BLANK DOGS Under And Under (In The Red) 2lp 15.98
Finally available on vinyl! Fuck YES! One of the most unstoppable and prolific projects in recent memory returns with full length #2... we think. Regardless, after a slew of limited run eps and singles, we were curious to see if Blank Dogs could handle the full length format as well as they - sorry, HE - did with the awesome On Two Sides lp a while back. It seems like some people were expecting Blank Dogs to crack under the pressure of increased exposure or in the face of a fiery hipster backlash. Well, we are happy to report that Under And Under more than ably delivers on all of the initial promise, another winner loaded with classic Blank Dogs and one of the most thrilling releases we have heard this year. It's pretty insane to think that someone could just keep churning this stuff out at such a rate with continually awesome results, but Blank Dogs sound as confident, or at least as melancholy, catchy, and propulsive as ever here. In terms of the actual sound, things haven't changed that much, which we consider a very good thing. The fidelity is maybe slightly higher, but just barely. The songs are a little tighter and more suited to a full length rather than an ep, making this one that will undoubtedly bring out more with repeated focused listens. But overall, this is just more of what we have loved since we came across Blank Dogs, with wandering bass lines, reverberated drum machines, super melodic single note guitar leads, and that awesome monotone voice all here in spades. In the end, Under And Under is a sure indicator that when it comes to actual songcraft, the man behind this project is clearly a cut above most others doing the lo-fi garage thing. It's pretty accurate to mention bands like Joy Division and the Cure when describing this, but the more poppy numbers seem to follow a more Buzzcocksian approach while the transitions to the anthemic choruses are just classic pop. Some of these songs sound like fractured love songs, all warbly with upbeat guitar leads and weird spooky keyboards. They may be for all we know, though lyrical clarity has never really been an issue for Blank Dogs, the voice de-emphasized within the throbbing lo-fi recording almost like another instrument itself. These songs provide a nice contrast to the more menacing numbers, like the acknowledged hit (around these parts anyway) "Setting Fire To Your House" with its ominous bass and distinctive organ lead. Lo-fi but dense, Blank Dogs still sound like a lost Factory Records band being transmitted from some far away galaxy, but the whole album exudes a beautiful dreaminess that just can't be denied. There appears to be no end in sight for Blank Dogs, and we aren't complaining one bit.
"No Compass" MPEG Stream:
"L Machine" MPEG Stream:
"Setting Fire To Your House" MPEG Stream:
BLANK DOGS Waiting (In The Red) 7" 5.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. A side "Waiting": super upbeat, very rocking, real drums, gang vocals, still the vocals way up in front. Again, Buzzcocksy... B side "Splitting": very frantic, jerky rhythm, creepy synth worming about, leading the melodic structure, guitar slashing about in the background. Devo gone garage? (Without the vocals.)
BLANK REALM Deja What? (Bedroom Suck) lp 21.00
Full length number two from these Aussie psychgarage hypno-dirge dronerockers, equal parts Velvet Underground, Spacemen 3, krautrock, garage pop and Japanese psych rock, all blurred and smeared into gloriously muddy and murky motorik garage psych minimalism. Originally released in a ridiculously limited edition of 52 copies, Deja What? is a sprawling, drugged out hallucinatory drift, the bass and drums simple and stripped down but solid and motorik, the guitars on the other hand, unhinged and loose, wild wah wah squalls all over the places, organs whir and pulse, the male vocals are drenched in reverb and echo, the female vox a hazy gauzy echo, the sound super saturated and in-the-red, warbly and warped and woozy, every track a super hypnotic heart of the sun dronepsych workout, some drifting into serious pop territories, while others headed in a way more wasted and drugged out direction, with most meeting somewhere right in the middle. Needless to say, this is the sort of 'good shit' that should most definitely appeal to fans of Wooden Shjips, Moon Duo, Loop, Lumerians, Heads, White Noise Sound and all sorts of similarly stoned drugpop spacerock... COMES WITH A DOWNLOAD CODE!
"Crystal Ball" MPEG Stream:
"My Nativity" MPEG Stream:
BLANK REALM Falling Down The Stairs (Negative Guest List) 7" 12.98
One of a whole handful of releases on the Negative Guest List label, a bunch of which we reviewed on last week's list. This one comes from Aussie garage psych combo Blank Realm, whose Deja What? lp was a big hit around here, and who released a one sided jukebox single on NGL a little while back. The A side here is an acoustic jam, and find this otherwise dour and dirgey outfit sounding uncharacteristically sunshiney, acoustic guitars, whirring organs, a little bit swaggery, but super poppy with a hooky chorus, and a distinctly nineties vibe, but really it's the B side that had us hooked, murky and woozy and reverby, whiney vox and some cool sitar like buzz, not to mention a little twang, definitely reminding us of old school Aussie post punk bands like the Scientists and the Celibate Rifles, finishing off with a rad psychedelic squall, all detuned and fantastically warped.
BLANK REALM Go Easy (Siltbreeze) lp 15.98
Latest slab of tripped out fuzzy garage punk from Down Under, and another dizzying blur of primal rhythmic thump, woozy synth swirl, distorto guitar crunch, the opening track "Acting Strange" might be our favorite (and most rocking) Blank Realm jam yet, with super distorted angular guitars, weird speaking-in-tongues vocals, tribal drum pound, and a super heavy blown out garage psych squall of a chorus, the song seeming to grow more unhinged by the minute, the sound more atonal and warped, like the sound was run through a funhouse mirror. So we were sort of expecting this to be the most noisy and psychedelic and rocking record yet, but the second track strips things way down, into a sort of Best Coast by way of Velvets sort of lazy reverb drenched jangle pop sprawl, driven by a sinewy bass line and super stripped down Mo Tucker style drumming. And then track number three sort of fuses the two, poppy jangle and garagey pound, woven into a sort of Sonic Youth sounding slab of garage psych. The rest of the record tends toward the druggy and stripped down, especially the fantastically murky psych ballad title track, woozy and wasted, but in between, the band deliver another rocker like the opener ("Pendulum Swing"), heavy on the synth with a definite new wave vibe, and the kick ass two part "The Crackle", the first part, distorted and dirgey, blown out bass buzz and snarly girl vox, atonal and a little bit synth wavey, while the second part, pours on the reverb and the drifty guitar shimmer, unfurling a super washed out, spacey sprawl of unhinged psychedelia. Another super recommended chunk of killer psychedelic spaced out garage pop weirdness, comes with a download coupon to boot!
"Acting Strange" MPEG Stream:
"Cleaning Up My Mess" MPEG Stream:
"The Crackle Pt. 2" MPEG Stream:
BLANK REALM Hey Little Child (Negative Guest List) 7" 12.98
Latest from this Australian psychedelic garage synth combo, and it comes in the form of a pricey, one sided (at 45rpm!) 7" single, and it's a cover! The first in a series of Negative Guest List jukebox singles (named for the Thomas Jefferson Slave Apartments tune we assume), ostensibly, at least according to the sticker on the front, this single is for your jukebox, and the series is intended to get bands to pick covers, and in redoing the song, overcome the idea of simply 'covering' a song, and while the cost may be prohibitive for some, we can't think of a jukebox that would love to include this little doozy among its musical ranks. BR take on Alex Chilton's "Hey! Little Child" and totally make it their own, adding plenty of organ and synth to a pounding rhythm that drives the proceedings, that rhythm wreathed in pulsing synth melodies, beneath some tripped out echoey vocals, loads of reverb, warbling whirring organs, some killer riffing (it is a killer riff to begin with), some wild leads, the sound crunchy and fuzzy, with a freaked out psychedelic second half where things get wild and loose and noisy. Killer stuff.
BLANK TAPES, THE Daydreams (self-released) cd 12.98
This is how we like our indie pop. Raw and earnest, lush and hook filled, recorded on cassette tape then transferred to an old 8-track, the second album from Matt Adams expands on his debut from a couple years back that we dug big time. Now living in San Francisco after leaving Orange County, he has quickly become one of the finest songwriters in town. While he draws from greats like The Zombies, the Kinks and The Byrds, he manages to not sound like some nostalgic act. In fact there is a freshness and earnest quality to his songs that give them a very timeless feel. Kind of like Vetiver covering power poppers Zumpano. If anyone at Sub Pop is reading this, get the Blank Tapes on tour with The Shins, it will be a match made in pop heaven.
"In The Light" MPEG Stream:
BLANK TAPES, THE Friends And Favorites (self-released) cd-r 9.98
BLANK TAPES, THE Home Away From Home (White Noise) cd 12.98
BLANK TAPES, THE Landfair (self-released) cd 10.98
BLANKET s/t (Via Mule) cd ep 5.98
BLANKETSHIP Klangwunder / The Sound Of Fun Surrounds You (Gigante Sound) cd-r 9.98
Following up last year's Teen Sounds, SF's Blanketship comes cruisin' along with more delightful aural collage adventures. This time things are a bit more drivin', maybe a bit darker and more aggressive. And unlike many of his past recordings which kept the listener constantly teetering off-kilter with their rapid fire juggling together of puzzle piece samples and mad rhythms, the nine tracks that comprise The Sound Of Fun Surrounds You has a few longer stretches that your ears and toes can catch a grasp of and groove along to for a few bars at least. But that's not to say this cd-r is without its fair share of surprise bursts and giggly bits, those come in spades on the Klangwunder half! Those eight tracks were composed with like-minded People Like Us on WFMU! Always a deliriously good time!
"Viva Butterfly" MPEG Stream:
"The St. John River"
BLANKETSHIP Summer Set (Gigante Sound) cd 11.98
Blanketship's second album starts off in a much more funky and trip-hop-y fashion than anything found on his previous cd Threeps, but it definitely doesn't stay put. This one-man band aka Jared Blum keeps things moving along, drawing from a plethora of inspirations and sound sources, but always keeping thoughts of pop in the back of his mind. Incorporating samples of psychedelia, jazz, earthen folk, field recordings, and world beat, he's pieced together each track on Summer Set, with some considerably more structured than others. Catchily groovy and playfully spirited.
"County Fare" MPEG Stream:
BLANKETSHIP Teen Sounds (Gigante Sound) cd-r 9.98
We've delighted to the many eclectic eccentric musical personas of the gents behind Bay Area indie label Gigante Sound (Dominic Cramp and Jared Blum) -- Qulfus, Borful Tang, Vulcanus 68, and Blanketship to name a few. Here's the latest from the latter with Mr. Blum at the helm. Teen Sounds is a jumbled, tumbled baker's dozen aural hijinksin' collages. Very strange and strangely varied, each is possessed with its own ample dose of the absurd. Much more dense and stewy that any of the previous Blanketship releases which were more breezy and exotica tinged. Quite reminiscent of Negativland, The Residents or John Oswald's Plunderphonics!
"Teen Sounds" MPEG Stream:
BLANKETSHIP Threeps (G25 Productions) cd 11.98
This new cd from SF's one man band Blanketship compiles three of his cd-r and cassette eps (hence the title, get it?) from the last couple of years. In chronological order, they are: L'Homme Invisible, Captain Assure, and Willow Bend. However, the tracks -- 25 in all -- have been jumbled together into an all new running order. It flows very well, making for a delightful full length. Maybe we've gone a little bit nutty, but we thought she heard lil' kitties mewing throughout this cd (particularly on the track "Dwarfism"). Then again maybe it was all due to the fact that just moments earlier we were listening to the plentiful meowing on the Cats & Kittens cd. Nonetheless, this is not a bad thing! The sounds, whether they are indeed meows or not, totally complemented the overall soft 'n' soothing atmosphere. On each track, Blanketship craftily arranges a soundscape of electronic melodies, sampled sounds, programmed rhythms among other things resulting in an airy collage. Sometimes a bit ghostly, sometimes a bit '60s British mystery movie-esque, sometimes a bit like a kranky ol' videogame, quite often playful and novel. Nice!
"Dwarfism" MPEG Stream:
BLANKETSHIP AND THE DOLLSON FAMILY SINGERS Music With A Message (Gigante Sound) cd-r 9.98
Following up 2006's delightful Summer Set, Bay Area artist Blanketship returns with Music With A Message! This time he's got The Dollson Family Singers in tow for another aural collage of off-kilter, genre-jumpin' frolics. The one dozen hymns on Music With A Message chug along like a feel good wagon with a slightly wonky wheel rolling over hills and through towns with heads in the clouds, toes tapping and hugs aplenty. Sorta like Danielson Family taking Polyphonic Spree to Sunday School but not without a secret intoxicating visit to Bruce Haack and Perrey & Kingsley's exotica tiki lounge beforehand!
"Let Him Into Your Heart" MPEG Stream:
"Reach Up In The Sky"
BLARKE BAYER / BLACK WIDOW Arctic Blast (Heathen Skulls) cd 15.98
Massive and gorgeous glacial drone exploration from these two Australian one man bands, combined to form, well... a two man band. Black Widow is Rob MacManus from AQ faves the Grey Daturas, and he teams up with Ben Andrews aka Blarke Bayer who spends most of his time in Aussie grinders Agents of Abhorrence. But if you just think Grey Daturas plus AoA, you definitely won't have imagined this. Some glorious bastardized blend of Taj Mahal Travellers organic drift and Lustmordian black ambience. Three long tracks, the first a slow burning sprawl, guitars grinding out long whorls of low end buzz, slowwly undulating, a sort of more subdued SUNNO))) sort of sound, streaked with bits of smeared feedback, and random bits of muted percussion, a gorgeously expansive bit of minimal whir that has everyone in the store totally entranced every time it plays. The second sounds like the guys exploring the inside of a piano, buzzing strings and struck tones, with those distinctly guts-of-a-keyboard overtones, shimmering clouds of tonal drift that occasionally coalesce into fleeting melodies, while elsewhere, the actual keys of the keyboard are struck to add a slightly out of tune counter point, making the whole thing trippy and slightly off kilter. The final track is downright pretty, and almost Dirty Three style minor key dirge, strummed reverbed guitars shifting and drifting in an expanse of distant rumbles and bits of fuzz and tape hiss. Moody, minor key, melancholy and simply gorgeous.
"Maria Of Puerto Montt" MPEG Stream:
"Alone In Tierra Del Fuego"
BLARKE BAYER / BLACK WIDOW Presents "I.B." (Numerical Thief) cd 6.98
**SALE **SALE* *SALE** It's been a while since we've heard from Australia's Grey Daturas or any of the various related combos. It's only really because for a year or two, it was almost like they lived here. Constantly on tour, using SF as home base. We'd see them at shows, in the shop. And we haven't had much new besides the Neurot full length, but we do have a big order of Daturas and other goodies waiting to ship, so that'll take care of that. But for those who just can't wait, we have collab number two from Blarke Bayer and Black Widow (we might have one or two copies of the first one, see elsewhere on the site), BB being Ben Andrews of down under grind commando unit Agents of Abhorrence, and Black Widow being Rob MacManus from the Grey Daturas, and it's another set of three songs, clocking in at just less than a half hour, and is just as sonically varied (but slightly jazzier, more on that in a minute) as their first tete a tete. The opener is a skittery free jazz drift, little fragments of piano drifting in a black expanse, the drums chaotic and powerful, very free, shuffling subtly one second, exploding into frenzied fills the next, all the while a sax moans and bleats and skronks, its long tones laid over the proceedings like high end streaks, giving the track a weird free jazz drone vibe. The second track is more of a thick guitary drone, the drums relegated to mute throb and pulse, demarcating a slowly smoldering smear of shimmering strings, swirling feedback, abstract melodic fragments, some post rock lope, some Morricone-ish twang, some crackle and hiss, the drums lazy and laid back, some sort of doomed minimal slowcore drift. Quite lovely. Wouldn't mind a whole disc of this stuff. The duo finish off with a super minimal low end exploration, so minimal we hesitate to describe it as a drone, it's more like a collection of ambient sounds, the distant whir of a building's machinery, the sound of air circulating, the distant murmur of conversation, but take all that and blur it and mute it into a barely there ghost of sound, over which a series of electrical impulses are transmitted, glitch, crackle, super subtle electronic textures drifting above a music so subtle and minimal it could almost be the sound of your speakers humming. Intense and quite beautiful, but may require some high powered headphones to truly appreciate.
"Fanny And Alexander"
BLARKE BAYER / BONE SHERRIFF split (Sweatlung) cd 9.98
More amazing and freaked out noisy bliss from down under, this time a tag team match up between Black Widow, aka Rob MacManus from the Grey Daturas, and Blarke Bayer, Ben from Aussie grinders Agents Of Abhorrence, who have probably toured together a million times and played in tons of bands together, but this is the first recorded document we've seen of the two teaming up for some serious noisemaking. Although noisemaking might be misleading, as this is actually more drone-y and ambient than it is noisy. Thick washes of crumbling guitars move glacially over bits of percussive skitter, slivers of feedback surface here and there, some simple tribal thump, all nestled amidst lots of low end rumble. Imagine a much more subdued SUNNO))) and you might have a rough idea. But that's only the first track (of three). The second track sounds like someone playing the inside of a piano, lots of buzzing steel strings, scraping and haunting low end reverberations, someone is obviously on the outside of the piano too, pounding out simple creepy low end chords, the result is like some super abstract Argento soundtrack, moody, mysterious and intense, becoming more and more abstract and 'free' as the piece progresses, as if each player, on the inside AND outside of the piano are quickly pulling it apart into a pile of splintered wood and broken steel strings. The final track, the shortest of the three, is also the dreamiest, with a simple minor key guitar figure drifting in a wide open expanse of muted percussive swirls, and dense tangles of finger picked melodies, the whole thing sounding like the soundtrack to some experimental western, like if anyone ever dared remake Jodorowsky, it wouldn't be a long stretch to imagine this as the perfect music to accompany some of that gorgeously unsettling Jodorowsky imagery. Surprisingly subtle and really cool.
"Maria Of Puerto Montt" MPEG Stream:
"Alone In Tierra Del Fuego"
BLASPHEMOUS CRUCIFIXION Crude Burial (Rusty Axe) cd ep 6.66
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. With a name like Blasphemous Crucifixion, you should know what to expect - raw, buzzing black metal with a nice suicidal feel to it. This one man (presumably) hate machine cranks things out in a highly noisy, atonal way with a pretty pronounced punk influence. In fact, this sounds a bit like some of the Russian black metal we dig so much (early Old Wainds, Nav, Meti Bhuvah), which is indeed a very good thing. While the songs on Crude Burial, expanded with some demo tracks from earlier years, sound like they were recorded in an air raid shelter during an actual air raid AND in a blizzard, you can plainly hear all the instruments creeping their way out of the mix like they are gasping for air, so it never gets too noisy to where this will be mistaken for some experimental artsy black metal. There's nothing too ornate about Blasphemous Crucifixion, nor does there need to be. This is some harsh, negative stuff, super primitive and free of all the progressive bullshit than can ruin so much black metal these days, and with song titles like "Urine-Soaked Tombstone", "Disgusting", and "Self-Inflicted", you should know whether or not this is your bag. We say hell yeah. Coming to us from the always right on Rusty Axe imprint.
"Urine-Soaked Tombstone" MPEG Stream:
"Poisoned Water" MPEG Stream:
BLAST BEAST Evercrushing Death Splatter (Relapse) cd 14.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, MAINLY BECAUSE IT WAS AN APRIL FOOLS JOKE! HEE HEE! SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. Fuck yes. It had to happen. The mother of all grindcore bands has descended upon us and you have simply never in your life heard anything as monstrously bone-crushing as this. Featuring not one, not two, not three, but SEVEN separate vocalists, bellowing forth, respectively -- ultra gut-rumbling low, maniacally cat-butchering mostly low, illegally brutal low-mid, hardcore shout, slightly high yelp, catatonic maple screech, and tree-felling supersonic scream -- the almighty Blast Beast is augmented additionally by four distinct drummers, two of which do nothing but blast in tandem, virtually quadrupling standard drum speeds. One drummer is left doing fills and rolls incessantly while the last, Batteronimus Maximus (supposedly his legal birth-name!) plays a 12-piece kit assembled entirely of bass drums, leaving the notion of double bass a thing of the past. In fact the liner notes of the record include certified testimony from the controversial Auditory Regulation Statutes and BPM Limitation Committee of Canada that an estimated 72 to 73 percent of the sound recorded on this release is physically too fast for the human ear to discern, registering only a piercing single note to people but deemed "highly unsuitable" for households including dogs or feathered pets. Still the few moments you can make out are fucking steam-rolling bulldozingly insane! Think Brutal Truth meets Discordance Axis meets Nile at Human Remains' practice space with the guys from Pig Destroyer, Cryptopsy, Morbid Angel and Mortician jamming along -- all at the same time! With a whopping 147 songs (eighteen minutes total) this release is simply too fucking brutal for words -- get this now!
"Fast" MPEG Stream:
"Faster" MPEG Stream:
"Even Faster" MPEG Stream:
"Holy Shit, That's Fast"
BLAST FURNACE s/t (Long Hair) cd 17.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. Copenhagen's rock scene in the early 1970s was so small and fertile that bands formed and reformed in various combinations of the same people. Case in point -- Blast Furnace came together in 1970, released a single great LP in 1971, and by 1972 3/4 of Blast Furnace had joined the band Culpeper's Orchard. It's kind of amazing that this record has been lost to all but the most die hard fans of Danish progressive rock, because it's so clearly great. The angst-filled (almost Faust-ish) vocals of Brit singer Tom McEwan take turns with super-expressive organ lines. And there are flutes eveywhere (which fills our flute obsessive Andee with joy). And the arrangements are really good, making the most of minor key melodies so that nothing need be overstated. There aren't extended wanky instrumental passages here, for a prog band Blast Furnace edited themselves so well, leaving us wanting more. And, in fact, there is more -- a non-album track intended as a single has also been included on this cd. The disc starts off as classic and firece seventies prog, with complex melodic passages and some instrumental spacy jamming, but as the record progresses, the record veers dramatically from mostly instrumental prog, to super dramatic, almost goofy (in a good way) balladeering. The vocalist's deep baritone waxes poetic on ridiculous and far out subject matters, like the plight of Toytown, or poor sad Bobo the Clown. Sounds silly, and it sort of is, but it's really really good. Reminds us a little of AQ faves Paternoster (although not nearly as insane) or some super melodramatic seventies singer songwriter. But the combination of heartfelt ballads and searing prog action make this a weird and great find. Windy's new favorite record.
"Dr. Night" RealAudio clip:
"First and Last" RealAudio clip:
BLAST ROCKS You're Fired (Spam) cd 10.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. If you're a fan of the lo-fi pop stylings of Owen and his Casiotone For The Painfully Alone, check out his energetic, a bit more amped-up pals The Blast Rocks. Playfully messy, lo-fi punky pop fancied up with casio keyboards that also reminded me of the Rondelles-related Albuquerque combo Luxo Champ or Olympia party pop king Gene Defcon.
"Joyce" RealAudio clip:
"My Boyfriend Is A Zombie"
BLASTED CANYONS 2nd Place (Castle Face) lp 14.98
2nd Place is the follow ep to the previous Record Of The Week from these SF sci-fi synthprog garage poppers, and while there's nothing quite as freaked out and far out as THAT track from their debut, it is another kick ass collection of super catchy, garage pop new wave that we can't stop listening too. Opener "Get High" sounds like a much more raw and garage rock version of Interpol, the deep crooned vox and the main melody the main culprits, but BC add all sorts of swirling female background vox, and lots more jangle and crunch, and while most of the track is fuzzy garage pop, the chorus is such a killer blast of new wave radness, not to mention the synth melody at the end. This may be only six songs, but one song in and we're already thinking this might be our new favorite record. And thankfully the rest of the record does nothing to change our minds. "Liquid Fiend" is a blown out blast of garage wave jangle and crunch, with hooks galore, and a sound that's distorted and crumbly, but warm and lush at the same time. "Holy Geometry" channels classic power pop through BC's cracked crunch and wild buzz drenched jangle, and "Finken's Lament" might be the weirdest of the bunch, what sounds like programmed drums, stumbling and pounding over swirling synths and buzzing drones and frantic guitar strum and garbled vox, all blurred into a druggy psych-wave blowout. "Manson Eyes" is another slab of synth soaked jangle pop, and finally, "Glass On Your Pillow" finds BC doing their best Oh Sees, at least at fist, with pounding drums, and a big buzzy bluesy garage rock riff, but suddenly the whole song is swallowed up by a thick low end drone, all the sounds saturated and in the red, thos deep crooned vox come in, and it's total gloom pop bliss, with a killer catchy chorus that manages to be impossibly hooky while being about as blown out as possible, a glorious cacophonous hook, that pretty much explains just why we love these guys (and gal) so much. Includes a download coupon as well.
"Get High" MPEG Stream:
"Liquid Fiend" MPEG Stream:
"Glass On Your Pillow"
BLASTED CANYONS s/t (Castle Face) lp 14.98
Ok, so they're called Blasted Canyons, the record is on John Dwyer's (Thee Oh Sees) Castle Face records, and has eye popping rainbow lazer psychedelic-smash cover art (courtesy Castle Face art dude William Keihn), one member of Blasted Canyons used to be in garage pop masters Bare Wires, so we were pretty much already sold, but then we threw it on, and well, we were definitely expecting some cool kick ass garage rock, but were totally unprepared for the tripped out psychedelic garage-prog synth-punk space-pop radness these guys and gal kick out. The first track, awesomely titled "The Artist Formerly Known As Satan", should pretty much seal the deal, huge bombastic crashing distorted chords, almost metal sounding, but more like a fuzzy space rock dirge, swirling effects-drenched boy girl vocal harmonies that turn it it into some sort of twisted pop, pounding drums, druggy and dreamy, but heavy and fuzzy and catchy as hell, and when the track shifts gears, and they launch into some buzzy distorto garage pop crunch, with echo-y vocals, and woozy sweetly melodic background vox, not to mention some wicked melodic hooks, it's a total head banging hip swinging sonic bliss out, and then bam, it's right into that strangely epic and bombastic garage pop dirge which leads to one final buzzy blast. Might just be our jam of the year so far. Fuzzed out swaggery lowslung Stooges-y stomp fused to power pop jangle and lo-fi space-synth-prog, so good we can barely bring ourselves to listen to the rest of the record, but once we did... The second track, "Blood On The Wall" is a synth driven chunk of angular garage-y new wave crunch, with a killer chorus, the howled distorto female vox and buzzing synth definitely reminding us of Black Bug, while "Consider Drowning" is a primo slab of surfy garage groove, with the vocals all deep and echoey reminding us of Crystal Stilts, but the chugging murky guitars, swirling spacey synth and pounding drums transforming it into something way more tripped out and primal. And so it goes, the whole record a wild ride through Oh Sees style sweat-soaked distorto-garage jangle pop, tripped out murkscapes of pulsing crumbling synths and pitch shifted vox, fuzzy classic post punk power pop laced with hazy oooh's and aaah's, noisy sci-fi-synth-wreathed punky pound, dirgey 4-tracked rhythmic experiments, wild, reverbed, feedback soaked girl group noise pop groove, twisted angular synth driven new wave, and finally finishing off with another bit of sonic weirdness, a perfect bookend for that opening blast of garage prog bombast, a swirling, dirgey, lysergic FX heavy synthswirl outro. So goddamn good. Record Of The Week for sure, but we're thinking maybe Record Of The Year too...! Vinyl-only for now, here's hoping they'll also press up some cds soon as well...
"The Artist Formerly Known As Satan" MPEG Stream:
"Blood On The Wall" MPEG Stream:
"Consider Drowning" MPEG Stream:
"Death and a Half"
BLAZE OF SORROW Echi (Sun & Moon) cd 12.98
We had never heard this Italian black metal band before, but based on the first few minutes of opener "All'ignato" we were expecting this to be a sort of Alcest / Amesoeurs kind of thing, indie jangle and minor key melancholia wreathed in back buzz, and hell, we're all for that, and when the heavy guitars kick in on that first track, we're in heaven, chugging, soaring, blissed out buzz, the melodies mournful, the vibe darkly depressive, the sound like a way heavier Katatonia, all that was left was to hear the vocals, and we were most definitely expecting a sort of deep dramatic croon, but these guys had other ideas, suddenly exploding into some epic, furious, blasting black buzz, frenzied and frantic, insectoid riffing over insane drumming, but that mournful minor key vibe dragged along for the ride, the combo super potent, hellish and heavy, grim and black, but still majestic and epic and emotional. The vocals a gruff demonic bellow, the overall effect classic second wave black metal, the production thick and bombastic, the arrangements almost symphonic, a bit proggy, with the songs slipping from classic metal gallop, to lumbering almost-doom, to fierce lightning speed blasts and back again. All the songs here are super varied, mixing a dark melodicism, with some serious grim black energy, the occasional keyboard adding dramatic chordal swirls, drifting beneath acoustic guitars, folky interludes giving way to pounding dirge-y buzzing melancholia, in turn giving way to spaced out loping clean guitar post metal meander, all chiming melodies, and woozy basslines, but the sound always seems to return to some variation of a furious blast black buzz, the band striking a delicate balance between its two sonic sides, ending up with a pretty potent combo, one that is definitely black and buzzy enough for the grim hordes, but with just enough melody and emotion to keep it from being just another cookie cutter black metal record. And we find ourselves digging it more and more with every listen.
"All'ignoto" MPEG Stream:
"In Memoria" MPEG Stream:
BLEAK HOUSE Suspended Animation (Buried By Time And Dust) cd 11.98
Lately we've been raving a lot about some cool New Wave Of British Heavy Metal (NWOBHM) reissues. Ferinstance, there was Wolfbane a few weeks back, Jameson Raid last time, and this list we've got two: this one, Bleak House, and also Pagan Altar, below. And we're gonna tell you they're awesome. But, you might ask, what's the big deal about the NWOBHM anyway, why are we (and other discerning metal fans) so into it? Well, it's 'cause these NWOBHM bands, both the big-to-middling ones (Iron Maiden, Def Leppard, Samson, Angel Witch, Diamond Head, Grim Reaper, etc.) and the more obscure, like the ones we've been listing lately, had SONGS. In a lot of ways, the NWOBHM was the last hurrah of heavy metal as song-based rock music. Sure, it also laid the groundwork for a lot of other more extreme metal genres that took off in the '80s, speed metal and thrash (Metallica was all about the NWOBHM), black metal (Venom!), and even the extreme glam of LA hair metal, which had songs too, yeah, but often poofy pop ones, whereas NWOBHM was hard ROCK most definitely. Not to make too much of a point of it, but we feel a lot of these one-shot wonders from the NWOBHM, kids who made a killer 7" and were never heard from again, are the sort of thing that appeals to us in the same way '60s garage rock nuggets do, or early '70s proto-metal psych, or '77 punk, they're just damn good catchy rock n' roll songs, heavy ones, that you can't deny. And, like in the '60s, there were a LOT of great little bands writing now-forgotten gems. It was a real phenomenon, and that's why we get so stoked about the NWOBHM, ok? Anyway, that brings us to this, Bleak House, a band who released just two now-collectable 7" eps, Rainbow Warrior (1981) and Lions In Winter ('82). Those two account for seven of the 20 tracks here, the disc being rounded out with live tracks recorded in 1980. The band actually was formed as teenagers back in 1972, though, and these guys, like a lot of the NWOBHM stuff we've recently been reviewing, very much have a '70s, almost proto-metal vibe to 'em. Bleak House are perhaps best known for the very first track here, "Rainbow Warrior", which has a riff that may or may not have been ripped off by admitted NWOBHM fanatics Metallica in their song "Welcome Home (Sanitarium)" five years later, most likely inadvertently. Bleak House can't really complain, they've probably gotten more publicity over the years from that than anything. Great song, though, for which they deserve their due. And others here, such as "Isandhlwana" and "Down To Zero", are equally good. Classy, heavy, melodic, with memorable riffing and wailing, majestic vocals. And a haunted, vintage, British vibe to match their Dickensian appellation. Furthermore, there's some moments (like in "Flight Of The Salamander") that surprise with an almost anachronistic indie-rock jangle, or hint of such anyway. It's a shame they never got to make a proper full length album, but what we have here is quite worthwhile, with the extensive live material as more than just a bonus - it looks to be a complete show, and includes versions of only three of the songs from the 7"s, the rest having never been documented in the studio. While rough and distorted to some extent, it still sounds pretty good. And you gotta give their singer a lot of credit for really going for it, even when it seems like maybe he's just about tapped out. Turn it up, close your eyes, hoist a pint, bang your head, and you can pretend you're one of the punters at an actual NWOBHM gig back in the day. The jewel case comes with a Union Jack-adorned obi, and the cd booklet contains a band history as well as the original graphics from their 7"s, vintage color photos, and also reproductions of some old gig fliers. Note: Buried By Time And Dust also released this collection on 180 gram vinyl, we sold out of 'em already though, we might be able to get more but we'll see, you can ask if you're interested...
"Rainbow Warrior" MPEG Stream:
"Isandhlwana" MPEG Stream:
BLECHDOM, KEVIN And The Tempo Of Doom (Unbearable) 7" 5.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. Stunning new two track single from one half of, duh, Blectum From Blechdom. Fluttering, wondrous instumental synth lullabies that evoke the electronic work of Raymond Scott, the player piano compositions of Conlon Nancarrow, and even traces of Kurt Weill, but with a contemporary Schematic twist. Make sense? Remember a time in life when electronic synthesizers were accessible to the public and everyone had this crazy idea of what the year 2000 was going to be like? We were gonna live on the moon and live in capsules and wear spacesuits, we were preparing for the FUTURE! Well, I'm actually too young to remember, but these songs make me think about that kind of exhilarating bewilderment. Yeah, it's kinda like that...
BLECHDOM, KEVIN Bitches Without Britches (Chicks on Speed) cd 15.98
BLECHDOM, KEVIN Eat My Heart Out (Chicks On Speed) cd 15.98
Kevin Blechdom's latest album comes in the form of a frantic electronic-rock opera-style extravaganza. In contrast to her past recordings that frequently teetered into juvenile booby-joke, one-trick-pony territory (also a problem we've had with the music of Chicks On Speed whose label released this cd), this comes across as considerably more mature and composed... but no less kooky. Uhh, but we should let you know that breasts (her own) do make an appearance on this album's cover photo. Also on prominent display here... musically, is her startlingly broad stylistic spectrum. She delves robustly into diva drama, beefy rock, singy-songy pop, distorted funk, electro-kitsch and beyond. Finally, a Blechdom album with tracks that bear repeat listens, and with a number of compositions that are worthy of the critical acclaim that has been bestowed upon her in the past. That said, this is still something of an acquired taste. Check out the audio clips to see if your palate welcomes the camp-o-phonic sounds of Ms Blechdom.
"Coming" MPEG Stream:
"Love You From The Heart"
BLECHDOM, KEVIN I Love Presets (Tigerbeat6) cd 9.98
During the brief hiatus that was once thought to be the demise of Blectum From Blechdom, each member went on to craft their own, distinct personalities. While Blevin tucked herself away to assemble the epic sonic explorations of "Talon Slalom", Kevin took to small stages around the world, presenting her Kurt-Weill-meets-karaoke-diva-performance-artist-as-portrayed-by-Mary-Katherine-Gallagher-gone-completely-mad to the masses willing to endure that highly engaging, albeit cringeworthy affair. "I Love Presets", unlike the beautifully awe-inspiring solo material on the instrumental "The Inside Story" or "And The Tempo Of Doom" eps, focuses on Kevin's "pop star" potential, with emphasis on vocal delivery and lyrical "wit". Songs tend to be personal, as displayed in her heart-wrenching cover of Tina Turner's "Private Dancer" or her much-too-informative reminiscence of a former relationship in "Mr. Miguel". The highlights, musically, are in the Kurt Weill / carnivalesque "Shelley Sho'nuff" and Kevin's response to gearhounding know-it-alls in "Talkin' Tech". Also included is the current Blectum standard, "Interspecies Love". This is pure kitsch, novel for a few listens, but sadly tires much too quickly...
"Interspecies Love" RealAudio clip:
BLECHDOM, KEVIN The Inside Story (Tigerbeat6) 3" cd ep 8.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. Kevin Blechdom (of acclaimed Oakland duo Blectum From Blechdom) busts out her first solo recording, nine short, laconic lullabies (one of which, "Shooshee", is a variation of a Blectum From Blechdom track) composed entirely with software programs written by the artist herself. As with the music of Blectum From Blechdom, there exists an elegant balance of sinister creepiness and giddy playfulness. With "The Inside Story", Kevin sinks the dancefloor rhythms to subaquatic levels, flirting with the corporeal by way of digitalia, and recalling the early electronic experimentation of Raymond Scott (whose extraordinary 2cd collection "Manhattan Research" is a must have!). Although the sounds contained, to my knowledge, appear purely electronic and not sample based, this is electronic music you want to touch and pinch between your fingers and lick all over. Unfortunately, this disc is a brief twenty minutes, but certainly a fluid and sublime listen as a whole. Dreamy.
BLECHDOM, KEVIN Your Butt E.P. (Dudini) cd ep 8.98
Someone has to say it, it might as well be us. C'mon!!! You studied music at Mills for fuck's sake!!! You were honored alongside RYOJI IKEDA and OVAL by the Ars Electronica, the biggest honor in digital music, beating out everybody ever featured in The Wire, EVERYBODY! But all you do is sing stupid songs, terribly off key, to retarded programmed nursery rhyme electronica, about boobs and butts and stuff only grade schoolers think is funny. Christ, this is depressing/embarrassing. But people (those Ars Electronica folks for one, and possibly Fred Frith who actually appears on this disc) seem to like the Blechdom thing, so maybe we're missing something. Some sample lyrics: "There's a boob-a-que in here, my tits are on fire / My ballpark boobs are about to explode." Ugh, well, whatever we might be missing doesn't sound like something we really want to get.
BLECTUM FROM BLECHDOM Badmusic & Buttprints (Dial) 10" 11.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. Blectum From Blechdom's mutant electronica has been coupled with the post-Aphex tricknology of Chris "O.S.T." Douglas for this super limited lathe cut 10" produced for Dial Records. One side is more rhythmically based, with algorithmic workouts of erratic shortwave bleeping situated above a mock house drum machine build. The other side is far more whimsical, entirely unconcerned with their audience's intellectual sensibilities. Kevin & Blevin Blectum present a vocal mimicry of tapes made by teenage girls as they sing along, completely off key, to their favourite boy bands, squealing with delight. Broken calliope melodies plink and plonk along with the embarassingly quaint vocals. Yup, the covers are actual buttprints by Kevin & Blevin... if you get lucky you might find one or two very long black hairs accompanying your buttprint. (Blevin Blectum claims this is not one of theirs but is the result of the detritus found in Mike Dial's house.)
BLECTUM FROM BLECHDOM De Snaunted Haus (Tigerbeat6) cd 10.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. Blectum From Blechdom keeps on getting better and weirder with each release. "De Snaunted Haus" is the fourth release this year for San Francisco's carnivalesque electro-shock / horror-techno duo. There honestly hasn't been much that sounds like Blectum From Blechdom, it's almost like somebody took a baseball bat to the head of Laurie Anderson and made her act, punch-drunk, in some really silly horror skits, scored on a Casio keyboard by somebody who has never listened to anything but Thinking Fellers albums at the wrong speed. Their warped electronica simulates child-like melodies as reflected through a funhouse mirror of distortion and exaggeration, and in-between these songs Blectum From Blechdom set up surreal skits that involve mad ducks, bloodied children, and the undead, all of which end in somebody screaming (nice touch). So we say: Blectoids, keep hammering away at Laurie Anderson's head with that baseball bat! If only.
"Son-Toe-Fury" RealAudio clip:
BLECTUM FROM BLECHDOM Fishin' In Front Of People: The Early Years (Phthalo) cd 14.98
We told it like it really is last time with our harsh-but-honest assessment of Kevin Blechdom's "Your Butt" ep...so there's no going back now. But perhaps this new disc from quite a few people's favorite female Oakland electronics and cabaret duo is deserving of a better fate. Or perhaps not. From the vaginal themed artwork to song titles like "Shithole" and "Toilet Trouble" this celebrates the side of BFB that we just don't appreciate, their not so much childlike as childish aesthetic... Of course, ample warning is given where it says on the sleeve that "this is a compilation of BFB's most drunken and messy live musical moments." Still, the resulting glitchy sound-world of computers gone bad features plenty of crunchy bleepy beats and drones, that, seemingly mechanical and random as they are, aren't unpleasant. But, when the duo start singing, that's when this slides from "kinda cool, kitschy instrumental electronica act" to "annoying, noisy joke band that's just not for us"... Again though, it can't be denied that BFB do indeed have their fans, and doubtless fans will want and need this disc, more power to 'em. We'll just agree to disagree, no hard feelings. Apparently, this is to be the last ever BFB release, but now have two separate full-fledged solo careers to, er, look forward to.
"Jump Jo Bones" RealAudio clip:
BLECTUM FROM BLECHDOM Haus de Snaus (Tigerbeat6) cd 14.98
Blectum from Blechdom's "Haus de Snaus" is a collection of the previously listed but currently out of print releases "Snauses And Mallards" (their first EP, originally on Kit Clayton's Orthlorng Musork) and "De Snaunted Haus" (their 4th release on Tigerbeat 6). And there's a few extra tracks. So here's what we've previously written: "Snauses and Mallards" from Kit Clayton's Orthlorng Musork label is from Blectum From Blechdom - the work of two local technicians showcasing their electronic output from the Mills College conservatory. This eight track 12", while playful and childlike, has a distinctly creepy and maniacal element, sort of like the sounds of scary funhouse at an evil carnival. Or something. It's full of dense sample mutilation, constructed into spasmodic yet anthemic rhythmic complexities. The music hints at both '80s electro and at early computer music with all of its nerdy whimsy & tinniness. Quality stuff for, say, fans of Matmos' textured 'organica' (to use Hrvatski's term for it). Blectum From Blechdom keeps on getting better and weirder with each release. "De Snaunted Haus" is the fourth release this year for San Francisco's carnivalesque electro-shock / horror-techno duo. There honestly hasn't been much that sounds like Blectum From Blechdom, it's almost like somebody took a baseball bat to the head of Laurie Anderson and made her act, punch-drunk, in some really silly horror skits, scored on a Casio keyboard by somebody who has never listened to anything but Thinking Fellers albums at the wrong speed. Their warped electronica simulates child-like melodies as reflected through a funhouse mirror of distortion and exaggeration, and in-between these songs Blectum From Blechdom set up surreal skits that involve mad ducks, bloodied children, and the undead, all of which end in somebody screaming (nice touch). So we say: Blectoids, keep hammering away at Laurie Anderson's head with that baseball bat! If only.
"Son-Toe-Fury" RealAudio clip:
BLECTUM FROM BLECHDOM Snauses And Mallards (Musork) 12" 5.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. The second release from Kit Clayton's Orthlorng Musork label is from Blectum From Blechdom - the work of two local technicians showcasing their electronic output from the Mills College conservatory. This eight track 12", while playful and childlike, has a distinctly creepy and maniacal element, sort of like the sounds of scary funhouse at an evil carnival. Or something. It's full of dense sample mutilation, constructed into spasmodic yet anthemic rhythmic complexities. The music hints at both '80s electro and at early computer music with all of its nerdy whimsy & tinniness. Quality stuff for, say, fans of Matmos' textured 'organica' (to use Hrvatski's term for it).
BLECTUM FROM BLECHDOM The Messy Jesse Fiesta (Deluxe) cd 13.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. After their "Snauses & Mallards" ep for Kit Clayton's Orthlorng Musork, the Bay Area computer / sampler duo Blectum from Blechdum has finally released their debut album. And what a debut it is too! Like V/VM's best moments, Blectum from Blechdum appear at times to be unconcerned with the bastions of good taste in attempts at unadulterated electronica silliness far removed from the stodginess of typical IDM. Whimsical vocal cut-ups and demented childlike melodies dominate their wacked machine music. But far from being a comedy ensemble, Blectum will turn to the bleep groove of early Warp singles filling their sound with stuttering percolations and warbled electronics.
BLECTUM, BLEVIN Gular Flutter (Aagoo) cd 11.98
There's a certain kind of electronic music we used to love that seems to have gone M.I.A. lately. That kind of off kilter abstract experimentalism that seemed to be an offshoot of IDM, like IDM's deformed younger sibling that was kept locked up in the basement, thankfully with a full complement of recording gear and electronics. Lesser was one of our favorites. And at times, so too were Blectum From Blechdom. A motley crew who sort of skirted the 'mainstream' creating their own sound, their own scene, taking the electronic music of the day and twisting it all up. While Lesser seemed to do no wrong, or if he did wrong, it was so gloriously wrong it was right, BfB were a bit more hit and miss. The two personalities pulling in two distinctly different directions. And to be honest, we much preferred Blevin's trajectory to Kevin's. As later records demonstrated, Kevin leaned more toward the bratty and puerile, a much more Chicks On Speed vibe, mixing Karaoke with damaged versions of commercial pop, while Blevin (aka Bevin) was much more academic, and experimental, with an ear for texture and rhythm not that far removed from her hubby Lesser. Apparently the two have reunited and are once again a going concern, but more immediately, Blevin has finally released a new solo record, the first in 4 years, and it's pretty damn great. And actually, the fact that the opening track is a cover of a song by the mysterious Reverend Fred Lane just blows our minds. We've been trying to track Lane down to reissue his long out of print Shimmy Disc records, some of the most twisted genius EVER. And BB's version is equally twisted, but in a whole different way. Lots of rhythmic skitter, thick throbbing bass, she sings too but here voice is twisted and processed into strange stutters and streaks, the whole thing has a weirdly prog feel, a bit like a damaged Squarepusher covering some obscure lost seventies prog rarity, but all chopped up and reassembled. It definitely doesn't sound that much like the original, but the concept! And the sound. Fucking awesome. The rest of the record holds up pretty well considering there are no more Fred Lane covers, "Cygnet" with its snippets of soaring strings layered over dark meandering beats and ominous whirring ambience, "Foyer Fire", a glitchy, hiss, static flecked 8-bit carnival jam, each track is totally unique but manages to link to the sounds before and after seamlessly, from chaotic cut and paste, to woozy backwards warble, to hiccupping warbly fractured jungle, to blissed out smears of skitter and flutter, reminding us quite a bit of a more subdued (slightly) and less caffeinated Stock, Hausen And Walkman. The record finishes off with the truly haunting closer "Avian Enamel", with its chopped and processed harmonies, muted rhythmic thump, mysterious voices, weirdly groovy beats, all peppered with little flurries of glitch and crackle, buried samples, woozy loops, everything smoothed out into a drone-y beatscape both moody and mesmerizing. A fine return for sure. Now if we can just tempt Lesser out of hiding...
"Real Live Escargot" MPEG Stream:
"Cygnet" MPEG Stream:
BLECTUM, BLEVIN Magic Maple (Praemedia) cd 10.98
BLECTUM, BLEVIN Talon Slalom (Deluxe) cd 13.98
During the past six months or so, Blevin and Kevin Blectum have taken separate paths away from the fictional agendas of Blectum from Blechdom, which earned the pair an honorable mention at the 2001 Ars Electronica festival. While Blevin had previously released an album for Phthalo as D84, this is her first album as Blevin Blectum and is, not surprisingly, a very silly piece of DSP-filter-happy electronica. While both Blevin and Kevin have put aside the punch-drunk deranged mythologies of snauses and mad mallards of their solo albums, they have maintained Blechdom's post-ironic stance of building electronica out of purposefully ugly, arrhythmic, or just conventionally 'wrong' fragments of whimsical sound, in direct contrast to their impressive technical prowess over their gear. The first half of "Talon Slalom" is a discombobulated mix of garishly bubbly 8-bit sonic cavacades, insipid melodies, drooling information overload, and whimsically clumsy rhythms. Occasionally some seasick techno develops over the course of the first half of the album, with asynchronous samples splattered randomly across the rhythmic scaffold of a simple 4/4 beat. While the first half of the album seems maybe a little too silly, Blevin makes a conscientious effort to develop like-minded funhouse fragments into spiralling passages of surreal looped electro-waltzes. And the results are actually quite impressive. Fun and funny, but still complex and thoughtful and truly inspired. This latter half is certainly enough to balance out the opening follies of "Talon Slalom."
"The Wicked Pair Were Dancing" RealAudio clip:
BLEEKER, ALEX AND THE FREAKS s/t (Underwater Peoples) lp 14.98
All most folks will probably need to know is that Alex Bleeker And The Freaks features a bunch of the guys from Real Estate, and the sound is a bit like a less twisted, more groovy, woozy, jammy Real Estate. But first you have to make it past the cover art, which as we discuss briefly in the review of the Frat Dad 7" elsewhere on this list, features what might be Underwater Peoples weirdo aesthetic, a sort of jock / dude / bro thing, the Frat Dad 7" features two bro-looking dudes doing karaoke, and this record features all the Freaks, poolside, in sweaters, and lost of flip flops, a little dog, plenty of khaki, collared shirts, sweaters, Dad style leather jackets. Hard to tell whether it's a put on, or if these guys are just in fact regular Joes, who just make music, when they're not doing whatever it is they do in their normal lives. It doesn't really matter, it's just the first thing that catches your attention. The music though, sounds a bit 'regular guy' too, not in a bad way, but unlike the distorted lo-fi weirdness of Real Estate, the sound of AB&TF is more straight ahead rock, somewhere between the lugubrious country of Palace, with the tangled leads of Neil Young, a little Grateful Dead too, plenty of strum and jangle and shuffle, loads of tangled guitar melodies, the occasional psychedelic shred freakout, but for the most part, loping and strummy and laid back, a little druggy, but not lysergic, more just sort of fuzzy and baked. Definitely nice to listen to, but maybe not far out enough for folks who dig other UP bands like Real Estate or Ducktails...
BLESSURE GRAVE Judged By Twelve, Carried By Six (Alien 8) cd 14.98
Cold winds hardly ever blow in the sunny climes of San Diego, California; but that city is the home to the goth-cult, dirge-punk duo Blessure Grave whose grim, icy moods certainly match any of their contemporaries like Zola Jesus, Former Ghosts, Blank Dogs, or any of the more grim tones pushed forward by Wierd Records. It's true that many of the current crop of post-punk and minimal wave revivalists are triangulating their sounds through very specific references. Zola Jesus' operatics harken to Diamanda Galas but with a very DIY grit about her arrangements; and Blank Dogs really enjoy a good Joy Division bassline, and who could find fault with that? But it took a while to place the exact references that Blessure Grave evoke. Alien 8 offers Killing Joke, Death In June, and The Cure, all of which are close, but not quite familar enough with Blessure Grave's dungeon claustrophobia and dour expressionism. To us, Blessure Grave suggests a Frankensteinian construct of the grim and twisted. On one side, there's the glum goth-punk band Red Lorry Yellow Lorry, and on the other there's Michael Allen from the early '80s when he founded the quixotic post-punk bands Rema Rema, Mass, and The Wolfgang Press. Judged By Twelve, Carried By Six is the debut album for Blessure Grave, following an acclaimed 12" for Captured Tracks, a split 7" with Cold Cave & Crocodiles, and a couple of tiny edition cassettes, creating quite an underground buzz around this band. All of Blessure Grave's songs are skeletal in nature, built around rumbling basslines, moody synths, minor key guitar melodies, booming vocals, and tons of chorus & reverb. The vocals from T.Grave on "Stop Breathing" bellow and chant in an untrained, art-punk manner, that pretty much follows the mannerisms of Mick Allen in his early days. And those drum machinations of the band do recall the Lorries, guiding the darkened, claustrophobic tunes along a militant lockstep. "Open Or Shut" is a bit more expansive through the slower plod that the band takes and the expressive guitars that alternate between an anxiety provoking drone and languid moping."A Thousand Drums" is downright frantic in all of those drum machine pulses sputtering behind the barked vocals and excessive reverb. "Hope For The Worse" is probably the closest that Blessure Grave come to anything off of Unknown Pleasures with the spiked guitar lines and galloping rhythms, although Martin Hannett would have made such a track sound completely different... and not the lo-fi, naked expressionism and sometimes atonally brutish constructs found here. This homecrafted grimness is certainly one of Blessure Grave's many strengths; and we're already eager to hear more!
"Stop Breathing" MPEG Stream:
"Open Or Shut" MPEG Stream:
"A Thousand Drums" MPEG Stream:
BLESSURE GRAVE Learn To Love The Rope (Captured Tracks) 12" 14.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY.
BLESSURE GRAVE Making The Death Beds For Teenage Vampires (Release The Bats) 7" 9.98
BLEY, PAUL Barrage (ESP) cd 14.98
BLEY, PAUL Improvise (America) cd 17.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. WOW. And do we mean WOW!! Fifteen classic free jazz records from the late sixties / early seventies, long out of print, finally getting the ULTRA deluxe reissue treatment. Incredibly limited, these will probably be out of print before you know it. Comes in a gorgeous diecut fullcover three panel sleeve, with new artwork, as well as a huge booklet with the original album sleeve notes, new liner notes in french and english as well as a bunch of cool photos. So nice!
BLEY, PAUL TRIO Closer (ESP-Disk/Calibre) cd 14.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. Not-as-free-as-a-lot-of-stuff-on-ESP New York free jazz from the Paul Bley Trio: Paul Bley, Barry Altschul, and Steve Swallow. Really nice and dark and sort of late night sounding jazz.
BLEY, PAUL TRIO Closer (ESP) cd 13.98