best part of the liner notes: when the band recalls returning to Madison, Wisconsin, only to discovery that their last visit had inspired their host's toddlers to start a band, that band was Old Skull! (And did you know two of the three kids from Old Skull are now dead?! Crazy!)
MPEG Stream: "Swingtime"
MPEG Stream: "Raise The Manifestation"
MPEG Stream: "Pusherman"

album cover MB (MAURIZIO BIANCHI) Menses (Menstrual Recordings) lp 30.00
Produced at tail end of 1981 and self-released in the beginning of the following year, Menses marked the second proper piece of vinyl for MB following his highly acclaimed album Symphony For A Genocide on Sterile. At this time, Bianchi was in the throes of a manic production schedule, producing close to 30 records from 1979 to 1984 with the dozen or so slabs of vinyl representing some of the most visionary examples of power-electronics and hyper-minimal industrialized torpor from that period. Here on Menses, factory floor rhythms are cobbled together from primitive drum machines marching through a set of martial, if tinny beats and pangs, setting the foundation to Menses' side-long track "Yra." Keeping the whole structure of the piece "decomposed" and / or wholly variable, Bianchi laces this black-tunnel-vision-quest with dive-bomb electronic squalls descending onto his horror-laden spectral drones. It's wholly in keeping with Bianchi's unrepentant obsession with the psychic / psychological collapse of the self through the symbolism of sexual deviance, totalitarian force, technological advances, and the horrors of genocide. The flipside "Scent" is even more unhinged, settling on frequencies of sharp abrasiveness manifested in another time and another place through Whitehouse's Wasp synths. The rhythm box underbelly is done away with in favor of a vertiginous network of crushed muscle tissue and misfiring nerve endings, all of which is cycling through a corroded tape-delay machine of sorts. This marks the fourth pressing of this on vinyl, and in keeping with the previous iterations, it's incredibly limited. Something around 200 copies or so. Do note that some of the sleeves had their corners bent upon arrival from Italy.
MPEG Stream: "Yra"
MPEG Stream: "Scent"

album cover MELCHIOR, DAN UND DAS MENACE Hunger (Castle Face) lp 15.98
After the twisted avant collage experimentation of the recently released Slow Down Tiger lp, Dan Melchior returns to the garage rock sound he's more well known for, on this, his first for John Dwyer from Thee Oh Sees' Castle Face label, and while it's not so nearly warped and way out as Slow Down Tiger, it's still pretty freaky. Sure there's crunchy jangly guitars, and actual proper song structures, but there's still all manner of weird noises, strange effects, some songs lurch to a stop, like in the strange spoken chorus to opener "A Wizard Doesn't Need A Computer", other tracks are rife with psychedelic Syd Barrett-isms, like on "Night Of Fear", which sounds like Melchior is channeling some lost sixties Floyd B-side, but filtered through a thoroughly fractured modern garage pop filter, and others are just straight up blown out old school garage rock pounders, like the urgent distorto crush of "Rip It To Pieces". Like on all the other Melchior records, he can't seem to deny his experimental side, so drum machines pop here and there, multiple vocal lines tangled into unlikely harmonies, riffs are blurred into extended distorted drones, reverb and echo are slathered on everything, but all of that weirdness is somehow corralled into the service of some seriously great songs, that most definitely do sound right at home on Castle Face.
MPEG Stream: "A Wizard Doesn't Need A Computer"
MPEG Stream: "Night Of Fear"
MPEG Stream: "Rip It To Pieces"
MPEG Stream: "Robotic Footprints"

album cover NIHILL Grond (Hydra Head) 2lp 23.00
FINALLY ON VINYL!! Originally released on cd in 2009, this twisted slab of gnarled experimental blackness now reissued on lp by our pals at Hydra Head. Here's what we had to say about Grond when we reviewed the cd version back when it first came out...
The second Grond begins, it all becomes clear: this is EXACTLY what you want to be listening to! Nihill follows a similar path to progressive black metal heavies such as Deathspell, Blut Aus Nord, and S.V.E.S.T., meaning this is modern black metal done the right way, but they also inject a significant amount of dooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooom into the mix, a la SUNNO))) and Bunkur. So, uh, do we really need to say it? We're giving this one our seal of approval like you wouldn't believe.
Grond is part II of a trilogy (check out our review for the part I, Krach, elsewhere on the aQ site), and it kicks off in grand fashion with "Aard," a blitzkrieg of pummeling blast beats, seasick guitar riffs, and forceful growling vocals. The song is a bit like wandering in a psychedelic dream state through a blackened, frozen wilderness, and it doesn't let up one bit for the duration of its 11 furious minutes, at least not until its feedback drenched conclusion, which segues into the next song, "Antimoon", a plodding doomscape pierced with discordant, siren like guitar notes and shrouded in infinite layers of fuzz and murk for the first 8 of its 17 minutes, after which the song spirals into an abyssic crevasse of windy, electronic ambience. "Vacuum" is a brutal and relentless lesson in Satanic riffage that works its way into the depths of your mind with its constant repetition and the singer's harsh, demonic croaks. The song is unrestrained and beyond the control of anything but the band themselves. The final selection here, "Pulsus", is another lesson in abject, doomed out black metal, a glacial, slow moving vortex ready to pull you deep into the misery. As the minutes progress, the song stops and starts like an animal gasping to crawl out of a blizzard, only to repeat its into eternity, or at least until an ever growing fuzz takes over everything in its path.
So yeah, this one pretty much fulfills the requirements for a metal record around this neck of the woods - equal parts speed and barely mobile dooooooooooooooom, all mixed into a hateful brew of metallic fury. We can only wonder where things will go with part III....
MPEG Stream: "Aard"
MPEG Stream: "Antimoon"

album cover NORD NG Tapes (PCP Records) lp 21.00
Nord began in 1979 as a minimal electronics / drone-on industrial project for Hiroshi Oikawa and Katayama Satoshi. They only recorded one album together -- their eponymous 1981 release on the Pinakotheca imprint - before they parted ways, but each of them used the moniker Nord for their own projects. Satoshi's Nord involved a handful of Japanese noise musicians including Hiroshi Hasegawa from Astro and C.C.C.C., with a smattering of recordings being released over the decades; but it's Oikawa's Nord that has become a holy grail to those seeking one of the most obscure releases of the Japanese noise underground from the '80s. He released two LPs on his imprint L.S.D. Records, as well as a couple of cassette releases. NG Tapes was one of those cassette releases, only made available as a bonus tape with a select number of copies of Nord's LSD album, itself an edition of just 200 copies. For all of its mystery and mythology, LSD was a dodgy record, in part due to the Surrealistic Pillow citation at the beginning on one side of the record; but the follow-up Ego Trip with its mind-erasing irradiation of post-Schnitzler / post-Monoton / pre-Thought Broadcast minimalist arpeggiation and dour electronics is a watershed album no matter how you slice it. NG Tapes may in fact be even better than Ego Trip, making this reissue all the more necessary.
NG Tapes centers upon three long-form tracks of ominous, synth pulsations that capture radio-tunings, blankstare guitar drone/noise, and some disembodied vocal monotone within a psychic black-hole vortex of emotional emptiness. Oikawa girds these longer tracks with some short numbers of noise-junk tactility, scuzzed-out distortion, low impact power-electronics, and primitive rhythm-box programming. Presumably these shorter numbers reflect the aesthetic of the aforementioned Pinakotheca album though that one doesn't seem to be in the cards ever for a reissue. Hypnotic. Narcotic. Desolate. There's the sound of NG Tapes in a nutshell. A one-time only reissue, nicely repackaged in a tip-on sleeve and an obi to replicate the original tape's design.
MPEG Stream: "A1"
MPEG Stream: "B1"
MPEG Stream: "B2"

album cover OBNIII'S Live In San Francisco (Castle Face) lp 15.98
We have a friend, who reads our list regularly, and who automatically skips any review with references to 'hordes' or descriptions of the sound being 'grim' or 'blackened' or 'frostbitten', assuming that it's something he just wouldn't dig. We always threaten to review some record we KNOW he'd love, using all that metal terminology, just to mess with him, and yeah, we know, by prefacing the review with the above, we've kind of let the cat out of the bag, but fuck it, didn't want to confuse the rest of you...
So here it is, the first 'full length' from this grim horde of blackened psychedelic garage rockers, with this hellish set of frostbitten anthems, a furious onslaught of buzzing swagger bloozy blackness... OK fuck it, these guys are from Texas, and opened for local garage pop heroes Thee Oh Sees on their last tour, and this set was captured live at the Chapel, just down the street from aQ, and is the third in the Live In SF series (after Fuzz and White Fence) and displays these guys in their element, although we've never heard any of their recordings, so we can only assume that this blast of swaggery psych blooze fused to fuzzed out garage rock pound is precisely what these guys traffic in. And the sound is glorious, sweat soaked and a bit blown out, the guitars fuzzy, distorted and in the red, the vocals a super distinctive bluesy bellow, the songs short and sharp and laced with plenty of hooks, it's easy to tell this show must have been a humdinger, super energetic, wild and woolly, loose as fuck, but plenty swagger and snarly and noisy and punky, and as much as we're digging this live set, it's also priming the pump and getting us psyched to get our hands on a proper studio full length!
MPEG Stream: "Off The Grid"
MPEG Stream: "Runnin' On Fumes"
MPEG Stream: "So What If We Die"

album cover OSCILLATION, THE Cable Street Sessions (Cardinal Fuzz) lp 21.00
New record of tripped out fuzz-kraut from this UK outfit, one of a bunch of new releases on psychedelic space rock label Cardinal Fuzz, and much like their recently reviewed From Tomorrow record on All Time Low, The Cable Street Sessions is another collection of tripped out hypno-rock mesmer, all loping motorik grooves, fuzzy cyclic riffage, hazy, washed out vocals, four smoldering mini epics, that sound like Hawkwind by way of Moon Duo, the band locking into heady, trancey, druggy sprawls of wah guitar and swirls of psych guitar shimmer, all anchored by sinewy low slung bass and simple propulsive drumming, extended lysergic bliss outs that drift through Spacemen 3 territory into some even more freaked out FX drenched territory, the sound blossoming from fuzzy druggy psych rock into full blown psych freakouts and back again. They even do a killer cover of the Deviants' "Somewhere To Go", which as you might predict, sounds just like an Oscillation original.
Like all the Cardinal Fuzz stuff, this is SUPER limited, and we're one of the only places in the US carrying it, which means once these are gone, out's likely they're gone for good! Beautifully packaged in reflective metallic jackets, with NO download.
MPEG Stream: " All You Want To Be"
MPEG Stream: "Somewhere To Go"
MPEG Stream: "Descent"

album cover PAINS OF BEING PURE AT HEART, THE Days Of Abandon (Yebo) lp 23.00
The first thing you might notice about the new record from bliss poppers The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart, is the distinct lack of fuzz, the transition from noise poppers to jangle poppers seems to be complete, in fact it's not really until about 4 songs in that there's any sort of fuzzy shoegaziness, something that defined their previous records. And this shift seems to have been rubbing some folks the wrong way. Even some stalwart Pains fans around aQ have essentially given up on them. But if you love your pop twee, and lilting, delicate and shimmery, then Days Of Abandon might still hit the spot. The Belle And Sebastian vibe is pretty big this time around, the sound also harkening back to the Sarah Records days, which definitely was a part of their sound on previous records for sure, but here, it's almost like they time traveled back to the twee pop old days, or better yet, they were a twee pop outfit from back in the day, that traveled forward to now. Either way, Days Of Abandon is a sugary sweet concoction of wistful, softly reverbed, dreamily jangly pure pop, that at times reminds us of Orange Juice, at others of the Style Council. The sound is very eighties, which also positions this new record alongside other modern retro poppers like Craft Spells, Diiv, Heavenly Beat, Greatest Hits, Still Corners and the like.
MPEG Stream: "Art Smock"
MPEG Stream: "Simple And Sure"
MPEG Stream: "Beautiful You"

album cover PAWS Youth Culture Forever (Fat Cat) cd 14.98
Record number two from these nineties worshipping Scots, and while the nineties resurgence is in full swing all over, these guys do it better than most (and better than a lot of bands back in the day too!), and like their last record, Cokefloat, Youth Culture Forever is another glorious concoction of all the stuff we loved about that music/era, big fuzzy, crunchy guitars, hooks galore, chiming harmonics, earnest heartfelt vocals, all woven into a record that sounds like it could easily have been transported directly here from 1995, and like the previous record, it touches on the sound of all those bands we used to love, and heck, still do, Dinosaur Jr, Superchunk, the Pixies, and of course all the lesser known indie rockers trafficking in equally cool and catchy sounds, and cool and catchy is exactly what this record is. They've definitely expanded their sonic palette this time around, the sounds of the songs are definitely more varied, and the songwriting too is a bit more fully fleshed out, and not overly worshipful of the bands that came before, and really, if you had never heard any nineties indie rock, there's no reason you couldn't still love this, or wouldn't still love it, but if you DID dig that stuff, it gives this sound a little extra oomph, and just like when Cokefloat came out, we have to fight the urge to listen to NOTHING but this. And just like before, we're beginning to think, "Why fight it…?". Why indeed.
MPEG Stream: "Erreur Himaine"
MPEG Stream: "Tongues"
MPEG Stream: "Someone New"

album cover POISON RING Book Of Seeds (Hanged Man) cassette 6.98
We were first turned on to Poison Ring by the guys in Sutekh Hexen, and managed to meet the man responsible on a recent trip to Seattle. We were initially not sure what to expect. The tape packaging, while beautiful, evokes something else entirely, something maybe more gothic, and Mr. Poison Ring himself is quite elven, in appearance and attire, but instead of some gothic renn faire flutter, we were treated to something much more intense, dark and atmospheric, a hazy, faded landscape of woozy soft focus murk and buried melodies, a sound that definitely had us thinking of Philip Jeck and The Caretaker and Tim Hecker. While it's impossible to tell exactly what's producing these ghostly sounds, it does sound like a handful of dusty old turntables, spinning lazily in some giant abandoned ballroom, a series of gauzy melodies, and slowed down samples, layered and woven into softly undulating blurs, melancholy and mournful, imbued with a introspective otherworldliness, the perfect haunting lullaby for nights beneath pitch black skies, devoid of stars, a gorgeously abject drift into some other/underworld, laced with moments both sinister and ominous, but those moments seem to always eventually unwind, the sound eventually and inevitably diffusing into another stretch of blessed out somnambulant ambience.
On some of the tracks, the source does seem to be obviously old records and broken down turntables, and yet, instead of taking away from the mystery, it simply adds more color and depth, often some sort of disembodied rhythm, reminding us again of Jeck, but also Strotter Inst, especially in the stretches anchored by electronic squelches and distorted pulses, like some alien, haunted house music, an industrial creep that manages to evoke a strange tension, while still remaining otherworldly and lovely. The flipside spends much of it's time lysergically loping through fields of murk and pitch shifted melody, an achingly wistful sprawl of dreamdirges and waking sonic feverdreams.
Housed in a beautiful handmade slipcover/sleeve, with a built in mini booklet, printed on vellum, each copy hand numbered, LIMITED TO 89 COPIES!!
MPEG Stream: "Chapter I (excerpt 1)"

album cover PROUD, PIP A Fraying Space (EM) cd 22.00
The latest collection (after two previous) chronicling the work of Australian outsider artist / primitive folk songsmith Pip Proud, comes courtesy of Japanese label EM, who gather up some of his best tracks from the late sixties and early seventies, selected by Proud's biographer David Nichols, who also provides the booklet's extensive liner notes. Fans of early Flying Nun, Xpressway and Homestead Records, will be immediately smitten. Proud, whose primitive folksmithery falls somewhere between the Tall Dwarfs, the Frogs and Sebadoh, was like a proto Syd Barrett, with a voice that's a dead ringer for Jimmy Flemion of the Frogs (R.I.P.), and his music for all its amateur primitivism, was geniusly crafted, perfect little introspective folk pop gems, the sound, the lyrics, the guitar playing, even the recordings themselves... We're also reminded of Bill Direen, the sung/spoken vocals, the raw guitar style, the lo-fi recordings, almost every track here impossibly catchy, with the oddest bits getting stuck in your head like crazy. Some tracks are haunting and otherworldly, with truly unique and bizarre guitar parts (or are those synths), the guitar playing sometimes folk, but other times percussive and more rhythmic, and still other times, weirdly psychedelic. There's one track with a full band, that is killer, all Velvets-y murky, tense kraut-psych garage pop, with truly twisted vox, and some weirdly atonal melodies, but the rest of the record is made up entirely of home recorded bedroom jams, with only the most minimal and primitively achieved overdubs, sometimes it's strange gamelan like percussion, sometimes noisy fuzz distortion, sometimes weird tangles of multiple guitar lines, all deftly woven into some of the most endearing, and mysteriously mesmerizing music you might never have heard.
There are a handful of bonus tracks, as well as a huge booklet, with liner notes, rare photos and lyrics.
MPEG Stream: "Adreneline And Richard"
MPEG Stream: "De Da De Dum"
MPEG Stream: "A Fraying Space"
MPEG Stream: "Purple Boy Gang"

album cover PUCE MARY Persona (Posh Isolation) lp 25.00
Fuck. Puce Mary. Her real name is Frederikke Hoffmeier, she's a striking Dane who hails from the post-punk / art collective Posh Isolation, which may be known best outside of Copenhagen through the retro charms of Lust For Youth and the punk snarl of Iceage. There are charms to the noise of Puce Mary, with those charms being nekromantically violent, libidinally impure, and just fucking sick. The historical thread of Puce Mary's work traces all the way back to the true crime litanies of Throbbing Gristle's "Very Friendly" and "Hamburger Lady" cast upon bleak arrangements of nauseating electronics. There's plenty of nods to the equally seminal works of SPK, Brighter Death Now, Whitehouse, Premature Ejaculation, and Wolf Eyes; but it has to be said that most every major figure and visionary author of power electronics is a dude. Puce Mary / Hoffmeier represents one of the few great female artists wholly operating within this insular aesthetic. As we noted before in earlier discussions on the work of Puce Mary, Pharmakon is an obvious contemporary with considerable presence; but Puce Mary's overall catalogue exhibits greater breadth and better ideas.
So here stands the epic album Persona, which counts as her second solo lp (alongside a wealth of hard to find cassette releases and a couple of collaborations). The militant, mono-rhythmic pound on "Courses" is raked with squalls of distant pierced tone and a sickening electronic blurt that sounds more like Cosey's coronet than anything electronic. The vocals are buried in demonoid distortion, tremolo, and flange - a conflation of effects that run through the death industrial ethos dating back to the early '80s. The recurrent vomiting and retching (presumably from Hoffmeier) on "The Viewer" dots the horror-synth sound design of sustained atonal church organ drones, Hellraiser squiggliness, and disembodied bone-saw whirr. The slow crawl of doomy timpani on "Pigs" looms with empty spaces by what could be poltergeist activity and the commanding voice of hers again buried in throat-ripping FX. There is a refinement to Puce Mary's work that's rare within the sewage-work of the id produced through industrial culture; but that refinement doesn't eschew the raw, existential negativity that boils through Persona. Death-industrial at its finest.
MPEG Stream: "Courses"
MPEG Stream: "Impure Fantasy"
MPEG Stream: "Persona"

album cover RAAGNAGROK Man Woman Birth Death Infinity (Lotus House) cd-r 8.98
There's a crazy story behind this record supposedly, something about a mysterious package, containing some strange jewel, one that when exposed to certain frequencies would 'sing', emitting fantastic tones, the jewel itself resilient to all manner of abuse, according to the notes, "its lusterless surface could not be broken." Not sure what that has to do with the record itself, we were imagining that perhaps the conceit was that the tones on this record were produced by that strange object, but regardless of that story's veracity, the music itself, created by this duo, is suitably mysterious and mesmerizing on it's own. A heady, collection of lysergic spaced out psychedelic dronemusic, crafted from guitars, synths and electric sitar, each track a slow burn sonic smolder, long tones, minimal pulses, hushed and rhythmic, total kosmische bliss out, fans of Expo 70 and Tangerine Dream, and all the rest of the sonic space rock explorers, Man Woman Death Birth Infinity is another vehicle in which to escape the bonds of this earth, of this time, and this universe, immerse yourself in these otherworldly sounds, and drift heavenward, floating atop streams of ionic pulses, of tangled psych-drone melodies, of thick, pulsating drones, some of the tracks here anchored by super distorted rhythms, and laced with distorto-shred psychedelia, others introduce chugging electric guitar, and warp them in clouds of swirling electronics and spaced out FX, and still others unfurl hypnotic strands of heady buzz over processed field recordings, building lush layered ragas, every track here some kind of sonic gateway, total trip-out ur-drone bliss, like Spacemen 3 jamming with Sunroof!, which if that doesn't sound crazy good, then you might just be reading the wrong list. Fantastic, spaced out, drone-y, druggy mesmer, that is absolutely and wholeheartedly recommended.
MPEG Stream: "Elephanta Gateway"
MPEG Stream: "Man"
MPEG Stream: "Woman"

album cover RAPOON The Fires Of The Borderlands (Zoharum) 2cd 21.00
In the wake of so many dreadfully digital concoctions of insipid ambient music from the mid to late '90s, a good Rapoon album was a breath of fresh air. The warmth of his analog processes, tape-loop and delay mechanics, and some good-old cassette grit thrown in for good measure was a gnostic beacon to the days of a post-industrial zeitgeist from a previous decade, or century, or millennium for that matter when it came to the best albums from Rapoon. Any sense of timeloss and historical displacement would be considered a victory for most artists; but for Robin Storey and his long-standing Rapoon project, that's been a common parlance from his work. The Fires Of The Borderlands may be Rapoon's best known album, as it was put out originally through the Relapse subsidiary Release back in 1998. It's long been out of print; and it also ranks as one of his better releases. Here, we've got the Polish 2cd reissue of that album, fleshed out with a remastering job from the original tapes and a bonus disc featuring an hour long performance on KFJC down in Silicon Valley.
The album is flush with slow-motion billowings, night-ocean tidal wash, and sibilant blurs, all crafted from Storey's refined use of tape-loops and delay pedals. There's nary a reference to anything infernal or hellish to the hypnogogic cascade of Rapoon despite the album's title. At times, Storey engorges his reverb-drenched loops into a galvanized thrum of drone portent equivalent to the bunker hermeticism of Maeror Tri. But as with most of Storey's work he transcends a gothic nihilism through his application of ghostly dub reflections that could harken to the echoes of some pneumatic lung wheezing in the corner or a derelict monk chanting to a long-forgotten deity. Beautiful stuff.
The live in the studio session is equally as good with Storey lining the wash with distant tribal rhythms and wooden flute gestures thrown in for good measure.
MPEG Stream: "Hollow Flight"
MPEG Stream: "Cires Divam"
MPEG Stream: "Looking... Not Finding"

album cover SCHARPLING AND WURSTER Rock, Rot & Rule (Flannelgraph) lp 24.00
Of all of this year's crop of Record Store Day releases, this is the one that we were probably most excited about - in fact, did you see our blurb in (of all places) Entertainment Weekly, for their Record Store Day feature? They asked Andee for his two RSD picks, he chose this and (naturally) the A Minor Forest reissues.
We quickly sold out of the red colored vinyl version of this that came out on RSD, but now it's available again, on regular black vinyl, so if you missed out, grab one now. Seriously, we INSIST - it's an essential!!
Rock, Rot & Rule, if you don't know, was originally a cd released years and years ago. It's an old aQ favorite. The cd's out of print, but someone got the great idea to do vinyl for Record Store Day, yay.
The story goes something like this: "Rock, Rot, & Rule: The Ultimate Argument Settler" is supposedly a 98 page book which simply lists band names and states whether these groups ROCK, RULE, or ROT. Published with a cover price of $25.00, it is the brainchild of one Ronald Thomas Clontle. This record documents a live radio interview between WFMU DJ Tom Scharpling and Mr. Clontle, in which irate, exasperated callers attempt to argue the inaccuracies of Mr. Clontle's analysis - challenging such Clontle proclamations that Madness RULE ("because they invented ska"), while the Beatles only ROCK ("because they wrote some bad songs like 'Strawberry Fields Forever'"), and Stereolab ROTS ("because they don't use guitars"). All the while, the bemused host prods the painfully unhip yet obnoxiously opinionated Clontle to more and more absurd critical appraisals. It is frickin' HILARIOUS.
Needless to say, if there is anybody who is baffled by aQuarius' aesthetics, we insist that you buy this, as we agree with ALL of Mr. Clontle's tautological sputterings. As Mr. Clontle predicts, time will vindicate us!
By the way, Mr. Clontle is a pseudonym for Jon Wurster - the drummer of Superchunk. He and Tom Scharpling's show on WFMU was always super funny, Wurster playing different weirdos being interviewed by straight man Scharpling. Ronald Thomas Clontle is one of Wurster's best characters, and this recording (originally broadcast live, November 9th, 1997) is our favorite Scharpling & Wurster thing EVER. Especially funny for people like us who have our own 'Rock, Rot & Rule' style conversations all the time. How they didn't crack up doing this, we don't know.
MPEG Stream: "Rock, Rot & Rule [excerpt 1]"
MPEG Stream: "Rock, Rot & Rule [excerpt 2]"

album cover SEVERED HEADS City Slab Horror (Medical) lp 19.98
Severed Heads never really fit comfortably with any particular convention of the post-punk aesthetics; and when the project quietly disappeared in 2008, their demise was announced without much in the way of fanfare. Essentially a solo project of Australian electronic musician Tom Ellard, Severed Heads began in Sydney back in 1979 with Ellard experimenting with tape loops, DIY electronic kits, and rudimentary noise making devices all finding something of a commonality through lurching rhythms within this primordial soup of sound-making. Eventually, samplers and drum machines made their way into the Severed Heads repertoire, the group's best years from 1983 to 1988 or thereabouts, thanks to their avant-garde smarts throwing a monkey-wrench into synth-punk conventions. City Slab Horror (1985) was the second album that Severed Heads produced for Ink Records (and later reissued through Nettwerk). A deliberately imperfect record, City Slab Horror seeks to work against the latticework of rhythmic structures and melodic fluidity, with samples firing at irregular intervals and atonal pitches running rampant throughout the record. Exposing the rigidity of the mechanized form was one of the common strategems for synth-punk practitioners, with Fad Gadget and The Flying Lizards doing similarly disjointed avant-pop projects. While Severed Heads would eventually streamline into a sensible synth-pop project, City Slab Horror showcased how engaging Ellard could be in his wanderings through mad scientist archetypes, comic book horrorscaping, hiccupping sequencing, and inelegantly playful tunes.
MPEG Stream: "Spastic Crunch"
MPEG Stream: "4WD"
MPEG Stream: "Cyflea, Rated R"

album cover SEVERED HEADS Since The Accident (Medical) lp 19.98
Severed Heads were born from a what-the-fuck project called Mr. And Mrs. No Smoking Sign in the punk diaspora circa 1979, with both groups taking on those names as piss-take stratagems of invoking the horror industrial culture for the former, and downright awkwardness for the latter. Tape loops and mediated collages were the crux of MAMNSS and Severed Heads, which never really settled into the gravity-well of industrial culture, maintaining a sometimes overt sense of humor and a number of forays into legitimately brilliant minimal-wave / synth-pop tunes. By the early 80s though, the founding members Richard Fielding and Andrew Wright parted ways with Tom Ellard, who kept Severed Heads going through the '80s and beyond. It seemed Wright left because he wanted the project to move in a more musical direction; and Fielding thought just the opposite, leading to his anti-performance project called The Nobodies where he would set up automatons to perform in his absence.
Since The Accident (1983) was the first major album for Ellard / Severed Heads coming on the heels of a handful of tapes that warbled between primitive electro-pop and tape loop deconstructions. The most notable track on Since The Accident was essentially an afterthought -- the bouncy OMD-esque number "Dead Eyes Opened" which Ellard tacked on to fill up some space on the tape submitted to the label that originally released the album. It quickly became a hit on Australian radio and opened up a considerable amount of doors for Severed Heads (including an opening tour spot for Skinny Puppy). Throughout Since The Accident, there are numerous avant-pop excursions of layering tape loops in varying stages of synchronicity with drum machines and sequences, including the deftly produced tracks "Exploring The Secrets Of Treating Deaf Mutes" and "A Million Angels." But there were also the vertiginous tape loop / turntablist mantras reminiscent of early Christian Marclay / Gum tracks as heard on "Brassiere, In Rome" and "Gashing The Old Mae West" (the latter of which was released as an insane 21 minute "Marathon Mix" of hypno-psychosis on another 12", which obviously couldn't make it onto the reissue of the original lp). Weird and brilliant stuff.
MPEG Stream: "Dead Eyes Opened"
MPEG Stream: "Gashing The Old Mae West"
MPEG Stream: "Godsong"

album cover T.O.M.B. Third Wave Holocaust (Black Plague Productions) cd 13.98
Third Wave Holocaust is the latest sonic assault from this Philadelphia based black noise / industrial / black metal collective, whose acronymic moniker stands for Total Occultic Mechnical Blasphemy, and whose process involves setting up in all sorts of locations with emotional or historical import, old abandoned buildings, decaying churches, sites of deaths, murders, with the goal, we assume, to channel that psychic energy into the sounds, and the sounds, shit, even sans whatever psychic energy these guys conjure up, is seriously crushing, totally speaker shredding blown out blackness, bordering in places on pure white noise, overwhelming walls of Merzboic brutality, the pure sonic chaos of performing at extreme volume in huge spaces with massive natural reverb and delay, a swirling vortex of sound, furious and frenzied, and in many cased blurred and smeared into indistinct bursts of caustic sonic malevolence, those moments balanced with more nuanced ritualism, voices, chiming bells, dense rumbles, distant drones, thick low end reverberations, the sound slipping easily between hushed demonic drifts and all out aural punishment, with most of the record straddling the two, the best moments when the blacknoise oozes into the more tranquil passages, or when the strange vocal incantations somehow make it to the surface, from beneath a morass of churning, roiling buzz and howl, sometimes peppered with strange fragmented rhythms, but just as often, those perceived rhythms splintering into just more layers of crumbling chaotic sound.
It makes sense that this is on Black Plague / Malignant, as it's closer to noise/industrial than it is black metal, but adventurous black metallers still just might find this grim and hellish enough, but really, anyone into black/drone/noise/industrial ritualism, these guys are for you...
MPEG Stream: "Antagonizing The Unknown"
MPEG Stream: "The Great Venerat Insult"
MPEG Stream: "Na La Gore Na"
MPEG Stream: "Disrupting Admin"

album cover TEETH ENGRAVED WITH THE NAMES OF THE DEAD Starving The Fires (Pt. 1) (Malignant) cd 9.98
This one was a long time coming. We reviewed a tape ages ago by a boy/girl duo from Oakland who made a gloriously grim, dense blackened ambience that pushed all our buttons. That tape sold out super quick, and thus we began the wait for more. A wait that kept stretching out longer and longer. The two became disillusioned with the East Bay, and made their way northward, landing in Portland, and still we waited. Until finally, we received word, that there was indeed more, and it comes by way of the mighty Malignant Records, home to much fantastic blackened noisiness and ambient miserablism, a perfect home for these two, and for their Teeth Engraved With The Names Of The Dead. And you think that sort of move would temper their abject grimnity, a new friendlier neighborhood, a new home, might lighten up their shadowy sonics, but if anything, they've dragged some bad Oakland energy with them up North, cast their very own musical pall over this new land, and molded it into this fierce sprawl of hateful, harrowing blackness.
A guttural rumbling haloed in distant feedback opens the proceedings, a sonic representation of a scorched earth, swirling hiss, and dense tectonic low need vibrations, the sky full of strange electronics and muted FX, a sonic calm before the blacknoise storm as it were, the sound slowly mutating into a stretch of undulating grey thrum, over mysterious transmissions and disembodied voices, until helicopter like pulsations, choppy waves of rhythmic throb, churn and chug, blurred into a cascade of gristled, crumbling distortion, under which, mournful melodies drift drowsily, a strangely effective juxtaposition of harsh noise, and tranquil ambience, that builds to a furious hissing frenzy, before fracturing into a finale of sonic shards and decaying sonics. From there on out, sheets of noise wash over chiming tones, and stretched out drones, keening high end filigree buried beneath squalls of chaotic howl, the slow builds strangely mesmeric and almost melodic, processed vocals smeared into the roiling noise, thick gassy swells underpinning skies streaked with soft noise shimmer, and more haunting, buried melodies, the sound epic and majestic and mournful, aching melancholy wreathed in jagged crunch and grinding buzz, eventually erupting into what is essentially black metal, with all the metal sucked out, a heaving throb of grim black fury, the vokills monstrous and harsh as fuck, all tangled up in dense black swirls of sound, tripped out and impossibly psychedelic to boot.
The record culminates in the epic 25+ minute "When Storms Come", which is a bit like their version of Burzum's "Rundtgaing", a sprawling ambient epic, but in this case, Teeth Engraved's ambience is a churning morass of brown noise, blurred and soft focus, heavy and blown out, but muted and murky and blunted, the result more mesmerizing and hypnotic than brutal, a tough feat with what is essentially a half hour of noise, but here, it manages to soothe and entrance, and is the perfect black noise comedown bliss out finale for sure.
Housed in a DVD style case, with a printed insert.
MPEG Stream: "Radians"
MPEG Stream: "Vital Reaction"
MPEG Stream: "Shredded Sky, Hung In Tatters"

album cover TREPANERINGSRITUALEN Perfection & Permanence (Cold Spring) cd 15.98
The latest missive from this sinister spectre, broadcast from whatever shadowy corner of the netherworld this guy calls home. Like the previous two tapes we reviewed, Prefection & Permanence is an exercise in blackened ritualism, extreme minimal dronemusic fused to grim black ambience, an unholy hybrid spawned from the deep, a sound that is both malevolently mesmerizing and deeply sonically terrifying.
This Swedish sonic shaman who we most recently observed collaborating with local blacknoise terrorists Sutekh Hexen in the woods at Stella, conjuring up one of the most intense performances of that entire festival, delivers here an equally intense experience, one that along with the usual tropes of black ambient music, delivers a lots of sonic surprises, like on "Black Egg", wherein the grim black noise is sculpted into a pulsating, murky rhythmic throb, an avalanche of rumbling, whirring synths, accompanied by hellish vokills, the end result surprisingly musical, and in its own unlikely way, strangely catchy. And that's actually a template that many of the other songs hew to, rhythmic, hypnotic, a sort of hypno-grimnity, with some of THEE sickest vocals we've ever heard, gargling, demonic, monstrous bellows, alien murmurs, all over beds of grinding noise, clouds of static, of swirling black shimmers, and all manner of muted/mutated rhythms, a strangely mesmeric black industrial that sans vocals, could very well be are new favorite minimal blackened techno record, but with all the noise and vokills mixed in, it's transformed into something else entirely. But seriously, check out a track like "Alone/A/Cross/Abyss", it's like an impossible collaboration between some obscure grim black metal band, and some minimal techno producer, fans of some recent aQ faves like Record Of The Weekers Akkord, might find much to love here, and might find themselves lured to the (even) dark(er) side. That said, let's not downplay how dark and sick the sounds are here, this is suffocating, abject, miserable and bleak, harrowing and hellish, the vocals alone are the stuff of nightmares, but approached as some weird black industrial techno record, or at least understanding there's a strange, and to a degree out of place rhythmic element, which is how we've decided to, it becomes something even more avant / experimental / unique / bizarre, and is most definitely one of the coolest records we've heard in ages.
MPEG Stream: "Black Egg"
MPEG Stream: "Castrate Christ"
MPEG Stream: "Alone / A Cross / Abyss"
MPEG Stream: "39 Lashes"

album cover TROUM Dreaming Muzak (Zoharum) cd 16.98
Dreaming Muzak was the very first release from Troum, not long after the two members of Troum had disbanded their previous project Maeror Tri in 1998. Originally released as a cassette housed in a tiny pillow in an edition numbering a scant 100 copies, then as an equally small pressing on cd-r a few years later. That said, Dreaming Muzak does what Troum and Maeror Tri have always done so very well: drone-on with gritty, psychological undercurrents. If the intent of Troum was to put the listener to sleep, the lulling vibrating patterns certainly have the capacity; but the overall darkness of these sounds will never inspire the most pleasant of dreams. These are shadowy, bleak, and cold sounds which permeate the album, and lend themselves to images of desolate factories spewing a constant stream of black soot in some wintery post-Soviet country. A very nice document from one of our favorite drone acts.
MPEG Stream: "Part 1"
MPEG Stream: "Part 2 (The Dream Catcher)"

album cover V/A Choubi Choubi! Folk & Pop Sounds From Iraq Vol. 1 (Sublime Frequencies) 2cd 17.98
YES! This long-time AQ fave on Sublime Frequencies, is back in print on cd! And it's a newly updated, expanded deluxe edition, 2 discs this time instead of just one, with new liner notes, newly remastered/restored audio, and 4 bonus tracks not on the original edition!!
Here's the review fomer aQ-staffer Byram wrote, from when the first version came out in 2005 (note, George W. Bush was president then, and the war in Iraq was still on): Just when you thought you'd heard everything, in comes Sublime Frequencies to fill in the gaps you never thought existed. How many cds of Iraqi pop do you have in your collection? Until now we certainly didn't have any, let alone anything remotely traditional from Iraq. For a country that's so important to our war mongering presidential administration it's perhaps a little surprising that more interest hasn't been piqued about the culture of Iraq. But then again, everyone but W seems to understand that the real reasons for plundering this nation wasn't to "liberate" anyone. In fact, W would probably rather that no one even pay attention to any of this music, which has the awkward fortune to have been produced almost entirely (with the exception of three early 70's tracks) during the reign of Saddam Hussein and his Baathist regime (tracks here range from 1980 on up to 2002!). In spite of his - well deserved - reputation as a cruel dictator, he was also an avid supporter of both education and the arts - such are the complexities of life W would rather not acknowledge -- and for better or worse, kept the fabricated nation state as stable as it has ever been. Hussein promoted secular arts and music, starting cultural centers for both, and even dubbed singers the "eighth division" of the armed forces (his nation had seven military divisions) - not to paint too rosy a picture of Donald Rumsfeld's former pal and business partner, who was also a sadistic tyrant after all. Compiled by Mark Gergis (I Remember Syria, Molam, Cambodian Cassette Archives), Choubi Choubi is a collection years in the making. Gergis scoured the earth for the source material on this disc, travelling through Syria, Europe and the Iraqi neighborhoods of Detroit, Michigan. The anthology starts off with a folk rock track from '70s Socialist singer Ja'afar Hassan, a song that could easily compete with the best psych tracks on Hava Narghile or Turkish Delights for the crown of Middle Eastern psych champ. But if you're expecting another psych compilation, you're going to be disappointed as Choubi Choubi is much more than that, way more. Most of the recordings on the album have no western instruments on them, nor hardly any western influence. These tracks rock out much harder with no electric instruments, but with huge string sections, pounding drums, and monstrous oud playing. Maybe it's also the super bluesy sounding (to the western ear) melodies, it's no wonder that it sounds so fresh and familiar to us. It really is weird, when I (Byram) first listened to this record I could have sworn there were more songs with electric guitars on it, but there aren't that many. It just sounds so fucking heavy, and rocks so hard that I remembered it as being a "rock" record. Really, really, really fucking great!
MPEG Stream: UNKNOWN "Ahl Al Aqil"
MPEG Stream: BAWIN "Ya Binaya Goumi"
MPEG Stream: SADUN JABIR "Ashhad Biannak Hilou"

album cover V/A Ecstatic Music Of The Jemaa El Fna (Sublime Frequencies) cd 16.98
ANOTHER SUBLIME FREQUENCIES FAVE, NOW ON CD FOR THE VERY FIRST TIME!! Here's what we said about the now out of print lp version back in 2010:
As always, every time we get a new SF release, we can't help but think 'best one yet!', every single one is a thrilling earful of some remarkable sounds. This one is of particular note, as it's related to a past Sublime Frequencies release, the Musical Brotherhoods From The Trans-Saharan Highway dvd, which after watching repeatedly, we couldn't help but hope for a soundtrack, and well, this is about as close as we're gonna get. A handful of these tracks were in fact featured in that film, and in addition to those tracks, there are twice as many more, to let us experience the magic and mystery of the Jemaa El Fna, aka Rendezvous Of The Dead, aka a central square in the Marrakesh, Morocco, which during the day is a place for locals and tourists alike to gather, food and music and magicians and entertainers and story tellers, but at night, when the tourists are tucked away safely in bed, these musicians create some of the most intense and passionate music we've heard. Explosive and expressive and distorted and super blown out. Amps powered by car batteries, broadcast through beat up old megaphone speakers, hand built instruments, wild percussion, soulful ecstatic vocals, it's probably worth revisiting our review of the dvd, as the setting is as much a part of the music as the sounds:
"Ancient mystical brotherhoods', small groups of stringed instruments and drums, players managing to create intense and intensely emotional sounds and songs, that range from dark and simple, sweetly contemplative, to fierce and fiery and jubilant, explosive and over the top._Performing in bustling street markets, lit by fires and lamplight, a huge after dark celebration, story telling, eating, socializing but most importantly making music... Small lantern lit clusters of people gather around old record players, home made amplifiers, rusty old speakers, strange (to our eyes) stringed instruments, all manner of drums and percussion, the crowd eager to bask in this amazing music, and just as often to participate, whether it be as another drummer, a singer, a dancer or even just as an onlooker. The music, is a stripped down blues, the buzzing strings, the gorgeous hypnotic melodies, looped and cyclical, so hypnotic and catchy, the vocals soulful and impassioned, from solo crooning to strange harmonies, to chanting, and lots of festive sing alongs. The focus is the buzzing strings and the pounding drums, and there are plenty of both, but there are also buzzing snake charmer style horns, and of course the usual outdoor crowd sounds, folks talking and laughing, cars driving past. It's so much like wandering through Morocco, it's amazing. The rhythms and the melodies, a constant barrage of groove and drone, simple percussive thumps and shuffles, haunting melodies, huge tribal drum jams and of course some incredible riffing. Our favorite jams feature what appears to be a traditional banjo, but electrified and plugged into a rusty old handmade amplifier, turning the banjo into an awesome buzzing sitar like beast, emitting intense almost metallic chunks of incendiary riffing, raw and emotional, super distorted and intense, underpinning the wailing vocals and dense drumming.
And that pretty much is a perfect description of this whole record, a jubilant, celebratory, wild and exultant musical get together, the sound is fierce and vibrant and raw and in-the-red, super distorted and LOUD, like you were really there, the stringed instruments buzz and howl, the drums pound and thump and utterly mesmerize, the singers croon and wail, usually with the crowd joining in, the sound is just so intense and alive, really incredible. The pure joy of music making is rarely so palpable. Which makes this, yeah, we're gonna say it again, maybe one of our favorite Sublime Frequencies yet!
MPEG Stream: AMAL SAHA "Daouini "
MPEG Stream: MUSTAPHA MAHJOUB "Tal Raibak Arzali"
MPEG Stream: TROUPE MAJIDI "Rsami "

album cover V/A Hanged Man II (Hanged Man) cassette 6.98
Second label sampler from Hanged Man, and like the first it's chock full of twisted noisiness, spaced out ambience and everything in between. Featuring a handful of names we know (Blue Sabbath Black Cheer, Knifecream, Crystal Hell Pool, Brain Fruit) and a bunch we don't: HT Manor, WaMu, Unnatural Ways, Forrest Friends, Overcasting, Egregor and a bunch of others. If you're familiar with the Hanged Man label, or some of the names above, you have an idea of what to expect, or maybe you don't: grim grinding black buzz, murky malevolent shimmer, dreamy kosmische drift, psychedelic electro-kraut, shrieking chaotic noise rock, skittery free jazz that transforms into dirgy metallic math rock, field recording flecked ambient blacknoise, gorgeously crooned minimal songsmithery, cinematic pianoscapes, twangy campfire desert folk, modern minimal shimmer, grim buzzing lo-fi black metal and more more more.
Fantastically packaged, a fancy printed vellum insert inside a printed J-card, with a song tile insert as well, the whole thing housed in a hand printed metallic card stock slipcase. LIMITED TO 100 COPIES!!
MPEG Stream: CRYSTAL HELL POOL "Temperance"
MPEG Stream: OVERCASTING "XL Blues I"
MPEG Stream: BRAIN FRUIT "Joop Structure A (Live at Bad For Jazz 14)"
MPEG Stream: UNNATURAL WAYS "First Time Shapeshifter"

album cover V/A Too Slow To Disco (How Do You Are?) 2lp 29.00
Sometimes guilty pleasures are the most pleasurable ones. Are we right? Take this comp for example, a collection of smooth-groovy, soft rock and disco tunes from the '70s that the compilers consider "too slow" for the dancefloor (but perhaps just fine for the bedroom?). We were prepared to scoff, as "yacht-rock" is not usually our thing, but dang, these are some very earwormy, catchy tracks indeed, also full of a lot of kitschy charm, evoking nostalgia for the champagne, cocaine, shag carpet '70s! "Late 70s West Coast Yatchpop you can almost dance to" is their slogan, and that's pretty accurate. Some you could definitely slow-dance to. Mellow moody discotheque vibes galore!
Some of the songs here we were familiar with (like Chicago's "Saturday In The Park"), others not so much, but they all still sorta SOUNDED familiar, that's how good they are. Ferinstance, the very first track, "Get It Up For Love", by SoCal singer-songwriter Ned Dohney. Sounds like a hit to us, should have been anyway. (And if you like that one, Numero Group has just released a collection of Ned Dohney's dreamy discopop, called Separate Oceans, "Get It Up For Love" is on it too, and is one of his best.) So it's a mix of one-hit (?) wonders and better known names too. The Doobie Brothers are on here, and Fleetwood Mac, also the Jan Hammer Group, Rupert Holmes, Tony Joe White, and many more… no Steely Dan but some of the "unknowns" here come close.
It's possible that those of you of a certain age may dimly recall hearing some of the tracks here on the radio - or maybe you even had 'em on 45 - back when you were a kid. Do the bump once more to Robbie Dupree's "Steal Away", get down to the laidback funk of David Batteau's "Spaceship Earth", enjoy Micky Denne and Ken Gold's soulful "Let's Put Our Love Back Together", take some fashion tips from the lushly orchestrated "Deco Lady" by Rupert Holmes, sample the funky breaks on the Alessi Brothers "Do You Feel It?"... There's 19 tracks in all, packed with disco strings, groovy bass lines, fusiony guitar noodle, saccharine singing, sexy saxophone, and sappy, soaring synths. Some songs sad, some sunshiney; and all so very, very seventies. Take a chance, you might be surprised how much you'll dig this! It sure surprised us, but we're lovin' it. Ariel Pink fans at least ought to give it a go. Just turn the lights low, and turn this up, to a moderate volume.
Nicely packaged slipcased cd or double vinyl lp.
MPEG Stream: NED DOHENY "Get It Up For Love"
MPEG Stream: RUPERT HOLMES "Deco Lady"
MPEG Stream: NICOLETTE LARSON "Lotta Love"
MPEG Stream: BRIAN ELLIOTT "Room To Grow"

album cover VOMITFACE Vomitface (Bad Companion) 7" 5.98
We have to admit, we almost didn't listen to this, which we know is sorta hypocritical, considering the ridiculous bands we dig, many with even more ridiculous monikers, but something about the bandname Vomitface had us expecting something else entirely, and something we thought we might not dig. But dig this we do. Lots. Basically, these guys sound like they were cut from the very same cloth as Nirvana's Bleach. Fuzzed out grunge, plenty of quiet/loud, the same sort of minor key clean guitar, and explosive choruses, with some killer distorto leads, and warmly vocals that sound a lot like Kurt Cobain, especially when in the early days and on those old demos, or when he was just going for it and shredding his voice live.
"Sloppy Joes" is the most Nirvana-ish of the bunch, with its loping chugging verse, and blown out chorus, the warmly keening vocals, the main hook a killer, the drums blown out too, the whole production super hot and in-the-red. it's pretty tough to resist, the vocals in the verse are a dead ringer for the Grifters too, which is most definitely a very good thing.
And hell, once you get done playing that track over and over, "Bill Me Later" explodes into some serious noise drenched post-grunge heaviness, with plenty of slither and swagger and crunch, and a distinctly nineties verse with weird spidery guitars, some 'oooooh' background vox, more wild drumming, and yeah, another bad ass hook. We were pretty blown away when we played this the first time, and within minutes we had already sold one! The other two tracks are just as ruling, total grunge radness, that takes the Nirvana/grunge worship of Roomrunner, maybe even further, but if that's a sound you love, nobody does it this good anymore, and hell, these guys do it now, better than lots of bands back in the day too. We can't stop listening to this, and are really hoping there's a full length on the way.
LIMITED TO 133 COPIES! Includes a download with a bonus DL only track!
MPEG Stream: "Sloppy Joes"
MPEG Stream: "Bill Me Later"

album cover WHITE FENCE For The Recently Found Innocent (Drag City) lp 17.98
First we've heard from these sixties psych channeling, garage pop retro rocking locals since last year's awesome Cyclops Reap (and not counting the recent equally awesome Live In SF disc). Cyclops Reap took White Fence's already twisted sound and somehow made it even more far out, while at the same time upping the ante on pretty much everything else (song craft, production, etc.), and now on For The Recently Found Innocent, WF mainman Tim Presley teams up with his buddy Ty Segall and drummer Nick Murray (Mikal Cronin even pops by to play a little piano), for a record that continues Presley's quest to craft some impossible sixties beholden, modern retro-psych masterpiece, and gets closer than he ever has. In the process, Presley and crew dial back a lot of the weirdness that defined the sound of Cyclops Reap, and come up with some of the best WF songs yet. Certainly the best sounding, the production is massive, just check out "Anger! Who Keeps You Under", which somehow sounds properly from back in the day, but modern as well, jangling guitars, soaring vocals, hooks galore, powerful drumming, all sorts of effects and textures, the sound lush and majestic, a little bit fuzzy and crunchy, and so so catchy! And it pretty much doesn't let up, every track here a fuzz pop retro garage gem, "Like That" features Presley's keening falsetto, with some fantastic harmonies, all set amidst lush jangle and some pitch perfect sixties-isms, what we really need to do is get Presley together with Matthew Melton (Warm Soda, Bare Wires)!
But until that happens, we get to revel in Presley's alternate sonic sixties, conjured up here and now, with all the musical references to might imagine, Bee Gees, the Monkees, the Zombies, some of the tracks here do genuinely sound like they were plucked from some reissue compilation, while others find WF indulging in some experimentation, but even then, they manage to make it sound totally genuine. As always, fantastic stuff, and pretty sure we probably say this every time, but might be our favorite White Fence record yet!
MPEG Stream: "Anger! Who Keeps You Under?"
MPEG Stream: "Like That"
MPEG Stream: "Sandra (When The Earth Dies)"
MPEG Stream: "Wolf Gets Red Faced"

album cover YOU'RE SMILING NOW BUT WE'LL ALL TURN INTO DEMONS Contact High (Cardinal Fuzz) 2lp 33.00
One of a whole batch of new releases from UK psych label Cardinal Fuzz, this is the first we've heard from You're Smiling Now But We'll All Turn Into Demons, or Demons for short, a double lp reissue of a 2009 cd, a sprawling collection of fuzzed out hard-psych swagger, big fuzzed out riffs, wild drumming, laid back box, and of course plenty of swirling psychedelic shred. Unlike a lot of groups doing the whole space psych sound these days, Demons are less about spaced out drift and more about the ROCK. Think Blue Cheer or the Heads, a little Black Sabbath for sure, chugging, churning, riffy crunch, but still laced with plenty of psychedelic trip out, with some songs slipping into catchier almost groovy psych pop ("Nervous - Alive"), others getting downright grungy "2009"), and others still sounding near metallic and stonery and doomy (check out "Alpha And Omega").
Wah wah guitars galore, swirling FX, some Spacemen 3 like druggy drift, all wrapped around tranced out riffage, motorik hard rock drumming, and set amidst some short pop gems, as well as some epic wasted, drug doom stoner creep mega-jams ("Prismatic Reflections"). WAY recommended for all you retro-space-psych-hard-rock headz... but some reason we're one of the only stores in the US carrying Cardinal Fuzz stuff, and this stuff goes crazy quick, so grab one before they're gone.
LIMITED TO 350 COPIES!! Housed in a full color jacket with a printed insert, and NO download.
MPEG Stream: "2009"
MPEG Stream: "Nervous - Alive"
MPEG Stream: "Alpha And Omega "

album cover ZATH Black Goat Razor (Drag City / GOD?) 7" 6.98
GOD? is the Drag City imprint curated by garage rock wunderkind Ty Segall. Last list we highlighted the 7" single they just put out by noisepunks Running, and here's their other new release, seven inches of fury from Zath, a Chicago-based extreme metal outfit featuring members of Cave, Coughs, Oozing Wound and Oakeater among others, who have a previous 7" on the Captcha label. Hellish underground deaththrash is Zath's metier. We're talking pounding battery, growling vocals, brutally technical guitarwork, lots of nods to Slayer and the like... Zath sure as heck rip it up on these two tracks, "Black Goat Razor" (what you shave your black goat with?) and "Pain Reaper". Tuff stuff!


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