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aQuarius recOrds
New Arrivals #384
21st October 2011



Beloved Customers and Friends:

Hey hey folks, happy Friday! Here we are again, with a big ol' list for you, full of cool stuff... it's a been a lovely day here in SF, no earthquakes to speak of (unlike yesterday, jeepers, two in one day, fortunately brief and not too shake-y, though scary for a second). And it's Allan's birthday, yay! So we've been high on cupcakes all day. And lookin' forward to the weekend, which promises to be even summery-ier. Should be gorgeous on Sunday, a great day for promenading, perfect 'cause it'll be "SUNDAY STREETS" in our neighborhood, meaning long stretches of Valencia and 24th streets will be closed to car traffic. Among the events on our block, we're hosting KUSF In Exile DJ's who will be spinning and broadcasting live from outside on our sidewalk! So definitely come check that out and support true community radio. Sunday Streets runs from 11am-4pm, that's this Sunday October 23rd. Though of course, if you're local, we also expect to see you here tomorrow, Saturday, supporting US...also 'cause you're gonna want to come get the goodies listed below before someone else does...

All right, the FOUR Records Of The Week are some heavy-hitters indeed, well deserving of our rave reviews... You'll find our love letter to '90s underground psychedelic indie-rock / downer folk faves THE SUPREME DICKS, on the occasion of their stuff being reissued in a 4cd box set, and much of it on vinyl as well for the very first time. We're also very happy to have an affordable version of one of our favorite drone/psych albums EVER, by Japan's TAJ MAHJAL TRAVELLERS, a must have if you don't already own it. Of more recent vintage, there's the cd version of the latest by SF popper MIKAL CRONIN, that we'd listed on vinyl and made Record Of The Week last week. And, something totally brand new to us, the oddly monikered YAMANTAKA // SONIC TITAN, a "pan-Asian cultural collective" based in Canada whose album completely wowwed us, it's kind of hard to describe, we wrote a lot about it though so read all about it below!!

And also, among the many Highlights, you'll find a wide variety of recommended stuff... including some crucial old faves now-on-vinyl (Dusk At Cubist Castle, Laughing Stock...), plenty of metal of all (weird) varieties, a bunch of pop too, a new amazingly packaged limited release from Time Released Sound, two cool new Triangle titles, a couple other former Records Of The Week now available on cd (Group Inerane from Sublime Frequencies) and cassette (Scott Tuma), drone, garage, jazz, coldwave, French '70s psychedelic/classical library music, you know, all the usual sorts of radness. Breaking it down:

ALVARIUS B: Now on cd, this 2005 lp (and later, cassette) from former Sun City Girl Alan Bishop, some sort of weirdo psychedelic cabaret folk music, including one of his Morricone covers.
ARCKANUM: Latest from this Swedish one man black metal band, raw and varied.
AYSHAY: Super compelling, haunting, ethereal new release on the nominally 'witch house' Triangle label, so good!
BJORK: One of the most emotionally intense, dark, and rewarding albums she has crafted yet, apps or no apps.
BLUE DAISY: Murkily downtempo project sliding between many of electronica's microgenres, dubstep, leftfield house, soulful croons, banging trax, and lots of nocturnal ambience.
BONNIE PRINCE BILLY: Some of the prettiest, most heartfelt music we've heard from ol' Will Oldham in ages!
GUI BORATTO: Another great Kompakt release, the latest from this fave.
HAROLD BUDD: The 75 year old composer's beautiful new minimal masterpiece!
CALDERA LAKES: Limited cassette on Ecstatic piece from this female noisnik, nice!
CANYON / TIGON / FOREIGN THEATERS: Got just a handful of this heavy rock 3-way split lp.
CASTLE: Killer female-fronted metal from right here in SF, but brought to us by Germany's Van label, witchy, psychedelic, and riffy.
CHARRED WALLS OF THE DAMNED: Record number two from this metal supergroup, hooky and thrashy, a timewarped classic.
ALICE COLTRANE: The late great cosmic jazzer, live in '75, reissued on double vinyl.
CROOKED NECKS: Second release on Handmade Birds from this post (sort of) black metal outfit, for fans of The Cure and Joy Divison!
DICK CURLESS: Another great Omni label country reissue, from this one-eyed alky with the deeeeep dramatic voice.
DISUNICORPS: Mysterious cd-r release of, believe it or not "post-post-digital bubblegum black/death metal"!
DRIPHOUSE: These cosmic dronesters Root Strata cassette, now on vinyl via Spectrum Spools!
ECHTRA: Latest from this Cascadian black metal outfit, one half of aQ faves Fauna!
ELECTRO QUARTERSTAFF: A new disc of their instrumental math-metal, ripping and rockin' like an unholy hybrid of The Fucking Champs and Gorguts!
JOHN FAHEY: From Dust-To-Digital / Revenant, a deluxe 5cd + book box set of early Fahey sides.
THE FIELD: Now on vinyl, another recent Kompakt winner!!
5TURNS25: The latest ultra limited and lovingly handmade release from Time Released Sound, from an act who specialize in a sort of electronic flecked ambient folk.
FREEDOM HAWK: Our favorite stoner rockers are back, and ready to rock you, stoner!
FYRNASK: Debut from a one man black metal band from Germany playing music with distinctively tranced out grim droning buzzing beauty.
GLANDS OF EXTERNAL SECRETION: Seymour "Bananafish" Glass is back with a new, naturally noisy double lp.
GROUP INERANE: The most recent AQ Record Of The Week from these North African guitar greats, now on cd, via Sublime Frequencies.
MARK HOLLIS: The Talk Talk frontman's hushed and moving 1998 solo album, now reissued on vinyl!
IDES OF GEMINI: Super limited cd-r and cassette release of witchy and otherworldly, hazy fuzz drenched dirges from these new Neurot signees.
J.C. SATAN: Brand new full length displaying this French/Italian fuzz/garage band's peculiar brand of psychedelic noise pop.
MAGIC TRICK: Newest lp from brillant local popster Tim Cohen (Fresh & Onlys), his Magic Trick band stretching out for some lengthy (but still poppy) jams.
MICHAEL VINER'S INCREDIBLE BONGO BAND: Vinyl reissue of classic '72 album of kitschy percussive jams, a goldmine of classic hiphop breaks.
MOHOLY-NAGY: The former core of post rock combo Tarentel - Jefre Cantu-Ledesma, Danny Paul Grody, and Trevor Montgomery - reunite for this dreamy and drifting new project.
MORLY GREY: Sweet reish of early '70 hippy heaviness, you heard 'em on Forge Your Own Chains.
MX: Vinyl-only release from a mysterious Danish group doing dirty, lo-fi ritual rhythmic exotica a la Sun City Girls or the shamanistic Dan Higgs.
THEE OH SEES / TOTAL CONTROL: Split lp teaming up SF garage pop darlings Thee Oh Sees with Aussie gloom poppers Total Control, what more need we say?
OLIVIA TREMOR CONTROL x 2: Two all time AQ beloved psychedelic Elephant Six indie rock classics of the '90s now reissued on vinyl w/ tons of bonus mp3 material, sorry we only have a few, they'll be gone in a flash...
PICASTRO & NADJA: Now on cd, these two Canadian drone experimentalists teamed up for all kinds of weirdness and bliss.
PSYCHIC ILLS: New on Sacred Bones, another hazy stonery late night listen from these folks!!
RADIOHEAD: Double cd of the King Of Limbs 12" remixes, by Caribou, Four Tet, Actress, Jamie XX, SBTRKT, and others...
RANGERS: On Not Not Fun, Rangers keeps the warped alternate dimension FM radio druggy eighties retro pop whathefuck fire burning bright.
REAL ESTATE: New outing continues this group's move away from the home brewed and lo-fi toward something much more pretty and polished, and we like it!
THE RENDERERS: These long time NZ faves once again bring a blend of downer-pop indie-rock and noisy, darkly psychedelic effects-laden abstraction.
RXRY: Sweat Lodge lp of seriously gorgeous darkened psychedelic IDM, a twisted electronic underworld well worth exploring.
SAGAS: This was another one of those records that just showed up one day, and knocked us on our asses, combining both foresty folk and psychedelic freakout...
PATRICE SCIORTINO: Another amazing Omni reissue, unknown French library music circa 1967-1970, like a weirder avant-classical Morricone!
SEX CHURCH: On Load, gloomy post punky downer pop, for fans of Naked On The Vague, Crystal Stilts, Total Control, Soft Moon and the like!
THE SPITS: Just found out about these guys, not a great name but a great band, with killer jams that meld Ramones style three chord punk with blown out Devo-style electro-punkpop.
SVETOVID: Debut cassette from this Canadian black metal horde, from the same place we got Surt, Sunchariot, Gnieu, and Lascowiec...
TALK TALK: This classic and influential 1991 album at last gets domestic vinyl reissue, one of our fave late night listens!
THIEVES LIKE US: The return of these electro pop new wavers, with a reissue of a rare 2008 ep full of fuzzy minimal pop gems.
THORNS: This twisted Norwegian black metal classic, back in print, with bonus tracks! Ranks up there with the best of Emperor, Satyricon, Enslaved, etc.
3 LEAFS: New cd-r of warm and woozy jams from these local psychedelic faves, so good, as usual!!!
THRONES / SEDAN: Split tour 12" from these two Pacific NW heavies, full of prog and mathrock and unexpected soundscapery!
TRUST: Sacred Bones 12" from this Canadian dark-dance-pop-wave combo, killer stuff.
SCOTT TUMA: Now on CASSETTE! This former Record Of The Week, a fantastic collection of introspective abstract countrifed folk, tweaked and twisted, washed out and weary, drone-y and delightful.
U.V. POP: Brand new reissue of this legendary early eighties post punk 7", produced by Cabaret Voltaire, heavy on the horns, a little funky, a little industrial, the A side might be our new (old) favorite jam.
V/A CHICAS! SPANISH FEMALE SINGERS 1962-1974: An intoxicating compilation of "French" style female pop, but from Spain; sassy, fun, effervescent and so good!
V/A STUDIO ONE: CLASSIC RECORDINGS 1963-80: Yet another killer Soul Jazz comp, this one, as the suggests, gathers up some classic reggae jams and lost gems from the late sixties / early seventies.
VEX RUFFIN: Some cool new beat heavy, post punk weirdness on Stones Throw, like Portishead crossed with This Heat, lurching looped rhythms, woozy grooves, echo drenched vox...
WOLFGANG VOIGT: A spare skeletal collection of sampled electronic minimalism from this electronica/techno legend, sourced exclusively from recordings of the voice of Frans Kafka!!
WATER BORDERS: Brand new full length from this weirdo SF avant electronic duo on Triangle, a head spinning collection of freakily futuristic and subversive bass goth that KILLS.
WILL OVER MATTER: Latest batch of baffling brilliance from this aQ beloved weirdo Finnish avant electronic surreal industrial outfit, a side project of the (almost) equally bizarre Ride For Revenge!
WITCH MOUNTAIN: Second record in 14 years from this long running PDX psychedelic doom band, dirgey, bluesy, soulful and slithery, like a metallized Janis Joplin or doom-ed Heart!
XENO & OAKLANDER: Album number three from this Brooklyn cold wave synth pop duo.

And more, including a new issue of The Wire, so read read read, buy buy buy... thanks!!!!

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And as always, thanks for reading the list, passing it on to all your friends who love weird music, shopping at our store, turning -us- on to all sort of great stuff, and helping us spread the word and get all this great music to the people who love it. YOU!! And as always, please realize that we work really hard on the list, so if you find out about stuff through us, please try to buy your records from us. That way we can keep on doing what we do, and we'll always be here with our ears to the ground, and with cds full of metalcore pitbulls, death metal parrots, gamelan playing elephants, recordings of glaciers cracking, ice melting, zamboni's, life support systems, drag races, audience applause, and of course self flagellating Norwegian dwarves, moaning telephone wires, recorded exorcisms, acapella straight edge metalcore, high school battles of the bands, movie theater organ music, Christian psychedelic folk, Bhangra Black Sabbath as well as all the metal, indie rock, electronica, punk rock, reggae, dub, sixties psych, krautrock, classic rock, country and anything else your heart may desire. So thanks. A bunch!

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Remember, give our STREAMING NEW ARRIVALS RADIO THING a try! (mp3 stream)

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----*
----* Records of The Week :
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album cover SUPREME DICKS Breathing And Not Breathing (Jagjaguwar) 4cd 16.98
These are always the hardest ones to write. The bands we've loved for years, the songs we've been listening to for decades, with no need to think beyond the pure visceral enjoyment of the sounds, just years of getting lost inside the music, and with music like this, going deeper and deeper with every listen, never a need to put that sonic magic into words, but still championing these sounds for all we were worth, but instead of a lengthy essay or diatribe, it was an insistent "YOU NEED THIS!" Or "You've never heard anything quite like this." Or even still "This is probably one of our all time favorite bands, and if you haven't heard this music, you have been missing out."
Years of finding copies of these long out of print gems in used bins and bargain bins and even dollar bins, because this was not popular music. As much as we loved it, and obsessed over it and played it for everyone we knew (and not everyone felt the same unbridled passion for these sounds that we did) and as much as often as we gave those occasionally discovered used copies to anyone we thought might love it as much as we did, there was no real hope for this band to reach the heights as a Sebadoh or a Pavement, even though they swam in the same sonic waters, for the Supreme Dicks were their own peculiar musical beast, one whose pop was subtle, whose noise was chaotic, whose vocals warbled and cracked, whose recordings were of extremely low fidelity, whose performances were loose and ramshackle, but whose magic would not have existed, certainly not in the same way it did, had all of those random elements fallen (im)perfectly into place. Thankfully they did, and we have this, years later, a lovingly compiled collection of the complete recorded works of Massachusetts indie folk outsider rock weirdos the Supreme Dicks.
The Dicks experienced a brief bit of popularity in the mid-nineties, finally seeing their debut record released, especially notable having formed all the way back in 1982, and during the years 1992-1996, the band released two albums, one ep, one single, one split single and a collection compiling the early works that predated their proper debut, it's all included here, and is darn near overwhelming all gathered up in one place, especially considering that ONE song in, and we already had chills. Such is the power of the Dicks, who sonically seemed to situate themselves somewhere between the Palace Brothers, Silver Jews, Yo La Tengo, Pavement and Sebadoh (Lou Barlow even pops up on a Dicks jam or two), their sound an eerie psychedelic folk, a stumbling abstract primitivism, raw, and a bit warped, always seeming to teeter on the edge of collapse, that tension, that inevitable doom, rendered in sound and somehow woven into the fabric of their unique sound. Later, that sound would evolve to include sonic elements that would seem to be drawn from krautrock groups like Ash Ra Templ or Popol Vuh, but it's hard to say whether that was intentional or happenstance.
Their first album, The Unexamined Life, is probably the Dicks material that would be the least alienating to the casual listener, rooted in indie folk, the arrangements simple and spare, the instrumentation standard, but that's where the familiarity ends, as the Dicks forge their own path, and one song into their debut, seal the deal and establish themselves as masters of this arcane and unique to them musical form. "In A Sweet Song" gently tumbles into motion, all spidery acoustic guitar, delicate and crystalline, the vocals a sung/spoken warble, frought with emotion and tension, the drums stumbling, a lo -fi pound, in swoop more guitars, a brief bit of psychedelia, all druggy slippery melodies, and the clang and jangle of loud guitars, slowly building, a wild tangle of competing melodies that give us chills every time. The lyrics haunting and heartfelt, building again to a seriously rad jam that sounds like it was lifted straight out of a classic Pavement jam, pressed onto a 7", left in the sun, and then played back on an old Sears turntable, all warped and woozy and so so so wonderful. Even nearly 20 years later, nothing can touch this. And so goes The Unexamined Life, a bizarre collection of fractured folk music, fragmented and abstract, multiple vocalists, keening high about to crack warbles, and deep croons, fluttering flutes, hazy soft focus psychedelia, lilting and gently pastoral one second, weirdly chaotic the next, sawed strings, total super catchy jangle pop nestled amongst twisted Jandekian slowburn outsider folk, blown out super distorted psychpop melting into what sounds like some sort of bastardized classic rock, like the Grateful Dead via Faxed head, the tape crumbling, the sounds seeming to decay, even though the music itself is fairly straight ahead, finally finishing off with the appropriately titled "Strange Song", a sprawl of slow building tripped out psychedelic free noise freakout most modern bands would KILL for.
Workingman's Dick was originally released on Freek Records in 1994, and collected all of the early Dicks recordings, and is a glorious hodgepodge hinting at what was to come, not that far removed from their debut, if anything a bit more experimental, the timbre of the sound and the quality of the recordings varying from track to track, the sounds slipping from freakfolk to murky dirgery, and from haunting skeletal folk to Sentridoh like experimental fuckery. It's maybe the most difficult listen of the various releases, but also contains some of the band's dreamiest gems. This Is Not A Dick, was recorded around the same time as their final record, but was a lot like Workingman's Dick in that it was cobbled together from recordings made between 1987 and 1994, and much like Workingman's Dick, is sonically varied, opening with some abstract psychedelic drift, all grinding guitars and chiming melodies, a freaky lo-fi basement jam that is surprisingly and fantastically (although subtly) unhinged, and from there on out, the band slips from dreamy strummy shimmer to garbled crumbling experimentation, one of our favorites being "Marks Phonecall From Orgoneland", which is a dreamy little Avarus like microjam that's all whistling and tinkling chimes, skittery rhythms and hushed percussion, all accompanied by the phone call in question, a strange spoken word rant over a clattery No Neck Blues Band like clamor, the other being "Harmonic Convergence (Live At L'Oasis 1987)" which is a cool collection of recordings of the what sounds like various clubs between songs, lots of silence, clinking glasses, a recited poem with plenty of jeers from a sparse crowd and the band requesting someone to come up and play drums for them. Weird and wonderful.
Finally, the band released their last record, The Emotional Plague, in 1996, and this is where the band's warble folk and psychedelic crumble becomes a bit more expansive and far reaching, the above mentioned perceived influence of Ash Ra Tempel and other like minded outfits, transforming the group's sound into something more lush and lovely, and marginally less difficult. Marginally. Opener "Synaesthesia" is a haunting bit of droned out psychedelic drift, thick low end rumbles, chiming melodies, distant skeletal guitar melodies, the song starting out dark and powerfully minimal, but seeming to gradually fall apart as the track progresses, which leads right into the first proper song, the production notably more polished, the guitars ringing out, the drums not buried in the mix, but the sound still a little off kilter, slightly atonal, a little off key, the song a gorgeous lilting almost ballad, that builds to a full on psychrock freakout, and then peters out, leading directly into a nightmarish stretch of ominous FX drenched psychdrone creep, atonal and warped and warbly, eventually morphing into what almost sounds like some lost Neil Young outtake, unexpected for sure, but quite cool. And The Emotional Plague is where this already hard to describe band gets even more difficult to understand, let alone describe, most of the elements were present on past recordings, but here sound reimagined, and reinvented, repurposed even, the band seemingly able to reel of some perfect, delicate folk music like they could have been making music like that all along, but as if to say "why the hell would we?!" they immediately take the sound and pull it apart into a stumbling alternate dimension Pink Floydian dirge that manages to be psychedelic, but also some sort of twisted indie pop, all fused together into something that is both and neither. The tracks on The Emotional Plague are longer, some nearly 10 minutes long, which let the Dicks explore and ramble and stretch out, weaving tranced out sprawls of repetition, of looped mesmer, of smoldering psychedelia, of hushed delicate dreampop drift, of haunting backporch alien Appalachia and of brooding, almost orchestral majesty, replete with horns and haunting spoken word, and a twisted deconstructed coda, "Green Wings Fly Adventure (Showered Reprise) an elegiac final movement, the perfect way to end such a mysterious and strange record, and an even more perfect way to lay to rest one of the strangest, most incredible, and under appreciated bands of the last two decades.
This deluxe reissue includes most of the original artwork, new liner notes, tons of rare photos, and tacks on a couple B-sides and a handful of unreleased jams, but even without those extras, this collection gathers up one of the most beautifully baffling and bafflingly brilliant bodies of work from one of our favorite groups of the last 20 years. And while we did our best with the above review, it's hard to stress just how utterly recommended and essential this really is!
And vinyl folks, while the whole set was not pressed on vinyl, the two proper albums were, so both The Unexamined Life and The Emotional Plague are available on vinyl (deluxe double lps to boot!) for the first time EVER.
MPEG Stream: "In A Sweet Song"
MPEG Stream: "The Arabian Song"
MPEG Stream: "The Sun's Bells"
MPEG Stream: "Strange Song"
MPEG Stream: "Synaesthesia"
MPEG Stream: "Cuchulain (Blackbirds Loom)"
MPEG Stream: "Columnated Ruins / Seeing Distant Chimneys"
MPEG Stream: "Green Wings Fly Adventure (Showered Reprise)"

album cover SUPREME DICKS The Unexamined Life (Jagjaguwar) 2lp 15.98
These are always the hardest ones to write. The bands we've loved for years, the songs we've been listening to for decades, with no need to think beyond the pure visceral enjoyment of the sounds, just years of getting lost inside the music, and with music like this, going deeper and deeper with every listen, never a need to put that sonic magic into words, but still championing these sounds for all we were worth, but instead of a lengthy essay or diatribe, it was an insistent "YOU NEED THIS!" Or "You've never heard anything quite like this." Or even still "This is probably one of our all time favorite bands, and if you haven't heard this music, you have been missing out."
Years of finding copies of these long out of print gems in used bins and bargain bins and even dollar bins, because this was not popular music. As much as we loved it, and obsessed over it and played it for everyone we knew (and not everyone felt the same unbridled passion for these sounds that we did) and as much as often as we gave those occasionally discovered used copies to anyone we thought might love it as much as we did, there was no real hope for this band to reach the heights as a Sebadoh or a Pavement, even though they swam in the same sonic waters, for the Supreme Dicks were their own peculiar musical beast, one whose pop was subtle, whose noise was chaotic, whose vocals warbled and cracked, whose recordings were of extremely low fidelity, whose performances were loose and ramshackle, but whose magic would not have existed, certainly not in the same way it did, had all of those random elements fallen (im)perfectly into place. Thankfully they did, and we have this, years later, a lovingly compiled collection of the complete recorded works of Massachusetts indie folk outsider rock weirdos the Supreme Dicks.
The Dicks experienced a brief bit of popularity in the mid-nineties, finally seeing their debut record released, especially notable having formed all the way back in 1982, and during the years 1992-1996, the band released two albums, one ep, one single, one split single and a collection compiling the early works that predated their proper debut, it's all included here, and is darn near overwhelming all gathered up in one place, especially considering that ONE song in, and we already had chills. Such is the power of the Dicks, who sonically seemed to situate themselves somewhere between the Palace Brothers, Silver Jews, Yo La Tengo, Pavement and Sebadoh (Lou Barlow even pops up on a Dicks jam or two), their sound an eerie psychedelic folk, a stumbling abstract primitivism, raw, and a bit warped, always seeming to teeter on the edge of collapse, that tension, that inevitable doom, rendered in sound and somehow woven into the fabric of their unique sound. Later, that sound would evolve to include sonic elements that would seem to be drawn from krautrock groups like Ash Ra Templ or Popol Vuh, but it's hard to say whether that was intentional or happenstance.
Their first album, The Unexamined Life, is probably the Dicks material that would be the least alienating to the casual listener, rooted in indie folk, the arrangements simple and spare, the instrumentation standard, but that's where the familiarity ends, as the Dicks forge their own path, and one song into their debut, seal the deal and establish themselves as masters of this arcane and unique to them musical form. "In A Sweet Song" gently tumbles into motion, all spidery acoustic guitar, delicate and crystalline, the vocals a sung/spoken warble, frought with emotion and tension, the drums stumbling, a lo -fi pound, in swoop more guitars, a brief bit of psychedelia, all druggy slippery melodies, and the clang and jangle of loud guitars, slowly building, a wild tangle of competing melodies that give us chills every time. The lyrics haunting and heartfelt, building again to a seriously rad jam that sounds like it was lifted straight out of a classic Pavement jam, pressed onto a 7", left in the sun, and then played back on an old Sears turntable, all warped and woozy and so so so wonderful. Even nearly 20 years later, nothing can touch this. And so goes The Unexamined Life, a bizarre collection of fractured folk music, fragmented and abstract, multiple vocalists, keening high about to crack warbles, and deep croons, fluttering flutes, hazy soft focus psychedelia, lilting and gently pastoral one second, weirdly chaotic the next, sawed strings, total super catchy jangle pop nestled amongst twisted Jandekian slowburn outsider folk, blown out super distorted psychpop melting into what sounds like some sort of bastardized classic rock, like the Grateful Dead via Faxed head, the tape crumbling, the sounds seeming to decay, even though the music itself is fairly straight ahead, finally finishing off with the appropriately titled "Strange Song", a sprawl of slow building tripped out psychedelic free noise freakout most modern bands would KILL for.
Workingman's Dick was originally released on Freek Records in 1994, and collected all of the early Dicks recordings, and is a glorious hodgepodge hinting at what was to come, not that far removed from their debut, if anything a bit more experimental, the timbre of the sound and the quality of the recordings varying from track to track, the sounds slipping from freakfolk to murky dirgery, and from haunting skeletal folk to Sentridoh like experimental fuckery. It's maybe the most difficult listen of the various releases, but also contains some of the band's dreamiest gems. This Is Not A Dick, was recorded around the same time as their final record, but was a lot like Workingman's Dick in that it was cobbled together from recordings made between 1987 and 1994, and much like Workingman's Dick, is sonically varied, opening with some abstract psychedelic drift, all grinding guitars and chiming melodies, a freaky lo-fi basement jam that is surprisingly and fantastically (although subtly) unhinged, and from there on out, the band slips from dreamy strummy shimmer to garbled crumbling experimentation, one of our favorites being "Marks Phonecall From Orgoneland", which is a dreamy little Avarus like microjam that's all whistling and tinkling chimes, skittery rhythms and hushed percussion, all accompanied by the phone call in question, a strange spoken word rant over a clattery No Neck Blues Band like clamor, the other being "Harmonic Convergence (Live At L'Oasis 1987)" which is a cool collection of recordings of the what sounds like various clubs between songs, lots of silence, clinking glasses, a recited poem with plenty of jeers from a sparse crowd and the band requesting someone to come up and play drums for them. Weird and wonderful.
Finally, the band released their last record, The Emotional Plague, in 1996, and this is where the band's warble folk and psychedelic crumble becomes a bit more expansive and far reaching, the above mentioned perceived influence of Ash Ra Tempel and other like minded outfits, transforming the group's sound into something more lush and lovely, and marginally less difficult. Marginally. Opener "Synaesthesia" is a haunting bit of droned out psychedelic drift, thick low end rumbles, chiming melodies, distant skeletal guitar melodies, the song starting out dark and powerfully minimal, but seeming to gradually fall apart as the track progresses, which leads right into the first proper song, the production notably more polished, the guitars ringing out, the drums not buried in the mix, but the sound still a little off kilter, slightly atonal, a little off key, the song a gorgeous lilting almost ballad, that builds to a full on psychrock freakout, and then peters out, leading directly into a nightmarish stretch of ominous FX drenched psychdrone creep, atonal and warped and warbly, eventually morphing into what almost sounds like some lost Neil Young outtake, unexpected for sure, but quite cool. And The Emotional Plague is where this already hard to describe band gets even more difficult to understand, let alone describe, most of the elements were present on past recordings, but here sound reimagined, and reinvented, repurposed even, the band seemingly able to reel of some perfect, delicate folk music like they could have been making music like that all along, but as if to say "why the hell would we?!" they immediately take the sound and pull it apart into a stumbling alternate dimension Pink Floydian dirge that manages to be psychedelic, but also some sort of twisted indie pop, all fused together into something that is both and neither. The tracks on The Emotional Plague are longer, some nearly 10 minutes long, which let the Dicks explore and ramble and stretch out, weaving tranced out sprawls of repetition, of looped mesmer, of smoldering psychedelia, of hushed delicate dreampop drift, of haunting backporch alien Appalachia and of brooding, almost orchestral majesty, replete with horns and haunting spoken word, and a twisted deconstructed coda, "Green Wings Fly Adventure (Showered Reprise) an elegiac final movement, the perfect way to end such a mysterious and strange record, and an even more perfect way to lay to rest one of the strangest, most incredible, and under appreciated bands of the last two decades.
This deluxe reissue includes most of the original artwork, new liner notes, tons of rare photos, and tacks on a couple B-sides and a handful of unreleased jams, but even without those extras, this collection gathers up one of the most beautifully baffling and bafflingly brilliant bodies of work from one of our favorite groups of the last 20 years. And while we did our best with the above review, it's hard to stress just how utterly recommended and essential this really is!
And vinyl folks, while the whole set was not pressed on vinyl, the two proper albums were, so both The Unexamined Life and The Emotional Plague are available on vinyl (deluxe double lps to boot!) for the first time EVER.
MPEG Stream: "In A Sweet Song"
MPEG Stream: "The Arabian Song"
MPEG Stream: "The Sun's Bells"
MPEG Stream: "Strange Song"

album cover SUPREME DICKS The Emotional Plague (Jagjaguwar) 2lp 15.98
These are always the hardest ones to write. The bands we've loved for years, the songs we've been listening to for decades, with no need to think beyond the pure visceral enjoyment of the sounds, just years of getting lost inside the music, and with music like this, going deeper and deeper with every listen, never a need to put that sonic magic into words, but still championing these sounds for all we were worth, but instead of a lengthy essay or diatribe, it was an insistent "YOU NEED THIS!" Or "You've never heard anything quite like this." Or even still "This is probably one of our all time favorite bands, and if you haven't heard this music, you have been missing out."
Years of finding copies of these long out of print gems in used bins and bargain bins and even dollar bins, because this was not popular music. As much as we loved it, and obsessed over it and played it for everyone we knew (and not everyone felt the same unbridled passion for these sounds that we did) and as much as often as we gave those occasionally discovered used copies to anyone we thought might love it as much as we did, there was no real hope for this band to reach the heights as a Sebadoh or a Pavement, even though they swam in the same sonic waters, for the Supreme Dicks were their own peculiar musical beast, one whose pop was subtle, whose noise was chaotic, whose vocals warbled and cracked, whose recordings were of extremely low fidelity, whose performances were loose and ramshackle, but whose magic would not have existed, certainly not in the same way it did, had all of those random elements fallen (im)perfectly into place. Thankfully they did, and we have this, years later, a lovingly compiled collection of the complete recorded works of Massachusetts indie folk outsider rock weirdos the Supreme Dicks.
The Dicks experienced a brief bit of popularity in the mid-nineties, finally seeing their debut record released, especially notable having formed all the way back in 1982, and during the years 1992-1996, the band released two albums, one ep, one single, one split single and a collection compiling the early works that predated their proper debut, it's all included here, and is darn near overwhelming all gathered up in one place, especially considering that ONE song in, and we already had chills. Such is the power of the Dicks, who sonically seemed to situate themselves somewhere between the Palace Brothers, Silver Jews, Yo La Tengo, Pavement and Sebadoh (Lou Barlow even pops up on a Dicks jam or two), their sound an eerie psychedelic folk, a stumbling abstract primitivism, raw, and a bit warped, always seeming to teeter on the edge of collapse, that tension, that inevitable doom, rendered in sound and somehow woven into the fabric of their unique sound. Later, that sound would evolve to include sonic elements that would seem to be drawn from krautrock groups like Ash Ra Templ or Popol Vuh, but it's hard to say whether that was intentional or happenstance.
Their first album, The Unexamined Life, is probably the Dicks material that would be the least alienating to the casual listener, rooted in indie folk, the arrangements simple and spare, the instrumentation standard, but that's where the familiarity ends, as the Dicks forge their own path, and one song into their debut, seal the deal and establish themselves as masters of this arcane and unique to them musical form. "In A Sweet Song" gently tumbles into motion, all spidery acoustic guitar, delicate and crystalline, the vocals a sung/spoken warble, frought with emotion and tension, the drums stumbling, a lo -fi pound, in swoop more guitars, a brief bit of psychedelia, all druggy slippery melodies, and the clang and jangle of loud guitars, slowly building, a wild tangle of competing melodies that give us chills every time. The lyrics haunting and heartfelt, building again to a seriously rad jam that sounds like it was lifted straight out of a classic Pavement jam, pressed onto a 7", left in the sun, and then played back on an old Sears turntable, all warped and woozy and so so so wonderful. Even nearly 20 years later, nothing can touch this. And so goes The Unexamined Life, a bizarre collection of fractured folk music, fragmented and abstract, multiple vocalists, keening high about to crack warbles, and deep croons, fluttering flutes, hazy soft focus psychedelia, lilting and gently pastoral one second, weirdly chaotic the next, sawed strings, total super catchy jangle pop nestled amongst twisted Jandekian slowburn outsider folk, blown out super distorted psychpop melting into what sounds like some sort of bastardized classic rock, like the Grateful Dead via Faxed head, the tape crumbling, the sounds seeming to decay, even though the music itself is fairly straight ahead, finally finishing off with the appropriately titled "Strange Song", a sprawl of slow building tripped out psychedelic free noise freakout most modern bands would KILL for.
Workingman's Dick was originally released on Freek Records in 1994, and collected all of the early Dicks recordings, and is a glorious hodgepodge hinting at what was to come, not that far removed from their debut, if anything a bit more experimental, the timbre of the sound and the quality of the recordings varying from track to track, the sounds slipping from freakfolk to murky dirgery, and from haunting skeletal folk to Sentridoh like experimental fuckery. It's maybe the most difficult listen of the various releases, but also contains some of the band's dreamiest gems. This Is Not A Dick, was recorded around the same time as their final record, but was a lot like Workingman's Dick in that it was cobbled together from recordings made between 1987 and 1994, and much like Workingman's Dick, is sonically varied, opening with some abstract psychedelic drift, all grinding guitars and chiming melodies, a freaky lo-fi basement jam that is surprisingly and fantastically (although subtly) unhinged, and from there on out, the band slips from dreamy strummy shimmer to garbled crumbling experimentation, one of our favorites being "Marks Phonecall From Orgoneland", which is a dreamy little Avarus like microjam that's all whistling and tinkling chimes, skittery rhythms and hushed percussion, all accompanied by the phone call in question, a strange spoken word rant over a clattery No Neck Blues Band like clamor, the other being "Harmonic Convergence (Live At L'Oasis 1987)" which is a cool collection of recordings of the what sounds like various clubs between songs, lots of silence, clinking glasses, a recited poem with plenty of jeers from a sparse crowd and the band requesting someone to come up and play drums for them. Weird and wonderful.
Finally, the band released their last record, The Emotional Plague, in 1996, and this is where the band's warble folk and psychedelic crumble becomes a bit more expansive and far reaching, the above mentioned perceived influence of Ash Ra Tempel and other like minded outfits, transforming the group's sound into something more lush and lovely, and marginally less difficult. Marginally. Opener "Synaesthesia" is a haunting bit of droned out psychedelic drift, thick low end rumbles, chiming melodies, distant skeletal guitar melodies, the song starting out dark and powerfully minimal, but seeming to gradually fall apart as the track progresses, which leads right into the first proper song, the production notably more polished, the guitars ringing out, the drums not buried in the mix, but the sound still a little off kilter, slightly atonal, a little off key, the song a gorgeous lilting almost ballad, that builds to a full on psychrock freakout, and then peters out, leading directly into a nightmarish stretch of ominous FX drenched psychdrone creep, atonal and warped and warbly, eventually morphing into what almost sounds like some lost Neil Young outtake, unexpected for sure, but quite cool. And The Emotional Plague is where this already hard to describe band gets even more difficult to understand, let alone describe, most of the elements were present on past recordings, but here sound reimagined, and reinvented, repurposed even, the band seemingly able to reel of some perfect, delicate folk music like they could have been making music like that all along, but as if to say "why the hell would we?!" they immediately take the sound and pull it apart into a stumbling alternate dimension Pink Floydian dirge that manages to be psychedelic, but also some sort of twisted indie pop, all fused together into something that is both and neither. The tracks on The Emotional Plague are longer, some nearly 10 minutes long, which let the Dicks explore and ramble and stretch out, weaving tranced out sprawls of repetition, of looped mesmer, of smoldering psychedelia, of hushed delicate dreampop drift, of haunting backporch alien Appalachia and of brooding, almost orchestral majesty, replete with horns and haunting spoken word, and a twisted deconstructed coda, "Green Wings Fly Adventure (Showered Reprise) an elegiac final movement, the perfect way to end such a mysterious and strange record, and an even more perfect way to lay to rest one of the strangest, most incredible, and under appreciated bands of the last two decades.
This deluxe reissue includes most of the original artwork, new liner notes, tons of rare photos, and tacks on a couple B-sides and a handful of unreleased jams, but even without those extras, this collection gathers up one of the most beautifully baffling and bafflingly brilliant bodies of work from one of our favorite groups of the last 20 years. And while we did our best with the above review, it's hard to stress just how utterly recommended and essential this really is!
And vinyl folks, while the whole set was not pressed on vinyl, the two proper albums were, so both The Unexamined Life and The Emotional Plague are available on vinyl (deluxe double lps to boot!) for the first time EVER.
MPEG Stream: "Synaesthesia"
MPEG Stream: "Cuchulain (Blackbirds Loom)"
MPEG Stream: "Columnated Ruins / Seeing Distant Chimneys"
MPEG Stream: "Green Wings Fly Adventure (Showered Reprise)"

album cover YAMANTAKA // SONIC TITAN YT // ST (Psychic Handshake) cd 14.98
For all the things that are truly great about working in a record store, on of the only real bummers is that sometimes it's kinda hard to be surprised by new music, in most cases, we know when a record is coming long before it's out, and often we get to hear albums before they're released, so some of the musical excitement we grew up with is gone, and we sometimes really miss that thrill of making a special trip to the record store only to discover some record you didn't even know about. So when it does happen, we freak out big time. Similarly, being the music nerd obsessives we are (and most of you are too), we're constantly on the hunt for new sounds, and for new favorites, and the one thing we DO still experience, is stumbling upon a record, and being blown away by the crazy cover art, or the weird name, or both, only to find that the music inside more than lives up to that unspoken promise, which is precisely what happened with the oddly monickered Yamantaka // Sonic Titan (and yeah, that double back slash is part of the name), not a split between two bands, but a duo, who the label describe as being a "pan-Asian cultural collective" based in Canada, whose two person lineup is expanded to eight members for this record, and whose eclectic lineup includes a traditional Mohawk singer, and the sound, WOW, not just a pleasant surprise, but a total revelation. The label describe YT // ST as being "for fans of Boredoms, Flower Travellin' Band, Taj Mahal Travellers, Deep Purple, J-Pop and Chinese Opera", and whenever you read such an over the top impossibly rad comparison, you sort of feel obligated to call hyperbole/bullshit, but the weird thing, as impossible as it seems, we might have come up with something similar, although we would add something about math rock / post rock / noise rock, and would definitely include Blonde Redhead, the vocals are occasionally a dead ringer for Kazu Makino, albeit much more washed out and druggy, and there's definitely some of the hyper Magmoid prog of Hundred Sights Of Koenji / Koenjihyakkei going on, but not so hyper, a little more toned down and stretched out into woozy rhythmic mesmer. As with all great records, this stuff is actually really difficult to describe, although odds are by now, some of you are already flipping out over the above comparisons.
The record opens with a brief bit of ritualistic ambience, the sound of rainfall and distant thunder, reverbed vocal harmonies, like the chanting of some astral female monks, all swirly and druggy and ethereal, which leads directly into "Queens", which unfurls in a haze of strange looped voices and whirring Deep Purple like organs, the vocals come in, and the sound is transformed into a sort of psychedelic indie rock, the melodies though reminiscent o seventies British acid folk, the rainfall present throughout, haunting and liturgical, epic and mysterious, and then the drums kick in, super distorted, in-the-red, the guitars coalesce into some serious riffage, splintering off into psychedelic swirls, the sound blown out, but dreamily so, until the blown out indie rock haze devolves into some seriously heavy, churning mathy pound and crunch, the vox processed into dizzying loops, blurred into the organs and the swirling psychedelia. So good. Imagine a way heavier, mathier, tripped out psychedelic Blonde Redhead and you might be close. But it only gets better/weirder from there.
After a brief bit of ethereal haze, that sounds like a grittier spaced out lo-fi take on Kate Bush / Cocteau twins, those British folk melodies here rendered in thick corrosive streaks of warm woozy guitar buzz, underpinned by powerful drumming, the sound coalescing into a brooding ballad, heavy and dark and broodingly beautiful.
But then comes "Reverse Crystal // Murder Of A Spider", which feels like the record's centerpiece, beginning with a grinding, crumbling bit of blurred orchestral swell, wreathed in clouds of decayed FX and fractured muted rhythms, the song explodes in a twisted mathy progged out frenzy, like the Ruins meets Nomeansno, only to immediately blossom into a super distorted heavy post rock lope, and then the soaring crystalline vocals come in, and the song is transformed into a bass heavy math prog groove than manages to be impossibly catchy at the same time, with what sound like wordless vocals unfurling a gorgeous and irresistible melody over some serious organ drive prog that sounds almost carnivalesque at times. After a brief tangle of abstract noise and processed tape, the song shifts into its second movement, a muted, rhythmic, almost krautrocky groove, that sounds like This Heat by way of Tortoise, and as the song progresses, the drums distort, the sound gets darker and heavier, the vocals surface adding a swirling spectral layer to the churning rhythmic low end below, before gradually getting more and more abstract and then finally fading out. YT // ST manage in one song what most bands can barely pull off on a whole record.
"Hoshi Neko" starts off sounding almost like some alien Christmas carol, a music box melody over a hushed tinny rhythm, all blurred with FX, and then in come the big distorted drums, and the band locks into a dark sinister groove, that almost sounds like a heavy creepy Stereolab, the vocals here are dramatic, transforming the song into what sounds like some classic sixties girl group songs reimagined as some sort of rhythmic post rock churn. "A Star Over Pureland" is the other long song on the record, and in some ways is competing with "Reverse Crystal // Murder Of A Spider" for sonic centerpiece privileges, and definitely makes a good case, although it's less fully formed songwise, instead it's a killer mathprog workout, the drumming particular, intricate and intense, while the guitars grind and crunch and howl, occasionally splintering into full on psychedelic squalls, there's definitely some sort of White Heaven / Fushitsusha classic Japanese psych going on here, but filtered through groups like Aluk Todolo and the Psychic Paramount, the track constantly morphing, locking into a very Ruins-y groove about midway through replete with strange effected vocal barks, wild Yoko Ono like warbly wails, and some thick buzzing bass, only to return to that strangely hypnotic lurching and stuttering groove and riding it out until the end.
Finally, the record closes with the awesomely and evocatively titled "Crystal Fortress Over The Sea Of Trees", which opens ominously like some sort of John Carpenter cinematic creepfest, but instead launches into some serious mathy post rock, only to have that Carpenter-y synth return, to help the song transition into something more swirling and surreal, but it only briefly, as the drums crash right back down, and the song returns to that opening post-math-psych-prog groove, the sound noisy, with all manner of guitar shards and fragmented melodies and bits of keyboard and strange voices swirling all around it, the song building to a strangely choral sounding drum and vocal coda, before devolving into burst of bass buzz and drum pound before clipping out abruptly, leaving a long stretch of near silence, a barely there distant blur of tinny vocals and ghostlike shimmer.
Definite contender for record of the year, it's available on both cd and lp, the vinyl limited to 500 copies...
MPEG Stream: "Reverse Crystal // Murder Of A Spider"
MPEG Stream: "Raccoon Song"
MPEG Stream: "Queens"
MPEG Stream: "A Star Over Pureland"

album cover YAMANTAKA // SONIC TITAN YT // ST (Psychic Handshake) lp 17.98
For all the things that are truly great about working in a record store, on of the only real bummers is that sometimes it's kinda hard to be surprised by new music, in most cases, we know when a record is coming long before it's out, and often we get to hear albums before they're released, so some of the musical excitement we grew up with is gone, and we sometimes really miss that thrill of making a special trip to the record store only to discover some record you didn't even know about. So when it does happen, we freak out big time. Similarly, being the music nerd obsessives we are (and most of you are too), we're constantly on the hunt for new sounds, and for new favorites, and the one thing we DO still experience, is stumbling upon a record, and being blown away by the crazy cover art, or the weird name, or both, only to find that the music inside more than lives up to that unspoken promise, which is precisely what happened with the oddly monickered Yamantaka // Sonic Titan (and yeah, that double back slash is part of the name), not a split between two bands, but a duo, who the label describe as being a "pan-Asian cultural collective" based in Canada, whose two person lineup is expanded to eight members for this record, and whose eclectic lineup includes a traditional Mohawk singer, and the sound, WOW, not just a pleasant surprise, but a total revelation. The label describe YT // ST as being "for fans of Boredoms, Flower Travellin' Band, Taj Mahal Travellers, Deep Purple, J-Pop and Chinese Opera", and whenever you read such an over the top impossibly rad comparison, you sort of feel obligated to call hyperbole/bullshit, but the weird thing, as impossible as it seems, we might have come up with something similar, although we would add something about math rock / post rock / noise rock, and would definitely include Blonde Redhead, the vocals are occasionally a dead ringer for Kazu Makino, albeit much more washed out and druggy, and there's definitely some of the hyper Magmoid prog of Hundred Sights Of Koenji / Koenjihyakkei going on, but not so hyper, a little more toned down and stretched out into woozy rhythmic mesmer. As with all great records, this stuff is actually really difficult to describe, although odds are by now, some of you are already flipping out over the above comparisons.
The record opens with a brief bit of ritualistic ambience, the sound of rainfall and distant thunder, reverbed vocal harmonies, like the chanting of some astral female monks, all swirly and druggy and ethereal, which leads directly into "Queens", which unfurls in a haze of strange looped voices and whirring Deep Purple like organs, the vocals come in, and the sound is transformed into a sort of psychedelic indie rock, the melodies though reminiscent o seventies British acid folk, the rainfall present throughout, haunting and liturgical, epic and mysterious, and then the drums kick in, super distorted, in-the-red, the guitars coalesce into some serious riffage, splintering off into psychedelic swirls, the sound blown out, but dreamily so, until the blown out indie rock haze devolves into some seriously heavy, churning mathy pound and crunch, the vox processed into dizzying loops, blurred into the organs and the swirling psychedelia. So good. Imagine a way heavier, mathier, tripped out psychedelic Blonde Redhead and you might be close. But it only gets better/weirder from there.
After a brief bit of ethereal haze, that sounds like a grittier spaced out lo-fi take on Kate Bush / Cocteau twins, those British folk melodies here rendered in thick corrosive streaks of warm woozy guitar buzz, underpinned by powerful drumming, the sound coalescing into a brooding ballad, heavy and dark and broodingly beautiful.
But then comes "Reverse Crystal // Murder Of A Spider", which feels like the record's centerpiece, beginning with a grinding, crumbling bit of blurred orchestral swell, wreathed in clouds of decayed FX and fractured muted rhythms, the song explodes in a twisted mathy progged out frenzy, like the Ruins meets Nomeansno, only to immediately blossom into a super distorted heavy post rock lope, and then the soaring crystalline vocals come in, and the song is transformed into a bass heavy math prog groove than manages to be impossibly catchy at the same time, with what sound like wordless vocals unfurling a gorgeous and irresistible melody over some serious organ drive prog that sounds almost carnivalesque at times. After a brief tangle of abstract noise and processed tape, the song shifts into its second movement, a muted, rhythmic, almost krautrocky groove, that sounds like This Heat by way of Tortoise, and as the song progresses, the drums distort, the sound gets darker and heavier, the vocals surface adding a swirling spectral layer to the churning rhythmic low end below, before gradually getting more and more abstract and then finally fading out. YT // ST manage in one song what most bands can barely pull off on a whole record.
"Hoshi Neko" starts off sounding almost like some alien Christmas carol, a music box melody over a hushed tinny rhythm, all blurred with FX, and then in come the big distorted drums, and the band locks into a dark sinister groove, that almost sounds like a heavy creepy Stereolab, the vocals here are dramatic, transforming the song into what sounds like some classic sixties girl group songs reimagined as some sort of rhythmic post rock churn. "A Star Over Pureland" is the other long song on the record, and in some ways is competing with "Reverse Crystal // Murder Of A Spider" for sonic centerpiece privileges, and definitely makes a good case, although it's less fully formed songwise, instead it's a killer mathprog workout, the drumming particular, intricate and intense, while the guitars grind and crunch and howl, occasionally splintering into full on psychedelic squalls, there's definitely some sort of White Heaven / Fushitsusha classic Japanese psych going on here, but filtered through groups like Aluk Todolo and the Psychic Paramount, the track constantly morphing, locking into a very Ruins-y groove about midway through replete with strange effected vocal barks, wild Yoko Ono like warbly wails, and some thick buzzing bass, only to return to that strangely hypnotic lurching and stuttering groove and riding it out until the end.
Finally, the record closes with the awesomely and evocatively titled "Crystal Fortress Over The Sea Of Trees", which opens ominously like some sort of John Carpenter cinematic creepfest, but instead launches into some serious mathy post rock, only to have that Carpenter-y synth return, to help the song transition into something more swirling and surreal, but it only briefly, as the drums crash right back down, and the song returns to that opening post-math-psych-prog groove, the sound noisy, with all manner of guitar shards and fragmented melodies and bits of keyboard and strange voices swirling all around it, the song building to a strangely choral sounding drum and vocal coda, before devolving into burst of bass buzz and drum pound before clipping out abruptly, leaving a long stretch of near silence, a barely there distant blur of tinny vocals and ghostlike shimmer.
Definite contender for record of the year, it's available on both cd and lp, the vinyl limited to 500 copies...
MPEG Stream: "Reverse Crystal // Murder Of A Spider"
MPEG Stream: "Raccoon Song"
MPEG Stream: "Queens"

album cover TAJ MAHAL TRAVELLERS August 1974 (Phoenix) 2cd 25.00
Not sure how we never made this our Record Of The Week before, considering most aQuarians would probably rank this as one of their all time favorite drone records. Or all time favorite Japanese psychedelic records, heck, it's pretty much just one of our all time favorite records ever PERIOD. We've listed it in the past as a pricey import double cd, and an even pricier double lp, and maybe we thought it a bit too expensive before, but now with this new, more reasonably priced reissue, it seems like a no brainer to finally bestow the Record Of The Week honors on an album that has deserved it ever since we first heard it years and years ago. For those who have yet to discover the mysterious psychedelic beauty of Taj Mahal Travellers, you are in for a treat, and most likely a new musical obsession...
We love this record so much. The Taj Majal Travellers are so utterly mind blowing. This is a double cd reissue of this legendary Japanese psych ensemble's second lp which has been sporadically available over the years, and when we did have it in stock, if anyone asked about drones, this is the record we would always suggest. One of the most hallowed artifacts of the psych-rock collector scum scene (originals on vinyl could set you back more than $1000!), this album is an epic higher key improvised drone extravaganza, all performed live on beaches and deserted hills in Sweden, India, Iran and England. Slow, complex, irregular throbbing waves of sound, broadcast through distant loudspeakers and recaptured and reincorporated. Feedback, time-space lag, horns, echo machines, and primitive handmade electronic devices all contribute to the ever shifting clouds of sound. So unbearably awesome. And this is not electronic music, or studio based carefully constructed drone music, this is massive and organic, dreamy and natural, waves of sound drifting through sun and sky, rain and fog, trees and electrical wires, the shape of the earth, the temperature, the wind, all affecting the sound, changing the timbre ever so slightly, band members spaced out over hundreds of yards, improvising on an impossibly grand scale, the earth as their stage, nature as their recording studio, a deliriously abstract sound world of subtle drones and drifting ambience. Imagine some long haired seventies Japanese psych rock combo, but filtered through the Jewelled Antler Collective, jamming with Chris Watson, set up on sandy dunes, grassy knolls, forest glades, each not necessarily -playing- their instruments, but instead coaxing sounds from within the instruments, setting those sounds free and sending them skyward, watching them drift downwind, where a bandmate snatches the sounds and coaxes complimentary sounds from his own instrument, sending a sonic response, these messages, these billows of abstract shimmer and steaks of lush reverberation weaving into and around each other, the sky full of warm warbly mysterious sound. Psychedelic for sure, but more a sort of eyes closed, mind open dream drift drone psychedelia. One of the most hauntingly mysterious and utterly beautiful drone records we've heard, and one of our all time favorite records!
MPEG Stream: "1"
MPEG Stream: "2"

album cover CRONIN, MIKAL s/t (Trouble In Mind) cd 11.98
Yay, after a brief delay, last week's Record Of The Week is now available on cd!!! (And it's now a proper cd, not a cd-r like they pressed originally, though the packaging is fairly no-frills.)
Here's what we said: Up until now, SF garage popper Mikal Cronin seemed to exist mostly as sideman, his name usually following an ampersand, which in turn seemed to typically be preceeded by the name Ty Segall. Thus most of our experiences with Cronin had been the duo of Segall & Cronin, and everything we had heard we dug, a LOT, but it was hard to tell what exactly Cronin was bringing to the table, but listening to this now, seems the answer is EVERYTHING! And as much as we love Ty Segall, we're thinking that maybe much of that garage pop magic was coming from the other side of the ampersand, cuz WOW is this record totally great. Anyone at all into the SF garage pop scene, Thee Oh Sees, the Fresh & Onlys, Ty Segall, Bare Wires, etc, will go absolutely nuts for this. And if this record doesn't immediately catapult Cronin into the spotlight, then there's something very very wrong with the world. A perfect blend of sunshiney jangle, garagey fuzz, paisley pop and noisy psychedelia. And for all the warped fuzz and reverbed drunched lo fi crunch of his peers, it seems Cronin has much more of a pure pop heart. That pure pop is however gloriously corrupted by little bits of wild flute flecked freakouts, strange horns, noise rock jams, and whatever else struck Cronin's fancy it seems, yet whatever sonic weirdness Cronin adds to the mix, it never sound gratuitous, it always sounds like an organic part of the song and the sound, and without fail, the song is crazy catchy, and the sound is fantastically lush and psychedelic and utterly ruling.
The first track manages to sum it up pretty perfectly. Starting with some dreamy Beach Boys a cappella harmonies, then some big distorted guitar crunch, pounding drums, before slipping right into some dreamy almost folky jangle, acoustic guitar strum, fuzzy bass, sweet vocal harmonies and HOOKS FOR DAYS, like the best song the Fresh & Onlys never wrote, but a little bit more twisted and a little bit more Byrds / paisley pop, but with plenty of crunch and fuzz, a little bit proggy in its arrangement, and then out of nowhere, with about a minute left, the song explodes into a double time pounding psych rock blow out, complete with jagged guitar crunch and a wild flute freakout (coutresy of John Dwyer of Thee Oh Sees). We've probably listened to that song 50 times since we got this in.
But once we dug deeper, we realized that pretty much every song here is an absolute gem, "Apathy" with it's start/stop acoustic strum, wild feedback, and total classic pop hooks (reminding us melodically of The Olivia Tremor Control actually), "Green And Blue", with it's thick crunch droned out guitar buzz, dirgey drumming, thick blown out wall of sound and wild tangle of psychguitar freakout, "Get Along", which is another acoustic guitar driven chunk of practically perfect dreampop, rife with sweet harmony vox and some cool tripped out backwards psych guitar melodies, "Slow Down", a lo-fi, organ driven ballad, all stretched out drones and fuzzy reverbed vox, "Gone", another crunchy, riff heavy rocker, that should have Thee Oh Sees fans frothing at the mouth. And so it goes, the perfect mix of modern garage pop and classic indie jangle, and some of THEE best songs EVER. This week's list is chock full of contenders for pop record of the year, but if any of the other ones are gonna come out on top, this is gonna be the one to beat.
MPEG Stream: "Is It Alright?"
MPEG Stream: "Green & Blue"
MPEG Stream: "Apathy"
MPEG Stream: "Get Along"

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album cover 3 LEAFS Titular Lines (self released) cd-r 6.98
3 Leafs have slowly become not only one of our favorite psychedelic bands in San Francisco, but maybe even worldwide. We've dug everything they've released so far, but it was with their last release, Eat The Earth, that we really realized something really special was being created via their approach to improv based spaced out psych. With Titular Lines, we get further proof that this is a group truly invested in the essence of psychedelic music making. Too many of their counterparts seem very connected to one specific moment or era of psych rock, but what makes 3 Leafs stand above the crowd is how they really are true aficionados of such a wide spanning range of mind melting sounds.
The record starts off with a warm and woozy jam that sounds like some amazing lost outtake from a Miles Davis recording circa Live-Evil / Bitches Brew. As the record continues it shifts, twists and turns into hypnotic spells of sound that take us on a magical ride through a landscape of sonic wonder, rife with moments that recall Ennio Morricone, the Necks, Ash Ra Temple, Magma, Blues Control, Parson Sound, Terry Riley, Steve Reich, Ariel Kalma, Eternal Tapestry, Sun Araw, the Organisation, White Hills, and others. We love how there is patience and an elegant pacing to the music of 3 Leafs. While others want to hit you over the head with just how 'psych' and 'weird' they are, 3 Leafs allow their tracks to slowly evolve with layer upon layer, allowing you to more deeply feel the evolved feeling of these sounds. This group definitely has the ability to sound shimmering and majestic as well as raw and haunting. So many other psych bands right now are getting all kinds of wide spread praise and acclaim, but we feel 3 Leafs deserves just as much attention as this is psych made with a deeper understanding and a long lasting impact.
MPEG Stream: "Titular Lines"
MPEG Stream: "Coriolis Wind"
MPEG Stream: "The International Section"
MPEG Stream: "Where Do You Live Again?"

album cover 5TURNS25 Evolution of the Human Heart (Time Released Sound) cd-r 40.00
The latest ultra limited and lovingly handmade release from SF one man label Time Released Sound. And actually, calling TRS merely a label does not at all do justice to the things he puts out. In some ways it's almost more art than music. Sure we're a record store, so we get these and think, wow, this amazing record has the most incredible packaging. But taking a step back, it's easy to imagine just the opposite, the man behind TRS is an artist, and each new 'piece' just so happens to be accompanied by a soundtrack. Either way, it's pretty impossible to resist, and pretty much every music nerd we know, has gone nuts for this stuff, and a little bit obsessed with the label, so much so that we have standing orders for ANYTHING Time Released Sound puts out (just ask, we can add you to the list).
This latest release/art object comes courtesy of a duo from the Northeast US who call themselves 5Turns25, and who specialize in a sort of electronic flecked ambient folk, reminding us a bit at times of aQ beloved Rameses III, the same sort of pastoral drift, skeletal acoustic guitars, thick undulating drones, swirls of washed out shimmer, a sort of droney drifty Appalachia at times, something much more hushed and intimate at others, the sound lush and expansive, as capable of blossoming into a rich majestic epic as floating lazy through soft clouds of whir and thrum. Some of the tracks have a sort of Avarus vibe, not so clattery or free, but a kind of foresty folk. The guitar here is the main instrument, weaving gorgeous lilting melodies, swirls of chordal hum, all over a constantly shifting bed of muted industrial sounds, hushed FX and blurred dreamlike ambience. The band records in an old barn, and the music is thus peppered with sonic evidence of their location, creaks and groans woven right into the music. Crystalline and glimmering and so lovely, which is of course reflected in the insanely elaborate and impossibly meticulously crafted packaging. Where to begin?
The cd-r itself has a full color face, and is housed in a fabric sleeve, there are two inserts, printed on thick textured paper, with strange stickers affixed in various places to interact with the printed images, with art, and liner notes, a discography, there's also a hand worked / collaged notebook page with original art, each one unique. Affixed to the notebook page are a pair of mismatched clock hands, everything housed in an oversized vellum sleeve, printed and stamped, this one featuring an elaborately cut front panel, with the images of clocks punched out of a smoked white sheet of plastic, held to the vellum sleeve by a hand printed Japanese style obi. Phew! So wonderful, sonically and visually, worth every penny!
LIMITED TO 100 COPIES, we have just 15, and that's all we'll be able to get!
MPEG Stream: "Beneath The Noise"
MPEG Stream: "Money In Hand"
MPEG Stream: "Snowy Future"

album cover ALVARIUS B Blood Operatives Of The Barium Sunset (Abduction) cd 16.98
NOW ON CD! And a swank multiple-skull-bedecked 6 panel digipak to boot. Originally released on vinyl in 2005 on the Sun City Girls' Abduction label (and more recently as a cassette on PlusTapes), Blood Operatives Of The Barium Sunset was at the time the first Alvarius B release in 7 years, a project of Sun City Girl Alan Bishop, accompanied by long time SCG accomplice violinist Eyvind Kang, as well as Randall Dunn, Tim Young and Andrew McGinnis.
Alvarius B is some sort of weirdo psychedelic cabaret folk music, somewhere between Tom Waits, Nick Cave, and show tunes (?). The opener is a swampy bit of country folk, all slithery acoustic guitars, junk yard percussion, weird voices, Bishop's snarly vox, lots of buzz and tense atmospheric shimmer, and the lyrics, an over the top tale of miserable miscreants, while the second track is even more Tom Waits-ish, a piano ballad, haunting and melancholy, distorted and creepy, over a chorus of nighttime crickets, as if Bishop was set up on the porch of some old house on the edge of a black swamp. From there on, the sound slips into a strange lilting doom folk, Kang's viola, moaning over some atonal strum, and Bishop ranting like a madman. Deep chanted vocals draped over jagged acoustic guitar, a distant choir competes with some strange grunting, jaw harp, moody hushed vocals drift over a latticework of spidery steel string buzz, super dramatic and over the top, helps that that one is actually a cover, a piece by Italian horror soundtrack composer Fabio Frizzi, lyrics of course courtesy of Bishop. Which is what turns it into something much sicker and more hauntingly demented than even Frizzi could have ever imagined.
They also tackle a Morricone track, and a traditional, but it hardly matters, Bishop and company make the songs their own, transforming them into oozing, misanthropic swamp folk dirges, creepy, and funny, and fucked up, exactly what you'd expect from one of the Sun City Girls, an aural roadtrip through the hellish mind of a madman, a lost world of run down houses, bleak swampland, of destitution and despondency, but viewed through a serious cracked lens, that makes even the most dismal and brutal and miserable situations and characters seem endlessly fascinating and mysterious. Awesome stuff, essential for Sun City Girls obsessives of course, but maybe a bit TOO out there for the general population, which is precisely what makes this so awesome.
MPEG Stream: "Dirty Angels"
MPEG Stream: "Ballad Of Colonel Fawcett"
MPEG Stream: "Missy Undertaker"
MPEG Stream: "Shenandoah"

album cover ARCKANUM Helvitismyryr (Season Of Mist) cd 14.98
Latest from this Swedish one man black metal band, and the fourth in a seemingly sonically connected tetralogy, beginning with the godlike Antikosmos from 2008, continuing with 2009's oddly named but nearly as good PPPPPPPPPPP (those really should be runes, not 'P's), and then last year's Sviga Lae, which we were never able to get a hold of, unfortunately. Helvitismyrkr, while perhaps not nearly as good as Antikosmos, definitely ranks up there with the other three, and the more we listen to this, the more it seeps into our soul, and the better it sounds.
On PPPPPPPPPPP, it seemed like the only big change from Antikosmos was that the sound was getting more polished, but the sound here is appropriately raw, still punky and thrashy, shot through with bits of classic metal, NWOBHM, and of course first wave classic Scandinavian style BM, with soaring frantic riffage, and epic arrangements, but like on the other Arckanum's, the sound shifts constantly, from doomy dirge to black blast to midtempo lope, with lots of strange breakdowns and stop/start arrangements, and guitar solos, yep, one of the few black metal bands that has leads, and they're pretty killer, occasionally just mirroring the melody, but often totally shredding.
The opening track here, "Helvitt", gives a pretty good taste of Arckanum circa 2011, with all of the above mentioned elements in full effect, and all woven into a buzzing, blasting, soaring, pounding chunk of blackness that manages to be surprisingly catchy to boot.
The classic /traditional metal elements play a big part here, and there seems to be a definite shift even further away from the grim black buzz of the early years, with much of this edging ever closer to 'rock' than 'metal', but it definitely suits the songs, more melodic, more memorable, with a handful of the songs slipping into slow almost ballady prettiness, still heavy, just moody and melodic, while others just creeping along ominously, like the nearly psychedelic closing track, but those moments seem to often be perfectly bookended by more furious frenzied sounds.
We're digging this a lot, and guessing it should definitely appeal to fans of the more rock sound of the recent Glorior Belli which we raved about a list or two back, while still remaining just black enough for the true grim hordes...
MPEG Stream: "Helvitt"
MPEG Stream: "Myrkrin Vinna Hefnt"
MPEG Stream: "Or Djupum"

album cover AYSHAY Warn U (Triangle) cd 12.98
The two most recent records put out by ultra hip experimental electronic label Triangle, finds that label continuing to push well past the 'witch house' genre ghetto that birthed them. To be fair, the first few proper releases on Triangle, Holy Other, Clams Casino, and Balam Acab, were already a sort of POST witch house strain anyway, with some of the WH tropes retained, but with those groups upping the production big time, and ditching much of the lo-fi drag that defined the best witch house, and in the process, inventing a new electronica. Elsewhere on this week's list you'll find the new record from SF electro weirdos Water Borders, a dizzying slab of Coil worshipping electronic what the fuck genius, and then there's this, the debut from Ayshay, which also incorporates a bit of Coil into the proceedings, but there seem to be no beats at all, at least initially, channeling some sort of Cocteau Twins ethereal drift, with some processed throat singing style vocals as a bass, the only beat a buried pulse, it's pretty compelling, and darkly haunting, and beautiful for sure. The second track offers up more of the same, channeling Grouper and stripping away all that low fidelity murk and instead creating a lush layered symphony of voices, subtly twisted and tweaked, another spectral vocal bliss out, and in fact, the third track is more of the same, it's like a three part vocal song suite that acts as a sort of introduction to the final 12 minute "Nguzunguzu Megamix", which is in fact the first track with beats, and while we may have been expecting some sort of skittery drag, or murky muted low end throb, it actually plays more like some lost Muslimgauze remix, all skittery Eastern percussion, multiple drums and rhythms all tangled up, some hand claps, some serious low end, all over those ethereal vox from the first few tracks, the sound constantly shifting, the beat growing more and more block rockin as the track progresses until it finally blossoms into some almost jungle near the end, the stutter and skitter (and some BIG bass booms), perfectly woven into that strange shimmery swirl of ghostly vox. And it's those last few minutes that are the sort of warped and weird, beat heavy mystery secret weapon that some cool DJ will unleash from his sonic arsenal at just the right time and just destroy the dancefloor. So good, getting tons of play here at AQ and appropriately just in time for the Halloween season...
MPEG Stream: "Warn-U"
MPEG Stream: "Nguzunguzu Megamix"

album cover BJORK Biophilia (Deluxe Edition) (Nonesuch) cd 16.98
Forget about the multimedia / iPad formats of this new album via which Bjork originally released Biophilia, all that app stuff just gets in the way, and clouds the fact that this is one of the most emotionally intense, dark, and rewarding albums Bjork has crafted yet. Biophilia continues display what a rare vision Bjork has, making her undisputedly one of the most imaginative and original musicians of our time. Filled with haunting organs, primitive electronics, majestic harps, delicate bells, and of course one of the most commanding and mystifying voices we've heard. It's a record that shares the intimacy of Vespertine, the dark intensity of Medulla, and the focus and power of Homogenic.
Much of Biophilia is filled with slower, brooding sounds. But the moments of ecstatic release that come on tracks like "Crystaline", "Mutual Core", and "Natura" are so perfectly paced, making us freak out and lose ourselves in the sound before returning to the heavy emotional essence of the rest of the record. When Bjork sings lines like 'craving miracles', you are reminded that she is one of the view artists who has the ability to truly create magic and miracles with her music. She continues to be steadfast in her vision and uncompromising approach to making music. These songs slowly crawl beneath your skin, recalling the best moments of records by Brigitte Fontaine and Robert Wyatt, yet so utterly modern, futuristic and timeless all at once. Brilliant!
MPEG Stream: "Crystalline"
MPEG Stream: "Mutual Core"
MPEG Stream: "Thunderbolt"
MPEG Stream: "Nattura"

album cover BLUE DAISY The Sunday Gift (Black Acre) cd 16.98
Blue Daisy is the murkily downtempo project spearheaded by London producer Kwesi Darko, who's one to slide between any number of electronica's microgenres - dubstep, leftfield house, soulful croons, banging trax, and lots of nocturnal ambience. These may be the same strategies towards a hauntological electric dub that Demdike Stare had used to build their epic works, but Darko's wandering, disjointed beats gravitate back to a post-hip hop structuralism instead of the cryptic crate-digging of Demdike Stare. The resultant debut album from Blue Daisy (after a handful of killer 12"s and 10"s) looks through Burial back to the opiated Bristol sound of Tricky, Portishead, and Massive Attack. The female voice - compressed through layers of static and shitty microphones - is a constant theme throughout the album, certainly alluding to how Beth Gibbons sounded in Portishead. "Firewall" (featuring the occasional Blue Daisy vocalist Anneke Warburton) situates that static-saturated, angelic voice above a grizzled, snaking bassline and echo-pulse breakbeats. The album fractures through collages of media samples and blurred ambience, re-forming into the darkcore productions of "Shadow Assassins" and "Psyche Inquiry" which come across somewhere between RZA and Dalek, complete with gnarled psych-funk guitar riffs amidst the heavy beats. Out of these subterranean cuts, sparkling ambient synth lines morph into Kompakt-styled rolling minimal techno sourced from hypnotic bloop, monophunk beats, and disembodied female vocals again from Warburton, rounding out this mighty fine album.
MPEG Stream: "Firewall"
MPEG Stream: "Shadow Assassins"
MPEG Stream: "Spinning Channels"

album cover BONNIE PRINCE BILLY Wolfroy Goes to Town (Drag City ) cd 14.98
Not sure what it is exactly, but some of us just sort of gave up on Will Oldham a while back, Oldham in his Bonnie Prince Billy guise just didn't seem to do it for us anymore, sure we dug those first few BPB records, but our hearts always belonged to the pre-BPB Oldham project, the late great Palace Brothers and post Palace Brothers, it was just never the same. But this new one from Oldham has us wondering if we haven't been missing out, cuz this collection of songs is some of the prettiest, most heartfelt music we've heard from him in ages. And his singing sounds better than ever, having ditched that warbly creaking about to crack croon, for something more polished, still rough and ragged and a little raspy, but much more controlled, and less seemingly purposefully fragile. And the songs on this new record too, simple and spare, but also lush and lovely, sounding more like classic country/folk covers than originals, which is a testament to their power. The band too, understated, but powerful, with the female background vocals perfectly balancing Oldham's voice, and making these songs sound almost like spirituals, not to mention the warm whirr of the pump organ, and some deftly placed distorted guitars.
Listening to this, we can't help but think of Neil Young, or Townes Van Zandt, or any number of classic singer/songwriters, the same sort of hushed energy, the songs timeless, the performances effortless, but so imbued with true passion, darkly dolorous, haunting and utterly honest and heartfelt, and so good, it has us doubters headed back into Oldham's catalog to see if there's more stuff like this we may have been missing. SO recommended.
MPEG Stream: "Time To Be Clear"
MPEG Stream: "No Match"
MPEG Stream: "We Are Unhappy"

album cover BONNIE PRINCE BILLY Wolfroy Goes to Town (Drag City ) lp 17.98
Not sure what it is exactly, but some of us just sort of gave up on Will Oldham a while back, Oldham in his Bonnie Prince Billy guise just didn't seem to do it for us anymore, sure we dug those first few BPB records, but our hearts always belonged to the pre-BPB Oldham project, the late great Palace Brothers and post Palace Brothers, it was just never the same. But this new one from Oldham has us wondering if we haven't been missing out, cuz this collection of songs is some of the prettiest, most heartfelt music we've heard from him in ages. And his singing sounds better than ever, having ditched that warbly creaking about to crack croon, for something more polished, still rough and ragged and a little raspy, but much more controlled, and less seemingly purposefully fragile. And the songs on this new record too, simple and spare, but also lush and lovely, sounding more like classic country/folk covers than originals, which is a testament to their power. The band too, understated, but powerful, with the female background vocals perfectly balancing Oldham's voice, and making these songs sound almost like spirituals, not to mention the warm whirr of the pump organ, and some deftly placed distorted guitars.
Listening to this, we can't help but think of Neil Young, or Townes Van Zandt, or any number of classic singer/songwriters, the same sort of hushed energy, the songs timeless, the performances effortless, but so imbued with true passion, darkly dolorous, haunting and utterly honest and heartfelt, and so good, it has us doubters headed back into Oldham's catalog to see if there's more stuff like this we may have been missing. SO recommended.
MPEG Stream: "Time To Be Clear"
MPEG Stream: "No Match"
MPEG Stream: "We Are Unhappy"

album cover BORATTO, GUI III (Kompakt) cd 16.98
It's been a pretty great month for electronica here at the store with brand new releases from our favorite artists on Kompakt. Last list we raved about new outings by The Field and Walls, and this time we get to gush about the third album by Gui Boratto. It took us a couple listens, but we now can say we deeply dig this record so much, as Boratto really strikes such vivid moods and sounds on each track. His debut album, Chromophobia has become a total classic in our books, ranking as one of our favorite electronica albums of the last decade. While we for sure liked his follow up, we would be lying now if we said it was as great as that debut. And while III might not erase the fact that Chromophobia is still our favorite, we got to say that we are getting way more into this than the last outing and remembering why we fell so hard for Boratto in the first place. And lots of that is due to a single song, "The Drill", which first showed up on the recent Total 12 comp and has to be the best thing we've heard from him. A heavy bassy low slung groove, all fuzzy and distorted, with a weird woozy synth melody and some cool handclap snares, the drums wreathed in effects, a little bit of backwards whhhhoooo, and then suddenly the bass gets even more distorted sounding crumbling and fuzzy and almost metallic, and then it does it AGAIN, getting more weirdly effected and distorted, only to slip right back into the more muted groove, and so it goes, that super catchy bassline synthgroove, constantly changing tone and timbre, the sound following suit, slipping from groovy and slithery, to super blown out and crackly, distorted and in-in-the-red, and right back to that moody sorts of housey skitter. Someone needs to make us an hour long mix of just this song, cuz we'd set out cd player on repeat and listen to nothing else.
But even beyond that track, the sounds Boratto creates have such bright colors and lush warmth, and at the same time he's also has really introduced a newfound tension into his songs, reminding us of the heyday of IDM, combining elements of folks like Plaid and Aphex Twin into something all his own!
MPEG Stream: "The Drill"
MPEG Stream: "Stems From Hell"
MPEG Stream: "Striker"
MPEG Stream: "Flying Practice"

album cover BORATTO, GUI III (Kompakt) 2lp+cd 23.00
It's been a pretty great month for electronica here at the store with brand new releases from our favorite artists on Kompakt. Last list we raved about new outings by The Field and Walls, and this time we get to gush about the third album by Gui Boratto. It took us a couple listens, but we now can say we deeply dig this record so much, as Boratto really strikes such vivid moods and sounds on each track. His debut album, Chromophobia has become a total classic in our books, ranking as one of our favorite electronica albums of the last decade. While we for sure liked his follow up, we would be lying now if we said it was as great as that debut. And while III might not erase the fact that Chromophobia is still our favorite, we got to say that we are getting way more into this than the last outing and remembering why we fell so hard for Boratto in the first place. And lots of that is due to a single song, "The Drill", which first showed up on the recent Total 12 comp and has to be the best thing we've heard from him. A heavy bassy low slung groove, all fuzzy and distorted, with a weird woozy synth melody and some cool handclap snares, the drums wreathed in effects, a little bit of backwards whhhhoooo, and then suddenly the bass gets even more distorted sounding crumbling and fuzzy and almost metallic, and then it does it AGAIN, getting more weirdly effected and distorted, only to slip right back into the more muted groove, and so it goes, that super catchy bassline synthgroove, constantly changing tone and timbre, the sound following suit, slipping from groovy and slithery, to super blown out and crackly, distorted and in-in-the-red, and right back to that moody sorts of housey skitter. Someone needs to make us an hour long mix of just this song, cuz we'd set out cd player on repeat and listen to nothing else.
But even beyond that track, the sounds Boratto creates have such bright colors and lush warmth, and at the same time he's also has really introduced a newfound tension into his songs, reminding us of the heyday of IDM, combining elements of folks like Plaid and Aphex Twin into something all his own!
MPEG Stream: "The Drill"
MPEG Stream: "Stems From Hell"
MPEG Stream: "Striker"
MPEG Stream: "Flying Practice"

album cover BUDD, HAROLD In The Mist (Darla Records) cd 19.98
Forget about the Pop Ambient series, and other modern dreamy music makers, when it comes to simply stunning, calming and beautiful sounds it just doesn't get better then Harold Budd. Now 75 years old, and showing no signs of losing his immaculate touch, In The Mist is quickly becoming one of our favorite Budd records ever. This is how we like his music the best, just Budd and a piano, so stripped down and minimal, yet able to conjure up such a majestic and otherworldly soundworld. Slowly drifting and gliding with an ease and emotional warmth that allows you to tune out the noise of the outside world and return to a place of peaceful surrender. What makes Budd's music so special is that in any other hands the sounds would just be pleasant but not much more, but Budd has this amazing knack for masterful phrasing that injects soft melancholy and real bliss into his compositions.
It makes such great sense that in so many ways Harold Budd is an artist's music maker. We know so many great visual artists who play Budd's music in their studio as it really does give you a clean slate to work from, erasing the clutter and annoyances of everyday life and softly guiding you into places that are filled with spirit and soul. Beyond beautiful!
MPEG Stream: "The Foundry (For Mika Vainio)"
MPEG Stream: "Greek George"
MPEG Stream: "Haru Spring"
MPEG Stream: "The Art Of Mirrors (After Derek Jarman)"

album cover CALDERA LAKES Arranged (Ecstatic Peace) cassette 9.98
Kevin Shields! There's a name that garners a lot of attention; and it's pretty obvious why Eva Aguila uses that moniker for her scalding noise ventures which she has broadcast up and down the West Coast. We're sure that a few must have stumbled into grimy warehouse noise shows expecting The Kevin Shields of My Bloody Valentine to be slumming it, instead to find a woman behind a table of pedals and some weird typewriter looking thing, all of which sizzle and shriek with a blaring electricity. So, if the ruse has ever drawn anybody in, were they pissed? Bemused? Hard to guess, but in addition to her activities as Kevin Shields, Aguila also records and performs in the duo Caldera Lakes with Brittany Gould. Here, they swing between deconstructed dream-time, avant-folk meanderings and full-on noise mode. Everything on this tape is swimming in a suitably lo-fi soup that could be the shittiness of this cassette (ostensibly a 'professional' duplication job) or the antique haze purposefully grafted onto the production. Detached folksongs strummed in monotone on guitar, with spluttered events, eerie tones, and haunted voices that drone-on creating a vibe that's not too far from those of Christina Carter or Grouper; but as these tracks proceed, convulsive noises ramp their activity from minor overloads on a four-track into concussion bomb explosions muffled through the constant gauze of tape hiss. Elsewhere, percussive scrabblings trickle through a multitude of delay pedals, forming stoned / hypnogogic patterns in keeping with some of the early experiments by Zoviet France (e.g. Eostre, Signal Gesture Threat, etc.). Static electricity cracks the ether around these phasing delays gradually building into another swelling cloud of ominous charged particles. Limited to 100 copies!

album cover CANYONS / TIGON / FOREIGN THEATERS Can't Have Nothin' Nice (Mayfly / Melotov / The Ghost Is Clear) lp 9.98
Got a handful of these three way split lps featuring some heavy rock outfits we hadn't heard before now, but are digging all three, pretty, umm… heavily. Four tracks from each, up first is Canyons who hail from Missouri, and who we had never heard before but who absolutely push all out mathmetalpunk buttons, reminding us a bit of local noise rockers Kowloon Walled City, but a bit more punky, their furious pound splintering into wild proggy mathiness as often as AmRep style head caving sonic swagger.
Tigon, who are from right here in the Bay Area, counter with their own brand of heaviness, much more murky and bass heavy, and way more wildly mathy, sounding almost like a super charged Nomeansno merged with a more lo-fi Unsane, furiously howled vox over the constantly shifting sonic churn below, occasionally slipping into something much more broody and stripped down, but those moments are balance by some seriously epic post rock infused metal majesty. The AmRep vibe is strong with these guys too. They also remind us a bit of Young Widows, which is most definitely not a bad thing.
And finally Foreign Theaters, who also hail from Missouri, round out the three way with their Melvins-y dirge rock, heavy hints of Black Flag, all woven into roiling brooding metallic punk, their songs much shorter, short sharp bursts of urgent heaviness, a noise drenched punk that occasionally slips into woozy slithery dirgery, but spends most of its time pounding and churning, the throat shredding vox wreathed in tangled droned out guitars that definitely make FT's punk more post punk and noise rock than punk proper, and we dig it!
LIMITED TO 500 COPIES, pressed on recycled black vinyl, and housed in a full color sleeve with a printed insert and a download coupon.
MPEG Stream: CANYONS "I'm Worthy All The Time"
MPEG Stream: TIGON "Dreadnaught"
MPEG Stream: FOREIGN THEATERS "Yinz Playin' Piss Feet"

album cover CASTLE In Witch Order (Van) cd 14.98
It's always weird to discover a local band via a label in another city, or even another country, but it happens all the time. Not sure if it speaks to a lack of venues in SF, or less importance placed on bands playing tons of shows before putting out a record, or just us not going to enough shows, but we keep discovering records by bands we didn't even know existed, even though they're from right here. Which was the case with Castle, whose new record was just released on aQ beloved German label Van Records, who in the past have brought us incredible music from Ruins Of Beverast, Sol, Nagelfar, The Devil's Blood, Griftegard, Verdunkeln, Funeral Procession, Kermania and more.
Castle might have the most in common with their labelmates The Devil's Blood, being a female fronted heavy rock band, and with the seeming popularity of 'witchy' metal bands, it seems only a matter of time before fans of Loon, Blood Ceremony, Jex Thoth, Cauchemar, The Devil's Blood, Christian Mistress, Purple Rhinestone Eagle and all the others finally discover these guys (and gal) and freak the fuck out, cuz Castle might just be one of our favorites, they have an incredible sound, heavy and psychedelic, drawing on classic heavy metal, a little modern black metal, classic psych, and vocalist Elizabeth Blackwell has a killer voice, raw and rough around the edges, but powerful and emotional, a little bit gritty, a hint of a rasp, the same sort of vibe we used to get from Doro (vocalist for Warlock), intense and powerful, without resorting to shrieking or howling, somehow the perfect match for the music, riffy and psychedelic, and in fact, they have a little Sunset Strip swagger, some of what we love about eighties metal finds its way in, as does some cool mathy post rockiness, opener "Descent Of Man" might be the heavy psych jam of the year, with a killer main riff, a wicked hook, groovy and heavy and tranced out, took a while before we could even get to the rest of the record, but once we did, pretty much all the tracks hit just as hard. So great!!
MPEG Stream: "Descent Of Man"
MPEG Stream: "Fire In The Sky"
MPEG Stream: "Slaves Of The Pharoah"

album cover CASTLE In Witch Order (Van) lp 17.98
It's always weird to discover a local band via a label in another city, or even another country, but it happens all the time. Not sure if it speaks to a lack of venues in SF, or less importance placed on bands playing tons of shows before putting out a record, or just us not going to enough shows, but we keep discovering records by bands we didn't even know existed, even though they're from right here. Which was the case with Castle, whose new record was just released on aQ beloved German label Van Records, who in the past have brought us incredible music from Ruins Of Beverast, Sol, Nagelfar, The Devil's Blood, Griftegard, Verdunkeln, Funeral Procession, Kermania and more.
Castle might have the most in common with their labelmates The Devil's Blood, being a female fronted heavy rock band, and with the seeming popularity of 'witchy' metal bands, it seems only a matter of time before fans of Loon, Blood Ceremony, Jex Thoth, Cauchemar, The Devil's Blood, Christian Mistress, Purple Rhinestone Eagle and all the others finally discover these guys (and gal) and freak the fuck out, cuz Castle might just be one of our favorites, they have an incredible sound, heavy and psychedelic, drawing on classic heavy metal, a little modern black metal, classic psych, and vocalist Elizabeth Blackwell has a killer voice, raw and rough around the edges, but powerful and emotional, a little bit gritty, a hint of a rasp, the same sort of vibe we used to get from Doro (vocalist for Warlock), intense and powerful, without resorting to shrieking or howling, somehow the perfect match for the music, riffy and psychedelic, and in fact, they have a little Sunset Strip swagger, some of what we love about eighties metal finds its way in, as does some cool mathy post rockiness, opener "Descent Of Man" might be the heavy psych jam of the year, with a killer main riff, a wicked hook, groovy and heavy and tranced out, took a while before we could even get to the rest of the record, but once we did, pretty much all the tracks hit just as hard. So great!!
MPEG Stream: "Descent Of Man"
MPEG Stream: "Fire In The Sky"
MPEG Stream: "Slaves Of The Pharoah"

album cover CHARRED WALLS OF THE DAMNED Cold Winds On Timeless Days (Metal Blade) cd 14.98
Record number two from this metal supergroup, and like the first one, besides being heavy and hooky and epic, once again reminds us how much we wish more metal bands had actual real singers, capable of actually and really singing, and then of course there are the shredding leads, which are sorely lacking in most metal these days as well. The sounds here are pretty classic metal, but with a hint of modern power metal a la Blind Guardian and Lost Horizon, which makes sense when you check out the band members' pedigrees: Tim "Ripper" Owens" (Judas Priest, Iced Earth, Yngwie Malmsteen), Richard Christy (Death, Iced Earth), Steve DiGiorgio (Death, Autopsy, Control Denied, Testament, Obituary), Jason Suecof (Capharnaum, Crotchduster).
Most metal folks probably know Richard Christy as a radio personality on Howard Stern's show, but he's still a killer drummer, and all these guys shred, and this record is just a primo slab of classic heavy metal. It's not blackened, or FX drenched, or warped or twisted, but it is technical, a little proggy, heavy as fuck, thrashy, and hooky as hell, and if you're a fan of the classics, Maiden, Dio, Priest, etc., and have been lamenting the state of modern metal, this record is a total timewarp to the days of classic heavy metal, and like the first one, we find ourselves listening to very little else.
MPEG Stream: "Timeless Days"
MPEG Stream: "Ashes Falling Upon Us"
MPEG Stream: "Zerospan"

album cover COLTRANE, ALICE Transfiguration (Warner Bros. / Rhino ) 2lp 30.00
So stoked that this has now been reissued on vinyl!
Transfigurations is a live performance from 1975 at UCLA, and was Coltrane's last official album until she returned to music making in 2004. She did however self-release her own cassettes during that long gap. Further proof of just how cool she was, way ahead of the whole DIY cassette explosion by a few decades!
Those of us lucky enough to see her live, know how sacred and special her live performances are, and what an intense spiritual presence she radiates. On this recording most of the material is performed with just a trio - including Roy Haynes on drums and Reggie Workman on bass - and it's quite varied: some of the tracks feature long jams of Alice's extremely out 'n warbly organ sound, and some feature five-minute long drum solos. And of course there are those amazing majestic and meditative tracks like, "Prema", a melodic piece that has gorgeously creepy strings overdubbed onto the music, including no less than six violins, two violas and a pair of cellos. It also includes a 36-minute, two-part version of her late husband John's "Leo". An absolute must have for Alice Coltrane fans!
MPEG Stream: " Prema"
MPEG Stream: "Affinity"

album cover CROOKED NECKS Alright Is Exactly What It Isn't (Handmade Birds) lp 17.98
Second release on Handmade Birds from this post (sort of) black metal outfit, formerly called Frail, when they were black metal only in as much as they had shrieked vokills, musically, their sound was much more in line with the Cure or Depeche Mode, dark depressive almost new wave, and wait a second… that's basically true of Crooked Necks as well, after a whole record of Joy Division covers (the recently reviewed Something Must Break 12"), this brand new full length doesn't sound all that far removed, dark shimmery bass lines, lots of chiming melodies and gloom pop guitar jangle, crooned vocals, a little reverby shimmer, softly propulsive rhythms, Crooked Necks are one of those rare bands that all metalheads seem to like, even though they're not even remotely metal. It's that weird heavy metal rule that states all metalheads must like the Cure and Depeche Mode, but just applied to a more modern band, which does make sense cuz again, take those shrieked vocals away, and this record could have come out on Sacred Bones or Captured Tracks or Wierd. But hey, that's fine with us, we're merely questioning why these guys are classified as metal, black or otherwise, maybe they're not so much anymore, regardless, we love this stuff, dreamy blissed out gloom pop, the weird thing is we'd almost even like it more sans the harsh vox, then it would just be pure crystalline jangle pop, a little gloomy, a little gothy, but pretty much total pop. The vocals definitely give it an edge, and there is some cool, slightly weirder stuff going on as well, some strange production, backwards swoops an swirls, but for the most part this is just a great new wave downer pop record, that yeah, if you're an adventurous metalhead, you just might dig, and if you're a popkid, and don't mind a bit of black screech, this could definitely be a new fave.

album cover CURLESS, DICK The Long Lonesome Road (The Omni Recording Corporation) cd 17.98
Sometimes a picture is in fact worth 1000 words, just check out the cover photo on this most recent Omni Recording Corporation reissue, featuring a tall lanky man, brown pants and a black long sleeved turtleneck, sitting on a guitar case on the side of the highway, his hair slicked back, a cowboy hat clutched in his hands, one eye covered by a black eye patch. The title? The Long And Lonesome Road. Of course it is. And a quick scan of the back cover finds the words "drug and alcohol addictions" pop out, as do many of the song titles: "Bury The Bottle With Me", "A Tombstone Every Mile", "Nobody Knows You When You're Down And Out", "Loser's Cocktail", "Goin' Down That Road Feeling Bad", well, by now, like us, you're pretty taken with this, the latest in a long line of unearthed country gems, and we've yet to even hear a note.
We weren't all that familiar with Dick Curless, although according to the liner notes, he had a whole mess of top 40 hits over the years, the note also inform us that the eyepatch is no affectation, and while it was gouged out in a bar fight or shot out by a jealous lover, it was the result of actual health problems. Anyway, the opening track is classic country, Curless's deep voice pretty stunning, the lyrics very very strange, barrelhouse piano, groovy background vocals, it's pretty good stuff, but the next track, "Wrinkled, Crinkled, Wadded Dollar Bill" is where we first get an earful of Curless' impossible and super dramatic low low baritone, sounding, at first blush at least, like Thurl Ravenscroft, the voice of Tony The Tiger and the singer of the Haunted Mansion song from Disneyland. And while he's a capable singer in multiple registers, it's that deeeeeeeep voice that makes this especially great. There are some track we knew, some classic trucker jams (the aforementioned "A Tombstone Every Mile" being an old fave), some honky tonk hits, a very Johnny Cash vibe a lot of the time, but beyond those few tracks, most of this was new to us, and like all Omni reissues, there's lots of amazing stuff to discover, and fans of any of the other Omni collections (Henson Cargill, Tommy Cash, Grandpa Jones, Stonewall Jackson, Dee Mullins, Hank Snow, Billy Edd Wheeler, Larry Jon Wilson), will probably dig this one too!
And like all Omni releases, there's a massive booklet with killer liner note and lots of photos.
MPEG Stream: "You Can't Go Back Again"
MPEG Stream: "Wrinkled, Crinkled, Wadded Dollar Bill"
MPEG Stream: "Bury The Bottle With Me"
MPEG Stream: "A Tombstone Every Mile"
MPEG Stream: "Foggy Foggy Dew"

album cover DISUNICORPS Try (Mercy Wizard) cd-r 8.98
This was another mystery submission, originally presented to us described (maybe not so) simply as "post-post-digital bubblegum black/death metal". And while the first track had us thinking that description was WAY off, a gnarled chunk of churning frantic machinelike riffing and programmed blasting, croaked vocal rumbles, the guitars super distorted and crumbling, a pretty fierce little chunk of programmed black buzz. But then BAM, in comes the second track, and it makes way more sense, bubblegum for sure, minus the harsh vokills, it sounds like some sort of electro pop, or a less damaged Fastest even, the major key melody, the bouncy jaunty rhythm, almost video game music at moments, but those vocals, and the weird echoey reverby production transform it into, well, into post-post-digital bubblegum black/death metal.
And if you needed even further proof of this record's PPDBGBDM sound, skip all the way to the last track, a totally ruling, and bafflingly brilliant, cover of Del Shannon's "Runaway", totally transformed into a buzzy, dirgey epic, and when the weird guitar/synth finally plays that immediately recognizable back ground vocal "Wah Wah Wah Wah Wonder" melody, you sort of want to laugh and bang your head at the same time, and then when the track locks into the super frenzied version of the original song's bridge, it's about the coolest heaviest thing ever, oh and the end of the chorus is transformed into a cool descending depressive riff that totally changes the feel of the whole song.
And in between the opening salvo, and the Del Shannon cover, are a whole mess of twisted, bedroom brewed black metal weirdness, from dirgey heaviness that sounds like a horror movie soundtrack, to programmed loping rhythms that sound like some machine post rock, which slips into some seriously grinding blackness, or from goofy blackened fuzz pop that almost sounds like a black metal Dickies to fuzzy, washed out almost blissy 8-bit sounding new wave drift. It's pretty nuts, and any metalheads who bough the Fastest record, even though it's resolutely NOT metal, will LOVE this, and anyone into twisted weirdo outsider black metal, or post-post-digital bubblegum black/death metal, well, this is for YOU.
MPEG Stream: "Runaway (Del Shannon)"
MPEG Stream: "The Dischordianist"
MPEG Stream: "Funeral Rehearsal"
MPEG Stream: "Plural Jealous Brothers"

album cover DRIPHOUSE Root 91 (Spectrum Spools) lp 24.00
Now available on vinyl, this mysterious recording which was originally released as a super limited cassette on the Root Strata label, hence the strange catlog number title, a cool, strange collection of sounds all created from piano, harpsichord and synths, and all woven into strangely cosmic sonic experiments, that range from swirling, electronic synthdrones that sounds almost like some crazy soundtrack to an alternate universe's planetarium show, to bizarre robotic electro, cobbled together from short bursts of static, bits of glitch and squelch, all wrapped around plink plonk piano melodies. There's also bleepy Radiophonic Workshop style analog electronic bloopscapes, minimal cinematic synthwave rife with shades of John Carpenter, but deconstructed into something much more abstract, super intense blasts of fuzzy shoegaze new age shimmer, this too peppered with starburst effects and sci-fi squiggles, haunting almost soundtracky sprawls of glitchy synth drones and processed minor key melodies, and some seriously creepy sing songy electro wrapped harpsichord, draped over softly swirling string like shimmer, and sounding a bit like the soundtrack to the unsung Halloween III. Cool, strange stuff for sure.
MPEG Stream: "Slow Sum Part One"
MPEG Stream: "Chompers World"
MPEG Stream: "In Peru"

album cover ECHTRA Paragate (Temple Of Torturous) cd 12.98
Latest from this Cascadian black metal outfit, the solo project of, as the band name suggests, Echtra, who is one half of aQ faves Fauna, whose sound is definitely reminiscent of their sonic and geographical brethren in Wolves In The Throne Room. But unlike Wolves, or even Fauna, the music of Echtra is a much more personal and intimate affair, minimal and hushed much of the time, with haunting ambience and dark dreamy folk woven into what is actually more a sort of blissed out doom, than black metal buzz, spidery tendrils of distorted melody wrap themselves around delicately plucked steel strings, all draped over a downtuned dirge, the drums distant and way down in the mix, the vibe washed out and hazy, even at its most distorted and aggressive, the sound is still woozy and dreamlike and a bit shoegazey, the deep growled vokills also buried in the mix, adding more layers to the already thick layered sound. Fans of Megaton Leviathan should definitely check this out, as it's got the same sort of druggy psychedelic vibe. Occasionally the sound grows dissonant, or the drums erupt into some furious double kick, but even then, it's more ominous and sinister than heavy, the sound almost like a blackened folk.
The second track starts out even dreamier, the same Appalachian style steel string guitar, but here wreathed in clouds of gauzy shimmer, the whole thing a gloriously sun dappled prismatic blur, fuzzed out dream folk, that does eventually explode into some blasting buzzing blackness around the nine minute mark, but even then the metal is smeared and muted, the acoustic guitar supplying the melody, again transforming the black buzz into a strange sort of frenetic blackened folkmusic, which gives way to some spare fluttery folk drift, before finishing off with a brief bit of downtuned dirgery.
Someone pointed out recently that all the Echtra songs are 23 minutes long, on ALL of their records, which is in fact the case here too, not sure if there's some sort of significance, but for these 46 minutes, it's easy to get lost in Echtra's gorgeous folk flecked blackened mystery.
Super swank packaging too, metallic gold ink on a heavy textured black cardstock digipak style jacket, both the inner and outer panels embossed too.
MPEG Stream: "Paragate I"
MPEG Stream: "Paragate II"

album cover ELECTRO QUARTERSTAFF Aykroyd (Willowtip) cd 14.98
All right! We've been waiting for this, at long last a new album of mathy mania from our favorite Manitoban instru-metal nerds, who rip it up like an unholy hybrid of The Fucking Champs and Gorguts.
So, we threw this on as soon as we got it in earlier this week, and as we were listening to it in the store, a dizzying display of complicated instrumental triple-guitar metal pyrotechnics, completely ridiculous stuff, Andee remarked to Matt that THIS must be what it sounds like inside Allan's head all the time. To which Allan says, "I wish!"... And Allan's wish is Electro Quarterstaff's command. All he (or anyone) has to do is strap on some headphones and hit "play", and your brain can start doing somersaults and backflips to the tricky tunes of these tech-metal masters!
Yes, it's a fun ride. Somehow the Electro Quarterstaff boys make their music crazy technical and also utterly rock out at the same time. In fact, on some of the tracks here, we declare EQ may have invented the hitherto unknown subgenre of "technical boogie"!!
The Willowtip label is of course known for uber-technical death grind, bands like Arsis, Capharnaum, Gorod, Necrophagist... serious, brutal stuff, though they do have their "humorous" side (remember, uh, Crotchduster?). Electro Quarterstaff certainly have a quizzical sense of humor, witness song titles like "Waltz Of The Swedish Meatballs" and "Unholy Gravy" (though others are less overtly absurd, to be sure). But that's not why we like 'em so much. Any band can come up with silly song titles, but NOT just any band can play like this, nosiree. Grin-inducing MUSICALLY 'cause it's so damn complex, yet catchy too. Reminds us a bit of An Albatross, but not so spastic and noisy, way more METAL, their hectic shred conversant with classical-sounding melody. In fact, first track "The Wolf Shall Inherit The Moon" is a disarmingly beautiful semi-acoustic piece, setting any unsuspecting listeners up for a shock when frantic next track "McNutty" erupts into their ear-space.
Once again, they've named this after a famous Canadian (Gretzky was their debut). And once again, this cd is graced with really awesome artwork. This 2nd album was worth the five year wait, but we hope EQ don't go back into lengthy hibernation right away... what would be really rad would be to see 'em play live, how 'bout a West Coast tour, guys? We'd be in the front row for that, along with any fans of Scale The Summit, Suzikiton, Pegataur, The Champs, Gorguts, etc.
MPEG Stream: "Waltz Of The Swedish Meatballs"
MPEG Stream: "Descent By Annihilation Operator"
MPEG Stream: "Stroganoff"

album cover FAHEY, JOHN Your Past Comes Back To Haunt You: The Fonotone Years (1958-1965) (Dust-To-Digital / Revenant) 5cd + book box 87.00
Young fans of John Fahey who may have thought it all began with Blind Joe Death and the Takoma label will be in hidden treasure heaven with this incredible 5cd box set of Fahey's earliest recorded output for Joe Bussard's Fonotone label, the very last 78 rpm record label. Seasoned fans who may have long tired of seeking out these rarer than rare "cut-on-demand" releases can breathe a sigh of relief that these recordings made between 1958-1965 have been lovingly archived with a big beautiful 88 page book filled with liner notes, extensive histories, anecdotes, indexes, track-by-track commentary, photographs, and production information by Fahey follower Glenn Jones, who has worked for years on this project with a host of contributors. Here are 115 tracks, most of which are on cd for the first time.
It's hard to quantify how many of the originals were made, because Fonotone was a cut on demand mailorder label, meaning someone would have to order the title and the records would be hand cut (not pressed like they are today) from the master tape. Since each one was cut in real time, there were often slight discrepancies in the speed of the record, making each one a unique individual object. While Bussard claims he sold a lot of Fahey's records during his 14 year label lifespan, Jones was never sure if that meant 50 copies or one hundred or more, but given the scarcity of them in the collector resale market, Jones surmises that they might not have been more than 5 complete sets made. So there is a lot of gold to be discovered here. While some of the tracks are early recordings of Fahey Takoma-era classics like "Transcendental Waterfall" and "In Christ, There Is No East or West", there are a myriad of recordings attributed to Blind Thomas, one of Fahey's lost bluesman alter-egos, but unlike his more well-known alter-ego Blind Joe Death, Blind Thomas sang in a gruff world-weary manner, which we'll leave it up to the listener to decide if that is a good or bad thing. Our favorites are a few lovely collaborative tracks with flautist Nancy Maclean and folksinger Fran Vandiver, as well as a long beautiful instrumental track played with Indian instruments ("Western Medley").
But there is so much to pore over and obsess about here that any review we can write can hardly contain our enthusiasm and amazement over such a huge and immersive labor of love. Another score for Dust-To-Digital!!!
(Who, by the way, also just brought out an amazing 4cd boxed collection of vintage African 78s called Opika Pende that we have in stock too, and will endeavor to review on our next list...)
MPEG Stream: "Buck Dancer's Choice 1"
MPEG Stream: "Green River Blues (as Blind Thomas)"
MPEG Stream: "Wissenschaftlich River Blues Part 2 (as Blind Thomas)"
MPEG Stream: "Revelations On The Banks Of The Pawtuxent"
MPEG Stream: "Dreaming Under the B&O Trestle (w/ Nancy Maclean)"
MPEG Stream: "Take This Hammer (w/ Fran Vandiver)"
MPEG Stream: "Portland Cement Factory"
MPEG Stream: "I Am a Rake and Rambling Boy"
MPEG Stream: "Western Medley"

album cover FIELD, THE Looping State Of Mind (Kompact) 2lp+cd 23.00
Now here in the vinyl format too (which comes with the cd as well, as a bonus).
Album number three from one of our favorite forces to emerge in the world of electronica over the last several years. Their (his?) Kompakt debut, Here We Go Sublime, still stands as one of our favorite records of the last five years and this new one is making us think we probably have lots of great records from The Field to look forward to for a long time to come. The Field's hypnotic take on minimal techno has the ability to win over folks who might not usually find themselves listening to techno records, while at the same time putting those who do occupy that word into a perpetual state of bliss.
Looping State Of Mind finds The Field taking their trademark approach to repetition and harnessing it deftly to reach ecstatic levels of energy, yet also demonstrating a knack for evoking much needed breeziness into their sound. We can't wait for some serious late night drive-time with this blasting as we cruise over bridges and under freeway ramps, only paying attention to the road ahead and the blinking lights of the city that surrounds us. So damn good!
MPEG Stream: "Is This Power"
MPEG Stream: "Looping State Of Mind"
MPEG Stream: "Arpeggiated Love"

album cover FREEDOM HAWK Holding On (Small Stone) cd 14.98
The metalheads around aQ, it seems, will always have a soft spot for stoner rock. There's just something about it that always does the trick, the Sabbathy grooves, the thick Kyuss-y sunbaked guitars, the wailing vox, that combination of heaviness and groove is pretty irresistible, but like any genre, there are way more mediocre groups than killer outfits, and in a genre that to some degree is derivative by its very nature, that makes it even harder for a band to sound original, or to at least cop from other bands and in some way make that sound their own. And as avid readers of the aQ list no doubt know by now, we have a serious thing for Freedom Hawk, whose self titled record was a runaway hit around here, one of Andee's favorite records of that year, and even though Allan tried to fight it for some reason, eventually he relented too and admitted he dug 'em too. We then had to track down their other record, the equally kick ass Sunlight - and now, after playing those to death, comes their brand new record Holding On, which as you might imagine, and as we desperately hoped, everything we loved about those other two records are present in full effect: massive riffing, wild shredding leads, killer grooves, pounding drums, epic jams, and those wailing Ozzy like vocals, sounding more like classic Ozzy than Ozzy himself has for years, and the songs, heavy, psychedelic, groovy, spaced out, slipping easily from smoldering dirges to galloping blasts of metallic heaviness, and ruling equally at both. Just check out the samples, and be prepared to dig them so much, that if you haven't already, you'll probably end up needing the other two records as well.
For all the avant weirdness and grim black heaviness we dig around aQ, we somehow find ourselves constantly returning to this lately. In fact, the second this week's list is finished and sent off, and there's no reviewing left to be done (at least for another couple days), odds are this is probably the record we're gonna throw on, which says a whole lot. Hooky and heavy, with actual songs that will get lodged in your head like crazy, the sort of hard rocking heaviness you wanna blast at ear splitting volume with the top down, and the sun dipping below the horizon, as you blast down the interstate.
Stoner record of the year without a doubt. But it might even make it out of the stoner rock ghetto and onto some top tens proper, you never know...
MPEG Stream: "Thunderfoot"
MPEG Stream: "Living For Days"
MPEG Stream: "Edge Of Destiny"
MPEG Stream: "Her Addiction"

album cover FYRNASK Bluostar (Temple Of Torturous) cd 13.98
This is the debut from a one man black metal band from Germany with the odd moniker Fyrnask, and some of the coolest, weirdest most striking cover art we've seen in ages. In fact we were pretty much sold based on the artwork alone. A gorgeously drawn man, who on first glance seems to have a huge golden beard, but on closer inspection, those torrents of tangled hair are emerging from his eyes, and flip it over, and a similar explosion of 'hair' seems to be emerging from a body, like tentacles emerging from the face, and wrapping the body in their creepy golden embrace. We figured with artwork that weird and distinctive, the music would probably have to be too. And considering this is the same label that released the Echtra record (reviewed elsewhere on this week's list) as well as those killer Spectral Lore records from a while back.
And the sounds inside do not let us down, the opening intro is a gorgeous buzzing droned out opener, all clean steel string guitar and warm shards of effulgent shimmer, an almost post rock feel to the slow build, when the second track does finally kick in, it's dense and gnarled and furiously blackened, the riffing a black blur, cyclical and hypnotic, total tranced out heaviness, which occasionally blossoms into soaring melodic majesty, before slipping right back into that relentless buzz. And within that song, the sound shifts constantly, with clean choir like vocals, a loping midtempo stretch before some spare fluttery almost folk, and a final blast of frenzied black riffing.
And so it goes, darkly ominous super cinematic drones give way to dirgey black doom, which in turn explodes into roiling black buzz, all the various parts hot through with subtle (and not so subtle) melody, some stretches sound almost choral, others swirly and psychedelic, still others creepy and otherworldly, the best parts of the record where the metal and non metal parts bleed into one another, like on the nearly 11 minute title track, which finds the metal slowed down to a dirge like crawl, while those choir like vocals surface beneath the swirling buzz, the result darkly dramatic and strangely lovely.
MPEG Stream: "At Fornu Fari"
MPEG Stream: "Evige Stier"
MPEG Stream: "Bergar"

album cover GLANDS OF EXTERNAL SECRETION Reverse Atheism (Butte County Free Music Society) 2lp 27.00
Seymour Glass's Glands Of External Secretion comes from the weirdo surreal art-punk primordial goo that birthed the likes of the Sun City Girls, Thinking Fellers Union Local 282, Porest / Monopause, irr.app.(ext.), and Caroliner. The Glands loiter in the funhouse of culture, picking and choosing the most bizarre bits to appropriate into strange, nauseous collages and splattered songwriting, and as one could gather from the project's name, scatology is never far away. Reverse Atheism could hardly be called a treatise on anything, despite the multitude of religious, atheistic, and existential themes, as Glass hurls everything at his disposal against the wall with a hard splat and an oozing trail down to the floor. Everything gets treated with the same disregard and clownish pie-tossing attitude. Such was commonplace when Glass published the seminal magazine Bananafish, complete with nonsensical reviews that talked more about rhinoceros foot bacteria (for example) than the merits of some mediocre indie band.
Here on Reverse Atheism, there are reinterpretations of biblical tracts, old gospel hymns, and cult-spawn texts (from Elizabeth Clare Prophet and L. Ron Hubbard, no less) alongside punk-era tirades against God and religion - the latter include mutant covers of XTC's "Dear God," God's Gifts "No God," and The Birthday Party's "Mutiny In Heaven." Glass has long worked with the far more sensible singer-songwriter Barbara Manning, bringing her beautifully languid voice into the warbling, asynchronous, fucked-up loops of various plonks and deconstructed song. He's also employed help from Bruce Russell (Dead C), Alastair Galbraith, and Scott Simmons (Eat Skull) amongst lots of other guests and vagrants. In the calliope of tongue-in-cheek references, Glass uniformly slices apart everything - transcendence, salvation, the end of the world, conspiracy theories, mind control, Darwinism, and any pretty much everything in between. The result is more of a mess of entrails than anything cohesive; of course, that's the way Seymour Glass views the world. A compelling and convoluted album for sure.

album cover GROUP INERANE Guitars From Agadez Vol. 3 (Sublime Frequencies) cd 16.98
NOW ON CD!! The limited vinyl version that we made a Record Of The Week last year quickly went out of print, as most Sublime Frequencies titles do, but thankfully now here it is on cd...
It's always exciting to get something new on Sublime Frequencies, and in this case even MORE exciting, the third in the Guitars From Agadez series, and the second from the mighty Group Inerane, leading lights of the Tureg Guitar Revolution, and in this case, revolution might be an apt description. For with the joy of new music from Group Inerane also comes sadness, as the guitarist of the group, has been shot and killed in the ongoing rebellion battles, and Inerane mainman Bibi Ahmed barely escaped with his life from the very same battle.
Hard to imagine a group like this continuing to play music, and tour and perform, in the face of such constant dangers, but for Group Inerane, Group Bombino, and other Tureg Guitar groups, this music is their rebellion, their statement, how they speak out against the senseless loss of life and oppression, and it's that emotion and energy that seeps into every not, every chord, every vocal. Extremely powerful and intense, which is also what imbues the music of Group Inerane with an ineffable magic, that had us utterly entranced at first listen, and this record follows suit.
To replace their fallen comrade, they recruited Koudede, aka Absoulahi Maman, a legendary Tureg Guitarist in his own right, the resulting chemistry is indeed potent, the sound not much changed, but the energy and interactions of course subtly different.
For those new to Group Inerane and Tureg Guitar music in general, just check out the cover, a guitar player in a super fancy satiny robe, holding his guitar up over and behind his head as he presumably SHREDS! Inside, blurred photos of the band rocking out, and that's precisely what Group Inerane traffics in, high energy desert blues, psychedelic and cyclical, hypnotic and in its own way HEAVY.
The sound is warm and sun dappled, celebratory and effusive, plenty of twang and buzz and jangle, simple motorik drumming, intensely emotional and powerful vocals, with lots of whooping and cheering and call and response, emblematic of the hope and joy in the face of the grim realities all around them. The guitar playing is of course incredible, super buzzy and mesmerizing, cool little melodic tangles, locked in tight with vocal counterpoint, or a skittery rhythm, the sound manages to be both loose and free, but also tight and locked in, the recording here is live in a room, so the sound is raw and immediate and intimate, the vocals wreathed in natural reverb, the guitars ringing out, fleck of traditional folks music woven into the groups psychedelic hypnotic desert blues, and while every track is gorgeous, and mesmerizing, like all great guitar bands, it's when they let loose, stretching out the end of a song space rock style, and let the guitars howl and sing and get all tangled up in each other, jams that could, and should go on forever, and these guys definitely have that in them, and when it happens, it's like some glorious Tinariwen / Hawkwind collision.
As always, so so good, and like much of the music we hear from Sublime Frequencies, it's so much more than just the music, we lose sight of that sometimes, but these sounds, and songs, these are people's lives, and hopes, and dreams, and it's their way to be strong and never give in. And listening to this, beyond the sheer joy and exuberance of the music, it's humbling to share in those emotions, and in this music.
MPEG Stream: "Alemin"
MPEG Stream: "Tamidit In Aicha"
MPEG Stream: "Tchigefen"

album cover HOLLIS, MARK s/t (Ba Da Bing) lp 15.98
Along with Laughing Stock, the final Talk Talk album from 1991, Ba Da Bing has also reissued on vinyl this breathless 1998 solo album from Talk Talk frontman, Mark Hollis. While most folks thought that Laughing Stock was perhaps the ultimate understatement from a band that went from bright Euro-pop sensations to clandestine and worried experimental minimalists, Mark Hollis' solo album (and perhaps final statement?) has taken that tendency even further. Severely recorded at hushed volumes, the songs were born out of months of improvisation with jazz and chamber orchestra musicians and then excruciatingly labored over and crafted into discreet compositions. Every lyric coming from Hollis's milky voice feels almost too painful to rise above a murmur, but exudes a powerful complexity that is not freely offered. This is a very tender and moving record that begs for close listening. Like Laughing Stock, it continues to amaze upon repeated listens to those who have the disposition to absorb its bracing spareness. It's not a light album by any means, but its emotional weight is secretive and uncompromising, begging us to focus on the subtle beauty of the rich muted atmospherics that barely cover deeper wounds. A rainy day record if there ever was one!
MPEG Stream: "The Colour Of Spring"
MPEG Stream: "Watershed"

album cover IDES OF GEMINI The Disruption Writ (self-released) cassette 5.98
We were lucky enough to get a sneak peak at these new Neurot Recordings signees at the Bay Area premiere for the new Blood, Sweat + Vinyl documentary, all about independent record labels, focused on three of our favorites, Neurot, Hyrda Head and Constellation. To commemorate / celebrate, the screening was turned into a show, featuring one band representing each label, Evangelista for Constellation, Oxbow for Hydra Head and this trio Ides Of Gemini for Neurot. Since they didn't have a record out yet, we weren't sure what to expect, other than that metal scribe J Bennett played guitar, and when they took the stage, the shaved headed bushy bearded Bennet sat in a chair, hunched over his guitar, accompanied by two willowy women, both with long dark hair, both wearing what appeared to be white wedding gowns. The effect was striking, even more so when the fog machine came on and wreathed the band in smoke, and the sound was appropriately haunting and witchy, not so much metal as gloomy and ethereal, the drums simple and propulsive, the guitars washed out and warm, and the vocals, lush and layered, hazy and hypnotic, with lush swirling harmonies. The resulting sound reminded us of slowcore indie gloom outfit Warpaint, albeit a bit heavier, the sound being a bit more ritualistic, and the guitar occasionally (and quite suddenly) launching into full on black metal buzz, but instead of the rest of the music following suit, the brief buzzing blast soon dissipated leaving the song to return to its woozy mesmer. This is the kind of dark heaviness (or heavy darkness), that evokes Mazzy Star as much as The Devil's Blood or Blood Ceremony, if not moreso, the tracks here don't blast or pound or thrash, these or haunting funereal ruminations, witchy and otherworldly, hazy fuzz drenched dirges, a gauzy sort of ethereal doom, that is more mesmerizing than it is heavy, a blackened siren song that is utterly hypnotic, especially the last track, the main melody/hook stayed stuck in out head long after that show, and hearing these tracks again, that one especially, has us dying for a proper full length.
The cd is LIMITED TO 333 COPIES, packged in gorgeous metallic blue/silver sleeves, multiple printed panels, super swank, the tape is LIMITED TO 100 COPIES, each one hand numbered, the J-cards on the same sort of metallic paper, and includes a sticker!
MPEG Stream: "Martyrivm Of The Hippolyt"
MPEG Stream: "Slain In Spirit"

album cover IDES OF GEMINI The Disruption Writ (self-released) cd-r 5.98
We were lucky enough to get a sneak peak at these new Neurot Recordings signees at the Bay Area premiere for the new Blood, Sweat + Vinyl documentary, all about independent record labels, focused on three of our favorites, Neurot, Hyrda Head and Constellation. To commemorate / celebrate, the screening was turned into a show, featuring one band representing each label, Evangelista for Constellation, Oxbow for Hydra Head and this trio Ides Of Gemini for Neurot. Since they didn't have a record out yet, we weren't sure what to expect, other than that metal scribe J Bennett played guitar, and when they took the stage, the shaved headed bushy bearded Bennet sat in a chair, hunched over his guitar, accompanied by two willowy women, both with long dark hair, both wearing what appeared to be white wedding gowns. The effect was striking, even more so when the fog machine came on and wreathed the band in smoke, and the sound was appropriately haunting and witchy, not so much metal as gloomy and ethereal, the drums simple and propulsive, the guitars washed out and warm, and the vocals, lush and layered, hazy and hypnotic, with lush swirling harmonies. The resulting sound reminded us of slowcore indie gloom outfit Warpaint, albeit a bit heavier, the sound being a bit more ritualistic, and the guitar occasionally (and quite suddenly) launching into full on black metal buzz, but instead of the rest of the music following suit, the brief buzzing blast soon dissipated leaving the song to return to its woozy mesmer. This is the kind of dark heaviness (or heavy darkness), that evokes Mazzy Star as much as The Devil's Blood or Blood Ceremony, if not moreso, the tracks here don't blast or pound or thrash, these or haunting funereal ruminations, witchy and otherworldly, hazy fuzz drenched dirges, a gauzy sort of ethereal doom, that is more mesmerizing than it is heavy, a blackened siren song that is utterly hypnotic, especially the last track, the main melody/hook stayed stuck in out head long after that show, and hearing these tracks again, that one especially, has us dying for a proper full length.
The cd is LIMITED TO 333 COPIES, packged in gorgeous metallic blue/silver sleeves, multiple printed panels, super swank, the tape is LIMITED TO 100 COPIES, each one hand numbered, the J-cards on the same sort of metallic paper, and includes a sticker!
MPEG Stream: "Martyrivm Of The Hippolyt"
MPEG Stream: "Slain In Spirit"

album cover J.C. SATAN Hell Death Samba (Slovenly) cd 13.98
We flipped over this French/Italian fuzz/garage/noise pop combo after an aQ pal insisted we'd dig em. And dig em we did. So much so that we proclaimed "Odyssey Of Love" the opening track of their first record our jam of the year, and here it is months and months later an we find ourselves still blasting that jam regularly, along with the rest of the record.
And then out of nowhere came a brand new full length of J.C. Satan's peculiar brand of psychedelic noise pop, and if anything, this latest record cranks up the noise considerably, at least over the first few tracks, so the pop, while still most certainly present, is often buried beneath crumbling walls of guitar crunch, or strange sing song vox, or wild squalls of psychedelic freakout. Thick crunchy riffs, wild chaotic drumming, lots of jangle and soaring melody, the first half of the record fierce and frantic, the sort of thing that would have the crowd sweaty bouncing wildly, the sort of band that would be a perfect match for our own Oh Sees.
But as the record progresses, the noise seems to abate bit, revealing the jangle pop underneath, with the sound slipping from old school Modest Mouse to quirky Blonde Redhead, but their own twisted and slightly noisy take on both. Check out "Crystal Snake" with its weird slow build almost Sun City Girls sounding melodies all woven into some seriously heavy fuzzy garage rock crunch, or "Close To Me", all slithery jangle rock ballad, replete with crashing noisy chorus, or "Abandon" which takes the Beach Boys' dreamy surf pop and makes it even more dreamy, all hazy and druggy, or "In The Light", that sounds downright Beatles-esque, albeit a bit more warbly and lysergic.
The heavy buzzy noisy garage rock perfectly balanced by the more washed out and woozy dream pop, and yet another record from these guys (and gals) we can't seem to get enough of.
MPEG Stream: "Hell Death Samba"
MPEG Stream: "Dear Dark J."
MPEG Stream: "Heil Mary"
MPEG Stream: "Misunderstood"

album cover J.C. SATAN Hell Death Samba (Slovenly) lp 13.98
We flipped over this French/Italian fuzz/garage/noise pop combo after an aQ pal insisted we'd dig em. And dig em we did. So much so that we proclaimed "Odyssey Of Love" the opening track of their first record our jam of the year, and here it is months and months later an we find ourselves still blasting that jam regularly, along with the rest of the record.
And then out of nowhere came a brand new full length of J.C. Satan's peculiar brand of psychedelic noise pop, and if anything, this latest record cranks up the noise considerably, at least over the first few tracks, so the pop, while still most certainly present, is often buried beneath crumbling walls of guitar crunch, or strange sing song vox, or wild squalls of psychedelic freakout. Thick crunchy riffs, wild chaotic drumming, lots of jangle and soaring melody, the first half of the record fierce and frantic, the sort of thing that would have the crowd sweaty bouncing wildly, the sort of band that would be a perfect match for our own Oh Sees.
But as the record progresses, the noise seems to abate bit, revealing the jangle pop underneath, with the sound slipping from old school Modest Mouse to quirky Blonde Redhead, but their own twisted and slightly noisy take on both. Check out "Crystal Snake" with its weird slow build almost Sun City Girls sounding melodies all woven into some seriously heavy fuzzy garage rock crunch, or "Close To Me", all slithery jangle rock ballad, replete with crashing noisy chorus, or "Abandon" which takes the Beach Boys' dreamy surf pop and makes it even more dreamy, all hazy and druggy, or "In The Light", that sounds downright Beatles-esque, albeit a bit more warbly and lysergic.
The heavy buzzy noisy garage rock perfectly balanced by the more washed out and woozy dream pop, and yet another record from these guys (and gals) we can't seem to get enough of.
MPEG Stream: "Hell Death Samba"
MPEG Stream: "Dear Dark J."
MPEG Stream: "Heil Mary"
MPEG Stream: "Misunderstood"

album cover MAGIC TRICK (TIM COHEN) Glad Birth Of Love (Empty Cellar) lp 16.98
Yet another full length from the crazy prolific Tim Cohen, mastermind of SF jangle poppers The Fresh & Onlys as well as the man behind weird one man black metal band Amocoma (released on Andee's tUMULt label), who was STILL not busy enough so started a 'solo' project, which was in fact a band called Tim Cohen's Magic Trick, but for this new album, a couple things have changed, now it's a proper band, right down to the name, and instead of perfect little 2 and 3 minute pop nuggets, this record is four long songs, the sounds shifting and sprawling, Cohen and company stretching out a bit, keeping much of the pop intact, but weaving it into much more expansive and experimental frameworks. This permutation of Magic Trick includes members of Thee Oh Sees, the Sandwitches and Citay, and Cohen and his cohorts unfurl some gorgeously lush folk, all glimmering melodies, hushed vox, strummed acoustic guitars, ethereal harmonies, the sound beholden to classic sixties psych pop for sure, but reimagined and filtered through Cohen's twisted pop lens, the opener jangly and dreamy, a seriously epic pop song, almost prog pop, and then about 10 minutes in the song shifts dramatically, and is transformed into a buzzing drone-y raga, hazy and psychedelic and darkly dreamy. And from there on out, the record continues on in a similar fashion, not shying away from abrupt shifts, or melding disparate sounds, "Daylight Moon" takes a strummy shuffle, and adds all sorts of progginess, some cool start stop arrangements, some jazzy psychedelic freakouts, but all wound around a delicate pop core.
"Clyde" starts out all hushed and strummy, rife with woodwinds, lush vocal harmonies, infused with a dreamy droniness, the song subtly propulsive but growing less so as the song progresses, evolving into a sort of shimmery drift, before the strangely jaunty almost cabaret sounding coda. And finally, "High Heat" begins with some Fahey style American primitive guitar, draped over a buzzing thrum, before slipping into a reverbed skeletal folk, the sound blossoming into something much more lush, almost like some sort of chamber pop, and then again, the song shifts into a dark drum heavy psych folk, almost dirgey, but still impossibly poppy, and laced with vocal ooh's and aah's and swoonsome soaring strings, Cohen and his crew managing what in most hands would be impossible, creating catchy, perfect pop that just so happens to be in the form of 10+ minute long epics. Almost makes us hope he never goes back to the 3 minute pop song...
MPEG Stream: "Cherished One"
MPEG Stream: "Daylight Moon"

album cover MICHAEL VINER'S INCREDIBLE BONGO BAND Bongo Rock (MGM/Pride) lp 12.98
Let There Be Drums! Whoo, cool to have this old fave reissued on vinyl! Especially with previous anthologies on Strut and Mr. Bongo now out of print, original lps of course also being hard to come by...
What the heck was the Incredible Bongo Band, you might ask, and what was so Incredible about it? Well, just listen to the soundclips of "Apache" and "Last Bongo In Belgium", we bet you'll recognize 'em. The Incredible Bongo Band are one of those almost anonymous groups who in fact contributed quite a bit to hiphop and dance culture, with many of their breaks being sampled literally HUNDREDS of times. In fact, it can be argued that IBB cut the "original breakbeats"! Kinda funny to realize that they were in fact Hollywood-based studio session players, led by producer Michael Viner (responsible for several Sammy Davis, Jr. hits), who came together to record chase music for the Ray Milland/Rosey Grier horror flick "The Thing With Two Heads" - and ended up putting out records now revered the world over by the hiphop/DJ community. Their debut "Bongo Rock" 7" sold over two million copies in 1972; that is, apparently after they pulled the cover that showed how white they were and replaced it with a closeup of racially unidentifiable hands playing bongos. During the course of their career, supposedly such big names as John Lennon, Ringo Starr, Harry Nilsson, and Glen Campbell all dropped by to play a little.
The band's main bongo player Jim Gordon (who co-wrote "Layla") later went cuckoo and killed his mom, but despite that tragic association, the IBB's music is super fun, and more than a little kitschy, good not only for DJ sampling purposes but also enjoyable groovy listening on its own. The 8 tracks on this reish of their 1973 full-length include both funky originals, and equally bongo-riffic cover versions, like the aforementioned surf classic "Apache", also Iron Butterfly's heavy psych epic "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida", believe it or not (lotsa room for a bongo workout in that one). And who can forget "Duelling Bongos"?
MPEG Stream: "Apache"
MPEG Stream: "Last Bongo In Belgium"
MPEG Stream: "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida"

album cover MOHOLY-NAGY Like Mirage (Temporary Residence) cd 13.98
The former core trio of post rock combo Tarentel (Jefre Cantu-Ledesma, Danny Paul Grody and Trevor Montgomery) have been on a roll lately, releasing tons of solo, side projects and collaborative efforts! Danny and Trevor are both in The Drift and synth duo Believer, which both have new releases out or coming soon. Danny has got a new solo album on Students of Decay that'll be here shortly. Trevor has been on the last two Date Palms records and released the Isidore Ducasse lp with Jefre, and Jefre has released recently a solo album on Type and a record with his other outfit, The Alps on Mexican Summer. Hardest working local musicians? Maybe so now that the three of them have reunited together in this new outfit, Moholy-Nagy (rhymes with mirage, hence the title of the album, Like Mirage). Named after the Bauhaus artist and professor whose photogram experiments and industrial design aesthetic have made him known as one of the fathers of Light Art, the band have made a gorgeous record of light-searching cosmic excursions utilizing synths, piano, pastoral guitar and drum machine. Dreamy and drifting but also focused and grounded, Like Mirage hones the strongest sensibilities of each member into something truly collaborative. And though cosmically charged music has been the modus operandi of all three members through most of their side and solo projects and labels, Like Mirage manages to sound completely distinctive from their other projects which is a strong indicator of the masterful musicianship each one brings to the table. Beautiful stuff!
MPEG Stream: "Tears Of The Prophet"
MPEG Stream: "Brute Neighbors"
MPEG Stream: "Sunday Brunch"

album cover MOHOLY-NAGY Like Mirage (Temporary Residence) lp 15.98
The former core trio of post rock combo Tarentel (Jefre Cantu-Ledesma, Danny Paul Grody and Trevor Montgomery) have been on a roll lately, releasing tons of solo, side projects and collaborative efforts! Danny and Trevor are both in The Drift and synth duo Believer, which both have new releases out or coming soon. Danny has got a new solo album on Students of Decay that'll be here shortly. Trevor has been on the last two Date Palms records and released the Isidore Ducasse lp with Jefre, and Jefre has released recently a solo album on Type and a record with his other outfit, The Alps on Mexican Summer. Hardest working local musicians? Maybe so now that the three of them have reunited together in this new outfit, Moholy-Nagy (rhymes with mirage, hence the title of the album, Like Mirage). Named after the Bauhaus artist and professor whose photogram experiments and industrial design aesthetic have made him known as one of the fathers of Light Art, the band have made a gorgeous record of light-searching cosmic excursions utilizing synths, piano, pastoral guitar and drum machine. Dreamy and drifting but also focused and grounded, Like Mirage hones the strongest sensibilities of each member into something truly collaborative. And though cosmically charged music has been the modus operandi of all three members through most of their side and solo projects and labels, Like Mirage manages to sound completely distinctive from their other projects which is a strong indicator of the masterful musicianship each one brings to the table. Beautiful stuff!
MPEG Stream: "Tears Of The Prophet"
MPEG Stream: "Brute Neighbors"
MPEG Stream: "Sunday Brunch"

album cover MORLY GREY The Only Truth (Sundazed) cd 17.98
Dunno how we missed it when the Sundazed label put out this sweet reissue last year, but better late than never to list the early '70s heavy psych awesomeness of Morly Grey - any psychedelic rock freaks out there who didn't know about it should be super stoked!
This Youngstown, Ohio band's sole, privately pressed lp came out in 1972 and has long been considered a desirable underground artifact of hippiness and heaviness, the sort of thing that actually lives up to the collectors' hype, with original copies being relatively rare and expensive (and bootlegs prevalent). It's a blend of fuzzy acid rock guitars, mellow West Coast-y folkiness, and proggy ambition (the trippy title track, which incorporates an instrumental arrangement of "When Johnny Comes Marching Home", takes up a whole album side, at over 17 minutes in length). Plus a healthy dose of flowers and beads bedecked pop that harks back to the '60s sounds of the Byrds, Buffalo Springfield, and Jefferson Airplane, all acts no doubt influential upon the Morly Grey guys, even as they display nascent headbanging riff rock inclinations as well. So while a song like "Who Can I Say You Are" may mostly be all delicate and melodic (with vocals worthy of Bobb Trimble), it also kicks in with the heaviness at times too. That song, by the way, you may have heard already on that great Forge Your Own Chains: Heavy Psychedelic Ballads and Dirges compilation that came out a couple years ago.
Elsewhere, there's parts that remind us of krautrockers Agitation Free, and spacerockers Hawkwind... while lead-off cut "Peace Officer" could almost be early Blue Oyster Cult at their most psychedelic and proto-metallic.
We remember a long time ago, this was available as a compact disc reissue via Italy's Akarma label, but this nicely digipacked Sundazed reish is much superior, being totally legit and more than complete, as it includes a bunch of rare (and excellent) bonus tracks, totalling an additional 28+ minutes of music! There's also enlightening liner notes, based on interviews with surviving band members, by Doug Sheppard of Ugly Things magazine.
MPEG Stream: "Peace Officer"
MPEG Stream: "You Came To Me"
MPEG Stream: "The Only Truth"

album cover MX Ni Runder Modsols (Lille Kommune) lp 17.98
aQ pal Phil Franklin turned us on to this mysterious Danish crew MX (believed to have something to do with the two main members obsession with BMX bikes, but that's another story we won't get into), and we were quite surprised and taken by what an amazing and flat out bizarre record this is! This is an anthology of recordings from the past ten years, and we're wondering why we haven't heard of these guys before, but we're so glad we know about them now! Our Danish language skills are lacking, so we can't really tell exactly what is going on or how many players are involved, so of course it leaves the music open to speculation. It sounds like it could be a whole bunch of people, or the careful tape manipulation of just a couple. But the sounds are dirty and lo-fi, recorded on four track and feature mostly short rhythmic compositions of acoustic string instruments (banjo, guitar, and violin), with distorted wheezing accordions, fuzzy pulsating synths, clattering percussion and cultic chanting. Occasionally strange tape manipulated vocals that sound like old folkway recordings of pygmys or some far-off South Asian tribe will appear, along with brain-melting primitive electronics effects. It reminds us a lot of the "ethnological forgery" of groups like Harappian Night Recordings and Sun City Girls, the hippie shamanism of Daniel Higgs and Ur-Dog, as well as the collective free-folk ingenuity of Kemialliset Ystavat. But for all the strangeness and noise, the songs seem more composed than improvised, full of beautiful otherworldly melodies and a stunning sense of DIY psychedelic exotica.
LPs are hand silkscreened on repurposed thrift store record covers. We only have about 8 of these and while we're trying to get more, it might be awhile until we see a restock, so act fast!

album cover OH SEES, THEE / TOTAL CONTROL split (Castle Face) lp 14.98
This one hardly needs much of a description. SF garage pop darlings Thee Oh Sees teamed up with Aussie gloom poppers Total Control, 4 songs each, all pretty dang great! Thee Oh Sees side is appropriately rambunctious and chaotic, wild and noisy and jangly with plenty of surfy twang, dollops of reverb, John Dwyer's almost cartoonish high pitched echo drenched yelp, super melodic and catchy, and with Thee Oh Sees, you have to know that there's much more going on than what's just on the surface, sure it's sweaty and wild and invokes much shaking and bouncing, but the band are tight as fuck and weave intricate layers and strange harmonies, and the songs are surprisingly complex, slipping from frenzied avalanche of noisy sound to almost fifties sounding reverby shuffles, but just check out the last few minutes of the final track, "Blood In Your Ear", with its swirling falsetto vox and soaring melodies all suspended amidst lush swirls and shimmers, pretty goddamn divine.
Total Control counter with their own brand of gloomy garage pop, another clutch of songs that ranks up their with their best, dirgey, droney, minor key, haunting and moody, peppered with blasts of full on distorto punk garage crunch, culminating in their last track, a gorgeous minimal low slung slither of layered guitar drones, rumbling bassline, laid back weary vox, a darkly depressive broody ballad that explodes in the second half into tense angular soft cacophony, that ends way too soon.
Cool cover art. Includes a download card too.
MPEG Stream: THEE OH SEES "Blood In Your Ear"
MPEG Stream: TOTAL CONTROL "Sweaty"

album cover OLIVIA TREMOR CONTROL Dusk At Cubist Castle (Chunklet / The Elephant 6 Recording Co.) 2lp 22.00
One of our favorite psychedelic indie pop records EVER now reissued on vinyl with TONS of downloadable mp3 bonus tracks…
If one had to pick THEE most iconic and essential indie rock records of the nineties, you'd no doubt have Pavement's Slanted And Enchanted, some Stereolab, some Yo La Tengo, both the Neutral Milk Hotel records, and without a doubt, this, the debut from Olivia Tremor Control, a practically perfect slab of experimental psychedelic pop, that sounds as good today as it did nearly 15 years ago when it was first released. OTC were one of many bands who were a part of the Elephant Six collective, which also included Neutral Milk Hotel, Apples In Stereo and a whole bunch of others. Elephant Six bands were notable for two things, a sonic nod to the sixties and classic psychedelia, all wound up in a sound that was equal part modern indie jangle and old school tripped out psych, and a penchant for experimentation, and of all the E6 bands, the Olivia Tremor Control seemed to have an experimental streak a mile wide, peppering even their perfect-est poppiest numbers with all manner of freakout and strange instrumentation, heck this record even came accompanied with a companion disc when it was originally released (included here in the bonus material, more on that shortly), wherein the band offered up a collection of ambient sounds that supposedly intended to be played simultaneously with the record proper.
Dusk is definitely OTC's masterpiece, its whole proper title being the much wordier Music From The Unrealized Film Script Dusk At Cubist Castle, and is just about as perfect a slice of home recorded, neo-psychedelic pop as you will EVER hear. Beach Boys inspired harmonies. Lysergic Sgt. Pepperisms galore. Great, glorious songs. Unlike some of their other, experimental or ambient efforts, here the Olivias didn't obscure their songwriting smarts with as much unnecessary weirdness. Sure, there's surreal interludes (and surreal lyrics) but the pop remains paramount. Next to the output of Neutral Milk Hotel (with which really few things can compare), this is most definitely one of THEE jewels in the Elephant 6 psych pop crown. Needless to say, if you have a thing for jangly psychedelic pop, this gem will be right up your alley, and if you're already a fan, you might want to grab one of these quick before they're gone, cuz they've been remastered and include TONS of extra stuff via mp3 download. The records come housed in an eye popping, full color, heavy duty Stoughton sleeve, with a printed insert, and a download coupon, which not only includes downloads of the record itself, but also OVER TWO HOURS of bonus material, including the aforementioned companion album, Explanation II: Instrumental Themes And Dream Sequences, as well as two B-sides meant to be played simultaneously on two different stereos to produce a quadraphonic effect, two other B-sides, and two tracks from the Japan-only Smiling Pets Beach Boys tribute compilation. Phew!
Be warned, we have a bunch of these, but our suppliers are sold out, so these may be the last copies we're able to get.
MPEG Stream: "The Opera House"
MPEG Stream: "Jumping Fences"
MPEG Stream: "Define A Transparent Dream"

album cover OLIVIA TREMOR CONTROL Black Foliage: Animation Music Volume One (Chunklet / The Elephant 6 Recording Co.) 2lp 22.00
While not as instantly memorable or chock full of timeless pop classics as their debut, Dusk At Cubist Castle, the Olivia Tremor Control's second and final record, originally released in 1999, has now been reissued by the fine folks at Chunklet as a super deluxe double lp with LOADS of extra bonus (mp3) material, and listening to this record again more than a decade after its release, we're quickly realizing that being only "almost as good" as Dusk, still means it's about a million times better than most other records.
Olivia Tremor Control were one of many bands who were a part of the Elephant Six collective, which also included Neutral Milk Hotel, Apples In Stereo and a whole bunch of others. Elephant Six bands were notable for two things, a sonic nod to the sixties and classic psychedelia, all wound up in a sound that was equal part modern indie jangle and old school tripped out psych, and a penchant for experimentation, and of all the E6 bands, the Olivia Tremor Control seemed to have an experimental streak a mile wide, peppering even their perfect-est poppiest numbers with all manner of freakout and strange instrumentation. And while the band focused more on the 'pop' on their classic debut Dusk, relegating the trippy weirdness mostly to intros and brief interludes, we had previously mentioned (in our original review way back when) that on Black Foliage, the "ambient" weirdness came closer to overindulgence, but again, with fresh ears, and a little time since our last listen, that overindulgence doesn't really sound all that overindulgent anymore, in fact, it positions Black Foliage, as rife with Beach Boys vocal harmonies, Sgt. Pepper's baroque excess, and mid-'70s Eno-esque surreal pop as it's predecessor, as way better than we remember it, that weirdness almost making it a more interesting, and certainly more tripped out, record, a seriously crafty concoction of psychedelia - the Olivias able to create near perfect pop songs and then dose 'em with lysergic clusters of experimental tinkering. A sound that still sounds impossibly fresh today.
Needless to say, if you have a thing for jangly psychedelic pop, like Dusk, this too will be right up your alley, and if you're already a fan, you might want to grab one of these quick before they're gone, cuz they've been remastered and include TONS of extra stuff via mp3 download. The records come housed in an eye popping, full color, heavy duty Stoughton sleeve, with a printed insert, and a download coupon, which not only includes downloads of the record itself, but also OVER AN HOUR of bonus material, including a track that was left off the original record due to time considerations, a handful of B-sides, some unreleased audio experiments, unreleased live sessions, a Velvet Underground cover from a VU tribute released in 2000, a live set on NPR, an unreleased track with special guest Neutral Milk Hotel's Jeff Mangum and more! Wow!
Be warned though, we have a bunch of these, but our suppliers are sold out, so these may be the last copies we're able to get.
MPEG Stream: "Hideway"
MPEG Stream: "A Sleepy Company"

album cover PICASTRO & NADJA Fool, Redeemer (Alien8) cd 14.98
NOW ALSO ON CD! Here's what we had to say about the recent vinyl version:
We haven't heard from Canadian outfit Picastro in ages, in fact, we sort of assumed they might be no more. In past reviews we described their music as having a "somber heaviness" which makes them a pretty good match for doomgaze duo Nadja, and indeed the two groups team up for this lp collaboration, and from the sound of it, the A side seems to be more of a Picastro record, with Nadja guesting, and the B side a Nadja record with help from Picastro. But both sides are pretty great.
Picastro's 'side' is a series of shorter tracks, a woozy sort of post rock, detuned twang, male and female vocals, plenty of weird distortion, there's a Tom Waits sort of junkyard vibe to a lot of the sounds here, which also reminds us of the late great Reeks And The Wrecks (whose lost first lp is reviewed elsewhere on this week's list). The sound shifts from creeping slowcore to a sort of jazzy drift, all shimmering strings and muted percussion, all wreathed in a folky ambience, the whole thing like some abstract dirgey drone folk slowcore, and the sort of thing that reminds us of Codeine and post Phleg Camp weirdo country combo the Reveries.
The flipside is a single sidelong track, which should be the first hint that Nadja are in the driver's seat. The second would of course be the thick swirling buzz, rife with acoustic guitar (Picastro?), the sound muted and washed out, before blossoming into full on distorted shoegazey dirge, blown out, heavy and hazy, but still melodic and darkly pretty, the two groups a perfect match, conjuring up a sweet bit of dreamy sorta folky doom bliss!
MPEG Stream: "Skullduggery"
MPEG Stream: "Venom"

album cover PSYCHIC ILLS Hazed Dream (Sacred Bones) cd 12.98
On the last Psychic Ills full length, these spaced out dronerock drifters has changed their sound pretty substantially, ditching much of their Spacemen 3 worshipping drugginess and spaced out rocking for something that we had heard folks calling "doomtronica", which we have to say, we found pretty appealing, but on this latest one, they seem to have mellowed out a bit and returned to the shadows, unfurling song after song of smoldering slo-mo shimmer, all muted guitar strum, hushed vox, whirring organs, super spare percussion (what sounds like bongos), and coolest of all, what sounds like a reverb drenched jaw harp (!), which plays the solo on opener "Midnight Moon". And while "Mind Daze" picks up the pace a bit, it's really only just a bit, a hazy softly propulsive shuffle, all woozy and laid back, sort of stonery and later night feeling, but with some thick, buzzing distorted guitar woven in, adding a thick patina of scorched psychedelia to the proceedings.
And so it goes, the record was definitely perfectly titled, cuz this does sound like a Hazed Dream, and the song titles: "Sungaze", "Incense Head", "Mind Daze", "Dream Repetition" definitely further hints at what's in store for the listener, a dark brooding fuzzy spaced out psychedelia, that sounds like Wooden Shjips after downing a mess of downers, and speaking of "Dream Repetition", it's only two minutes, but what a gorgeous chunk of layered psychedelic guitar drone, churning and undulating SUNN-like rumble wrapped around gauzy organ shimmer and some strange processed barely-there rhythms. So good. A practically perfect collection of dreamy druggy late night bliss out come down jamz for sure...
MPEG Stream: "Midnight Moon"
MPEG Stream: "Mind Daze"
MPEG Stream: "Incense Head"

album cover PSYCHIC ILLS Hazed Dream (Sacred Bones) lp 14.98
On the last Psychic Ills full length, these spaced out dronerock drifters has changed their sound pretty substantially, ditching much of their Spacemen 3 worshipping drugginess and spaced out rocking for something that we had heard folks calling "doomtronica", which we have to say, we found pretty appealing, but on this latest one, they seem to have mellowed out a bit and returned to the shadows, unfurling song after song of smoldering slo-mo shimmer, all muted guitar strum, hushed vox, whirring organs, super spare percussion (what sounds like bongos), and coolest of all, what sounds like a reverb drenched jaw harp (!), which plays the solo on opener "Midnight Moon". And while "Mind Daze" picks up the pace a bit, it's really only just a bit, a hazy softly propulsive shuffle, all woozy and laid back, sort of stonery and later night feeling, but with some thick, buzzing distorted guitar woven in, adding a thick patina of scorched psychedelia to the proceedings.
And so it goes, the record was definitely perfectly titled, cuz this does sound like a Hazed Dream, and the song titles: "Sungaze", "Incense Head", "Mind Daze", "Dream Repetition" definitely further hints at what's in store for the listener, a dark brooding fuzzy spaced out psychedelia, that sounds like Wooden Shjips after downing a mess of downers, and speaking of "Dream Repetition", it's only two minutes, but what a gorgeous chunk of layered psychedelic guitar drone, churning and undulating SUNN-like rumble wrapped around gauzy organ shimmer and some strange processed barely-there rhythms. So good. A practically perfect collection of dreamy druggy late night bliss out come down jamz for sure...
MPEG Stream: "Midnight Moon"
MPEG Stream: "Mind Daze"
MPEG Stream: "Incense Head"

album cover RADIOHEAD Tkol Rmx 1234567 (TBD Records) 2cd 14.98
As Radiohead have evolved into a band much more connected to electronica than guitar rock, we knew it was just a matter of time until they released a remix album. And their latest album King Of The Limbs, really was the Radiohead record most ripe for remix, so after several 12" releases featuring many of these remixes, they've finally put together a great two disc collection of those tracks, all songs from King Of Limbs, remixed by folks like Caribou, Four Tet, Actress, Jamie XX, SBTRKT, and lots more. While there should have been no doubt, we were relieved to find this wasn't about making cheesy dance remixes of Radiohead songs, but instead they all honor and respect the mood of the album from which these tracks come and create nuanced remixes much more suited for dark rainy nights than brightly lit dancefloors.
Moody and moving, just the way we like our Radiohead.
MPEG Stream: "Little By Little [Caribou RMX]"
MPEG Stream: "Give Up The Ghost [Brokenchord RMX]"
MPEG Stream: "Separator [Four Tet RMX]"

album cover RANGERS Pan Am Stories (Not Not Fun) cd 13.98
As many of the various lysergic pop weirdos and lo-fi audio alchemists move toward poppier and less fucked up sonic climes, it's nice to know we can count on Rangers, aka Joe Knight, to keep the warped alternate dimension FM radio druggy eighties retro pop whathefuck fire burning bright, this latest record another collection of glammy lo-fi pop that in some other world would/could/should have been all over classic rock radio in the future. The opener, in different hands, could very well have been a dreamy bit of blissy pop, if say Big Troubles in their current incarnation had a god, we can picture it all shimmery and crystalline, but here, it's raw, and fuzzy, murky and lo-fi, the sounds careening from speaker to speaker, the effects in-the-red, the sound crumbling and distorted, swaths of swirly synth drifting alongside the buried reverby croon, but all the noise and damaged 4-track malfunctioning can't disguises that Knight definitely knows his way around a pop song. But just so you don't get too comfortable, he follows it up with the 13 minute long ADD short attention span "Zeke's Dream", which does start out all James Ferraro style drug pop weirdness, but then it keeps getting weirder, swirling distorted vocals, the guitars getting crunchier, and then it's almost like someone switched the channel on the radio, the song transforming into more of a slow jam, this one peppered with strange sci-fi streaks, and blown out echoey vox, and then it happens again, and becomes a gloomy dirgey ballad, that sounds like it's melting inside the speakers, or Knight has 6 different people gradually detuning each string on his guitar, and then it happens again, the song becomes a John Carpenter synthscape, that morphs into a bit of krautrock style kosmische musik, but there are voices and electronic squiggles everywhere, but it's not over yet, some police sirens signal the shift to the final movement (?), a warped lounge-y bit of fuzzy groove, that ends in a gorgeous bit of psychedelic tangle. And we're only two songs into the record. But that gives you an idea of what's to come, more twisted druggy pop, more warped home brewed psychedelia, and whatever it is that is born of merging the two.
Most definitely recommended for fans of James Ferraro, Ariel Pink, John Maus, and all the other similarly warped lysergic pop alchemists out there...
MPEG Stream: "Zombies (Day)"
MPEG Stream: "Zeke's Dream"
MPEG Stream: "Sacred Cows"
MPEG Stream: "John Is The Last Of A Dying Breed"

album cover RANGERS Pan Am Stories (Not Not Fun) 2lp 29.00
As many of the various lysergic pop weirdos and lo-fi audio alchemists move toward poppier and less fucked up sonic climes, it's nice to know we can count on Rangers, aka Joe Knight, to keep the warped alternate dimension FM radio druggy eighties retro pop whathefuck fire burning bright, this latest record another collection of glammy lo-fi pop that in some other world would/could/should have been all over classic rock radio in the future. The opener, in different hands, could very well have been a dreamy bit of blissy pop, if say Big Troubles in their current incarnation had a god, we can picture it all shimmery and crystalline, but here, it's raw, and fuzzy, murky and lo-fi, the sounds careening from speaker to speaker, the effects in-the-red, the sound crumbling and distorted, swaths of swirly synth drifting alongside the buried reverby croon, but all the noise and damaged 4-track malfunctioning can't disguises that Knight definitely knows his way around a pop song. But just so you don't get too comfortable, he follows it up with the 13 minute long ADD short attention span "Zeke's Dream", which does start out all James Ferraro style drug pop weirdness, but then it keeps getting weirder, swirling distorted vocals, the guitars getting crunchier, and then it's almost like someone switched the channel on the radio, the song transforming into more of a slow jam, this one peppered with strange sci-fi streaks, and blown out echoey vox, and then it happens again, and becomes a gloomy dirgey ballad, that sounds like it's melting inside the speakers, or Knight has 6 different people gradually detuning each string on his guitar, and then it happens again, the song becomes a John Carpenter synthscape, that morphs into a bit of krautrock style kosmische musik, but there are voices and electronic squiggles everywhere, but it's not over yet, some police sirens signal the shift to the final movement (?), a warped lounge-y bit of fuzzy groove, that ends in a gorgeous bit of psychedelic tangle. And we're only two songs into the record. But that gives you an idea of what's to come, more twisted druggy pop, more warped home brewed psychedelia, and whatever it is that is born of merging the two.
Most definitely recommended for fans of James Ferraro, Ariel Pink, John Maus, and all the other similarly warped lysergic pop alchemists out there...
MPEG Stream: "Zombies (Day)"
MPEG Stream: "Zeke's Dream"
MPEG Stream: "Sacred Cows"
MPEG Stream: "John Is The Last Of A Dying Breed"

album cover REAL ESTATE Days (Domino) cd 14.98
As much as we love distorto noise rock, and heavy crunchy blown out garage rock, and swirling FX heavy lysergic pop, we also love dreamy, shimmery, jangly sunshiney pop, sans noise and effects and experimentation, just perfect major chord, breezy vocals, simple jangle, washed out summery dream pop. And while on past records, Real Estate did show hints of the current crop of reverb drenched pop combos, a little psychedelia, a pinch of lo-fi warble, on this most recent record, they've cut the cord completely, and instead, created something that requires we haul out adjectives like sparkling, and glimmering, and glistening. We mentioned in a past review, that these guys were barely even underground, in the sonic sense, sure the sound is a teensy bit lo-fi, and rough hewn, and for however perfect pop this is, no one will mistake this for FM radio Rolling Stone magazine pop, but it's about as close as a little DIY band can get. We're reminded a lot of the late great Field Mice, the same sort of hushed whispery crystalline pop that just seems to float weightless, the sounds lush and lilting and so lovely. There's definitely some urgency here and there some subtle crunch, cuz really this is not all that far removed from past Real Estate records, but it is definitely continuing the group's move away from home brewed and lo-fi toward something much more pretty and polished, and we like it!
MPEG Stream: "Easy"
MPEG Stream: "Green Aisles"
MPEG Stream: "It's Real"

album cover REAL ESTATE Days (Domino) lp 23.00
As much as we love distorto noise rock, and heavy crunchy blown out garage rock, and swirling FX heavy lysergic pop, we also love dreamy, shimmery, jangly sunshiney pop, sans noise and effects and experimentation, just perfect major chord, breezy vocals, simple jangle, washed out summery dream pop. And while on past records, Real Estate did show hints of the current crop of reverb drenched pop combos, a little psychedelia, a pinch of lo-fi warble, on this most recent record, they've cut the cord completely, and instead, created something that requires we haul out adjectives like sparkling, and glimmering, and glistening. We mentioned in a past review, that these guys were barely even underground, in the sonic sense, sure the sound is a teensy bit lo-fi, and rough hewn, and for however perfect pop this is, no one will mistake this for FM radio Rolling Stone magazine pop, but it's about as close as a little DIY band can get. We're reminded a lot of the late great Field Mice, the same sort of hushed whispery crystalline pop that just seems to float weightless, the sounds lush and lilting and so lovely. There's definitely some urgency here and there some subtle crunch, cuz really this is not all that far removed from past Real Estate records, but it is definitely continuing the group's move away from home brewed and lo-fi toward something much more pretty and polished, and we like it!
MPEG Stream: "Easy"
MPEG Stream: "Green Aisles"
MPEG Stream: "It's Real"

album cover RENDERERS, THE A Rocket Into Nothing (Ba Da Bing) cd 10.98
We've been fans of New Zealand's The Renderers for years and years, since back in their Flying Nun and Ajax days in the '90s; more recently, they played one of the SXSW showcases we cosponsored with WFMU, and -almost- did an instore performance here just last week, which poor scheduling unfortunately nixed... but perhaps you saw 'em at the The Hemlock that night, or on another date of their current US tour in support of this fine new release of theirs on the Ba Da Bing label, A Rocket Into Nothing.
With eerie winds howling from their guitar amps, and moody urgency to their rhythms (that's Pumice's Stefan Neville on drums, this time 'round), The Renderers once again strike that special NZ balance of downer-pop indie-rock and noisy, darkly psychedelic effects-laden abstraction they do so well. The married, guitar-wielding duo of Maryrose and Brian Crook share vocal duties as usual, trading off song to song across the record (we must confess, we tend to prefer Maryrose's more melodic, dreamier singing to Brian's rougher, occasionally outsider-y stylings). Sometimes weary, sometimes rocking, it's all quite hypnotic and haunting, this album vaguely rustic, yet with a shoegazing spacerockiness to it worthy of its "Rocket" title...
The only real complaint we can make is a minor one, regarding the packaging, in that the graphic design seems a little careless, and the proofreading a little lax; for instance, what's up with all the excess commas littering the credits in the cd booklet?
MPEG Stream: "Shadow And Its Shadow"
MPEG Stream: "Restraint Of Beasts"
MPEG Stream: "Castaway Bardo"

album cover RXRY Alpha (Sweat Lodge) lp 21.00
We really didn't know what to expect from these guys (this guy), just what we read on various music blogs. This was one of those records that was getting hyped to high heaven, which definitely has us wanting to not like it. But damn if if this isn't some seriously gorgeous darkened psychedelic IDM. Yeah, it's dance music, but not the sort of music you'd hear on any proper dancefloor, this is the sort of mysterious electronica that is made to be the soundtracks for mysterious late night drives, strange encounters, dimly lit dives at the top of stainless steel skyscrapers, the sort of dark skitter that leaks from the headphones of darkened figures as they move through the shadows, the sounds at once lush and lovely, but raw and lo-fi, the low end buzzy and glitchy, the beats stuttery and gristly, the sound slipping from almost droned out mesmer, to near ambient shimmer and back again, never fully erupting into full on beat heavy crunch, but there is plenty of crunch nonetheless, the beats sounding like decaying tapes of chirping crickets one second, some sort of rumbling engine the next, while those beats are surrounded by swirls of sci-fi FX flutter and creaking post industrial thrum, the sound blurry and bleary and fantastically tripped out, the sort of electronica they don't really make anymore, and actually come to think of it, never really did.
Fans of the various mutant strains of electronic music would do well to check this out, but even the beat-phobic and dancefloor averse might find much to love in RxRy's twisted electronic underworld.
LIMITED TO 400 COPIES!
MPEG Stream: "1"
MPEG Stream: "2"
MPEG Stream: "3"

album cover SAGAS Between Worlds (Greenup Industries) lp 10.98
This was another one of those records that just showed up one day, and knocked us on our asses. And while all the descriptors pointed to something that would be right up our alley, spacey and psychedelic, krautrocky and kosmische, heavy and hazy, which all do definitely apply, the music manages to embody all those adjectives, while tangling them up into something all its own.
This one man band opens up the proceedings with some droned out psychedelic synths, sounding like Amps For Christ or Daniel Higgs, the sounds undulating and spiraling into little tangled melodic squalls, there are bells, and a deep crooned almost chantlike vocal, very hypnotic and almost new agey, those droning synths (or are they effected guitars?), get more and more wild as the song proceeds, a wild woolly freakout over that deep sonorous drone. Great stuff, and we would have been perfectly happy had the whole record sounded like that, but instead, the second song starts off all low slung slither and wah guitar, it's got 'boogie' in the title, and it shows, sort of. Loose and ramshackle, the guitars again blossom into soaring streaks of high end skree, the drums pound and stumble, the vocals wreathed in reverb, the sound insanely dubbed out, everything swallowed up in echo and send swirling into the ether before landing again and reengaging with the in-progress kraut-dub space rock freakout. This is the sort of shit Burnt Hills would conjure up if they wrote songs instead of endless jams, infusing sort-of-proper song structures with all the elements of an unhinged drug addled jam, and the results are pretty wild.
The rest of the record though is all over the place, feet firmly planted in psychedelia, and Appalachia, but exploring pretty much every disparate strain, from clattery, foresty free folk, sounding almost like No Neck Blues Band or Avarus, to back porch bluegrass Fahey-y style American primitivism, from strummy, synthy, noise drenched darkdrone balladry (maybe our favorite track, sounding like a muted Merzbow / Portishead slowburn mashup woven into some Appalachian psychedelic creep), to blown out, in-the-red, Japanese psych style White Heaven / Les Rallizes / Fushitsusha grinding guitar freakout, finally finishing off with another bout of melancholic minor key Appalachia.
Killer stuff, most definitely recommended for fans of modern psych, neo-Appalachia, psychedelic dronemusic and the weirder side of space/psych/drone rock.
LIMITED TO 300 COPIES! Includes multiple inserts.
MPEG Stream: "The Hidden Variable"
MPEG Stream: "Bad Karma Boogie"

album cover SCIORTINO, PATRICE Chronoradial (The Omni Recording Corporation) cd 17.98
Last time, we reviewed The Omni Corporation's reissue of a wonderful rare "library music" album entitled Omega 2000 by German composer Peter Thomas and his "Orchestra". Those diligent diggers at Omni Corp. have another one along those lines for us this week, again a '70s library music collection, from the much less well known name of Patrice Sciortino. Can't believe this is the first we've heard of the man and his music, considering that this stuff sounds something like the more outre of Morricone efforts, pretty darn cool. And apparently, there's plenty more where this came from. Wow, thanks Omni!!
Sciortino is classically trained French musician, born in 1922, who eventually established a career in the '60s/'70s as a prolific and somewhat peculiar composer, with, eventually, many obscure recordings to his credit. He's also a poet and playwright. With an interest in both non-Western musics and the most avant-garde of electronics (he studied at GRM), his musical vision, as displayed here, is unusual and otherworldly.
Where that Orchestra Peter Thomas disc was groovy and funky, all about the big bombastic beats, this Sciortino stuff is much more atmospheric and academic sounding... it's like 20th century classical gone soundtrack wacky. Imagine Bernard Herrmann (of Psycho fame) meets Carl Stalling (of Warner Bros. cartoons fame). Or Luigi Nono writing music for TV shows. His music is sometimes ominous, sometimes uplifting, offering plenty of percussive exotica, chimings and tinklings, with shuddering, sawing cello and eerie wordless female vocals. And occasional echo effects intensifying the rhythms.
This disc comprises Sciortino's entire, intriguing 1970 album Chronoradial, plus extensive selections from three different 10" records of his belonging to a library music series out by the Musique Pour L'Image label circa 1967-1968. There's 36 tracks here in all, many of them jittery and unsettling, suspenseful and nervous - but others lively, joyous and beautiful.
Nicely done, in typical Omni fashion, the cd booklet full of informative liner notes, and awesome freaky black and white artwork from the original lps - love that raccoon-like creature with the clocks for eyes!! Quite recommended.
MPEG Stream: "Kuklos I"
MPEG Stream: "Horizons Roses"
MPEG Stream: "Tumulte"
MPEG Stream: "Forage"

album cover SEX CHURCH Growing Over (Load) cd 16.98
When we first heard about a band called Sex Church on Load Records, we were pretty much expecting a wild costumed troupe spitting out gouts of speaker shredding cacophony and grinding metallic noise, and while there is a certain amount of noise and cacophony going on here, these guys traffic in something wholly different, a gloomy post punky sort of downer pop (much like Daily Life, who also had a record on Load), all clanging minor key chords, pounding dirgey rhythms and buzzing swirling synths, the opening track sounds like a slightly noisier take on some lost Joy Division live jam, or some classic goth group revved up and supercharged. And then when the vocals finally kick in, all deep and dramatic, wreathed in echo and delay, the mood grows dark and doomy, the drums pounding out a tribal rhythm, the bass lurching and lumbering in throbs and thrums, the sound building to explosive psychedelic crescendos before slipping back into slithery deathrock grooves or loping postpunk crunch. Fans of outfits like Naked On The Vague, Crystal Stilts, Total Control, Soft Moon and the like should go apeshit for these guys, and while they definitely borrow heavily from the gloom/goth classics, think Kommunity FK, the Mission UK, Birthday Party, Sisters Of Mercy, Wipers, Scientists, Bauhaus, Fields Of The Nephilim, once those sounds are filtered through a more noise rock / post punk aesthetic, it ends up pretty heavy, hooky, noisy, darkly poppy and sorta irresistible.
MPEG Stream: "Put Away"
MPEG Stream: "Waking Up"
MPEG Stream: "Dull Light"
MPEG Stream: "Bleed Me"

album cover SEX CHURCH Growing Over (Load) lp 16.98
When we first heard about a band called Sex Church on Load Records, we were pretty much expecting a wild costumed troupe spitting out gouts of speaker shredding cacophony and grinding metallic noise, and while there is a certain amount of noise and cacophony going on here, these guys traffic in something wholly different, a gloomy post punky sort of downer pop (much like Daily Life, who also had a record on Load), all clanging minor key chords, pounding dirgey rhythms and buzzing swirling synths, the opening track sounds like a slightly noisier take on some lost Joy Division live jam, or some classic goth group revved up and supercharged. And then when the vocals finally kick in, all deep and dramatic, wreathed in echo and delay, the mood grows dark and doomy, the drums pounding out a tribal rhythm, the bass lurching and lumbering in throbs and thrums, the sound building to explosive psychedelic crescendos before slipping back into slithery deathrock grooves or loping postpunk crunch. Fans of outfits like Naked On The Vague, Crystal Stilts, Total Control, Soft Moon and the like should go apeshit for these guys, and while they definitely borrow heavily from the gloom/goth classics, think Kommunity FK, the Mission UK, Birthday Party, Sisters Of Mercy, Wipers, Scientists, Bauhaus, Fields Of The Nephilim, once those sounds are filtered through a more noise rock / post punk aesthetic, it ends up pretty heavy, hooky, noisy, darkly poppy and sorta irresistible.
MPEG Stream: "Put Away"
MPEG Stream: "Waking Up"
MPEG Stream: "Dull Light"
MPEG Stream: "Bleed Me"

album cover SPITS, THE s/t (In The Red) cd 13.98
We had never really heard The Spits before. Pretty sure we just assumed they'd be super generic boring punk rock. But one aQ staffer who'd been living in Seattle until recently was shocked that the rest of us had never checked these guys out, and talked them up as being one of his favorite bands, which was enough of a recommendation for us, and holy shit, do these guys rule. This is full length number 5 (we think), all self titled, and all, we presume, packed to overflowing with killer jams that meld Ramones style three chord punk with blown out Devo-style electro-punkpop, and the results are pretty mindblowing, hooks galore, but often buried in murk and buzz, the vocals slipping from a Joey Ramones style yelp to a mush mouthed heavily effected drawl, with even the most straight ahead jams wreathed in weird streaks of processed guitar buzz or twisted electronics, opener, "All I Want" is a pretty perfect pop song, and yeah, total Ramones worship, but the whole track is underpinned by killer sinister sci-fi guitar sounds and lots of buzz and drone, the result is punky pop, but sort of tense and intense. And "My Mess" is all curdled guitar crunch and tripped out doped up vox, wild drumming, and some rad psychedelic effects drenched breakdowns, and while there's not a proper chorus, somehow the whole goddamn song gets stuck in our heads like crazy. Oh and did we mention the bizarre falling apart interlude replete with dialed telephone tones and all the instruments sounding like they're melting before your ears. Then there are jams like "Tomorrow's Children", with muted muddy riffage wrapped around motorik programmed rhythms, and some druggy Hawkwindy vox, with a distinctly electro vibe throughout. We could go on track by track, but it's hardly necessary. 13 tracks, 21 minutes, short sharp, hooky, heavy, buzzy, fuzzy, catchy and totally ruling, these guys might just be our new (old) favorite band!
MPEG Stream: "All I Want"
MPEG Stream: "My Mess"
MPEG Stream: "Tomorrow's Children"
MPEG Stream: "Electric Brain"

album cover SPITS, THE s/t (In The Red) lp 13.98
We had never really heard The Spits before. Pretty sure we just assumed they'd be super generic boring punk rock. But one aQ staffer who'd been living in Seattle until recently was shocked that the rest of us had never checked these guys out, and talked them up as being one of his favorite bands, which was enough of a recommendation for us, and holy shit, do these guys rule. This is full length number 5 (we think), all self titled, and all, we presume, packed to overflowing with killer jams that meld Ramones style three chord punk with blown out Devo-style electro-punkpop, and the results are pretty mindblowing, hooks galore, but often buried in murk and buzz, the vocals slipping from a Joey Ramones style yelp to a mush mouthed heavily effected drawl, with even the most straight ahead jams wreathed in weird streaks of processed guitar buzz or twisted electronics, opener, "All I Want" is a pretty perfect pop song, and yeah, total Ramones worship, but the whole track is underpinned by killer sinister sci-fi guitar sounds and lots of buzz and drone, the result is punky pop, but sort of tense and intense. And "My Mess" is all curdled guitar crunch and tripped out doped up vox, wild drumming, and some rad psychedelic effects drenched breakdowns, and while there's not a proper chorus, somehow the whole goddamn song gets stuck in our heads like crazy. Oh and did we mention the bizarre falling apart interlude replete with dialed telephone tones and all the instruments sounding like they're melting before your ears. Then there are jams like "Tomorrow's Children", with muted muddy riffage wrapped around motorik programmed rhythms, and some druggy Hawkwindy vox, with a distinctly electro vibe throughout. We could go on track by track, but it's hardly necessary. 13 tracks, 21 minutes, short sharp, hooky, heavy, buzzy, fuzzy, catchy and totally ruling, these guys might just be our new (old) favorite band!
MPEG Stream: "All I Want"
MPEG Stream: "My Mess"
MPEG Stream: "Tomorrow's Children"
MPEG Stream: "Electric Brain"

album cover SVETOVID Valhallan Dreams (Werewolf Promotion / Hammerbund) cassette 5.98
We had never heard Canadian black metal horde Svetovid before, but we got this, their debut full length, from the same place we got recent BM cassette faves from Surt, Sunchariot, Gnieu, and Lascowiec, so were pretty excited to check them out, and weren't sure what to expect from the haunting acoustic folk intro, a lilting and slightly stumbling bit of Appalachian sounding fingerpicked melancholia, which lead directly into an avalanche of crumbling blackness, a swirling, whirling wall of sound, infused with a surprising amount of melody, the drums buried in the mix, the vocals a reverbed croak, but the guitars, dense and lush and layered, and while buzzy, almost more soaring and shimmery, the blackbuzz blossoming into something almost shoegazey, that minus the vox, might be something you'd hear on Starlight Temple Society. Blissed out blackened heaviness that is as poppy as it is buzzy, whether it's intentional or not, but we're digging it a LOT. And actually, maybe not all of the record is that poppy or blissed out, once we got done listening to that first track about ten times, the sound gets darker and meaner, chugging and churning, the vocals a sinister monstrous bellow, but somehow, the sound is still melodic, almost as if someone was used to the chordal structure of pop music, and was applying it to black metal, but the result is something grim and black, but warm and fuzzy and washed out, that track, not at all blasting, instead swirling and shimmery, the guitars tranced out and cyclical, the sound nearly psychedelic. We could go on and describe all the tracks here, but the sooner this review is done, the sooner we can strap on our Walkman, get away from this computer and dig in to the rest of this tape.
LIMITED TO 320 COPIES! Each one hand numbered.

album cover TALK TALK Laughing Stock (Ba Da Bing) lp 15.98
While virtually ignored upon its release in 1991, this continuingly influential album continues to elicit marvel from music lovers of all stripes. The final album from Talk Talk, the once New Romantic Euro-popsters turned introspective chamber minimalists, pretty much foreshadowed most post-rock music that would follow throughout the rest of the decade, especially with groups like Low and Movietone, but you can also hear the nascent strains of Tortoise and Labradford in there too. At the time, there was nothing at all remotely like this (and there really still isn't!), and though it didn't completely come out of the blue for the band (both Colour Of Spring and especially Spirit Of Eden clearly displayed minimalist leanings far away from the Euro-pop of their beginnings), Laughing Stock is a culmination of the reductivist sound the band through the tireless vision of its leader, Mark Hollis, had been striving for. Both Laughing Stock and Hollis' self-titled solo album from 1998 have been given the vinyl reissue treatment (first time ever on wax domestically) by the fine folks at Ba Da Bing. And since Laughing Stock is essentially a Mark Hollis solo album with a group of friends and session players, both records are more like essential companion pieces of measured and restrained beauty than any of the previous Talk Talk material would have been.
Said to have been inspired by Can and John Coltrane, though not sounding much like either of them, Laughing Stock instead trades on those artist's methodologies of musical structure, incorporating delicate textures and nuanced atmospheres into hushed but dynamically attuned elegiac compositions. The songs are stripped of excess, but are stylistically complex, mining elements of jazz and chamber music in finely-tuned and polished layers that build up slowly, with no verse-chorus-verse type of considerations or big overt payoffs. This is music that requires patience to appreciate but offers many rewards over repeated listens. A "long-tail" classic, this is one of our favorite late night listens. Completely and unabashedly essential!
MPEG Stream: "Ascension Day"
MPEG Stream: "After The Flood"

album cover THIEVES LIKE US Your Heart Feels (Captured Tracks) 12" 14.98
The return of these New Order named electro pop new wavers, this one not a new record, but a reissue of a rare 2008 ep, which in turn actually featured early recordings from all the way back in 2005. The title track is the jam here, a fuzzy minimal pop wave gem, all chiming melodies, heartfelt vox, thick buzzing synths, a simple pulsing groove, in some ways it reminds us of a less bombastic and shoegazey M83, that same sort of retro eighties vibe, total new wave dream pop bliss, laced with all sort of shimmery swirl and lushly harmonic guitars, and a sweet sweet hooky chorus. Definitely worth the price of admission alone, but the other three tracks are pretty great as well. "Fur Judith" is a bit more funky and propulsive, sounding a lot like it was built on the framework of Maxwell's "Somebody's Watching Me", all low slung and synthy, but a little radio pop/soul mixed in. "The Moon In The Gutter" is a beauty, all hazy and washed out, hushed and muted and swirly, a perfect chunk of blurred blissy ambience, and finally "Don't Take Your Hands Away" finishes things off in a darkly Depeche Mode. Nice!

album cover THORNS s/t (Peaceville) cd 14.98
This twisted black metal classic, back in print! Now on Peaceville, in one of those special rounded-corner jewel cases that they like so much. This new version includes 2 bonus tracks from their 'Demo 2000' plus the video for "Vortex"!!
We remember when this first came out, we had been waiting for ages: the debut disc by Norwegian black metal legend Thorns! Aka Snorre W. Ruch. He'd been an important, if obscure part of the Norse black metal scene since the early, church-burning days, but never managed to release more than a demo until this one... well, not quite, 'cause he did release that split cd with nineties Norwegian metal kingpins Emperor!! Also recently reissued and reviewed on the aQ list. But back then, the level of anticipation regarding this first real Thorns album was crazy high. And man were our expectations met! We had actually been expecting something more electronic and soundscapey and less metal, based on that Cubase-intensive split with Emperor. But, although that's most definitely a part of Thorns' approach, this is definitely very very metal. Mechanized, futuristic, black metal that's powerful and grandiose. From blazing fast blasts to mid-tempo marches to doom, all is layered with Burzum-worthy fuzzed-out guitar and eerie keyboard flourishes. There's some clanking, industrial moments, and ominous quiet keyboard interludes, but mostly this is spiraling, evil, black metal mastery. No wonder the likes of Emperor and Satyricon (whose Satyr sings on this album, and who's Moonfog label originally released it) have been vocal fans. If you're into either or both of those bands (and you should be!), or hell any of the more classic Norwegian black metal groups, especially, the more twisted outliers, and somehow never managed to hear this, you are gonna lose your mind for this killer slab of elite futuristic blackness... Sadly, barring comps and demos and splits, this is the only proper Thorns record there is, but it's pretty stellar and definitely ranks up their in the Norwegian black metal pantheon alongside Emperor, Satyricon, Enslaved and all the rest.
MPEG Stream: "World Playground Deceit"
MPEG Stream: "Stellar Master Elite"
MPEG Stream: "Interface To God"

album cover THRONES / SEDAN split (Joe Preston's Solid Gold Records) lp 12.98
Managed to get a handful of these split tour 12"s when Thrones, aka Joe Preston, was in town recently. This two song 45rpm12" matches up Preston's Thrones with the new-to-us Sedan, who we had never even heard of before, but whose track here kills, a moody broody rhythmic chunk of kick ass post rock, plenty mathy, with big drums, lush thick guitars, definitely sounds like it could be a new record by some nineties Thrill Jockey band, BUT, the group pepper their math/post rockisms with cool stretches of haunting cinematic chamber music, all layered drones and swoonsome shimmer. Pretty great, and unexpected, and has us definitely wanting to hear more.
The Thrones side offers up a different side of the Thrones we're used to, unfurling a dark, droney super minimal low end creep, all slithery and gurgly, a rumbling drone that soon reveals itself as being pitched down processed vox, the sound blur into a sort of post industrial black ambience, until the song blossoms into cool melody, but again, those synthy sounding melodies are in fact Preston's processed voice, it's total avant a cappella prog, or something, whatever it is, it's awesomely dirgey and droney and a little bit sci-fi, a tripped out minimal ambient soundtrack that might have some Thrones obsessives on the haunt for heavy scratching their chins, the rest of us can revel in Preston's mysterious dark soundscapery.
Probably crazy limited, so not sure if we can get more. Nice cover art too!

album cover TRUST Bulbform (Sacred Bones) 12" 9.98
We were never able to review the debut single from this Canadian dark-dance-pop-wave combo, cuz for whatever reason we could never get enough copies to list, which is a shame cuz we dug it like crazy. But this extended 12" single takes the dancier elements from that 7" and pushed them right up front, the A side a sizzling, pulsing, buzzy blast of bass heavy almost housey sounding new wave, with some thick bassbuzz that sounds almost dubsteppy, weird vox with a serious eighties vibe transforms this into something more than retro dancefloor worship, and then there's the last few minutes where the song (d)evolves into an ominous John Carpenter / Goblin like bassy, droney super cinematic outro. Killer.
The flipside starts off with a brief bit of eighties electro pop, all synthy and propulsive, and seriously eighties, and again with some truly strange vox, before slipping into a remix of the track on the A side, which adds some heft to the proceedings, making it fuzzier and more distorted and a lot more shoegazey, all washed out and dreamy, but still finishing off with that same killer creepy outro.
Cool gothy disco big hole 12" sleeve too...

album cover TUMA, SCOTT Not For Nobody (Immune) cassette 8.98
This out-of-print cd release from 2008, originally on Digitalis, and a former AQ Record Of The Week, recently reissued on vinyl, and yes NOW AVAILABLE ON CASSETTE!!
The first time we heard Scott Tuma play guitar, was with skeletal slowcore country legends Souled American. His washed out dreamlike atmospheric guitar parts helped define their sound, but more importantly, introduced Tuma as a truly idiosyncratic guitar player, with a haunting and mysteriously unique sound. Tuma's music was like an acoustic version of Tim Hecker or Fennesz, but whereas those guys use electronics and computers and effects to transform their guitars into blurred dronescapes, Tuma's approach is much more organic, unfurling skeletal guitar lines, a slowed down Appalachia deftly woven into a sprawl of slow motion, washed out, sepia toned countrified ambience. Tuma's two proper solo records, Hard Again and The River 1 2 3 4, are both HUGE all time aQ favorites, so we were pretty excited to hear about a brand new release, especially since we've been waiting patiently for almost 5 years!
Not For Nobody begins quite strangely, a super spare, lo-fi recording of barely there guitar, stretched out beneath reverb drenched childlike vocals, cooing and purring, a bit like a countrified Bjork, the sibilance stretched out into glistening shimmers, the melody, mournful and dreamy, bits of tinkling chimes, and muted ambient clatter, the whole thing sun dappled and soft focus, so strange and haunting, but so lovely and sublime.
The next track finds us on much more familiar ground, a loose tangle of steel string guitar, sounding like it could have come off one of the later Souled American records, but sans vocals, the melodies lyrical and lilting, couched in a thick layered backdrop of warm whir, sprinkled with tinkling bells and chimes, laced with bits of piano, somehow sparse and skeletal, but impossibly lush. Which is sort of Tuma's specialty, turning minimalism into maximalism, but without losing any of the former's hushed urgency or whispered intimacy.
The whole record is quite varied, but each track manages to sound like it couldn't be anywhere else, every one seamlessly leading into the next, a song suite, an album of cohesive musical pieces, not just a collection of songs. The third track, "Eloper", introduces what sounds like horns, for a haunting funereal march, a woozy fanfare that seems to slowly spread out, a simple pulse like rhythm beneath hazy streaks and deliberate minor key strum. The next track begins as a jaunty upper register steel string lullaby, giving way, part way through, to a languorous late afternoon sun dappled sprawl, slightly atonal, gorgeous and bleary eared. "New Joy" buries the guitar in a haze of whirring buzz and warm swirls of lush chords and muted feedback, very liturgical sounding, a dark ambient drift through some ancient crumbling cathedral, while "Rakes" begins as a simple stripped down halfspeed Appalachian hoedown, before transforming into a sea of sawing strings, of layered buzz and extended steel string drones.
The record finishes the way it began, with that ghostly childlike voice, the bits of spare guitar, the massive clouds of delay and reverb, that voice a wraith hovering above the web of subtle minor key guitar, the floorboards creaking, motes of dust tinkling like chimes in a soft evening breeze, creepy, sorrowful, and so completely gorgeous.
Tuma conjures a timeless magical mystery with his guitar. He plays the mysterious traveler, a wandering audio alchemist, turning notes and chords into gold, or rather, golden streaks of dusty memory and soft golden glimpses of some hidden and blurred otherworld. His are sounds to get lost in, to wrap around yourself like some cloak spun from gold thread, to hide under with a flashlight like a child, creating worlds of light and shadow, a sound at once mystical and enigmatic, warm and familiar, and truly truly sublime.
MPEG Stream: "Nobody (River Of Tin)"
MPEG Stream: "Fishen"
MPEG Stream: "Eloper"
MPEG Stream: "Tiktaalik"

album cover U.V. POP Just A Game (Sacred Bones) 7" 5.50
The latest in Sacred Bones' on going series of unearthed gems, former installments included records by 13th Chime, Cultural Decay and Carl Simmons, all of which we dug big time. And this seven inch from UK outfit is another good one. Originally released in 1982, and produced by Cabaret Voltaire, the A side is fast becoming a new favorite jam, definitely of its time, but had you told us it was some new band channeling the past, we definitely would have believed it. Very groovy, a little bit funky, that sort of propulsive postpunk/funk bassline, a bit of an industrial vibe too, but the horns, layered droned out horns, laying down these totally mesmerizing muted atonal melodies, stretched out into long blasts of sound, that in their own way are seriously heavy, and then the vox come in, loud and distorted, the whole thing jagged but hypnotic, sort of dancey, but also a bit dark and sinister.
The flipside sounds a bit more beholden to Cabaret Voltaire, a little more electro pop, heavy on the eighties pop vibe, we're definitely hearing some Talk Talk actually, skittery rhythms, haunting synth swirls, lots of eighties style guitar jangle (a little Smiths, a little Big Country), wrapped in analog electronics and strapped to a pulsing minimal beat, definitely another track that predicts much of what would come decades later, the sort of sound the current crop must worship.
Both sides for how different they are, each play like a single part, with repeated subtle variations, which is what makes both tracks here so hypnotic and trancelike. Love it!

album cover V/A ŃChicas! Spanish Female Singers 1962-1974 (Vampisoul) cd 17.98
The French weren't the only ones creating irresistible "French Pop" in the '60s and '70s. A whole lot of amazing sassy effervescent pop was being created in Spanish speaking countries like Mexico and Spain (although there it was of course actually called Spanish Pop, but we digress), and this compilation digs out the amazing ladies responsible for these party starting Spanish Pop gems, that fans of French Pop sounds are gonna love. We had no idea who folks like Pili Y Mili, Sonia, Gelu, or Lorella were, but damn now we know they were responsible for some of the most saucy and addictive songs to come out during this amazing era for bright sunshiney pop. These ladies are like the Spanish equivalents of France Gal, Lulu, and Mina... Nancy Sinatra, too, for that matter. These are the kind of tunes you put on and everything around you starts looking a lot better, and a bad mood becomes practically impossible. If you've loved the Pop A Paris comps or the awesome Sensacional Soul collection that Vampisoul released a few years back, this will definitely hit the spot too. This is as fun and colorful as pop music gets. Makes us wanna get all tipsy on sangria and margaritas and dance the night away.
MPEG Stream: LOS QUE VIVIMOS "Contrapunto"
MPEG Stream: LOS STOP "Extiende Tus Brazos"
MPEG Stream: ENCARNITA POLO "Hava Naguila"
MPEG Stream: TANIA VELIA "Los Pepinillos"

album cover V/A Chicas! Spanish Female Singers 1962-1974 (Vampisoul) 2lp 28.00
The French weren't the only ones creating irresistible "French Pop" in the '60s and '70s. A whole lot of amazing sassy effervescent pop was being created in Spanish speaking countries like Mexico and Spain (although there it was of course actually called Spanish Pop, but we digress), and this compilation digs out the amazing ladies responsible for these party starting Spanish Pop gems, that fans of French Pop sounds are gonna love. We had no idea who folks like Pili Y Mili, Sonia, Gelu, or Lorella were, but damn now we know they were responsible for some of the most saucy and addictive songs to come out during this amazing era for bright sunshiney pop. These ladies are like the Spanish equivalents of France Gal, Lulu, and Mina... Nancy Sinatra, too, for that matter. These are the kind of tunes you put on and everything around you starts looking a lot better, and a bad mood becomes practically impossible. If you've loved the Pop A Paris comps or the awesome Sensacional Soul collection that Vampisoul released a few years back, this will definitely hit the spot too. This is as fun and colorful as pop music gets. Makes us wanna get all tipsy on sangria and margaritas and dance the night away.
MPEG Stream: LOS QUE VIVIMOS "Contrapunto"
MPEG Stream: LOS STOP "Extiende Tus Brazos"
MPEG Stream: ENCARNITA POLO "Hava Naguila"
MPEG Stream: TANIA VELIA "Los Pepinillos"

album cover V/A Studio One: Classic Recordings 1963-80 (Soul Jazz) cd 19.98
This is the one. If you've never gotten a Studio One compilation or you have, but have been wondering which one to get next, the answer is right here. Soul Jazz pretty has pretty much selected the best, warmest and most memorable cuts by amazing reggae artists from Studio One spanning 1963-1980. We've been playing this almost non-stop in the store, as this really does represent some of the best music ever made. Studio One rivals Motown for being responsible for so much amazing and timeless music. All our favorites are here: Horace Andy, Marcia Griffith, The Heptones, Prince Jazzbo, as well as some stunning tracks by a few folks who had somehow slipped under our radar like Super & Sleepy, Michigan & Smiley, and Doreen Schaffer. It's got everything we love about the Studio One sound, from the super dubbed out, to song sizzling with sensual warmth. Every single track on this kills. This is a no brainer, an absolute must have.
MPEG Stream: HORACE ANDY "New Broom"
MPEG Stream: DUB SPECIALIST "Luanda"
MPEG Stream: MARCIA GRIFFITHS "Let Me Hold You Tight"
MPEG Stream: PRINCE JAZZBO "Rock For Dub"

album cover V/A Studio One: Classic Recordings 1963-80 (Soul Jazz) 2lp 26.00
This is the one. If you've never gotten a Studio One compilation or you have, but have been wondering which one to get next, the answer is right here. Soul Jazz pretty has pretty much selected the best, warmest and most memorable cuts by amazing reggae artists from Studio One spanning 1963-1980. We've been playing this almost non-stop in the store, as this really does represent some of the best music ever made. Studio One rivals Motown for being responsible for so much amazing and timeless music. All our favorites are here: Horace Andy, Marcia Griffith, The Heptones, Prince Jazzbo, as well as some stunning tracks by a few folks who had somehow slipped under our radar like Super & Sleepy, Michigan & Smiley, and Doreen Schaffer. It's got everything we love about the Studio One sound, from the super dubbed out, to song sizzling with sensual warmth. Every single track on this kills. This is a no brainer, an absolute must have.
MPEG Stream: HORACE ANDY "New Broom"
MPEG Stream: DUB SPECIALIST "Luanda"
MPEG Stream: MARCIA GRIFFITHS "Let Me Hold You Tight"
MPEG Stream: PRINCE JAZZBO "Rock For Dub"

album cover VEX RUFFIN Crash Course (Stones Throw) cd ep 13.98
We weren't at all sure what to expect from this, the debut from a punk rocker turned Madlib acolyte, with a handful of lo-tech gear, a drum machine and a sampler, although he apparently has a live band, but just check out that first sample below, it's like Portishead crossed with This Heat, but with a weird sort of post punk vibe, the lurching looped rhythm, the woozy groove, those echo drenched laid back vox, everything hazy and blurry, the song peppered with some mysterious industrial clatter and hiss, as if this was some sort of surreptitious jam happening at some subterranean construction site, it's pretty insanely appealing, and although influenced by and rooted in hip hop, the vibe is way more punk. The rest of the tracks too, it's as if he was trying to make a punk record but decided to do it usually just a sampler and a drum machine, which is pretty much what he did, but the results are pretty bad ass, the songs simple, most with just two parts, slipping from verse to chorus to verse again, but it gives the tracks a sort of minimal repetitive trancelike quality, a sort of Velvet Underground feel, albeit rendered in crunchy distorted guitars and looped breakbeats. Some of the tracks even sound all cold wave-y, with deep dramatic vox over pounding Teutonic beats and wrapped in clouds of noise and skree. "Crash Course" almost sounds like it could be a 7" on Wierd or Sacred Bones, or even some unearthed eighties dancepunk jam reissued on Dark Entries.
Killer stuff, really hope there's a full length on the horizon, cuz we're spinning this ep to death!
MPEG Stream: "Sacrifice"
MPEG Stream: "Man With A Plan"

album cover VEX RUFFIN Crash Course (Stones Throw) 12" 10.98
We weren't at all sure what to expect from this, the debut from a punk rocker turned Madlib acolyte, with a handful of lo-tech gear, a drum machine and a sampler, although he apparently has a live band, but just check out that first sample below, it's like Portishead crossed with This Heat, but with a weird sort of post punk vibe, the lurching looped rhythm, the woozy groove, those echo drenched laid back vox, everything hazy and blurry, the song peppered with some mysterious industrial clatter and hiss, as if this was some sort of surreptitious jam happening at some subterranean construction site, it's pretty insanely appealing, and although influenced by and rooted in hip hop, the vibe is way more punk. The rest of the tracks too, it's as if he was trying to make a punk record but decided to do it usually just a sampler and a drum machine, which is pretty much what he did, but the results are pretty bad ass, the songs simple, most with just two parts, slipping from verse to chorus to verse again, but it gives the tracks a sort of minimal repetitive trancelike quality, a sort of Velvet Underground feel, albeit rendered in crunchy distorted guitars and looped breakbeats. Some of the tracks even sound all cold wave-y, with deep dramatic vox over pounding Teutonic beats and wrapped in clouds of noise and skree. "Crash Course" almost sounds like it could be a 7" on Wierd or Sacred Bones, or even some unearthed eighties dancepunk jam reissued on Dark Entries.
Killer stuff, really hope there's a full length on the horizon, cuz we're spinning this ep to death!
MPEG Stream: "Sacrifice"
MPEG Stream: "Man With A Plan"

album cover VOIGT, WOLFGANG Kafkatrax (Profan) cd 16.98
Wolfgang Voigt has produced various strains of minimal techno under a number guises since the mid '90s. We have long championed his work as Gas whose four albums of blissed-out techno surveyed the Bavarian forest at autobahn speeds, standing as a marvelous and breathtaking pinnacle in the history of electronic music. Despite the totality of the Gas project, Voigt has kicked out countless singles of banging techno, minimal monotrax, schaffelfieber jitter, and pulse-driven ambience - some of which are destined for the club, some of which amount to a very peculiar headphone techno. For the Kafkatrax series, Voigt sourced everything except the bassdrum from the voice of Frans Kafka! It really could have been anybody's voice that Voigt used as there's nothing particularly engaging about Kafka's voice, but the act of transforming Kafka's voice into the insectoid chirps, buzzes, and pulsations of Voigt's techno is a nice touch! Originally, Voigt released Kafkatrax as a trilogy of singles, with each track and each single incrementally deconstructing Kafka's voice more and more. The first few tracks feature that voice contextualized as a constant, if rhythmic chatter amongst the girding monophunk of thumping kickdrums; and it's quite reminiscent of Thomas Brinkmann's use of Blixa Bargeld's voice way back when. But the more Voigt obliterates the voice into non-vocal sounding elements the better. "Kafkatrax 2.3" bends and bloats those samples into acid lines of percolation; and "Kafkatrax 3.4" oscillates swarming masses of Kafka samples into strange melodies sitting above Voigt's churning backbeat.
MPEG Stream: "Kafkatrax 1.2"
MPEG Stream: "Kafkatrax 2.2"
MPEG Stream: "Kaftakrax 3.3"

album cover WATER BORDERS Harbored Mantras (Triangle) cd 16.98
Finally!!! The hotly anticipated debut full length from San Francisco weirdo electronic duo Water Borders, aka Amitai Heller and Loric Sih, formerly of SF rockers New Thrill Parade! And HOLY SHIT does Harbored Mantras deliver the goods! All of us around here have been eagerly awaiting this and are so psyched to finally be able to share this freakily futuristic and subversive bass goth with everybody. Hopefully, by now, avid aQ list readers are well familiar with the warped soundworld of Water Borders from past records on killer labels like Skrot Up, Disaro, and the Hungry For Power label run by kick ass blog 20 Jazz Funk Greats. While all that material was definitely amazing, and excitingly forward thinking, their proper debut, "Harbored Mantras", might just turn out to be a total game changer. It makes sense a bleeding edge label like Triangle would put it out, as it's an obvious attempt to diversify and re-direct their already stunning canon. The future is simply bigger than 'witch-house', and the keen eyes of the powers that be at Triangle seem to understand this all too well. (Also see the beautifully stark Ayshay ep featured elsewhere on this list for further evidence).
It's a rare sonic artifact that successfully bridges the gaps between such disparate and divergent influences and comes out on the other side as something utterly unique. but Harbored Mantras does just that, and then some. Most of the reviews thus far and even the press release from the band itself have gone over the groups influences ad nauseum, but for the most part, they are pretty right on, we too hear Coil, we hear modern UK bass music, we hear echoes of Gavin Friday at his most expressive and brooding. All apt comparisons for sure. But what's so interesting to us is the manner and method in which Water Borders implement these influences to effectively create a fresh crossover. Water Borders' sound successfully inhabits multiple musical universes in ways that are both subtle and surreal, yet somehow impossibly calculated and perfectly executed. It's a churning gothic weirdness, it's well informed dance music, it's textural and moody, while at the same time solidly rooted in lyric based song form. The songs that constitute "Harbored Mantras" solidly convey a dark vision of the present and future. Technophobic paranoia, social inequities, workaday drudgery, narcissistic identity crisis, and the ever-changing nature of communication are all strands that are woven into the spirit and soul of this record. There's much to be discovered in this piece of work... let's get to the tunes.
The album opens up with the slow burn of "Tread on Them". We're greeted with the sounds of long forgotten bones clattering in a blackened wind, while a ritualistic metallic clang creeps into the foreground. Heller's creepy baritone enters atop this hissing texture and suddenly with the introduction of bass we're sent falling into WB's bottomless sound-cave. The low end frequency is a dark and dubby stomach ache drone, creating a different type of club vibe. Euphoria replaced with claustrophobia. The sound is functionally cathartic, like good dance music ought to be, but the feeling is still foreboding. "Yelling long live success" as we waltz on top of the vanquished, feeling a deep shame all the while for acts willfully committed to arrive at the top of this heap... "What Wiwant" ups the energy with a nervously syncopated 2-step. Disassociated hand percussion and the ever-present bass wobble creating an absolutely hypnotic head-nod trance. The song is a driving banger swaddled in ominous synth textures, working you up to a frenzy while never letting you leave the hazy nightmare. "Waldenpond.com" is a brief respite from the chaos, offering up a beautiful slab of gloomy triphop. The guest vocals from Group Rhoda are a gorgeous addition to the WB's sound, strongly contrasting Heller's guttural croon with plaintive melody. The tempo is slower here, kind of a groovy, opiated dream state where melodies and textures swirl atop a dubbed out rhythm track. The vocal production is particularly stunning on this one. For the first half of the tune Group Rhoda's vocals are shimmery and ghost like, floating atop the beat with dense reverberation and spacious delay. About half way through the track the vocals are sampled and arranged rhythmically, becoming part of the beat itself. This clever production tactic lends itself well to creating an arc within the song... where we once sought comfort in the gauzy atmospherics we now are suddenly bucked off that cloud, hurled into a more jarring moment. The line "I hate the night" bouncing in our brains, awakening visions of a parallel world where identity is fragmented and "reality" is confused. And that BASS! Caustic, deep rumbles shaking us to the core. All elements combining to give an overall feeling of discomfort, albeit one that you can get down to. "Bad Ethos" is a harshly negative slo-mo industrial track. Lots of noisy mids and highs droning on and on with some seriously demented histrionics going on with Heller's vocals, the deep dark bellow replaced with a high end evil screech. Next up is arguably THEE cut of the record, "Even in the Dark". Originally featured on the group's Disaro disc, but now revamped and made even more MASSIVE! Starting with a minor key arpeggiation, the bass slowly creeping in and the vocals murky and misanthropic. Suddenly those same vocals become more discernible, albeit DRENCHED in a reverb glaze, revealing probably the strongest melodic moments of the record. The underpinning is still the throbbing pulsations heard throughout, but now with an intense element of high end melodic skree, tom toms ping ponging across a vast cavern, synths clawing at the ears, a cacophonous tumult resulting in an undeniable urge to erase the self and finally dance off that cliff that "Harbored Mantras" has been beckoning you toward throughout. 
From here on out, the album remains driven towards this death trance mood, incredibly focused in its intent. It's alienating and disturbing but at the same time engaging and creative. Moments of beauty, moments of chaos...a fully developed record with an incredibly consistent vibe. This is what we mean by game-changer. It's at once a part of the now, but also something wholly different and utterly challenging, not easy listening at all. Never pandering to the trends, but at the same time so current and powerful! An infinitely rewarding debut record from an outfit that promises to keep on pushing their futuristic sonic agenda. Absolutely essential!!!
MPEG Stream: "What Wiwant"
MPEG Stream: "Waldenpond.com"
MPEG Stream: "Even In The Dark"

album cover WATER BORDERS Harbored Mantras (Triangle) lp 19.98
Finally!!! The hotly anticipated debut full length from San Francisco weirdo electronic duo Water Borders, aka Amitai Heller and Loric Sih, formerly of SF rockers New Thrill Parade! And HOLY SHIT does Harbored Mantras deliver the goods! All of us around here have been eagerly awaiting this and are so psyched to finally be able to share this freakily futuristic and subversive bass goth with everybody. Hopefully, by now, avid aQ list readers are well familiar with the warped soundworld of Water Borders from past records on killer labels like Skrot Up, Disaro, and the Hungry For Power label run by kick ass blog 20 Jazz Funk Greats. While all that material was definitely amazing, and excitingly forward thinking, their proper debut, "Harbored Mantras", might just turn out to be a total game changer. It makes sense a bleeding edge label like Triangle would put it out, as it's an obvious attempt to diversify and re-direct their already stunning canon. The future is simply bigger than 'witch-house', and the keen eyes of the powers that be at Triangle seem to understand this all too well. (Also see the beautifully stark Ayshay ep featured elsewhere on this list for further evidence).
It's a rare sonic artifact that successfully bridges the gaps between such disparate and divergent influences and comes out on the other side as something utterly unique. but Harbored Mantras does just that, and then some. Most of the reviews thus far and even the press release from the band itself have gone over the groups influences ad nauseum, but for the most part, they are pretty right on, we too hear Coil, we hear modern UK bass music, we hear echoes of Gavin Friday at his most expressive and brooding. All apt comparisons for sure. But what's so interesting to us is the manner and method in which Water Borders implement these influences to effectively create a fresh crossover. Water Borders' sound successfully inhabits multiple musical universes in ways that are both subtle and surreal, yet somehow impossibly calculated and perfectly executed. It's a churning gothic weirdness, it's well informed dance music, it's textural and moody, while at the same time solidly rooted in lyric based song form. The songs that constitute "Harbored Mantras" solidly convey a dark vision of the present and future. Technophobic paranoia, social inequities, workaday drudgery, narcissistic identity crisis, and the ever-changing nature of communication are all strands that are woven into the spirit and soul of this record. There's much to be discovered in this piece of work... let's get to the tunes.
The album opens up with the slow burn of "Tread on Them". We're greeted with the sounds of long forgotten bones clattering in a blackened wind, while a ritualistic metallic clang creeps into the foreground. Heller's creepy baritone enters atop this hissing texture and suddenly with the introduction of bass we're sent falling into WB's bottomless sound-cave. The low end frequency is a dark and dubby stomach ache drone, creating a different type of club vibe. Euphoria replaced with claustrophobia. The sound is functionally cathartic, like good dance music ought to be, but the feeling is still foreboding. "Yelling long live success" as we waltz on top of the vanquished, feeling a deep shame all the while for acts willfully committed to arrive at the top of this heap... "What Wiwant" ups the energy with a nervously syncopated 2-step. Disassociated hand percussion and the ever-present bass wobble creating an absolutely hypnotic head-nod trance. The song is a driving banger swaddled in ominous synth textures, working you up to a frenzy while never letting you leave the hazy nightmare. "Waldenpond.com" is a brief respite from the chaos, offering up a beautiful slab of gloomy triphop. The guest vocals from Group Rhoda are a gorgeous addition to the WB's sound, strongly contrasting Heller's guttural croon with plaintive melody. The tempo is slower here, kind of a groovy, opiated dream state where melodies and textures swirl atop a dubbed out rhythm track. The vocal production is particularly stunning on this one. For the first half of the tune Group Rhoda's vocals are shimmery and ghost like, floating atop the beat with dense reverberation and spacious delay. About half way through the track the vocals are sampled and arranged rhythmically, becoming part of the beat itself. This clever production tactic lends itself well to creating an arc within the song... where we once sought comfort in the gauzy atmospherics we now are suddenly bucked off that cloud, hurled into a more jarring moment. The line "I hate the night" bouncing in our brains, awakening visions of a parallel world where identity is fragmented and "reality" is confused. And that BASS! Caustic, deep rumbles shaking us to the core. All elements combining to give an overall feeling of discomfort, albeit one that you can get down to. "Bad Ethos" is a harshly negative slo-mo industrial track. Lots of noisy mids and highs droning on and on with some seriously demented histrionics going on with Heller's vocals, the deep dark bellow replaced with a high end evil screech. Next up is arguably THEE cut of the record, "Even in the Dark". Originally featured on the group's Disaro disc, but now revamped and made even more MASSIVE! Starting with a minor key arpeggiation, the bass slowly creeping in and the vocals murky and misanthropic. Suddenly those same vocals become more discernible, albeit DRENCHED in a reverb glaze, revealing probably the strongest melodic moments of the record. The underpinning is still the throbbing pulsations heard throughout, but now with an intense element of high end melodic skree, tom toms ping ponging across a vast cavern, synths clawing at the ears, a cacophonous tumult resulting in an undeniable urge to erase the self and finally dance off that cliff that "Harbored Mantras" has been beckoning you toward throughout. 
From here on out, the album remains driven towards this death trance mood, incredibly focused in its intent. It's alienating and disturbing but at the same time engaging and creative. Moments of beauty, moments of chaos...a fully developed record with an incredibly consistent vibe. This is what we mean by game-changer. It's at once a part of the now, but also something wholly different and utterly challenging, not easy listening at all. Never pandering to the trends, but at the same time so current and powerful! An infinitely rewarding debut record from an outfit that promises to keep on pushing their futuristic sonic agenda. Absolutely essential!!!
MPEG Stream: "What Wiwant"
MPEG Stream: "Waldenpond.com"
MPEG Stream: "Even In The Dark"

album cover WILL OVER MATTER Lust For Knowledge (Freak Animal) cd 11.98
We got this in on the day we sent out our last list, the latest from weirdo Finnish avant electronic surreal industrial outfit Will Over Matter, the solo project of the maniac behind damaged sort-of-black-metal avant rhythmic alchemists Ride For Revenge, and we were totally tempted to just list it then, with a review that simply said "This is so much better than anything on this week's list" and leave it at that. We wussed out at the last minute, thinking it a bit too flip, and like all records we love, we really wanted the chance to gush and get a bit more in depth, but it seriously only took a day or two of listening, before we were very nearly incapable of listening to anything else.
The music of Will Over Matter, whose Might Of The Planet Eater double cd we made our Record Of The Week a few months back, is simultaneously infuriating and addictive, baffling and beautiful, a dizzying collage of primitive electronics, of abstract spaced out synths, of bizarre spoken word vocals and sprawling pulsing glitchy malfunctioning buzzscapes, like an Emeralds record if it was crafted by some strange tribe of interstellar cave dwellers, or Daniel Higgs creating primitive spiritual rituals post frontal lobotomy. There's definitely an Amps For Christ vibe too, the same sort of controlled chaos, disparate sounds and tones woven into songs both textural and strangely melodic. The opening track here is the perfect example, a 12+ minute of warped lo-fi kosmische exploration, sounding a bit like it was culled from samples of the Starship Enterprise, recorded on a handheld microcassette recorder, and then played back on a busted up old Casio sampler, a sort of spaced out industrial power electronics, but with the power rendered not so much in volume and intensity, but in depth and mystery, a hazy sort of pulsating rhythmic ambience, one that takes on more and more hiss and buzz as it goes, and it's not until about 9 minutes in, when all of the noise abates, leaving a jagged throbbing synth pulse, beneath which a strange voice intones some mysterious manifesto, the sounds gradually blurring until finally blinking out.
Even though the above paragraph would seem to point to the opposite, this stuff is actually insanely difficult to describe, because it is so unlike anything else we've heard, a compelling bit of modern electronic industrial minimalism, with touches of cold wave, of classic old school industrial, hints of course of the rhythmic weirdness of Ride For Revenge, but here stripped way down, and presented as something much more austere and cold, the voice a Teutonic bellow, that only occasionally erupts unto a more black metal growl, while the music does all the heavy lifting, creating undulating stretches of analog synth, blown out bursts of gristly glitchy crunch, rhythms cobbled together from bits of hiss and thrum, skies full of skittery bleep, of old modem high end flutter, of white noise and pink noise and brown noise all sculpted into sort-of-shapes and almost-melodies, creating again, something that to many ears might be perceived as damaged and difficult and borderline unlistenable, but to us, and presumably many of you, that's part of what makes this so amazing, the fact that it IS completely and utterly whatthefuck bizarre, while somehow managing to be totally mesmerizing, and impossibly listenable, a warped chunk of avant outsider electronic industrial weirdness that has quickly become some of our favorite music ever, and even now, we're still fighting the urge to erase this whole review and just write "this is so much better than anything/everything else EVER"...
MPEG Stream: "The Enemy Collector"
MPEG Stream: "Blades Sharpened Again"
MPEG Stream: "The Risk"
MPEG Stream: "From The Form"

album cover WITCH MOUNTAIN South Of Salem (Mountastic) lp 17.98
South Of Salem is just the second record from this long running (14 years!) Portland doom outfit, but it's their first with vocalist Uta Plotkin, and she really makes all the difference, transforming the groups dirgey bluesy Sabbathy groove into something much more unique, soulful and slithery, and weirdly poppy too. In fact Plotkin is not possessed of a raspy howl, or a guttural growl, but an actual voice, a serious set of pipes that almost sound out of place in a metal band, which is exactly what makes this record sound so special. Plotkin belting these tunes out like some metallized Janis Joplin or doom-ed Heart, like the lost Wilson sister who chose the darker path. The music is a doom lovers dream, thick churning downtuned guitars, dense busy drumming, the sound thick and heavy and epic, and then Plotkin just seals the doomed deal, her voice slipping from a sultry croon, to a powerful yowl, occasionally launching into some seriously wild wails, with some cool multitracked vocal harmonies only adding to the doom-Heart-ed vibe.
Rad stuff for sure, and most definitely recommended for the other witchy doom combos we've dug in the past like Loon, Blood Ceremony, Jex Thoth, The Devil's Blood, Purple Rhinestone Eagle, Witch Mountain tour-mates Christian Mistress, etc.
MPEG Stream: "Wing Of The Lord"
MPEG Stream: "Plastic Cage"

album cover XENO & OAKLANDER Sets & Lights (Wierd Records) cd 11.98
Album number three for the Brooklyn retro-garde duo Xeno & Oaklander (aka Liz Wendelbo and Sean McBride), who are the flagship outfit for Wierd Records in their recapitulation of a particular strain of cold synthwave circa 1981. Wendelbo and McBride have collected a mighty impressive collection of synths, sequencers, and drum machines of that era, and they've stuck to their 'no computers' ethos in creating their retro sound. Given the limitations in instrumentation and aesthetics, the Xeno & Oaklander albums do trend toward similarity, veering towards a brighter, new wave / Italo-disco vibe here on Sets & Lights and slightly away from the industrial-tinged notions found on their 2009 breakout album Sentinelle. Wendelbo and McBride alternate on vocals, with Wendelbo taking up her breathy waif-like elegance and McBride adopting British affectations in his delivery. The title track and "Years Before" glide upon percolating, almost Moroder-esque sequencing with disco-inspired basslines and suitably propulsive rhythm tracks bracing everything inside the synth-pop shell that Xeno & Oaklander have so carefully refined. The icy sensuality of the instrumental track "Italy" slows the pace down to something more akin to Johnny Jewel's heartbeat instead of their typically urgent tempos; and it actually suits Xeno & Oaklander quite well, allowing all of the synth blorp to glow just a little bit more. A fine record, even as it doesn't quite venture into new territories.
MPEG Stream: "Years Before"
MPEG Stream: "Italy"
MPEG Stream: "Desert Rose"

album cover XENO & OAKLANDER Sets & Lights (Wierd Records) lp 17.98
Album number three for the Brooklyn retro-garde duo Xeno & Oaklander (aka Liz Wendelbo and Sean McBride), who are the flagship outfit for Wierd Records in their recapitulation of a particular strain of cold synthwave circa 1981. Wendelbo and McBride have collected a mighty impressive collection of synths, sequencers, and drum machines of that era, and they've stuck to their 'no computers' ethos in creating their retro sound. Given the limitations in instrumentation and aesthetics, the Xeno & Oaklander albums do trend toward similarity, veering towards a brighter, new wave / Italo-disco vibe here on Sets & Lights and slightly away from the industrial-tinged notions found on their 2009 breakout album Sentinelle. Wendelbo and McBride alternate on vocals, with Wendelbo taking up her breathy waif-like elegance and McBride adopting British affectations in his delivery. The title track and "Years Before" glide upon percolating, almost Moroder-esque sequencing with disco-inspired basslines and suitably propulsive rhythm tracks bracing everything inside the synth-pop shell that Xeno & Oaklander have so carefully refined. The icy sensuality of the instrumental track "Italy" slows the pace down to something more akin to Johnny Jewel's heartbeat instead of their typically urgent tempos; and it actually suits Xeno & Oaklander quite well, allowing all of the synth blorp to glow just a little bit more. A fine record, even as it doesn't quite venture into new territories.
MPEG Stream: "Years Before"
MPEG Stream: "Italy"
MPEG Stream: "Desert Rose"

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----* Selected New Arrivals :
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album cover ANIMAL COLLECTIVE Sung Tongs (Fat Cat) lp 19.98
Back in print on vinyl, here's what we said about it back in 2004...
The mysteriously eccentric Animal Collective have returned bearing / baring their Sung Tongs. They continue along their quirky, meandering rough-hewn path, yet on this album they seem ever so slightly more focused and (dare we say?) accessible than on previous recorded endeavors. However, that's not to say that they're not plenty 'out there'. This 'Collective is definitely not for everybody. It just sounds as though they've set aside their eclectic genre palette (psych, jazz, prog, noise, etc) for the time being, keeping their sound for the most part within the mossy folk realm. Perhaps they've spent a stretch of time deep in the woods far from civilization? This does make for a much less haphazard, much less disarming listen than those of past A.C. releases. That said, odd details still punctuate the songs like cackling laughter, whooping vocalizations, textural ambient noises - hazily drifting in and out of lucidity. Furthermore, as if to not fully alienate those who dug their Here Comes the Indian and Spirit They're Gone, Spirit They've Vanished / Danse Manatee releases, they end on a more characteristically strange note with the trippy track "Whaddit I Done".
MPEG Stream: "Kids On Holiday"
MPEG Stream: "Whaddit I Done"

album cover M83 Hurry Up, We're Dreaming (Mute) 2cd 17.98
Here it is, the long awaited new album from blissed out shoegaze eighties retro pop master M83, aka Anthony Gonzalez, whose gorgeous records have long been HUGE faves around here, so we were pretty excited about this new one, even though we had already heard one track with just a wee bit too much saxophone, but once we started playing it in the store, we knew we'd probably end up digging it a lot, although the most mentioned comparisons we could come up with were bands like Thompson Twins, Peter Gabriel, and Men At Work!! So yeah, the eighties thing is in full effect, and the opening intro, with Zola Jesus, is a primo slice of M83 blissout for sure, all soaring synths, and swirling melodies, Zola Jesus' voice a perfect match for Gonzalez' Peter Gabriel like croon, and the lush eighties slow dance psychedelia he seems able to so effortlessly conjure up.
"Midnight City" is the aforementioned song, and listening to it now, the sax is not too bad, tucked away at the end and buried in the mix, and the opening is thick and distorted and crunchy, with thick Justice / Daft Punk like synths, over a strange, but crazy hooky chirping melody, the song slipping from hazy synthy slow jam verse to distorto synth pop blowout chorus, and yeah, there's a sax solo at the end, but all our favorite eighties jams had sax solos, so why shouldn't these? And while that track was an obvious choice for a single, cuz it sounds the most like classic M83, the rest of the record definitely leans more toward the Thompson Twins / Duran Duran / Howard Jones eighties radio pop side of the spectrum, which when done right, still sounds so good, and c'mon, this is M83, so for every bit of total retro pop, is a blast of superdistorted in-the-red almost witch housey synth buzz or hazy ethereal droned out shimmerscape.
We really can't imagine anyone who LOVED M83 before to hate this, but you really have to dig the sound of the eighties, and we mean the REAL sound, not the ironic lysergic reinterpretation of the eighties, we mean tracks that sound like you might have danced to them at your eighth grade prom, or blasted it in your mom's car on the way to the mall. That all said, Gonzalez has a knack for pop songs, and he kills it here, hooks galore, the sound soaring and epic and shoegazey one second, cheesy and synthy the next, but always crazy catchy, every single track sounding like the inspiring, rabble-rousing score to the ultimate final montage in some classic eighties movie about the outsider finally getting the girl or winning the big game. We could all use a little bit of that sort of inspirational dream pop in our lives anyway, right?
MPEG Stream: "Intro (Feat. Zola Jesus)"
MPEG Stream: "Midnight City"
MPEG Stream: "Reunion"
MPEG Stream: "New Map"
MPEG Stream: "OK Pal"

album cover MAFOUKA Closet Crown (self-released) 3" cd-r 5.98
BACK IN STOCK!
Second solo record from Preston Nunez, whose 'day job' is playing in cosmic synth drone outfit Scantily Clad, whose three cd-r's were all big hits around here. A little while back Nunez sent us some copies of the debut record from his new group Guisher, which while bearing virtually no relation to Scantily Clad, still totally hit the spot, a head spinning bit of slice and dice audio collage weirdness, rhythmic and groovy and noisy and all over the sonic map. So we weren't entirely sure what to expect from this new project, Mafouka, which definitely has more in common with Guisher than with Scantily Clad, but where Guisher was a relentless sonic barrage, Mafouka sounds more measure and composed, at least a bit, it's still a bit of a barrage, 14 songs in a little under 20 minute, short bursts of hypnotic soundscaping. The opening track is all woozy and warped, a rhythms created from what sounds like a needle scratching across the surface of a record, not to mention some slowed down beats, looped female vocals, shimmery synths, it's like a super raw, primitive home brewed Portishead almost, that sort of washed out, late night vibe, then the next three tracks, all clocking in at well under a minute each, offer up brief snippets of sound, from a layered and looped but of easy listening, to some dialogue heavy, drum addled ambience, to a killer chunk of super distorted dirgey doom, again laced with bizarre samples, until finally another song that breaks the 2 minute mark, a synthy distorted creeper, the sound panning from speaker to speaker, laced with chopped up bits of drumming, layered voices, warm swirling melodic shimmer, which leads directly into another twisted, surprisingly melodic loopscape, from which unfurls the rest of the record, a sprawling selection of primitive sampledelia, equal parts Art Of Noise and Negativland, but all woven into something much more moodily musical, a glorious bit of home brewed 4-track alchemy that in some way plays out like a bedroom indie pop Endtroducing, albeit a bit more freaked out and fractured.
More super extravagant home mad packaging, this time, colored jewel cases with the art printed onto clear stickers which are affixed to the front, no tray, the 3" disc affixed to the inside of the trayless jewel case, over some photocopied artwork pasted into the bottom, which is also visible through the back of the jewel case, which has yet another clear sticker affixed to it. LIMITED TO 50 COPIES!!
MPEG Stream: "Track 1"
MPEG Stream: "Track 5"
MPEG Stream: "Track 11"

album cover PORTAL Swarth ( Hells Headbangers) 2lp 38.00
NOW, AT LAST, ON VINYL!!!
Death metal weirdos Portal return with another blast of incomprehensible sonic destruction, an avant garde, sepia tinged nightmare that perfectly indicates how appropriate a name like "Portal" is for a group like this. It's like stepping into another world - in this case, Australia, home to all kinds of unprecedented and bizarre metal groups like dISEMBOWELMENT, Halo, and Nekrasov. Simply put, Portal are fucking weird. Not only that, they are intense, and while no one will mistake this for anything other than scary as hell metal, the insane song structures and bizarre instrumentation - harsh and totally unique riffing, cyclonic drumming, and super guttural death growls (the only sort of "normal" thing about the group, but in this context they still sound pretty much unlike anything else) - are something different altogether. It's like whoever is playing guitar decided, after completely mastering his craft, to throw out all knowledge of standard guitar chords and build the band's sound off of hithero unknown chords that are sour, sludgey, and just completely fucking out there. One wonders just how the hell the band remembers where they are going, but somehow they get there like only they can. The overall sound on Swarth, and pretty much all of Portal's releases, is like a buzzing insect caught in a torrential downpour on the moon, or in some parallel dimension... or something. If you haven't figured it out yet, it's pretty hard to pin this stuff down, which is certainly a quality we appreciate in a genre plagued with formulaic ripoffs. So take comfort in the fact that there is hardly anything you could have ever anticipated in a metal group and go from there. It might just change the way you look at things - ESPECIALLY death metal!
MPEG Stream: "Swarth"
MPEG Stream: "Larvae"
MPEG Stream: "Illoomorpheme"

album cover TALKDEMONIC Ruins (Glacial Pace) lp 22.00
NOW ON LP!
We had never heard this Portland duo before, until their new record showed up at aQ. Obviously the band name was intriguing, and when we threw it on, we were pretty blown away, a haunting sort of electronic flecked rhythmic post rock, or blackened ambient electronica, hard to know exactly how to describe them, one thing we definitely would not have guessed is that they were a drums / viola duo!! The drummer is also the programmer, who we imagine is the one who fills out the sound with all manner of buzz and crunch, but the viola adds some dreamy drama to the proceedings, drifting over percolating rhythms, and wreathed in wild swirls of space-y effects. The opening track "Slumber Verses" sounds like the music from some soundtrack, remixed and revamped, the melancholy melodies are blurred and buzzy, the sounds are streaked with feedback, and hazy droned out chordal shimmer, the heartbeat like pulse, blossoms into a distorted drum beat about halfway through, while the guitars explode into a blissed out sky full of shoegaze high end. It's a pretty dreamy mix, darkly rhythmic, but also noisy and fuzzy and seriously psychedelic. The second track though, the title track, is the first song we heard and the one that really won us over, with a skeletal skittery beat, and a sky full of crumbling distortion and buzzing melody, some electronic bleep and little bits of glitch, washes of hiss and hum, while the viola offers up dreamy melodies, the drums getting super distorted at one point, a totally psychedelic freakout, the electronics freaking out to match, and then when the viola comes back in, so dramatic. Every track here sounds like it could be the music from that super intense movie in some quirky indie film, without the music being quirky itself, which is rare indeed.
Oh did we mention how the title track tumbles though some in-the-red backwards drum damage before slipping right back into a sixties Stereolab like groove? The songs are super varied, but manage to all work together, dreamy and hushed and droney one second, wildly propulsive and blown out the next, fuzzy and poppy one moment, hazy and dreamy and washed out the next. So good! Released on the dude from Modest Mouse's new label.
MPEG Stream: "Ruins"
MPEG Stream: "Slumber Verses"
MPEG Stream: "Revival"

album cover TINDERSTICKS s/t (aka The First Tindersticks Album) (Plain) lp 22.00
Hurrah, two early Tindersticks albums have recently been re-released on vinyl, and we heartily recommend them both!
This is the Nottingham, England band's self-titled debut album which was originally released in 1993, not to be confused with their second album from 1995 which was also self-titled. Although lead singer Stuart Staples and company have shifted into different stylistic choices in the past few years, back in the early days you could definitely count on the band for a consistency in sound, mood and aesthetic (and album titling too, apparently!) that was distinctly their own and which drew masses of diehard fans. 
This one is where it all started, and where any potential fan should start. Staples' trademark deeeeep vocal delivery is on display amidst their somber, elegant, downright lush chamber pop compositions. Lyrically, Staples delves into some less than elegant areas, however (song titles include "Jism" and "Drunk Tank"), although like Arab Strab, Staples and company are masters at taking such salacious sentiments and transforming them into brooding loveliness. 
Nice to have this on vinyl again, for maximum decadent atmosphere. 180 gram wax, gatefold sleeve.

album cover TINDERSTICKS s/t (II) (Plain) lp 22.00
Hurrah, two early Tindersticks albums have recently been re-released on vinyl, and we heartily recommend them both! If you're only going to get two Tindersticks lps, these are they.
Of this band's first two triumphs, their second (and also self-titled) album, from 1995, is at least as good as the first, maybe even better and more sophisticated, but of course still similarly somber and elegant, with a lush sound that is definitely reminiscent of Scott Waker (1-4), plenty of vibes, delicate melodies, swirling strings and vocalist Stuart Staples deep haunting sung/spoken croon, that at times reminds us of a more torch songy Lambchop, and years later, we can't help but realize how much bands like the National and the Editors and the like owe to the mighty Tindersticks. Absolutely gorgeous stuff, another moody masterpiece.
180 gram vinyl. Not a gatefold though, unlike the other one.

album cover WIRE, THE #333 November 2011 magazine + cd 9.98
Another great issue of this indispensable & adventurous music magazine. On the cover, DJ/ Rupture. Also, everyone from our pal Drew Daniel of Matmos (on "queer sound") to Christoph Heemann to David Lynch to Gang Gang Dance, and more. Including David Toop talking about the SMiLE sessions. And, there's a free cd sampler bagged with this ish, The Wire Tapper 27, featuring "20 new, rare or unreleased tracks from Blank Disco, Palmer Eldritch, Praed, Gary Smith/Silvia Kastel/Ninni Morgia, Soema Montenegro, Artifact Shore, The Drift, Dimitris Bakas, Dalglish, Konntinent, Toddlers, Ekoplekz, Artifact Shore, La La Vasquez, Phog Masheeen, ROBERTS, Action Beat, The Astroboy, Ektoise, Mathon and ton." Definitely some new stuff to check out there.

album cover WOLVES IN THE THRONE ROOM Celestial Lineage (Southern Lord) 2lp 21.00
BACK IN STOCK ON VINYL, plain black this time, and slightly more expensive, but still in a fancy gatefold jacket with obi, real nice.
The return of Cascadian black metallers Wolves In The Throne Room, introduces us to their latest epic, Celestial Lineage, with a sound that continues to move well beyond the bounds of black metal. As it was the band never shied away from augmenting their furious Weakling-beholden buzz and frantic blasts with swaths of ethereal drift and dark hushed minimalism, but here, those non black metal elements play a much bigger role, and manage to take the sound to a whole other level, positioning those non-metallic sounds less as 'interludes' and more as fully realized elements that are woven deftly into the fabric of the songs and sound. The record even opens with a hazy bit of choral drift, all tinkling chimes, shimmery synths, stately piano, and ethereal vocals, that sound more seventies British folk than black metal. Then, instead of simply exploding into some black buzz, the riffs are introduced slowly, blending into the folky drift, transforming the 'intro' into a blackened chorale, allowing the folky flutter to fade, until finally the blackness descends, the sound impossibly lush and heavy, epic and expansive, the sound thick and more lush than ever, the riffing wild and tangled, the drums mathy and intricate, and then again, the band take this grim buzz and wreath it in soaring epic almost folky melodies, some gorgeous harmonized guitars, there are even some full on psychedelic leads, the song shifting from black churn to ephemeral shimmer and back again, even dipping into some majestic doomic dirgery, but somehow the varied parts all fit together perfectly.
After a bit of chanted field recording flecked ambience, sounding like some ancient forest ritual, the band slip right back into pure transcendental blackness, with another sprawl of epic soaring blasting buzz, but again, it manages to be lush and weirdly melodic, on the surface it's a roiling churning blackness, but somehow the sound is infused with a blurred warmth, a subtle melodic core, that elevates the sound beyond simple black buzz. The sound constantly confounding, the song splintering into wide open expanses of feedback drenched, tribal drum driven abstraction, then slipping into a sort of hazy post rocky drift, before finishing off in a blaze of frantic black ferocity, but even there, the sound is wrapped in thick soaring swirls of melody.
One of our favorite tracks might be "Woodland Cathedral" which sounds exactly like the title suggests, over a bed of what sounds like forest sounds, guitars hover and shimmer and soar, the rhythm is glacial and funeral, everything is wreathed in a patina of buzz and thrum, the sound super distorted and almost shoegazey, angelic female vocals drifting over the top, tangled into strange but lovely harmonies, a doomy choral bit of blackened loveliness, which leads directly into the final movement, two 10+ minutes epics, the first, another example of Wolves' mastery of melodic blackness, grinding black heaviness wedded to delicate folky flutter, with hints of post rock, a sound that while in the past was perhaps too obviously beholden to many, now seems to belong to no other, and finally, a sprawling buzz drenched black doomdirge that sounds like Nadja and Comus and Sunroof! and WITTR all blurred into one glorious blackbuzz ur-drone doom-bliss epic. So good.
Super swank packaging too, with some of the most gorgeous artwork/photography we've seen on a black metal record for sure.
MPEG Stream: "Thuja Magus Imperium"
MPEG Stream: "Subterranean Initiation"
MPEG Stream: "Woodland Cathedral"

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----* Compilations :
----*

album cover V/A Titan: It's All Pop! (Numero Group) 4lp+Book 49.00
This killer collection of lost pop classics now available on vinyl, as a SUPER deluxe quadruple lp boxset, the records pressed on colored vinyl, and accompanied by a massive 12"x12" booklet, and to top it off, TEN bonus tracks that weren't included on the cd version! Here's what we had to say about this collection when we first reviewed it on cd way back in 2008...
Numero group return with yet another amazing reissue, gorgeously packaged, meticulously researched, It's All Pop is the second collection of power pop from the label, the first being the genius Yellow Pills, a collection of essential groups, lost gems, and classic tracks. This one is a bit more specific, and insanely obscure, as seems to be Numero's way, focusing this time on the short lived and almost completely unknown power pop label Titan, headquartered in Kansas City, existing only briefly from 1978-1981, and having only released a handful of records. But you know what they say about quality versus quantity.
Anyway, the groups on Titan's roster are who's who of unknowns, a few maybe recognizable to only the most obsessive power pop fanatics: Boys, Secrets* (yep, the asterisk is part of their name), Gems, Scott McCarl, Bobby Sky, Millionaire At Midnight, Gary Charlson, Arlis!, JP McLain, and this is normally where we'd say "and loads more", but there really isn't any more. That's it, the whole roster, a handful of tracks from each, and if you love that Yellow Pills comp, then needless to say, this will probably hit the spot too. Obvious references are the Shoes, the Raspberries, Badfinger, E.L.O., Big Star, Elvis Costello, Joe Jackson, the Nazz, you know what we're talking about. Simple and stripped down, jangly guitars, vocal harmonies, and hooks galore. The sound varies a bit, some of the tracks are a bit glammy, some are total straight Beatles-esque pop, a few have a more classic vibe, others are a bit more hard rocking, but however the sound is twisted or tweaked, the heart and core of these songs is super catchy, super rocking ultra catchy total old school power pop bliss.
Killer packaging of course, deluxe hardcover book like slip cover, full color lp sleeves, a massive book, with extensive liner notes, loads of rare flyers and photos, and a note from label co-founder Mark Prellberg.
MPEG Stream: THE SECRETS "It's Your Heart Tonight"
MPEG Stream: BOYS "Please Change Your Mind"
MPEG Stream: GARY CHARLSON "Real Life Saver"
MPEG Stream: MILLIONAIRE AT MIDNIGHT "Coit Tower"
MPEG Stream: THE GEMS "Save Your Money"

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----* In Stock, Not Yet Reviewed :
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If you want to order one of these, just click on the buy button and it will be added to your cart!

ABOVE GROUND "Gone Aiwa" (Siltbreeze) lp 15.98
ACID MOTHERS TEMPLE & THE MELTING PARAISO U.F.O. "Live In Occident" (Essence Music) cd 14.98
ALDEBARAN "Buried Beneath Aeons" (Parasitic) cd 12.98
ALPINE, FRANK "s/t" (Weird Records) cd/lp 11.98/17.98
ALVA NOTO "Univrs" (Raster-Noton) 2x12" 23.00
ANGELS FROM HELL "(OST)" (Reel Time) cd 17.98
APRIL & MAY "Best Of" (Riverman) cd 16.98
BEFORE "30 Minutes" (Replika) cd 15.98
BOGNER, URSULA "Sonne = Black Box" (Faitiche) lp 17.98
BON IVER "Holocene / Come Talk With Me" (Jagjaguwar) 12" 10.98
BONNIE PRINCE BILLY & THE PHANTOM FAMILY HALO "The Mindeater" (Knitting Factory Records) cd ep 8.98
CAVE OF FORGOTTEN DREAMS (ERNST REIJSEGER) "OST" (Winter & Winter) cd 16.98
CORROSION OF CONFORMITY "Blind / Deliverance" (Sony) 2cd 16.98
CROOKED FINGERS "Breaks In The Armor" (Merge) cd/lp 14.98/17.98
CROW, ROB "He Thinks He's People" (Temporary Residence) cd/lp 12.98/15.98
DANAVA "Hemisphere Of Shadows" (Kemado) lp 17.98
DANQUAH, GEORGE "Hot & Jumpy" (Secret Stash) lp 17.98
DECEASED "Surreal Overdose" (Shrieks From The Hearse Records) cd 10.98
DIRTY BEACHES "Lone Runner" (Suicide Squeeze) 7" 5.50
DOC RHYMIN' "Practitioner Of Rhymes" (Numero Group) 12" 8.98
EL ELLE "s/t" (self-released) cd/lp 10.98/15.98
EL POLEN "Cholo (OST)" (Lion Productions) cd 16.98
EVANGELISTA "In Animal Tongue" (Constellation) cd/lp 14.98/19.98
FEIST "Metals" (Polydor) lp 17.98
GARIN, STEPHANE & SYLVESTRE GOBART "Gurs. Drancy. Gare de Bobigny. Auschwitz. Birkenau. Chelmo-Kulmhof. Majdaneck. Sobibor. Treblinka" (Gruenrekorder) 2cd 23.00
GAUNTLET HAIR "s/t" (Dead Oceans) cd/lp 12.98/14.98
GLITTER WIZARD "Solar Hits" (Archers Guild) lp 16.98
GOATVARGR "Black Snow" (Cold Spring Records) cd 17.98
HAWKWIND "Hall of The Mountain Grill" (Back To Black) 2lp 29.00
HAWKWIND "Leave No Star Unturned" (Easy Action) cd 28.00
HIGH WOLF "Atlas Nation" (Holy Mountain) lp 15.98
HOLLOW MIRRORS "s/t" (self-released) lp 12.98
HUMAN INSTINCT "Burning Up Years" (Sunbeam) lp 24.00
HUMAN INSTINCT "Pins In It" (Sunbeam) 2lp 34.00
IMPERIAL DOGS, THE "Live! In Long Beach (October 30, 1974)" (ID Music) dvd 22.00
JESU "s/t" (Hydra Head) 2lp 30.00
JET "Jet / Even More Light Than Shade" (RPM / Cherry Red) cd 23.00
KAREL, ERNST "Swiss Mountain Transport Systems" (Gruenrekorder) cd 17.98
KASHMERE STAGE BAND "Texas Thunder Soul: 1968-1975" (Now-Again) 2cd 19.98
KEITH, RODD "My Pipe Yellow Dream" (Roaratorio) lp 16.98
KINIT HER "Gratitudes" (Small Doses) cd 14.98
KOOL MOE DEE "s/t" (Traffic Entertainment Group / Jive) cd 16.98
KOREKYOJINN "Tundra" (Skin Graft) cd-r 14.98
KOSS / HENRIKSSON / MULLAERT "The Mollan Sessions" (Mule Electronic) 2cd 22.00
KUNG FU / MAN IN THE WILDERNESS "OST" (Film Score Monthly) cd 15.98
LADYTRON "Gravity The Seducer" (Nettwerk) cd/lp 13.98/22.00
LOS DESTELLOS "Constelacion" (Secret Stash Records) lp 17.98
LOW "Long Division" (Plain) lp 16.98
MALTS, TERRY "Something About You" (Slumberland) 7" 4.50
MARTYN "Ghost People" (Brainfeeder) cd 16.98
MCDANIELS, EUGENE "Headless Heroes Of The Apocalypse" (Atlantic) lp 14.98
MEAT PUPPETS "Up On The Sun" (MVD) lp 17.98
MESSIAH "II: I Am The Way The Truth And The Life" (Labrynth) 2cd-r 22.00
MOAB "Ab Ovo" (Kemado) lp 21.00
MONSERE, ANNELIES & RICHARD YOUNGS "Three:Four Split Series - Volume 3" (Three:Four) 10" 17.98
MOON DUO "Horror Tour" (Souterrain Transmissions) 12" 14.98
OPETH "Heritage" (Roadrunner Records) cd 17.98
P.G. SIX "Starry Mind" (Drag City) cd/lp 14.98/16.98
PINK SKULL "Psychic Welfare" (Rvng) lp 19.98
POEME ELECTRONIQUE "The Echoes Fade" (Anna Logue) cd 17.98
PRISONERS GO GO BAND "Live! At The Butchery With Special Guests On Fire" (S.S.) lp 17.98
PRURIENT "Time's Arrow" (Hydra Head) cd 13.98
REALMBUILDER "Fortifications of the Palace Architect" (I Hate Records) lp 25.00
RED HORSE "s/t" (Type) lp 19.98
RORSCHACH "Remain Sedate / Protestant" (Gern Blandsten) cd/2lp 16.98/25.00
SCOTT, SIMON "Bunny" (Miasmah) cd/lp 19.98/22.00
SERPENT THRONE "White Summer - Black Winter" (Prophase) lp 32.00
SERPENTCULT "Raised By Wolves" (Listenable) cd 16.98
SHIFLET, MIKE "Sufferers" (Type) lp 19.98
SILVER BULLET "Bring Down The Walls No Limit Squad Returns" (Original Dope) cd 15.98
SMITH, PATTI "Outside Society" (Arista / Columbia / Legacy) cd/2lp 10.98/34.00
SNAKE RATTLE RATTLE SNAKE "Sineater" (Greater Than) cd/lp 9.98/14.98
SPECTRALS "Bad Penny" (Slumberland) cd/lp 10.98/14.98
ST. VINCENT "Strange Mercy" (4AD) cd/lp 14.98/15.98
STONEFACE AND LIFE EVERLASTING "Love Is Free" (Academy / Voodoo Funk) 7" 9.98
SUISHOU NO FUNE "Phantom Of The Eternal Night" (There) cd 17.98
SURT "Ragnarok" (Brotherhood Of Light) cassette 5.98
TABOU COMBO "Respect..." (Secret Stash) lp 17.98
TEAGARDEN, WARREN & THE GOOD GRIEF "s/t" (Meaningless Words) cd/lp 12.98/16.98
TH26 "La Haine" (A Silent Place) cd 10.98
THREE MILE PILOT "Na Vucca Do Lupu" (Hi-Speed Soul) lp 17.98
THREE MILE PILOT "The Chief Assassin To The Sinister" (Hi-Speed Soul) lp 17.98
TRAMPLED BY TURTLES "Palomine" (Banjodad) cd 14.98
TRANS AM "Future World" (Thrill Jockey) lp 15.98
TROPHIES "Become Objects Of Daily Use" (Monotype) cd 14.98
TRUE WIDOW "I.N.O." (Kemado) 12" 17.98
TURRA, LUIGI "Enso" (Small Voices) cd 10.98
TWIN SISTER "In Heaven" (Domino) cd/lp 14.98/22.00
TWISTED SISTER "Under The Blade" (Armoury) cd+dvd 15.98
V/A "Avandaro: Festival De Rock & Ruedas" (Ludell) 2cd 24.00
V/A "Brand New Wayo: Funk, Fast Times & Nigerian Boogie Badness 1979-1983" (Comb & Razor Sound) cd+book 24.00
V/A "Opika Pende: Africa At 78 Rpm" (Dust-To-Digital) 4cd + book box 59.00
V/A "Rhythm" (Gruenrekorder) cd 17.98
V/A "Son Of The Transcendental Maggot" (Tsuguri Records) cd-r 8.98
VILLALOBOS, RICARDO & MAX LODERBAUER "Peverelist" (Honest Jons) 12" 12.98
VIRGIL CAINE "The Great Lunar Oil Strike, 1976" (Time-Lag) lp 34.00
VOID "Sessions 1981-1983" (Dischord) cd/lp 11.98/13.98
WAITS, TOM "Bad As Me" (Anti) cd 14.98
WE WERE PROMISED JETPACKS "In The Pit Of The Stomach" (Fatcat) cd/lp 14.98/16.98
WET ILLUSTRATED "1x1x1" (True Panther) lp 15.98
WHODINI "Escape" (Traffic Entertainment Group / Jive) cd 16.98
YOUNGS, RICHARD "Amplifying Host" (Jagjaguwar) lp 14.98

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Please place your order via our website.

[1] We will contact you to verify your order and let you know when it will be shipped. Please note that occasionally it may take a day or two for us to reply. We are not a faceless bunch of computers replying to your order -- we are human beings!

[2] If we are out of some of your items and we think we will get them within the same week, we can wait to ship. Or... If it's going to be more than a few days to complete your order, we will ship what we have and then will contact you as the remainders arrive.

[ note ] Due to the everchanging nature of the independent record business, we are not responsible for listed price changes (due to supplier price changes) and often cannot update our site fast enough to reflect these changes, but we will always try to let you know of any differences.


NEW DOMESTIC SHIPPING RATES :
--------------------------------
STANDARD (DEFAULT):

1 CD (or cassette or DVD or 7") : $2.95 USPS First Class

1-3 CD (or cassette or DVD, but not 7"s) : $5.00 USPS Priority Mail via flat rate box

4+ CD, or any package with LPs in it (also books & box sets), any number of items: $9.95 UPS Ground

Also, please note that UPS will not ship to PO Boxes, so those packages that would have gone UPS will be sent USPS Priority for $9.95, or you may select USPS Media Mail instead, see below.

UPS shipments are automatically trackable and include insurance up to $100.
USPS shipments (First Class, Priority, and Media Mail) are all automatically trackable.

OR, you can choose instead to have your order shipped by MEDIA MAIL:

1-3 items (i.e. w/ LPs) : $5.95 USPS Media Mail

4+ items : $7.95 USPS Media Mail


Special shipping needs (e.g. UPS Next Day) are also doable, just ask for a quote.
Also, if you are just getting 1 item that would therefore ship USPS First Class, and for some reason you would rather have it sent Priority, then you could say so in the comments field. (Note: however, 7"s are too big for the Priority flat rate boxes.)

NOTE: UPS permits their drivers to determine if there is a secure location at the shipping address to leave the package if no one is there to receive it (unfortunately some are less cautious than others!). If you'd prefer that they not do this or if you have specific instructions for the driver, please include a note in the comments section of your weborder form.

PLEASE DOUBLE CHECK SHIPPING ADDRESSES BEFORE SUBMITTING YOUR ORDER. Aquarius is not responsible for orders delayed or returned due to incorrect or undeliverable addresses provided by the customer. Returned packages will be reshipped at the customer's expense.

Shipping rates are charged per shipment.


INTERNATIONAL SHIPPING :
-------------------------------- For foreign customers we ship via US AIRMAIL ("First Class International"). Your price is based on the actual cost of shipping plus $1. You can check the US Postal Service international rate calculator: http://ircalc.usps.gov/. (Use the "Package" category and see the price for "First Class International". 1-3 cds is usually 1 pound.)

We highly recommend insurance for your international package, but it is very expensive! You can check the US Postal Service international rate calculator: http://ircalc.usps.gov/. (Use the "Package" category and see the price for "Priority Mail International". 1-3 cds is usually 1 pound. 1 lp is usually a little over 1.5 pounds.)


INTERNATIONAL INSURANCE :
-------------------------------- You are hereby forewarned that Aquarius is not responsible if your international package gets lost in the mail. Insurance is your only recourse if your records never show up. Since the terrible events of 9/11, mail service has been slow and undependable... and while we haven't experienced any *confirmed* permanently lost mail, insurance might provide some additional piece of mind in this time of upheaval. We strongly recommend it. But yes, it is very expensive. It's your choice. Again: Aquarius is not responsible for lost mail, so if you aren't willing to take a (slight but real) risk, please buy the insurance.

International insurance is very expensive! In fact often the insurance costs more than the value of your package, in which case it obviously does not make sense to insure it. You can check the US Postal Service international rate calculator: http://ircalc.usps.gov/. (Use the "Package" category and see the price for "Priority Mail International", which is the way insured packages are sent. 1-3 cds is usually 1 pound. 1 lp is usually a little over 1.5 pounds.)

For example: for a one-pound package worth $18 going to England, shipping without insurance is about $11.00. But with insurance, the shipping / insurance total is over $26.00!

It is your reponsibility to check the international rate calculator in order to determine whether or not you want international insurance. If you tell us you want international insurance, we will add it to your order no matter how much it costs!


PAYMENT :
-------------------------------- We accept the following credit cards: Visa, MC, Discover, and Amex. We will not charge your credit card until your order is ready to ship.

Money orders are accepted, but only in $USD. International customers please note that they must be international postal money orders purchased at a post office. Additional processing fees may apply. 

If you wish to pay by money order, you must confirm the order with us through email or phone BEFORE you send any payment. It's best to just use the secure order form on the website, and when checking out mark money order as your payment choice. We will then process your order and respond with all the crucial payment info.

We also accept payment by Paypal. If you opt for this payment method, we will send you a paypal total and payment instructions as soon as we've confirmed your order with you. Please do not send payment until you have received human contact from our mailorder department.

Unfortunately, we cannot take personal checks for mailorder, sorry!


QUESTION?
-------------------------------- Email the mailorder department: mailorder@aquariusrecords.org
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SOME SELECTED UPCOMING RELEASES

----} on the way to us now
Moon Duo "Horror Tour" 12" on Soulterrain Transmissions
Arthur Russell / Dinosaur L "24->27 Music" 4lp box on Traffic
Megaton Leviathan "2009 Demo" vinyl version on Volatile Rock
Cardinals Folly "Such Power Is Dangerous" cd on Shadow Kingdom

----} October 25th or even sooner
Hammers Of Misfortune "17th Street" cd/2lp on Metal Blade
Reigns "The Window Blades" cd/2lp on Monotreme
Chris Watson "El Tren Fantasma" cd on Touch
Harpoon "Deception Among Birds" cd/lp on Seventh Rule
Dntel "Life Is Full Of Possibilities (Deluxe)" 2cd/lp on Sub Pop
The Beets "Let The Poison Out" cd/lp on Hardly Art
Russian Circles "Empros" cd/lp on Sargent House
Kid Koala "Space Cadet" book+cd / 10" on Unibooks
v/a "Boddie Recording Company: Cleveland, Ohio" 3cd/5lp on Numero
Boris "Black Original (Remix)" 12" on Catune
Craft "Void" cd on Southern Lord
Surfer Blood "Tarot Classics" cd on Kanine
Ronnie James Dio & The Elves "& Before Elf There Were Elves" cd Niji
Junius "Reports From The Threshold Of Death" cd on Prosthetic

----} also in October
Absu "Abzu" vinyl version on Back On Black (shipping to us next week)
Carlton Melton / Bardo Pond split lp on Agitated
Carlton Melton / Mugstar split 7" on Trensmat
Tim Hecker "Dropped Pianos" lp version on Kranky

----} November 1st
Locrian "The Clearing" lp on Fan Death
v/a "Bollywood Bloodbath" cd on B-Music
Takke "Noregs Vaapen" cd on Candlelight
Throne Of Katarsis "Ved Graven" cd on Candlelight
Beach Boys "Smile Sessions" 2cd/2lp/massive box set on Capitol

----} November 8th
Leviathan "True Traitor True Whore" cd on Profound Lore
Dwarr "Starting Over" cd/lp reissue on Drag City
200 Years (Ben Chasny & Elisa Ambrogio) "s/t" cd/lp on Drag City
Royal Trux "Singles, Live, Unreleased" 2cd/3lp box on Drag City
Ty Segall "Spiders b/w Cherry Red" 7" on Drag City
v/a "Whaur The Pig Gaed On The Spree: Scottish Recordings By Alan Lomax, 1951-'57" lp on Drag City

----} November 15th
The Devil's Blood "The Thousandfold Epicentre" cd/2lp on Van
Ural Umbo "Delusion of Hope" lp on Utech Records
Sky Burial "Aegri Somnia" cd on Utech Records
Architeuthis Rex "Urania" cd on Utech Records
Adrian Aniol "It All Falls Apart" cassette on Utech Records
Pigeons "They Sweetheartstammers" cd/lp on Soft Abuse

----} November 22nd
J. Mascis "Circle" 7" on Sub Pop
Calexico "Road Atlas 1998-2011" 12lp box set

----} and more stuff that's upcoming too, sooner or later, we think
Ugly Things magazine #32
Yob "Live At Roadburn 2010" cd/dvd on Roadburn
Lustmord "Monsterous Soul" 2lp on Burning World
Winterfylleth "'Mercian Sphere" 2lp on Burning World
Erkin Koray "Meashul: Singles And Rarities" lp version on Sublime Frequencies
Miles Davis "Live-Evil" 2lp reissue on 4 Men With Beards
Miles Davis "Dark Magus" 2lp reissue on 4 Men With Beards
The Field "Looping State Of Mind" lp+cd version on Kompakt
The Story UK "Joy Ride on Memory Lane" cd on Rainbow Quartz
Wreck And Reference "Black Cassette" lp on Flenser
Panopticon "Social Disservices" cd/2lp on Flenser
Black Face (Chuck Dukowski & Eugene Robinson doing previously unrecorded Black Flag songs) 7" on Hydra Head
Burzum "From The Depths Of Darkness" cd on Byelobog (re-recordings of early songs)
Ben Frost & Daniel Bjarnason "Solaris" cd on Bedroom Community
Bong "Live At Roadburn 2010" lp version on Roadburn
Bong "Beyond Ancient Space" lp version w/ bonus track on Ritual Productions
Roedelius Schneider "Stunden" cd/lp on Bureau B
Midnight Priest "s/t" cd on Stormspell
High Spirits "Another Night" lp version on High Roller
Bee Mask / Envenomist "Bee Mask v. Envenomist" lp on A Soundesign Recording
Erkki Kurenniemi & Circle "Rakkaus Tulessa" lp on Full Contact / Svart
Circle "Maxim (live)" lp on Full Contact / Svart
Tecumseh "Return to Everything" cd on Beta-Lactam Ring
Marijata "This Is Marijata" cd on Academy
Marijata "Pat Thomas Presents Marijata" cd/lp on Academy
Nurse With Wound "Skrag" cd on United Dairies
Jonathan Coleclough "Flutter" 2cd-r on October
Boduf Songs "Strait Gait" cd/lp on Latitudes
Anton Batagov "Passionate Desire To Be An Angel" cd on Long Arms Records
Dalek "Untitled" lp version on Latitudes
Pageninetynine (PG.99) "Singles" lp on Robotic Empire

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Lots of love from your devoted AQ staff

Andee Cup Jim AllanIrwinScottNickJonandAndrew


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