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IMPORTANT (Please read to avoid confusion):
Some items below may be tagged with a bold, red, all-caps "out of print/unavailable" notice. This does NOT mean that all other items not so tagged are, in fact, in stock -- or for that matter, in print and available, though there's a good chance they are. Some folks get confused on this point, and we can see why, so please read this for further clarification and other important before-you-order information. Unlike some mailorder websites, we don't have an electronic inventory system linked to our site, so you can't be sure of what we actually have or don't have in stock at any given moment without asking us -- please email our mailorder department for availability status -- or better yet, just go ahead and place your order using our shopping cart function and we'll get back to you with the status of each item. If you have general non-mailorder questions, email the store.


ACID BATH Paegan Terrorism Tactics (Rotten) cd 14.98
Man, does this record rule! Not entirely sure how we all managed to miss this one when it came out a few years back. It was actually (re)discovered on the recommendation of a not-so-entirely-trustworthy source. Go figure! But now that we know, so must you...Imagine the sheer brutality of Eyehategod, the bluesy grind of fellow bayou residents Soilent Green, the stoned Sabbathy swing of Trouble, and the melodic flair of late era Corrosion of Conformity or Alice In Chains, all forced onto one cd. Sound confusing? It is. But somehow, it gels perfectly, striking a pefect balance between catchy and heavy. This has become an absolute favorite of Andee, Allan, Elisabeth, and a handful of customers who have seen the light. Interesting non-music related facts: amazing cover art by Dr. Jack Kevorkian, one band member dead, one in jail...HIGHLY recommended!

BENIGHTED LEAMS Astral Tenebrion (Supernal Music) cd 15.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY.
Wow. Possibly the most fucked up, ridiculous black metal "band" ever, with their (his, actually, it's one guy) newest disc, some kind of pseudocerebral spacemetal epic with *amazing* songtitles like "Aurora of Despondence on Valles Marineris" and "Hermetically Leering As Frigid Blores Obumber" and "Sinister Demurral Estranged The Seductive Looming". Seemingly produced at home by someone probably not entirely familiar with how to work his four-track, and definitely struggling to operate his drum machine properly! Thus, so great that both Andee and Allan have purchased one. Also, recommended by Josh from the Champs.

BLIND GUARDIAN Nightfall In Middle-Earth (Century Media) cd 15.98
Wow. This first domestic release by veteran German pomp-prog-power-metallers Blind Guardian kinda blew us away (Andee and Allan that is). Expecting ultra cheese in the vein of Hammerfall, we instead found this to be immense, amazingly produced (like, 124 track) epic concept album, at once lush, melodic and aggressive. Imagine a more metallic Queen doing a record about J.R.R. Tolkien's The Silmarillion, and that's what you get here! No wonder they're so huge overseas.

album cover BURZUM Filosofem (Feral House Audio/Misanthropy) cd 19.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY.
By now, unless you've been living underneath a VERY big rock, you know all about Count Grishnackh aka Burzum, Euronymous, Bard Faust, Mayhem, Emperor and all the killing and church burnings and suicides. If for some reason you don't know about all this stuff, go buy yourself a copy of The Lords Of Chaos, a book that covers all that stuff in great detail. The problem with all this drama, murder, satanism, whatever, you forget that the whole reason these guys knew each other, and the only reason any of us cared, was the music they made. And that music they made was black metal. A black metal that thanks to the decidedly non-musical drama, would soon make black metal a household name.
So when folks ask us to recommend some classic black metal, we always recommend Satyricon's Nemesis Divina, Immortal's Battles In The North, Emperor's Anthems To The Welkin At Dusk, and of course Burzum's Filosefem. Filosefem, originally released in 1996 holds a special place in our outsider music hearts, as the first black metal record to turn the whole black metal formula completely upside down. Count Grishnackh was the only member and played all the instruments, even the drums, which gives the whole thing a weirdly damaged droning swing. A rhythm that would define the rhythmic sound of later black metal legends like Graveland and Woodtemple. The guitars are a thick suffocating buzz, razor sharp and totally blown out. And the vocals are an anguished wail, some sort of primeval demonic incantation. But where Burzum stands out most is the addition of a creepy synthesizers that hover in the background of several of the tracks, a haunting melody buried beneath the swirl of fuzz and ultradistortion. Unlike other BM bands, the keyboard isn't a huge wash of strings to add some sort of epic quality, these tracks are already epic enough, here the keyboards are much more spare, a simple minor key melody is picked out, almost childlike, hovering briefly, before the next note follows. Except for one blazing blast of a track, Filosefem is mostly midtempo, lurching and heaving, stumbling down dirt road into a smeared grey landscape. But as the record nears the last few tracks, the record changes, beginning with the nearly half hour long "Rundgang um die Transzendentale Saule der Singularitat", a track that eschews any hint of metal, stripping away the guitars, the drums, everything, and leaving just the synthesizer, as it unfurls a seemingly endless Aphex Twin like four note melody. Forlorn and strangely compelling. And in the context of the whole record, as emotionally devastating as anything we've heard. The final track "Gebrechlichkeit II", brifngs back the guitars, but makes them nearly static, an endlessly blurry vacuum cleaner like riff, slowly shifting, as another haunting melody drifts wraith like in the background. Definitely one of the most essential and unique metal records of all time.

CARDIGANS Gran Turismo (Mercury) cd 15.98
When Yo La Tengo went to rock school in their video for "Sugarcube", they were instructed that their third album must follow the ELP Rule -- it must be double live! Well the Cardigans, in their recent matriculation into rock school, have followed a different rule for their third album -- the Radiohead Rule -- that if a band is in danger of being written off as a one-hit-wonder, they must make a third album of dark yet sugar-coated pop gems. Hence, OK Computer and now, for the Cardigans, Gran Turismo.
OK, it is unfair to compare this album to OK Computer, but the Cardigans have realized their best album of bittersweet pop songs. (Sadly, however, there are no Black Sabbath covers on this album.) An Aquarius pop fave.

album cover CARNIVAL OF SOULS Original Soundtrack (Birdman) cd 13.98
This one's a long time fave! Gene Moore's creepy organ soundtrack of eerily offkey, slowed down carnival music for this low-budget 1962 cult classic by producer/director Herk Hervey set a lot of standards for the use of these sounds in future horror films. According to the liner notes by screenwriter John Clifford, the idea was for the music to take up as much of the soundtrack as possible, in order to save money on having actors read lines! So it's close to being a silent film, with the organ music music actually being integral to the plot of the film, which involves a talented young female organist, um, haunted by her involvement in a car accident. The music perfectly complements the film's striking black & white visual imagery, the hordes of dancing ghouls that increasingly inhabit her waking nightmare world... it's like she's lost in her very own, very goth, Day Of The Dead celebration. This soundtrack reissue consists of 37 tracks over 49 minutes, including some snippets of the film dialog, given titles like "First Trip To The Carnival", "You Can't Live In Isolation", "Church Is Just A Place Of Business", "Dark Entry", etc... 4 of 'em are cues that were actually unused in the film, and all were apparently sourced from slightly scratchy old acetates, which just gives this even more creepy atmosphere.
MPEG Stream: "Introduction"
MPEG Stream: "Departure"
MPEG Stream: "First Trip To The Carnival"
MPEG Stream: "Church Is Just A Place Of Business"

CHAMPS, THE III (Frenetic) cd 11.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY.
San Francisco's Champs (or C4AM95 as they prefer to be called for silly legal reasons) are an amazing two guitars and drums no bass, sometimes three guitars no drums, very rarely any vocals, trio that on this their debut album crank out over seventy minutes of catchy, complex, mostly instrumental metal in indie/math-rock clothing. Kind of like the indie-prog of Don Caballero or Breadwinner, with touches of Trans Am (the bombast and occasional "techno electronica" interlude) ...and healthy helpings of Iron Maiden, Thin Lizzy, Metallica, Carcass, Motley Crue, Priest, etc. I could go on. Mesmerizing live, they're on tour now but will be back soon so I hope y'all went to their shows. For what it's worth, there's a former member of Nation of Ulysses in their ranks. Rec-o-f'n-mended.

DESTINY'S CHILD The Writing's On The Wall (Columbia) cd 16.98
We actually toyed with the idea of making this 'record of the week' (indie-rock cred be damned!) on the strength of their top-ten single 'Bills Bills Bills' alone (I saw the video for this at a friend's house and it was almost enough to make me want to sign up for cable! I mean the music, not just their outfits). That song, and a couple of others like it certainly make this a record that all those down with the the last, ex-cel-lent TLC disc will love. Indeed, the intro to TLC's 'No Scrubs' is all over this album. True, there's a few of those obligatory urban r&b slow jams that you'll probably want to fast forward past (unless you're in the right 'mood'), but the rest is well worth it. Guest appearance from Missy Elliott.

DEUTER D (Kuckuck) cd 15.98
We finally got a hold of this reissue of electronic home-recording Krautrocker Deuter's first album. Subsequent releases devolved into New Age lameness, but this one, from 1971, is quite brilliant, a hallucinatory affair of studio experiments, tape effects, and guitar explorations. For fans of Sand, early Kraftwerk, or most of the Kranky contingent.
MPEG Stream: "Babylon"
MPEG Stream: "Der Turm/Fluchpunkt"
MPEG Stream: "Krishna Eating Fish And Chips"

FUSHITSUSHA The Caution Appears (Les Disques du Soleil et de l'Acier) cd 16.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY.
Housed in a handsome (black!) foldout "digipak" (oh this ugly new jargon), this is heavy duty gtr noise sans vocals from Keji Haino and Co.

GORGUTS Obscura (Olympic) cd 14.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY.
Rarely do bands completely reinvent themselves, especially metal bands. But Canada's Gorguts have done it (firing all but one member of the band in the process...) on this, their third album. Nobody was expecting it (nobody was really expecting a new Gorguts record at all, to be honest), but on Obscura generic deathmetal becomes super aggressive, completely unmelodic, stop/start math metal with the most bizarre guitar playing (totally "no-wave", like they have the guitarist from the Scissor Girls or something!) possibly ever heard in a "metal" band. Highly recommended!

ILK Zenith (No Fans) cd 15.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY.
The first release on Richard Youngs' No Fans label since the early '90s is quite a surprise -- it's not experimental noise stuff like much of his work with frequent collaborator Simon Wickham-Smith, this is actually the debut album by Young's one-man progressive rock band Ilk. Yup, '70s style prog rock -- but not really. Young has constructed mock-suites of beautifully intricate rock structures that include classical guitar, flute and sleigh bells. (No mellotron though.) Actually, the "prog" aspect of this seems kinda conceptual. I mean, there IS a Roger Dean-eque painting of a floating island of monoliths (that spell I-L-K) on the cover, and there's some portentous introductory narration by someone (Youngs' dad?). But the music isn't full of weird time changes or bombastic instrumentals to show off his chops -- it's simply beautiful, focusing mainly on Youngs' haunting vocals, and/or (in song "Nocturnal Path Flow" for instance) the mesmerizing sheets of eerie, shimmering sounds from his keyboards. It's elemental in its majesty -- you can understand how the album was inspired by his travels on the coast of Scotland. If you've gotten into Young's much more recent and equally gorgeous (if mellower) collaboration with Kawabata Makoto on vhf, you should definitely check this out! Allan LOVES this album.

IN EXTREMO Weckt Die Toten! (Metal Blade) cd 15.98
In our continuing tradition of bringing you the weirdest metal around, we now present to you: In Extremo! Nobody describes a band better than their press release: "Menacing and enraged, the band performs dressed in historically correct costumes from the middle ages. Dancing and wildly carousing, presenting their songs, you can imagine how our ancestors must have celebrated. Bagpipers tread madly back and forth across the stage in front of head-banging guitarists. Wildly manic tribal drum rhythms enhance the happenings." Essentially, In Extremo are an above average power metal band (ala Blind Guardian or Hammerfall) fronted by bagpipers and a vocalist that sounds like either Popeye or a Tuvan throat singer. Pretty excellent actually.

IRON MAIDEN s/t (Sanctuary / Metal Is) cd 16.98
After being out of print for the last year or two, all these classic Iron Maiden titles (and a few, later, not-so-classic ones) have been reissued domestically in remastered, repackaged (big booklets of photos, artwork & lyrics, slipcovers) and cd-rom enhanced (with videos!) form. We've got Iron Maiden, Killers (that's a metal must-have sez Allan), Number of the Beast, Piece of Mind, & Powerslave (those are the good ones...well okay, maybe Seventh Son of A Seventh Son also). Anyway, it's time to get rid of your old scratchy vinyl or cassette copies and pick up some of these new cds. And is it just me, or did they somehow make the cover art look even better? The cd-rom stuff is really well done, too. Up the Irons!

KATATONIA Discouraged Ones (Century Media) cd 12.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY.
Brilliant melancholy not-even-really-metal-anymore music from this boundary-pushing Swedish outfit. Originally inspired by British melodic doom-death act Paradise Lost, Katatonia on Discouraged Ones is equally influenced by the likes of The Cure, Pink Floyd and the Red House Painters!

KEEP OF KALESSIN Through Times Of War (Avantgarde Music) cd 16.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY.
Norwegian black metal, very much in the style of heavyweights Emperor, Enslaved, Immortal, and Satyricon (the later most of all). A very impressive debut, very heavy stuff indeed. Recommended! (Allan and Andee both took one home...)

KIX Midnight Dynamite (Atlantic) cd 11.98
Kicks ass is more like it! Super catchy high energy hard pop. This is their third record, from 1985 and is the perfect blend of Cheap Trick's pop hooks and AC/DC's heavy groove. Allan and Andee both love this band. In fact, if you buy this record and love it, we will have no problem ordering you their other three records, all amazing. Oh yeah, Allan wants me to make sure you realize we aren't joking. Because we aren't.

KIX s/t (Atlantic) cd 11.98
Look, people, we really weren't kidding about how much we (Andee and Allan to be precise) love Kix! The response to our listing of their Midnite Dynamite on the last AQ-list was less-than-overwhelming (although Brian at WFMU did email to let us know that his covers band does a Kix song--way to go Brian!), so we're trying again. This is Kix's first album, from 1981, and it is also quite representative of their blend of Cheap Trick and AC/DC (no Def Leppard-ish ballads to be found on this one, although they're good at those too). Someone, anyone, take a chance, take our word on it and order one. A great hard pop record with even some new-wavish moments (it being 1981 and all). Don't you wanna rock? C'mon!

KREIDLER Appearance And The Park (Kiff) cd 16.98
Second album by these To Rococo Rot-connected neo-kraut-post-rockers, better even than their debut Weekend.

MAGMA Kobaia (Seventh) 2cd 32.00
Amazing Magma debut. Magma mastermind Christian Vander comments:
"After the death of John Coltrane (41) in 1967, I composed 'Kobaia' (=eternal) in front of the musical chaos and the misunderstanding of mankind; and then I created Magma and the 'Zeuhl Wortz' (=music of the universal might). To Life, to Death and after... It brought me to my real work on earth. My unique and true function. this album was a renewal, a complete rebirth. Many enjoyed it. This allowed the birth of many new groups in France, creating a new musical trend: the zeuhl music."

MASADA (JOHN ZORN) Bar Kokhba (Tzadik) 2cd 29.00
Small ensembles of strings, keyboards, and clarinets playing klezmer/jazz tunes. This brief description must be augmented with the declaration that this is an ALL TIME AQUARIUS FAVE!!!

MELVINS The Bootlicker (Ipecac) cd 17.98
#2 in the Melvin's 3-album summer plan. This is the self-proclaimed 'quiet' one, and, while not near-silent like a Bernard Gunter record or anything, it is quite restrained by the Melvin's usual loud-and-pummelling standards. Rather hypnotic post-rock is what you get, with strange almost-Gothic vocals from Buzz. The first 'wacky' Melvins album that Allan has liked, because the so-called wackiness is limited to a single (successful!) concept that they stick to throughout the record, instead of trying to surprise/annoy with each and every song like some other Melvins discs of which I could think. No, 'The Bootlicker' doesn't possess the classic heavy Melvins sound that previous disc 'The Maggot' recaptured, but is much better the sort of indie-rock/Mr. Bunglized sound of other recent full-lengths like 'Stag'. So, two down, both pretty good, and one to go. (The next one, 'The Crybaby', we'll admit to being a bit afraid of...seeing as it's the 'wacky guest star' album or something, with contributions from the likes of Leif Garrett and Hank Williams III!)

MELVINS The Maggot (Ipecac) cd 17.98
The first in their three part summer album series recorded for Mike Patton's new Ipecac label. This one is their "metal" record. Supposedly album number two is "slow" and part three is "experimental". Includes a rendition of Fleetwood Mac's "Green Manalishi With The Two-Pronged Crown" (a live favorite at Melvins shows for the past few years). Not as good as the Judas Priest version, but good. Anyway, The Maggot should satisfy those for whom the last couple of Melvins' records were too deliberately weird or "indie-rock".

O.A.D. Daytona (FMN) cd 13.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY.
Incredible improvising rock/funk/freejazz combo - "club music of the 21st century." Members of Ground Zero, Ruins, Omoide Hatoba, Children Coup d'Etat participate. With turntables and psychedelic rock guitar. The live tracks are absolutely killer. One of Allan's top ten for 1995.

OPETH My Arms, Your Hearse (Century Black) cd 10.98
Third & perhaps best (yet) album from this Swedish band worshipped the world over for its combination of heavy death/black metal and epic progrock (i.e. they're no strangers to ten-minute plus song lengths). Note title derived from a Comus lyric!

OXBOW Fuckfest/King Of The Jews (Crippled Dick) 2cd 16.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY.
Double cd collecting the first two utterly amazing Oxbow lps from '89 and '91, which previously were available on cd as The Balls In The Great Meat Grinder Collection on the UK's Pathological label, now out of print--but that was only one disc, which meant a whole song was scrapped, and another faded out. Those have been restored here, plus you get an unreleased track called "Pannonica" from the King Of The Jews sessions. Guests on these albums include Lydia Lunch and Klaus Floride. Recently returned from a tour in Japan, Oxbow have always langushed in relative obscurity here in the US (current domestic label=SST, argh) when they really deserve to be ruling the whole damn world. Essential, intense, heavy, dark, weird, artful, aggressive, fucked genius with few peers.

PAINKILLER Collected Works (Tzadik) 4cd 44.00
4 cds collecting the almost-complete works (plus some previously unreleased pieces) of the collaboration among 3 of the biggest egos in contemporary music: John Zorn, Mick Harris, and big bad Bill Laswell. Nicely presented, with all the original (banned-in-England in one instance) artwork. Includes "Guts Of A Virgin," "Buried Secrets," and "Execution Ground" (with the bonus live in Osaka disc from the import Japanese version, featuring guest Eye Yamantaka of Boredoms). And then there's the previously unreleased track with Keiji Haino on guitar (doing a Jacks cover!). Makigami Koichi also guests on vocals.

PAN-THY-MONIUM III - Khaooos & Kon-Fus-Ion (Relapse) cd 13.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY.
Instead of worshipping Satan, these bizarre Swedish metallers made up their own pantheon of gods, foremost among them "Raagoonshinnaah," the mythology of whom they celebrate on the four epic tracks of this release. The music ranges from bluesy psychedelic rock, to grunting grindcore, to free jazz, to ambient synth-scapes...A few spins of this and you too might find religion.

PROSCRIPTOR The Venus Bellona (Cruel Moon) cd 17.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY.
Incredible, Magickal, Historickal ritual soundscape new-wave solo concept album, created by the drummer for the Texas occult metal band Absu. A beautiful digipak with music unlike anything else. It tells a story set in Medieval Scotland but is influenced less by Black Metal than by the Art Bears (so Proscriptor claims) and Flock of Seagulls (the album closes with a cover of their hit "I Ran", paradoxically the most metal moment on the disc...) Highly recommended! Listen to this alone at night with candles burning.

PROSCRIPTOR The Venus Bellona (Cruel Moon) lp 18.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY.
Incredible, Magickal, Historickal ritual soundscape new-wave solo concept album, created by the drummer for the Texas occult metal band Absu. Red vinyl with music unlike anything else. It tells a story set in Medieval Scotland but is influenced less by Black Metal than by the Art Bears (so Proscriptor claims) and Flock of Seagulls (the album closes with a cover of their hit "I Ran", paradoxically the most metal moment on the disc...) Highly recommended! Listen to this alone at night with candles burning.

PUZZLE PUNKS BuduB (Time Bomb) lp 21.00
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY.
We can never get enough Boredoms. But unfortunately, there's never enough Boredoms. We hate waiting years between releases. Thankfully there are plenty of side projects and offshoots to hold us over. One such Boredoms related outfit is Puzzle Punks, featuring Eye from the Boredoms, along with his PP partner Shinro Otake. We carried the limited picture disc of this release years and years ago, but for some reason were never able to get the cd. We recently discovered that there is a NEW Puzzle Punks record (we're not sure if it is indeed new, or just a new collection of old material, but we'll hopefully have it in time for the next list) and at the same time we discovered we could finally get this, the cd version of the Puzzle Punks' 2nd album Budub.
And we forgot just how great this stuff was. Even after a decade the sounds on Budub sound fresh. Weird and fucked too (it is Eye after all) but fresh enough that you could be forgiven for thinking this was some weird Excepter record or No Neck side project. Which just goes to show you how much influence Eye and his gang had and still have on modern music.
The sound of Budub is less caustic and spastic than the first Puzzle Punks records, or the Boredoms records released around the same time. Instead it's a series of experiments in rhythm, maybe hinting at the direction Eye would take the Boredoms on late albums.
Imagine some impossible jam session between the Boredoms and This Heat, or a lobotomized Hawkwind left to jam with the infant versions of the No Neck Blues Band. Or even a room full of musical toys, possessed and allowed to run amok. Dark and deliriously playful. Sometimes creepy and dark, but more often sort of strange and hypnotic. And always some bizarre world of rhythm and rhythmic wonder. Every track a strange sonic trip: analog synth squelches over dreamy chimes and tinkles, processed fuzzy krautrock grooves beneath strange chanted and muttered vocals, murky percussive plod and thud, over which a tiny sped up voice drenched in reverb mews and warbles, haunting vocal and percussion duos, very tribal and mysterious, thick washed out expanses of fuzzy spacerock FX and distant feedback, skittery almost techno shuffles, with bizarre vocalizations, deconstructed melodies played on a toy guitar, accompanied by a slowly wound jack in the box, a grinding wash of super thick distorted throb, a wall of low end whir, a murky world of jungle sounds like a lo-fi Perry And Kingsley and every random rhythmic stop in between.
Boredoms freaks who never picked this up NEED THIS BAD. And all you modern free folks and random rock weirdos into No Neck, Excepter, Sunburned Hand and the like might just dig this a lot!
MPEG Stream: "Ouck Nuff"
MPEG Stream: "Unlimited Toothpicker"
MPEG Stream: "Pep & Kep"
MPEG Stream: "Xicotepecker"

SENSATIONAL Loaded With Power (WordSound) cd 11.98
Another WordSound classic, the solo debut from mumble-mouthed rapper Sensational (a former member of the Jungle Brothers). Super stoned, sounds like Wu-Tang with a head injury! Highly, we mean HIGHLY, recommended!!

SLAP HAPPY HUMPHREY (Public Bath) cd 13.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY.
The domestic issue of previously Japanese-import-only album. Jojo Hiroshige of Hijokaidan, the girl singer from Angel In Heavy Syrup, and one other guy (from Subvert Blaze). La la la...Quiet...Pretty...CRASH!...SCREEEECH...La la la...Mellow mellow...

SLOUGH FEG, THE LORD WEIRD Twilight Of The Idols (Dragonheart) cd 16.98
Now on cd, as an Italian import. Supreme true metal from San Francisco, for those who find The Champs too "indie-rock" (just kidding). Slough Feg is a cult band that takes their influences not from other cult bands but direct from the masters: Sabbath, Maiden, Thin Lizzy, Queen. Celtic folkisms collide with doom metal riffs, guitar leads run rampant over epic song structures, and the heroic vocals tell stories fantastic and weird...a metal masterpiece! With keen Erol "D&D" Otus cover art.

SLOUGH FEG, THE LORD WEIRD Twilight Of The Idols (Doomed Planet) lp 11.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY.
Full-on epic Heavy Metal from this San Francisco "celtic fantasy" power trio, in the tradition of Black Sabbath and Iron Maiden, full of Iommi-worthy riffs, complex arrangements, real (not death-grunt!) vocals (kinda halfway betwixt Ozzy & Dio), and massive amounts of lead guitar! This is their second album, appropriately vinyl-only for now...their first album got a 4-out-of-5 rating in the UK's Terrorizer mag, and this one's better. Also, it includes perhaps one of the most obscure cover tunes ever chosen, "The Wizard's Vengeance," a track from an absurdly rare private-press 1979 lp by a bizarre American progressive rock act called Legend. This makes the perfect soundtrack to your next Dungeons & Dragons session, and indeed Twilight Of The Idols looks like a D&D module, with a fantastic cover painting by cult early-80's D&D artist Erol Otus!

SOLSTICE New Dark Age (Misanthropy) cd 15.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. NEW VERSION AVAILABLE, THOUGH, SEE ELSEWHERE ON OUR SITE.
From England, the second album by these champions of true, epic DOOM metal. Very metal indeed, with guitar harmonies, sad Celtic-folk motifs, clean vocals, and lyrical themes of weird fantasy. Massively heavy, sombre, and melodically grand. This totally grew on me, becoming one of my favorite metal records of the past year (sez Allan). In fact, Allan would go so far as to say that this is one of the best metal albums EVER.

STARFUCKERS Infrantumi (Drunken Fish) cd 12.98
First domestic full-length release from this strange & mysterious Italian group that specializes in minimal, experimental noise and sometimes Stooges-style freak rock (not really the latter on this album though)...

STARFUCKERS Sinistri (Undercover) cd 16.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY.
This is a great record from a band recently profiled in the last issue of Bananafish magazine (and they cover "Dear Prudence" on the accompanying cd, remember?). For those who didn't happen to read that, the Starfuckers are an Italian group who combine krautrock, Stooges and experimental new music influence into a radical new aesthetic. As AQ-mascot John Whitson succinctly dubs them: "Funhausen."

STINKING LIZAVETA Slaughterhouse (self-released) cd 10.98
Supremely awesome instrumental rock trio of guitar/drums/upright electric bass from Philadelphia. Last weekend they played a beautiful and energetic show to a lucky crowd at the TipTop bar a couple of blocks from here. And last year they did a great Aquarius instore performance. This is their brand new disc. If you like old Gone, or Fripp, or previous AQ-list Record of the Week honorees The Champs, you must bow down to Stinking Lizaveta. Meditative virtuoso impassioned metal/jazz explosive bliss!

SUPERSILENT 4 (Rune Grammofon) cd 16.98
A little bit more jazzy & readily "listenable" than their amazing, overwhelming triple-cd debut, this sophomore release by the mysterious Nowegian group Supersilent continues to explore the limits of hyper-rhythmic free jazz, mixed with elements of ambient, musique concrete, noise and instrumental rock. If somewhat undefinable improv-ish bands like Starfuckers, Skullflower, Nels Cline Trio, etc. interest you, here's another one to add to that august roster. Parts of this sound like a live band (out)doing the most intense studio work of an Autechre or Squarepusher! Excellent album from an as-yet underappreciated band (although a recent feature in The Wire magazine signals a possible change in that status).

TARWATER Silur (Kitty Yo) cd 14.98
Germans Ronald Lippok (of To Rococo Rot) and Bernd Jestram are Tarwater, and this is the follow-up to their fine 11/6 12/5 album which seemed to bridge Nick Cave and Portishead. Here's some of what Forced Exposure's email list has to say about the new disc: "DJing (loops, breakbeats, cut-ups, speeches), electronic experiments and classical song structures lay next to each other in Tarwater's music, which leads them in the direction of artists as DJ Shadow or Tricky...and one can find a long list of other references: early 90's East Coast Hip Hop, the Coil of the Horse Rotovator Phase, the Crooklyn Dub Consortium, the minimal electronic sets of DJ Kazi Lenka and Taschensound, and the compositions of Carl Wilson. Still: the intuition kicks out the strategy and gives this music a rather mysterious pop-appeal."

TRANS AM Futureworld (Thrill Jockey) cd 12.98
Trans Am keeps getting better, their sound keeps maturing, and they keep surprising us. Rumbling analogue synths, vocoder, disjointed drum beats mixed with Kraftwerk electo beats, strung-out Tubeway Army guitars, just the right amount of emotive distortion, tha funky bass, Six Finger Satellite ass-kickin', cheesey low resolution Apple II cover art. The ingredients of a perfect record.

TRANS AM Futureworld (Thrill Jockey) lp 12.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY.
Trans Am keeps getting better, their sound keeps maturing, and they keep surprising us. Rumbling analogue synths, vocoder, disjointed drum beats mixed with Kraftwerk electo beats, strung-out Tubeway Army guitars, just the right amount of emotive distortion, tha funky bass, Six Finger Satellite ass-kickin', cheesey low resolution Apple II cover art. The ingredients of a perfect record.

TRANS AM Surrender to the Night (Thrill Jockey) cd 9.98
Second full-length meanders from pretty amazing (if completely derivative) boomin' electro lowrider themes to distortion-happy techno. Way less 'rock' than previous album.

TRANS AM Surrender to the Night (Thrill Jockey) lp 13.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY.
Second full-length meanders from pretty amazing (if completely derivative) boomin' electro lowrider themes to distortion-happy techno. Way less 'rock' than previous album.

TRANS AM The Surveillance (Thrill Jockey) cd 13.98
There's a wonderful track on this album that sounds just like "The Song Remains the Same."

TRANS AM The Surveillance (Thrill Jockey) lp 9.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY.
There's a wonderful track on this album that sounds just like "The Song Remains the Same."

TRANS AM s/t (Thrill Jockey) cd 13.98
...can't decide whether it wants to be guitar- or synthesizer-based rock but all things considered this debut album generates a decent wall of sound. The boys of Aquarius give it the thumbs up.

TRANS AM s/t (Thrill Jockey) lp 9.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY.
...can't decide whether it wants to be guitar- or synthesizer-based rock but all things considered this debut album generates a decent wall of sound. The boys of Aquarius give it the thumbs up.

album cover ULVER Nattens Madrigal (Century Media) cd 13.98
Strange Norwegian Black Metal band's third album, subtitled "Eight Hymnnes to the Wolf in Man". Unlike their previous record, which was an entirely acoustic folk music, this is an almost all-electric onslaught, recorded in such a (demented?) way as to make the guitars sound like giant bees. The electricity of this record is highlighted also by the way each and every track seemingly stars with the sound of their instruments being plugged in. Utter Darkthrone worship, but better!

V/A Love, Peace & Poetry: Latin American Psychedelic Music (Shadoks Music) cd 15.98
Ignore the cheesy pinup girl cover art and instead give thanks that someone finally compiled someof the best tracks from Latin American psych pop groups of the '60s, most of whose original LPs now change hands for hundreds of dollars, and whose cd reissues even seem overpriced. We're talking bands like Traffic Sound, Laghonia, Kissing Spell, and Kaleidoscope, etc. A great intro to this scene, provided you have a very strong stomach for Beatles ripoffs; it sounds very much Of Its Time.

VILLAGE OF SAVOONGA Score (Kollaps/Communion) cd 12.98
Murky drama played out on guitars, tapes, electronics, and samplers, with a heavy dose of clanky percussion to remind you of their roots, Germany's Village of Savoonga possesses an enviably original sound that owes much to their krautrock forefathers, not the ultra-structured Kraftwerk, but the loose sound experiments of Faust. Spacerock fans will find so much to like, too, but expect more than just easy ambient layers, this record climbs mountains and fords streams. Totally excellent. This is their third album, and the record we've been recommending people buy if the new Tortoise just doesn't do it for ya...

VILLAGE OF SAVOONGA Score (Kollaps/Communion) lp 10.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY.
Murky drama played out on guitars, tapes, electronics, and samplers, with a heavy dose of clanky percussion to remind you of their roots, Germany's Village of Savoonga possesses an enviably original sound that owes much to their krautrock forefathers, not the ultra-structured Kraftwerk, but the loose sound experiments of Faust. Spacerock fans will find so much to like, too, but expect more than just easy ambient layers, this record climbs mountains and fords streams. Totally excellent. This is their third album, and the record we've been recommending people buy if the new Tortoise just doesn't do it for ya...

WELCH, GILLIAN Hell Among the Yearlings (Almo Sounds) cd 12.98
Lauded alt.country singer's second album produced by T-Bone Burnett. It's Allan's favorite of her several fine albums so far.
MPEG Stream: "My Morphine"
MPEG Stream: "Honey Now"

YAHOWHA 13 God and Hair (Captain Trip) 13cd 140.00
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY.
For 13 discs you better get the complete recordings... and here on God and Hair that is what you get. [well, this was true until recently when The Operetta was released...but you do get plenty!] Led by the late, legendary Father Yod (who supposedly died in a hang-gliding accident in the late 70s... just like Icarus!) YaHoWha 13 "epitomize the insanity of highly-personalized psychedelic exploration via the fringes of rock music and its subsequent private documentation better than anything else produced by the human race to date." (a glorious if over the top description from the fine folk at Forced Exposure)... This collection ranges from the tribal acid pound with weird noises floating in and out of aural spaces alongside Yod's megalomaniacal vocal output (as on the unbelievable masterpieces "Penetration" and "I'm Gonna Take You Home") to the cult-guru sermons over simple acoustic guitar (which give the uncanny resemblance to Charles Manson's folk). Warning: it's VERY hippie. The huge 13" x 13" heavy duty box houses the 13 discs and a 50 page booklet (which is unfortunately only in Japanese). So fucking cool.
(If anyone out there has any more information about this band (in English) please direct us to it.)
Please Note: Due to the sheer cost of this thing, AQ will only have 1 or 2 in stock at any given time. We will certainly do our best to fill any orders that come in, but please be patient with us! And it's a limited edition, too, of course, so don't delay...

YOSHIDA, TATSUYA A Million Years (Magaibutsu) cd 14.98
Ruins drummer Yoshida's third very strange solo album -- and when he does a solo album, it's really just him, drums, guitar, keyboard, voices, etc. (AND, he can play it all live, by himself.) This one starts off maybe kind of like This Heat trying to play the Simpsons theme, and just gets weirder.

album cover ASTATKE, MULATU Ethiopiques Vol. 4 (Buda Musique) cd 15.98
Ethiopia was the site of some of the most beautiful yet sadly forgotten music in the '60s and '70s. This compilation takes some of the best tracks from the enterprising Amha Records. This label specialized in recording unusually catchy and groovy pop songs that are not dissimilar to late '60s Jamaican rocksteady fused with jazz signatures and Ethiopian folk, plus plenty of James Brown funk.
This disc features the all instrumental "Ethio Jazz" by Mulatu Astatke. We don't know of anyone who's heard this and not fallen absolutely in love with it. Recommended without reservation! Probably the most popular of the entire 25 disc (so far) Ethiopiques series, a good one to start with, easiest for the uninitated to get into due to its instrumental nature.
MPEG Stream: "Yekermo"
MPEG Stream: "Metche Dershe"

album cover BLOOD FARMERS Headless Eyes (Resurrection Productions) cd 14.98
Appropriately enuff, back from the dead it would seem. Bear witness to the long, long awaited return of psychedelic doomsters the Blood Farmers! After almost twenty years, the cult is alive. Still unhealthily obsessed with Z-grade schlock horror films - we'd love to dig into the the insane VHS collection we figure these guys must have - this NYC stoner/sludge/doom trio hit us here with only their second proper full-length album since their self-titled debut from 1995! (There's been just one other Blood Farmers cd, Permanent Brain Damage, previously reviewed by us, containing an earlier demo + live tracks).
It's been worth the wait, for those of us who love fuzzed-out downer psych trudgery with oodles of heavier-than-thou atmosphere, yep. Not much has changed over the years, Blood Farmers still sounding beholden to Black Sabbath, Saint Vitus, and that aforementioned vintage VHS collection - this album's title track, ferinstance, is inspired by the 1971 film The Headless Eyes, about a one-eyed, eye-gouging serial killer/artist. Fans of some bands that have become popular more recently, like Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats, definitely ought to check this out, they'll appreciate the synthesis of '70s exploitation cinema subject matter and Sabbatherian riffery that Blood Farmers dish out here. Part psych, part metal, it's a stripped down, garagey, lumberingly groovy sort of sound they have, embellished with some sinister synths, and the use of samples from the old movies they reference. Imagine The Heads, jamming with Electric Wizard. Or early Monster Magnet, but much more doom, with a huge horror vibe.
There's plenty in the way of moody, spaced/nodded out, almost-ambient interludes betwixt the more punishing fare, lots of this largely instrumental - however, the deep voiced holler of singer Eli Brown (often treated with underwatery FX) is definitely heard from, alongside the slo-mo six-string wizardry of guitarist Dave "Depraved" Szulkin, whose blown out riffs and acid rock leads have a hypnotic effect, abetted by the thumping rhythms of drummer Tad Leger (formerly of '80s technical thrashers Toxik, not that that has much to do with anything you'll hear here, nor does the further trivia that he also played with The Great Kat too at one time).
Blood Farmers do an amazing job of creating a heavy MOOD as well as making heavy sounds, a mood in keeping with their cinematic inspirations, but actually much more affecting and less ridiculously kitschy than a lot of those low-budget movies actually are. Speaking of mood, one of our favorite tracks here is the final one, an especially doomed-out cover of a beautiful song called "The Road Leads To Nowhere" from the David Hess soundtrack to The Last House On The Left (the vinyl reissue of which was reviewed by us not loo long ago). It's real nice, taking that song and turning it (after an acoustic guitar intro) into a heavy rock track, quite different from the original, but retaining the melodiousness of it, Eli's vocals also more restrained and melodious here as well.
We're really digging that song, and the rest of this, A LOT, and just hope they don't take another 19 years to make their next album! FYI, vinyl folks, an lp version is planned for release on the Patac label in the (hopefully) near future...
MPEG Stream: "Headless Eyes"
MPEG Stream: "The Creeper"
MPEG Stream: "The Road Leads To Nowhere"

album cover NIGHT TERRORS, THE Spiral Vortex / Back To Zero (Homeless) 2cd 15.98
We got turned on to the synth-heavy, cinematic post-rock of this Aussie outfit last year, when their previous album Back To Zero was released on vinyl. Their secret weapon, a virtuoso theremin player, who coaxes all manner of weepy, wavery giallo-worthy ooohs and aaahs from that electronic instrument, its lovely, lachrymose vocal-like-timbre soaring over some seriously intense sci-fi zip-zap synth sounds and the massive momentum of the heavy, propulsive rhythm section. So powerful, and melodic! We're excited that they're now back with a brand new album, albeit with a stripped-down lineup: they're just a duo now, not that you could tell, having shed a couple of synth players in the interim (and switching out drummers, too). Multi-instrumentalist Miles Brown, he who plays the theremin, as well synths, bass, and "noise", takes up any and all slack, however. This sounds BIG.
When we reviewed Back To Zero, we noted that they had opened for Goblin, and that their own brand of soundtrack-y, Goblin-y horror movie prog sounded like it should have been released as an lp on the Death Waltz label. Perhaps you should just go read that review elsewhere on our site ('cause for one thing, the compact disc version of this new record is actually a double disc set, also including a reissued cd of that album as well), but we'll quote ourselves a bit: "Sometimes gently atmospheric (someone mentioned Sigur Ros), sometimes noisy and distorted (someone mentioned MBV), always compelling and evocative, The Night Terrors almost seem specifically designed for aQ appreciation." Indeed they do. We love this stuff! The new record has perhaps less of the gentle moments, devoting even more of its considerable energy to the crunching keyboards and math-rock rhythms. Tracks like "Monster" even hint at some form of adrenalized Euro-disco techno. Taken in sum, this almost approaches overload. Spiral Vortex is the perfect title; the sheer buzz and bombast of it all becomes quite headspinning. And demands to be played LOUD!! In a car, driving fast, even better. Makes us think of, like, if Emeralds got hopped up on Red Bull and challenged the Trans Am guys to a synthesizer drag race (whatever that means, but you know what we mean). This could be the soundtrack to all manner of suspenseful, futuristic action noir scenarios. Melody, majestic melody, is effectively employed throughout, not just on moodier cuts like "Celeste". Always, the awesomely distorted, low-end tones from the synths and bass are perfectly balanced by the more ethereal, high-end "singing" of the theremin. Technically, though, this is mostly instrumental, but for some uber-distorted robot vox on the very last track, "Force Field".
We mentioned Zombi in our other review - and basically these guys sound a lot like an over-the-top Zombi, if Clara Rockmore (you know, the famous classical thereminist) joined that band. Other obvious "recommended-if-you-like" references include: Umberto, The Oscillation, Maserati, Majeure, Nightsatan, and even the likes of Fuck Buttons and Black Moth Super Rainbow.
As mentioned, the cd edition, is a double with Spiral Vortex on one disc and Back To Zero on the other. Whatta deal! Meanwhile, Spiral Vortex is also available by itself on limited edition 180 gram red vinyl w/ download code.
MPEG Stream: "Lasers For Eyes"
MPEG Stream: "Space Sickness"
MPEG Stream: "Force Field"

NIGHT TERRORS, THE Spiral Vortex (Homeless) lp 21.00
We got turned on to the synth-heavy, cinematic post-rock of this Aussie outfit last year, when their previous album Back To Zero was released on vinyl. Their secret weapon, a virtuoso theremin player, who coaxes all manner of weepy, wavery giallo-worthy ooohs and aaahs from that electronic instrument, its lovely, lachrymose vocal-like-timbre soaring over some seriously intense sci-fi zip-zap synth sounds and the massive momentum of the heavy, propulsive rhythm section. So powerful, and melodic! We're excited that they're now back with a brand new album, albeit with a stripped-down lineup: they're just a duo now, not that you could tell, having shed a couple of synth players in the interim (and switching out drummers, too). Multi-instrumentalist Miles Brown, he who plays the theremin, as well synths, bass, and "noise", takes up any and all slack, however. This sounds BIG.
When we reviewed Back To Zero, we noted that they had opened for Goblin, and that their own brand of soundtrack-y, Goblin-y horror movie prog sounded like it should have been released as an lp on the Death Waltz label. Perhaps you should just go read that review elsewhere on our site ('cause for one thing, the compact disc version of this new record is actually a double disc set, also including a reissued cd of that album as well), but we'll quote ourselves a bit: "Sometimes gently atmospheric (someone mentioned Sigur Ros), sometimes noisy and distorted (someone mentioned MBV), always compelling and evocative, The Night Terrors almost seem specifically designed for aQ appreciation." Indeed they do. We love this stuff! The new record has perhaps less of the gentle moments, devoting even more of its considerable energy to the crunching keyboards and math-rock rhythms. Tracks like "Monster" even hint at some form of adrenalized Euro-disco techno. Taken in sum, this almost approaches overload. Spiral Vortex is the perfect title; the sheer buzz and bombast of it all becomes quite headspinning. And demands to be played LOUD!! In a car, driving fast, even better. Makes us think of, like, if Emeralds got hopped up on Red Bull and challenged the Trans Am guys to a synthesizer drag race (whatever that means, but you know what we mean). This could be the soundtrack to all manner of suspenseful, futuristic action noir scenarios. Melody, majestic melody, is effectively employed throughout, not just on moodier cuts like "Celeste". Always, the awesomely distorted, low-end tones from the synths and bass are perfectly balanced by the more ethereal, high-end "singing" of the theremin. Technically, though, this is mostly instrumental, but for some uber-distorted robot vox on the very last track, "Force Field".
We mentioned Zombi in our other review - and basically these guys sound a lot like an over-the-top Zombi, if Clara Rockmore (you know, the famous classical thereminist) joined that band. Other obvious "recommended-if-you-like" references include: Umberto, The Oscillation, Maserati, Majeure, Nightsatan, and even the likes of Fuck Buttons and Black Moth Super Rainbow.
As mentioned, the cd edition, is a double with Spiral Vortex on one disc and Back To Zero on the other. Whatta deal! Meanwhile, Spiral Vortex is also available by itself on limited edition 180 gram red vinyl w/ download code.
MPEG Stream: "Lasers For Eyes"
MPEG Stream: "Space Sickness"
MPEG Stream: "Force Field"

album cover V/A Warfaring Strangers: Darkscorch Canticles (Numero Group) 2lp 28.00
Documenting the sound of Middle American hippie rockers heavying it up and heading to Middle Earth, singing songs about wizards, sorcerers, Sauron, and Satan, this is just so up our alley. Heck, there are several of us here, who by virtue of our particular, peculiar subcultural enthusiasms, were primed to flip out HARD over this. So if anything was ever meant to be a Record Of The Week, this sure was! Man, those nerds over at Numero have outdone themselves. It's not like Numero hasn't brought us some great compilations of long lost gems before - heck that's what they DO - they've got a well deserved rep for digging up truly obscure vintage soul music that's also totally top notch stuff. But as you've surmised, this ain't no soul. In the past, Numero have unearthed some wonderful rarities in other genres, from folky female singer-songwriters to Southern rock to power pop. But now, with this latest entry in their Wayfaring Strangers, er, WARfaring Strangers, series of comps, entitled Darkscorch Canticles, they've entered another dimension entirely, a dark and mystical hard rockin' realm of fuzzed-out, bellbottomed, pot-scented, proggy proto-metal basement jams!!
There are 16 tracks of fantastical garage rock from the depths of the '70s to be savored here, rescued from one-off, privately pressed 45 singles done by sub-sub-sub-Sabbath acts that seriously nobody has ever heard of before. That's kind of what's most amazing about this, that these tracks are so great, and yet also so unknown. We've talked to a few friends who consider themselves proto-metal experts, some of whom were rather incredulous about this, halfway suspecting it must somehow be a fake just cuz they didn't already know of ANY of these bands! By the way, we're convinced it's not a hoax - though if it were, that would actually be even more amazing - especially considering there's a densely-packed cd booklet / lp insert filled with vintage band photos, original 45 label graphics, and in-depth, highly detailed liner notes provided about each artist in tiny, tiny print (backgrounded by graph-paper dungeon drawings).
Last year Numero put out a vinyl-only archival collection of tracks by one of the bands found here, Chicago's Medusa, that we thought was pretty cool, and really should have reviewed but for some reason never did (we do still have a copy in stock, in all its black velvet glory!). At the time, Numero told us that release was a teaser for an entire compilation of obscure "D&D" rock of the same ilk that they planned to do, and they spoke the truth. Through the mastery of the dark arts, presumably, they somehow assembled this, digging up an outrageous assortment of over-the-top tunes from all these forgotten bands, whose names alone conjure vibes of myth and magic, sword and sorcery: Wrath, Triton Warrior, Stone Axe, Stonehenge, Dark Star, Stoned Mace, Hellstorm, Wizard, Arrogance, and more - including not just the aforementioned Medusa but also another band from Chicago called Gorgon Medusa. The earliest entry is from 1970, the latest from 1980, but they're all equally ancient-sounding. More like rickety sixties-ish heavy psych really, than anything metallic from the '80s or beyond, the stress here being on the "proto" side of the proto-metal tag. Stuff in the vein of Iron Butterfly and Bloodrock and Bubble Puppy and Captain Beyond.
You get low-budget occult organ prog epicry, and uber-distorted riff-rockin', and spaced out downer rock balladry, and badass boogie in Satan's service. We won't go track-by-track, though we're tempted, but a few of the standout faves for us include Wrath's "Warlord", especially due to the zombified vocals from someone who sounds like a brainwashed adolescent girl / cult victim (the guitarist's wife, apparently) intoning the scary lyrics about "living in lust as Satan must"; Inside's "Wizzard King", a blown-out, lo-fi rocker that asks the musical question: "Don't you wanna be a wizzard king, don't you wanna be free? / Don't you wanna be a wizzard king, don't you wanna be me?"; and Stone Axe's "Slave Of Fear", which sounds like Arthur Brown fronting a very early Black Sabbath or Blues Creation. But there's so much good stuff on here, enough to require a saving throw vs. acid rock or else become completely addicted, spinning this repeatedly.
The art and design deserve a mention as well. Both formats come in slipcased cover art consisting of newly-rendered stylized logos (embossed, in metallic ink!) for each band on the comp, like some artistically-inclined burnout teen doodling on a school binder. In terms of packaging, this really couldn't be any cooler - oh, wait, well, maybe it could - we should tell you, that if you wait a couple months, Numero will be selling (direct mailorder only, not in stores, grrrr!) a special edition of this consisting of the lp, the cd, AND a vaguely D&D-esque BOARDGAME, where the players take on the roles of these rock bands competing with each other in the fantastic realm of Darkscorch. Even if you never actually play the game we're pretty sure it will be an amazing artifact just to look at. It's gonna be, like, $100 though.
Ok, to wrap up: trying to explain why this comp is so rad is kind of like trying to explain the appeal of The Lord Of The Rings to someone who hasn't read it. Or D&D to someone who hasn't played. So just trust us, and we recommend trying those two things as well if you haven't!
MPEG Stream: WRATH "Warlord"
MPEG Stream: JUNCTION "Sorcerer"
MPEG Stream: STONE AXE "Slave Of Fear"
MPEG Stream: INSIDE "Wizzard King"

album cover RANGER Knights Of Darkness (Full Contact / Ektro) 12" 19.98
Another entry in the NEW WAVE OF FINNISH HEAVY METAL, aka NWOFHM, comes modern Finnish thrashers Ranger, who not unsurprisingly, don't sound modern at all, and in fact, even though the label describes them as thrash, a lot of the time, they almost sound more like classic eighties true metal, the title track opens with the sort of epic harmonized guitar majesty, you just don't hear anymore, and then the band launches into some ridiculously over the top drumming, a barrage of pick slides, and BAM, chugging riffage, blasting beats, soaring divebomb leads. At this point, the sound is definitely thrash, we're hearing lots of early Anthrax for sure, even a little Slayer too, but Ranger are way poppier, the grunted sung/spoken vox punctuated with wild falsetto wails, the eighties vibe is huge, the drums all reverbed and boomy, the song flitting from lightning fast punked out thrash, to chugging classic metal and back again, and then of course some wild soloing, dueling epic shreddery, for folks our age, this is like musical manna from heaven (or hell?). And as yet always, especially with Finnish bands, and from the Ektro camp in particular, we're faced with the nagging possibility, that these guys could be taking the piss. But really, even if they are, they're so good, it hardly even matters, total eighties heavy metal radness, that really sounds like it could be from back in the day. The serious metal majesty and fierce metallic fury balanced by plenty of hooks and some serious poppiness, as well as some serious goofiness (but then what great metal bands didn't have some of that? Venom anyone?). The vocal delivery is awesome and ridiculous, more spoken than sung, but delivered like a true metal warrior, you can almost imagine both his hands holding up the invisible oranges, and of course lots of trilled 'r's, and let's not forget the sound effects, like the revved car engine when the vocalist sings the line "V8 engine screams!!"
But fuck it, metalheads who treasure the golden age of metal (that's the eighties btw) and can't get enough of that sound, this is about as good, and ridiculous, and amazing as it gets. Especially what might be the most epic track here, the closer "Knights Of Darkness" (featuring the aforementioned revving engine sound effects), a galloping tour-de-force, with some amazing harmonized guitars, killer shredding leads, and a vocal performance, that had us once again, thinking it could be Mika from Circle in metal drag. So goddamn great. Death to all but metal!
MPEG Stream: "Ranger"
MPEG Stream: "Knights Of Darkness"

album cover HIGH SPIRITS 2013 (self-released) cd ep 5.98
Where does the esteemed Professor Chris Black find the time?? Surely the most prolific man in heavy metal, with one of the best track records out there too, fronting Dawnbringer and Superchrist, drumming in cult epic power metal faves Pharaoh, doing that Aktor project with Jussi from Circle - oh yeah, and now ALSO fronting a Metalucifer tribute act called... wait for it... MetalUSAfer! (featured elsewhere on this list!), and while basically everything the man lays his hands on turns to heavy metal gold, if we had to pick a favorite here at aQ it just might be the motivational montage heavy metal High Spirits. They're just too fun, too catchy, too rock & roll.
2013 is more of a stop-gap release, made up of demos from the last couple of years, but we'll take whatever we can get when it comes to this band. And since these are demos there's an added rawness which is not at all unwelcome, giving these songs even more of an added sense of urgency than usual. For those not in the know, High Spirits play driving, fist pumping NWOBHM style metal perfect for speeding down a desert highway in the dead of night, hands clutched on the wheel in a pair of fingerless leather gloves. Opener "One Last Chance" is the perfect example - the kind of song you'd listen to when you've only got one more shot to make the grade, before the moment is lost forever... You know, that kind of thing! "Be My Shelter", with its harmonized leads over a fragmented rock & roll groove, is a bit reminiscent of early Devil's Blood - perfect for galloping down a dusty trail en route to an old West duel. "If I'm Gone" is a midpaced heartbreak rocker that wouldn't sound out of place on that recent Falcon album we raved about - the kind of track that might be playing while you flip up the collar on your leather jacket and turn away from your lady for the last time, in slow motion, a single tear only concealed by a tasty pair of aviator sunglasses. And while there's definitely a sense of genuine fun in High Spirits music like we mentioned before, the vocals and lyrics are delivered with such earnestness that the songs never devolve into homage, pastiche or parody. It's just street level, night time rock & roll - either you get it or you don't, and we are fully on board.
Like we said, these are demos, and we're looking forward to High Spirits' new full-length album, You Are Here, coming out in April on Hells Headbangers and High Roller.
MPEG Stream: "If I'm Gone"
MPEG Stream: "Midnight Sun"

album cover METALUSAFER Heavy Metal Hammer (Heavy Metal USA) 7" 6.98
OMG! An awesome concept for a single. It helps if you already know this - there's a ridiculous but fun old school style cult metal band called Metalucifer, a side project of Japan's Sabbat. They are pretty much the most metal thing ever. Most of Metalucifer's album and song titles have the words "Heavy Metal" in them, like "Heavy Metal Bulldozer" and "Heavy Metal Hunter". If you're a true metalhead, to know them is to love them. So, uber-talented metalhead Chris Black, of Dawnbringer and High Spirits fame, decided to write and record a tribute 7" to Metalucifer, probably entirely because he had thought up a silly name for the project, MetalUSAfer. Get it? Chris is American, you see.
And rather than simply do Metalucifer covers, Chris wrote two brand new meat-and-potatoes (as he describes them) metal songs in the style of Metalucifer: "Heavy Metal Hammer" and "Heavy Metal Saviour"! And they're a lot of fun. Really not too far off from the NWOBHM-worship of High Spirits, 'cause that's Metalucifer's big inspiration too, but taking the overt, absurd metal-isms to another level. High Spirits would never go there. These two tracks are all about simple riffage, catchy choruses, and intentionally cliched lyrics (using the words heavy & metal as much as possible). But it's a sincere tribute (with approval from Metalucifer to use their logo), and Chris Black's distinctive, honest voice and heartfelt delivery can't help but give this material more emotional depth than you might expect at first blush.
We guess after doing that great Aktor 7" with Jussi from Circle (and btw, Chris tells us they ARE doing an Aktor full-length too), some of Jussi's trademark high-concept silliness rubbed off on Chris, and MetalUSAfer is the neat-o result.
By the way, now Harry here has a great idea: what about a band called Meta-Lucifer, that only does songs ABOUT Metalucifer? Clearly their signature song would have to be called "Heavy Metal Metalucifer"! We mentioned this to Chris Black, and he suggested that to truly be Meta-Lucifer, the Meta-Lucifer release would have to be a recording of Harry simply TALKING about doing a band called Meta-Lucifer. We'll be announcing the Kickstarter soon...
MPEG Stream: "Heavy Metal Hammer"

album cover SLEAFORD MODS Austerity Dogs (Harbinger Sound) lp 25.00
ALSO NOW ON VINYL!!
Despite the name, don't think parkas and scooters. Think, well, white rap. White rap by a pair of clever & cranky British blokes, who kinda sound like if Mark E. Smith from the Fall listened to a lot of Sensational or Kool Keith and decided to make a really WTF? electronic rap album of his own. Except there's two of him (seems to be one main guy, and a kind of a sidekick).
We got turned on to the Sleaford Mods thanks to a really cool record shop over in England, Norman Records, who put this album at the top of their Best of 2013 list, an apparently controversial choice even among the shop's own staffers. Some unconventional, outside of the box thinking there! So we figured we ought to check it out. And guess what? We can see why they picked it, though we can also see why it was a bold choice. Had we heard it last year, we might have been tempted too. It's addictive! And we don't always even understand half of what these geezers are on about, that's part of the charm - the thick accents (lots of "fookin'") and the British slang, only makes more wonderfully confusional their own weird brand of free-association wordplay, resulting in plenty of cryptic non-sequiturs that may or may not be intentional, though there's plenty of obvious witticisms too. The lyrics, near as we can tell, are mainly complaints about life and society and shitty music business stuff, full of references to wankers and "donkeys".
Here's some lines from the track "Shit Streets Runny" (that is, if we managed to transcribe it correctly): "Attention to detail / attention to detail / fookin' email / wap! mp3 / I need a fookin' bath / you ain't no roadrunner / you ain't no shoot shoot the runner / shit take on it / meanwhile back in the crap cave / I trod on my cape by mistake / and fell into the fridge mate / I fookin' hate Northern Soul / it's like Motown on the dole". Then the sidekick guy gets some good bits in too, like the one about "Brain Eno / what the 'ell does 'e know?"
And all that, their ranting and rhyming, and even a little bit of singing, sort of, comes on top of quite catchy minimalist hiphop backing tracks, with ticktocking drum machines and laid back grooves, simple and hypnotic, making for an oddly humorous and headnodding listen indeed, full of sing-song bits that will get stuck in your head, catchphrases too - we're all going "Wobble wobble wobble" ferinstance. Maybe it's even more amusing to us since we're American, and whatever we're lacking in context is made up for in sheer absurdity. Anyway, diggin' this a lot!
MPEG Stream: "Shit Streets Runny"
MPEG Stream: "Mcflurry"
MPEG Stream: "Showboat"

album cover IRON CLAW s/t (Vintage / Rockadrome / Lion) 2lp 27.00
NOW ON VINYL!! Substantial gatefold packaging and vinyl pressing as is appropriate for this "HEAVY ROCK" (as it says, quite rightly, on the cover sticker). Here's what we said about the cd version released a while back:
Rockadrome's Vintage label has been on a roll of late, delving into the misty, musty, mystic proto-metal past to find some heavy holy grails - first and foremost, a popular aQuarius Record Of The Week, 1972's self-titled album by Jerusalem! Also a reissue from New Zealand heavies Human Instinct, and now this, the eagerly awaited yet ultra obscure collection of previously unreleased tracks from a '70s Scottish band called Iron Claw. Well, previously unreleased except for bootlegs, which accounts for the anticipation with which we looked forward to this fully authorized, carefully compiled disc. Iron Claw never managed to put out an album in their lifetime, but they did record quite a few studio demos circa 1970-1974, which is what you'll hear here. And yes the Claw is HEAVY.
We've heard plenty of bands over the years who have tried to sound like Black Sabbath in various ways. A lot of our favorites in fact, being as into doom metal as we are. But before Witchfinder General and Saint Vitus and Trouble, before Candlemass and Cathedral, before Sleep and Sheavy and Electric Wizard and Witchcraft... there was Iron Claw. They didn't grow up listening to Black Sabbath albums. No, this is a band who fell under Black Sabbath's spell after seeing 'em play... in 1969! That was *before* the first Sabbath album came out, please note. (Which brings up another interesting story - apparently Iron Claw's bassist had actually recorded that Sabbath gig - and not long ago made a pretty penny selling the tapes to Ozzy and Sharon, it being the earliest known live Sabbath material extant.)
Pretty soon after this "revelation" of seeing Sabbath, the mostly teenaged blues rock combo Iron Claw became what must have been the world's first Black Sabbath tribute band, doing Sabbath covers, while simultaneously working on original material for the first time. So the influence of Sabbath over Iron Claw's own songs is pretty strong, especially in the guitar dep't, less so with the vocals. But for heaviness and a general doomy vibe, Iron Claw are clearly indebted to Iommi & Co., while also reminding us of such bands as T2, May Blitz, Nazareth, and Budgie. Maybe some Grand Funk Railroad too. This was heavy stuff, especially for the era. Heck you've got to admit that the band name (which comes from the lyrics to King Crimson's "21st Century Schizoid Man") is pretty darn metal. IRON CLAW!!! Plus, good grief, they did a song called "Skullcrusher" in 1970 when everybody else (except for Sabbath) was all peace and love and flowers and beads. Inspired by Sabbath they sure were, but they get credit for being one of the first, taking it (down?) to the next level of underground downer rock worship and metallic menace. Later on when bands like Judas Priest and then the whole NWOBHM thing took over, these guys must have known they'd been ahead of the curve.
The sixteen tracks here span several years and several slightly differing Iron Claw lineups, and we were impressed by all of 'em, from their earliest, rawest recordings like the lumbering, blown-out "Clawstrophobia" (about the mental breakdown of someone stuck in an elevator!) to the riffy blitz of "Crossrocker" to their occasional attempts at something more 'pop' (but still heavy, even with horns, as on "Loving You").... all the way to the proggier final phase of Iron Claw's existence, on tracks like "Winter", with flute, yay! There's also a bit o' harmonica on "Strait Jacket" (a la "The Wizard"). But mostly, the Claw is all crunching guitar distortion, pounding drums and wailing vocals. Plus, psychedelic freakiness abounds in interludes (like the backwards Mellotron at the start of "Pavement Artist" and the spooky tripped out FX going into "Devils" - a song inspired by the band seeing the premiere of the Ken Russell movie of the same name at the Edinburgh Film Festival).
It's all pretty badass early doom action. Seriously we think folks into Sabbath (of course), Witchcraft and suchlike are gonna be blown away by a lot of this.
Sound-wise, it varies, generally lo-fi but pretty decent for demos, and not nearly so rough as that Bedemon disc ferinstance. No complaints there. Way to go Rockadrome, again! Now that they've unearthed the Claw, perhaps we can look forward to a sequel second album of archival live material - we'd love to hear Iron Claw's cover of "War Pigs" with complete with their use of Ozzy's original, alternate lyrics....
MPEG Stream: "Skullcrusher"
MPEG Stream: "Sabotage"
MPEG Stream: "Rock Band Blues"
MPEG Stream: "Winter"

album cover V/A Warfaring Strangers: Darkscorch Canticles (Numero Group) cd 16.98
Documenting the sound of Middle American hippie rockers heavying it up and heading to Middle Earth, singing songs about wizards, sorcerers, Sauron, and Satan, this is just so up our alley. Heck, there are several of us here, who by virtue of our particular, peculiar subcultural enthusiasms, were primed to flip out HARD over this. So if anything was ever meant to be a Record Of The Week, this sure was! Man, those nerds over at Numero have outdone themselves. It's not like Numero hasn't brought us some great compilations of long lost gems before - heck that's what they DO - they've got a well deserved rep for digging up truly obscure vintage soul music that's also totally top notch stuff. But as you've surmised, this ain't no soul. In the past, Numero have unearthed some wonderful rarities in other genres, from folky female singer-songwriters to Southern rock to power pop. But now, with this latest entry in their Wayfaring Strangers, er, WARfaring Strangers, series of comps, entitled Darkscorch Canticles, they've entered another dimension entirely, a dark and mystical hard rockin' realm of fuzzed-out, bellbottomed, pot-scented, proggy proto-metal basement jams!!
There are 16 tracks of fantastical garage rock from the depths of the '70s to be savored here, rescued from one-off, privately pressed 45 singles done by sub-sub-sub-Sabbath acts that seriously nobody has ever heard of before. That's kind of what's most amazing about this, that these tracks are so great, and yet also so unknown. We've talked to a few friends who consider themselves proto-metal experts, some of whom were rather incredulous about this, halfway suspecting it must somehow be a fake just cuz they didn't already know of ANY of these bands! By the way, we're convinced it's not a hoax - though if it were, that would actually be even more amazing - especially considering there's a densely-packed cd booklet / lp insert filled with vintage band photos, original 45 label graphics, and in-depth, highly detailed liner notes provided about each artist in tiny, tiny print (backgrounded by graph-paper dungeon drawings).
Last year Numero put out a vinyl-only archival collection of tracks by one of the bands found here, Chicago's Medusa, that we thought was pretty cool, and really should have reviewed but for some reason never did (we do still have a copy in stock, in all its black velvet glory!). At the time, Numero told us that release was a teaser for an entire compilation of obscure "D&D" rock of the same ilk that they planned to do, and they spoke the truth. Through the mastery of the dark arts, presumably, they somehow assembled this, digging up an outrageous assortment of over-the-top tunes from all these forgotten bands, whose names alone conjure vibes of myth and magic, sword and sorcery: Wrath, Triton Warrior, Stone Axe, Stonehenge, Dark Star, Stoned Mace, Hellstorm, Wizard, Arrogance, and more - including not just the aforementioned Medusa but also another band from Chicago called Gorgon Medusa. The earliest entry is from 1970, the latest from 1980, but they're all equally ancient-sounding. More like rickety sixties-ish heavy psych really, than anything metallic from the '80s or beyond, the stress here being on the "proto" side of the proto-metal tag. Stuff in the vein of Iron Butterfly and Bloodrock and Bubble Puppy and Captain Beyond.
You get low-budget occult organ prog epicry, and uber-distorted riff-rockin', and spaced out downer rock balladry, and badass boogie in Satan's service. We won't go track-by-track, though we're tempted, but a few of the standout faves for us include Wrath's "Warlord", especially due to the zombified vocals from someone who sounds like a brainwashed adolescent girl / cult victim (the guitarist's wife, apparently) intoning the scary lyrics about "living in lust as Satan must"; Inside's "Wizzard King", a blown-out, lo-fi rocker that asks the musical question: "Don't you wanna be a wizzard king, don't you wanna be free? / Don't you wanna be a wizzard king, don't you wanna be me?"; and Stone Axe's "Slave Of Fear", which sounds like Arthur Brown fronting a very early Black Sabbath or Blues Creation. But there's so much good stuff on here, enough to require a saving throw vs. acid rock or else become completely addicted, spinning this repeatedly.
The art and design deserve a mention as well. Both formats come in slipcased cover art consisting of newly-rendered stylized logos (embossed, in metallic ink!) for each band on the comp, like some artistically-inclined burnout teen doodling on a school binder. In terms of packaging, this really couldn't be any cooler - oh, wait, well, maybe it could - we should tell you, that if you wait a couple months, Numero will be selling (direct mailorder only, not in stores, grrrr!) a special edition of this consisting of the lp, the cd, AND a vaguely D&D-esque BOARDGAME, where the players take on the roles of these rock bands competing with each other in the fantastic realm of Darkscorch. Even if you never actually play the game we're pretty sure it will be an amazing artifact just to look at. It's gonna be, like, $100 though.
Ok, to wrap up: trying to explain why this comp is so rad is kind of like trying to explain the appeal of The Lord Of The Rings to someone who hasn't read it. Or D&D to someone who hasn't played. So just trust us, and we recommend trying those two things as well if you haven't!
MPEG Stream: WRATH "Warlord"
MPEG Stream: JUNCTION "Sorcerer"
MPEG Stream: STONE AXE "Slave Of Fear"
MPEG Stream: INSIDE "Wizzard King"

album cover WOUNDED KINGS, THE Consolamentum (Candlelight) cd 14.98
The power of gloom and doom!! And the glory! It's all on full display here, yes indeed, as rolling waves of doomed out, fuzzed filled riffage emanate from this, the latest slab of slow and low heavosity from the UK's epic doom mongers The Wounded Kings. Ahhh, the sound of overdriven vintage tube amps! With occasional atmospheric embellishment from sad acoustic guitar and church organ keyboards when they want to indulge their more proggy and introspective inclinations (as on the moody interlude "Space Conqueror" for instance).
To top it off, The Wounded Kings' generals are gathered in their masses like witches at black masses by the commandingly creepy, husky and haunting vocals of Sharie Neyland, who initially stepped up to the mic on The Wounded Kings' previous album, In The Chapel Of The Black Hand. Now fully integrated into the band and their writing process, she's an even more crucial presence this time. Imagine a Jex Thoth who's lived the life of Ozz, doing drugs and drink, biting bats and doves, having visions. Or, Mark "The Shark" Shelton of Manilla Road, with a sex-change. Or, hopefully you've heard that Darkscorch Canticles compilation of '70s proto-metal we made Record Of The Week recently - specifically, you know the track "Warlord" by the band Wrath, with the girl singing who sounds like brainwashed cultist? 'Cause we think Neyland sounds kinda like her, but all growed up, even more certain in her beliefs, her voice aged deeper and dronier. It's a weird, wicked, wailing warble, enhanced by effects, that incredibly suits the hypnotically stretched-out Sabbath/Vitus sludge of The Wounded Kings.
'Tis true, female-fronted occult rock and doom acts are quite thick on the ground these days, it's kind of the in thing, many of them quite good (Blood Ceremony, Purson, the aforementioned Jex Thoth, etc.). If we now count The Wounded Kings as part of that scene, they still stand apart, sounding "old" but not "retro", if that makes sense, and also being so much HEAVIER than most. Their closest competition would probably be the mighty Windhand, but Windhand generally doesn't have "clean" vocals, so that's a big difference. Besides, we figure that The Wounded Kings, who originally had a male vocalist, hired on Neyland not 'cause they just wanted a "female singer" but because they wanted HER unique vocals, sounding like a witness to the abyss, so synergistic with their preexisting epick aesthetic.
Once again, a success, from one of the best in the realm of the oh so gloriously doomy and gloomy.
MPEG Stream: "Gnosis"
MPEG Stream: "Lost Bride"
MPEG Stream: "Consolamentum"

album cover CIRCLE Incarnation (Ektro) lp 22.00
AND NOW ALSO ON VINYL!!!!!
Ok, this is going to take a lot of explaining... Our favorite Finnish hypno-rock band Circle got this funny idea to change their name to Falcon (Ex-Circle), supposedly due to the pressures the musicians in Circle were feeling about the expectations of their audience, in continuing to operate under the "Circle brand" after so many years and releases. So, they became Falcon (Ex-Circle), under which guise they could follow their newfound dream of making poppy, retro-'80s hard rock - see our review of Falcon (Ex-Circle)'s Frontier album, simultaneously released with this Circle disc, below. No longer using the Circle name, they then "leased" the brand to a totally different bunch of musicians, who now have released THIS cd, Incarnation, as Circle. There's more to the plan, apparently the contract is for a year and then Circle will revert back to the original Circle guys, who will then supposedly be called Circle (Ex-Falcon). Right. So this is just the kind of ridiculous stunt we'd expect from our friends in Circle, we mean Falcon. And maybe they're just being silly and confusional, or trying to get extra publicity, but we do think it's a kind of a neat idea, certainly one that hasn't been tried before (wonder why?). And it raises a lot of interesting questions, some of them philosophical, and some of them musical. Like, is the new Circle still "Circular"?
So, first off, what you need to know about Incarnation: it's a DEATH METAL album (sort of). Make that, an experimental death metal album. But made by real deal Finnish death metal musicians, most of 'em from the band Stench Of Decay, also members past and present of thrashers Speedtrap and Pyrotoxic (the latter old faves from the Thrash Clash series).
Stench Of Decay have a pretty killer album of their own out on the Jussi of Circle's Ektro label that we've previously reviewed. And in that review, we actually said: "It remains to be seen if Jussi's interest in death metal heralds a harsh new direction that Circle and the NWOFHM might take, hmm? And while they sure don't sound like Circle (yet), in their own way, Stench Of Decay are quite brutally hypnotic, with repetitive riffs pulverizing repeatedly." Little did we know how prophetic that was, in a weird way. 'Cause now Stench Of Decay, more or less, ARE Circle. The heaviest Circle ever.
We're pretty impressed, 'cause when we first heard about this Circle/Falcon switcheroo idea, we thought that probably it was just a ruse, and the Circle record would be made by the Circle guys anyway, just under pseudonyms or something. But nope, they really did hand over the reins to these death metallers, who even made a new logo themselves, and did the cover art. It would appear that Jussi & Co. had no hand in it at all... But the new Circle lineup DOES rise to the occasion of being "circular", somewhat. Incarnation is both a brutal slab of crushing death metal, and also a unique, experiment in tranced-out avant-death-drone sonics, that embodies the Circle penchant for mantric repetition, in its own way. The drumming is quite different, of course, motorik beats replaced with double kick blasting, and the vocals are more extreme on the low end than anything Mika used to do on the high end, and the guitars unleash gnarly shredding solos also previously unheard from the Circle camp. But, it is hypnotic, in the most dense, droney way possible.
We're pretty sure open minded death metal fans, those into stuff like Portal, will dig this a lot. Open minded Circle fans too of course (is there any other kind?). Some of the five tracks thrash it up in proper metal fashion, others leave the realms of DM to sound more like Skullflower or Sunroof - like track three, "Transcending", with its building, crashing waves of doomed-out sound, almost like some imagined "extreme" 20th century classical composition, or the Gnod-like track five, "Burden", super dense and layered and propulsive, sounding like everything is going all at once, almost like several tracks overlaid, a mesmeric monster of abstract extremity. As is this whole album. So that's one question we CAN answer: yes, this is damn good and worthy of the Circle name. Also damn good and worthy of the death metal name, just imagine Incantation or Disma doing music for a Hermann Nitsch aktion. Here's another question we've got, though: will Circle, when the band is back to being the actual original Circle guys again, ever have to learn these songs that they didn't write, and try to play 'em live?
MPEG Stream: "Infamy"
MPEG Stream: "Transcending"
MPEG Stream: "Burden"

album cover FALCON (EX-CIRCLE) Frontier (Ektro) lp 22.00
AND NOW ALSO ON VINYL!!!!
Fans of the NWOFHM, get ready for the NWOFAOR.
First off, please go read our review of Circle's Incarnation to get the whole back story about this release. 'Cause our pals Circle, the celebrated Finnish space/kraut/WTF? rockers, are not Circle anymore, they're Falcon (Ex-Circle). It's all part of an elaborate scheme we try to explain in that Incarnation review. But explanations are difficult, as there are multiple layers of meaning to what Circle, we mean Falcon, are up to here. On the surface, Falcon (Ex-Circle)'s debut album is all high concept hijinks, total retro '80s AOR good times party tunes love songs, a mix of arena-ready hard rock and radio-friendly soft rock with flashy guitars, melodic singing, and cheesy keyboards. Every track sorta sounds like a 'training montage' song from a movie, if you know what we mean. But we don't think it's ironic parody. Maybe homage, but not parody. If you pay attention, listen to the lyrics, it's not just joking. There's an underlying sadness, a yearning, a sincerity to Falcon (Ex-Circle)'s journey into, uh, the realms of Journey - a synth-laden, fantasy MTV rock n' roll pleasure zone. Take a close look at the cover art to see what we mean about possible divergent depths of meaning - what's that about?
Listening, we're hearing hints of lots of stuff we used to hear on the radio growing up - from Billy Idol to Styx to the Psychedelic Furs to Golden Earring to Aldo Nova to Neil Young (circa Trans?), and more. These former Circle guys have gone beyond their previous forays into the "New Wave Of Finnish Heavy Metal" to get waaaay more pop than metal here, though we do hear a bit of a galloping Thin Lizzy-ish riff on "Leather Seat", sprinkled however with magical synthesizer fairy dust. Tracks like "Horses" and "Ace Of Hearts" also boogie pretty hard.
Falcon (Ex-Circle)'s songs are good, good enough to make the grade as undeniable "guilty pleasures" just like some of their obvious inspirations. Almost the only thing that makes this NOT seem like you must have heard it on the radio back in the '80s is that the vocals, while melodic, can have a bit of a rough edge to 'em, plus the Finnish accent.
Really, we thought the Falcon (Ex-Circle) 7" that came out earlier last year, was a one-off, that was going to be the extent of the joke. Instead it was the lead single for this album. So, as with a lot of Circle & Jussi related projects, one begins to wonder... maybe it's not a joke? In fact, Jussi insisted to us that this whole Circle/Falcon (Ex-Circle) stunt is actually an artistically significant, serious thing for him. He even wrote an essay about it, explaining what he's trying to achieve, but unfortunately we couldn't read it 'cause it's all in Finnish. He did ask us to list/review both Frontier and Incarnation at the same time, that was important. And so we comply.
Of the two albums, Frontier and Incarnation, the one under the Circle moniker is indeed easier to see as Circle, on the extreme experimental/drone side of their aesthetic. Even though it's not "really" Circle. Meanwhile, this Falcon disc, actually by Circle (confused yet?), does not sound much like anything Circle has ever done. Cause these are more traditionally structured pop/rock songs, verse/chorus/verse stuff, although they can't get away from the hypno-rock repetitive thing entirely.
Anyway, like we say in the Incarnation review, lots of interesting questions raised, but at the end of day, what's important is are you gonna like listening to it? Well we do, these songs are BUILT for heavy rotation and that's what we're giving this disc. At first we were like, haha, but now we're addicted!!
MPEG Stream: "Partners In Crime"
MPEG Stream: "Ace Of Hearts"
MPEG Stream: "Miami Tits"

album cover RAINBOWS ARE FREE Waves Ahead Of The Ocean (Guestroom) cd 10.98
Second full length blast of psychedelic stoner rock heaviness from these hippy heavies (we can only assume they're hippies with a name like that right?), and like their first, this is another batch of swaggery, Sabbath-y, pounding stoner psych riffery, with even more dramatic vocals that first time around. Give a listen to the awesomely titled "Speed God And The Rise Of The Motherfuckers From A Place Beyond Hell", which displays the band at their bad ass best. The main riff, a stone cold killer, with some seriously wailing leads over the top, the drums, bombastic and beefy, and when those vocals swoop in, totally over the top. Somewhere between the near operatic metallic howl of Mika from Finnish hypno rockers Circle, the classic metal vox of Judas Priest's Rob Halford, and the space lord motherfucker himself, Dave Wyndorf from Monster Magnet. And actually Monster Magnet is probably the best band to compare these guys too. While not quite as space-y, they have the same massive musical balls, every second here oozing major attitude, and maybe most importantly of all, they don't take themselves too seriously. It may be metal, and it may be heavy, but it sounds like these guys are having the times of their lives, and that sort of vibe is seriously infectious, and gives this a bit of a party rock vibe, which helps keep Rainbows from devolving into generic stoner rock, instead, the sound and the songs are loose and wild and wooly and fun as fuck, totally headbangable, groovy and crazy catchy too, there's also some Southern rock going on throughout, which of course reminds us of all time aQ faves Raging Slab, not to mention all the bands we mentioned in our review of the first Rainbows Are Free record (Kyuss, Reverend Bizarre, Skin Yard, Goatsnake, Freedom Hawk, etc.), and fuck, any band that lands somewhere between Monster Magnet and Raging Slab, gets a BIGtime aQ seal of approval!
MPEG Stream: "Speed God and the Rise of the Motherfuckers from a Place Beyond Hell"
MPEG Stream: "The Botanist"
MPEG Stream: "Waves Ahead Of The Ocean"

album cover RAINBOWS ARE FREE Waves Ahead Of The Ocean (Guestroom) lp 18.98
Second full length blast of psychedelic stoner rock heaviness from these hippy heavies (we can only assume they're hippies with a name like that right?), and like their first, this is another batch of swaggery, Sabbath-y, pounding stoner psych riffery, with even more dramatic vocals that first time around. Give a listen to the awesomely titled "Speed God And The Rise Of The Motherfuckers From A Place Beyond Hell", which displays the band at their bad ass best. The main riff, a stone cold killer, with some seriously wailing leads over the top, the drums, bombastic and beefy, and when those vocals swoop in, totally over the top. Somewhere between the near operatic metallic howl of Mika from Finnish hypno rockers Circle, the classic metal vox of Judas Priest's Rob Halford, and the space lord motherfucker himself, Dave Wyndorf from Monster Magnet. And actually Monster Magnet is probably the best band to compare these guys too. While not quite as space-y, they have the same massive musical balls, every second here oozing major attitude, and maybe most importantly of all, they don't take themselves too seriously. It may be metal, and it may be heavy, but it sounds like these guys are having the times of their lives, and that sort of vibe is seriously infectious, and gives this a bit of a party rock vibe, which helps keep Rainbows from devolving into generic stoner rock, instead, the sound and the songs are loose and wild and wooly and fun as fuck, totally headbangable, groovy and crazy catchy too, there's also some Southern rock going on throughout, which of course reminds us of all time aQ faves Raging Slab, not to mention all the bands we mentioned in our review of the first Rainbows Are Free record (Kyuss, Reverend Bizarre, Skin Yard, Goatsnake, Freedom Hawk, etc.), and fuck, any band that lands somewhere between Monster Magnet and Raging Slab, gets a BIGtime aQ seal of approval!
MPEG Stream: "Speed God and the Rise of the Motherfuckers from a Place Beyond Hell"
MPEG Stream: "The Botanist"
MPEG Stream: "Waves Ahead of the Ocean"

album cover SLOUGH FEG, THE LORD WEIRD Digital Resistance (Metal Blade) cd 14.98
First off: amazing drumming on this new album from San Francisco's Slough Feg - nimble, energetic, imaginative!! Ok, maybe we're prejudiced since their drummer Harry now works here at aQ, and besides we've been friends/fans of this cult metal band for years and years. But still, nice job Harry! Those fills, yeah. We're not kidding. Though we are trying to embarrass Harry a bit...
Digital Resistance, Slough Feg's first full-length for big league label Metal Blade, finally follows up 2010's The Animal Spirits (on Profound Lore) with another lively and dramatic, vintage-analog sounding assortment of prog-influenced, super catchy heavy metal / hard rock weirdness, mixing Thin Lizzy & Iron Maiden style guitar harmonies, Celtic folk melodies, nimble drumming (like we said!), equally nimble guitar soloing, proggy keyboards (at least, on amazingly titled opener "Analogue Avengers/Bertrand Russell's Sex Den", a schizoid, especially bombastic track that sounds more like a crazed version of Slough Feg's sister band Hammers Of Misfortune than anything else, and is the most anomalous cut on a diverse disc), and more! This album is perhaps Slough Feg's most 'mature' sounding, with lyrics alluding to getting older in a changing (digital) world, and some mellower moments with acoustic guitars mixed in amidst the rippin' majesty. But they stick to their old school guns, and do it in style, and stay as eccentric and awesome and entertaining as ever. And you just can't argue with the riffs in such killer cuts as "Magic Hooligan" and "Laser Enforcer"! The unique warrior-philosopher-bard persona of mainman Mike Scalzi (vocals, lyrics, riffs) comes through loud and clear as well. Heck don't just take it from us, this album got a 8.1 on Pitchfork, believe it or not (apparently the end times are here - Slough Feg reviewed by Pitchfork??!).
It's hard not to go on and on like we've done in many previous Slough Feg reviews, to talk more about favorite cuts like the "The Price Is Nice" (inspired by watching Vincent Price movies on late-night TV) and "Warrior's Dusk" (which seemingly starts off in a typical epic mode of Celtic mythology but turns out to be a more personal lament about growing up), but rather than indulge ourselves and our fellow Feg-nerds we'll pretty much leave it at, totally recommended - as per usual!
It's true, that for those of you who find 2001's power metal space opera Traveller to be the be-all and end-all of the Slough Feg canon, then this album isn't going to top that one, that's not where their heads are at these days. But if, like us, you've been a fan through Atavism and Hardworlder and Ape Uprising! and The Animal Spirits, if you've always been digging Slough Feg's idiosyncratic, playful, seventies-inspired take on what "metal" is and can be, doing whatever suits their fancy, then Digital Resistance should be to your liking, a little weirder in some ways, a little poppier in others, definitely Slough-Feg-sounding (and sounding great, production-wise, too!).
FYI, this is the domestic cd, but we'll also be getting import vinyl soon too.
MPEG Stream: "Digital Resistance"
MPEG Stream: "Magic Hooligan"
MPEG Stream: "Warrior's Dusk"

album cover CROWS The Dying Race (Divebomb) cd 17.98
It's been a while since we've listed something really fantastic in the way of "European power metal". But we recently got turned on to this album, a relatively early entry in that not-so-well-respected genre, reissued by Divebomb (who recently brought us the tech-thrash of Deathrow, among other rare metallic reissue treats). The Dying Race was originally released in 1991 via Century Media, way back when Century Media was an import label only, so we'd never run across it before. The band name intrigued us though, so we gave this reissue a listen, and damn, Crows are pretty killer!
This disc is a forgotten slab of primo Teutonic power metal indeed, solid and heavy, with rapidfire double bass and soaring vocals, from an American Indian themed (what is it with Germans and American Indians? Remember those "Indianerfilmen" soundtrack compilations we used to have?) band featuring past and future members of Scanner, Mekong Delta, Angel Dust, and Sodom. There's something very powerful and serious-seeming about the vibe here, super melodic and utterly majestic, but much darker than much of the stuff for which the oft-cheesy power metal genre is now known.
There's a definite hint of early Ride The Lightning era Metallica-ish speed metal chug to their sound, and prog metal a la Fates Warning and Queensryche are factors too, heard in the proggy instrumental spirals of the title track and in the dramatic vocal presence elsewhere on the record. We'd also cite some epic doom influence, a bit of Candlemass in there perhaps, though Crows are generally much speedier than those doomsters (though they do slow it down for some moody passages now and then). Amongst their power metal peers, we'd compare 'em to fellow Germans Blind Guardian, but again, a bit darker.
Turns out The Dying Race was not only Crows' debut but also their swansong. The band, which had existed in various forms for about ten years prior to the album's release, broke up the year after it came out. Too bad, but at least they left us with a grand epitaph, now reissued with 7 bonus cuts from demos. Plus, the cd booklet is full of lyrics, photos, and a new interview with one of the founding members of Crows.
MPEG Stream: "The Frantic Factor"
MPEG Stream: "Too Proud To Fight"
MPEG Stream: "We Are The Storm"

album cover RED DIRT s/t (Morgan Blue Town) lp 18.98
Awesome obscure late sixties/early seventies British blues rock outfit's only album, originally released in 1970, newly reissued! Some of it's melodic acoustic folk psych with mellow, rustic vocals, while other tracks are more like lumbering, proto-metal blues, with heavy guitar riffs and really raw, rough vocals, kinda like Captain Beefheart singing for early Black Sabbath. There's some harmonica blowin' too along with the grungy guitars. Other reference points: Edgar Broughton Band, High Tide, The Doors, Fraction, Josephus...
Vinyl version on 180 gram red vinyl, limited. (We'll also be eventually listing it on compact disc, too, which has five bonus tracks, getting kinda more Tull-soundin' but with violin instead of flute.)

album cover AKTOR I Am The Psychic Wars b/w Buried By The Sea (Full Contact / Ektro) 7" 8.98
It's no surprise that we like this a lot, as it's a collaboration bringing together some big aQ faves (and friends of ours), Aktor consisting of Jussi and Tomi from Finnish prog weirdos Circle, joined by American metal musician Chris "Professor" Black of Dawnbringer and High Spirits fame! Wow, what a great idea! Jussi, Tomi and the other Circle guys already can do no wrong, their unique brand of "NWOFHM" quasi-metal weirdness being hugely popular around here. Put Professor Black into the mix and you've got gold!
This debut 7" features two songs, about three and a half minutes each, of hook-laden, sadly majestic, melodic rockin' heaviness, definitely inspired by the '70s likes of Blue Oyster Cult (a reference made by the title of the A-side song), there's A LOT of synthesizer keyboards all over this, getting a little R2D2-ish with the sci-fi bleep and bloop.
Darkly poppy, rhythmically driving and suspenseful, with the keyboards and catchiness it's sorta like the recent Falcon (Ex-Circle) album, but much more metal and more prog too. And of course with a different, very distinctive vocalist - Professor Black's emotive, softly weathered voice always a pleasure to hear. Great existential lyrics too.
If you're already a fan of High Spirits or Dawnbringer, you'll be right on board with this, 'cause it basically sounds like the most melodic gallop of either of those bands given an extra dose of WTF? electronic action. As the label (i.e. Jussi) says: "Aktor plays Top 40 Heavy Metal with a delicious psychedelic flair". Meanwhile, if you're coming at this as a Circle/NWOFHM fan, well, the extra-proggy B-side has a "lalalala" part that's very Circle-ish...
And while it's unlikely we're gonna sell you on this import 7" if you're NOT already into one side or the other of the Aktor equation, any random BoC fans reading this, oughtta give the sound sample a listen!
We REALLY hope there's gonna be a full-length.
MPEG Stream: "I Am The Psychic Wars"

album cover THOMAS EDISUN'S ELECTRIC LIGHT BULB BAND The Red Day Album (Gear Fab Records) cd 13.98
Holy moly, this is quite a discovery. A hitherto unknown album of wonderful Sgt. Peppery (flower) power pop, that ought to make fans of the Beatles, early Bee Gees, The Kinks, Big Star and so forth very, very happy indeed.
We admit were a bit skeptical when we first heard about it, 'cause there's so many reissues and whatnot these days that claim to be lost classics, but as soon as we put this on we were hooked! And more amazingly, while we'd certainly consider this a lost classic, it isn't even technically a reissue (despite the blurb saying "Original 1967 Release" on the back). Except for two songs here that appeared on a 7" single, this material was never actually released to the public, until now! Recorded in 1967, yes, but the tapes languished forgotten all these years, which is hard for us to understand - how could this gem stay unknown for 46 years?! These songs are so great! As always, makes you wonder what else is out there... And, at first, it also made us wonder if this was even really a group from the sixties - we suspected it could be a more modern-day band (a really good one!) emulating the sounds of yesteryear, a la The Dukes Of Stratosphear, The High Llamas, or Jellyfish. Especially since the production job, while vintage-sounding, is also so top notch (even though the liner notes tell us the whole thing was recorded and mixed in merely a weekend). Heck, a modern band trying to put one over could have added the analog tape hiss. But no, our skeptical conspiracy theories are all wrong, we have it from trusted sources that this is indeed for real, from 1967, the work of a bunch of talented, Anglophilic youngsters from Louisiana. But the vocals here are often (but not always) delivered in a lilting faux English accent, a common practice amongst the paisley-clad syke popsters of the day, wherever they were from, wanting to sound like they too were a part of the British Invasion. So, definitely Beatles-esque; as with Peru's We All Together, there's quite a few tunes here, like "Marigold", that sound like they were written by Paul McCartney - and the band name is an obvious homage to a certain Sgt.'s Lonely Hearts Club Band. Though this is sometimes more White Album than Sgt. Pepper's, really, the band even pushing into edgier sounds like the rather manic "Have You Been To The Light" - that's a weird one, and great. "Hope" is another of the album's harder, garage rockin' tunes.
But so much of this just delightfully sunshiney stuff, sometimes quite melancholic too. There's super melodic, energetic toe tappers and dreamy blissouts both, stuff that will get stuck in your head immediately, sounding so lovely and familiar right from the get go. There's the gentle, hushed intimacy of "Merlin", the lively, layered "Alexander Graham Bell", the heartfelt grandeur of the ELO-ish "Walk Out With Your Heart", the sweet & mellow soft pop of "Common Attitude" (which reminds us of Curt Boettcher's Millennium), and so many, many more highlights, that we can't possibly detail them all (and deciding which ones to make sound samples of was tough!). Oh, and the album's final track, a brief "outro" of druggy, tape-manipulated studio trickery, is titled "Dream Me Up Snotty"!!!
The only real complaint we have at all about this is that it's kind of too bad the prolific reissue label Gear Fab got to be the lucky ones to put this out, 'cause their attention to detail in terms of the physical product borders on shoddy. The crappy graphics they came up with for the cover of this digipack don't do justice to the music within; the quasi-informative liner notes (printed on the inside cover, there's no booklet) were written by someone who couldn't decide (or care to be consistent) between using all caps, bold face, or quotation marks to set off the various proper names mentioned; some proofreading could have helped in other areas too; and there's a strange one page, one sided insert with a thanks list on it that you don't really know what to do with once you've torn off the shrink wrap. Well, at least there ARE liner notes (from which we did learn, that the group's guitar prodigy Richard Orange went on to write music for the likes of Cyndi Lauper, Jane Wiedlin and even Terry Bozzio!). But there's many labels out there that would have done this a lot better, oh well.... perhaps someone else will eventually get to do a vinyl release...
We just hope this album isn't overlooked as a result of its Gear Fab-ness, it would be a shame if after 46 years it still went unnoticed. If people HEAR it, though, it won't - another reason we're doing our part by making it a Record Of The Week. So please grab this and get in on the ground floor with the first ever release of an unheard, utterly obscure '60s artifact that ought to be way up there in the psych power pop pantheon!!
MPEG Stream: "Red Day"
MPEG Stream: "Have You Been To The Light"
MPEG Stream: "No One's Been Here For Weeks"
MPEG Stream: "Walk Out With Your Heart"

album cover RIDE FOR REVENGE Disturbances 2001-2013 (Bestial Burst) 2cd 14.98
Finnish experimental black metal weirdos Ride For Revenge, might be one of our favorite groups going right now. We've raved wildly about every one of their records so far, and then there's RfR electronic offshoot Will Over Matter, who we dig just as much. And it's not surprising, Ride For Revenge don't traffic in grim black buzz, they're not sonically similar to classic Norwegian black metal, or Swedish, or French - if anything, they're much more in the tradition of all the WTF? music we love from Finland, from Circle to Keukhot, Dead Reptile Shrine to Circle Of Ouroborus, their music is murky and dirgey, mathy and rhythmic, repetitive and hypnotic, and if you thought their records proper were fucked up and far out, this new double cd of singles and comp tracks and live jams will blow your mind.
The first track alone is worth the price of admission, RfR getting all Will Over Matter, and unfurling a 21 minute electronic/black buzz hybrid, the first 6 minutes of which, is just weird squelches and bleeps and bloops, with some creepy voice intoning over the top. And when the riffing finally comes in, the song doesn't explode into metallic gallop, or burst into furious blasting, instead, that riff, just sort of buzzes in the background, while the bleeping and squelchy blooping continue, the whole thing a sort of damaged black buzz kosmische or something. And then at about 9 minutes in, another guitar (or is that a synth?) comes in, all thick and crumbling and corrosive, drums too, plodding and spare, and again, no blasting or galloping, now it's just a woozy, murky creep, still spaced out and cosmic, but now buzzy and blurry lumbering, and then vocals come in, raspy and sinister, over a bed of what is essentially blackened power electronics, the vocals mutating gradually, until they sound robotic and alien, a little like Cylons from the old Battlestar Galactica!!! What the fuck? And that's just part one. Part two of the 32+ opening jam, finds the band slipping back into a field of blooping FX and electronics, that again, are eventually subsumed by some damaged drumming, and crumbling distorted guitar buzz, noisy and chaotic and fucking demented. This time, the sound does get fast and buzzy, but it's a loping, stumbling blackened mess, that eventually resolves in a tangle of buzzing, glitched out electronics. Phew! Only two other tracks on the first disc, but they're lengthy WTF? workouts. One's an old track from 2009, that is freaked out NOISE, sounding very Japanese, or Japanoise. Total skree and screech, howl and throb, feedback, and gristly grinding crunch, howled vokills, some seriously brutal blacknoise. The other's a 20 minute epic, recorded in 2013, the same time as those first two tracks, this one ditching the electronics, and unfurling a murky rumbling ambience, which soon turns into some weirdly dubbed out black dirge murk, sounding a bit like Aluk Todolo, a sort of black-kraut hypno-rock, totally mesmerizing, and if those first two tracks didn't make it worth it for you, this one definitely will...
The second disc is much more 'metal', the first few tracks live, the band sounding a bit more conventional, but only a bit, the sound distorted and blown out and lo-fi, but still tranced out and minimal, very much in the vein of Aluk Todolo, some dirge-y occult rock, with some sick, howled vox, loping, lumbering, minimal black murk, that veers from churning almost-doom, to stumbling metallic frenzy and back again, with at least one guitar doing nothing but spraying thick crumbling black drones over the proceedings, either that or the riffs, just blur into blackened smears, either way, it's plenty tripped out and hypnotic. There's a few awesome demo tracks, super brittle and muddy, with weirdly clean guitar riffing, distant drumming, rumbling vokill rasps, all smeared into some minimal black metal murk. There are some other rarities, a fantastic 10 minute ambient creepfest, all grinding low end, mumbled vox, pipe fight percussion, spare and SUPER creepy, laced with some electronic flecked guitar buzz, and some seriously tripped out production, and a second track, that's cut from the same cloth, but then adds a shit ton of furious blackened guitar-noise to the proceedings, not to mention some super fucking creepy vocals, making it sound like some blackened bastard offspring of Whitehouse and Suicide! Then finally, more old demos, these the most metal of the bunch, epic riffing, simple drumming, the first of the three almost sounding like 'true' metal, old school lo-fi crusty filthy blackness, raw and fierce and pretty fucking rad.
MPEG Stream: "Disturbing The Dream Pt. 1"
MPEG Stream: "Disturbing The Dream Pt. 2"
MPEG Stream: "The Privilege"
MPEG Stream: "Morning Won't Bring A Twinkling Star"
MPEG Stream: "Declaration Of Darkness"

album cover NIBIRU Netrayoni (self-released) 2cd 17.98
These occult Italian sonic shamans have returned from another extensive druggy doomy dreamtime journey into the realms of heaviness/trippiness unknown to most modern mortals, who aren't 'experienced' like these guys, and here's the recorded result to edify us all. Their 2013 debut Caosgon first turned us on to their strange ceremonial sound, improvised esoteric stoner sludge for fans of UFOmammut, OM, Orthodox, Gnod, Bong, Acid Mothers Temple, etc. Now a year or so later they're back with even longer hair, longer beards, longer songs... probably, at any rate it's a longer album, two whole sprawling discs this time, filled to the brim with freeform Moog mantras, lumbering heavy riffs, hypnotic slomo rhythms, freaky FX, and drug gobbling/gargling vocal invocations. It's a Paul Chain getting high in Nepal thing you wouldn't understand.
The music of these Mogadon monks often takes the form of buzzing droning distortion, waves of it, interwoven with weird samples and those howling electronically treated vocals - moans akin to drones themselves - with the guitars chugging away behind the synths, intensive drums and percussion too, plodding and pounding, all part of Nibiru's truly otherworldly, seemingly never-ending throb. These tracks are tumbling, pulsating things that twist and turn in slow spirals, mutating more than anything else, as new components unexpectedly appear in the sound field: some Barn Owlish twang here, some primal vocal outbursts there; squiggling shortwave electronics, wavering guitar lines, 'liturgical organ', 'mini-digeridoo', feedback tangles, and occasional oddly relaxing melodies meandering about amidst the thicker sonic sludge.
We can't always guarantee these results - but under certain circumstances, at the right volume, if you play this at home, your rooms will fill with aromatic smoke, your walls will grow ropy green vines, and the sky outside will darken, swirling with alien colors, revealing hitherto unseen and confusingly arranged constellations of stars, dimly glowing through the mists... in your imagination at least, if not in reality... but what is reality? By the time you're onto the 2nd disc here you might not be sure...
So... Paging Julian Cope, we've got your new favorite album right here! Heck, the druid-dude probably know about this already, if he knows ANYTHING about psychonautic fantasias. However, we haven't read or heard much at all about this band anywhere, really, but if they keep it up we predict they'll develop quite a cult following for themselves, this is the sort of spaced out, improv-damaged, heavier-than-thou ritual we know you all love, we do!!
Limited to 300 copies only.
MPEG Stream: " Kshanika Mukta"
MPEG Stream: "Sekhmet"
MPEG Stream: "Celeste: Samsara Is Broken"

album cover DEATHROW Deception Ignored (Tribunal / Divebomb) cd 16.98
There are definitely a bunch of you out there who really dig the crazy technical progmetal stuff, the thrashier and more insane the better. Like Vektor, ferstance. You know who you are. Or rather, WE know who WE are, maybe we should say, since we love that sort of stuff too. We certainly sold a lot of the Confessor demos cd set that Divebomb put out a while back, and so we thought we ought to list this, another mathematically advanced Divebomb reissue. This one's a somewhat obscure tech-thrash masterpiece by the German band Deathrow.
Deception Ignored - what does that title mean, anyway? The deception failed? or it succeeded?? Anyway, Deception Ignored was Deathrow's third album, originally released in 1988. Their first two albums, Riders Of Doom aka Satan's Gift ('86) and Raging Steel ('87), were much more basic and barbaric Teutonic thrashfests, and also pretty awesome, but it was with Deception Ignored that they joined the ranks of such bands as Watchtower, Coroner, Voivod, Anacrusis, and Mekong Delta in the realm of progressive / technical thrash mastery. Probably the evolution had to do with the fact that they'd just acquired a new, more technically-minded guitarist. His chops seem to have rubbed off on the other guys in the band. So grab this and get ready for a dizzying performance. Deathrow on this album are still raging, speed-wise - and lyrically too, it's all sociopolitical subject matter. But their heavy riffage has become intensely convoluted, lashed to equally intense rhythmic complexity. There's a shit ton of weedly-weedly razor sharp guitar shred that's sometimes almost jazzy, spilling (in a precise fashion) all over these stop, start, spin on a dime song structures. Which also feature the occasional atmospheric segue - like the acoustic guitar intro to "Machinery", or the classical touch provided by the moody piano and church organ passage heard at the start of the math-mad epic instrumental "Triocton". Meanwhile, amidst all this incredible instrumental interplay, Deathrow's singer fits in where and when he can, his vocals sometimes shout-growled in an aggro manner, or at other times affecting a higher pitched, more "melodic" whine. Which kinda makes us think of Joey Belladona era Anthrax if they got into a total math-metal frenzy. Also, it sounds not unlike Confessor a lot of the time. So this is definitely for fans of that band, also the others mentioned, especially including those modern day prog-thrash faves Vector!
The cd booklet of this nicely done reissue includes lyrics, an interview with Deathrow originally published in Metal Forces magazine back in '89, and extensive new liner notes by Jeff Wagner, the prog-metal expert who also wrote the liners to that Confessor demos collection.
MPEG Stream: "The Deathwish"
MPEG Stream: "Triocton"
MPEG Stream: "Machinery"

album cover BOHREN & DER CLUB OF GORE Piano Nights (Ipecac) cd 15.98
Like Circle, Earth, Boris, and The Necks, Bohren & Der Club Of Gore is one of those long time fave bands that you can always count on us getting all excited about here at aQuarius, even when it's essentially 'more of the same' - we WANT more of the same, since theirs is a unique, wonderful sound. So, yay, the German "death jazz" greats are now back with their 8th full-length album. Piano Nights features piano, yes, lovely placid piano, and also all the other usual Bohren ingredients: restrained minimal timekeeping on the traps, lots of low end from the double bass and baritone guitars, additional atmosphere and melody from mellotron, organ, and vibraphone, and some smokey noirish saxophone too.
There's nine more gorgeous, soft focus, slow moving tracks here in the Bohren tradition of all-instrumental slowcore jazz noir, gently doom laden twilight moodiness that's practically hauntological, to use a term often used to describe stuff like Demdike Stare and The Caretaker - especially the portions of these tracks wherein an underlying ghostly ambient hum is made evident. Although this is not so much scary-haunting, as it is wistful-haunting. Also almost romantic, as if maybe Rodelius had joined Bohren, especially with the piano playing.
Bohren's previous outing on Ipecac, Beileid, had a bit of a weirdness factor (mainly due to an unexpected cover of an '80s German metal song, with guest vocals from Mike Patton) that Piano Nights perhaps wisely retreats from, instead simply providing the sort of aching, intimate yet cinematic sounds we have enjoyed from them since back when we first discovered the music of Bohren on a trip to Germany so many years ago.
This just came out this week, so it's just sinking in, but what a feeling, this music is all about sinking in. We'll be spinning it a lot, it's the perfect late night relaxing in an armchair with a glass of whiskey sort of record, lights low, eyes half closed... The libation, furniture, time of day, etc. can be purely imagined, but this music sure conjures that vibe. Another classic Borhen opus in other words.
MPEG Stream: "Im Rauch"
MPEG Stream: "Fahr Zur Holle"
MPEG Stream: "Unrasiert"

album cover CIRCLE Incarnation (Ektro) cd 14.98
BACK IN STOCK! We sold through these really fast when we first listed it a few weeks ago, but just got a bunch more copies in from Finland, yay! Here's the review if you missed it:
Ok, this is going to take a lot of explaining... Our favorite Finnish hypno-rock band Circle got this funny idea to change their name to Falcon (Ex-Circle), supposedly due to the pressures the musicians in Circle were feeling about the expectations of their audience, in continuing to operate under the "Circle brand" after so many years and releases. So, they became Falcon (Ex-Circle), under which guise they could follow their newfound dream of making poppy, retro-'80s hard rock - see our review of Falcon (Ex-Circle)'s Frontier album, simultaneously released with this Circle disc, below. No longer using the Circle name, they then "leased" the brand to a totally different bunch of musicians, who now have released THIS cd, Incarnation, as Circle. There's more to the plan, apparently the contract is for a year and then Circle will revert back to the original Circle guys, who will then supposedly be called Circle (Ex-Falcon). Right. So this is just the kind of ridiculous stunt we'd expect from our friends in Circle, we mean Falcon. And maybe they're just being silly and confusional, or trying to get extra publicity, but we do think it's a kind of a neat idea, certainly one that hasn't been tried before (wonder why?). And it raises a lot of interesting questions, some of them philosophical, and some of them musical. Like, is the new Circle still "Circular"?
So, first off, what you need to know about Incarnation: it's a DEATH METAL album (sort of). Make that, an experimental death metal album. But made by real deal Finnish death metal musicians, most of 'em from the band Stench Of Decay, also members past and present of thrashers Speedtrap and Pyrotoxic (the latter old faves from the Thrash Clash series).
Stench Of Decay have a pretty killer album of their own out on the Jussi of Circle's Ektro label that we've previously reviewed. And in that review, we actually said: "It remains to be seen if Jussi's interest in death metal heralds a harsh new direction that Circle and the NWOFHM might take, hmm? And while they sure don't sound like Circle (yet), in their own way, Stench Of Decay are quite brutally hypnotic, with repetitive riffs pulverizing repeatedly." Little did we know how prophetic that was, in a weird way. 'Cause now Stench Of Decay, more or less, ARE Circle. The heaviest Circle ever.
We're pretty impressed, 'cause when we first heard about this Circle/Falcon switcheroo idea, we thought that probably it was just a ruse, and the Circle record would be made by the Circle guys anyway, just under pseudonyms or something. But nope, they really did hand over the reins to these death metallers, who even made a new logo themselves, and did the cover art. It would appear that Jussi & Co. had no hand in it at all... But the new Circle lineup DOES rise to the occasion of being "circular", somewhat. Incarnation is both a brutal slab of crushing death metal, and also a unique, experiment in tranced-out avant-death-drone sonics, that embodies the Circle penchant for mantric repetition, in its own way. The drumming is quite different, of course, motorik beats replaced with double kick blasting, and the vocals are more extreme on the low end than anything Mika used to do on the high end, and the guitars unleash gnarly shredding solos also previously unheard from the Circle camp. But, it is hypnotic, in the most dense, droney way possible.
We're pretty sure open minded death metal fans, those into stuff like Portal, will dig this a lot. Open minded Circle fans too of course (is there any other kind?). Some of the five tracks thrash it up in proper metal fashion, others leave the realms of DM to sound more like Skullflower or Sunroof - like track three, "Transcending", with its building, crashing waves of doomed-out sound, almost like some imagined "extreme" 20th century classical composition, or the Gnod-like track five, "Burden", super dense and layered and propulsive, sounding like everything is going all at once, almost like several tracks overlaid, a mesmeric monster of abstract extremity. As is this whole album. So that's one question we CAN answer: yes, this is damn good and worthy of the Circle name. Also damn good and worthy of the death metal name, just imagine Incantation or Disma doing music for a Hermann Nitsch aktion. Here's another question we've got, though: will Circle, when the band is back to being the actual original Circle guys again, ever have to learn these songs that they didn't write, and try to play 'em live?
MPEG Stream: "Infamy"
MPEG Stream: "Transcending"
MPEG Stream: "Burden"

album cover FALCON (EX-CIRCLE) Frontier (Ektro) cd 14.98
BACK IN STOCK! We sold through these really fast when we first listed it a few weeks ago, but just got a bunch more copies in from Finland, yay! Here's the review if you missed it:
Fans of the NWOFHM, get ready for the NWOFAOR.
First off, please go read our review of Circle's Incarnation to get the whole back story about this release. 'Cause our pals Circle, the celebrated Finnish space/kraut/WTF? rockers, are not Circle anymore, they're Falcon (Ex-Circle). It's all part of an elaborate scheme we try to explain in that Incarnation review. But explanations are difficult, as there are multiple layers of meaning to what Circle, we mean Falcon, are up to here. On the surface, Falcon (Ex-Circle)'s debut album is all high concept hijinks, total retro '80s AOR good times party tunes love songs, a mix of arena-ready hard rock and radio-friendly soft rock with flashy guitars, melodic singing, and cheesy keyboards. Every track sorta sounds like a 'training montage' song from a movie, if you know what we mean. But we don't think it's ironic parody. Maybe homage, but not parody. If you pay attention, listen to the lyrics, it's not just joking. There's an underlying sadness, a yearning, a sincerity to Falcon (Ex-Circle)'s journey into, uh, the realms of Journey - a synth-laden, fantasy MTV rock n' roll pleasure zone. Take a close look at the cover art to see what we mean about possible divergent depths of meaning - what's that about?
Listening, we're hearing hints of lots of stuff we used to hear on the radio growing up - from Billy Idol to Styx to the Psychedelic Furs to Golden Earring to Aldo Nova to Neil Young (circa Trans?), and more. These former Circle guys have gone beyond their previous forays into the "New Wave Of Finnish Heavy Metal" to get waaaay more pop than metal here, though we do hear a bit of a galloping Thin Lizzy-ish riff on "Leather Seat", sprinkled however with magical synthesizer fairy dust. Tracks like "Horses" and "Ace Of Hearts" also boogie pretty hard.
Falcon (Ex-Circle)'s songs are good, good enough to make the grade as undeniable "guilty pleasures" just like some of their obvious inspirations. Almost the only thing that makes this NOT seem like you must have heard it on the radio back in the '80s is that the vocals, while melodic, can have a bit of a rough edge to 'em, plus the Finnish accent.
Really, we thought the Falcon (Ex-Circle) 7" that came out earlier last year, was a one-off, that was going to be the extent of the joke. Instead it was the lead single for this album. So, as with a lot of Circle & Jussi related projects, one begins to wonder... maybe it's not a joke? In fact, Jussi insisted to us that this whole Circle/Falcon (Ex-Circle) stunt is actually an artistically significant, serious thing for him. He even wrote an essay about it, explaining what he's trying to achieve, but unfortunately we couldn't read it 'cause it's all in Finnish. He did ask us to list/review both Frontier and Incarnation at the same time, that was important. And so we comply.
Of the two albums, Frontier and Incarnation, the one under the Circle moniker is indeed easier to see as Circle, on the extreme experimental/drone side of their aesthetic. Even though it's not "really" Circle. Meanwhile, this Falcon disc, actually by Circle (confused yet?), does not sound much like anything Circle has ever done. Cause these are more traditionally structured pop/rock songs, verse/chorus/verse stuff, although they can't get away from the hypno-rock repetitive thing entirely.
Anyway, like we say in the Incarnation review, lots of interesting questions raised, but at the end of day, what's important is are you gonna like listening to it? Well we do, these songs are BUILT for heavy rotation and that's what we're giving this disc. At first we were like, haha, but now we're addicted!!
MPEG Stream: "Partners In Crime"
MPEG Stream: "Ace Of Hearts"
MPEG Stream: "Miami Tits"

album cover OVVL s/t (Stormspell) cd 11.98
The cult metal label Stormspell (who brought us all those obscure Jewels Of Gwahlur discs listed last time) has just released the cd version of this Oakland-based outfit's full-length debut, previously issued on vinyl via the band's own Magic Hermit imprint. Ovvl (or Owl - the band's name is obviously Owl but it says Ovvl here, perhaps for legal reasons 'cause there's probably a dozen other bands called Owl, or just to be weird) is a four-piece, featuring three brothers on guitars and drums, plus an unrelated female bass player. We'd seen 'em in person before, opening some local metal shows, playing heavy duty sludged-out stoner rockin' stuff, but they hadn't made much of an impression - until we heard this disc. Sometimes (as it was with Saviours) that's what it takes, a chance to listen to 'em at home, undistracted, not at the bar getting beers and talking to friends. And turns out, for this sort of thing, they're pretty dang good!
What sort of thing? Well, Stormspell aren't just about '80s styled true metal and thrash, they're also into heavy retro '70s psych sounds (they did the debut Noctum disc after all). And that's what Ovvl delivers, clearly influenced by the likes of Sabbath and Budgie, and at times reminding us a lot of early Monster Magnet. Fuzzed out, bell bottomed badassery!
The album opens with the energetic "Gypsy River", a concise biker boogie rocker with cleverly cliche hippie blues lyrics we can't help but dig (mostly about how the titular Gypsy River is driving the singer insane). The second track, "Medicine Mirror", mixes together Sabbathy riffs, Thin Lizzy-ish guitar harmonies, and UFO vocal melodies (we're hearing a little "Doctor Doctor" in the refrain). Yeah, it's easy to play a game of spot the influences from Ovvl's dad's '70s classic rock record collection, but they do it in a way that's not at all unacceptable, mashing all that good stuff up and making it heavier - and at least there's more than one influence at work, unlike with, um, those other local heavies, Orchid.
Then on track three, "Glaurung", Ovvl stretch out for a 10+ plus prog suite fixated on Middle Earth fantasy, that begins in an acoustic Led Zeppelin mode before turning into more of a lumbering Pentagram-style riffer, with vocals that totally remind us of Bobby Liebling. And there's a drum solo! Other tracks on the album adopt a rougher vocal style, and crank up the punk energy, sounding more like contemporaries The Shrine or Hot Lunch.
And so it goes, these presumably pot-puffing throwbacks telling tales of demon rides and snake-eyed goblin women. Music for mystic partiers, basically. And who wouldn't want to be a mystic partier? We'll be spinning this a lot. GYPSY RIVER YOU ARE DRIVING ME INSANE!!!!
MPEG Stream: "Gypsy River"
MPEG Stream: "Medicine Mirror"
MPEG Stream: "Snake-Eyed Goblin Woman"

album cover HARSH TOKE Light Up And Live (Tee Pee) cd 14.98
Hmm, they're called Harsh Toke, they're on Tee Pee, huh, jammed out psychedelic stoner rock anyone? Yup you guessed it! Harsh Toke's music isn't itself a 'harsh toke', not if you dig stuff like Earthless. Harsh Toke are from San Diego too, and feature pro skater Figgy Figueroa on wailin' guitar. There's only four songs here, but except for the kickass 4:11 opener they're all pretty long, up to 14 and a half minutes for "Weight Of The Sun", which takes up the rest of side one. If you did that track you'll dig the whole record - it starts off with some hippie/kraut freeform flute flutter and drum circle percussion before taking off at about the 3 minute mark into stratospheric realms of distorted guitar. It's a real spaced out, riffed up jamdown.
The heaviness and Hawkwindiness continue on side two's two lengthy groovers, "Light Up And Live" and "Plug In To The Moon". Yes indeedy, the mostly-instrumental Harsh Toke sure do crank the amps and bash it out, their cosmic jams having a bit of jazziness to 'em, and a LOT of long haired feedback/FX abuse. Surefire stuff we think for fans of Acid Mothers Temple, Comets On Fire, Fuzz, the aforementioned Earthless.
MPEG Stream: "Rest In Prince"
MPEG Stream: "Weight Of The Sun"
MPEG Stream: "Light Up And Live"

album cover LOOP A Gilded Eternity (Reactor) 2lp+7" 25.00
NOW ALSO REISSUED ON VINYL! We made the 2009 double cd reish of this, the final proper album from late '80s mantric space/psych rockers Loop, a Record Of The Week, this new double lp plus 7" edition deserves nothing less as well.
Contemporaries and countrymen of legendary UK drug rockers Spacemen 3, Loop took the same sonic influences but rocked a little harder, opting out of the extended soporific drifts the defined the Spacemen, (although they were perfectly capable of blissing out with the best of them) and instead creating looped, krautrock spacejams, that were downright heavy, as well as being space-y, druggy and surprisingly catchy. Guitars were fuzzed out, vocals way down in the mix, reverb and delay EVERYWHERE, riffs often processed into stuttering textures and looped rhythms, the drums alternatingly motorik and skeletal, and pounding and explosive, all wreathed in a glorious otherworldly haze.
A Gilded Eternity, originally released in 1990, might just be their heaviest and most rocking yet, definitely their tightest, album opener "Vapour" has one of those riffs TO DIE FOR, the main melody is so completely catchy, the song a woozy, repetitive chunk of gloriously propulsive dronerock, less space-y than much of what came before, but definitely more rocking and relentless. the next track "Afterglow" pushes that new heaviness even further, sounding not unlike Swervedriver, big crunchy distorted guitars, pounding tribal drumming, the arrangement a lurching start stop, that slips into cool washed out breakdowns, before exploding right back into the stuttery groove. And so it goes, the band unfurling their masterwork, in a career of masterful works, "Blood" is total abstract minimal krautrock, the guitars stripped away, leaving just a super spare drum part, wrapped all up in processed vocals and swirling effects, another jam that easily could have gone on for 10 more minutes. But then just like that, the band slip back into "Breath Into Me", whipping up another killer riff, the track a looped space garage groove that rivals record opener "Vapour". The record proper ends with the nearly 10 minute "Be Here Now", the Loop version of a slow jam, beginning with some strange processed guitar, the band ease into a languorous groove that drifts druggily through soft focus clouds of lysergic buzz, brief squalls of wild wah guitar, but remaining locked and looped, the weary vocals drifting above the warm endless buzz.
The cd reissue came with a bonus disc as well, of demo tracks and Peel Sessions, which this vinyl version does not include, but, the vinyl DOES come with a bonus 7" containing on its A side the Loop track "Shot With A Diamond", which happens to be Jim's favorite Loop track alongside "Arc-Light." This track provides the perfect sonic segue between Loop and the sounds guitarist Robert Hampson would later explore with his post Loop solo project Main, an ominous bit of electronic sample laced dronemusic, creepy and haunting and so fucking awesome. It should be noted that this version of "Shot With A Diamond" has been stripped of the vocal samples from Apocalypse Now, presumably which were never authorized initially.
Required listening for anyone with even the mildest interest in sounds space-y, druggy, metallic and psychedelic!!!
MPEG Stream: "Vapour"
MPEG Stream: "Afterglow"
MPEG Stream: "Be Here Now"
MPEG Stream: "Shot With A Diamond"

album cover SLEAFORD MODS Austerity Dogs (Harbinger Sound) cd 17.98
Despite the name, don't think parkas and scooters. Think, well, white rap. White rap by a pair of clever & cranky British blokes, who kinda sound like if Mark E. Smith from the Fall listened to a lot of Sensational or Kool Keith and decided to make a really WTF? electronic rap album of his own. Except there's two of him (seems to be one main guy, and a kind of a sidekick).
We got turned on to the Sleaford Mods thanks to a really cool record shop over in England, Norman Records, who put this album at the top of their Best of 2013 list, an apparently controversial choice even among the shop's own staffers. Some unconventional, outside of the box thinking there! So we figured we ought to check it out. And guess what? We can see why they picked it, though we can also see why it was a bold choice. Had we heard it last year, we might have been tempted too. It's addictive! And we don't always even understand half of what these geezers are on about, that's part of the charm - the thick accents (lots of "fookin'") and the British slang, only makes more wonderfully confusional their own weird brand of free-association wordplay, resulting in plenty of cryptic non-sequiturs that may or may not be intentional, though there's plenty of obvious witticisms too. The lyrics, near as we can tell, are mainly complaints about life and society and shitty music business stuff, full of references to wankers and "donkeys".
Here's some lines from the track "Shit Streets Runny" (that is, if we managed to transcribe it correctly): "Attention to detail / attention to detail / fookin' email / wap! mp3 / I need a fookin' bath / you ain't no roadrunner / you ain't no shoot shoot the runner / shit take on it / meanwhile back in the crap cave / I trod on my cape by mistake / and fell into the fridge mate / I fookin' hate Northern Soul / it's like Motown on the dole". Then the sidekick guy gets some good bits in too, like the one about "Brain Eno / what the 'ell does 'e know?"
And all that, their ranting and rhyming, and even a little bit of singing, sort of, comes on top of quite catchy minimalist hiphop backing tracks, with ticktocking drum machines and laid back grooves, simple and hypnotic, making for an oddly humorous and headnodding listen indeed, full of sing-song bits that will get stuck in your head, catchphrases too - we're all going "Wobble wobble wobble" ferinstance. Maybe it's even more amusing to us since we're American, and whatever we're lacking in context is made up for in sheer absurdity. Anyway, diggin' this a lot!
MPEG Stream: "Shit Streets Runny"
MPEG Stream: "Mcflurry"
MPEG Stream: "Showboat"

album cover IRON CURTAIN Jaguar Spirit (Dying Victims Productions) cd 12.98
We had been planning on reviewing the new album from our favorite Canadian metalpunks Iron Dogs on this list, but alas the cds & lps we were waiting for still haven't shown up - next time, we'll have 'em. But, we can at least list this, the new disc from Iron Curtain. They're on the same label, and have the same prefix to their name, and also play old school speed metal - but of course are somewhat different than the 'Dogs.
Spain's Iron Curtain are hot rockin', Motorhead lovin', loud n' proud Flying V warriors, ripping it up with an abundance of energy and enthusiasm - and some damn catchy tunes too! The riffage is simple and speedy; the lyrical content is totally cliche (with "Cheaper Whiskey Woman" being the best song title here that hasn't been used before but sure sounds like it should have), and we love it. Somehow their interests in drinking, and the ladies, and being free to rock the hell out, are expressed with so much passion and purity, they're on another level. The ESL aspect adds to the poetry of it all, as well. Steel Mammoth couldn't write better lines than some of these. Plus, it's hard to argue for more 'sophisticated' lyrics when you're banging your head like a maniac. This is fun stuff, no denying it.
To digress briefly into a discussion of the packaging - Iron Curtain's female cover model here is a lot more demure than the much less modest girls Iron Dogs employ. While both Iron Dogs album covers feature naked women covered in blood, wielding swords, in the great outdoors, on this Iron Curtain album, the fully-clothed woman on the cover (which first off, is hidden by a slipcase with different artwork), and whose face you can't even see, is poised to, MAYBE rip her shirt open with both hands... maybe. She's presumably feeling an excess of the "Jaguar Spirit". It's a real missed opportunity that she's not shown again on the inside of the cd booklet, having revealed a jaguar tattoo on her chest or something like that.
Anyway... While we're not quite sure what "Jaguar Spirit" means exactly, we're guessing that jaguars must really like to rock! Certainly 'liking to rock' is the big takeaway from this album, and Iron Curtain's intensity level about that activity makes it a success.
Like their first album, reviewed here last year, there's a bonus track at the end of the disc, another cover of a song by one of their NWOBHM heroes, this time they do "Set The Stage Alight" by Weapon.
MPEG Stream: "Jaguar Spirit"
MPEG Stream: "Get Out Of My Way"
MPEG Stream: "Cheaper Whiskey Woman"

album cover CARPENTER, JOHN Assault On Precinct 13 (Death Waltz) lp 30.00
First came a cassette release of this on Death Waltz (never had enough of those to list), then the cd edition, and now at last we've got their vinyl version too!
Assault On Precinct 13, a low budget action thriller from 1976, is one of our favorite Carpenter flicks - and film scores. Like so many soundtracks, this mainly consists of variations on a theme - a pretty damn cool theme, though, simple and effective. You'll probably remember it as soon as you hear it... dah dah de dah dah dum dum duh de dum, sorta sounds like it could have been used as the triumphant theme for some Rocky-like boxing movie, except that it's way too sinister for that. Just a few fat distorted synth notes, over a drum machine driven rhythm. The whole soundtrack is drum machine driven, sometimes nothing BUT drum machine, very atmospheric and "old school", sounding like Schoolly D ought to be rapping over it. Which totally fits in with the "urban jungle" race-riot paranoia of this suspenseful, violent movie, which as you may remember is about an enraged street gang attacking an isolated police station in the ghetto of South Central LA. The plot and vibe were inspired by George Romero's Night Of The Living Dead, as well as the western Rio Bravo.
Composer/performer Carpenter crafted a taut and minimal synth based score (recorded in just 3 days) that has come to be regarded as a classic. Among the memorable sonic elements found on it are a melodic electric piano motif, and, of course, an ice cream truck jingle, also laid over the usual creepy drum machine tick tick bip bap, for the crucial, shocking scene early in the film involving said ice cream truck.
The Death Waltz edition of this previously hard-to-find soundtrack is remastered, boasts excellent new artwork as per DW tradition, and comes with plentiful liner notes in the now de-rigeur for DW slightly oversized (tall) heavy duty jacket.
Now that Death Waltz has done this, clearly the next one up has GOT to be the soundtrack to Walter Hill's The Warriors, are we all agreed? Let's hope!
MPEG Stream: "Main Title"
MPEG Stream: "Targets / Ice Cream Man On Edge"
MPEG Stream: "Wrong Flavor"

album cover DRUG HONKEY Death Dub (self-released) cd 10.98
Earlier this past year we reviewed (and Record Of The Week'd) a crushing slab of druggy psychedelic space doom sludge called Ghost In The Fire, from a band with the VERY unlikely moniker Drug Honkey. Initially we sorta assumed they must be a joke band, but there was nothing funny about the head spinning din these guys whipped up on that record. And as much as we loved Ghost In The Fire, for us it all started with this disc, Death Dub, which we had hoped would be some sort of impossible dub / death metal hybrid, and while it wasn't quite that, it was still seriously warped and fucked up, like a sludgier more metallic Butthole Surfers, sort of. Dirgey, and noisy, and crusty, sludgey and actually in fact, kinda dubbed out. We managed to get a handful of these finally (as well as DH's Hail Satan cd-r, if you want one of those too, just ask!), and now everyone can revel in Drug Honkey's glorious sonic filth, a constantly shifting metallic sound world, that's all churning riffage one second ("The Devil Lasts Forever"), tripped out dubby doom the next ("Death Threats"). The Butthole Surfers comparison is pretty apt, these guys just unfurl these sprawling epics, low slung bass throb, tribal caveman drumming, weird FX heavy vox, bellowed demonic howls that can easily transform into hysterical shrieks, everything wrapped in sheets of crumbling distortion, clouds of swirling effects, total tripped out heaviness, that as the title promises does get dubby, check out the vox on "Death Threats", throat shredding vokills disappear in a field of echo and delay, and go spinning into the blackness, while underneath the band continue to pound out a spacey psychedelic dirge. Or there's "Communion", the vocals sick and hellish, but seemingly being real time processed, so each bellow, launches little flurries of sped up shrieks or garbled grunts, all tether to the bands lumbering, monstrous, downtuned crush.
The sound constantly gets super psychedelic, and sort of krautrocky and motorik, spacey and heavily tripped out, like some weird mutated hybrid of the Psychic Paramount, Terminal Cheesecake and Painkiller, some tracks almost sound like hip hop, albeit some sick, distortion drenched industrial strain (Techno Animal, Ice, God, etc.). In fact the Pathological Records vibe looms large over pretty much all of Death Dub, the whole record an electronic flecked, FX heavy, metallic mindfuck of the highest order. Which obviously means ABSOLUTELY ESSENTIAL!!!
MPEG Stream: "My Sins"
MPEG Stream: "Death Threats"
MPEG Stream: "Communion"

album cover IRON DOGS Free & Wild ( Dying Victims Productions) cd 12.98
As promised, these brilliant Canadian metalpunks are now back with their second full-length album. Like their debut Cold Bitch, it's another "single-coil assault" of rollicking, punked-out, '80s influenced speed metal that's absolutely unfuckwithable. No, not in the sense that it's the most technically advanced musically, or super high in fidelity, no, we're talking about the sheer spirit of it. And it's the sort of thing that's just kind of perfect in its DIY imperfection. Not by any means a tired, unimaginative exercise in emulating the past that we hear from so many retro thrash bands, instead the Iron Dogs fashion inspiration from their '80s faves - the likes of early Iron Maiden, English Dogs, Exciter, Cirith Ungol, and Tank - into something newly vibrant and alive. Proudly old school while still sounding 'young'. Delightfully loose and exuberant, ready to rock right off the rails, but not careless or half-assed, despite the raw garaginess of it all.
As hopefully you well remember, we freakin' raved about Cold Bitch last year, likening it to a cross between Speedwolf and Slough Feg, and this new one takes the sound of that album and runs with it, delivering the goods with another batch of songs just as good or better than the first, if anything. So while Free & Wild isn't super different than Cold Bitch, that's just fine with us! Some bands are about 'progression', you want 'em exploring new sounds and ideas from record to record; others, you don't want anything to change, you just want MORE, new killer songs in the same style, which is what you get here. And since we loved Cold Bitch so much and spun it so often, we HAD to make Free & Wild a Record Of The Week. Free & Wild even sports a similar cover concept - a photo of a sword wielding, blood-drenched naked lady. She's being "Free & Wild" we guess, taking men's heads and putting them on stakes (or perhaps this tableau is inspired by track six here, "Cannibal Death Cult"). Cold Bitch's cover was a bit more clever but this one is no less striking.
One change with this album, not that you would notice it, is that Iron Dogs are no longer a trio, but a duo, with Dan Lee on on drums and Jo Capitalicide on vocals, guitar, bass, and even some synth. And as a two piece, Jo and Dan are now our favorite metal duo since Fenriz and Nocturno Culto - and we'd imagine that those two Darkthrone dudes would highly approve of what the Iron Dogs are up to, the mix of NWOBHM gallop and crusty punk fervor is right up their alley.
Now, some other, less enlightened people might find fault with the production (solid but certainly not slick), or not be on board with Capitalicide's untrained rough-and-tumble vocal holler (with Dan Lee's backing vox adding even more jubilance). But those folks are obviously not punk rock enough - and/or cult metal enough - to 'get it'. To us what makes this so special comes through loud and clear in each of this album's eight tracks, all of 'em exploding with energy, catchy hooks and epic feel, crammed full of delicious bits of metallic goodness. Opener "Firebird" (for which they've made an entertaining low-budget video, perhaps inspired by Benny Hill as much as the videos of Canadian antecedent Thor, see it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PWZsD2kFeSo) is a melodic, motivational speedy anthem to get things going. From there, the half-hour run time of this album rips by with highlight after highlight, Jo singing of fighting, freedom, and fantasy. We love every bit of this. The heartracing riffage. The majestic Moog moments. The up-and-down cascade of wordless vocal woah-oh-oh-ohs in the middle of "Island Of The Dead". The way Jo's voice cracks on that one verse in "Storm Warning". The folky fast picked guitar motif on "Adversity" - indeed all the melodic guitar licks bursting out everywhere. This rousing Iron Dogs album, non-ironic but not over-serious, epitomizes the positive power of metal in a shitty world.
Ok, so we're hopeless Iron Dogs fanboys... but there's a reason for that! Listen and learn. If it's not your thing, it's not your thing. We won't call you a poseur. But we'll still feel sorry for you. 'Cause Iron Dogs RULE!
(Note: this is the handsome cd digipack edition - but if you act fast and ask, you could possibly snag one of the few "vinyls" we have left, or even a cassette, neither of which we're actually listing 'cause we have so few.)
MPEG Stream: "Adversity"
MPEG Stream: "Evil In The Keep"
MPEG Stream: "Storm Warning"

album cover GIFT OF GODS Receive (Peaceville) cd ep 14.98
Darkthrone fans, check it out! It's a solo album - or at least, a solo ep, about 25 minutes long, with 4 songs on it - from Ted Skjellum, aka Nocturno Culto, one half of that idiosyncratic Norwegian black metal institution. Why he called his solo project Gift Of Gods we don't know, why not just call it the Nocturno Culto Band when you've already got a cool name like that? We also don't know why he didn't just put these songs on a Darkthrone album, 'cause in the liner notes, ol' Ted says this is his outlet for making music in the vein of '80s heavy metal, but of course that (in part) has been what Darkthrone has been doing on their last 4 or 5 albums anyway. Certainly any of the four tracks here could easily have appeared as one of the Nocturno Culto contributions to this year's Darkthrone opus The Underground Resistance, which alternated songs written and sung by Nocturno Culto with songs written and sung by the other half of the Darkthrone duo, Fenriz. The only real difference here is that N.C. is playing drums instead of Fenriz, as well as handling almost everything else: guitar, bass, lyrics, & vocals. N.C. does get help from his pal K.A. Hudbreider on rhythm guitar, while K.A.'s brother provides guests vocals on one track.
Punningly named opener "Enlightning Strikes" sets the tone, with its surging, doomic riffs and N.C.'s rasping vokills, singing lyrics that are both morbid and cosmic. It's heavy, headbanging stuff, which segues nicely into an equally heavy instrumental, the triumphant title track, again loaded with churning riffage as well as loads of glorious lead guitar. That's followed by the disc's most traditionally '80s sounding song, which turns out to in fact be a cover, a rockin' number called "Looking For An Answer", originally recorded by an obscure Swedish heavy metal band called Universe back in 1985. A pretty great song, actually, and it fits right in, even though N.C. brings in a ringer to handle the more melodic demands of the vocals (quite well done by the aforementioned brother). Finally the ep winds up with the downer, doomy "Last Solstice", a track lengthy and pounding like the opener. Pure melancholy majesty; the '80s metal being referenced here has got to be Celtic Frost.
So, basically, if you liked The Underground Resistance (we did!), then you can consider this ep the equivalent of previously unreleased bonus tracks, quite worthy ones at that. Now we'll be looking for a reissue of Universe's album...
Slipcased jewel case compact disc packaging (vinyl version AWOL at the moment).
MPEG Stream: "Enlightning Strikes"
MPEG Stream: "Looking For An Answer"

album cover GRAVEN RITE Jewels Of Gwahlur Vol. II: The Summoner's Pit (Stormspell) cd 5.98
The metal label Stormspell's motto is "Old farts stuck In the '80s and proud of it". They're the folks who have been bringing us a lot of cool cd reissues of obscure, cult metal bands from the '80s (such as Max Planck, Xinr and Detest), some of 'em as part of Stormspell's ongoing "Red White and Heavy Arcane Collector Series For The Initiated" featuring long-lost demos from bands that are SO cult and obscure they never even got signed to make a proper album.
Well, the old farts at Stormspell have now found some young bands also stuck in the '80s, and have begun a new series of releases, putting these bands' demos out on cd but this time not waiting 30 years to do it. Fantastically dubbed the "Jewels Of Gwahlur" series (the Jewels Of Gwahlur being the macguffin of a Conan story of the same name), five volumes have now been released, and we're reviewing 'em all this list. It's a bit like something else Stormspell did some years ago, the "Thrash Clash" series of splits by underground thrash acts. But these bands are even more "old school" in sound.
Each entry in the series comes in nice trifold digi-wallet packaging, the covers pretty much identical except for the band logos, with a standardized "bejewelled ancient leather tome" look, a la the 3rd Edition D&D rulebooks if you're familiar with those; doubtless some of these bands are! However, despite the uniform design, each entry in the series gets its own unique artwork on the inside, as well as credits, liner notes, etc. Most of these discs are ep-length, around 4-6 tracks, but it should be noted that they're quite cheaply priced. So even though we're reviewing each one individually you might as well buy 'em all and let your cd player sort 'em out! As for us, we're looking forward to hearing more from all these bands (pretty sure we will!), and are curious as to what further Jewels Of Gwahlur will be uncovered by Stormspell in the future.
GRAVEN RITE from Texas play "arcane heavy metal", super epick, doomy, and majestically melodic, with commanding but melancholic vocals delivered with a slight nasal inflection. Inspired by pulp swords & sorcery fantasy of the Weird Tales variety, the five tracks this five piece offer up here should especially appeal to fans of Manilla Road. This is definitely the sort of thing that if it came out in the '80s (which it sounds like it could have) would be highly sought after by collectors and probably reissued by a label like Stormspell! Alternate universe mission accomplished. Out of the whole Jewels Of Gwahlur series, this one and Volume III by Terminus, are vying for being our personal top faves.
MPEG Stream: "The Summoner's Pit"

album cover COSMIC PSYCHOS Down On The Farm + s/t (Aarght / Goner) cd 13.98
Here at aQuarius, we've sure got a soft spot for ugly, noisy Australian punk, much of it swaggery and swampy and fucked up, and sometimes kinda poppy too - such varied bands as The Scientists, Radio Birdman, feedtime, Grong Grong, Venom P. Stinger, The Lime Spiders, The Birthday Party, Lubricated Goat, and (more recently) the likes of Slug Guts and Cuntz - amongst MANY other excellent rawk acts from Down Under. And one of the softest spots we've got, is reserved for Melbourne's Cosmic Psychos, whose earliest efforts have recently been reissued by the fine folks at Goner, yah!!
It's been forever since this band's crucial late '80s output has been available Stateside, so those who haven't eBay'ed a precious Sup Pop pressing of Go The Hack, for instance, are now in luck - if your idea of lucky is the opportunity to have your ears peeled back by a drunken trio of Aussies, with amps and attitude both cranked to 11, pounding out rough hewn garage punk! Primitive, badass rockin' that's part Motorhead, part Black Flag. Some Stooges and Ramones in there too. These blokes bring it when it comes to widdly wah wah guitar distortion, walloping rhythmic thump, mean gravely vocals, and nasty feedback... all good things, eh? And better yet, the songs are all catchier than the most popular of venereal diseases. The tracklisting of each of these records is just gnarly gem after gnarly gem. Maybe there's the most singalong potential with the hooky material on Go The Hack (1989), while debut mini-lp Down On The Farm (1985) features a couple of the band's lengthiest, most spaced out/wasted tracks (like the FX laden jam "Crazy Woman"), and the self-titled album (1987) perhaps finds 'em at their most, uh, psychotic, but we strongly recommend picking up ALL of these reissued releases, done as 3 separate vinyl 12" records, or two compact discs.
What the Cosmic Psychos do isn't rocket science (in fact, part of their charm is being brilliantly dumb, check out the chorus to Go The Hack's "Back In Town", also you gotta love the '80s pop culture references of songs like "Rambo" and "David Lee Roth", both found on the s/t album) but they do it with, shall we say, an ample amount of gusto. And certainly some humor. These hooligans have got a special something all right. They're called the Cosmic Psychos after all, they've gotta be good.
Psychos? No doubt. Cosmic? Well, it for sure ain't krautrock. But there is plenty of sick FUZZ, so we think folks into the garage psych of the The Heads, ferinstance, could dig this stuff big time, especially after a few beers. Heck, there's even some unexpected "arty" bits like the various spoken samples (including a Hitler speech) inserted amidst the miasmic mayhem of Down On The Farm's "Gangrene Dream".
Hopefully their '90s AmRep records will get reissued sometime too - we'd love to hear "Dead Roo" again... And if you haven't seen it yet, there's a Cosmic Psychos documentary too, that's AWESOME, check out the trailer here:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O7CbDQ2ZryA
MPEG Stream: "Down On The Farm"
MPEG Stream: "Gangrene Dream"
MPEG Stream: " Quarter To Three"
MPEG Stream: "Jellyfish"

album cover COSMIC PSYCHOS Go The Hack (Aarght / Goner) cd 13.98
Here at aQuarius, we've sure got a soft spot for ugly, noisy Australian punk, much of it swaggery and swampy and fucked up, and sometimes kinda poppy too - such varied bands as The Scientists, Radio Birdman, feedtime, Grong Grong, Venom P. Stinger, The Lime Spiders, The Birthday Party, Lubricated Goat, and (more recently) the likes of Slug Guts and Cuntz - amongst MANY other excellent rawk acts from Down Under. And one of the softest spots we've got, is reserved for Melbourne's Cosmic Psychos, whose earliest efforts have recently been reissued by the fine folks at Goner, yah!!
It's been forever since this band's crucial late '80s output has been available Stateside, so those who haven't eBay'ed a precious Sup Pop pressing of Go The Hack, for instance, are now in luck - if your idea of lucky is the opportunity to have your ears peeled back by a drunken trio of Aussies, with amps and attitude both cranked to 11, pounding out rough hewn garage punk! Primitive, badass rockin' that's part Motorhead, part Black Flag. Some Stooges and Ramones in there too. These blokes bring it when it comes to widdly wah wah guitar distortion, walloping rhythmic thump, mean gravely vocals, and nasty feedback... all good things, eh? And better yet, the songs are all catchier than the most popular of venereal diseases. The tracklisting of each of these records is just gnarly gem after gnarly gem. Maybe there's the most singalong potential with the hooky material on Go The Hack (1989), while debut mini-lp Down On The Farm (1985) features a couple of the band's lengthiest, most spaced out/wasted tracks (like the FX laden jam "Crazy Woman"), and the self-titled album (1987) perhaps finds 'em at their most, uh, psychotic, but we strongly recommend picking up ALL of these reissued releases, done as 3 separate vinyl 12" records, or two compact discs.
What the Cosmic Psychos do isn't rocket science (in fact, part of their charm is being brilliantly dumb, check out the chorus to Go The Hack's "Back In Town", also you gotta love the '80s pop culture references of songs like "Rambo" and "David Lee Roth", both found on the s/t album) but they do it with, shall we say, an ample amount of gusto. And certainly some humor. These hooligans have got a special something all right. They're called the Cosmic Psychos after all, they've gotta be good.
Psychos? No doubt. Cosmic? Well, it for sure ain't krautrock. But there is plenty of sick FUZZ, so we think folks into the garage psych of the The Heads, ferinstance, could dig this stuff big time, especially after a few beers. Heck, there's even some unexpected "arty" bits like the various spoken samples (including a Hitler speech) inserted amidst the miasmic mayhem of Down On The Farm's "Gangrene Dream".
Hopefully their '90s AmRep records will get reissued sometime too - we'd love to hear "Dead Roo" again... And if you haven't seen it yet, there's a Cosmic Psychos documentary too, that's AWESOME, check out the trailer here:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O7CbDQ2ZryA
MPEG Stream: "Alright Tonite"
MPEG Stream: "Back In Town"
MPEG Stream: "Go The Hack"

album cover OSCILLATION, THE From Tomorrow (All Time Low) lp 17.98
Yay, it's the third album from this truly distorto-delic UK outfit, with much more of that 'trance-inducing throb' we love about 'em. We've been into the krauty hypno-pop oscillations of The Oscillation since we first heard their 2007 debut on electro label DC. They've only gotten darker and heavier since then . From Tomorrow is a killer collection of echoing dubbed-out grooves and moody coldwave pop, alternating electronically-treated, hushed vocal tracks with rhythmic FX-laden instrumental stretches that often evoke the motorik beats and tribal thump of Circle, given a late-night, neon-lit makeover. Fans of Moon Duo, too, will dig the shake/stomp of tracks like "No Place To Go", with its Suicide groove. The album has also got a tightly-wound post-punk vibe to it, as well as spacey moments of druggy drift.
Dunno what else to say, if you like The Oscillation already you'll totally dig this; if you haven't heard 'em, tune in and turn on right here, now. Shoulda reviewed this before we all did our top tens for 2013, whoops! Woulda maybe had to make room for it...
MPEG Stream: "Corridor (Part One)"
MPEG Stream: "Descent"
RealAudio clip: "Dreams Burn Down"

album cover SCHICKERT, GUNTER Kinder In Der Wildnis (Bureau B) cd 17.98
This is the third reissue of a recording by German guitarist/soundscaper Gunter Schickert that we've listed - and also the third that we've made a Record Of The Week. That ought to tell you a little something about just how much we like the music of Herr Schickert! Up until fairly recently, Schickert's work has been shrouded in obscurity, the original albums being super rare and hard to find, reissues equally scarce. But thankfully, just in the last couple of years, several legit, long-deserved reissues, appearing on the Bureau B and Important labels, have helped to make Schickert's mesmerizing music more widely known - and has hopefully established him where he belongs, as one of the crucial names in the classic krautrock pantheon, up there with contemporaries like Klaus Schulze, Manuel Gottsching, Achim Reichel, and Michael Rother. Certainly as far as we're concerned, he is! If you dig any of the aforementioned gentlemen, you should definitely get to know Gunter Schickert as well.
The previous two albums of his we've Record Of The Week-ed, 1974's Samtvogel and 1979's Uberfallig, are both all-time aQ faves. There's not much more to Schickert's small discography - but there is this, and it's another fave for sure. Originally released as a cassette tape in 1983, then reissued again on cassette in the '90s and on cd-r in the early 2000's by the Freeman brothers (of Auricle Magazine / Crack In The Cosmic Egg fame), the material on Kinder In Der Wildnis consists of disparate DIY recordings drawn from Schickert's archives, so it's a bit more varied than either of his earlier albums, though if you've heard those, you'll recognize right away that you're back in Schickert's sonic realm, one of organic field recording atmospheres and trance-inducing minimalist pulsations... but something about this is so much more nervy and dark. More "rocked out" too at times. Maybe it's the influence of the NDW, aka Neue Deutsche Welle (punk new wave music of Germany), but we're still talking krautrock.
Even though Schickert does EVERYTHING himself (guitar, tape, vocals, percussion, trumpet) it somehow sounds like a whole band, and that band sounds like Amon Duul II and Faust trapped together in a bunker, jamming endlessly in the middle of the night, the music dark and claustrophobic despite the environmental nature sounds that (as always) Schickert likes to weave into his recordings. There's the children's voices on here too (his daughter sings on the jittery title track) but that's in stark contrast to the druggy darkness of so much of this. Tracks like "Rabe In Der Nacht" and "Hollentanz" are a dense lo-fi mesh of percolating beats, wailing psych guitar, and sound FX. Bird twitter-y field recordings (and crazy crow-like cawing from Schickert himself, we assume) meet overdubbed layers of chanting vocal parts, including more animal-like cries, in the hallucinatory mix. Swirling drones of synth coalesce into hypnotic throbbing rhythms, over which lilting keyboard motifs hint at the likes of Goblin. Also significant is Schickert's sad, electronically-treated trumpet, heard ferinstance on "07.Mai", alongside pleasingly placid repetitive guitar, phasing effects, and field recordings of fireworks exploding (heard elsewhere on the record as well) that sound like sferic squiggles of electronic sound, buried in the mix along with disembodied unknown voices. The trumpet here foreshadows the future sounds of Supersilent, while the pulsating patterns of proto-glitch music also remind us of This Heat's Repeat.
Yep, it's a freakin' great record all right. Trippy and weird and psychically round the bend. In other words, super satisfying. How it stayed so far under the radar for so long is crazy. Big props to Bureau B for giving it a proper reissue now on both compact disc and vinyl for the very first time, with excellent artwork, liner notes, and even two bonus tracks (on the cd only).
The bonus tracks, fyi, are feeling a lot more NDW, Schickert employing a drum machine it sounds like, a bit dancey, still dark and damaged, looping layers of vocals coming and going amidst the beats. Could easily be something Dark Entries of Medical Records would be expected to reissue. Very cool, fans of Pyrolator / Der Plan will enjoy these as well as the rest of the album. But with or without the bonus tracks, Kinder In Der Wildnis is super recommended, in heavy rotation in the store right now, a record that with Schickert's other two solo albums makes for an impressive trifecta of unsung krautrock genius.
MPEG Stream: "Rabe In Der Nacht"
MPEG Stream: "Suleika"
MPEG Stream: "07. Mai"

album cover SCHICKERT, GUNTER Kinder In Der Wildnis (Bureau B) lp 23.00
This is the third reissue of a recording by German guitarist/soundscaper Gunter Schickert that we've listed - and also the third that we've made a Record Of The Week. That ought to tell you a little something about just how much we like the music of Herr Schickert! Up until fairly recently, Schickert's work has been shrouded in obscurity, the original albums being super rare and hard to find, reissues equally scarce. But thankfully, just in the last couple of years, several legit, long-deserved reissues, appearing on the Bureau B and Important labels, have helped to make Schickert's mesmerizing music more widely known - and has hopefully established him where he belongs, as one of the crucial names in the classic krautrock pantheon, up there with contemporaries like Klaus Schulze, Manuel Gottsching, Achim Reichel, and Michael Rother. Certainly as far as we're concerned, he is! If you dig any of the aforementioned gentlemen, you should definitely get to know Gunter Schickert as well.
The previous two albums of his we've Record Of The Week-ed, 1974's Samtvogel and 1979's Uberfallig, are both all-time aQ faves. There's not much more to Schickert's small discography - but there is this, and it's another fave for sure. Originally released as a cassette tape in 1983, then reissued again on cassette in the '90s and on cd-r in the early 2000's by the Freeman brothers (of Auricle Magazine / Crack In The Cosmic Egg fame), the material on Kinder In Der Wildnis consists of disparate DIY recordings drawn from Schickert's archives, so it's a bit more varied than either of his earlier albums, though if you've heard those, you'll recognize right away that you're back in Schickert's sonic realm, one of organic field recording atmospheres and trance-inducing minimalist pulsations... but something about this is so much more nervy and dark. More "rocked out" too at times. Maybe it's the influence of the NDW, aka Neue Deutsche Welle (punk new wave music of Germany), but we're still talking krautrock.
Even though Schickert does EVERYTHING himself (guitar, tape, vocals, percussion, trumpet) it somehow sounds like a whole band, and that band sounds like Amon Duul II and Faust trapped together in a bunker, jamming endlessly in the middle of the night, the music dark and claustrophobic despite the environmental nature sounds that (as always) Schickert likes to weave into his recordings. There's the children's voices on here too (his daughter sings on the jittery title track) but that's in stark contrast to the druggy darkness of so much of this. Tracks like "Rabe In Der Nacht" and "Hollentanz" are a dense lo-fi mesh of percolating beats, wailing psych guitar, and sound FX. Bird twitter-y field recordings (and crazy crow-like cawing from Schickert himself, we assume) meet overdubbed layers of chanting vocal parts, including more animal-like cries, in the hallucinatory mix. Swirling drones of synth coalesce into hypnotic throbbing rhythms, over which lilting keyboard motifs hint at the likes of Goblin. Also significant is Schickert's sad, electronically-treated trumpet, heard ferinstance on "07.Mai", alongside pleasingly placid repetitive guitar, phasing effects, and field recordings of fireworks exploding (heard elsewhere on the record as well) that sound like sferic squiggles of electronic sound, buried in the mix along with disembodied unknown voices. The trumpet here foreshadows the future sounds of Supersilent, while the pulsating patterns of proto-glitch music also remind us of This Heat's Repeat.
Yep, it's a freakin' great record all right. Trippy and weird and psychically round the bend. In other words, super satisfying. How it stayed so far under the radar for so long is crazy. Big props to Bureau B for giving it a proper reissue now on both compact disc and vinyl for the very first time, with excellent artwork, liner notes, and even two bonus tracks (on the cd only).
The bonus tracks, fyi, are feeling a lot more NDW, Schickert employing a drum machine it sounds like, a bit dancey, still dark and damaged, looping layers of vocals coming and going amidst the beats. Could easily be something Dark Entries of Medical Records would be expected to reissue. Very cool, fans of Pyrolator / Der Plan will enjoy these as well as the rest of the album. But with or without the bonus tracks, Kinder In Der Wildnis is super recommended, in heavy rotation in the store right now, a record that with Schickert's other two solo albums makes for an impressive trifecta of unsung krautrock genius.
MPEG Stream: "Rabe In Der Nacht"
MPEG Stream: "Suleika"
MPEG Stream: "07. Mai"

album cover V/A Deep Funnels Of Entry: A Twisted Village Compilation (Shock) cd 17.98
We were super excited by the sudden re-activation of the Shock label. Run by Stefan Jaworzyn (Skullflower, Ascension) and home to some of THEE most amazing industrial / power electronics / noise rock of the last several decades. Seriously, a list of releases on Shock reads like an aQ dream team: Skullflower, Ascension, the Dead C, Cul De Sac, Cosmonauts Hail Satan, Drunks With Guns, Coil, Current 93, Nurse With Wound, Ramleh, we could go on. Needless to say, the legacy of Shock looms large over pretty much all of the weird noisy heavy music we dig today. We recently reviewed the White Trash Motherfuckers comp, which was reissued recently along with two Ascension records and this comp right here, although we still think Jaworzyn just found a bunch of boxes of unsold cds from back in the day, out in his shed, but fuck it, either way, it's amazing to have these available again. For folks who may have missed out the first time, but also for a whole generation of music nerds who might not have even been around back in the day. Deep Funnels Of Entry collects some of the best tracks (from singles and comps) from some of our favorite bands on the Twisted Village label. And while sonically, Twisted Village tended more toward tripped out psych, there is definitely still a sonic connection between groups like Vermonster and Skullflower, who in their early days, would have been right at home on Twisted Village.
So yeah, check out the lineup, folks already into Twisted Village will be drooling, and folks not familiar, well the band names alone should give you a clue: Vermonster, Bongloads Of Righteous Boo (best band name ever?), Luxurious Bags, Crystallized Movements, The Garbage And The Flowers, Wormdoom (second best band name ever?), Tono Bungay, Bimbo Shrineheads, and Brother JT appearing here as simply JT. A quick earful of Vermonster's "Black Crack Boogie" should give you an idea of what you're in for, endless heavy psych space jams, dirgey, loose, chaotic, freaked out and WASTED. Total next level zoner psychedelia of the highest order. Classic psych super charged and dosed on mescaline and PCP, and captured in endless basement jams. Each track here sounds like it was yanked from an hours long jam, these little snippets our glimpse into whatever drug fueled sonic bacchanalia produced all of this glorious psychedelic noise. Bongloads Of Righteous Boo deliver a similar track, that is until the INSANE vocals come in, a WTF falsetto, that has to be a joke? Or does it? BoRB are sort of a classic rock, melted down into something much more warped and woozy, the vocals, seemingly the only remnant, otherwise the sound seems bound for the heart of the sun, arriving there by way of lots and lots and LOTS of drugs.
Luxurious Bags would later morph into more of a noisy pop band, and some of that is present here, but the lilting sad boy vocals, and indie jangle is buried beneath gouts of crumbling distortion, and blown out drum damage. Crystallized Moments fuse their heavy psych to a slowcore moodiness, sounding like a supercharged Low, before they explode into their own squall of dizzying psych damage. NZ noise poppers the Garbage And The Flowers are the most traditionally song oriented here, their sound buzzy and droney, but still darkly poppy, but fear not, it doesn't take long for Wormdoom to obliterate that poppiness, and explode in a frenzy of primal, primitive psych-noise bliss, with some of the most amazingly distorted crumbling guitar buzz EVER. Bimbo Shrineheads who we never heard outside of this comp are also on the poppy side, but darkly frenetic and post punky, enough that they don't even seem like that much of an outlier here. JT delivers some woozy freeform psychedelic drift, while Tono-Bungay is all hard rock by way of cosmic psych, churning and riffy, with some wild endless shredding. And after that, Luxurious Bags, Bongloads Of Righteous Boo, Crystallized Movements, Vermonster and The Garbage And The Flowers all get another go! But it hardly matters, by this point, your grey matter is all melted down into a prismatic puddle on the floor, your smoking headphones telling you this is essential damaged outsider psych, and you NEED it.
MPEG Stream: VERMONSTER "Black Crack Boogie (Remix)"
MPEG Stream: BONGLOADS OF RIGHTEOUS BOO "Jimi (Remix)"
MPEG Stream: LUXURIOUS BAGS "Powerline"
MPEG Stream: WORMDOOM "One Way"

album cover HORISONT Time Warriors (Rise Above) lp 35.00
ALSO ON WAX!
We just can't stop spinning this, the rockin' and rollin' new record from Sweden's wondrous Horisont, entitled Time Warriors. More like time trippers. It's another blast of their retro '70s proto-metal stylings, a la countryfolk Witchcraft, Graveyard, and Troubled Horse, but Horisont have a bit more of a "metally" sound to 'em, they're obviously big into the gallop of post-Sabbath '70s metal like early Judas Priest and Scorpions, when those bands were still sorta psychedelic though. We loved Horisont's previous two platters, and this one is hitting the spot just as much, or more!
Lotsa good riffs light things up left and right, plus the singer ain't afraid to really belt it out, letting loose with some high pitched screams as the need arises - reminding one aQ customer of the guy from Cirith Ungol! Singer and band both go at it with plenty of passion and power. You sure can tell they love what they do... and are damn good at doing it.
Most of the songs are sung in English, though a couple are in Swedish, including one called "Dodsdans" that lopes majestically in the vein of Thin Lizzy. Another one worth mentioning is epic (and aptly-titled) album-closer "All Must Come To An End, Part I & II", which gets super melodic and heartfelt, before a ripping and rollicking finale. Horisont can do emotive, and they can do ass-kicking. Yeah! In the running with Kadavar, Free Fall, and Hot Lunch for best heavy rock album of 2013 that sounds like it came out in, like, 1973. Well, this, maybe more like '76.
MPEG Stream: "Writing On The Wall"
MPEG Stream: "Diamonds In Orbit"
MPEG Stream: "Backstreet"

album cover FUSHITSUSHA Mada Atatakaiuchino Konoimani Subetenonazowo Sosogikomou [gold cover] (Heartfast) cd 28.00
'Tis a big day for everybody into the legendary free-rock unit Fushitsusha, lead by Tokyo's dark lord of psych and improv, Keiji Haino. Not one, but TWO new discs have just been released! They're on the same Japanese label, Heartfast, that put out the trio's two previous albums, back in 2012. When those discs came out, several months apart, they were welcomed by fans as the first new Fushitsusha's in over ten years. And, they were brilliant. Fortunately, it hasn't been as long of a wait for these two new discs, this time released simultaneously, and also excellent, staggeringly so. Fans are already hitting the "add to cart" button, but we'll go on with some details...
First off, these two, Namaewo Tsukenaide Hosii Namaewo Tsuketeshimauto Subetede Nakunattesimaukara (unofficial translation of title from the unofficial Keiji Haino webpage: "Please don't name it. If you name it, it will cease to become all"), which we'll refer to as the silver one, and Madaatatakaiuchino Konoimani Subetenonazowo Sosogikondeshimaou (unofficial translation: "In the now, while it's still warm, let's pour in every mystery"), which we'll call the gold one, both feature a NEW lineup, different from the previous discs on Heartfast. Now on bass, is Chiyo Kamekawa, a Tokyo psych scene veteran (Yura Yura Teikoku, The Stars, Cosmic Invention). The newcomer on drums, is Ryosuke Kiyasu, from the prolific underground Japanese noise/grindcore band Sete Star Sept. Interesting. Kamekawa is not as 'busy' as previous bassist Nasuno Mitsuru, while Kiyasu brings a LOT of youthful energy to his percussive attack when required. Indeed, with Kiyasu on board, it's no surprise that some of this gets FIERCE. Wouldn't be much of a surprise anyway. But there's also lots of contemplative passages as well on these discs, which are both varied, exhibiting a similar range of 'typical' Fushitsusha sounds... there's moody pieces, with percolating bass and drum skitter and guitar skree and sudden silences, converging and diverging in impossible patterns, Haino tearing his heart out with his lungs over top... some tracks even moodier, quieter and more restrained, like the absolutely lovely penultimate 15+ minute track on the silver album, wherein Haino alternates his chiming guitar strum with gentle (really) vocals, singing what sound like isolated syllables of his lyrics in mesmerically haunting fashion, or the second song on the gold album, all muted rhythmic thump and hushed vocals in the shadows. The finale of the gold disc is another, so stark and gorgeous and intense and emotional.
Speaking of emotion, then there are the tracks that blast with beyond-hardcore punk intensity, utter over the top freakery, sounding more like something a grind band like Sete Star Sept would do! You'll find a couple totally Napalm Death-ing it in under a minute, with insane inhuman vokills from Haino that make Khanate's Alan Dubin sound like a contestant on The Voice.
And, then there's the ones that find a middle way, like the first track on the silver disc, which erupts with staggering "big rock" chords, in a manner that's both chaotic and precise, with an almost melodic progression. We're reminded of US Maple's confusional no-wave here and elsewhere.
We're not gonna lie, we think if you're a Fushitsusha fan, you should of course buy BOTH discs. (If you're not a fan, why are you still reading? 'Cause you're curious? Well check out a sound sample and see what you think!). However we realize that two $28 import discs at the same time might be tough on the wallet. So if you decide to get just one (presumably, planning to get the other later on), then which to get? Well, we can't tell ya. Both are great, and we have equal quantities of both, so the best thing to do is just flip a coin. Or, like we said, get 'em both. Of course, with the 7 tracks on the silver one clocking in at 32:48, and the 8 tracks on the gold one running to 42:42, we can't help but notice that music here coulda fit all on one (long) disc, which would have saved everyone some money. But we're sure there's cryptic artistic reasons why that wouldn't have worked. And they certainly look nice, side by side, in their metallic-colored miniature lp style jackets.
MPEG Stream: "track 2"
MPEG Stream: "track 4"
MPEG Stream: "track 8"

album cover FUSHITSUSHA Namaewo Tsukenaide Hoshii Namaewotsuketeshimauto Subetede Nakunatte Shimaukara [silver cover] (Heartfast) cd 28.00
'Tis a big day for everybody into the legendary free-rock unit Fushitsusha, lead by Tokyo's dark lord of psych and improv, Keiji Haino. Not one, but TWO new discs have just been released! They're on the same Japanese label, Heartfast, that put out the trio's two previous albums, back in 2012. When those discs came out, several months apart, they were welcomed by fans as the first new Fushitsusha's in over ten years. And, they were brilliant. Fortunately, it hasn't been as long of a wait for these two new discs, this time released simultaneously, and also excellent, staggeringly so. Fans are already hitting the "add to cart" button, but we'll go on with some details...
First off, these two, Namaewo Tsukenaide Hosii Namaewo Tsuketeshimauto Subetede Nakunattesimaukara (unofficial translation of title from the unofficial Keiji Haino webpage: "Please don't name it. If you name it, it will cease to become all"), which we'll refer to as the silver one, and Madaatatakaiuchino Konoimani Subetenonazowo Sosogikondeshimaou (unofficial translation: "In the now, while it's still warm, let's pour in every mystery"), which we'll call the gold one, both feature a NEW lineup, different from the previous discs on Heartfast. Now on bass, is Chiyo Kamekawa, a Tokyo psych scene veteran (Yura Yura Teikoku, The Stars, Cosmic Invention). The newcomer on drums, is Ryosuke Kiyasu, from the prolific underground Japanese noise/grindcore band Sete Star Sept. Interesting. Kamekawa is not as 'busy' as previous bassist Nasuno Mitsuru, while Kiyasu brings a LOT of youthful energy to his percussive attack when required. Indeed, with Kiyasu on board, it's no surprise that some of this gets FIERCE. Wouldn't be much of a surprise anyway. But there's also lots of contemplative passages as well on these discs, which are both varied, exhibiting a similar range of 'typical' Fushitsusha sounds... there's moody pieces, with percolating bass and drum skitter and guitar skree and sudden silences, converging and diverging in impossible patterns, Haino tearing his heart out with his lungs over top... some tracks even moodier, quieter and more restrained, like the absolutely lovely penultimate 15+ minute track on the silver album, wherein Haino alternates his chiming guitar strum with gentle (really) vocals, singing what sound like isolated syllables of his lyrics in mesmerically haunting fashion, or the second song on the gold album, all muted rhythmic thump and hushed vocals in the shadows. The finale of the gold disc is another, so stark and gorgeous and intense and emotional.
Speaking of emotion, then there are the tracks that blast with beyond-hardcore punk intensity, utter over the top freakery, sounding more like something a grind band like Sete Star Sept would do! You'll find a couple totally Napalm Death-ing it in under a minute, with insane inhuman vokills from Haino that make Khanate's Alan Dubin sound like a contestant on The Voice.
And, then there's the ones that find a middle way, like the first track on the silver disc, which erupts with staggering "big rock" chords, in a manner that's both chaotic and precise, with an almost melodic progression. We're reminded of US Maple's confusional no-wave here and elsewhere.
We're not gonna lie, we think if you're a Fushitsusha fan, you should of course buy BOTH discs. (If you're not a fan, why are you still reading? 'Cause you're curious? Well check out a sound sample and see what you think!). However we realize that two $28 import discs at the same time might be tough on the wallet. So if you decide to get just one (presumably, planning to get the other later on), then which to get? Well, we can't tell ya. Both are great, and we have equal quantities of both, so the best thing to do is just flip a coin. Or, like we said, get 'em both. Of course, with the 7 tracks on the silver one clocking in at 32:48, and the 8 tracks on the gold one running to 42:42, we can't help but notice that music here coulda fit all on one (long) disc, which would have saved everyone some money. But we're sure there's cryptic artistic reasons why that wouldn't have worked. And they certainly look nice, side by side, in their metallic-colored miniature lp style jackets.
MPEG Stream: "track 1"
MPEG Stream: "track 2"
MPEG Stream: "track 6"

album cover CARPENTER, JOHN Assault On Precinct 13 (Death Waltz) cd 17.98
Death Waltz alert! John Carpenter alert! Awesome soundtrack alert! Death Waltz finally gets to this Carpenter soundtrack, at last. And they've put it out on compact disc (in stock and being reviewed now) as well as of course on vinyl, which we're told should be here next week possibly. Heck they even did a cassette version, sadly much too limited for us to get.
Assault On Precinct 13, a low budget action thriller from 1976, is one of our favorite Carpenter flicks - and film scores. Like so many soundtracks, this mainly consists of variations on a theme - a pretty damn cool theme, though, simple and effective. You'll probably remember it as soon as you hear it... dah dah de dah dah dum dum duh de dum, sorta sounds like it could have been used as the triumphant theme for some Rocky-like boxing movie, except that it's way too sinister for that. Just a few fat distorted synth notes, over a drum machine driven rhythm. The whole soundtrack is drum machine driven, sometimes nothing BUT drum machine, very atmospheric and "old school", sounding like Schoolly D ought to be rapping over it. Which totally fits in with the "urban jungle" race-riot paranoia of this suspenseful, violent movie, which as you may remember is about an enraged street gang attacking an isolated police station in the ghetto of South Central LA. The plot and vibe were inspired by George Romero's Night Of The Living Dead, as well as the western Rio Bravo.
Composer/performer Carpenter crafted a taut and minimal synth based score (recorded in just 3 days) that has come to be regarded as a classic. Among the memorable sonic elements found on it are a melodic electric piano motif, and, of course, an ice cream truck jingle, also laid over the usual creepy drum machine tick tick bip bap, for the crucial, shocking scene early in the film involving said ice cream truck.
The Death Waltz edition of this previously hard-to-find soundtrack is remastered, boasts excellent new artwork as per DW tradition, and comes with plentiful liner notes in the swank digipack with cool "pop-up" design.
Now that Death Waltz has done this, clearly the next one up has GOT to be the soundtrack to Walter Hill's The Warriors, are we all agreed? Let's hope!
MPEG Stream: "Main Title"
MPEG Stream: "Targets / Ice Cream Man On Edge"
MPEG Stream: "Wrong Flavor"

album cover BLIZARO Strange Doorways (I, Voidhanger) 2cd 16.98
To quote ourselves, prepare again to "feel the embrace of the purple-hued, witch-haunted horror that is... Blizaro!"
Yup, in reviewing this double disc journey into the violet cosmos of the prog/doom/soundtrack obsessed, mostly-one-man-band Blizaro, we would find it hard to top what we said about 'em before, in our review of the album we made a Record Of The Week back in 2010. That disc, City Of Living Nightmare, we likened to a mad scientist's lo-fi, DIY mashup of Goblin and Black Sabbath - a hybrid of psychedelic doom metal, synthesizer prog, and Italian giallo soundtracks that totally blew us away. That was followed by a split with female-fronted occult doom-deathsters Wooden Stake, also really great.
But what came before? Well, several homebrewed cd-r's worth of Blizaro music preceded the compact disc debut we had made Record Of The Week. Some of us here had tracked down copies of those, and ever since we've been hoping they'd get reissued so we could share 'em with you. In fact, we liked 'em so much, we got in touch with the man behind Blizaro, John Gallo (guitarist for Rochester, NY doom metallers Orodruin), and were "in talks" with him to re-release the these cd-r's together on a proper cd, via aQuarius, like we did with our White Hills and Carlton Melton Record Store Day discs! But then the Italian label I, Voidhanger stepped in and snatched Blizaro away from us - which is perfectly okay 'cause they really did such a great job putting together this nicely appointed package, which they expanded to two discs, not just one, incorporating not only the material from Blizaro's three pre-City cd-r's, but also a more recent recording we hadn't yet heard, plus a whole bunch of unreleased bonus tracks too.
Disc one of Strange Doorways consists of the tracks from Blizaro's The Old Wizard Of Winter (2009) and Black Magicians (2012) cd-rs, along with three extra unreleased tracks. Disc two's got the Horror Rock (2006) and Blue Tape (2008) cd-r's, and five extra cuts. 40 tracks in all! It's quite a varied array of material, all of it proving how amazingly talented and creative John Gallo is as a musician and songwriter. The music here ranges from creepy groovy stuff in the Goblin-y realm, to full on '70s hard rockin', to quirky prog epics, to strange synthesizer experiments, to classical guitar styled fantasias, and even echoed-out synthbass bunkurfunk. Lots to listen to, lots to like. The Old Wizard Of Winter stuff is heavily synth-based (originally recorded as a Christmas gift for relatives!!), mostly all Moog and organ, whereas elsewhere Gallo puts his electric guitar and quite a few other instruments to good use, his voice too, and gets a bit of help from friends, including his bandmates in Orodruin, and members of Revered Bizarre. BTW, Blizaro now has a membership of three, Gallo plus a drummer and bassist, so here's hoping they go on tour and we get to see 'em!
The thick cd booklet features pages and pages of track-by-track liner notes from Gallo himself, discussing his ideas, inspirations and equipment, how each track came together. Kinda writing his own review, he namechecks everyone from Goblin and Paul Chain to Vangelis and Tangerine Dream to Atomic Rooster and Arthur Brown. We can hear it all, for sure. Wow. We've heard plenty of bedroom recorded indie pop and electronica, black metal too, but eccentric progged-out proto-metal? Blizaro does that - and more - quite convincingly. Highly recommended of course.
MPEG Stream: "Sobering Through Darkness"
MPEG Stream: "The Old Wizard Of Winter "
MPEG Stream: "Sphere 1 (The Mirror)"
MPEG Stream: "Driving Back The Senses"
MPEG Stream: "Switched On Blizaro"

album cover AANIPAA Through A Pre-Memory (Editions Mego) cd 16.98
The basic "band math" of this new project on Editions Mego is also, unsurprisingly, kind of what it sounds like, Aanipaa consisting of 1/2 of arty American doomdrone outfit SUNNO))), teamed up with 1/2 of Finnish electronic experimentalists Pan Sonic! Specifically, it's a collaboration between the ubiquitous Stephen O'Malley and Mika Vainio, with help from some friends, recorded in Berlin (at Einsturzende Neubauten's studio) and mixed in Seattle by Randall Dunn. Talk about a "stupor" group. Ambient and ominous, Aanipaa on their debut Through A Pre-Memory conjure a desolate sprawl of slo-mo glitchery and drone, with sparse distorted strum interspersed over the skeletal rhythm of disembodied machine beats. A string section, which features Eyvind Kang on viola, brings in additional otherworldly textures, upping the drone-dirge density. There's also unsettling vocal samples, and tape manipulations. Speaking of unsettling, if this wasn't already scary sounding enough, O'Malley's former Khanate bandmate Alan Dubin (ex-OLD as well, and also of Gnaw, who have a new disc out we'll be reviewing soon) occasionally provides some of his unique, anguished vocal stylings, "singing" the words of Russian modernist poet Anna Akhmatova on the first and last of the four loooooong tracks here - the album clocks in at over 75 minutes. Imagine a glitch-ridden remix of a Khanate track, stretched out so that it's even slower and sparser, more encompassing of the void... but also stretched out so far that some welcome light shines through. For despite the mood of morose menace - and downright terror - channelled through some of these tracks, this album can be quite beautiful as well, grindingly glorious, especially when those strings come into play. Not that we would expect anything less than impressive, and intense, from these talents.
Part modern avant classical, part minimal (very minimal) techno, part multi-o'd industrial dooooooooooooom, Aanipaa is utterly abject, electronically abstract, possibly alienating. And most excellent.
Comes in a lovely three-panel digipack cd or gatefold double lp package.
MPEG Stream: "Muse (excerpt 1) 4"
MPEG Stream: "Muse (excerpt 2) 13"
MPEG Stream: "Mirror Of Mirror Dreams "

album cover SMITH, STEVEN R. / ULAAN KHOL Ending / Returning (Immune) 2lp + chapbook 26.00
LA based guitarist Steven R. Smith returns with this double vinyl release, a split... with himself, essentially! Sides A and B featuring S.R.S.; sides C and D, S.R.S. again - in his Ulaan Khol guise, which means heavier and howlier. Doing different versions of the same instrumental compositions, as well. The idea being that the S.R.S. half is pretty, placid, and "minimal" while the Ulaan Khol versions are "maximal", with more volume and fuzz. The concept sounds good to us - Steven R. Smith can basically do no wrong, after all, and we like him in all his projects, whether it be the guitar blow outs of the assorted Ulaans (Khol, Markhor...) and the Eastern European folk reimaginings of Hala Strana, as well as solo under his own name (in recent years the the lps Old Skete and Cities, the latter also released by Immune), not to mention his participation back in the day in assorted Jewelled Antler groups like Thuja.
Giving this a listen... man, it's good. Both records are gorgeous, fortunately we don't have to choose between 'em. The quieter S.R.S. renditions make nice use of piano, quite lovely, the slow moving melodies gently drifting. The same songs done Ulaan Khol style are equally beautiful and entrancing, but warmly droned out with thick guitar distortion and effects, blissfully psychedelic. We could go on and on, but want to get this on the list today, and figure really we probably don't need to say a lot about it, chances are, you love S.R.S. as much as we do and can't wait to hear it. Or, if you've never encountered Steven R. Smith's work before, well, trust us, this one's recommended! Also since it's limited vinyl in lavish packaging, and the version we have is a special even MORE limited version (200 copies made) that comes with a chapbook filled with Smith's art and text for each of the album's songs, not available from most other retailers. We've got about a dozen copies, when they're gone, they're gone, no more chapbooks anyway.
MPEG Stream: STEVEN R. SMITH "Motes"
MPEG Stream: ULAAN KHOL "Motes"

album cover HORISONT Time Warriors (Rise Above / Metal Blade) cd 14.98
We just can't stop spinning this, the rockin' and rollin' new record from Sweden's wondrous Horisont, entitled Time Warriors. More like time trippers. It's another blast of their retro '70s proto-metal stylings, a la countryfolk Witchcraft, Graveyard, and Troubled Horse, but Horisont have a bit more of a "metally" sound to 'em, they're obviously big into the gallop of post-Sabbath '70s metal like early Judas Priest and Scorpions, when those bands were still sorta psychedelic though. We loved Horisont's previous two platters, and this one is hitting the spot just as much, or more!
Lotsa good riffs light things up left and right, plus the singer ain't afraid to really belt it out, letting loose with some high pitched screams as the need arises - reminding one aQ customer of the guy from Cirith Ungol! Singer and band both go at it with plenty of passion and power. You sure can tell they love what they do... and are damn good at doing it.
Most of the songs are sung in English, though a couple are in Swedish, including one called "Dodsdans" that lopes majestically in the vein of Thin Lizzy. Another one worth mentioning is epic (and aptly-titled) album-closer "All Must Come To An End, Part I & II", which gets super melodic and heartfelt, before a ripping and rollicking finale. Horisont can do emotive, and they can do ass-kicking. Yeah! In the running with Kadavar, Free Fall, and Hot Lunch for best heavy rock album of 2013 that sounds like it came out in, like, 1973. Well, this, maybe more like '76.
MPEG Stream: "Writing On The Wall"
MPEG Stream: "Diamonds In Orbit"
MPEG Stream: "Backstreet"

album cover VHOL s/t (Gilead Media) 2lp 27.00
NOW ON VINYL!!! Gatefold, double lp. Here's what we wrote very enthusiastically about the cd version on Profound Lore from earlier this year:
At long last the highly anticipated debut from VHOL is here. Highly anticipated 'cause VHOL, if you don't already know, are a "supergroup" of sorts. Actually, as far as we're concerned, in more ways than one. Firstly, VHOL (dunno if the name is supposed to be in all-caps, but it looks good to us like that) is formed by members of several other groups we like, band that might not be household names required of supergroup status, but probably ARE household names where people who read the aQ-list dwell. And on top of that, they're all amazing musicians so it's "super" that way too. VHOL consists of guitarist John Cobbett (Hammers Of Misfortune, ex-Ludicra, ex-Slough Feg, etc.) and his former Ludicra bandmate, drummer Aesop Dekker (also of Agalloch, Worm Ouroboros, etc. - and a noted blogger too), plus on bass Sigrid Sheie, who is also in Hammers with John. And making this more than just a San Francisco scene thing, on vocals is Mike Scheidt from Portland's mighty sludge-space-doomsters YOB. With these individuals involved, it sounded pretty good on paper, and now the proof is here, it actually sounds extremely good for real as well!!
Prior to hearing this, we'd been informed that the concept behind VHOL was "psychedelic D-beat" music or something. Well... ok, sorta. Aesop's a punk drummer at heart, to begin with (remember Hickey?). And yeah, having Scheidt provide his unique soaring screaming vox, all spacey and wavery and effected, can't help but make this sound psychedelic, plus the preponderance of mindboggling guitar solo shred from Cobbett helps in that dep't too. Early reports that had VHOL being a full-on Dis-core Crust-Metal band were somewhat misleading, however. Just like Ludicra, Hammers, heck ALL their other bands, this is a hybrid of a whole bunch of different things. And ends up being its own special thing.
But if we had to say, sonically this perhaps aligns closest with John & Aesop's previous outfit, avant-black metallers Ludicra, and with the more black-metally side of Yob. There's some delving into doomy, post-rock depths at points, plus of course Scheidt's distinctive vocals. So a cross between Ludicra and Yob, perhaps. But with some of the grandiose artistry of Hammers too. And both hectic punkish attack and sheer rockin' NWOBHM-inspired old school metal moments as well. Lots of them. Which is really what makes this for us. What a combo - and it works. Both energetic and epic, with churning riffs, intricate soloing, pounding rhythmic chaos, and actual catchy songwriting too. Our knack for finding buried "pop" music in the most unlikely, ugly places is not to be thwarted here, especially ferinstance on track four, "Grace", where some very effective, very poppy hooks are hiding, amidst that track's dense ripping architecture that conjures the sci-fi spectre of old (and new!) Voivod - a connection also suggested by this disc's very Away-like cover artwork, done by Cobbett himself.
Crucially, Scheidt puts on quite a performance, varying his vocals in cleanliness, from clean-ish to unclean, layered over each other even, doing death grunts and blackened rasps and guttural screams as well as his trademark higher-pitched, but distorted wailings - even getting into almost '80s metal ballad territory on the album's closer, "Songs Set To Await Forever".
Favorite tracks are hard to single out, they're all good, but "Arising" really, really impresses - a rollicking tour de force that kinda reminds us of certain latter day Darkthrone efforts, a la some tracks on their recent The Underground Resistance. Some of the same influences at work perhaps.
All in all, VHOL lives up to expectations (whatever they were!), certainly quality-wise. And perhaps confounds some others. But definitely doesn't disappoint. In fact, we might be digging this more than some of the VHOL folks' "main" bands right now, and that's saying a lot.
MPEG Stream: "Insane With Faith"
MPEG Stream: "Grace"
MPEG Stream: "Arising"

album cover SPINAL TAP From The Original Motion Picture Soundtrack: This Is Spinal Tap (The Control Group) lp 29.00
One of our favorite Heavy Metal bands from the '70s and '80s, the underrated British outfit Spinal Tap, were surprisingly enough the subject of a documentary film, or 'rockumentary' if you will, back in 1984, entitled This Is Spinal Tap, when their career was, let us say, not at its zenith. If you can find a VHS copy, and a VHS player, it's worth checking out. Kind of like the more recent Anvil: The Story Of Anvil documentary you may have seen.
A little while ago, we discovered that the soundtrack to that Spinal Tap documentary had been reissued on vinyl, and ever since, it's been a steady seller in the shop - perhaps there's more Spinal Tap fans out there than we supposed. Also, the soundtrack, which serves as a 'best of' the band, is the ONLY way you can get any of Spinal Tap's music these days, as their actual albums are inexplicably out of print and seemingly impossible to find - even on the internets. Thankfully, this soundtrack lp contains the most essential of their greatest 'hits', as well as a smattering of rarities going back to the late sixties when they were more of a twee flower power psych rock band than the metal juggernaut they later became.
This album goes to 11 - that's how many tracks are on it. You get such Tap classics as "Big Bottom", "Tonight I'm Gonna To Rock You Tonight", "Heavy Duty"," Sex Farm", and "Hell Hole", that originally appeared on, respectively, the albums Brainhammer (1970), Intravenus De Milo (1974), Bent For The Rent (1976), Shark Sandwich (1980), and Smell The Glove (1982). But then, for the deep cuts, this collection delves way back to 1967 to dig up the title track of the band's debut single, "(Listen To The) Flower People". And there's also a great garagey freakbeat nugget, "Gimme Some Money", too. Oh, and who can forget Spinal Tap's almost parodic prog rock epic "Stonehenge"?
Yeah, for some strange reason, this band is often considered a joke. Ok, so some of their lyrics aren't exactly Shakespeare, and can even be construed as sexist (not to be confused with sexy!). And musically too, Spinal Tap sometimes stumbles across the fine line between clever and stupid. But we maintain that they're in fact good songwriters. These tracks, with all their heavier than thou bluster or portentous proggy synthiness, are also full of catchy hooks that will stick in your ear, big riffs and majestic melodies. They deserve recognition alongside some better known bands of their era, like Zeppelin and Sabbath, Blue Oyster Cult and KISS… indeed, you can almost hear their influence on those acts and others. Or perhaps it was the other way around.
Seriously - this not only is this one of our favorite soundtracks, to one of our favorite movies (and one of the funniest movies), of all time, but it really IS also one of our favorite heavy metal albums, of all time, too!!
First time on vinyl since 1984, comes in deluxe gatefold package in black on black cover (echoing the "none more black" graphic design of Smell The Glove), with original liner notes from the authoritative Rocklopedia Brittanicus. (By the way, it's also still available on cd too, with their "Christmas With The Devil" single as a bonus.)
MPEG Stream: "Heavy Duty"
MPEG Stream: "Rock And Roll Creation"
MPEG Stream: "Gimme Some Money"

album cover INQUISITION Obscure Verses For The Multiverse (Season Of Mist) cd 15.98
Is this, like, the fourth straight album in a row now from Inquisition that we are compelled to proclaim a top contender for Black Metal Album Of The Year? Hell yes it is. Guess that's no surprise. The duo of Dagon and Incubus, originating in Columbia, South America, now based in Washington State, North America, are on top of their game; Obscure Verses For The Multiverse is yet another jewel in their crown. We hope even the non-black-metal fanatics among you are paying attention, 'cause this is one of those records that we'd suggest to try to get you INTO black metal, it's that good. Part of Inquisition's genius is that while they deliver evil, grim vibes galore, and cosmic concepts too, they also don't forget that black metal is METAL, which means it's also rock n' roll, and so their grim musick seriously rocks, impressively so for a two-piece (even live - when we've seen 'em they've been amazing, couldn't believe two guys could pull it off like that). They are also just original enough to be undeniably their own thing, while proudly upholding tradition at the same time.
On Obscure Verses, Inquisition once again deploy the chop-chop-chop of blizzard force drum battery, suddenly easing the pace to unleash perfectly lurching mid-to-slow tempo riffage, played with seasick "bent" guitar tones, fuzzed and frozen, all adorned by the distinctive rasping croak of the vocals and majestic leads of Satan-glorifiying, vertigo-inducing virtuosity. As the album oozes forth, or hurtles onward, as the case may be, from moment to moment, each and every one of those moments - whether the crush of a catchy riff, a springy, spiraling guitar lick, a miasmatic atmospheric interlude of subterranean ceremony - EVERY molecule of Inquisition's music here contains and conveys their utter original metal mastery and evil intent in full, there's nary a wasted moment, nothing that doesn't usefully contribute to the totality of effect and stand on its own as well, either to cause a headbanging frenzy or thrust you into melancholic, nauseated trance.
Despite their origin in this hemisphere, definitely up there with the most celebrated Norwegian elite, this album (and several preceding it) belonging alongside our favorites by the likes of Enslaved and Immortal in particular. If you're into black metal, we expect you're already an Inquisition fan and know you NEED this; if you're not (yet) into black metal, well you couldn't find too many better albums to point you down the left hand path of no return.
Available as a jewel case cd, or double vinyl with bonus track. (There's also a deluxe, specially packaged import cd box edition that also includes that bonus track, and also comes with a goat-leather key ring, but we've sold out of those, not sure if they'll ever be back...)
MPEG Stream: "Force Of The Floating Tomb"
MPEG Stream: "Obscure Verses For The Multiverse"
MPEG Stream: "Spiritual Plasma Evocation"

album cover V/A Cosmic Machine: A Voyage Across French Cosmic & Electronic Avantgarde (1970-1980) (Because) 2lp + cd 30.00
BACK IN STOCK, NEW LOWER PRICE!
The beautiful dee-luxe VINYL version (which comes with a cd version too). Now no longer hand numbered, thus (a bit) cheaper than they were originally...
A fantastic compilation of amazing French cosmic prog-tronic jams that is blowing our minds! An incredible survey of experimentation and rhythm that shows us that while the French may not have invented prog or disco, they certainly had the most fun taking the genres to their outer limits in exciting combination. Practically everyone is represented, including cinematic gems by Jean-Michel Jarre, Alain Goraguer (La Planet Sauvage!), Patrick Juvet and Serge Gainsbourg; moog workouts by Jean-Jaques Perrey, Quartz and Pierre Bachelet; and cosmic disco reveries by Bernard Fevre, Space, Droids, Space Art and Cerrone. But there are also plenty of rarities from groups we know less about, Atomic Crocus, Rene Roussel , and Universal Energy amongst many others. Dig the Mobius-style cover art too. So Killer!
MPEG Stream: PATRICK JUVET "La Reve"
MPEG Stream: JEAN-MICHEL JARRE "Blackbird"
MPEG Stream: ATOMIC CROCUS "Ombilic Contact"
MPEG Stream: SERGE GAINSBOURG "La Physique et Le Figure"

album cover HOLLEY, LONNIE Keeping A Record Of It (Dust-To-Digital) lp 17.98
NOW ON VINYL!! Here's the review we did of the cd version, highlighted here just last week:
Who'd have thought we'd be so taken with an album that opens with a song about "Six Space Shuttles and 144,000 Elephants"? For that matter, who the heck would MAKE an album with a song called "Six Space Shuttles and 144,000 Elephants"?? Well, a 63 year old 'outsider' artist, Alabama's one of a kind Lonnie Holley, would, and did. This is it, and it's pretty special.
We highlighted Holley's Dust-To-Digital debut last year, Just Before Music, which was not only Holley's first released recording but also Dust-To-Digital's first 'contemporary' release (as opposed to all their well-researched vintage reissues), and this is the equally fantastic follow-up.
Apparently Just Before Music garnered him some fans, as two of the seven tracks here, including the lengthy & hypnotic 13+ minute "Other Side Of The Pulpit", find him collaborating on the music with Bradford Cox (Deerhunter, Atlas Sound) and Cole Alexander (The Black Lips). At first, we were like, oh no, he doesn't need hipster indie rockers messing with his sound - but actually the music on those songs fits in perfectly with all the other tracks that he did all by himself, so no harm done, and probably a great experience for those guys.
Holley's music, if you've heard the debut, you know is sparse and minimalist, with some thumb piano, some synth wash and warble (making us think of Tennessee's improv hillbillies the Shaking Ray Levis at times), and a bit of simple drum machine and other percussion. Reminds us a bit of some of the tracks on that Personal Space comp of electronic '70s soul. Often hypnotic and lovely, and an important part of Holley's unique sound, the electronics and instrumentation still take a back seat to his singing, the main event here, which we'd have to compare to an "outsider" Louis Armstrong when Holley belts it out, with lots of rough garrrrrrgle in his voice. His more gentle, mumbling moments are more akin to Arthur Russell, as we mentioned in our review of Just Before Music ("Holley's vocals, which come across as a shamanistic Arthur Russell as he sings a primitive-futuristic brew of blues mantras that twist into strange abstracted vocalization").
That's for sure true, and those vocalizations - sometimes multitracked, as on the very much mantric "Sun & Water" - when not utterly abstract, convey some wonderful lyrics, poetic and sometimes quite strange. That "Six Space Shuttles" song, one of the hardest to grok here, has something to do with the Queen's birthday (Queen Elizabeth II?) and how Holley wants to celebrate it by sending "expandable, transformable, solar adaptable" space shuttles the size of "the Hindenburg and the Titanic both put together" off into the universe, and when they come back "they can heal the air and fix the water", and wouldn't that be nice? Not sure if we quite get what he's sayin', but we're digging it a lot anyway. Other songs, however, are much more straightforward, like the aforementioned "Sun & Water", its title the main portion of its lyrics.
What all his lyrics have in common is that Holley is "testifying", as he describes it in his brief liner notes. All his life, he says, he's been testifying, in both is visual art and now his music, testifying about his life, a life that almost ended before it really began, when he was dragged under a car as a small child and left in a coma for three months. His life and thoughts since, both happy and sad, is what he's Keeping A Record Of, in his art and music - that's where the title of this cd comes from. And we're so glad Holley has chosen to share his testimony with us, especially since so much of it is such a "joyful noise", as one short piece here, a conversation with members of his church, makes reference to.
MPEG Stream: "Six Space Shuttles and 144,000 Elephants"
MPEG Stream: "Mind On"
MPEG Stream: "Sun & Water"

album cover V/A Cosmic Machine: A Voyage Across French Cosmic & Electronic Avantgarde (1970-1980) (Because) cd 21.00
A fantastic compilation of amazing French cosmic prog-tronic jams that is blowing our minds! An incredible survey of experimentation and rhythm that shows us that while the French may not have invented prog or disco, they certainly had the most fun taking those genres to their outer limits in exciting combination. Practically everyone is represented, including cinematic gems by Jean-Michel Jarre, Alain Goraguer (La Planet Sauvage composer!), Patrick Juvet and Serge Gainsbourg; Moog workouts by Jean-Jaques Perrey, Quartz and Pierre Bachelet; and cosmic disco reveries by Bernard Fevre, Space, Droids, Space Art and Cerrone. But there are also plenty of rarities from groups we know less about: Atomic Crocus, Rene Roussel, and Universal Energy amongst many others. Dig the Mobius-style cover art too. So Killer!
MPEG Stream: PATRICK JUVET "La Reve"
MPEG Stream: JEAN-MICHEL JARRE "Blackbird"
MPEG Stream: ATOMIC CROCUS "Ombilic Contact"
MPEG Stream: SERGE GAINSBOURG "La Physique et Le Figure"

album cover URTHONA The Elements' Rage (A Clash Of The Stars And Moon) (Further) cd 13.98
Some seasons have passed, earth energy forces have again gathered, and now we are happy to herald the return of Urthona - aka Neil Mortimer, guitar-wielding Briton from the West Country, a man who channels the pagan spirits of his native land in the way the ancients intended - with massive psychedelic electric guitar/amplifier feedback! Just ask Urthona's sometime accomplice, the archdruid dude himself, Julian Cope, he'll tell you. Or ask us. We've raved about Urthona's "heavy rural sound" over the course of several releases. For this one, Urthona conjures up a storm, seriously, that's the idea - this is a concept album about a historic storm that swept across the southern British Isles in November of 1703, or so we're told (we didn't consult an almanac). Must have been a doozy to deserve this disc, which consists of a single epic track (38 minutes and 3 seconds, no more no less). Don't get the wrong idea - this "storm" is portrayed with a lot of nuance, moments of respite, suspenseful dynamics; it's not a full-on blow-out for the duration. All-instrumental, as always, this begins with the (ominous) calm before the storm, a mix of windy, watery field recording ambience and quietly keening guitar feedbackdrone, slowly building, surging, unfurling, as the storm approaches. Mortimer's carefully collected and edited environmental field recordings lend verisimilitude, concept-wise, but it's how they blend with the howl of his guitar that gives this its amazing power, you hear the wind and rain but also what the imagination can only conceive of as celestial sounds, like sad angels singing wordlessly (don't laugh). 'Tis glorious stuff. Imagine, if you can, a Caspar Brotzmann / Chris Watson collaboration.
Even at about ten or twelve minutes in, the storm hasn't fully struck, in fact, maybe there's a break in the clouds, some sun shining through, but you know that's not going to last... no, but it's another tantalizing and beautiful feedback-sculpted ten minutes or so more, before the drones of Mortimer's guitar and ambient weather recordings truly build into storm-of-the-century proportions, at the tempestuous climax of which Mortimer's abstract axe/amp wrangling (talk about guitar "squall") is further augmented with some "destroyed drumming" (or maybe this is when the drumming really kicks in, it could have been there all along, just buried under / indistinguishable from the distortion). Better batten down the hatches if you haven't already. And then, at the end, feel cathartic peace, the (sonic) storm having washed away all cares. Altogether a lovely experience for those who dig the elements: wind, water, electric guitar.
We're always impressed with the amount of thought and care that Urthona/Mortimer puts in to his music, conceptually and compositionally - and that's carried through with its packaging every time as well. So once again, a super nice physical artifact, the disc coming in a T-shaped four-panel folding sleeve bearing color photos of Mortimer in a red anorak, with his trusty Les Paul, clambering around on WWII era anti-tank defenses on a beach in Dorset. It includes two inserts, a small hand-printed one and a larger, folded one; the latter with b&w photos of stones accompanied by some intriguing quotes.
MPEG Stream: "The Element's Rage… (excerpt 1)"
MPEG Stream: "The Element's Rage… (excerpt 2)"

album cover SENSATIONS' FIX Fragments Of Light (Superior Viaduct) lp 23.00
Spacey, synth-based prog/psych from the early '70s (or whenever!) doesn't get much better than this. The trio Sensations' Fix captured something pretty special on their tripped out, ultra-underground sounding debut, originally released by Italian Polydor in 1974 and now reissued on vinyl for the first time, by local archival label Superior Viaduct. While it sounds like it could have been made in a synth-stuffed bunker in Berlin, or somewhere in the pastoral English countryside (outside, under the stars, towards the break of dawn), this was actually recorded in an suburban basement in the USA, on a 4-track, by an Italian musician, Franco Falsini (the composer, credited with "guitars and synthesizers"), and two Americans he recruited, Richard Ursillo ("bass guitars and electronic pedals") and Keith Edwards ("drums and percussion"). Though for much of this, Mr. Edwards sits out, as the mysterious floating electronics and blissful strum of Fragments Of Light are ofttimes purely ethereal, only occasionally lashed to propulsive beats, and even those are may be machine-made, with what sounds like live drumming on really only one of the tracks (however, he's apparently the guy that turned Falsini on to LSD, so he should get some musical credit for that).
Song titles include "Nuclear War In Your Brain", "Music Without Gravity", "Music Is Painting In The Air" and "Telepathic Children"; all seem quite appropriate, even the cryptic ones we don't understand. The drifty, druggy, echoing synthed-out weirdness of this, however, is balanced (or, rather, enhanced) by Falsini's knack for wonderful melodies, that's the key to this varied and delightful basement-recorded, often melancholic Minimoog fantasia.
As you may recall, last year we were super excited to highlight a Sensations' Fix anthology, Music Is Painting In The Air, put out by the RVNG label. We mentioned then how we've been longtime fans of this band's hard-to-find debut record, which we hoped hoped hoped would someday be reissued in its entirety (the anthology included just a few tracks from Fragments Of Light, in alternate versions). So, big ups to Superior Viaduct for making this happen. Man, we're not engineers so we wouldn't know about the superiority of their viaducts, but we do know the label's choice of records to reissue certainly is superior! Third aQuarius Record Of The Week this year already - Craig Leon, Devo, now Sensations' Fix! And, there's *another* great SV reish reviewed this list too, Heldon's Interface - and we also just got in their lp of the Solaris soundtrack, too!
In our review of the RVNG collection we said some stuff we may as well more-or-less repeat 'cause it applies here completely. SF's electronic-based driftworks have a quite lovely "pop" side to 'em too, sometimes - while mostly instrumental, a few tracks do have gentle, breathy Robert Wyatt-ish singing to go with the hazy, meandering, meditative atmospheres. It's definitely not the usual sort of quasi-operatic, over-the-top, classically influenced Italian prog that we're used to (and love), from bands like Il Balletto Di Bronzo, Le Orme, or Osanna, no. Also fairly far from the sinister soundtrack funk of Goblin. Sensations' Fix are different, having more in common with the kosmiche krautrock electronics of the era - such as Klaus Schulze, Tangerine Dream, Cluster, Popul Vuh, Michael Rother, Ashra, A.R. & Machines, and You (among others who came before and after). They also may have indeed been influenced by the Canterbury sound of bands like the Soft Machine, so one Italian prog act we could compare them to would be Picchio Dal Pozzo. We could also compare 'em to a kinder, gentler version of Richard Pinhas & Heldon, from France, with a similar futuristic comingling of synthesizer and effected guitar, for sure (and thus is makes sense Superior Viaduct would release this simultaneously with the aforementioned Heldon lp too). Also the Heldon comparison brings up another big influence - Robert Fripp. Indeed, this record bears the inscription: "Dear Robert, you'll be glad to know that the heavenly music organisation is here too", a reference to the track "The Heavenly Music Corporation" on the A side of Fripp & Eno's No Pussyfooting album from '73. Oh, and on the surprisingly sunshiney vocal track "Do You Love Me?", we get a bit of an early Yes vibe.
So, if you want to something to enjoy that's just sooooooo very cosmic and dreamy and melodic, this is highly recommended!!
MPEG Stream: "Fragments Of Light"
MPEG Stream: "Music Is Painting In The Air"
MPEG Stream: "Spacer Energy Age"
MPEG Stream: "Space Closure"

album cover MAMMANE SANI ET SON ORGUE La Musique Electronique Du Niger (Sahel Sounds / Mississippi / Change) lp 16.98
The Sahel Sounds label (responsible for Music From Saharan Cel Phones, Harafin So, and many more great lps of music from the Sahel region of Africa) strikes again with this amazing reissue of an uber-rare vintage cassette, the lone album circa 1978 by Nigerian "electronic music pioneer" Mammane Sani Abdullaye. We're told that if you live in West Africa, you'd likely be familiar with Mammane's instrumental music to some extent, as his tunes have apparently been used frequently in the background on radio and TV broadcasts over the past three decades. For us though, his sounds are an exciting discovery! Mammane plays the electric organ, in a fairly minimalistic and repetitive style, his music full of charming, simple melodies; it sounds very live and intimate, recorded with hardly any overdubs (it was done on a 2 track machine) and pleasingly lo-fi, with a little bit of tape hiss (just like we like it).
Some of the songs are woozy, sweetly dreamy sound paintings, others are more uptempo and percussive, with tick-tocking rhythm backing tracks, and Mammane joyously tickling the keys over top. Chiptune/skweee fans might enjoy the more video-game-y blip blip bleep of the calm yet jaunty "Bodo", while the laidback grooviness of the likes of "Tunan" should appeal to fans of the Ethiopiques series, even though this is from a completely different region of Africa.
Many of the melodies are based on traditional Nigerian folk music - as the label's notes say, "Mammane electrifies the nomadic drum of the tende, the polyphonic ballads of the Woddaabe, and the pastoral hymns of the Sahelian herders". Others are entirely original. And all are quite lovely indeed. Such a find.
Highly recommended in particular to fans of Francis Bebey and his African Electronic Music 1975-1982 collection that we also made a Record Of The Week a while back. An absolutely delightful record!
It's a limited vinyl-only edition of 500 (for now, but we can hope that they'll do a cd too).
MPEG Stream: "Salamantu"
MPEG Stream: "Kobon Lerai"
MPEG Stream: "Bodo"

album cover FUZZ s/t (In The Red) cd 13.98
At first blush, the debut full length from local trio Fuzz, sounds a lot like a Ty Segall record, as it should, since Fuzz is actually Segall's new band, which was originally described to us as sounding like Ty Segall crossed with Black Sabbath. Needless to say we were pretty skeptical at first, but their preceding 7"s proved the point, and now that the highly anticipated full-length is here, goddamn if this isn't some seriously heavy garage-psych proto-metal retro-rock radness! In fact, you'd most certainly be forgiven for thinking this was in fact some genuine lost proto metal artifact, the songs, the sound, the guitar tone, all harken back to the classics, that sound we here at aQ obsess over, in fact, if we were trying to describe Fuzz with some succinct rock band math, we might replace Sabbath above with groups like Power Of Zeus, or Dust, or the Groundhogs, cuz it definitely has that old school hard rocking vibe BIG TIME.
The interesting thing about Fuzz, is that while Segall is still singing, he's now behind the kit, and is actually a seriously kick ass drummer, very much in the style of say Ginger Baker or Mitch Mitchell, busy and loose, slipping from wild octopoidal freakouts to locked in hard rocking grooves and back again, while guitarist Charlie Moothart (who also plays in Segall's band, as well as the Moonhearts) proves himself to be a serious shredder, who should be getting the same sort of love that dudes like Isaiah Mitchell does, in fact fans of Earthless will find much of the jamming here right up their alley, with Moothart unfurling, crumbling, blown out heavy rock riffs, alongside wild blasts of mega shred psychedelic freakout. And while most of the songs her are loose and jammy, with much of the record sounding like different parts of the same mega-jam, rife with lots of space, and stop/starts, stretches of amp hum, lurching abstract almost doomy breakdowns, even some almost-drum solo bits, a few pop gems surface here and there, like "What's In My Head", which would have sounded right at home on any of the Segall record proper, so catchy, with a hook to die for, but still somehow fitting into Fuzz's retro fuzz-rock soundworld. That sound in full effect on "Loose Sutures" which is about as loose as these guys get, the midsong breakdown total heavy seventies psych-prog radness, complete with fuzzed out bass solo, killer drumming, and when the main riff comes back in, SO HEAVY. The record finishes of with three more blasts of blown out riff heavy psych rock that kills, lurching from fuzzy lope, to full on near metallic crunch, to total classic old school heavy psych, and as much as we love pretty much everything Segall has done, this Fuzz record is fast becoming our favorite.
Killer psychedelic space dragon cover art, the lp includes a download code as well!
MPEG Stream: "Earthen gate"
MPEG Stream: "What's In My Head"
MPEG Stream: "Sleigh Ride"
MPEG Stream: "Loose Sutures"

album cover IN SOLITUDE Sister (Metal Blade) cd 14.98
Light the seance candles and ready the Ouija board, Sweden's In Solitude have returned from realms unknown to deliver the third installment in an unholy trinity of ominous occult heavy metal, this time distilling their sound with a healthy dose of '80s goth rock and some serious stadium sized chops. While In Solitude's previous records wore their Mercyful Fate infatuation well and truly on their tattered sleeve, Sister takes their sound to strange new frontiers. While the misshapen shadow of King Diamond certainly still looms large over this record, there's just as much influence from bands like The Mission U.K., Fields of the Nephilim, and '80s Damned to name but a few! The production is perfectly sparse and simple, seeming to stretch and creak like rotting floorboards leading to dimly lit entry ways. Singer Pelle Ahmen sounds like a man in a trance, a restless spirit faintly crying out from the astral plane. He still definitely conjures the lower register ghostly wail of King Diamond, but just as often his crooning drawl recalls Danzig, Nick Cave, The Cult's Ian Astbury, and on the album's acoustic opener especially The Sisters of Mercy's Andrew Eldritch (could the album title be an homage??). While the fist pumping heavy metal of In Solitude's previous two records often revealed Ahmen's limits as a vocalist, in the context of their newly stripped down, more rock and roll sound he works absolutely perfectly, totally dominating the record with his unearthly presence. And for all the arcane occultism and haunting imagery, Sister is absolutely full to the brim with hooks and accessibility, often sounding a bit like Ghost (whom they're rumored to be aligned with member-wise somehow!) without all of the Scooby-Doo cartoon hokiness, but with just as much of an eye toward pop songcraft and classic rock'n'roll.
"Lavender" is almost like The Doors soundtracking a haunted house horror film with its Technicolor hints of '60s psychedelia and guitars spiraling with a circus acrobat's abandon over that ever present haunting vocal croon. Album closer "Inmost Nigredo" opens with a lush dreamy opium den crawl, like Pink Floyd at their most clinically depressed, before slumping into a doomy graveyard lurch layered with echoey fluttering black metal guitar leads, sounding a bit like a less obtuse Negative Plane or Occultation. Meanwhile the album's title track and possible album highlight grooves with a serious slithering swagger, seeping through the speakers like the undead sibling of G'n'R's "Mr. Brownstone" unearthed from some forgotten unmarked burial plot! Sister is the perfect example of tweaking a band's sound subtly, but just enough that it absolutely changes everything. In Solitude sound imbued with a vibrant new energy and a renewed sense of purpose, and Sister is most certainly a late in the game contender for metal record of the year, even though some might argue that this isn't (entirely) metal anymore.
(Heck Andee and Allan are both convinced that Sister reminds them a bit of an old fave from the '90s, the reverby Southern Gothic indie garage act the Rock*A*Teens.)
MPEG Stream: "Death Knows Where"
MPEG Stream: "Lavender"
MPEG Stream: "Sister"

EXUMA II (Repertoire) cd 16.98
More amazing voodoo groove.

album cover HOLLEY, LONNIE Keeping A Record Of It (Dust-To-Digital) cd 14.98
Who'd have thought we'd be so taken with an album that opens with a song about "Six Space Shuttles and 144,000 Elephants"? For that matter, who the heck would MAKE an album with a song called "Six Space Shuttles and 144,000 Elephants"?? Well, a 63 year old 'outsider' artist, Alabama's one of a kind Lonnie Holley, would, and did. This is it, and it's pretty special.
We highlighted Holley's Dust-To-Digital debut last year, Just Before Music, which was not only Holley's first released recording but also Dust-To-Digital's first 'contemporary' release (as opposed to all their well-researched vintage reissues), and this is the equally fantastic follow-up.
Apparently Just Before Music garnered him some fans, as two of the seven tracks here, including the lengthy & hypnotic 13+ minute "Other Side Of The Pulpit", find him collaborating on the music with Bradford Cox (Deerhunter, Atlas Sound) and Cole Alexander (The Black Lips). At first, we were like, oh no, he doesn't need hipster indie rockers messing with his sound - but actually the music on those songs fits in perfectly with all the other tracks that he did all by himself, so no harm done, and probably a great experience for those guys.
Holley's music, if you've heard the debut, you know is sparse and minimalist, with some thumb piano, some synth wash and warble (making us think of Tennessee's improv hillbillies the Shaking Ray Levis at times), and a bit of simple drum machine and other percussion. Reminds us a bit of some of the tracks on that Personal Space comp of electronic '70s soul. Often hypnotic and lovely, and an important part of Holley's unique sound, the electronics and instrumentation still take a back seat to his singing, the main event here, which we'd have to compare to an "outsider" Louis Armstrong when Holley belts it out, with lots of rough garrrrrrgle in his voice. His more gentle, mumbling moments are more akin to Arthur Russell, as we mentioned in our review of Just Before Music ("Holley's vocals, which come across as a shamanistic Arthur Russell as he sings a primitive-futuristic brew of blues mantras that twist into strange abstracted vocalization").
That's for sure true, and those vocalizations - sometimes multitracked, as on the very much mantric "Sun & Water" - when not utterly abstract, convey some wonderful lyrics, poetic and sometimes quite strange. That "Six Space Shuttles" song, one of the hardest to grok here, has something to do with the Queen's birthday (Queen Elizabeth II?) and how Holley wants to celebrate it by sending "expandable, transformable, solar adaptable" space shuttles the size of "the Hindenburg and the Titanic both put together" off into the universe, and when they come back "they can heal the air and fix the water", and wouldn't that be nice? Not sure if we quite get what he's sayin', but we're digging it a lot anyway. Other songs, however, are much more straightforward, like the aforementioned "Sun & Water", its title the main portion of its lyrics.
What all his lyrics have in common is that Holley is "testifying", as he describes it in his brief liner notes. All his life, he says, he's been testifying, in both is visual art and now his music, testifying about his life, a life that almost ended before it really began, when he was dragged under a car as a small child and left in a coma for three months. His life and thoughts since, both happy and sad, is what he's Keeping A Record Of, in his art and music - that's where the title of this cd comes from. And we're so glad Holley has chosen to share his testimony with us, especially since so much of it is such a "joyful noise", as one short piece here, a conversation with members of his church, makes reference to.
MPEG Stream: "Six Space Shuttles and 144,000 Elephants"
MPEG Stream: "Mind On"
MPEG Stream: "Sun & Water"

album cover SAINT VITUS C.O.D. (Season Of Mist) cd 15.98
Finally the 'forgotten' Saint Vitus album, C.O.D. (which stands for Children Of Doom, not Cash On Delivery, nor Care Of The Devil) gets its due with this first ever reissue, complete with bonus tracks. When this album originally came out, back in 1992, it was almost the end of the line for the veteran LA doom squad. Their '80s SST era, touring with Black Flag, long past, Saint Vitus, forever born too late, soldiered on. This was their sixth full-length album, and the only one to feature vocalist Christian Linderson, who was drafted in to replace previous frontman Scott "Wino" Weinrich after he jumped ship for greener pastures - his other band, The Obsessed, was signed to a major label! (For about five seconds…).
Linderson, also known as "Lord Chritus", was best known at the time for fronting cult Swedish doomsters Count Raven, and went on post-Vitus to sing in such bands as Terra Firma, Lord Vicar, and Goatess. His melancholy Ozzy-esque wail was of course a good choice for Vitus, though he sure had big boots to fill, and despite his abilities can't help but rank third amongst Vitus's trio of terrific vocalists (Scott Reagers #1!!!!). Not his fault though that Reagers and Wino were both so godly, and Linderson does a fine job here. Likewise, the music is prime Vitus, being ultra heavy and psychedelic garage punk Sabbath dirge rockers with lots of fuzz and muzz, guitarist Dave Chandler's wild and noisy leads cutting crazily through the cobwebs of these horror-stricken songs. The production, courtesy of (fun fact!) none other than Don Dokken, who was a childhood friend of Vitus drummer Armando Acosta, is somewhat more modern and clean sounding than had previously been the Vitus norm, but music this slow and low just can't be glammed up. And Don sure didn't stint on the bass frequencies.
While C.O.D. is probably nobody's absolute top Vitus fave, its ghoulish Jack-O-Lantern grins and grimaces are not to be neglected either, so true doonheads should consider the remastered reissue of this underrated record quite welcome - as are the two rare bonus tracks now included, "To Breed A Solider" and "The Chameleon".
MPEG Stream: "Children Of Doom"
MPEG Stream: "Imagination Man"
MPEG Stream: "Get Away"

album cover SAINT VITUS Die Healing (Season Of Mist) cd 15.98
Three years ago we first got a chance to review this 1995 classic by the LA godfathers of doom metal, when it came out for the first time ever on vinyl via the Buried By Time And Dust label. It had been out of print on cd for years, and hard to get (it was an import) before that, so we were pretty excited. That vinyl version quickly went the way of the cd, but now, yay, Die Healing has been reissued again, on both vinyl and cd, by Season Of Mist! So if you missed it before, in 1995 or in 2010, now's your chance to pick this up on your format of choice (sorry, no cassette).
Die Healing was Vitus's 7th and, until recently, their final full-length studio album, the band breaking up soon after - although now it's no longer their final bow thanks to their recent resurrection that produced last year's Lillie: F-65. Which we liked ok, but that album's nothing compared to this, which we still think of as their final record, the original 1980-1996 run of the band's last hurrah.
While at the time Die Healing was hardly noticed by an uncaring world (doom wasn't cool like it is now), but it was also one of their finest albums. For one thing, it marked the brief return of their original and best vocalist, the amazing Scott Reagers. Apologies to Wino, who's fronting the band for their current reunion... Some will differ, Wino certainly has his fans, we like him a lot too, Born Too Late and Mournful Cries are great albums, but let's just say there's no other singer quite like Scotty Reagers. Vitus was lucky to have had him in the first place, and lucky to have had him back for this. His dramatic and dynamic delivery, gloomy and ghoulish, yet classic castle-metal through and through, keeps us spellbound. Guitarist Dave Chandler steps up with some great sludgy slo-mo Sabbathy riffs (of course) and wah wah'd out, psychedelic punk soloing (of course). The atmosphere is sooooo despairing. Opener "Dark World", later covered by Reverend Bizarre, is a classic, what a riff! But that's just the beginning... "One Mind", "Let The End Begin", "The Sloth", "Return Of The Zombie", heck all the tracks are awesome, any Vitus fan should agree. The entire album harks back to the feeling of their first few records in the mid '80s, really as if Reagers had never left the band. And again his singing is crucial here, over the top wailing with a wretched, grotesque edge to it. Emotive and eccentric. Perfect for the plodding, fuzz-filled creepy-crawls that fill this pestilent platter. He might be singing about sloths and zombies (he IS singing about sloths and zombies) but damn does it sound sincere and MEANINGFUL - ignore him at your peril. Drop the needle (or laser) on this and learn what it is to be doomed!!
Fyi, the vinyl version is colored solid grey and limited to 550 copies.
MPEG Stream: "Dark World"
MPEG Stream: "Return Of The Zombie"

album cover SAINT VITUS Die Healing (Season Of Mist) lp 26.00
Three years ago we first got a chance to review this 1995 classic by the LA godfathers of doom metal, when it came out for the first time ever on vinyl via the Buried By Time And Dust label. It had been out of print on cd for years, and hard to get (it was an import) before that, so we were pretty excited. That vinyl version quickly when the way of the cd, but now, yay, Die Healing has been reissued again, on both vinyl and cd, by Season Of Mist! So if you missed it before, in 1995 or in 2010, now's your chance to pick this up on your format of choice (sorry, no cassette).
Die Healing was Vitus's 7th and, until recently, their final full-length studio album, the band breaking up soon after - although now it's no longer their final bow thanks to their recent resurrection that produced last year's Lillie: F-65. Which we liked ok, but that album's nothing compared to this, which we still think of as their final record, the original 1980-1996 run of the band's last hurrah.
While at the time Die Healing was hardly noticed by an uncaring world (doom wasn't cool like it is now), but it was also one of their finest albums. For one thing, it marked the brief return of their original and best vocalist, the amazing Scott Reagers. Apologies to Wino, who's fronting the band for their current reunion... Some will differ, Wino certainly has his fans, we like him a lot too, Born Too Late and Mournful Cries are great albums, but let's just say there's no other singer quite like Scotty Reagers. Vitus was lucky to have had him in the first place, and lucky to have had him back for this. His dramatic and dynamic delivery, gloomy and ghoulish, yet classic castle-metal through and through, keeps us spellbound. Guitarist Dave Chandler steps up with some great sludgy slo-mo Sabbathy riffs (of course) and wah wah'd out, psychedelic punk soloing (of course). The atmosphere is sooooo despairing. Opener "Dark World", later covered by Reverend Bizarre, is a classic, what a riff! But that's just the beginning... "One Mind", "Let The End Begin", "The Sloth", "Return Of The Zombie", heck all the tracks are awesome, any Vitus fan should agree. The entire album harks back to the feeling of their first few records in the mid '80s, really as if Reagers had never left the band. And again his singing is crucial here, over the top wailing with a wretched, grotesque edge to it. Emotive and eccentric. Perfect for the plodding, fuzz-filled creepy-crawls that fill this pestilent platter. He might be singing about sloths and zombies (he IS singing about sloths and zombies) but damn does it sound sincere and MEANINGFUL - ignore him at your peril. Drop the needle (or laser) on this and learn what it is to be doomed!!
Fyi, the vinyl version is colored solid grey and limited to 550 copies.
MPEG Stream: "Dark World"
MPEG Stream: "Return Of The Zombie"

album cover ERICKSON, ROKY The Evil One (Light In The Attic) cd 16.98
At this point Roky Erickson's turbulent story has been pretty well documented (there's even a movie about it!), and it now seems to occupy the same strange annals of musical history as the Norwegian black metal murders and the rise/fall/rise/fall/rise again of Pentagram's unsinkable Bobby Liebling - gazed upon with morbid car-crash curiosity by the casual listening public! But it's still probably the best place to start for those uninitiated souls considering taking the one way trip into the bizarre landscape of The Evil One. The abridged version is this: Roky Erickson first made a name for himself as a founding member of psychedelic pioneers and vocal LSD proponents 13th Floor Elevators (bonus fact: they're thought to have invented the term "psychedelic rock"!), but as a result of a minor drug arrest and a schizophrenia diagnosis he wound up in a mental institution subjected to the horrors of involuntary electroshock therapy.
In the years that followed his release he publicly claimed that a Martian had begun inhabiting his body, was arrested for mail theft after developing an obsession with the postal system... only recently, in the 2000's, has seemingly pulled himself together, and thankfully has started playing live again. It's definitely a sad and a fascinating story, but all throughout those tumultuous years Roky kept putting out albums, and it's important not to let the backstory overshadow that fact. Because regardless of everything else, there is absolutely no doubt in our minds that The Evil One is a bona fide MASTERPIECE, and is probably as good as any hard rock record you will ever hear. Originally released in 1981 and collecting some of Roky's earliest solo material (a few of the tracks were featured on the I Have Always Been Here Before compilation that we reviewed some time back), The Evil One is as timeless a rock record as there's ever been. It seems to exist in some sort of vintage vacuum - it has that vague sense of sounding "old" but doesn't seem to belong to any specific period in music. It has the unique quality of sounding both ahead of its time and strangely retro, even for 1981 - like it was transported from some alternate rock & roll past where the Billboard charts were topped by pop/rock occult ballads and catchy demon worshipping jams.
"Two Headed Dog" opens the record with a jarring, almost post-punk wall of guitar dissonance before a snare drum ushers in an absolutely perfect swaggering proto metal riff - recalling the best moments of classic Alice Cooper and Blue Oyster Cult. Great leads and tight flawlessly simple drumming abounds, all while Erickson wails about children being nailed to crosses like some sort of deranged bizarro Neil Young, if he'd perhaps become a Satanist preacher or delirious doomsday prophesier. There's a Southern twang to Roky Erickson's vocals as well, that lend a certain Americana baptist noir to much of the record. The production is soft and almost subdued - but it's the perfect compliment to the deceptively simple songs and Erickson's surreal stream of consciousness lyrics (perfectly represented by the album cover's chaotic collage that seems to be exploding from Roky's head). The Evil One is certainly a strange record, but it's a subtle creeping strangeness. It's a strangeness that never compromises the songwriting. As we said earlier, first and foremost The Evil One is a fantastic rock record - chock full of catchy choruses, great guitar leads and extremely tight understated playing.
There's tons of variety too. You only need to look at the transition from the aforementioned "Two Headed Dog" into the album's second track "I Walked with a Zombie" - a pristine slab of Saturday night drive-in B-movie doo wop (complete with "I walked with a zombie"/"He walked with a zombie" backing vocal tradeoffs!). Elsewhere there are more upbeat cuts: it's not too hard to imagine "Mine Mine Mind" or "I Think of Demons" being played by Tom Petty or The Cars while "Don't Shake Me Lucifer" is classic Chuck Berry/Rolling Stones blues rock boogie woogie. But all the while Roky is still injecting even the album's poppiest moments with bizarre imagery about devils, goblins and gremlins. It's unsettling, fun and bewildering all at the same time. There's plenty of heaviness as well though. "Night of the Vampire" has a staggered militaristic intro that recalls Diamond Head's NWOBHM classic "Am I Evil" before slithering into repetitive clean guitar gloom accompanied by epic guitar leads and bubbling horror movie synthesizers. Then this incredible closing duel synth/guitar lead comes in that seems to recall the same crumbling castle gothic horror of Ozzy Osbourne's "Mr. Crowley." Elsewhere the loose driving groove and jagged guitar harmonies of "Click Your Fingers Applauding the Play" would totally do Thin Lizzy proud - you can almost hear the unquiet restless spirit of Phil Lynott singing over it!
But moreso than referencing older bands, this record's influence can be heard in so many places after its release - most notably in the current wave of modern witchy, occult obsessed groups. It's as essential to Witchcraft's hazy organic seance-rock as vintage Pentagram is. The glorious proto-doom of "Stand for the Fire Demon" is clearly the template for The Devil's Blood's entire sound. The opening riff of "White Faces" sounds more than just a little bit like Ghost's "Ritual" (and was covered by both The Devil's Blood AND Witchcraft to boot!). And one group of dudes from North Carolina just went ahead and named their entire band after the pulsing proto metal of "Bloody Hammer"! It's not even a stretch to imagine this could have been a pretty big influence of the stripped down rock & roll darkness of Danzig's first couple of solo albums - even the "whoa-oh"s in "The Wind and More" sound a bit Misfits-y!
Just in case it's not obvious yet, this comes with the highest recommendation, and we won't hesitate in declaring it absolutely one of the best hard rock/proto metal records ever recorded. And also one of the weirdest! It's so bursting with great songs and absolutely overflowing with character in fact that it's hard to imagine ANYONE not loving this record. So give yourself over to Roky's monstrous world. Stay a while! See what strange creatures you encounter there. But don't blame us if you never find your way back home again!
MPEG Stream: "Two Headed Dog"
MPEG Stream: "I Walked With A Zombie"
MPEG Stream: "Mine Mine Mind"
MPEG Stream: "Bloody Hammer"

album cover YOU Laserscape (Bureau B) cd 17.98
Bureau B reissued the first two albums by Berlin School synth groop You a couple years ago - 1979's Electric Day and 1983's Time Code - amazing artifacts of late period electronic krautrock, previously unknown to us, that we, and a lot of you, loved. We made Electric Day a Record Of The Week, in fact. Now Bureau B has gotten around to reissuing You's fourth album, Laserscape, from 1986 (skipping over 1984's Wonders From The Genetic Factory, but maybe they'll eventually do that one too).
The title doesn't lie - this music was in fact all recorded as the soundtrack to the large-scale, open air "laser performances" of an artist named Horst Baumann, events that we can only imagine were like a bigger version (with better music) of one of those trippy planetarium laser light shows - like the late lamented Laserium shows once held at the California Academy Of Sciences here in SF's Golden Gate Park (http://www.sfgate.com/news/article/S-F-Planetarium-Laser-Show-To-Fade-Into-2742326.php).
You's music for Baumann's Laserscape is suitably spectacular, spacey, dark, and droney. There's a lot of variety, though, in mood and flavor. There's synthetic beats on "Can You Tell Where I Am", a propulsive track that's totally something Emeralds or Umberto or Life Coach or Jonas Reinhardt or Steve Moore would be very happy with if they'd recorded. Elsewhere, You's cosmic electronics are accompanied by chamber string sounds, and even beautifully shredding classical guitar. There's Eastern-sounding moments, powerful cinematic build-ups, eerie drifty passages, and on "Travelling Hologram" a recurring choral "Ah-ah-ah" part that combines with the increasingly hectic and quirky rhythmic construction of the track to kinda remind us of, like, a computerized Magma, in a weird way. Very cool. Other tracks, more blissed out and melodic, remind us of the non-lame New Age music of Iasos. Man, we wish we could experience this with the laser visuals. But still it's good listening on its own, and you can close your eyes and try to imagine...
Perhaps needless to say, if you are already into those first two You albums, you'll dig this. It's decidedly darker, though, than Time Code, it feels to us. More of an ominous, Blade Runner vibe, as others have noted. Once again, thanks, Bureau B! (And please note, the cd version includes a 21+ minute live bonus track not on the vinyl.)
MPEG Stream: "Can You Tell Where I Am"
MPEG Stream: "Changing Rooms"
MPEG Stream: "Travelling Hologram"

album cover A.M.S.G. Anti-Cosmic Tyranny (Profound Lore) cd 13.98
Black metal bands often usually make a big deal about worshipping Satan, of course, but c'mon, at this point, while we still really enjoy the music, we're kind of over the ooooh, Satan part of it all. But, some bands can still make the Satan stuff seem interesting and seriously potent, like maybe this band really DOES believe in Satan and maybe that's actually kind of scary. Such is the case with Canadian two-man horde A.M.S.G. (not a food additive, the acronym stands for the Latin phrase Ad Majorem Satanae Gloriam, you can probably figure out what that means), featuring members of Rites Of The Degringolade and Gloria Diaboli. A.M.S.G.'s debut full-length for Profound Lore conjures an incredibly convincing and intriguingly original Satanic atmosphere, being in the grand Nordic church-burning black metal tradition (including one of the members having done a stint in jail for selling drugs and guns to finance his band activities) with plenty of cold freezing riff-blurr and rasping croaking vox that remind us of Inquisition, but also bringing in truly extreme blacknoize distortion (the opening moments of the album crackling like Merzbow's electronics) and also, the big surprise, saxophone! Not all the time - but on a couple tracks, probably our favorites here, you'll hear mopey, smokey, noirish sax improv emerge amidst the miasmatic skitter and plod and fuzz, resulting in gorgeously dark and moody but melodic creepy-crawl vibes and making A.M.S.G. the sort of black metal that fans of Bohren & Der Club Of Gore (that band themselves hugely into black metal) ought to check out.
And as strange as the Satanic Sax ritual is, that "jazz" element isn't the only surprise here, 'cuz A.M.S.G. worship Satan as much through sound as through song, so while they do standard black metal minor key blasting (and string together some effective hit-you-in-the-pit-of-your-stomach-from-the-pits-of-hell riff sequences), it's often the sheer sounds, and some strange juxtapositions thereof, they conjure with that really gets to us - the way they mix in not just the sax but all sorts of sound FX, noise, varied percussive patterns, mysterious sinister samples, and extreme vokill approaches. It makes for a disturbing headphone listen with the whispered / chanted vocal incantations - if you read the lyrics, its clear that each song is intended as some occult ritual, torn from the pages of the Necronomicon or some other forbidden tome. Their songs will take whatever twists and turns (well, left hand ones only, presumably) that lead to the greater glory of Satan. We might not worship Satan ourselves, but we'll consider worshiping A.M.S.G., at least for the duration of the disc's run time. Unique and compelling.
Comes in slipcased jewel case packaging.
MPEG Stream: "Black Rites Of Black Shadows"
MPEG Stream: "Reincarnation Of The Sun"
MPEG Stream: "Gnosis Granted From The Bloodline Of Fire"

album cover WILDILDLIFE Details (Volcom) lp 15.98
Goddamn we love this band. And goddamn they're hard to pigeonhole or review. They're the sort of band that leaves critics throwing their hands up and saying weird things like "Animal Collective playing metal", or finds us comparing 'em (on past albums) to everyone from MBV to Redd Kross to the Swans to Gaye Bykers On Acid to the freaking God Bullies...
They sound like a lot of things, but ultimately their own special Wildildlife thing - and we don't have enough hypens handy to describe all the genres they glom together into that. Yeah they're heavy and noisy and fucked up, palling around with Harvey Milk and other sludgey/doom metal types, but also have an almost glammy, "buried pop" side to 'em that's become less and less buried from record to record. This new one is perhaps their poppiest, catchiest yet, without sacrificing any of the delicious distortion, noisiness or heaviness, though.
Details, its front cover bearing appropriately demented, deliberate eyesore cover art scrawlings (the back of the sleeve is even better - a drawing of a cat in corpsepaint), is awash with spacey swirling FX, stonery druggy vocals, and sinuous grungy riffage, making for some seriously psychedelic fuzzed out noise pop that's maybe still somehow sorta metal - definitely mental though. Take some Butthole Surfers, some Dead Meadow, some '90s alt-metal (Nudeswirl, anyone?), some slowcore and shoegaze and old school Sub Pop, and you're getting close to the idea of what's going on here.
We suppose we could just mention a few highlights among this album's seven tracks, but it's tough to choose. The short-and-sweet blast of the excellent opener "Dub 1"? The majestic keyboards of "Water Underneath"? The sleazy riffage cranked out on badass rocker "Conditioner"? The tripped out, lumbering awesomeness of, uh, everything??? Yeah we love it all. You should just get this and listen to it yourself, and let it sink into you and you into it, that's our recommendation. Oh, but speaking of sinking into it, let's also mention how the second side closes out with not one but two 8+ minute hypnorock epics. There's the big roiling drums, droning keys and almost bagpipe-like guitar soloing of "Love Hums", and then the even heavier/dirgier "Edge Of The Apocalypse (Forever)", the latter with a pretty little come-down electronica bit at the end, as the song gently fades out... Nice.
We may be a bit biased of course, 'cause Wildildlife singer/guitarist Matt Rogers is an aQ alumnus, but honestly, we had no expectations, in fact we were surprised this even came out, 'cause we thought the band had basically broken up long ago, the guys living in different cities, Matt more into techno DJing than playing rock music, but here it is, and if it's their swansong it's a damn good one, but hopefully the release of this record might spur 'em to get their shit together and get back on stage and play live again 'cause they KILL and it would be great to see Matt writhing around with his guitar again (and the other guys going off too) and hear these tunes super LOUD in person.
Vinyl-only (grrrr) but it includes a download!
MPEG Stream: "Dub 1"
MPEG Stream: "Conditioner"
MPEG Stream: "My Big Cups"

album cover KANDODO K2O (Thrill Jockey) cd 15.98
Simon from aQ faves The Heads is back with his second stellar solo opus under the name Kandodo. Once again he draws upon the rhythms and vastness of the sea and the sky to inspire the music on this album, which is a much more spacey and organic affair than the more intense fuzz freakage he indulges in UK garage psych masters The Heads. If you liked Kandodo's first one, you'll dig this too - it's again lovely and zoned-out, the tracks being pretty much entirely instrumental, composed of overdubbed, effects-laden guitar, shimming and fuzzy and droney, slowly and gently unfurling, sometimes building to a steady, krauty throb - as on the side-long epic "Swim Into The Sun", which Moon Duo fans will certainly love. The longer tracks like that are totally mesmeric and even the shorter interludes are too, before they fade out into the next.
These pieces aren't so much "songs" as they are mood-setting soundscapes, the repetitive, layered guitar parts working alone or in many cases mixed with field recordings (the sound of surf, appropriately, on both "Waves" and "Swim Into The Sun"), subtle bass pulsations, and occasional hippie hand percussion. Some voices are heard too, in a couple places, but they're buried samples, almost unintelligible, though we did figure out that the track "Grace And" incorporates an edited audio-tour of Elvis Presley's Graceland, to hypnotic effect. Odd, but there's a sort of soothing Conet-quality to it.
This radiantly glowing album is quite nice indeed and recommended; we can imagine Barn Owl fans enjoying the twang of "July 28th", we already mentioned the likes of Moon Duo, and also this has some post-rock appeal - folks into the softer side of Mogwai or Godspeed for instance might feel at home with a lot of this, though Kandodo is much more "wah wah psychedelic" in sound than yr usual post-rock.
Vinyl comes with bonus limited edition 7" with an exclusive B side, "Left My Heart In Monkey Bay" (the A side is on the cd).
MPEG Stream: "Slowah"
MPEG Stream: "Kandy Rock Mountain"
MPEG Stream: "Swim Into The Sun"

album cover LA IRA DE DIOS Peru No Existe (World In Sound) cd 21.00
Heck yeah, some more "Peru Psicodelia Punk" from these explosive South American garage-fuzz faves. That means it's time to ROCK, let's go! Lima's La Ira De Dios offer up another energetic dose of their can't-sit-still-listening-to-it distorted wailing grooviness on this, their fifth album. When we first heard these guys some years ago, they played spacey stoner rock, kinda like Kyuss meets Hawkwind, but their interest in freaky fuzz mongering has seemingly sent them on a path into the past, so by now it sounds like they've REALLY studied their '60s proto-punk stuff, with a concentration on Detroit. They even have backup vocals by a "girl group" of sorts, "The Borrachettes". The heavy Hawkwind-y space rock sounds are still there, though, too, along with the "Rumble" of Link Wray and some Nuggets-y jangle - and its a combo that's tough to beat, we love hearing La Ira De Dios bash it out in this style, with their gruff, sandpapery singing (some in Spanish, some in English) sounding sincerely urgent and desperate, contributing to this album's generally dark vibe.
They do take a few breaks from the rawk, allowing for some moody, melodic moments amidst the high energy mayhem, such as on the title track at the end of side A, all windswept acoustic strum and hushed downer vocals, before winding up with a jet engine blast of feedback noise, heralding a return to the uptempo rock action of "Underground" that begins side B. In some ways, this might be this trio's best or at least most multidimensional record yet, one that we'll listen to for their trademark "MAXIMUMVOLUMEROCKNROLL!!!" and much more besides.
As always, recommended! Especially to fans of very early Monster Magnet, as well as the likes of Vee Dee and DMBQ and local boys Hot Lunch. But really there's not too many modern day bands doing this sort of thing so darn well, demonstrating the true power of rock. For sure La Ira De Dios owe a lot to the greats - "Ghost City" reminds us a lot of Radio Birdman, and on "The Unrest" they channel the shake appeal of the Stooges - but nothin' wrong with that, in fact, everything is right about it, especially when you've got this cranked on 10 and wish you could turn it up even louder.
MPEG Stream: "Confusion"
MPEG Stream: "Aparecidos"
MPEG Stream: "Green Smoke"

album cover LA IRA DE DIOS Peru No Existe (World In Sound) lp 27.00
Heck yeah, some more "Peru Psicodelia Punk" from these explosive South American garage-fuzz faves. That means it's time to ROCK, let's go! Lima's La Ira De Dios offer up another energetic dose of their can't-sit-still-listening-to-it distorted wailing grooviness on this, their fifth album. When we first heard these guys some years ago, they played spacey stoner rock, kinda like Kyuss meets Hawkwind, but their interest in freaky fuzz mongering has seemingly sent them on a path into the past, so by now it sounds like they've REALLY studied their '60s proto-punk stuff, with a concentration on Detroit. They even have backup vocals by a "girl group" of sorts, "The Borrachettes". The heavy Hawkwind-y space rock sounds are still there, though, too, along with the "Rumble" of Link Wray and some Nuggets-y jangle - and its a combo that's tough to beat, we love hearing La Ira De Dios bash it out in this style, with their gruff, sandpapery singing (some in Spanish, some in English) sounding sincerely urgent and desperate, contributing to this album's generally dark vibe.
They do take a few breaks from the rawk, allowing for some moody, melodic moments amidst the high energy mayhem, such as on the title track at the end of side A, all windswept acoustic strum and hushed downer vocals, before winding up with a jet engine blast of feedback noise, heralding a return to the uptempo rock action of "Underground" that begins side B. In some ways, this might be this trio's best or at least most multidimensional record yet, one that we'll listen to for their trademark "MAXIMUMVOLUMEROCKNROLL!!!" and much more besides.
As always, recommended! Especially to fans of very early Monster Magnet, as well as the likes of Vee Dee and DMBQ and local boys Hot Lunch. But really there's not too many modern day bands doing this sort of thing so darn well, demonstrating the true power of rock. For sure La Ira De Dios owe a lot to the greats - "Ghost City" reminds us a lot of Radio Birdman, and on "The Unrest" they channel the shake appeal of the Stooges - but nothin' wrong with that, in fact, everything is right about it, especially when you've got this cranked on 10 and wish you could turn it up even louder.
MPEG Stream: "Confusion"
MPEG Stream: "Aparecidos"
MPEG Stream: "Green Smoke"

album cover LEHTISALO, JUSSI The Complete Solo Works (Ektro) cd 14.98
Last year we raved about a cassette (and then vinyl lp) called Interludes For Prepared Beast, the second solo release from Jussi Lehtisalo, the bassist/mastermind behind our favorite Finns, those mighty hypnorockers Circle (and many more 'NWOFHM' bands besides). Those of you who prefer compact discs over vinyl, let alone tapes, might have felt a twinge of turntable envy then, since you were missing out on an amazing album (our review concluded with: "Easily one of the coolest weirdest things we've heard from Jussi", and that's saying a lot). Thankfully, Jussi, who loves cds as much as we do, has just released Interludes For Prepared Beast on cd via his Ektro imprint - and even better, the disc also includes Jussi's first solo album, from 2010, entitled Rotta, which is also (of course) quite fantastic, and was a limited vinyl release we never even got any copies of the first time around. So even more to be thankful for, and another reason to pick this up.
We'll try to be brief about Rotta, 'cause we already wrote a lot about Interludes, as you will see. Simply put, it's gorgeous. Unlike maybe what you might expect from the man responsible for so much bombastic, heavy, progged out rock, Rotta definitely represents Jussi's softer side. Intimate and twilit, Rotta is a spacious sonic tapestry of gentle drones, cyclic guitar motifs, softly pulsating bass, and ambient field recordings interwoven with hushed, echo effected vocalizations (the words all in Finnish, we assume, so we don't know what he's on about, but it sounds deep regardless) and lovely layers of shortwave static n' hiss. The opening track "Veljeni" features some occasional harmonica twang, bringing to mind the cinematic, open spaces atmosphere of the likes of Earth circa Hex. Elsewhere, on "Aikoja Sitten", the vibe gets darker, the track lashed with stormy, sinister synthesizer sounds, before dreamily concluding with monkish vocal intonations over a bed of wavering bell-like tones and other mysterious, entrancing sound-swoosh. Fans of Circle's 'soundtrackier' side, mellowed-out albums like Miljard and Tower, will be in heaven. The "circular" sound of Circle is most certainly very present within these compositions; minimalist, mesmeric repetition being Jussi's forte of course.
So that's the first four tracks here, the Rotta portion of this disc, all indeed surprisingly beautiful and subdued, music to totally lose yourself in. Then there's the last two, over a quarter-hour each, representing side A and B of Interludes For Prepared Beast. They also beautiful in their way, but about as far from subdued as you can get. Much heavier, more "gritty" and intense. Both tracks are dense and layered, and constantly shifting. In some ways taking all the disparate sounds of Jussi's other bands (among them Circle, Ektroverde, Ratto Ja Lehtisalo, Doktor Kettu, Pharaoh Overlord, Rakhim, Krypt Axeripper, Split Cranium, Steel Mammoth, and others), and somehow mashing them all together, into something surprisingly cohesive.
The A side (track 5 here), "Caterpillars", starts off sounding like some sort of abstract deserty ambient experimental doom, with churning guitars, spurts of metallic crunch, clattery bicycle spoke like percussion, woozy Morricone-esque twang and spidery minor key melodies, peppered with occasional twisted little synth trills, all beneath some monstrous growled vokills, before the song transforms into something more woozy and jazzy, a little late night bluesy, with crooned distorted vox, and thick low end rib cage rattling thrum, only to then launch into some seriously twisted buzz drenched rock pound, which initially sounds like it might explode into full on black metal, but instead, the pounding and buzzing is joined by more twisted xylophone like synth melodies, booming sub bass throbs and cool blasts of rad classic metal style harmonized leads, before once again slipping back into a spacey sort of moody, woozy slowcore, driven by frenetic high hat cymbal stutter, and trippy dubbed out snare drums, still more crooned vox, the sound dreamy and washed out, laced with strange swoonsome faux horns and glistening spaced out FX before finally returning to that strange xylophone driven metallic stomp.
The flipside (aka track 6) is equally schizophrenic. "Here March The Cranes" begins all grinding gnarled guitars in a cloud of cymbal sizzle, which is then joined by some Circle like hypnorock bass, the guitars coalescing into little soaring squalls of majestic fast picking, multiple guitars interwoven, those guitars growing more intense, unfurling wild psychedelic leads, everything getting noisier and noisier, until finally switching gears and mellowing out, into a twisted post rock sprawl, all ethereal guitar shimmer, wild jazzy drummy, and spaced out bass blurts. Soon those growled vox come back in, and the sound turns into some strange sinister epic prog rock, swirling synthy strings, a slow build, more and more intense and tense, before splintering into a stretch of cool droned out noise rock churn, that sound gradually growing more and more spacey and serene, dreamy melodies, more of those faux horns, all manner of strange percussion and swirling FX, as the noise recedes, the sound becomes a hazy, lilting bit of psychedelic dreamdrone raga like drift. Fantastic! Easily one of the coolest weirdest things we've heard from Jussi, which is saying a lot considering his whole career has basically been nothing BUT a series of cool weird releases!!
All told, 78 minutes and 48 seconds of amazing music that probably one no single person but Jussi could possibly have come up with. Hopefully this disc won't remain Jussi's 'complete solo works' for long, we'd love a volume two someday. WAY recommended.
MPEG Stream: "Veljeni"
MPEG Stream: "Viimeinen Kalja"
MPEG Stream: "Caterpillars"
MPEG Stream: "Here Come The Cranes"

album cover VHK (GALLOPING CORONERS) Veled Haraptat Csillagot! (Bite The Stars!) (Ektro) cd 14.98
Now on cd as well as vinyl!!
For those that haven't heard the legendary Hungarian group VHK (aka Vagtazo Halottkemek, or the Galloping Coroners) before, how the heck to describe 'em? Well, this primal psychedelic punk ensemble has been around for years (their first album came out in 1988, but they had formed as far back as the mid '70s!) and they're for sure a band equally at home in a radical '80s punk squat, or on an ancient Indo-European battlefield, or out in space among the stars. As well as at home now on Ektro / Full Contact, the eccentric label associated with our fave Finnish space rock weirdos, Circle. They have put out previous albums on Jello Biafra's Alternative Tentacles label, and can certainly be considered one of the most significant, and definitely unique, Eastern European "punk" bands ever. Their sound is part pagan improv, part raucous gypsy-punk hoedown, part Hawkwind style blast-off. Their naturally "tribal" sound even reminded one person here, who hadn't heard 'em before, of Echo And The Bunnymen - but way more raw and wild and loose and heavy.
They've been on some sort of hiatus for quite a few years now (their last release came out in 1999), so it was a pleasant and exciting surprise to find 'em back again with this record, and at full force! The powerful, expressive voice of VHK's frontman, "Grandpierre Atilla", leads the charge, singing and screaming with passion in his native language. Yet, this album begins in a deceptively mellow mood, VHK conjuring a shamanistic campfire ritual on opening track "Handshake", at least at first, being acoustic, melodic, and in a way almost comforting. Those aspects persist, but as the album progresses, it builds and builds in intensity, always offering much compelling rhythmic drive and dark atmospheric vibes, culminating in a track, "Hun Testveriseg" ("The Hun Brotherhood"), recorded live at a festival last year called Black Noise, where we really can imagine these guys coming across as reincarnations of their ancestors, channeling their warrior spirit with electricity and amplification.
You want some "music review math"? Well, there's moments on this album that sound like the Sun City Girls jamming with Neurosis, and we'd further suggest that VHK are perfect for anyone who enjoys both Acid Mothers Temple and Rudimentary Peni.
Of course, if you already know VHK, you'll be happy they're galloping again! Old fans like us will love this. And for those who have yet to be trampled underfoot, this is a fantastic introduction to the mythology of this strange band. We realize that we we've never previously reviewed anything by VHK (we've only referenced them twice before on our site, in fact, in reviews of records by countryish space rockers U.S. Christmas and avant-folky black metallers Hollenthon). Glad we're able to rectify that now with this write-up.
MPEG Stream: "Kezfogas (Handshake)"
MPEG Stream: "Az Elet Unnepe (The Celebration Of Life)"
MPEG Stream: "Szarnyas Egbolt (Winged Sky)"

album cover MILK CULT Love God (Boner) lp 9.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY.
Found a VERY small stash of these original 1993 vinyl pressings at one of our suppliers. At original 1993 vinyl prices too! (Yes, remember when vinyl was cheaper than cds?). This release was the debut from Milk Cult, a beats-and-sound-collage side project of Dale "C.C. Nova" Flattum from San Francisco's late great grungy noiserock heavies Steel Pole Bath Tub, and it predates our "list" by a couple years, so we've never reviewed it, though much later on we did make Milk Cult's fourth and final album a Record Of The Week (2000's Project M-13, now long out of print unfortunately).
Love God opens with the title track, well worth the price of admission alone, 10+ minutes of chugging distorted Slayer riffage meets turntablist whip-whip-whap in a sampledelic maelstrom. All kinds of other insanity enters into the pounding mix, from flamenco dance music (?) to police sirens. It's apparently the soundtrack to a short film by Frank Grow which we've never seen but we figure it must be pretty freaky. From then on, the warped vibe of underground '90s plunderphonic noiserock industrial soundtrack mayhem continues, in a surrealistic style where, like, moments of sepia-toned old tyme record crackle loopage that could be from a Leyland Kirby disc, will be rudely juxtaposed with sudden onslaughts of -actual- Slayer samples, or even blasts of machingun fire. It's definitely very '90s, in a good way, think Pain Teens, early Scorn, Sucking Chest Wound, experimental Melvins, Cosmonauts Hail Satan, WordSound label dubby "illbience", and of course Steel Pole Bath Tub themselves - they always used samples, weird voice-overs and whatnot, and if you're familar with them, what you'll hear here will remind you of that aspect of their sound, but given center stage. Chaotic and/or creepy for sure, but "groovy" too in a way. Needless to say, these are the last copies we're gonna see, and when they're gone, they're gone. (Honestly, we only found 4 of these, so apologies in advance if they're all been snagged by the time you read this.)
MPEG Stream: "Love God"
MPEG Stream: "Drag Strip Riot Dream Sequence"
MPEG Stream: "Clown Party Pt. 2"

album cover MOUSE Lady Killer (Sommor) lp 28.00
First ever legit vinyl reissue of the only record, circa 1973, from this fairly obscure '70s British rock band, best known 'cause their lead guitar player was none other than Ray Russell, the cult free jazz/fusion/psych rock guitarist who did session work as well as a few albums of his own, his fans include Alan Licht and Jim O'Rourke, who put out a double cd Russell anthology on his own Mokai label a while back. In Mouse, Russell definitely goes more rock than jazz, in fact venturing pretty heavy territory at one point. The record is really all over the place, with stuff we love about '70s rock - from groovy, glammy honky tonk to poppy Beatles-y soft rock balladry to full on proto-doom riffery.
The festivities begin with a jolly good time of a song called "Going Out Tonight", a glam rockin' number with campy lyrics, that nicely transitions into an extended, spaced-out psych section which features Russell coaxing some strange sounds from his guitar, fading out eventually, making way for "You Don't Know", a quite pretty & melancholic pop ditty with wistful vocals. Following that, "Electric Lady" finds Mouse cranking up their amps for more of a riff rocker, but one that still has a pop sensibility to it. Next, "All The Fallen Teen Angels" is a cover, and good one, of a song by Medicine Head. Then the side closes out with the mostly instrumental and suprisingly doom-ridden "Asher Besher", the song's lengthy intro of heavy guitar chords and plodding drums being shockingly Sabbathy, what vocals there are closer to croaking crow-cries, before an urgent, burbling bass line kicks in and the track takes off into gnarled psychedelic guitar soloing - followed by a brief acoustic coda. Nice one, that, especially for proto-metal obsessives.
And if you thought that somehow side one had covered all the bases, not quite. Side two starts off with another excellent pop rocker, "We Can Make It", but that's followed by the spooked-out "East Of The Sun", a droning string-laden psych track that mostly sounds like 20th century avant-garde classical music! And then they start in with fuzzy proto-metal riffery again, with "Its Happening To Me And You", with wailing acid rock guitars and lyrics like these: "Waiting for the candy man / wondering who I really am / do you really need to care / if you're here or if you're there / why why why / why don't you try / gotta get high / it's happening to me and you / changes that you're going through / doing what you wanna do / moving like a movie queen / drifting through a purple dream". Druggy, eh? And so it goes, Mouse mixing lovely orchestrated pop with drug addled hippy trippiness and lashings of distorted guitar.
This record is the kind of thing that we'd imagine John Peel would have played a lot, but even if so, probably nobody else did and thus it was Mouse's only release. Still, a bit of a gem nice to have reissued, not just for fans of Ray Russell but also proto-metallers Steel Mill (whose ex-bass player was a member of Mouse), and early '70s UK prog, glam, and pop rock in general.
Remastered, 180 gram vinyl, gatefold sleeve, includes liner note insert, etc.
MPEG Stream: "Electric Lady"
MPEG Stream: "Asher Besher"
MPEG Stream: "It's Happening To Me And You"

album cover RODION G.A. The Lost Tapes (Strut) 2lp 29.00
Wow! Ok, this is pretty darn amazing. We ordered a copy of this based on a brief description we read, something along the lines of: "long lost futuristic funky proggy electronic music from behind the Iron Curtain". That was enough for us. And maybe for you too, though we're gonna go on and on about this anyway. But yeah, if that description piques your interest, let us just say that you will NOT be disappointed. However incredibly weird and cool you might imagine this could be from that short synopsis, it is probably even better!
And we were listening to it, and loving it, before we delved into the detailed liner notes and found out what it was all about - or when exactly it was from. So that's another recommendation, the music stands on its own without prior awareness of its quite interesting historical aspects.
What you get here are ten killer tracks drenched in echo effects, dense with percolating beats, uber-distorted analog synths, and eerily ear-catching melodies, a sound utterly full of "flanged, phased, and fuzzed electricity". They're previously unreleased reel-to-reel recordings, circa 1978-1984, from the vaults of this pioneering Romanian DIY electro-prog-pop groop who only released two tracks officially during their career, on a state-sanctioned compilation lp in 1981, before fading into obscurity. Rodion G.A. was founded in 1975 by a fellow named Rodion Ladislau Rosca, who had been collecting prog records and experimenting with homebuilt electronic gear since the dawn of the '70s. The G.A. comes from the names of the other two founding members of the band, but it's really composer Rodion Rosca's show, the material here recorded in Rodion's home studio in Cluj, most instruments played and programmed by Rodion himself, with occasional 'real' drumming contributed by one of the other guys.
Despite the deprivations of living in an oppressive Communist dictatorship, Rodion's creativity flourished, and this music still sounds super fresh and ahead of its time, venturing even into full-on proto-techno with the likes of "Diagonala", though always in its own unique hybrid form, on that track ferinstance mixing in what sounds like Eastern European folk motifs and Goblin-y giallo soundtrack spookiness. Krautrock influences shine through too, Kraftwerk and Cluster for sure, plus we can't help but think of odd outsider aQ faves Bruce Haack and Wicked Witch - cool company to be in!
Rodion's bombastic "hairy funk" prog grooves are melded to melodic pop hooks, always cloaked with a wonderfully miasmic layer of lo-fi grime. Everything here has its unique charms, ranging from the sinister, grittily distorted bunkurfunk of "Citadela", to the motorik delightfulness of "Salt 83", so strangely warped and sunshiney, to "In Linistea Noptii", wherein lovely piano playing mixes it up with the electronic elements. Some tracks are instrumentals, some have catchy vocal choruses - and some are visited by what sound like the echoing cries of a prehistoric pterodactyl, presumably another synth effect, sizzling stabs of which are always swooshing around.
So THIS was the sound of underground Romania back in the day, who knew? We are so thankful this freaky music didn't stay a secret forever. Yep, these "lost tapes" are quite the discovery, minds have been blown for sure. Automatic Record Of The Week.
Packaged with extensive liner notes by Andy Thomas, illustrated with vintage photos, telling the whole fascinating story of Rodion's stunted career, and recent reemergence as the "Godfather of Romanian electronic music". Oh, and the vinyl version also comes with a cd!
MPEG Stream: "Cantec Fulger"
MPEG Stream: "Citadela"
MPEG Stream: "Disco Mania"
MPEG Stream: "Imagini Din Vis"

album cover LOOP Fade Out (Reactor) 2lp 25.00
FINALLY, this all time psychedelic space rock trance out classic, and former aQ Record Of The Week, reissued on vinyl!!
When people think of spaced out, drone-y drug rock, Spacemen 3 seem to get all the love, which is of course fair, Spacemen 3 totally rule, their music is magical, especially for some of us who will probably only ever experience drug use by strapping on a pair of headphones and blasting Taking Drugs To Make Music To Take Drugs To. But c'mon, let's share the love, with another group, who existed during the same time, in basically the same place, and who were sonically quite similar, yet crafted their own distinctive and incredibly iconic body of work, one that has been criminally unavailable for years now. These two reissues are the first in what will hopefully be a comprehensive reissue campaign for London space rockers Loop.
For years, Loop have been a favorite of in-the-know music nerds, whose Spacemen 3 collection is most likely rivaled by their Loop collection, and basically, to love one, is indeed to love the other. You like thick looped guitars, blown out distorted buzz, krautrocky rhythms, song structures that are simple, cyclical, repetitive, hypnotic, guitars dripping with effects, vocals drawled lazily and buried in the mix, everything hazy and washed out and bleary eyed and druggy. Wait, were we talking about Loop or Spacemen 3? Exactly. The main difference to our ears, was that Loop always seemed to rock way harder. The Spacemen would often flutter off in tripped out ambient flights of fancy, dropping the drums completely, letting the guitar pulse and throb, the vocals drifting ethereally over the top. And sure, Loop were capable of that too, but seemed to hew closer to a more driving sound, the drums much more integral to their overall vibe. The sound of Loop was equal parts krautrock and space rock, and their name was definitely referenced their sound. Loop mainman Hampson would even go on to form Main, a more tranquil guitar loop based outfit, whose obsession with texture and loops absolutely informed all of the Loop recordings. The guitars were thick, wreathed in distortion, delay, reverb, doused in effects, that not only altered their timbre, and their tone, but also often made the guitars sound backwards, creating woozy of kilter jams that seemed to slowly and subtly shift and change shapes before our very ears. The vocals weary and washed out, the drums skeletal and simple, but all fused into totally tripped out, drugged out, kraut-infused space rock bliss.
Fade Out was record number two for Loop, and found the band making a definite move forward in terms of production and sound, and an obvious shift away fro a sound they shared with countrymen Spacemen 3. The sound on Fade Out is much heavier, and way louder, the guitars sharper and more jagged, the bass more present, the vocals way more prominent, the sound immediately less druggy and washed out and more rocking. "Black Sun" is a propulsive slab of spaced out garage-y krautrock, the guitars ringing out, the second guitar a buzzing over the top, the drums busy and powerful, the whole thing still wreathed in effects, but now the murk had been replaced with something much more effulgent, a strange burnished glow, suffusing the sound, less like laying in darkness and watching colors swirl and shimmer, and more like staring directly into the sun. "This Is Where You End" continues on in the same vein, with gruff almost growled vocals, over that distinctive looped guitar figure, with multiple guitars offering up extra melody and texture.
"Fever Knife" stands out as it slows things way down, and the guitars are muted, not quite as sharp, with plenty of squiggly fun house mirror guitar melodies intertwined with that main riff, the tempo, a head nodding soporific groove, definitely reaching back a bit to the sound of Heaven's End. But then comes "Torched" with a incendiary guitar sound so loud and in the red, it threatens to blow your speakers, dwarfing the drums and bass in the background, churning and soaring, white hot and blown out big time.
The title track is another slowed down druggy dirge, the main riff lumbering woozily along side a steady simple beat, haunting processed vocals, and chunks of extra guitar buzz, the whole thing downright doomy. The last three tracks are gorgeous squalls of druggy throb and crumbling guitar buzz, the record finishing up with a short stretch of shimmering ambient drift. SO GREAT!!
The deluxe cd reissue of Fade Out that we made Record Of The Week included a whole bonus disc, sadly this version doesn't, but it is on 45rpm double vinyl.
SO TOTALLY AND UTTERLY RECOMMENDED. ABSOLUTELY ESSENTIAL! And for recent converts to the world of druggy space rock, anyone who has been digging local droney drug rockers Wooden Shjips (and we know there are LOTS of you out there), will definitely fall in love with Loop!!
MPEG Stream: "Black Sun"
MPEG Stream: "This Is Where You End"
MPEG Stream: "Fade Out"

album cover RODION G.A. The Lost Tapes (Strut) cd 15.98
Wow! Ok, this is pretty darn amazing. We ordered a copy of this based on a brief description we read, something along the lines of: "long lost futuristic funky proggy electronic music from behind the Iron Curtain". That was enough for us. And maybe for you too, though we're gonna go on and on about this anyway. But yeah, if that description piques your interest, let us just say that you will NOT be disappointed. However incredibly weird and cool you might imagine this could be from that short synopsis, it is probably even better!
And we were listening to it, and loving it, before we delved into the detailed liner notes and found out what it was all about - or when exactly it was from. So that's another recommendation, the music stands on its own without prior awareness of its quite interesting historical aspects.
What you get here are ten killer tracks drenched in echo effects, dense with percolating beats, uber-distorted analog synths, and eerily ear-catching melodies, a sound utterly full of "flanged, phased, and fuzzed electricity". They're previously unreleased reel-to-reel recordings, circa 1978-1984, from the vaults of this pioneering Romanian DIY electro-prog-pop groop who only released two tracks officially during their career, on a state-sanctioned compilation lp in 1981, before fading into obscurity. Rodion G.A. was founded in 1975 by a fellow named Rodion Ladislau Rosca, who had been collecting prog records and experimenting with homebuilt electronic gear since the dawn of the '70s. The G.A. comes from the names of the other two founding members of the band, but it's really composer Rodion Rosca's show, the material here recorded in Rodion's home studio in Cluj, most instruments played and programmed by Rodion himself, with occasional 'real' drumming contributed by one of the other guys.
Despite the deprivations of living in an oppressive Communist dictatorship, Rodion's creativity flourished, and this music still sounds super fresh and ahead of its time, venturing even into full-on proto-techno with the likes of "Diagonala", though always in its own unique hybrid form, on that track ferinstance mixing in what sounds like Eastern European folk motifs and Goblin-y giallo soundtrack spookiness. Krautrock influences shine through too, Kraftwerk and Cluster for sure, plus we can't help but think of odd outsider aQ faves Bruce Haack and Wicked Witch - cool company to be in!
Rodion's bombastic "hairy funk" prog grooves are melded to melodic pop hooks, always cloaked with a wonderfully miasmic layer of lo-fi grime. Everything here has its unique charms, ranging from the sinister, grittily distorted bunkurfunk of "Citadela", to the motorik delightfulness of "Salt 83", so strangely warped and sunshiney, to "In Linistea Noptii", wherein lovely piano playing mixes it up with the electronic elements. Some tracks are instrumentals, some have catchy vocal choruses - and some are visited by what sound like the echoing cries of a prehistoric pterodactyl, presumably another synth effect, sizzling stabs of which are always swooshing around.
So THIS was the sound of underground Romania back in the day, who knew? We are so thankful this freaky music didn't stay a secret forever. Yep, these "lost tapes" are quite the discovery, minds have been blown for sure. Automatic Record Of The Week.
Packaged with extensive liner notes by Andy Thomas, illustrated with vintage photos, telling the whole fascinating story of Rodion's stunted career, and recent reemergence as the "Godfather of Romanian electronic music". Oh, and the vinyl version also comes with a cd!
MPEG Stream: "Cantec Fulger"
MPEG Stream: "Citadela"
MPEG Stream: "Disco Mania"
MPEG Stream: "Imagini Din Vis"

album cover TSEE MUD ... Bacro ... LSD (Shadoks) cd 17.98
Shadoks somehow does it yet again, digging up an obscure, fuzzed out psychedelic gem from one of the far corners of the globe. This one must have really required some digging, as the disc is not even an actual full album reissue, but a collection of mostly unreleased tracks by three different but related groups from the jungles of Venezuela - late '60s / early '70s underground acts pretty much unknown outside of their home turf. Obscure indeed, but pretty dang cool, makes you wonder about all the even more obscure bands never documented at all. Shadoks has already brought us one classic Venezuelan psych record by Ladies W.C. and this stuff is in much the same vein of freaky high energy hard psych and fuzzy popsike.
These recordings, taken from 7" singles as well as unreleased tapes, date from roughly 1967 to 1972, and are all by these three bands that featured many of the same members, always including guitarist Josetio Romero. First came LSD, an acid rock act obviously, then they morphed into the Led Zeppelin influenced Tsee Mud (the name a reference to the bloodsucking, disease-bearing tsetse fly), and then finally the all-instrumental and super groovy Bacro. Romera was involved with some other bands too during this period, like one called Heavy Load, but none of the others left any recordings. He apparently even toured the USA (playing Madison Square Garden!) with the American R&B band The Del-Vikings, during the break between Tsee Mud and Bacro. As you might suppose, Romero was a pretty wild guitarist, starting off as a devoted Jimi Hendrix acolyte and going from there.
None of these bands (who played live a lot and must have been great on stage) ever made a full-length lp which is a shame but at least this collection brings together what they did record, and it really works as a cohesive set, basically a 'best of' one band with three names.
Our favorite tracks might be the instrumentals by Bacro, those are just killer grooves, no vocals needed. But ALL the tracks are pretty great, the ones with wailing vocals to go with the wailing guitar too. There's no duds, all the tracks are packed with hairy funk, primal prog moves and lumbering, heavy, Hendrix-y riffs out the wazoo. There's a few moody moments but things usually start swinging seconds later. Some of the time, Tsee Mud et. al. come across sorta like a South American James Gang, cool! Also for fans of Los Dug Dugs for sure, and even African psych stuff like Witch. Further proof that awesome, unknown bands lurked in garages the world over, back then!
The cd booklet includes lengthy liner notes in both English and Spanish, along with lyrics, vintage photos and graphics. Although, despite all the detailed information provided, the cd booklet doesn't do a very good job of identifying which of the eleven tracks on this disc were by which bands, though you can probably figure it out if you read carefully, if it even matters, which it doesn't really.
FYI, also available on vinyl, but it's hella expensive ($45), that's how Shadoks do, we can special order it though, just ask.
MPEG Stream: "Amandote Esta Dios"
MPEG Stream: "If You Want To Be Alive "
MPEG Stream: "This Natural Place"

album cover LEGEND From The Fjords (Acid Nightmare) lp 32.00
Legend. They picked a good band name - an obscure legend, but legend nonetheless, in the annals of early, epic prog/metal. We first heard of 'em years ago when local true metal eccentrics The Lord Weird Slough Feg covered one of the songs from this record, a track called "The Wizard's Vengeance" - you can find Slough Feg's version, always a live fave, on their second album, Twilight Of The Idols (recently reissued in a 3cd 'box set' by Metal Blade). And the rollicking "The Wizard's Vengeance" is indeed one of the highlights here, it's a real ripper, both energetic and dramatic, but Slough Feg could have easily picked other tracks from this lp that they also could have made their own. That's because From The Fjords, this Connecticut band's only ever release, an ultra-rare private pressing from 1979, is a pioneering early example of progressive epic metal, similar in many ways to the sound that Manilla Road was developing around the same time - and thus also a forerunner to what Slough Feg sometimes sounds like too.
Legend maybe shouldn't even be considered a 'real' metal band, more like a hard rocking prog outfit, often quite majestic and moody, compositionally complex & indulgent. The vocals are perhaps one of Legend's most idiosyncratic elements, being super clean and clear, with some vibrato, capable of conveying intensity and emotion, but also kind of laidback and spacey at the same time, the lyrics mostly mystical, their sincere nerdy/hippie vibe definitely not very metal. On the other hand, like we said, Legend can rock pretty hard, having, most importantly, lotsa great riffs! So that tips 'em a bit more over into metal territory. And the singer does let out a scream once in a while. Their songs' titles and subject matter are also often very metal: "The Destroyer", "Against The Gods", "From The Fjords" (about Viking raiders, naturally). Musically, though, while they may have been listening to the heavy metal of the day, they also must have been big into prog and fusion too - Return To Forever as well as Rush, no doubt. Legend were a power trio and all three members possessed plenty of instrumental chops - the guitar, bass and drums each showing off whenever they can, with complex flourishes. You won't be surprised (and hopefully will be pleased) to find an elaborate drum solo breakdown in the midst of "The Iron Horse", ferinstance (the lengthiest of the two all-instrumental cuts on here).
Lest Legend seem too serious (and only inadvertently silly, with some of their non-ironic mythological/fantasy lyrics), there's deliberate comic relief with "R.A.R.Z.", a tongue-in-cheek track about how they're ready to sell out and become rock stars if they could only get a break. Good thing it's obvious from that song that they knew that wasn't ever gonna happen, and lucky for us too since they were clearly so much better at making a decidedly noncommercial, bizarrely weird and wonderful DIY prog/metal hybrid destined only for well-deserved cult status, that gives the sense of coming from an ancient time, as if we were centuries removed from 1979.
This long-awaited vinyl reissue, which includes a lyric sheet insert, is a European import, limited to just 400 copies worldwide; we got all the copies we're likely to ever get. Someday, perhaps, there will also be a cd reissue of this collector's item on the Vintage/Rockadrome label, but they've been promising it for a while, so we'll see. In the meantime, vinyl types into mystic-proto-epic-prog-metal better grab this now. This would have been a great one for the in-between list we did last week of "heavy ripping freaky prog" stuff!!
RIP guitarist/vocalist Kevin Nugent (died 1983).
MPEG Stream: "The Destroyer"
MPEG Stream: "The Wizard's Vengeance"
MPEG Stream: "From The Fjords"

album cover SLOUGH FEG, THE LORD WEIRD Laser Enforcer b/w Blending In (self-released) 7" 7.98
Attention all headbanging nerds!! Look out, here's a brand new song from San Francisco's weird metal lords Slough Feg, a propulsive sci-fi themed rocker entitled "Laser Enforcer", sounding, especially in this rough-and-tumble demo version, a heck of a lot like some long lost NWOBHM single. We've heard it played live as well, it's a good one! It's slated to appear, in re-recorded form, on their upcoming studio album Digital Resistance, due out sometime next year on Metal Blade, but why wait? This raw rendition was originally intended for a split with cult Canadian doomsters Funeral Circle, but somehow that fell through, so here it is, self-released by the band on 7" vinyl, and paired instead with another, older recording from their vaults.
We're especially taken with the groovy instrumental breakdown, with brief drum break and chicken scratch guitar pattern, that happens at about the 1:30 mark of "Laser Enforcer" and then recurs again a bit later on, both times segueing into emotive twin guitar leads, with lots of zip-zip-zap-zap sound FX swirling 'round. Elsewhere, the superbly melodic verse/chorus vocal parts find Slough Feg mainman Mike Scalzi's distinctive tenor in fine form, as he tells you the fantastical facts about what metaphysical effects his regime of laser enforcement will bring about. Despite the song's driving groove, it also has a sort of moody, melancholy vibe to it, interestingly enough. Definitely makes us look forward to the upcoming album, as if we weren't already.
Then, for something completely different, the B side, from a previously unreleased 4-track recording that dates back to the Atavism era, is a Government Issue cover! Yep, the '80s DC hardcore band. Slough Feg do a dead-on job with their raging version of GI's "Blending In" from the 1984 album Joyride. It's a nod to Scalzi and fellow Slough Feg guitarist Angelo Tringali's roots in the punk scene back then; after all they've always cited the likes of Black Flag as an influence alongside Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden and Thin Lizzy.
Limited to 500 copies.

album cover U.S. MAPLE Long Hair In Three Stages (Skin Graft) lp 15.98
WTF? The debut album, circa 1995, from this totally WTF? band has just been reissued on vinyl, yay! Looking back, we see that though we're big fans of this, shall we say, unique, Chicago avant-indie rock ensemble, and we've reviewed every other U.S. Maple release, we never actually reviewed this first one. Even though we know we loved it. Well, maybe it just took a while for us to figure out how to put the U.S. Maple "thing" into words. In our reviews of their later albums, we've said things like: "A seeming haphazard mess of gimpy sonic bumps and bruises" or "mathrock made with melted slide-rules", always emphasizing how abstract and confusional their unusually hard to describe compositions are.
This one, though, is their most skronked but still identifiably ROCK effort, and definitely a good starting place for anyone new to the USM experience. Exploding with spiralling shards of guitar and breathy bursts of weirdass vocals, Long Hair In Three Stages is a delightfully counter-intuitive take on heavy mathy noise rockin', like if Captain Beefheart were on AmRep or something. Though as always that really doesn't describe it - and that's a testament to what a great band these guys were, they're their own dang thing for sure. Highly, highly recommended!!!
FYI, Skin Graft also reissued this in two different, deluxe METAL cover editions, but both were a wee bit too expensive for us to just stock, like seventy bux retail. Might still be able to get you one though if you want us to check, though, just ask.
MPEG Stream: "Letter To ZZ Top"
MPEG Stream: "Magic Job"
MPEG Stream: "When A Man Says 'Ow'"

album cover SATAN Life Sentence (Listenable) cd 15.98
Hot on the heels of their much revered debut Court in the Act, fresh-faced youngsters Satan have returned from the foggy English North to deliver another razor sharp slice of very regal, very classic, very BRITISH heavy metal!
Oh wait, did we mention that much revered debut actually came out 30 years ago?? That's right, it's been a LONG time coming, but Satan have reformed with their entire original line up intact (that never happens!) and have against all odds delivered one of the most potent and exhilarating heavy metal records of 2013. Life Sentence is buzzing with a youthful exuberance no one has any right to expect from a band well into its third decade - especially one that's been inactive for so long. The entire record is a blur of infectious riffs, confounding guitar leads and commanding vocals. Seeing as Satan originally emerged from the darker side of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal, fans of bands like Angel Witch, Pagan Altar and Witchfynde are obviously going to find lots here to love. But there's something about the combination of Brian Ross' deep theatrical vocals layered over the band's unique brand of eccentric, dramatic heavy metal that also brings to mind Bay Area true metal stalwarts and long time aQ faves Brocas Helm, while some of the dizzying proto-thrash riffing and occasional piercing falsetto wails recall Mercyful Fate in their prime. Otherwise though, Life Sentence is a wholly British affair. Satan's approach to heavy metal feels historical and dignified with a sense of medieval dread running throughout (not unlike their also recently reformed NWOBHM peers Hell) with songs that might not sound out of place soundtracking a dreary English countryside besieged by plague, or perhaps a lively public execution by guillotine in the local town square! The production is appropriately understated and sparse to match, striking the perfect middle ground of a nice clean sound without ever sounding too modern or polished. Highly recommended for any traditional headbangers out there who prefer their metal a little bit dark and a little bit menacing, but still addictive and catchy as hell. Get this... lest ye be judged!
MPEG Stream: "Time To Die"
MPEG Stream: "Siege Mentality"
MPEG Stream: "Testimony"

album cover DEVO Hardcore Volume 1 (Superior Viaduct) lp 17.98
Gonna try to keep this relatively short. 'Cause it would be easy to go on and on and on about what an amazing band Devo were back in the day and how absolutely ESSENTIAL these newly reissued collections of the earliest recorded Devo music are. Never before released on vinyl in the States, the original two volumes of Hardcore Devo came out on cd and cassette on Rykodisc in 1990 and 1991 respectively, and have been out of print (and sought after by fans) for many years. Now at last they've been reissued, as separate volumes on vinyl (one a single lp, the other double) and together as a double cd set.
Those of you already into Devo, who don't already have this, NEED this - and even if you do have it, you might want it again, either to get the vinyl versions, and/or for the 4 previously unreleased bonus tracks now included (on disc two / Volume Two). For others, well this is our opportunity to proselytize for the cult of Devo. Some folks out there who aren't that familiar with Devo might think of 'em as just some novelty new wave nerd-rock band doing goofy songs and wearing silly hats, one-hit wonders with 1980's "Whip It!". And while they did wear silly hats (pardon us, energy domes) and were plenty goofy, they were also super subversive and bizarre, both sonically and ideologically, true pioneers in the realm of synth-punk and new wave, coming up with a sound that somehow grafted Kraftwerk to punk rock before either were popular, promoting their own anticapitalist, antiestablishment agenda couched in irony and Dadaism. These early recordings, demos and rarities recorded on a 4-track in Akron, Ohio circa 1974-1977, reveal Devo at their most underground, raw and stripped down, but already possessed of both catchy songwriting brilliance and conceptual originality. Definitely not the hippie boogie rock popular at the time!
It's worth noting that both future Devo members Gerald Casale and Mark Mothersbaugh had been students at Kent State, SDS activists in fact, and Casale personally witnessed the shocking National Guard shooting of anti-war demonstrators there in 1970. In some ways, Devo was the direct result. It's just that their idea of "protest music" was a bit different that the norm up to that point.
These DIY recordings sound pretty darn good - Devo knew what they were doing, even before they hooked up with producer Brian Eno for their 1977 debut Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo! recorded at Conny Plank's studio in Germany. In fact, these are the recordings that got Eno interested in working with them in the first place.
On Volume One there's early versions of such Devo classics as "Jocko Homo", "Mongoloid", and their brilliant cover of "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction", but otherwise it's a plenitude of (sub)genius tracks never re-recorded for any of their studio albums, though some were released as singles on their own Booji Boy label, or later as B sides. It's a treasure trove of prime Devo at their purest and most urgently devolved!!! It contains one of our all time favorite Devo toons: "Auto Modown", a simple slice of proto-no-wave funk with a stinging guitar riff and Mark Mothersbaugh crooning ghoulish lyrics about how "an acid head goon in a '55 Dodge didn't mean to do it / but a sidewalk run in the noonday sun ten to one he had to lose it". Similar traits are shared by most of the tracks on here - the distorted synth-ed out soundz, the trebly bug zapper guitar, the absurd lyrical content, the robotically rhythmic catchiness. If you're a spud who hasn't heard "Social Fools", "Buttered Beauties", "Mechanical Man", "I'm A Potato", or "Ono" (and the list goes on), you haven't lived. EVERYTHING on here is great, all 15 cuts. Like we said, we could go on and on, about such treats as the blissed out, moody "Golden Energy" or the perversely humorous "Midget", who has the body of a 2 and half year old baby but the brain of a man, and takes advantage of the situation - deviant, juvenile, and sometimes frustrated sexual humor being one foundation of Devo's aesthetic for sure, with an ironic misogyny certainly being a component of the band's radical and often misunderstood critique of American culture.
Meanwhile disc two / Volume Two is even more packed with tracks, 25 of 'em, including the rather un-PC "Bamboo Bimbo", the anthemic "Be Stiff", the raunchy "I Need A Chick", and the electronically spazzed "U Got Me Bugged" (sung by Booji Boy himself), among many other weirdass classics. Overall Volume Two tends towards the slightly hit-and-miss in comparison to the totally solid start-to-finish Volume One, the Volume Two material not always as tightly on target, but after all there's more here, and even the lesser tracks are still worth absorbing repeatedly. Again, there's only a few songs that surfaced again later on their studio albums, like "Clockout" and their cover of "Working In A Coal Mine", otherwise it's mostly stuff only dedicated Devo-tees have heard before. And maybe hardly anyone has ever heard the four bonus tracks now tacked on to the end of Volume Two, but they're a worthy, weird bunch, including a couple of that sound like twisted, tweaked blues, in particular the the electronics-invaded and lyrically crude "Hubert House".
If you couldn't tell, we're so thrilled this is back in print, what can we say: BUY IT!! It might not change your life, but it could. It should. Kudos to the Superior Viaduct label, they've been putting out all kinds of cool reissues lately, but for us, this is the biggest deal yet, even if these albums aren't the rarest that they've reissued. They're nicely done, of course, including amusingly enthused liner notes by Henry Rollins, someone who has quite obviously drunk deeply of Devo's Kool-Aid. Heed his words: "Spud, prepare to be amazed!"
MPEG Stream: "Auto Modown"
MPEG Stream: "Social Fools"
MPEG Stream: "Midget"

album cover CENTIPEDE Septober Energy (Beat Goes On Records) 2cd 17.98
We listed a fairly expensive vinyl reissue of this not too long ago, but just managed to track down some copies of the double compact disc version too, for those of you who would prefer that format...
One of our most popular Records Of The Week of recent vintage was the double cd by ambitious UK ensemble the Orchestra Of The Upper Atmosphere, and in our review of that we mentioned this, an unjustly obscure classic from the early '70s, a joyous symphonic jazz prog outpouring from another HUGE ensemble, that the UOA reminded us of just a bit - it probably was one of their inspirations, in fact. Centipede was a robust 50-piece orchestra, lead by composer Keith Tippett, featuring a host of rock and jazz musicians from the Canterbury scene (Robert Wyatt wrote the original liner notes), including members of King Crimson, Soft Machine, and Nucleus. Heroically recorded & produced by King Crimson's Robert "Bob" Fripp, Septober Energy was originally released in 1971 (yep), and has now been reissued by Klimt in a gatefold sleeve on double vinyl, that barely contains this sprawling, vibrant masterpiece, which morphs continually through jazz and prog and 20th century avant classical idioms, incorporating droning wordless vocal choirs, violin and cello scrape and skitter, crazed crescendos of jabbering kecak-like chant, delicate piano passages, masses of trumpets, saxes, and trombones, and more... Imagine William Sheller's Lux Aeterna album with a whole bunch of Albert Aylers on board, maybe, especially with Centipede's dynamic shifts from driftingly pleasant melodic horn passages to total free jazz freakout to righteous, swinging "hairy funk" grooves. Moments might possibly get too "fusiony" for some folks, but not for us though.
Fripp was supposed to play guitar, but instead he was too busy with his recording duties, so the fat fuzz riffery that occasionally appears comes courtesy of Brian Godding of Blossom Toes (who, even more germane to this music, later on played with Magma!). There's also lyrics by (and singing from) Tippett's then-wife Julie, who now actually often collaborates with UOA's Martin Archer, see.
MPEG Stream: "Septober Energy Part 1"
MPEG Stream: "Septober Energy Part 2"
MPEG Stream: "Septober Energy Part 4"

album cover HACKAMORE BRICK One Kiss Leads To Another (Sony / Real Gone Music) cd 14.98
Holy moly, at long LONG last a proper reissue of this should-be-much-better-known vintage rock classic! Seriously, this is one of those albums, where it's like, how come this hasn't been reissued before?! Why aren't the band's chief songwriters Chick Newman and Tommy Moonlight famous? Ok, it's been bootlegged previously, but not even as much as it "should" have been. You can hear these songs for the very first time and they'll sound like comfy old favorites. Hitherto lucky collectors only were hip to this (Allan here thanks Tim Ellison from the 'zine Rock Mag for tuning him on to Hackamore Brick years and years ago - we shoulda asked Tim to write this review, come to think of it, but we'll try to do it justice).
Hackamore Brick was a New York City band playing a special brand of laidback urban folk-rock / power pop, super catchy songs with jangly guitars, that are also very moody and bittersweet sounding. Their biggest influences seem to be both the Velvet Underground and The Byrds, and they live up to 'em on this, their only full-length, released in 1970 on bubblegum label Kama Sutra - though while sometimes sunny (through clouds) this sure ain't bubblegum. What this is, is a feast of great songs. They're all really good, it was tough for us to pick which ones to make sound samples for. One Kiss Leads To Another (a lyric from the track "Oh! Those Sweet Bananas" - they have a thing for quirky song titles) provides plenty of wonderfully melancholic, nostalgic earworm action, full of acoustic strum, hovering electric organ, clever if curious lyrics (with some unusual rhymes), and lovely, roughhewn vocal harmonies.
Of course, Hackamore Brick never made it commercially - you can hear maybe how this was a bit too REAL and raw and a bit too weird for the Top 40 pop charts of the day - but they belong in the Top 40 of anyone who appreciates offbeat brilliance. The Byrdisan West Coast element to their sound definitely means that folks who liked another recent reissue of a long-lost-obscure-gem, the Anonymous album, should also check this out. Also for fans of The Modern Lovers, Big Star, and plenty of latter day lo-fi indie pop.
Remastered, with new liner notes, this also includes bonus tracks, one on the vinyl and three on the cd, both formats including their pretty rockin' cover of Leiber & Stoller's "Searchin'" from their lone post-album single. We are so stoked on this!!! Buy it, you might find yourself a new favorite, formerly long lost album.
MPEG Stream: "Reachin'"
MPEG Stream: "Oh! Those Sweet Bananas"
MPEG Stream: "Got A Girl Named Wilma"

album cover ROB JO STAR BAND s/t (Born Bad) lp + 7" 23.00
We are super stoked that this ultra obscure, freaky French '70s underground psychedelic proto punk gem has been reissued again, now on cd as well as vinyl, and with bonus track action as well!!!
Crazy how there's still stuff like this out there ready to be (re)discovered. The Rob Jo Star band originally put this out in 1974, assuredly under the influence of the Velvets and the Stooges, kinda like cult Canadian contemporaries Simply Saucer. Like SS, the Rob Jo Star Band packs these tracks with all kinds of ridiculous synth blurt, home-brewed electronics swooshing and bleeping and farting all throughout this album, other key elements of which include jangling distorted guitars and heavily accented vocals... Pretty darn cool if you ask us! There's moments that sound like a French version of The Cramps, inside a spaceship; others where the singer gets kinda Damo, and basically it's a healthy (or perhaps unhealthy) dose of throbbing fuzz, chugging rock n' roll rhythms, handclaps, wild vox, with song titles like "Acid Revolution" and "Blood Flower". File with the likes of Soggy, Angel Face, and Metal Urbain...
This new, nicely done, fully legit reish on the French Born Bad label comes with two previously unreleased bonus tracks on the cd, while the lp version is packaged with a bonus 7" also containing those two tracks, demos of new songs, "La Cigale" and "Le Demon Du Rythme", with French lyrics (the album's all in English) recorded subsequent to the album itself, and continuing in the same vein of crazy glam/kraut collision. Interestingly, the band themselves apparently wanted to sound like a combo of the VU and Pierre Henry, "trying to create some kind of a 'Messe Pour Un temps Present' for outsiders and junkies". Success!!
MPEG Stream: "I Call On One's Muse"
MPEG Stream: "Stone Away"
MPEG Stream: "Black Sun"

album cover TONY TEARS Fears And Sensations In The Claustrophobic Mirror (Doom Cult) cd-r 13.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY.
In the realm of doom metal, what could be more weird and cult and underground than Voci Dal Passato, the brilliantly bizarre DIY Goblin-meets-Vitus album by one-man-band Tony Tears that we made a Record Of The Week a few years ago?? Well the answer is obvious: Tony Tears' demos!! We we're pretty excited when we heard about this new release (dampened only by the fact that this turned out to be a cd-r, not a cd, though it's nicely done, pro-printed and everything) and we think everyone who became obsessed, like us, with Voci Dal Passato - which was quite popular - will want to check this out. Likewise with those who missed out on Tony Tears before 'cause that cd so sadly went out of print.
So, this is first official release of TT's debut demo from 2000, Fears And Sensations In The Claustrophobic Mirror, consisting of six tracks (the last an extended, 4 part suite lasting 15 minutes). Just like the Tony Tears album we made ROTW, it's a lo-fi morass of mesmeric doomed-out psychedelia, inspired by Paul Chain, Goblin, Black Hole, and other esoteric Italians, with wobbly keyboards, crude drum programming, chant-like and sometimes extremely distorted Italian-language vox, and of course heavy fuzzed out doom guitar riffage, the whole thing giving off uniquely eerie, eccentric vibes galore as each track slowly plods forth through a haze of hiss and murk.
We mentioned Umberto with Striborg-level production and performance in our review of Voci Dal Passato, and guess what, these earlier recordings are even MORE like that. It's a beautiful thing. Tracks like "The Return To The Underground Temple", mostly echo effected keyboards and weeping guitars over simple steady rhythms, have so much weird psychedelic atmosphere that Tony Tears should not be limited to a 'cult doom metal only' audience. Devoted dronologists should hear the quietly ominous "Forze Invisibli Bussano Al Cuore", the aforementioned four-part suite - it's pulsating electronic cosmic mystery that could be from some lost '70s krautrock lp or sinister soundtrack, at least until the super slowed down sludge part kicks in, with vocals and guitar sounding like they're recorded at quarter-speed or something, as if you're listening to it on a device with dying batteries.
Again, too bad this is just a limited cd-r, these are probably the only copies we'll be getting, and we have just under a dozen.
MPEG Stream: "Coniurationes Mundi"
MPEG Stream: "The Return Of The Underground Temple"
MPEG Stream: "Forze Invisibli Bussano Al Cuore"

album cover FREE FALL Power & Volume (Nuclear Blast) cd 15.98
All right! Just in time for summer, some hot rockin' action outta Sweden! This is an aptly titled debut of catchy, classic hard rock / metal in the grand tradition of AC/DC, with a dash of Van Halen - updated with a bit of a heavier sound. Free Fall was formed by the ex-guitarist from popular garage psych act The Soundtrack Of Our Lives, in cahoots with a few other hotshot musicians (in Sweden, there's lots), including the drummer from International Noise Conspiracy, and, crucially, a previously unknown vocalist named Kim Fransson whose sandpapered pipes convincingly conjure positive comparisons to the likes of AC/DC's Bon Scott and Humble Pie's Steve Marriott - when Fransson sings "I'm the king of rock and roll" on the album's title track, his voice sells it, despite the fact that we've never heard him or them before.
There's a wild abandon to this, the guitar solos in particular, and in addition we dig how Free Fall have a formula and do it well - but also stick to that formula only as much as they wanna, allowing for some originality and surprises. The track "Attila" ferinstance, slows things down and establishes an interestingly moody vibe, still appropriately within the context of this band's '70s inspired hard rock concept, being a heartfelt semi-ballad with lashings of sinister riffery.
They cite The Who as a big influence and that's heard here, on eponymous track "Free Fall" for sure, along with the aforementioned AC/DC, VH, UFO, Montrose, Nazareth, etc. Unlike some other bands trying to capture the same sort of retro rock magic, Free Fall really do deliver - possibly the secret to their success is that these are garage/punk dudes, not metallers, so they're kinda coming at these sounds on the same trajectory as musicians back in the day.
In a just, rockin' world, these guys would be huge. Heck maybe they will be, and Fransson's line will be proved no idle boast. Recommended if you're ready to rock.
MPEG Stream: "Power & Volume"
MPEG Stream: "Midnight Vulture"
MPEG Stream: "Attila"

album cover HABSYLL MMVIII (tUMULt / At War With False Noise / PsycheDOOMelic / Obscure Sombre / Odio Sonoro / Skyr) cd 11.98
We thought these were gone for good, having been sold out and out of print for several years now, but a stash was discovered tucked way, and thus this killer slab of abstract avant sludge is available again, but who knows for how long...
It's starting to get seriously tUMULtuous around here once again. With the arrival of this, the first full length record from French ultra-mega-abstract-doom trio Habsyll, which just so happens to feature one member of the mighty Fantastikol Hole, as well as the former drummer of faerical punk blasters Nuit Noire! Both BIG time aQ faves!
But nothing, and we mean nothing will prepare you for Habsyll's particularly virulent strain of ultradoom. Heavy and slow, yeah obviously, but it's HOW heavy (very) and HOW slow (ummm, so slow the songs seem to have almost zero forward momentum) that makes Habsyll something much more than a metal band or a doom band, it's almost like twentieth century classical played with downtuned guitars and massive drums. So much space, the notes and drum beats miles apart, the drums not so much beats and rhythms (although those do pop up occasionally) as brief explosions or percussive squalls, more for dynamics and texture, or if they are actually engaged in some sort of actual beat, it's mind bendingly abstract and extended and slow to the point of hovering around 2 or 3 bpm. Think Khanate, Monarch, Moss, Bunkur, Fleshpress? You're already thinking too fast, too structured, too riffy. This is some excessive extremist radical dooooooooom, the sort of chug and plod and buzz and bombinate that makes the rest of those bands sound like speed metal.
But in this slow sprawl, and these long stretches of decay, these sudden flurries of drum splatter and downtuned chug, there is a buried beauty, occasionally, these disparate parts mesh into a brief flicker of melody, or a single epic majestic hook filled swell, before slipping back into blackness. And once or twice the band ramps it up, and locks into some serious pounding crushing black hole sludge, but even then, it's a crawl, a glacial black ooze tempo, and before too long, the band abandon any sense of rhythm or tempo, opting instead to drift through some wide open stretch of outerspace ultra doom emptiness.
The guitars go from grinding and sharp, to muddy and massive, the chugs flung into the ether and carried along on streaks of whirring hiss and blackened buzz, spitting out huge jagged shards of feedback, and long smears of blurred anti-riffage, the bass is a massive cloud of low end, throbbing and pulsing, exploding like a brick wall to the side of the head before slipping back into a shadowy rumble, the vocals a caustic demonic shriek, raspy and hellish, slipping into an almost hysterical falsetto, and just as often offering up some alien ululations, and the drums, oh the drums, any drummer can tell you how hard it is to play slow, but they're talking slowcore slow, or even regular doom slow, this is something else entirely, this is doom drumming gone free jazz, pound and skitter in equal measure, meting out beats one at a time, like some sleek black submarine releasing depth charges.
Two lengthy epics, 17 minutes and nearly 29 minutes, neither very traditionally doomlike, but both most definitely doom, maybe more 'doom', than most actual doom we've heard. Like staring into the abyss, or looking up at a black moonless night sky, these sounds are the sounds of emptiness, of bottomless depths, of never ending expanses of space and time, the end of the world, the birth of new universes, the sound of black holes, of exploding stars, the soundtrack to the end of the world, to the end of everything. Slow and heavy and low and spaced out and damaged and fucked up and strangely beautiful and mysterious and abstract and far out and completely kick ass while remaining very very very difficult listening indeed!
This is a split label release, tUMULt of course, along with 5 other kick ass labels: At War With False Noise, Obscure Sombre, PsycheDOOMelic, Skyr and Odio Sonoro.
MPEG Stream: "II"
MPEG Stream: "I"

album cover DEVO Hardcore (Superior Viaduct) 2cd 23.00
Gonna try to keep this relatively short. 'Cause it would be easy to go on and on and on about what an amazing band Devo were back in the day and how absolutely ESSENTIAL these newly reissued collections of the earliest recorded Devo music are. Never before released on vinyl in the States, the original two volumes of Hardcore Devo came out on cd and cassette on Rykodisc in 1990 and 1991 respectively, and have been out of print (and sought after by fans) for many years. Now at last they've been reissued, as separate volumes on vinyl (one a single lp, the other double) and together as a double cd set.
Those of you already into Devo, who don't already have this, NEED this - and even if you do have it, you might want it again, either to get the vinyl versions, and/or for the 4 previously unreleased bonus tracks now included (on disc two / Volume Two). For others, well this is our opportunity to proselytize for the cult of Devo. Some folks out there who aren't that familiar with Devo might think of 'em as just some novelty new wave nerd-rock band doing goofy songs and wearing silly hats, one-hit wonders with 1980's "Whip It!". And while they did wear silly hats (pardon us, energy domes) and were plenty goofy, they were also super subversive and bizarre, both sonically and ideologically, true pioneers in the realm of synth-punk and new wave, coming up with a sound that somehow grafted Kraftwerk to punk rock before either were popular, promoting their own anticapitalist, antiestablishment agenda couched in irony and Dadaism. These early recordings, demos and rarities recorded on a 4-track in Akron, Ohio circa 1974-1977, reveal Devo at their most underground, raw and stripped down, but already possessed of both catchy songwriting brilliance and conceptual originality. Definitely not the hippie boogie rock popular at the time!
It's worth noting that both future Devo members Gerald Casale and Mark Mothersbaugh had been students at Kent State, SDS activists in fact, and Casale personally witnessed the shocking National Guard shooting of anti-war demonstrators there in 1970. In some ways, Devo was the direct result. It's just that their idea of "protest music" was a bit different that the norm up to that point.
These DIY recordings sound pretty darn good - Devo knew what they were doing, even before they hooked up with producer Brian Eno for their 1977 debut Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo! recorded at Conny Plank's studio in Germany. EVERYTHING on here is great, all 15 cuts. Like we said, we could go on and on, about such treats as the blissed out, moody "Golden Energy" or the perversely humorous "Midget", who has the body of a 2 and half year old baby but the brain of a man, and takes advantage of the situation - deviant, juvenile, and sometimes frustrated sexual humor being one foundation of Devo's aesthetic for sure, with an ironic misogyny certainly being a component of the band's radical and often misunderstood critique of American culture.
Meanwhile disc two / Volume Two is even more packed with tracks, 25 of 'em, including the rather un-PC "Bamboo Bimbo", the anthemic "Be Stiff", the raunchy "I Need A Chick", and the electronically spazzed "U Got Me Bugged" (sung by Booji Boy himself), among many other weirdass classics. Overall Volume Two tends towards the slightly hit-and-miss in comparison to the totally solid start-to-finish Volume One, the Volume Two material not always as tightly on target, but after all there's more here, and even the lesser tracks are still worth absorbing repeatedly. Again, there's only a few songs that surfaced again later on their studio albums, like "Clockout" and their cover of "Working In A Coal Mine", otherwise it's mostly stuff only dedicated Devo-tees have heard before. And maybe hardly anyone has ever heard the four bonus tracks now tacked on to the end of Volume Two, but they're a worthy, weird bunch, including a couple of that sound like twisted, tweaked blues, in particular the the electronics-invaded and lyrically crude "Hubert House".
If you couldn't tell, we're so thrilled this is back in print, what can we say: BUY IT!! It might not change your life, but it could. It should. Kudos to the Superior Viaduct label, they've been putting out all kinds of cool reissues lately, but for us, this is the biggest deal yet, even if these albums aren't the rarest that they've reissued. They're nicely done, of course, including amusingly enthused liner notes by Henry Rollins, someone who has quite obviously drunk deeply of Devo's Kool-Aid. Heed his words: "Spud, prepare to be amazed!"
MPEG Stream: "Auto Modown"
MPEG Stream: "Social Fools"
MPEG Stream: "Midget"
MPEG Stream: "The Rope Song"
MPEG Stream: "Be Stiff"
MPEG Stream: "Hubert House"

album cover DEVO Hardcore Volume 2 (Superior Viaduct) 2lp 25.00
Gonna try to keep this relatively short. 'Cause it would be easy to go on and on and on about what an amazing band Devo were back in the day and how absolutely ESSENTIAL these newly reissued collections of the earliest recorded Devo music are. Never before released on vinyl in the States, the original two volumes of Hardcore Devo came out on cd and cassette on Rykodisc in 1990 and 1991 respectively, and have been out of print (and sought after by fans) for many years. Now at last they've been reissued, as separate volumes on vinyl (one a single lp, the other double) and together as a double cd set.
Those of you already into Devo, who don't already have this, NEED this - and even if you do have it, you might want it again, either to get the vinyl versions, and/or for the 4 previously unreleased bonus tracks now included (on disc two / Volume Two). For others, well this is our opportunity to proselytize for the cult of Devo. Some folks out there who aren't that familiar with Devo might think of 'em as just some novelty new wave nerd-rock band doing goofy songs and wearing silly hats, one-hit wonders with 1980's "Whip It!". And while they did wear silly hats (pardon us, energy domes) and were plenty goofy, they were also super subversive and bizarre, both sonically and ideologically, true pioneers in the realm of synth-punk and new wave, coming up with a sound that somehow grafted Kraftwerk to punk rock before either were popular, promoting their own anticapitalist, antiestablishment agenda couched in irony and Dadaism. These early recordings, demos and rarities recorded on a 4-track in Akron, Ohio circa 1974-1977, reveal Devo at their most underground, raw and stripped down, but already possessed of both catchy songwriting brilliance and conceptual originality. Definitely not the hippie boogie rock popular at the time!
It's worth noting that both future Devo members Gerald Casale and Mark Mothersbaugh had been students at Kent State, SDS activists in fact, and Casale personally witnessed the shocking National Guard shooting of anti-war demonstrators there in 1970. In some ways, Devo was the direct result. It's just that their idea of "protest music" was a bit different that the norm up to that point.
These DIY recordings sound pretty darn good - Devo knew what they were doing, even before they hooked up with producer Brian Eno for their 1977 debut Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo! recorded at Conny Plank's studio in Germany. In fact, these are the recordings that got Eno interested in working with them in the first place.
On Volume One there's early versions of such Devo classics as "Jocko Homo", "Mongoloid", and their brilliant cover of "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction", but otherwise it's a plenitude of (sub)genius tracks never re-recorded for any of their studio albums, though some were released as singles on their own Booji Boy label, or later as B sides. It's a treasure trove of prime Devo at their purest and most urgently devolved!!! It contains one of our all time favorite Devo toons: "Auto Modown", a simple slice of proto-no-wave funk with a stinging guitar riff and Mark Mothersbaugh crooning ghoulish lyrics about how "an acid head goon in a '55 Dodge didn't mean to do it / but a sidewalk run in the noonday sun ten to one he had to lose it". Similar traits are shared by most of the tracks on here - the distorted synth-ed out soundz, the trebly bug zapper guitar, the absurd lyrical content, the robotically rhythmic catchiness. If you're a spud who hasn't heard "Social Fools", "Buttered Beauties", "Mechanical Man", "I'm A Potato", or "Ono" (and the list goes on), you haven't lived. EVERYTHING on here is great, all 15 cuts. Like we said, we could go on and on, about such treats as the blissed out, moody "Golden Energy" or the perversely humorous "Midget", who has the body of a 2 and half year old baby but the brain of a man, and takes advantage of the situation - deviant, juvenile, and sometimes frustrated sexual humor being one foundation of Devo's aesthetic for sure, with an ironic misogyny certainly being a component of the band's radical and often misunderstood critique of American culture.
Meanwhile disc two / Volume Two is even more packed with tracks, 25 of 'em, including the rather un-PC "Bamboo Bimbo", the anthemic "Be Stiff", the raunchy "I Need A Chick", and the electronically spazzed "U Got Me Bugged" (sung by Booji Boy himself), among many other weirdass classics. Overall Volume Two tends towards the slightly hit-and-miss in comparison to the totally solid start-to-finish Volume One, the Volume Two material not always as tightly on target, but after all there's more here, and even the lesser tracks are still worth absorbing repeatedly. Again, there's only a few songs that surfaced again later on their studio albums, like "Clockout" and their cover of "Working In A Coal Mine", otherwise it's mostly stuff only dedicated Devo-tees have heard before. And maybe hardly anyone has ever heard the four bonus tracks now tacked on to the end of Volume Two, but they're a worthy, weird bunch, including a couple of that sound like twisted, tweaked blues, in particular the the electronics-invaded and lyrically crude "Hubert House".
If you couldn't tell, we're so thrilled this is back in print, what can we say: BUY IT!! It might not change your life, but it could. It should. Kudos to the Superior Viaduct label, they've been putting out all kinds of cool reissues lately, but for us, this is the biggest deal yet, even if these albums aren't the rarest that they've reissued. They're nicely done, of course, including amusingly enthused liner notes by Henry Rollins, someone who has quite obviously drunk deeply of Devo's Kool-Aid. Heed his words: "Spud, prepare to be amazed!"
MPEG Stream: "The Rope Song"
MPEG Stream: "Be Stiff"
MPEG Stream: "Hubert House"

album cover HOT LUNCH s/t (Tee Pee) lp 14.98
NOW WE'VE GOT THE SECOND PRESSING ON YELLOW VINYL!
Hot Lunch? Hot damn! These badass San Francisco skate-rockers (we raved about their "Alakazam" 7" single a while back if you recall) are back with their debut full-length, and it's a punked up throwback '60s/'70s sounding hard rock doozy indeed - hella heavy fuzzy psych-stomp, ripping guitars, hoarse wailing vocals, throbbing riffs, the works. Their rockin' retro sounds come complete with trippy flower power lyrix and backwards psykepop bits and all that, crammed in amidst all the high energy rifferama rockarolla. Uh huh, hii-octane brutal blooze bashin' & noisy feedbackin' mixes it up with moments can get remarkably paisley-proggy; they even do a nearly 8-minute psychedelic epic called "Lady Of The Lake" which ventures into Twink Think Pink territory, including an interlude wherein a girl with a twee British accent rambles on about unicorns and whatnot, but the song also incorporates a full on distorto freakout jam too. They indulge again at the end of the album with another 8-minute number, "Monks On The Moon", with Sabbathy doom riffs and "Supertzar" choirs, spacey Hawkwind FX, and jangly garagey grooves - for this one imagine maybe Monster Magnet with Misfits-y vocals, jamming with La Otracina. Elsewhere it's 3 or 4 minute headbangers, '60s style shred.
And as a matter of fact, if this disc wasn't already awesome enough, they also do a killer cover of one of E.L.P.'s heaviest tunes, "Knife Edge". Yes, Emerson, Lake and Palmer! See we said they were proggy. But, like, garage-prog.
Ambitious, unabashed acid rock radness, for fans of Blue Cheer, Sir Lord Baltimore, The Amboy Dukes, The Troggs, and current day contemporaries like Glitter Wizard and The Shrine. Whoah yeah!!!!
Includes download with bonus track.
MPEG Stream: "Killer Smile"
MPEG Stream: "Knife Edge"
MPEG Stream: "Monks On The Moon"

album cover TROUBLE Run To The Light (Metal Blade) cd 10.98
First, some background. Just as black metal began back in the '80s, with Venom and Mercyful Fate, so did "white metal", its Christian opposite, developing into a scene of bands like Barren Cross, Bloodgood, Bride, Sacred Warrior, and most famously Stryper, most of whom who recorded for specifically-Christian record labels, the bands themselves often considering themselves primarily as ministers, more than musicians. Most of those bands for some reason sounded a lot like Queensryche - and a lot of 'em are quite good, if you don't mind the preaching.
Then there's Chicago's legendary Trouble. These guys were tagged as a Christian band, and yeah they're believers, and you can hear it in their lyrics, but they stuck to the secular music industry, and probably broke a few commandments - among 'em "thou shalt have no gods before me", 'cause they definitely worshipped Black Sabbath first and foremost!! Pretty sure they had some other secular interests too, like pot and LSD. They fit in more with Candlemass and Pentagram than with Stryper that's for sure.
Run To The Light was Trouble's third album, from 1987, and it's some folks' here's favorite next to their Rick Rubin produced self-titled fourth album from 1990, which is still out of print. While their earlier two albums, which we've reviewed before, Psalm 9 and The Skull, are revered classics, we think Trouble stepped it up here, with better production and a new drummer, delivering everything you'd want from a Trouble platter: the killer heavy riffs, the twin guitars, the slow sad melodies, the psychedelic studio effects, the prayerful doomed vibes...
It's trad, classic doom metal without being super slow. While there's chugging doom paced parts, for sure, there's also galloping fast speed metal riffery and drum beats in lots of the songs. Ripping solos too.
The lyrics are Christian-based, but in an allusive, suggestive way, rather than citing chapter and verse like many more overtly preachy Christian bands. They're in the tradition of Black Sabbath's "After Forever" - warnings about bad stuff that might happen if you don't live right, in the light: "In the light is our salvation / pain is just a memory / in the light you will find the truth / all the answers for those who want to know / I wanna know", which goes well with the dire, doomy music. And again, like Black Sabbath, they really sound like they mean it, giving this music so much more emotional and spiritual weight than most other rock, pop, or metal. Their singer, Eric Wagner, didn't exactly cop Ozzy though, he has his own unique voice and vocal style, nasal, raspy and piercing, sometimes low and melodic, often wailing and shrieky, always gripping, urgent and sincere. Perfect for Trouble.
Now, Run To The Light!!
MPEG Stream: "The Misery Shows"
MPEG Stream: "On Borrowed Time"
MPEG Stream: "Run To The Light"

album cover IRR. APP. (EXT.) Perekluchenie (Beta-Lactam Ring) cd 14.98
BACK IN STOCK!!! This classic album from irr. app. (ext.) has returned to our shelves, and here's what we had to say about the obscurant, dada-inspired album from the twisted mind of M.S. Waldron:
Slowly but surely, the mighty work of irr. app. (ext.) has been oozing out from the Santa Cruz mountains through various outlets such as Crouton, Helen Scarsdale, and Beta-Lactam. Perekluchenie was originally commissioned as part of a Beta-Lactam Ring subscription series (which if you were lucky enough to sign up would earn you a bonus picture disc with the LP) but the growing interest in irr. app. (ext.) warranted a regular pressing, thanks to such high-profile releases as the irr. app. (ext.) contribution to Nurse With Wound's Angry Eelectric Finger trilogy as well as the Salt Marie Celeste performances with Steven Stapleton himself! The relationship between irr. app. (ext.) and Nurse With Wound has gotten even more convoluted as Stapleton has joined irr. app. (ext.) in their last couple of performances. We should be quick to point out the irr. app. (ext.) and the genius behind the tongue-twisting project is far from a Nurse With Wound copyist. Hardly! While both projects draw inspiration from Surrealism and avant-garde composition, they both express strong divergent aesthetics that show how rich and open the field of Surrealist-tinged sound art can be.
Qualified as "a pointless theatrical exercise in one act or less," Perekluchenie spans five pieces of audio madness. Waldron wanders through desolate strums across a prepared piano (or some other instrument that's equally heavy and reverberant) which gives way to ill-tempered birds, ominous windswept drones, and funereal bells. Waldron shatters the grim atmosphere with an unnerving passage for tactile squeakings and poltergeist driven furniture. Elsewhere, discordant horn bleats rupture the heavenly glow of elegiac tones and genuinely baffled exclamations erupt from a very young Django Stapleton. Waldron includes other vocal contributions from Lori Anne Anne Lori Chambers, Aquarius' former owner Windy Chien, and Diana Rogerson (aka Chrystal Belle Scrodd.)
All in all, Perekluchenie is a truly wonderful album! We've been fans of Mr. Waldron for many years now, and he's yet to let us down.
MPEG Stream: "Hypothetical Tardigrade pt. 2-3"
MPEG Stream: "Perekluchenie"
MPEG Stream: "Hypothetical Tardigrade 4-6"

album cover WILL OVER MATTER Phenomenal Highways (White Denim) lp 14.98
Back in 2011, we made Might Of The Planet Eater, the debut from weirdo minimal blackened power electronic one man band Will Over Matter our Record Of The Week. We initially discovered WOM via the fact that the 'one man' behind that one man band, was none other than Harald Mentor, mastermind of aQ beloved Finnish rhythmic black metal minimalists Ride For Revenge, who for some crazy reason, we just realized, have never nabbed Record Of The Week honors, cuz in retrospect, any/all of their previous records were more than deserving.
As we mentioned in our reviews of the other Will Over Matter records, if you thought Ride For Revenge were weird, then prepare theyself to be blown away, baffled, confused, frustrated, thrilled, unnerved, disturbed, most likely all of the above. Will Over Matter takes the dense rhythmic churn, already sort of spaced out and abstract, and replaces the bass and drums and traditional instruments, with what sounds like a battery of cobbled together electronics, home made machines and invented instruments, it's tough not to envision Mentor as some sort of mad scientist, in his murky musical laboratory, surrounded by walls of primitive electronics, old computers, blinking lights, blown speakers, a room full of towering obelisks of obsolete technology, harnessed into something otherworldly, and improbably next level. The sounds these machines emit glitchy and gristly, jagged and hiss-drenched, in some ways the template for WOM is the same as it was for Ride For Revenge, the 'band' locked into simple, lurching, lumbering motorik grooves, the 'beat' wrapped in dense sonic swirls, thick fields of static, everything glitched out and in-the-red. A head spinning sprawl of blackened kraut-noise synth-drone power-electronic minimalism, that RULES. Which brings us to the latest missive from Mentor, which is another psychedelic minimal electro-noise WTF doozy, the vocals kept to a minimum this time, the three lengthy tracks, spaced out and droney, slow shifting layers, constantly morphing textures, pulsing and pulsating, the sounds raw and gristly, the tracks maniacally repetitive and cyclical, in a way that to our ears is total tranced out bliss, but to less adventurous ears, might be just the opposite. The lack of 'song' and 'structure', not that there was that much of either on past WoM release, but even less so here, is precisely what makes Phenomenal Highways a whole different beast, at times, it's like past WoM records stripped down to their very skeletal essence, the opening track some sort of primitive kosmische ritual, a single synth locked and looped into a seemingly endless cycle of simple pulses, weirdly warbly and super distorted, a heartbeat like pulse wreathed in filthy, crusty synth squelch, that squirms and oozes, occasionally shaped into actual melodies, but more often than not droning and buzzing hypnotically, the final few minutes, finds the sounds transformed into weird lazer blast like blurts before suddenly blinking out.
The second track is even MORE minimal, a super spare soundscape that sounds like some mysteriously manipulated alien field recording, something you might here on Editions Mego, a field of crumpled low end crackle, muted and murky, peppered with little bits of percussion, the sound a weird bit of grinding muddy noise, it's not until 7 minutes in that the sound splinters, the background smoothing out into a whirring distorted drone, while Mentor delivers some demonic sermon over the top, his voice processed and doused in distortion, before the track explodes into a field of grinding electronics, tangled melodies, swirling tones, a robotic psych-noise freakout that manages to be more listenable than it has any right to be, a head spinning psychedelic churn that blossom into a final super blown out speaker shredding blowout, before oozing into the final track, a weird shuffling sprawl of rib cage rattling low end, dense subsonic tones delivered through what sounds like slow motion helicopter rotor wash, weirdly rhythmic and mesmeric, this minimal ooze and creep soon joined by strange curlicues of melody, the deep tone gathering all sorts of acoustic crunch as it goes, and once again, about seven minutes in, a super distorted blast of fractured blown out melody surfaces, giving the whole thing a seriously psychedelic vibe, those tones totally overtaking the rest of the sound, before fading out, and returning us to the slow-swell pulsations of the first half, only to fade out into a crackly sprawl of sculpted feedback, wreathed in hiss and hum, the sound smoldering and sinister, draped over a buried barely there rhythm, some echo drenched vocals in there too, everything sort of washed out and blurry, drifting beneath sheets of feedback and fields of staticky hum, all culminating in a final freaked out psych-noise squall, that does little to disguise the haunting melodic beauty that lurks within.
As always, amazing, bizarre and bafflingly brilliant, a dizzyingly abstract, twisted industrial psychedelic drone-noise masterpiece. That is of course also extremely limited...
MPEG Stream: "Generous Is My Master"
MPEG Stream: "Phenomenal Highways"

album cover ORTHODOX Conoce Los Caminos MMV-MMX (Alone Records) 2cd 21.00
All the doom (and ultra doooooooOOOOOoooooom) lovers here at aQ agree, idiosyncratic Spanish outfit Orthodox is one of our faves, and have been pretty much ever since their 2006 debut, Gran Poder. Over their several albums since, they've pushed the doom envelope in various extreme and extremely strange directions, indulging all sorts of influences, but even when their predilection for sometimes avant-garde, proggy, jazzy, acoustic weirdness takes over, and they start sounding like a cross between Yob and Six Organs Of Admittance playing free jazz, they still ruled - and ultimately remained rooted in old school doom metal too, with a powerful, crushing, heavier-than-thou RIFF always lurking around even the most confusional of corners of their freaky ceremonial sounding compositions.
We hope you're as big of fans of Orthodox as we are, 'cause we're excited to have this new, double cd rare tracks collection from 'em. Of course it's all over the place, from covers of Venom and Sabbath to full on improv sessions, and it's all pretty killer. There's cuts from 7"s and compilations and early cassette demos, plus the bonus tracks from the Southern Lord vinyl edition of Gran Poder (those covers), and several previously unreleased songs as well, all remastered. Obviously for fans first and foremost, but heck if you started your Orthodox experience here you'd be well equipped (and we expect, eager) to delve into the rest of their catalog.
Things start off with mantric, OM-ish "Matse Avatar", the A side of a 7" originally released on the Doomentia label. Great lyrics, you can read 'em in the booklet - one line mentions an "old lady mermaid" who "sings like Geddy Lee". The B side comes next, then their version of Venom's "Genocide", an appropriately aggro and off the rails, bass heavy black metal blast. That's followed by the other cover, wherein Orthodox take one of the first, if not thee first, doom songs ever, "Black Sabbath", and come close to making it their own, being ultra fuzzed out & fucked with, and also seriously psychotic in the vocal dep't.; we'd thought we'd heard that song, and covers of that song, way too many times, but we're willing to spin this Orthodox version again and again. Weirdly, it somehow reminds us of Japanese underground '80s prog act YBO2, if that means anything to you or yours. Then there's the 18+ minute "Heritage", taken from the Four Burials 4-way split, a beautiful and haunting example of psychedelic slowcore "headphone doom", as we described it in our review of that disc. The three previously unreleased tracks are particularly interesting as well, one's from a collaboration with a flamenco dancer - but for sure isn't flamenco music, with its explosive distortion detonations and skittery soundscapes. The other two are intense noisy improvs, and the rather enlightening track-by-track commentary in the cd booklet from the band members reveals that they were inspired by Black Flag and Japanese psych like Mainliner and Keiji Haino, yup, we might have guessed. John Coltrane and, uh-huh, Rush are other influences mentioned here and there. In fact, one of the improvs is titled "Japan Rush", ok!!
Disc two is all lengthy tracks from live rehearsals, originally released on demo tapes, definitely raw but with tons of atmosphere, two of 'em being the first Orthodox recordings ever from back in 2005, demonstrating that they dwelled in "the void" from the very beginning, cult stuff for sure, and HEAVY - listen to these early versions of songs from their debut studio album and get even deeper into their eccentric, unhinged doooooom vibe. The demo track from Sentencia, "Ascension", shows how much changed in a couple years, the band even more eccentric, their doom harder to define.
All in all, essential to anyone who really appreciates Orthodox, and well worth checking out if you're into adventurous doom in general, from Cathedral to SUNNO))), Khanate to Boris, OM to Los Natas... (We're not sure if Rush fans will dig, but they could give it a try too.)
MPEG Stream: "Matse Avatar"
MPEG Stream: "Black Sabbath"
MPEG Stream: "Japan Rush"

album cover SKOGSBERG, JOAKIM Jola Rota (Subliminal Sound) lp 32.00
NOW ON VINYL!! Yes! Back in 2008 when we listed the Japanese import, Tiliqua label cd edition of this fantastic reissue and made it a Record Of The Week, we promised folks that there was going to be a super limited vinyl version too on Tiliqua coming out few months later, and people scrambled to pre-order it... but it never ever materialized. We hoped and waited but it never came out. Not sure what happened, but thankfully, though, at long last the Subliminal Sounds label (Dungen, Parson Sound, Baby Grandmothers, Peter Grudzien, etc.) from Skogsberg's home country of Sweden has taken charge and given life to this wonderful album again on vinyl for the first time in over 30 years. So, here's what we said before about the cd edition...
Even if we didn't make this Record of the Week, we'd probably still be selling quite a few of 'em, as we're sure we've got a lot of knowledgeable record-collector-type customers for whom adding this to cart will be but the work of a second, the second after their eyes bug out upon seeing the artist and title listed above. But since this reissue is not only of an incredible rarity but also of an incredible record, we wanted to make sure everybody heard about it, besides those for whom it's already a "holy grail". Yep, Joakim Skogberg's original 1972 Jola Rota lp definitely falls into the highly obscure "holy grail" category, a lost treasure for lovers of weird, wonderful acid-folk and underground psychedelia. The sort of thing that develops a legend that it can't possibly live up to... but then DOES, blowing minds when it's finally reissued. The sort of thing that's whispered about among connoisseurs of psych, written of in a few select fanzines and blogs, heard only by a lucky few who got an Nth generation cassette dub or cd-r burn from a friend, who got it from a friend, and so on. The sort of thing, that even a few years after a brief exposure to its wonders, will make you stop and think every once in a while, dang when is someone finally gonna reissue that amazing obscure album??? Some other recently excavated examples would include Moolah's Woe Ye Demons Possessed, Bobb Trimble's Harvest Of Dreams, and Gary Higgins's Red Hash... and before that, once upon a time Comus's First Utterance too would have fallen into that category. Bruce Haack's Electric Lucifer as well, though originals of that were and are much MUCH easier to come by. Whereas *this* album was originally pressed in an edition of around just one thousand copies - of which only a few hundred were ever sold back in the day, with the remainder of the pressing being, gasp, melted down to be recycled into other lps!
So, here it is, artist Joakim Skogsberg's lone album Jola Rota finally, officially reissued for the very first time! Our hearts went pitter pat when we found out. We first heard this when our friend Loren Chasse (of Of/Thuja/Jewelled Antler/etc. fame) floated us a cd-r burn he had gotten from a pal overseas a couple years ago, as per the scenario outlined above. He figured we'd like it, and of course he was right. What's not to like? Swedish-forest-folk hippie ritual mixed with droned-out psych guitar. Truly strange, and captivating, vocal mumble. And, get this, it was actually mostly recorded out in a forest, on portable reel-to-reel gear!! Once out of the woods, the raw recordings were overdubbed (Skogsberg being responsible for all sounds on this album) in studio, but remain quite raw, the mystery and majesty of northern landscapes, dark shadowy places, placid lakes, tall trees and moss-covered rocks utterly alive in the music of the nature-loving Skogsberg.
Side One starts off with "Jola Fran Ingbo", which introduces Joakim's unusual "Jola" singing style derived from Swedish trad folk, also heavily influenced by Buddhist chant, accompanied by staccato bowings of ominous violin. Immediately this is waaaay darker than most other Swedish folk/psych we've heard! Seriously droney and austere. That's followed by the more freaked out, rockier "Offer Rota", which finds Skogsberg singing whilst pounding away on percussion and unfurling a thick layer of distorted guitar murk, with what sounds like a Jew's Harp warbling in the background. The next piece, "Fridens Lijor", on the other hand, is an unaccompanied vocal piece, close-miced and intimate, all about Skogsberg's fragile Jola babble...
Beginning side two, "Besvarjelse Rota" builds up a dubby, bassy electronic rhythmic whomp-whomp throb beneath its damaged psych guitar wail, that (in our warped imagination) foreshadows modern minimal techno a la Chain Reaction, "heroin house" beats.... could almost be Pole jamming with Algarnas Tradgard or something! Later, the lengthy "Jola Fran Stensate" harkens back to the solemnity of the album's first track, and then "Jola Fran Leksand" winds up this unique, amazing trip with something of a pagan campfire dance piece, for folky fiddle and rattling hand percussion.
Overall, though, Jola Rota's mood is solitary and ceremonial. Skogsberg not a guru leading his followers, but rather one man, inspired, singing devotional songs to nature, in personal communion with the ancient deities of Sweden and the universe... it IS universal, probably why it sounds simultaneously like krautrock and Tibetan worship and Native American prayer-songs. The universality of the drone, and the human voice in spiritual reverence regardless of language. At its droniest, many moments here recall Parson Sound or the aforementioned Moolah. Totally, magically mesmeric. Wow... EVERYONE who's heard this since we got it in has been entranced.
Remastered from the original tapes with the help of Skogsberg himself. There's also new liner notes and previously unpublished photos of the long haired and bearded (of course) Skogsberg included, just like the cd version (which, being a Japanese import, isn't much cheaper than this Swedish import vinyl!).
Limited to 500 copies.
MPEG Stream: "Jola Fran Ingbo"
MPEG Stream: "Offer Rota "
MPEG Stream: "Besvarjelse Rota"

album cover WHITE HILLS Heads On Fire (Rocket Recordings Recordings) cd 17.98
This modern psychedelic spacerock classic is finally back in print, available again on cd! Here's what we wrote about it when we first reviewed it way back in 2009:
After a whole mess of crazy limited cd-r releases, this was only the 2nd proper release from these East Coast blown out garage psych space rockers. Avid readers of the list will no doubt by now, be hip to these guys, their wall of guitar, Hawkwind meets the Stooges meets Monster Magnet meets the Heads is tough to beat, every song drenched in wild outer space FX, the drums pounding beneath an avalanche of psychedelic guitar, the vocals, shadows flitting across the molten surface of these tracks, barely audible just another layer of dense fuzz.
So how does this record stack up to the rest? We mentioned that the last release, the tour only Abstractions And Mutations, was the band's fiercest yet, but Heads On Fire might have us reassessing. Cuz this has to be exactly what it would sound like if your head was indeed on fire.
The opener is a heavy as fuck space rock romp, right out of the gate, a wall of buzzing wah wah guitar is loosed, and all you can do is hang on for the ride, it's like Spacemen 3 on speed, that same sort of billowy tripped out warm guitar buzz, but souped WAY up, supercharged, a blinding supernova of freaked out garage rock psychedelia. But the track right after that is way riffier, a serious Stooges-y stomp, plenty of guitar crunch and psychedelic squalls, but the vocals are more present, a sort of Wyndorf style lord mother fucker drawl, wrapped in reverb and draped over the jagged riffing and pounding drums.
Then there's "Don't Be Afraid", which begins with whipping wind and distant foghorns, ominous and mysterious, a phone being dialed, ringing and ringing, the band gradually coming in, a slow lope, simple tribal drums, a laid back guitar line, soft fuzzy swells of sound in the background, a lugubrious slow build, the vocals howled and spacey, reverbed and dripping with delay, the guitar getting gradually more and more jagged and distorted, until everything drops out, just wind, and muted electronics, muffled FX, the bass line creeping along steadily, bits of melody drifting by, the vocals come back in and BAM the band takes off, the guitar spitting flames, the drums falling down a mineshaft, a huge tangle of psychedelic space rock chaos, and then nothing, a weird, barely there, 5 minute outro, bits of guitar, creaking and buzzing, more wind, and finally silence.
And in case that last 30 minutes, and those last 5 in particular, had you forgetting just where you were, the band shuts things down with 4+ minutes of furious fuzz and pummeling pound, thick and corrosive, and so distorted the riffs seem to melt into each other, the vocals sung from the bottom of a well, a bit of start stop dynamics, replete with creepy giggling children, and then the perfect send off, a sky full of psychedelic fireworks, multicolored streaks of white hot guitar, a blinding ear full of sonic pyrotechnics like staring straight into the sun.
MPEG Stream: "Radiate"
MPEG Stream: "Ocean Sound"

album cover EIGHT BELLS The Captain's Daughter (Seventh Rule) cd 11.98
Ding, ding! (x4) Something ring a bell? That's cuz Eight Bells is the new group formed from the ashes of veteran spacerockers Subarachnoid Space, whose last album before they disbanded in 2010 was titled, Eight Bells. Since we liked that record a lot, we're happy to report that Subarachnoid Space guitarist Melynda Jackson has teamed with erstwhile Subarachnoid Space drummer Chris Van Huffel, plus bassist Haley Westeiner, to take up where Subarachnoid Space left off, this trio continuing Subarachnoid Space's latter-day trajectory into heavier and heavier territories, to the point that it makes sense that this would be recorded by Billy Anderson, and come out on Seventh Rule. And woah this is good, damn good. Mostly instrumental (even when there is singing, it's often kinda used as another instrument), and definitely progressive, with sinuous song structures and intricate epic arrangements, they play a kind of mathy, moody spacerock that at times even ventures into black metal territory - Cascadian black metal we guess, to be precise, since that's where they're based, up in the Pacific Northwest. Seriously, if you didn't know the context, there's stretches where you'd think it was a BM record for sure. And as space rock or post rock, it's definitely rockin'. Think Kinksi meets Wolves In The Throne Room...
A good example of Eight Bells' dynamic, apocalyptic mathrock is how the urgent angular quickstep of track two, "Fate And Technology" takes a sudden shift into slower, quieter, more placid territory adorned by dreamy, gentle female singing, but then builds up again to sheer, near black metal blasting complete with harsh, throatripped vokills. Those vokills and vocals are both handled by Haley, but the title track does bring in guest vocalist Kris Force of Amber Asylum to add her haunting pipes to the mix, for some extra atmosphere, that track reminding us, with its scrambling riffery, of Stinking Lizveta, at first anyway, then getting seriously epic in a postrock way, 12+ minutes full of drama and majesty (and intense chops!), climaxing with thunderous drum pound and wordless high end operatic vocalizations from Force. Here and elsewhere there's droning synths, echoing effects, and a thick, muscular bass presence, part of what makes Eight Bells so heavy and propulsive.
For fans of Subarachnoid Space (of course) and Liturgy and maybe the likes of Worm Ouroboros too. Recommended!!
MPEG Stream: "Tributaries"
MPEG Stream: "Fate And Technology"
MPEG Stream: "The Captain's Daughter"

album cover LA PLANETE SAUVAGE (ALAIN GORAGUER) OST (Sugar) cd 21.00
At long last, the always heavily sought after soundtrack to Rene Laloux's 1973 Cannes Grand Prix winning animated feature La Planete Sauvage, an old aQ fave, is available again on compact disc! If the film itself is a hallucinatory masterpiece, the soundtrack - composed by Alain Goraguer (long time arranger for Serge Gainsbourg) - is as fitting as it is brilliant. Like an LSD dosed Isaac Hayes score, the music herein is at the same time both reminiscent of classic early seventies drama soundtracks AND completely surreal and strange. Lots of recurring leitmotifs recast in ever building and changing arrangements, including marimba, Theremin and bird whistles as well as the standard orchestral elements, guitars and funky organs. So great!!
MPEG Stream: "Dehominisation (I)"
MPEG Stream: "Le Bracelet"
MPEG Stream: "Ten Et Tiwa"

album cover KADAVAR Abra Kadavar (Nuclear Blast ) cd 15.98
Oooh yeah! What else to say? Germany's answer to the Swedish legions of retro-proto-metallers like Witchcraft, Graveyard, Horisont, Troubled Horse, Skogen Brinner, etc. have returned with their 2nd full-length of swinging heavy fuzz riffage, wailing vox and wah-psych guitar leads, sounding as 1972-ish as ever. We loved their self-titled debut last year, and the collaborative record they did with French heads Aqua Nebula Oscillator too. This new album, for big label Nuclear Blast (who seem to be loading up lately on these sorts of retro-psych-doom acts, putting out the new Orchid too, as well as the latest by a couple of the above-named Swedish outfits), absolutely does NOT disappoint. From the crushing bluesy stomp of "Black Snake", to the urgent attack of the very Witchcraft-y (and/or Pentagram-y) "Fire", to the trippy grooves of the title track, and everywhere else and in-between, Abra Kadavra is quite the hard rockin' bellbottomed blow-out.
There's a spacey, hippie, Hawkwind vibe to much of this ("Rhythm For Endless Minds" ferinstance full of FX on both guitars and vocals) as well as a garagey side to 'em too (like the exotic swirl of the electric organ laced "Liquid Dream"), Kadavar achieving a satisfying synthesis of such styles overall. Acid Mothers Temple and Earthless fans should give 'em an ear, as well as all you folks already into that whole Swedish crowd mentioned above!
This is the domestic digipack cd version, we also did have expensive import vinyl and hopefully will be getting a slightly cheaper domestic lp pressing soon, but you should know, this cd contains a 7+ minute bonus track not on any vinyl version!
MPEG Stream: "Doomsday Machine"
MPEG Stream: "Dust"
MPEG Stream: "Liquid Dream"

album cover MAINLINER (KAWABATA MAKOTO'S) Revelation Space (Riot Season) cd 17.98
In some Spinal Tapped version of mythology, the gods of rock and roll, of noise, of distortion, of turning amps up to 11 and melting faces, having once said "let there be rock!", recently must have looked down in dismay from the heavens (where they dwell in castles made of ROCK, which float on puffy clouds generated by fog machines) upon their creation and found something in today's music scene sorely lacking. Where was the primal motorpsycho fuzz feedback rock freakery they originally had commanded? Not nearly enough of it about (and heck, even too much would never be enough). So, they summoned their loyal servitor, The Bearded One, Kawabata Makoto. As lead guitarist/guru of trippy Japanese jammers Acid Mothers Temple, Kawabata has always been a devout worshipper, doing the bidding of the gods with many, many Acid Mothers shows and releases month in and month out. But now he was called upon to do something more - to resurrect the mighty MAINLINER, power trio to end all power trios, and teach a lesson in transcendental distorto-delic mayhem to all mankind. And, lo, faithful Kawabata has not failed in this holy task!
Thus, Mainliner is back, with Revelation Space. It's been over a dozen years since the last proper Mainliner release, 2001's Imaginative Plain cd on PSF, and even longer since Mainliner made their debut with the unbeatable classic Mellow Out. The lineup has changed - in fact it's important to note that this is specifically billed as Kawabata Makoto's Mainliner, 'cause originally he was just the young hotshot guitarist in the band, which was in fact founded by bassist/vocalist Nanjo Asahito of the legendary High Rise, as an almost doppelganger version of that trio so Nanjo could go out on tour when High Rise couldn't. But now, for whatever reason, Nanjo's no longer participating in the band, presumably having given Kawabata his blessing to carry on with the name and mission. Kawabe Taigen, from new wave Japanese psych band Bo Ningen, has been chosen to replace him; and in addition to holding down the rumbling bottom end, he manages to emulate Nanjo's droning otherworldy croon quite capably.
They've had several different drummers on various releases (including Tatsuya Yoshida of Ruins); the drummer here, Koji Shimura, is from AMT, has played in High Rise and many other "Tokyo Flashback" acts, and appears on several previous Mainliner releases including Imaginative Plain. Thankfully, as it turns out, the "new" Mainliner is just as over-the-top and in-the-red as the old Mainliner ever was, maybe more!! They took this seriously - it's not just yet another freaky Kawabata album (as good as they always are), nope.
The opening title track drops the listener in at the deep end and then some, immediately unleashing insane blown out crumble and stutter, the guitar sounding like it's being run through an effects box labeled both Brainbombs AND Faxed Head, but then when it's wed to simple motorik drumming, and hazy, soft focus vox, the combination is strangely beautiful. Beautiful, too, the blurts of feedback shriek, the echo-drenched squalls, the chaotic drum splatter. Really, it's less about the songs, and more about the sound. If stripped of the insanely distorted guitars, this iteration of Mainliner would be a whole different, less beastly beast. And sure, white noise psych guitar freakouts were always a (big) part of Mainliner, but the sounds here seem so much more extreme, the guitarnoise utterly relentless, the whole record wreathed in a crackly field of malfunctioning guitar / damaged amp buzz skree, almost like something Editions Mego would put out, that caustic and corrosive.
But still, let's talk about the songs. The two-minute blast of "D.D.D" is like Aufgehoben doing a Stooges cover, playing through mile high Marshall stacks, and plugged into a daisy chain of dead battery stomp boxes, this time the maniacal vocals matching Kawabata's wild noise-shred with some seriously acrobatic, near falsetto wailing. Even the 'prettier' songs, like "Taitan", find Kawabata wrapping the tribal rhythms and swoonsome shimmer in wild tangled ribbons of strangled, distorto shred and stuttering, glitched out axe frenzy, so the prettiness is not just buried, but obliterated, or so it seems, until that guitarnoise is momentarily peeled back, eventually revealing the hushed mesmer still lurking just beneath the surface. "The Dispossessed" (found on the cd only) could be some classic proto-metal groover, with its busy drumming and woozy, bluesy groove, but there, the guitars seem to explode from within, a grinding blast of Hendrixian shreddery fused to Butthole Surfers style psychedelic freakery, again balanced by some truly haunting, ethereal vox.
And then there's the final track "New Sun", a 20+ minute epic, that begins with a gnarled churn of super distorted riffage, wrapped around an almost 'funky drummer' beat, those drifting spectral vocals hovering over the top, the band locked into a weird warped groove, a lurching metallic blues stomp, that about 4 minutes in slows down to a dirgey crawl, around the same time the guitars explode into some seriously heart of the sun super nova style fretboard freakery! And when they return to the main riff, the guitar is somehow even more distorted and blown out, and they cycle through the song proper one more time, before finishing off with 8 minutes of utter in-the-red cosmic guitar god freakout, with Kawabata flying high, his axe spitting sparks, the drums and bass buried beneath an avalanche of some of the freakiest, fantastically fucked up, psychedelic leads ever, building to a finale that cranks the drums to a frantic gallop, the bass thrumming fiercely, all within a swirling sonic cloud of Kawabata's amp destroying, soul searing psych-drone shred. Whew!!
The gods must be pleased. Any Mainliner fan will be too. But this is NOT just for Kawabata/AMT/Mainliner fanboys, excited though those folks should be. Nope, 'cause there's at least one aQ staffer who realized after hearing this that they NEEDED, but didn't have, all the previous Mainliner albums. You might too, and this would certainly make a good place to begin your lifetime of worship.
Not sure what the future holds for Kawabata Makoto's Mainliner, 'cause Kawabe Taigen's Bo Ningen band is based in London, where they seem to be making a name for themselves, collaborating with the Savages and such (we'll try to track down some imports by the way). But even if this is all we get out of this trio for another 12 years, it will suffice - it just might take that long for our ears to recover!!
As some of you mighty recall, the vinyl version of this was originally meant to be a Record Store Day release this year - they didn't get it pressed in time, so it was bumped back, but it's still hella limited - 500 copies for the world, either white or swamp green vinyl, released on what we're gonna call Mainliner Day. We've got about a dozen left and that's gonna be it. The good news is, though, that the compact disc version, which isn't quite so limited, contains a 9 and a half minute bonus track, the aforementioned "The Dispossessed". Other differences: the vinyl sleeve is black with gold print, while the cd comes in a white miniature lp-style sleeve likewise with gold print. And graphically, both kind of look a lot like Mellow Out, doubtless quite intentionally.
MPEG Stream: "Revelation Space"
MPEG Stream: "Taitan"
MPEG Stream: "New Sun"

album cover MAINLINER (KAWABATA MAKOTO'S) Revelation Space (Riot Season) lp 29.00
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY.
In some Spinal Tapped version of mythology, the gods of rock and roll, of noise, of distortion, of turning amps up to 11 and melting faces, having once said "let there be rock!", recently must have looked down in dismay from the heavens (where they dwell in castles made of ROCK, which float on puffy clouds generated by fog machines) upon their creation and found something in today's music scene sorely lacking. Where was the primal motorpsycho fuzz feedback rock freakery they originally had commanded? Not nearly enough of it about (and heck, even too much would never be enough). So, they summoned their loyal servitor, The Bearded One, Kawabata Makoto. As lead guitarist/guru of trippy Japanese jammers Acid Mothers Temple, Kawabata has always been a devout worshipper, doing the bidding of the gods with many, many Acid Mothers shows and releases month in and month out. But now he was called upon to do something more - to resurrect the mighty MAINLINER, power trio to end all power trios, and teach a lesson in transcendental distorto-delic mayhem to all mankind. And, lo, faithful Kawabata has not failed in this holy task!
Thus, Mainliner is back, with Revelation Space. It's been over a dozen years since the last proper Mainliner release, 2001's Imaginative Plain cd on PSF, and even longer since Mainliner made their debut with the unbeatable classic Mellow Out. The lineup has changed - in fact it's important to note that this is specifically billed as Kawabata Makoto's Mainliner, 'cause originally he was just the young hotshot guitarist in the band, which was in fact founded by bassist/vocalist Nanjo Asahito of the legendary High Rise, as an almost doppelganger version of that trio so Nanjo could go out on tour when High Rise couldn't. But now, for whatever reason, Nanjo's no longer participating in the band, presumably having given Kawabata his blessing to carry on with the name and mission. Kawabe Taigen, from new wave Japanese psych band Bo Ningen, has been chosen to replace him; and in addition to holding down the rumbling bottom end, he manages to emulate Nanjo's droning otherworldy croon quite capably.
They've had several different drummers on various releases (including Tatsuya Yoshida of Ruins); the drummer here, Koji Shimura, is from AMT, has played in High Rise and many other "Tokyo Flashback" acts, and appears on several previous Mainliner releases including Imaginative Plain. Thankfully, as it turns out, the "new" Mainliner is just as over-the-top and in-the-red as the old Mainliner ever was, maybe more!! They took this seriously - it's not just yet another freaky Kawabata album (as good as they always are), nope.
The opening title track drops the listener in at the deep end and then some, immediately unleashing insane blown out crumble and stutter, the guitar sounding like it's being run through an effects box labeled both Brainbombs AND Faxed Head, but then when it's wed to simple motorik drumming, and hazy, soft focus vox, the combination is strangely beautiful. Beautiful, too, the blurts of feedback shriek, the echo-drenched squalls, the chaotic drum splatter. Really, it's less about the songs, and more about the sound. If stripped of the insanely distorted guitars, this iteration of Mainliner would be a whole different, less beastly beast. And sure, white noise psych guitar freakouts were always a (big) part of Mainliner, but the sounds here seem so much more extreme, the guitarnoise utterly relentless, the whole record wreathed in a crackly field of malfunctioning guitar / damaged amp buzz skree, almost like something Editions Mego would put out, that caustic and corrosive.
But still, let's talk about the songs. The two-minute blast of "D.D.D" is like Aufgehoben doing a Stooges cover, playing through mile high Marshall stacks, and plugged into a daisy chain of dead battery stomp boxes, this time the maniacal vocals matching Kawabata's wild noise-shred with some seriously acrobatic, near falsetto wailing. Even the 'prettier' songs, like "Taitan", find Kawabata wrapping the tribal rhythms and swoonsome shimmer in wild tangled ribbons of strangled, distorto shred and stuttering, glitched out axe frenzy, so the prettiness is not just buried, but obliterated, or so it seems, until that guitarnoise is momentarily peeled back, eventually revealing the hushed mesmer still lurking just beneath the surface. "The Dispossessed" (found on the cd only) could be some classic proto-metal groover, with its busy drumming and woozy, bluesy groove, but there, the guitars seem to explode from within, a grinding blast of Hendrixian shreddery fused to Butthole Surfers style psychedelic freakery, again balanced by some truly haunting, ethereal vox.
And then there's the final track "New Sun", a 20+ minute epic, that begins with a gnarled churn of super distorted riffage, wrapped around an almost 'funky drummer' beat, those drifting spectral vocals hovering over the top, the band locked into a weird warped groove, a lurching metallic blues stomp, that about 4 minutes in slows down to a dirgey crawl, around the same time the guitars explode into some seriously heart of the sun super nova style fretboard freakery! And when they return to the main riff, the guitar is somehow even more distorted and blown out, and they cycle through the song proper one more time, before finishing off with 8 minutes of utter in-the-red cosmic guitar god freakout, with Kawabata flying high, his axe spitting sparks, the drums and bass buried beneath an avalanche of some of the freakiest, fantastically fucked up, psychedelic leads ever, building to a finale that cranks the drums to a frantic gallop, the bass thrumming fiercely, all within a swirling sonic cloud of Kawabata's amp destroying, soul searing psych-drone shred. Whew!!
The gods must be pleased. Any Mainliner fan will be too. But this is NOT just for Kawabata/AMT/Mainliner fanboys, excited though those folks should be. Nope, 'cause there's at least one aQ staffer who realized after hearing this that they NEEDED, but didn't have, all the previous Mainliner albums. You might too, and this would certainly make a good place to begin your lifetime of worship.
Not sure what the future holds for Kawabata Makoto's Mainliner, 'cause Kawabe Taigen's Bo Ningen band is based in London, where they seem to be making a name for themselves, collaborating with the Savages and such (we'll try to track down some imports by the way). But even if this is all we get out of this trio for another 12 years, it will suffice - it just might take that long for our ears to recover!!
As some of you mighty recall, the vinyl version of this was originally meant to be a Record Store Day release this year - they didn't get it pressed in time, so it was bumped back, but it's still hella limited - 500 copies for the world, either white or swamp green vinyl, released on what we're gonna call Mainliner Day. We've got about a dozen left and that's gonna be it. The good news is, though, that the compact disc version, which isn't quite so limited, contains a 9 and a half minute bonus track, the aforementioned "The Dispossessed". Other differences: the vinyl sleeve is black with gold print, while the cd comes in a white miniature lp-style sleeve likewise with gold print. And graphically, both kind of look a lot like Mellow Out, doubtless quite intentionally.
MPEG Stream: "Revelation Space"
MPEG Stream: "Taitan"
MPEG Stream: "New Sun"

album cover SNIVELLING SHITS, THE I Can't Come (Damaged Goods) picture disc lp 21.00
Now also on picture disc vinyl!
This one came out of nowhere and kicked our asses. And to be totally honest, as is often the case, we ordered it almost entirely because the band had an awesome name, heck, they're called the Snivelling Shits. Fingers crossed we threw it on, and what do you know? The sound was as snotty and snarly and snarky and catchy and punk as fuck as the name implied.
The 'Shits were a joke band, formed by music journalist Giovanni Dadamo in 1977, designed to take the piss, but they ended up whipping up a batch of songs as good as if not better than any other groups at the time. Some impossible blend of the Buzzcocks, the Undertones, the Modern Lovers, The Sex Pistols, the Damned and the Velvets. Propulsive drumming, looped hypnotic riffing, and Dadamo's high pitched invective over the top. Take "I Can't Come", a bawdy sex tale about bedroom misadventure, with an insanely long list of other luminaries who couldn't come, culminating in the classic "Jesus Of Nazareth, heeeeeee can't come!" delivered in a snotty nasal whine. The rest of the tracks are just as funny: "Only 13", "Terminal Stupid", "I Wanna Be Your Biro", the all in French "Et Moi, Et Moi, Et Moi" and the impossibly catchy "Bring Me The Head Of Yukio Mishima". Every song here is a stone cold classic. Why these guys weren't huge it's hard to say. Might be because they didn't take it all that seriously, or the fact that they only ever recorded EIGHT tracks in their whole brief career, all collected here, along with some demos as well as the holiday chestnut "There Ain't No Sanity Claus" with the Damned (Dadamo also wrote a couple songs for those guys) and the previously released "isgodaman?" which was included on a comp under the pseudonym Arthur Comix because the record label didn't want the word Shits on their record cover.
Bottom line is this stuff is amazing. Hooky and haughty, frenetic and so bad ass. If you dig ANY of the above mentioned bands or have been digging on the current crop of snotty punk rock: the Catheters, the Thermals, Times New Viking, and the like, this will DESTROY YOU!!
MPEG Stream: "I Can't Come"
MPEG Stream: "Et Moi, Et Moi, Et Moi"
MPEG Stream: "Bring Me The Head Of Yukio Mishima"

album cover VIAN, PATRICK Bruits Et Temps Analogues (Staubgold) cd 17.98
French prog from the seventies can move us in just the right ways, especially if it hits that sweet spot between Kosmiche new age and sublime Euro-jazz, yet still has that individually eccentric feel that you only get from the French. Patrick Vian's sole 1976 lp Bruits et Temps Analogues, famously included on the Nurse With Wound list, is just such a record. An amalgam of Michael Rother sky gliding electronic music and a mellower take on the "Superficial Music" of Bernard Szajner, Vian packs a lot of punch into his compositions, propelled forward by the hypnotic counterpoint of sunny guitar lines, analog Moog washes, flutes and all kinds of dazzling rhythmic instrumentation, such as kinetic jazz drumming, and deep vibraphones, the latter thanks to the help of Mino Cinelu (who had played with the likes of Gong, Weather Report and Miles Davis). There's also an exotica quality at play here especially on the track, "Orenock" which feels like we're on safari on some strange desolate planet, as well as some avant-garde tendencies, such as using tape manipulations of recordings of American sporting events on the musique concrete piece, "Tricentennial Drag". Vian began his musical career in the legendary French prog /free jazz band Red Noise, but the vibe on Bruits et Temps Analogues is way more serene and groovy. It lives up to its awesome cover painting. Originally released on the Egg / Barclay label, it's about time this stellar album got reissued. Thanks Staubgold! Highest Recommendation!!
MPEG Stream: "Sphere"
MPEG Stream: "Oreknock"
MPEG Stream: "R&B Degenerit!"
MPEG Stream: "Tricentennial Drag"

album cover DETEST Thundersteel (Stormspell) 2cd 13.98
Every once in a while, we run across some obscure old school metal reissue that really, really makes us go "heck yeah, that's why we love obscure old school metal!!!" Max Planck, Drakar, Coven, Dark Quarterer, Wolfbane, the list goes on. The latest discovery we've been freaking out about is this one from Swedish band Detest, who released a five song mini-lp in 1990 with the very metal title of Thundersteel (a name already used by Riot for an album 2 years earlier, so don't be confused), now reissued with tons of bonus tracks from the band's demos (filling up two whole cds!) by the cult metal Stormspell label as part of their archival "Red White Heavy Arcane Collector Series For The Initiated", which previously brought us that Max Planck among others.
Maybe what first attracted us to Detest was the intriguing cover art, a cartoony black & white & red drawing of a (despondent? pensive?) man-creature with sword, crouching at the top of some steps, apparently on a mountainside, near an altar (?), with lightning in the background and a small lizard in the foreground. Very curious. On the back cover of the cd booklet, the scene is the same, but the humanoid is gone, his sword left stuck in the earth. Did he go back down the steps? Or climb further up the cliff? Or jump off?
While wondering about all that, we started listening to the music - and were blown away. The first disc opens with the title track, "Thundersteel", and immediately you'll be smitten like we were, if you're into heavy, epic, glorious metal in the style of Manowar, Candlemass, and Doomsword - with a 'deeper' lyrical twist, as it's about the hypocrisy and evil of Christian crusaders killing heathens. It's got classic stamped all over it. And Detest keep up the quality, galloping through the rest of the disc with quite a few more killer songs that vary from the doomy to the thrashy, always pretty dang catchy and HEAVY. There's more riff monsters like "Chains Of Hell", another epic romp; insidious Bay Area thrash influenced attacks like "Cold Steel Tears Your Flesh"; and even some dementedly WTF? heaviness in the form of the plodding, extra-sludgy "Steinhurst's Chainsaws". Detest kick out plenty of memorably melodic cuts too, like the powerful "Crossfire", "Zone Of Nowhere" and the singalong mead-hall folkmetal of "One Too Many"; there's even a pretty decent, heartfelt ballad with 12-string acoustic guitar, "Angel Of Mine", but elsewhere it's more or less all about chunky riffage, ripping twin leads, rough wailing vox...
Disc two has its share of gems on it too, but to be honest disc one is SO good that we keep playing it over and over and haven't yet really given the second disc enough spins to write much about it in this review! Nice to know it's there to get into when/if we ever tire of disc one, though. 28 tracks total on this anthology, and somehow, despite the DIY recording of most of this, the production quality is pretty excellent overall regardless if the tracks are from the mini-lp or from demos.
The very thick cd booklet includes a band bio, full lyrics, and detailed notes on each track from the band's vocalist/guitarist Micke Darth. There's also an interview with him, where he answers various questions including why the band was called Detest: "Slayer was taken". Plus there's more drawings by the guy that did the cover, of that guy on the cover, Detest's scrappy little red naked furry sword wielding mascot we suppose.
Definitely something special about this band, we're SO glad Stormspell dug this up 'cause we'd never have heard 'em otherwise. Clearly a talented, intelligent band (with kind of a weird sense of humor but also a serious, sincere vibe) that were making this music in their garage more for themselves than for any larger audience - which is insane since so much of this stuff is so much better than a lot of things released by other bands of the era who "made it", y'know? Highest recommendation to anyone into cult underground '80s heavy metal!
MPEG Stream: "Thundersteel"
MPEG Stream: "Crossfire"
MPEG Stream: "Chains Of Hell"

album cover TWINK Think Pink (Sunbeam) lp+cd 29.00
THIS RECENT RECORD OF THE WEEK, NOW ON VINYL! First time we've had a vinyl reissue of this old fave, in fact. And, it comes with a free copy of the cd version tucked into the jacket, which means you do get all the bonus tracks described below, even though they didn't fit onto the vinyl itself. Here's what we said other other day when we listed the cd:
Along with the revamped Conet Project, here's another no-brainer for a Record Of The Week… We've listed it before, years and years ago, when there was a cd version on Akarma, but this is a much nicer, expanded, official reissue and it's good to give it a proper review for the first time (back then, we merely quoted The Seth Man from Julian Cope's Head Heritage website, waxing rhapsodic about this record, now we'll do it ourselves).
Oh boy. Do you like psychedelia? DO YOU HAVE THIS ALBUM? If not, you're in for a treat, a mindblowing treat. Think Pink was the brilliant solo effort from former Pretty Things drummer John "Twink" Alder, and it's an all-time aQ fave, an all-time underground psychedelic masterpiece, right up there with the essentials from the likes of Amon Duul II, Pink Floyd, Hawkwind, Sam Gopal, Kaleidoscope, and Tyrannosaurus Rex, and it's just been properly reissued on cd by the UK's Sunbeam label, with a whole bunch of bonus freakery added on. Not that this album NEEDS any bonus freakery, it's about as freaky as you can get to begin with, packed with droning chant, druidic prophecy, spaced-out psych jams, weird twisted pop, and acid-folk ramble. But, too much is never enough, right? So heck, we're happy to have the eight bonus tracks too. More on those later. First, let's discuss the original album itself. As we said, Twink played drums for The Pretty Things, but before that had his own sixties R&B outfit the Fairies. After that band, he was in Tomorrow ("My White Bicycle") with future Yes guitarist Steve Howe, around 1967. Twink then briefly formed a duo called The Aquarian Age, before joining up with The Pretty Things and appearing on their concept-album classic S.F. Sorrow in '68, another aQ fave. At that point, for some crazy reason (things were different/better back then) Twink was offered a deal by Sire to do a solo album, and Think Pink was the glorious, if at the time somewhat unheralded, result, recorded in 1969 with Mick Farren of The Deviants producing. Released in 1970 in the US & Europe, but not 'til '71 in the UK, it's been called the first Pink Fairies album, and in a way it is, as soon after making it, Twink did team up with several ex-members of The Deviants, most of whom played on this, to form that infamous proto-punk outfit. And several tracks here feature contributions from what's credited as "The Pink Fairies Motorcycle Club & All Star Rock & Roll Band".
Also participating are several of Twink's Pretty Things bandmates, his girlfriend Silver Darling, and Steve Peregrin Took, Marc Bolan's partner in Tyrannosaurus Rex and early T-Rex, who plays, among other things, "pixie horn". And one of the most crucial contributors to Think Pink, besides Twink himself, has to be guitarist Paul "Blackie" Rudolph, who really lets loose, earning a hallowed place in the annals of distortodelic guitar wrangling for his work on this album alone (though in the course of his career before and after, he also played with The Deviants, Pink Fairies, Hawkwind, Robert Calvert, and Brian Eno).
Eastern-tinged opener "The Coming Of The Other One" sets the scene, pulling us deep into its trippy Aquarian Age fantasy zone, with a solemn voice reciting Nostradamic verses ("In the year 1999 and seven months, from the skies shall come an alarming powerful king...") accompanied by tablas and sitar. Then comes Think Pink's biggest "hit" as far as we're concerned, an utterly perfect slice of stonery psych called "10,000 Words In A Cardboard Box", just listen to it! That's followed by "Dawn Of Magic" with its raga-like vocal ahhhaaaaahh sounds as if Pandit Pran Nath were on the mic, which suddenly segues into the space-out sike-pop of "Tiptoe On The Highest Hill", a lovely pastoral song that eventually builds into a howling guitar blow-out of the highest order. Then the trippy "Fluid" chimes into being, with its sexy heavy breathing and slinky, springy grooves, making us think of the acid-fried hippy orgasms of krautrockers Brainticket's classic Cottonwood Hill (released later on, in '71, we should also note).
Side two (track six here) opens with the martial fuzz-freakout of "Mexican Grass War", all chanting freaks and wild FX like early Amon Duul and Edgar Broughton Band. The freaky vibes continue, quite weird and wonderful, with the glammed up jam of "Rock An'Roll The Joint", the mellow morbid acoustic strum of "Suicide" and the maniacal "Three Little Piggies", before the album ends with the intense edgy psych pop of "The Sparrow Is A Sign", a song with a malevolent, sinister side to it that reminds us a little bit of Comus - and strangely too of the Sun City Girls, perhaps due to the vocals, provided by Steve Took.
Then, there's all those bonus tracks, the first two of which are actually from the lone 7" single released in '68 by The Aquarian Age, the immediate precursor to the Think Pink project. There's the A side, being the original version of "10,000 Words In A Cardboard Box", and the B side, an amusing number called "Good Wizard Meets Naughty Wizard", which displays just the sort of twee, hippie British humor the title suggests. It's great to hear both of those, and the bonus tracks proliferate further with unreleased, alternate versions of more Think Pink material, somewhat heavier or rawer or definitely different, including two takes of "Fluid" and another version of "10,000 Words...", which we can't get enough of anyway.
All in all, a nicely done reissue, as this deserves, with pages and pages of newly-written, informative liner notes, plus lyrics, credits, vintage photos & graphics. Plus, unlike that previous Akarma version, this is a fully-legit release, done with the participation of Twink himself ("issued under exclusive license from Mohammed Abdullah John Alder, February 2013" it says here, and there's even a picture of him today too - apparently he's become a Muslim, and looks quite happy).
By the way... Nobody here at aQ can think about Think Pink, though, and not also think about our "customer" whom we call The Twink Think Pink Guy. We don't believe he's ever actually bought anything, but he's this older guy that comes in once in a while (and has for years) and always, always, ONLY asks about Think Pink, whether we have it in stock or not, and then talks at great length to anyone who will listen about how great it is. It's his favorite record apparently, but don't let that dissuade you, if you get this you probably won't end up like him. Probably.
Message for The Twink Think Pink Guy, if you're reading this: we expect to see you soon!
MPEG Stream: "10,000 Words In A Cardboard Box"
MPEG Stream: "Tiptoe On The Highest Hill"
MPEG Stream: "Fluid"
MPEG Stream: "The Sparrow Is A Sign"
MPEG Stream: "Good Wizard Meets Naughty Wizard"

UNCLE ACID & THE DEADBEATS Blood Lust (Rise Above) lp 39.00
Hell yeah, at last! When this now-semi-legendary album was first released by UK heavy psych doom metal specialists Rise Above in 2011, it came out in an ultra limited edition of just three hundred vinyl-only copies, which proved almost impossible to come by. That first edition sold out instantly and those lps started trading for seriously ridiculous amounts of money on eBay and elsewhere. Even though, really, who the heck were Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats? Well it wasn't just the cool band name generating a buzz, the music was awesome, as we later were able to ascertain. Eventually Rise Above did a repress, of which we were able to get a few, though those were expensive too and we were never able to get enough of 'em to actually list. But, we did figure out why this record was in such demand (as we'll discuss in more detail in a moment). We also learned that Blood Lust had also come out on compact disc, but oddly enough via a small Finnish label instead of Rise Above, and again we never were able to get enough of those to list, either. But we had hope that someday, somehow, we'd be able to review this for you, 'cause eventually most Rise Above stuff gets released in the USA by licensees Metal Blade, and while its been a damn long time, we're now pleased to, ta da, finally have Blood Lust on cd at a domestic price. Record Of The Week? You bet!
So, what we thought we were in for, way back when all we knew about band was their name & label, was some lysergic sludgey doomy jamming, like maybe Electric Wizard (another Rise Above band) or UFOmammut. Which we would have been perfectly happy with, of course. But, instead, Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats proved to be a lot more song-oriented and more melodic than we expected, with a kind of poppy '60s garage psych rock side to 'em, amidst their heavy fuzz-filled riffage. The singer (that's ol' Uncle Acid himself, natch, also on guitar in this power trio, and mellotron and synths too) croons his twisted tales of witchburning, black magic, and murder, in a languid whine, his voice nasally pinched and reverb effected, reminding us a bit of Kyle Thomas of aQ faves Witch (and King Tuff and Happy Birthday too by the way). His delivery lends a delicate, decadent touch to the band's brand of both despondent plod and swinging catchiness, able to render lines like "I was born a bitter man, no hopes or dreams / I get my kicks from torturing and screams / I lust for womens blood, and their evil ways / I twist my words to what the good book says" with sick sincerity -and- showmanship, in a way that is surprisingly not very much metallic, instead staying (despite the music's undeniable heaviness) more in the pop realm, though one obsessed with vintage horror films.
These rollicking, but dread-infused tunes are further full of ripping fuzz guitar leads, and lumbering downer riffs. Without a doubt, doom originators Black Sabbath are a major factor in this band's sound, but they're doing something rather different with that particular inspiration than most do. And we're also reminded of some other British '60s/'70s proto-metallers like Stray, High Tide, T2, and May Blitz, who were quite heavy but psych-pop catchy as well. Perhaps very early, very psychedelic Alice Cooper could be added to Uncle Acid's roster of influences too, we're thinking of the way the song "Ritual Knife" marries a pounding tribal beat and urgently chugging ominous riffery with glorious bursts of shining melody come chorus time.
One much more recent band that these guys also remind us of, is Swedish occult rock sensations Ghost, another act whose "pop side" is so effective as to possibly threaten their "metal cred" among the more closeminded. We'd also recommend Uncle Acid to fans of that other recent, equally retro stunner from Rise Above, Admiral Sir Cloudesley Shovell. And, like last week's Record Of The Week by Golden Void, this has that laidback classic sounding '70s psychrock vibe, immediately familiar, though Uncle Acid comes across as much more dark and sinister to be sure. And lastly, fans of Witchcraft should pay attention - we'd rank this up there with that band's celebrated Rise Above debut, we're pretty sure this is gonna be considered a classic too. We're sooooooo glad they didn't just press only those 300 vinyl copies and leave it at that!! You will be too.
This cd reissue includes a bonus track not on vinyl, which provides a nice coda to the record proper, relinquishing the fuzz guitar for acoustic strum and hand percussion, Uncle Acid doing their doom-pop-psych in a more folky style a la, say, Bolan's Tyrannosaurus Rex.
MPEG Stream: "I'll Cut You Down"
MPEG Stream: "Curse In The Trees"
MPEG Stream: "13 Candles"

album cover UNCLE ACID & THE DEADBEATS Blood Lust (Picture Disc) (Metal Blade / Rise Above) lp 29.00
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY.
Now available on domestic PICTURE DISC vinyl!
Hell yeah, at last! When this now-semi-legendary album was first released by UK heavy psych doom metal specialists Rise Above in 2011, it came out in an ultra limited edition of just three hundred vinyl-only copies, which proved almost impossible to come by. That first edition sold out instantly and those lps started trading for seriously ridiculous amounts of money on eBay and elsewhere. Even though, really, who the heck were Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats? Well it wasn't just the cool band name generating a buzz, the music was awesome, as we later were able to ascertain. Eventually Rise Above did a repress, of which we were able to get a few, though those were expensive too and we were never able to get enough of 'em to actually list. But, we did figure out why this record was in such demand (as we'll discuss in more detail in a moment). We also learned that Blood Lust had also come out on compact disc, but oddly enough via a small Finnish label instead of Rise Above, and again we never were able to get enough of those to list, either. But we had hope that someday, somehow, we'd be able to review this for you, 'cause eventually most Rise Above stuff gets released in the USA by licensees Metal Blade, and while its been a damn long time, we're now pleased to, ta da, finally have Blood Lust on cd at a domestic price. Record Of The Week? You bet!
So, what we thought we were in for, way back when all we knew about band was their name & label, was some lysergic sludgey doomy jamming, like maybe Electric Wizard (another Rise Above band) or UFOmammut. Which we would have been perfectly happy with, of course. But, instead, Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats proved to be a lot more song-oriented and more melodic than we expected, with a kind of poppy '60s garage psych rock side to 'em, amidst their heavy fuzz-filled riffage. The singer (that's ol' Uncle Acid himself, natch, also on guitar in this power trio, and mellotron and synths too) croons his twisted tales of witchburning, black magic, and murder, in a languid whine, his voice nasally pinched and reverb effected, reminding us a bit of Kyle Thomas of aQ faves Witch (and King Tuff and Happy Birthday too by the way). His delivery lends a delicate, decadent touch to the band's brand of both despondent plod and swinging catchiness, able to render lines like "I was born a bitter man, no hopes or dreams / I get my kicks from torturing and screams / I lust for womens blood, and their evil ways / I twist my words to what the good book says" with sick sincerity -and- showmanship, in a way that is surprisingly not very much metallic, instead staying (despite the music's undeniable heaviness) more in the pop realm, though one obsessed with vintage horror films.
These rollicking, but dread-infused tunes are further full of ripping fuzz guitar leads, and lumbering downer riffs. Without a doubt, doom originators Black Sabbath are a major factor in this band's sound, but they're doing something rather different with that particular inspiration than most do. And we're also reminded of some other British '60s/'70s proto-metallers like Stray, High Tide, T2, and May Blitz, who were quite heavy but psych-pop catchy as well. Perhaps very early, very psychedelic Alice Cooper could be added to Uncle Acid's roster of influences too, we're thinking of the way the song "Ritual Knife" marries a pounding tribal beat and urgently chugging ominous riffery with glorious bursts of shining melody come chorus time.
One much more recent band that these guys also remind us of, is Swedish occult rock sensations Ghost, another act whose "pop side" is so effective as to possibly threaten their "metal cred" among the more closeminded. We'd also recommend Uncle Acid to fans of that other recent, equally retro stunner from Rise Above, Admiral Sir Cloudesley Shovell. And, like last week's Record Of The Week by Golden Void, this has that laidback classic sounding '70s psychrock vibe, immediately familiar, though Uncle Acid comes across as much more dark and sinister to be sure. And lastly, fans of Witchcraft should pay attention - we'd rank this up there with that band's celebrated Rise Above debut, we're pretty sure this is gonna be considered a classic too. We're sooooooo glad they didn't just press only those 300 vinyl copies and leave it at that!! You will be too.
This cd reissue includes a bonus track not on vinyl, which provides a nice coda to the record proper, relinquishing the fuzz guitar for acoustic strum and hand percussion, Uncle Acid doing their doom-pop-psych in a more folky style a la, say, Bolan's Tyrannosaurus Rex.
MPEG Stream: "I'll Cut You Down"
MPEG Stream: "Curse In The Trees"
MPEG Stream: "13 Candles"

album cover BRAINTICKET Cottonwoodhill (Cleopatra) cd 15.98
A couple years ago, when an expensive import vinyl (+cd) version of this came out, we realized, good golly, we've never listed this before, really??? So we were glad to finally get to do so, 'cause Brainticket's Cottonwood Hill has been a trippy AQ fave for long, long time.
Now it's just been domestically reissued on cd, without the extraneous vinyl component, so anyone who missed out on it before can get it, and more cheaply too!
This album, originally released in 1971 (that's right!), the debut from Swiss krautrockers (we think you can call 'em that) Brainticket, is simply one of the freakiest, LSD-trip inspired slabs of groovy mu-sick ever. Up there with Funkadelic's Free Your Mind And Your Ass Will Follow, even.
The first two tracks on side one, "Black Sand" and "Places Of Light", ease you into it, being laidback groovers laced with stabs of distortion... then the true "trip" begins, the utterly over the top, three-part "Brainticket", that starts on side one and spreads over all of side two, dense and propulsive and repetitive, with orgasmic female vocals and all kinds of intense psychedelic throb. It's the perfect soundtrack to goin' completely mad. In addition to wah-wah guitar, organ, flute, tabla, and sci-fi electronics, there's layers of musique concrete "samples", tapes of rainfall, clanging bells, clattering trains, cheering crowds, all sorts of chaotic noise panic...
Quite a overdose of LSD-enthusiasm, that even today still seems more likely to scare folks off from trying drugs than encourage 'em to do so. But then, who needs to actually drop acid when you can just listen to this? Fans of the likes of A.R. & Machines, Amon Duul II, Siloah, Tangerine Dream's Electronic Meditation, and other cosmic trips (as well as hippie kitsch) this is another one you need to get turned on to if you haven't already. Oh, and as a footnote, the drummer went on to play in proto-metallers Toad.
Packaged in gatefold digi-sleeve.
MPEG Stream: "Black Sand"
MPEG Stream: "Brainticket Part I"

album cover MANILLA ROAD Metal (Shadow Kingdom) cd 12.98
If you're into '80s metal of the more obscure, underground, cult variety and a reissue of a 1982 Manilla Road album entitled Metal doesn't immediately get you jazzed, something is wrong (unless you have it already of course, but then you'll at least be happy that other folks, less fortunate, at last have a chance to pick it up). Released now as part of Shadow Kingdom's Manilla Road reissue campaign, this is the follow up to the band's 1980 debut, Invasion. It's even more metal (hence the title), these weird Wichita wizards most likely adding Iron Maiden and other NWOBHM'ers to their roster of influences, previously a '70s space/prog/hard psych blend of Rush, Hawkwind, B.O.C., Hendrix, Captain Beyond, Black Sabbath, etc. that in combination with their interest in pulp fantasy literature they turned into some of the earliest of "epic" (and eccentric!) metal. As the '80s progressed, each MR album heavied up, but still stayed strange (not difficult, considering the unique vocal stylings of guitarist and mastermind Mark "The Shark" Shelton). Metal is a great early example, one of our several faves in the band's still-growing catalog, in part 'cause it contains a song called "Defender", written from the perspective of a Defender video arcade machine! Here's a few lines: "Defending my planet / Is all that I do / Won't somebody play me / One quarter will do". Haha. Who else would do that, even in '82 when it was indeed a topical song idea?
Other key cuts include the no-argument-there title track "Metal", and Conan-themed classic "Queen Of The Black Coast". And let's not forget "Out Of Control With Rock 'N' Roll", which sure hints at that Blue Oyster Cult influence, eh? Then there's this album's longest epic, "Cage Of Mirrors", which gets pretty freaky by the end.
Reissued with new cover art but the more stark and simple (read: crude) original cover appears on the back of the booklet so purists can flip it around.
MPEG Stream: " Defender"
MPEG Stream: "Queen Of The Black Coast"
MPEG Stream: "Cage Of Mirrors"

album cover CHIPS & BEER Issue #5 magazine 7.00
Hell yeah! Break out the chips and the beer - and crank the metal music LOUD - 'cause it's already time for the fifth installment of Chips & Beer, our favorite idiosyncratic underground cult metal (and more) 'zine. If you've got the earlier issues you know what to expect, if not, how do we explain the charm of Chips & Beer? Well, imagine a metalhead version of the old Bananafish 'zine - cryptic, creative, obviously intelligent, often absurd, and sometimes (especially when it comes to the comix) quite crude. Chips & Beer's writers, whether being straightforward or pseudo-intellectual or just plain weird, always manage to amuse, confuse, and (sometimes) enlighten, and definitely fulfill the FANzine's chief imperative of being enthusiastic admirers of whatever subject they chose to celebrate - in this issue, ferinstance, you get a piece on original Saint Vitus singer Scott Reagers ("Reagerding Reagers") that's practically a prose-poem in its effusive praise of that neglected vocalist's one of a kind talents (sentiments with which this writer can only agree).
This issue is the "Italian Metal Special", and as you may already know, the Chips & Beer crew don't half-ass these "specials", nope, you'll find stuff here about every damn crazy Italian metal band you've ever heard of and many more you hadn't, the big features being on Death SS, Bulldozer, Dark Quarterer, and Mortuary Drape, but lots of obscurer Italo HM obscurities get covered too, from Adramelch to Zess - plus there's even an interview with truly obscure AQ fave and former Record Of The Weeker, Tony Tears! The Italian theme continues into in-depth coverage of Italian '80s Z-grade swords & sorcery cinema, and the works of erotic auteur Tinto Brass.
But that's not all - also this ish: Betsy Bitch, Morbus Chron, Borrowed Time, Bone Sickness, Moss, Blue Oyster Cult (sort of), Lester Maddox, Longmont Potion Castle (yeah!!) and plenty more, including lots of hard-to-grok music reviews, and also reviews of modern straight to video (well, dvd) horror films, that part including a sidebar interview with director Ti West whose films Triggerman and The Roost we just listed the soundtrack to. 136 action-packed newsprint pages all in all, and recommended - nay, required - for anyone into this shit.

album cover SCHICKERT, GUNTER Samtvogel (Important) cd 15.98
Years ago we fell in love with Gunter Schickert's album Uberfallig, a late-krautrock guitarscape epic from 1979. It was quite recently reissued on cd and vinyl by Germany's Bureau B label, and we made it a Record Of The Week as we hope you recall. Now here's another Shickert reissue, and yes indeed another Record Of The Week. Samtvogel was Gunter's debut, from five years previous, in 1974. This time the Important label has the honor of bringing this out again, and we thank them. We've had an expensive import vinyl reissue previously that we listed (now long gone) but this is the first time ever that has been available on compact disc, as far as we know.
Schickert, who besides playing guitar was employed as studio engineer working alongside better known krautrock legend Klaus Schulze, never made too many albums on his own but everything we've heard in his sparse discography has been amazing. If you liked Uberfallig, you'll like its predecessor Samtvogel too, a three track epic of cavernous space guitar explorations and buried lysergic vocal incantations that sounds like an alternate soundtrack to Fantastic Planet! The first track, "Apricot Brandy" gently introduces us into Schickert's sound world, a spacey lyrical repetitive commune riffscape with murmured vocals and spindly multi-layered guitar percolations that gently float in an echo-y atmospheric chamber (see Uberfallig for the sequel, "Apricot Brandy II"). The second track, "Kriegmaschinen, Fahrt Zur Holle" is nearly 17 minutes of space-echo, bell tones and strange echo effects that slowly build into more intense repetitive and multi-layered motifs, sometimes urgent and cinematic, and other moments more billowy and sinuous, reminding us of Achim Reichel and Manuel Gottsching, and the even obscure krautrock band Temple. Then the final twenty-one minute track, "Wald" brings the intensity to the fore, with a buzzing guitarscape that reminds us of John Carpenter, but soon gives way to a more lilting spacey bubbling and exploratory improvisation, before the intense riffs return and interject and subside in strange surges, finally dissipating in little clouds of helium. A beautiful piece of outsider kosmiche musik! Highly, highly recommended!
Now that both of Schickert's '70s masterpieces have been reissued, hopefully he can take his rightful place in the constellation of krautrock greats.
MPEG Stream: "Apricot Brandy"
MPEG Stream: "Kreigsmaschinen Fahrt Zur Holle"
MPEG Stream: "Wald"

album cover MORBUS CHRON Sleepers In The Rift (Pulverized) cd 15.98
We've actually been meaning to review this for a while now, the debut full length from Swedish death metal weirdoes Morbus Chron, who obviously, being from Sweden, and playing death metal, are following in a grand tradition, but rather than rehashing what came before, these guys take that classic sound and twist it all up. The garish psychedelic cover art is your first clue that this is not your dimwitted big brother's death metal. It's more like your deformed-evil-twin-that-you-keep-locked-up-in-the-attic-dosed-on-hallucinogens-to-keep-him-docile's death metal. Right from the get go, Morbus Chron spew an unholy concoction of tangled atonal psychedelic melodies, ominous cinematic ambience, churning downtuned heaviness, occasionally laced with wah wah guitars, and driven by bellowed gruff vokills, the riffs are fantastically slippery and loose, the drumming too, a punkish gallop that seems right on the edge of the drummer's ability, which is most definitely a good thing, the band tight as fuck, but sounding constantly on the verge of collapse, the sound more lurching and lumbering than blasting, the vibe murky and muddy, old school heaviness infused with some warped avant garde experimentation, and executed like a horde of knuckle dragging zombie metalheads. Plus who can argue with a band who names one of their songs "Creepy Creeping Creep"? Yet for all the weirdness and psychedelic-ness, Sleepers In the Rift is still death metal, and sorta classic sounding (to a degree) DM to boot, so all you dabblers who don't actually dig old school death metal, this might not be QUITE weird enough for you. They're no Portal after all, but what they are, is modern masters of some damaged DNA strain of classic Swedish death metal, beholden hugely to the greats, but all warped and twisted and fucked up, and transformed into something sorta new, but seriously ruling.
MPEG Stream: "Through The Gaping Gate / Coughing In A Coffin"
MPEG Stream: "Creepy Creeping Creep"
MPEG Stream: "Hymns To A Stiff"

album cover CORDIER, ERIC Breizhiselad (Erewhon) cd 14.98
This former aQ Record Of The Week (List #257), finally available again!!!
Making music is all about transporting the listener to another place. Creating sounds or songs that transform the listener's whole world, so with eyes closed, a person could be anywhere, drifting through space, wandering in caves miles below the surface of the earth, laying in tall grass in the countryside, holed up in a concrete bunker during a war, wandering through the smoking ruins of some ancient city, all through the magic of music.
Most of our favorite sound makers use their considerable talents to sonically alter the course of time, taking us back with them to some unrealized past, some mysterious otherworld where it's still the middle ages, or the 1900's, or the fifties or even just the seventies. Their sounds are faded postcards, old snapshots browned with age, glimpses of places and people long forgotten, it's all very evocative and hauntingly emotional. Philip Jeck, Tim Hecker, William Basinski, Jasper TX, Machinefabriek, they all meticulously craft windows to other worlds, using various instruments and techniques, they allow us to step through our speakers and into some rainy day, an overcast afternoon, in a barely populated city, an intimate get together with family and friends, a lonely walk through dark alleys and rain slicked streets, but unlike a film or a photo, these are less distinct, more like memories than actual visual images, and like memories, they are nothing but personal recollections of events long past, and like memories, some parts are fuzzy, indistinct, everything seems faded and ghostlike, on the verge of being lost forever. Capturing that ineffable sound, manufacturing a world of mysterious musical memories, with music, never fails to captivate us completely, and we could listen to those sounds, rich with nostalgia and warmth, rife with magic and mystery, pretty much forever...
French experimental sound artist Eric Cordier has taken a bit of a detour from his usual electro-improv and installation work and has joined the ranks of our favorite sound makers, with his latest, Breizhiselad, an epic and gorgeously inventive exploration of tape, the turntable and a single 78rpm 10" record found in the attic of a friend's grandmother. The original recording, one of the first to proudly feature the Breton language after years and years of persecution, was to Cordier's ears, "horrible because of the catechism-like vocal arrangements" but the conviction of the vocalists, as well as the condition of the record itself, convinced him that these were important sounds. SO he transferred the sounds to tape, and attempted to capture the essence of the music, the power and the passion, while discarding the rest.
The result is a haunting epic, an expansive drift through some lost era, the voices are disembodied and wreathed in murk and static, an EVP broadcast from the beyond, rhythms and melodies develop suddenly amidst a cacophony of distortion and processed voices.
The opening track sets the tone, with a looped low end rumble, fuzzy and mysterious, the rich warm sound of deep harmonies, amidst a bed of tangled crackle, looped and chopped into lurching rhythms, like some disembodied short wave doom, a creepy low end moaning melody that gradually fades into a soundscape of layered angelic voices, creating a stuttering blurry chorale. The record is peppered with field recordings and bits of found sound, whipping wind, footsteps, snippets of conversations, the crunch of boots in snow, all woven into the strangely liturgical sound of Cordier's mysterious world of sound.
Imagine the murky undersea drift of Oval's skipping cd-scapes, but wrapped in a thick cloak of analog imperfections, skips and pops and crackle and hiss, imbued with an ominous undercurrent, minor key melodies assembled from rumble and hum, thick swells of static and clipped stuttering snatches of organ or voice, all transformed into creepy complex squalls of sound, scraping and hiccuping, but just as often, smoothed into hushed, dreamlike drifts, warm and muted, almost like some analog Pop Ambient, letting us float serenely and ghostlike through a sonic world of dark forests and crumbling castles, small villages and rolling hillsides, battlefields and ruined cities, of war, famine and death, but also of hope and salvation.
MPEG Stream: "Breizhiselad / Ar Baradoz"
MPEG Stream: "Lieux De Repos"

album cover TILLY, THOMAS Cables & Signs [Ten Underwater Field Recordings] (Fissur) cd 15.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY.
Most of the underwater environmental recordings we're familiar with are of whale songs and Antarctic seals and penguins, but this one takes us to an even more unusual locale: the moat of a medieval castle! How cool is that? The ten tracks on this 55 minute disc consist of material selected by French sound artist Thomas Tilly from about five hours of hydrophonic field recordings he made in the murky green waters of the moat of Sanzay Castle in the west of France. These excerpts represent what Tilly, in his careful listening, found most interesting, a dense buzzing micro-sound world created by the aquatic insects and plants, apparently reacting to the intensity of the summer sunlight on the surface of the water. Aside from some "slight equalisation", he made no electronic treatments or altering edits of the raw recordings; weird as it is, this is what you'd hear if you dunked your head in the moat and gave a long listen! Yet, it SOUNDS quite electronic (something that other nature recordings have prepared us for). They certainly don't sound of organic origin. Buzzing, pulsing, chattering drones. Rhythmic, intriguing. Steady mechanical whirr. Sometimes subtle, sometimes not so subtle. Constant clicking, like the ticks of a Geiger counter. Sudden sharp whines... decay... Even Morse Code like BLEEPS! (Is that a robot rusting away at the bottom of the moat, still emitting sounds? Did a mad scientist once inhabit this castle?).
It makes us think, Raster-Noton meets Sounds Of North American Frogs. Almost makes you wonder why the likes of Alva Noto, Ryoji Ikeda, Nerve Net Noise, all the experimental electronica, digital glitch, clinical clicks and cuts types even bother, when instead of investing in a laptop computer and software, it seems you merely need to submerge a microphone in a suitable stagnant moat. Of course we're kidding. But the thought does occur.
The varied ambient textures of these tracks are mesmeric for sure, and surprising. The most fascinating Found Sounds / Field Recordings find we've run across.
MPEG Stream: "Cables & Signs 1"
MPEG Stream: "Cables & Signs 5"
MPEG Stream: "Cables & Signs 10"

album cover HAINO, KEIJI / JIM O'ROURKE / OREN AMBARCHI Now While It's Still Warm Let Us Pour In All The Mystery (Black Truffle / Medama) lp 26.00
Hey, these three must really like playing together (and WE really like 'em playing together too). 'Cause this Haino/O'Rourke/Ambarchi collaboration has turned out to be not a one-off, or even two-off; this international power trio are on their fourth full album, now, in just four years. And just getting better and better it seems. This outing again combines the colossal void-sculpting electric guitar & emotive, echoing vocal yawp of Japanese psych shaman Haino, with sturdy rhythm section backup from indie/experimental superstars Jim O'Rourke (bass) and Oren Ambarchi (drums). You can imagine the latter two doing the whole 'we're not worthy' routine in the face of Haino's overpowering black-on-black aesthetic, but actually they ARE pretty worthy, O'Rourke's Brise-Glace background (and oh, yeah stint in Sonic Youth) aligning with dronester-by-day Ambarchi's interest in motorik krautrock percussion stylings (e.g. Sagittarian Domain) to definitely hold up their end and provide plenty of interest and umph to the improvised (?) soundscapes through which Haino's guitar carves wide swaths.
This time round, there's some surprises, too - including a cameo appearance by famed minimalist drone-pioneer Charlemagne Palestine! That's on the opening, nearly 10 minute track, which also features Japanese guest Eiko Ishibashi, both playing wine glasses (yes wine glasses) making dulcet drones over which Haino gently (yes gently) sings and plays guitar. That's another surprise, how quietly and peacefully this begins, and continues, on the spacious second track too, where Haino plays flute (yes flute)… quite nice. But have no fears, fans of the Fushitsusha-freakout-mode of Haino's guitaring, as despite the relative restraint and loveliness of those first two tracks, this set does get heavy and noisy as it goes on, the group erupting into amped-up action by the time track three rolls around, replete with the choppy attack and grinding tones of Haino's guitar. Ambarchi provides a steady beat, steadier than on your usual Fushitsusha fare, pounding away alongside the distorted bass of O'Rourke in cyclic rhythmic grooves, providing compelling, mesmeric support for Haino to do 'his thing' - and this is very much his thing - as the cryptic/poetic song titles will attest. Somewhat in contrast to Haino's reactivated Fushitsusha unit, which has gone in the direction of dealing in beautifully difficult, short, sharp shocks, getting almost no-wavy on their two recent Heartfast label albums, this Fushitsusha-like trio has stayed more in stretched-out jam territory, all right with us too. So, recommended for any fan of Fushitsusha OR this band, and we do consider them a band at this point, albeit as mentioned, and as it should be, a Haino-centric one.
MPEG Stream: "Who Would Have Thought This Callous History Would Become My Skin"
MPEG Stream: "A New Radiance Springing Forth From Inside The Light"
MPEG Stream: "Even That Still Here And Unwanted Can You And I Love It Just Like Us It Was Born Here Too"

album cover SKOGEN BRINNER 1st (Subliminal Sounds) cd 15.98
Oh yeah! Sweden strikes again! The great Subliminal Sounds label (who brought us Dungen, as well as reissues from the likes of Baby Grandmothers and Trad Gras Och Stenar) seem to have revved up their faux-way-back machine to bring us what sounds a heck of a lot like an early '70s proto-metal reissue but in fact isn't, the longhaired young rockers of Skogen Brinner belonging to the here and now, somehow. But man this sure sounds like 1971, sheer hellacious FUZZ filled heaviness, wild wailing retro-proto-metal-punk-garage action. The Skogen Brinner boys don't hold back at all, and this stuff sounds too raw and real to be for calculated effect, it's not mere 'cool' retro posing. No, playing what you hear here clearly comes quite naturally to them - maybe their parents raised 'em on steady diet of Black Sabbath, Pentagram, and Wicked Lady? And the records of Swedish '70s proto-metal masters November for sure.
The singing is almost all in Swedish, and is performed with manic, aggressive attitude, though both vocals and music don't lack for melody when required - track eight, "Vargen Till Forvirring", being a nice brief acoustic respite from all the fuzzed out madness. Mostly though, yeah, it's hard hitting psychedelic freakorama, with lotsa fuzz guitar, some organ, echoing studio effects, and "hairy funk" grooves that would get Finders Keepers DJ Andy Votel all hot and bothered if he found this music on some vintage 45. Oh, and there's even saxophone on two tracks, "Odjurtets Hamnd" and "Farsonas Berg", riffing just as hard as the guitars. The only song with an English title and lyrics is called "Speed Freak", if that tells you anything. That track somehow sounds kinda like Mainliner gone medieval & martial. Total biker metal brilliance, there!
Belongs in the collection (and in heavy rotation on the playback devices) of anyone who also loves Kadavar, Burning Saviours, Troubled Horse, Horisont, Danava, La Ira De Dios, Scorpion Child, and other current bands bringing these heavy '70s sounds back. Ok, look - you know we love this sort of stuff. And we say Skogen Brinner have got the goods, get it!
Digipack cd or gatefold vinyl, both adorned with band portraits in '70s underground comix style, perfect.
MPEG Stream: "Pundarvarning"
MPEG Stream: "Odjurets Hamnd"
MPEG Stream: "Speed Freak"

album cover DUST Dust / Hard Attack (Legacy) cd 13.98
Rather surprisingly, vinyl of this was one of this year's Record Store Day releases. Wish we still had 'em but we sold all the copies we could get already. However, they also reissued it, as a two-for-one disc, on cd, and not being a RSD release we were able to get some of those to list. We've had reissues of both Dust albums before, most recently as rather expensive Repertoire imports, so here's the reviews of both of these proto-metal essentials.
For those who need to know: the American hard rock trio known as Dust are another of those legendary early '70s bands that get mentioned in the same breath with heavies like Captain Beyond, Sir Lord Baltimore, The James Gang, Bang, Stray, Leafhound, Highway Robbery, and the like. They cut two excellent lps of late-psychedelic-era proto-metal back in '71 and '72. Of their two albums, the first, self-titled one is swampier, with a lot of slide and country/southern rock moves on tracks like "Stone Woman" and "Chasin' Ladies". But then there's the lugubrious and weighty 10-minute epic "From A Dry Camel", and conversely, the gentle acoustic dreaminess of "Often Shadows Felt". Mostly, though, the album kicks ass with uptempo hard rockers, including the ripping, rollicking instrumental "Loose Goose" that closes the album quite frenetically.
Following that is 1972's Hard Attack, generally considered the harder of Dust's two albums, the more metal. Though that may be in part 'cause of the awesome Frank Frazetta cover painting, and album title! But perhaps it is somewhat more Sabbathian. "Downer rock" they called it back then (we're told). Their song "Suicide" (the penultimate track on side 2 of the original vinyl) - whooah, that could be Pentagram! That song alone makes this an essential purchase for any true doom/psych fan. It's an all time classic.
But it's not all doom n' gloom n' barbarians - Hard Attack has its lighter side, but unlike a lot of their peers, the poppier and/or less rockin' stuff Dust do here is actually really great. Sure, a song like "Thusly Spoken" features strings and a Beatlesy melody, but the lyrics still name-check Satan and speak of dancing demons. Lush, gorgeous downer-pop that sets you up to be crushed by the following, urgently hard-rockin' track "Learning To Die". They do that throughout the album, alternating gentle - even acoustic - numbers with the proggy proto-metal workouts that the headbangers of 1972 must have loved.
It's hard to understand why Dust didn't "make" it, as this stuff is certainly the equal of big sellers from their era by Deep Purple or Uriah Heep. Great singing, riffs, melodies, and that "feel" - it's all here.
We mentioned Pentagram above - if you've got that Relapse anthology of Pentagram's original seventies recordings, First Daze Here, you should definitely check out the work of Dust, who were both contemporaries of, and an influence on, the Ram's Head boys. Yes, Dust are an important name on the list of forgotten but godlike '70s hard rock bands that make today's so-called stoner rockers sound like punk/grunge wanna-bes. In a word (again): classic. Too bad you'll never hear 'em on your local "classic rock" radio station...
Oh, and Dust featured the future Marky Ramone on drums, by the way, before he decided punk was the way to go (or even had that option).
This remastered reissue sports its own new cover design, but inside the thick cd booklet there's smaller versions of the original album art, plus lots of vintage photos, and plenty of liner notes (including some from Marky), etc.
MPEG Stream: "Stone Woman"
MPEG Stream: "Love Me Hard"
MPEG Stream: "From A Dry Camel"
MPEG Stream: "Walk In The Soft Rain"
MPEG Stream: "Learning To Die"
MPEG Stream: "Suicide"

album cover BORROWED TIME Arcane Metal Arts (Arcane Metal Arts) cd ep 9.98
If you're at all into the new wave of the old school of heavy metal, like we are - especially the most cult and underground elements of both the old and the new - then we think we've got something here you're gonna be stoked about. This aptly titled ep by Detroit upstarts Borrowed Time represents 21+ minutes of some of the catchiest, best written, truly authentically '80s sounding heavy metal we've heard from a "modern" band yet.
Originally released by Irish label Sarlacc Productions in 2011, as a four-track ep, this has been recently re-released by the band themselves with two extra songs, taken from their debut 7" (also 2011). So, we're glad we waited a while to list it! Now you get six tracks of Borrowed Time's impressive NWOBHM worship (they're named after a Diamond Head album after all). Those six tracks also include one not all that out of the way detour into explicit Manilla Road worship too, in the form of a cover of fan fave "Necropolis", sounding as ancient and epic as the original from Manilla Road's classic Crystal Logic lp. So you know where these guys are coming from - straight out of the '80s, up from the underground, living out their fantasies of a time long long ago when (obscure) giants like Manilla Road, Brocas Helm, Cirith Ungol (on the American side) and Diamond Head, Cloven Hoof, Angel Witch, etc. (on the British) strode the earth. Seriously, if you heard "Fog In The Valley" or "Burning Mistress" on some blog devoted to long lost '80s underground metal gems, you'd be fooled.
Astonishingly, these boys came and played in San Francisco recently - we saw 'em at Thee Parkside, opening for Castle and Occultation, a great show. Borrowed Time were fantastic, despite the absence of one of their two regular guitar players. Their energetic, young singer made up for it with his dramatic flourishes - with flowing long hair, mustache and leather jacket, he came across almost like a hesher version of Doug Henning - we half expected him to start doing magic tricks with scarves and whatnot (makes us think: how about a heavy metal singer who, like, produces colorful doves out of a hat or from his sleeve, and then instead of releasing them to fly away, bites their heads off a la Ozzy Osbourne??). Borrowed Time's vocalist didn't do anything like that, but he WAS entertainingly flamboyant, juggling many "invisible oranges" in his outstretched, gesturing hands throughout the evening. Which went so well with their music, the prime (and entirely sufficient) characteristic of which was that it was exceedingly singable SONG stuff, something we don't get enough of from most metal bands these days. But Borrowed Time have the knack, or the talent, or the magick, to have mastered that particular arcane metal art, conjuring mystic moods via heavy and epic songwriting. Up there with High Spirits and Christian Mistress in our estimation of metallic, melodic excellence that embraces the old school so successfully.
We're looking forward to their full-length, due out later this year on High Roller, we'll see if they can top this...
MPEG Stream: "Burning Mistress"
MPEG Stream: "Sailor On The Seas Of Fate"
MPEG Stream: "Fog In The Valley"

album cover HAINO, KEIJI / JIM O'ROURKE / OREN AMBARCHI Now While It's Still Warm Let Us Pour In All The Mystery (Black Truffle / Medama) cd 17.98
Hey, these three must really like playing together (and WE really like 'em playing together too). 'Cause this Haino/O'Rourke/Ambarchi collaboration has turned out to be not a one-off, or even two-off; this international power trio are on their fourth full album, now, in just four years. And just getting better and better it seems. This outing again combines the colossal void-sculpting electric guitar & emotive, echoing vocal yawp of Japanese psych shaman Haino, with sturdy rhythm section backup from indie/experimental superstars Jim O'Rourke (bass) and Oren Ambarchi (drums). You can imagine the latter two doing the whole 'we're not worthy' routine in the face of Haino's overpowering black-on-black aesthetic, but actually they ARE pretty worthy, O'Rourke's Brise-Glace background (and oh, yeah stint in Sonic Youth) aligning with dronester-by-day Ambarchi's interest in motorik krautrock percussion stylings (e.g. Sagittarian Domain) to definitely hold up their end and provide plenty of interest and umph to the improvised (?) soundscapes through which Haino's guitar carves wide swaths.
This time round, there's some surprises, too - including a cameo appearance by famed minimalist drone-pioneer Charlemagne Palestine! That's on the opening, nearly 10 minute track, which also features Japanese guest Eiko Ishibashi, both playing wine glasses (yes wine glasses) making dulcet drones over which Haino gently (yes gently) sings and plays guitar. That's another surprise, how quietly and peacefully this begins, and continues, on the spacious second track too, where Haino plays flute (yes flute)… quite nice. But have no fears, fans of the Fushitsusha-freakout-mode of Haino's guitaring, as despite the relative restraint and loveliness of those first two tracks, this set does get heavy and noisy as it goes on, the group erupting into amped-up action by the time track three rolls around, replete with the choppy attack and grinding tones of Haino's guitar. Ambarchi provides a steady beat, steadier than on your usual Fushitsusha fare, pounding away alongside the distorted bass of O'Rourke in cyclic rhythmic grooves, providing compelling, mesmeric support for Haino to do 'his thing' - and this is very much his thing - as the cryptic/poetic song titles will attest. Somewhat in contrast to Haino's reactivated Fushitsusha unit, which has gone in the direction of dealing in beautifully difficult, short, sharp shocks, getting almost no-wavy on their two recent Heartfast label albums, this Fushitsusha-like trio has stayed more in stretched-out jam territory, all right with us too. So, recommended for any fan of Fushitsusha OR this band, and we do consider them a band at this point, albeit as mentioned, and as it should be, a Haino-centric one.
MPEG Stream: "Who Would Have Thought This Callous History Would Become My Skin"
MPEG Stream: "A New Radiance Springing Forth From Inside The Light"
MPEG Stream: "Even That Still Here And Unwanted Can You And I Love It Just Like Us It Was Born Here Too"

album cover KUGELBERG, JOHAN Enjoy the Experience: Homemade Records 1958-1992 (Sinecure) book 60.00
BACK IN PRINT (now sans limited 7", but at a lower price)...
How rad is this? One of our favorite Record Store Day items this year was not a record, but a book! A hefty, 508-page tome that thoroughly chronicles the history and obsessions of one of the largely misunderstood and under-appreciated niches of recorded music, the "vanity record" - also known as "private press recordings". Enjoy The Experience, edited by noted collector Johan Kugelberg, delves deep into the uniquely 20th century phenomena of the custom-made record and the little-known artists who made them, as well as the collectors and reissue labels that have obsessed over them and ultimately prevented them from fading into obscurity. A lot of our faves are here, including many we have reviewed over the years like The Shaggs, Michael Farneti, Gary Wilson, Jr. and His Soulettes, Bob Chance, Luie Luie, and Hans Edler, many with extensive back stories about their creation. But there is sooooo much more. Including Christian family recordings, ventriloquists, creepy loner folkies, restaurant /resort entertainers, over-the-top lounge singers and just outright bizarre musical artists who just wouldn't have been able to release a record any other way. There are pages and pages of beautiful color reproductions of the cover art to these home made records, some even hand drawn, in all of their earnest naive glory. There's even a chapter on Century Records, one of the most well-established custom record manufacturers, who provided stock album covers for individual artists - and it's funny to see how many different albums utilized the exact SAME cover (including the one seen on the front of this book!). Enjoy The Experience is a joy to behold and will renew your faith in the self-released record.
Comes with a download card for a 20 song playlist including a song from a recent aQ Record of the Week. So Awesome!!

album cover KUGELBERG, JOHAN Enjoy the Experience: Homemade Records 1958-1992 (Sinecure) book + 7" 69.00
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY.
How rad is this? One of our favorite Record Store Day items this year was not a record, but a book! A hefty, 508-page tome that thoroughly chronicles the history and obsessions of one of the largely misunderstood and under-appreciated niches of recorded music, the "vanity record" - also known as "private press recordings". Enjoy The Experience, edited by noted collector Johan Kugelberg, delves deep into the uniquely 20th century phenomena of the custom-made record and the little-known artists who made them, as well as the collectors and reissue labels that have obsessed over them and ultimately prevented them from fading into obscurity. A lot of our faves are here, including many we have reviewed over the years like The Shaggs, Michael Farneti, Gary Wilson, Jr. and His Soulettes, Bob Chance, Luie Luie, and Hans Edler, many with extensive back stories about their creation. But there is sooooo much more. Including Christian family recordings, ventriloquists, creepy loner folkies, restaurant /resort entertainers, over-the-top lounge singers and just outright bizarre musical artists who just wouldn't have been able to release a record any other way. There are pages and pages of beautiful color reproductions of the cover art to these home made records, some even hand drawn, in all of their earnest naive glory. There's even a chapter on Century Records, one of the most well-established custom record manufacturers, who provided stock album covers for individual artists - and it's funny to see how many different albums utilized the exact SAME cover (including the one seen on the front of this book!). Enjoy The Experience is a joy to behold and will renew your faith in the self-released record.
Comes with a download card for a 20 song playlist including a song from a hopefully up and coming aQ Record of the Week, when it gets reissued - try and guess which one! While supplies last, this special RSD edition also comes with a clear vinyl 45 reissue of a recording by the Century Records marketing department, on how to customize and create your own record. So Awesome!!

album cover LIFE COACH Alphawaves (Thrill Jockey) cd 15.98
Our pal Phil Manley (Trans Am, The Fucking Champs, Jonas Reinhardt, etc.) has done that thing where the title of his krauty, kosmiche, Schulze-y, synthy solo record from 2011, Life Coach, has now been made the name of his new band, Life Coach, a duo featuring Phil and drummer extraordinare Jon Theodore (Golden, The Mars Volta, Queens Of The Stone Age, etc.), both of 'em pictured cartoonishly on the disc's colorfully trippy cover. Guess Phil's really into the Life Coach concept, and we're into the music for sure, which does sometimes sound like it could be the background track on a New Age motivational speaker's VHS cassette, in a good way of course. And that's just sometimes, 'cause this rocks out a bit more than most real life life coaches could stand, harshing their ponytailed mellow with guitar riffing and pounding drums.
We'd always heard a lot about what a great drummer JT is, but it wasn't until we saw Life Coach play live a little while back that we really understood - man, he stole the show! No wonder everyone was always raving about his mad skillz. So, naturally, this Life Coach album is full of rhythmical radness, alongside the spacey guitars and synths of our man Manley. The results are fine listening indeed, as mood music and more. "Sunrise" serves as this album's intro, starting things off appropriately with lovely break-of-dawn, "Rites Of Spring" shimmer, prayer bells tinkling amidst quiet electronic drones, tambura strum, and gentle peals of electric guitar - but then, wham, Jon Theodore's drumkit kicks in with track two, the title cut, and it's all Trans Am bombast meets Michael Rother bliss now, a style of new agey krauty postrock that we'd be happy to enjoy for the duration, and while there's plenty of it throughout the album, Life Coach have a few surprises in store - with Isaiah Mitchell of Earthless/Golden Void dropping in for a couple guest guitar solos (he even appears, with his guitar, in that cover drawing), turning the track "Fireball" into a heavy rocker that sounds a LOT like the fuzzed out '70s-sounding California catchiness of Golden Void, easily a highlight here any devout Golden Void fan (like us) is gonna need to hear. There's singing on that one, by Phil we assume though it sounds much like Isaiah does in GV, but otherwise this album is a mostly instrumental affair, the other notable vocal track being the uptempo "Mind's Eye", lots of electronics swirling around the propulsive beats while Phil sings of inner consciousness, his words floating up above, and beyond. Good times, high times. "Ohm" winds things up with a lengthy wash of cymbals and synthesizers, a wonderfully droned-out finale to this varied and vibrant album.
Big thumbs up to Life Coach's brand of uplifting synth-splorations and stoner rock jamz!!
MPEG Stream: "Alphawaves"
MPEG Stream: "Into The Unknown"
MPEG Stream: "Fireball"

album cover CONET PROJECT, THE Recordings Of Shortwave Numbers Stations (Irdial Disc) 5cd+book 78.00
The Conet Project, originally released in 1997, has attained near mythical status around here. Many folks associate The Conet Project inextricably with our store itself. Which makes sense. We championed the Conet Project relentlessly, everyone here is obsessed, most of us owning multiple copies, some of us incorporating sounds from The Conet Project into our own music, and The Conet Project still ranks as probably THEE best selling release ever at aQuarius. Even more remarkable for the fact that it's not really music at all, at least not in the typical sense, and it is and always has been pretty expensive, as a deluxe 4-cd set initially, and import to boot. In fact until it went out of print for the last time a few years back, we had sold close to one thousand copies, and that's just in our little store. We even used to have a big chart on the wall, where we kept track of the sales, and for a while, we were even taking Polaroids of people who bought the Conet Project to display in the store, a snapshot of them holding what we can only imagine would become their new favorite record (buyer #382: Mike Patton!). Which all leads to the question some of you may have, what the heck is The Conet Project, and why are we (and many of you) so obsessed with it? And so thrilled that it's finally available again?! Yes, available again and obviously a big time Record Of The Week.
Basically, the Conet Project is a now FIVE-cd compilation (more details on the new 2013 edition's additional fifth disc is down below, near the end of this long review!) of recordings of mysterious shortwave radio broadcasts, known as "numbers stations". These numbers stations are generally believed to be encrypted spy transmissions, but no concrete evidence has ever surfaced proving that supposition. However, no credible *alternate* explanation has ever been demonstrated, either. For years (ever since the start of the Cold War), amateur radio enthusiasts have come across these sinister signals, and they continue to this day, broadcast in many languages all over the world (the theory is that some are CIA, some are KBG, some are Mossad, etc).
In general, the transmissions consist of a deadpan voice (sometimes an old man, sometimes a young woman, etc.) reading a seemingly random, meaningless series of numbers over and over. Sometimes the broadcasts are preceded by a musical cue (the "Swedish Rhapsody" music box one being a favorite of ours), and sometimes the numbers are not conveyed by voice but by even more cryptic electronics (as with "The Buzzer", and other noisy, abstract stuff found mainly on disc four).
Needless to say, hearing those amazing and baffling sounds collected on these cds is an unnerving experience. Not only does knowledge of the supposed purpose of these transmissions imbue them with a disturbing quality, but the repetition of the numbers combined with the background of shortwave radio static makes for a aurally hypnotic experience. If merely regarded as a piece of experimental ambient sound sculpture, The Conet Project would be a brilliant and affecting piece of work, yet with the added context of international intelligence and conspiracy theory, it becomes even more intriguing and creepy. Lots of information is included that provides a great deal of description of, and speculation about, The Conet Project. Which is possibly the most incredible, and weirdest, item of sound art/documentation that we've EVER had here at aQuarius. Mesmerizing, fascinating, unique, massive, scary, but sometimes even soothing. 100 percent recommended to the adventurous listener ('cause it's not for everyone!). And once you have it you'll understand why it had to be so many cds - being overwhelming is part of the obsessive allure of this Project. And it's not just us, The Conet Project has popped up in lots of unlikely places, most notably it was sampled on Wilco's breakthrough Yankee Hotel Foxtrot album, the title of which in fact comes from The Conet Project itself. Wilco were also famously sued by Irdial, the label who released it, and they lost! Some sounds from the Conet Project also popped up in that Tom Cruise movie Vanilla Sky, and over the years, we've heard it in various films and on various records, it shouldn't be surprising that so many weird music obsessives love The Conet Project.
Really, as we said, if there's one recording that seems to be most identified with aQuarius recOrds, or that at least we mention most often when trying to explain to people what it is that we're all about here, it's most definitely The Conet Project, and yeah, over the years there have been plenty of others, including Sounds of North American Frogs, Os Mutantes, Burzum's "Filosofem", Comus' "First Utterance", Boris, Circle, Philip Jeck, Village of Savoonga, and loads more since, many other records near and dear to our hearts (for instance, hearing the first Neutral Milk Hotel album always makes us nostalgic for the old 24th street store). But for some reason it's The Conet Project that really seems to sum it all up. It's all the things we really love: completely ridiculous (4, no, now 5 cds!), completely fucked (secret government spy transmissions), droning, weird. It's just so interesting and evocative on so many levels, both musical and totally non-musical, as a listening experience and also as a geopolitical cold war and beyond artifact. Definitely an all time perpetual aQ fave: Allan's got the whole thing on his iPod, so does Andee, he also owns multiple copies of the set, many of which found their way into his old band A Minor Forest's live performances, Jim has steadfastly maintained that this is the greatest record of all time, and who are we to argue? If it's not obvious, we all are a little bit obsessed.
And what this is all leading up to is that YES, finally after literally YEARS of being out of print and unavailable, The Conet Project, has been reissued AGAIN, but this time, with a WHOLE EXTRA DISC, with its own jewel case and booklet!! That's right, the new Conet Project is FIVE discs, not four, and if you're big Conet nerds like most of us, you might just have to buy a second (or even third!) copy. The new disc is not just another numbers station disc though, instead it's a collection of "noise stations", which essentially sound just like the numbers stations MINUS the numbers. So it's a series of gorgeous buzzes and strange hissing fields of blurred melody, lots of crunch and crackle, buried rhythms, whistling tones, strange textures, in fact, much of it is downright musical, so much so that we were musing, hmm, what if this new disc is in fact a hoax, a series of number/noise station like soundscapes created by some electronic musicians like Hrvatski? Naw... But there was in fact talk of a Conet remix project for years now, so it's not that far fetched, and in a way, if it WAS a hoax, it would be even cooler. But as far as we can tell, and according to our resident numbers stations / shortwave expert Jim, these are in fact that kind of weird alien sounds you can hear, tuned in to these mysterious stations. As much as we love the other four discs of The Conet Project, this new one is pretty exciting, and we have to say, definitely makes a case for buying it AGAIN! But for all the rest of you who have yet to discover the bizarre sonic mysteries of the Conet Project, there is no higher recommendation we can give, an all time unanimous aQ fave, our best selling record EVER. Sonically, and conceptually mind blowing. We never made it Record Of The Week before for some reason, but in our hearts, it has always been, and always will be, a perpetual aQ Record Of The Week!!! FOREVER.
BTW, this counts as a "box set" for shipping, it won't fit in the USPS flat rate box we use, so it'll have to go media mail or UPS if you're mailordering it domestically.
MPEG Stream: "Swedish Rhapsody"
MPEG Stream: "5 Dashes"
MPEG Stream: "Iran/Iraq Jamming Efficacy Testing"
MPEG Stream: "Magnetic Fields"
MPEG Stream: "Tyrolean Music Station"
MPEG Stream: "The Buzzer"
MPEG Stream: "Data Bursts, 5.201kHz (USB And AM) [Disc 5]"
MPEG Stream: "Exotic Cipher, 6.215kHz/AM October 5th, 2008 19:27 GMT [Disc 5]"
MPEG Stream: "Descending Jammer, 7.969kHz/USB [Disc 5]"
MPEG Stream: "Drone, 17.964kHz [Disc 5]"
MPEG Stream: "Oscillating, 5.178kHz, March 12th, 1997 [Disc 5]"
MPEG Stream: "348|10|13|36|19|21, 11.573kHz, 19:17 GMT [Disc 5]"

album cover VHOL s/t (Profound Lore) cd 13.98
At long last the highly anticipated debut from VHOL is here, via Profound Lore. Highly anticipated 'cause VHOL, if you don't already know, are a "supergroup" of sorts. Actually, as far as we're concerned, in more ways than one. Firstly, VHOL (dunno if the name is supposed to be in all-caps, but it looks good to us like that) is formed by members of several other groups we like, band that might not be household names required of supergroup status, but probably ARE household names where people who read the aQ-list dwell. And on top of that, they're all amazing musicians so it's "super" that way too. VHOL consists of guitarist John Cobbett (Hammers Of Misfortune, ex-Ludicra, ex-Slough Feg, etc.) and his former Ludicra bandmate, drummer Aesop Dekker (also of Agalloch, Worm Ouroboros, etc. - and a noted blogger too), plus on bass Sigrid Sheie, who is also in Hammers with John. And making this more than just a San Francisco scene thing, on vocals is Mike Scheidt from Portland's mighty sludge-space-doomsters YOB. With these individuals involved, it sounded pretty good on paper, and now the proof is here, it actually sounds extremely good for real as well!!
Prior to hearing this, we'd been informed that the concept behind VHOL was "psychedelic D-beat" music or something. Well... ok, sorta. Aesop's a punk drummer at heart, to begin with (remember Hickey?). And yeah, having Scheidt provide his unique soaring screaming vox, all spacey and wavery and effected, can't help but make this sound psychedelic, plus the preponderance of mindboggling guitar solo shred from Cobbett helps in that dep't too. Early reports that had VHOL being a full-on Dis-core Crust-Metal band were somewhat misleading, however. Just like Ludicra, Hammers, heck ALL their other bands, this is a hybrid of a whole bunch of different things. And ends up being its own special thing.
But if we had to say, sonically this perhaps aligns closest with John & Aesop's previous outfit, avant-black metallers Ludicra, and with the more black-metally side of Yob. There's some delving into doomy, post-rock depths at points, plus of course Scheidt's distinctive vocals. So a cross between Ludicra and Yob, perhaps. But with some of the grandiose artistry of Hammers too. And both hectic punkish attack and sheer rockin' NWOBHM-inspired old school metal moments as well. Lots of them. Which is really what makes this for us. What a combo - and it works. Both energetic and epic, with churning riffs, intricate soloing, pounding rhythmic chaos, and actual catchy songwriting too. Our knack for finding buried "pop" music in the most unlikely, ugly places is not to be thwarted here, especially ferinstance on track four, "Grace", where some very effective, very poppy hooks are hiding, amidst that track's dense ripping architecture that conjures the sci-fi spectre of old (and new!) Voivod - a connection also suggested by this disc's very Away-like cover artwork, done by Cobbett himself.
Crucially, Scheidt puts on quite a performance, varying his vocals in cleanliness, from clean-ish to unclean, layered over each other even, doing death grunts and blackened rasps and guttural screams as well as his trademark higher-pitched, but distorted wailings - even getting into almost '80s metal ballad territory on the album's closer, "Songs Set To Await Forever".
Favorite tracks are hard to single out, they're all good, but "Arising" really, really impresses - a rollicking tour de force that kinda reminds us of certain latter day Darkthrone efforts, a la some tracks on their recent The Underground Resistance. Some of the same influences at work perhaps.
All in all, VHOL lives up to expectations (whatever they were!), certainly quality-wise. And perhaps confounds some others. But definitely doesn't disappoint. In fact, we might be digging this more than some of the VHOL folks' "main" bands right now, and that's saying a lot.
MPEG Stream: "Insane With Faith"
MPEG Stream: "Grace"
MPEG Stream: "Arising"

album cover JACOB The Ominous (Utech) cd 14.98
Jacob isn't a person, but a duo, consisting of David Cordero, who belongs to a Spanish experimental post-rock ensemble called Ursula whom we haven't heard before, and Marco Serrato, who's the bassist/vocalist in Spanish avant-doooOOOoomsters Orthodox, whom we HAVE heard (and love). This disc on Utech finds the two working together on a new project in the spirit of what's described as "Xenakis-worship", making a dark and droney soundscape that lives up to its title, and then some! Full of spooky seismic rumblings, fluttering static, scary grinding distortion, speaker-rattling drone, avant-chamber string skree, it's only loud if you turn it up (we dare you), but even at a fairly low volume it's still sinister and eerie stuff. Inspired, perhaps, yes, by the electronic compositions of Xenakis, but also definitely by the duo's mutual love of sci-fi and horror film soundtracks. It doesn't say anywhere what the instrumentation is, but we think we're hearing cello or double bass, and electronics, and bowed cymbals maybe? All played by skeletons, or wraiths, in a dead void of inky blackness. Some haunting buried/effected wordless vokills enter into the listener's (sub)consciousness during the final track, too, we think, and hint at somethings we've heard from Orthodox. But if it turned out that this really was the work of an obscure 20th century composer we'd belive it - and be putting in a call to Creel Pone just to say, why have you been holding out on us?
The six tracks of nightmare atmospherics on this disc aren't just ominous, but THE ominous. Seriously. Open-minded Orthodox fans (what other kind are there?) should investigate, as should anyone else into claustrophobic isolationist soundscapery!!
Comes in typically nice, slim Utech packaging, with translucent printed sleeve and three cards bearing b&w photographs, morbid and beautiful.
MPEG Stream: "The Ominous Part I"
MPEG Stream: "The Ominous Part II"
MPEG Stream: "The Whore"

album cover PAN GU Primeval Man Born Of The Cosmic Egg (Utech) lp 19.98
Vinyl-only (with download), limited to 300 copies, on Utech, beautifully packaged, complete with obi, with a gorgeous cover painting depicting a scene from ancient Chinese mythology that's referenced by the band name. Oh, and the music? It's pretty fantastic too, if hard to describe, being an improv session featuring Leslie Low (The Observatory, Arcn Tmpl) and Lasse Marhaug (Jazzkammer) doing a chocolate-in-my-peanut-butter routine, Leslie working with loops of acoustic guitar and voice, gauzey and droney and soft, that meld with the extreme washes of crackling distortion and electronic glitch dished out by Lasse. And it works, the harsh high end insectoid skree sounds and the lovely mesmeric moody looping ones achieving an intriguing harsh/moody synthesis, separately and together quite satisfying to adventurous ears. Imagine, say, something gorgeously drifting and droney on Time Released Sound, remixed by Merzbow. Very nice indeed!!
MPEG Stream: "Silver Needle, Silver Dragon"
MPEG Stream: "Fleas Were The Ancestor Of Mankind"
MPEG Stream: "Each Bay Its Own Kind"

album cover NIBIRU Caosgon (self-released) cd 15.98
You've probably never heard of Nibiru (this Nibiru anyway, though maybe you're deep into Sumerian mythology and/or Babylonian astronomy and are familiar with the term in other contexts!), but if you're at all a fan of throbbing, spaced-out sludge psych then please pay attention. Before writing this review, we put a tag on this in the store that just said "Ritualistic Occult Italian Doom" and that managed to sell a copy or two already, but more can be said about it. To elaborate, this is the debut full-length from an esoteric Italian trio who play totally-trance inducing, heavy rhythmic ritualistic stoner sludge. UFOmammut is an obvious reference point, Nibiru are equally fuzzed-out and head-nodding, but have some characteristics unique to themselves, notably their vocal stylings, which bring in an undercurrent of 'world music', the heavily effected vocals sounding like distorted muezzin wails, or even digitized Tuvan throat singing. The electronic treatment of the vocals kind of reminds us of the nefarious Auto-Tune, but instead of making 'em sound like Cher or Britney Spears, Nibiru's hypothetical version of Auto-Tune is set on 'guttural alien shaman' or something like that! The singing is thus oddly melodic, but also otherworldly. It's definitely distinctive and effective in creating their primal, droned-out, mesmeric, magickal mood. Helping with that too, are all the thick effects-laden guitar/synth/organ textures and lumbering, staggering layers of rhythmic pound. Right from the smoothed out grind of epic 18 minute opener "Invokation I: The Acid Skull", Nibiru never really let up, the listener transported into their mystic realm of dreamtime, doomic dervish sounds for the duration. Fans of such heaviness as Gnod, Bong, OM, Zoroaster, UFOmammut, Los Natas/Ararat, and Lord Of Doubts' Eastern/Buddhist ceremonial sprawl, would do well to investigate forthwith.
Compact disc limited to 300 copies.
MPEG Stream: "Invokation I: The Acid Skull"
MPEG Stream: "Smashanam, The Crematorium Ground Of Kalu"

album cover TRIGGER MAN / THE ROOST (JEFF GRACE) OST (Moviescore Media) cd 8.98
We've been on a bit of a soundtrack kick here at aQ recently, listing Child's Play and White Dog last time, The Lion In Winter before that, etc. As we've learned, you don't have to have seen a movie to enjoy the soundtrack, in fact, you don't even have to have ever heard of the movie or care if it got thumbs up from the critics or not. Which brings us to to this list's soundtrack selection, a disc featuring scores to two recent indie thriller/horror films we're unfamiliar with by director Ti West, composed by Jeff Grace - whom we hadn't previously heard of either, though upon further research he gets some cred in aQ-land 'cause the Blackest Rainbow label apparently released a 10" of another of his soundtracks, we'll have to look for that now.
Anyone into classic fright flick soundtracks, particularly the stuff Death Waltz has lately been reissuing on vinyl, ought to check this out. The first score, for a film called Trigger Man, is a moody, unsettling creep out, understated and atmospheric, the tracks unified by the composer's brilliant decision to utilize pretty much ONLY solo cello and echo-effects (and some percussion). The suspensefully echoing pulsations of the droning, sawing strings can be strangely lovely and captivating, while clearly leading to, eventually (in the movie) Something Bad Happening. Which, on the soundtrack, remains "off screen", so this is an enjoyable, abstract avant-classical inflected piece of music, suitable for late-night listening, which weirdly reminds us a bit of some of free jazz saxophonist Evan Parker's electronically processed collaborations with Lawrence Casserley, to bring up an obscure and oblique reference. There's plenty of calm yet ominous twilight moments, giving way to more agitated string-scrabble and rhythmically propulsive drives into heart-pounding terror. These eight tracks of this kind-of "chamber-dub" are fantastic enough, but wait, there's more - included here also is Grace's soundtrack to another film, The Roost, another twelve tracks done in explicit homage to the most classic style of B-grade Hollywood horror film soundtracks of decades past, starting off with plenty of spooky oooky theremin and much morbid organ chording in the old school, Carnival Of Souls style! So good. A very well done pastiche, with tremulous strings, urgent orchestral buildups into frenzied crescendos, heartbeat percussion, and eerie drones suddenly silenced, always sounding like some crazy killer with a knife is about to step into the shower with you!! While it starts out deliberately hokey, pretty soon The Roost's score will get under your goosebumped skin and become rather intensely scary indeed, demonstrating why the type of music being so effectively emulated here was used for vintage horror films in the first place. In fact, the string quartet music of The Roost ends up almost in an avant-garde, Zornified territory (of terror) by the end. Now we want to see both Ti West movies to see if they live up to these excellent soundtracks!
So glad we discovered this, and at a bargain price too by the way - we only have a few, not too sure if we can get many more or not.
MPEG Stream: "Opening Titles"
MPEG Stream: "Warning "
MPEG Stream: "The Factory"
MPEG Stream: "Our Host"
MPEG Stream: "Zombie Attack"
MPEG Stream: "Run For Your Life"

album cover TWINK Think Pink (Sunbeam) cd 17.98
Along with the revamped Conet Project, here's another no-brainer for a Record Of The Week… We've listed it before, years and years ago, when there was a cd version on Akarma, but this is a much nicer, expanded, official reissue and it's good to give it a proper review for the first time (back then, we merely quoted The Seth Man from Julian Cope's Head Heritage website, waxing rhapsodic about this record, now we'll do it ourselves).
Oh boy. Do you like psychedelia? DO YOU HAVE THIS ALBUM? If not, you're in for a treat, a mindblowing treat. Think Pink was the brilliant solo effort from former Pretty Things drummer John "Twink" Alder, and it's an all-time aQ fave, an all-time underground psychedelic masterpiece, right up there with the essentials from the likes of Amon Duul II, Pink Floyd, Hawkwind, Sam Gopal, Kaleidoscope, and Tyrannosaurus Rex, and it's just been properly reissued on cd by the UK's Sunbeam label, with a whole bunch of bonus freakery added on. Not that this album NEEDS any bonus freakery, it's about as freaky as you can get to begin with, packed with droning chant, druidic prophecy, spaced-out psych jams, weird twisted pop, and acid-folk ramble. But, too much is never enough, right? So heck, we're happy to have the eight bonus tracks too. More on those later. First, let's discuss the original album itself. As we said, Twink played drums for The Pretty Things, but before that had his own sixties R&B outfit the Fairies. After that band, he was in Tomorrow ("My White Bicycle") with future Yes guitarist Steve Howe, around 1967. Twink then briefly formed a duo called The Aquarian Age, before joining up with The Pretty Things and appearing on their concept-album classic S.F. Sorrow in '68, another aQ fave. At that point, for some crazy reason (things were different/better back then) Twink was offered a deal by Sire to do a solo album, and Think Pink was the glorious, if at the time somewhat unheralded, result, recorded in 1969 with Mick Farren of The Deviants producing. Released in 1970 in the US & Europe, but not 'til '71 in the UK, it's been called the first Pink Fairies album, and in a way it is, as soon after making it, Twink did team up with several ex-members of The Deviants, most of whom played on this, to form that infamous proto-punk outfit. And several tracks here feature contributions from what's credited as "The Pink Fairies Motorcycle Club & All Star Rock & Roll Band".
Also participating are several of Twink's Pretty Things bandmates, his girlfriend Silver Darling, and Steve Peregrin Took, Marc Bolan's partner in Tyrannosaurus Rex and early T-Rex, who plays, among other things, "pixie horn". And one of the most crucial contributors to Think Pink, besides Twink himself, has to be guitarist Paul "Blackie" Rudolph, who really lets loose, earning a hallowed place in the annals of distortodelic guitar wrangling for his work on this album alone (though in the course of his career before and after, he also played with The Deviants, Pink Fairies, Hawkwind, Robert Calvert, and Brian Eno).
Eastern-tinged opener "The Coming Of The Other One" sets the scene, pulling us deep into its trippy Aquarian Age fantasy zone, with a solemn voice reciting Nostradamic verses ("In the year 1999 and seven months, from the skies shall come an alarming powerful king...") accompanied by tablas and sitar. Then comes Think Pink's biggest "hit" as far as we're concerned, an utterly perfect slice of stonery psych called "10,000 Words In A Cardboard Box", just listen to it! That's followed by "Dawn Of Magic" with its raga-like vocal ahhhaaaaahh sounds as if Pandit Pran Nath were on the mic, which suddenly segues into the space-out sike-pop of "Tiptoe On The Highest Hill", a lovely pastoral song that eventually builds into a howling guitar blow-out of the highest order. Then the trippy "Fluid" chimes into being, with its sexy heavy breathing and slinky, springy grooves, making us think of the acid-fried hippy orgasms of krautrockers Brainticket's classic Cottonwood Hill (released later on, in '71, we should also note).
Side two (track six here) opens with the martial fuzz-freakout of "Mexican Grass War", all chanting freaks and wild FX like early Amon Duul and Edgar Broughton Band. The freaky vibes continue, quite weird and wonderful, with the glammed up jam of "Rock An'Roll The Joint", the mellow morbid acoustic strum of "Suicide" and the maniacal "Three Little Piggies", before the album ends with the intense edgy psych pop of "The Sparrow Is A Sign", a song with a malevolent, sinister side to it that reminds us a little bit of Comus - and strangely too of the Sun City Girls, perhaps due to the vocals, provided by Steve Took.
Then, there's all those bonus tracks, the first two of which are actually from the lone 7" single released in '68 by The Aquarian Age, the immediate precursor to the Think Pink project. There's the A side, being the original version of "10,000 Words In A Cardboard Box", and the B side, an amusing number called "Good Wizard Meets Naughty Wizard", which displays just the sort of twee, hippie British humor the title suggests. It's great to hear both of those, and the bonus tracks proliferate further with unreleased, alternate versions of more Think Pink material, somewhat heavier or rawer or definitely different, including two takes of "Fluid" and another version of "10,000 Words...", which we can't get enough of anyway.
All in all, a nicely done reissue, as this deserves, with pages and pages of newly-written, informative liner notes, plus lyrics, credits, vintage photos & graphics. Plus, unlike that previous Akarma version, this is a fully-legit release, done with the participation of Twink himself ("issued under exclusive license from Mohammed Abdullah John Alder, February 2013" it says here, and there's even a picture of him today too - apparently he's become a Muslim, and looks quite happy).
By the way... Nobody here at aQ can think about Think Pink, though, and not also think about our "customer" whom we call The Twink Think Pink Guy. We don't believe he's ever actually bought anything, but he's this older guy that comes in once in a while (and has for years) and always, always, ONLY asks about Think Pink, whether we have it in stock or not, and then talks at great length to anyone who will listen about how great it is. It's his favorite record apparently, but don't let that dissuade you, if you get this you probably won't end up like him. Probably.
Message for The Twink Think Pink Guy, if you're reading this: we expect to see you soon!
MPEG Stream: "10,000 Words In A Cardboard Box"
MPEG Stream: "Tiptoe On The Highest Hill"
MPEG Stream: "Fluid"
MPEG Stream: "The Sparrow Is A Sign"
MPEG Stream: "Good Wizard Meets Naughty Wizard"

album cover IRON DOGS Cold Bitch (Dying Victims Productions) cd 10.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY.
The Iron Dogs are a Stratocaster-wielding power trio playing '80s inspired denim n' leather, punked out speed metal, that sorta sounds like a hybrid of Speedwolf and Slough Feg. They hail from the far northern climes of Ottawa, Canada, where it's not that hard to find husky sled dogs to pose with a naked bloody warrior woman in the snow for the cover photo of your album, apparently! That somewhat cheesy cover pic and the band's fairly generic name (they're on a label whose roster includes at least two other "Iron" bands, Iron Kobra and Iron Curtain, by the way), while piquing our curiosity, had actually kept our expectations low; little did we know that Iron Dogs would become one our our favorite new metal bands once we actually heard 'em - indeed Allan here has become a little bit obsessed, proclaiming this to be his fave metal album of the year thus far, though technically it came out in 2012, but definitely hasn't been widely distributed or reviewed. Seriously, as you can imagine, we listen to so much new music here all the time that if something winds up in actual heavy rotation, garnering repeat play, can't wait to go home and listen to that disc again and AGAIN status, it's something pretty special.
Their name provides a few clues. First off, it clearly references two of their biggest influences, namely Iron Maiden and the English Dogs. With Maiden, we're talking first two albums, short haired singer Paul di'Anno era, and English Dogs, they were an '80s punk band who just happened to do a couple of amazing heavy metal albums - so yeah, think NWOBHM at its closest intersect with '77 punk. Also, "Iron Dogs" was a song from the first album by Canadian speed metal pioneers Exciter, so they're named after that too. And they live up to it all, totally back alley punk, totally fist waving metal, plus they possess their own special, undefinable X-factor that just puts this over the top.
Vocalist/guitarist Jo Capitalicide is no Paul Di'Anno but his rushed, rough vocals still possess yobbish punk charm and sound both sincere and spirited, and totally works with this music, which is soooooo energetic and catchy, played with sloppy, off-the-rails abandon. The lo-fi garage production is totally PERFECT for this too. The combo of their rollicking riffs and the raw sound is just killer, Iron Dogs rockin' like excited, inspired kids.
Lead off cut "Razors Of Doom" gallops into view riding a riff that's straight up Iron Maiden Paul Di'Anno era. Ooooh-yeah. Then the magnificent "Dragon Chord" appears, a song that's somehow a punk rock version of mystical Manilla Road metal. Literally fantastic. Next up, "Wrath Of The Barbarians" has got another one of those classic Maiden-ish riffs to it, it's (again) quite a stormer... but heck we could go on and on talking about each and every one of the nine tracks on here, they're all great, full of hooks and feeling, it was friggin' tough to pick which ones to make sound samples of, or maybe it was easy since we couldn't go wrong with any of 'em.
Basically, THIS is metal at both its purest, and punkest. It's practically joyous. Probably not for everyone, but if you "get" this you'll really really love it.
By the way, anybody who might be worried that the aforementioned cover or album title is (however quaintly) not that PC, should be comforted by this note from inside the cd: "Iron Dogs is fiercely anti-fascist! Homophobes, sexist idiots & bigots: F.O.A.D.!!" They also proudly state: "Only Fender Stratocasters were used in this recording! Total Strat-metal!" Maybe that's the X-factor?
MPEG Stream: "Wrath Of The Barbarian"
MPEG Stream: "Dragon Chord"
MPEG Stream: "Death's Driver"
MPEG Stream: "Cold Bitch"

album cover VULGAARI s/t (Cubo de Sangre) cd 9.98
Ok, with their nasty-sounding name and mostly-black cover art with a festering skull on it, you might get the idea that Vulgaari are gonna be a dark and heavy band. And they are! But their brand of blown-out, brutal death-doom sludge metal is also pretty darn spacey and psychedelic too, making even more to our liking. Vuglaari recorded this, their debut album, as a duo, but have an expanded live line-up, doubtless a necessity if they were ever gonna hope to sound this heavy outside of the studio. So sheer wall-of-FUZZ heaviness is indeed a big part of their equation. But what makes their catastrophic, claustrophobic crush work for us is the way it's interspersed with spacious ambience and eerie trippiness and sometimes out-and-out BEAUTIFUL guitar not-so-gently-weeping moments. Harmonies and all that. Gorgeous harmonies. Yeah, that's a major factor contributing to the greatness of Vulgaari, they're a sludge band that's more than just about the filthy "sound" and the slowness (though they have all that checked off for sure), they've also got some melodic, very "metal" lead guitar shred going on too, which, with the occasional squealing lick, reminds us a little bit of Zakk Wylde. In the context, though, of druggy-spacey-evil atmosphere and uber-low-end chugging riffage, "bendy" riffage that's usually in super slo-mo but sometimes speeds up to bulldozing effect.
Their page on the Metal Archive site lists their lyrical concerns as: "Outer Space, Hallucinogens, Motorcycles, Death". Cool. All of that makes perfect sense with this music, even though of course it's pretty tough to decipher the content of the singer's guttural vokill exhalations. But the occasional samples used to introduce the tracks are definitely about such things. The songtitles too are suggestive ("Outride The Reaper", "Dirt From The Grave"). Recommended heaviness!
Available as compact disc, or double vinyl in gatefold sleeve, that also includes a cd of the album.
MPEG Stream: "A World Created"
MPEG Stream: "Match"
MPEG Stream: "77 74"

album cover RAVEN BLACK NIGHT Barbarian Winter (Metal Blade) cd 14.98
Back in 2004, this underground Australian epic metal band put out a pretty cool self-released cd, called Choose The Dark. But it seemed nobody really knew or cared about them, back then. Nearly ten years later, probably nobody still does, these guys aren't exactly on the radar of anyone not super geeked out about cult, epic, true doom metal. Yet somehow, for this, their long-awaited (?) second album, they scored a deal with big time US metal label Metal Blade! Well good for them. Perhaps pacts with the devil do pay off. Or the time was just right. Who knows? Not that they don't deserve it - this is a pretty rad album for those into, like we said, cult, epic, true doom metal, which would include quite a few aQ customers!
This disc, which includes a couple songs from their debut (redone?), totals twelve tracks, full of fuzzy, rollicking riffage in ye olde heavy metal mode, solos shredding, the production definitely NOT slick or high-budget, in fact, it's kinda weird and lo-fi but works for this, for us. Key to Raven Black Night's peculiar sort of magic is their singer, "The White Knight", who belts it out superbly, his ballsy and slightly bizarre vocals wailing in the upper register, kinda reminding us of Bruce Dickinson, or Ian Gillan circa Sabbath's Born Again - not a bad thing!! Messiah from Candlemass would be another good comparison, probably even a better one. Raven Black Night do kinda sound like a weird hybrid of Candlemass and Manilla Road - again, not a bad thing.
One bad thing, though, is that they chose to do a cover of infamous Black Sabbath piano ballad "Changes" for some reason. That's a song that even a lot of hardcore Sabbath fans loathe, so it's pretty nervy of RBN to cover it, we'll give 'em that, but even if you like the song they don't do much with it. (If you wanna hear a good cover of "Changes", go check out the ultra-heavy interpretation Fudge Tunnel did years ago.) So be warned about that, and it's not the only slow and ballady-song here, they do a few originals along those lines as well, but we like those a lot better, they're more "Planet Caravan" than "Changes", spacey and sorta psychedelic.
RBN are at their best though when boisterously galloping along like riders of doom, The White Knight's battle cries ringing forth, on slaying tracks like "Fire In Your Eyes" and "Morbid Gladiator". All in all, they manage to be both rockin' and doomy and just have damn cool weird epic heavy metal vibe to 'em. Glad they didn't give up after that first album so long ago, but kept working diligently on their arcane sorcery in a secret tower somewhere so we'd get to hear this eccentric second strike!
MPEG Stream: "Fire In Your Eyes"
MPEG Stream: "Morbid Gladiator"
MPEG Stream: "Nocturnal Birth"

BATOH, MASAKI Collected Works 1995-1996 (Drag City) lp 16.98
Here's a welcome reissue of an old favorite, essential to any followers of the Japanese psych scene! It's Ghost leader Masaki Batoh's Collected Works 1995-1996, originally released on The Now Sound label and long out-of-print. The Works that this disc Collects consist of Batoh's two stellar solo LPs, A Ghost from the Darkened Sea and Kikaokubeshi, both recorded in the run-up to Ghost's crucial Lama Rabi Rabi album. Batoh's two LPs were somewhat different, with A Ghost From The Darkened Sea taking an intimate acid-folk song approach, including a damaged cover of Can's "Yoo Doo Right", while Kikaokubeshi is more droney and abstract, ambient with nocturnal nature whisperings around the blurry edges of his instruments. Together on this lp, it all makes for some dark and sad and beautiful, great late night listening. Batoh blends his acoustic guitar, marimba, harmonium, etc. with field recordings in a wonderfly dreamy, organic way. A must for all Ghost fans -- indeed, Andee contends that this is actually better than any other "Ghost" record! Thanks to Drag City for making this again available.
MPEG Stream: "World Of Pain"
MPEG Stream: "Death Star"

album cover V/A The Total Groovy (Drag City) 4cd 34.00
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY.
Here's one of those Good News, Bad News reviews. The good news is this 4cd box set is really fantastic, the bad news is that it's out of print and we only have 3 copies to sell. It actually came out over a year ago, but somehow we utterly missed out on it then, whoops! Too bad 'cause we probably would have made it Record(s) Of The Week! Sticking to the good news side of things, once we did finally find out out about it, despite it being already out of print, we fortunately were able to acquire a small handful of copies from Drag City, who as luck would have it had just received a few back in a return from a European distro. So, THREE of you out there are in luck. But might not know why, yet. What's the deal with the Total Groovy? Well, a while back, we reviewed what was then a vinyl-only Drag City reissue of an album called Strange Men In Sheds With Spanners, which appears as one of the discs in this box set. That lp of previously unreleased material came from the archives of Pete Shelley's own Groovy label, the Buzzcocks' singer's DIY outlet for the krautrock inspired, avant-garde experimentation of himself and his friends, and the other three discs in this box are reissues of Groovy's first three original lp releases, all from 1980.
So, first off, here's more or less what we said about Strange Men In Sheds With Spanners back in 2011:
Best band name ever? Definitely a contender. Never really thought that Pete Shelley of famed UK punks The Buzzcocks had anything like this in him, but this album is pretty damn good - almost living up to the ridiculous moniker! Strange Men In Sheds With Spanners was Shelley's oddball synth-wave project that began even before the Buzzcocks broke up in 1981. Back then, he took up the habit of inviting any number of unidentified 'guests' over to his studio to jam with anything and everything in the place; and these Strange Men In Sheds With Spanners recordings came from the many tapes that he made by these means circa 1980-1984. Who those guests in Shelley's studio might have been is anybody's guess. Ours? Maybe Eric Random, maybe Francis Cookson (who co-founded Groovy with Shelley), maybe Sally Timms from The Mekons. Regardless, the resultant recordings are an electronic-heavy art-punk with plenty of weirdo synth meanderings, Keith Levene sounding guitar splinterings, dub-inflected basslines, and scatterbrained effects. None of the punk-pop hooks of the Buzzcocks are found here, even when guitars, bass, and drums enter the picture; it's pretty much all about the studio as instrument with lots of effects swarming about the drum machine rhythms and bare-bones post-punk grooves. One could think of The Storm Bugs, Crawling Chaos, The Psyclones, or Jeff & Jane Hudson.
Then there's the other three, equally confusional discs also found here: the oscillator insanity of Shelley's solo lp Sky Yen, 41+ minutes of delightful knob-twiddling distorted drone actually recorded in 1974; some shambling drone-rock and dadaistic vocals shenanigans from a soundtrack by Sally Smmit And Her Musicians (aka Sally Timms, Pete Shelley, and others); and a record with four untitled tracks of lo-fi industrial improvised (?) rock from a unit called Free Agents. All stuff for which the terms 'weird and wonderful' were doubtless invented! Each disc comes in its own cardboard sleeve reproducing the original album art, the Free Agents one complete with miniaturized insert advertising the Groovy catalog, and tip-on cover. Also inside this eye-catching, Op Art adorned box is a booklet containing an interview Drag City did with Shelley all about everything Groovy, talking about other related projects like The Tiller Boys, revealing various influences (Eno, Can, Ralph Records), etc.
Totally great for anyone into the oddest of Messthetics tracks, NWW list stuff, or even the Boredoms' Super Roots series. Again, kicking ourselves for idiotically overlooking this when we could have gotten more, argh. So now it's first come, first served (and since we have so few, if you're mailordering this, it's always a good idea to pick an alternate as well). Good luck though - sorry to provide such a big review of something we probably won't be able to sell you!
MPEG Stream: PETE SHELLEY "Sky Yen Part 1"
MPEG Stream: SALLY SMMIT "Soundtrack To The Film Hangahar Part 1"
MPEG Stream: FREE AGENTS "Untitled 2"
MPEG Stream: STRANGE MEN IN SHEDS WITH SPANNERS "track 3"

album cover BRAINBOMBS Obey (Armageddon ) lp 16.98
Finally back in print, and also now on VINYL! One of the most gloriously sick and scuzzy, blown out slabs of misanthropic sludgey jazzy garage-y dirge rock EVER!!!
Don't let the jaunty little Lawrence Welk ditty that opens Obey lull you into any sort of peaceful state, you'd best be prepared for the hateful murderous mayhem that Obey has in store for you. Then again, that's probably precisely what the Brainbombs had in mind. A gentle voice luring you into a dark alley, a shiny trinket distracting you while the burlap sack goes over your head and you're dragged kicking and screaming into the woods, a sweet piece of candy draws you just close enough so you can be knocked unconscious, tied up, and stuffed in the trunk. Those of you familiar with the brutal musical world of Brainbombs will know exactly what we're going on about. The rest of you, be very very careful. They traffic in a sludgey, jazzy garage rock scuzz stomp, repeated riffs, simple pounding drums, a lurching leering fuzzed out psychedelic dirge underpinning tales of murder and mayhem, murder and rape, death and dismemberment. This is probably their most overtly harsh record. Mostly because unlike the rest of their releases you can actually hear what these Swedes are singing about. All delivered in a sort of fey, heavily accented English. As if the song titles weren't enough,"Kill Them All", "Die You Fuck", "Anal Desire", "Lipstick On My Dick", "Fuckmeat", the lyrics are misogynistic, misanthropic and just plain messed up. The sound is like Melvins meets Whitehouse filtered through the fuzzy garage stomp of the Stooges but with a maniacally repetitive looped quality, that cranks up the tension, while the vocalist slowly unravels and gets meaner and meaner, more and more insane. And let's not forget the occasional warbly warped trumpet (!). What can we say? We love Brainbombs.
MPEG Stream: "Die You Fuck"
MPEG Stream: "Anal Desire"
MPEG Stream: "Lipstick On My Dick"

album cover COMBAT ASTRONOMY Kundalini Apocalypse (Zond) cd 11.98
A fine follow-up to 2011's Flak Planet, here's another hectic, headspinning batch of blat, bash, and blast from this unusual unit, avant-industrial-prog-jazz-doom titans Combat Astronomy, the collaborative project of American James Huggett (fretless 5-string bass, guitar programming, production, etc.) and the UK's Martin Archer (horns, organ, electronics). Archer also brings in the Juxtavoices choir for the disc's 13+ minute finale "Cave War", Juxtavoices being the vocal ensemble we last heard on the recent Record Of The Week outing by Archer's incredible Orchestra Of The Upper Atmosphere.
As any Combat Astronomy aficionado expects, 'tis total, tumbling heavy jazz-grind, the burble of Archer's clarinet or saxophones surfacing amidst the thick low-end rumble of Huggett's bass and jackbooted machine rhythms. Where else are you gonna get this fix? You'd have to go back to John Zorn's Painkiller or England's mighty God back in the '90s to hear something like this. Keeping it interesting, the iron fist of Combat Astronomy slips on the velvet glove, sometimes, with occasional snatches of sinister but blissful ambient drone or third-stream jazz or buried melody battling the propulsive chaotic crush of the riff/rhythm onslaught. The pounding power, freakout energy, and sometimes ceremonial-sounding beauty of these ten tracks have us fully entranced. Seeing 'em live (do they ever even play live??) would be amazing.
Never thought about this before, but we hope that the name Combat Astronomy doesn't mean that they're opposed to the science of astronomy, as in "fight against astronomy". Combat astrology, ok, but astronomy? Or maybe, it's a type of astronomy, the kind used in combat, like if you're a starfighter pilot or something. Anyway, not important, nevermind. What is important is that this band shouldn't be as under-the-radar as they are, 'cause they're pretty incredible.
MPEG Stream: "Kundalini Dub"
MPEG Stream: "Recoil"
MPEG Stream: "Orchard Of The Snakes"
MPEG Stream: "Wrong Wheels"

album cover PINNACLE Assasin (Sleuth Records) lp 24.00
Got a violent piece of vinyl here for all you proto-metal freaks - a reissue of a killer slice of science-fictional heavy rock, this obscure UK outfit's only album, a private pressing from 1974. Both proto-metal and proto-punk we reckon, heavy stuff with lots of psychedelic Hawkwindiness to it, basically everything you could hope for from a record that has both "Astral Traveller" and "The Ripper" as track titles!! And it does rip, the storming opener "Assasin" sets the tone, with throbbing riffs, wailing maniacal vocals, and wild soloing, reminding us of the Pink Fairies in particular when the guitarist tears into some licks from the old Ventures surf rock classic "Walk Don't Run", though with their amphetamine energy they'd remind us of the Fairies anyway. They also achieve Wicked Lady levels of guitar freakout. And with the use of Moog, and the sci-fi aspects of songs like "Cyborg", they have something in common with Simply Saucer, as well. There's dramatic organ runs, and strident marching riffage, and some softer sounds too - at their mellowest, on tracks like "Bad Omen", they can be fairly melodic and Wishbone Ash-y.
There's been a couple hard-to-find, long-gone compact disc reissues of this in the past (one on Little Wing Of Refugees, who changed the cover art and corrected the spelling of 'Assasin' to 'Assassin', and another on Kissing Spell, who called it 'Cyborg Assassin', though that one also did include a few live practice space bonus tracks not found here). But this is the first time we've seen it reissued on vinyl, 180 grams to boot.
MPEG Stream: "Assasin"
MPEG Stream: "Time Slips By"
MPEG Stream: "Cyborg"

album cover QUELLET, ISRAEL Rythmes d'Etain (Sub Rosa) cd 16.98
We're so happy to have been introduced to the idiosyncratic experimental sound-worlds of Swiss artist Israel Quellet, via his several releases thus far on Sub Rosa. This is his third disc for the label and is as fantastic as the first two. When the first one, Oppressum, came out in 2007, we were like, Israel who? But upon hearing it, we quickly became fans of his home/field recorded, non-academic "musique concrete", microphone-as-instrument compositional technique, Quellet's mysterious, percussive music being both intriguing and original. 2009's Soni Sclavus was also great, and now at last here's Rhythmes d'Etain, to which we say, yay! And yep, Rhythmes is rhythmic all right, in fact some of the tracks here, like "L'Ere des Anches a Sonne" ("The Age Of Reeds Is Upon Us"), bordering on a sort of DIY, accidental techno.
One of the few conventional instruments, as opposed to non-instrumental sound-producing objects, heard on Quellet's debut was his town's local church organ. A church organ plays a much bigger role here, along with human voices singing in Latin, giving this something of a liturgical feel - but not as much as you'd expect, perhaps, because the organ is used more as a source of sampled sounds, for its majestic drones and tones, rather than being played as an organ normally would; and the voices, while suggestive of monkish murmer, are almost always manipulated or processed in some way, "sped-up, slowed-down, doubled-up, played backward" as he explains. The use of Latin is meant to create an abstract wordless-ness to the vocals, deliberately without meaning, the singers not affected by any understanding of what was nonsense Latin text to begin with.
Along with the organ and the voices, Quellet has restricted himself to just one more significant sonic element on this disc's compositions - that being, of course, percussion. Listed inside the digipack are a host of symphonic and improvised percussion instruments, including tympanies and bell-like tubular idiophones; the toms, cymbals, and hi-hat from a "deconstructed" drum kit; a bass drum and large skin drum; as well as "brutally shut drawers, slammed doors" and other ad hoc percussive devices.
So you can be sure it doesn't sound like you're in a church, when the beautiful, glorious pipe organ is accompanied by the rhythms of slamming doors, etc.! Or at least it would be a very unusual sort of church, filled with screwed-and-chopped choirs. 'Tis true too, the clink-clonk of the percussion sometimes takes on a carillion-like character, as if ringing from the church tower. Often lovely, quite dreamlike and mesmeric, all these sounds layered and looping, Quellet comes up with tracks here sometimes dominated by the playfully active rhythmic elements, at others by the ominous drones of the pulsating organ sub-bass frequencies (Quellet recommends listening on appropriate headphones), or both at once. Despite the varied character of Quellet's carefully constructed tracks, the focus on organ, voice, percussion gives this a definite cohesiveness, often calming into head-noddingness amidst eerie atmospheres.
MPEG Stream: "L'Ere Des Tuyaux (The Age Of Pipes)"
MPEG Stream: "Les Orgues De La (Organs From Over There)"
MPEG Stream: "La Revanche Des Anches (The Revenge Of The Reeds)"

album cover MINTON, PHIL + AUDREY CHEN + GUY SEGERS + PETER JACQUEMYN + TEUN VERBRUGGEN QUINTET Four Instruments Two Voices (Sub Rosa) cd 16.98
Some recommended, unusual improv here. We were quite surprised at what a pleasant and compelling listen this is, considering the definite weirdness and occasional wackiness of it, which comes mainly from the "Two Voices" referred to in the title. Those two voices - belonging to Phil Minton and Audrey Chen (who also have a duo-only all-voice disc out on Sub Rosa, released simultaneously with this, that we'll be listing soon too) - specialize in mostly nonverbal, nonsensical "singing" - not really what most folks would call singing, but freely improvised sound-making with lips, teeth, tongue, throat, lungs... And what they do is really taken to extremes here - quiet extremes as there's not really any screaming or shouting. Lots of moaning muttering mumbling whining wailing whispering whistling burbling babbling blubbering hissing and humming, however. Pretty much almost any noise you could imagine being able to make with your mouth and some others that you can't! And while without meaning linguistically, you can't say it's not meaningful on some other level, more primal and emotive.
Sometimes there's a silliness to it, Minton and Chen sounding like Muppety monsters with gastric disorders, but sometimes it can be downright disturbing, harrowing stuff like a chorus of damned souls; either way we're enjoying it and we think fans of, like, Mike Patton's various vocal experiments and a lot of the singing of Eye from the Boredoms would really dig this too. Obviously that also goes for anyone already into UK voice improv vet Phil Minton - or similar "sound poet" Jaap Blonk of Holland.
On the face of it what we've just described might seem to be outside of a lot of folks' usual musical comfort zone, but for those with open ears, we feel that this comes off as being intriguing and entrancing rather than in any way annoying, also in part perhaps because of the other elements on here, the "Four Instruments" portion of this quintet (as well as singing, Chen plays cello, Segers is on electric bass, Jacquemyn on double bass, and Verbruggen plays drums), which provide the perfect environment of gently improvised "chamber orchestra" music for these eccentric voices to inhabit. The instruments and voices really mesh well, the musicians laying down delicate drones, skittery percussion, scraping strings... all of which mimic or is mimicked at times by the human voices themselves, achieving an atmospheric synthesis, so you can't always tell what's voice and what's instrument, not to mention how many there are.
It's soothingly bass-heavy, as you might imagine from the instrumentation, and also as we said rather gentle and oddly pleasant, with quiet blissed-out stretches, despite its textural density and potential disturbance factor. Even when Minton, on the fourth track, gets into some rapid fire glossolalic mumbo-jumbo like an auctioneer with Tourette's, it's actually somewhat hypnotic (or amusing). By the way, he's the only person on here with whom were were previously familiar (and we haven't reviewed much by him, just a couple albums he's been on with folks like Bob Ostertag and Tom Cora), most of the other folks are presumably from the Belgian improv scene since this was recorded in Brussels and released on Sub Rosa.
Again, like we said, a bit of a surprise, but we've been listening to this A LOT, even when going to sleep at night. Strange dreams...
MPEG Stream: "One"
MPEG Stream: "Four "
MPEG Stream: "Five"

album cover GORI, LALLO La Morte Scende Leggera OST (Quartet) cd 11.98
We've been on a bit of a soundtrack kick lately here at aQ, getting a lot of cool ones in over the past little while. We just came across this disc and figured we should give it a shot, even though we hadn't seen the movie and weren't that familiar with the composer - but it's from an early '70s Italian "giallo" style thriller after all, and that's pretty compelling piece of cover art, ain't it? (Grasping hands, witchy woman, supine topless beauty; possibly promising a cinematic / soundtrack experience equally creepy and occult and sexy). As it turns out, this soundtrack turned out to be even better than we had hoped!! Much of the music here is soooooo beautifully sinister and slinky, exotic and noirishly jazzy - but that's not all, what we weren't expecting was how much fuzzed out psych-rock guitar action was going to be on here, too. WOW. Amidst the suitably spooky, sometimes quite lovely atmospheric interludes that primarily comprise the soundtrack, there's sudden heavy parts that sound not unlike the intro to a Black Sabbath song!! Maybe Tony Iommi happened to be visiting ancestral homeland and got hired to do these sessions while he was there - ok, unlikely, but that's almost what it sounds like. And certainly it's not impossible that the same guys who made that Blue Phantom library record could have been involved with this... definitely the occasional isolated slice of Sabbathy fuzzy doom riffage should attract any adventurous proto-metal fiends also into Italian library music, Goblin, & stuff like that too.
Mostly, this consists of dark, suspenseful, instrumental grooves, tracks variously arranged for ticking, agitated percussion, zinging strings, eerie woodwinds, springy Jew's harp, bongo drums, smokey jazz trumpet, wordless haunting female vocals, wavery electric organ, electronic effects... These incidental tracks are sinister, but romantic. Like the theme song for a lover you don't trust to not kill you when she's done with you, but you're still gonna take that chance.
And then, oh yeah, there's that aforementioned fuzz guitar, putting this over the top for us. Sometimes just a stab of it here or there, a single chord ringing out, cranking up the intensity level of this spinetingling music. Or, a couple times, leading into a full-on heavy psychrock jam. Weird how this album at moments reminds us of Black Sabbath or Randy Holden's Population II - and also, at other times, when that trumpet gets a-swinging, of Herb Alpert!
Now it seems lots of times when we list a soundtrack, we mention that we haven't actually seen the movie - in part 'cause yes we haven't seen the movie and thus can't say a lot about it, but also to indicate that you don't HAVE to have seen a movie in order to enjoy a soundtrack - but you all get that already, right? Of course. So for this review, we decided that we'd make an effort to try and watch La Morte Scende Leggera (aka Death Comes Lightly), the soundtrack made us curious after all... but alas we didn't manage to track it down in time. So once again, this is an example of how you can absolutely LOVE a soundtrack without any idea what the movie was all about - although the copious liner notes in the cd booklet, illustrated with stills from the film, do give us an idea - directed by Leopoldo Savona and released in 1972, it was apparently a movie with a confusing plot somehow involving drug smuggling, political corruption, quasi-supernatural elements, a series of mysterious murders, and erotic interludes - part psychological thriller, part ghost story, part softcore porn. The liner notes don't exactly give it two thumbs up, but it sounds kinda cool to us. And the appropriately psychedelic soundtrack for sure is cool.
From reading the liner notes, we also got some notion of how exactly it ended up sounding the way it does. Turns out track one, the movie's theme song, "Sunday In Neon Light", was actually not specifically written for the soundtrack. It had originally appeared on an obscure 1972 album (which now we'd love to find) called Peace On You by the Mak Sigis Porter Ensemble, lead by an expatriate singer/musician from Ghana. Part aching ballad, part heavy psych jam, "Sunday In Neon Light" has a bit of the vibe of some of the Afro-fuzz garage records we've had reissues of lately, with crunching guitar chords and vocals that remind us of Jimi Hendrix or Malcolm Mooney from early Can (hearing it was the first thing that clued us in that this wasn't the usual giallo soundtrack). Then, 'cause they'd decided to use this song in the movie, composer Lallo Gori wrote the rest of the score around it, his orchestrations in a similar psychedelic style using fuzz rock guitar, etc. And, in our opinion, the results are up there with some of our favorite soundtracks like Klute, Psychomania, and Possession - the latter of which we made a Record Of The Week not long ago, so we're gonna do the same for La Morte Scende Leggera too. Also note, it's a limited edition release, our supplier apparently having some of the last copies around, and at a bargain price since it's normally an expensive import.
MPEG Stream: "Sunday In Neon Light"
MPEG Stream: "La Morte Scende Leggera - Seq. 2"
MPEG Stream: "La Morte Scende Leggera - Seq. 7"
MPEG Stream: "La Morte Scende Leggera - Seq. 12"
MPEG Stream: "La Morte Scende Leggera - Seq. 14"

album cover CHILD'S PLAY (JOE RENZETTI) OST (La-La Land Records) cd 8.98
Hearing this being played in the store, when they didn't know what it was, on several occasions aQ staffers have thought we were listening to some 20th century avant-classical piece, like by some obscure Eastern European atonal academic composer or something, what with its uber-spooky swells of ominous shimmering string drone and sudden attacks of clattering orchestral percussion. Even if you guess it's a soundtrack, it seems like it must be from some cult classic arty Italian suspense film from the '80s.
Well it is from the '80s, and it is from a cult classic, but it's not Italian. The dramatic crescendos and atmospheric interludes you'll hear on this are from tracks with titles like "Batteries Included" and "Chucky Kills The Doctor". Because of course this is the soundtrack to Child's Play (1988), the first film in the "Chucky" series of horror movies about a kid's toy, a doll that's been sorcerously possessed by the soul of a serial killer, turning it into an animated, not-that-cute-anymore, pint-sized knife wielding maniac. Whose subsequent reign of terror is accompanied by an appropriately sinister score - full of creepy rumbling, stabbing shards of sound, electronic-sounding treatments, and echoing rhythmic passages, and featuring a suitably eerie, melodic main theme. Who knew the Child's Play soundtrack was this good? And, even better, this limited edition & now discontinued La-La-Land release - which we have for a special sale price while they last - includes 3 bonus tracks, including one that wasn't used in the film itself but is practically worth the price of admission here, "The Chucky Song".
As with most horror flicks, there's an element of humor to Child's Play - how could there not be? But as we recall, this first Chucky film was actually pretty scary. And the soundtrack sure is. What humor you get on this disc comes at the very end, via the "The Chucky Song", featuring jaunty synths, drum machine beats, a children's chorus of playground Double Dutch style jump rope rhymes, and Chucky himself (voiced by '70s outlaw biker blues rock singer Simon Stokes!) singing and rapping about just how bad he is. The track is bizarre and silly and we can't help playing it over and over. Even though this novelty number is completely at odds with the stark, scary vibe of the actual soundtrack (which is why it probably was left out of the movie!) we love it. The rest of the disc, though, makes for good late night listening, but we'd recommend locking your doors... Any fan of John Carpenter, etc. style stuff ought to love this - in fact, we'd suggest that the Death Waltz label ought to look into getting their hands on this to do a deluxe vinyl version one of these days, it would be perfect for them!
MPEG Stream: "Maggie Gets It / Maggie Out The Window"
MPEG Stream: "El Ride"
MPEG Stream: "Good Night A.H. / Mamma Visits"
MPEG Stream: "The Chucky Song"

album cover DARKTHRONE The Underground Resistance (Peaceville) cd 16.98
Norway's number one "hiking metal punks", the Darkthrone duo of Fenriz and Nocturno Culto are back with another album (their 16th!) that melds the grim frozen Nordic black metal of the '90s (typified by their own corpsepainted classics from the era like A Blaze In the Northern Sky and Under A Funeral Moon) with '80s NWOBHM, punk, crust, and speed metal, as they have been doing for the past six or seven years.
We'd heard before we got this that the new Darkthrone was heavily influenced by Agent Steel, and while Fenriz does pull of some amazing high pitched shrieks in the style of John Cyriis from that cult '80s speed metal outfit, we suspect that people were saying that 'cause a copy of Agent Steel's Skeptics Apocalypse lp is prominently displayed behind Fenriz in his picture on this album's back cover. What also should have been in that picture is a copy of Celtic Frost's Morbid Tales, 'cause plenty of this has that brand of '80s underground doomic deathliness to it too. Mercyful Fate and Venom, the '80s originators of black metal, are also clear inspirations. A good example of what that means, is the album's truly epic final track, the 13 minute 49 second "Leave No Cross Unturned", written/sung by Fenriz, which opens with an impressive balls-in-a-vice scream, the song speeding along with rapid riffage ornamented by soaring swooping vox. But then, whomp, it slows for a sluggish doomed out break, chugging thenceforth under a Hellhammered, Frosty vibe. Eventually the velocity ramps up again as do Fenriz's operatic affectations, and then back again into the doomy depths, the song a tour de force display of what Darkthrone dig in metal, as well as serving as a representation of the entire album in microcosm, it's got it all. A headbanging masterpiece right there.
That could be the only song here and we'd still be into this, but wait, there's more. Six tracks total, three by Nocturno Culto (the guitarist) and three by Fenriz (the drummer). Fenriz sings his compositions with an extreme/eccentric mix of falsetto wails and guttural deathgrunts, while on his tracks Nocturno employs a capable (if less WTF?) black metal rasp. They alternate songs throughout the album, beginning with Nocturno's gnarly snarly punked out black metal opener "Dead Early", followed by the more-likely-to-get-you-staring-at-your-stereo "Valkyrie" of Fenriz, some very epic wailing metal, fast but glorious, like a weird mix of Bathory and Manilla Road, maybe. Nocturno is back on the mic with track three, the dense churning rocking riff-fest of "Lesser Men". Fenriz responds with the rollicking "The Ones You Left Behind", sorta like "Valkyrie" but with some Motorhead added in? It's hard to describe actually, and that's what's cool about Darkthrone these days, while these guys wear their influences on their sleeves (and can do so with impunity 'cause they themselves were once so influential), the stuff they come up with here is still original, somehow channelling their obvious inspirations into weird hybrids never before attempted or envisioned.
Then to the album's penultimate track, Nocturno's own pounding epic, the 8:37 "Come Warfare, The Entire Doom", which is indeed doomy, but cranks at speed too, and almost would be this album's more metal than thou piece de resistance if we didn't know that the massive "Leave No Cross Unturned" was coming up next. But it sure comes close.
All we can say is, if you love metal, you gotta love Darkthrone. Long may they reign. As long as they're around, metal will never die.
The cd comes packaged in a hardcover digibook, 20 pages, necessary 'cause of course the ever talkative Fenriz takes up a lot of space with his notes on each song, etc. One of his songs ("Leave No Cross Unturned", natch) even has its OWN lengthy "thanks list", separate from the two page thanks list Fenriz himself has. Nocturno Culto, aka Ted, more taciturn, limits himself to just one page for his thanks list and doesn't deign to analyze his songs, unlike Fenriz, who practically writes reviews for 'em, listing precise inspirations for each section of each of his compositions. Also, in recent Darkthrone tradition, Fenriz provides a list of recommended new bands he likes, in his role as tastemaker for a new generation of metallers. So folks who download this, illegally or otherwise, are missing out on a lot!
MPEG Stream: "Valkyrie"
MPEG Stream: "The Ones You Left Behind"
MPEG Stream: "Leave No Cross Unturned"

album cover PHARAOH OVERLORD Horn (Ektro) cd 15.98
Unexpected good news for all of you compact disc diehards, and also for any fan of Pharaoh Overlord (and/or their mothership act Circle, which this could just as easily be, sonically) who missed this completely when it first came out in late 2011 as a super limited, vinyl-only release. We quickly sold the few we had then, so chances are not everybody who wanted it got one, but it's now been reissued by the Ektro on cd, with, yes, a BONUS track!! As the sticker on the front says, "Full gig!", the vinyl version of this killer live recording having omitted for reasons of space one entire 7+ minute song, "Relic", which is now included here.
"Relic" and the other four (long!) tracks on Horn were recorded live at something called "Space Force 1, 2nd Flight" in Lahti, Finland in late 2010. All but one of 'em are exclusive-to-this-record PO compositions. The other one's a cover of "Revolution" by the great Spacemen 3. All are riffy, raucous, rhythmic noiserock, with some stray pretty piano plinking and enthusiastic crowd response whenever the band takes a between-song break.
Well, we probably don't need to say a whole lot more, but absolutely have to quote the blurb from the sticker on the cover of the original lp version. Pretty much sums it up: "Horn documents 'The Lord' in their rawest, nastiest live mood. Like an early Mudhoney jamming with Crazy Cavan and The Rhythm Rockers, or Sonic Youth tearing it up with Elakelaiset." Yeah, we totally agree! Even though we've never heard of Crazy Cavan and the Rhythm Rockers before (a '70s teddy boy rockabilly act from Wales, it turns out), nor novelty Finnish "humppa" band Elakelaiset, either. But the Mudhoney and Sonic Youth, we hear, yeah, loud and clear.
'Tis wild stuff, not exactly in PO's "New Wave Of Finnish Heavy Metal" style like their Out Of Darkness album that immediately preceded it, but definitely ROCK, closer to their later Lunar Jetman record, channelling Spacemen 3 (obviously, since they do the cover) and Funhouse-era Stooges. But noisier! It's blasting, throbbing, distortodelic overload, that WE might compare to a rabid combination of The Heads and Circle. Awww yeah!
MPEG Stream: "Solar Stomp"
MPEG Stream: "Sky"

album cover VOIVOD Target Earth (Century Media) 2lp 18.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY.
NOW ON VINYL!!!! Orange colored to be precise.
One of the aQ metallers (that would be Allan), and a friend of his have this thing where they often text "VOIVOD!!!" to each other, in all-caps like that, when they're stoked about something or want to express the affirmative (this stems from repeated viewings of a Voivod dvd release from a few years ago, wherein a voice shouted "VOIVOD!!!" as you selected each chapter on the menu screen). Well, if anything to arrive at aQuarius this week deserves a hearty VOIVOD!!! this is it, of course - the brand new album from the brand new version of the famed French-Canadian sci-fi thrash/prog metal masters. The band's previous two studio albums psychically existed under a rather morbid cloud, as Voivod's founding guitarist and riff master Piggy had passed away in 2005, but (somewhat remarkably) remained as their guitarist, participating posthumously via a vast catalog of guitar parts he'd recorded on his hard drive before he died. Of course all Voivod fans wanted to hear Piggy playing - even from beyond the grave - but it made those albums (2006's Katorz and 2009's Infini) seem less the work of an ongoing, active band, than bittersweet memorials, no matter how good they were (and they certainly had their moments, especially the latter one). Each of those releases seemed like part of a slow, sad goodbye.
But then, thankfully deciding that Voivod must again live, really live, the surviving Voivodians, including erstwhile bassist Blacky (who last recorded with the band on 1991's Angel Rat), recruited a new guitarist to replace the late Piggy - and they chose wisely. New guitarist Daniel "Chewy" Mongrain (ex-Martyr) already has proved, via last year's ripping live album Warriors Of Ice, that he can play their older material, and now here on the long awaited Target Earth, demonstrates he can do justice to Piggy's legacy in contributing to new Voivod songs too. We doubt any Voivod fan would not agree that Chewy fits perfectly into the Voivod mechanism, you'll see. Thus revitalized, the post-Piggy Voivod simply kills it on this new album. Alienating and energetic, full of tension and aggression, it's a collection of very Voivodian compositions, off-kilter and complex - yet catchy. Heck if it doesn't sound like it could have come out directly following their late '80s classics Dimension Hatross and Nothingface. Definitely the best thing they've done in years, making us forget the alt/pop/punk/grunge stylings of the albums they did with Jason from Metallica, though we shan't get into a debate about the merits of the industrial flavored E-Force era albums (sorry, we're already getting a bit into the weeds here for those of you who are not major Voivod fanatics).
Suffice to say, Target Earth (hmm, didn't they know that was already the title of a Screamer album?) is replete with all the Voivod-isms you desire: the heavy, herky-jerky riffs and rhythms, the confusional time changes, the delirious dissonant sci-fi post punk atmospherics, the mega-advanced drumming of Away*, the thick angular blower bass lines of Blacky, the melodic, yet gruff and ragged (moreso than ever) droning vocals of Snake… that's all here, and so are the SONGS, they're good too! And Chewy, he sure does Piggy proud. Definitely call it a comeback - so look out Vektor, your grandpappas are back, and mean business! VOIVOD!!!!
*And his cover art too, of course, here in a slightly cartoonish style (and garish color scheme) very much like the one he did for the Orthrelm/Behold The Arctopus split cd a while back…
MPEG Stream: "Target Earth"
MPEG Stream: "Mechanical Mind"
MPEG Stream: "Warchaic"

album cover SEARCH PARTY, THE / ST. PIUS X SEMINARY CHOIR The News Is You: The Sacred & Secular Music Of Nick Freund (Lion Productions) 2cd 15.98
Hell, whoops, ach eee double hockey sticks yeah! Or should we just say hallelujah!? This obscure Xtian '60s psych fave has just been officially reissued with loving care and TONS of extra, associated material. Here's what we said about The Search Party when we first encountered a reissue of it (a Korean import, at the time) some years ago:
Fans of psychedelic sixties rock n' roll might be a little concerned about what they're getting when a peek at the album cover shows that two of the band members are men wearing clerical collars. Priests who rock? And these are no long-haired Jesus Freaks, either. The four men and one woman in this band look pretty straight. But, have no fear, their music is plenty far-out. This self-released 1968 album is the sole recorded legacy of The Search Party, a Christian folk-psych combo masterminded by the Reverend Nicholas Freund of Mount Saint Paul College in Waukesha, Wisconsin, but recorded at the San Francisco Theological Seminary's Montgomery Chapel (hence the title). They were definitely hip to the sixties West Coast vibe, with female vocals that remind us a bit of both Grace Slick and Linda Perhacs. Much of this is quite ethereal and haunting, full of organ drone-tones and dreamy, downer atmosphere. The album's centerpiece, the nine-minute "So Many Things Have Got Me Down" could be a lost acid-krautrock jam. While The Search Party are at their best on the slower, moodier numbers, the more uptempo songs, though, go to some amazing extremes with over-the-top vocals and searing fuzz guitar - as in "You And I" which stands in stark contrast to the gentle, somber sounds of much of the rest of the record, whose original liner notes include the statement that "this album...is a demonstration of these five people's concern for you." Now how often do bands today say things like that? Bless' em. The New Creation and the Concrete Rubber Band - a couple other lost '60s Christian rock reissues we reviewed here previously - have nothing on this!
And not only do you get that wonderful album here, but Lion Productions have tacked on a whole extra disc. Turns out, prior to the formation of The Search Party, Nick Freund and The Search Party's guitarist/vocalist Peter Apps already had made music together in the St. Pius X Seminary Choir. As you can guess from the name, this group was rather more overtly religious, less secular sounding, 'though it was during this period that Freund attended a show at the Fillmore (featuring Cream, Quicksilver Messenger Service, and Janis Joplin!) and got turned on to the hipper sounds of the SF ballroom scene. The St. Pius X Seminary Choir released three albums: Sing Out With Joy To The Lord, Sing To The Lord A New Song, and Each One Heard In His Own Language About The Marvels Of God, the third of which appears in its entirety on this set's second cd, with selections from the other two spread across the balance of both discs as bonus tracks. While the St. Pius X Seminary Choir was different in style, being mostly more 'square', churchy choral music with some rock/pop influences, and definitely not in the same league as The Search Party, it's still cool to hear music from 'em, particularly the stuff on the Each One Heard In His Own Language album, which starts off with a quite freaky, possibly Stockhausen-influenced electronic noise / sound collage composition (!) and also includes what appears to be a version of "Twist And Shout" rewritten as part of "Mass For The Secular City"…
Furthermore, this is packaged with a thick cd booklet full of liner notes (including reminiscences from both Freund and Apps), press clippings, photos, lyrics, etc., etc.
Let's say it again, hallelujah!
MPEG Stream: THE SEARCH PARTY "Speak To Me"
MPEG Stream: THE SEARCH PARTY "So Many Things Have Got Me Down"
MPEG Stream: THE SEARCH PARTY "The News Is You"
MPEG Stream: ST. PIUS X SEMINARY CHOIR "Pentacostal Sunday, Double Alleluia"
MPEG Stream: ST. PIUS X SEMINARY CHOIR "Get Together"

album cover BLOOD OF THE BLACK OWL Light The Fires! (Glass Throat Recordings) cd 14.98
So moody. So atmospheric. So weird. So awesome. The fourth full album from this band we've previously described in an all-encompassing if imprecise way as "doom metal / postrock / black metal / doomfolk / black ambient alchemists" is another gorgeous and grim glimpse into their ceremonial soundworld, a realm that's dirgey, ambient, dreamlike, doubtless haunted by ancestral pagan spirits. Blood Of The Black Owl is one of the several projects of Chet W. Scott, who runs the Glass Throat label - some others being Cycle Of The Raven Talons (formerly Ruhr Hunter), The Elemental Chrysalis, and Cedar Spirits (reviewed this list too). All his music is pretty intense, and idiosyncratic, so it's hard to pick a favorite, but definitely we've always been big into Blood Of The Black Owl, and this new album takes this project to yet another level.
The disc begins with the croaking droning vocals of what sounds like a half-dead shaman, accompanied by the shaka-shaka sounds of hand percussion, witchy drones, and spooky nighttime noises, what could be horns, or hoot owls. Although the feeling is evident that Scott's intent is something deeply mystical, more secularly speaking, these twilight sounds could be the soundtrack to a cult 'giallo' horror movie, for sure, set out in the woods somewhere, ritual murder afoot, Native American relics factoring into the plot somehow. The next track continues the vibe, with mumbling invocations and a repetitively ringing bell, which reminds us for a second of Anton Batagov's Music For The 35 Buddhas. And so this disc goes, getting heavier and more sinister as it spins, always slow and spare and soundtracky. Part slowcore, part black metal (the rasped vokills, the fuzz guitar that comes as a shock when it bursts out, like on track four, "Sundrojan"), Light The Fires! is a mostly "mellow" but still devastatingly nightmarish trip conjured by chanting vox, plodding tick-tock percussion, eerie field recordings. Lovely melodic moments coexist with crushing doomic textures. Imagine Aluk Todolo teamed up with the Jewelled Antler collective, recording an album for the Neurot label, documenting a spirit quest they never came back from… Truly fantastic & recommended!
Comes in the oversized unique 6"x6" six panel gatefold Glass Throat style cd packaging. (Double vinyl version apparently upcoming too.)
MPEG Stream: "Caller Of The Spirit"
MPEG Stream: "Soil Magicians"
MPEG Stream: "Disgust And The Horrible Realization Of Apathy"

album cover UN FESTIN SAGITAL Sic Deus Dilexit Mundum (Beta-Lactam Ring) 2cd 15.98
As you may recall, not long ago we had as one of our Records Of The Week, what was more precisely a Cassette Of The Week, a tape on the Black Horizons label by a band of sonic surrealists from Santiago, Chile known as Un Festin Sagital. In that rave review, we mentioned that Un Festin Sagital had a full-length upcoming on the Beta-Lactam Ring label - which made perfect sense, what with Beta-Lactam putting out such weirdness as Nurse With Wound reissues among other things. Well, what we hadn't realized, is that Un Festin Sagital ALREADY had a couple Beta-Lactam cd releases to their credit, that we'd somehow overlooked. So, naturally, we need to review those too. This one's their most recent, from actually just a few months ago - a sprawling double cd set, one studio, one live, packaged in nice gatefold mini-lp style sleeve.
And it's just as crazy and compelling as that tape that turned us on to 'em. We previously described UFS as a "occult prog-metal / angular post-punk / psychedelic free noise / black ambient orchestra" and that's still a good, broad description of what this experimental musical collective is up to - namely WTF? weirdness with a dark, moody vibe to it.
The first disc's epic eight-part, 22+ minute opening track, "El Nino Ateo" should thoroughly infect you with Un Festin Sagital's lysergic musical sickness - or else cause the less stout of heart and eccentric of taste to flee in terror! It's like a sinister soundtrack, part symphonic 20th century classical, part distorted industrial churn, part krauty synth throb. There's eerie Magma-esque choral parts, mumbled incantations, screams, Satanic-sounding chant (shades of Igor Wakhevitch for sure); ominous haunting stretches of avant-classical murk replete with groans and drones and sudden, stabbing piano chords... Clearly "RIO" avant-prog chamber rock a la Art Zoyd is an inspiration, but Un Festin Sagital take it to absurd extremes. You could kind of imagine this is what modern-day aQ prog faves Guapo (who also have a fine new album reviewed this list) might sound like, if only they dwelled in some far off South American mountain village, wore animal masks, and chewed on hallucinogenic jungle plants all day.
"El Nino Ateo" ranges from sheer mesmerism to utter mayhem and back again, as does the rest of this disc, the other three tracks dabbling in gentle acoustic folk ritual, exploding with spastic prog nuttery, and experimenting with atmospheric neo-classical soundscapery. And then there's the second disc, entitled La Muerte Solar, which was recorded live, but you wouldn't know that but for the occasional outburst of applause from the audience - which in UFS's strange sound-world, could easily be mistaken for just another intentional, sampled element of their collage-like compositions. Their 12+ minute rendition of "El Nino Ateo" here is a true tour de force, and the whole disc is easily the equal to the set's studio half.
At their heaviest, they kind of remind us of Orthodox or Blizaro, at their spazziest of Uz Jsme Doma or The Ex, and at their weirdest of NWW or even Reynols (whose Alan Courtis has in fact guested on one of Un Festin Sagital's other albums). Throw in some Circle at their most "operatic", and one of Tatsuya Yoshida's improv groups, roll all that into a ball and smoke it, and you've got some idea of how freaky this shit is! Not every single moment here "works" but overall, yeah, it sure does.
MPEG Stream: "El Nino Ateo"
MPEG Stream: "La Cancion Del Nino Ateo (Nacio, Bailo Y Murio)"
MPEG Stream: "Sic Deus Dilexit Mundum"
MPEG Stream: "Nino Ateo (live)"

album cover SLOUGH FEG, THE LORD WEIRD Twilight Of The Idols / Down Among The Deadmen / Traveller (Metal Blade) 3cd 31.00
We've been championing local San Francisco metal masters The Lord Weird Slough Feg for years and years now, so it's nice to see 'em getting more and more recognition. Indeed, they've become something of a cult heavy metal institution. Used to be, their releases were expensive imports from small European labels, then they got picked up by Profound Lore (who put out their eighth full-length, 2010's The Animal Spirits), and now they have just been signed to American metal mainstays Metal Blade. So, in advance of their upcoming new album for Metal Blade, the label has reissued three of Slough Feg's early hard to find albums (well, we usually had 'em, but other places not so much) as a package deal. Not exactly a "box set", though they do come in a slipcase. There's no bonus tracks or new art or anything, so if you already have 'em you don't need to buy 'em again. But if you're a Slough Feg fan who doesn't don't have 'em - or simply want a big dose of weird old school '70s/'80s styled metal done with eccentric aplomb - then you're in luck.
This set comprises the band's 2nd, 3rd, and 4th cds, originally put out via Italy's Dragonheart label. 1999's Twilight Of The Idols is the oldest, it came out back when we didn't write quite so much, ahem, about things on our site, so our review was short and to the point, and actually serves well as a description of Slough Feg in general. As we said then, they take their inspirations directly from the masters: Sabbath, Maiden, Thin Lizzy, Queen. Celtic folkisms collide with doom metal riffs, guitar leads run rampant over epic song structures, and the heroic vocals tell stories fantastic and weird... a metal masterpiece!
Nowadays, a metal band emulating Maiden and Lizzy isn't so strange, but in '99 Slough Feg were out on a limb... and let's face it they still are, even if fashions have caught up (or flashed back) to them. Twilight Of The Idols is a raw, early work, but definitely captures the essence of the band, and contains several of our favorite 'Feg tunes, including the epic (there's that word again) nearly 9 minute "Great Ice Wars", as well as perhaps one of the most obscure cover tunes ever chosen, "The Wizard's Vengeance", a track originally from an absurdly rare, 1979 private-press lp by a bizarre American progressive rock act called Legend.
Next up in the set is Down Among The Dead Men, from 2000. This is the one where guitarist John Cobbett of Hammers Of Misfortune et.al. joined the band. At the time, we said, we proclaimed it the "true heavy metal record of the year" and said, if you like some real, melodic heavy metal once and while (instead of the "brutality" and "evil" of that ol' black metal/death metal stuff we love too) the way they used to do it back in the '70s and '80s, with all the crazy fantasy lyrics and shredding dual lead guitar solos you can handle, then you need to hear these guys... This band is usually described as a mixture of Maiden, Lizzy, and Sabbath. That's true, they're all that, and not in just a wanna-be, "those are our influences" kinda way either - 'cause after listening to Down Among The Deadmen you could imagine Slough Feg getting in the wayback machine and sharing the stage with any of 'em at Castle Donnington and holding their own just fine! This is one of the only bands we know of where the musicians started as punk/rockers but realized that instrumental virtuosity and compositional craft characteristic of their childhood/teenage metal heroes WERE valuable and could be put to non-ironic, non-lame use. And were talented enough to do it. So, inspired by the past they are, but they're also their own weird thing, a cult act if there ever was one. With songs about Roger Corman movies ("Death Machine" is based on motorcycles-in-the-future David Carradine flick "Death Sport"), fantasy Celtic mythology (the "Heavy Metal Monk/Fergus Mac Roich/Cauldron Of Blood" tryptych) and the classic science fiction roleplaying game Traveller ("Traders & Gunboats"), with Mike's decidedly unordinary (but great) deepvoiced vocal majesty, and the plethora of amazing RIFFS, these guys rule!
For those who need an obscure indie/metal reference, it's kind of like The Champs meet Cirith Ungol or something; bizarre, epic, baroque, proud, a bit silly, masterful, very metal. So worthy of the delightful cover painting by Erol Otus of D&D fame (who also did the cover of Twilight Of The Idols).
Finally, batting third, there's 2003's Traveller, this time conjuring visions of cosmic adventure in a galaxy-spanning science-fictional Imperium of the sixth millennium AD, rather than the battlefields of the Celtic fantasy world which inspired those previous Slough Feg albums, though they've taken some of their trademark Celtic-tinged riffs with 'em into the future.
Yep, the 'Feg boys came up with a full-on sci-fi concept album here, each song contributing to a space opera story of far-future genetic warfare. It's convoluted and not just a little bit absurd (we'd expect nothing less from the Lord Weird) involving a megalomaniac mad scientist, dangerous alien spores, a hybrid race of sentient dogs known as Vargr (as pictured on the cover), asteroid miners, and a space pirate named Baltech Budapest who develops psionic powers after being turned into a dog-man! Huh? Well, all this is an excuse for Slough Feg to flex their collective metal muscles, showing off with dueling shredding guitar solos, majestic harmonies, dramatic vocals, shuddering doom riffs, and so forth. The European power metal legions traffic in such wares as well, but none with such flamboyant eccentricity and sheer insanity as the Slough Feg crew. Lost Horizon, Rhapsody, Blind Guardian, Hammerfall and the like might be more polished and synthesized, but for indomitable metal spirit and over-the-top anything-goes chutzpah you've got to hand it to San Francisco's Slough Feg, they'll take on all comers musically while upping the bizarreness quotient to impossible extremes. Raw, bombastic heaviness gives way to acoustic guitars, adrenalized thrash collides with show-tune catchiness, and the story of course is completely fucked. With their two Les Pauls going full bore, this is perhaps the last word in galloping, epic, multi-tracked guitar harmony metal... Their forbears like Iron Maiden, Queen, and Thin Lizzy should be proud (and a little confused).
Fans will probably agree that the grandiose Traveller is the Slough Feg album most similar to The Bastard by their sister band Hammers of Misfortune - both being continuous narratives (Traveller having but one vocalist to handle all the roles however). But while the Hammers' masterful metal operetta seemed all Dungeons & Dragons, this concept record is actually specifically based on - and named after - a once-popular science fiction role playing game called Traveller, D&D's spacefaring cousin. The cover design, and some of the lyrics, will make a lot more sense if you're familiar with that game!
So, there you have it, three old classics from Slough Feg, available together for a baaaargain price! You're not gonna find a bigger collection of catchy riffs, weird lyrical concepts, and flashy soloing all in one place!
Looking forward to what they have in store for us on their Metal Blade debut, being recorded now...
MPEG Stream: "Highlander"
MPEG Stream: "The Great Ice Wars"
MPEG Stream: "Sky Chariots"
MPEG Stream: "Traders And Gunboats"
MPEG Stream: "High Passage/Low Passage"
MPEG Stream: "Asteroid Belts"

album cover WAKHEVITCH, IGOR Docteur Faust (Fauni Gena) lp 33.00
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY.
We are so VERY pleased to now have these, nice vinyl reissues (for the first time ever, we're pretty sure) of the three earliest, eeriest albums from the '70s by obscure & unusual French composer Igor Wakhevitch! They're imports from a label based in Barcelona, so they're not that cheap, but they're worth it. Perhaps you remember, years and years ago, the Fractal label released a limited, now long out of print, six-cd box set of Wakhevitch's works circa 1970-1979? We all freaked over that - everyone who worked at aQ at the time bought a copy!! And it was his first three records, these ones, Logos, Docteur Faust, and Hathor, that we were most excited about. All are masterpieces of tense awe-inspiring surrealism constructed from neo-chamber music, spatial electronics, massive plodding percussion, and odd ethnic influences, and feature occasional contributions from French psych band Triangle and some other rock musicians (including Magma's famous bassist Jannick Top), making for an incredible combination of evocative modern classical composition (with choirs, etc.) and krautrockish rhythms and fuzzed guitar. While he was an early associate of Terry Riley and Soft Machine (Docteur Faust is dedicated to Robert Wyatt and Mike Rattledge), Wakhevitch's work is far more malevolent than those artists, taking on qualities that we suggest have more in common with, believe it or not, the Swans. It should not be a surprise that the Swans' Michael Gira has claimed Wakhevitch as one of his favorite musicians. And likewise no surprise that Wakhevitch appears on the infamous Nurse With Wound list. We figure that folks who enjoyed the recent reissues of the strange library music of Egisto Macchi and Alessandro Alessandroni, and the symphonic psychedelics of Jean-Claude Vannier and recent Record Of The Weeker William Sheller will find much twisted appeal in Wakhevitch's music. Also fans of the 20th century classical creepiness of the likes of Luigi Nono, Luc Ferrari, and Stockhausen and/or such out-there prog bands as Magma and Faust ought to find themselves enthused about these records too.
Wakhevitch's first album, 1970's Logos, bears the subtitle: "Rituel Sonore pour Group Pop (Triangle), Choeur mixte et Bande Magnetique" and yessir it's a "Rituel Sonore" all right. The eerie opening sets the stage for much of what is to follow, full of rumbling drone and sinister synth shimmer, accompanying otherworldly wordless vocals, like hearing some dramatic, disturbing vocal choir wailing away on a distant windswept planet. As the album progresses, to these strange sounds are added some symphonic-scale percussion (timpani and the like), and eventually, on side two, some urgent, repetitive rock freakout action occurs (that's the band Triangle), replete with heavy ominous echoing chords... It's a powerful mix of avant-classical choirs, electronic tape music, and psychedelic rock weirdness. This record was originally meant as music for a ballet - a very modern, dark and twisted one we can only imagine! Comes in a gatefold sleeve, with notes mentioning Wakhevitch's interest in the mysticism of Gurdieff among other things.
1971's Docteur Faust is equally mad. This occultic avant-classical and acid rock combination is again music for a ballet, it's a kaleidoscopic collage of psychedelic sounds, with sci-fi synths, funky heavy beats, mystic atmospheres, crazed electronics, fuzzed out riffage, tape manipulation, bizarre vocal outbursts, and so much more. Who knew ballets could be this trippy?? One of our favorite tracks in the whole Wakhevitch canon resides here, "Licorns", which in part appears to feature a whinnying horse playing a harpsichord! But that's sandwiched between many other parts equally maniacal and insane, groovy and distorted.
And then there's the even more esoteric Hathor from 1973, a Satanic opera of sorts, subtitled "Liturgie du Souffle pour la Resurrection des Morts". We don't have to tell you what that means. Another hallucinatory mixture of avant-classical moves and cosmic electronics in a majestic, ritualistic composition meant to raise the dead. Hathor lays on the thick synth drones from the get-go, with monkish vocal chants hovering over the bass-heavy whoosh. Ominous and epic! Of course Wakhevitch soon shifts sonic gears, with other psychedelic surprises in store - spoken word & screams, tinkling percussion, shuddering beats, organ melodies - but of these albums this is perhaps his space-iest and synth-iest. Also a gatefold, with insert.
All three albums are quite recommended, as uniquely powerful & deliriously demented listening experiences. They don't make 'em like this anymore!
MPEG Stream: "Materia Prima"
MPEG Stream: "Licornes"

album cover WAKHEVITCH, IGOR Hathor (Fauni Gena) lp 33.00
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY.
We are so VERY pleased to now have these, nice vinyl reissues (for the first time ever, we're pretty sure) of the three earliest, eeriest albums from the '70s by obscure & unusual French composer Igor Wakhevitch! They're imports from a label based in Barcelona, so they're not that cheap, but they're worth it. Perhaps you remember, years and years ago, the Fractal label released a limited, now long out of print, six-cd box set of Wakhevitch's works circa 1970-1979? We all freaked over that - everyone who worked at aQ at the time bought a copy!! And it was his first three records, these ones, Logos, Docteur Faust, and Hathor, that we were most excited about. All are masterpieces of tense awe-inspiring surrealism constructed from neo-chamber music, spatial electronics, massive plodding percussion, and odd ethnic influences, and feature occasional contributions from French psych band Triangle and some other rock musicians (including Magma's famous bassist Jannick Top), making for an incredible combination of evocative modern classical composition (with choirs, etc.) and krautrockish rhythms and fuzzed guitar. While he was an early associate of Terry Riley and Soft Machine (Docteur Faust is dedicated to Robert Wyatt and Mike Rattledge), Wakhevitch's work is far more malevolent than those artists, taking on qualities that we suggest have more in common with, believe it or not, the Swans. It should not be a surprise that the Swans' Michael Gira has claimed Wakhevitch as one of his favorite musicians. And likewise no surprise that Wakhevitch appears on the infamous Nurse With Wound list. We figure that folks who enjoyed the recent reissues of the strange library music of Egisto Macchi and Alessandro Alessandroni, and the symphonic psychedelics of Jean-Claude Vannier and recent Record Of The Weeker William Sheller will find much twisted appeal in Wakhevitch's music. Also fans of the 20th century classical creepiness of the likes of Luigi Nono, Luc Ferrari, and Stockhausen and/or such out-there prog bands as Magma and Faust ought to find themselves enthused about these records too.
Wakhevitch's first album, 1970's Logos, bears the subtitle: "Rituel Sonore pour Group Pop (Triangle), Choeur mixte et Bande Magnetique" and yessir it's a "Rituel Sonore" all right. The eerie opening sets the stage for much of what is to follow, full of rumbling drone and sinister synth shimmer, accompanying otherworldly wordless vocals, like hearing some dramatic, disturbing vocal choir wailing away on a distant windswept planet. As the album progresses, to these strange sounds are added some symphonic-scale percussion (timpani and the like), and eventually, on side two, some urgent, repetitive rock freakout action occurs (that's the band Triangle), replete with heavy ominous echoing chords... It's a powerful mix of avant-classical choirs, electronic tape music, and psychedelic rock weirdness. This record was originally meant as music for a ballet - a very modern, dark and twisted one we can only imagine! Comes in a gatefold sleeve, with notes mentioning Wakhevitch's interest in the mysticism of Gurdieff among other things.
1971's Docteur Faust is equally mad. This occultic avant-classical and acid rock combination is again music for a ballet, it's a kaleidoscopic collage of psychedelic sounds, with sci-fi synths, funky heavy beats, mystic atmospheres, crazed electronics, fuzzed out riffage, tape manipulation, bizarre vocal outbursts, and so much more. Who knew ballets could be this trippy?? One of our favorite tracks in the whole Wakhevitch canon resides here, "Licorns", which in part appears to feature a whinnying horse playing a harpsichord! But that's sandwiched between many other parts equally maniacal and insane, groovy and distorted.
And then there's the even more esoteric Hathor from 1973, a Satanic opera of sorts, subtitled "Liturgie du Souffle pour la Resurrection des Morts". We don't have to tell you what that means. Another hallucinatory mixture of avant-classical moves and cosmic electronics in a majestic, ritualistic composition meant to raise the dead. Hathor lays on the thick synth drones from the get-go, with monkish vocal chants hovering over the bass-heavy whoosh. Ominous and epic! Of course Wakhevitch soon shifts sonic gears, with other psychedelic surprises in store - spoken word & screams, tinkling percussion, shuddering beats, organ melodies - but of these albums this is perhaps his space-iest and synth-iest. Also a gatefold, with insert.
All three albums are quite recommended, as uniquely powerful & deliriously demented listening experiences. They don't make 'em like this anymore!
MPEG Stream: "Hymne A Sathanael (Aimantation Des Forces)"
MPEG Stream: "Rituel De Guerre Des Esprits De La Terre"

album cover WAKHEVITCH, IGOR Logos (Fauni Gena) lp 33.00
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY.
We are so VERY pleased to now have these, nice vinyl reissues (for the first time ever, we're pretty sure) of the three earliest, eeriest albums from the '70s by obscure & unusual French composer Igor Wakhevitch! They're imports from a label based in Barcelona, so they're not that cheap, but they're worth it. Perhaps you remember, years and years ago, the Fractal label released a limited, now long out of print, six-cd box set of Wakhevitch's works circa 1970-1979? We all freaked over that - everyone who worked at aQ at the time bought a copy!! And it was his first three records, these ones, Logos, Docteur Faust, and Hathor, that we were most excited about. All are masterpieces of tense awe-inspiring surrealism constructed from neo-chamber music, spatial electronics, massive plodding percussion, and odd ethnic influences, and feature occasional contributions from French psych band Triangle and some other rock musicians (including Magma's famous bassist Jannick Top), making for an incredible combination of evocative modern classical composition (with choirs, etc.) and krautrockish rhythms and fuzzed guitar. While he was an early associate of Terry Riley and Soft Machine (Docteur Faust is dedicated to Robert Wyatt and Mike Rattledge), Wakhevitch's work is far more malevolent than those artists, taking on qualities that we suggest have more in common with, believe it or not, the Swans. It should not be a surprise that the Swans' Michael Gira has claimed Wakhevitch as one of his favorite musicians. And likewise no surprise that Wakhevitch appears on the infamous Nurse With Wound list. We figure that folks who enjoyed the recent reissues of the strange library music of Egisto Macchi and Alessandro Alessandroni, and the symphonic psychedelics of Jean-Claude Vannier and recent Record Of The Weeker William Sheller will find much twisted appeal in Wakhevitch's music. Also fans of the 20th century classical creepiness of the likes of Luigi Nono, Luc Ferrari, and Stockhausen and/or such out-there prog bands as Magma and Faust ought to find themselves enthused about these records too.
Wakhevitch's first album, 1970's Logos, bears the subtitle: "Rituel Sonore pour Group Pop (Triangle), Choeur mixte et Bande Magnetique" and yessir it's a "Rituel Sonore" all right. The eerie opening sets the stage for much of what is to follow, full of rumbling drone and sinister synth shimmer, accompanying otherworldly wordless vocals, like hearing some dramatic, disturbing vocal choir wailing away on a distant windswept planet. As the album progresses, to these strange sounds are added some symphonic-scale percussion (timpani and the like), and eventually, on side two, some urgent, repetitive rock freakout action occurs (that's the band Triangle), replete with heavy ominous echoing chords... It's a powerful mix of avant-classical choirs, electronic tape music, and psychedelic rock weirdness. This record was originally meant as music for a ballet - a very modern, dark and twisted one we can only imagine! Comes in a gatefold sleeve, with notes mentioning Wakhevitch's interest in the mysticism of Gurdieff among other things.
1971's Docteur Faust is equally mad. This occultic avant-classical and acid rock combination is again music for a ballet, it's a kaleidoscopic collage of psychedelic sounds, with sci-fi synths, funky heavy beats, mystic atmospheres, crazed electronics, fuzzed out riffage, tape manipulation, bizarre vocal outbursts, and so much more. Who knew ballets could be this trippy?? One of our favorite tracks in the whole Wakhevitch canon resides here, "Licorns", which in part appears to feature a whinnying horse playing a harpsichord! But that's sandwiched between many other parts equally maniacal and insane, groovy and distorted.
And then there's the even more esoteric Hathor from 1973, a Satanic opera of sorts, subtitled "Liturgie du Souffle pour la Resurrection des Morts". We don't have to tell you what that means. Another hallucinatory mixture of avant-classical moves and cosmic electronics in a majestic, ritualistic composition meant to raise the dead. Hathor lays on the thick synth drones from the get-go, with monkish vocal chants hovering over the bass-heavy whoosh. Ominous and epic! Of course Wakhevitch soon shifts sonic gears, with other psychedelic surprises in store - spoken word & screams, tinkling percussion, shuddering beats, organ melodies - but of these albums this is perhaps his space-iest and synth-iest. Also a gatefold, with insert.
All three albums are quite recommended, as uniquely powerful & deliriously demented listening experiences. They don't make 'em like this anymore!
MPEG Stream: "Ergon"
MPEG Stream: "Danse Sacrale"

album cover HOOKER Rock And Roll (Vintage / Rockadrome) cd 13.98
Here's our '70s proto-metal pick for this week's list. It's an archival release compiling the never-released album this Houston hard rock quartet put to tape in 1978, along with a bunch of bonus tracks from the same era, and holy heck it smokes!! It's aptly titled for sure.
If you're reading this on our website, you can see the thumbnail image of the front cover, with the band's name and album in the form of a young lady's 'tramp stamp' tattoo, but we wish we could show you this disc's back cover photo too. It pretty much says it all, four long haired musician dudes, in a cloud of fog-machine mist, striking an assortment of classic, exuberant rock n' roll poses. And one of the guitarists is brandishing a particularly cool, cruel & unusual instrument - the body of his guitar looks more like some strange four-bladed axe. Very metal. And Hooker definitely incorporate some metallic moves into their badass blend of high energy rippage and heavy Southern blues rock. It's practically like NWOBHM done Texas-style! Although, they have their melodic, sensitive side too, even throwing in a little balladry and Jesus-lovin' honky-tonk (though we don't know how that comports with the sexy and/or sexist nature of some of their other material). Also, we gotta mention one of the mellower tunes, "Beatle", is indeed about imagining being a Beatle, as in, one of the Beatles - a "what if?" scenario any rock n' roller must have considered at one point or another, right? We like the weirdness of that one quite a bit, but the main draw here are Hooker's guitars, the riffs and dueling leads and so forth, to which "Turn it up!!" can be the only proper reaction. Definitely for anyone who digs other obscure American '70s hard rock/early metal action, like previous Rockadrome/Vintage reissues we've recommended by Poobah, Cain, Hillary Blaze, etc.
There's 8 songs here originally recorded for Hooker's unreleased ('til now that is) album, plus 5 more bonus cuts circa '75-'79 or so, including their cover of "I Want Your Body", originally recorded by early '70s proto-metal outfit Tin House.
MPEG Stream: "I'm Lookin'"
MPEG Stream: "The Way You Love Me"
MPEG Stream: "Beatle"

album cover VOIVOD Target Earth (Century Media) cd 13.98
One of the aQ metallers (that would be Allan), and a friend of his, have this thing where they often text "VOIVOD!!!" to each other, in all-caps like that, when they're stoked about something or want to express the affirmative (this stems from repeated viewings of a Voivod dvd release from a few years ago, wherein a voice shouted "VOIVOD!!!" as you selected each chapter on the menu screen). Well, if anything to arrive at aQuarius this week deserves a hearty VOIVOD!!! this is it, of course - the brand new album from the brand new version of the famed French-Canadian sci-fi thrash/prog metal masters. The band's previous two studio albums psychically existed under a rather morbid cloud, as Voivod's founding guitarist and riff master Piggy had passed away in 2005, but (somewhat remarkably) remained as their guitarist, participating posthumously via a vast catalog of guitar parts he'd recorded on his hard drive before he died. Of course all Voivod fans wanted to hear Piggy playing - even from beyond the grave - but it made those albums (2006's Katorz and 2009's Infini) seem less the work of an ongoing, active band, than bittersweet memorials, no matter how good they were (and they certainly had their moments, especially the latter one). Each of those releases seemed like part of a slow, sad goodbye.
But then, thankfully deciding that Voivod must again live, really live, the surviving Voivodians, including erstwhile bassist Blacky (who last recorded with the band on 1991's Angel Rat), recruited a new guitarist to replace the late Piggy - and they chose wisely. New guitarist Daniel "Chewy" Mongrain (ex-Martyr) already has proved, via last year's ripping live album Warriors Of Ice, that he can play their older material, and now here on the long awaited Target Earth, demonstrates he can do justice to Piggy's legacy in contributing to new Voivod songs too. We doubt any Voivod fan would not agree that Chewy fits perfectly into the Voivod mechanism, you'll see. Thus revitalized, the post-Piggy Voivod simply kills it on this new album. Alienating and energetic, full of tension and aggression, it's a collection of very Voivodian compositions, off-kilter and complex - yet catchy. Heck if it doesn't sound like it could have come out directly following their late '80s classics Dimension Hatross and Nothingface. Definitely the best thing they've done in years, making us forget the alt/pop/punk/grunge stylings of the albums they did with Jason from Metallica, though we shan't get into a debate about the merits of the industrial flavored E-Force era albums (sorry, we're already getting a bit into the weeds here for those of you who are not major Voivod fanatics).
Suffice to say, Target Earth (hmm, didn't they know that was already the title of a Screamer album?) is replete with all the Voivod-isms you desire: the heavy, herky-jerky riffs and rhythms, the confusional time changes, the delirious dissonant sci-fi post punk atmospherics, the mega-advanced drumming of Away*, the thick angular blower bass lines of Blacky, the melodic, yet gruff and ragged (moreso than ever) droning vocals of Snake… that's all here, and so are the SONGS, they're good too! And Chewy, he sure does Piggy proud. Definitely call it a comeback - so look out Vektor, your grandpappas are back, and mean business! VOIVOD!!!!
*And his cover art too, of course, here in a slightly cartoonish style (and garish color scheme) very much like the one he did for the Orthrelm/Behold The Arctopus split cd a while back…
MPEG Stream: "Target Earth"
MPEG Stream: "Mechanical Mind"
MPEG Stream: "Warchaic"

album cover V/A Electronic Music Produced At DIEM 1987-2012 (Dacapo Records) 2cd 17.98
We hadn't heard of DIEM before, but the title - and the cover art of a couple dozen VU meters in action - whet our curiosity. Turned out to be an awesome collection, of just what it says, a curated selection of electronic music produced at the Danish Institute Of Electronic Music (originally the Danish Institute Of Electroacoustic Music), since its founding in 1987: everything from conceptual, computer processed droneworks to the skittery scribble scrobble of abstract IDM beatscapes. Some pieces hold to a more traditional, academic 'musique concrete' aesthetic; others venture into ambient, 'lower case' laptop electronica realms. Both old and new stuff flow together well (the tracks are arranged in alternating chronological order, going both forwards and backwards, so you get a piece from 1988 followed by one from 2012, then one from 1989, 2011, etc.), and all are pretty great, seeing as how they were able to chose some of the best from 25 years worth of avant-garde output. Almost all tracks are exclusive to this box, which is enjoyable for what it contains, while also serving as a sampler of sorts to the works of a host of hitherto unknown to us electronic musicians that we now may have to track down other releases by. We hadn't previously heard of most of these artists, though many are presumably well-known in academic circles and/or in the European electronic music scene - some in fact being award-winners in Scandinavia.
$17.98 is certainly a "nice price" (perhaps subsidized by the Danish government?) for this, considering what you get - two cds in cardstock sleeves accompanied by a thick 30 page booklet, stuffed inside a hinged-lid cardboard box, a handsome little package indeed. The booklet contains several in-depth essays detailing the Institute's history, providing an account of all the (at the time) state-of-the-art recording equipment and computer music-making gear and software they acquired and discarded over the years, while pointing out the irony of how the rise of home PC recording rendered obsolete not only a lot of their studio's expensive machinery but also affected an aesthetic change in electronic music, where glitch and noise were to be valued rather than technologically scrubbed away. Many pages of the booklet are further devoted to providing information about each individual track and composer found on the discs. And there's photos too, some good retro gear porn for anyone into that sort of thing (you'll see the Otari MTR-90 24-track analog tape machine that was DIEM's pride and joy in 1987, and from where those VU meters on the cover come; and we're especially we're partial to the photo of the Macintosh Plus computer, circa 1988, hooked up to an Emulator SP-12 drum machine and Emulator II sampler).
Rather than provide a list of unfamiliar names, we'll just mention a few favorites amongst the 20 tracks here. There's the constant-pitch drone of "Tunnel Vision" (1995) by DIEM director Wayne Siegel, the percussive onslaught and processed sound collage of Rasmus Lunding's "On Learning How To Kill" (2002), the playful mad scientist bleep and bloop mixed with sampled chamber strings of Fuzzy's "Electric Gardens And Their Surroundings" (1989), the amazing vocal experiments (from inhuman gutturals, to Yoko Ono or Bjork like babble) of Line Tjornhoj-Thomesen on her 13+ minute "Lauria" (1998), Puzzleweasel & Richard Devines's quite IDM-ish "Mad Bonce" (2008), the blissfully-blown-out whoosh of Vectral's "AC-3" (2007), the piercing, dramatic drones of Anker Fjeld Simonsen's "Octav III" (1988), the noisy/melodic mashup of Hans Hansen's "Passaics Monumenter" (1998) - and we could go on. Well worth picking up!
MPEG Stream: ANKER FJELD SIMONSEN "Octav III"
MPEG Stream: FUZZY "Electric Gardens And Their Surroundings"
MPEG Stream: VECTRAL "AC-3"
MPEG Stream: LINE TJORNHOJ-THOMESEN "Lauria"

album cover TERAUCHI, TAKESHI Nippon Guitars: Instrumental Surf, Eleki, & Tsugaru Rock 1966-1974 (Big Beat) lp 16.98
This ain't that new of a release - it came out in 2011 - but we hadn't yet reviewed it, and when we got some copies back in the other day, wondered, why the heck not? Haven't been able to stop listening to it lately, it's so dang electrifying and infectious. What we have here is a killer collection some of the best tracks recorded by one Takeshi Terauchi, who in the mid-'60s was known as Japan's "King Of The Electric Guitar". In fact, he may still be.
We all know what instrumental surf music guitar sounds like, give it a Japanese twist and you have "Eleki" (what they called electric guitar music). The "Tsugaru" of the subtitle refers to traditional Japanese folk songs, which were also adapted to the '60s rock n' roll invasion. Badass guitarist Terauchi was a pioneer of the Eleki craze, building his own gear, playing to crowds of screaming young girls with his bands The Blue Jeans and The Bunnys. So just imagine a Japanese version of Link Wray and/or Dick Dale, all exciting, exotic surf twang and groovy fuzz. There's some achingly romantic, folk based melodic moments, and we like that, but the best parts are when Terauchi is ripping it up on his fretboard to surfy, psychedelic excess!
FYI, they fit 25 tracks on the cd, and 14 on the vinyl.
MPEG Stream: TAKESHI TERAUCHI & THE BUNNYS "Rising Guitar"
MPEG Stream: TAKESHI TERAUCHI & THE BUNNYS "Summer Boogaloo"
MPEG Stream: TAKESHI TERAUCHI & THE BLUE JEANS "Tsugaru Eleki Bushi"

album cover MOOLAH Woe Ye Demons Possessed (EM Records) cd 22.00
Fantastic! We weren't expecting it all all, but this long-gone AQ fave has just been repressed and is back in stock!! We went nuts for this when it first was reissued by EM back in 2005, we probably only didn't make it a Record Of The Week back then 'cause of the steep import price (it was $28, it's now a bit cheaper, yay!) and 'cause were had to get 'em direct from Japan, but in the years since EM has gotten better US distribution. So if you missed it before, you're in luck now. Here's what we wrote the first time, back on list #239:
YESS!!! Ohmigod, ohmigod, ohmigod! Those are direct quotes from Allan the day he discovered, totally out of the blue, that this album had been reissued on cd by the Japanese label EM Records. Kerry and Andee were both in the office that day and can attest that Allan just about jumped out of his skin, his voice positively yelping with excitement. And now we're ALL going ohmigod, ohmigod too since the box from Japan that Allan ordered arrived and Moolah is among us.
Ok, so what the heck is Moolah?? Well we're talking a super-obscure psychedelic/experimental Holy Grail album here. Allan only knew about it 'cause he'd heard some of it on a cd-r burn that our pal Loren Chasse had gotten from Jan Anderzen of Finland's Kemialliset Ystavat. Totally weird, damaged, krautrocky cosmic psych with electronic drones, haunting classical piano, and fucked up rhythms! According to Anderzen, it was an ultra rare LP from the '70s by a band called Moolah, entitled Woe Ye Demons Possessed. Wow. Allan found it hard to believe that was really true, and that it wasn't just something recorded by some genius Finnish forest freak friend of Anderzen's directly for the cd-r. But some diligent research revealed that the mysterious Moolah was indeed a band from New York who released an album on what was probably their own label, Druidstone (!), in 1974. But it was still pretty much unknown and almost utterly unobtainable. It didn't seem to have ever been reissued. And even our most '70s knowledgeable psych-rock reissue supplier in Sweden hadn't heard of it at all. But we never lost hope. And now, thanks to the extremely strange and cool Japanese label EM Records, here at last we present to you Moolah on cd! We're still left in the dark about a lot of the details of this mysterious record's history (EM's sales info is mostly in Japanese*) but from the album cover notes reproduced in the cd package we can tell you that the men behind Moolah were a duo named Walter Burns and Maurice Roberson, who recorded this, "their paranormal concertwork ...a cosmic rock relaxation creation" at a "secret studio in New York's Greenwich Village". There's also some amazing pagan poetry on the sleeve, here's a few lines: "Licking BLOOD Drinking TEARS Sacrificing LOVE on the Altar of Tomorrow Eating FRUITS of Stolen Vineyards With Withered Young Mouthes That Sing The OLD SONGS WHICH WERE FORBID".
And the music is as amazing as what Allan remembered. Dreamy, beautiful ambience -and- disturbingly chaotic, claustrophobic sounds. Shimmery, murky, distorted, primitive... is it even rock music? For the day, about as far out as you could get. Indeed, ahead of its time. Such tracks as "Crystal Waters", "Terror Is Real" and "The Hard Hit" are lo-fi jams full of dubby echo effects, indistinct voices intoning New Age ideas, crazy backwards percussion, and insectoid squiggles of electronics. And we think we heard a purring cat in there too. The question is: did the Moolah duo simply inhabit their own, messed-up, mystical little world (which seems likely, judging by those sleeve notes of theirs), or had these guys heard records by early Kraftwerk, Amon Duul, Kluster, and Neu!? We wonder. But either way, the krautrock scene's freakiest had nothing on Moolah. File with such rare, eccentric, outsider psych artifacts as the Cromagnon's Orgasm, Yahowha 13's Penetration, and Comus' First Utterance. What a find. If you like weird, lost, lovely, maybe a bit frightening music THIS IS FOR YOU.
*Here's Google's automatic translation of the Japanese-only info EM provided: "The [kozumitsuku] psychedelic album where 1974, two youths of New York are identified [mura] and announce. The piano, the keyboard and the percussion musical instrument electric set and electronic sound, esoteric Buddhism vocal sound, drawn, concrete sound, the delay effect, it is the work which is formed with tape opposite revolution."
MPEG Stream: "Crystal Waters"
MPEG Stream: "Courage"
MPEG Stream: "Mirror's"

album cover CONFESSOR Uncontrolled (Divebomb) cd + dvd 22.00
So, if you're a fan of this cult metal band (most of whom could be also described as rabid), then the news that a cd has been released containing rare early demo versions of the songs from Confessor's 1991 Earache debut Condemned, demo tracks that actually sound heavier than the recordings that ended up on the album, and is accompanied by a bonus dvd disc of live footage, is all we really need to tell you, to get you to hit the "add to cart" button with excessive force. But maybe even folks who aren't (yet) Confessor fanatics should check this out. 'Cause we know a lot of you like technical / progressive / math metal, and also a lot of you like traditional epic Sabbath-styled DOOM, and for that matter a lot of you like plain ol' weirdness, and that's what Confessor's unique sound was all about, and they were unique, at the Venn diagram intersection of prog metal and doom metal, characterized by riffs inspired by Sabbath and, especially, Trouble, chaotically crazy, complex stop-start song structures and time changes out of the mathrock playbook, the INSANE drumming skillz of sticksman Steve Shelton (now in Loincloth), and high pitched vocals wailing disconsolately o'er it all, which might be the weirdest component of the whole Confessor calculation.
If that sounds good, we'd of course recommend getting the Condemned album itself, it's a classic - BUT it's out of print, and also the band thinks the guitar tone is better on these demos anyway.
There's eleven songs on the cd, including all the tracks from band's three demo cassettes circa 1988-1990, plus two cuts from comps and two live tracks from the era. The cd is also enhanced with live video of the band from a show '92. Then there's the limited dvd disc, which includes tons more archival live footage of the band over the years, including video from an outdoor performance at a waterpark that the guys from The Fucking Champs always loved to talk about. Yeah, Confessor, perfect for a sunny day of fun at the waterpark, people must have been into that.
The cd booklet boasts liner notes by Jeff Wagner, who wrote THE book on prog-metal (Mean Deviation: Four Decades Of Progressive Heavy Metal, published by Bazillion Points), plus lots of old photos, gig flyers and demo tape graphics.
So it's definitely a deluxe deal, for Confessor's rabid fans and maybe some new ones too.
MPEG Stream: "Condemned"
MPEG Stream: "Uncontrolled"
MPEG Stream: "The Secret"

album cover SLOMO The Grain (Trilithon) cd 11.98
Sleepers, awake! Or rather, the opposite, as we herald the return of Yorkshire, England's Slomo, a "Highly Ritualised Somnambulant Glumbient Downer band" as they describe themselves - and we couldn't have come up with a better description ourselves ("Glumbient", that's great!). The duo of Chris McGrail (aka Holy McGrail, leader of another, eponymous heavy pagan drone psych unit) and Howard Marsden continue to live up to their band name with over 67 minutes of slow-motion doomdrone bliss on The Grain. Two tracks this time, unlike the one apiece that appeared on their previous albums The Creep (2005) and The Bog (2008), but of course both tracks here are loooong.
McGrail is credited with "strings & reeds", Marsden with "machinery"; what we're hearing is a lot of synths and some guitar, but it all of course takes a while to come into focus, the opening title track, duration 42:15, being just about thee ultimate definition of a "slow-build" piece! At the start, it's as if the sounds are emerging from nothingness, the primordial soup of (near) silence. Gradually, subtly, slowly, creepily, they build and build, a deep tone, a drone, another drone, at first purring, then softly growling... the rumble becoming rhythmic over time, echoing, echoing, echoing... When finally recognizable, McGrail's guitar manifests as a gentle subterranean wind-howl, or subaquatic whale-call. The gritty synth machine drones are equally cavernous, and the entire effect, especially after you've experienced the lengthy build up to full mind-altering force, is massively mesmeric, and indeed rather "Glumbient", we agree!
Then, track two, "Against The Grain", while shorter (only 25:17) somehow sounds even more stretched-out, the grain of the drones here even more, uh, "granular", with sudden clouds of creaking clicking, like field recordings of some strange bird or insect, drifting about the soundfield, backed by deeper dronier windier waves. It really is a bit like one of those environmental recordings from a pond, the faux-electronic sound of amplified water beetles, their buzz and glitch married to the guitar-leaning-on-amp whoosh of any one of our favorite dronescapers. Nice! Somehow spooky -and- soothing, simultaneously.
Definitely recommended to all old-school SUNNO)))-worshippers, if you can imagine SUNNO))), as we stated in a previous Slomo review, "perhaps sleeping and snoring and drifting in dream". Other good references would be old Earth (circa 2), Bohren, Black Boned Angel, Jonathan Coleclough, and Slomo's fellow rural UK, J. Cope-approved dronesters Urthona, with a slight dose of Coh or Ryoji Ikeda in the drone-mix.
These two have also been known to refer to themselves as playing "agricultural" doom, as they they're some sort of slowly spreading strain of fungal potato blight or something. But, here, maybe we can hear it - tall fields of wheat, waving and rustling in the autumn wind, those sounds slowed down and amplified, likewise with the chittering of insects living it up inside the grain silos - but still, they sound more like guitar 'n' synth wielding dronologists than they sound like that long-ago AQ fave cd, Insect Noise In Stored Foodstuffs...
Slomo's latest sure gives this week's other Record Of The Week honoree, Kompakt's new Pop Ambient comp, a run for its money as ideal going-to-sleep music - and none of the Pop Ambient tracks are this long, either, ever!!
Coming packaged in an attractive, slender digi-sleeve, it's been worth the four year wait (with Slomo, naturally not unexpected), for this new dose of the duo's somnolent dronedoom. Highly recommended.
MPEG Stream: "The Grain (excerpt 1)"
MPEG Stream: "The Grain (excerpt 2)"
MPEG Stream: "Against The Grain"

album cover SCORPIONS Taken By Force (Hip-O) cd 5.00
**SALE **SALE* *SALE**
Just realized that this '70s metal essential was now available at a bargain price - we've got 'em for only five bucks, while they last! From 1978, long before their MTV fame in the '80s, this was the last studio album by the Scorps to feature the guitar playing of Hendrix-obsessed genius-in-his-own-right Uli Jon Roth, and it features one of Uli's most classic compositions: "The Sails Of Charon", a truly majestic metal milestone. The whole album is a metal milestone, really, 'cause it's one on which you can actually hear "proto-metal" giving way to pure metal metal, the kind that would give rise to the NWOBHM, Metallica, speed metal, thrash, etc., etc., via straight up galloping metal steeds, like "Steamrock Fever" and "He's A Woman - She's A Man". The Scorps, who got their start in the '60s, are still sorta psychedelic on Taken By Force, but so heavy and dark and speedy and gothic. Groovy hippie acoustic strum slams into utter heavy howling headbanging epic riff mania all over the place here. Uli, "The Sails Of Charon" aside, is responsible for most of the hippie stuff, of course, contributing "Foxy Lady" like rocker "I've Got To Be Free" and the beautiful (with bongos!) "Your Light", some majestic jangle there all right. And having mentioned Uli, we should also mention vocalist Klaus Meine, whose performance here also kills, whether screaming his head off, or singing a delicate, tearful ballad (with strings) like album-closer "Born To Touch Your Feelings".
For the longest time, this was a difficult Scorpions disc to come by, we remember searching out expensive import copies, so if you're just picking it up now you're lucky to get it so cheap! And it'd be well worth it at thrice the price, or more, anyway. We can't really do it justice in this brief review. '70s Scorps rules!
Remastered, this edition including two bonus tracks, the cowbell-heavy "Suspender Love" and a live version of "Polar Nights" (but the latter's from Tokyo Tapes, so not such a bonus if you already have that).
MPEG Stream: "The Riot Of Your Time"
MPEG Stream: "The Sails Of Charon"
MPEG Stream: "He's A Woman - She's A Man"

album cover VAGUSNERVE Go Back To The Sirius (Utech) cd 14.98
Oooh. Nice one, this. If you dig psychedelic dronemusic, heavy on the guitar, that is, 'cause it's the 2nd album on the ever-reliable Utech label from this droney duo from China, one half of which is none other than freeform electric guitarist & sculptor-of-feedback Li Jianhong, whose solo album on Japanese psych label PSF, Classic Of the Mountains And Seas, we made a Record Of The Week a few years back. The other half of the band is laptopper Vavabond, and together they create a dark and disturbing, yet sometimes somewhat soothing symphony of cosmic sci-fi space drone (VagusNerve are kind of big into UFOs and flying saucers), full of strange sounds. Layers of Jianhong's whale call guitar and swarms of other unidentifiable electronic drones (from keening high end to bassy lows) are ofttimes joined by weird wordless vocals, druggy mumbles, the guttural moans of some human creature. This devolved baby-babble is however buried beneath the burbling electronic FX and quasi-melodic guitar wail. What sound like distant air raid sirens rise and fall, as abstract alien transmissions from across the galaxy shower down over the three loooong tracks here, "The Memory Of Light", "The Exiled Life", and "Go Back To The Sirius" - as in, this is sirius tripping balls music!! To be played LOUD, if you dare. These aren't airy ambient drones. It's all quite dense and physical and maybe even frightening, with Jianhong's amp burning blackest on that third track, at times coming close to Keiji Haino in an echoing realm of insane video game zips and zaps.
Recommended drones for sure, a no-brainer if you trust us, or Utech, or are already a VagusNerve and/or Li Jianhong fan. Comes in a nice Utech-designed fold-up sleeve, with cool art appropriate to the dark spacey sounds on the disc.
MPEG Stream: "The Memory Of Light"
MPEG Stream: "The Exiled Life"
MPEG Stream: "Go Back To The Sirius"

album cover ORCHESTRA OF THE UPPER ATMOSPHERE s/t (Discus) 2cd 22.00
As soon as we heard this the massive and mesmeric sounds found here on the debut from the Orchestra Of The Upper Atmosphere, we knew it was Record Of The Week material! And while it's the record of our week (and many weeks to come, we imagine), it was three years in the making, a grandiose accomplishment involving the efforts of around 40 musicians and singers.
The British new music ensemble responsible for this sprawling double cd has an appropriately evocative name, they are in the business of generating clouds of sound from on high, and they are indeed a sort of Orchestra, certainly a lot of musicians on a lot of intruments making a BIG sound, the actual core group of the UOA itself comprising only five folks, but they're augmented by a string quartet (the La Garotte String Quartet), a woodwinds ensemble (The Divine Winds), and a 25 person avant-garde choral group (Juxtavoices).
Together, the UOA and friends create a hybrid akin to 20th century classical chamber music meets propulsive krautrock meets '70s cosmic jazz (some parts, like the ten minute track "Coherent Backscattering" that closes the first disc, remind us of the wonderful Alice Coltrane With Strings album World Galaxy, complete with what sounds like varispeed tape manipulation)… But it's probably most heavily influenced by the work of modern minimalist master Terry Riley in particular - imagine portions of the Riley/Cale album Church Of Anthrax heavied up by a psychedelic stage band, with tons of synth and electronics amidst the strings and horns and percussive skitter. Other comparisons we could cite include the Swedish sixties psych groups Parson Sound/International Harvester (also big Riley fans), some large prog jazz rock ensembles of the '70s, like Keith Tippett's Canterbury based Centipede, and krautrockers Out Of Focus (circa Four Letter Monday Afternoon), as well as various underground free drone ensembles of more recent vintage.
The two part, twenty-plus-minute "Seen From Above" early in the first disc is really worth the price of admission alone, a tour de force that sums up the glories of the OUA without revealing quite all the secrets that you'll encounter elsewhere on these two densely-packed discs (77+ minutes disc 1, 76+ minutes disc 2, no wasted space in other words, you get your money's worth!). The piece is full of droning deep rumbles that resolve into strong bass pulsations, graced with gorgeous organ tones, and dramatic drum rolls and cymbal crashes.
But the next track, the 10 minute plus "The Opposition Effect" is equally impressive, getting even heavier with the krautROCK elements, and brings the Juxtavoices to bear as well, with some intense vocal chant that reminds us of the aforementioned International Harvester.
And so it goes, and goes, the UOA at times bombastic and heavy, at others more hauntingly subtle and murmuring, with squeaks and mumbles, like an orchestra tuning up, in a murky sonic miasma. Much of this is stirring & cinematic, with parts that remind us of Godspeed! You Black Emperor and experimental Norwegian "death-jazzers" Supersilent too. The latter especially on disc two, which opens in an even, ah, moodier mood, the sound ever more abstract and ambient on "An Open Vista Is Revealed", followed by "He Died Before I Could Get My Revenge", which begins with shimmering jittering electronics and stumbling drums. Towards the end of that track, the Juxtavoices ensemble is employed to provide a bed of buried, layered and effected vocal snippets on the subject of the track's disturbing title (giving both a "hearing creepy voices in your head" and "overheard noisy cocktail party conversation" vibe at once). On both discs, the Juxtavoices talents are used judiciously in ways that really put this over the top in the sheer weirdness dep't., really letting it all out in feral, primal form amidst the murk of disc two's closer "Their Dark Presence Stretches Through The Void".
Oh, and eventually of course the krauty drum propulsion kicks in on this disc as well.
Essentially, the UOA take krautrock derived, pounding rhythmic hypnosis a la Circle, and combines it with the symphonic majesty of something like another recent aQ Record Of The Week, the reissue of William Sheller's glorious Lux Aeterna, if you can imagine that, or (if you've ever heard it) Richard Youngs' pseudo prog-rock Ilk project taken to Magma-like orchestral extremes.
At the core of the UOA, is English composer/improviser Martin Archer, also a member of The Divine Winds, and organizer of Juxtavoices. He's a quite prolific musician, who runs the Discus label that put this out, and we should really review more of his releases in future. Previously, Archer's name HAS appeared on the aQ list as a key member of crushing industrial doom/free jazz prog outfit Combat Astronomy, much loved by us; he's also the fellow responsible for the Saint Agnes Fountain album from about ten years ago, a clever hoax that purported to be an early '70s recording from a fictional female Japanese minimalist composer named Masayo Asahara (and if you liked that Martin Archer alter-ego as much as we did, you'll totally dig the UOA, they seem to share a lot of the same sonic inspirations). We're less familiar with the other key member of the UOA, multi-instrumentalist Chris Bywater, responsible for a good deal of the compositions and arrangements as well.
Martin and Chris, we're impressed! And this couldn't be more up our alley, as you can perhaps judge by the artists we've attempted to compare this to. In a word, wow.
MPEG Stream: "Seen From Above Part 2 (excerpt 1)"
MPEG Stream: "Seen From Above Part 2 (excerpt 2)"
MPEG Stream: "The Opposition Effect"
MPEG Stream: "Coherent Backscattering"
MPEG Stream: "He Died Before I Could Get My Revenge"
MPEG Stream: "The Umbral Length Of Shadows"

album cover DEBRUIT From The Horizon (Civil Music) 2lp 26.00
Now here on vinyl! Afro-Booty Musique! That's not just one of the song titles here, that's what this is. French techno producer Debruit makes his debut with this lively disc, that weaves both samples and rhythmic inspiration from various sorts of African music old and new (including stuff from "lost African VHS") into a slightly hip-hopped, drum-machine driven, largely instrumental techno funk full of fat, squelchy bass lines and infectious chants. It comes off like a mad, manic mix of the hyperactive, synthed-out sound of South African "Shangaan Electro" and the funky-but-fucked up approach of another aQ fave style, namely "Skweee"!! Syncopated, surreal like the cover art, exotic and energetic, great for a sweaty dance frenzy or fast driving in the car (simply sitting at home in front of the stereo, maybe that too, but you might not be sitting still for long). And track 7 is called "Zef", so now we know Die Antwoord didn't make that up.
Fans of skweee, of Shangaan stuff (particularly the Shangaan Shake remixes Honest Jon's put out), the electrified thumb-piano "Congotronics" of Konono No.1, and that great Francis Bebey "African Electronic Music" collection on Born Bad, all will hear things they like here, in one chaotic, jubilant, groovy jumble!
Next time, we'll probably have the double vinyl version of this too, plus also a remix 12".
MPEG Stream: "Afro Booty Musique"
MPEG Stream: "Zef"
MPEG Stream: "Quest Wind's Seagulls"

album cover ALTRES Archives (Dark Entries) lp 17.98
A couple years ago, we discovered a musical gem someone had dropped by the store which had sat unnoticed for awhile until it finally caught the eye of AQ staffer Andrew. It was a double cd-r set of coldly seductive improvised instrumental synthscapes called Tripping The Dark Fantastic, by a little known five member group from Scotland called Altres. Most of their music was recorded in 1983-84 and released in limited cassette runs. The band went on hiatus in '85 but has since reformed 17 years later! We described the group's sound like this: "Altres manage to recall some of the best things throughout the history of electronic music as well as some of the hazier realms of rock n' roll (their website lists Tangerine Dream, Klaus Schulze, Philip Glass, Throbbing Gristle, Faust, the Doors, and the Church as influences; at various times we also picked up on Cluster, Heldon, Popul Vuh, and Zombi's coked out disco side), but the end sound is clearly their own. The songs effortlessly ooze deep, krauty melodies with a sustained and cinematic ambience, and when they break out the drum machines things can head into high speed Moroder territory, always a good thing."
After we reviewed it, we ended up selling a ton of 'em. Well, that review was noticed by Dark Entries label head honcho and aQ pal Josh Cheon, who became a fan and got in contact with Altres, and now 30 years after the band was formed they finally have made their vinyl debut! Archives selects seven of the best tracks from their five cassette releases. For those thinking there may be a lot of overlap between this record and the 2cd-r set, fear not. There is in fact only one song, "Icefield" that's on both releases, which we initially described as a darkly unsettling interlude that makes you think of, yes, ice fields, and probably some foreboding windowless compound as well. Coming at the end of side one, it's a great connecting piece between the two sides, showcasing the rest of the killer new-to-us material. It's really quite special to see some attention being paid to this ambitious but short-lived group, who managed to sound both cold and melodic, cinematic and claustrophobic, robotic and utterly human.
The sheer array of equipment used on these recordings is staggering as well and enough to make any synth geek salivate: Casio MT40 Moog Prodigy, EDP Wasp, Roland SH-101, Casio VL-Tone, Korg MS20, MS50, SQ10 Poly-61, Ibanez guitar and vocoder. All of the instruments are fed through various effects and echo units and yet, amazingly everything is played and recorded live - there are no overdubs - which is pretty incredible to think about as so much of their work is so complex and rich that an extraordinary amount of musicianship seems to be at play to bring forth such strong compositions. The pieces here are less minimal wave than one would expect, but instead seem to come through as a hybrid of provocative pulsating kraut-inflected atmospheres, Moroderic overdrive, a futuristic foreboding and cinematic robotic woe. We're reminded at times, of Geoff Barrow and Ben Salisbury's recently rejected score for the new Judge Dredd reboot, which gets played a ton in the store, especially on the second track, "Panic". Of course there's been no shortage of synth-worshippers past and present that we could compare this to, but there is something so stirringly visual about Altres' music that makes it beautifully all its own, probably stemming from the fact that when this music was made, the members didn't have a quarter of the contextual relationships with similar music and movements that we can easily nowadays connect them with. We're proud to have been instrumental in the group's rediscovery, and we hope more folks discover them because of this record.
The vinyl comes housed in a neon green jacket featuring the original design from the "Rise" cassette by Mike Nelson. Each lp includes a photocopied clear acetate with unreleased photos and notes for each song. Fantastic!
MPEG Stream: "Everything Is"
MPEG Stream: "Panic"
MPEG Stream: "Ghost"

album cover RYDGREN, BROTHER JOHN Silhouette Segments (The Omni Recording Corporation) 2cd 24.00
We're pretty into twisted psychedelic music. The more twisted the better. And that mutant strain of weirdo psychedelia that is CHRISTIAN psych, somehow that seems even weirder and more ridiculous. Even though in some strange way, both Christians and psychedelic freaks were each trying to attain enlightenment, albeit by very different means. Which makes it all the more glorious, to hear the squares try to co-opt the super hip, in hopes of luring some of the lost toward the light. It rarely worked, and in most cases had the exact opposite effect, portraying the co-optors as painfully out of touch, and even more impossibly square. However, Brother John Rydgren might just be the exception. This Lutheran pastor very nearly pulled it off, due in no small part to his amazing voice, equal parts Ken Nordine and Orson Welles, his radio show a twisted dizzyingly psychedelic meditation on love and sex, war and death, set to some seriously fuzzed our psych rock. This double cd collects his three late sixties lps, which were originally only distributed to radio stations and churches (the radio stations instructed to burn them after broadcast, hence their rarity), and it's some of the craziest, coolest stuff you'll ever hear. Every once in a while, when we're playing this in the store, and people are freaking out, laughing, not believing what they're hearing, we sometimes jokingly ask if folks are ready to convert, but listening to this now, it's actually not that far fetched to imagine that back in the day, Rydgren could have really pulled it off, making Christianity cool and convincing druggies and hippies that somehow, that was the more righteously psychedelic path. Really, all it takes is a listen to the opening track, "Music To Watch Girls By", with its fuzz guitar crunch, and exotica vibe, all tropical horns, and groovy rhythms, Brother John intoning over the top, sounding way too lascivious as he describes one girl from head to toe, her lips, hair, her body, her lipstick, hearing that impossibly deep voice say things like: "She likes to be watched", "It's creamy", "Looks like she's ready for a happening", obviously there's a punchline, but it's a pretty uncomfortable wait, until he finally explains, that God created people, girls included, "Quite a design". "God made it", he explains, so you can think about it next time you're out watching girls, he doesn't want to take the fun out of it, it just makes girl watching… mean more! Holy shit, how cool is this Brother, it's okay to watch girls, just know that those gorgeous honeys were created by the man upstairs. And it doesn't get any less weird.
"Personality Doll Of The Week" is a weird anti-war sketch, where a nerdy scientist pulls the string on the back on the Personality Doll Of The Week, and she continues to say the same thing over and over, no matter what question he asks "I don't like war, I think everybody should love everybody else". Then there's "Mercy Mercy Mercy", which lays down a bluesy gospel groove, with Brother John, prosthelytizing over the top. Some seriously sweet sermonizing, and that voice, that VOICE!! Keep digging, up next is the "Hippie Version Of The 23rd Psalm", where Brother John rewrites that iconic psalm in hippie speak, with lots of baby's, and cool's, and dig's, and man's, all over a wild organ driven psych rock freak out. But it's the next track, "Rinky Dink", that sealed the deal, with Brother John's stentorian lyric reading, over another groovy fuzzy psychedelic jam, and thee most ridiculous chorus, Brother John delivering this line in a deep deadpan: "One, two, three, four, rinky dink". Groovy and ridiculous, and sorta crazy catchy too!
It stays relentlessly far out, warped and psychedelic, the music pretty great, choirs, sitars, fuzzed out surf guitar, tribal drumming, streaks of feedback, even some cool collaged experimental soundscapes, replete with samples of popular songs and fragments of Christmas carols, there's "To Sir With Love", a stately bit of baroque pop, over which various women describe love, and how to treat their man, and how their man should treat them, there's "The Happening", where Brother John interviews various people: Smokey Robinson, both Peaches and Herb from Peaches And Herb, one of the guys from the Association, one of the guys from Paul Revere And The Raiders, and bunch of others about God, and their faith, and how drugs are not the way to attain enlightenment, all peppered with Brother John again explaining: "They're young, they think, and some of them live what they think", there's the sultry sitar driven "Dark Side Of The Flower", with Brother John again sounding disturbingly sensual, there's a "Christmas Montage", that mixes Christmas carols, with horrible samples of news reports about people dying from drunk driving, rats overrunning neighborhoods, crying babies, so bizarre!
The whole second half of the first disc finishes with 20 one minute tracks called "They Say", each one a different vignette, delivered over some groovy psychedelia, each one finishing off with Brother John delivering the solution, beginning with the words "They say…" And again, some of them are disturbingly 'sexy', all about what men want, want couples need, etc., and of course, Brother John explains what 'they say' and ties it all back to God. Wow.
The second disc starts off with the "Cantata Of New Life", a sprawling 26 minute epic, rife with choirs, and orchestras, call and response vocals, very dramatic and cinematic, and of course the whole thing's peppered with plenty of fuzzy psych, and Brother John's deep sonorous voice, reminding us a bit of another recent Record Of The Week, William Sheller's Lux Aeterna. But then we get back into yet another collection of his radio broadcasts, and if it's possible, things get even creepier, Brother John in conversation with some mysterious woman, about dying young in car crashes, going AWOL, there's a track about computers, which is goofy and crazy, there's one about how God made rhythm, and more more more. Finally, the two part "This Is Silhouette", a weird collaged soundscape of fuzzed out psych, Brother John telling us how it is, and interviews with young people talking about God and drugs, and one final psychedelic sermon from Brother John!
Seriously incredible stuff, warped and wonderful, disturbing and inspiring in equal measure, fans of sixties spoken word, Christian psych, outsider music of all stripes, weirdo radio broadcasts, and other Omni releases, this one just might take the psychedelic Christian cake!
Packaged in a swank full color six panel digipak, with a huge booklet, with rare photos and extensive liner notes.
MPEG Stream: "Music To Watch Girls By"
MPEG Stream: "Personality Doll Of The Week"
MPEG Stream: "Mercy, Mercy, Mercy"
MPEG Stream: "Rinky Dink"
MPEG Stream: "Hippie Version Of Creation"
MPEG Stream: "Plea Of A Lonely Girl"
MPEG Stream: "Forgiveness (The Boy Looking Natural)"
MPEG Stream: "Computers"

album cover CIRCLE Fraten (Ektro) cd 14.98
Another blast (two blasts, actually) from the past, from our favorite Finns. It's been a long time since we've had copies of these, Hissi and Fraten, the 3rd and 4th albums respectively by the now-near-legendary hypno-rock outfit Circle. Originally released on the Metamorphos label, they've been out of print for ages. Ektro Records has finally arranged to put out remastered reissues, for those that missed 'em the first time around. It's interesting to have 'em back, considering them now in context of Circle's subsequent, prolific career in the years since they first appeared. When Hissi came out in 1996, we saw it as a major stylistic shift, but that's before we learned that Circle would amazingly morph through so many unexpected styles as they progressed over album after album - all the while keeping it quite "Circular" though. At the time, we stated that if their first full-length (Meronia) could be described as AmRep grunge meets Gregorian chants, and if the second (Zopalki) entered into a kraut-rocky chamber music realm with strings, etc., then Hissi was Circle's stab at post-rock electronica... The vocals are gone on all but one or two tracks, and Circle's trademark repetitive sound is less about riffs on this record than beats. And it's true, Hissi was mostly instrumental, there's no "Meronian" chanting (and certainly none of the faux-metallic operatics of latter-day Circle vocalist Mika Ratto, as found on many more recent albums). The whole "NWOFHM" thing that Circle & friends later invented is also far from evident, this isn't Circle in any of their bombastic, heavy modes at all. It's not truly electronica either, really, but there are a lot of keys, and effects. Synth sounds insinuate everywhere amidst the nervous percolations of the drums and percussion. It's low-key and motorik, moody and atmospheric, quite creepy even (in keeping with the cover and interior photos of a grotesque, grimacing old man marionette). '70s avant or krautrock bands like This Heat and Faust are assuredly influences, and the darkly suspenseful, slightly jazzy results align somewhat with the likes of '90s post rock contemporaries Tortoise and the Kammerflimmer Kollektief. But, as we also said, about Hissi's original release: still like nothing else, exactly. And quite recommended. This new, remastered edition features additional graphics, and a brief 2012 note from sole constant Circle member Jussi Lehthisalo, looking back, saying "this album was the starting point for calmer and lighter days that lasted until the end of the decade", also letting us know that Hissi was indeed written as instrumental puppet theater music!
Then there's Fraten, from 1997. What at the time we referred to as another album of "beautiful repetition" from Circle that was "not quite so heavy or dark as previous releases" but that nonetheless "explores (somewhat) mellower territory with equally hypnotic results as before". Indeed it does. While Hissi had its frightening moments, on the effects laden build up of "Kuukaarme" for instance, Fraten is a sunnier proposition to an extent, bright and playful, though it definitely has some dark undercurrents too (with the doleful double bass and plodding beats of "Kentta = Areend" for instance). But the gentle, lazy groove of something like "Hytti = Ser Ozm" is hardly sinister at all. Circle are clearly keeping powerful forces in reserve, operating with care and restraint. The glitchy electronics and dubby FX explosions that infiltrate these rhythmically propulsive tracks are mysterious, perhaps, but not threatening. Lovely, lovely. We certainly can't decide which album, Hissi or Fraten, we like better, and why should we? Both are great, and definitely (despite some slight lineup differences) belong to the same crucial creative era of Circle output, when the mesmeric art rock ideas of their landmark 2nd album Zopalki were being developed in various new musical directions.
The booklet for the remastered reissue of Fraten includes various graphics (show fliers, set lists, photos) not seen in the original. Also there's brand new liner notes, written by the bass player on the album, Tomi Harrivaara, who was with Circle from 1996-1998. He provides an interesting glimpse into Circle's past, from his perspective. In his essay, the likes of Bernard Hermann, Witold Lutoslawski, Arnold Schoenberg, Philip Glass, and Steve Reich are cited as compositional influences on the songs of Fraten, not such a surprise really.
MPEG Stream: "Korko = Klague"
MPEG Stream: "Puntari = Gnosem"
MPEG Stream: "Hissi = Festum"
MPEG Stream: "Paneeli = Krimen"

album cover CIRCLE Hissi (Ektro) cd 14.98
Another blast (two blasts, actually) from the past, from our favorite Finns. It's been a long time since we've had copies of these, Hissi and Fraten, the 3rd and 4th albums respectively by the now-near-legendary hypno-rock outfit Circle. Originally released on the Metamorphos label, they've been out of print for ages. Ektro Records has finally arranged to put out remastered reissues, for those that missed 'em the first time around. It's interesting to have 'em back, considering them now in context of Circle's subsequent, prolific career in the years since they first appeared. When Hissi came out in 1996, we saw it as a major stylistic shift, but that's before we learned that Circle would amazingly morph through so many unexpected styles as they progressed over album after album - all the while keeping it quite "Circular" though. At the time, we stated that if their first full-length (Meronia) could be described as AmRep grunge meets Gregorian chants, and if the second (Zopalki) entered into a kraut-rocky chamber music realm with strings, etc., then Hissi was Circle's stab at post-rock electronica... The vocals are gone on all but one or two tracks, and Circle's trademark repetitive sound is less about riffs on this record than beats. And it's true, Hissi was mostly instrumental, there's no "Meronian" chanting (and certainly none of the faux-metallic operatics of latter-day Circle vocalist Mika Ratto, as found on many more recent albums). The whole "NWOFHM" thing that Circle & friends later invented is also far from evident, this isn't Circle in any of their bombastic, heavy modes at all. It's not truly electronica either, really, but there are a lot of keys, and effects. Synth sounds insinuate everywhere amidst the nervous percolations of the drums and percussion. It's low-key and motorik, moody and atmospheric, quite creepy even (in keeping with the cover and interior photos of a grotesque, grimacing old man marionette). '70s avant or krautrock bands like This Heat and Faust are assuredly influences, and the darkly suspenseful, slightly jazzy results align somewhat with the likes of '90s post rock contemporaries Tortoise and the Kammerflimmer Kollektief. But, as we also said, about Hissi's original release: still like nothing else, exactly. And quite recommended. This new, remastered edition features additional graphics, and a brief 2012 note from sole constant Circle member Jussi Lehthisalo, looking back, saying "this album was the starting point for calmer and lighter days that lasted until the end of the decade", also letting us know that Hissi was indeed written as instrumental puppet theater music!
Then there's Fraten, from 1997. What at the time we referred to as another album of "beautiful repetition" from Circle that was "not quite so heavy or dark as previous releases" but that nonetheless "explores (somewhat) mellower territory with equally hypnotic results as before". Indeed it does. While Hissi had its frightening moments, on the effects laden build up of "Kuukaarme" for instance, Fraten is a sunnier proposition to an extent, bright and playful, though it definitely has some dark undercurrents too (with the doleful double bass and plodding beats of "Kentta = Areend" for instance). But the gentle, lazy groove of something like "Hytti = Ser Ozm" is hardly sinister at all. Circle are clearly keeping powerful forces in reserve, operating with care and restraint. The glitchy electronics and dubby FX explosions that infiltrate these rhythmically propulsive tracks are mysterious, perhaps, but not threatening. Lovely, lovely. We certainly can't decide which album, Hissi or Fraten, we like better, and why should we? Both are great, and definitely (despite some slight lineup differences) belong to the same crucial creative era of Circle output, when the mesmeric art rock ideas of their landmark 2nd album Zopalki were being developed in various new musical directions.
The booklet for the remastered reissue of Fraten includes various graphics (show fliers, set lists, photos) not seen in the original. Also there's brand new liner notes, written by the bass player on the album, Tomi Harrivaara, who was with Circle from 1996-1998. He provides an interesting glimpse into Circle's past, from his perspective. In his essay, the likes of Bernard Hermann, Witold Lutoslawski, Arnold Schoenberg, Philip Glass, and Steve Reich are cited as compositional influences on the songs of Fraten, not such a surprise really.
MPEG Stream: "Kuivaamo"
MPEG Stream: "Kalat"
MPEG Stream: "Strand-Jatkumo"
MPEG Stream: "Saksi"

album cover WITCHCRAFT Legend (Nuclear Blast) 2lp 25.00
NOW ON VINYL!!! With bonus track. Here's what we said a few weeks back 'bout the cd version:
Yay, at long last (five years!) the return of our/your/everyone's favorite Swedish retro-proto-metallers, Witchcraft! With this, their fourth album, they've moved on from their previous label Rise Above to a new home on bigger label Nuclear Blast. They've also altered their lineup quite a bit, though of course mainman Magnus Pelander remains at the mic (though he's not playing guitar anymore, for some reason, concentrating solely on vocals). Going through changes… without changing -too- much, as far as us listeners are concerned, thankfully. Even with a new drummer and two new guitarists, this still sounds of a piece with the Witchcraft of olde, certainly in part due to the distinctive, emotive, melodic vocal stylings of Pelander. We just love his voice, and he puts on a great performance here. He's got flair, the whole band does.
Musically, Legend is maybe a bit more modern and slickly produced than previous Witchcraft outings, and certainly they didn't get rawer or heavier, no. The direction they took was onwards and upwards. But the influence of such vintage greats as Black Sabbath and Pentagram hasn't exactly waned, though nowadays we'd be more likely to describe Witchcraft as being their own psychedelic, doomy, melodic, proggy, heavy rock thing. Good meaningful music, well played, with lots of both light and shade - lumbering riffs, lovely vox, great guitarwork… Now, someone here thought that this new Witchcraft showed signs of being "success rock", whatever that means, and someone else here (Andee) thought some of it sounded a bit like Queens Of The Stone Age (meant, he assured us, as a compliment!), and yeah sure this is perhaps geared to appeal to a bigger audience than the record collecting '70s downer rock nerds that Witchcraft themselves once were (and heck, still are - after all, the likes of "Dystopia" here sounding like something off of one of Sabbath's final few Ozzy-era albums like Never Say Die). But, whatever. At the risk of sounding snobby, very few bands who get big are really all that great, but Pelander and Witchcraft definitely deserve all their success, so we won't hold it against 'em. Longtime Witchcraft fans, you have nothing to worry about, listen to "It's Not Because Of You" ferinstance and tell us that it doesn't sound like it coulda been on The Alchemist or Firewood. Once again, we're happily enscorcelled by this Witchcraft - and hope it won't be another five years between albums, again!
MPEG Stream: "It's Not Because Of You"
MPEG Stream: "Ghosts House"
MPEG Stream: "Democracy"

album cover ZIPPER s/t (Way Back Records) cd 17.98
Awesome garagey/glammy '70s hard rock that sounds like a demented Led Zeppelin some of the time, featuring frontman Fred Cole, future co-founder of the legendary Pacific NW punks Dead Moon! For as big of proto-metal, '70s rock nerds as we are here at aQuarius, we don't understand how we'd somehow NEVER heard of this band until quite recently. And it's not like this is a new cd reissue, in fact, it apparently dates from 1994! When we got clued in to Zipper, we tracked it down, thankfully one of our distributors still had a supply in stock, so here it is, gotta share it with those of you who haven't heard Zipper either. Well, it's nice to know there's always some new but old gem out there we haven't yet heard.
So, Zipper's sole album, originally released as a private pressing (by the Cole's own "Whizeagle Records") in 1975, features nine cuts of high energy ramalama and bluesy grunge. The album opens with a bang, the song "Bullets" being the one that immediately made us think Led Zeppelin, with extremely lewd & lascivious lyrics delivered in what sounds like an exaggerated parody of a lemon-squeezin' Robert Plant. The sexual innuendo here is pretty outrageous / hilarious if you pay attention ("wanna stuff my face in your swimming hole, stroke it so hard I'm gonna break my pole", for example) and the guitars riff it up with wild abandon.
Cole's over the top vocals are big part of Zipper's sound, for sure, and at first (before we realized it was Fred Cole singing) we were kind of taken aback by his style, sneering and screeching, part Percy, part Mick Jagger, often doing a scrappy, campy falsetto that makes us think of Wayne Kramer warbling "Rambing Rose" on the MC5's Kick Out The Jams! Overwrought and ridiculous, but damn it works, with the downer epic "Face Of Stone" ferinstance being truly emotional wrenching. Some big influences are probably late '60s Stones, Zeppelin of course, perhaps early Detroit-era Alice Cooper, and maybe a bit of Black Sabbath. There's some sweet aching ballads, some lumbering blues rawk blasters, some glammed-up punkers, and even a '50s style raver. Good stuff - for raunchy, kickass, low-budget heavy jams from the garage circa '75, look no further!
(Sometime soon, we'll also have to review the reissue of the excellent album by Fred Cole's even earlier band from the sixties, The Lollipop Shoppe, a band whose cutesy name belies their seriously gloomy vibes.)
MPEG Stream: "Bullets "
MPEG Stream: "Born Yesterday"
MPEG Stream: "Let It Freeze"

album cover DEBRUIT From The Horizon (Civil Music) cd 16.98
Afro-Booty Musique! That's not just one of the song titles here, that's what this is. French techno producer Debruit makes his debut with this lively disc, that weaves both samples and rhythmic inspiration from various sorts of African music old and new (including stuff from "lost African VHS") into a slightly hip-hopped, drum-machine driven, largely instrumental techno funk full of fat, squelchy bass lines and infectious chants. It comes off like a mad, manic mix of the hyperactive, synthed-out sound of South African "Shangaan Electro" and the funky-but-fucked up approach of another aQ fave style, namely "Skweee"!! Syncopated, surreal like the cover art, exotic and energetic, great for a sweaty dance frenzy or fast driving in the car (simply sitting at home in front of the stereo, maybe that too, but you might not be sitting still for long). And track 7 is called "Zef", so now we know Die Antwoord didn't make that up.
Fans of skweee, of Shangaan stuff (particularly the Shangaan Shake remixes Honest Jon's put out), the electrified thumb-piano "Congotronics" of Konono No.1, and that great Francis Bebey "African Electronic Music" collection on Born Bad, all will hear things they like here, in one chaotic, jubilant, groovy jumble!
Next time, we'll probably have the double vinyl version of this too, plus also a remix 12".
MPEG Stream: "Afro Booty Musique"
MPEG Stream: "Zef"
MPEG Stream: "Quest Wind's Seagulls"

album cover NEPTUNE TOWERS Transmissions From Empire Algol (Peaceville) cd 14.98
Back in October, we wanted to make the reissue of Caravans To Empire Algol, the first album of blackened kosmische drone-synth drift from Neptune Towers our Record Of The Week, in fact we wanted to make both that AND this, a sort of dual ROTW. Both were records many of us here have loved for YEARS, so we were super excited for the chance to share them with all of you. Sadly, we were never able to get enough copies of that first one at the time to make it a proper ROTW, but we did manage to get a enough of the THIS one, so finally, Neptune Towers achieves aQ Record Of The Week status!! (And making it even more ROTW-worthy, this one, unlike the reissue of Caravans, includes previously unreleased bonus tracks from the never released third installment in the trilogy!)
Neptune Towers was in fact the alter ego of hilariously and hyper opinionated black metal mouthpiece Fenriz, one half of black metal legends Darkthrone, which is initially how we discovered Neptune Towers, Caravans To Empire Algol being the first in a planned high concept trilogy. But the music of Neptune Towers was about as far removed from the black buzz of Darkthrone as can be, instead, Fenriz in his NT guise trafficked in blissed out, kosmische, psychedelic synthscapery a la Tangerine Dream, Jean Michel Jarre, Klaus Schulze, which considering the current onslaught of retro-synth outfits, proves Fenriz quite prescient back in the day. And thus, for ANYONE into all the modern day practitioners of sci-fi synthwave psychedelia. Zombi, Umberto, Majeure, Cloudland Canyon, M. Geddes Gengras, Gatekeeper, Xander Harris, Roll The Dice, Bitchin Bajas, etc., Neptune Towers is definitely worth checking out. But be warned, it's of a much darker strain than a lot of that stuff, gritty and low fidelity, but still impossibly spacious and epic. Black billows of spectral synth swirl around grinding cascades of low end buzz, everything swaddled in clouds of sci-fi squiggle and driven by dense echo drenched pulsations.
Like Caravans, the record is divided into two epic halves, the two lengthy tracks that make up Transmissions seeming to ooze from the darkest reaches of the galaxy, spectral sonic artifacts captured by arcane machinery in some abandoned bunker, the music pouring forth from the old dusty speakers, captured on those giant spinning tape reels, played back to a room full of baffled scientists, given this fleeting glimpse into some other world, in some far away galaxy, darkly cinematic, gritty and grimy, very rough around the edges, lush layers of gristly squelch, that suddenly explode into dizzying swirls of prismatic shimmer, all glistening and glimmering and downright new agey, before being sucked back down into the roiling blackened space-synth morass, only to emerge seconds later, transformed into a weirdly motorik pulsing groove, which again, soon dissipates leaving just shadows and ghostly melodic traces.
The sound throughout is in constant, glorious flux, hazy cosmic percolations, fractured, fragmented rhythms, swirling shimmering melodies, long droned out sprawls pocked with lazer beam blorp and space-sonar pings, the sound most definitely drifting into Goblin / John Carpenter territory here and there, with haunting little melodic refrains, that resurface, like the theme from some imaginary seventies sci-fi art film, or the perfect music for some blackened planetarium show.
This reissue tacks on four bonus tracks, excerpts from the aborted third part of the trilogy, 1994's Space Lab, four short sonic fragments that continue on right from where Transmissions fades out, continuing further into the reaches of the cosmos, lush, chordal swirls, arpeggiated melodies, all drifting through wide open expanses of deep black thrum, drifting somnambulently from swoonsome softly shimmering blackened cosmic-drone, to blissfully brooding synth-psych mesmer.
Comes in a swank slipcase too!
MPEG Stream: "First Communion. Mode: Direct"
MPEG Stream: "To Cold Void Desolation"

album cover ACID WITCH Witchtanic Hellucinations (Hell's Headbangers) cd 14.98
Hey, all right! The Acid Witch debut from 2009 is NOW BACK IN PRINT, AND AVAILABLE AGAIN, via Hells Headbangers! What we said then if you missed it...
Despite all the Acid- suffix and -Witch prefix bands out there (and vice versa for that matter), it appears that this is the very first band ever to use the name Acid Witch! And it really would have sucked if the name had already been taken, 'cause these guys are the PERFECT Acid Witch. Nobody could possibly do better justice to a moniker like that than this, um, coven.
Are they psychedelic? Yes. Are they metal? Yes. Are they creepy? Yes. Are they deathly? Yes. Are they doomy? Yes, yes, yes! Psychedelic drug doom death horror metal that cackles, wears a pointy hat, and flies on a broomstick. And, they have a sense of humor about it (hence song titles like "Witches Tits"), the same sense of humor -and- horror that gets us all into those cult '70s and '80s Italian fright flicks. Speaking of which, this album is amply laced with sinister, proggy Goblin-esque keyboards, draped over fuzzy chugging heaviness worthy of early Cathedral. Heavy, heavy doom riffs indeed abound, along with guttural grunting deeper-than-thou vokills, both of which manage to be fairly catchy as well, this album casting a spell of instant headbanging most definitely. Acid Witch's songs are furthermore infested with droning psych guitar soloing, weird electronics, witchy laughter, and spooky-ooky sound FX (is that a bubbling, boiling cauldron in there?) which makes this sound something like a "haunted Hawkwind" version of death/doom metal! Or let's say, take Acid Mothers Temple and Witchfinder General and mix them together (including the band names), then get 'em to play old school death a la Hellhammer. It's a bewitching, if totally gonzo, sound.
Further coolness: did we mention the main guy in the band is from Finland? And did you see the freaky EC Horror comics meets Cracked Magazine cover art? Which was done by Acid Witch member Shagrat (doubtless an Amon Duul II fan), who also provides a b&w portrait of the band done in the style of one of Witchfinder General's singles covers. Also, Witchtanic Hellucinations? Heck that's our review right there. These guys are brilliant (at least as much so as Electric Wizard and their "Satanic Rites Of Drugula" on Witchcult Today - hey maybe those two bands should go on tour and make black magic together!). Other bands that if you might like, probably means you should listen to this, include: Solar Anus, Coffins, Sigh (circa Imaginary Sonicscape), Moss, and Pan-Thy-Monium.
As soon as we heard 'em, we knew this was a definite aQ highlight.
MPEG Stream: "Into The Cave"
MPEG Stream: "Swamp Spells"
MPEG Stream: "Witchblood Cult"

album cover PAGAN ALTAR Judgement Of The Dead (Shadow Kingdom) cd 12.98
Red letter day here for old school doom fanatics! Not one but two cd reissues from NWOBHM (aka New Wave Of British Heavy Metal, in this case, make that very very British) cult Pagan Altar! This one's a reissue of their debut album, aka Vol.1, Songs written circa 1978-'81, recorded 1982, not released for the first time officially until 1998 on the band's own Oracle Records, then again via very limited & long gone vinyl, and now available again thanks to the folks at cult metal label Shadow Kingdom, who claim Pagan Altar as their favorite band ever. Obscure as it is, this is really a classic, '70s Sabbath/Priest styled (proto) metal, with an authentic occult vibe, powerful and melodic, up there with Angel Witch and, especially Witchfinder General - if you like them, you need to hear Pagan Altar as well!
Amazingly, the band is still around, still quite active, having released a couple other excellent albums (see Lords Of Hypocrisy, the other one on this list), with work proceeding on a new one. They also did a split 7" with Jex Thoth a while ago. As a matter of fact, Allan had the pleasure of seeing Pagan Altar play live at the Roadburn Festival in Holland in 2010! As far as he was concerned, one of the highlights of the fest (along with one of the only bands there to have been around longer, Comus!!!). When they came out on stage, the silver-haired singer (Terry Jones, brother to lead guitarist Alan Jones) was wearing a feathered top hat, that he gracefully doffed towards the audience, greeting the crowd in a mellifluous Yorkshire accent. He possessed a theatrical, charismatic presence that made him seem not unlike one of the earlier incarnations of Dr. Who! They then proceeded to kick out an utterly classic sounding set of twin guitar NWOBHM, including of course many songs from this album, folkloric metal of witchery and doom, sung in a reedy voice that sounds a lot like a British version of Roky Erickson. They were really, really good.
So, if you're lucky enough to get a chance to see 'em, do so! And, at the very least, if doom and NWOBHM is your thing, check out their recordings, this being a great one to start with, though Judgement Of The Dead and Shadow Kingdom's other PA cd, The Time Lord, are also quite recommended.
MPEG Stream: "Pagan Altar"
MPEG Stream: "In The Wake Of Armadeus"
MPEG Stream: "Night Rider"

album cover PAGAN ALTAR The Lords Of Hypocrisy (Shadow Kingdom) cd 12.98
Red letter day here for old school doom fanatics... Shadow Kingdom brings us not one but two cd reissues from those mystic, misty masters of British metal majesty, Pagan Altar. A truly "cult" doom act from the NWOBHM era, somehow still kicking in the here-and-now. Their debut was recorded in 1982, but kept secret and unreleased until almost the year 2000AD. They followed that with this album, Lords Of Hypocrisy, in 2004, originally released on their own Oracle Records label. It features songs which were originally written back in the late '70s, early '80s by the brothers Terry Jones (vocals) and Alan Jones (guitar). While all Pagan Altar rules, this just might be our fave. Terry Jones' nasal voice is a dramatic, wizened croak and caw, that can soar with ravens in the night sky... evoking both both Roky Erickson and Ozzy Osbourne (which means, Witchcraft fans should hear Pagan Altar). His brother brings the Sabbathy riffs and lead guitar rippage, also playin' some banjo on twangin' folk instrumental interlude "The Devil Came Down To Brockley".
Throughout the album there's drifting soft folky parts and epick metal stormers, Pagan Altar combining a pastoral prog vibe with a Satanic metal one... sad and melancholic, with intelligent lyrics, and it doesn't get more DOOM than songs about nuclear armageddon! Somehow the overall sound reminds us of Ozzy (early solo, circa Randy Rhodes Blizzard Of Ozz era), but gone way underground and druidical. A classic that stands with the best of the NWOBHM even though it was released so many years later... like a time capsule from the '80s. Brilliant stuff any NWOBHM and/or doom lover who's got a pagan bone in their body ought to own.
The original cd release of this we never were able to get enough of to list. And then the swank limited vinyl edition Buried By Time And Dust came and went (as did an earlier Miskatonic vinyl version). So nice to have it back as an affordable cd release thanks to the doom fiends at Shadow Kingdom. (Wish they'd have included the two bonus tracks found on the vinyl, but oh well...)
MPEG Stream: "The Lords Of Hypocrisy"
MPEG Stream: "Sentinels Of Hate"

album cover TROUBLED HORSE Step Inside (Metal Blade / Rise Above) cd 14.98
The new, five years in the making Witchcraft album is indeed awesome (and we finally just got the vinyl version in, which you'll find elsewhere on this week's list). But OLD Witchcraft, we still love too of course. So how 'bout some new old Witchcraft, sort of, in the form of the long awaited full-length debut from Troubled Horse, a band whose membership includes 3/4ths of the original Witchcraft lineup?! Rocking out with catchy riffs and vintage '70s sounds, these guys are everything we'd hope for from a band with such a pedigree. Comparisons to early Witchcraft are easy, but Troubled Horse get way more bluesy than Witchcraft ever has done, and add some swirling organ to the mix. The singer's style can be also more gruff and rough than that of Witchcraft's Magnus (though with his Swedish accent there's certain similarities too). But the basics are the same, Troubled Horse maybe stronger even in their overt Pentagram worship. The Pentagram is palpable here, indeed some of these tracks, like "Sleep In Your Head", "Shirleen" and especially "Don't Lie" (notable also for its Lovecraftian recitation halfway through) might as well BE new Pentagram songs. They certainly would be if the wizened one, Bobby Liebling, were on the mic. Other '70s era influences are evident too, of course, with tracks like "All Your Fears" coming closer to something a bit country-ish that the Rolling Stones woulda done in a sinister mood. Meanwhile, the twin guitar leads and harmonies of the swinging "Another Mans Name" bring to mind very early Wishbone Ash hard rockers like "Lady Whiskey". And the psych/garage rock side of this (as displayed straight out of the gate on stomping opener "Tainted Water") should appeal big time to fans of Troubled Horse's countrymen Dungen, to cite a more modern (but still retro) comparison. Furthermore, this is definitely for fans of bands like Witchcraft (natch), Horisont, Danava, Graveyard, Gypsyhawk, and Spiders (with whom they also share a member - keep an eye out, hopefully we'll have that band's new album in soon too). Packaged in a slipcased jewel case.
MPEG Stream: "Tainted Water"
MPEG Stream: "Bring My Horses Home"
MPEG Stream: "One Step Closer To My Grave"

album cover UNCLE ACID & THE DEADBEATS Blood Lust (Rise Above / Metal Blade) cd 14.98
Hell yeah, at last! When this now-semi-legendary album was first released by UK heavy psych doom metal specialists Rise Above in 2011, it came out in an ultra limited edition of just three hundred vinyl-only copies, which proved almost impossible to come by. That first edition sold out instantly and those lps started trading for seriously ridiculous amounts of money on eBay and elsewhere. Even though, really, who the heck were Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats? Well it wasn't just the cool band name generating a buzz, the music was awesome, as we later were able to ascertain. Eventually Rise Above did a repress, of which we were able to get a few, though those were expensive too and we were never able to get enough of 'em to actually list. But, we did figure out why this record was in such demand (as we'll discuss in more detail in a moment). We also learned that Blood Lust had also come out on compact disc, but oddly enough via a small Finnish label instead of Rise Above, and again we never were able to get enough of those to list, either. But we had hope that someday, somehow, we'd be able to review this for you, 'cause eventually most Rise Above stuff gets released in the USA by licensees Metal Blade, and while its been a damn long time, we're now pleased to, ta da, finally have Blood Lust on cd at a domestic price. Record Of The Week? You bet!
So, what we thought we were in for, way back when all we knew about band was their name & label, was some lysergic sludgey doomy jamming, like maybe Electric Wizard (another Rise Above band) or UFOmammut. Which we would have been perfectly happy with, of course. But, instead, Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats proved to be a lot more song-oriented and more melodic than we expected, with a kind of poppy '60s garage psych rock side to 'em, amidst their heavy fuzz-filled riffage. The singer (that's ol' Uncle Acid himself, natch, also on guitar in this power trio, and mellotron and synths too) croons his twisted tales of witchburning, black magic, and murder, in a languid whine, his voice nasally pinched and reverb effected, reminding us a bit of Kyle Thomas of aQ faves Witch (and King Tuff and Happy Birthday too by the way). His delivery lends a delicate, decadent touch to the band's brand of both despondent plod and swinging catchiness, able to render lines like "I was born a bitter man, no hopes or dreams / I get my kicks from torturing and screams / I lust for womens blood, and their evil ways / I twist my words to what the good book says" with sick sincerity -and- showmanship, in a way that is surprisingly not very much metallic, instead staying (despite the music's undeniable heaviness) more in the pop realm, though one obsessed with vintage horror films.
These rollicking, but dread-infused tunes are further full of ripping fuzz guitar leads, and lumbering downer riffs. Without a doubt, doom originators Black Sabbath are a major factor in this band's sound, but they're doing something rather different with that particular inspiration than most do. And we're also reminded of some other British '60s/'70s proto-metallers like Stray, High Tide, T2, and May Blitz, who were quite heavy but psych-pop catchy as well. Perhaps very early, very psychedelic Alice Cooper could be added to Uncle Acid's roster of influences too, we're thinking of the way the song "Ritual Knife" marries a pounding tribal beat and urgently chugging ominous riffery with glorious bursts of shining melody come chorus time.
One much more recent band that these guys also remind us of, is Swedish occult rock sensations Ghost, another act whose "pop side" is so effective as to possibly threaten their "metal cred" among the more closeminded. We'd also recommend Uncle Acid to fans of that other recent, equally retro stunner from Rise Above, Admiral Sir Cloudesley Shovell. And, like last week's Record Of The Week by Golden Void, this has that laidback classic sounding '70s psychrock vibe, immediately familiar, though Uncle Acid comes across as much more dark and sinister to be sure. And lastly, fans of Witchcraft should pay attention - we'd rank this up there with that band's celebrated Rise Above debut, we're pretty sure this is gonna be considered a classic too. We're sooooooo glad they didn't just press only those 300 vinyl copies and leave it at that!! You will be too.
This cd reissue includes a bonus track not on vinyl, which provides a nice coda to the record proper, relinquishing the fuzz guitar for acoustic strum and hand percussion, Uncle Acid doing their doom-pop-psych in a more folky style a la, say, Bolan's Tyrannosaurus Rex.
MPEG Stream: "I'll Cut You Down"
MPEG Stream: "Curse In The Trees"
MPEG Stream: "13 Candles"

album cover GLITTER WIZARD Hunting Gatherers (Captcha) lp 22.00
We thumbed up the spacey synthy glitter-glam garage retro not-really-metal of this SF band's Siltbreeze 7" a while back, but then somehow skipped over reviewing their subsequent full-length, and are even a little behind the times in getting to this new elope of theirs too, but that's ok 'cause the Glitter Wiz guys are also behind the times, or maybe way out futuristically in front, way out anyway, again using '60s and '70s rock inspirations like Deep Purple, Hawkwind, The Doors, Bloodrock, Black Widow, and Iron Butterfly to help formulate their super groovy, more wizardly-than-thou sound, one that's got lotsa synth, jamming electric organ, some flute and sax. Along with catchy riffs and amusing lyrics, often gleefully unserious ("I don't worship the Devil, the Devil worships me"). Our kind of entertainment!
There's one little hushed-folky-trippy-acoustic number, "Sunlit Wolves", but otherwise most of the trax are swaggering rockers, such as "Wizard Wagon" (about the singer's van, it would seem) which definitely has hit potential, in our world anyway. "Motorider" reminds us of both The Stooges and Steppenwolf, and when they get heavier on the 7+ minute "Space" it sorta sounds like an agitated Om with keyboards. Album-closer "Big Sur" also has that Om/Sleep vibe, due to the chant-like vox and slomo swinging plod. It's another long one, the longest here at close to 9 minutes, and so about half way through stops plodding and starts ripping and rollicking, reminding us more of early early Sabbath, like back when Sabbath covered Crow's "Evil Woman" on their first single. That said, though, mostly Glitter Wizard doesn't even seem all that heavy or metal or even proto-metal. They're retro-proto-proto-metal maybe? Definitely G. Wiz love their '60s sounds but do their own cool new thing with that, rather than going for some kind of Nuggets redux. For fans of Blood Ceremony (minus the female vox and much of the metal) and Danava and Mammatus when they do get heavy-ish.
Vinyl-only, goddamit. Maybe someday they'll realize that compact discs are more glittery and magical.
MPEG Stream: "Worship The Devil"
MPEG Stream: "Wizard Wagon"
MPEG Stream: "Big Sur"

album cover RABE, FOLKE What?? (Important) cd 14.98
We first heard this beautiful, hypnotic recording when it was reissued on compact disc back in 1997, on the Dexter's Cigar label that Jim O'Rourke used to do, via Drag City. It was one of the best Dexter's Cigar releases we remember, but sadly has been our of print for many years. But, we're certainly not the only folks to consider it a classic, as now Important has reissued it again on cd for those who missed it before. It's an album of minimalist electronics, sounding way ahead of its time, recorded in 1967 in the studio of Swedish Radio, Stockholm, by a young composer (and former jazz trombonist) named Folke Rabe. There's two tracks here, the second a half-speed (and thus, one octave lower) version of the first, for advanced exercises in drone-absorption. The first 25 minute version of "What??", originally released on vinyl by the Wergo label in 1970, consists of gentle, wavering drone-tones, shimmering blissfully, continually morphing, forming pulsating, fluttering "beats" as the various vibrations interact. The subtle shifts of these pulsations seem somehow to come into being from nowhere, even though your ears must be perceiving the gradual changes. This is active dronework, there's a lot going on here, over time, despite the "minimalist" tag. We suspect a Terry Riley influence on this piece, and not just because we know that Rabe was an associate of Bo Anders Persson, of Parson Sound/International Harvester/Trad Gras Och Stenar, also big Terry Riley fans.
Not that the first track by itself wouldn't be enough to transport you to drone nirvana with its pulsing shimmer and glimmer, but the second version of "What??" found here, 50+ minutes long, slower and lower, and if anything even more glowing, will REALLY send you into a trance!
It's so great to have this deceptively simple, but so effective, obscure avant-electronic classic back in print.
MPEG Stream: "What?? (version 1)"
MPEG Stream: "What?? (version 2)"

album cover GOLDEN VOID s/t (Thrill Jockey) cd 15.98
We first heard Golden Void, via their debut single on local label Valley King, and were immediately blown away, so much so that we could pretty much only muster up a bunch of wild gushing to explain how much we loved it. It went like this:
"Golden Void's sound is SO kick ass and SO hits the spot, totally heavy, hooky, groovy stoner rock, big riffs, lots of organ, soaring vocals, and yeah, of course some seriously shredding leads, totally catchy, a modern take on some mix of all your teenage faves, Kiss, Thin Lizzy, Skynrd, just totally rocking, laced with plenty of psychedelic swirl, and a distinctly laid back classic rock vibe. Also reminds us a LOT of aQ stoner rock faces Freedom Hawk, the A side of this here single, might be THEE rocking jam of the summer. And we're thinking that when these guys come out with a full length, we might just have us a new favorite record..."
Well, we pretty much called it, cuz these guys DO have a new record, and it most absolutely IS our new favorite, in fact, we got a copy a while back, even though it only just came out, and it has to be one of THEE most played records in the store, by pretty much everyone here, and almost every time we played it, customers in the store had to find out what it was, and more often than not, ordered themselves a copy.
So yeah, Golden Void is the new band from Earthless' Isaiah Mitchell, along with Camilla Saufley-Mitchell (his wife?) from Assemble Head In Sunburst Sound, as well as few other locals, and they have come up with easily the best retro rock, heavy psych record of the year. In addition to the above mentioned outfits, we hear plenty of Captain Beyond, Ozzy era Sabbath, Blue Oyster Cult, even Witchcraft, the sound is heavy and hooky, the songs good enough to actually BE classic rock tunes, not just sounding like them, had this record come out in 1976, we'd be hearing this shit on classic rock radio non stop. Sun baked and blown out, more mellow than metallic, very California-esque in its vibe, a totally classic, vintage seventies sound, right down to the recording, and again, the songs. We can't tell you how many bands have the sound nailed but not the songs, but every track here is perfect, and impossibly catchy, the sort of songs you'll have stuck in your head forEVER.
"Art Of Invading" starts things off, organ driven proto metal psychedelic radness, wild drumming, the vocals bathed in reverb, the sound stone-y and heavy, super dynamic, and it is Mitchell's band after all, so plenty of super melodic, wildly shredding leads. "Virtue" cranks things up a notch, and weirdly reminds us of the sort of sound that aQ faves Malachai were conjuring up in the studio, super heavy, riffy, laid back vox, and hooks galore, and the drumming, holy shit, crazy busy, but perfect for the song, which leads directly into "Jetsun Dolma", the slow groover of the record, the psychedelic ballad, that has a bit of an Allman Brothers vibe, laced with woozy swirls of washed out organ, and killer wah guitar.
It's at this point that the record gets REALLY good. Even better than the first half. "Badlands" might be our most played song on the record, with its churning organ heavy groove, crazy catchy chorus, and killer proggy breakdown midsong. Then come the two tracks from the Valley King single, which along with "Badlands", are absolutely the perfect retro psych heavy rock one-two-three punch. "Shady Grove" is the band at their poppiest, and sort of Southern rockiest, such a goddamn great song, and the main melody, especially when Mitchell solos off of it, untouchable. And then there's "The Curve", which might be even poppier, but is also heavier, some of us hear Kiss like crazy, but a smarter, heavier, more psychedelic version of Kiss, more killer guitar harmonies, and probably the catchiest leads on the whole record. There's also the bluesy breakdown midsong, which is so seventies, Mitchell lacing it with all sorts of subtle guitar shreddery, and then the slow build back to the main riff, pretty much impossible to resist headbanging or air guitaring or BOTH.
Finally, the record finishes off with "Atlantis", which might be the most psychedelic of the bunch, with its slithery main melody, and washed out vocals, the whole thing hazy and tripped out, but still heavy and groovy, slipping from the dense drum heavy verses, to the soaring swoonsome chorus, the two separated by a super cool angular guitar break. The second half of the track adds extra guitar shred, and a bit of sonic heft, before the music drops out, leaving just the vocals to fade out in a druggy haze.
Holy shit. Even after maybe a hundred listens, we're still not tired of this. Anyone into any of the above mentioned outfits, as well as obviously Earthless, Assemble Head, Comets On Fire, etc. will definitely lose their shit over these guys, as will most folks into heavy, hooky retro rock heavy psych radness, which we're guessing is probably a whole lot of YOU.
MPEG Stream: "Shady Grove"
MPEG Stream: "The Curve"
MPEG Stream: "Art Of Invading"
MPEG Stream: "Badlands"

album cover STINKING LIZAVETA The Seventh Direction (Translation Loss) cd 14.98
Aquarius-beloved, all-instrumental metal/jazz/punk/prog power trio Stinking Lizaveta just won't quit. Thank God. Year in and year out, they make genius records, tour tirelessly (playing to perhaps not excessively large but always extremely enthusiastic audiences - naturally, since they're one of thee BEST live bands you're ever gonna see!), and just keep getting better and better. They have a well-deserved cult following (folks you know who you are, of course you don't need to read this review, just know there's a new SL album and come get it!!) that should be getting bigger with every record and tour. This album, their lucky seventh, is especially representative of the band's dedication and will. 'Cause earlier this year, Stinking Lizaveta's badass drummer Cheshire Augusta was struck by a hit and run driver while riding her bicycle in the band's hometown of Philadelphia. Fortunately, she survived the accident but had to endure surgery and painful therapy. But did that stop her from completing this album, and going out on tour a few months later? No sir!
If you're not yet familiar with the magic of Stinking Lizaveta, what this telepathic trio can do with abundant energy, incredible chops, and endless creativity, well please pick this up and listen (also, go see 'em perform if you get the chance 'cuz as all who've seen 'em will acknowledge, no matter how good they are on album, live is even better). Along with drummer Cheshire, the brothers Yanni and Alexi Papadopoulos (on guitar and upright electric bass, respectively) bow to no one in terms of majestic math-metal musicianship, crafting tracks that somehow meld together classic rock bombast, atmospheric post rock vibes, and jazzier, noirish moodiness. Plenty of heaviness, but also so much feeling and emotion and lighter moments of great beauty. And of course, no singing, none needed! While every member of this tight unit are virtuoso players, special mention must be made of Yanni's sheer sinuous psychedelic guitar heroics and his ripping riffs galore. He's a master, of "we're not worthy" caliber. There's something downright spiritual about his tremulous, ecstatic playing - and the music of Stinking Liz in general.
Ok, that's (almost) enough superlatives. Let's just say that Stinking Lizaveta's eighteen years and counting career of kicking ass in their utterly unique fashion are fully embodied here. Heck this has a bunch of our favorite Stinking Liz jams on it yet. As always, we know their fans will want this, but we really want to induct more new folks into the Stinking Liz fanbase. So let's say, did you dig the latest Six Organs Of Admittance? Well try this out too, it takes certain instrumental elements of that to whole 'nother level. Or, how 'bout a cross between Golden Void and The Fucking Champs? Sound good? Here it is, but better! Then mix in both Black Sabbath and Dave Brubeck (RIP). Yup, if you can imagine, it's in here.
And once again, this boasts a powerful production job from Sanford Parker (the switch they made on their previous opus Sacrifice And Bliss, from longtime engineer Steve Albini to Sanford P was, as it turned out, a pretty good one). Though we said the live SL experience can't be really captured in a recording, this comes damn close, especially if you play it LOUD! Includes 2 cd-only bonus tracks.
MPEG Stream: "Z"
MPEG Stream: "Ten Thousand Hours"
MPEG Stream: "The Seventh Direction"

album cover CUT HANDS Black Mamba (Very Friendly) cd 17.98
When the first Cut Hands disc came out in 2011, we raved, saying "It's kind of insane, kind of incredible", and a year later we're still pretty obsessed with it. In hindsight we feel we should definitely have made it a Record Of The Week, just like this one. Not sure why we didn't, but maybe at the time we were taken so much by surprise, since it was the work of William Bennett, the Englishman best known for the misanthropic harsh noise of underground '80s outfit Whitehouse. But even those of us who don't care at all about Whitehouse, absolutely loved Cut Hands. It has a noise element, but also an "Afro" one. "Afro-Noise" instead of Industrial Noise. Meaning, intense rhythmic workouts utilizing authentic ethnic African hand drums, mixed with electronics and distortion, in the tradition of a (possibly fake) compilation he released some years before, called Extreme Music From Africa. Pretty original (excepting perhaps the "cultural appropriation" factor, which can be debated) and compelling and so incredibly well done. Really remarkable that the person famous (or infamous) being a seminal artist in the noise genre would, later in life, come up with something if not completely different, at least pretty darn different, and do it so well that we suspect Bennett could have a career with Cut Hands to rival the success of anything he did with noise terrorists Whitehouse. Bravo.
So, here at last is Cut Hands' follow-up full-length, named for an especially venomous snake, and we're excited, our appetite for this whetted also by having seen Cut Hands in person down the street at San Francisco's Elbo Room a couple months ago, on his US tour. When we went to that show, at first we were a bit disappointed that the stage wasn't covered with exhibits from Bennett's extensive collection of Congolese and Ghanaian hand percussion instruments to be played live, and instead it was evident that he was going to be performing like a techno DJ, mixing pre-recorded sounds from multiple laptop computers, all the while dancing spasmodically and ecstatically with his shirt open. But pretty soon we, and everybody else in the club, were completely enraptured and entranced, the frenzied rhythms invading our nervous systems. Sure, some of the people in the place were probably on drugs, but they didn't need 'em. When his set at a certain point devolved into a rhythm-less Whitehouse-like pure noise barrage, that broke the spell, but up 'til then were were, in a word, possessed. We were wondering if this new Cut Hands would go to that level, and have that same raw, quasi-techno sound to it, some of it does, but there's also lovely stretches of much mellower, if eerily sinister, ambient/drone drift here too. But for us, yes, it's about the beats, stunning, stuttering polyrhythmic tick-tockery, in and out of which Bennett weaves elements of distortion and noise to great effect. So it's a lot like the debut, only with the "almost machine-like intensity of the hand percussion" perhaps pushed to further extremes, but the harsh noise factor in fact toned down somewhat. Bennett's carefully constructed attacks of primal boom bap and metallic click-track chaos are powerfully "possessive", a pleasant sensation in combination with the more ambient, moody elements of this disc, of which there are plenty. Easy to understand why several tracks from this have already been utilized for cinematic soundtrack purposes (even for a documentary set in Siberia, oddly enough, didn't know they had voodoo cults up there). Very impressive and immersive, and highly recommended! (By the way, if you're a fan who has been desperately looking for the expensive, hard to find, Japan-only Cut Hands cd ep release that came out sometime last year: among the twelve tracks here you'll find all 3 songs from that ep, yay.)
MPEG Stream: "Black Mamba"
MPEG Stream: "Nzambi Ia Ngonde"
MPEG Stream: "No Spare No Soul"
MPEG Stream: "Krokodilo"

album cover FEASTER, PATRICK (AND VARIOUS ARTISTS) Pictures Of Sound - One Thousand Years Of Educed Audio: 980-1980 (Dust-To-Digital) cd+book 50.00
Dust-To-Digital are known for their excellent reissue work, unearthing and preserving music from scratchy old shellac 78 rpm recordings and the like. Bringing us vintage blues, gospel, Tuvan throat singing, and more, all with elaborate packaging and incredible attention to detail. They've been responsible for a host of fine cds, boxsets, and books, among 'em Victrola Favorites, Opika Pende, Steve Roden's I Listen To The Wind That Obliterates My Traces, and Goodbye, Babylon.
But THIS handsome book + cd set may be their most remarkable release yet, at least in terms of radical sound-conservation technique. It's certainly their most unusual. For example: one of the tracks here is an excerpt of an after-dinner speech given by late-19th century American orator and politician Chauncy M. Depew. You can listen to it on the cd, and distinctly make out the speaker's words, voice, and phrasing, amid a thick patina of hiss, hum, and distortion. Sounds like a poorly-preserved old gramophone disc. But, that sound isn't coming from the disc itself being played (and re-recorded for release on the cd). It's actually derived from a PICTURE of that disc, reduced by 2/3rds original size, that appeared in a 1898 magazine advertisement. The spiraling grooves on the record were pictured clearly enough that with creative use of off-the-shelf computer software, author Patrick Feaster was able to "play" a fairly accurate semblance of the sounds originally encoded on the gramophone record being advertised!!! Ok, that's pretty cool! Talk about DUST-to-Digital. And it's but one example of the MANY different, quite intriguing excercises and investigations in "playing back" sound from such antique and/or unusual "recordings" that Feaster and his colleagues at the First Sounds initiative have come up with, presented in fascinating detail in this fancy (gold gilt edges!), hardback 144-page book and accompanying 28-track compact disc.
Of course, one can argue, just what IS a "sound recording" anyway? In large part, that's what this is about; in fact, Feaster's introduction is devoted to that very question, which turns out to be both a philosophical one, as well as a technical one. Even in Feaster's expansive notion of the term, the idea that "sound recordings" exist from as far back as the year 980AD is perhaps a fanciful one, as he will admit, but still fruitful to consider.
Because, what this book is also about, more generally, is how human beings have sought to understand sound phenomena (from nature, voice, and music), through the ages, how sound has been "captured" and put on paper in graphical form to be perceived and studied visually. These visual representations of sound, are essentially all in the form of graphs of frequency, or amplitude, over time: sound spectrograms, sound oscillograms, phonoautograms, melographic inscriptions, manometric flame sketches, and many more. Various techniques, applied to various subjects. Found in these chapters and tracks, there's FBI voice-recognition studies from the '70s, phonophotographs of Negro spirituals from the '20s, and examples of Athansius Kircher's "Magia Phonotatica" circa 1650 (works which bring to mind Conlon Nancarrow's Studies For Player Piano), among others.
So, this is all very historically & scientifically interesting. Also, completely compelling just for the beauty of these images alone, which may or may not directly reflect the beauty of the sounds they represent - this is a lavishly illustrated book, with full-color reproductions of these various "sound recordings" to accompany the insightful text explaining it all. And the magic really happens, when you experience the book and cd in tandem, as each track on the cd, even the briefest, has an entire several-page chapter in the book devoted to it, and it really helps to read about and look at the visual sound source, while listening. Some tracks sound like antique recordings we're used to from wax cylinders and 78s, complete with the surface static we love so much; others like strange field recordings or ghostly experimental drones or balloons being rubbed together; still others like music boxes or similar devices…
This is the sort of unusual sound document to file with such aQ faves as the mysterious Ghost Orchid EVP recordings, the VLF recordings of Stephen McGreevy, or even the famed Conet Project (soon to be available again, with a bonus 5th disc!). In fact, one of the exhibits here, an 1890 phonoautogram by Emile Berliner, kind of reminds us of a Conet "numbers station" track, being a spoken series of numbers and letters recorded at varying speeds.
All in all, an astonishing, thought-provoking, and simply gorgeous book and cd, recommended to anyone interested in sound, science, OR art; meaning, probably everybody reading this!
MPEG Stream: "This Is A Sound Spectrogram"
MPEG Stream: "Scripture's Curves"
MPEG Stream: "Phonophotography"
MPEG Stream: "Numbers And Letters"
MPEG Stream: "Phonoautograms From 1857"
MPEG Stream: "Alleluia"
MPEG Stream: "Barcelonnette"

album cover NEPTUNE TOWERS Caravans To Empire Algol (Peaceville) cd 14.98
We love Fenriz. Not just cuz he's the drummer from legendary black metal duo Darkthrone, but cuz he's a funny, super opinionated, black metal mouthpiece, whose musical knowledge, especially when it comes to metal, but well beyond, are above reproach, and his related rants are hilarious. There's a reason they've been reissuing all the Darkthrone records with a second disc featuring Fenriz's 'director's commentary'. There's a reason he was the focus of the recent black metal documentary Until The Light Takes Us. And if you have the DVD, and there's a reason one of the bonus features is Fenriz in a classroom, with a bunch of blackboards, schooling the rest of us on the history/roots/development of black metal. But as we've discovered over the years, and as the above would attest to, Fenriz is not your normal black metaller. For one, he has a thing for techno, and electronic music as a whole, not to mention a bunch of other seriously non-metallic musics, one of which is spaced out kosmische synth music, a la Tangerine Dream, Klaus Schulze, Jean Michel Jarre.
Which resulted in a band mysteriously named Neptune Towers (aka Fenriz and only Fenriz), and a pair of records (with a third that was unreleased) woven together by some overarching sci-fi concept. Sure, by now, synth projects, well, everybody's got one, but in 1994, to have some underground black metal icon release a synth record, well, it was a bit shocking. But what was even more shocking, was how goddamn good they were. Listening to this stuff again now, if the circumstances were a bit different, Fenriz could have essentially been Expo 70 or Zombi neary two decades ago! Sure lots of metalheads probably have this or want it, but all the kids today into the whole retro Goblin / Carpenter kosmische synth axis, will be blown away to discover this slab of brooding, epic, droned out, synthscapery.
Caravans To Empire Algol is part one of Fenriz's Algol mythology, and is self described as "Deep Space Alien Astral Synth", which is pretty much right on the money. The cover featuring a red hued cloud of stars, some mysterious corner of the galaxy, the liner notes simply read: "Escape The Earth. Unlike many synthesizer/space releases, this album has no vocals or drums. This is purposefully in order to enable the listeners to keep 'both feet off the ground.' Vocals and drums are particularly earthbound instruments that would eclipse the mission of this disc. Escape the earth." The original liner notes further suggest that the record "will only reach their optimal goal when heard alone. NOT FOR COLLECTIVE LISTENING." And finally, "Only effectively listenable on large black stereos. Deep space awaits. Neptune Towers supports extinction of all organic life forms. NO TAKEOFF. NO LIFE." And while that may have been a bit tongue in cheek, the sounds here seem to back up those boisterous claims, unfurling a seriously chilling sprawl of isolationist drift, like the soundtrack for some planetarium light show, but an old crumbling planetarium, tucked away in the woods, seemingly abandoned, except for these strange sounds emanating, and instead of stars projected on the ceiling, the building has crumbled, leaving the listener to stare directly into the blackness of deep space.
Two epic tracks, the title track clocking in at 24:35, and its sonic sequel, the 12:39 "The Arrival At Empire Algol" closing out this first installment of our sonic journey. Thick sitar like buzz, droned out, and drifting above a hissing swirl of shimmer that seems to float from speaker to speaker, the sound occasionally building into something more distorted and crumbling, almost like SUNNO))) or some sort of black noise combo, but blurred and billowing, haunting and ominous, the sounds rough and raw, heavily textured, primitive and lo-fi, but somehow transcending their genesis and blossoming into something truly cosmic, a pulsing krautrock style synth throb just beneath the surface.
The vibe is murky and minimal, but also trancey and psychedelic, a serious slab of home brewed kosmische, akin to some kid building a time machine in his bedroom, it's like Fenriz tinkered with his crappy old synth, until it opened a portal to some other dimension, to the far reaches of the universe, and these are the transmissions that came pouring out. And while lots of synth music borders on the new agey, there's nothing wimpy about this, this is synth music that rattles your skull and loosens your bowels, it really does evoke some sort of otherworld, some journey into the unknowable, conjuring up not just the mysterious of the unknown, but the harrowing journey to get there.
About nine minutes in, the clouds part a bit, letting shards of prismatic melody shine through, giving the proceedings a celestial vibe, but soon it settles back into something much more haunting and ominous, long tones, unravelling over a softly swirling sea of tangled melodic murk, yet it remains still weirdly majestic, until the almost bombastic final minutes, dirgey, and distorted, but a groovy bassline that seems to lurk just below the surface throughout, which is what gives this a subtly krautrock feel, and that near the end is panned hard and swings from speaker to speaker, while the synths grind away, slipping back into the sitar like buzz of the opening few minutes.
The second track is much more minimal, the buzz pushed into the background, a low level insectoid hum draped over the glimmering sonic starfield, the feel here even more raw and primitive, a mad scientist concoction, the buried melodies, and delicate textures doused in lots of noise and hiss, and strange sonic artifacts, intentional or otherwise, most likely the limitations of the original synth/4-track set up, but those limitations become as much a part of the sound as anything else, all smeared into a washed out haze, rife with strange barely there melodies, keening feedback, buried percussive thumps, and layers of thick undulating low end whir, all of which eventually devolves into a blurry sprawl of flanged rumbles and melodic moans, all sprawled into an endless series of blackened swells, laced with strange little bits of electronic filigree, sent into the ether like some doomed sonic transmission.
So incredible. ANYONE who digs all the dark synth kosmische cinematic soundscaping that is going on today, will flip for this. Especially if you have a large black stereo to play it on. Comes with updated artwork, swank slipcover, and new liner notes from Fenriz, explaining the genesis of Neptune Towers, and exactly what happened to the lost third part of the Algol trilogy.
MPEG Stream: "Caravans To Empire Algol"
MPEG Stream: "The Arrival At Empire Algol"

album cover BORNGRABER & STRUVER Urlaub + In G (M=Minimal) cd 23.00
Maybe we've been going through a bit of a techno phase here at aQ lately, freaking out about the likes of Shed and Silent Servant, among others. For some of us here, it's waaaay more than a phase... And you know we love the krautrock. So Christian Borngraber & Jens Struver are just what the doctor ordered. The Berlin based duo (whom we first encountered remixing the late great Conrad Schnitzler) offer up what could arguably be considered "techno krautrock" on this disc, which collects together two of their vinyl 12" releases (still available separately, we got 'em), Urlaub and In G, originally from 2011 and 2010, respectively.
The three tracks of Urlaub are all quite compelling, rhythmically and otherwise, full of hushed pulsations and eerie echoing electronic hypnosis. There's the tremulous atmospheres of 16 and half minute opener "Reise". The icy dancefloor noir of "Berlin Tribal Music". And then the nearly 12 minute "Dancing Queen", which has a breathy, flute-like lick looping throughout as part of its happy chugging shuffle that we can't help but associate with early, traffic cone era Kraftwerk (gone disco). All of Urlaub is groovy, minimalist, motorik stuff we're really digging.
Maybe even better, and even more krautrockish, is the second half of this disc, In G parts I and II, totaling almost 32 minutes, a slow-building beatscape with whispery, wind-like textures and choppy samples of sweetly sawing strings. It's both haunting and groovy, quite a krauty techno tour de force that incorporates clicks n' cuts, drones, and pop ambient 20th century classical sounds. Wow. We note that it bears a dedication to revolutionary free jazz bassist Sirone.
In particular, if you liked a couple of other releases we've reviewed recently - Oren Ambarchi's Sagittarian Domain, and/or Elektro Guzzi's Live P.A. - this might be right up your alley. Recommended, of course!
MPEG Stream: "Reise"
MPEG Stream: "Berlin Tribal Music"
MPEG Stream: "In G - Part I"

album cover CAPTAIN BEYOND Sufficently Breathless (Capricorn) cd 5.00
**SALE **SALE* *SALE**
While Captain Beyond's 1972 debut was all about proggy proto-metal riffery, the group's quite different but equally classic 1973 follow-up, Sufficiently Breathless, is much less hard-edged, much more Malibu-mellow. Smoother, and spaced out. Indeed you could call it space rock, what with song titles/subjects like "Drifting In Space", "Starglow Energy" and "Distant Sun". It's a definitely trippy album, to match the very bizarre cover painting. But there's some riffage here all right too, with a bunch of the tracks, even including "Drifting In Space", having a rollicking, groovy energy to 'em. "Evil Men" kinda reminds us of Blue Oyster Cult, and also it - and a lot of the record - has a jazzy feel, with Latin percussion, a la Santana.
Our favorite track is probably the majestic and uplifting "Starglow Energy", a somewhat Floydian, New Agey hippie hypnotic bliss out. It's been a long time (since 1973, perhaps!) that an artist could do a song with a title like "Starglow Energy" and sound so sincere about it. Nope, they don't make 'em like this anymore.
So, compared to Captain Beyond's debut, the super stoned and sorta Santana-styled Sufficently Breathless isn't so much astral proto-metal, than, uh, maybe what we could call yacht-psych (?), but we still love it!
MPEG Stream: " Bright Blue Tango"
MPEG Stream: "Drifting In Space"
MPEG Stream: "Starglow Energy"

album cover ALICE COOPER Love It To Death (Warner Brothers) cd 5.00
**SALE **SALE* *SALE**
Here's another $5 sale cd that, well, you must buy if you don't have it already. An utter classic - albeit one of the many classics that came out in 1971. Probably the original Alice Cooper band's best album, though that's a tough call. A lot of folks mistakenly think of this as their debut, 'cause it featured their first big hit, the anthemic "I'm Eighteen". But while it was the debut of Detroit-era Alice, it was actually the group's third album, following the two somewhat weirder and artier, more Sgt. Peppery poppy psych ones they did for Frank Zappa's Straight label before they moved to Detroit from LA (those being Pretties For You and Easy Action, the reissues of which we made Records Of The Week here!).
Love It To Death is plenty psychedelic too, and weird, but also really established the band's hard rock bona fides. They heavied up when they moved to the Motor City it seems, delving into high energy Detroit rock action in the vein of the MC5 on "Long Way To Go" amongst others here - heck "I'm Eighteen" could easily be a Stooges song. It's the record too where the Alice Cooper shock rock horror show image really came into focus for the first time. It includes such creepy cuts as "Black Juju" and "Ballad Of Dwight Fry", also their curious cover of Rolf Harris' catchy "Sun Arise" from the early '60s to end the album and demonstrate it's not all darkness. We'll also mention "Caught In A Dream", "Is It My Body" and "Hallowed Be Thy Name", but every song here is great. This album belongs in our 1971 top ten for sure, which is no mean feat!
Note: filed under A, not C: singer Alice hadn't gone solo yet, and the original band is called Alice Cooper, dammit!
MPEG Stream: "I'm Eighteen"
MPEG Stream: "Is It My Body"
MPEG Stream: "Ballad Of Dwight Fry"

album cover BROWN, JAMES The Payback (Polydor) cd 6.00
**SALE **SALE* *SALE**
This could be the funkiest six dollars you ever spent. Payback came out in 1973 as a double album, making the most of those four sides of wax, its eight tracks for the most part consisting of sprawling, seemingly endless grooves that run for like 7, 8, 10, even 12+ minutes. There's a couple gorgeous soulful slow jams ("Doing The Best I Can", "Forever Suffering"); the rest are hard-hitting, extended, mesmeric funk workouts. All crammed full of oohs and unghs and squeals from James Brown, as he preaches it, rasping and rapping about real-world subjects like jobs, poverty, hunger, and inequality. And, of course, "Payback"! Also "Mind Power". What it is, and what it is. He gets immediate support, whenever he asks for it, from the funky horns of Fred Wesley and Maceo Parker and the rest. He's got a call-and-response thing going too with a bevy of sweet soul sister backup singers. Not to mention the always crucial drumbeats of John "Jabo" Starks. It's a groovy tour de force, 73 minutes of pure funk with the Godfather in charge. Payback was originally conceived as the soundtrack to the Blaxploitation film Hell Up In Harlem, but was rejected (!) believe it or not. Released on its own, it was a big success, and it's now a classic in the JB canon.
MPEG Stream: "The Payback"
MPEG Stream: "Take Some...Leave Some"
MPEG Stream: "Forever Suffering"

album cover V/A Bollywood Steel Guitar (Sublime Frequencies) 2lp 29.00
Happy day! This Sublime Frequencies fave, sadly out of print on cd for a couple years now, has at long last been pressed to VINYL! As usual with SF stuff, the vinyl especially, limited and in demand. As it should be (in demand that is), 'cause it's such a great listen. Here's what we said when we first reviewed the original cd version, back on list #289...
Just from the title alone, we knew that this latest installment in the always-amazing Sublime Frequencies series of unusual and under-documented "world music" recordings was gonna be the bomb! Indeed it is. The 'exotic' and infectious verve of vintage Bollywood film soundtrack music, performed with electric steel guitar as lead instrument for extra awesomeness, is hard to beat! The steel guitar, bringing with it the groovy twang of Western Swing and Hawaiian fret-sliding flavor, as well as a measure of classical Indian music, easily effects an emotive echo of the human voice that ordinarily fronts Bollywood themes. Compiler Stuart Ellis' informative liner notes describe these instrumental pop versions of Hindi film hits as the "elevator music of India" and if that's the case, we'd definitely rather be stuck in an elevator in Mumbai than anywhere else. There's 21 rare tracks by a half dozen masterful Bollywood steel string slingers: Van Shipley, Kazi Aniruddha, S. Hazarasingh, Sunil Ganguly, Charanjit Singh (of Ten Ragas To A Disco Beat fame!), and Guatam Dasgupta, recorded between 1962 and 1986.
A completely captivating collection, already one of our favorites among the many great Sublime Frequencies releases. And probably it should be no surprise that, for example, Van Shipley's "Jan Pahechan Ho" from the 1966 film Gunaam immediately gives us Sun City Girls flashbacks...
MPEG Stream: VAN SHIPLEY "Jan Pahechan Ho"
MPEG Stream: KAZI ANIRUDDHA "Piya Tu Ab To Aja"
MPEG Stream: SUNIL GANGULY "Are Diwano Mujhe Pehchano"

album cover BONGRIPPER Great Barrier Reefer (Emetic) cd 13.98
We've long been fans of these Midwestern instrumental psychedelic drug obsessed doom dirge heavies, their Satan Worshipping Doom record was a huge seller around here, the first time around a couple years back, but we could barely keep the recent reissue of that record in stock either. The doom fans around here went to great lengths to track down every single one of their (mostly self released) cd-r's, and ever since we've done what we could to get enough to review/list, so the rest of you could revel in Bongripper's gloriously tranced out heavily psychedelic drugdoom epics.
Thankfully, it seems as if there's a Bongripper reissue campaign afoot, the aforementioned Satan Worshipping Doom a few weeks back (we're hoping Hate Ashbury and Hippie Killer will be reissued soon too!), and now the even more awesomely titled The Great Barrier Reefer, a sprawling, epic nearly eighty minute psych-doom tripout that most definitely gives Sleep's Jerusalem / Dopesmoker a run for its single-track-stoner-metal money. But unlike the more Sabbath beholden heaviness of Sleep, Bongripper ditch the vox, and spend a lot of time locked into tranced out repetition, just check out the first EIGHT minutes, which is spent drifting along, a muted, cyclical strum, mesmerizing and stripped down, beneath a subtly garbled, effected sample of a preacher, the result is seriously creepy, and it's easy to forget this is in fact a doom record, but eventually, the band kicks in, exploding into a droned out dirge, crumbling downtuned riffage, and blown out drum pound, the band lacing their metallic churn with spidery melodies, loads of texture, streaks of feedback, the guitars deviating from the main riff BIG time, splintering into weird angular fragments, or woozy looped strums, drifting over smears of distorted buzz and slithery basslines, the sound shifting from head caving pummel, to dark droney muted metal mesmer, to intricate tangled mathiness, and we're still only 25 minutes in!
The sound is in constant flux, at times it sounds nearly improvised, the band spiraling into weird stretches of near kosmische drift (albeit, still swaddled in crumbling buzz), or hazy almost classic rock sounding clean guitar dirgery, rife with slippery slide guitar melodies, channeling the Allman Brothers or maybe recent aQ faves Blackwolfgoat, weaving a sort of FX flecked droney riffscape, a little bit twangy, a little bit psychedelic, backwards guitars swooping in the background, beneath a cloud of echo drenched harmonics, fading out to near silence, before bursting into a massively heavy chug-fest, that over the course of the remaining 25 minutes lurches from grinding heaviness, to weirdly melodic poppiness, to tarpit sludge, before finishing off with a stretch of washed out feedback, and detuned slo-mo bass buzz.
Fuck yeah. Super psychedelic eye popping cover art too, much like the crazy cover of Satan Worshipping Doom, although this time featuring some sort of underwater sci-fi tentacled monsterscape!
MPEG Stream: "Great Barrier Reefer (Excerpt 1)"
MPEG Stream: "Great Barrier Reefer (Excerpt 2)"
MPEG Stream: "Great Barrier Reefer (Excerpt 3)"

album cover TEITANBLOOD Woven Black Arteries (Ajna) cd ep 8.98
Brand new cd ep from this Spanish black metal duo, which pairs the single track from their one sided Purging Tongues 12" (which was so limited we only got 1 copy), along with a new unreleased track, just two songs, but they're long ones, the shorter just shy of 12 minutes, the longer 15+. And these guys waste no time, after a few seconds of creepy intro music, the band EXPLODE into a dense wall of pulverizing blacknoize, the riffs so frenzied and distorted they blur into thick streaks of filthy buzz, the drumming fast and furious, but also weirdly recorded, with the toms sounding like a drum machine, drifting to the surface amidst the group's blackened squalls, sounding like some weird eighties programmed rhythms, everything tangled up into a churning, roiling black hole of sound, dense and noisy and chaotic, freeform and seriously psychedelic. Without headphones, this might almost sound like some blackened Merzbow, or more metallic Masonna, but close listening reveals all sorts of crazy stuff going on beneath the surface, intricate arrangements, bellowed vokills, tripped out FX, the aforementioned drumming, it's not until nearly 5 minutes into the first track, that the blown out blacknoise abates, and the band switch gears, launching into a doomy, but equally noisy, death dirge, a chugging blast of doomnoise heaviness, that soon erupts right back into the frantic blackened noisiness of the first few minutes. And then the leads come in, it just adds a whole 'nother layer of psychedelic chaos to the proceedings.
The second track lets its intro stretch out a bit more, strange Spanish voices over haunting ominous cinematic drones, and when the band kicks in, they seem to just play over the intro, the result a super tripped out swirl of collaged noisiness, until the song coalesces into some of the densest black buzz we've heard in ages, the sort of furious blasting, that seems constantly on the verge of total collapse, a barely restrained chaos, channeled into fierce black energy, and somehow, midway through, the band crank it up even more, the sound growing MORE psychedelic, MORE noisy, almost like multiple songs playing at once, a swirling tangle of black buzz that devolves into another sprawl of chugging dirgey heaviness, accompanied by that mysterious voice from the beginning of the song, resulting in what sounds like the scariest, noisiest obscure horror movie soundtrack EVER, right down to the tolling bells and grimly cinematic outro.
MPEG Stream: "Sanctified Dysecdysis"
MPEG Stream: "Purging Tongues"

album cover FUSHITSUSHA Mabushii Itazura Na Inori (Heartfast) cd 29.00
Happy days for fans of Fushitsusha! Japanese guitarist and vocalist Keiji Haino's legendary "out-rock" unit is back in action, after a long hiatus. First, a few months back, in the spring, there was the unexpected appearance of a new Fushitsusha cd, Hikari To Nazukeyo, with Mitsuru Nasuno on bass and Ikuro Takahashi on drums. And now, already, before the fall, a follow up, from the same lineup, on the same label! (And that's not to mention the several other excellent Fushitsusha-like improv trio releases that Haino's done recently with drummer Oren Ambarchi and either Jim O'Rourke or Stephen O'Malley on bass.) Yep, happy days indeed. This new disc from Fushitsusha, Mabushii Itazura Na Inori, pretty much takes up where the previous one left off. It even looks quite similar, the digipack cover's color scheme a darker, bluer blue mottled with metallic silver. Beautiful. And again, it consists of several relatively short tracks, by Fushitsusha standards, six of them in 55 minutes.
The five minute plus opening cut is a moody, bass-heavy intro to the darkness of this disc, featuring haunting vocals from Haino that are far more gentle than his usual yelps can be… it reminds us a bit of the final track on the Nazoranai disc he did with Ambarchi and O'Malley. This one gets into a fantastic, deep, droning, monk-like moan-zone (with perhaps overdubs involved??) that makes what comes next seem even more striking and extreme - the second track on the disc being an eleven minute session of stark skronk. The rhythm section traffics in tumbling, disjointed skitter, underpinned by thumping thudding bass. Haino hovers close to the mic, unburdening his soul in sudden brief outbursts, accompanied by his scrabbling, stab-in-the-heart electric guitar-shards… it builds and builds with subtlety; initially the jarring blurts and blasts of distortion slice into and out of near silence, but eventually the elements come closer and closer together in a dense web of claustrophobic, controlled chaos. 'Tis tangled, tweaked, terror-inducing. Whew! And that's just track two, there's plenty more in store on the rest of the disc, following the same sort of hallucinatory, counter-intuitive "free rock" (that's more free, than rock) style, one that's seemingly all about attack and decay. Some of this is Fushitsusha at their most Starfuckers-ish, so abstract and intense and precise, all encompassing, indescribable, and a little bit insane. And it's emotionally effecting via the sheer sonics alone, without any Japanese-to-English translation of Haino's whisper-to-a-scream lyrics.
Once again, we won't overdo it with the exposition, 'cause you probably know if you want this (like, if you already own Hikari To Nazkeyo). The uninitiated, we won't expect to get into the unique avantgarde wonders of Haino & Fushitsusha via a $29 import disc - not when there's some other, more affordable entry points, just ask us. But fans, we've got what you want...
MPEG Stream: "track 1"
MPEG Stream: "track 2"
MPEG Stream: "track 4"

album cover WITCHCRAFT Legend (Nuclear Blast) cd 15.98
Yay, at long last (five years!) the return of our/your/everyone's favorite Swedish retro-proto-metallers, Witchcraft! With this, their fourth album, they've moved on from their previous label Rise Above to a new home on bigger label Nuclear Blast. They've also altered their lineup quite a bit, though of course mainman Magnus Pelander remains at the mic (though he's not playing guitar anymore, for some reason, concentrating solely on vocals). Going through changes… without changing -too- much, as far as us listeners are concerned, thankfully. Even with a new drummer and two new guitarists, this still sounds of a piece with the Witchcraft of olde, certainly in part due to the distinctive, emotive, melodic vocal stylings of Pelander. We just love his voice, and he puts on a great performance here. He's got flair, the whole band does.
Musically, Legend is maybe a bit more modern and slickly produced than previous Witchcraft outings, and certainly they didn't get rawer or heavier, no. The direction they took was onwards and upwards. But the influence of such vintage greats as Black Sabbath and Pentagram hasn't exactly waned, though nowadays we'd be more likely to describe Witchcraft as being their own psychedelic, doomy, melodic, proggy, heavy rock thing. Good meaningful music, well played, with lots of both light and shade - lumbering riffs, lovely vox, great guitarwork… Now, someone here thought that this new Witchcraft showed signs of being "success rock", whatever that means, and someone else here (Andee) thought some of it sounded a bit like Queens Of The Stone Age (meant, he assured us, as a compliment!), and yeah sure this is perhaps geared to appeal to a bigger audience than the record collecting '70s downer rock nerds that Witchcraft themselves once were (and heck, still are - after all, the likes of "Dystopia" here sounding like something off of one of Sabbath's final few Ozzy-era albums like Never Say Die). But, whatever. At the risk of sounding snobby, very few bands who get big are really all that great, but Pelander and Witchcraft definitely deserve all their success, so we won't hold it against 'em. Longtime Witchcraft fans, you have nothing to worry about, listen to "It's Not Because Of You" ferinstance and tell us that it doesn't sound like it coulda been on The Alchemist or Firewood. Once again, we're happily enscorcelled by this Witchcraft - and hope it won't be another five years between albums, again!
Domestic vinyl version coming out later in October, fyi.
MPEG Stream: "It's Not Because Of You"
MPEG Stream: "Ghosts House"
MPEG Stream: "Democracy"

album cover SENSATIONS' FIX Music Is Painting In The Air (RVNG) 2cd 16.98
Hurrah! We've long been waiting for the opportunity to list something by Italy's Sensations' Fix. A long time ago, we encountered their debut album Fragments Of Light (1974) and were immediately smitten (it also was a great "secret weapon" to use whenever we were called upon to DJ a set of vintage psych/prog music or what have you). But reissues of anything by this spacey synth-based '70s trio have been seemingly impossible to find. We were excited, however, not too long ago when the Emeralds-approved Spectrum Spools label added a vinyl reissue of the 1975 solo album by Sensations' Fix leader Franco Falsini to their catalog of amazing unearthed cosmic electronic artifacts. That record, Cold Nose, or Naso Fredo, we described (well, raved about) as a gorgeously cinematic longform take on psychedelic new age music, a spiralling composition of EMS and Moog washes and floating guitar lines that reminds us of krautrock legends Michael Rother and Manuel Gottsching, with stratospheric guitar leads over organically pulsating synth treatments, constantly shifting and shimmering. Sounds good right?
That brings us to this very welcome archival double cd (or triple lp) set released on the obscure electronics oriented RVNG label, featuring 30 tracks taken from Falsini's tape vaults, including several alternate mixes of material from Cold Nose, alongside alternate versions of songs that appeared on all five albums released by his band Sensations' Fix circa 1974-77. Plus a number of previously unreleased tracks from those recording sessions as well. Sensations' Fix and Falsini recorded everything in a home studio, on a TEAC 3340 4-track machine, so fortunately Falsini still has access to all these productions and was able to personally select and mix the tracks for this RVNG anthology release. Especially fortunate considering that apparent record label business BS has thus far prevented the individual, original Sensations' Fix albums themselves from coming out again under Falsini's guidance, though we can still hope for full reissues someday. Regardless, this is a wonderful and extensive sonic glimpse into the spacey output of Sensations' Fix, if occasionally therefore somewhat lo-fi.
The blissfulness of Cold Nose is too part of the Sensations' Fix sound, but also there's some krauty rock grooves (some sampled by DJ Shadow, we learned from the liner notes) alongside the electronic-based driftworks. And they have a quite lovely "pop" side to 'em too - while mostly instrumental, some tracks do have gentle, Robert Wyatt-ish singing to go with the hazy, meandering, meditative atmospheres. It's definitely not the usual sort of quasi-operatic, over-the-top, classically influenced Italian prog that we're used to (and love), from bands like Il Balletto Di Bronzo, Le Orme, or Osanna, no. Also fairly far from the sinister soundtrack funk of Goblin. Rather, Sensations' Fix have more in common with the kosmiche krautrock electronics of the era, and also may have indeed been influenced by the Canterbury sound of bands like the Soft Machine, so one Italian prog act we could compare them to would be Picchio Dal Pozzo. We could also compare 'em to a kinder, gentler version of Richard Pinhas & Heldon, from France, with a similar futuristic co-mingling of synth (MiniMoog) and effected guitar, for sure.
Music Is Painting In The Air is handsomely packaged, with a booklet full of those aforementioned liner notes presented in both English and Italian, written by RVNG's Joshua da Costa (who like us was also smitten by Fragments Of Light when he first heard it) and Franco Falsini himself. These notes, while not removing all the mystery of Sensations' Fix, reveal much interesting information... like that prior to SF, Falsini was in a "space-blues" band called Flying with Dave Anderson of Hawkwind & Amon Duul. Or that their debut Fragments Of Light actually consisted of basement demos recorded not in Florence Italy, but Alexandria, Virginia, where Falsini had temporarily moved with his wife, who was American. Which is where Falsini found SF's drummer, also an American, and also the guy who turned him on to LSD...
MPEG Stream: "Fragments Of Light"
MPEG Stream: "Cold Nose Part 3, Movement 5"
MPEG Stream: "Moving Particles"
MPEG Stream: "Crossing Berlin"

album cover V/A Yee-Haw! The Other Side of Country (QDK / Normal) lp 17.98
From the same label that released the three volumes (so far) of the wonderful "Love, Peace, & Poetry" international '60s psych compilation series, comes this new collection focusing on, uh, abnormal country music of the psychedelic era? Or as the label explains it: "There is another side of Country. All North American music from the the late '60s & '70's which just don't fit with a normal country & western release." Hmm, that's a kinda broad description -- and so you'll find a lot of stuff on this compilation that you wouldn't normally think of as "country music". But it *is* all "Americana" if you accept that as a musical genre, stuff that can be described as folky, countryish, sometimes gospel derived, all very unique and lonely and obscure music recorded by American artists between 1968 and 1980 (mostly circa '68 to '73). These are people who make Gram Parsons, Skip Spence, and Lee Hazlewood seem like household names. It's hard to pick out favorites, 'cause everything on here is pretty great, but I guess some of the highlights would include the two tracks taken from Peter Grudzien's weird 'homo-country' 1973 album "The Unicorn" (the bent & hilarious "White Trash Hillbilly Trick" and the lovely string-pickin' romp "The Lost World"), the psych-pop of "Country Girl" by hippie outfit Maitreya Kali, the freaky, almost-scary "Kill The Pig" by incredibly-named Mother Tuckers Yellow Duck, the Elvis/Tom Jones vocal stylings of the talented Arlie Neaville, and "Piledriver", a loungey ode to a mythic female trucker by Dennis the Fox. Also featured: Spur, Palmer Rocky, William C. Beeley, Alex Kubelin, The Bluebird, Weird Herald, Fresh Blueberry Pancake, Flying Circus, The Wilson McKinley, Kevin Vicalvi, Merrell Fankhauser, and Greenwood, Curley & Clyde. A great comp indeed, full of strange and beautiful stuff you wouldn't otherwise get to hear. The only real bummer about this is the lack of detailed liner notes, leaving many of the above names as intriguing mysteries. (All that's provided is an amusing Arlie Neaville ancedote from songwriter Jim Cuomo.) Recommended.
MPEG Stream: PETER GRUDZIEN "White Trash Hillbilly Trick"
MPEG Stream: KEVIN VICALVI "Lover Now Alone"
MPEG Stream: MOTHER TUCKER'S YELLOW DUCK "Kill The Pig"

album cover MUNDY, MARC s/t (Companion) cd 14.98
We really like this album, but went through a few phases in appreciating it. First off, when we heard about it, we were like, cool! This first-time-on-cd reissue of an extremely obscure, self-released 1971 LP checks out pretty well, on paper: it was a one-off record of tragic love songs done in late '60s psych pop style written and recorded by a teenager from Cyprus recently relocated to New York City. Heck, Middle Eastern psych, we can't get enough! But when we actually heard it, at first it was a little hard to get past how odd it sounded -- it wasn't quite what we were expecting. Marc Mundy's voice and lyrics eventually charmed us, but it's easy to see why he never make it big on the pop charts in the USA, with his foreign accent and amateur (but decent) singing skills. Then there's his lyrics, written in English, which perhaps explains how awkward his turns of phrase can be -- though again, in the end we found ourselves marveling at his heartfelt, heartbreak poetry. Such lyrics as "baby I love your lips / when they're wet with wine and desire / I love your hair / when it is messed up in the wind / baby I love your arms / when your soft, warm flesh touches mine / I love your eyes / when the lovelight lies / not for me the cold, calm kiss of a virgin / not for me / the bless of a saint..." might at first seem like typical love song stuff, but not really... coupled with his so-sincere delivery, Marc's words will find their way closer to your soul than most pop music lyrics ever do. Maybe it's the atypical metaphors, situations and stories that crop up in his songs, some of which must be inspired by the Mediterranean/Middle Eastern folk songs he'd heard in his youth.
For example, "How Can I Marry This Language" is about a father refusing to allow his daughter to marry the song's narrator, in language that he (the frustrated narrator/suitor) can't even understand. It's actually (intentionally, we think) humorous, which isn't the case with most of the sad, melancholic material on this album! Another track, "The Tragic House", is about an empty, abandoned house where the narrator's love used to live, before she vanished to who knows where, or why. Yup, super sad and melancholic. There's definitely lots of stuff on here if you ever need material for a breakup mix tape!! "Our Love Can Never Be", "Give Up Your Pride", "I'm Crying Your Name", "Don't Love Me Anymore", and others...
Yet despite the sadness, these songs percolate along, Marc taking the melodic lead on vocals and guitar, accompanied by a now-anonymous band of musicians, sounding vaguely exotic while also of its time and place (the Greenwich Village coffeehouse folk-rock scene, also home to The Devil's Anvil you'll recall). Ethereal female backing vocals also add to the lovely moodiness...
This reissue is one of those wonderful finds you've got to thank some obsessed collector for, and comes complete with lyric sheet and new liner notes. And it's fully authorized by Marc, whom we're told gave up on music as a career soon after this album was originally released and now lives back on Cyprus, teaching school (and hopefully not still pining for lost loves!).
MPEG Stream: "How Can I Marry This Language"
MPEG Stream: "Don't Love Me Anymore"

album cover ANGEL 'IN HEAVY SYRUP s/t (Subterranean Records) cd 12.98
Angel 'In Heavy Syrup were an all female Japanese psychedelic rock trio who flourished in the '90s, as you may know. We were always big fans, and a bunch of us here still consider ourselves lucky to have seen these girls live at the Kilowatt in SF, when they came over to play in the US one time in the mid '90s - an amazing show. The group released 4 albums, plus a "best of" compilation, but we had only ever reviewed their last one, IV, 'cause their other three albums proper pretty much predated our aQ list. And we thought they were all out of print, most of 'em having been released by the now sadly defunct Japanese label Alchemy. But, recently we discovered that one our suppliers still has copies - while they last - of the 1992 domestic US edition of Angel 'In Heavy Syrup's self-titled debut!!! Good news for any fan of the band who's been looking for it for years, but also good news for ANYONE who would enjoy some absolutely gorgeous, melodic and moody tripped out psych rock. It's a mix of dreamy balladry and all-out storms of distortodelic heaviness, breathy female vocals and swirling psych-guitar solos. The Angel 'In Heavy Syrup girls had their melancholic, timeless sound dialed in from the get-go, and there are two (uncredited) covers on here that help illuminate some of their vintage influences - the first a pretty one called "Why Don't You Take A Sight-Seeing Bus With Me?" written by Japanese folk chanteuse Morita Doji (familiar to fans of Angel 'In Heavy Syrup / Hijokaidan / Subvert Blaze side project Slap Happy Humphrey), the other being "Underground Railroad" by great US sixties garage psych act The Lollipop Shoppe (aka Fred Cole's band long before Dead Moon!).
This US version of Angel 'In Heavy Syrup's debut also comes with a lengthy bonus track not found on the original 1991 Japanese Alchemy edition, the nearly 12 minute epic "Crazy Blues", taken from Taste Of Wild West 3, an incredibly rare 1990 compilation that also featured the Boredoms, Omoide Hatoba, Solmania, Hijokaidan, Incapacitants, and UFO Or Die.
A highly recommended find, for sure! (Also - interesting to note how much more seemingly solid and sturdy both jewel cases and compact discs themselves were made 20 years ago, compared to nowadays.)
MPEG Stream: "S.G.E (Space Giant Eye)"
MPEG Stream: "Why Don't You Take A Sight-Seeing Bus With Me?"
MPEG Stream: "My Dream"

album cover MANILLA ROAD Invasion (Shadow Kingdom) cd 13.98
Here's a brand new official cd reissue of the 1980 debut from Manilla Road, the epitome of obscure, epick, eccentrick metal! The band that San Francisco metal faves The Lord Weird Slough Feg can't avoid being compared to all the time (not because Manilla Road were actually an influence, they weren't, but because both bands, as traditionally metal as they are, can be so gosh darn weird). And this here is doubtless among the weirdest of the whole screw-loose Manilla Road discography.
Though the production (and the cover art) is oh so low-budget and lo-fi, the band's imagination certainly wasn't limited. These guys were into Rush, Hawkwind, Hendrix, Black Sabbath, Motorhead - and dosing on LSD and reading pulp fantasy fiction. And, in these early days, they were bound by no "traditional" metal blueprints (or, for that matter, commercial considerations). Heck Iron Maiden wasn't even an influence until at least their second album, 1982's bluntly-titled Metal (which we expect Shadow Kingdom to reissue eventually as well). So Manilla Road were free to blend psych and prog and hard rock and whatever else into what they considered to be "epic space-metal".
And then there's the love 'em or hate 'em vocals of guitarist Mark "The Shark" Shelton - growling, soaring, dramatic and outlandish, ranging all over these songs, whether they be riffy and rockin', or epic and theatrical. And his guitar does the same. Quirky, pioneering, pure underground metal (or, proto-metal) indeed. About as underground as it gets. Now most folks aren't gonna like this, we'll admit right now, but a select few will - and if you're already like Manilla Road, or the aforementioned Slough Feg, or Cirith Ungol or Brocas Helm, or are perhaps just into retro, ridiculous, unashamed rock n' roll, that might be you. There's just an infectious zeal to these proceedings that I for one can't deny.
This record includes one of Manilla Road's most hot rockin' tracks, "Street Jammer", a song that's been covered by both Slough Feg (on their Hardworlder album), and lo-fi black metal horde Wormsblood (on their In The Stars cd-r).
MPEG Stream: "Far Side Of The Sun"
MPEG Stream: "Street Jammer"

album cover WOODS Bend Beyond (Woodsist) cd 13.98
When we reviewed the most recent 7" from sunshiney lo-fi twang-flecked indie pop combo Woods, we finished with saying how we couldn't wait for the full length, and thankfully, we only had to wait a matter of weeks, and we are not at all disappointed. The A side from that single shows up here of course, so it might be worth revisiting that review, since in a way it's essentially an overview of this whole record. Anyway, here's what we had to say about the track "Cali In A Cup":
"Maybe the catchiest most perfectly poppy jam we've heard from Woods yet, driven by reverbed harmonica and dreamy falsetto vox, the whole song is fantastic, and it's got one of those choruses that will stick in your head forEVER."
Indeed! And listening to that track again now, it sounds just as good as it did when we first threw on the single. The funny thing is, the record starts out with a much different vibe, the title track is a sort of ominous chunk of Neil Young-ish psychedelia, all minor keys, wah wah guitars, very seventies, but the thing about Woods is, they manage to make it sound crazy catchy ANYway, with a chorus to die for, and one that is surprisingly melodic considering how dark the rest of the song is. But it works, and it's a weird, but cool, transition from that, to "Cali In A Cup".
And while much of the record tends toward the sunshiney jangle, there is plenty of darkness, and a surprisingly heavy psych streak, not to mention a knack for some seriously perfect pop, plus band don't shy away from experimentation, "Cascade" is a tripped out instrumental, all burbling FX and thick chugging bass, beneath spidery guitars, and swirls of noise, "Find Them Empty" is some heavy organ driven psych rock that fans of groups like Spyrals and Wooden Shjips will freak out over, "Lily" is a sweet slab of orchestral baroque pop, and closer "Something Surreal" is some seriously dreamy sixties style psychedelic pop. Maybe the best Woods record yet, which is saying a lot considering how much we dug the other ones!
MPEG Stream: "Cali In A Cup"
MPEG Stream: "Bend Beyond"
MPEG Stream: "Cascade"
MPEG Stream: "Find Them Empty"
MPEG Stream: "Something Surreal"

album cover OSANNA L'Uomo / Milano Calibro 9 (Warner Music Italy) cd 14.98
Yay! The two albums on this two-fer cd have been out of print and unavailable for too long, considering that they're two of our faves in the realm of prog rock craziness, the first two from Italian '70s proggers Osanna. Nice to have 'em back in one handy, inexpensive-for-an-import package (though, the no-frills graphic design of the digipak leaves something to be desired, wish they would have included full-sized album art, for one thing).
"Allan and Andee's all time favorite prog band", is how we boldly described Osanna in our review of another Italian prog rock fave, Il Balletto Di Bronzo. Ok, even limiting our discussion to the realm of Italian prog, it would be difficult to claim that Osanna are objectively better than the also amazing likes of Il Balleto, Le Orme, Area, New Trolls, Franco Battiato, Goblin, I Teoremi, RDM, Museo Rosenbach, etc. But, Osanna do somehow combine the key elements of what we like about those bands and prog in general into these three crazy, colorful records, and thus deserve our hype. Ripping flute and sax solos, heavy psych guitar, powerful vocal choruses, hard rockin' prog drumming, weird musical changes and juxtapositions, electronic synth experimentation... Catchy, fun, fucked up prog from five nutty Italians, who want to rock out as much as be arty and display their adept musicianship.
The wonders of Italian prog have been revealed to us in a gradual process of discovery - finding a used cd with a cool cover, or reading somewhere about another strange band, or getting a recommendation from a friend or customer. Neither of us grew up in Italy, or had a geeky older brother to hand down his PFM and Goblin lps. In the case of Osanna, Andee's the one who came across 'em first, while travelling in Japan, actually. Rather randomly, the guy from the Boredoms-meets-St. Vitus doom/trance band Solar Anus (released on Andee's tUMULt label) gave Andee a tape of Osanna to take home, promising him he'd like it. Well, Solar Anus dude knew whereof he spoke! Soon we were on-line, trying to track down the LPs, or cd reissues. Not long thereafter, Andee and Allan both possessed the complete works of Osanna. Ever since we've been super psyched to share our Osanna-excitement with you, our prog-lovin' customers... Actually we hope that self-proclaimed "prog" dedication is not necessary for enjoyment of Osanna, as we think that these discs are good and weird and silly enough for aQ-customers into whatever sort of musical extremity (experimental, krautrock, psych, metal, classic rock) to dig.
Osanna's 1971 (!!!) debut L'Uomo may be the most song-oriented of their albums, their Crimson and Tull influences easy to spot. They sound a bit like a proggier, Italian version of Mexican contemporaries Dug Dugs, if that's of any help - equally into weird psychedelic effects, hard rock, and pop. A couple of the poppier songs are sung in English, and those might result in a few uncomfortable moments of "what am I listening to here?" panic. But the sheer exuberance and fuzzed out riffing of L'Uomo as a whole can't be argued with!
Then, the second Osanna album, from '72, was a soundtrack to a film called Milano Calibro 9. Working in collaboration with arranger Luis Bacalov, who is also known for his work with the New Trolls' symphonic efforts, this album incorporates strings, piano, and classical motifs. And, as befits a film soundtrack, many moods are touched upon... We don't know what the movie was all about, but it must have featured a fair amount of action, and trippy scenes. Osanna come up with super bombastic themes, high-energy instrumental freak-outs, suspenseful bits of jazziness, pretty vocal interludes, bleepy-bloopy synth fx, heavy electronic organ riff-drone, and the most heavy metal flute soloing you've ever heard. Totally kick ass. Osanna, you rock. Goblin was never this heavy.
MPEG Stream: "Mirror Train"
MPEG Stream: "Non Sei Vissuto Mai"
MPEG Stream: "Preludio"
MPEG Stream: "Tema"

album cover ROSALY, FRANK Centering And Displacement (Utech) lp + cd 19.98
This new vinyl (+cd) release from the consistently winning experimental label Utech comes from an artist we weren't previously familiar with, by the name of Frank Rosaly. We think he's based in Chicago, but aren't even sure about that. And it's a little hard to describe his music, as documented here, but we'll try, 'cause as soon as we heard this record, we could tell it was right up our alley. There's two long tracks here, about 15 minutes per side, apparently created/composed using a highly conceptual process, yet the results are much more than of academic interest, they're quite compelling and original, we think any adventurous listener will agree. Utech somewhat drily describes the genesis of Centering And Displacement thusly: "A body of improvised source material was collected, segmented and organized by a simple chance operation. These segments were then orchestrated into a sound program and arranged by order of the strict composed form. At times, the score also regulated post-recorded effects to manipulate the original material. As the material was edited, it was divided into six separate channels (three stereo tracks). Each pair of channels was transferred to a cd and each was played on three cd players simultaneously, creating a simple six-channel sound installation… the dense six-channel score was revised and reduced to two channels (one stereo track), which is now the final, preferred version."
Ok, but what does it sound like? How about a gamelan (or a recording of one) that's been all crumpled up, then unfolded and stretched out? Or, less fancifully, like a one-man electro-acoustic improv session on drums, percussion, and electronics (which IS what this is), subjected to the operations described above, in such a way as to strike a balance between abrasive, abstract textures and more hypnotic, if unusual and damaged, quasi-rhythmic soundscapes. Like we said, right up our alley!
It begins, on side one, with a low thunderous rumbling, like a magnified burst of record crackle. And such startling, ominous blown-out barrages of distortion continue intermittently throughout this first track, sounding like the breath of an expiring monster, sighing heavily amidst tinkling percussive jumble and crash, with pauses for silence… these tumbling spasms then steady and flow into what sound like masses of clattering chimes, a soundscape above which a recurring three-note motif (on synth? vibraphone?) is heard. That, in fact, reminded us of the incredible soundtrack to the 1971 movie Klute, sinister and suspenseful. There's electronics that sound like bird-twitter here too, and it's all very atmospheric, far from a mere experimental compositional exercise.
The second side/track continues with that atmospheric vibe, being a twilight soundscape of distant airplane engine drones, with more up-front textural scraping and bell ringing tones, that eventually coalesces into a softly thrumming humming pulse, over which a very gentle clitter-clatter of percussion drifts. Quite lovely and mesmeric, it is. The clank and rattle builds towards the end, as does the pulsation, becoming more insistent and dramatic, but still relatively mild as such things could be imagined, before a sudden whistling finale.
Inspired (we're merely guessing) equally by '60s/'70s out-there free improv (stuff on FMP, BYG) and also Industrial music's infamous "pipe-fighting" techniques, Rosaly's music has moments that may remind you of No Neck Blues Band, of Will Over Matter, of Supersilent, of Pierre-Yves Mace, of Aufgehoben, and other disparate and unusual and sometimes counter-intuitive but fascinating music-and-noise-makers. This is really pretty great. And, LIMITED TO 300 COPIES. Note, the lp comes packaged with a compact disc version of the album as well, which is always a nice touch (much preferable to a mere download card, we think).
MPEG Stream: "Centering And Displacement part 1 (excerpt 1)"
MPEG Stream: "Centering And Displacement part 1 (excerpt 2)"
MPEG Stream: "Centering And Displacement part 2"

album cover ADMIRAL SIR CLOUDESLEY SHOVELL Don't Hear It...Fear It! (Metal Blade/Rise Above) cd 14.98
First of all, now that's a name! To which your reaction might be, okay, this band must really be into 17th and 18th century British military history, to name themselves after a heroic naval officer who perished in a shipwreck in 1707. Or, if you're like us, you might think, hmmm, seems a bit like the moniker of Sir Lord Baltimore, the fuzzed out early '70s proto-metal greats. And that's definitely relevant to Admiral Sir Cloudesley Shovell's also very much fuzzed out sound, all right. Like Witchcraft, Gentlemans Pistols, and the elusive Uncle Acid and The Deadbeats, these guys are another band on Rise Above (licensed to Metal Blade in the USA), who kick out the Sabbathy jams and sound like they actually -really- belong on Rise Above Relics, that UK label's imprint for reissues of swaggering '70s heavy rock obscurities. Yeah, the Shovell (as they like to be called, for short) deliver the goods, a ramalamajama of high energy brutal boogie with distorted to heck vocals, and noisy psych geetar explosions all over the place. 'Tis total guitar heavy, FX laden, rifftastic kickass rock n' roll. Extreme enough that while they've got one foot firmly in '70s rockarolla, they've almost got the other in, like, '90s noiserock... We say that 'cause sometimes the guitars break out stuff that's so sinewy and mathy, and the vocals get even more gruff and gnarly, that suddenly we start thinking the Melvins (meet Blue Cheer). It's just that they're waaay more freaked out and crazier than, y'know, mere Led Zep copyists. Much more like, The Heads, if they were all proto-metal about it. In fact, we'd say that this is definitely recommended to both fans of The Heads -and- Sir Lord Baltimore, of which we'd imagine there'd be plenty. Also if you like Danava, the aforementioned Gentlemans Pistols, Harvey Milk circa The Pleaser, Dzjenghis Khan, plus oldies like High Tide, Budgie, Toad, Dust, Buffalo, the Groundhogs (whose Tony McPhee gets in a guest guitar solo on one track here!), Captain Beyond, etc.
In a word, Admiral Sir Cloudesley Shovell SLAY. And do so in style. Which includes, slipcase packaging. Oh, and there's a hidden bonus track, a cover of "Bean Stew" from Buffalo's Dead Forever, so stay tuned at the end...
MPEG Stream: "Mark Of The Beast"
MPEG Stream: "Devils Island"
MPEG Stream: "Red Admiral Black Sunrise"

album cover ADMIRAL SIR CLOUDESLEY SHOVELL Don't Hear It...Fear It! (Rise Above) lp 42.00
NOW ON (IMPORT, GATEFOLD) VINYL!!
First of all, now that's a name! To which your reaction might be, okay, this band must really be into 17th and 18th century British military history, to name themselves after a heroic naval officer who perished in a shipwreck in 1707. Or, if you're like us, you might think, hmmm, seems a bit like the moniker of Sir Lord Baltimore, the fuzzed out early '70s proto-metal greats. And that's definitely relevant to Admiral Sir Cloudesley Shovell's also very much fuzzed out sound, all right. Like Witchcraft, Gentlemans Pistols, and the elusive Uncle Acid and The Deadbeats, these guys are another band on Rise Above (licensed to Metal Blade in the USA), who kick out the Sabbathy jams and sound like they actually -really- belong on Rise Above Relics, that UK label's imprint for reissues of swaggering '70s heavy rock obscurities. Yeah, the Shovell (as they like to be called, for short) deliver the goods, a ramalamajama of high energy brutal boogie with distorted to heck vocals, and noisy psych geetar explosions all over the place. 'Tis total guitar heavy, FX laden, rifftastic kickass rock n' roll. Extreme enough that while they've got one foot firmly in '70s rockarolla, they've almost got the other in, like, '90s noiserock… We say that 'cause sometimes the guitars break out stuff that's so sinewy and mathy, and the vocals get even more gruff and gnarly, that suddenly we start thinking the Melvins (meet Blue Cheer). It's just that they're waaay more freaked out and crazier than, y'know, mere Led Zep copyists. Much more like, The Heads, if they were all proto-metal about it. In fact, we'd say that this is definitely recommended to both fans of The Heads -and- Sir Lord Baltimore, of which we'd imagine there'd be plenty. Also if you like Danava, the aforementioned Gentlemans Pistols, Harvey Milk circa The Pleaser, Dzjenghis Khan, plus oldies like High Tide, Budgie, Toad, Dust, Buffalo, the Groundhogs (whose Tony McPhee gets in a guest guitar solo on one track here!), Captain Beyond, etc.
In a word, Admiral Sir Cloudesley Shovell SLAY. And do so in style. Which includes, slipcase packaging. Oh, and there's a hidden bonus track, a cover of "Bean Stew" from Buffalo's Dead Forever, so stay tuned at the end...
MPEG Stream: "Mark Of The Beast"
MPEG Stream: "Devils Island"
MPEG Stream: "Red Admiral Black Sunrise"

album cover GYPSYHAWK Revelry & Resilience (Metal Blade) cd 14.98
Rambunctious 2nd full-length here from these Pasadena, CA heshers, now on Metal Blade, whose rippin' retro rockin' sure as heck still worships Thin Lizzy and also, to a lesser extent, Motorhead. The twin guitar harmonies, the rollicking riffage, the gravely whiskey soaked vocals - yeah it's all about those two '70s proto-metal, partly punky gods, especially Lizzy. Though their influences don't stop there, of course… they do a decent NWOBHM gallop, and channel KISS catchiness and psychedelic Priest too; but not much after, say, 1980 makes it into the mix! And Gypsyhawk do it all damn well, kicking ass here with triumphant fervor, building on the promise of their debut which we also dug a lot. They've got the sound, and the songs, sheer good times for anyone who likes some '70s inspired, high energy hooky heaviness - though, we wonder if the closing cover of Rick Derringer's "Rock And Roll Hoochie Koo" isn't taking things a bit far…? Naw, they're just having fun, as will you. (Did the original version of that song have somebody yell "Smoke weed!" right before the lead break? Well if not, Gypsyhawk has rectified that oversight.)
Put this on, and sure you're probably gonna wanna follow it with some Lizzy, but not before you give the Gypsyhawk another few (or many!) spins. And it just begs for the volume to be cranked to ten or eleven. What else can we say? Really recommended for those who wanna rock! Especially fans of Thin Lizzy, Bible Of The Devil, Slough Feg, and heck that other AQ fave 'Hawk band, Freedom Hawk.
MPEG Stream: "Overloaded"
MPEG Stream: "The Fields"
MPEG Stream: "Frostwyrm"

album cover BROCAS HELM Demonstration Of Might (Buried By Time And Dust) 2lp 29.00
Brocas Helm! Brocas Helm!!! BROCAS HELM!!! That's the crowd chant that automatically sings in our brain as we behold this, a deluxe double vinyl collection of this cult San Francisco true metal band's several mighty demo tapes from over the years - thirty years! A labor of love on the part of the Buried By Time And Dust label, in honor of one of the best heavy metal bands ever to walk the Earth (so sez Allan, go read his other Brocas Helm reviews for further hyperbole!). NWOBHM-ish, triumphant, (literally) fantastic, old school metal mastery here. Eccentric medieval metal whose closest contemporary comparison would be (much younger) brothers-in-arms Slough Feg, so its very much recommended to fans of that band. "Iron Maiden on acid" also isn't far off the mark.
What you get here is as follows - Side A: Into Battle demo (1983), Side B: Black Death demo (1987), Side C: Helms Deep demo (1989), Side D: Ghost Story EP (1994). There's 19 tracks in all, all of 'em killer, including the raw original versions of faves like "Ravenwreck", "Into the Ithilstone", and "Time Of The Dark". All but one of these songs later appeared on Brocas Helm's three full-length albums - Into Battle (1984), Black Death (1988), and Defender Of The Crown (2004) - and since these represent some of the best tracks on 'em, this double lp then functions sort of like a Brocas Helm "Best Of". It's obviously meant for those who are already dedicated fans of the band, but since their albums are now hard to come by, anyone who can dig some underground '80s heavy metal at its utmost in galloping, guitar shredding glory might just wanna pick this up.
This LIMITED vinyl release comes with an 8 page booklet with full demo artwork, lyrics, pictures, old fliers, etc. plus a vintage gig poster reproduction. Brocas Helm! Brocas Helm!!! BROCAS HELM!!!
MPEG Stream: "Ravenwreck (demo)"
MPEG Stream: "Beneath A Haunted Moon (demo)"

album cover POWELL, ROGER / M. FROG (JEAN YVES LABAT) Air Pocket / M. Frog (Edsel) cd 15.98
Oh, wow. Finally found a reasonably-priced cd reissue of this freaky, far out '70s artifact, that we first heard of being raved about by The Seth Man on Julian Cope's Head Heritage website a while back. We're talking about the "M. Frog" half of this twofer disc (we'll get to the Roger Powell part, in a bit). Originally released in 1973, it's a rockin' psych-prog opus laden with copious EMS Synthi-A workouts and an anarchic spirit of anything-goes fun. This record was the vibrant solo debut from a Frenchman named Jean Yves Labat (aka M. Frog), who at the time was the keyboard player for Todd Rundgren's Utopia - that being the American pop producer's proggier-than-thou outfit, Rundgren's answer to English bands like Yes and Genesis, as you may know. So Labat was quite the keyboard wiz, and also a bit of a weirdo, almost becoming a Benedictine monk, before he gave that up for a life of progressive rock excess. The M. Frog album draws upon his schooling in avant-garde composition - the colorful cover art is actually a part of a graphic score done in Labat's own unique color-coded notation for synthesizer operation. But it's very much hippie, heavy rock n' roll entertainment too.
This album's opener and presumable alternate-universe hit single sold us right away - "We Are Crazy" lives up to its title, coming across like krautrock goofs Guru Guru jamming with Perrey-Kingsley, or Jean-Pierre Massiera endeavoring to outdo the Osmonds' "Crazy Horses"! The song is built upon catchy riffage with a TON of crazy synth action, and brilliant/dumb non-sequitur lyrics (about how they're crazy and stupid and lazy and if you understand you'll win a washing machine or a date with the Queen) that really drive the "We Are Crazy" point home. It's also reprised later in the album in an instrumental version (even more synth!!) and in both cases exemplifies Jean Yves Labat's statement of purpose: "I want the music to pop out. It's funny music. It's alive. It is for the living."
The next track takes the volume but not the weirdness down a few notches, the moodier "Champegarpaen" being a kinda krautrocky percolating groove, adorned not just with synth but with sawing violin, Munchkin voices, Gregorian chant, musique concrete effects, and cowbell...
Speaking of krautrock, some of this reminds us of Faust, in that it's more comic, than cosmic! Really each and every track here pretty wild, a manic mix of heavy rock jams, plenty of synth zips and zaps, and 'novelty' tunage replete with funny voices. There's some calmer, spacey moments too, as on album-ender "Relax Goliath" (such relaxation is needed by then). And Todd Rungren himself contributes a few fuzzed-out & synth-processed guitar solos here and there; not to be outshined, however, by Jean Yves' own indulgences in crazy complex keyboard solo sections too.
They really don't make 'em like this anymore, and M. Frog must be the ultimate at whatever it is, exactly. A worthy reissue we're so glad to have, done quite nicely with lengthy informative liner notes in the thick cd booklet, which also includes more full-color examples of Labat's unusual & eye-catching musical notation.
AND, that's not all, there's actually a whole 'nother album on this disc, by a totally different guy. That's right, the aforementioned Roger Powell, with his album Air Pocket. The rationale for putting these two together on the same cd is that Powell was, in a later lineup, also the keyboard player for Todd Rundgren's Utopia. Also both albums came out on the Bearsville label. But other than that, and total synth overload, they don't have too much else in common. Powell's brand of prog was less nutty, more cheesy, let's say… but not without its charms. Air Pocket, which actually comes first on this disc, non-chronologically for some reason, definitely has got a lot of '80s glossiness to it, with drum machines and plenty of synthesizer wank - enough that it was voted 1980 Album Of The Year by the readers of Keyboard Magazine. The record starts off pretty cool, the spacey "Lunar Plexus" sounding like the lighter side of something along the lines of John Carpenter, definitely the sort of thing today's fans of Zombi/Majeure will probably like. Then, the futuristic disco new wave pop of "Landmark" adds vocals, it's dated but kinda nifty in a way… the singing in particular kinda reminds us of XTC, for a moment anyway, maybe just 'cause Powell is English.
Air Pocket gets a little freakier on "Emergency Splashdown", with klaxon alarm sounds, urgent rhythms, processed vox… More blissfully ambient-sounding electronics are represented by the brief "Morning Chorus", with guitar by Todd Rundgren. And then, as the second side of the original lp really gets underway, Roger Powell demonstrates his true prog/fantasy allegiances on a series of instrumentals, with titles like "March Of The Dragonslayers" and "Sands Of Arrakis". Which range from bright and chimey TV theme song tuneishness to more moody swirling ambience. Overall, Roger Powell's Air Pocket is a lightly proggy, soft, synth-laden yacht rock record that's kitschy fun, and not un-catchy.
A bonus track by Powell is also included here, from a single he did in 1978, a slightly sinister synth version of surf classic "Pipeline", with a pounding bass beat. Good times! We probably dig that cover more than the actual Air Pocket album, in fact.
But anyway, we already said the real reason to get this disc is for the M. Frog half, otherwise unavailable on its own, while you can count whichever Roger Powell tracks you like as fun, free bonuses and forget the rest.
MPEG Stream: M. FROG (JEAN YVES LABAT) "We Are Crazy"
MPEG Stream: M. FROG (JEAN YVES LABAT) "Champegarpaen"
MPEG Stream: M. FROG (JEAN YVES LABAT) "Suckling-pigs Game"
MPEG Stream: ROGER POWELL "Lunar Plexus"
MPEG Stream: ROGER POWELL "Dragons 'n' Griffins / Mr. Triscuits Theme"

album cover SHELLER, WILLIAM Lux Aeterna (The Omni Recording Corporation) cd 17.98
We actually originally discovered this record in a thrift store, years ago, and ended up buying it for $5 or whatever, just cuz the cover was super trippy, and it was printed on cool prismatic reflective paper, and of course, we had no idea what to expect, and while we dug it, a LOT, and listened to it constantly, for whatever reason, it never occurred to us that what we had was some treasured rarity lost psychedelic artifact, one that certain discerning producers have mined for killer breaks, until we found out this reissue was on the way. So we revisited the record and holy crap!!!! How could we not have known?! So insane, and inspired, and ridiculous, and over the top, and ahead of its time, and it totally out trip-outs almost any record we can think of! Needless to say, we're super psyched to have this reissue, which features that original record, along with a whole mess of bonus tracks!!
So the record proper, Lux Aeterna, was originally composed to celebrate a friend of William Sheller's wedding, thematically driven by concepts of union and togetherness, and ostensibly based on the Catholic mass, this is far from any sort of religious music you've ever heard. Following in the footsteps of other iconoclastic composers, like Serge Gainsbourg, Jean-Claude Vannier, Lee Hazlewood, David Axelrod, Scott Walker and of course Magma (more on that in a second), Sheller conjured up what is at once an over the top symphonic prog epic, but also a strangely meditative operatic chorale, the sound a gorgeous and dizzying fusion of bombastic prog, classical opera, tripped out seventies psych, outsider jazzfunk, and soaring symphonic majesty. The first track alone should convince you, with its groovy loping stripped down rhythm, its woozy bassline, its swoonsome strings, its slippery slide guitar (!!), its lush operatic vox. That cut is equal parts lost soundtrack and weird Morricone-esque krautfunk, sort of, the sound epic and dramatic and VERY cinematic, dark and subtly sinister, minor key and haunting, but then with about a minute to go BAM, the the sound shifts, sort of fractures, and gets super lo-fi, soaked in phaser and flanger, swirling and tripped out, laced with psychedelic wah guitar, a woozy, melting fad out groove. Holy WOW. So fucking awesome. And that's pretty much how the rest of the record plays out, with Sheller weaving these lush orchestral epics, alternatingly symphonic or operatic, when all of a sudden he'll mix in some trippy sci fi freak out FX or fuse rock drums to soaring operatic vox and symphonic strings. Some tracks play it totally straight, like "Ave Frater, Rosae Et Aurae", which really could have been plucked right out of a mass, but then in swoops "Opus Magnum Pt. 2", with its driving kraut-ish groove, reprising the opening theme, but adding some seriously loopy bleeps and bloops, squelches, and reverby blurps, tripped out laser fire squiggles and swirling analog electronics. Only to then settle right back down into some hushed string driven drift, but a minute or two later and the sound explodes again in a frenzy of FX, the song gathering momentum, and heft, and transforming into a sort of dirgey driving jam, wreathed in strings and an avalanche of glitched out electronics. And so it goes, slipping from haunting ritualistic choral music, to tripped out psychedelic seventies prog funk grooviness and back again, sounding quite often like Magma, or some similarly epic prog combo, stopping occasionally to dip into a bit of musique concrete or twentieth century classical, or introducing seriously terrifying children's spoken word, reciting what sounds like scripture, before finally finishing off with a gorgeous melancholy piano coda, again a refrain of that opening melody.
Quite a strange and twisted record for someone's wedding, sure WE'D all be psyched, but in 1972? Wow.
After a two minute track of silence, meant to separate the programs, comes, as the first of a big batch of bonus tracks, several pieces from Sheller's soundtrack for a 1969 film called Erotissimo, the music appropriately psychedelic and seventies hippie rocking, but of course laced with strings, and surprisingly some heavy proto metal riffing, wild psych guitar leads, dreamy female vocals, the whole thing building to a killer fuzzy psych rock blowout, before slipping back into something a bit more fuzzy and woozy.
After that is "My Year Is A Day", Sheller's big hit, a fantastic slab of orchestral pop, that reminds us of early Bee Gees and the Zombies, and fans of either/both will flip. The rest of the record is more of the same, fuzzed out psychedelic orchestral pop, "Couleurs" being a standout, with its freaked out effects heavy breakdowns, and sitar like buzz running throughout, but really all twenty tracks are killer, making us thing there must be a whole lot more William Sheller we need to track down. Maybe Omni will follow up with another reissue. Here's hoping!
Like all Omni releases, lots of photos, and extensive liner notes, as well as some weird unseen art and reproductions of the covers of some of the singles that are included as bonus tracks!
MPEG Stream: "Introit"
MPEG Stream: "Opus Magnum Pt. 1"
MPEG Stream: "Opus Magnum Pt. 2"
MPEG Stream: "Sous Le Signe Du Verseau"
MPEG Stream: "Erotissimo"
MPEG Stream: "My Year Is A Day"

album cover EDWARDS, NICK Plekzaktionz (Editions Mego) cd 16.98
Woah, kinda blown away by this, a super nice surprise since we didn't have any expectations... or ex-plekzationz! Had never heard of Bristol's Nick Edwards before, nor his cassette-prolific alter ego Ekoplekz, nor his Gutterbreakz blog for that matter either. We just knew this was a new album from some bespectacled fella on Editions Mego, who (as we could see from the photo on the inner gatefold sleeve) employs a tabletop tangle of effect boxes and other electronic devices to make his music. Like all eMego stuff, seemed worth checking out, and it sure was.
A quick and too easy description of this might be lo-fi analog electronic synth experimentation with a heavy dose of dub... or even "Merzbow doing dub", though it's not nearly as noisy as that might suggest. But it IS quite abstract and soundscapey. These are noises, not noise. And the dub here is that rare kind we've hardly ever encountered, that's dub but definitely NOT reggae. (In contrast to, say, that rad Seekersinternational record we listed last time, a great modern day dub album whose reggae roots are quite clear... or even aQ faves Peaking Lights). Edwards loves his King Tubby, for sure, and kosmiche krautrock and the BBC Radiophonic Workshop and techno too... But we can't label his music as being like any of those things exactly, even though that's all in here. Nor is it the clinical, minimal-techno sort of dub (we also like), a la Pole or Vladislav Delay. This is even less reggae than that, and way more 'natural'. It's cosmic-y without being too referential to anything, very loose and flowing and free. The rhythms, which grow organically out of the interaction of effects, are varied and not 'grided' like so much other electronic music. Each and every moment fills our ears with the sort of echoing dubby soundz we love to hear, in constant flux. But, for something that's changing so much, it still has a 'groove' to it, if not necessarily always a 'beat'... in other words, it's strangely hypnotic, its odd percolations fitting into a larger wash of sound that seems to extend out to infinity, swirling and shwooshing and reverberating into new shapes and patterns.
The album is divided into four parts of roughly equally length, the whole thing about an hour-long trip. Although recorded at four separate sessions, these 'decompositions' and 'spontaneous combustions' are woven into one extended piece, calmly chugging and looping, softly exploding with distortion over and over and over...The final track might be our favorite, with its slowly creeping-up-on you vibe. All are great, though.
Look, we LOVE the echo echo echo of dub, and have admitted previously that several of us here wouldn't be into reggae at all if it weren't for the dub variety. So the idea of dub WITHOUT the reggae is interesting and appealing and that's what Mr. Nick Edwards has accomplished here, the echoing of the electronics on this album like a field recording of a mad scientist's laboratory, done dub style. This is maybe, maybe what Sun Araw would/could sound like if he'd ditched his trip to Jamaica for an extended stay in Mego's Austrian studios instead...
Yup, for something we had no prior expectations about, it didn't take long before we were hooked!
MPEG Stream: "Part 1: Chance Meets Causality Uptown"
MPEG Stream: "Part 3: Inside The Analog Continuum"
MPEG Stream: "Part 4: A Pedant's Progress"

album cover GOAT World Music (Rocket Recordings) cd 17.98
We've been waiting for this one for ages. After an insanely limited 7" single, which was so scarce, no one we know has actually ever even seen a copy, let alone bought one, and a teaser video on YouTube, and all sorts of rumors about this Swedish band who were influenced by African music and voodoo and came from some mysterious village no one had ever heard of, well, needless to say, we were DYING for the full length, and it does not disappoint.
So the story goes, in a tiny village in Sweden called Korpilombolo (which we're told is Swedish slang for 'middle of nowhere'), there has existed a band called Goat for generations, this is just the first incarnation of the band that has captured any of their music on tape. Supposedly the village was cursed by some sort of voodoo witch doctor, who was put to death for being a witch, and introducing voodoo worship to this tiny village. And whether it's true or not, the IDEA of it definitely influences the music of Goat, whose sound most definitely has a serious African vibe, the percussion, the vocals, it's heady concoction of wild psychedelic space rock, all driving krautrock rhythms, and tangled squalls of electric guitar freakout, and dense rhythmic percussion, and almost double dutch sounding vocals. When we first threw this on, our first impression was that it sounded like a weird mix of Konono No.1, The Heads and (believe it or not) the Go! Team, which even now, after constant listening doesn't seem that far off.
The tracks are dense, and psychedelic, heavy, fuzzy, definitely Stooges-y at times, Hawkwindy at others, several of the tracks display a Miles Davis style grooviness, sounding like a SUPERCHARGED ultra heavy Bitches Brew, others pound away sounding exactly how you might imagine some ancient voodoo ritual would sound reimagined by some modern Swedish psychedelic space rock outfit. "Goatman" (from the 7") is the perfect intro, after a strange sample, and some tribal drumming, the guitars come cascading in, wild squalls of psychedelic wah guitar, and keening high end wails, then the vocals come in, belted out over the fuzzed out bass, the percussion wild and groovy, it's total Swedish Afro-psych, or something, if this one track stretched out and filled up the whole record, it STILL would have been Record Of The Week.
The band do have a surprisingly broad palette though, whether it's the subdued acid folk Appalachia of "Goathead", or the organ driven Afro-groove of the appropriately titled "Disco Fever", with its percussion heavy funk swaddled in progged out organs, and then there's the equally funky "Golden Down", that sounds like some Southeast Asian Sublime Frequencies jam, but here cranked up, the guitars super distorted, the bass dangerously buzzy, the sound blissfully in-the-red, the drums wild and loose, the ultimate heavy psychedelic dance band, for those three minutes you can almost imagine these guys jamming out at the edge of the world in some alternate dimension seedy dive, with a dancefloor full of damned souls. Sweaty and swaggery and fierce as fuck. "Let It Bleed" delivers a more laid back groove, and even introduces some saxophone, which gives it the vibe once again of some psych-ed up Ethiopian groove. "Run To Your Mama" melds serious Sabbath-y riffage to some wild tribal percussion, and wailed vox, while "Goatlord" unfurls some dark psych folk, replete with super distorted heavy psych leads, over urgent strumming and cooed echo drenched vox, sounding a bit like a more psychedelic Comus in fact.
And finally, the record finishes off with the epic "Det Som Aldrig Forandras", with its bagpipe sounding opening, that quickly explodes into a heady psychedelic groove, droned out and hypnotic, the sort of jam that should/could have been ENDLESS, but instead, works its way back to a seriously heavy psychedelic coda, bookending the brief 3 minute opener, again, the sort of jam they could have stretched out for another twenty minutes, and we would have been in heaven, but the fact that it loops back around to the beginning, only adds a strange sort of endless ritual vibe to the proceedings, and makes it that much easier to play it all over again. And again. And again. Forever.
Super swank, die cut, eye popping artwork too, on the cd and lp both!
MPEG Stream: "Diarabi"
MPEG Stream: "Goatman"
MPEG Stream: "Golden Dawn"
MPEG Stream: "Det Som Aldrig Forandras / Diarabi"

album cover GOAT World Music (Rocket Recordings) lp 21.00
We've been waiting for this one for ages. After an insanely limited 7" single, which was so scarce, no one we know has actually ever even seen a copy, let alone bought one, and a teaser video on YouTube, and all sorts of rumors about this Swedish band who were influenced by African music and voodoo and came from some mysterious village no one had ever heard of, well, needless to say, we were DYING for the full length, and it does not disappoint.
So the story goes, in a tiny village in Sweden called Korpilombolo (which we're told is Swedish slang for 'middle of nowhere'), there has existed a band called Goat for generations, this is just the first incarnation of the band that has captured any of their music on tape. Supposedly the village was cursed by some sort of voodoo witch doctor, who was put to death for being a witch, and introducing voodoo worship to this tiny village. And whether it's true or not, the IDEA of it definitely influences the music of Goat, whose sound most definitely has a serious African vibe, the percussion, the vocals, it's heady concoction of wild psychedelic space rock, all driving krautrock rhythms, and tangled squalls of electric guitar freakout, and dense rhythmic percussion, and almost double dutch sounding vocals. When we first threw this on, our first impression was that it sounded like a weird mix of Konono No.1, The Heads and (believe it or not) the Go! Team, which even now, after constant listening doesn't seem that far off.
The tracks are dense, and psychedelic, heavy, fuzzy, definitely Stooges-y at times, Hawkwindy at others, several of the tracks display a Miles Davis style grooviness, sounding like a SUPERCHARGED ultra heavy Bitches Brew, others pound away sounding exactly how you might imagine some ancient voodoo ritual would sound reimagined by some modern Swedish psychedelic space rock outfit. "Goatman" (from the 7") is the perfect intro, after a strange sample, and some tribal drumming, the guitars come cascading in, wild squalls of psychedelic wah guitar, and keening high end wails, then the vocals come in, belted out over the fuzzed out bass, the percussion wild and groovy, it's total Swedish Afro-psych, or something, if this one track stretched out and filled up the whole record, it STILL would have been Record Of The Week.
The band do have a surprisingly broad palette though, whether it's the subdued acid folk Appalachia of "Goathead", or the organ driven Afro-groove of the appropriately titled "Disco Fever", with its percussion heavy funk swaddled in progged out organs, and then there's the equally funky "Golden Down", that sounds like some Southeast Asian Sublime Frequencies jam, but here cranked up, the guitars super distorted, the bass dangerously buzzy, the sound blissfully in-the-red, the drums wild and loose, the ultimate heavy psychedelic dance band, for those three minutes you can almost imagine these guys jamming out at the edge of the world in some alternate dimension seedy dive, with a dancefloor full of damned souls. Sweaty and swaggery and fierce as fuck. "Let It Bleed" delivers a more laid back groove, and even introduces some saxophone, which gives it the vibe once again of some psych-ed up Ethiopian groove. "Run To Your Mama" melds serious Sabbath-y riffage to some wild tribal percussion, and wailed vox, while "Goatlord" unfurls some dark psych folk, replete with super distorted heavy psych leads, over urgent strumming and cooed echo drenched vox, sounding a bit like a more psychedelic Comus in fact.
And finally, the record finishes off with the epic "Det Som Aldrig Forandras", with its bagpipe sounding opening, that quickly explodes into a heady psychedelic groove, droned out and hypnotic, the sort of jam that should/could have been ENDLESS, but instead, works its way back to a seriously heavy psychedelic coda, bookending the brief 3 minute opener, again, the sort of jam they could have stretched out for another twenty minutes, and we would have been in heaven, but the fact that it loops back around to the beginning, only adds a strange sort of endless ritual vibe to the proceedings, and makes it that much easier to play it all over again. And again. And again. Forever.
Super swank, die cut, eye popping artwork too, on the cd and lp both!
MPEG Stream: "Diarabi"
MPEG Stream: "Goatman"
MPEG Stream: "Golden Dawn"
MPEG Stream: "Det Som Aldrig Forandras / Diarabi"

album cover ARIEL PINK'S HAUNTED GRAFFITI Mature Themes (4AD) cd 14.98
"I'm just a rock n' roller from Beverly Hills / My name is Ariel... Pink!"
Well, okay. Sing it, Ariel! Peculiar popsmith Ariel Pink and his Haunted Graffiti are back, and as absurdly delightful and infectiously catchy as ever. Hella amusingly weird too - just check out the damaged Beach Boys vibe of, uh, "Schnitzel Boogie". Oh, and of course AP couldn't resist titling a track here, "Pink Slime"!
Like his previous album for 4AD, 2010's Before Today, this one displays AP's "new" sound, one that's (slightly) less fucked up, (somewhat) more slickly produced than his pre-4AD output. It took us little while to adjust to the not as lo-fi, not quite so shambolic AP, but now we're fully into it. And really it's not that big of a change anyway. Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti still traffic in a twisted take on sunshiney psychedelic '60s/'70s AM radio pop, and '80s synth stuff, blended with darker, more drug addled fare, like the fuzz filled "Early Birds Of Babylon" with its propulsive, "driving at night" postpunk vibe...
Thus, Mature Themes has been on heavy rotation here in the store ever since we got it in, and never fails to bring big smiles to our faces with its mix of dreamy, cotton candy colored melodies, bizarre lovelorn lyrics, and quirky elaborate vocal arrangements (that make us think Ariel is probably a big Sparks fan). Those grins start right from the get-go, when the song "Kinski Assassin" opens the proceedings with lyrics that include (repeatedly) the lines "Who sunk my battleship / I sunk my battleship", delivered in a mopey voice over a hiccupping beat. Love it!
The whole record is full of treats, we're pegging "Only In My Dreams" for a hit (and yeah, they made a goofy video for that one) but there's lots more, every track has its charms. Maybe our favorite is the one from which the lines quoted at the top of this review come, "Symphony Of The Nymph", which is indeed a symphonic prog-pop opus of sorts, with lots of parts, that comes across like a collaboration between eccentric '60s pop producer Joe Meek and equally eccentric "song-poem" composer Rodd Keith, thanks to its echoes of Meek's space age hit "Telstar" (and "Apache"!) and the strange, singsong rhyming lyrics. If that's not a recommendation, we don't know what is. Also, the way Ariel Pink squeaks out his name in a high voice kills us every time.
Also gotta mention the smooth and soulful album closing ballad "Baby", with help from DamFunk on vocals, which we already reviewed when it came out as a pre-album single a few weeks back; it's a cover of a song by Donnie & Joe Emerson, from their 1979 album Dreamin' Wild, that we made a Record Of The Week recently when it was reissued. The AP version amazingly sticks pretty close to the original, not noisily messing with it or anything, which points up how wonderfully warped AP's own songs still sound, despite the slightly higher fidelity, cleaned-up production we mentioned above.
Like we said, we've been playing this album a lot, and are probably gonna keep playing it over and over until somebody makes us stop. Just can't get enough of the Ariel Pink sound, and it IS a sound of his own; gotta hand it to him, he's already (a while ago) reached that point where, as shorthand, we describe lots of other artists, many of whom were influenced by him, as sounding like Ariel Pink.
MPEG Stream: "Only In My Dreams"
MPEG Stream: "Symphony Of The Nymph"
MPEG Stream: "Pink Slime"

album cover ELEKTRO GUZZI Live P.A. (Macro) cd 17.98
This isn't all that new (it came out last year, 2011) but we just heard it, as soon as we did, we knew we wanted to review it. It's the third full-length album from this Vienna-based band, who play what sounds like techno music LIVE, with all-analog 'rock' instrumentation of guitar, bass, and drums - no computers, no sampling, no synthesis, no loops, no overdubs. Elektro Guzzi are probably not the only artists to think of doing this, but they're the first we've heard, and they do it really, really well! It's kind of amazing - listening to this, if you didn't know they were a live group of humans playing 'real' instruments, in a kind of reverse engineering of electronic dance music, you probably wouldn't ever guess. Their music is as rigid and repetitive as any techno made by machine… and yet, you might detect that there's something special about 'em, something more vital than most techno, an extra depth to the sound that could never come out of a laptop. Must be incredible to see/hear in person, 'cause it's so mesmerizing on disc. They play with all the discipline and precision of aQ faves The Necks, but in a different, though equally hypnotic, idiom. And, setting them further apart from more everyday techno, these ten tracks can often eventually build into blowouts wherein the rhythmic elements become dense enough to have rather more of a textural impact. Very impressive, everyone here agrees, including our resident techno DJ Matt. Now we'll have to get their other earlier albums too...
MPEG Stream: "Vogelgrippe"
MPEG Stream: "Bronze"
MPEG Stream: "Perturbed Dub"

album cover BYRDS, THE Ballad Of Easy Rider (Columbia / Legacy) cd 5.00
**SALE **SALE* *SALE**
Y'know the special $5 sale cd list we did a few weeks ago? Well, there's actually a few more really good $5 deals available that we'll try to list, while they last. We reviewed 1968's Notorious Byrds Brothers before, now here's another Byrds gem for just $5 (or, $30, if you wanna spring for the brand new vinyl reissue that just came out!)… Originally issued in '69, with its title track appearing on the soundtrack to Peter Fonda's countercultural film classic Easy Rider, this was The Byrds 8th album, and their last of the '60s, with Roger McGuinn the only original founding member still on board (the other Byrds here being Gene Parsons, Clarence White, and John York). Still, it's a great bunch of songs, including not just the aforementioned Dylan-inspired title track (he wrote some of the lyrics), but also a fine interpretation of Dylan's "It's All Over Now, Baby Blue" (its sad vibes perhaps appropriate for the end of the '60s, the decade's revolutionary promise on the wane). This album also boasts one of our all time Byrds favorites, the rousing, rocking "Jesus Is Just Alright", originally by gospel singer Art Reynolds. Elsewhere, the record is mostly all about melancholic country and old timey folk, lovely songs including a traditional sea shanty and a Woody Guthrie protest number and even a timely drone-folk homage to lunar-landing Apollo astronauts "Armstrong, Aldrin And Collins".
Regarding the cd, this nicely done reissue tacks on 7 bonus tracks, alternates and out-takes, including one written by a young Jackson Browne, and a spaced-out synthesizer / Appalachian folk hybrid from McGuinn called "Fiddler A Dram (Moog Experiment)". And, plenty of informative liner notes are to be found in the cd booklet. Well worth the five bucks for sure!
MPEG Stream: " Ballad Of Easy Rider"
MPEG Stream: "Oil In My Lamp"
MPEG Stream: "Jesus Is Just Alright"

album cover SMOKE, THE s/t (Kismet) cd 17.98
This reissue isn't new, but we overlooked listing it when it came out and it's GREAT so figured better late that never. A one-off symphonic pop-psych masterpiece circa 1968, one of the many lost classics of the era, and really this is so good it's hard to understand how it wasn't a big hit. Listen to these songs and you'll wonder why as well. Southern California's The Smoke (not to be confused with the UK's Smoke of "My Friend Jack" fame, though these guys sound British too, and use British spellings and Peter Max style artwork) weren't really a band, but more of a studio concoction, the brainchild of 20 year old wunderkind producer Michael Lloyd, who was a founding member of the legendary West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band. He also was responsible for producing (and writing most of the songs for) the lone album from '67 by a band called October Country. Like that fine band (whose Michael Lloyd-penned "theme song" is reprised here), Lloyd's own The Smoke is Beatles and Beach Boys influenced big time, total paisley pop perfection. Lloyd sure knew what he was doing. And we'd be surprised if discerning DJs haven't mined this album for breaks, what with all the fanciful baroque prog bits and lush orchestration in there alongside the wistful balladry.
Perhaps since The Smoke didn't play live, album sales never took off. Too bad, but we're so glad it's been reissued. And Lloyd at least went on to a very successful career as a producer for a bunch of big names in the '70s and '80s so you don't have to feel bad for him. But we think you'll be definitely happy to add the likes of "Cowboys And Indians" and "The Hobbit Symphony" to your personal '60s popsyke hit parade...
MPEG Stream: "Cowboys And Indians"
MPEG Stream: "Gold Is The Colour Of Thought "
MPEG Stream: "October Country"

album cover DER PLAN Geri Reig (Bureau B) cd 17.98
Now, reissued on compact disc (and vinyl too) by Bureau B!
Search back into the Aquarius archives, and you'll come across reviews of records that we loved with just a phrase or a sentence, giving a few choice references and adjectives. Oh, how the times have changed. Way back when, we summed up Der Plan's classic weirdo kraut new wave record with the following pithy statement: "A head on collision between the Residents and Conny Plank." Still very true to this day, although an expansion of that description is most definitely in order. Der Plan hailed from Dusseldorf, and Geri Reig was their first record, emerging in 1980 as a particularly bizarre version of the Neue Deutsche Welle (New German Wave) sound. It seemed that every single German punk and NDW band would twist and mutate some sickly sweet ballad into something monstrous and perverse. Even Neubauten did a cover of Serge Gainsbourg's "Je T'Aime" on their first record; but polkas, waltzes, and cabaret numbers seemed to the prime target for the venom, bile, and ill-thoughts of the youth from back in the day, and Der Plan had authored a good number of these cheeky tunes, with atonal blooping electronics, plinkety-plonk melodies, and disjointed scratchy vocalizations. As a result, the Residents are still an apt reference for most of Geri Reig, although perhaps the equally bizarre, although less known Die Todliche Doris should also be referenced as well. For all of Der Plan's weird disposition, they would also craft a percolatingly brilliant minimal wave track here and there, as heard in the man-machine sequencing on "Commerce Exterieur Mondial Sentimentale" and the future-shock arpeggiations of "Adrenalin Lasst Das Blut Kochen." A classic record from the NDW period, now available once again.
Now, along with the new cd versions, Bureau B has also done their own vinyl versions which we're also listing, superseding the recent (and now deleted?) Medical Records reissues.
MPEG Stream: "Adrenalin Lasst Das Blut Kochen"
MPEG Stream: "Geri Regi"
MPEG Stream: "Hans und Gabi"
MPEG Stream: "Commerce Exterieur Mondial Sentimental"

album cover V/A Go Go Get Down: Pure Ghetto Funk From Washington DC Compiled By Joey Negro (Z Records) 2cd 17.98
Are you ready to get down with the Go-Go? This exuberant, infectious, very dancable musical subgenre, a highly percussive, party-hardy species of funk, comes from the very specific geographic locale of Washington, DC and its environs, and never really took off anywhere else (though, DC's biggest Go-Go bands did tour in England and Europe with some success). Those include Experience Unlimited (aka E.U.) and Trouble Funk, both featured here on this fairly comprehensive Go-Go compilation, expertly put together by DJ/digger/producer/compiler Joey Negro (aka David Lee, he's a white guy, from the UK, one place outside of DC where Go-Go got a lot of love, for a while).
For those whose lives have yet to be enlived by exposure to Go-Go music, it's kinda like a primal, extreme version of funk, with proto-hiphop elements as well, characterized by the non-stop, syncopated Go-Go beat, implemented with a plethora of percussion, a lot of it rototoms and congas and cowbells (the next time someone yells "More cowbell!", play 'em some Go-Go, they'll love it!). Along with the percussion, there's gonna be fat synths and funky bass lines. Go-Go vocalists were often more like Jamaican toasters or MCs, their job to hype up the crowd, with repetitve call-and-response chants, not unlike old school rap… we were amused to hear the Davis Pinckney Project's "You Can Dance (If You Want To)", with lyrics apparently borrowed "The Safety Dance" by Men Without Hats! Though, some of the Go-Go tracks included here go for more soulful vox, as with C.J.'s Uptown Crew's "Satisfaction Guaranteed" and Expression's "Release Disco". With its roots in funk, other genres like jazz, RnB, hiphop, disco, and even punk, all got Go-Go-ified.
This comp is a suitably sprawling double disc collection of Go-Go essentials and obscurities. It's got 3 tracks from E.U., a couple from Go-Go pioneer Chuck Brown (and his Soul Searchers), also of course a track from Go-Go greats Trouble Funk (doing "Get Down With Your Get Down"). Other artists include Rare Essence, AM-FM, Donald Banks, Familiar Faces, Jackie Boy & Nature's Creation, Code Red, Jim Bennett & His Bumpin' Crew, Backlash, Little Benny & The Masters, and a few more… ok, there's no Junkyard Band or Mass Extinction, but we can't complain, as this does definitely include plenty of rarities that Joey Negro and pals spent a long time digging up. All in all, there's two dozen bumpin' tracks here all from Go-Go's heyday in the late '70s / early-to-mid '80s - with the exception of the final cut on disc two, by latter day Go-Go act Dr. Funk Skunk, which was recorded in 2004 and proves that Go-Go music is still going strong in the 21st century.
It's all pretty awesome, one big Go-Go party, so it's hard to pick highlights, but E.U.'s nearly ten minute "Somebody's Ringing That Doorbell (Express Yourself)" with its cameo vocal parodies of celebrities like Howard Cosell and Richard Pryor is definitely one of 'em. The more obscure Osiris's even longer jam "War (On The Bull Shit!) is another standout. Also we gotta mention the track "DC Groove", from white boy new wave punkers the Static Disruptors, an example of Go-Go's popularity in the harDCore scene (Minor Threat played shows with Trouble Funk!).
This labor of love includes extensive liner notes, with info on each Go-Go artist featured. From which we learned that there exists a Go-Go themed movie made in the '80s, a thriller called Good To Go starring Art Garfunkel, beleive it or not! Gotta track that down…
MPEG Stream: RARE ESSENCE "Body Moves"
MPEG Stream: STATIC DISRUPTORS "DC Groove"
MPEG Stream: TROUBLE FUNK "Get Down With Your Get Down"
MPEG Stream: THE MIGHTY PEACEMAKERS "Feel It"

album cover SIX ORGANS OF ADMITTANCE Ascent (Drag City) cd 14.98
If you still think of Ben Chasny's Six Organs Of Admittance as being primarily a folky, Fahey/Basho/Takoma style acoustic enterprise, then please note the blurb on the sticker on this new album's cover, where it says in time-honored rock n' roll tradition: "Play This Record Loudly". And you should, 'cause while it's not like Six Organs haven't rocked before (they have) but Chasny sure is getting his ya-yas out here, big time. As we said when we recently reviewed the non-album single, Parsons' Blues, that immediately preceded this full-length, this stuff sounds like "Six Organs Of Comets On Fire", and the lineup here backs up that assertion. That lineup features Ethan Miller, Ben Flashman, Utrillo Kushner, and Noel Von Harmonson, all from Comets, of whom Chasny himself has also been a member. Plus producer Tim Green contributes some guitar, too. Thus (?) it's the loud psychedelic freakout side of things (a la Comets) that dominates, on a majority of the cuts here, at least.
The album opens with an energetic, kickass quasi-instrumental (there's some voices but no words) called "Waswasa", and then on track two, "Close To The Sky", it really sounds like Chasny & Co. have slapped on their sunglasses-at-night and are channelling total Tokyo Flashback action, a la LSD-March, Up-Tight, High Rise, and goddamn godfathers Les Rallizes. Headnodding psych-noodling, all right! That's followed by the ritual ceremony of "They Called You Near", and for a while we're back to acid folk, not acid rock, territory. Track four, "Solar Ascent", is even mellower and lovelier, but the next one, "One Thousand Birds" rocks out quite a bit more, bringing back that psych skronk guitar over a steady rhythmic pulsebeat. And so it goes, this album both dreamy and driving, providing songs that focus on Ben's gentle hushed voice and melodies, along with distortodelic romps full of amped-up, Rallizes-esque throb that also ought to appeal to fans of Wooden Shjips and Crazy Horse.
If you liked what Chasny has conjured on other recent sets like Asleep On The Floodplain and Luminous Night, this is equally expansive and ambitious - but with a bit more Comets-y sonic violence n' volume overall.
The compact disc version comes packaged in a nice cardboard miniature lp jacket, and we like how the "cd booklet" in fact consists of a folded up dot matrix printout (or rather, what looks like one).
MPEG Stream: "Close To The Sky"
MPEG Stream: "Your Ghost"
MPEG Stream: "Even If You Knew"

album cover AMBARCHI, OREN Sagittarian Domain (Editions Mego) cd 16.98
Always interesting Aussie experimentalist Oren Ambarchi has been impressing us a lot lately, what with the excellent Audience Of One album on Touch we recently reviewed, and now this, another new solo disc via Editions Mego, which is also pretty fantastic, and different. What's Sagittarian Domain all about? Well, our customer and pal Gregg pretty much put it best, summing this up simply as "Oren Ambarchi's krautrock album". 'Nuff said for some of us, gotta get it, right?
Oren is a one man band here, playing almost all the instruments. He's credited with guitars, Moog bass, drums, percussion, and voice. There's also a (processed?) string section of violin, viola and cello that makes some appearances as well. We're not sure about the genesis of this project, the sleeve states it was featured in some sort of stage production in Sydney. It it was for a dance, it was a long one; the disc is 33 minutes, 37 seconds minutes long, a single track. A single-minded track as well. "Sagittarian Domain" is a mesmeric exercise in the power of the "motorik" beat, as previously practiced by kosmiche krautrockers like Can, Faust, and Neu!. Ambarchi's role as drummer here comes first and foremost, his guitar and FX etc. then wandering darkly over the motorik beat, the track gradually building and morphing, always maintaining Teutonic discipline, controls set for the heart of the nearest black hole...
Press play, and a tick-tick-ticking pulse emerges from the nothingness, its steady stutter joined by sudden fly-bys of keening electronic feedback and creaky drone-glitch. Then, a few minutes in, proper atmosphere established, Ambarchi goes into machine-like action on his drum kit, raising the volume and adding more crucial elements to the ominous rhythmic foundation of the piece, which continues its pulsating slow-build, crackling with electricity. With his syncopated and propulsive beats doing their thing, you're on your way into a hypno-zone where time has no meaning, your head nodding, eyelids heavy. The track becomes ever more primal and insistent, even dangerously sensuous, in a way (try this: start making out with your romantic partner when this disc starts, and see where that leads...).
As it goes, and goes, and goes, it gets louder and heavier and noisier; the grinding droning of Ambarchi's guitar washes in waves over his non-stop rhythm. Krautrock fanciers who like the more extreme stuff will be in heaven. When the beat finally stops, that classical string section alone provides a gentle, soothing chill-out coda for a few lovely minutes at the very end. Damn good!! Which aQ pal Gregg also said.
Cd comes in gatefold mini-lp style jacket.
MPEG Stream: "Sagittarian Domain excerpt 1"
MPEG Stream: "Sagittarian Domain excerpt 2"

album cover CEREBRUM Eagle Death (Shadoks Music) cd 17.98
Fantastico! Here's an obscure Spanish psych rock reissue that we're so glad that Shadoks finally got their hands on. Get ready for some of the weirdest, most badass fuzzed out garage psych rockin' you have ever heard. Cerebrum, from Madrid, released just two 7" singles on Barcelona's progressive Dimension label, both in 1970. Soon after, they broke up, and never made a full-length album. So then, what's this? Shadoks, in cooperation with original Cerebrum guitarist Javier Esteve, have unearthed a bunch of previously unreleased early Cerebrum recordings by the band, five live-in-the-studio demos from 1969, presented here along with the four cuts from their 45s (one of 'em, title track "Eagle Death", heard for the first time in its full 6 minute 18 second glory, the original single track having been an edit).
That extended version of "Eagle Death", which opens the disc, is pretty wild, on par with Japanese craziness of the era like Food Brain or Brush!?, a schizophrenic garage rave-up of fuzz guitar explosions, distorted underwater-sounding vocals, manic harp blowin' and sudden tempo changes. Every element seemingly going off in its own direction, then slipping back together to sync up with urgent rhythmic umph. And, before it's over, into the midst of all this mayhem some nice classical piano melody weirdly drifts in from someplace else! With the harmonica, this track makes us think of some warped version of something by the Yardbirds or the Count Five - maybe even a track off of Count Five's totally fictional, totally grungy Carburetor Dung album, as imagined by Lester Bangs. Yep, it's gotta be one of the most wacked out psych singles cuts ever… until you hear the NEXT one on here, its B side, the awesomely titled "Read A Book", which juxtaposes some even gnarlier fuzz guitar soloing, with such gentle heartfelt vocals. The songs from their other 45 are equally killer - the percolating, high energy "Times Door" hits hard, and then its flip, "It's So Hard!" could kinda been Cerebrum's take on the sort of thing Cream was doing back then, yer basic blues rock jamming… but… it's just so SICK. Guitarist Esteve never lets up on the stinging fuzz action, delivering the distortion with demented glee.
Those four singles tracks - which could be aQ faves Los Dug Dugs on a bad, bad trip - are reason enough to get this, essential in and of themselves, but the other, previously unreleased material is woozy cool too. Those earlier tracks add swirling, whirling organ (played by one "Perry") to the mix, and are a bit more murky, and maybe also more good-time rollicking and rollin', than the sharper-edged Cerebrum of the singles. Most of 'em are covers, including versions of songs by Moby Grape, Bo Diddley, and Canned Heat - the endless boogie of "One Kind Favor" by the latter is probably our fave among those.
This reish comes complete with detailed liner notes and vintage photos, its truly a labor of love, and recommended to anyone into garage psych at its most, uh, extreme. aQ customers who bought Blue Phantom last time probably will be the ones who'll want this too.
MPEG Stream: "Eagle Death"
MPEG Stream: "Seven Days"
MPEG Stream: "Times Door"

album cover NGOZI, PAUL The Ghetto (Shadoks Music) cd 16.98
African garage fuzz fans listen up, we've got another nice "Zam-Rock" reissue here! Guitarist/vocalist Paul Ngozi (1949-1989), according to the adulatory liner notes in the cd booklet, was one of the Zambian music industry's biggest stars, at the forefront of the "Zam-Rock" phenomenon in the '70s. Those same notes explain he took the name 'Ngozi', which means danger, "because each time he took to the stage, people went crazy and it was all disaster"! Apparently he did the whole Hendrix routine of playing the guitar with his teeth, etc. We had heard of Ngozi before 'cause of previous reissues of his band the Ngozi Family's albums 45,000 Volts (1977) and My Ancestors (1974, with Chrissy Zebby Tembo). Both were KILLER, and so is this, a record originally released by a Kenyan label in 1976.
The Ghetto's nine tracks feature both hard-hitting riff rockers and more gently loping, lazy grooves. The singing is lovely & lilting some of the time, urgent & impassioned at others. The relatively lo-fi recording renders Ngozi's amped-up guitar fuzz kind of pleasantly 'soft' but still hella distorted. Lyrically, he tackles some heavy subjects here, like "Suicide", and starving children "In The Ghetto". It's spiritual too, with the song "Jesus Christ" being a most fuzzed out headbanger about Our Savior. Most of the songs are in English, but a few are in Ngozi's native tongue. If you've heard 45,000 Volts, or other Zam-Rock like The Witch and Rikki Ililonga, you pretty much know how rad this is already; it's got the fuzz, the funk, the African vibe… great stuff! Those liner notes also mention the titles of several other albums that Ngozi recorded, among them one called Heavy Metal (!) that we really hope gets reissued sometime too!
MPEG Stream: "Help Me"
MPEG Stream: "Who Will Know"
MPEG Stream: "Jesus Christ"

album cover KADAVAR s/t (Tee Pee / This Charming Man ) lp 17.98
Just take one look at this record's cover - if you guess these longhaired & bearded hippie boys in their vintage duds are another retro-proto-metal band in the Sabbathy style of Witchcraft, Graveyard, Horisont, and Noctum, you'd be guessing correctly!! Only thing is, time trippers Kadavar aren't from up in Sweden like those bands, they're from Berlin. But damn, just like all those Swedish faves, they are sure good at kicking out the jams with authentic sounding, bellbottomed bombast. The six tracks here are like the March Of The Riffs, unstoppable; from start to finish it's a rollicking ride of fuzzed out retro-riffery frequently adorned with ripping wah wah psych guitar leads, and some even psychier synth (that to be found on the spaced out final track, "Purple Sage", courtesy of guest synth wiz Shazzula, she of Black Mass Rising fame). The tones are fat, the grooves loping, the vibe very much 1972 or so, harking back to the likes of Sir Lord Baltimore and Kadavar's hard (kraut-)rockin' countrymen Night Sun and Tiger B. Smith… funnily enough, the drummer here is named "Tiger". The rest of this classic power trio is rounded out by "Mammut" on bass and "Lindemann" (ok that sounds like a real name) on guitar and vocals, which are in a generally more gentle mode than his dun-dun-dundering heavy riffs, suggestive of folky ritual at times.
Kadavar's debut gets a hell yeah recommendation to all fans of any of the doomy '70s sounding stoner rock, particularly the Swedish bands mentioned above and their counterparts over here like Danava, Witch, and SF's own Dzjenghis Khan.
Digipak cd release or colored (translucent vanilla?) vinyl with digital download.
MPEG Stream: "All Our Thoughts"
MPEG Stream: "Black Sun"
MPEG Stream: "Forgotten Past"

album cover JEFFERSON AIRPLANE Crown Of Creation (RCA) cd 5.00
**SALE **SALE* *SALE**
If you never really realized just how freaky and experimental San Francisco '60s ballroom psych legends the Jefferson Airpane were, this is a good one to check out. 1968's Crown Of Creation, their 4th album, features approximately none of their classic rock hits, instead it's way dark and psychedelic and weird - even the songs that are mostly acoustic and folky, like the David Crosby penned menage-a-trois ode "Triad", rejected by the Byrds for being too risque. Or opener "Lather", seemingly so lovely, yet with lyrics that are really rather disturbing - and Grace Slick's intense spooky delivery, plus musique concrete sound FX, puts it over the top. Other songs on the album get into a jamming heavy rock bag, with lashings of psych guitar, among 'em the apocalyptic album-closer "The House At Pooneil Corners", its bass-heavy, doomy vibe and trippy anti-war lyrics suitable for the record's mushroom clouded cover art.
Definitely a highly recommended '60s rock fave with some deep cuts for those who might have not given the Jefferson Airplane a good listen lately, or ever.
MPEG Stream: "Lather"
MPEG Stream: "Crown Of Creation"
MPEG Stream: "Greasy Heart"

album cover KADAVAR s/t (Tee Pee / This Charming Man) cd 14.98
Just take one look at this record's cover - if you guess these longhaired & bearded hippie boys in their vintage duds are another retro-proto-metal band in the Sabbathy style of Witchcraft, Graveyard, Horisont, and Noctum, you'd be guessing correctly!! Only thing is, time trippers Kadavar aren't from up in Sweden like those bands, they're from Berlin. But damn, just like all those Swedish faves, they are sure good at kicking out the jams with authentic sounding, bellbottomed bombast. The six tracks here are like the March Of The Riffs, unstoppable; from start to finish it's a rollicking ride of fuzzed out retro-riffery frequently adorned with ripping wah wah psych guitar leads, and some even psychier synth (that to be found on the spaced out final track, "Purple Sage", courtesy of guest synth wiz Shazzula, she of Black Mass Rising fame). The tones are fat, the grooves loping, the vibe very much 1972 or so, harking back to the likes of Sir Lord Baltimore and Kadavar's hard (kraut-)rockin' countrymen Night Sun and Tiger B. Smith… funnily enough, the drummer here is named "Tiger". The rest of this classic power trio is rounded out by "Mammut" on bass and "Lindemann" (ok that sounds like a real name) on guitar and vocals, which are in a generally more gentle mode than his dun-dun-dundering heavy riffs, suggestive of folky ritual at times.
Kadavar's debut gets a hell yeah recommendation to all fans of any of the doomy '70s sounding stoner rock, particularly the Swedish bands mentioned above and their counterparts over here like Danava, Witch, and SF's own Dzjenghis Khan.
Digipak cd release or colored (translucent vanilla?) vinyl with digital download.
MPEG Stream: "All Our Thoughts"
MPEG Stream: "Black Sun"
MPEG Stream: "Forgotten Past"

album cover WICKED LADY The Axeman Cometh (Guerssen) 2lp 38.00
Also in stock on vinyl now too!
A holy proto-metal relic here, folks. This is the first of two volumes (vol. 2, modestly titled Psychotic Overkill, we'll review next time) collecting the recorded output circa 1969-1972 of this heavy riffing underground UK unit, well known in the annals of hard psych fuzzarama. A classic power trio, featuring Martin Weaver (later of the Dark) on guitar, along with Bob Jefferies on bass and "Mad" Dick Smith on drums, Wicked Lady had a rep for being LOUD and causing violence. No surprise that Wicked Lady's axeman stateth in the liner notes that their fans were either partially deaf people or bikers! Or both!
Their sound was based on the basic British blues rock of the day, a la Cream, Peter Green's Fleetwood Mac, and so forth, with melodic vocals and a generally sad vibe, their songs sometimes relatively tame hippie popsike seeming - at first - before Weaver would unleash the hellish wah wah fuzz freakouts that whipped those poor deafened bikers into such a state.
Groovy, lumbering, loping, amped up and drugged out, Wicked Lady is the real deal, dated to us now, perhaps, but quite charming. You can't argue, ferinstance, with how after a gentle, folky beginning, the track "War Cloud" morphs from melodic to martial, a jackbooted march with wild soloing o'er top, kinda as if Trad Gras Och Stenar went (proto-)metal… such fuzz guitar jamming excess is to be found throughout, like Wicked Lady were the Earthless of their day.
The eight tracks found here (DIY recorded in the band's dingy rehearsal space, 'cuz they were about playing live, not making records, but wanted to remember how the songs went!) are all gonna be of interest to those into the likes of Randy Holden's Population II, High Tide, Stray, '70s Pentagram, Iron Claw, T2, Negative Space, and other obscure late sixties / early seventies purveyors of heavy psychedelic riff rock. This is the first time Wicked Lady's music has been legitimately released on cd (and Guerssen has pressed vinyl too, which hopefully we'll have soon), with the participation of Martin Weaver himself, who contributes liner notes, telling the whole Wicked Lady story - and he's got some stories. Though he does dispel the rumor that he broke a window and stole his first guitar - instead, apparently, he built it himself. Full lyrics are also included in the booklet.
As an earlier, bootleg edition of this on the cult Kissing Spell label put it in a back cover blurb: "66 Minutes Of Wah Wah Hell"!
MPEG Stream: "Run The Night"
MPEG Stream: "War Cloud"
MPEG Stream: "The Axeman Cometh"

album cover ARTIST 09 Album Title (Label) cd 11.98
The posthumous debut from (and, thus, swansong of) REDACTED's most cult black metal act, ARTIST 09. Despite their REDACTED, non-forested, non-wintry origins, ARTIST 09 was a band capable of destroying the best Scandinavia has to offer (as we witnessed upon two occasions, when ARTIST 09 had the honor of opening the REDACTED shows by Norweigans REDACTED and REDACTED, and proceeded to make both bands look like punk rockers in comparison! ARTIST 09 were so much more epic and intense). All this without any of the ignorant posturing or hackneyed corpsepaint of their peers.
Ghastly, anguished vocals and bloodchilling keyboards combine with dual trebly buzzsaw guitars and inhuman trance inducing drumming to create an atmosphere of utter grinding grimness. ARTIST 09 draws upon '90s black metal in the Norwegian tradition (especially the raw and primitive likes of Darkthrone, Burzum and Immortal) and then creates uniquely fucked song structures of epic length (20 minutes per, in some cases).
And, like the best music, ARTIST 09 also transcends genre. In some ways, REDACTED possesses elements that can be considered akin to the avant garde, experimental creations of the Swans, Skullflower, Steve Reich, or even Yoko Ono. Imagine an extensive, utterly mesmerizing Hermann Nitsch piece, composed for black metal band.
It's a suffocating soundscape of riffing and drone. Subterranean satanic art rock that equals metal. Nihilistic, depressive and never ending.
Featuring REDACTED formerly of REDACTED as well as drummer REDACTED from local death metallers REDACTED (R.I.P) and REDACTED. And of course, REDACTED of...well, REDACTED. (And REDACTED / REDACTED / REDACTED / REDACTED) REDACTED black metal maniac/death rocker extraordinaire. ARTIST 09 is largely the result of his devotion to black metal dementia.
We are not engaging in baseless hyperbole when we say: this should be crowned black metal album of the year. Any year. EVERY YEAR! FOREVER!!!! Seriously. Essential.
MPEG Stream: "sample one"
MPEG Stream: "sample two"
MPEG Stream: "sample three"

album cover BLUE PHANTOM Distortions (Kismet) cd 17.98
Before we'd even HEARD this obscure Italian instrumental library music reissue, it had a lot going for it… Groovy name and title, crude freaky album artwork (really - it's got dinosaurs, and a stonehenge, and a mushroom cloud, and what the heck is that eye in the sky doing exactly?), and also it's from the magic year of 1971! Could it live up to all that? YES. And how.
Recorded by anonymous studio musicians from Milan, intended for use as incidental music for use (presumably suitably hip) film, TV and/or radio productions, this rare collectable is vintage psychsploitation weirdness for all you proto-metal and prog rock heads, full of lumbering heavy psych riffage, often with an eerie overlay of synth. Opening cut "Diodo" immediately suggests the likes of Iron Butterfly's "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida" and Cream's "Sunshine Of Your Love", heavy maaaan! The Distortions title is accurate indeed when it comes to the guitars. But that's mixed with more sinister and/or romantic sounding grooviness elsewhere on the album, like the delicate (but still distorted) dance of "Compression" ferinstance.
The tracks on this disc are suspenseful, exciting, energetic, trippy, with titles like "Microchaos", 'Violence", and "Psycho-Nebulous". Listening to this, you can easily imagine kitschy retro-cool characters in black leather catsuits a la Danger Diabolik interacting with longhaired drugged out hippies in groovy psychedelic discotheques, with this music blaring and colored lights flashing. Spy cinema, spaghetti westerns, biker movies, could (and did?) all make use of these droning fuzz blasters and glammy grooves… we certainly would love to see any movie or TV show that had Blue Phantom on the soundtrack! Hmm, apparently quite a few of these cuts were used in a Jess Franco flick from '72 called Sinner: Diary of a Nymphomaniac...
Definitely one of the best (and by far the heaviest) stand-on-its-own "library music" album we've ever encountered, as good as a lot of 'actual bands' of the era, we've been spinning it quite a bit here at the shop since we got it in… which lead to a funny moment, when aQ overlords Allan and Andee were puzzling over the phenomenon of how there's still such awesome obscure stuff like this out there getting reissued that we'd never heard of of before, when some random girl walked into the store and immediately was like, "Oh, you're playing Blue Phantom! I love that record!", unintentionally showing up us record store nerds, eh?
This reissue includes a non-album bonus track, the only other Blue Phantom recording apparently known.
MPEG Stream: "Diodo"
MPEG Stream: "Microchaos"
MPEG Stream: "Dipnoi"

album cover SCHICKERT, GUNTER Uberfallig (Bureau B) lp 23.00
YES! We're big fans of lesser-known krautrock guitarist Gunter Schickert (who also did production work with Klaus Schulze, like, for Japan's Far East Family Band). As soon as we heard that his Uberfallig album was getting a new reissue, we knew it was going to have to be a Record Of The Week. We've been in love with this record forever, referencing it and Schickert plenty of times in other reviews when we want to cite something incredibly atmospheric and minimalistically trance inducing from deep in the krautrock zone. There was a previous cd edition of this we stocked years ago, but that's been out of print for ages. Now Germany's industrious Bureau B label have stepped in and added this rare late-krautrock masterpiece to their ongoing, essential series of reissues of essential kraut / kosmishe albums. And it's on both digipak cd *and* vinyl now as well!
Uberfallig was Schickert's second album, originally issued in 1979 on the Sky label, the follow up to his 1974 Brain debut Samtvogel. It's hard to believe somebody this good didn't record more, or with other people, but we're only aware of a couple later recordings that have ever surfaced. Here on Uberfallig, Schickert's exceptionally hypnotic space-echo guitar work, similar to Manuel Gottsching of Ashra, is matched by fascinating rhythmic pulsations, at times recalling prime Can-like velocities or the circular bubbliness of aQ faves AR & Machines, and some Pink Floyd Meddle era pastoral psych vibes as well. And it's mostly just Schickert (guitar, voice) and a few friends (drums and vocals) plus nature sounds, deftly deployed.
Opener "Puls" is worth the price of admission alone. It does indeed pulse, for nearly 16 epic minutes, building from calmly rhythmic beginnings to pure hypno-guitar bliss, mixed with subtle, splashy, sploshy field recordings - evoking the idea of Schickert and his drummer colleague Charles M. Heuer wading upstream in the wilds somewhere as their music plays. That begins the recurrent watery theme found on this album, an ever present liquid watery ambience, the sounds of wind and rain and surf and babbling brooks woven in among the "actual" instruments. The cover image of an intense looking Schickert suggests this too, his visage overlaid with what looks like the play of light on the surface of water.
The second cut, "In Der Zeit", is a shorter, folkier number, with more surf-sounds and bird calls and a gentle, hushed female vocal, accompanying Schickert's pleasant, repeating acoustic guitar motif. So nice.
Track three, "Apricot Brandy II", as some may guess from the name, is a sequel to the first track on Schickert's debut Samtvogel (wish we still had a reissue of that - maybe Bureau B will do something about that, too). Again with a watery intro, then the nervous ticking of drumsticks, heralding a quietly unfurling, slightly sinister and suspenseful 12 and a half minute, gently percolating proto-post-rock trip. We're hearing some Can circa Tago Mago, and Tortoise and Circle, too, especially with the murmuring vocals chanting "Apricot Brandy" amidst other drones and moans. It's all druggy and delicate, moody and mesmeric. Quite the tour de force, coming to a close with strange samples and lovely crackling.
If that wasn't enough, the album ends with even more haunting mesmer, the aptly titled, the 8+ minute long "Wanderer", slow and spooky at first, with more of that tick-tock drumming and watery splashes. It's got a twilight sound to it, so beautiful and mysterious and mesmeric, like this whole amazing, organic, echo-laden album.
Includes, along with credits and lyrics, new 2012 liner notes from Schickert's contemporary Asmus Tietchens, in both English and German, and also an interesting note from Schickert, explaining that some