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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 13.98
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.

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"

KALEIDOSCOPE Further Reflections: The Complete Recordings 1967-1969 (Cherry Red/Grapefruit) 2cd 19.98
Nice! The two crucial albums by this aQ fave sixties psych pop act, now reissued as a double cd, complete with bunches of bonus tracks!
Not to be confused with the various other Kaleidoscopes of the era from the US and Mexico, this perfectly twee UK psych pop combo's were one of the best unsung post-Peppers British psych-pop acts. We believe these guys might in fact have been THE ULTIMATE psychedelic pop band ever. The first of the two discs here contains their 1967 debut album Tangerine Dream (which is also not to be confused with the famous krautrock/soundtrack outfit Tangerine Dream) is just incredible. Gorgeous vocals, killer melodies, lush orchestrations, and, especially, beautifully baroque psych-speak lyrics that put "Strawberry Fields Forever" to shame - with lines like "Battalions in baby blue are bursting beige balloons / the water pistols are all filled with lemonade / the jester and the goldfish have joined minds above the moon / oh please kiss the flowers and you too will be safe / oh swing and sway..."
It's very British, twee and dreamy, being that perfect blend of sunshine and melancholy so many psych pop bands of the era were striving for. The Kaleidoscope did it best right here. I mean, if you like the Zombies and the Hollies and heck the Olivia Tremor Control, you should know about these gents too. Indeed, the album's final track "The Sky Children", might be THE ULTIMATE pop-psych track on this ultimate pop-psych record. (Hey a little hyperbole never hurt anybody.) It's an eight-minute epic, with a thrilling vocal hook on endless repeat, and amazing lyrics continually pouring forth the whole time. Truly awe-some, if you're attuned to the vibe. The disc is rounded out with six bonus tracks, from singles and such.
Disc two contains the band's second album, 1969's Faintly Blowing (and an additional 4 bonus tracks). This one carries on from their first with more of the same delightful dreamy oh-so-melodic and lysergically lyricized pop psyke, some of the best ever in our humble opinion. Orchestrated, emotive, shoulda-been-hits abound, along with some way-out psychedelic experimentation. The Kaleidoscope story continued into the proggy '70s with a name change to Fairfield Parlour but Faintly Blowing was really their last colourful hurrah of dainty dandy '60s poppiness. Quite nice, fantastic, possibly even supercalifragilistic.
MPEG Stream: "Dive Into Yesterday"
MPEG Stream: "Flight From Ashiya"
MPEG Stream: "The Sky Children"
MPEG Stream: "Faintly Blowing"
MPEG Stream: "Snap Dragon"

album cover KING GIZZARD & THE LIZARD WIZARD I'm In Your Mind Fuzz (Castle Face) lp 15.98
NOW HERE ON VINYL TOO!!
The band with the best/worst name that we've ever had a Record Of The Week by (next to, perhaps, that cd-r by King Kong Ding Dong) is back! When we made this cosmic garage psych rock band from Down Under's previous release (or should we say, releases, 'cause it was two albums in one package) our Record Of The Week just a few months ago, we compared 'em to Thee Oh Sees and Ty Segall, said they fit in with that scene, and they do - this new album is on Castle Face, ta da! Right where they belong. But King Wizard And The Lizard Wizard (still love typing that name!) mostly defy easy categorization. Clearly they've listened to a lot of records (while smoking a lot of weed) from the '60s and '70s, blenderhybridizificating all sorts of classic psychedelic source material, so you get stuff here that's part Pink Floyd, part Captain Beefheart, part T-Rex (especially on "Empty"), part West Coast Pop Experimental Band, part Status Quo... There's blues harp and underwatery vocal FX; flashes of glam pop and krautrock rhythms; spacey boogie jams, with a dash of Eastern exoticism. Often all in the same song. One track, "Cellophane", comes across like Can meets Canned Heat! A little later on, the use of flute in "Hot Water" nods to early Kraftwerk. And always, trippy as they are, these tracks are hella catchy too, like we said, right in there with Ty Segall et.al., thinking King Tuff too when it gets more glammy. Meanwhile, the mellow groove and gentle vocals of "Slow Jam 1" remind us a bit of ol' Olivia Tremor Control. And finally we should mention the fantasy castle music of the awesomely titled "Satan Speeds Up" (well, it's a better title than "Slow Jam 1" anyway), the audio equivalent of the album's equally awesome cover art. Yeah! One more time, ladies and gentlemen: King Gizzard And The Lizard Wizard!
MPEG Stream: "Cellophane"
MPEG Stream: "I'm In Your Mind Fuzz"
MPEG Stream: "Satan Speeds Up"

album cover RADIAN & HOWE GELB Radian Verses Howe Gelb (Radian Releases) cd 17.98
Huh, now this is a pretty cool, totally unexpected collaboration! Austria's Radian, longtime aQ faves who specialize in their own unique strain of instrumental, improvised, computer-processed post rock, have teamed up here with Tuscon-based indie singer-songwriter Howe Gelb of Giant Sand fame (both artists are Thrill Jockey alumni, that's probably the connection). So you get the desert-country-folk-Americana stylings of Gelb, set amidst the abstract, electronic, glitch-and-distortion infused, fractured soundscapery of Radian. Aesthetically & methodologically, this record is definitely Radian's; yet Gelb's acoustic guitar, piano, and especially voice are crucial components, spiced and edited into Radian's atmospheric, oddly rhythmic sonic constructs. It works really, really well, Gelb adding a very human, ghost-in-the-machine element to the proceedings, with his melodies, hushed spoken commentary and non-sequitur storytelling. Always intriguing, often moodily beautiful, with a sometimes-sinister undercurrent, this reminds us a bit of mysterious UK post rockers Reigns at times, also a bit of Bill Callahan's recent dub album, in a way. Highly recommended!!
MPEG Stream: "Saturated"
MPEG Stream: "From Birth To Mortician"
MPEG Stream: "Pitch And Sway Again"

album cover PINK, ARIEL Pom Pom (4AD) cd 15.98
Two idiosyncratic Southern California underground pop geniuses on one record! That's right, on this new, ostensibly 'solo' joint, everyone's fave, fey, formerly-lo-fi freakazoid, Ariel Pink, gets some help from his heavy friendz, including none other than the legendary Kim Fowley! Is that cool or what? It is. The Animal God Of The Streets adds an extra dose of cool, bringing more bizarre pop smarts to the mix (as if Ariel didn't have enough of that, but still!). Also on board, Don Bolles (Germs, 45 Grave) Jack Name, Shags Chamberlain, and various current and/or former members of Ariel's band Haunted Graffiti, among many others. As Ariel sez in his humble liner notes, this might in fact be his LEAST 'solo' album ever. In particular, Runaways svengali Fowley gets co-writing credit on five out of the 17 songs, and you can hear him on here too, delivering the spoken vocal on funky vamp "Sexual Athletics".
And basically, if you liked (we did, big time!) Ariel's last album, Mature Themes, this one offers up a similarly amusing and earwormy set of songs. Starting of with the '60s psyke pop stylings of "Plastic Raincoats In The Pig Parade", moving on into the '80s new wave inflected "White Freckles", Pom Pom covers all the usual AP bases, from dreamy love song (and sexy sex song) fare, to druggy gothy stuff, to even more wacked out rockin' weirdness.
Yeah, as you might by now expect, it's got its goofy side, for sure, with a lot of sound effects, funny voices, silly lyrics, and so forth, maybe sticking tongue too far in cheek with "Nude Beach A Go-Go". Though, that's not the most ridiculous song title on here, an honor that might instead go to "Dinosaur Carebears", a track that surprisingly shifts from sheer cavorting chaos into a slinky, dubby groove. Ariel's more earnest, emotional side is represented too, though - a track like "Put Your Number In My Phone" is fairly romantic, after all…
All in all, another very entertaining album from this one of a kind artist!! Dunno if you all have been following the latest AP controversy, but can't really imagine any of these songs on a Madonna album, somehow...
MPEG Stream: "White Freckles"
MPEG Stream: "Goth Bomb"
MPEG Stream: "Sexual Athletics"

album cover BUDOS BAND, THE Burnt Offering (Daptone) cd 15.98
Daptone's The Budos Band has always been pretty fantastic, kicking out the killer instrumental '70s style Afro-Soul-Funk jams, super tight and groovy and quite authentic-sounding (even though they're from, like, modern-day NYC). We've dug all three of the ensemble's previous albums, but Burnt Offering (pointedly not titled Budos Band IV, even though it follows II and III) might be their best one yet. First, it's got some cool artwork of a Gandalf-lookin' wizard on the cover, a total stoner/psych image that looks like it should be on a Sleep album (or the side of a van). That art might clue you in that The Budos Band has been goin' through some changes... well, what's happened is that they've seriously heavied up their sound, the guitar parts are fuzzier and riffier, supposedly inspired by '70s heavy psych and proto-metal, like Black Sabbath and Pentagram!! They're still quite funky, though, so it's not a total extreme metamorphosis into doom metal or anything. We had kind of figured that meant this would sound like '70s Zambian garage-fuzzsters the Ngozi Family or Witch, but no, not exactly, 'cause what with their big horn section, they still sound like, well, themselves, but just with an additional edge of fuzzy, gritty guitar. Along with the hard-hitting rhythms, and spirited, darkly soulful brass, it's pretty darn cool. Think Fela Kuti gone super heavy psych, with a dark Ethiopiques vibe. Also, this new Budos Band sound reminds us of that awesome Italian 'library music' reissue by Blue Phantom, just a bit. Oh, and we halfway wonder if this transformation wasn't perhaps inspired by the success of Swedish Afro-fuzz voodoo psych sensations Goat?? Certainly Goat fans ought to dig this, too!! Super recommended.
Digipack cd, or gatefold vinyl w/ download.
MPEG Stream: "The Sticks"
MPEG Stream: "Aphasia"
MPEG Stream: "Burnt Offering"

album cover HASSELL, JOHN & BRIAN ENO Fourth World Vol.1: Possible Musics (Glitter Beat) cd 17.98
Reissued and remastered for the first time on vinyl since its initial 1980 release, and previously long out of print on cd too, this beautiful collaboration between minimalist composer / experimental trumpeter Jon Hassell and ambient music pioneer Brian Eno has never sounded better! Such a gorgeous classic. Made between Eno's production work on Larajji's Ambient 3: Days of Radiance and the David Byrne collaboration, My Life In The Bush of Ghosts, Possible Musics was an early investigation into world music influences tempered through modern, Western studio techniques (synth treatments, tape delay, echo effects) resulting in a music of a borderless hybrid world of geographical intrigue. It greatly influenced the future-primitive recordings of My Life In The Bush of Ghosts made only ten days after the Fourth World sessions finished, though really they are different sides of the same coin.
Hassell, studied under Pandit Pran Nath and learned to transcribe Indian classical vocal techniques to the sound of the trumpet. Through various effects, he is able to conjure a vast array of sounds and textures, animalistic and mystical, sometimes flute-ish and even didgeridoo-ish. It never once sounds like a trumpet. There are definitely influences of Aboriginal, African, island and tribal music, but the aim feels more topographical than ethnological. The slow and deep attention to detail like the timbre of strings, the deep pulse of water drums and the loping liquid rhythms suggest big expanses of weather and terrain, movement and landscape. Hassell's trumpet treatments processed through Frippertronic-like tape loops and reverse echo effects are like deep rain clouds slowly moving across sparse tundra but seen and heard at a far distance. And indeed the whole album has this remote field recording quality like one is witness to something far-off, slightly foreboding, perhaps mystical, but also magnetic and alien, especially felt on the final side-long track "Charm (Over 'Burundi Cloud')". One of our favorites of the whole Eno/Ambient catalog!! Vinyl version comes with a copy of the cd.
MPEG Stream: "Chemistry"
MPEG Stream: "Delta Rain Dream"
MPEG Stream: "Charm (Over 'Burundi Cloud')"

album cover HASSELL, JOHN & BRIAN ENO Fourth World Vol.1: Possible Musics (Glitter Beat) lp + cd 29.00
Reissued and remastered for the first time on vinyl since its initial 1980 release, and previously long out of print on cd too, this beautiful collaboration between minimalist composer / experimental trumpeter Jon Hassell and ambient music pioneer Brian Eno has never sounded better! Such a gorgeous classic. Made between Eno's production work on Larajji's Ambient 3: Days of Radiance and the David Byrne collaboration, My Life In The Bush of Ghosts, Possible Musics was an early investigation into world music influences tempered through modern, Western studio techniques (synth treatments, tape delay, echo effects) resulting in a music of a borderless hybrid world of geographical intrigue. It greatly influenced the future-primitive recordings of My Life In The Bush of Ghosts made only ten days after the Fourth World sessions finished, though really they are different sides of the same coin.
Hassell, studied under Pandit Pran Nath and learned to transcribe Indian classical vocal techniques to the sound of the trumpet. Through various effects, he is able to conjure a vast array of sounds and textures, animalistic and mystical, sometimes flute-ish and even didgeridoo-ish. It never once sounds like a trumpet. There are definitely influences of Aboriginal, African, island and tribal music, but the aim feels more topographical than ethnological. The slow and deep attention to detail like the timbre of strings, the deep pulse of water drums and the loping liquid rhythms suggest big expanses of weather and terrain, movement and landscape. Hassell's trumpet treatments processed through Frippertronic-like tape loops and reverse echo effects are like deep rain clouds slowly moving across sparse tundra but seen and heard at a far distance. And indeed the whole album has this remote field recording quality like one is witness to something far-off, slightly foreboding, perhaps mystical, but also magnetic and alien, especially felt on the final side-long track "Charm (Over 'Burundi Cloud')". One of our favorites of the whole Eno/Ambient catalog!! Vinyl version comes with a copy of the cd.
MPEG Stream: "Chemistry"
MPEG Stream: "Delta Rain Dream"
MPEG Stream: "Charm (Over 'Burundi Cloud')"

album cover CERRONE 3: Supernature (Because Music) lp+cd 28.00
Rad, this "disco-PROG masterpiece" (to quote our own review, below) now reissued on vinyl - which comes with a cd version as well. Here's what we said before when we listed it on cd alone:
We don't do this often, but sometimes, the easiest thing is just to link to a YouTube video. Especially 'cause it's what got us interested in tracking down this reissue in the first place! Made us kind of obsessed, actually. You'll see/hear why if you go to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QgGK4qBTwpw&ob=av2n, and check out the psychedelic video version of this album's title track. (For those who just want a quick idea, take a look at the album cover operating room scene, that's in the vid, complete with people dressed up in disturbing animal masks, a Rolls Royce driving through the desert, naked ladies in the jungle, and, well, just watch it...)
So, Jean-Marc Cerrone was/is a French dance music producer and badass drummer (elsewhere on YouTube you can see him live in concert, kicking out the massive drum solos). The more disco-savvy among us here had heard of him, he's up there with Giorgio Moroder in the Euro-Disco pantheon. And Supernature, from 1977, his 3rd album, is the jam. A disco-PROG masterpiece. The title track starts things off, the one that crazy video's for, and dominates, being almost ten minutes long in its album version. An epic. No ordinary club fare here, on the surface maybe, but the disco diva vocals (lyrics by Lene Lovich!) are about some dystopian sci-fi scenario wherein twisted science is turning men into monstrous beasts (which explains - sort of - some of the video's surreal imagery), these mutants rising up against their masters. Hauntingly, she sings lines like "how can I explain, things are different today, darkness all around, and no one makes a sound..." Woah, downer disco. It's pretty dark, and weird, and the thump thump thump of the music gets that way too, with some fat synth bass riffing at about the six minute mark that brings this into imaginary Magma doing disco territory, almost. Cerrone sure puts his state of the art ARP Odyssey Mk III to good use here. The track ends with hint of 2001's "Also Sprach Zarathustra", that's how epic this is. The rest of the side maintains the mood, "Supernature" segueing seamlessly into Cerrone's solo spot "Sweet Drums", his insistent beats heavily effected and spaced out, and that's followed by the more blissfully eerie electronics of "In The Smoke", which could be from a Goblin soundtrack.
Side two is the brighter side... More typical fusion-funked Euro-Disco anthems, all three songs with "Love" in the title ("Give Me Love", "Love Is Here", "Love Is The Answer"), great stuff though, top-knotch! Lush, lively dancefloor fodder for sure.
So, recommended to fans of Zombi, Goblin, Moroder, and the recently departed Donna Summer.
MPEG Stream: "Supernature"
MPEG Stream: "In The Smoke"
MPEG Stream: "Give Me Love"

album cover ORCHESTRA OF THE UPPER ATMOSPHERE O2 (Discus) 2cd 21.00
In a word, wow. That's how our review of the debut, 2012 Orchestra Of The Upper Atmosphere release wrapped up, after several gushing paragraphs. Let's cut to the chase and simply open this review the same way; in a word, wow!
This 2nd Orchestra Of The Upper Atmosphere double cd set is their 2nd Aquarius Record Of The Week, and that was an easy decision to make. Nobody else out there sounds like this, 'cause nobody else out there thinks this BIG, and combines all these elements so perfectly - experimental electronics, improv jazz, avant-classical choral music, chamber rock, modern minimalism, pulsating krautrock beats, progressive symphonics, ambient drone, and much more… Possibly you could liken the OUA to a 'big band' version of Norway's Supersilent, just possibly, to get started. Aptly named, this Orchestra is a large scale project, and it's no wonder, so far, that they always make fully-packed double disc sets.
Led by Martin Archer (who appeared on another recent aQ list with the latest from the avant-industrial Combat Astronomy project, of which he is part) and Chris Bywater, the UK's Orchestra Of The Upper Atmosphere is indeed a large ensemble, the multi-instrumental Archer/Bywater duo (organ, electronics, electric piano, saxophones, clarinet, synthesizers, samples, percussion, voice, electric violin, etc., etc.) joined by a half dozen additional musicians bringing in everything from electric bass to flutes to glockenspiel, that core unit then further augmented by the participation of various satellite groups with which there is some overlap of personnel: the 20-person Juxtavoices chorus, the La Garotte String Quartet, and The Divine Winds.
While the first OUA album took several years to complete, this one came together in a shorter span of time, constructed from edits of live improvisations, and is no less impressive for that. It's mysterious and moody, as well as active and dramatic - when the Juxtavoices get involved, look out!
The first disc begins with "Dominant Growth Direction" - a powerful intro that zooms and whooshes with such physical heft, heck it should be used for the Dolby THX they play in the movie theater before the movie starts. That's followed by the beautiful, haunting grooves of "Paratacamite"; more atmospheric even is the next track, "Bilateral Coordination Activities Are Calming", featuring field recordings (birds, water) woven in among the drones and woodwinds and percussive sounds. Next, "Modus" is a glitchy avant-funk fusion jam, like some sort of electric Miles meets This Heat hybrid, with a definite David Shire "Taking Of Pelham 1-2-3" suspense soundtrack vibe as well. Want some even more out there 'band math' from this review? Skip ahead to disc one's blissfully grooving 14+ minute finale, which we're thinkin' sounds like a spaced out Oren Ambarchi/Augustus Pablo collaboration!!
Ok, but we can't go on describing this track by track, even briefly. That's not even all of the first disc we've covered. You want to read an even lengthier OUA review, look at our last one (and we do have a few of those sets back in stock, by the way). There's a lot here, and all of it is awesome, you get the idea.
And the thing is, for as vast and sprawling as these discs (and each track on 'em) are, there are no missteps. It's tight like that. So tastefully, cleverly crafted. It's compelling, intriguing, and evocative; ambitious but never over indulgent, never taking any wrong turns. Always on point. Or at least, that's what we think, what can we say, this just brings together a lot of sounds we like, we're hearing echoes of everything from Circle to Alice Coltrane, from Supersilent to Lumerians, from 3 Leafs to Terry Riley (just to drop a few names) and does it so dang well, and uniquely. Can we say wow, again?!
MPEG Stream: "Dominant Growth Direction"
MPEG Stream: "Modus"
MPEG Stream: "Curvature Of The Earth"

album cover KING GIZZARD & THE LIZARD WIZARD I'm In Your Mind Fuzz (Castle Face) cd 13.98
The band with the best/worst name that we've ever had a Record Of The Week by (next to, perhaps, that cd-r by King Kong Ding Dong) is back! When we made this cosmic garage psych rock band from Down Under's previous release (or should we say, releases, 'cause it was two albums in one package) our Record Of The Week just a few months ago, we compared 'em to Thee Oh Sees and Ty Segall, said they fit in with that scene, and they do - this new album is on Castle Face, ta da! Right where they belong. But King Wizard And The Lizard Wizard (still love typing that name!) mostly defy easy categorization. Clearly they've listened to a lot of records (while smoking a lot of weed) from the '60s and '70s, blenderhybridizificating all sorts of classic psychedelic source material, so you get stuff here that's part Pink Floyd, part Captain Beefheart, part T-Rex (especially on "Empty"), part West Coast Pop Experimental Band, part Status Quo... There's blues harp and underwatery vocal FX; flashes of glam pop and krautrock rhythms; spacey boogie jams, with a dash of Eastern exoticism. Often all in the same song. One track, "Cellophane", comes across like Can meets Canned Heat! A little later on, the use of flute in "Hot Water" nods to early Kraftwerk. And always, trippy as they are, these tracks are hella catchy too, like we said, right in there with Ty Segall et.al., thinking King Tuff too when it gets more glammy. Meanwhile, the mellow groove and gentle vocals of "Slow Jam 1" remind us a bit of ol' Olivia Tremor Control. And finally we should mention the fantasy castle music of the awesomely titled "Satan Speeds Up" (well, it's a better title than "Slow Jam 1" anyway), the audio equivalent of the album's equally awesome cover art. Yeah! One more time, ladies and gentlemen: King Gizzard And The Lizard Wizard!
MPEG Stream: "Cellophane"
MPEG Stream: "I'm In Your Mind Fuzz"
MPEG Stream: "Satan Speeds Up"

album cover PROBE 10 There Is A Universe (Lion) lp 21.00
NOW ALSO REISSUED ON VINYL! Here's what we said about the recent cd reissue a few weeks ago:
Just in case you were wondering, there IS a universe. A universe in which a band from Pennsylvania's Lehigh Valley released a privately-pressed lp in 1975 containing some crazy sci-fi jazz fusion prog rock jams. You may not have heard that record yet, but you live in that universe, too. That band was called Probe 10, and that lp was called There Is A Universe.
Imagine an underground hippie space rock band, with plenty of acid rock guitar and fuzz bass, teaming up with a groovy trumpet playing jazz cat who wandered in from some '60s nightclub. It's like Herb Alpert, smoking a lot of herb (ha).
Usually when obscure private press reissues are billed as long lost psych/fuzz gems, especially when there's any sort of 'jazz' component, you have to be skeptical. But, in this case, it's actually a pretty cool artifact. Super over the top with chops, and with the fuzz. The band, obsessed with the likes of Return To Forever, get busy with hectic tempo changes and rollercoaster song structures, brassy attacks, and flute too, lots of flute. And there's a big drum solo on here as well, part C of the five part suite "Invasion Of The Malladroids". Just ridiculous, really. And when they aren't conjuring jazzy sci-fi space battles with their instruments, they get all new agey, check out the babbling brook and spiritual spoken word on "To Improvise A Dream", and then there's the very first song, the title track, the only one with singing on it (courtesy of guest vocalist Susan Rudelich), shrill and sweet at the same time, misleadingly melodic and hippified though, setting you up for a surprise as the band kicks into the first of the Malladroid invasion cuts immediately afterwards, some of the fuzziest, freakiest prog fusion absurdity we've ever heard.
Limited to 500 copies on vinyl, includes insert with personal notes from two of the band members, Jim McGee and Barry "Buzz" Bachman. Unlike the cd version, though, no bonus tracks.
MPEG Stream: "Invasion Of The Malladroids: A. Invasions"
MPEG Stream: "Intergalactic Crossfire"
MPEG Stream: "Solar Winds"

album cover COMBAT ASTRONOMY Time Distort Nine (Zond) 2cd 16.98
On this, the 6th album from this unique transcontinental sludge/jazz/prog/improv unit, Combat Astronomy seriously bring the noise by providing not one but two whole discs of their extreme sonics, their most ambitious onslaught yet - part John Zorn style skronk, part industrial beatdown, part ambient dronology, part Magmoid symphonics, always reminding us of a certain strain of artists in the early '90s like 16-17, Painkiller, and God, all longtime faves of ours, as Combat Astronomy are now, too!
Disc one takes advantage of the potential to sprawl out in epic fashion that a double disc set affords, offering four pieces, all of 'em long ones, starting with the 17 minute "Tenser Quadrant", that opens with a stuttering, satisfyingly-distorted bass solo, soon joined by martial drumming, horns, and keyboard pulsations. It's a good intro to Combat Astronomy's incredible sound if you haven't heard 'em before: a powerful concoction of super thick heavy bass tones, rubbery rhythms, and suspenseful coloration from the horn section. By 'horn section' we mean Sheffield, UK's Martin Archer (known also to aQ customers also for his Orchestra Of The Upper Atmosphere project), who plays all the trumpets, saxophones, and clarinets on here, along with organ, electric piano, mellotron, glockenspiel, tuning forks, "snorks" (?), and more... Also on board, of course, is the other half of the usual Combat Astronomy collaboration, Minnesota-based James Huggett (5 string fretless and fretted basses, guitar, drum programming). Additionally for this release, drummer Peter Fairclough is employed as well, along with vocalists Julie Archer and Kelli Denoyer on selected tracks - but note, they are credited not with vocals but with 'voices', suggesting a more experimental, textural, abstract role.
Ok, back to our report on the first disc: Track two, "Unity Weapon", is even longer at over 21 minutes, and sounds like a BIG ensemble in full flight, a bunch of mekanik kommandos marching into an orchestral fray, lots going on, getting mesmeric in its repetition and layering, and then entering into a dense, atmospheric dream-space once a little past the half-way mark. The many moods of Combat Astronomy!
The intense skronk, distortion, and staggered rhythms then come roaring back on the nine minute title track, while disc closer "Hypnogeous" is a 14 minute descent into dark ambient drone, haunting and heavy, winding up in more-or-less power electronics territory.
If disc one wasn't devastating enough, there's another eight tracks in store on disc two. The second track, "SuperFestival", might be the most 'pop' thing we've ever heard from CA, while a lot of the others on this disc could vie for the most intense and speed-driven. Many moods, again. But in interest of not making the review quite as epic as the album, we'll skip the detailed rundown on all of 'em and let you investigate for yourself - which we recommend you do!!
MPEG Stream: "Tenser Quadrant"
MPEG Stream: "Time Distort Nine"
MPEG Stream: "SuperFestival"
MPEG Stream: "Exile"

album cover MAUSOLEUM GATE s/t (Cruz Del Sur) cd 16.98
After The Dagger last list, our latest vintage-sounding (but utterly brand new) true, trad metal obsession comes in the form of the debut disc from Finland's Mausoleum Gate. You'd be forgiven for thinking this album came out years and years ago, like in 1985, 'cause it's rocking, twin guitar NWOBHM influenced stuff, with heavy nods to '70s Deep Purplish prog too, featuring lots of keyboard (Hammond organ, Mellotron), songs about Gypsy Queens, and better yet, Demon Droids - in fact our fave cut here, maybe favorite metal song in a while, is indeed "Demon Droid", how can you not love it for the title/concept alone? It's a kickass tune, too, and we also dig how the vocalist throws in some wordless "Aaah aaah aaah aaahs", nice touch. Speaking of the wailing, commanding vocalist, we're pretty sure he must have one or both hands permanently locked into making the "invisible oranges" gesture, or Dio-esque devil horns!
Cliches abound, perhaps, but they're delivered with panache. Like fellow Finns Lord Fist, Mausoleum Gate sure have got the spark, and conjure an entertaining, none too serious "evil" atmosphere, perfectly captured by the cover art. You can practically smell the brimstone. Also they ROCK. Moreover, you really don't often hear this sort of doomy/proggy/rocking combination (at its most doomyproggyrockingest on the nearly 12 minute closing epic, "Mausoleum Gate"), so it's a ton of fun for fans of the likes of Iron Maiden, Rainbow, Priest, early Savatage, old Heep, Dio (and Martin) era Sabbath, and other demon-pact class acts of yore.
MPEG Stream: "Magic Of The Gypsy Queen"
MPEG Stream: "Demon Droid"
MPEG Stream: "Mercenaries Of Steel"

album cover OXIPLEGATZ Worlds And Worlds / Sidereal Journey (Ormolycka) 2 x cassette 9.98
Two of our favorite WTF black metal oddities from the late nineties, available again thanks to the weirdos at Ormolycka, and listening to these records again all these years later, they still sound as ridiculous and confusional as they did back in the day. Not at all what we were expecting from a former member of At The Gates, but we're guessing this could very well have been the reason for his departure, cuz Oxiplegatz is some sort of post black metal, avant power metal, rock opera electronica? Sounds confusing, that's cuz it IS. 1998's Sidereal Journey, the group's last record, is all programmed drums, buzzing riffage, dramatic female vocals, equal parts weird anime soundtrack, Dodheimsgard B-side, and over the top power metal cheese, but all filtered through Oxiplegatz's cracked outsider metal lens, the resulting epic is just geniusly absurd, right down to the band name, which comes from a Donald Duck comic, this sci-fi metal opera is dizzying and epic, totally over the top flitting from spacey ambience, to churning grinding blackened metal crush, to fuzzy girl pop weirdness and back again, with most of the (super brief) tracks some tangled collision of all of the above. Metalheads will likely HATE, but if you like fucked up sonic ridiculousness, albeit expertly constructed, and brilliantly performed, this will definitely hit the spot. And if your taste in metal runs toward the silly and completely baffling, well, this is definitely for you.
Sidereal Journey is paired with 1996's Worlds And Worlds, which while still sci-fi, and epic, is much less demented, a furious blackened buzz drenched power metal, that swirls and soars, progged out and super dense, but still extremely METAL. It is however far from straight up black metal, fear not, there's plenty of synthy goofiness, those female vocals (supposedly his girlfriend, whose computer generated naked body is also featured on the cover) all over the place, bombastic dramatic male crooning too, faux strings, symphonic, orchestral, electronics, even what sounds like electronic accordion, crazy stuff for sure, and goddamn if it doesn't sound as cool and crazy all these years later.
Packaged in a double cassette case, full color J-cards, one tape bright green, the other lavender, and of course, super duper limited!
MPEG Stream: "A Black Hole Is Swallowing The Sun"
MPEG Stream: "They Learned Of Its Existence"
MPEG Stream: "For Persistence"
MPEG Stream: "So It's Our Final Hour"
MPEG Stream: "The Light From The Perishing Sun"
MPEG Stream: "Aftermath"
MPEG Stream: "Quest"

album cover PISSED JEANS Shallow + Throbbing Organ 7" (Sub Pop) lp+7" 17.98
Sub Pop has just reissued these abject punks' debut album from 2005, originally released on the Parts Unknown label. Pissed Jeans kicked our asses back then when we first heard 'em - and have continued to do so throughout their career after they signed to Sub Pop. It's great to have this back, especially since Sup Pop has packaged this with extra tracks, the two songs "Throbbing Organ" and "Night Minutes" from an even earlier, long out of print 7" single. The vinyl version provides those on a separate 45, while the new cd version just provides a download code for 'em (the lp comes with a download of the whole thing too, by the way).
So, here's what we said 'bout Shallow when we listed it the first time around: A punk record for people who haven't bought a punk record in a while. It's not a retro exercise, but still something about this young Pennsylvania band brings back memories of '80s hardcore, Black Flag or Flipper back in the day, nasty punk scuzz with lots of badass guitar distortion and feedback, shambolic rock n' roll with rabid bite. The lyrics are sadsack smartass dumb, yowled over the band's noisy, catchy trashcan stomp, the vocalist really letting it all (down-and-)out on such songs as "I'm Sick," "Boring Girls", "Ashamed Of My Cum", and "I Broke My Own Heart." Can you feel sorry for someone who's wallowing in it? Doesn't matter, just enjoy the careening chaotic entertainment that results. The packaging features cool cartoon graphics of suburban banality.
MPEG Stream: "Boring Girls"
MPEG Stream: "Closet Marine"

album cover ANTHROPROPHH Outside The Circle (Rocket) lp 35.00
All you basement-dwelling, drug-gobbling fuzzfiends, today's yer lucky day! Not only do we have the deluxe (and ULTRA deluxe) reissue of 2000's Everybody Knows We Got Nowhere by UK underground garage psych stoner masters The Heads, reviewed elsewhere on this list, but also this, a brand NEW album from the Heads side project with a raspberry of a name, Anthroprophh, a groop led by Heads guitar wrangler Paul Allen. This is already the 3rd lp we've had from 'em - the first, from 2012, was just Allen solo, but recently he enlisted the two guys from powerful Bristol noise rockers The Big Naturals, to make Anthroprophh a trio, as heard earlier this year on their already out of print Cardinal Fuzz lp. Their sound has expanded too, this is a big HEAVY album, going off in all sorts of psychedelic directions, you've got some of the percussive tribal krauty drift heard on their previous lps, but also lots of heads down, pedals smashed, FX dosed High Rise/Blue Cheer styled biker rock, tracks full of fuzzy, repetitive riffage, rife with distortion n' feedback!
Opener "Returning" unleashes a lumbering attack of Amon Duul II inspired heavy hypno-rock, the exotic, extended jamming adorned by Allen's trippily effected, echoing frog-in-throat vocals. It's followed by the more Monster Magnet-y blacklight bashing of "Dead Man On The Scene", and then the desperation dirge of "2013 And She Told Me I Was Die", a super gnarly noisy march into oblivion. Man, those first three tracks had us at hello. Hell yeah.
But wait, there's more - one of this album's several short ambient interludes, most of 'em around a minute long, is up next, and there's another after that, done with drones and noise and backwards voices. Then, more psychedelic shambolic rockin' follows (we're reminded at times of those obscure English '80 hippy punks Afflicted Man, that sort of Hendrix/Hawkwind headbang thing), as do bouts of acoustic guitar spookiness and zombie zoner ceremony, the album spinning further and further into weird realms of wasteoid rock (and not-so-rock, what with those atmospheric interludes), all of it awesome. Think Twink's Think Pink meets GNOD, and you'll get the rough idea. Freaking great freaky stuff! Some great song titles, too: "Crow With Sore Throat", "Space Box Zonk Machine", and the almost Haino-esque "Detached And In Its Own Mind Riding A Ghost Train Through A Fairground It Had Built Itself"!
MPEG Stream: "Returning"
MPEG Stream: "Detatched And In Its Own Mind Riding A Ghost Train Through A Fairground It Had Built Itself"
MPEG Stream: "Dog"

album cover PISSED JEANS Shallow + Throbbing Organ 7" (Sub Pop) cd 14.98
Sub Pop has just reissued these abject punks' debut album from 2005, originally released on the Parts Unknown label. Pissed Jeans kicked our asses back then when we first heard 'em - and have continued to do so throughout their career after they signed to Sub Pop. It's great to have this back, especially since Sup Pop has packaged this with extra tracks, the two songs "Throbbing Organ" and "Night Minutes" from an even earlier, long out of print 7" single. The vinyl version provides those on a separate 45, while the new cd version just provides a download code for 'em (the lp comes with a download of the whole thing too, by the way).
So, here's what we said 'bout Shallow when we listed it the first time around: A punk record for people who haven't bought a punk record in a while. It's not a retro exercise, but still something about this young Pennsylvania band brings back memories of '80s hardcore, Black Flag or Flipper back in the day, nasty punk scuzz with lots of badass guitar distortion and feedback, shambolic rock n' roll with rabid bite. The lyrics are sadsack smartass dumb, yowled over the band's noisy, catchy trashcan stomp, the vocalist really letting it all (down-and-)out on such songs as "I'm Sick," "Boring Girls", "Ashamed Of My Cum", and "I Broke My Own Heart." Can you feel sorry for someone who's wallowing in it? Doesn't matter, just enjoy the careening chaotic entertainment that results. The packaging features cool cartoon graphics of suburban banality.
MPEG Stream: "Boring Girls"
MPEG Stream: "Closet Marine"

album cover PROBE 10 There Is A Universe (Lion) cd 14.98
Just in case you were wondering, there IS a universe. A universe in which a band from Pennsylvania's Lehigh Valley released a privately-pressed lp in 1975 containing some crazy sci-fi jazz fusion prog rock jams. You may not have heard that record yet, but you live in that universe, too. That band was called Probe 10, and that lp was called There Is A Universe.
Imagine an underground hippie space rock band, with plenty of acid rock guitar and fuzz bass, teaming up with a groovy trumpet playing jazz cat who wandered in from some '60s nightclub. It's like Herb Alpert, smoking a lot of herb (ha).
Usually when obscure private press reissues are billed as long lost psych/fuzz gems, especially when there's any sort of 'jazz' component, you have to be skeptical. But, in this case, it's actually a pretty cool artifact. Super over the top with chops, and with the fuzz. The band, obsessed with the likes of Return To Forever, get busy with hectic tempo changes and rollercoaster song structures, brassy attacks, and flute too, lots of flute. And there's a big drum solo on here as well, part C of the five part suite "Invasion Of The Malladroids". Just ridiculous, really. And when they aren't conjuring jazzy sci-fi space battles with their instruments, they get all new agey, check out the babbling brook and spiritual spoken word on "To Improvise A Dream", and then there's the very first song, the title track, the only one with singing on it (courtesy of guest vocalist Susan Rudelich), shrill and sweet at the same time, misleadingly melodic and hippified though, setting you up for a surprise as the band kicks into the first of the Malladroid invasion cuts immediately afterwards, some of the fuzziest, freakiest prog fusion absurdity we've ever heard.
Nicely packaged in a miniature lp sleeve, the cd booklet featuring personal liner notes from two of the band members, Jim McGee and Barry "Buzz" Bachman. Also, there's five unreleased bonus tracks on the cd (a vinyl version of this reissue is forthcoming too, btw).
MPEG Stream: "Invasion Of The Malladroids: A. Invasions"
MPEG Stream: "Intergalactic Crossfire"
MPEG Stream: "Solar Winds"

album cover BASTARD SAPLING Instinct Is Forever (Forcefield) cd 13.98
Bow down and bleed! 'Tis the punishing return of black metal upstarts Bastard Sapling, who hail from Virginia rather than the cold northern climes, though their blasting, majestically-riffed sound is so very Nordic in the grand, grim tradition. However, Bastard Sapling's take on tradition features some interesting twists, and a lot of extra oomph, no surprise 'cause most of the band are also members of a much less genre-specific metal outfit we love, Inter Arma, those ambitious masters of math-sludge-psych-post-metal.
Bastard Sapling (named after a song on the debut Hammers Of Misfortune album that Andee's tUMULt label put out, we're always amused to note) find ways to diversify their brutal blackness; for instance the album's most epic track, "Lantern At The End Of Time", features an ethereal vocal cameo from Windhand's Dorthia Cottrell, and on the likes of "The Killer in Us All", they even really 'rock out', if you will. Hail!
MPEG Stream: "My Spine Will Be My Noose"
MPEG Stream: "Subterreanean Rivers Of Blood"
MPEG Stream: "The Killer In Us All"

album cover CAMERA Remember I Was Carbon Dioxide (Bureau B) cd 17.98
We're always talking about "modern day krautrock" bands - Circle, Hills, The Oscillation, Cloudland Canyon, 3 Leafs, Mugstar, Von Himmel, the list goes on and on - but Berlin's mostly-instrumental Camera, a band known for impromptu shows in public spaces, has a better claim than most to the "modern day krautrock" tag, 'cause of course they are actually from Germany! Not only that, but they've previously played/collaborated with members of Neu! and Harmonia, among others. Funnily enough, though, the press material for this highly anticipated 2nd album of theirs tries to claim that "Camera are not seeking to emulate the sound of older Krautrock bands" - that any sonic similarities to those bands from the '70s are merely coincidental, the result of a shared methodology of music making, we're to suppose. And then it says "You can still call it Krautrock, if you must." Guess what? We must! It is, and really good, too.
Remember I Was Carbon Dioxide (strange title, that) naturally kicks off with a motorik beat, opener "From The Outside" gradually adding shimmering tendrils of synthesizer to what the drummer is laying down, building up to something both lovely and well-muscled. The next track, "Parhelion", takes a similar, uber-hypnotic approach, much more moody though, spaced out and plodding - "slo-mo-motorik" we'd call it. The hissing synth swoosh and echo-effected guitar with which this is layered makes for a thing of beauty, the use of distortion reminding us of some early Salvatore stuff, to cite another "modern day krautrock" fave of ours. That track could lumber forever onwards and we'd be ok with it, but eventually it does come to an end, and the next one, "Synchron", ups the tempo, lightens the mood, more melodic and sunshiney, but the thumping beat is still motorik, and gnarly noises do arise from the shoegazing guitars. Real nice - how they can suggest that Neu! and Harmonia and early Kraftwerk aren't being consciously "emulated" here is crazy! Next, the skree-laden, garage-kraut attack of "Roehre" features guest saxophone doing some free jazz damage to its HEAVY, propulsive stomp.
There's eight more tracks on this album, each in possession of its own special charms. And while many of these tracks mesmerize with their motorik beats (the rhythm just grabs a hold of you and you can't resist it!!), it's not all purely that, and a track like "Ozymandias" works its magic through eerie, droning textures of psychedelic moodiness, shimmering sounds from guitar and keys, the drumming taking a backseat, its skitter just another texture. Most of the tracks bring both rhythm and texture together, in potent aural doses of moody, druggy, majestic krautrock ritual. Fantastic stuff.
Available on cd or vinyl, the latter of which comes with a cd of itself.
MPEG Stream: "Synchron"
MPEG Stream: "Roehre"
MPEG Stream: "Haeata"

album cover CAMERA Remember I Was Carbon Dioxide (Bureau B) lp + cd 24.00
We're always talking about "modern day krautrock" bands - Circle, Hills, The Oscillation, Cloudland Canyon, 3 Leafs, Mugstar, Von Himmel, the list goes on and on - but Berlin's mostly-instrumental Camera, a band known for impromptu shows in public spaces, has a better claim than most to the "modern day krautrock" tag, 'cause of course they are actually from Germany! Not only that, but they've previously played/collaborated with members of Neu! and Harmonia, among others. Funnily enough, though, the press material for this highly anticipated 2nd album of theirs tries to claim that "Camera are not seeking to emulate the sound of older Krautrock bands" - that any sonic similarities to those bands from the '70s are merely coincidental, the result of a shared methodology of music making, we're to suppose. And then it says "You can still call it Krautrock, if you must." Guess what? We must! It is, and really good, too.
Remember I Was Carbon Dioxide (strange title, that) naturally kicks off with a motorik beat, opener "From The Outside" gradually adding shimmering tendrils of synthesizer to what the drummer is laying down, building up to something both lovely and well-muscled. The next track, "Parhelion", takes a similar, uber-hypnotic approach, much more moody though, spaced out and plodding - "slo-mo-motorik" we'd call it. The hissing synth swoosh and echo-effected guitar with which this is layered makes for a thing of beauty, the use of distortion reminding us of some early Salvatore stuff, to cite another "modern day krautrock" fave of ours. That track could lumber forever onwards and we'd be ok with it, but eventually it does come to an end, and the next one, "Synchron", ups the tempo, lightens the mood, more melodic and sunshiney, but the thumping beat is still motorik, and gnarly noises do arise from the shoegazing guitars. Real nice - how they can suggest that Neu! and Harmonia and early Kraftwerk aren't being consciously "emulated" here is crazy! Next, the skree-laden, garage-kraut attack of "Roehre" features guest saxophone doing some free jazz damage to its HEAVY, propulsive stomp.
There's eight more tracks on this album, each in possession of its own special charms. And while many of these tracks mesmerize with their motorik beats (the rhythm just grabs a hold of you and you can't resist it!!), it's not all purely that, and a track like "Ozymandias" works its magic through eerie, droning textures of psychedelic moodiness, shimmering sounds from guitar and keys, the drumming taking a backseat, its skitter just another texture. Most of the tracks bring both rhythm and texture together, in potent aural doses of moody, druggy, majestic krautrock ritual. Fantastic stuff.
Available on cd or vinyl, the latter of which comes with a cd of itself.
MPEG Stream: "Synchron"
MPEG Stream: "Roehre"
MPEG Stream: "Haeata"

album cover CAMERA Remember I Was Carbon Dioxide (Bureau B) cd 17.98
We're always talking about "modern day krautrock" bands - Circle, Hills, The Oscillation, Cloudland Canyon, 3 Leafs, Mugstar, Von Himmel, the list goes on and on - but Berlin's mostly-instrumental Camera, a band known for impromptu shows in public spaces, has a better claim than most to the "modern day krautrock" tag, 'cause of course they are actually from Germany! Not only that, but they've previously played/collaborated with members of Neu! and Harmonia, among others. Funnily enough, though, the press material for this highly anticipated 2nd album of theirs tries to claim that "Camera are not seeking to emulate the sound of older Krautrock bands" - that any sonic similarities to those bands from the '70s are merely coincidental, the result of a shared methodology of music making, we're to suppose. And then it says "You can still call it Krautrock, if you must." Guess what? We must! It is, and really good, too.
Remember I Was Carbon Dioxide (strange title, that) naturally kicks off with a motorik beat, opener "From The Outside" gradually adding shimmering tendrils of synthesizer to what the drummer is laying down, building up to something both lovely and well-muscled. The next track, "Parhelion", takes a similar, uber-hypnotic approach, much more moody though, spaced out and plodding - "slo-mo-motorik" we'd call it. The hissing synth swoosh and echo-effected guitar with which this is layered makes for a thing of beauty, the use of distortion reminding us of some early Salvatore stuff, to cite another "modern day krautrock" fave of ours. That track could lumber forever onwards and we'd be ok with it, but eventually it does come to an end, and the next one, "Synchron", ups the tempo, lightens the mood, more melodic and sunshiney, but the thumping beat is still motorik, and gnarly noises do arise from the shoegazing guitars. Real nice - how they can suggest that Neu! and Harmonia and early Kraftwerk aren't being consciously "emulated" here is crazy! Next, the skree-laden, garage-kraut attack of "Roehre" features guest saxophone doing some free jazz damage to its HEAVY, propulsive stomp.
There's eight more tracks on this album, each in possession of its own special charms. And while many of these tracks mesmerize with their motorik beats (the rhythm just grabs a hold of you and you can't resist it!!), it's not all purely that, and a track like "Ozymandias" works its magic through eerie, droning textures of psychedelic moodiness, shimmering sounds from guitar and keys, the drumming taking a backseat, its skitter just another texture. Most of the tracks bring both rhythm and texture together, in potent aural doses of moody, druggy, majestic krautrock ritual. Fantastic stuff.
Available on cd or vinyl, the latter of which comes with a cd of itself.
MPEG Stream: "Synchron"
MPEG Stream: "Roehre"
MPEG Stream: "Haeata"

album cover DAGGER, THE s/t (Century Media) cd 15.98
Doth our ears deceive us? Have we been hurtled screaming backwards across the astral plane to the mythical hard rock glory age? To a time spoken of only in forgotten whispers and ancient half recalled prophecy?? An age mortal man knows only as... 1978??? Well, if track 6 on this mystical Swedish rocker of an album is anything to go by, which is LITERALLY called "1978" and references the album titles of at least 11 classic hard rock lp that came out that same year (sample line: "We wanted blood, and we got it for sure / Alive and dangerous, coming back for more!"), then yeah I think it's safe to say aQ HQ has been transformed into some sort of space-time hopping heavy metal Tardis.
But let's back up a bit here. Who are these Nordic axe warriors, striding forth from the mists in their flared jeans and denim shirts embroidered with moons and stars (we assume anyway)? Well, surprisingly The Dagger is a Swedish death metal supergroup of sorts! Featuring past and present members of such grave gurgling stalwarts as Grave, Dismember and Nifelheim. But instead of decrepit blast beats & grinding death dirges, this album is chockfull of the kind of late '70s / early '80s hard rockin' heavy metal that we absolutely eat up here at aQuarius. It's pretty heavy on the homage to be sure, but it's done so well and with such genuine joy and enthusiasm that we don't mind one bit. Not to mention The Dagger's reference points build on a hard rock legacy that seldom gets its due from modern bands. As much we love doom metal around here, we'll be the first to admit it can be sort of hard to get excited about a band regurgitating the same Black Sabbath riffs and Ozzy aping vox unless it's done really exceptionally well. But when a band like The Dagger shows up instead sounding almost exactly like some sort of mash up of NWOBHM, early Scorpions, '80s Sabbath, solo Dio and especially '70s Deep Purple/Rainbow (there's even a song called "Skygazer"... hmm... more than a little similar to Rainbow's "Stargazer", eh?!), we're gonna immediately stand up and take notice! This is thing is bursting with Blackmore-ian minstrel harmonies and Uli-esque mystical swaying grooves. Vocalist Jani Kataja is almost a dead ringer for Ian Gillan (which is no small feat!), his strained, bluesy wail lending the songs a serious timeless world weariness, even at the most up tempo of times of which there are plenty. There's swirling Hammond organ, there's talk of "dark gypsy women", there's boogie-woogie numbers, there's Judas Priest style fist pumpers, there's crumbling doomy groovers, hell there's even a Quartz cover, "Mainline Riders"! In short, it's a rusted cauldron bubbling over with everything great about '70s dragon rock. Is it terribly original? Maybe not. But are you gonna find another band that sounds like The Dagger any time soon? Not from this decade you ain't. Recommended.
MPEG Stream: "Ahead Of You All"
MPEG Stream: "Ballad Of An Old Man"
MPEG Stream: "1978"

album cover NISENNENMONDAI N (Blast First Petite) cd 17.98
Motorik Japanese all-female trio Nisennenmondai are back, with a disc that takes the skeletal, minimalist 'choo-choo-choo' sounds of their previous outing, 2009's Destination Tokyo, to a stripped-down extreme. (They've stripped down the titles, too.) Eschewing a lot of variation, they really just lock in and go with the groove here. With standard rock instrumentation, they play what sounds like electronic music - they're an extra-tight 'live' techno band essentially, not unlike Austria's Electro Guzzi (who have a new album, Observatory, we'll be reviewing soon, too). These three long instrumental tracks of purely rhythmic attack are all tck-tck-tck, scht-scht-scht, thup-thup-thup... Ultra repetitive, up tempo percussive jitter that's sleek and steady, subtle yet urgent, constantly building up the mysterious, nervous energy. Based around live 'loops' of snare hits and bass beats, what sound like Morse code blips and Giger counter clicks, it's a brooding sort of thumping techno, with shimmering shoegaze guitars around the edges, distorted and echo-effected, creating quite a mesmeric & mekanikal, noirish mood. Sort of sounds like Circle playing a rave, really! (And we'd LOVE to experience this live!) Considerably compelling as far as we're concerned, and also kinda curious coming from a band who once upon a time sounded a lot like Sonic Youth and Deerhoof, though they've always been about the repetitive trance-induction, they've just honed that aspect and dialed back on their former noisy no-waveisms.
MPEG Stream: "A"
MPEG Stream: "B-1"

album cover ORDAINED FATE (AKA CRYPTIC AXE) Demo Anthology (Stormspell) cd 11.98
We haven't listed 'em all (yet), but here's one of the more outstanding recent entries in the Stormspell label's ongoing "Red White and Heavy" series of obscure '80s metal demo anthologies (previous faves of ours in the series include Max Plank, Aerian Rage, and Detest). Ordained Fate were an American band, from the Midwest (Wisconsin/Illinois), and this collects their early demo tape tracks, circa 1986-1990. Press play on track one and almost immediately you'll sit up and take notice, that singer has some pipes! Super high pitched screams, and guess what, the singer's a girl! Female-fronted underground '80s speed metal shreddery, kicking ass on so much of the female-fronted "occult rock" making the rounds today. Hell yeah! Whoops, sorry, we should say heck yeah. 'Cause Ordained Fate were in fact an anti-occult, CHRISTIAN metal band. ("Our vision is to be used by the Lord at His timing and in His will only, using the talents given by Him to glorify Him and sharing our hope to the unsaved, entertaining people as that is what the Lord has gifted us with.") Gifted and talented is right. Ordained Fate, or Cryptic Axe as they were originally known, back in the earliest of these demo days, were a powerful sounding band, both musically and in the sheer sincerity of their delivery. They MEAN it, when they sing it. One thing you can't knock Christian metal bands for, the best of 'em anyway. Their convictions make for some impassioned listening, that even the atheistically inclined can appreciate, we think.
And, further setting Ordained Fate/Cryptic Axe apart, not only was their singer female, but also the guitarist and bassist, too! The only guy in the band the was drummer (married to the guitarist, by the way). How often do you hear a mostly all female Christian metal band? Probably not very often! More importantly, they're really good.
The cd booklet includes rare photos and detailed liner notes - which explain, that, strangely enough, the band formed before the members became Christians, then one by one they found the Lord and turned into a Christian band.
For fans of Powers Court (especially Powers Court!!), Sacred Warrior, Cirith Ungol, Manilla Road, and other arcane '80s acts both secular and saved...
MPEG Stream: "Minions Of The Adversary"
MPEG Stream: "Midnight Exodus"
MPEG Stream: "Sweet Dreams"

album cover TWENTY SIXTY SIX AND THEN Reflections on the Future (Prog Temple) cd 17.98
Whoo-hoo! Epic awesome proggy proto-metal krautrock alert!! Germany's oddly named Twenty Sixty Six And Then concocted these heavy, organ-overloaded tracks back in 1972, jamming hard and crazy in that they-don't-make-'em-like-they-used-to mode we love, bringing to mind such much better known bands as Iron Butterfly, early ELP (or The Nice), Deep Purple Mk1, Jethro Tull and Uriah Heep, plus fellow krauts like Out Of Focus, Necronomicon, Murphy Blend, Hairy Chapter and Birth Control. It's groovy and dramatic, sometimes jazzy, often complex, definitely getting pretty wild and rippin', with kinda hoarse, bluesy vocals in English, lots of Iommi-worthy guitar soloing, a dose of Mellotron, and FLUTE!!! What's not to like? Psychedelic "hairy funk" heaviness, with both soft melodies and a harder edge, like on the mathy attack of the 9+ minute "Autumn", that reminds us also of some of our fave '70s Italian prog, too, like I Teoremi.
We should note, for accuracy's sake, that we're pretty sure this cd reissue contains the same tracks as the (out of print) one done by the Second Battle label back in 1994, called Reflections!, featuring in fact alternate, extended versions of all but one of the songs from the band's Reflections On The Future lp originally released in 1972, plus 4 bonus tracks from the same era. Which is just fine by us, if confusingly not precisely how this reissue presents itself.
Always thought this was one of the best over-the-top (yet melodic) heavies in the prog-kraut canon, nice to have it available on cd again... Connoisseurs of obscure, unfettered krautROCK will find this essential.
MPEG Stream: "At My Home "
MPEG Stream: "Autumn "
MPEG Stream: "Butterking"

album cover CULPEPER'S ORCHARD s/t (Shadoks Music) cd 17.98
YAY, this aQ psych fave from '71 reissued on compact disc, again (we've had 2 previous editions, both sold out). Here's what we said when we first freaked out about this some years ago, with additions:
A few things to note about this album:
1) Good lord, the cover! Have you ever seen a psychedelic cartoon vision of a magic garden inhabited by a freaky gnome like that before?
2) If you ask Mikael Akerfeldt of Swedish death metal / progressive rock geniuses Opeth about what his all-time favorite rare prog rock records are, along with First Utterance by Comus he'll name this one, the 1971 debut from Denmark's Culpeper's Orchard. And, now having heard it thanks to Mikael's endorsement, Allan here would too!
3) You'll probably dig this if you like the idea of blending rustic country-folk, twee hippy psych pop, and some heavy hard rock guitar riffery into one unique acid-prog experience that comes across like a mixture of Jethro Tull, Kaleidoscope UK, Yes, the Incredible String Band, and Zeppelin or Sabbath. A great freeking record.
4) Julian Cope once made it an Album Of The Month on his Head Heritage website.
5) This new Shadoks version includes new liner notes based on interviews with the former band members, along with previously unseen photos. No bonus tracks, though, unlike one of the earlier, now out of print cd editions.
MPEG Stream: "Teaparty For An Orchard"
MPEG Stream: "Your Song & Mine"

album cover KING GIZZARD & THE LIZARD WIZARD Float Along Fill Your Lungs / Oddments (Flightless) 2cd 17.98
Um, ok, either you're reading this review BECAUSE the band is named King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard, or you were just about to stop reading it 'cause the band is named King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard. If the latter is the case, please stick with it, they're actually a better band than their name might suggest (we're making this a Record Of The Week after all!!). Or, if you do think the name is cool, then they ARE as good of a band as you're hoping for. But maybe not the sort of band you'd think they'd be. It's actually kind of hard to pin down exactly what kind of band Australia's King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard are, anyway. Kind of cosmic garage psych pop?
The first disc here, Float Along - Fill Your Lungs (originally released on its own last year in their home country) starts off stonery enough with a fifteen minute spaced out extravaganza called "Head On/Pill", truly a trippy psychedelic swirl, a mind-altering mix of lilting melodies, gentle vocals, and driving motorik rhythms, with loads and loads of FX, all sorts of fuzz and distortion. It's spacey and sunshiney and somehow like a much more garage-poppy Hawkwind or Acid Mothers Temple track. Had us sold right there. But this 7-piece ensemble aren't just about the extended space rock (pop). Most of rest of the songs on Float Along are much shorter, taking elements of that first track, or not, and going to other delightful garage-pop places, variously strummy and twangy and foot-tapping and head-nodding, fuzzy and shambolic, before winding the disc up with another long, tripped out (but mellower) jam in the form of the Eastern-tinged, drone-laced title track.
THEN, there's the 2nd disc, also released separately this year Down Under, the aptly titled Oddments, which is even more varied than the 1st disc. This one starts with a Bollywood-sampling instrumental that makes us think of ol' Money Mark and the Beastie Boys, super groovy and kinda chaotic, fuzzy "hairy funk", with lots of organ and synth sizzle. The psych-groove continues on the next, vocal track, bringing in visions of early Funkadelic and Shuggie Otis. But then, as the disc spins, King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard (love typing that name out!) get back into the ramshackle '60s teen garage pop inspired songwriting that also made up the bulk of the first disc, with a dash of distorted Ariel Pink-ish dementia. The wispy vocals of "Work This Time" make us think of Vincent Gallo's solo album When, "Hot Wax" is a weird, catchy jam incorporating some "Surfing Safari" quotes, "Homeless Man In Adidas" (!) is a hushed acoustic folk number... you see, all over the place. Oddments indeed.
Overall, soundwise, King Gizzard align themselves with the Ty Segall / Thee Oh Sees type of crowd, and so it's no surprise then that they're gonna be over here in the States in October touring with White Fence. Hope we get to see that. Seems like they'd be a blast live. But King Gizzard And The Lizard Wizard's style of "garage rock" is waaaay more cosmic and psychedelic and randomly bizarre than a lot of their US contemporaries, that's for sure. We'll be indulging ourselves heavily in both these records for a while yet, trying to fully get our heads around 'em. Nice, nice, nice.
MPEG Stream: "Head On/Pill"
MPEG Stream: "Mystery Jack"
MPEG Stream: "Pop In My Step"
MPEG Stream: "Alluda Majaka"
MPEG Stream: "Vegemite"

album cover KING GIZZARD & THE LIZARD WIZARD Float Along Fill Your Lungs / Oddments (Flightless) 2lp 24.00
Um, ok, either you're reading this review BECAUSE the band is named King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard, or you were just about to stop reading it 'cause the band is named King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard. If the latter is the case, please stick with it, they're actually a better band than their name might suggest (we're making this a Record Of The Week after all!!). Or, if you do think the name is cool, then they ARE as good of a band as you're hoping for. But maybe not the sort of band you'd think they'd be. It's actually kind of hard to pin down exactly what kind of band Australia's King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard are, anyway. Kind of cosmic garage psych pop?
The first disc here, Float Along - Fill Your Lungs (originally released on its own last year in their home country) starts off stonery enough with a fifteen minute spaced out extravaganza called "Head On/Pill", truly a trippy psychedelic swirl, a mind-altering mix of lilting melodies, gentle vocals, and driving motorik rhythms, with loads and loads of FX, all sorts of fuzz and distortion. It's spacey and sunshiney and somehow like a much more garage-poppy Hawkwind or Acid Mothers Temple track. Had us sold right there. But this 7-piece ensemble aren't just about the extended space rock (pop). Most of rest of the songs on Float Along are much shorter, taking elements of that first track, or not, and going to other delightful garage-pop places, variously strummy and twangy and foot-tapping and head-nodding, fuzzy and shambolic, before winding the disc up with another long, tripped out (but mellower) jam in the form of the Eastern-tinged, drone-laced title track.
THEN, there's the 2nd disc, also released separately this year Down Under, the aptly titled Oddments, which is even more varied than the 1st disc. This one starts with a Bollywood-sampling instrumental that makes us think of ol' Money Mark and the Beastie Boys, super groovy and kinda chaotic, fuzzy "hairy funk", with lots of organ and synth sizzle. The psych-groove continues on the next, vocal track, bringing in visions of early Funkadelic and Shuggie Otis. But then, as the disc spins, King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard (love typing that name out!) get back into the ramshackle '60s teen garage pop inspired songwriting that also made up the bulk of the first disc, with a dash of distorted Ariel Pink-ish dementia. The wispy vocals of "Work This Time" make us think of Vincent Gallo's solo album When, "Hot Wax" is a weird, catchy jam incorporating some "Surfing Safari" quotes, "Homeless Man In Adidas" (!) is a hushed acoustic folk number... you see, all over the place. Oddments indeed.
Overall, soundwise, King Gizzard align themselves with the Ty Segall / Thee Oh Sees type of crowd, and so it's no surprise then that they're gonna be over here in the States in October touring with White Fence. Hope we get to see that. Seems like they'd be a blast live. But King Gizzard And The Lizard Wizard's style of "garage rock" is waaaay more cosmic and psychedelic and randomly bizarre than a lot of their US contemporaries, that's for sure. We'll be indulging ourselves heavily in both these records for a while yet, trying to fully get our heads around 'em. Nice, nice, nice.
MPEG Stream: "Head On/Pill"
MPEG Stream: "Mystery Jack"
MPEG Stream: "Pop In My Step"
MPEG Stream: "Alluda Majaka"
MPEG Stream: "Vegemite"

album cover POWER OF JISM Your Son Died Laughing (Heart & Crossbone) 2lp 39.00
Fans of abject, chaotic, doomed-out noiserock/industrial heaviness a la Zeni Geva, early Swans, IIIrd Gatekeeper era Skullflower, old Godflesh, Splintered, and Lewd, you're gonna want to batten down the hatches and cuddle up with this!!! A super limited edition (300 copies only) double vinyl reissue of a cd originally released by this Dutch band in 1997 via the Supreme Tool Supplies label, pretty rare & obscure - we had never heard of it, and we were pretty into this sort of stuff back in the day. And it's really good. Six long tracks, each one a harrowing descent into feedback-laden, pounding sludge madness, with churning, clangorous rhythms, headcaving riffs, and anguished vokills that would give even the ultradoom stylings of Alan Dubin in Khanate some competition. On each song, a monster has been stirred from slumber, a nightmare given "musical" form, sorrowful screams coming from all throats and instruments all at once. So sickened, seasawing, distorted and distressed! The 1997 date almost seems too late, this really sounds like something that would have come out on Pathological in like, '89. Agonized, abrasive, cathartic, and car-crash compelling. Would you also believe catchy? Well, maybe, once you're in its dismal, lurching, heavy embrace!
Big thanks to the fine freaks at Israel's Heart & Crossbone label for bringing this black hole of intense industrial rock to "light". Remastered by, yep, Khanate's James Plotkin, who was probably thinking, damn, my kind of shit! Us too. Recommended!!
(Turns out, the singer/guitarist in this band, had also been in Lewd, who did a split with Zeni Geva once upon a time... see it all makes sense.)
MPEG Stream: "Gods"
MPEG Stream: "Self Demolition Juggernaut"
MPEG Stream: "Liquid Souls"

album cover C.O.M.A. Clinik Organik Muzak Anatomik (Desire) cd 16.98
We've been diggin' some killer late '70s, early '80s French punk rock lately, or "paink" as the as the recent compilation of that name has it, discovering some new obscure faves from the scene we hadn't known of before, bands to file alongside Soggy and Metal Urbain in the realm of Stooges-y, snotty, sometimes synth-laced underground French-speaking rawk from the new wave era. Here's a good example, reissued for the first time on cd (and also on vinyl too, backordered at the moment - but the the cd has 4 previously unreleased bonus tracks anyway).
C.O.M.A., aka Clinik Organik Musak Anatomik (great name, whatever it means exactly!), originally unleashed this way weird and super rare full-length, their only album, in 1979. It's some intense & experimental, minimal wave synth punk, manifested with shamboblic precision, their odd "musak" loaded with blurting synthesizer, noisy guitar, mechanical drumbeats, distorted disembodied vocals (often a gravelly croak), and electronic FX galore. Some tracks are more abstract, like the soundscapey segue of "Consequences", consisting of about 50 percent feedback, while others, like "Demain", are more groove-oriented, dark and dancey new wave numbers, still loaded with synth strangeness, to which we can totally imagine stylish French punks doing some kind of robo-pogo.
Yup, it's a diverse disc, wherein a moody, sparse piano piece like "Coma" could be followed by the hard-charging mechano-aggro beatdown of "Assaut", complete with wiggly wild guitar/synth solo.
The sporadic mad scientist's laboratory bleep bloop of "La Valse A Mutant" kinda has a Francophone "Hardcore Devo" vibe, and definitely Devo were an inspiration on this groop, along with the likes of Kraftwerk, Wire, and The Residents. Think Devo meets Metal Urbain, you're on the right track. Great stuff. C.O.M.A. didn't appear on that Paink comp, we don't know why, they shoulda been, though maybe just a bit weirder than the others. Fans of stuff on Medical and Dark Entries ought to check it out...
MPEG Stream: "Tete De Gomme"
MPEG Stream: "Assaut"
MPEG Stream: "Demain"

album cover MAR-VISTA Visions Of Sodal Ye (Strawberry Rain) lp 37.00
It's nice to know that no matter how many records are reissued, or rare gems discovered, or mysterious private press releases rescued from oblivion, there will always be more. And even though sometimes we feel like the bottom of the reissue barrel has been reached, based on some dubious reissues, all it takes is a record like this, to remind us that there are truly some mind benignly fantastic records that have yet to be unearthed. And yeah, this is some truly next level, mind bending stuff. EVERYBODY here digs it, so we knew we had to make it a Record Of The Week, even though a week ago, we'd never heard of Mar-Vista. Sounds like of like a motel or something.
Originally a private press record, released in a run of just 200 copies in 1976, and packaged in blank white sleeves, and sold locally in France, this deliriously trippy and over the top chunk of French psychedelic synth prog is so good, and so weird, it really is one of those rare records, that's makes it hard to believe it could've remained lost for so long. Cuz really, anyone hearing this, would immediately freak out. We most definitely did. Apparently this duo was heavily influenced by minimalists like La Monte Young and Terry Riley, and krautrock combos like Ashra Tempel and Popol Vuh and while that's not actually bad band math when trying to describe Mar-Vista, the truth of the sound is so much stranger.
A single 41 minute song suite, separated into 6 movements, Visions Of Sodal Ye begins with primitive lo-fi drum machine (or drumming that sounds programmed), beneath whirring organs, fingerpicked acoustic guitars, droning synths and shimmering melodies, with laid back vox way down in the mix, not to mention some killer distorted psych guitar shred, the whole thing wrapped in warped sonic warble. There are plenty of weird production glitches, drop outs, and tape decay/damage from the original masters we would assume, but it only adds to the sound, a sound that soon blossoms into soaring kosmische synth swirls, anchored by more of those primitive drum machine like rhythms, and wreathed in what sounds like whipping winds, and jaw harp like spring melodies, more plink plonk, sing songy synths, and a fierce squall of psychedelic noise guitar. The movements merge into one sprawling epic, continuing with the coolest, creepiest track of the bunch, a dour, murky dirge, a tripped out sort of doom-kraut creep, with low buzzing synths, skittery rhythms, and multiple vocal lines, all wound up into a haunting, intense, organ and synth drenched lumber, that could be the weirdest heaviest French psych-prog jam EVER. That quickly (d)evolves into a cool, groovy sixties style psychedelic blow out, all cascading synth melodies, pulsing hip shaking rhythms, and super distorted theremin like squiggles over the top, before settling into some pulsating, cosmic shimmer, tinged with just a little bit new age, some serious synth prog that blossoms into awesome John Carpenter like soundtrackiness! The record/songsuite culminates in the final 21+ minute movement, a sprawling cinematic synth epic, a twisted dronescape of layered synths and extended tones, ominous and sinister, minor key and darkly malevolent, again, like it could be from the some lost Carpenter movie, all creepy slo-mo melodies, and crumbling textures, plenty of tension, haunting and shadowy and mysterious.
And generally bonus tracks are bonus tracks for a reason, cast offs, throw aways, songs that weren't good enough to make the cut, but not here, the two bonus tracks (found only on the cd!!) are crazy, and crazy cool, the first, "Synthetik Way", is a glistening, glimmering planetarium style cosmic synth workout, all lush, hushed and tranquil one second, then distorted and wildly psychedelic the next, while the second "Crash '73", is an impossibly trippy, surprisingly heavy psych rock jam, with in-the-red distorted guitar and skittery drumming, beneath a wild tangle of snake charmer synth shred, and a totally WTF twisted stuttery finale, which had us imagining a whole other record tucked away with more of this outsider synth-prog-psych weirdness…
So incredible, quite possibly the reissue of the year! Minimal liner notes, a reproduction of the original sleeve, but sadly somewhat flimsy packaging on the digipack cd...
The cd version is limited to 500 copies, the lp just 300.
MPEG Stream: "Her Eyes Are Closed"
MPEG Stream: "Death's Shadows"
MPEG Stream: "The Black Sun Shones Today"
MPEG Stream: "Crash '73"

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

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

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

album cover HOT FOG Secret Phantasies Of The Dragon Sun (self-released) 2lp 12.98
The fog rolls in almost every night here in San Francisco, but only once in a very great while is it a HOT fog. Which is to say, we've been waiting for this second album from these local, retro heavy metallers for a while now, and at last it's here, on both cd and vinyl, resplendent in eye-catchingly colorful, phantastic Alan Forbes artwork.
Gotta love these guys - though they may be dad-aged dilettantes (previously in punkier bands), they rip it up mightily, paying homage to Iron Maiden and Metallica. The goods they deliver here range from galloping NWOBHM influenced stormers like "Priest Of The Hillpeople" to sleazy, quasi-ironic party time rockers like "Tonight! (In The Night)" to triumphant epics like the 9+ minute "Agamemnon's Gambit" to doomed-out thrashers like "Epoch Of The Tyrants". There's plenty of melody, even plenty-ier of riffs, lots of shredding leads, and some sweet acoustic intros. Amateur air guitarists, flex your fingers! Also, the vocalist wails away quite convincingly, even when his lyrics are ever so slightly tongue-in-cheek.
You can be a troo grim sourpuss and complain that these overgrown teenagers are having too much fun with their metal, but we'd rather have fun too and headbang along to Hot Fog's energetic & majestic old school tuneage. Seriously, this rules. Fans of certain other Bay Area 'bangers, like Hammers Of Misfortune and Space Vacation, should check Hot Fog out, if you haven't already.
FYI, there's also going to be a cd edition on Stormspell that we'll have in just a few days (and list next time), but right now we've got the band's own self-released limited vinyl version while they last, it's a 45rpm double lp 'cause they wanted a gatefold sleeve (and also for maximum fidelity).
MPEG Stream: "Epoch Of The Tyrant"
MPEG Stream: "Priest Of The Hillpeople"
MPEG Stream: "Sword Mountain"

album cover MAR-VISTA Visions Of Sodal Ye (Strawberry Rain) cd 16.98
It's nice to know that no matter how many records are reissued, or rare gems discovered, or mysterious private press releases rescued from oblivion, there will always be more. And even though sometimes we feel like the bottom of the reissue barrel has been reached, based on some dubious reissues, all it takes is a record like this, to remind us that there are truly some mind benignly fantastic records that have yet to be unearthed. And yeah, this is some truly next level, mind bending stuff. EVERYBODY here digs it, so we knew we had to make it a Record Of The Week, even though a week ago, we'd never heard of Mar-Vista. Sounds like of like a motel or something.
Originally a private press record, released in a run of just 200 copies in 1976, and packaged in blank white sleeves, and sold locally in France, this deliriously trippy and over the top chunk of French psychedelic synth prog is so good, and so weird, it really is one of those rare records, that's makes it hard to believe it could've remained lost for so long. Cuz really, anyone hearing this, would immediately freak out. We most definitely did. Apparently this duo was heavily influenced by minimalists like La Monte Young and Terry Riley, and krautrock combos like Ashra Tempel and Popol Vuh and while that's not actually bad band math when trying to describe Mar-Vista, the truth of the sound is so much stranger.
A single 41 minute song suite, separated into 6 movements, Visions Of Sodal Ye begins with primitive lo-fi drum machine (or drumming that sounds programmed), beneath whirring organs, fingerpicked acoustic guitars, droning synths and shimmering melodies, with laid back vox way down in the mix, not to mention some killer distorted psych guitar shred, the whole thing wrapped in warped sonic warble. There are plenty of weird production glitches, drop outs, and tape decay/damage from the original masters we would assume, but it only adds to the sound, a sound that soon blossoms into soaring kosmische synth swirls, anchored by more of those primitive drum machine like rhythms, and wreathed in what sounds like whipping winds, and jaw harp like spring melodies, more plink plonk, sing songy synths, and a fierce squall of psychedelic noise guitar. The movements merge into one sprawling epic, continuing with the coolest, creepiest track of the bunch, a dour, murky dirge, a tripped out sort of doom-kraut creep, with low buzzing synths, skittery rhythms, and multiple vocal lines, all wound up into a haunting, intense, organ and synth drenched lumber, that could be the weirdest heaviest French psych-prog jam EVER. That quickly (d)evolves into a cool, groovy sixties style psychedelic blow out, all cascading synth melodies, pulsing hip shaking rhythms, and super distorted theremin like squiggles over the top, before settling into some pulsating, cosmic shimmer, tinged with just a little bit new age, some serious synth prog that blossoms into awesome John Carpenter like soundtrackiness! The record/songsuite culminates in the final 21+ minute movement, a sprawling cinematic synth epic, a twisted dronescape of layered synths and extended tones, ominous and sinister, minor key and darkly malevolent, again, like it could be from the some lost Carpenter movie, all creepy slo-mo melodies, and crumbling textures, plenty of tension, haunting and shadowy and mysterious.
And generally bonus tracks are bonus tracks for a reason, cast offs, throw aways, songs that weren't good enough to make the cut, but not here, the two bonus tracks (found only on the cd!!) are crazy, and crazy cool, the first, "Synthetik Way", is a glistening, glimmering planetarium style cosmic synth workout, all lush, hushed and tranquil one second, then distorted and wildly psychedelic the next, while the second "Crash '73", is an impossibly trippy, surprisingly heavy psych rock jam, with in-the-red distorted guitar and skittery drumming, beneath a wild tangle of snake charmer synth shred, and a totally WTF twisted stuttery finale, which had us imagining a whole other record tucked away with more of this outsider synth-prog-psych weirdness…
So incredible, quite possibly the reissue of the year! Minimal liner notes, a reproduction of the original sleeve, but sadly somewhat flimsy packaging on the digipack cd...
The cd version is limited to 500 copies, the lp just 300.
MPEG Stream: "Her Eyes Are Closed"
MPEG Stream: "Death's Shadows"
MPEG Stream: "The Black Sun Shones Today"
MPEG Stream: "Crash '73"

album cover T.R.A.S.E. (TAPE RECORDER AND SYNTHESIZER ENSEMBLE) s/t (B-Music / Finders Keepers) cd 13.98
Sweet! This is the sort of thing that makes for a good Record Of The Week both 'cause of how it sounds (always the biggest consideration of course!!) and also 'cause the back story is pretty cool, too. We'll start with that. T.R.A.S.E. stands for Tape Recorder And Synthesizer Ensemble, a name that, if used by a band nowadays might seem just a bit unimaginatively straightforward & blandly self-explanatory, or perhaps meant ironically academic-sounding somehow. But when you learn that T.R.A.S.E. were a DIY "ensemble" masterminded by a precocious British schoolboy back in 1981, making experimental electronic home recordings that sound not too far from stuff such modern-day outfits as Emeralds and Umberto and Soft Moon would be doing years later, then the name becomes fairly endearing, eh? Just take a look at the cover photo, two skinny teenagers, one looking kinda cool in T-shirt and shades, standing with electric guitar in hand, the other kid in sweater and jeans, looking a bit dorkier as he sits amidst a cluttered array of electronic keyboards, amplifiers, reel-to-reel tape machines and other assorted audio gear. The latter teen is T.R.A.S.E. founder Andy Popplewell, most definitely an A/V geek at his school, who put together his own six-channel audio mixer at age 16 following plans in a issue of Practical Electronics magazine. Being into both sci-fi soundtracks and new wave music like The Human League, Ultravox and Gary Numan (one of the tracks here is a Tubeway Army cover) it wasn't long before that mixer, and other gear he built, like an "Elektor Chorosynth", was put to use to record his own music. Kraftwerk, Jean-Michel Jarre, and Giorgio Moroder where among his other inspirations. T.R.A.S.E. recorded one unreleased cassette lp called Electronic Rock, and the deep diggers at B-Music/Finders Keepers have compiled tracks from that tape here along with other home studio / real studio / demo tracks by Popplewell and T.R.A.S.E., 14 total cuts of adolescent outsider synthsplorations, all tick-tocking drum machines and swells of droning synth, adorned with phaser and fuzz FX, replete with gentle melodies and warped "cosmic" soundz. These tracks are mostly instrumental, though a few have vocals, like the Messethetics-ish downer electro pop of "Talk To Me" and the sad, fuzzy "Unrequited Love". So much primitive shimmering synth beauty, the more abstract of the tracks glistening rhythmically, the more song-like coming across like lo-fi coldwave cuts.
Perhaps the best recommendation we can give this, is that playing it in the store, generally results in customers asking about it and buying a copy. Probably the best "long lost tapes" release of vintage unknown electronica since that Rodion G.A. record!! One of those serendipitous discoveries, occasioned by a fortuitous meeting between Andy Popplewell and Andy Votel of Finders Keepers.
The cd booklet includes color photos and vintage synth kit adverts, alongside detailed and very revealing liner notes penned by Popplewell himself, who in the wake of T.R.A.S.E. later became a BBC radio engineer, now works in audio media restoration, and who currently studies conspiracy theories and other esoteric knowledge in his spare time.
MPEG Stream: "T.R.A.S.E. Sketch-1"
MPEG Stream: "Harmonium"
MPEG Stream: "Talk To Me"
MPEG Stream: "Momento"

album cover DISSECTION Storm Of The Light's Bane (The End) lp 23.00
THIS AQ FAVE BLACK METAL CLASSIC NOW REISSUED ON (PURPLE!) VINYL! NICE!
While of course this is a fave of all the metalheads around here, and many of our metal-lovin' customers, it's also loved by the less metal inclined - for instance, former aQ staffer Byram, not normally a big metal consumer, ranks this as one of his favorites amongst the Nordic hordes. In fact, it's one of the few metal albums he owns. It's that great. It was their 2nd album, originally released in 1994, and on it Dissection perfected their melodic, blackened Swedish death metal approach - that means TRUE, original metal, with elements of everything from Morbid Angel to Mayhem to Iron Maiden, suped-up and super-grim, with raspy vocals, wicked drumming (the guy is AMAZING), truly memorable, majestic melodies, and tons of cold winter atmosphere. They take long breaks to let their acoustic guitars gently weep, then tear back into the brutal, razor-edged rifferama. Serious stuff, seriously great.
At the time, this was to be their last album, a mighty swan song, as Dissection called it quits soon after when their frontman ended up in jail as accessory to murder - but their very tangential role in any of that over-sensationalized Scandinavian black metal true crime stuff has nothing to do with why you should be interested in this band. Regardless of Jon Nodtveidt's (R.I.P.) sordid saga, Dissection was a brilliant band, and Storm of the Light's Bane is an all time classic that belongs in every metal collection. Here's a chance to get it on vinyl.
MPEG Stream: "Night's Blood"
MPEG Stream: "Where Dead Angels Lie"
MPEG Stream: "Soulreaper"

album cover V/A Museum Of Future Sound IV (Flogsta Danshall) 2lp 39.00
Skweee! It's been a little while since we've been able to use that word in a review, but we're always super happy when we can, because it usually means we're listing a new release of "skweee" music. Skweee! You know, the mostly-Scandinavian DIY electro subgenre, characterized by bleep-bloopy videogame-y synth sounds and freaky, fractured funk grooves, all very stripped down and homebrewed. Still pretty much an underground cult thing, despite being the some of the most charming, fun stuff that all of electronica has had to offer, ever. Just check out this, the latest import compilation of skweee bangers from one of the form's leading purveyors, Sweden's Flogsta Danshall label. Fans will already be salivating, with cuts from top skweee artists like Randy Barracuda, Limonious, Claws Cousteau, Daniel Savio, and Joxaren, appearing alongside lots of new names we're not familiar with. 20 tracks in all, spread over four sides of vinyl, housed in a sleeve bearing black & white brick wall artwork in keeping with the earlier entries in this great series (volumes 1 and 2 were cds, vol. 3 was download-only), graphics we love so much.
It'd be too much to go track-by-track in this review; we're not even sure if we should bother calling out highlights - like, the slinky, stuttering funk of Randy Barracuda's "Black Belt", or the herky-jerky blurble of Vurado Bokoda's "Hunchback Blast", or the head-bobbing 'attract mode' keyboard jam that is Grizzler's "Orangutan Sizzle", 'cause we'd have to keep going, and mention Easy & Center Of The Universe's Eastern glitch grooves on "Bosporus Raver", as well as the spacey, swaggery chopped up blip-hop of Claws Costeau's "Sichuan Tongue", and on and on, 'cause it's all good stuff, skweee at its best - that's the point of the Museum Of Future Sound series after all. So, very recommended. If you're just gonna buy one skweee release this year (and you should, every chance you get) then make it this one!! Skweee!!!!
MPEG Stream: STILETTI-ANA "Alkuperaiset-Originals"
MPEG Stream: JOXAREN "Sunu Dambala"
MPEG Stream: RANDY BARRACUDA "Black Belt"

album cover WOLVES IN THE THRONE ROOM Celestite (Artemisia) cd 14.98
We're super into this, but avant black metallers Wolves In The Throne Room have gotten a lot of flack for this new record of theirs, which seems to be more based on them as a band, than the record itself; like Deafheaven or Liturgy, the fact that they're 'hip' and 'cool' and lots of non metalheads dig them makes them ripe for criticism from the 'troo cvlt' black metal crowd. Also that they're doing something a bit different. A LOT different, here. And we applaud it! 'Cause taken objectively, as in, if you didn't even know this was WITTR, you might find yourself pretty into it.
The deal is, there's really no black metal here, just pure spaced-out synth shimmer, completely cosmic and kinda New Agey, even. It's total Tangerine Dream worship, but with plenty of dense bombast and thick layered drones. More like Emeralds than Emperor. The sort of thing some black metal bands dabble in as "intro music", taken to the full-length extreme. And it's pretty good - the first track sounds like it could be an alternate soundtrack to Bladerunner. Haunting and ominous, lush drones and buried melodies... Elsewhere, the swaths of thick synth-iness sound almost like Salem, some beatless almost witch-housiness... There's even some Carpenter-y electro beats on "Sleeping Gold Storm". The moaning horns and other elements, in the more cacophonous crescendos, builds up the drama and edginess, but it never gets metal, nope. It's the intro to itself, instead.
Thumbs up from us! And, black metal and/or WITTR fans who aren't open-minded enough to approve of this, don't fret, it's just meant as an electronic "companion" to their last album, 2011's Celestial Lineage, not a follow-up. You still gotta keep waiting for that, but in the meantime, you could try to relax and enjoy these surprisingly spaced-out sounds. Plus, it's not like there's not precedence for stuff like this in the realms of black metal, from Neptune Towers to Alturaz... And for other folks, more into synths and drones than metal, this could easily be the first (only?) WITTR you'll ever need.
MPEG Stream: "Turning Ever Towards The Sun"
MPEG Stream: "Initiation At Neudeg Alm"
MPEG Stream: "Sleeping Gold Storm"

album cover CHAIN, PAUL Alkahest (Minotauro) cd 17.98
We've always wanted to list something by Italian occult doom metal master Paul Chain (ex-Death S.S.), he's a true underground legend in the realms of magickal violet-hued heaviness and improvised downer psychedelia. We've referenced him in several reviews, when discussing the likes of Blizaro, Black Hole, and Tony Tears, but never before have we had any of Paul Chain's own stuff available to list - until now. A whole bunch of his rare '80s and '90s albums have just been reissued on the Minotauro label, and so we finally get to review 'em, starting with this sought-after classic, 1995's Alkahest. Out of print for years, it now makes a welcome return on both cd (in a miniature lp-style gatefold sleeve, with obi) and limited edition double gatefold vinyl.
Alkahest is a good entry way into the master's extensive discography, as it possesses much of his unique, weird vibe while not being nearly as experimental and abstract as some of his other albums. Instead, Alkahest functions as a solid, spooky slab of traditional doom metal, offering up plenty of plodding, heavier-than-thou riffage that any fan of Black Sabbath, Saint Vitus or Cathedral ought to happily bow down to. We mention retired UK doom gods Cathedral in particular 'cause their frontman, Lee Dorrian, who's a HUGE Paul Chain fan, happens to sing on about half of this album (a thrill of a lifetime for him), Dorrian's gruffer guest vocals quite a contrast to Paul Chain's own strange, haunted, higher register croon, and not just because there's actual lyrics to the songs Dorrian sings, while Paul Chain's vocals are, as is his wont, all purely phonetic, not in any language at all (see what we mean by him being experimental?). Dorrian's gravely gargle mellows out a bit for the mournful ballad "Lake Without Water", quite lovely with medieval lute and acoustic guitar, sort of in the vein of Sabbath's "Solitude"...
Overall, Alkahest is brimming with doomed, despairing, druggy atmosphere, the Sabbathic riffs and psychedelic soloing supported by strains of doleful church organ and hints of synth, an Italian prog/soundtrack influence definitely present. Really an excellent album all doom hounds (especially those into early Cathedral) should have in their collection! And in a way, strangely uplifting for something so hopelessly dark and doomy.
Ok, next up, Detaching From Satan by Paul Chain's Violet Theatre...
MPEG Stream: "Sand Glass"
MPEG Stream: "Three Water"
MPEG Stream: "Voyage To Hell"

album cover ROCK*A*TEENS, THE A Major Motion Picture (Chunklet) 2lp 28.00
As we've mentioned in a bunch of other reviews, lots of our favorite bands are woefully under-represented on the aQ list, generally, it's because those records predated the list, so when a record gets reissued, it's often a chance to finally lavish praise on a record that's been a favorite for years (or decades). In this case, it's not a reissue, but instead a live record from Georgia garage punks the Rock*A*Teens, who are currently are covered on the aQ site by just a couple sentences about one of their records, which is really a shame, cuz we LOVE these guys. So until someone mounts the lavish, deluxe reissue campaign these guys and their incredible records deserve, we can revel in this sweat soaked high energy live set cobbled together from an extended residency at the Star Community Bar in Atlanta, between 1998 and 1999, courtesy of aQ pal and Chunklet mastermind Henry Owings, who continues to dig up incredible rarities (we're still loving the recent Don Caballero record, and are hoping he'll do a Bar-B-Q- Killers reissue, another legendary and underappreciated Georgia outfit), and incredible this is.
If you've yet to discover the Rock*A*Teens, imagine a swampy, reverb drenched, fifties style, garage rock rockabilly, filtered through something more modern, swaggery and dramatic, the same sort of gospel tinged swampiness of Woven Hand, but more rocking, feverish, loose limbed and wild. Brooding, sweat soaked, bloody knuckled, broken bottled, booze soaked, psychedelic blooze stomps and echo drenched slow burn ballads in equal measure, all whirring organs, reverb galore, buzzing distortion, wild tribal drumming, and stunning, timeless songwriting, all wound up into something gloriously gritty, grimy, ecstatic, cathartic, murky and emotionally charged. Just check out the samples and you'll be sold. "Black Ice" might be one of our favorite songs EVER, in a body of work that has an impossible number of potential all time faves. Every record a stone cold gem, and this live set manages to transcend the limitations of the 'live record' and transports the listener to a dive bar in Georgia, lit with Christmas lights, packed with punks, this band crammed onto a little stage in the corner, conjuring up musical demons, and angels, and creating a gorgeous, noisy, heart breaking din. AWESOME. Includes a download too.
MPEG Stream: "Black Ice"
MPEG Stream: "Don't Destroy This Night"
MPEG Stream: "Clarissa, Just Do It Anyway"
MPEG Stream: "Tuesday's Just As Bad"
MPEG Stream: "Cry, Crybaby"

album cover OGRE The Last Neanderthal (Minotauro) cd 18.98
These outrageous '70s-sounding stoner rockers from up in Maine are back at last, after like a six year absence, with an excellent new opus of their over the top, hard riffing retro-rock. As we had expected, it's a doomy, proggy concoction, lots of Sabbath goin' on (the wailing, nasal vocals sound a bit like Mike Patton doing an Ozzy impression). Ogre don't hold anything back, this is a wild ride of unabashed old school heaviness with a theatrical flair, and lots of fuzz and wah.
Lyrically, the songs concern themselves with a range of subjects: the science-fantasy works of Roger Zelazny, Greek myth, the French and Indian Wars, drugs, madness. And then there's one mellow instrumental named after an Advanced Dungeons & Dragons module.
Of further note, the song "Soulless Woman" is a cover, originally by an even more obscure band also named Ogre, who were actually from the '70s, and its sure seems to be a lost garage psych classic, giving this album a bit of a detour into more of an Uncle Acid or Satan's Satyrs direction, not that they were too far removed to begin with.
Italian import, on the label best known as the home of cult doomster Paul Chain. Gatefold miniature-lp style jacket.
MPEG Stream: "Nine Princes In Amber"
MPEG Stream: "Soulless Woman"
MPEG Stream: "Warpath"

album cover ZIG ZAGS s/t (In The Red) cd 13.98
The Ty Segall produced debut full-length from LA trio Zig Zags is all about owning the term "kick ass punk/metal hybrid"! They hit the ground running, come out swinging, whatever metaphor you wanna use for rulin' from the get-go, the first few cuts compelling you to crank the volume up, up, up! "Brainded Warrior" (also available on a 7" single with cool cover art) is the leadoff jam, and quite a jam it its. Sorta like NWOFHMers Steel Mammoth mixing it up with SoCal stoner skaterockers The Shrine. Next, "The Fog" takes over, its crunchy neckbreaking riffage suggestive of Black Flag covering Sabbath's "Symptom Of The Universe", but with a catchy pop punk chorus, and an awesomely doomed-out finale. And so it goes from there, many of those elements remaining in play, Zig Zags bringin' the party to ya with tons of fuzzed out heavy guitar and high energy rock action galore. Part Sabbath, part Ramones, what's not to love?
This album is way more metal than we had expected, yet Zig Zags are totally punk too, their songs often over before they've barely begun, the tempos frantic, the singing sorta melodic but nicely gnarly. Lyrically, they revel in all sorts of cool hesher shit, singing about girls, partying, magic, and biker movies (one song's about Psychomania). Trashy, thrashy good times. An instant favorite!!!
Some records make you feel cooler for listening to 'em, this is one. Play this loud (in your car, if possible) and it's like you're suddenly the Fonz.
MPEG Stream: "Brainded Warrior"
MPEG Stream: "The Fog"
MPEG Stream: "Blazer"

album cover GRAVES AT SEA / SOURVEIN split (Seventh Rule) lp 13.98
BACK IN STOCK ON CD (AND ALSO, NOW ON VINYL!!)
Man, we'd thought that Graves At Sea were long gone, sunken deep into some pit in the ground, maybe playing their ultra doom dirges for the denizens of Hell at this point, but no longer active in our surface world. Turns out the band, in fact defunct since 2008, recently reformed with a new lineup, so they're essentially back from the grave (back from the sea?) - and here's a new recording from 'em, on a split with another hoary bunch of heavies, Sourvein, whom we haven't kept up with lately either, but are also are still kicking out the stoner sludge jams like every day's doomsday.
Graves At Sea take the first half of this split, with two tracks, each over seven minutes long, their blown-out, droned-out sludge stomp as forceful and abject as ever. Headbanging to this makes your skull feel like it weighs a thousand pounds. Their vokills are like we remember 'em too, a gruff shrieking gargle that sometime sounds witchy in a way - not witchy like all those sultry female "occult rock" singers, but witchy like a cackling hag putting a curse on you. (It's a dude singing by the way, we don't want to mislead.) Awesome shit, bad vibes you can rock out to.
The Sourvein half is awesome shit too, three tracks of their slo-mo, Southern Sabbathy sludge sound, pretty much as heavy but more spaced out and psychedelic than the Graves stuff, not quite so grim, the vocals a bit more wasted Ozzyish, the riffs and leads a bit more overtly classic '70s inspired - man, makes us realize we need to go back and check out the Sourvein recordings we've slept on - the last thing we reviewed by them was back in 2005, must rectify that pronto!
Both bands kill it here, a superb split for anyone into the sludge!!
MPEG Stream: GRAVES AT SEA "Betting On Black"
MPEG Stream: SOURVEIN "Equinox"

album cover OPIUM WARLORDS Taste My Sword Of Understanding (Svart) cd 15.98
3rd album from this aQ fave band with perhaps the best "truth in advertising" name in the realm of psychedelic doomy druggy heaviness. They also have some of the strangest album titles too. A project of Sami "Albert Witchfinder" Hynninen, of Reverend Bizarre (R.I.P.) and The Puritan fame, Opium Warlords' brand of doom metal is often on the minimalist, avantgarde ambient side of things, and oddly prog-inflected. Sprawling Finnish weird-ass doom dirgery at its best!
These slo-mo riffscapes meld the sombre Sabbathy-ness of Reverend Bizarre with the more experimental, extreme likes of early Earth (Extra-Capsular Extraction era), some of the tracks being stripped down to just guitar only, others accompanied by the plodding of a live drummer, or the even more precise plodding of a drum machine. They can range from the somnolently super-sludged to the curiously acoustic, always massively moody in any case, simple and effective. Several are purely instrumental, while some feature Sami's deep voiced vocals ponderously intoning melancholic lyrics, like on the morose, majestic organ-laced 12 minute epic "The Self-Made Man" (which concludes with a noodling, jamming outro that Orthodox might do in one of their more Greg Ginn-ish moments). Sami also occasionally unleashes some wretched black metal style anguish in the vokill dep't. as well, as on the quietly despairing "The God In Ruins".
Depressive and dreary, but strangely comforting and beautifully mesmeric at the same time, Opium Warlords have again come up with a hard to describe, quite original slab of less-is-more, confusion-infused doom (or doom-infused confusion). Scratch your heads and bow down, as they doom on!
MPEG Stream: "The Self-Made Man"
MPEG Stream: "The Land Beyond The Pole"
MPEG Stream: "This Place Has Been Passed"

album cover AKBAYRAM, EDIP s/t (Pharaway Sound) cd 17.98
Vintage Turkish psychedelia, we love it! The love affair for us started years ago, when we got turned on via a compilation called Hava Narghile on Bacchus Archives. Hip '70s singer Edip Akbayram didn't appear on it, not sure why, but we've been fans of his music for a long time too thanks to some other reissue efforts, including a double cd anthology that Shadoks put out a while back. And as we've said before, Akbayram's music is some of heaviest and hardest-rockin' out of all the Turkish psych acts of the era, up there with Erkin Koray, blending Anatolian flower-power folk-rock with the polyester wah-wah funked-up sound of the '70s.
Now Pharaway Sounds has come out with a full reissue, on both cd and vinyl, of Akbayram's debut album, originally released on the Turkish Sayan label in 1974. It boasts a simple and colorfully '70s lookin' cover design, and features ten great tracks, all of 'em great, including quite a few of our absolute biggest Akbayram faves. Vibrant grooves, impassioned singing, tons o' fuzz, swingin' horns, just irresistible, classic stuff. We don't understand the words, but know the songs are about love and pain, with titles that in English translate to things like "The Mountains Made Me Sad", "Don't Touch My Sad Soul", and "Mother Cries About Me At The Head Of My Bed". Sounds like a bummer but it's not, the music has the opposite effect, powerful and jubilant.
So, if you don't already have that self-titled double disc Shadoks collection we mentioned (which contains all of the tracks from this record, as well as much of Edip's second album as well) then this is hugely recommended for sure. Presumably Pharaway Sounds will be reissuing more of his individual albums in the future too.
The liner notes by Angela Sawyer of Weirdo Records provide a full history of Akbayram's career (he still performs to this day, though his heyday was in the '70s) with details about his famous backing band Dostlar, and connections with other Anatolian artists like Mogollar and Baris Manco.
MPEG Stream: "Degmen Benim Gamli Yasli Gonlume"
MPEG Stream: "Deniz Ustu Kopurur"
MPEG Stream: "Yakar Inceden Inceden"

album cover IL BALLETTO DI BRONZO Sirio 2222 (Lion Productions) cd 16.98
Long, long ago, we reviewed this band's complex second album, 1972's Ys, calling it "crazy '70s Italian prog" and remarking upon the band's "nutzoid sci-fi keyboard attack". A super rad record, we think. Same goes for Sirrio 2222, Il Balletto Di Bronzo's first album, from 1970, now reissued on cd, which is a bit different but equally cool. Proggy, sure, and sometimes also "nutzoid", but not quite so dark and intense as Ys, this one's more '60s flower power psych pop sounding, but super fuzzy, and often heavy like early Led Zep. Yep, proto-metal fans will like that there's lots of lumbering low-end (the wonderfully titled "Eh Eh Ah Ah" incorporates a fat, bluesy "Mississippi Queen" like riff, ferinstance), while prog weirdos will dig, uh, all the prog weirdness that pops up, amidst the pop. There are moments of over the top acid rock freakery, others of twee folk melody or romantic classical chamber-rock, and others of cowbell-knocking "hairy funk" groove. A baroque 'n' roll classic, really. Italians DO do it better, when it comes to '70s prog rockin'!
MPEG Stream: "Un Posto"
MPEG Stream: "Girotondo"
MPEG Stream: "Missione Sirio 2222"

album cover THORNS VS EMPEROR Thorns Vs. Emperor (Peaceville) lp 25.00
This black metal classic now reissued on vinyl!
Originally released way back in 1999, this strange split/collaboration was at the time, just about the coolest weirdest black metal (and otherwise) record we had ever heard, a record that really sounded like it was made just for aQ, unfortunately, that was long enough ago that the aQ list was still in its infancy, and thus, this amazing and baffling and brilliant record got short shrift. Just three sentences. But really those three sentences should be enough to convince you:
"Emperor covers Thorns songs, Thorns covers Emperor, although it's hard to tell which band is which, a good thing we think. Ends up sounding like a gothic, black metal soundtrack that's been given a John Oswald-style Plunderphonic treatment. The most evil use of Cubase we know of. Bizarre and amazing!!"
If there was ever a should-have-been-Record-Of-The-Week, this was most decidedly it. Thankfully, this just got reissued, and with bonus tracks to boot, so it seemed like the perfect time to revisit, and give this record the aQ love it so very much deserves, and heck, odds are lots of current aQ customers might not have been getting our list back in the day, so this is for you, and for anyone who needs (or just wants) a little more than those three sentences…
Emperor should need no introduction, they are elite members of the black metal pantheon, alongside Burzum, Satyricon, Mayhem, Immortal, Ulver and Enslaved. Their sound epic and majestic, symphonic and super technical, easily still one of our favorite black metal bands EVER. Thorns however might need a bit more of an introduction. Folks who read Lords Of Chaos, might recognize Thorns mainman (only man!) Snorre W. Ruch as having played a part in the infamous murder of Euronymous, by Varg Vikernes of Burzum. Ruch was with Vikernes that fateful night and was sentenced to 8 years in prison as an accessory to murder. Thorns only ever released one proper full length, and that was not until 2001, well after this collaboration.
But this collaboration, wow, not sure where to start, and not even sure how it came to be. It seems it had been years since the very first Thorns demos (not to mention the pre-Thorns outfit Stigma Diabolicum), so this split was intended to introduce Thorns to the scene, in preparation for his upcoming full length, and featured various older Thorns tracks reinterpreted by Emperor, as well as Thorns covering some classic Emperor jams. It was Thorns first new material since 1992, and weirdly enough actually featured Satyr from Satyricon on vocals. So it sounds like a pretty bad ass black metal match up, but it doesn't necessarily explain how goddamn weird it turned out.
The opening Emperor track is some strange sample heavy orchestral industrial workout, all looped samples, field recordings, strange metallic clanks, martial snares, moaning horn like melodies, faux strings, bursts of glitchy distorted vocals, frenzied guitars, and a super intense cinematic orchestral outro that leads right into a new version of Thorns' "Aerie Descent" from his first demo, a buzzing midtempo bit of blackness, laced with soaring synths, programmed electronics, definitely that modern Moonfog black metal sound that came to define the label and the scene, there are some strange samples, but for the most part the song is a dirgey bit of black metal buzz, laced with various bits of strange sonic filigree, finishing off with a stretch of church organ, haunting and mysterious.
The next track is where it gets really strange, a new Emperor created from various bits of an old Thorns demo, and it begins as a strange collage of weird electronics, backwards rhythms, whispered vox, disembodied guitar buzz, again weirdly industrial, before the black buzz kicks in, but it's all wrapped around that electronic skitter, not to mention some bizarre industrial percussion, the sounds looped and chaotic, changing speeds, the voices processed, skittering and stuttering, laced with rhythmic bursts of static, circus calliope, and then finally a furious blast of looped black metal right at the end. Still one of the coolest and weirdest black metal jams EVER.
Next up Emperor tackles Thorns' "Aerie Descent" and it sounds like classic Emperor, epic and majestic, furious buzzing, super intricate and heavy, the drumming incredible, the production massive, the organ outro somehow even creepier here. Emperor go again with "Thus March The Night Spirit", a classical reworking of their classic "Thus Spake The Nightspirit" from their brilliant Anthems To The Welkin At Dusk, and the black buzz of the original is transformed into some Tim Burton-ish soundtrack, all soaring strings, darkly moody and tense, with flurries of rapid fire notes, and soaring strings, no wonder Emperor sounded so majestic.
Thorns takes control again, redoing yet another old demo track, a creepy almost industrial sounding crawl, the guitars liquid and warbly, the riff slippery and strange, while a mechanical rhythm plods and creaks, the guitars get buzzier, the song gradually growing more and more blasting and black, but the vocals are weirdly processed, and even at it's pounding heaviest, the song is peppered with strange programmed beats and subtle electronics, exactly the sort of stuff that would end up defining Thorns weird mechanized take on black metal. "The Discipline Of Earth" is a Thorns original, and is the perfect blend of orchestral bombast, technical black metal, and brooding black ambience, again laced with programmed rhythms, swirling FX and electronics, creepy vox, before finally erupting into full on black buzz mode, only occasionally slowing down, at which points the underlying electronics and programming come to the fore. And finally, Thorns finishes things off with a cover of Emperor's "Cosmic Keys To My Creation And Times", a plodding doomy dirge, with huge crumbling chords, strange sung/spoken vocals, thick swaths of buzz, muted Teutonic pounding, all strangely and fantastically mechanical and industrial.
In addition to the record proper, this new reissue tacks on three bonus tracks, two pre-production mixes of tracks from the record, and a previously unreleased track, the Thorns demo "You That Mingle May", featuring Satyr again, but also Fenriz from Darkthrone. So totally essential, black metalheads who have somehow made it this far without owning this, right that wrong RIGHT NOW. And the thing is, this record is so cool and weird and varied and textured, that even folks with only a passing interest in or curiosity about black metal, might just find themselves blown away...
MPEG Stream: EMPEROR "Aerie Descent"
MPEG Stream: EMPEROR "I Am"
MPEG Stream: THORNS "Aerie Descent"
MPEG Stream: THORNS "The Discipline Of Earth"

album cover DON CABALLERO Five Pairs Of Crazy Pants. Wear 'Em: Early Caballero. (Chunkley) lp 16.98
Math rock / post rock / noise rock nerds, celebrate! Henry Owings and Chunklet once again deliver a sonic holy grail that we didn't even know existed. Most recently it was a killer collection from late great unsung Chicago noise rock minimalists Tar, and now comes a whole unreleased record from nineties math rock legends Don Caballero!! And holy shit is it a doozy, recorded in 1991 at Carnegie Mellon as a three piece, the sound is super raw, ultra fierce, crazy heavy, and mathy as fuck, a furious frenzy of wild octopoidal drumming, chugging distorted guitars, fuzzed out low slung bass, the songs already twisted and tangled, and weirdly catchy, the sort of head nodding matched out heaviness few bands then or now could match, and the recording only makes it sound that much better, blown out and in the red, fierce and in your face, relentlessly rocking. A bunch (but not all) of the tracks would show up in different forms later, on early singles and their debut full-length For Respect, but they almost sound even better here, more raw and intense for sure. Fans of this group, this era and this sound, grab one of these before they're gone, cuz odds are these are the only ones we'll be able to get.
Housed in a full color gatefold sleeve, includes a download of the whole record, as well as the band's second ever live show as a bonus (and that's even more raw and blown out!!)...
MPEG Stream: "Schuman Center '91"
MPEG Stream: "For Respect"
MPEG Stream: "Our Caballero"

album cover GRAVES AT SEA / SOURVEIN split (Seventh Rule) cd 11.98
BACK IN STOCK ON CD (AND ALSO, NOW ON VINYL!!)
Man, we'd thought that Graves At Sea were long gone, sunken deep into some pit in the ground, maybe playing their ultra doom dirges for the denizens of Hell at this point, but no longer active in our surface world. Turns out the band, in fact defunct since 2008, recently reformed with a new lineup, so they're essentially back from the grave (back from the sea?) - and here's a new recording from 'em, on a split with another hoary bunch of heavies, Sourvein, whom we haven't kept up with lately either, but are also are still kicking out the stoner sludge jams like every day's doomsday.
Graves At Sea take the first half of this split, with two tracks, each over seven minutes long, their blown-out, droned-out sludge stomp as forceful and abject as ever. Headbanging to this makes your skull feel like it weighs a thousand pounds. Their vokills are like we remember 'em too, a gruff shrieking gargle that sometime sounds witchy in a way - not witchy like all those sultry female "occult rock" singers, but witchy like a cackling hag putting a curse on you. (It's a dude singing by the way, we don't want to mislead.) Awesome shit, bad vibes you can rock out to.
The Sourvein half is awesome shit too, three tracks of their slo-mo, Southern Sabbathy sludge sound, pretty much as heavy but more spaced out and psychedelic than the Graves stuff, not quite so grim, the vocals a bit more wasted Ozzyish, the riffs and leads a bit more overtly classic '70s inspired - man, makes us realize we need to go back and check out the Sourvein recordings we've slept on - the last thing we reviewed by them was back in 2005, must rectify that pronto!
Both bands kill it here, a superb split for anyone into the sludge!!
MPEG Stream: GRAVES AT SEA "Betting On Black"
MPEG Stream: SOURVEIN "Equinox"

album cover HIGH SPIRITS You Are Here (Hell's Headbangers / High Roller) cd 12.98
Yay, You Are Here is here! Man, we love this band - or man, since the band is just one fella, Chris "Professor" Black, one of metal's most prolific and prodigious talents at the moment. He's guy behind Dawnbringer, for one thing. Just a little while ago, we listed High Spirits' latest demo disc, as well as another brainchild of Chris', the MetalUSAfer 7" (a brilliantly conceptual tribute of sorts to cult Japanese true metal stalwarts, Metalucifer). Not long before those, we had that unique Aktor single, featuring Chris in cahoots with Jussi from Circle.
So we, and hopefully you too, are pretty well primed for this brand new full-length album from Chris' purest (purist?) metal project, High Spirits, full of more of the NWOBHM-inspired, 'motivational montage metal' (our phrase) we love about them, er, him. (High Spirits do have a live formation, by the way, with Chris joined by guys from Zuul, but in the studio, it's all Chris.)
The prime paradox of High Spirits' songs are that they're seemingly deliberately calculated to be the soundtrack for rainslick city streets at night, illuminated in neon light (kinda cheesy and cinematic, on the poppier side of '80s heavy metal stylings, right?), but they're also, in part due to Chris' earnest voice, very sincere and heartfelt sounding too, not ironic or anything. On this album, High Spirits pulls it off again. Great stuff, super catchy as always, from the uptempo opener "When The Lights Go Down" (the only track here to also appear on that demo disc), to anthemic rocker "I Need Your Love", to moody but also rockin' breakup track "Reminding You Of Me", to their fantastic theme-song closer "High Spirits" (reprised from their debut demo of 2009), heck all nine cuts are great. There's tons of fuzz on the guitar, tasty solos abound, and lyrically it's all about loves won and lost, mostly the latter. Simple, fun stuff in a way, but who does this anymore? And does it so well? And with such gravitas and aplomb? Gotta love it. Also gotta love the cover art, High Spirits' ditching the usual metal graphic conventions for a celebration of public mass transit.
Ok, we could go on and on, but we already told ya how much we love High Spirits, just listen to the sound samples if you're still undecided; if the songs don't tug on your heartstrings and/or get your head to banging, then you're no friend of ours (not really, but it always sounds cool to say that).
We have cds, and colored vinyl while they last.
MPEG Stream: "When The Lights Go Down"
MPEG Stream: "One Thousand Nights"
MPEG Stream: "The Last Night"

album cover REBOLLEDO Momento Drive EP (Kompakt) 12" 15.98
Last list we highlighted the Kompakt mix cd from Mexican DJ/producer Rebolledo, Momento Drive. This 12" ep with the same name features three of the rarest trax from that mix, released on vinyl for the first time, including probably our favorite from that mix, Rebolledo's own "Windsurf, Sunburn and Dollar", here presented in an 'extended raw version'. Again, totally mesmeric and relentless, and a bit bizarre as well due to the vocal part (the title, repeated over an over in a weird, intense accent and manner). The other two selections have Rebolledo's hand in 'em too, one's the Pachango Boys (Rebo's duo with Superpitcher) doing a remix of "Flash" by Stove, the other a Rebo remix of a track by Red Axes. DJs, in particular, ought to think about grabbing this.
MPEG Stream: REBOLLEDO " Windsurf, Sunburn And Dollar"

album cover CHIPS & BEER Issue #7 magazine 7.00
Oh boy, oh boy it's another issue of Chips & Beer, The Magazine. 128 newsprint pages packed with esoteric wisdom pertaining to cult metal, movies, and more… Humorous and irreverent, cryptic and confusional, enthusiastic and informative, pretty much a must read for anyone into heavy shit that's not bullshit.
#7 continues Chips & Beer's run as one of our favorite 'zines. This issue contains a massive special section about everybody's favorite '70s Irish rockers, including a primer on their discography, a Thin Lizzy comic strip, and in-depth interviews with former Lizzy guitarists Scott Gorham and Eric Bell. Fascinating for any fans for sure! That should be reason enough to get this, but of course there's more: stuff about other cool bands old and new like Riot, At War, Cemetary Piss, Helstar, Holocross, Ritual Chamber, and more. Even a chat with Nocturnus drummer/mainman Mike Browning.
Meanwhile, on the cinematic side of things, you get a big section all about Chips & Beer's favorite Westerns, yippie ki-yay! Oh, and then interspersed throughout there's funny bits like the page filled with "100 words & phrases to be retired from music journalism" (no chance there, we couldn't do the list without most of 'em!) and the page heralding "the most important sub genres to watch for in 2014" (among our favorites: "Non-Violent Death Metal" and "True Detective Machine Gun Arsenal Cache With Jameson Stash Metal"). Plus, no issue of Chips & Beer would be complete without the completely hard-to-grok reviews section; we don't always agree with 'em, or understand what they're even trying to say, but still they're fun to read.

album cover SONS OF HUNS Banishment Ritual (Easyrider) cd 13.98
Stoner rock, anyone? But not just any ol' stoner rock. What this trio from up in Portland, Sons Of Huns has going for 'em, besides being darn heavy, is that they RIP. As is amply (and amp-ly!) demonstrated on this, their debut full-length for the newly dominating Easyrider label. We've heard lots of stoner rock bands content with making your head nod, these guys will have it not just 'banging but spinning 'round. They play slow, sure, but also they play FAST, so there'll be the usual lumbering stoner riffage that will suddenly shift into overdrive, no longer lumbering but shredding, the instrumental interplay tight and tenacious. With fuzzed out '70s sounding riffs (great riffs), air guitar worthy solos, and swinging rhythms, like most bands in the genre, they're beholden to Black Sabbath, but these guys remember when Sabbath was basically a (heavy) prog band, jamming hard. So imagine if, like, Sleep had started to sound more like Stinking Lizaveta... Sons Of Huns are kinda like that, it's ADD stoner rock, lots of parts and changes and sheer MUSIC on here, these guys always keeping it interesting, with chops galore, nothing lazy 'bout 'em despite the (presumed) pot smoking. In fact, that's a good tag for 'em, pot smoking music that's SMOKIN''!!
The eleven tracks here offer a fair amount of variety: heck, the gonzo punked out rippage of "I'm Your Dad" is followed by the mellow-jazz instrumental interlude of "Waking Sleep"… there's stuff that's aligned with the stoner skate rock of bands like The Shrine and Hot Lunch, other moments more Melvinsy (somehow mixed with a little Dick Dale, on the epic "Super Kanpai Rainbow"), and oh yeah the rollicking retro proto-metal prog of fellow Portlanders Danava is obviously a good reference point too. And then we're back to the Sabbath again.
Sons Of Huns in a word: Badass.
MPEG Stream: "Banishment Ritual"
MPEG Stream: "Heliolith"
MPEG Stream: "Ouroboros"

album cover A MINOR FOREST Flemish Altruism / Inindependence (Thrill Jockey) 4lp 25.00
We ran out of the special Record Store Day limited tote bag version of the AMF reissues, but we just got the last remaining copies of the vinyl reissues (sans tote bag) direct from the band. Both lps are again sadly out of print. But while they last, we have a handful of the nice priced 4lp set which includes both Flemish Altruism and Inindependence... Here's our review of both when we listed this back around Record Store Day...
In the most recent issue of Entertainment Weekly (!), our very own Andee was asked about what Record Store Day Releases we were most excited about. He mentioned a bunch, but the two they actually included in the magazine, were the utterly hilarious music nerd classic Rock, Rot And Rule (now sadly out of print), and these two vinyl reissues, from recently reunited / reactivated nineties post/math/noise rock combo A Minor Forest, which as many of you know, is in fact Andee's band! He was kind of joking, and a bit embarrassed when THAT was one of the ones they picked to print, but really, we WERE pretty excited. These two records have been out of print on vinyl for a decade, and have been remastered, now come with digital downloads, and one has all new artwork! But instead of making Andee further toot his own horn, we figured we'd try to be more objective, and let some other folks weigh in. A couple reviews from the past, and a couple from the present. So when we first reviewed these back in the day, for AMF's debut, Flemish Altruism, we asked beloved aQ-pal Douglas Mosurak to say a few words about that record, here's that original review from years and years ago:
"October 22, 1996: Bay Area rock trio A Minor Forest stop indie rock dead. Their new double LP on Thrill Jockey is so incredible, and subsequently so complete, that no other records of its kind need to be produced anymore. Lesser bands of their stripe are currently being petitioned to break up immediately to save embarrassment. And while some people will miss, like, June of 44 or the Archers of Loaf for a little while, with the proper exposure to Flemish Altruism, they'll forget all about it. AMF manage to piece together everything good about every post-Big Black and every post-Heroin outfit into a seamless, epic sound; fairly dense, deeply emotional and thoroughly human. They have the sense of humor required to lift it off, too. Some of their songs prefer to hide in the corner; some lunge for your throat. Their style is such that their original ideas fill in with ones borrowed from their rich lineage in such a manner that pays tribute without disrespect. It's a thoroughly engaging sound that I'd rank up there with the Bitch Magnet discography, with the Bastro LPs, with the Gore records, with the cream of the Gravity crop, even with the Shellac album. Best rock record of 1996, and currently outweighing all proposed rock concepts until the close of the millennium. Buy two. Wow."
Then, the follow up Inindependence was reviewed thusly by us upon its original release (when aQ reviews were still concise and impossibly brief):
"Simply put, this may be the last bastion of rock on Thrill Jockey, before they devolve into a purely electronic/jazz label. Sure we may be boasting a little, because A Minor Forest is our very own Andee Connors' band. But this truly is a great record of delicate math rock instrumentations executed with violent precision!"
So here were are 15+ years later, and both records, now reissued and available as a swank 4lp / tote bag set, in honor of the just passed 2014 iteration of Record Store Day, are ripe for reassessment, a new listen to some old sounds, with fresh ears, a bit of distance, and years of subsequent music making in their wake. So, here's what the illustrious Pitchfork site had to say this week about both AMF records:
According to legend, the A Minor Forest song "Bill's Mom Likes to Fuck" - a high point of the post-rock group's 1996 debut album, Flemish Altruism - was swiped from an inside joke that had circulated for years among the punk kids of Rapid City, South Dakota. A Minor Forest wasn't from Rapid City; they hailed from far-off San Francisco. But the band toured extensively throughout the country during its 90s-spanning existence, playing many of the same DIY venues that hosted the burgeoning post-hardcore and emo bands of that decade. If there's one thing that brings people together, it's cruel humor - and A Minor Forest, brooding and abrasive as well as downright delicate, knew a good joke when they heard it.
Flemish Altruism was reissued on vinyl for this year's Record Store Day, alongside A Minor Forest's other studio album, 1998's Inindependence. The rollout has been humble one, and it can't help but be compared to Slint's deservedly lavish Spiderland box set this month. Slint blazed trails with its dour, eerie ominousness; A Minor Forest, on the other hand, neither innovated nor intimidated. That doesn't make Flemish Altruism any less tense. The shadow of Slint - as well of Slint's slower, icier cousin, Codeine - loom large over A Minor Forest's distended syllables and dangling chords. The group had been honing that sound on singles and EPs since 1994, but Flemish Altruism tracks like "...But the Pants Stay On" and "Jacking Off George Lucas" groped for a new vocabulary out of the fragments laying around after post-rock's early-'90s Big Bang. What resulted was pidgin Slint-but in that process of restructuring, A Minor Forest came damn close to inventing post-post-rock, where the subgenre's self-seriousness was wrestled with until it laughed, gasped, and collapsed.
Steve Albini and Bob Weston produced Flemish Altruism, and the nerve-tightening cello they'd previously captured on Nirvana's In Utero feels almost deliberately evoked on the album's most arresting song, "Perform the Critical Straw Transfer". Singer/guitarist Erik Hoversten opens it with a deadpan punch line: "Guess you really lucked out…" he begins, his numb voice trailing off as bassist John Trevor Benson screams bestially yet faintly in the background, "…on this one." Sarcasm never sounded so black. Beneath them, cellist Dominique Davison saws with quiet strength, as if mocking and apologizing at the same time. The screaming gets pushed to the fore on thoroughly non-dainty "Dainty Jack and His Amazing Technicolor Cloth Jacket", an erratic spasm of dissonance that shows an affinity for San Diego screamo (A Minor Forest had previously recorded with Matt Anderson of Heroin), only broken up here and there with squibs of pinpoint jazziness. The balance is struck almost perfectly on "Bill's Mom Likes to Fuck", a 10-minute noise-cycle of mood swings, red herrings, and curdled blood.
The wiseass, scattershot racket of Flemish Altruism settles into a more predictable groove onInindependence. Concise and controlled by comparison, A Minor Forest's second and final album (not including their 1999 singles-and-EPs collection, ...So, Were They in Some Sort of Fight?) drags more algebra into the rhythm and more calculation into the off-kilter melody. It wouldn't be fair to say the band had begun to take itself either more or less seriously - but the music is more serious, and even the song titles are less crass. If "Erik's Budding Romance" is to be taken at face value, that relationship flip-flopped randomly and often between coy, candlelit dinners and table-flipping eruptions of lust. Drummer Andee Connors, an unsung hero of his instrument and era, is in top form, coaxing every shade of texture, dynamic, and emotion out of the kit. There are honest, unabashed hooks on the deliciously brief (that is, under four minutes) centerpiece, "…It's Salmon!!!", as well as in "Michael Anthony", which skips a sweet melody across a minefield of disjointed changes and chords. At the same time, the album's 18-minute monster "The Smell of Hot" never fully jells; as A Minor Forest's recording career drew to a halt, patience-testing jams occupied one extreme of their spectrum, while a hint of pleasing pop teased at the other.
A Minor Forest's legacy is not a towering one. Most notably, Hoversten went on to play with Pinback, where he was able to indulge his love of angular melody much more avidly. The band never seemed to want to make bold statements, and it always punctured whatever atmosphere it crafted with wiry self-deprecation and perverse wit. When A Minor Forest reunited in 2013 after a 15-year hiatus, Hoversten said in a radio interview, "[This reunion is] sort of like, take an outfit you wore 15 years ago, then put it on today. Clearly you liked it at one point, but it's not exactly the outfit you would have chosen today. That being said, it's not like I'm being asked to put on a clown suit." Despite their crank titles and in-jokes, A Minor Forest was never a funny band. But they had fun, and that fun seeped into their music. And that makes Flemish Altruism and Inindependence two of the most endlessly rewarding albums of the 90s post-rock boom, if never the most monolithic.
And finally, here's a review of both Flemish Altruism and Inindependence from the always awesome Pop Matters:
The bare truth behind two classic albums from the 1990s.
I remember it clearly: the road was a hazy sequence of distant glares kept together by a dense, hazy lull immersed in the purest of mists. My friend, the proud owner of the CD, was holding the music artifact with one hand, while the other occasionally found its way up and down the wheel, now on this side; now on the other. I never knew how both hands also managed to offer such an accurate interpretation of the drumming, but his abilities ceased to amaze me when my side of the car hit a guardrail that seemed to have popped out from nowhere. My friend carefully placed the CD case in the glove compartment and met me outside the vehicle, where we assessed the damage. "That drumming! Oh boy, that drumming!", was all he had to say.
Not much has happened in the 16 years that followed that day. My friend got married, paid his way to a divorce and when we meet, I drive, so he can be Andee Connors and I can take good care of our lives. In the real world, the influence of a band like A Minor Forest - a scruffy bunch of lads from San Francisco - still echoes on both sides of the Atlantic. Inheritors of the legacy initiated by bands like Slint, Bastro, Gastr Del Sol and Shellac, A Minor Forest's name appears, rightly or wrongly, almost invariably as part of the American post-rock scene, as if their own legacy could not be singled out and stand on its own two feet. But while most people blame them, together with a whole bunch of Midwestern acts loosely located in the "Corn Belt", for the explosion of the math-rock plague, the impact this short-lived ensemble has had on indie rock is probably still far from being recognised.
Their two classic albums, Flemish Altruism and Inindependence, reissued on vinyl by Thrill Jockey for Record Store Day on 19 April, are both presented with an array of previously unpublished pictures in a special four-LP set that includes download cards. However, what matters the most is that these albums, which have been out of print for a decade, have been remastered from the original tapes. The sensuality of the naked, raw sound that was the core of that scene (and I hereby use this term in the artistic, rather than in the geographic sense) is therefore faithfully represented in all its purity and ingenuity. "The Dutch Fist", "So Jesus Was At the Last Supper" and "...But the Pants Stay On" are some of the finest representations imaginable of noise as the most spontaneous by-product of the deconstruction of rock grammar. This primary necessity regulated by tradition - Erik Hoversten (guitars and vocals) and John Trevor Benson (bass) had both studied music at Berkeley - found its champions in Steve Albini (who else?) and Bob Weston (he too of Shellac fame), whose uncompromised affection for stripped-down sounds and total lack of artificiality constituted the perfect match for the band.
Flemish Altruism is the result of this formula, and tunes like "Jacking Off George Lucas" or "Ed Is 50" betray an improvisational approach which heavily relies on the dichotomy between the extreme unpredictability of noise and the discipline usually behind melodic patterns. The almost mandatory (at least back then) tour of most of the US would lead, two years later, to the recording of Inindependence: an album that followed the path traced by its predecessor, perpetuating the angularity and eclecticism that would make A Minor Forest easily recognizable years after their dissolution.
Flemish Altruism and Inindependence are the band's only full-lengths and it could not be otherwise. Although a collection of much of their out of print material, plus a couple of new tracks made it onto the Were They in Some Sort of Fight? CD on My Pal God Records in 1999, these two albums vouch for an incredibly inspired band which disbanded once they realized that the traditional rock instrumentation was starting to restrict their enormous potential and creativity. Does this awareness affect these two records? Not at all. A Minor Forest didn't live long enough to see their craft surpass their inspiration, and for this reason their legacy is definitely safer now than it was 20 years ago!
As mentioned above, both Flemish Altruism and Inindependence have been remastered, both include digital downloads, and are housed in swank full color gatefold jackets, Flemish Altruism has all new artwork!!
MPEG Stream: "But The Pants Stay On"
MPEG Stream: "So Jesus Was At The Last Supper..."
MPEG Stream: "Speed For Gavin"
MPEG Stream: "Erik's Budding Romance"
MPEG Stream: "Michael Anthony"
MPEG Stream: "The Dutch Fist"

album cover SCHLIENZ, GUNTER Contemplation (Preservation) cd 15.98
As you may have heard, Allan here just had a baby! And thus, our last in-between list's special theme was "baby music" - a bunch of suggestions by friends who are parents, of music that they liked to play for their newborns and infants. But, what has Allan really been playing for his little girl? Well, um, actually she's been hearing a lot of the things Allan has been working on reviewing for aQuarius. Fortunately for her, one of 'em was this disc, by German electronic experimentalist Gunter Schlienz, his first full-length cd after quite a few obscure cassette and cd-r releases over the past four or five years.
And it's totally baby-approved and appropriate, these delicate, otherworldly ambient instrumentals full of light and shade and (occasionally eerie) blissfulness, with titles like "Immaculate", "Numb", "Lament", "Shimmer", and, oddly enough, "Janitor".
Schlienz's modular synth and field recordings create Cluster-y swells of sound, moving in gentle waves adorned with simple sweet melodies and darker drones. A few of his friends, including Norm Chambers (aka Panabrite, also the guy who actually made the Science Of The Sea album by "Jurgen Muller" we liked so much) appear as guests on here as well, adding strings, piano, etc.
We're not really sure if Allan's baby likes this a lot or not (hard to tell, as yet), but HE sure does. Consider Contemplation to be a lovely, peaceful set of abstract electronic lullabies for adults, and possibly their children too! Limited to 300 copies, btw.
MPEG Stream: "Immaculate"
MPEG Stream: "Humble"
MPEG Stream: "Lament"

album cover GEZAN Katsute Uta Toiwaretasore (aka It Was Once Said To Be A Song) (Important) cd 15.98
It seems Japanese psychedelic noiserock insanity in the tradition of the good ol' Boredoms is alive and well! We're talking crazy Boredoms back in the day, at their hyperdelic height, but NOISIER. This debut album from Japanese outfit Gezan (in English, that may mean Descending, which makes sense given a close look at the cover art), unleashed over there in 2012, now gets a domestic release via Important and we gotta say, hell yeah, 'cuz Gezan rulez! Don't just take it from us - Gezan has garnered adulatory cover-blurb endorsements from the likes of Merzbow, Tatsuya Yoshida (Ruins) and Agata (Melt-Banana); and apparently Acid Mothers Temple guru Makato Kawabata was the one that brought 'em to the attention of Important, citing Gezan as his favorite live band in Japan. Seems like those guys all think of Gezan as nextgen torchbearers for the classic Japanoise surreal psych sound, and we're hearing it here, freshly intense and energized, dark and psychotic.
The buzzing distortodelic chaos of the aforementioned early Boredoms comes to mind right away, as leadoff track "Mishima To Kuchibeni" hoves into earshot, riding a headcaving Butthole Surfers sorta riff, warped and damaged, FX bubbling up everywhere. The in-the-red 'Tokyo Flashback' acid rock sound of psychedelic speed freak gangs like High Rise and Mainliner is obviously also deeply encoded in Gezan's DNA. And even harsher stuff, like Eye from the Boredoms' earlier noise unit Hanatarash, is touched upon here too - the industrial-strength devastation of "Kouchuu No Wakai", ferinstance, sounds like Merzbow meets Guitar Wolf! Meanwhile, the likes of "Kyoushin" channel the blackhole heaviness and lumbering, lurching feedback-drenched doomic riffery of such notorious Japanese psych-prog heavies as Zeni Geva, YBO2 and even Fushitsusha. Dang. Gezan do it all, in terms of freeform, unafraid, bold & bombastic freak flag flyin'. Never a dull moment.
You get glitched-out rhythmic cut-up shenanigans, organized screaming, spacey shoegaze warble, fractured blues, even some bleakly beautiful parts. There's often strange, sudden segues into cinematic samples, echoing whisper-voiced interludes, and distortion-bombed soundscapes. But these are structured songs, mind you, and as experimental and extended and distended as they are, there's eventual rock n' roll payoff, usually. Also, Gezan are capable of surprises all the way through to the end, treating us to the (mostly) melodic blissed out finale "Haru No Hiza", didn't see that one coming. Nice.
We've made a ton of references here to other Japanese bands - and should also mention some more, Gezan is likely also for fans of LSD-March, DMBQ, Omiode Hatoba, Up-Tight, and Boris (if they went totally nuts). But you don't have to be a Japanoise nerd to get into Gezan. Or at least, you don't have to know you're a Japanoise nerd, yet. Gezan's blown-out, blown-up brand of noisy psychedelic mayhem could and should appeal to lots of folks yet to delve into Gezan's overt antecedents. Just be into distorted, damaged, freaky, rocking WTF-ness and you'll dig this!
MPEG Stream: "Mishima To Kuchibeni"
MPEG Stream: "Kocyuu, Shitatarazu"
MPEG Stream: "MAN Machine"

album cover ZIRAKZIGIL Battle Of The Peak (Anthem Records) cd-r 8.98
This super limited, and now out of print cassette, now available as a nice priced cd-r!
Battle Of The Peak is the crushing epic debut release from this Tolkien-esque psychedelic prog-doom noiserock act from Portland, whose debut is in fact fucking amazing, not just sonically, but visually as well, more on the over the top ridiculous packaging in a second, cuz musically, it's hard to imagine an aQ metalhead who wouldn't freak out over these guys - epic, sprawling 15+ minute songs, classic metal riffing, big pounding drums, yowled bellowed vocals, the whole thing straddling the lines between classic metal, doom, noise rock, and black metal buzz, which makes sense as the mastermind of Zirakzagil is also the man behind two Northern BM bands of note, whose most recent records were both reviewed on the aQ list not too long ago, but Zirakzagil is a whole different beats, the band unfurling long stretches of tranced out riffing, surprisingly melodic, super dynamic, lurching stop/starts, some seriously soaring leads, at times it sounds a bit like the Fucking Champs, slowed down and stretched out into some psychedelic noise rock doom, at other times it's full on metallic prog, intricate, tangled arrangements slow builds, dense, and intense, the drumming super wild and chaotic, the songs will chug and churn, before slipping into some super melodic passage, and some of the leads, super emotive old school classic shreddery, and while there are vocals, bellowed bearded noise rock howls, most of the record is instrumental, the instruments doing all the heavy lifting, whether it's heaving swells of churning riffage on opener "The Birth Of The White Wizard", the woozy psychedelic shuffle of "Durin's Bane", or the weird mathy psychedelic breakdown near the end of "The Endless Stair", which ends up sounding like a more metal, and more mathed out Don Caballero!
This rules! And it's DEFINITELY not black metal, heck it's really not even that doomy, it IS sludgey, heavy, mathy, proggy and totally epic!
MPEG Stream: "The Birth Of The White Wizard"
MPEG Stream: "Durin's Bane"

album cover FUSHITSUSHA & PETER BROTZMANN Nothing Changes, No One Can Change Anything, I Am Ever-Changing, Only You Can Change Yourself (Utech) 3cd 32.00
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY.
Not. For. The. Faint. Of. Heart. Nosirree, you know this is gonna be wonderfully, brutally OUT. And you probably know if you want it or not already... Japanese psych-improv free rock masters Fushitsusha, lead by shamanic guitarist/vocalist Keiji Haino, teamed up with one of the true titans of saxophone skronk, Germany's legendary Peter Brotzmann, holy crap! Batten down the hatches!! Turns out this fancy new Utech triple cd release is not in fact a new recording, it's an archival find from the '90s, thus boasting the classic Fushitsusha lineup of the era, Haino accompanied by Jun Kosugi on drums and Yashusi Ozawa on bass. Plus of course a very special guest on saxophone. And y'know, they're not a band who can have just anybody sit in with them. No, any Fushitsusha guest (and there haven't been many) had better be heavy duty. Peter Brotzmann, he qualifies. Seriously, he's the guy whose perhaps best known album, from 1968, is called Machine Gun, and to this day he's famed for his uber-intense, scorched earth, red-in-the-head playing style. Who better really to collaborate with Fushitsusha, "the most important rock band of the past 25 years" (according to Haino hagiographer Alan Cummings, writing in this set's liner notes - our Allan also agrees).
This triple cd set documents an entire concert (maybe the first complete Fushitsusha show on cd?), recorded April 26th, 1996 in Tokyo. That's two days after Haino and Brotzmann went into the studio to record their duo disc on PSF, Evolving Blush Or Driving Original Sin. As fans, it's amazing to find out now that, there's more, and with Haino's whole band, even better!
When at full-bore roar, the Fushitsusha trio create a clangorous, cavernous environment for Brotzmann's sax to soar and slither around in, intertwining with the muzzy sheets of sound emanating from Haino's guitar/amp. Rather than the players competing for sound-space, it's a synthesis; you might not even be able to tell what's Haino and what's Brotzmann amidst it all. And despite the potential (often realized!) for noisier-than-thou onslaughts, there's subtle beauty here too, moody melodious moments, quiet stirrings before/betwixt the storm... disc one, for instance, begins with glistening chiming sounds and restrained percussive skitter-scatter, quite lovely. It's a while before Haino's trademark distorted guitar squall, let alone the saxophone of Brotzmann, even makes an appearance, and that's just fine.
We can't rightly review the entirety of these three discs (approximately three hours), words fail. Plus, you should have your own experience of discovery - like finding out that Haino busts out the hurdy-gurdy for some drones on disc two! But as any Fushitsusha fan will expect, it's unique, abstract, massive, magnificent, building from delicate solos and duos amongst the players to HEAVY total group aktion, getting more 'rock' than Brotzmann even ever did in Last Exit. And really, that Brotzmann's on board is a bonus, but even if he wasn't, heck, it's a Fushitsusha triple live of uncommon beauty and power regardless.
Utech's art and design is always really nice, but this one's especially elaborately packaged, with many, many inserts wrapped/folded together with the 3 discs (though, be careful with the outer plastic sleeve, as that's what's holding it all together).
MPEG Stream: "A Seldom-Seen Means Of Displacing Humiliation"
MPEG Stream: "Now Able To Know Fear"

album cover CRISTAL Y ACERO Kuman (Vam Records) cd 16.98
You think you've got some weird cds in your collection? Make room for this one if you dare. Heck, as soon as we peeped the crude fantasy cover art, we were like, new favorite album!
'80s Mexican heavy metallers Cristal Y Acero (Crystal And Steel) were responsible for this strange record, originally released in 1984, billed as the "Primera Opera Rock Mexicana". Kuman was indeed a wild Spanish-language rock opera, apparently about a muscular Tarzan-type character (...in SPAAAAACE!!!). We're not sure, but from the photos included here we think this Kuman musical may have been an actual stage production, or maybe even something filmed for Mexican TV. It comes off like a weird, metallic mash-up of, like, Meatloaf and Os Mutantes, combining Cristal Y Acero's hard n' heavy old-school metal riffing with a variety of other pop musical genres - proggy pomp-rock, sappy soft rock, piano balladry, and more. It of course gets cheesy but in an amazing insane kitschy way, and always Cristal Y Acero's fuzzy hard rock riffage, harmonized leads, and gruff vocals come back in to kick ass, after whatever else happens. There's slinky lounge grooves, guest female vocals, '50s rock & roll pastiche, and METAL.
But that's not all, this cd also includes all the tracks from Cristal Y Acero's more traditional self-titled debut album from 1983, with some songs sung in English. It's pretty charming and cool too, with chugging guitars, widdly solos, and lots of raw old school metal might, in the style of such bands as Saxon and Accept - but Mexican, and on a budget. Presented together with Kuman, this disc is something for both cult metal aficionados and those into straight up WTF? strangeness.
Packaged in a mini-lp style sleeve, with inserts. Perhaps not remastered from the original master tapes.
MPEG Stream: "Rescate"
MPEG Stream: "La Dicha De Comer"
MPEG Stream: "Despacio"
MPEG Stream: "Telephone Line"

album cover SONIDO GALLO NEGRO Sendero Mistico (Glitter Beat) cd 17.98
Cumbiadelic!! That's how this youthful, nine-piece instrumental outfit out of Mexico City would describe their sound, a delightful hybrid mixing together '60s Peruvian cumbia and garage psych, with other assorted flavors - Andean flute-folk, surf music, Spaghetti western soundtracks, and more. Sonido Gallo Negro (aka Black Rooster Sound, in English) here present their 2nd album, and first release outside of Mexico, and it's pretty fab. It sure would take a hard heart not to love this, a record that's utterly as lively and colorful and groovily trippy as its cover art! Percussive Latin rhythms (boogaloo, chicha, sonidero cumbia, rhumba, etc.) propel these ten pieces, underpinning groovy Farfisa organ and electric guitars; many tracks are energetically uptempo and danceable, while others zone off into eerie atmospheres via spacey theremin... Overall there's a definite exotic space age bachelor pad vibe, but one with a psychedelic Latin twist, and lots of garagey grit to it - acid fuzz guitar leads take the fore on "Mystery Of Zangbetos", ferinstance. This platter is littered with funky breaks, echo-effected Spanish-language samples, and strange synth textures, while the heavy rhythms dominate throughout. To compare to some aQ faves, at times we're reminded of Finnish exotic electronic instrumentalists Aavikko, and at others, we're also totally thinking Swedish voodoo psych sensations Goat, whose fans should totally check this out. Like Goat, apparently SGN's live shows are pretty special, some kind of ritualistic, multimedia spectacle, with video projections, the band costumed in monk's robes (why are monk robes so popular with so many bands nowadays?). Love to see 'em some day. In the meantime, we'll be spinning this, A LOT!
MPEG Stream: "La Patrona"
MPEG Stream: "Tzantza Soul"
MPEG Stream: "Mystery Of Zangbetos"

album cover DWELLERS Pagan Fruit (Smallstone) cd 12.98
Stellar 2nd album from Salt Lake City psychedelic stoners Dwellers - whom our Andee just got to see play live when they opened for A Minor Forest's tour stop in their town. He says they were GREAT, which we'd have expected since we liked their first album, and this one too. Compared to the debut, this new one seems a bit more mellowed out, at first anyway, but really it runs the gamut, from dusky balladry to heavy jams (often delivering both at the same time), getting especially epic on numbers like "Rare Eagle" and album-closer "Call Of The Hallowed Horn". Loping and bluesy, with a bit of a down home, Southern feel, this pure good heavy, hazy music from a trio that knows what they're doin', employing (besides guitars, bass and drums) such additional instruments as cello, organ, and Rhodes piano, along with "real" singing for sure... previously we'd mentioned how the vocals made us think of some good old Seattle grunge, now that comparison could resolve into a more specific Mark Lanegan reference. Recommended! FYI, vinyl version due in July.
MPEG Stream: "Totem Crawler"
MPEG Stream: "Rare Eagle"
MPEG Stream: "Son Of Raven"

album cover REBOLLEDO Momento Drive (Kompakt) cd 16.98
Not only does this mix come from our favorite 'techno' label, Kompakt, but it was compiled by a Mexican DJ/producer, Rebolledo, who's got a thing for Filipino '70s psych rock guitarist Wally Gonzalez (of Juan De La Cruz fame, down & dirty Filipino proto-metallers par excellance). aQuarius customers might remember, we even reviewed cd reissues of Wally's two late '70s solo albums some years ago, one of which, 1978's Wally On The Road, provides the intro and outro tracks on this disc, via Rebo's edits of "Wally's Blues" from that album. Perhaps surprisingly, Wally's space-ily effected soloing totally works in the context of all the propulsive and powerful electronic music elsewhere on here. Not only that, but the cover photo has been done as an homage to Wally On The Road, as well - Rebolledo has carefully recreated that album's cover scene, posing identically to Wally, seated on a dirtbike in front of a Porsche, with a pair of fancy cowboy boots on the ground nearby.
So that's pretty cool, and odd, as is this disc, really one of the most captivating, hypnotic, groovy techno mixes we've heard in a while, with lots of interesting standout tracks. 'Bangers' if you will. Among 'em, several exclusive cuts, including Rebo's own studio contribution, the amazing "Windsurf, Sunburn and Dollar", an intensely, relentlessly mesmeric track with bizarrely accented/inflected vocals repeating the title phrase over and over with fierce emotion. The duo Rebo's in with Superpitcher, Pachanga Boys, is here too, and they and he both do some remixes as well. Other artists appearing: Wolfgang Voigt, Red Axes, The Love Supreme, Justus Kohncke, The Twins, C.A.R., Christian S., Sebastian Bouchet, Gebr. Teichmann, Barnt, Slove, and Vox Low. An excellent, idiosyncratic mix we just kinda can't stop playing!
Cd-only, but in Kompakt also has now released a 12" vinyl ep featuring an extended 'raw' mix of "Windsurf, Sunburn and Dollar" as well as two more cuts taken from this album also previously not on vinyl, so any discerning DJ's out there can grab that from us if they want.
MPEG Stream: WALLY GONZALEZ "Wally's Blues (Rebo Intro Edit)"
MPEG Stream: REBOLLEDO "Windsurf, Sunburn And Dollar"
MPEG Stream: GEBR. TEICHMANN "Dance And More"

album cover V/A Too Slow To Disco (How Do You Are?) cd 16.98
Sometimes guilty pleasures are the most pleasurable ones. Are we right? Take this comp for example, a collection of smooth-groovy, soft rock and disco tunes from the ''70s that the compilers consider "too slow" for the dancefloor (but perhaps just fine for the bedroom?). We were prepared to scoff, as "yacht-rock" is not usually our thing, but dang, these are some very earwormy, catchy tracks indeed, also full of a lot of kitschy charm, evoking nostalgia for the champagne, cocaine, shag carpet '70s! "Late 70s West Coast Yatchpop you can almost dance to" is their slogan, and that's pretty accurate. Some you could definitely slow-dance to. Mellow moody discotheque vibes galore!
Some of the songs here we were familiar with (like Chicago's "Saturday In The Park"), others not so much, but they all still sorta SOUNDED familiar, that's how good they are. Ferinstance, the very first track, "Get It Up For Love", by SoCal singer-songwriter Ned Dohney. Sounds like a hit to us, should have been anyway. (And if you like that one, Numero Group has just released a collection of Ned Dohney's dreamy discopop, called Separate Oceans, "Get It Up For Love" is on it too, and is one of his best.) So it's a mix of one-hit (?) wonders and better known names too. The Doobie Brothers are on here, and Fleetwood Mac, also the Jan Hammer Group, Rupert Holmes, Tony Joe White, and many more… no Steely Dan but some of the "unknowns" here come close.
It's possible that those of you of a certain age may dimly recall hearing some of the tracks here on the radio - or maybe you even had 'em on 45 - back when you were a kid. Do the bump once more to Robbie Dupree's "Steal Away", get down to the laidback funk of David Batteau's "Spaceship Earth", enjoy Micky Denne and Ken Gold's soulful "Let's Put Our Love Back Together", take some fashion tips from the lushly orchestrated "Deco Lady" by Rupert Holmes, sample the funky breaks on the Alessi Brothers "Do You Feel It?"... There's 19 tracks in all, packed with disco strings, groovy bass lines, fusiony guitar noodle, saccharine singing, sexy saxophone, and sappy, soaring synths. Some songs sad, some sunshiney; and all so very, very seventies. Take a chance, you might be surprised how much you'll dig this! It sure surprised us, but we're lovin' it. Ariel Pink fans at least ought to give it a go. Just turn the lights low, and turn this up, to a moderate volume.
Nicely packaged slipcased cd or double vinyl lp.
MPEG Stream: NED DOHENY "Get It Up For Love"
MPEG Stream: RUPERT HOLMES "Deco Lady"
MPEG Stream: NICOLETTE LARSON "Lotta Love"
MPEG Stream: BRIAN ELLIOTT "Room To Grow"

album cover V/A Cave Evil Radio Mix (Emperors Of Eternal Evil) cassette 8.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY.
Ok, so originally we were going to review the bizarre "Necro-Demonic dungeon crawl" fantasy boardgame that this cassette is the audio companion to, along with listing the tape, but we already sold out of the few copies of the game we had (yep, we know some nerds!). Maybe we'll get more, we'd like to, definitely let us know if YOU are interested. We haven't had a chance to actually play the game yet ourselves, but boy does it look cool, with creepy black & white & gray art by Fort Thunder comic book artist Mat Brinkman. In the game, each player takes on the role of an evil Necromancer, digging tunnels in an subterranean crypt and creating grotesque monsters out of ooze to fight against his rivals and their hordes, vying to become the sole master of the Darkest Pit. Pretty darn black metal, eh?
In addition to looking cool, apparently it's actually an excellent game, receiving a pretty high user score on the BoardGameGeek website (7.9 out of 10) and we're read lots of good reviews. Can't wait to play it when we find time and learn the rules. If/when we get more copies in, they sell for $84. Like we said, let us know if you'd like us to get you one! Check out the YouTube trailer for the game at www.caveevil.com - which doesn't actually show the game or anyone playing it, instead it's a short movie purporting to show what the horrific, troglodytic existence of these Necromancers is all about. Love the low-budget special effects.
Soooo, anyway, the folks who made the game also have a tape label, and this is the official Cave Evil tie-in release, with some of the same sounds heard on the soundtrack to the trailer. This 90 minute mix features tracks by 15 different underground artists: Night of Ultraviolence, Wizard333, Swordsect, Abandoned Places, Manifester, Cex, MarderIII, Muroc, Hatred, Crypt Enforcer, Whispers of Dead Gods, Tres Quatro, Mammal, OoznDmrr, and Khand, plus sound FX by filmmaker Damon Packard, who did the trailer. It's an ultimate sinister cinematic synth experience, variously featuring blackened drones, eerie dark ambience, primal percussion, majestic synth-horns, and other dungeon-worthy, DIY sonics. Cool, creepy stuff that is certainly whetting our appetites for a session of Cave Evil. Limited to 300 copies on pro-dubbed chrome plus cassette.
If this does well, we'll stock some more Rotten Shape cassettes, all of which the label has assigned a "GVR", or Game Voice Rating, on a scale of 1 to 5 (5 being hardest) noting how difficult it is to speak over the music in a gaming setting. The Cave Evil Radio Mix has a GVR of 2.
MPEG Stream: "Cave Evil Radio Mix side 1 excerpt "

album cover A MINOR FOREST Flemish Altruism / inindependence (Thrill Jockey) 4lp + tote bag 31.00
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY.
In the most recent issue of Entertainment Weekly (!), our very own Andee was asked about what Record Store Day Releases we were most excited about. He mentioned a bunch, but the two they actually included in the magazine, were the utterly hilarious music nerd classic Rock, Rot And Rule, which you'll find reviewed elsewhere on this week's list, and these two vinyl reissues, from recently reunited / reactivated nineties post/math/noise rock combo A Minor Forest, which as many of you know, is in fact Andee's band! He was kind of joking, and a bit embarrassed when THAT was one of the ones they picked to print, but really, we WERE pretty excited. These two records have been out of print on vinyl for a decade, and have been remastered, now come with digital downloads, and one has all new artwork! But instead of making Andee further toot his own horn, we figured we'd try to be more objective, and let some other folks weigh in. A couple reviews from the past, and a couple from the present. So when we first reviewed these back in the day, for AMF's debut, Flemish Altruism, we asked beloved aQ-pal Douglas Mosurak to say a few words about that record, here's that original review from years and years ago:
"October 22, 1996: Bay Area rock trio A Minor Forest stop indie rock dead. Their new double LP on Thrill Jockey is so incredible, and subsequently so complete, that no other records of its kind need to be produced anymore. Lesser bands of their stripe are currently being petitioned to break up immediately to save embarrassment. And while some people will miss, like, June of 44 or the Archers of Loaf for a little while, with the proper exposure to Flemish Altruism, they'll forget all about it. AMF manage to piece together everything good about every post-Big Black and every post-Heroin outfit into a seamless, epic sound; fairly dense, deeply emotional and thoroughly human. They have the sense of humor required to lift it off, too. Some of their songs prefer to hide in the corner; some lunge for your throat. Their style is such that their original ideas fill in with ones borrowed from their rich lineage in such a manner that pays tribute without disrespect. It's a thoroughly engaging sound that I'd rank up there with the Bitch Magnet discography, with the Bastro LPs, with the Gore records, with the cream of the Gravity crop, even with the Shellac album. Best rock record of 1996, and currently outweighing all proposed rock concepts until the close of the millennium. Buy two. Wow."
Then, the follow up Inindependence was reviewed thusly by us upon its original release (when aQ reviews were still concise and impossibly brief):
"Simply put, this may be the last bastion of rock on Thrill Jockey, before they devolve into a purely electronic/jazz label. Sure we may be boasting a little, because A Minor Forest is our very own Andee Connors' band. But this truly is a great record of delicate math rock instrumentations executed with violent precision!"
So here were are 15+ years later, and both records, now reissued and available as a swank 4lp / tote bag set, in honor of the just passed 2014 iteration of Record Store Day, are ripe for reassessment, a new listen to some old sounds, with fresh ears, a bit of distance, and years of subsequent music making in their wake. So, here's what the illustrious Pitchfork site had to say this week about both AMF records:
According to legend, the A Minor Forest song "Bill's Mom Likes to Fuck" - a high point of the post-rock group's 1996 debut album, Flemish Altruism - was swiped from an inside joke that had circulated for years among the punk kids of Rapid City, South Dakota. A Minor Forest wasn't from Rapid City; they hailed from far-off San Francisco. But the band toured extensively throughout the country during its 90s-spanning existence, playing many of the same DIY venues that hosted the burgeoning post-hardcore and emo bands of that decade. If there's one thing that brings people together, it's cruel humor - and A Minor Forest, brooding and abrasive as well as downright delicate, knew a good joke when they heard it.
Flemish Altruism was reissued on vinyl for this year's Record Store Day, alongside A Minor Forest's other studio album, 1998's Inindependence. The rollout has been humble one, and it can't help but be compared to Slint's deservedly lavish Spiderland box set this month. Slint blazed trails with its dour, eerie ominousness; A Minor Forest, on the other hand, neither innovated nor intimidated. That doesn't make Flemish Altruism any less tense. The shadow of Slint - as well of Slint's slower, icier cousin, Codeine - loom large over A Minor Forest's distended syllables and dangling chords. The group had been honing that sound on singles and EPs since 1994, but Flemish Altruism tracks like "...But the Pants Stay On" and "Jacking Off George Lucas" groped for a new vocabulary out of the fragments laying around after post-rock's early-'90s Big Bang. What resulted was pidgin Slint-but in that process of restructuring, A Minor Forest came damn close to inventing post-post-rock, where the subgenre's self-seriousness was wrestled with until it laughed, gasped, and collapsed.
Steve Albini and Bob Weston produced Flemish Altruism, and the nerve-tightening cello they'd previously captured on Nirvana's In Utero feels almost deliberately evoked on the album's most arresting song, "Perform the Critical Straw Transfer". Singer/guitarist Erik Hoversten opens it with a deadpan punch line: "Guess you really lucked out…" he begins, his numb voice trailing off as bassist John Trevor Benson screams bestially yet faintly in the background, "…on this one." Sarcasm never sounded so black. Beneath them, cellist Dominique Davison saws with quiet strength, as if mocking and apologizing at the same time. The screaming gets pushed to the fore on thoroughly non-dainty "Dainty Jack and His Amazing Technicolor Cloth Jacket", an erratic spasm of dissonance that shows an affinity for San Diego screamo (A Minor Forest had previously recorded with Matt Anderson of Heroin), only broken up here and there with squibs of pinpoint jazziness. The balance is struck almost perfectly on "Bill's Mom Likes to Fuck", a 10-minute noise-cycle of mood swings, red herrings, and curdled blood.
The wiseass, scattershot racket of Flemish Altruism settles into a more predictable groove onInindependence. Concise and controlled by comparison, A Minor Forest's second and final album (not including their 1999 singles-and-EPs collection, ...So, Were They in Some Sort of Fight?) drags more algebra into the rhythm and more calculation into the off-kilter melody. It wouldn't be fair to say the band had begun to take itself either more or less seriously - but the music is more serious, and even the song titles are less crass. If "Erik's Budding Romance" is to be taken at face value, that relationship flip-flopped randomly and often between coy, candlelit dinners and table-flipping eruptions of lust. Drummer Andee Connors, an unsung hero of his instrument and era, is in top form, coaxing every shade of texture, dynamic, and emotion out of the kit. There are honest, unabashed hooks on the deliciously brief (that is, under four minutes) centerpiece, "…It's Salmon!!!", as well as in "Michael Anthony", which skips a sweet melody across a minefield of disjointed changes and chords. At the same time, the album's 18-minute monster "The Smell of Hot" never fully jells; as A Minor Forest's recording career drew to a halt, patience-testing jams occupied one extreme of their spectrum, while a hint of pleasing pop teased at the other.
A Minor Forest's legacy is not a towering one. Most notably, Hoversten went on to play with Pinback, where he was able to indulge his love of angular melody much more avidly. The band never seemed to want to make bold statements, and it always punctured whatever atmosphere it crafted with wiry self-deprecation and perverse wit. When A Minor Forest reunited in 2013 after a 15-year hiatus, Hoversten said in a radio interview, "[This reunion is] sort of like, take an outfit you wore 15 years ago, then put it on today. Clearly you liked it at one point, but it's not exactly the outfit you would have chosen today. That being said, it's not like I'm being asked to put on a clown suit." Despite their crank titles and in-jokes, A Minor Forest was never a funny band. But they had fun, and that fun seeped into their music. And that makes Flemish Altruism and Inindependence two of the most endlessly rewarding albums of the 90s post-rock boom, if never the most monolithic.
And finally, here's a review of both Flemish Altruism and Inindependence from the always awesome Pop Matters:
The bare truth behind two classic albums from the 1990s.
I remember it clearly: the road was a hazy sequence of distant glares kept together by a dense, hazy lull immersed in the purest of mists. My friend, the proud owner of the CD, was holding the music artifact with one hand, while the other occasionally found its way up and down the wheel, now on this side; now on the other. I never knew how both hands also managed to offer such an accurate interpretation of the drumming, but his abilities ceased to amaze me when my side of the car hit a guardrail that seemed to have popped out from nowhere. My friend carefully placed the CD case in the glove compartment and met me outside the vehicle, where we assessed the damage. "That drumming! Oh boy, that drumming!", was all he had to say.
Not much has happened in the 16 years that followed that day. My friend got married, paid his way to a divorce and when we meet, I drive, so he can be Andee Connors and I can take good care of our lives. In the real world, the influence of a band like A Minor Forest - a scruffy bunch of lads from San Francisco - still echoes on both sides of the Atlantic. Inheritors of the legacy initiated by bands like Slint, Bastro, Gastr Del Sol and Shellac, A Minor Forest's name appears, rightly or wrongly, almost invariably as part of the American post-rock scene, as if their own legacy could not be singled out and stand on its own two feet. But while most people blame them, together with a whole bunch of Midwestern acts loosely located in the "Corn Belt", for the explosion of the math-rock plague, the impact this short-lived ensemble has had on indie rock is probably still far from being recognised.
Their two classic albums, Flemish Altruism and Inindependence, reissued on vinyl by Thrill Jockey for Record Store Day on 19 April, are both presented with an array of previously unpublished pictures in a special four-LP set that includes download cards. However, what matters the most is that these albums, which have been out of print for a decade, have been remastered from the original tapes. The sensuality of the naked, raw sound that was the core of that scene (and I hereby use this term in the artistic, rather than in the geographic sense) is therefore faithfully represented in all its purity and ingenuity. "The Dutch Fist", "So Jesus Was At the Last Supper" and "...But the Pants Stay On" are some of the finest representations imaginable of noise as the most spontaneous by-product of the deconstruction of rock grammar. This primary necessity regulated by tradition - Erik Hoversten (guitars and vocals) and John Trevor Benson (bass) had both studied music at Berkeley - found its champions in Steve Albini (who else?) and Bob Weston (he too of Shellac fame), whose uncompromised affection for stripped-down sounds and total lack of artificiality constituted the perfect match for the band.
Flemish Altruism is the result of this formula, and tunes like "Jacking Off George Lucas" or "Ed Is 50" betray an improvisational approach which heavily relies on the dichotomy between the extreme unpredictability of noise and the discipline usually behind melodic patterns. The almost mandatory (at least back then) tour of most of the US would lead, two years later, to the recording of Inindependence: an album that followed the path traced by its predecessor, perpetuating the angularity and eclecticism that would make A Minor Forest easily recognizable years after their dissolution.
Flemish Altruism and Inindependence are the band's only full-lengths and it could not be otherwise. Although a collection of much of their out of print material, plus a couple of new tracks made it onto the Were They in Some Sort of Fight? CD on My Pal God Records in 1999, these two albums vouch for an incredibly inspired band which disbanded once they realized that the traditional rock instrumentation was starting to restrict their enormous potential and creativity. Does this awareness affect these two records? Not at all. A Minor Forest didn't live long enough to see their craft surpass their inspiration, and for this reason their legacy is definitely safer now than it was 20 years ago!
As mentioned above, both Flemish Altruism and Inindependence have been remastered, both include digital downloads, and are housed in swank full color gatefold jackets, Flemish Altruism has all new artwork, and while they last, available ONLY at aQ (or from the band on their upcoming tour, which begins a few days after this week's list!), both records are bundled together (4lps!), for a special low price, and housed in a silkscreened tote bag, with a killer new AMF logo by none other than Christoph Szpadjel, the Lord Of The Logos!
MPEG Stream: "But The Pants Stay On"
MPEG Stream: "So Jesus Was At The Last Supper..."
MPEG Stream: "Speed For Gavin"
MPEG Stream: "Erik's Budding Romance"
MPEG Stream: "Michael Anthony"
MPEG Stream: "The Dutch Fist"

album cover AQUARIUS TOTE BAG Black with Silver 'Black Metal' Logo by Christophe Szpajdel bag 11.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY.
As mentioned on last Friday's in-betweener, for this year's Record Store Day, we finally got around to producing some aQuarius tote bags! People are always asking, and it's the eco-friendly thing to do, hope you like 'em.
It's a black bag, with metallic silver print, featuring a brand new, elaborately 'black metal' styled aQuarius Records logo, done by "the Lord of the Logos" himself, the very talented (and super nice) Christophe Szpajdel. He did Emperor's logo, among many others. He's the man. It's a nice lookin' logo, kind of black metal meets art nouveau. These 14 1/2" x 16" bags, with securely cross-stitched straps, are big enough to hold a bunch of lps (like, up a dozen single lps).

album cover ADMIRAL SIR CLOUDESLEY SHOVELL Check 'Em Before You Wreck 'Em (Rise Above) cd 14.98
We've kind of had writer's block about doing this here review of the new album by British heavy retro-rockers Admiral Sir Cloudsley Shovell, just cuz we loved their first one so much, and anticipation for this new one was so high, it was hard to come up with anything to say, other than YEAH!! But that wouldn't really constitute a review, would it? So we put it off, hoping we'd come up with something better, but maybe that's good enough - so we finally took the advice of the opening track here, "Do It Now". Basically, if you like high energy hard rockin', the Admiral Sir Cloudesley Shovell are kickin' out the jams for you, once again, on this their second record. Another batch of rad tunes from 'em. Heck, if this was another band's first album it'd be easy to rave about it for paragraphs, but since it's this band's 2nd album, and we already raved about their debut, it seems so much easier just to say, hey it's their 2nd album! Right on!! YEAH!!
Er, however, for those that don't know, "The Shovell" are a power trio from England, featuring, we now realize, at least one of the guys from the stoner rock outfit Gorilla, whose two albums we reviewed back in the day. They play riffy, groovy, kickass heavy rawk'n'roll, often very much in the epic fuzz mode of their '70s forefathers with the sorta-similar name, Sir Lord Baltimore. Also, Budgie, Dust, Buffalo, Toad, James Gang, Leaf Hound, et. al., and of course ye olde Black Sabbath!! Plus, sometimes, due to a gruffness to the vocals and/or some quasi-punk speediness, these guys crank up some Motorhead vibes too, on a rave-up like "Happiness Begins" ferinstance. Motorhead meets Sabbath, yep, coulda just said YEAH!
We're digging all the tracks, but there are a couple stand-out song TITLES to mention: "2 Tonne Fuckboot" and "Late Night Mornings" (the later, this album's lengthy, surprisingly melodic finale, part ballad, part badass jam). Also, there's a song named after their previous album, kind of a classic move there.
Whew! Did it! Now, get it!!
MPEG Stream: "Do It Now"
MPEG Stream: "Captain Merryweather"
MPEG Stream: "The Thicker The Better"

album cover SATAN'S SATYRS Die Screaming (Trash King) cd 13.98
Remember the movie 2000 Maniacs? Where tourists are lured to a small Southern town and are forced to participate in 'games' that are essentially elaborate and ultra gory (and quite inventive) excuses for extreme torture that ultimately lead to their deaths. Or howabout the sixties biker classic Easy Rider? The ultimate drugged out hippie motorcycle road movie. Or maybe the seventies British horror flick Psychomania, about psychopathic suicidal bikers who make a pact with the devil, kill themselves and return from the dead to terrorize the squares? So now, imagine some crazed, druggy, doomy, psychedelic, psychotropic, head spinning mix of all three, and Satan's Satyrs are pretty much the perfect house band. Similarly, Die Screaming is essentially the soundtrack to the above, some impossibly insane, low budget, blood drenched, exploitation-splatter Z-grade alien biker undead epic. The opening track "Thumper's Theme" is uncharacteristically upbeat, but you can almost imagine this fuzzed out organ fueled jam playing beneath the credits as a porky, leather vested biker, presumably "Thumper" rolls into town, as the townsfolk lock their doors and lower their blinds, all to the strains of fuzzed out distorto riffage, wheezing organ, tumbling toms, all a little bit surfy, infused with just a bit of sonic swagger. But it's on "Instruments Of Hellfire" where things get really good, or perhaps bad if you're one of those innocent bystanders, wild squiggly psychedelic leads over blown out Stooges-y metallic garage punk pound, plenty of wild wah wah guitars, totally tripped out, and when the vocals swoop in, totally whiney, high pitched, and echo drenched, somewhere between a young Ozzy, and a more unhinged hysterical version of Uncle Acid, and in fact, Uncle Acid fans should be ALL over this. It's like a more raw and primitive take on the same sort of seventies psychedelic hard rock, but with SS, it all sounds so much more desperate and unhinged, frantic and dangerous. Oh and then out of nowhere, in comes a barrage of bongos and hand percussion, that gives the sound a little bit of a Goat vibe, but only for like 10 seconds, and then it's right back into another, lurching, lumbering psych-doom garage rock blowout.
Apparently UK doomlords Electric Wizard are huge fans, which makes sense, as they share much of the same sonic DNA, a similar psych-doom bent, and the same obsession with exploitation movies, horror flicks from the sixties and seventies, SS's jams even more that EW's evoking rubber suited beasties, blood spurting ultra violence, greasy bikers and bodacious bikini babes, if it's possible for a 'sound' to be greasy, and filthy, dirty and caked in dried blood, well, Die Screaming is as filthy, bloody and lysergic as it gets. And stick around for the sprawling creepfest closer, the 12+ minute title track, which is a drugged out doom crawl: over a bed of whirring organs, SS unfurl a lumbering dirge, a wasted psychedelic downer rock sprawl, that explodes in the last few minutes into a final, frenzied blast of heavy-horror biker rock crush that KILLS!!!
All that, and then when you add in the blood dripping logo, and melting skull cover art, it's pretty much a guaranteed aQ Record Of The Week! YOU WILL DIE SCREAMING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
MPEG Stream: "Thumper's Theme"
MPEG Stream: "Instruments Of Hellfire"
MPEG Stream: "Curse Of The Corpse"
MPEG Stream: "Die Screaming"

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, and Satan's Saytrs, 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 BLOOD FARMERS s/t (Leaf Hound) cd 14.98
On our last list, we celebrated the return of this cult horror-obsessed heavy psychedelic doom unit, with their brand new album, Headless Eyes, which, believe it or not, was the Blood Farmers' first album since their self-titled 1995 debut! A long wait, but worth it, for all fans of moody, garagey, fuzzed out doomadelica.
We'd never reviewed that self-titled album, originally issued by Germany's now defunct Hellhound label. But when we got Headless Eyes direct from the band, we found they still had copies of the debut available, too - a cd reissue done a few years back by Japan's also-now-defunct Leaf Hound label. So we figured, heck if folks liked Headless Eyes so much (which they did, we had to restock) let's get some of their first cd too, to list - and here it is. You'll find that the Blood Farmers' sound is pretty similar on both albums, despite the nearly twenty years between 'em. The same core members are doing their thing - guitarist Dave Depraved kicks out the Sabbathy riffage and unwinds FX-laden, spindly acid rock leads, very much under the influence of Dave Chandler & Saint Vitus (and tons of '60s/'70s heavy rock obscurities), while vocalist Eli Brown bellows trippy tales of terror derived from a lifetime of watching '70s horror/exploitation cinema (the band is named after such a B-movie, Invasion Of The Blood Farmers, from '72, a film so low-budget the actors were paid with six-packs of beer). That's the Blood Farmers formula, basically, and it works darn well, making for a good mix of psychedelic atmosphere and heavy, headbanging catchiness. Anyone (like us) who thought Headless Eyes was killer will find this disc very enjoyable too, and vice versa. It provides more riffs, more fuzz, more horror, more cowbell!
And stick around for the lovely acoustic instrumental coda at the end, "After The Harvest".
MPEG Stream: "Albino"
MPEG Stream: "Bullet In The Head"
MPEG Stream: "Twisted Brain (Part 2)"

album cover ZEMIAL Nykta (Hell's Headbangers) cd 14.98
Not sure how we managed to sleep on this record when it came out last year. Had we heard it then, it doubtless would have made it into the year-end top tens of many of the metalheads here for sure. Fortunately, we did eventually get a clue - we realized we had to check out this Greek one-man-band after reading the interview with Zemial in the latest issue of Chips & Beer, 'cause any supposedly 'black metal' outfit that name checks Karlheinz Stockhausen*, John Cage, and Magma drummer Christian Vander, amongst others, sure sounds like something we'd dig here at aQ! And dig we do.
So, here's Zemial's 2013 opus, Nykta. Majestic, propulsive, spacey, epic, catchy, hella weird, yeah, Nykta is right up our alley. Zemial has actually been around since 1989, but this is still only the band's third full-length album - and it's a doozy if you like extremely original 'extreme' metal music. The guy behind Zemial, multi instrumentalist Archon Vorskaath, is into modern composers and prog/jazz fusion drummers, but he's also big into Bathory. So this has got to be one of the only 'progressive metal' albums we've heard that's chock full of raw, dirty riffing and gruff vocals that sound right off a Venom album. But there's also out-there spacey synthscapes, Eastern-sounding exoticism, esoteric lyrics, suddenly prominent prog rock keyboard parts, and tons of uber talented and effective percussion from Vorskaath (that's his specialty, having played percussion professionally in an orchestra). And, he's pretty impressive in the vocal department, too, doing some semi-melodic, 'clean' but not too clean singing, with heaps of gusto and strangely effected weirdness.
Zemial really manage thee perfect, hithero unattempted synthesis of savage, driving riffage and tripped out experimentation here. We don't think we've ever heard a metal band that sounds so 'old school' and yet so avant-garde and original at the same time. We fear we can't do this album justice in this review, it's one of those that we just gotta say, trust us, it's brilliant and weird and kickass and totally recommended to open-minded metallers (and non-metallers too), especially fans of Absu, latter-day Darkthrone, and Enslaved (circa Mardraum). Blizaro too - the moody, bombastic synth instrumental "The Small", at least, sounds a lot like something they would do.
By the way, there's nothing wrong with your stereo - the final track here is an homage to Cage's famous composition 4'33", and has thrown a lot of unknowing metal reviewers for a loop, being of course (almost?) totally silent. Hey, it could have been on that Sounds Of Silence lp we made Record Of The Week a while back! (Note to Vorskaath, however: placing the silent track at the end of your album is less effective than if you'd put it right in the middle!)
*In that Chips & Beer interview, Vorskaath talks about how he's played with Stockhausen's jazz musician son Markus, in a piece that involved the musicians fasting and meditating for, like, two straight days before getting on stage to improvise - now that's extreme!
MPEG Stream: "Ancient Arcane Scrolls"
MPEG Stream: "Eclipse"
MPEG Stream: "Breath Of Pestilence"

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 LORD FIST Wordless Wisdom Of Lord Fist (Full Contact) lp 17.98
Lord Fist is a neat/dumb name that sounds pretty metal, eh? And yep, Lord Fist are metal all right, from Finland, via Jussi from Circle's Full Contact vinyl imprint. Now, Jussi's Ektro and Full Contact labels have brought us plenty of "NWOFHM" - New Wave Of Finnish Heavy Metal - bands before, yeah. But those quasi-joke (or are they?) bands were never quite the real deal like Lord Fist, who on this debut four song 12", actually sound authentically NWOBHM - New Wave Of British Heavy Metal, a la Angel Witch, Cloven Hoof, Satan, etc.!
And dang, they're good. The youthful foursome of Lord Fist dish out rippers like "Lord Of The Night" and "Velvet Gods", chock full of high pitched screams (for vengeance!), jaunty galloping riffage, wailing leads, catchy choruses, and epick & mystickal vibes.
Could easily be up there, someday soon, with the best of today's crop of throwback metal bands like Enforcer and Cauldron, though the 'cult' feel here surpasses those. Man, Finland is making our heads bang lately, with the Ranger 12" (also on Full Contact) and now this!
MPEG Stream: "Velvet Gods"

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) cd 14.98
NOW ALSO HERE ON CD, with bonus trax!
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...
This compact disc edition includes five bonus tracks, getting more Tull-soundin' but with violin instead of flute!
MPEG Stream: "Brain Worker"
MPEG Stream: "Ten Seconds To Go"
MPEG Stream: "Memories"

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.)
MPEG Stream: "Brain Worker"
MPEG Stream: "Ten Seconds To Go"
MPEG Stream: "Memories"

album cover AKTOR I Am The Psychic Wars b/w Buried By The Sea (Full Contact / Ektro) 7" 7.98
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
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, elsewhere on the site. 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
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY.
'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
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY.
'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 30.00
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 SAINT VITUS Die Healing (Easyrider) cassette 12.98
Last time we listed reissues of this, on cd and lp, we said, "sorry, no cassette". Well the other day Saint Vitus played here in SF at Thee Parkside (which was awesome!!), and lo and behold, a visit to their merch table revealed that LA's Easyrider label, who have been busy putting a lot of cool heavy stuff out on tape, had rectified that situation. So, here's our review of one of our favorite Vitus albums, now available on tape, in the deluxe Easyrider packaging as well:
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. Hit play on on this and learn what it is to be doomed!!
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"

MORBUS CHRON Sleepers In The Rift (Detest) lp 21.00
We've actually been meaning to review this for a while now, the debut full length from Swedish death metal weirdos 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 dim witted 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 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"

BIRTH CONTROL Hoodoo Man (Repertoire) cd 14.98

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"

BIRTH CONTROL Rebirth (Repertoire) cd 14.98

PRINCE JAMMY Prince Jammy Destroys The Space Invaders (Greensleeves) cd 12.98

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"

BIRTH CONTROL Operation (Repertoire) cd 14.98

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"

MUNICH MACHINE Body Shine (Repertoire) cd 21.00

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
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY.
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"

LA PLANETE SAUVAGE (ALAIN GORAGUER) OST (Superior Viaduct) lp 23.00
We've had vinyl versions of this classic French animated movie soundtrack before, but they were always hard-to-restock imports, and perhaps not always official, legit editions either. But now our friends at Superior Viaduct have put out domestically what is, naturally, the superior vinyl reissue of this always heavily sought after soundtrack to Rene Laloux's 1973 Cannes Grand Prix winning animated science-fantasy feature La Planete Sauvage (aka Fantastic Planet), an old aQ fave - both the music and the movie! Not a kid's cartoon, La Planete Sauvage features "Towering blue-skinned figures, tiny humanoids in the midst of revolt, and drug-induced Tantric sex".
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 are recast in ever building and changing arrangements, including marimba, Theremin and bird whistles as well as the standard orchestral elements, guitars and funky organs. Groovy, moody, psychedelic, and definitely out of this world, for fans of Gainsbourg, Jean-Claude Vannier, Ennio Morricone, David Axelrod, etc. So great!! This official SV version features newly designed artwork as well.
Obligatory 'tis the season note: if you haven't already bought that special vinyl-loving someone a Christmas/Hanukkah/Solstice gift, we've got lots of great suggestions here at the store, and this would definitely be one of them!! Also, if you don't have a copy yet yourself...
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"

RASPUTIN'S STASH s/t (Cotillion) cd 19.98

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
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY.
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
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY.
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
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 third 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 third 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 14.98
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 14.98
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
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY.
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
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY.
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 14.98
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 TAJ MAHAL TRAVELLERS Live Stockholm 1971 (Drone Syndicate) 2cd 14.98
Yay! Another old favorite finally reissued and back in stock. We first listed this back in 2000, and we still love it more than ever. First we had a Drone Syndicate edition, then a more expensive one on Walhalla, and now the DS version has been repressed, at the same cheaper price (though it lacks the liner notes, photos, and overall fancier packaging of the Wahalla one).
In the AQ canon of all time essential artists, of groups who have shaped all the music that followed in their wake, somewhere very near the top spot would be Japan's Taj Mahal Travellers. This sprawling seventies psych drone unit led by Fluxus legend Takehisa Kosugi, were crafting gorgeous abstract drone drenched ambience long before most of the current crop of dronesters were even born.
The Taj Mahal Travellers were masters of the organic, of vibration, texture, timbre, utilizing bowed cymbals, violins, loudspeakers, tape loops and all sorts of unique source material, this collective created some of the most enduring and unique psychedelic music ever recorded. Their music and performances were the physical embodiment of a philosophy, a way of life more than just simple 'playing music.'
It's hard to imagine the Skaters or Birchville Cat Motel or the Yellow Swans or even Wolf Eyes without the Taj Mahal Travellers. Often referred to by the press as "La Monte Young on acid", in a review of another, unfortunately out of print TMT album, we described their sound as "epic higher key improvised drone extravaganzas performed on beaches, deserted hills in Sweden, India, Iran and England. Slow, complex, irregular throbbing waves of sound, broadcast through distant loudspeakers and recaptured and reincorporated into the sound. Feedback, time-space lag, echo machines, and primitive handmade electronic devices all contribute to the ever shifting clouds of sound."
The music of the Taj Mahal Travellers thought is stubbornly indescribable. No words can possibly do justice to the spirits they were able to invoke, the atmosphere they were able to create, dark and dense and mysterious and ominous, but at the same time beautiful and brilliant and epic and spacious.
This double cd features nearly 100 minutes of improvised droning captured live in Stockholm, Sweden in 1971, the group (minus Kosugi for some reason) run stand-up bass, tuba, trumpet, select percussion, violin, flutes, mandolin, harmonica and synthesizer through primitive tape loops and delay effects for an awesome ritualistic performance, predating the likes of Zoviet France and about a million others by decades!
The live sound is just as amazing as their records, which makes sense since their albums were essentially documents of live aktions.
The first disc is a single nearly hour long low end ritual, strings buzz and reverberate, as do voices, and bits of bowed metals, all beating against each other and creating all manner of cosmic vibrations, all accompanied by simple bells, or a single plucked note repeated over and over. Near the end, the vocals are soaring, and the tones have become long buzzing streaks, with plenty of spacey echo and strange damaged FX, it's hard to hear this and not wonder where in the hell Sunburned Hand and No Neck get off, these guys were creating the same sort of primitive primeval sounds, nearly 4 decades earlier, and with so much more depth and emotion. The fact that a music so minimal and abstract can be so utterly moving is testament to the Travellers' unparalleled skill.
Disc two is much less low end rumble, and more a dizzying swirl of strange sonic events, here the horns are in full affect, sounding like a herd of alien elephants, moaning and bleating, the tones stretched out and draped across all manner of lower register rumbles and whirs. Percussion surfacing now and again like an angry rattlesnake roused from a midday nap, or a swirling cloud of tiny buzzing insects. Vocals drift in and out, shamanistic and chant like, moaning out strange melodies, mostly low and throaty but sometimes like curious feline mewling, all intertwined with the various other drawn out sounds. An incredibly intense organic ritual, purified by its intransitive nature, the improvisation guaranteeing that each performance belonged to the time and the place as much as the players. Absolutely and utterly breathtaking.
Absolutely essential, and probably more recommended than nearly any record we've ever reviewed!
MPEG Stream: "Improvisation, Part 1 (excerpt 1)"
MPEG Stream: "Improvisation, Part 1 (excerpt 2)"
MPEG Stream: "Improvisation, Part 2 (excerpt 1)"
MPEG Stream: "Improvisation, Part 2 (excerpt 2)"

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)"

BABA STILTZ Experience b/w Eating Out (Flogsta Danshall) 7" 6.98

BARRACUDA, RANDY This Is The Barracuda Speaking b/w 10 Rock (Flogsta Danshall) 7" 6.98

BEEM Sings With His Hands (Flogsta Danshall) lp 14.98

LIMONIOUS Bricks b/w Alien Fly (Flogsta Danshall) 7" 6.98

YURI SUZUKI / GOTO 80 Warm Leatherette b/w Come Together (Skw-ica Discs / Flogsta Danshall) 7" 6.98

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!