BLACK FLAG Live '84 (SST) cd 15.98
Finally on cd after years in cassette-only purgatory, a totally rad Flag show from Frisco's The Stone back in the day. Loads of great Greg Ginn guitar strangulation and earnest hollerin' by Henry.
BOREDOMS Super AE (Birdman) 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 version of this kick ass Boredoms album finally sees the light of day! Far less manic than their previous spazzcore albums you loved in the past, the Boredoms' new focus on studio manipulations is intense and artistically successful. Layers of bombastic guitar noises swell and give way to insane bursts of tape manipulation along with the wax and wane of desperate screams and urgent percussion. Super AE is a rancid psychedelic experience that could be a chance meeting on the dissecting table between Amon Duul and Nurse With Wound. If you've seen the Boredoms live and don't think you could sit through a disc of it, know that this album builds on the studio experiments of their recent SuperRoots series; it's not Yamantaka Eye jumping around anymore -- he's sitting in the cockpit, entering your earholes with intents to purple-shag-carpet-bomb your sense of reality. Mad Jack became mad scientist. Although Japanese import version came packaged in an elaborate day-glo oversized plastic box, don't worry: the artwork on this domestic cd is pretty damn cool complete with nifty Eye Yamantaka magic marker art!
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CARCASS Wake Up And Smell The Carcass (Earache) cd 15.98
Unreleased and rare tracks from this seminal grindcore band's ten year gore-splattered history.
CRESCENT Collected Songs (Roomtone) cd 13.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. Due to Bristol's rather incestuous pool of avant rock bands, Crescent's name often appears in conjunction with Flying Saucer Attack, Movietone, Third Eye Foundation, and Amp. As it should, since members of Crescent have performed with all three of those groups. It is a tad disheartening to see customers buy Crescent records with the hope of hearing a cosmic drone of blissful feedback, only to find an antithetical abject muck, and then selling them back. And you know what, there's absolutely nothing wrong with an abject muck, actually we really like abject muck. If you listen closely to the tracks that Matt Jones (Crescent's mastermind) has appeared on in Amp and Movietone, you'll realise that everything he touches ends up with a gritty lo-fi quality. And for Crescent's third album, he has taken up residence in a Bristol church to capture a rather humid, almost rusting sound on top of his very loose songs. A gothic (NOT in the Trench Coat Mafia definition) sensibility of decaying atmospheres, permeates the slow moving waves of sonorous basslines, loose hammond organ semi-improvisations, and skittering rhythms, somewhere between jazz and krautrock.
DARKTHRONE A Blaze In The Northern Sky (Peaceville/Music For Nations) cd 14.98
The raw yet epic 1991 release from the notorious Norwegian trio of Fenriz, Nocturno Culto & Zephyrous. A black metal classic that's been practically impossible to find domestically until quite recently.
EMPEROR Anthems to the Welkin at Dusk (Candlelight) cd 10.98
The most highly-anticipated black metal album of the summer. You already know that, and you want it, right? Otherwise, what can we say... Emperor is pretty much THE black metal band of the 90's, unsurpassed at what they do, despite their legions of imitators, and this disc not only meets our expections but exceeds them. Formerly on Century Black, now a Candlelight reissue with bonus tracks. While the Century Black domestic edition included as a bonus the songs & cd-rom video from their import "Reverence" ep, this newer reissue includes the same three ep tracks plus live footage from 1997-98 and an interview on a Finnish television program.
EMPEROR In The Nightside Eclipse (Candlelight) cd 10.98
A landmark Scandinavian Black Metal album essential to any good Satanist's collection. The forward impetus of this album is incredible, as the majestic keyboards, rasping cries, and pummelling drums all sweep together like a freezing, evil wave carrying pagan Viking longboats across the North seas to attack and pillage Christian lands. Like opera music for howling wolves. A Nordic church-burning classic. Formerly on Century Black, now a Candlelight reissue with bonus tracks.
ENSLAVED Blodhemn (Osmose) cd 16.98
Another dose of Viking metal mayhem from these artistically aggressive Norwegians, who rank up there with countrymen Emperor in the pantheon of modern day black metal. A brilliant band, combining the epic and avant-garde with violent thrash fervor. The best band ever that has made a practice of wearing tights and tunics. This one is dense and violent, less spaciously psychedelic than some of their other recent records.
FLYING SAUCER ATTACK New Lands (Drag City) cd 14.98
While many of rock's deconstructionists have found themselves at the dead end of ambient, Flying Saucer Attack have veered from such a trajectory by reclaiming the "rural psychedelia" that made their first album so stunning. Big Phil Spector reverb drums demarcate the feedback that at times sound like the new Dead C album Tusk though from a less abject & more isolationist sensibility... Their best record in god knows how long.
FLYING SAUCER ATTACK Sally Free and Easy (Drag City) cdep 7.98
FLYING SAUCER ATTACK s/t (VHF) cd 13.98
Classic first full length recording.
GODSPEED YOU BLACK EMPEROR F#A#oo (Kranky) cd 14.98
While it does take a while for this Canadian nine-piece to build through the opening murky drones, this debut album (originally issued on vinyl through the small Canadian label Constellation) evolves into a dynamic orchestration that falls somewhere in between Dirty Three and Village of Savoonga. The most innovative album from Kranky in a very long time!
GODSPEED YOU BLACK EMPEROR Slow Riot For Zero Kanada (Kranky/Constellation) cd 10.98
The second release from the Canadian nine piece ensemble is about as epic as 28 minutes can get. As with 'F#A#oo", Godspeed render the psychic desolation of the Canadian tundra as an intense soundtrack that swells from glacial strings to dense yet melodic orchestrations for guitars, bass, bells, percussion, and their string section. Certainly inspired by Morricone's mighty scores, "Slow Riot..." is also reminiscient of the dark musings of their contemporaries: Village of Savoonga, Rachel's, Mogwai, etc... Haunting. Beautiful. Awesome. A unanimous staff favorite.
GORGOROTH Destroyer, Or About How To Philosophize With The Hammer (Nuclear Blast) cd 14.98
Norwegian black metal of the most hateful, primitive, loud, noisy, evil variety. On this masterpiece of almost-avantgarde extremism, Gorgoroth evoke Burzum and Darkthrone. The Romanticism and Hammer Horror gothic cheese of "pop" black metal bands like Dimmu Borgir and Cradle of Filth are nowhere to be found here, this is so much more raw and hellish (tho some melody creeps in now and then).
MAYHEM Dawn Of The Black Hearts digipak cd 17.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. Warning: extremely graphic cover photo of their singer, not long after his rather messy shotgun suicide. Besides that, and the performance of equally dead guitarist Euronymous (who perhaps snapped said photo after sampling some delectable brain, or so he bragged), this live album has renditions of Venom and Celtic Frost classics to recommend it.
SUN CITY GIRLS Torch of the Mystics (Tupelo) cd 14.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. Reissued once again on cd, Torch... is most often referred to as the best SCG album; a good place to start.
WINDY & CARL Depths (Kranky) cd 12.98
More music to fall asleep to, which Windy & Carl call the highest compliment. The cover looks like Willie Wonka's chocolate river.
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.
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OLD WAINDS Where The Snows Are Never Gone (Negative Existence) cd 13.98
Finally, full length number two (of three) from Russian black metal legends Old Wainds. We're still trying to restock their most recent, 2005's Scalding Coldness, but for now, Where The Snows Are Never Gone is probably more grim frosty bleak blackness than you can handle. But that shouldn't deter you from trying. Originally recorded back in 1997 and released on cassette, reissued on cd in 2003, only finding its way to AQ in 2007, Where The Snows Are Never Gone is another epic frostbitten slab of relentless black buzz. It's easy to hear why Old Wainds is the black metaller's black metal band. Wrest from Leviathan, Ancalagon from Crebain, Hildolf from Draugar, pretty much every BM misanthrope we know counts Old Wainds as one of, if not their absolute, favorite metal bands. Old Wainds are not damaged or demented, lo-fi or fucked, this is epic and majestic, the riffs are amazing, the drums a skull caving bombast, the production is massive, a swirling buzz that could swallow you whole. It's hard to know what else to say about these guys that we haven't already said over and over and over. To read more of our Old Wainds raving see any of the other OW reviews on the AQ site... Needless to say, if you're already a fan and don't yet have this, BUY THIS NOW. If you've yet to discover the hellish joys of Old Wainds, this is as good a place to start as any, in fact it just may be our favorite of the bunch. More in line with the primitive thrashing buzz of bands like Darkthrone and Beherit, this is fast and blown out and black, relentless and furious, frosty and so so so grim. The vocals are a Popeye like croak (not all that far removed from Immortal's Abbath) and the tracks are peppered with strange explosions and sonic drop outs, the guitars go from lightning buzz to chugging crunch, the drums sounds like they're being fired out of a gun. Minus a couple intros, this record does not ever let up, even for one second. Until... The final track, which is absolutely gorgeous, definitely the prettiest thing Old Wainds has ever recorded. An endlessly loping minor key midtempo groove, arpeggiated guitar, a sort of sea sick rhythm, motorik drumming, the guitar a warm glistening buzz, vocals a chanted moan, repetitive and so utterly dreamy (in a grim, cvlt, black way of course), until the very end where the song seems to buckle and the band stumble back into action obliterating any traces of loveliness in an explosion of brutal black fury. As with every single Old Wainds recording, totally essential.
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"Gods Gazing From Beyond"
CHRISTINE 23 ONNA Space Age Bachelor Pad Psychedelic Music (Insignificant) 12" 14.98
Fans of Japanese noise master Masonna might not be aware that he's fully into 70's cosmic rock music. This 12" is the proof, as "Maso" Yamazaki and friend pay homage to their krautrock faves of yore. There's even a track called "Space Hippie." Really great ambient/psych weirdness, and handsomely presented, from the colorful cover to the transparent blood-shot-cotton-candy colored vinyl, resplendent in a clear plastic sleeve.
GURU GURU UFO (Lion Productions ) cd 14.98
The last time we reviewed a cd reissue of this classic krautrock record, it was an expensive Japanese import. Now, however, it's been given a domestic release by Lion Productions, so now's the time to turn on to it if you haven't already. And if you did spent like $30 for the import, you know the music was worth it. After all, Guru Guru's 1970 OHR label debut UFO is in many ways THEE ultimate in uber heavy druggy freaked out krautrock. A power trio indeed, powered by LSD... If you're into the heavy freeform psych sounds of bands nowadays, from Earthless to Bardo Pond to Wooden Shjips to Comets On Fire to Acid Mothers Temple (who not long ago actually did an album with Guru Guru's maniac drummer, who's still going strong), then chances are this is one of your favorite records without you maybe even knowing it yet. The distortodelic jamming of Guru Guru's debut provides the template for so much to follow, and does it better than most! If you're like us, you've got a record collection full of stuff from Japan alone that owes a ton to the hirsute heaviness and musical madness of these three German hippies. Indeed, LSD-march takes their name from the last track here, "Der LSD-Marsch". Though they themselves of course owed a debt to Jimi Hendrix... Guru Guru were acid rock band playing free jazz or vice versa, conjuring a storm of utter amped up whale call guitar feedback and loose lumbering bass-heavy riffage over an exploding minefield of splattering drum-detonations. Plus, trippy electronic interludes, soundscapes constructed with contact mics, tapes, and FX... in fact, the ten and a half minute title track is ALL droning subsonics, noise, scrape, and skree, and could be something by the Dead C, even. Thus, to use a little hyperbole, this album makes Blue Cheer's Vincebus Eruptum sound like a sugary pop sneeze! Of the original three Guru Guru discs (UFO, Hinten, Kanguru) when they held to the power trio format, this one is the most raw, dense, doomy and destroyed, without so much of the overt humor that lightened up their later releases. Extreme enough to be considered both proto-metal, maybe, and also proto-noiserock. Like we said about this before: "Repetitive, hypnotic, transcendent. And at the same time, jarring. This is a fistful of mushrooms being shoved through the speakers. Embrace it." Lion, as we have come to expect, does this reissue right, including a thick booklet of liner notes. There's a band history, and also an essay about OHR's Rolf-Ulrich Kaiser, complete with extensive discography (from which we hope Lion selects even more records to reissue). By the way, does anyone have info on who exactly "P. Hinten" is or was? He's quoted on the sleeve here saying "Soon the Ufos will land and mankind will meet much stronger brains and habits. Let's get ready for that." And Guru Guru's second album was titled Hinten. Obviously a big inspiration for these guys, but who is Hinten?
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"Der LSD - Marsch"
AFCGT (A FRAMES + CLIMAX GOLDEN TWINS) s/t (Uzu) lp 19.98
NOW AVAILABLE ON VINYL!!! This originally came out in early 2008 as a tiny self-released cd-r in an edition of only 50 copies. Of course, it disappeared instantly. But even so, it made the Aquarius Records best of 2008, and it even topped the charts of The Wire's Rewind for 2008. Well, now you have another chance to grab one of these. How good is it? Read on! Holy shit, this is fucking great! And who would have ever thought that the A Frames and the Climax Golden Twins would make a record together? And who would have imagined that it would be this fucking awesome? It's all superlatives and all expletives in describing the first collaborative production from AFCGT. The A Frames had managed to raise some eyebrows here through their post-punk appropriations of early Wire and early Fall, but the vocals had always been something of a miss for them especially on the last Sub Pop album. But in working with the AQ-endorsed Climax Golden Twins who are a band accustomed to delivering exemplary instrumentals from literally every corner of the avant-rock landscape, the A Frames have the permission to shut the hell up and let the Climax Golden Twins dump the fucking kitchen sink all over A Frames rhythmic swagger. The album opens with a tumultuous blast of glue-huffing noise-rock, sort of like a fist fight between the Butthole Surfers and the Sun City Girls. Soon after, a series of bad-ass Birthday Party / Oxbow swamp rock riffs explode with spindly space-age gamelan leads; elsewhere, the No Wave ghosts of R.L. Crutchfield-era DNA emerge with of jagged chops across the guitar pick-ups, bloodied fingers and all. Fuck, it all sounds fucking great!
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OLD WAINDS Religion Of Spiritual Violence (Negative-Existence) cd 11.98
As of the writing of this review, it's the day after Christmas, and as is befitting such a holiday, this list is HEAVY on the black metal, our little way of helping those black hearted souls and accursed spirits out there celebrate in their own demonic way. But what that also means, is we were down near metalled out. There's only so many ways you can describe something that is black and buzzing and grim and brutal and frosty and kvlt.... But the second we threw this one, none of that mattered. This was the only black metal there was, virtually erasing all that came before, a sound so powerful and unique and YES, black and buzzing, that we were immediately reinvigorated and filled with sinister black glee. If glee can in fact be either sinister or black. Since we first reviewed Old Wainds a while back, people have been obsessed, and as we mentioned in the other reviews, OW are one of the few bands that virtually ALL other black metal bands seem to worship. Whatever it is abut these mysterious Russians, they've tapped into something magical that no one can seem to get enough of. For a brief period we had all the Old Wainds records, but gradually it become harder and harder to get them back in stock. Until now. Finally a US label has taken up the mantle and embarked on a comprehensive OW reissue program, elsewhere on this list you'll find the mind blowing Scalding Coldness, reissued, and WAY cheaper, and almost more exciting than that, this record right here, their first full length from back in 2001, Religion Of Spiritual Violence, was the only one we had never been able to get. So for a lot of you, this will be the first time you'll get a chance to complete (or begin!) your Old Wainds collection, and needless to say for fans of all things buzzing and black, this is IT. It's really hard to put into words exactly what makes Old Wainds different than the hordes of other BM outfits, they definitely have an old school Darkthrone vibe, sort of punky, but they're just as likely to explode into a burst of impossibly fast blasting blackness a la Immortal or something. The vocals are super strange, less a demonic howl and more a sort of evil croak, and the lyrics are in Russian which makes it even cooler. But the music, while no doubt indebted to other BM bands, manages to sound like nothing else. Swirling chaotic riffing, strange mathy drumming, the cymbals super loud in the mix for some reason, as are the vocals, almost like the buzzing guitars are just a sheet of fuzzy blackness, a backdrop for the satanic invective and the barrage of crashing cymbals. This is indeed grim and harsh stuff, whether churning along in a midtempo Burzumic pound or spraying black fury within a flailing blast, the sound is just so NOT normal, on the surface it sounds like 'black metal', but it's twisted, cracked, infused with a harrowing anger, with a utterly bleak worldview, with a unfailing misanthropy, which leaches into the sounds, and beyond all that, as with any black metal that demands repeated listening, there's tons of stuff going on, including a ton of hooks, sure they're bent and blackened and buried beneath layers of grit and grim and buzz, but they seep out, some of these riffs are as catchy as any pop song. Just listen to the sound samples, read the other reviews for more about the band, their records, their sound, but odds are, like us, you'll be forever in thrall to the grim black majesty of Old Wainds, a convert to their Religion Of Spiritual Violence.
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LA DUSSELDORF Viva (4 Men With Beards) lp 17.98
ALSO NOW REISSUED ON VINYL! We're very excited about these two DOMESTIC (thus, cheaper) remaster/reissues from Germany's La Dusseldorf! La Dusseldorf were THE masters of anthemic open and clean-sounding happy funky krautrock, inspiring the likes of Eno and Bowie (Heroes-era). They crafted repetitive hypnotic percussion with layers of super clean life-affirming melodies that were driven by minimal lyrics. Neu! co-founder Klaus Dinger and drummer Hans Lampe (who joined Neu! for their 3rd album 75) formed La Dusseldorf following the breakup of Neu! They were joined by Klaus' brother, Thomas, on percussion and vocals, Harald Konietzko on bass, and Nicolas van Rhein on keyboards. Any fan of Neu! will immediately recognize that Neu! sound, which is still evident here, but where Neu! was icy and detached, La Dusseldorf is positive and practically bubbling with warmth. You could also picture 'em as Neu!'s clean-cut little brother, with more in the way of vocals too. Like Harmonia (a product of fellow ex-Kraftwerker, Michael Rother), the La Dusseldorf albums have an incredible, ahead-of-their-time production level and truly sound like they could be current releases (we've already witnessed a couple customers' disbelief at the date there were originally released!). Viva, their second record, from 1977, is filled with Krautrock anthems, culminating in 20 minute long album closer "Cha Cha 2000" - an epic of krauty proportions. And the instrumental number "Rheinita" managed to chart in Germany! Both the self-titled and Viva records are highly recommended as an integral part of any Krautrock kollection. Thanks to the fine people at Water Records, who also made sure these are properly packaged with liner notes and lyrics, they are finally available again. Psych, prog, proto-punk and all kinds of other music fans, this is what you need!
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"Cha Cha 2000"
ASTRAL SOCIAL CLUB #8-16 (self-released) MP3 cd-r 10.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. The second in the Astral Social Club mp3 reissue program. One disc, 9 cd-r's and close to 8 hours worth of blissed out shimmer, soft dreamy noisescapes and mutant alien discodrone, all jammed onto one little disc. So for those of you who missed out on any of the numbers 8 through 16 (heck we did too, we only reviewed 3 of those!), then this is a good way to get it ALL! First, an Astral Social club primer would probably be useful: For those who don't already know, Astral Social Club just so happens to be Mr. Neil Campbell, the mastermind behind the genius Vibracathedral Orchestra, who for years, has been spending his days off from VCO, recording disc after amazing disc of deliriously spaced out drone, blown out extended ragas, and seemingly endless slabs of hypnotic pulse and drift, and more recently a sort of fractured otherworldy dancemusic. Okay then, odds are, most of you are probably gonna want this, but in case you need a quick description of some of the sonic joys to be found within, here goes: Strange and murky, looped percussion, with bits of electronic glitch, sounding almost a little like some sort of twentieth century classical filtered through some primitive krautrock, glorious sparkling epic shimmering drones, Technicolor cascades of rich reverberant sounds and all manner of glimmering glittering ear candy, super minimal dark ambience, with drifting whale call melodies and deep rumbling swells, Sunroof!-y bit of high end raga sparkle, complete with the sounds of crickets and running water, sun dappled, dreamy looped guitar sheen, all wrapped up into one big glorious space drone whole, dense synthscapes, lots of hiss and whir, with buried rhythmic pulses, weird underwater bloops and burbles... all sounding very much like some white label Pop Ambient 12", thick corrosive washes of overblown distortion and buzzing droning ragas, thick slabs of feedback, grinding chunks of guitarbuzz, processed vocals, all wound up into a snarled dronepsych blowouts, tranquil smears of soft sound, high end streaks and tangled slivers of feedback all wound up into gorgeously shimmering upper register skreescapes, circular looped hypnotic longform dronemusic, blissy and droney and spaced out and druggy, transcendental slabs of glistening high, super minimal percussive flutter, swirling abstract FX-scapes, pounding almost house sounding bangers all uniquely cracked, effects-soaked, drug-infused and blissed out and more more more more. Essential listening for fans of all things drone-y and blissed out, fans of Vibracathedral, Skullflower, Yellow Swans, the Skaters and folks looking for some truly twisted outsider dance trax to go with their ambient dronemusic. packaged in a thick PVC plastic sleeve, in a plain white jacket with a paste on front cover image.
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NOTWIST, THE Boneless (Domino) 7" 5.98
V/A Space Oddities: Alexis Le-Tan & Jess Present A Compilation Of Rare European Library Grooves 1975-1984 (Permanent Vacation) cd 32.00
CRYSTAL STILTS Alight of Night (Slumberland) cd 12.98
If our instore cd player had a counter we're pretty sure we would have maxed it out by now with endless repeated plays of the debut full length by Crystal Stilts. As much as their debut ep blew us away (check the review elsewhere on the site for much gushing), this record is taking our love for them to even greater heights, so much so that we're becoming pretty darn obsessed! And how could we not, an entire record filled with smokey and catchy dark pop gems. With crooning vocals and rich hooks imbedded into every song, they've managed to create a record that we're always in the mood to hear and don't think we'll ever get sick of. You can tell that these guys probably love '60s pop and girl groups as much as they do post-punk and psychedelic garage sounds, as the songs on Alight Of Night sound like Phil Spector laying his Wall of Sound on a band whose own sound falls somewhere between The Smiths and Joy Division, or if Spacemen 3 did a record full of Crystals covers. In fact this is reminding us a lot of the Jeremy Jay Airwalker ep that we fell in love with right around this time last year. It's so cool to see AQ customers of all stripes getting swept up in the 'Stilts' sound, unable to resist as we're blasting it in the store, and it's inevitable that they eventually make their way to the 'now playing' holder to find out who is responsible for these sound getting under their skin in such pleasurable ways. Got a good feeling this will be on many of our year end favorite lists...so damn good!
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"Prismatic Room" MPEG Stream:
AQUARIUS T SHIRT Special Limited Artists Edition #1: Justin Bartlett (Size: Medium) T shirt 22.00
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. Finally! The first in a series of super limited, artist designed aQ T-Shirts, featuring original art by some of our favorite artists, who just so happen to be loyal aQ customers as well! Each one will be super special, totally unique, and will only be available for a limited time, as we're only making a finite amount of each. The first shirt design is by aQ pal and infamous killustrator Justin Bartlett, whose style many of you no doubt will recognize. He's done tons of drawings for Oaken Throne black metal magazine, as well as record covers for grim groups like SUNNO))), Moss, Nadja, Pentemple and loads more. His style is incredible, super detailed, pen and ink with tons of stippling, lots of skulls and guts and demons and various crusty oozing offal. For aQ he's designed a super creepy and super evil mother and child, heads in bags, their rotten innards spilling out, skulls on spikes, and "Aquarius Records" carved into the stone archway in the background. It looks amazing, and will for sure get some eyes a popping as you wander through the grocery store or sit in church (heaven forbid). The back features a small aQ logo up near the collar, the shirts are white on black, they are Hanes heavyweight T's, 100% preshrunk cotton, and we have sizes all the way from Youth Large (for kids and little ladies) all the way up to XXL (for the big guys). We will only be selling these for a couple months, so don't miss out. Once they are gone, they won't be reprinted. EVER. Future aQ Artist Edition T's will include designs by Savage Pencil, Stephen O'Malley, Aaron Turner and more more more!!!
LA DUSSELDORF Viva (Water) cd 15.98
We're very excited about these two DOMESTIC (thus, cheaper) remaster/reissues from Germany's La Dusseldorf! La Dusseldorf were THE masters of anthemic open and clean-sounding happy funky krautrock, inspiring the likes of Eno and Bowie (Heroes-era). They crafted repetitive hypnotic percussion with layers of super clean life-affirming melodies that were driven by minimal lyrics. Neu! co-founder Klaus Dinger and drummer Hans Lampe (who joined Neu! for their 3rd album 75) formed La Dusseldorf following the breakup of Neu! They were joined by Klaus' brother, Thomas, on percussion and vocals, Harald Konietzko on bass, and Nicolas van Rhein on keyboards. Any fan of Neu! will immediately recognize that Neu! sound, which is still evident here, but where Neu! was icy and detached, La Dusseldorf is positive and practically bubbling with warmth. You could also picture 'em as Neu!'s clean-cut little brother, with more in the way of vocals too. Like Harmonia (a product of fellow ex-Kraftwerker, Michael Rother), the La Dusseldorf albums have an incredible, ahead-of-their-time production level and truly sound like they could be current releases (we've already witnessed a couple customers' disbelief at the date there were originally released!). Viva, their second record, from 1977, is filled with Krautrock anthems, culminating in 20 minute long album closer "Cha Cha 2000" - an epic of krauty proportions. And the instrumental number "Rheinita" managed to chart in Germany! Both the self-titled and Viva records are highly recommended as an integral part of any Krautrock kollection. Thanks to the fine people at Water Records, who also made sure these are properly packaged with liner notes and lyrics, they are finally available again. Psych, prog, proto-punk and all kinds of other music fans, this is what you need!
"Viva" MPEG Stream:
"Cha Cha 2000"
LA DUSSELDORF s/t (Water) cd 15.98
We're very excited about these two DOMESTIC (thus, cheaper) remaster/reissues from Germany's La Dusseldorf! La Dusseldorf were THE masters of anthemic open and clean-sounding happy funky krautrock, inspiring the likes of Eno and Bowie (Heroes-era). They crafted repetitive hypnotic percussion with layers of super clean life-affirming melodies that were driven by minimal lyrics. Neu! co-founder Klaus Dinger and drummer Hans Lampe (who joined Neu! for their 3rd album 75) formed La Dusseldorf following the breakup of Neu! They were joined by Klaus' brother, Thomas, on percussion and vocals, Harald Konietzko on bass, and Nicolas van Rhein on keyboards. Any fan of Neu! will immediately recognize that Neu! sound, which is still evident here, but where Neu! was icy and detached, La Dusseldorf is positive and practically bubbling with warmth. You could also picture 'em as Neu!'s clean-cut little brother, with more in the way of vocals too. Like Harmonia (a product of fellow ex-Kraftwerker, Michael Rother), the La Dusseldorf albums have an incredible, ahead-of-their-time production level and truly sound like they could be current releases (we've already witnessed a couple customers' disbelief at the date there were originally released!). This self-titled, four track debut from 1976 is absolutely classic Krautrock. "Silver Cloud", with its huge drums and layers of simple, syrupy melody create one of our favorite krautrock songs ever. It's epic and unforgettable and alone makes this album worth picking up. At the time of this album's release, it was played on German radio a bunch and even became a "funk" hit! Another highlight, "La Dusseldorf", opens with the chanting of a football [soccer] audience and leads into a pulsating anthemic rhythm also joined by the valliant one-word chant of "Dusseldorf". Both the self-titled and Viva records are highly recommended as an integral part of any Krautrock kollection. Thanks to the fine people at Water Records, who also made sure these are properly packaged with liner notes and lyrics, they are finally available again. Psych, prog, proto-punk and all kinds of other music fans, this is what you need!
"La Dusseldorf" MPEG Stream:
BETTY BOTOX Mmm, Betty! (Mule Musiq) cd 16.98
Betty Botox is none other than JD Twitch, one half of Scotish super-duo Optimo. Yes, they named themselves after the Liquid Liquid song of the same name, and you may remember them from the inimitable Kill the DJ series a few years back. The one that had beats and mashups of everything from Laibach to Arthur Russell to Sun City Girls to Ricardo Villalobos - in a DANCE mix! Huh?! Anyway, this disc compiles various re-edits and remixes completed by Ms. Botox himself. Whatever you do, don't get scared. Yes, this is music you can dance to, but it has mixes of fucking Hawkwind and that Italian industrial group Pankow. Remember them? This guy is digging pretty deep, and thanks to artists like this we still have some faith in dancing. Did we mention that there's even an edit of The Jellies "Jive Baby on a Saturday Night?" Well, listen in as Ms. Botox warps and rearranges this super weird, psychedelic disco trip-fest. Hell, we might even bust out our eye-liner if and when he decides to tackle Fini Tribe's bizarre cover of "I Want More" by Can. Yes, that really happened. Fans of fun, this is for you.
THE JELLIES " Jive Baby On a Saturday Night" MPEG Stream:
MENACE RUINE The Die Is Cast (Alien8) cd 15.98
For their sophomore full length, Canada's Menace Ruine return not exactly as the heavy noise inspired black metal band you know and love, but as a neo-folk, noise-rock powerhouse. You may be wondering like us: did we miss something? And what exactly is the link? Well, maybe it's the misanthropic, anti-humanist ethos shared by both neo-folk and black metal artists that somehow ties them together. Or maybe it's the fascination with all things medieval. Or maybe it's the general brooding and ever-present sense of darkness. Could it be written off as a shared love of sonic tension? Wait, wait ... there is a difference between them somewhere, right? As the label astutely points out, in the wake of both Leviathan and Nachtmystium covering Death in June, this sort of explicit crossover makes tons of sense. And really, it might be a tad reductive to simply say that this sounds like a black metal band that wrote songs for Der Blutharsch, but it's not too far off the mark. Menace Ruine probably couldn't escape their uber-noise tendencies even if they wanted to, but other than that, the comparison essentially holds true. It is also worth noting that the label mentions an upcoming Merzbow collaboration. Woah! Man, you know a record is good when it isn't simply good, but it leaves your head spinning trying to figure out what just fucking happened, and if you've read this far then you've seen all our questions. This is what you'd hear if Moss, The Dead C, and Douglas P were caught in the middle of some bizarre, church burning audial orgy. Potential fans of something that could convolutedly be described as tortured, grim, militaristic folk-noise will absolutely want this. And if that doesn't scream recommended, then we're not really sure what the hell does.
"One Too Many" MPEG Stream:
"This Place of Power"
ELYSIUM / MONARCH s/t (Shifty / Amanita / (((Parade))) / 213 / Throne / Amertume-Corruption #2 / Fidelio / Murder / Wee Wee / Solitude) cd 14.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. Back in stock. Might just be your final chance to pick one of these up!! When we first heard about this record, a split release between some unknown band and ultradoom AQ crushworthy sludgelords Monarch, whose track was an hour long, we wondered how the heck that was fair to the other band. We then discovered that the other band was in fact French grinders Elysium, whose songs average around the one minute mark (one song here clocks in at a whopping 8 seconds) it started to make sense. And what an awesome idea, what a great combo, the two extremes, blazing buzzing hyperspeed grindcore and slow motion sludge. Two great tastes... er, sounds... So here we have 4 tracks from Elysium, total time 5:55, and one track from the mighty Monarch, total time 58:27. Fucking awesome! So first up Elysium, fast and furious, guitars like squiggles of white hot lightning, the drums like rhythms being fired from a machine gun into your head at point blank range, vocals that screech and gurgle, everything a head spinning blur. Agoraphobic Nosebleed, Nasum, Rotten Sound, you might as well add Elysium to that elite list. But they're just the warm up, the appetizer, Monarch's "Amplifire Death March" is why we're here, and they do not disappoint. So Monarch, for those who don't already know, are one of the slowest, heaviest bands in existence, whose artwork consists of weird Hello Kitty like crosses, skulls and burning churches, as is fronted by a very cute, non-tattooed, non-pierced, spikeless, leatherless, young lady in a sensible skirt and top, who howls like a banshee from the depths of hell and who write in the liner notes "Listen To Judas Priest"? How rad is that? RIDICULOUSLY RAD! And sure we'd be crushed out on Monarch just based on their lugubrious tarpit sonic sludge, we're just like that, but having an adorable frontperson just pushes it over the edge. So yes, this rules, and is suitably funereal, appropriately slow and somber, so slow in fact it makes Khanate sound like speed metal. Okay, maybe that's stretching it a bit, but this is some seriously slow motion shit. The riffs stretch out for ages, the drum hits are MILES apart, the vocals a screech / howl / moan, a mouthful of dirt and broken glass, a voice so harsh and hatefilled it seems impossible that it could come from Monarch's diminutive sensibly dressed leader. There are huge stretches of near ambience where it's just the hum of the amplifier, some soft lilting chords, a pounding single drum rhythm, vocals screeched across wide expanses of space, draped across fading riffs like flayed skin before the next chunk of sludge drops. It's almost as if some leather winged demon was flying above, soaring through the black night sky, hurling huge hundred ton chunks of sludge at the ground every few seconds, or few minutes, where they splinter into a million pieces, filling our ears with shards of searing sludge. A pounding ultra-dirge, a tempo well below 16rpm, the sort of creepy crawl that were it to slow down any more would be just a single tone, albeit a crushing pummeling one. So heavy, and so slow it's almost stops being sludge and simply becomes some abstract heaviness. By now you should know what we're getting at. This is doom, ultramegadoom, doom with a page full of 'o's, wallowing in the same murk as Moss, Rigor Sardonicous, Stumm, Catacombs, Esoteric, and all who bow before the power of dooooooooom. This is a split release between TEN labels (count 'em: Shifty / Amanita / (((Parade))) / 213 / Throne / Amertume-Corruption #2 / Fidelio / Murder / Wee Wee / Solitude) which is kinda cool, but also kinda dumb, as each label only gets a handful of copies and therefore it goes out of print before you know it. We got 50 copies originally and those disappeared in a flash, and only now finally managed to get a handful more from one of the labels' secret stash! Probably the last copies ever.
ELYSIUM "Amen Jesus Je T'Aime" MPEG Stream:
ELYSIUM "Menteurs" MPEG Stream:
MONARCH "Amplifire Death March (excerpt 1)" MPEG Stream:
MONARCH "Amplifire Death March (excerpt 2)"
COMETBUS The Loneliness Of The Electric Menorah (#51) magazine 3.00
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. Finally! After how long? It's been years since we've heard from Aaron Cometbus, well, at least properly. There have been some collections in the form of books, but those were compiled from old issues of the zine itself. Anyway, we thought the last issue - which marked 25 years - was his swan song, but with this one we were apparently proven wrong. From squatting to love stories, from traveling to drugs and more, Cometbus has always centered around Berkeley, California, and has always been one of our favorite zines ever. This time around things are no different, as the story once again starts on Telegraph Avenue. A few things have actually changed a bit. Over time, we've seen Aaron's stories go from zine writing to something more akin to subcultural documentation. He collects stories and retells them for our reading pleasure. He goes back to Telegraph and decides to hunt down the stories behind the area's bookstores. To be honest, this is probably mostly for hardcore fans. You know, the ones that will be discussing the same parts with each other the next time they get together and catch up. If you like Aaron's writing style, his sense of humor, the way he observes and recounts things, then this will fit perfectly with your other Cometbuses...
SAMOTHRACE Life's Trade (20 Buck Spin) cd 13.98
For fans of the heavy, it has been a pretty good year! Cough, Thou, Trees, The Wounded Kings, Asva, et. al. And it just seems to keep getting better and better. Here's one of our latest slow, low, doooooomed-out faves, brought to us by the ever-reliable, ultra-heavy 20 Buck Spin label. Samothrace offer up 4 long tracks of mournful, slo-mo sludge on their debut full length Life's Trade. This not-so-merry band of black stone wielders hail from Lawrence, Kansas but recorded this in Chicago with producer Sanford Parker (Pelican, Buried At Sea, Indian, Minsk, Rwake, Nachtmystium... he knows his heaviness!). They're not the first band to employ emotive loud-soft dynamics, post-rock style, but they do it quite well, and it sounds fantastic, this whole album exuding utter dismal despair. And, hopefully, provoking some form of catharsis. Everything - the guttural vokills, the effects-blanketed guitars - are weary, weeping, wailing lamentations echoing across the Midwestern prairie, finding common cause with our favorite funereal doom from Finland, British doomdeath of the '90s like My Dying Bride, and fellow sludge lords like Atavist and Ocean. Not bad company to keep, if not clinically depressed. Sometimes it seems that bands move too far away from metal and get into some kinda mediocre, boring post-rock middleground. Like -- fuck, dude, where's the metal? However, Samothrace manages to stay heavy even while incorporating other elements. The thing is, it's not metal with something else thrown in, they take other things and make them metal. At times it's quite pretty and melodic. It's like His Hero is Gone (Fifteen Counts of Arson era) mating with the gorgeous new works by Earth. There's many long, exquisite stretches of mellowed out beauty, calm and quiet, to lull the listener before being bulldozered by fat fuzzed riffage in a more metallic, stoner mode, which sometimes flows into some sweet, Iommi-envious soloing. Samothrace's loping lethargy and mopey melody is such that even at its most crushing, the band's music still seems suffused with the sunset's psychedelic twilight rays, or perhaps radiates its own comforting warmth, somehow. If that speaks to you, grab a copy, spark one, and turn it up. You'll want this one loud. Recommended.
"La Llorona" MPEG Stream:
WINDY & CARL Songs For The Broken Hearted (Kranky) 2lp 16.98
Dream-drone, slow-slowcore uberwunder duo Windy & Carl are long-time favorites of Aquarius, and by long we mean looooong. As in, we've been with them the whole way, and this fall marks 19 years for the project. So anyway, we were plenty excited when we finally got a copy of this, their newest record. Hot on the heels of Windy's lovely (and haunting) solo record, these tracks were actually started at the same time and nearly went unfinished. Thankfully they were saved! Press releases mentioned vocals, vocals, vocals. Those who know W&C probably understand that "lots of vocals" is relative. Two or three songs a record with Windy singing is kind of a lot! Yeah, so when we got this we were totally blown away. Again! Man, there's definitely a reason we hold them in such high regard: they never fail to take us exactly where we want to go. If you're a fan, you already know that W&C can conjure up the dreamiest six-string drones, never, ever drums, and the sweetest daydream vocals, employed sparingly and pretty damn perfectly. Fans of Labradford, Stars of the Lid, maybe even the quietest Low, this is already - or soon to be - your favorite band! We love Windy & Carl, and we want you to have the chance to love them, too. This is definitely a great place to start. Oh, and check out "Snow Covers Everything," it might be our favorite track on here. If you couldn't tell already, recommended!
"Btwn You + Me" MPEG Stream:
"La Douleur" MPEG Stream:
SAVAGE Loose 'N Lethal (Krescendo Records) cd 16.98
Ready for some galloping rifftasy?? We could be reviewing the new Early Man ep (and we will) but for your metallic delectation this week, we'd rather present you with a reissue of an old fave, a relatively obscure NWOBHM classic. If you don't know what NWOBHM means (and we mention it often enough, like in our Rogue Male reviews recently), this will clue you in with an ace to the face - even though Savage never quite made it up there with more famous New Wave Of British Heavy Metal brethren like Iron Maiden and Def Leppard*, ferinstance. And if you do know what the NWOBHM is, and love it, then this is for you. No need to hesitate. Savage's 1983 debut (they had some other, later releases, but basically blew their wad here, and how) is utterly a classic, even just on the strength of the lead-off track alone, "Let It Loose" (misidentified on the back cover tracklist here as "Letting Loose", d'oh). And the rest of the album is full of quality, crunching metallurgy too, oh yeah. Noted metal scribe Martin Popoff rates it a 10 out of 10, comparing it to the best of Saxon, Witchfinder General, Grim Reaper, & Diamond Head (we'd say it comes closest to the latter). He's quite right, this IS one of those 10/10 NWOBHM stormers that can do no wrong, unquestionably when it comes to "Let It Loose", crackling with electric energy, which sets the tone for a whole disc of white hot, speaker trashing, youthful shred, Savage sounding quite savage indeed, while maintaining the NWOBMH's reputation for pint-draining, party-hardy catchiness. Need more recommendation? How 'bout that Metallica in their early days used to cover two of this album's songs live?! Lars knew his NWOBHM neckwreckers after all! Aside from the aforementioned typo, this is an ok reissue, though there's no liner notes included in the cd booklet. Lyrics yes, but no liner notes, what's their excuse? We expect thorough liner notes in our reissues, people! The previous reissue of this on Neat had liners from the guy that did the awesome Mad Maxish cover art! At least this does include the same 3 bonus tracks, taken from Savage's 1979 and '80 demos. *no, Def Leppard don't suck. Their first few albums are pretty great.
"Let It Loose" MPEG Stream:
"On The Rocks"
SUNN O))) Domkirke (Live In Bergen Cathedral 031807) (Southern Lord) 2lp 23.00
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. Recorded live, in an ancient cathedral in Bergen, Norway, Domkirke is pretty impressive slab of avant heaviness, and continues to display SUNNO))), the duo of Stephen O'Malley and Greg Anderson (and usually any number of auxiliary members), moving further and further away from their Earth worshipping roots. Having become a bona fide ART band, you're now more likely to catch SUNNO))) in a gallery, or a cathedral, than on a metal bill, which is fine, as their sound is the rare beast that does manage to bridge that gap, and most appealingly, manages to alienate and piss off folks on both sides of the divide. So for this performance, the band chose to create a piece that reflected the history of the cathedral, creating something much more ritualistic sonically, vocal based, incorporating chants, Gregorian hymns of the Middle Ages, evoking the despair of a time of plague and death, a truly medieval sound, woven into SUNNO))'s more modern minimal glacial dronemusic. The two most noticeable additions to the SUNNO))) sound for this performance are Attila's powerful operatic vocals, and the gorgeous buzz of the cathedral's massive pipe organ. And the opening track is just that, ditching the guitars entirely, letting the organ unfurl massive minor key whirs and shimmering rich harmonies, while Attila moans and croons, sometimes adding another layer of low rumbles, other times, wailing dramatically. The organ so rich and lustrous and majestic and powerful. Reminds you that no matter how many amps you have and how much distortion you use, some things are inherently heavier than guitars. But that doesn't keep the Sunn boys from trying, as the second track returns to more familiar territory, offering up a glacial slow motion flow of crumbling super distorted guitars, more melodic than usual, churning over a back drop of shimmering organ drones, and again Attila's vocals slipping from hissed whisper, to rich mellifluous chant. Add to that a bit of electronic filigree from noisemaker Lasse Marhaug, and you've got a pretty ominous and intense slab of medieval murk. The guitars do unwind into surprisingly melodic figures now and again, but always return find their way back to that main, heaving tarpit riff. The third side (movement), begins as more of the same, although this time the track sprawls into some almost free noise, the vocals demonic and intense, the guitars spilling out of the amps in noxious black clouds, squalls of electronics, sheets of feedback, sounds almost like SUNNO))) free jazz, unhinged and frenzied, but still bleak and black and heavy. The final movement might be the heaviest of the bunch, those oh so familiar slow motion riffs, wash over that swirling sea of whirring organ, a massive organic, almost fluid sound, alive with energy, black, yet glowing from within, building to a suffocatingly intense climax, the guitars crumbling and blown out, the organ at fever pitch, the vocals another layer of buzz and howl, the whole thing threatening to bring down the ancient stone walls, before dropping out completely, leaving Attila's rumbling low end growl, and then finally leaving just the organ, to play out mournfully and mysteriously. Pretty fantastic. It almost makes us wish SUNNO))) would just get a pipe organ in the band, permanently. Might make touring a bit tough, but heck, it might just be worth it! Incredible packaging, one of the thickest gatefold sleeves we've ever seen, adorned with gorgeous abstract oil paintings on the outside, and photos of the performance on the inside, full color printed sleeves, with more performance photos, pressed on black vinyl, limited to 5000 copies, never to be released as a cd or a digital download.
WINDY & CARL Songs For The Broken Hearted (Kranky) cd 14.98
Dream-drone, slow-slowcore uberwunder duo Windy & Carl are long-time favorites of Aquarius, and by long we mean looooong. As in, we've been with them the whole way, and this fall marks 19 years for the project. So anyway, we were plenty excited when we finally got a copy of this, their newest record. Hot on the heels of Windy's lovely (and haunting) solo record, these tracks were actually started at the same time and nearly went unfinished. Thankfully they were saved! Press releases mentioned vocals, vocals, vocals. Those who know W&C probably understand that "lots of vocals" is relative. Two or three songs a record with Windy singing is kind of a lot! Yeah, so when we got this we were totally blown away. Again! Man, there's definitely a reason we hold them in such high regard: they never fail to take us exactly where we want to go. If you're a fan, you already know that W&C can conjure up the dreamiest six-string drones, never, ever drums, and the sweetest daydream vocals, employed sparingly and pretty damn perfectly. Fans of Labradford, Stars of the Lid, maybe even the quietest Low, this is already - or soon to be - your favorite band! We love Windy & Carl, and we want you to have the chance to love them, too. This is definitely a great place to start. Oh, and check out "Snow Covers Everything," it might be our favorite track on here. If you couldn't tell already, recommended!
"Btwn You + Me" MPEG Stream:
"La Douleur" MPEG Stream:
HIGUMA Haze Velley (Root Strata) cd-r 8.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. Wholly enveloping, river soaked, fog piercing drone. Barn Owl's Evan Caminiti and a previously unknown-to-us artist named Lisa McGee collaborate to bring forth cathartic ruminations in the form of ghostly guitar, softly sparring vocals, various percussive devices and an unnamable, innumerable catalog of various other instruments. The collaboration was a live improvisational affair, which the liner notes claim was recorded "in the valley." The appropriately and cleverly named album, Haze Valley, name checks one of our own neighborhoods here in San Francisco, Hayes Valley. Anyone who checked out and enjoyed any of the releases by Cloaks, White Rainbow (particularly the more sedate side), Barn Owl (obviously), or La Monte Young will be pleased with what they'll find here. Make no mistake about it, this is definitive dronemusic. While it is beautiful and has some structured elements, this is for the true trippers. Those looking for hummable hooks and such may find more satisfaction looking elsewhere, but for an immersive, spiritual headphones experience, this is your destination. It is also worth noting that the cover art was made by Evan, and its burgeoning crystal pyramid couldn't be more lovely or more perfectly suited to the sounds found herein. Drone freaks beware, this could easily take over your stereo. LIMITED TO ONLY 100 COPIES!!! These are the only ones we'll ever have...
"Crimson Cloud Ascension" MPEG Stream:
SLAYER Reign in Blood (American) cd 14.98
Reign in Blood is one of the defining moments in metal. Specifically, pissed off technical thrash. Before Slayer, no one else was faster, more brutal, or controversial. Yet at the same time they managed to somehow translate their music into something commercially successful, which is as confusing as it is impressive. This, their seminal third album, produced by Rick Rubin in 1986, is what we think of when we think of Slayer. "Angel of Death," "Altar of Sacrifice," "Jesus Saves." If you're a metalhead - to any degree - you own this, or you need this. In fact, we're not going to go on too much about it because this shit makes its own case. For greater detail, you can always pick up a copy of the book about Reign in Blood from the 33 1/3 series. Slayer fucking rule, and this is one of their best records. Get on it!
"Angel of Death " MPEG Stream:
"Altar of Sacrifice"
SMORZANDO Smrad (Midwinter) cassette 9.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. From the same label that brought us the damaged depressive blackened genius of Happy Days, and the melancholic doom-ed black metal of Leaden, comes this, the first release from Swiss outfit Smorzando, who craft a strange and haunting world of melancholy black metal, mixing the creepy drone-y miserablism of Burzum, with strange abstract post rock, and super blown out in the red production, creating something both black and brutal, fucked up and mysterious, with a super unique sound that is as much noise rock or post rock as it is black metal. The drums are simple, the guitars go from distant minimal jangle, to blown out crumbling distortion, the melody is a simple keyboard suspended in a sea of black buzz, the vocals go from guttural growl to hysterical shriek, but are buried under swells of super distorted in-the-red, shoegazey blackness. Occasionally, the songs lurch into furious blasts, but for the most part just lurch and lumber, lonely and forlorn, the deep bass and strange melodies sound like foghorns, the production wrapping everything in a grey fuzzy fog, the guitars effected and warbly, sometimes sounding almost electronic, other times sounding like a black avalanche of sound, always underpinned by a lilting melancholy melody or some ghostly ambience, so gorgeous and sad and heavy and absolutely beautiful. One of our new favorite slabs of depressive doom drenched black metal misery for sure. LIMITED TO 200 COPIES. Each packaged in a super cool plastic clamshell cassette case, with haunting black and white artwork, and printed black and white fold out insert.
NASCIMENTO, MILTON Clube Da Esquina (World Pacific) cd 16.98
This is the one! If you've ever heard someone playing Milton Nascimento, some sweet soothing sounds dazzling your ears, chances are it was this record. As many of us can attest to, just picking out any Milton Nascimento record can be a bit risky as his entire back catalog is quite varied and there are some not so hot moments, but all sins are forgiven with this record, an album that we dare say ranks as one of our favorite albums of all time! Clube Da Esquina is a stunning disc of psychedelic pop that manage to be as dreamy and pastoral as it is tropical and full of life. Bursting with warmth and rich color this is a record we will never get sick of. It's not psychedelic in an obvious look-how-weird-I-can-be way, but instead it's about a slow melting lull, soft swirls and subtle shifts in sounds. One moment it's the dreamiest most lovely song you've ever heard and the next the warm sun is shining and all you want to be doing is running and twirling in the sand. As lush, gorgeous and dynamic as anything Caetano Veloso has created. We can't praise this record enough! Lo Borges is the big unsung hero of this album, not even 20 years old when it was made he helped with many of the arrangements, sang and wrote many of the songs... Truly a perfect album from start to finish, an hour long trip filled with sunshine and surprise, melody and sophisticated glory. It's no surprise that songs on this record have been covered by the likes of Savath & Savalas and Tortoise and Bonnie Prince Billy. As these are songs that will always sound so alive and of the moment. Undoubtedly it's a record that's had a huge impact on everyone from Devendra Banhart, The Shins, Eden Express, Beck, Brightblack, Vetiver, Jose Gonzales, etc. And a must have for anyone who loves folks like Veloso, Gerard Manset, Eduardo Mateo, Congregacion, Alceu Valenca, Serge Gainsbourg, The Beatles, Melting Glass Box, Magical Power Mako, etc. No matter how obscure or mainstream your tastes tend to be, this is one of those records whose beauty and genius just can't be denied. We know we're always telling you about so many amazing records that you really just can't live without, but this time (again!) we really mean it!
"Sa’das E Bandeiras N¼ 2" MPEG Stream:
"Cravo E Canela" MPEG Stream:
"Lilia" MPEG Stream:
"O Trem Azul"
ASVA What You Don't Know Is Frontier (Southern) cd 14.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. What You Don't Know Is Frontier is the second release from this heavy droning super group and it's insanely awesome. Densely layered glacial pools of buzzing heaviness, it's no surprise that Asva consists of members of Burning Witch, Goatsnake and SUNNO))) among others. An expansive pallet of guitars, percussion, organs, electronic wind instruments, and vocals, all plunge the listener into a battle between crumbling civilization and the redeeming light at the heart of the storm. Unlike many heavy drone bands who are easily weighed down by a lack of dimension within their music, Asva manages to swiftly guide the listener in and out of finely choreographed movements that unfold with precision musicianship. This is definitely not simply "another drone record" that should be overlooked or dismissed. The range of textures and attention to detail is key here. What You Don't Know is Frontier unfolds more like a soundtrack then a drone record, a refreshing attempt at broadening the genre into a more honest, accessible art form. Highly recommended for fans of anything HEAVY.
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EKEROTH, DANIEL Swedish Death Metal (Bazillion Points) book 34.95
Metalheads, buy this! Author Daniel Ekeroth, a Swedish death metal expert (and Swedish death metaller himself, from the band Incision) has collected and presented an invaluable resource with this book, a weighty tome indeed. Due to a dearth of information on this fairly specific subject, the material within was compiled via a practical attempt to synthesize an accurate retelling of the history of Swedish death metal, based on varying accounts in zines and such, then by bouncing those stories back and forth in interviews with key band members, label bosses, etc. The book itself begins by outlining the myriad of influences behind the Swedish sound: San Francisco Bay Area thrash, NWOBHM, and the Tampa Bay Florida scene. Keep in mind, this was well before the internet, so tape and zine trading, and word of mouth, were the only ways to find out about music. Thus some of these band members were true metal geeks. There are accounts of various artists' own early exposure to metal and some really interesting stories about a few of the early Swedish bands, obscurities crossing over from the hardcore punk scene and so forth. Gripping reading for anyone into the book's subject matter. The second half of the book covers the pinnacle and strength of the scene at its brightest. But then there was black metal, and Ekeroth details how it helped usher out the popularity of old school death metal. He also delves into subgenres like grind, death n' roll, and of course the melodic Gothenburg sound. And then in the back, there is an incredibly useful, opinionated encyclopedia of (possibly) all Swedish death metal bands. Awesome! Complete with band members and releases, where Ekeroth substitutes the term 'deathography' for discography. And this book covers not only the big shots, like Dissection, Unleashed, Entombed, Marduk - hey their first record was recorded with Dan Swano and their first singer was the guitarist from Edge of Sanity - but there are tons of lesser known bands that the Ekeroth goes into detail about. Graphics-wise, there are tons of flyers, demo tape covers, cool pictures, and everything else relevant that you could possibly want in print. It's pretty sweet. There's not much else to say, really. You know who you are. There are those that would read a 456 page book on the Swedish death metal scene, and there are those who would not. If you are one of those people who WOULD, or just want it as a rad reference point, you need this. In a word, it's totally fucking killer. Recommended! And by the way, this is the new, expanded (and cheaper than the import) US edition, with extra art and interviews.
DARKER MY LOVE 2 (Dangerbird Records) cd 14.98
If you're not scared of labels like Cherry Red, Creation, or Hut, then keep reading. And if you first heard those labels on college radio, then definitely keep reading. Darker My Love is an LA-based 4-piece that channels the energy of bands like The Stone Roses and very early Oasis. Sure, throw in some Supergrass. Absolutely summertime, windows down, driving along the coast, feel good music. The group's arrangements are thoughtful while remaining accessible and breezy. In particular we can't help but notice the vocal melodies, provided by guitarist Tim Presley and bassist Rob Barbatto. Interestingly, both artists are former members of The Fall. Also, drummer Andy Granelli was in both The Nerve Agents and The Distillers. Either way, if '90s pop, early '80s power pop, or any other kind of pop has an appeal, this is your summer record!
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KRISIUN Southern Storm (Century Media) cd 13.98
Maybe you remember the good old days. Obituary's Slowly We Rot, Morbid Angel's Blessed Are The Sick, and - of course - Sepultura's Beneath The Remains. THOSE good old days. The days when metalheads could look each other in the face and say things like, "Dude, Scott Burns fucking rules," and it would mean something. Maybe even one tattooed tear would drop. Earthdogs worldwide would only consider purchasing longsleeve versions of their favorite band's shirts. When the only guy in the band allowed to have short hair was the drummer. Guitar solos were mandatory. Well, Brazil's Krisiun have managed to continually exist within that realm. It seems that for them the only difference between then and now is heightened production value. Their music remains heavy, tight, and fast. You're getting zero corpsepaint, no buzzing guitars, and absolutely no art-school-esque Banks Violette collaborations. Metal dudes weren't wearing makeup and crying about how they hate people, because they were too busy trying to kick ass. Death metal, no bullshit necessary. We're not even sure if they know that black metal has taken the spotlight in "extreme metal" for like, oh, almost 15 years now. Make sure to bang your head in a circular motion, even while listening to their cover of fellow Brazilians Sepultura's "Refuse/Resist."
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"Origin of Terror"
ABE VIGODA Skeleton (Post Present Medium) cd 13.98
Over the last few years Abe Vigoda have been creating quite a stir as latest in a long line of spirited bands from Los Angeles who have taken the sweaty spirit of punk rock and injected their own twists and turns and warped pop sensibility. Up until this point the band was always mentioned in the same breath as their fellow Los Angelinos No Age, whom they share a similar aesthetic and home turf all-ages venue of choice, The Smell. (This record was also released on a newly formed label run by one of the members of No Age.) But boy do they deliver the goods on Skeleton, so much so that it's just a matter of time until everyone starts freaking out and giving them some of the same sort of mass attention that No Age have enjoyed over the last couple years. This is some seriously caffeinated and super charged now-sound. Sort of like Feels era Animal Collective but with an extra dose of angular punk and a big bottle of Jolt cola to wash it all down. There is also a really nice and subtle tropical vibe within much of the record, reminding us a little of some of that early '80s post-punk out of Brazil we dig so much. There couldn't be a more perfect month then August for our ears to latch onto this record as Skeleton is the perfect album to blast over and over as we try to hold on to the summer for as long as we can.
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FAUST IV (EMI) 2cd 16.98
We've been wanting to correct a glaring omission from our site for some time now. Well, its not so much an omission as it's an overdue update on a very old review; one that was made when our reviews served only as shelf-talkers in the store instead of entryways into the vast online catalog of our website. And now with an affordable reissue with a bonus disc of rare BBC radio sessions and alternate versions, the time is right to reappraise this mighty, weird, and awesome jewel of classic krautrock greatness that is Faust IV. Essential as any krautrock album we can name, including Can's Tago Mago or Future Days, Amon Duul II's Yeti, or Neu! 1, Cluster, Kraftwerk etc. It's also the record that coined the term "krautrock" which is the title of the nearly 12 minute opening track, a thick pulsating rumble of motorik groove that out-Neu's Neu!. But things definitely get stranger after that with bizarre forays into reggae, pretty ballads, prog, pop and free jazz. Yet for all the weirdness, this is the record to get if you've never heard Faust before as it's their most accessible and structured. Not nearly as kaleidoscopic and avant as, So Far or Faust Tapes, and even with the genre-hopping, the songs all seem to belong together. "The Sad Skinhead" has got to be the most left-field excursion into reggae we've heard, complete with marimba passages and echoing vocals, while "Jennifer" has to be about the prettiest song ever made. Each song linked together by odd passages of detuned piano, far away screams and noisy stews of synth warbles and feedback stabs. "Giggly Smile" obviously influenced Battles recent debut Mirrors, as strange effected vocals accompany groovy prog excursions that abruptly shift tempos into one of our favorite rocking moments ever put to tape before suddenly ending, launching into the sublime folk groove of "Lauft... Heisst Das Es Lauft Oder Es Kommt Bald... Lauft". And it just keeps getting better and better. The bonus disc features many alternate versions of the songs including a much longer version of "Just A Second (Starts Like That!)", plus rare BBC radio sessions of two songs "The Lurcher" and "Do So" and one previously unreleased piece, called appropriately "Piano Piece". This is definitely one of those records, where we wish we could just invoke some physical force to reach out and grab you through the computer by the shoulders and just scream "Buy this already!!!!!!"
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GURU GURU Hinten (Captain Trip) cd 27.00
What it is exactly that constitutes "Krautrock" is definitely up for debate. It seems often largely construed to be the insistent, motorik pulses of Neu! and Can. But to limit the genre to just that would be a mistake. Bands like Guru Guru and Ash Ra Tempel were also present, bringing some of the heaviest psychedlia ever recorded. Hinten is the former band's second album, and a classic. Free range guitars grazing on open, organic jams. It is more evidently structured than their debut, UFO, while still retaining an improvisational feel that is as playful as it is crushingly acidic. This is one of both Allan and Cameron's favorites within the genre. Halfway between killer rock riffs and complete psychedelic blow-out. Essential, though an expensive Japanese import in its current incarnation.
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"The Meaning of Meaning"
GURU GURU UFO (Captain Trip) cd 29.00
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. What it is exactly that constitutes Krautrock is definitely up for debate. It seems often largely construed to be the insistent, motorik pulses of Neu! and Can. But to limit the genre to just that would be a mistake. Bands like Guru Guru and Ash Ra Tempel were also present, bringing some of the heaviest psychedlia ever recorded. UFO is the former band's debut effort. Fans of heavy psych, German rock of the '70s, and free improv jams will consider this absolutely essential. And chances are, those fans already own this, or they simply haven't found a copy yet... here's the currently in print, Japanese mini-LP sleeve version. Repetitive, hypnotic, transcendent. And at the same time jarring. This is a fist full of mushrooms being shoved through the speakers. Embrace it.
"Stone In" MPEG Stream:
"Der LSD - Marsch"
TEMBO, CHRISSY ZEBBY & NGOZI FAMILY My Ancestors (Hummingbird) cd 24.00
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. We've been getting all riled up over some hot Afro-rock releases lately, first from those killer Nigerian comps put out by the Strut and Soundway labels and then The Peace's Black Power reissue. But the lo-fi fuzz that's really rocking our world is this gem from Chrissy Zebby Tembo & Ngozi family, 1974's My Ancestors. Though included on the Love Peace and Poetry African psych compilation, Chrissy Zebby Tembo may not be so memorable from that because their track was the one instrumental track from My Ancestors, and though it's great, it's not as good as the tracks where Tembo sings. Like an odd hybrid of Malcolm Mooney from Can and Sabbath-era Ozzy Osbourne, Tembo's English delivery over these fuzzed-out groovers is the reason to take notice. Hailing from Zambia, same as The Peace and The Witch (another Afro-rock group we'd like to see get more affordably reissued), Tembo wails over these rhythmically charged but largely western-style rock structures. The best being the Sabbath gone to South Africa "Trouble Maker". In constant rotation, since this first arrived a few weeks ago, we've finally managed to get enough to share with our customers. Don't hesitate, this whole record kills!
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TEMBO, CHRISSY ZEBBY & NGOZI FAMILY My Ancestors (QDK Media / Normal ) cd 16.98
About five years ago we freaked out over a cd reissue of this '70s Afro-fuzz album, one of the first we'd heard in the "Zam-Rock" genre now replete with so many great reissues. It's just been reissued again on cd, by a different label, and, best of all, at a much nicer price than before. Here's mostly what we said the first time if you missed it then: We've been getting all riled up over some hot Afro-rock releases lately, first from those killer Nigerian comps put out by the Strut and Soundway labels and then The Peace's Black Power reissue. But the lo-fi fuzz that's really rocking our world is this gem from Chrissy Zebby Tembo & Ngozi family, 1974's My Ancestors. Though included on the Love Peace and Poetry African psych compilation, Chrissy Zebby Tembo might not have stood out so much on that 'cause their track was the one instrumental track from My Ancestors, and though it's great, it's not as good as the tracks here where Tembo sings. Like an odd hybrid of Malcolm Mooney from Can and Sabbath-era Ozzy Osbourne, Tembo's English delivery over these fuzzed-out groovers is the reason to take notice. Hailing from Zambia, same as The Peace and The Witch [whom we've recently raved about, repeatedly], Tembo wails over these rhythmically charged but largely Western-style rock structures. The best being the Sabbath gone to South Africa "Trouble Maker", some proto-metal action there for sure. In constant rotation ever since it came in. Don't hesitate, this whole record kills! Definitely recommended for fans of The Witch, Ngozi Family's 45,000 Volts, Rikki Ililonga, and others in the Zam-Rock realm, not to mention fuzzed out garage in general.
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TRINACRIA Travel Now Journey Infinitely (Season Of Mist) cd 15.98
Members of Enslaved and Fe Mail doing Neurosis-y avant metal!!!!?
AVSKY Malignant (Moribund) cd 6.66
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. Hail Sweden's own grim hate-mongers (among many), Avsky. This is a band not intimidated by fiercely calculated genre boundaries, proudly celebrating the intersection between old style black metal, blackened death metal (a la lo-fi Hypocrisy), and charred crust punk. This is their second full-length in general, but their first for Moribund, specifically. While some may feel that the relatively high production value somehow cheapens the album, those interested in music and not just being kvlt will here be rewarded. Simply soak in the maleficent hate vibes, and lose yourself in a trance. Crushing guitars, searing riffs, blasting double-bass, and tortured, howling vocals. From mid-tempo to blast beats, it's all here. The bases are covered. Think old Darkthrone demos, Bathory, and Nattefrost all laying prostrate before Baphomet's throne.
"Cleanse the World" MPEG Stream:
BURNING STAR CORE Challenger (Hospital Productions) cd 13.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. This Record Of The Week from list #296 is now finally BACK IN STOCK! But these may be the last copies we'll be able to get. The violin is probably the last instrument you think of when you think of underground cd-r noise drone music. Okay, maybe not the last, but it's pretty far down the list for sure. Yet Mr. C. Spencer Yeh has forged a career with his trusty violin, creating a sizable body of work, ranging from full on blown out noise assault, to breathless delicate beauty, to propulsive krautrock infused space rock, and various mixes of all three. We even Record Of The Week-ed his Operator Dead album a while back. But where that record was more of a group effort, this latest disc, Challenger, finds Yeh returning to his solo roots, getting a minimal amount of assistance on just a couple of tracks, but handling the bulk of the soundmaking himself. And while there is no list of instrumentation, we have to assume that violin is not the only instrument present. NOBODY is that good. But even so, Yeh is really really good, and with a violin and whatever else he has in his soundmaking arsenal, he has once again conceived something of great beauty and import, a collection of sounds, of SONGS, an album that is cohesive yet varied, personal and introspective, yet somehow epic and expansive. If anything, this new disc finds Yeh moving his BSC into the rarefied world of spaced out Krautrock. Neu!, Popol Vuh, Tangerine Dream, Ash Ra Tempel, A.R. & The Machines, Brian Eno. Much in the same way aQ faves Expo '70, channel seventies space kraut, so does Yeh, but where Expo '70 create thick heavy spaced out dronescapes, the sounds on Challenger are much more melodic, and drifty, dreamy and mesmerizing. There is plenty of noise to be found, but it's doled out sparingly, melodies are sometimes halo-ed in buzz, or delicate rhythms wreathed in feedback, but it's always muted and minimal, allowing the melody and arrangement to shine, and shine they do, each track, a gorgeously repetitive stretch of space-y abstract groove, looped, but slowly shifting and changing shape, propulsive but subtly so. The opening two track salvo is some of the most blissfully beautiful soft noise we've heard. In fact, even calling it noise might be doing it a disservice. The opener is a slow burning slab of minimal murmur, laced with soft tinkling chimes, an abstract ghostly melody over a softly pulsing drone, eventually augmented by some shimmery hiss and random sampled ambience, but instead of distracting, these sonic events, cars driving past, wind, tape hiss, they only add texture to the glimmering drift beneath. The second track begins with a riff (played on a violin?) that is quickly wrapped up in corrosive swaths of warbly effected buzz, the two elements twisting around one another, creating a strange churning soundscape of stretched out space rock riffage and crumbling distorted drone, that manages to be absolutely riveting. The next few tracks offer up some more experimental fare, brief chunks of ambient weirdness, one of plastic cup percussion, heavily reverbed, in a wide open stretch of distant whir and tangled electronics, another a symphony of processed vocals, looped and chopped into a hiccupping stuttering soundscape, eventually joined by soft shimmery chords and warm chordal buzz, yet another a collection of crinkles and crackles, like someone stepping on bubble wrap, balling up wrapping paper and a campfire, all draped over the sounds of children laughing and playing. All before returning to the blissed out dronedrift of the opening few tracks. Reverbed jaw harp floats in a field of static hum and twinkling fragmented melody, deep tones are woven into gentle lilting melodies, symphonic snippets are looped and assembled into a slow building drone, underpinned by fuzzy droney melodies, totally stirring and epic, haunting and mysterious, a bit of Jeck mixed in with BSC's usual glorious buzz, maybe one of the most moving (and possibly one of the best) tracks we've ever heard from Yeh and his 'Core. The final track is an Avarus like coda, sheets of hiss like rainfall (might very well be), bits of percussive chime and clank, plenty of hiss and whir, over the top, a shimmering high end electric melody, that drifts and stutters dreamily, like some alien lullaby. Absolutely stunning. And thus, entirely and unequivocally recommended.
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"Beauty Hunter" MPEG Stream:
MOSS Sub Templum (Candlelight) cd 14.98
It's been a while since we've had to employ multiple 'o's in a review. A bit of a death of doom it seems. Or at least the sort of doom that requires all those extra 'o's. A loyal customer of ours even whipped up this "doom chart" based on our usage of multiple 'o'd doom in reviews! And if memory serves, Moss was one of the bands that routinely got described as doooom, or doooooooooom, and sometimes even doooooooooooooooooooooooom. So we were all ready to put finger to key and just let the 'o's roll out, one after the other after the other, until we felt we had conveyed the crushing doom of Moss. That is until we pressed play, and were treated to "Ritus", a five and a half minute soundscape of whirring synths and washed out ambience, of cymbal sizzle and proggy keyboard drones, of whispered voices and buzzing shimmer. Hmmm. The liner notes say it's inspired by Doris Norton, an electronic musician who's also a member of AQ faves Jacula!! An interesting start from one of the sludgiest, crustiest bands around. Doooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooom. Ahh. That's better. The second track returns us to that dank dark sloooooooooow place Moss call home. Twenty three minutes of downtuned crush, the tempo only slightly faster than the growth of actual moss. But even all gnarled and sludge-y, something has definitely changed. It's not nearly as filthy, and harsh, it's actually weirdly pretty. Almost like it's some more melodic metal record being spun manually with one finger at 3 or 4 rpm. The distortion is still dense, the long drawn out chords seeming to crumble, the drums spaced way out, but somehow still more buys than you're average ultradoom drummer, the vocals are still harsh and howling, but somehow, they too seem to be a bit more smooth, further down in the mix, like another layer of sound, the howls allowed to unfurl into another layer of buzz. It's strange, but we definitely dig. And we're not saying this is NOTHING like old Moss, or folks into Bunkur and Esoteric and the like won't love it, you will, the differences are subtle, and the sound is just a little bit, well, prettier, if you can imagine something bleak and black and harsh and hateful being pretty. Which we can! The next track, a nine minute dirge, is a bit more raw and rough, most of that prettiness we were blathering on about above is GONE. Shrieking feedback, the drums even slower and more spare, the guitars even more distorted and the vocals throat shreddingly harsh, the tempo slightly accelerated, bordering on Eyehategod territory. But it's all bout the closer, "Gate III: Devils From The Outer Dark". Clocking in at 35 minutes + and beginning with a churning sea of downtuned rumble and buzz, before the drums finally kick in, and of course by kick in we mean pound sporadically. This track is WAY more than a dirge. It makes the track before it sound like thrash metal. This is slooooooow and so so so so dooooooooooooooooooomy. The guitars thick and corrosive, the chords allowed to ring way out and fade away before the next one drops in to take its place, but weirdly enough, this one too sounds sort of pretty, not like the opening track, but still very dreamlike and mesmerizing. Long streaks of feedback spread out over wide open expanses of minimal thud and warm warped slow motion buzz, when the vocals drop out, it becomes something entirely different, finishing off with several minutes of thick low end drone, the guitars rumbling and wrapped into a thick nearly static pulse, something truly hypnotic and almost spacey, but without sacrificing a single one of those extra 'o's. Definitely a progression, a band can only pound and plod for so long, but so subtle that the casual listener might not even notice. "Oh yeah, heavy, slow, dooooooom", but as with most music, deep listening reveals a whole lot more going on beneath the surface, and once your ears lock on to that stuff, even the sounds on the surface begin to sound different. WAY RECOMMENDED for the doom-ed amongst you. And just cuz we knew you were waiting for it, Sub Templum could very well be doooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooom disc of the year!!
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"Dragged To The Roots"
GROUPER Dragging A Dead Deer Up A Hill (Type) cd 15.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. Dragging A Dead Deer Up A Hill opens with an entirely characteristic yet coy swell of effected elemental smear, crumbling delicately yet forcefully, until giving way to what is, to date, and here is the coy part, Liz Harris' most songwriterly and structured album. As opposed to the rich swaths of drone that up until now defined her sound, Harris has shifted from the abstract towards a more distinct and figurative sound. True to the title, the record unfolds like a sort of mysterious and morbid fairytale, innocent in its clear and elegant melodies, yet creepy and highly abstract in its more droney and sublime interludes. For the most part, her guitar playing is laid bare, removed from the dense fog of effects that typically occlude them. And what we discover is actually a pretty strummy record, with plenty of clean guitar articulation though certainly the aroma of her previous tech heavy approach remains in what is relatively speaking still pretty effected. At times she even reverts back to the gorgeous icey crunchy string attack of some previous efforts. With so much space liberated in the absence of drones, we also get to hear her stunning voice. Furthermore, the occasional audible lyric creeps to the surface, one standout fragment being "Love Is Enormous," a somewhat shockingly affirmative sentiment from an otherwise darkly mysterious and abstract persona. From start to finish Dragging A Dead Deer Up A Hill lulls you into its graceful murmurings and hypnotic thrumming. An exquisite addition to an already compelling discography. Recommended.
"Disengaged" MPEG Stream:
"Heavy Water/ I'd Rather Be Sleeping"
LEER, THOMAS Contradictions (Cherry Red) cd 17.98
As producers, musicians, critics, and listeners alike seem to hail the traditional pantheon of landmark influences, like Can, Kraftwerk, Throbbing Gristle, Fad Gadget, et al, there are still plenty of fantastic, sidelined artists who just continually fall through the cracks. Such is the case with Thomas Leer. Sadly, outside of collectors circles, he is practically unknown, even though he kept company with some of the biggest names in 20th century pop and avant garde music. After releasing the seminal bedroom techno-pop-industrial classic "Private Plane" 7" on his own label -- Oblique -- he collaborated with Robert Rental on The Bridge, an LP on Throbbing Gristle's Industrial imprint. In fact, those recordings inspired Chris Carter -- of TG and Chris and Cosey fame -- and a pre-Whitehouse William Bennett to pick up a Wasp synth. Not yet acquainted with Robert Rental? If you can get your hands on it, check out Live at the West Runton Pavilion, his collaborative effort with Daniel Miller of The Normal, and the founder of Mute Records. A fantastic document, it mirrors Thomas Leer's work as it subverts the traditional punk/rock paradigm, utilizing newly emerging technology to create music completely outside of the guitar/drums/bass framework. Some might say that it's at least implicitly as punk as anything else. That said, let's talk a bit about this particular release. Firstly, it does indeed have both "Private Plane" and "International." Okay. But there is plenty to glean from the rest of his lesser-known catalogue. Picture a synth-happy David Bowie and Konk collaboration, with a restrained sense of composition. Picture a soulful robotic version of Marc Almond making 4-track recordings for himself. Not under-produced, but understated and playful. Shriekback caught in an algorithm. Picture Cybotron and Inner City chugging Robitussin and trying their damnedest to picture what acid house might sound like if it were made in 1983. This collection amounts to exactly what it sounds like on paper: a great collection of work from an incredibly influential and diverse artist. Uninitiated? Check it out! Already a fan? You know you want to grab it! Totally recommended.
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"Thomas Leer - Mr. Nobody"
YELLOW SWANS Deterioration (Modern Radio Record Label) cd 11.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. Deterioration was originally released as a tour only cassette, which is interesting given that it seems more instantly accessible than many of their more widely available and well-known records. Of course, even though this Portland duo has since broken up, it's going to take a while to slowly sift through their catalog and really make sense of it all. The earlier days found these guys making overtly political noise tracks, devoid of really any discernible melody at all. Towards the end, the final releases (the 12" split with Ex-Cocaine, the 12" collaboration with Burning Star Core, the full length At All Ends, etc.) showed a somewhat different side. More obviously psychedelic, more melodic, and seemingly an increased attention being paid to composition. Not to say that the older tracks were completely improvised, because we can't definitively say without asking, but there is a greater cohesion and flow with releases like this one. It really is a shame the guys parted ways, because the last year or so of their records seemed like one collective Revolver. If you're a fan of YS and haven't picked up anything in a while, you'd be well-served to check this one out.
"Broken Eraser / Time Stretch" MPEG Stream:
EDGE OF SANITY The Spectral Sorrows (Black Mark) cd 14.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. Best death metal album of all time? There sure are some runners up. Morbid Angel's Covenant? Deicide's Deicide? Carcass' Necroticism: Descanting the Insalubrious? They're all fucking brilliant, but let's not forget Edge of Sanity's phenomenal, ground breaking, and completely bizarre third album, Spectral Sorrows from 1993. Not only does it have some of the heaviest riffs of all time, not only does it feature signature production work from the band's legendary vocalist/multi-instrumentalist/mastermind Dan Swano (also of Pan.Thy.Monium, Bloodbath, and a million other projects), and not only does it stand up as one of the least dated death metal albums ever. It can also claim to have killer prog moments and a dark wave/goth track ("Sacrificed"). Oh, also a triumphant cover of Manowar's galloping "Blood of My Enemies." This is Edge of Sanity before their famed single track 40+ minute long epic-journey opus Crimson (1996), and way before their rad Led Zeppelin-esque swan song Cryptic (which stands in opposition to the rest of their catalog as it does NOT feature Swano). If any of those points fail to sell you on this record, it's probably not for you. But if you're like us yet haven't heard it, then you're in for a treat. For fans of death metal, black metal, or any other conceivably heavy music, you absolutely need this. Best death metal record ever? Who can say. Definitely one of biggest-death-metal-head-at-AQ Cameron's favorites. Honestly, no possible combination of superlatives could express exactly how vital this is. Necessary. Essential. Brutal. Recommended. Do yourself a favor...
"Livin Hell" MPEG Stream:
"Waiting to Die"
EDGE OF SANITY The Spectral Sorrows (Black Mark) lp 27.00
NOW REISSUED ON VINYL!!! Best death metal album of all time? There sure are some runners up. Morbid Angel's Covenant? Deicide's Deicide? Carcass' Necroticism: Descanting the Insalubrious? They're all fucking brilliant, but let's not forget Edge of Sanity's phenomenal, ground breaking, and completely bizarre third album, Spectral Sorrows from 1993. Not only does it have some of the heaviest riffs of all time, not only does it feature signature production work from the band's legendary vocalist/multi-instrumentalist/mastermind Dan Swano (also of Pan.Thy.Monium, Bloodbath, and a million other projects), and not only does it stand up as one of the least dated death metal albums ever. It can also claim to have killer prog moments and a dark wave/goth track ("Sacrificed"). Oh, also a triumphant cover of Manowar's galloping "Blood of My Enemies." This is Edge of Sanity before their famed single track 40+ minute long epic-journey opus Crimson (1996), and way before their rad Led Zeppelin-esque swan song Cryptic (which stands in opposition to the rest of their catalog as it does NOT feature Swano). If any of those points fail to sell you on this record, it's probably not for you. But if you're like us yet haven't heard it, then you're in for a treat. For fans of death metal, black metal, or any other conceivably heavy music, you absolutely need this. Best death metal record ever? Who can say. Definitely one of formerly-biggest-death-metal-head-at-AQ Cameron's favorites. Honestly, no possible combination of superlatives could express exactly how vital this is. Necessary. Essential. Brutal. Recommended. Do yourself a favor...
"Livin Hell" MPEG Stream:
"Waiting to Die"
LILIENTAL Liliental (Revisited / Brain) cd 21.00
"Six days in 1976". That's what this disc represents. The entire lifespan, and output, of an extremely short-lived but also extremely awesome krautrock 'supergroup' of sorts. Organized by Dieter Moebius (one half of Cluster, one third of Harmonia), the Liliental project also featured the talents of Helmut Hattler and Johannes Pappert of psychedelic jazz-rock outfit Kraan, famed producer Conny Plank, soundtrack composer Otto Bekker and his protege, budding electronic experimentalist Asmus Tietchens (who contributes liner notes to this reissue). They never played live, and indeed spent only six days recording these six tracks. About 35 minutes of exquisite, oft glorious, softly moody and melodic instrumentals here on this one-off treasure... well, mostly instrumental, with some wordless "aahhs" here and there, and also some singing on the particularly quirky, catchy final track (which sounds more like a Brian Eno/Steely Dan collab than a Moebius thing, but that's not necessarily a bad thing). Since the tracks are sequenced on this disc in the same order in which they were recorded, it would seem that by day six they were ready to get a bit silly. On days 1-5, though, there was more restraint to their playfulness, their music sometimes joyous but as often wistful or otherwise serious-sounding. It's hard to describe, easier to imagine if you're already acquainted with Moebius's music solo and in Cluster and Harmonia. While this group had their own special chemistry, the overall vibe is one that will definitely seem familiar to fans of Cluster et.al., wonderfully so. Track three, "Wattwurm", could be from one of the Cluster & Eno albums, easily. And that's high praise! On that track and elsewhere you'll find Liliental to be rhythmic, poppy, breezy, beautiful, all these things... with shimmering washes of mellow synths (lots of Arp and Moog), percolating electronic embellishments, almost-ambient saxophone, and even some blissful bird twitter on one track. So nice. This reissue actually came out last year, and we've been wanting to list it for a while, but had some trouble getting enough copies. Now we have a few in stock, so get it, it's definitely one to add to the top of the pile of essential krautrock reissues we've raved about recently, like those Michael Rothers, La Dusseldorfs, Eroc, etc. In addition to Tietchens' notes, in both English and German, this digipack's cd booklet also includes color photos of Liliental in the studio (they existed nowhere else!), among them the group shot from which the cover painting was done - interestingly, amongst other small details altered, the cover artist decided to put long pants on Conny Plank (the smiling fellow on the far left) instead of letting him continue to wear the short shorts he had on in the original photograph.
"Stresemannstrasse" MPEG Stream:
NO AGE Nouns (Sub Pop) cd 14.98
We're all geeks here at Aquarius. There is no way around it. Japanese this, Finnish that, some grim black metal album recorded in a garbage can in the Norwegian woods, whatever. But we still really love getting a great pop/punk/shoegaze album. And if you can stomach the idea of saying that for once, "the hype" isn't completely unfounded, then No Age might just be your band. Now, as we plod through Spring, looking toward Summer, nothing is more important than a good warm weather soundtrack! Enter Nouns, No Age's first full-length release brought to us by Sub Pop. Well, Fat Cat compiled the duo's first handful of 7"s in a full-length format, entitled Weirdo Rippers, but this is their first complete album proper. As you may know or guess, Weirdo was a bit patchy, which worked in its favor, really. The start stop action propelled it more than might be expected. So, for this release one could only be curious: What the hell will a No Age record sound like, and what kind of flow will it have? The width and breadth of their sound remains just as large - one part sloppy '90s punk and one part My Bloody Valentine - but there is a greater sense of cohesion. The qualities and characteristics of the recording itself are more consistent too. Also, there is a noticeable increase in the number of guitar layers as well, which means some more complex melodies. There's even a guitar "solo" at one point. Do it. Now's the time. Put on the new No Age record, go in your closet, grab your Chuck Taylors, grab a Mountain Dew - or some other highly caffeinated beverage - and have a pre-Summer Summertime party. Recommended.
"Teen Creeps" MPEG Stream:
FRICARA PACCHU Midnight Pyre (Lal Lal Lal) cd 16.98
FINALLY BACK IN STOCK!! If you missed it when we made it a Record Of The Week back in the summer of 2008, you're in luck! Here's what we said about this then... Yes! The cd debut of this fantastic Finnish four-track project... We actually meant to list this, like, a month ago, but unfortunately the original review we wrote of it was lost in one of our several recent arggh-inducing komputoor crashes, but actually that's a good thing, 'cause it gave everybody here at AQ more time to listen to this, over and over, at home and in the store, and have us all decide that this HAD to be a Record Of The Week. So we ordered more copies from Finland, and re-wrote the review (which, in our memory, was actually probably better written the first time, so trust us on this) and here we go! Ah, Finland. We've said it before, we'll say it again. So many of our favorite bands hail from Finland, from the hypnotic NWOFHM space rock of Circle to the the funereal doom of Skepticism, with all the freaky forest folk of Kemialliset Ystavat, et. al. in between. And now Fricara Pacchu, solo project from a member of such underground Finnish acts as Avarus, Anaksimandros, Maniacs Dream, and yes Kemialliset Ystavat. Hopefully you remember our review of the Fricara Pacchu 7" and accompanying art/collage booklet that the Fonal label put out not too long ago (we may still have a few of those babies in stock, if you act fast). Both Allan and Andee accidentally wrote separate gushing reviews of it, that's how much we all liked it! That 7" left us eager to hear a full-length, and now here it is, courtesy of Lal Lal Lal. 12 wigged out instrumental tracks of Fricara Pacchu's undefinable, eccentric, psychedelic weirdness. We had compared the 7" to everything from the Boredoms to Oliva Tremor Control, and that goes too for the all-instrumental music on this cd, to which we can add such other disparate references as Neu! and When and Fuck Buttons. Fricara Pacchu's music is part techno, part noise, part pop... all awesome. Recording at home on a four-track, Pacchu creates a woozy, rhythmic soundworld filled with distortion and delight. A world of magical gnomes with chugging machines spewing colorful clouds... clouds of mysterious, maybe illegal substances that coalesce in pretty patterns you can hear, as well as kaleidoscopically see. There's dense, druggy layers of guitar feedback with electro beats; lo-fi fuzzy loops, gurgly computer bleeps and sci-fi sound FX swooshes; throbbing pound and gentle ambience. Fricara Pacchu produces fragile music box melodies that exist amidst exploding minefields of noise, like the detonations of distortion that rhythmically obliterate parts of "Four Seasons Of Violins". Noise that is taken to an extreme with the utter, surging distorto-destruction of "Sky Helicopter"... Whew! Wow. Maybe if the glorious synthscapes of fellow Finns Shogun Kunitoki were way grittier and guitar-ier, done more D.I.Y., and wrapped in steel wool and played backwards on a cheap cassette, that would sound something like the quirky and compelling music of Fricara Pacchu. By which we mean, this is great!
"Four Seasons Of Violins" MPEG Stream:
"Freaky Labyrinth" MPEG Stream:
"Return Of The Rats" MPEG Stream:
"Possessed By Possibilities"
PORTISHEAD Third (Mercury) cd 15.98
It seems a bit strange to spend very much time writing about the new Portishead. Since by now, odds are you're probably sick to death of hearing about it. Sure we all loved Portishead back in the day, they were one of those rare 'electronic' bands whose appeal knew no boundaries, metalheads, moms, indie kids, the sound of Portishead was dark and sexy and mysterious, sinister and ominous, dark and rife with crackle and buzz. Perfect drugged out late night bliss out music, their strange way of creating sound and composing music, recording their own samples on to vinyl and then spinning and scratching those samples to create new textures, made for a totally unique sound. So what does a band do after taking almost a decade off? Do they return with a record that sounds just like the last one, which is probably what most folks want, or do they return radically altered? With a sound bold and brash, reinventing the sound they themselves invented in the first place. On first listen, Third definitely sounds like the latter, but with repeated listening, the record slowly and subtly begins to slip toward the former. Which most definitely speaks to the magic of Portishead, and the new record, which at once embraces the old sound, while turning it into something new. More than past outings, Third is dirty, out of tune, atonal, noisy, chaotic, urgent, sure past records had all that crackle and buzz and fuzz, but those elements were carefully placed, and kept well within line. Third sounds much more, well, loose for lack of a better word, like actual musicians, feeling each other out, maybe even improvising. Less like a studio concoction and more like a real live band. And the sound suits them. And makes for a record at once warm and familiar, but also alien, sort of 'rocking' and rife with WTF? moments. Take the opener, "Silence", which begins with some sort of radio broadcast, which gives way to a killer loping breakbeat, immediately the fastest tempo Portishead have ever explored, strings swoop in, the sound raw and urgent, almost like the chase scene from some spy movie, gorgeous distorted chiming guitar harmonics ring out, until finally the track slows down, and slithers sexily, the vocals a sexy sultry croon, but it's not long before the track kicks back into the haunting and tense, string laden cinematic jam that opened the track. Then there's "Hunter", which begins like classic Portishead, all smokey and late night sounding, soft muted reverbed guitars, a lush gauzy production, the vocals ethereal and ghostly, but even here, a few seconds in, the song is interrupted by a super distorted crumbling guitar chord that halts things in their tracks, before fading out, and allowing the song to resume. The a few minutes later, a strange noodly synth freakoutsurfaces, again derailing the song's slow motion groove, but It just sounds perfect. It doesn't at all sound like random weirdness for random weirdness' sake. The first time is jarring, the second time, you find yourself waiting for those parts, even humming along as if they were as crucial to the song as the main melody or the vocals, and the thing is, they are. Near the end lurks the single, "Machine Gun", with its very machine gun like rhythm, herky jerky, stuttery and not at all fluid, reminiscent of Art Of Noise, the vocals sweetly soaring over this jagged rhythmscape below, which only really varies part way through when the original machine gun drums are replaced by BIGGER, more distorted drums, and wrapped in strange moaning horns (or maybe synths), only to shift once again moments later becoming more electronic, the beats awash in strange FX and metallic buzz. It's so unlikely, that it makes perfect sense as the first single. If you can embrace that strange rhythm, that relentless and very un-Portishead like sound, then the rest of the record will make perfect sense, unfolding in front of you, revealing both the warm familiar sounds missed, and the new, bizarre sonic elements never even imagined All over the record, the band confounds and confuses, gloriously, the brooding whispery "Small" shifts gears partway through and transforms into a fuzzy organ drenched krautjam, "Deep Water" is a straight up old timey folk song, the vocals and strings soaked in fuzzy ambience (and reminding us a bit of vocalist Gibbons' post Portishead project Rustin Man), "We Carry On" is a sort of atonal Stereolab style jam, relentless percussion, thick swaths of synth, very repetitive and hypnotic, "The Rip" is part whispery folky flutter, part synthy electro buzz, every track here offers some sort of surprise, whether it's the song itself, or some little sonic strangeness lurking within, but never is the song or the sound sacrificed, each track is perfect in its own beautifully twisted way, catchy but never obviously so, groovy, but often convoluted and fractured, it's a difficult record to explain for sure, which is perhaps why so much ink has been spilled, and while we may be sick of reading about it, we sure are finding it nearly impossible to imagine ever getting sick of listening to it, which is precisely why it's one of our Records Of The Week.
"Silence" MPEG Stream:
"Hunter" MPEG Stream:
DROIDS Star Peace (Repressed) cd 17.98
Droids is the '70s French space disco project of Fabrice Cuitade, former Barclay Records employee and founder of their Egg imprint - which released the likes of Vangelis, Conrad Schnitzler, and Heldon, among others. The back of this disc claims Droids to be "the Daft Punk of the 70's," but even a quick listen will prove that claim reductive. Neither will the typical Giorgio Moroder comparison suffice. So the story goes that Cuitade saw Star Wars for the first time, and then decided to make his own musical interpretation. As we first listened to the album, we heard something much more nuanced than some sort of filtered French House prototype. Maybe if you picture Battiato partying in the studio with Patrick Cowley then you're getting close. That's right. This is nothing short of some seriously progged-out space disco. But whereas many artists in that arena seem to be cold, calculated, and sterile, Star Peace is an album that manages to hold on to the funk that disco originated with. Cuitade even foreshadows the piano stab-driven funky house of Chicago's Traxx label, while hinting at the celestial impulses of Italian cosmic-groover Daniele Baldelli. Fans of disco, prog, new wave, house, or anything electronic, arpeggiated, or dancey will positively need this. Essential. (Note: includes a track you might have heard already on the now sadly out of print compilation So Young But So Cold that we love love loved...)
"Do You Have the Force (Part 1)" MPEG Stream:
"Renaissance De L'Amour"
BLACK BONED ANGEL & NADJA Christ Send Light (Battlecruiser / Celebrate Psi Phenomenon) cd 12.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. Another matchup that had to happen eventually, it was only a matter of time. Campbell Kneale's Black Boned Angel, and Aidan Baker's Nadja. Two modern groups redefining doom metal. Filtering doom through their own dronedirge aesthetics, each with a distinctly unique take on doom, BBA's more of a glacial noise drenched dirge, Nadja's more of a blissed out metalgaze. The two together though churn out what can only be described as epic grandiose doom pop. Or something like that. Soaring vocals, over thick churning crumbling distortion. It almost sounds like a sludge metal Queen, or a bit like recent Record Of The Week honorees Torche, or even Harvey Milk at their most dramatic and over the top. The main riff is a slowed down classic rocker, turned sludgey and lugubrious but not losing any of its might or majesty. Guitars screech and soar and grind all around it, what sounds like a piano plinks along with the vocals, a sunshiney melody, but it's the vocals, that turn this into glorious sludgepop, a minor key lament, delivered in a plaintive wail, way down in the mix as well, but loud enough to totally carry the song, that main melody lodged in your head, forever! Not really sure what else to say. If the math of Nadja + Black Boned Angel = Harvey Milk + Torche + Queen x loads of blown out distortion and sun baked buzz doesn't add up for you, you just might be reading the wrong listÉ This is an ep teaser for the forthcoming full length from the same team on 20 Buck Spin, but fear not, this song, all 21+ minutes of it, is available only on this disc!!
"Christ Send Light"
USPUTUSPUD Disco (Caligulan Records) cassette 5.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. FINALLY, the long awaited follow up to Usputuspud's "Liturgical Alcoholik", the side project of the mighty Wildildlife's, and Aquarius' own, Matthew J. Rogers. It actually hasn't been that long, but the otherworldly allure of his first tape had more than a few of us wondering where he would go next. With his new tape, Disco, gone is the delicate, breathy, gauzy, and windy washes of harmonica, replaced by much more muscular and present tones, as well as an entirely new commitment to rhythm. Anyone who has enjoyed the last couple Astral Social Club releases will be pleasantly surprised by this tape, as it has a similar angle on club music, but stretches the palette elsewhere. Where ASC has employed a program of smooth digital disorientation, Usputuspud invigorates the 4/4 dance tradition with incredibly warm, tapey washes of distorted harmonica, accented by the skitter and sputter of rhythmic clusters careening through the mix. The A-Side, "Cherished Wig," begins with a spare collection of dubby rhythmic ingredients, all persistently staking their claim to the track, before the 4/4 beat and harmonica washes flood the stage. As the track progresses the harmonica builds and bleeds through the entire spectrum of the track, resulting in a droney bedlam of bleary eyed tones, wandering the far reaches of the red. The b-side, "Fetish Ball", begins with an amazing and infectious loop of what sounds like a heavily distorted gamelan instrument. It's an entirely globular and bulging phrase, occasionally giving way to warm waves of distortion and losing its phase, but then coming back with buoyant and propulsive revolutions. In the loop's periphery Usputuspud accents the rhythms with surging bass tones, and watery percussive paddling sounds. As the song progresses, the variety and intensity of peripheral sounds grow, to include exalted vocal howling, and more established percussive counterpoint. The track ends with a fantastic and surprising coda that employs a more diverse array of tones, and a production approach that removes the distorted obfuscations from his sometimes belied interest in dance music. "Disco," is a nuanced affair, finding a soft spot between the ethereal drone of his previous work, and the uhhh... post-proto-motorik gabber he has infused it with! The results are mesmerizing, and recommended indeed. And to boot, it may be the most handsomely packaged tape we've received this year, with a beautiful layout, accented by vintage black-ink stamps, and some seriously decorative hole punching.
CUT COPY In Ghost Colours (Modular ) cd 12.98
Justice, Digitalism, Crystal Castles. The list of contemporary indie-electro goes on on and on. And it's all at least slightly retro: disco, French house, video games, or whatever. But what we have to high five Australia's Cut Copy for is attempting to revive the orchestrated power-pop sounds of bands like Electric Light Orchestra! Take that, throw in a drum machine, maybe a few heavy post-production filters, and that's where they're at. Above and beyond anything else, and unlike some of their contemporaries, these guys seem to understand that they're essentially making pop music. Whereas projects like Justice sometimes rely too heavily on form rather than content, Cut Copy has their eyes on the songwriting prize. Much like British producer Richard X, they have a healthy and addictive affection for the '80s. Severed Heads, Tears for Fears, even maybe a little Roxette. Yeah! Don't come expecting a challenging musical experiment, or something as conceptual and cohesive. But if you can handle great pop tracks, just give in and let your feet do the dancing. Recommended.
"Out There on the Ice" MPEG Stream:
NACHTMYSTIUM Worldfall (Century Media) cd ep 6.98
Chicago's psychedelic black metallers Nachtmystium have a full-length coming out on Century Media full-length (called, wait for it, Assassins: Black Meddle Part I... no really, get it? 'Cause they love that early Pink Floyd) and this ep is a teaser of sorts, maybe... Originally meant to be a split with Leviathan, we don't actually know how much this ep is indicative of what's to come on that full-length. There's just two new songs here, one very very psych, slow and spacey ("Worldfall") and another much more traditionally black metally ("Depravity"). There's also a re-recording of an older tune of theirs ("Solitary Voyage"), and two covers: Death In June's "Rose Clouds Of Holocaust" and Goatsnakes's "IV", interesting 'cause industrial-folk and Sabbathy stoner-doom are not exactly Nachtmystium's core sound. So, how does it stack up? We gotta say whoa, the blasting tracks two and three remind us a lot of With Fear I Kiss the Burning Darkness era At the Gates. Fucking rad! Also, the Death In June cover is shockingly faithful to the original, and the Goatsnake cover is pretty good too, even those of us who don't like Goatsnake that much agreed. Again it's pretty faithful, but has been black metallized with raspy vocals improving upon the original... so, something for everyone here, or maybe just for Nachtmystium fans.
"Worldfall" MPEG Stream:
"Rose Clouds Of Holocaust"
MONUMENT OF URNS Absence (Hand Hewn Timbre) 3" cd-r 4.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. THE URNS RETURN. We never get tired of that. And we never get tired of Monument Of Urns, whose impossibly beautiful and crushingly suffocatingly heavy slow motion doom seems to effortlessly outpace all their doom-ed brethren. Four releases, each one a single track. A single 3"cd-r, meticulously designed and packaged. Each of those four tracks, massive and expansive, slooooooooooooow and so grimly gorgeous. Even at twenty minutes a pop, we can't ever get enough. The Urns' black doomscapes need to spread and sprawl, for hours, days, weeks. A sonic black plague slowly but systematically infecting the whole world. For those new to the world of Monument Of Urns, their sound is massive, ultra thick guitars, pummeling drums, howled harsh vocals, glacial tempos, incredible dynamics, complex arrangements, and here on Absence, the band have definitely hit a peak. Not as slow as past releases, this one is a monster. With super dynamic stop start segments, squealing streaks of harmonized feedback, guitars that buzz and crumble. The sound here is as much Eyehategod as Khanate. With a healthy dose of Harvey Milk. In fact, lots of this does definitely sound like a blackened Harvey Milk. The lurching mathy stumble, the churning downtuned chug, always with those feedback filled pauses. And somehow, Urns manage to make this caustic doomed brutality catchy. We even just caught Antaeus humming along with the main riff! We've been bugging the Urns to release a full length, or to let Andee re-release all the 3"s on tUMULt cd. But they are perfectly happy to work at their own pace, to create the elaborate packaging one at a time and by hand. To forge this black art, in some mysterious pit, unleashing each noxious missive, only when they deem we are worthy. So for now, we'll have to be happy with the occasional 20 minute helping of glorious black sludge. And wait patiently for the next one. As always, the packaging is amazing. An oversized cardstock sleeve, with an outer vellum sleeve, the overlapping designs meshing perfectly, the inside gatefold all elaborate fractals, the cd affixed to a nub on one of the inside panels. So nice.
V/A IVG Vol 1 (Born Bad) cd 15.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. A friend of ours is a Canadian MC who often introduces himself with the line, "I'm quite popular in France... a country renown for its terrible taste in music." With that in mind, it's unsurprising that the treasures found on this latest compilation of French minimal/cold/new-wave and post-punk from the fine folks at Born Bad Records in gay Pareee never found much favor in their homeland the first time around, as a country immersed in accordions and Edith Piaf may not have known what to do with Warm Joe's synth-bleep-infused, art-damaged, poppity punk skronk ferinstance. If you've been following the slow but steady trickle of French reissue compilations that we've been fawning over for the past year here at aQ HQ like So Young But So Cold, BIPPP, and Les Jeunes Gens Moderne (that one coming soon on an expanded double cd by the way!), you'll be pretty familiar with the basic formula for many of the tracks: primitive beat box drums pushed to their limits + fuzzed out guitar + synths that provide everything from squidgy bass to massively hooky lead lines to disco lasers to de rigeur blips, bloops and bleeps + vocals that manage to sing, scream, coo, croon and yowl all at once = insanely melodic, freaked out french synth-punk that hybridizes everything good about early electro, new wave, disco, punk, pop and even chansons francais. So yeah, if you liked any or all of those other comps then save yourself the trouble of reading any further and just buy this already. It rules. Not convinced? Ok, fair enough. What if we told you that IVG not only digs as deep as if not deeper than the other comps (honestly, when a track you've never heard by Ruth is the most familiar thing on the tracklist, then you know that you're in for some serious obscurities...), but it also pushes the weirdo factor up exponentially? For starters, Dead Heat have a baby laying down vocals on their contribution, "Damnee Petite Sophie" and every single part of Crise de Nerf's over-caffeinated fuzz freak out, "Rock A La Tele," honestly sounds like it's about to explode spectacularly. Toss in some alternate reality soundtrack work by Stabat stable, not one BUT TWO soundscape-y tone poems by Theatre Commercial, and a song by Ruth that sounds frighteningly like Dr. Know from Bad Brains jamming with Sonic Youth and you know you are headed somewhere fantastic. Seriously, mes amis: up the volume, up the speed, up the fuzz, up the fucked up French punks. ALLONS Y!
RUTH "Mon Pote (Version Courte)" MPEG Stream:
SPOTCH FORCEY "Frustre" MPEG Stream:
CRISE DE NEUF "Rock A La Tele"
ROSE, AJA & GABRIEL SALOMAN s/t (self-released) cd-r 9.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. We ran out of these gorgeous handmade cd-r's pretty much immediately, but thankfully managed to get another batch in. Pretty sure these are all gone, so this might be the last copies ever... If you're like us, then anything even tangentially related to psychedelia, shoegaze, or post-rock is worth investigating. Well, Ms. Rose and Mr. Saloman (1/2 of the Yellow Swans) recently came through our doors to drop off a small batch -- really small, at 5 copies -- of their self-titled and self-released collaboration. Of course, as soon as they left, we put it on and totally geeked-out and got them to come back and bring us more. Recorded straight to tape and mastered to warm, lo-fi analog perfection, the disc is a wonderful synergy of the two members talents -- drone, melody and improvisation. But be forewarned, this is not NEARLY as noisy as either's other work. It's almost odd how melodic it is, really. Those that have heard the last few Yellow Swans records might not be too shocked though, since there has been an increasing number of melodic parts and much more structured arrangements. Is this getting too convoluted? Need some more specific reference points for the cd at hand? Think of something like Cloaks meets Ash Ra Tempel, a free and freaky compositional structure that gels more as a whole rather than than any one segment. The way melodies overlap and intertwine, changing each other's time and swirling all about reminds us of some tripped-out shoegaze band trying to go psych-drone. Really, really beautiful and blissed-out, and definitely recommended.
"Anchor Owl" MPEG Stream:
"Anchor Key Blue Purple"
WEBER, WINDY I Hate People (Blue Flea) cd 15.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. We love music. But even so, it's not like we love everything. Here at the store, we've all got different tastes and enjoy different things to varying degrees. Regular readers will notice there are only a few unanimous picks, but pretty much everyone here loves Windy & Carl! This release veers into way different territory than might be expected, but will still please plenty of W&C's more adventurous fans. Before hearing the record, rumors were circulating about how harsh it supposedly was, and how it sounded nothing like what we'd expect. Well, after checking it out, that's true, and then again it's not. Many of the same sonic qualities are present: warm drones, whispy guitars, etc. But it's in the melodies where this really diverges from the norm. Whereas W&C typically go for major-key, pretty drones, this work has a truly sinister quality to it. To really engage with the music, you need to at least become acquainted with the general concept. On the surface, I Hate People sounds very unlike what we'd expect from the kindhearted dog-lover, musician, and Michigan record store owner we've come to know and love. So let's talk more about this specific release. Well, the cover sports her 1987 passport photo, which shows a very Siouxsie and the Banshees-esque, punk-meets-goth Windy. On the inside there is a short musing on Sirens, which can be summed up by one particular line: "at one point or another, we've all wanted an island." I Hate People is a record that openly paints human relationships as being a Self versus Other paradigm, and then juxtaposes that with the relationship between sailors and sirens. Windy hates people because people are the only thing that can truly hurt us. Okay, you get it. We don't want to get all pedantic. So what does it sound like? Sonically, the release definitely reflects a musical exploration of those ideas. At times more or less frustrated, but throughout it evokes a certain feeling of anxiousness and alienation, but never apathy. This record maybe be best suited for Windy & Carl fans who can stomach the idea of truly disturbing drones, or possibly even fans of leftfield, ambient black metal. Yeah. So if none of that scares you, dare to delve in! This is a great release, and we hope to see more solo work from both Windy AND Carl! Recommended!
"Untitled 1" MPEG Stream:
NADJA Skin Turns To Glass (The End) cd 12.98
With some bands, you want something new and different every record, strange new sounds, that confound as much as confuse, pushing boundaries, and stretching the limit of that band's 'sound'. But some groups, you don't want to ever change. You want every record to be a continuation of the one before it, you long for some way to make every song, and every record, seemingly play forever. Each release, more like a movement in a massive symphony stretched out over multiple records and multiple years. The key though, is to somehow, within this sonic stasis, to continue to evolve, however subtly. Sure the sound remains unchanged, the tone and timbre is consistent. But within these boundaries, the songs do in fact change and shift, and offer up new ideas, new landscapes of sound, new hooks, new angles with which to hear, varied and wonderfully assorted pieces of a bigger whole. Such is the case with dreamdoom duo Nadja, who much like their mainman Aidan Baker, release records at an alarming rate, often topping one a month, and while it's been challenging to review each and every one, we have, and we've enjoyed all of them. But listening to this latest Nadja, we began to view the band, and their record differently. There was no point in approaching this record as if it was their first, or as if it was something completely new, that we'd never heard before. Because we have. It's quite similar to past Nadja releases, the sound they've created is so much their own, the guitar impossibly full and blown out, organic, but wreathed in digital fuzz, and it's no studio trick, they played right here in aQ, and even at a less than deafening (but still plenty loud, thank you!) volume, they managed to conjure up the same heaving heaviness, the same gauzy atmospheres, the buried thump of the drum machine. In fact, as I was writing this, someone came up and asked if this was Nadja. C'mon! Most doom bands, drone bands, heck non-pop bands in general, you'd be hard pressed to immediately recognize. But Nadja have transcended all the descriptors often flung at them, doom, shoegaze, drone, metalgaze, they all apply, but none so much more than simply the name Nadja. So why buy this one? Or the two forthcoming releases? Or the 30 or 40 past releases? Well, if you're like us, we can't get enough of the sound of Nadja. And like we mentioned above, we HAVE figured out a way to make this sound go on forever. Each record, takes the dense blissed out buzz, the lurching doomic trudge, the gloriously effulgent majesty of Nadja, and stretches it out just a little bit further. Each time adding something crucial that wasn't there before. On Skin Turns to Glass, the songs are evenmore meditative and repetitive, looped endlessly, the riffs churning mantra-like, a buzzing slow motion hynorock, separated by spaced out stretches of glimmering ambience, and deep cavernous drones. Every Nadja record we're tempted to declare it the best yet, but we'd bet you if we went back to one of the first releases, we'd immediately think that it was in fact the best one. Such is the magic of Nadja, the sound they've created, the soundworld, each piece is as important as any other, the sound wouldn't be complete, in fact can naver be truly complete, until there are no more records, no more songs, no more pieces to add to the ever expanding puzzle. Hopefully that will never happen. Includes an unlisted bonus track, nearly thirty minutes of shimmering doomic minimalism, droning dark bliss, that explodes in the last minute or so, in a flurry of incendiary white noise, a drum damaged blown out psychguitar metallic meltdown, that ends quite abruptly, leaving us to wait patiently for the next movement, coming soon...
"Sandskin" MPEG Stream:
"Skin Turns To Glass"
BANNON, J. The Blood Of Thine Enemies (Deathwish) 7" 3.50
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. Very first solo record from one Mr. J. Bannon, who most of you might know better as the frontman for the mighty Converge, as well as the head honcho of Deathwish Records. But don't let the whole Deathwish / Converge angle mislead you, Bannon also did time in a group called Supermachiner, a more abstract project exploring drones, and blissed out post rock and epic cinematic ambience, and while this 7" is a bit closer to Supermachiner than it is to Converge, it's actually very little like either. A single track, beginning with a slow whispered shimmer, a simple throbbing distorted bass, very spare and spacious, pulsing amidst soft sonic swells, a creepy minor key melody, a soft dirge. Eventually the vocals come in, mirrored by plinking piano, underpinned by simple percussion, the vocals plaintive and melancholy, a mournful croon, the piano adding some instrumental gravitas, a slow slow slow build, only truly exploding near the very end, and even then it's not so much an explosion as a culmination, a sort of Godspeed like pinnacle, which quickly fades back into the record's opening shimmer. Very reminiscent of Low actually, a dark, dreamy, drifting, abstract slow core. A tempting teaser for the forth coming full length. And most folks know that beyond playing in Converge, Bannon is also an amazing graphic designer, and that becomes plainly obvious when you see the over the top packaging. The records are pressed on various colors of vinyl, silver, gold, creme, it's a one sided 7", the flip side features a super intricate etching, a winged skull, flowers, and tiny text, all housed in a gorgeous screen printed card stock sleeve that folds together origami style. Each record also includes a download coupon so you can get these analog sounds on your digital player of choice.
CRYSTAL CASTLES s/t (Last Gang Records) cd 14.98
Man, we really, really love old school video games around here. The Tron and Rastan games in the store, the Arcade Ambience field recording series, Power Pill Fist, etc. It has to be part of what lured us into the world of Toronto's Crystal Castles and their 8-bit electro mayhem. We're so glad this finally came out, because half of these tracks have been on the internet for about two years and a legitimate release was looking sort of unlikely. But here it is! We digress, on with the review. Okay, so the duo has been lumped in -- maybe mistakenly -- with the Klaxons, Justice, Digitalism, and the like, but we hear darker, more interesting minor key melodies that occasionally hint at things like The Knife and Junior Boys. In reality, they're not divorced from any of those bands, but there's something about them that gets us. No, not just the aural video game quality, but the undeniable urge to somehow say they're just a bit more punk. Fun. Playful. In fact, there's a handful of tracks on the record that aren't even mixed. And when we saw them play here a year or so ago, their singer Alice was telling us about how she had been kicked out of the previous night's venue for underage drinking. It doesn't hurt their art-punk street cred that they're best buds with LA's own Health, who they did a split 7" with a year or so ago. When listening to Crystal Castles, there's the feeling that this duo would be just as happy blasting their sounds through a shitty stereo system at their friend's house party, but lucky for us everyone else seems to be feeling it too -- and now they can invite us along to the party.
"Untrust Us" MPEG Stream:
DEATH IN JUNE Rule Of Thirds (Ner) cd 16.98
SKOGSBERG, JOAKIM Jola Rota (Tiliqua) cd 30.00
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. And we're extra happy that not only has this been reissued, but that the reissue was done by our pal Johan's Tokyo-based Tiliqua Records (along with EM Records, one of our absolute favorite reissue labels from that part of the world, or anywhere else). Which means, it's done up deluxe, packaged in a swank miniature gatefold LP-style sleeve, and it's been 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. Nice! Sadly, this too is limited to a one-time pressing of only 1,000 copies... and unlike the original vinyl edition, we doubt the label will be left with any unsold copies to recycle! FYI there will also be a super, super limited (and expensive) vinyl version of this coming on on Tiliqua in May, not sure if we'll be able to get any of those at all or if they'll be a label-direct preorder thing only...
"Jola Fran Ingbo" MPEG Stream:
"Offer Rota " MPEG Stream:
MAUS, JOHN Songs (Upset! The Rhythm) lp 14.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. Also available on vinyl! Not to be confused with the John Maus who was in the Walker Brothers in the '60s this John Maus has been making warped baroque pop in the cozy confines of his bedroom in Minnesota for the last several years and is best known for his contributions to Ariel Pink and Animal Collective offshoot Panda Bear. Maus is one seriously prolific songwriter who until now has kept pretty much all of his own songs to himself. "Songs" is a collection of some of those dark pop offerings recorded at home over the last few years. Channeling the spirit of Ian Curtis and using vintage electronic equipment, Maus's songs evoke a hazy kind of daydreaming but with a much more morose slant. His deep voice got us thinking of folks like Calvin Johnson, Scott Walker and on the first track he's a dead ringer for Robert Smith. Dark weird pop done right!
"Time To Die" MPEG Stream:
"And Heaven Turned To Her Weeping"
DER BLUTHARSCH The Philosopher's Stone (WKN) cd 25.00
The Philosopher's Stone marks the end the of ten long and productive years during which Der Blutharsch have unleashed their signature dark neo-folk upon the masses. Apocalyptic prophecies, mantras, and manifestos spewed forth from the hate-forged lips of Albin Julius, but even this must come to an end. Over the course of 8 tracks and nearly 56 minutes, long-time fans can't help but sit back and marvel at the gargantuan change between 1998's Der Sieg Des Lichtes Ist Des Lebens Heil! and the present release. The band was considered highly innovative at its inception, but in retrospect it's easily classifiable as straight-forward neo-folk, albeit at its very finest. These days? Geez, I mean, we're hearing something like a blackened, post-industrial Loop or Jesus and Mary Chain. Or maybe even what the Birthday Party would've sounded like if they were a suicidal '70s psych group. Staccato dirges grab distorted basslines and ride them into droney psychedelia, underneath a sky of swirling guitar leads and brutal, haunting vocals. In a way, the album is heavily indebted to Death In June's old, old album The Guilty Have No Past, but on tons of heroin -- and probably a fistful of other downers and/or mood stabilizers. But through it all Julius's mantra could not be clearer. In fact, the back page of the booklet even reads in bold letters: "Uniforms are always changing, rock n' roll will stay forever." And if rock n' roll's main objective is to scare parents, or the majority of society in general, Der Blutharsch are definitely, definitely a rock band. Even though they sure as hell don't look like one. If you were to see them in the street, you'd probably try as hard as possible not to make eye contact, and maybe assume they were an extremely well-funded fascist militia of sorts. A dark and brooding, mysterious crew for sure... The Philosopher's Stone is a fantastic cross-section of what Julius and crew are capable of producing, truly mood-altering, honestly fucked up music that completely transcends any traditional understanding of the way songs -- and albums -- work. Somewhere between a heathen liturgy and a well-produced personal catharsis, Der Blutharsch never fails to provide the listener with new experiences and forge new territory in a genre that tends to be cripplingly simplistic, predictable, and indulgent. Recommended. As always, the packaging is incredible, the cd is in a miniature hardcover book style digipak, all glossy inks and subtle embossing, a big booklet, and super striking imagery. The lp too is extravagant, a similarly rendered glossy layout, but with a BONUS 7" with two tracks not on the cd, in a full color sleeve affixed to the inside of the gatefold.
"Philosopher's Stone IV" MPEG Stream:
"Philosopher's Stone VIII"
V/A Juche (DPRK / KimIlSung) cd 14.98
Another amazing and mysterious and confusional release from the alwasy awesome Tesco distribution, source of so many things dark and militaristic and folky and blackened and indsutrial, and noisy and fucking amazing, definitely one of the outifts keeping modern industrial and post industrial music alive and kicking. They've brought us Der Blutharsch, Death In June, Anenzephalia, and now JUCHE. A compilation of modern industrial artists, weighing in on North Korea (!). What is Juche? Well Wikipedia describes it like this: "The Juche Idea is the official state ideology and state-sponsored religion of North Korea and the political system based on it. The doctrine is a component part of Kimilsungism, the North Korean term for Kim Il-sung's family regime. The core principle of the Juche ideology since the 1970s has been that "man is the master of everything and decides everything". Juche literally means "main body" or "subject"; it has also been translated in North Korean sources as "independent stand" and the "spirit of self-reliance"." Removed from the context of actual, totalitarian politics, Juche sounds kinda cool. Intense, brutal, simple. And certainly like some sort of industrial music manifesto. So it makes sense that these bands would have something to say about it. What exactly is up to you to decipher. From the music and the extensive art and text in the accompanying booklet. But for now we'll concern ourselves with the musicÉ We were mostly excited by a brand new unreleased track from aQ faves Anenzephalia, whose past records were rife with the sort of intense, bleak, grim, blackened dronescapes we can never get enough of. The track here is still grim and dark, but more rhythmic, a crackling lo-fi glitchscape, a skeletal rhythm crafted from squelches and pops spread out over the drift below, a garbled alien melody, equal parts sine-wave and damaged sonar ping, eventually joined by a wavery insect like blackbuzz, and some distorted disembodied vocals, a looped snippet from a speech of some sort, the whole track subtly harrowing, and weirdly hypnotic. The Turbund Sturmwerk track is super creepy as well, a whispery shimmer of ambience, a strange looped vocal whir in the background, sweeping swell of distant distortion, soft smears of hiss, all beneath an urgent voice, an emotional speech of some sort, the song shifting gears part way through and morphing into a swirling dirge, of crumbling downtuned chords, throbbing low end buzz and extremely panned bursts of fuzz and hiss. The Grey Wolves offer up another chunk of grinding ambient creep, a rough, gritty textured wash of processed synths and strange looped distortion, melodies rendered in shards of feedback and fractured effects, a voice buried in the mix, urgent and ominous, peppered with bits of Bush, and some tangled blurred rhythms. Operation Cleansweep weigh in with a sinister stretch of drawn out tones, layered caustic rumbles, whirring machinelike drones, mysterious percussive thumps and creaks, all smeared into a dense throbbing buzz. The strangest track is probably Militia's, beginning with some spoken word, that slips into singing, in the background a slow building looped chunk of glimmering ambience. Soon an hypnotic looped synth melody swoops in, pulled from some lost Phillip Glass piece, accompanied by junkyard drums, all very mesmerizing and repetitive, a bit like gamelan, or some Steve Reich piece. A haunting slab of alien industrial world music. The rest of the tracks are just as weird and cool, dark and drone-y, Con-Dom, Genocide Organ, Ex-Order. In fact, much of this comp seems to fall more in line with experimental drone music, than traditional 'industrial' music, some of it reminding us of mellower more blissed out Prurient, with processed vocals, all manner of rumbling, pulsing low end, plenty of buzz and blurred murk, all of it dark and mysterious and fucking awesome. Packaged in an oversized A5 red textured cardstock booklet, the text and symbols on the cover letter pressed in embossed metallic gold, inside a full color booklet, with lyrics, images, photos, each band with their own page. And as it says on the back cover "Limited Edition of 15,000,000 copies", so better get yours nowÉ
TURBUND STURMWERK "Reunification" MPEG Stream:
MILITIA "A Kite Of Glass In A Blood Red Sky" MPEG Stream:
ANENZEPHALIA "Work For NK"
NADJA Long Dark Twenties (Anthem) 7" 5.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. Folks who managed to catch Nadja performing live at aQuarius not too long ago, were treated to quite possibly the heaviest, catchiest, grooviest Nadja track yet. An awesome hook filled seventies rock style ultra jam, wrapped in thick clouds of billowing distortion and anchored by the crunch and pound of programmed beats, Aidan Baker's vocals a whispered croon, Leah Buckareff's bass throbbing and rumbling, but the main riff, SHIT, unbelievable, even after our ears stopped ringing, we were all humming that riff for days... Well the funny thing we learned later, was that there song was in fact a cover. And an incredibly unlikely cover at that. The only obvious link between the original and the band covering it? Canada. The song, some of you might remember, is in fact from the Kids In The Hall movie Brain Candy, and proves that Nadja can turn hooky pop into hooky sludge-y doom. The chorus is an absolute killer, and similar to how Torche transform pop into skullcrushing hook filled heaviness, Nadja take that pop and wrap it all up in some of their distinctive blissed out fuzz and we're talking HIT. Well, a hit if there were actually some sort of blissdoomdronesludgepop chart. Which there should be. And there sort of is, in our heads, but anyway... Even though this is one of FIVE Nadja releases on this week's list, and they're all pretty amazing, this one might just be the most essential of them all. LIMITED of course. One sided vinyl, hand letterpressed covers, pressed on all sorts of different colors, including black, don't ask, you'll get what you get!
V/A B9 Bis: Belgian Cold Wave 1979-1983 (LTM) cd 22.00
B9 Bis was a label compilation from Sandwich Records, a Brussels' based post-punk and new wave imprint that mirrored itself after the Rough Trade model of running an underground label through an underground record shop. This compilation originally came out in 1980, showcasing what Belgium had to offer the world in the way of melding oblique electronics and moody theatrics to the post-punk ethos, which had already been established by the likes of Joy Division, Devo, and Magazine. Unfortunately, export sales for the label were never terribly strong and the label folded, despite the fact that the Belgian scene later exploded out of the electronic body music spurned on by Antler Subway throughout the decade. What's found on the compilation is a solid cross section of the contemporary sound of 1980: slashing punk guitars, lumbering basslines, angular art-rock tunes, and tinkering with new-fangled synthesizers and sequencers. The influences of the aforementioned bands are worn proudly on the sleeves of many of these bands with admirable results. The standouts from the original comp include the pre-Front 242 project Prosthese with a cold burst of Klaus Schulze electronics, the jangle power pop of Digital Dance, and the bleak Joy Divisionisms of Satin Wall. LTM have flushed out a full cds worth of material with a bunch of ancillary projects also from Belgium at that time including an early Front 242 track, an early b-side from the overlooked Siglo XX, and the Factory Records endorsed The Names. A very good investigation into a forgotten chapter of post-punk.
PROSTHESE "Tumeurs" MPEG Stream:
DIGITAL DANCE "Human Zoo" MPEG Stream:
SIGLO XX "Individuality"
SUN CITY GIRLS You're Never Alone With A Cigarette (Abduction) cd 16.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. In recent months, we've seen several interestin' Sun City Girls reissues come out on cd via the Abduction label, like such previously vinyl-only rarities as the (supposed) soundtrack recordings to Piasa The Devourer Of Men, Dulce, and Juggernaut. Along with the shaggy dog hillbilly joke that is Jacks Creek. So fans of the now sadly defunct Sun City Girls, that cultish, psych-punk, faux-ethnic, WTF? trio, have had some welcome listening of late. However, this new disc, a collection (volume one!) of Sun City Girls singles, has us the most excited yet. That's cause these nine tracks, mostly released as singles on the Majora label back in the day, were actually all recorded during the same sessions that resulted in the acclaimed 1989 SCG album Torch Of The Mystics. That album, now out of print, is almost universally regarded as the band's best, and most popular. We'd agree, it's definitely the unanimous fave here at AQ (well, along with the equally long gone 330,003 Crossdressers From Beyond The Rig Veda). Too bad Torch Of The Mystics is out of print!! But of course that makes these tracks, cousins to those on Torch, all the more covetable! Apparently, originally Torch was meant to be a double LP, and most of these tracks were instrumentals that would have been sequenced in amongst the songs that appeared on the final version of Torch. Plans for a double LP were eventually scrapped, and much of the extra material was then released by Majora on the You're Never Alone With A Cigarette 7" and Three Fake Female Orgasms 2x7". However, three of the tracks here are previously unreleased studio recordings, and another track, "The Fine-Tuned Machines Of Lemuria", is restored to its full 12 minute length for the first time (having been edited down for 7" release). On of the reasons we (and everybody) likes Torch so much is that the songs, sounding much like some sort of alien, Southeast Asian surf rock, were unhindered by the unhinged eccentric excesses that make so many other, more confusional SCG recordings something of an acquired taste. Their unique take on "world music" was at its most accessible on Torch, with some of their most memorable, melodic moments and evocative atmospheres. You're Never Alone..., while not quite Torch part II, is certainly in that ballpark, with the ringing, exotic electric guitar skree of Richard Bishop taking center stage on much of this, ably supported by the drums and percussion of Charles Gocher and the bass playing of Alan Bishop (with sundry other, often ethnic, instrumentation from all). There's glorious folky riffing and moody improvs and plenty of prime SCG wonderful weirdness. Definitely an essential disc for all SCG fans!!
"Amazon One" MPEG Stream:
"Wild World Of Animals"
SLAGMAUR Skrekk Lich Kunstler (Nekk Brekk Productions) cd 15.98
"Eik Som Klor" MPEG Stream:
CINDYTALK Camoflage Heart (Wheesht / Scratch) cd 22.00
Longtime regular aQ customer Joshua Maremont commented that Cindytalk's Camoflage Heart is a record which was only really meant for about 30 people. Not that only 30 copies of this record were released, or that it is so terminally obscure and willfully difficult that it by design has a marketing ceiling of an elite few. What he's on about is that Camoflage Heart is such a personal document of self-realized torment, pain, and sorrow that when Cindytalk embarked on the project, it's hard to imagine that they had any delusions about the intensity of this album and the potential for these songs to alienate beyond a limited few. At the helm of Cindytalk is transgendered vocalist Gordon Sharp, who to this day is probably still best known as one of the multitude of vocalists who appeared in This Mortal Coil. In many ways, Sharp is the masculine equal to the Cocteau Twins' Liz Fraser in delivering expressionist falsettos, trills, and banshee wails in an eerie, yet heavenly fashion. He's one of those few vocalists who can make the lyrics embody their content by shaping the words into emotionally charged sound. In fact, Sharp and Fraser had come together for a duet back during the Cocteau Twins' Peel Sessions of 1983. In his 4AD lineage, Gordon Sharp's first band was the criminally overlooked punk-glam ensemble The Freeze, where his Marc Bolan strut matched the nightmarish lyrics on top of some truly fantastic Bowie / Buzzcocks sparkplug riffs. Sharp, alongside fellow Freeze band members John Byrne and David Clancey, found shortcomings in the glam punk agenda, and sought a wholly new direction that became Cindytalk. While undeniably dark and theatrical, Cindytalk cannot be pigeonholed as an '80s goth band, even in comparison to such off-kilter groups like The Virgin Prunes, Princess Tinymeat, or Sex Gang Children. Camoflage Heart was Cindytalk's first album and originally came out in 1984; and it's an album like those This Heat albums which is quite unique in terms of production and aesthetic. The album opens with the militant drum machine of "It's Luxury" setting the stage for an explosion from a monotone guitar riff, coated in amplifier grit, distortion, and detuned heaviness that comes across as a mix between late-'80s Skullflower and The Cure's Pornography. At this moment, Sharp's voice also erupts into the mix crooning with a downtrod beauty to this industrial dirge, spitting and swooning at the same time. The next track "Instinct (Back To Sense)" is more of an ambient interlude with distant heartbeat rhythms, haunted with impressionist piano trickles and Sharp's siren song buried between an atmosphere of smoke and mirror. Two more explosive tracks -- "Under Glass" (featuring Mick Harvey from the Birthday Party for a disjointed stutter of abject rock) and "Memories of Skin and Snow" -- are examples of loud / quiet / loud dynamics, later embraced by the likes of Slint and Mogwai to equally profound effect. "Everybody Is Christ" is often viewed as the pinnacle of Camoflage Heart with its harsh arppegiation of electronics cast against Sharp's heavenly voice. Soon after, the album disintegrates in a cascade of delicate piano, voice, and grim drones. As Cindytalk had suffered through the fate of several record companies going out of business (first Midnight Records then World Serpent), their work might have been forgotten had it not been for this reissue. Thankfully, that oversight can now be remedies with this long overdue reissue.
"It's Luxury" MPEG Stream:
"Memories Of Skin And Snow" MPEG Stream:
"Everybody Is Christ"
CINDYTALK In This World (Wheesht / Scratch) cd 22.00
So the rumor goes that Gordon Sharp was invited to join Duran Duran after Sharp dissolved his Edinburgh glam-punk band The Freeze in the late '70s. He turned them down. Elizabeth Fraser and Robin Guthrie also put out the request for Sharp to join the Cocteau Twins. After a brief stint accompanying the Cocteau Twins for a Peel Session in 1982 and a guest spot on This Mortal Coil's It'll End In Tears, he opted for his own project -- the obscure, yet majestic Cindytalk. In This World is an opus in every sense of the word. Originally, In This World came out in 1988 as two separate albums under the same name, each with slightly different artwork. One album, a masterpiece of abject post-punk that in all honesty is the closest parallel to Swans' Children Of God; the other, a delicate ambient construct of melancholy piano scarred with surface noice prognosticating pretty much everything that Type Records has released (e.g Machinefabriek, Jasper TX, etc.). It's very good thing that both of these albums have been repackaged into one self-contained object, as the only half of In This World that seemed to be floating around was the piano-laced ambient one. As good as that half is, you need the grit and dirge of its companion album to complete Cindytalk's ideas of grand dualities: heaven / hell, pleasure / pain, holiness / transgression, etc. While billed by Sharp as the 'disgusting' part of the In This World diptych, the first half begins with a lovely tonefloat of scratched violin drones and painterly piano notes. Yet, with the crushing rhythm and noise attack of "Janey's Love," Sharp does not disappoint with his disgusting tag. This is a monstrous industrial dirge with huge monotone slabs of distortion and atonal drones counterpointing Sharp's soaring falsetto. The punk poet Kathy Acker supplies a brief spoken word interlude as the coda to this incendiary number. Immediately hereafter, Cindytalk continue their turgid rhythmic marches with an angular distorted rhythm, slippery bassline mired in audio rust, and twin guitars spitting acid, fire, and brimstone on such tracks as "Gift Of A Knife" and "Circle Of Shit." As the first half of the album progresses, the songs steadily disintegrate as rhythm, song structure, and noise all collapse into a blur of smeared grey that is eerily reflective of William Basinski's Disintegration Loops. The piano which opened In This World becomes the dominant sound in Cindytalk's soundscapes, also marking the delineation between the two halves of In This World. Yes, this is the beautiful side of Cindytalk, coated in ash, snow, bruises, and rust. Gordon Sharp's piano playing comes from Brian Eno's Thursday Afternoon, which in turn came from Erik Satie; and that impressionist sentiment continues forward amidst subterranean drones and field recordings of barren spaces. Sharp's voice is mostly absent from these tracks, although the eponymous finale to the album showcases one of Sharp's most emotive croons. They really don't make albums like this any more, with such attention to detail and dynamics between rage and beauty. Fortunately, both of these records were concise enough that they could both fit onto one CD; and if you've not had the opportunity to hear Cindytalk, please do not let this album and its predecessor Camoflage Heart pass you by!
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"Sight After Sight"
VALET Naked Acid (Kranky) cd 14.98
These days, Portland seems to be at the epicenter of a new wave of seriously creative DIY underground 'noise' rock. From the last Yellow Swans record to the wonderfully incestuous Marriage Records crew, there have been a seriously ridiculous number of great releases in the last couple years. The thing is, though, that while you could argue that there is a "Portland sound," every project is totally distinct, so you can't really go lumping them all into some generic category. Well, Honey Owens' newest release under the Valet moniker is absolutely no exception. It's absolutely amazing. If you've been following her work, and you were lucky enough to grab one of the Fire/Beachside 7"s, you have probably noticed a trend toward more structured and more accessible songs. The pop-ophile in us who loves hooks and pretty melodies was pretty excited, while the nerdy drone-monger side was seriously scared. "What if she goes too far? Too poppy?" Alas, Naked Acid is simultaneously a seamless blend of previous works, and -- yes -- a step toward tracks that are more easily digestible. It's like Fripp & Eno had a hippie baby with Karen Dalton and Tangerine Dream. But through it all, one thing that keeps us more than happy is Honey's voice. It's gorgeous, but not at all fragile. Not even so much confident. Instead, it seems beautifully unconcerned with those sorts of paradigms. The overall feeling is one of blissful engagement with melody and texture. Analog synth-sounding drones, gentle strumming, then suddenly everything is heightened by vocals and searing psych guitars. Just like a good movie, the final impression of any artistic experience is at least partially governed by the ending. On Naked Acid, the second to last song is "Fire" from the eponymous 7", which quietly dies down before bringing us to the final piece, a techno song. While on paper it may sound off-putting, it somehow works. If you can picture everything else about this record somehow being woven around some sort of late '90s Detroit techno, created in the wake of Basic Channel and Chain Reaction, then you've got a good idea. Maybe the reason it works so well is simply because it hints at unpredictable ambitions of Ms. Honey Owens, and we've got to say, the future is looking pretty good. Absolutely, wholeheartedly recommended.
"We Went There" MPEG Stream:
KOLLEKTIV s/t (Long Hair) cd 27.00
Housed in a sleeve decorated with strange sci-fi airbrushed bondage artwork, this 1973 Brain-label krautrock album from the relatively obscure (but collectable) Kollektiv has now been reissued on cd. First track "Rambo Zambo" starts off with some echo effected flute action in the style of early Kraftwerk classic "Ruck Zuck"... when the drums kick in it's a pretty propulsive funky flute fusion groover we've gotta say, the occasional stabs of harder guitar also doin' it for us. It's not gonna be everyone's cup of krautrock but those that like it will love it. Wild instrumental psychedelic jazzy jamming, yeah. Some songs are extended, rhythmic workouts up to 12, 20 minutes long. Others just brief wacked out interludes with vocal ravings, probably funny if you understand German. Kollektiv fits in with the likes of Exmagma, Xhol Caravan, Thirsty Moon, Kraan, and Wolfgang Dauner's Oimels album. Recommended for the krautrock connoisseur into the jazzier side of the genre, though the acid guitar soloing is definitely rock. This nicely done reissue includes four bonus cuts, almost another half-hour of material recorded with different lineup... tracks like "Pap-Jack" and "Rozz-Pop" don't sound all that different from the album proper, though we're told there was more of an influence from King Crimson's Red album on this stuff... could be, the guitar is sometimes sorta Frippy, certainly searing and spacey, throughout the disc. In any event, worthy bonus material.
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AFCGT (A FRAMES + CLIMAX GOLDEN TWINS) s/t (Fire Breathing Turtle) cd-r 11.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. Holy shit, this is fucking great! And who would have ever thought that the A Frames and the Climax Golden Twins would make a record together? And who would have imagined that it would be this fucking awesome? It's all superlatives and all expletives in describing the first collaborative production from AFCGT. The A Frames had managed to raise some eyebrows here through their post-punk appropriations of early Wire and early Fall, but the vocals had always been something of a miss for them especially on the last Sub Pop album. But in working with the AQ-endorsed Climax Golden Twins who are a band accustomed to delivering exemplary instrumentals from literally every corner of the avant-rock landscape, the A Frames have the permission to shut the hell up and let the Climax Golden Twins dump the fucking kitchen sink all over A Frames rhythmic swagger. The album opens with a tumultuous blast of glue-huffing noise-rock, sort of like a fistfight between the Butthole Surfers and the Sun City Girls. Soon after, a series of bad-ass Birthday Party / Oxbow swamp rock riffs explode with spindly space-age gamelan leads; elsewhere, the No Wave ghosts of R.L. Crutchfield-era DNA emerge with of jagged chops across the guitar pick-ups, bloodied fingers and all. Fuck, it all sounds fucking great! It's a damn shame that this thing is only limited to 50 copies! That perhaps is our only complaint.
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V/A Obsession (Bully Records) cd 14.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. Seems like every few months we're blessed with the release of another cool psych rock reissue compilation full of obscure gems... Prog Is Not A Four Letter Word, Neurotic Reactions, Cherrystones Word, Cambodian Rocks, the entire Love, Peace & Poetry series, just to name a few... It's amazing what can be dug up by the dedicated collectors and DJs who put these mixes together, folks who trawl the dusty record shops and flea markets of the out of the way corners of the globe looking for the freakiest sounds. In that tradition, this week's excellent example is entitled Obsession, a compilation named for the reason it exists! And the groovy, swirling, often harder-edged fuzz attacks found here are certainly worth obsessing over. Just little bits of flat plastic to some, but the best things in life to others! Obsession also sorta sounds like the name of a perfume, and if this was a perfume, it would be a very exotic scent indeed. We can kind of imagine that the Sun City Girls would have found a lot of this fairly inspirational to the "international rock" side of their output. Circa 1967-'73, the tracks here come from all over the world. A whole bunch from South America: Brazil's Quarteto Nova Era, Flavio Kurt, Novos Bahianos, Arnaud Rodriguez, Suely E Os Kantikus. Peru's Sonora Casino and Jean Paul. Uruguay's Ovni 87 and Los Chickichaka. And Argentina's La Barra De Chocolate. Then there's three from Turkey (Ersen, Arif Sag, and the beloved Erkin Koray, with a cut from his Bunalim-related band, Ter, meaning Sweat), and even outfit from India (Atomic Forest, whose track "Obsession '77" is actually what gave this comp its name). Best of all, most of 'em we'd never ever heard of before -- and yet the killer to filler ratio is muy excellente. You get everything from jungle sounds and loungey vibes to Middle Eastern bellydance fuzz guitar to Mutantes-style tropi-delic pop to slamming go-go dancing beats to swinging horns... and let's not forget the plethora of wild wah-wah'd psych guitar soloing found here. And this comp gets further points for including in the cd booklet full-color sleeve art from the rare original singles, and some textual information too, pertaining to each track.
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SUELY E OS KANTIKUS "Esperanto" MPEG Stream:
ATOMIC FOREST "Obsession '77"
GOSLINGS, THE Occasion (Not Not Fun) cd 14.98
Not many artists can lay claim to their very own musical genre, but Hollywood, Florida's The Goslings are among the elite few who most definitely can. On first listen their sound seems to fit pretty comfortably amongst the current crop of distorted deconstructed decaying blissed out dreamy dirge rock that seems to be all the rave (Nadja, Alcest, Hjarnidaudi, Procer Veneficus, etc.), after all they often get described as half SUNNO))) and half My Bloody Valentine, but that's really only half (again) true. And while their sound does share some of the elements of those other bands, The Goslings are their own perfect, synergetic sonic force, an organic, original soundworld that has absorbed and re-synthesized those influences entirely. In other words, on this latest record, they somehow manage to sound way, way heavier and much, much more lush, transforming any vestiges of other bands' sounds into something distinctly theirs. Formerly just a husband and wife duo, Max and Leslie Soren, Occasion finds the couple joined by two apparently full-time members which does nothing but help make their sound, thicker, and more dense, more intense, more distorted, and impossibly, more beautiful. It's not a huge departure from the sound of their previous outings, but that's not really a bad thing. Occasion just serves to demonstrate that their sound is now even more of a particularly refined and menacing chunk of skull crushingly gorgeous sound. Each of The Goslings' records has been self-recorded straight onto tape in their $15 an hour rehearsal space. Before it was a 4-track, now it's a reel-to-reel 8-track tape, with any additional tracks being added at a friend's house in Pro Tools -- a slight upgrade, but again, one that merely serves to push their sound even further into some hellish sonic realm. Mastered by James Plotkin, their commitment to relatively lo-fi, analog recording a significant part of why each and every track is so totally ear-stabbingly, skull-fuckingly shit heavy. But beneath the obvious doom veneer, the crushing sludge, the washed out hiss and buzz, there are buried some lovely melodies and more of the Goslings' near perfect pop songs. Fear not though, it's not like Nadja or Jesu, where there is potentially enough of said pop to turn-off those more dedicated to the seriously heavy and/or utterly grim. Regardless of the surprising melodic structures lay hidden beneath the blown out bluster, or the prettiness of Leslie's vocals drifting ethereally throughout, the music, the sound, the Goslings' sheer power continually threatens to overwhelm, a bludgeoning slab of sonic destruction that's systematically destroying your entire life, note by note. Then out of nowhere, there's a weird little bluegrass number, a brief respite before the band lurch back into motion, unleashing another avalanche of village crushing, ultradistorted, stumbling, downtuned beautiful brutality. A higher recommendation would be difficult to give. Essential!
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BELONG Colorloss Record (St. Ives) lp 13.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. Belong are just one of many new bands exploring the sound of decay. The sound of music within murk, the sound of pop, melted down and smeared into shapeless forms. For a while there it seemed like every band was lacing their delicate pop with bits of glitch and electronic shimmer. To the point where ANY band, no matter what they sounded like originally, were suddenly 'experimental' with nothing but a bit of crackle and bleep added to the mix. A similar thing has happened lately, another movement has taken hold, of bands burying their sounds under distorted drones, blistering feedback, bleary eyed shimmer, oceans of crackle, sounds pulled apart and layered into strange organic ambient blurs. We're not complaining though, we've long been proponents of distressed sound. The more distressed and heavy and fucked up and crackly and distorted the better. The problem lies in the fact that a movement usually entails everyone and their brother suddenly wanting to sound like whatever band or sound is 'happening' at the moment. SUNNO))) spawned a legion off doomdrone combos, and these movements are not all that different. A band, be they pop or metal or whatever, can wrap everything in buzz and distortion and suddenly whatever genre they were can get hyphenated with the suffix GAZE, or alternately, a band can blur everything, slow it down, make it muddier and murkier and dronier, and voila, become a doomdronewhatever outfit. But with all these things, it's not as easy as the truly amazing artists make it sound. And this becomes evident on almost first listen. Anyone can plug their guitar into a laptop, but no one can create gauzy gristly soundscapes like Fennesz. Anyone can tune way down and let their guitars ring out, let riffs crumble to pieces, but it takes more than that to make something a compelling listen. From the very first listen to Belong's last full length, October Language, we knew these guys were special. They were one of those bands who had the sound down, but were using the sound to create glorious sonic worlds of their own invention. Not aping anyone else's sounds, merely absorbing elements, and transforming them into something new, and distinctly Belong. And the other thing about Belong, was they weren't just making beautiful noise, they were writing songs, that were infused with beautiful noises, sometimes obfuscated by them, but there was always a song, a melody, never just sound for sound's sake. This new four song ep takes things even further, by being about someone else's songs. Reinventing, reimagining, reinterpreting the sounds of four different artists, and making them all sound like they could have come from nowhere else than this mysterious entity known as Belong. The first might be the best of the bunch, and it's no coincidence that it's the most song-y. A Syd Barrett cover, via the somewhat more obscure Cleaners From Venus, "Late Night" in the hands of Belong becomes an epic sweeping cinematic warped record spinning underwater, on the surface of some alien moon, beneath the warm glow of twin suns. Soaring vocals, gorgeous melodies, all beneath a thick churning lush wall of crumbling, shimmering sound. Woozy and seasick, dizzying, dense and warm and absolutely gorgeous, it's almost like a more blurred and buzzed version of Oval, digital skipping replaced by indistinct slow motion riffage, everything gauzy and washed out. The other three tracks, covers of '60s psych pop songs by Tintern Abbey, Billy Nicholls and July, are even more ethereal, almost choral sounding, voices and streaks of sound drifting in a softly churning sea of hum and whir, and breathy blur. The final track a thick, viscous outro, the July original barely audible beneath a blown out swirl of creeping low end and free floating metallic flutter, somehow sounding heavy and intense, but laid back and soporific at the same time, eventually fading to a whispery hum. So good. Definitely one of our favorite groups exploring the world of distressed / decayed / deconstructed / dreamy / dronelike sound. SUPER LIMITED! ONLY 300 COPIES!! Each one hand made by the group using recycled sleeves.
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CAN Ege Bamyasi (Spoon/Mute) cd 12.98
These two essential krautrock classics from Can (Tago Mago and Ege Bamyasi) have been reissued yet again, nothin' different except they're a little cheaper, always a good thing. Though, whatever you'd pay for 'em (even if they were twice this price!) would be money well spent, these are so good. Here's our review: Ege Bamyasi! Can's fourth album features their second and most fantastical vocalist, Damo Suzuki. Ege is one of our faves from Can, especially of Allan's, though we think he just envies Suzuki's amazing hair! Let us just say that if you don't own this already, what are you waiting for?? The reissues contain extra liner notes and candid photos that some earlier cd editions lacked. But unless you're totally obsessed with the band and are certain of your ability to appreciate the remastering note-for-note, there's not too much else about these reissues that would require buying 'em again. If you've happy with your older copies, you'd probably do well to just keep them and sleep soundly at night. But if you don't have a copy of this record at all... well let's say once more, WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?? Can's Ege Bamyasi is absolutely brilliant. Can of course were one of the most important 'krautrock' bands, along with Amon Duul II, Kraftwerk, Cluster, Faust and a few others. With Japanese singer Damo Suzuki at the mic on this he sings some of their best songs, like "Sing Swan Song" and "Vitamin C" and "I'm So Green". Actually EVERY song on here is wonderful. Languid and laidback, yet rhythmically insistent. Mellow and gorgeous and deep. Right on. Fans already know how good this is, everybody else should trust us and pick up one of these, you won't be sorry!
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CAN Tago Mago (Spoon/Mute) cd 12.98
These two essential krautrock classics from Can (Tago Mago and Ege Bamyasi) have been reissued yet again, nothin' different except they're a little cheaper, always a good thing. Though, whatever you'd pay for 'em (even if they were twice this price!) would be money well spent, these are so good. Tago Mago! Let us just say that if you don't own this already, what are you waiting for?? The reissues contain extra liner notes and candid photos that some earlier cd editions lacked. But unless you're totally obsessed with the band and are certain of your ability to appreciate the remastering note-for-note, there's not too much else about these reissues that would require buying 'em again. If you've happy with your older copies, you'd probably do well to just keep them and sleep soundly at night. Furthermore, for those that don't have and haven't heard Tago Mago, here's what we said last time it was reissued: 1971's Tago Mago double album was Can's third full-length release, and their first with expatriate Japanese singer Damo Suzuki (whom they discovered busking on the street outside a club). It's truly a sprawling masterpiece of krautrock. Witness the weird noise/drone stuff on the 17 minute "Aumgn", or the totally hypnotic rhythmic psych groove of the equally side-long "Halleluwah". Again, we probably don't have to say much more, you already have this, right? But if Can's new to you, we'd recommend this (as well as Monster Movie and Ege Bamyasi and Soundtracks) as among their best efforts. PS: If you like Circle and you don't have this record, get it!!
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MAUS, JOHN Love Is Real (Upset! The Rhythm) 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 year is only just beginning but there have already been some amazing new records released that we're pretty sure will end up on our favorites of '08 list. This new outing by the enigmatic John Maus is one of them and it might just be the most engrossing and addicting albums we've been hooked on in a long time! Best and barley known in the past as being loosely associated with the Paw Tracks family (Animal Collective, Panda Bear, Ariel Pink) Maus has made a record that will make his name definitely stand on its own. As he's created one of the most fantastical, bizarre and engaging pop records in recent memory. Warped bedroom pop with a flair for fantasy, wrapped in old fucked up synths, deep slowed down vocals, cosmic beats and a singular unique vision. Like OMD on codeine or early home demo recordings of The Cure captured on an answering machine tape that's been dubbed over way too many times. Or imagine a soundtrack to a lost early '80s movie made by both John Hughes and John Carpenter, as romantic teenage life intersects with magical apocalyptic doom! Love Is Real is as creepy and mystifying as it is heartfelt and endearing. As catchy as it is unpredictable. Out of nowhere the synths will rise to crazy loud levels or Maus will let out a haunting scream, and even after listening to this album hundreds of time as we have obsessively already, those parts still jump out, scare, startle and thrill us every time we listen. Start to finish the album is impeccable. Songs lead into each other perfectly, the pacing is dead on, and every single track on the record belongs where it is and has a weight of its own. Whether it's sounding like the muddiest version of a Psychedelic Furs track or tapping into a bizarre drugged out cosmic disco excursion or having a freaked out panic attack, the record pulls from so many directions while always sounding like a completely other universe. This is what fantasy sounds like when the world around you is falling apart. Totally amazing!
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"My Whole Worlds Coming Apart" MPEG Stream:
LUMERIANS s/t (Subterranean Elephants Recording Company) 12" 12.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. Well, it looks like the Wooden Shjips don't have the market cornered on sixties inspired drone drenched psychedelic drug rock after all. The Lumerians offer up their own take on modern psych with their debut ep, 5 songs, all of them looooong and gorgeously tripped out. Where as the Shjips seem to be channeling the Doors, the Lumerians take ? And The Mysterians, mix in some Fuzztones, and filter it through the sound of Spacemen 3 and Loop resulting in a mesmerizing, repetitive organ infused doped up hypnorock. The second the opening track kicked in we were SOLD. Fuzzy blown organ, pounding simple drum beat, super sixties vibe, buzzy and trippy and druggy and totally divine. The vocals drawling over that relentless beat and that warm thick organ. Wooden Shjips fans will freak, and just might have found a new favorite local band. The second track is just as cool, but way different, super minimal, almost jazzy, with muted percussion, subtle bass grooves, soft shimmery synths, very spacious (and space-y) and laid back, like a druggier more psychedelic Necks. The B side is all slow lugubrious organ drenched crawl, shuffling drums, a wall of washed out buzz, with one track introducing some ethereal, blissed out female vocals, drifting weightless above the fuzzy groove, giving that track a serious shoegaze vibe. Killer stuff. Super limited. Only 500 copies, each pressed on nice thick clear vinyl, housed in a plastic PVC jacket with a thick color cardstock insert, and comes with a code, so you can download MP3's for your iPod as well.
PACCHU, FRICARA Stories Of The Old (Fonal) 7"+book 17.98
FINNISH MUSIC FREEKS HEADS UP!!! A brand new release from a name you may not recognize, but you definitely know some of the bands he spent time in: Avarus, Anaksimandros, Maniac's Dream... Fricara Pacchu may have a pretty illustrious Finnish underground musical resume, but weirdly enough, he began his musical career as a rapper, though you'd be hard pressed to tell from this, his debut solo 7". And while you can definitely hear some of the above mentioned bands in these three songs, the sound is something else entirely, much more jangly and poppy, three little chunks of druggy, dreamy psychedelic confection. The opening track has a bit of a Krautrocky groove, some Eastern sounding sitar-like buzz, and swirling clouds of trippy FX, but they're wrapped around some sunshine-y jangle, it's like Avarus playing Olivia Tremor Control. The second track is more lo-fi and druggy, a gorgeously plodding tripped out drift of woozy piano, still MORE effects, spidery guitars, all coated in morning dew and dappled with sunlight. The flipside is a bit less poppy, a sort of noisy soft industrial, lots of smeared grind and clank, but piled atop lovely melodies and hazy ambience, and distant moaning guitars, and with a strange staticky rhythm holding it all together. It definitely reminds us of our favorite Finnish free folk, but also like the Storm Bugs or some lost recording you might hear on one of those deluxe Vinyl On Demand reissues. A gorgeous slab of damaged experimental psychpop jangle, we can hardly wait for a full length. The packaging is extra special. Included with the full color sleeve is a thick eye popping book of Pacchu's artwork, 7" x 4", stapled but on thick matte paper, drawings, collages, photos, squiggles, snakes, motorcycles, garish colors, intricate patterns, negative images and more. Folks who dug the Glomp books of Finnish art will definitely dig this too, and the images in the booklet seem like what you might see if you closed your eyes and played the record. The perfect visual analogue for Pacchu's druggy trippy soundworld. Funnily enough, both Allan and Andee independently reviewed this, each unaware that the other was also writing a review. Whoops. The above is Andee's, below is Allan's for comparison (turns out their duplication of effort was remarkably similar, which is as it should be we suppose!): First off, that cover art makes this pretty hard to resist. A simple painting of a weird-looking furry cat sitting next to a daisy... with the artist's incongruously black-metal suggestive logo floating overhead. That this 3 track, 11 minute 7" is from Finland, and on the ever-reliable Fonal label, is also a good thing. Fricara Pacchu being a member of such illustrious underground Finnish outfits as Anaksimandros, Avarus, and Maniacs Dream is further reason to be interested. But the proof's really in the pudding, or in our business, the music, so let's take a listen.... First track "Bianca's Beachparty" is an uptempo, uplifting utterly psychedelic instrumental home-recorded techno-disco number that immediately makes us think BOREDOMS. Crunchy, burbling synths zig and zag over a steady, insistent rhythm. Magic. We're sold. The other two tracks, "Upsidedown Wind" and "Text-Message From Beyond", are equally cool, woozy instrumental space-outs, not quite so "techno" tho. And what's also pretty cool is the 42-page, full-color booklet of Pacchu's cartoon/comic/collage art that comes with this 7"! Lots of insane eyeball-joy to be had here. If you liked those Glomp books we've listed, you'll dig this. This 7" package is presumably limited, we have just a few and may or may not be able to get more...
BAILTER SPACE s/t (Flying Nun) cd 23.00
Bailter Space by now is all but defunct, with most of their records released through Matador in the US now deleted and unavailable. That's unfortunate, as the short lived career of this late '80s and early '90s New Zealand droned out, art-rock band offered a brilliantly unique parallel to the English shoegazing scene (dead ringers sometimes for Swervedriver) and Seattle's nascent grunge community. Bailter Space was a trio, whose members performed as NZ legends The Gordons in the early '80s, developing a cantankerous post-punk sound whose short-fused riffs, off-kilter bursts of noise, and rhythmic teeth-gnashing had been one of the many influences on Sonic Youth. After their dissolution in the mid 80s and subsequent resolution as Bailter Space in 1987, the trio had softened some of the rough edges creating a signature sound that perfectly brought together Joy Division and the Velvet Underground within the bleary-eyed charm that seemed almost natural to every one else on Flying Nun (e.g. The Chills, Pin Group, This Kind Of Punishment, etc.). It's a bit hard to figure out what's going on with this record, a compilation actually of tracks from other releases, a greatest hits sort of, there's no real info, and the album doesn't even say which track came from which album -- just a track listing and the legal stuff, that's it. Needless to say, they all rule, and it makes us want to listen ot ALL those records again. As we mentioned, all of their US albums are out of print (and it's unclear if the NZ releases are still available); so this anthology is certainly a welcome return for a band that had long been a favorite of Aquarius all the way back to our days on 24th Street. Here you'll find the spry rhythms of "Tanker" (which was the title track from their 1988 album) darkly forecasting the shimmer and drone of Ride and Slowdive; there's also the narcotic tunes of sci-fi shadow and murk from their last great album Vortura (e.g. "X" and "DarkBlue"); and plenty of distorted-then-blurred extended passages of drone guitar which really sound like they must have been the template for Justin Broadrick's Jesu. We love this band, we have for years, their Robot World record is one of Andee's ALL TIME favorites. If you don't know this band, you need to. And this is a pretty great way to discover them for the first time, and even if you're already a fan, it's a pretty bad ass Bailter Space mixtape.
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CLOUDLAND CANYON / LICHENS Exterminating Angel (Holy Mountain) cd 13.98
This is a match that makes perfect sense. As Lichens and Cloudland Canyon have both been making some of the most compelling and rewarding crystalline soundscapes of the last few years. One long track clocking in at around a half hour "Exterminating Angel" does sound like the sum of both of these artists' parts. With the first half sounding much more like Lichens, gorgeous deep in space hazy explorations while the krautier leanings of Cloudland Canyon come into focus in the second half of the track propelling the sounds into their kosmiche orbit. Fans of mid-late '70s Tangerine Dream and early Heldon will for sure want to jump aboard this cosmic adventure.
WITCHFINDER GENERAL Buried Amongst The Ruins (Nuclear War Now! Productions / Buried By Time And Dust Records) cd 11.98
Holy shit. Doom fiends rejoice, for NWN! and BBT&D have unearthed *another* disc of rarities from the most Sabbathy of NWOBHM bands, the illustrious, infamous doom metal pioneers Witchfinder General. Like the live cd that came out last year this one is again material from the archives of original guitarist Phil Cope, who provides liner notes in the cd booklet (which is also filled with vintage photos and graphics) discussing the music herein, which consists of tracks from Witchfinder General's 1981 debut 7" single ("Burning A Sinner" b/w "Satan's Children") and their 1982 12" single Soviet Invasion (three songs: "Soviet Invasion", "Rabies", and a live one, "R.I.P."), along with four further live tracks recorded at a pub in Birmingham circa '81. The songs from the 7" and 12" are all raw, riffy, heavier-than-thou tunes bearing all the hallmarks of the material we know and love from the General's subsequent classic albums Death Penalty and Friends Of Hell. "Burning A Sinner" (which Cope mentions was often referred to as "Burning A Singer") was later re-recorded for their first full-length Death Penalty, but the other songs remained available only on those original two hard-to-find single releases -- until now. Reason enough for most Witchfinder General fans to want this! In addition, the rather rough-sounding live stuff here is a headbanging hoot, singer Zeeb Parkes charmingly and so obviously a (drunken) pupil of Ozzy's in the stage banter dep't. and vocal style too... and also they do a totally unreleased composition, "Phantasmagorical", never heard elsewhere. So definitely a bit of history there, and all the more reason that this collection of early tracks is essential for all true fans of the band and old school doom metal in general! In fact, considering that currently we can only seem to sporadically get copies of the reissue of Friends Of Hell, but almost never Death Penalty, this is all the more welcome of a release, being a good place as any to start for anyone keen on hearing what this cult doom band was all about.
"Soviet Invasion" MPEG Stream:
MUTIILATION Sorrow Galaxies (End All Life) cd 15.98
The unexpected return of one of the most infamous black metal bands of the nineties, French horde Mutiilation (yep, two 'i's), one of the best known of the Black Legions bands (along with Vlad Tepes and Bleketre) even though technically Mutiilation was kicked out of the group early on for abusing drugs (who knew a black metal 'collective' would have such a tough stance on drugs?) although another report replaces drugs with an argument about Meyhna'ch from Mutiilation's childhood molestation by his father, which seems even stranger... Lots of folks were bummed out on the last two Mutiilation discs, Majestas Leprosus and Rattenkonig, although if you ask us, it might have been more a case, of that cooler than though "oh I only like the old stuff" sort of thing, cuz both those records were pretty fierce and furious, grim and black. But Sorrow Galaxies is definitely an improvement on both of those, being that there's now live drums, and the songs are much more fleshed out, more melodic, longer and more varied, lots of doomy slow parts and half time breakdowns scattered amidst the blasting buzz. It definitely doesn't compare to the first two, since for one, it doesn't sound shitty, er, we mean cvlt, it actually sounds lush and heavy, a seriously great production, and because it's been 12 years since Vampires of Black Imperial Blood, the world has changed and one would assume that so has Mutiilation mainman Meyhna'ch (who also fronts Malicious Secrets, Hell Militia and Gestapo 666). It seems like most of us were sort of assuming Mutiilation were dead and gone, it had only been 2 years since the last record, but there has been barely a peep about Sorrow Galaxies until it was suddenly out. But the fact that there was a new record was the first surprise, the second was how cool and weird the new record is. Four long tracks, the shortest 9+ minutes, the longest 12+, each one epic and expansive, and as mentioned above, super lush and complex, with the addition of haunting samples, gorgeous melancholy melodies over slow buzz, garbled super effected vocals, creepy ambience, all woven into and around some thick relentless riffing, the guitars buzzy, but not brittle, instead thick and warm, a swirled washed out vibe, that makes the whole record sound even darker and more melancholy, a bit like Xasthur in that respect, but these songs are dense and serpentine, with blurred blasts separated by strange, almost proggy breakdowns, the guitars angular and obtuse, a sort of stumbling mournful doom, but the tracks never veer far from another burst of dense black blur and anguished buzz. The best track is definitely "The Coffin Of Lost Innocence" with its killer super melodic main riff, and it's almost Black Flag sounding verse, the guitar doing some sort of muffled chug, before slipping back into the haunting fluid minor key melodic refrain, so so pretty and sad sounding, even the fastest and heaviest bits are rife with melancholy, the drums a strange convoluted rhythm beneath, not a blast, a weird shuffle, with some truly intense and moving ambient interludes. Who would have thought a Mutiilation song could be so pretty, and emotional, and still be black and grim. But it really suits them. All four tracks definitely have that vibe, although maybe not to that extent. "Cesium Syndrome 86" has some strange breakdowns in the middle, and a strangely groovy bridge, peppered with all sorts of strange effects, atonal chords and lots of random bits of dialogue, while the epic closer, "Acceptance Of My Decay" begins with some awesome and unlikely high end guitar lick, that continues on beneath the warm buzzing blast that takes us into the rest of the song. There's also an almost cabaret sounding middle portion, and the end just loops the same minor key riff over and over, before dissolving into a confusional, partially ambient coda, with that strange lick resurfacing, more voices and dialogue, soft synth swells, and what sounds like a distant heartbeat. Pretty fucking awesome. Not at all what we were expecting, but way better than just a Vampires Of Black Blood part two, although we're sure the grim black hordes might think otherwise...
"Cosmic Seeds Of Anger And Dimentia" MPEG Stream:
"The Coffin Of Lost Innocence"
RILEY, TERRY Music For The Gift (Elysium Fields) cd 14.98
Elysium Fields has reissued this fine collection of Terry Riley pieces that was the kick off release of a fantastic string of reissues put out by the Cortical Foundation years ago. Here's what we said, way back when... This release compiles four early tape-works from Terry Riley that are linked by their common usage of jazz passages, even as they deteriorate over the course of the disc. Beginning with "Music For The Gift" (1963), Riley works with Chet Baker who provides his signature downer jazz warbly horn and a painterly stand-up bass, which Riley in turn tosses into his tape-loop mechanisms for some pretty tremendous, hallucinatory drones and phasing patterns. Think of the manipulations of "You're No Good" but with jazz instead of R&B. "Birds Of Paradise" (1965) is a tape-manipulation piece which loops seemingly random tape segments of jazz horns (probably from those Baker sessions) with a phasing delay predating the work of Zoviet France. "The Mescalin Mix" is a murky Robert Ashley-esque collection of neurotic whispers. The finale of the disc is "Concert for Two Pianos and Five Tape Recorders" which could easily be a No-Neck Blues Band pipe fight with an odd play-by-play narration of the concert. Certainly the current crop of drone artists can learn a thing or twelve from this collection of seminal recordings by the West Coast master of minimalism.
"Music For The Gift (part 3)" MPEG Stream:
"Birds Of Paradise (part 2)" MPEG Stream:
"The Mescalin Mix"
YELLOW SWANS At All Ends (Load) 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 infamous Yellow Swans return -- this time without any D-something word in front -- and continue to blur the line between noise rock and good ol' noise. Given that they have approximately a billion tape/cd-r/whatever releases, you may want to assume that all the tricks are out of the hat and this is just in fact another Yellow Swans record, but you'd be wrong. At All Ends is somewhat of a departure from much of their previous work, and it focuses more -- okay, a bit more -- on melody and song structure. Gorgeous sheets of noise, gut-punching blasts of sonic destruction, percussion and vocals both reverbed and distorted into total oblivion, and an underlying sense of danceable rhythm. Through it all, this album is one of those noise rock epics that proves the it-all-sounds-the-same haters wrong and shows that its possible to celebrate, break some shit, AND have a good time doing it. Recommended!
"Our Oases" MPEG Stream:
WHITE RAINBOW Prism Of Eternal Now (Kranky) cd 14.98
If there's any justice in this world, it should be anytime now that Adam Forkner becomes a household name, well at least in houses that care about awesome underground music. His past bands, Yume Bitsu, Surface Of Eceyon and the ambitious project [[[[VVRSSNN]]]] all had amazing moments that swept us away, but we think it's in his newest incarnation as White Rainbow that he's truly tapped into some serious musical magic. Much like his recent collaboration with Honey Owens for the limited cd-r by their duo World, Forkner has found a way to stretch out his sounds and tap into something transcendent. With it's Dr. Brommers inspired manic packaging, and it's equally metaphysical title, this is a record whose sounds are well able to back up the mysterious belief system its entire aura points to. Channeling the living spirit of folks like Terry Riley and LaMonte Young, Prism Of Eternal Now is not merely just a tribute to those icons but living proof of how their influence has touched and inspired a younger generation of musicians aiming to create dense, enchanting, and alive sounds. The album reveals many different shades of Forkner's musical explorations. From the dreamy, subdued and shoegazey side to the active, relentless and spacious. This is music to get lost in, lost to and lost with. The kind of record you put on and that immediately has you drifting off in a million different directions. Forkner has made his own brilliant Rainbow In Curved Air for a new generation. Highly recommended!
"Pulses" MPEG Stream:
"For Terry" MPEG Stream:
CLUSTER Zuckerzeit (Revisited / Brain) cd 17.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. Finally! We can't even begin to tell you how long we have been waiting to list this. Forever going in and out of print and when available it was always super expensive, Cluster's 1974 album Zuckerzeit has finally been given the proper and readily available reissue (Thanks Revisited!) it absolutely deserves. Probably our favorite Cluster album, it is most notably famous for helming their transition from concrete synth dronescapers to their more well known persona as crafters of pastorally cosmic electronica. Adding crisp and propulsive drum programming to their haunting synth melodies, Moebius and Roedelius split the composing duties with Moebius leaning to the more experimental while Roedelius provides the melodic sheen. Zuckerzeit hailed a new direction and focus in German music of the early seventies, with groups like Kraftwerk, and Neu moving through similar reshapes in sound. Obviously, Boards of Canada and Aphex Twin have spent some time absorbing this album. Timeless and classic, we cannot recommend this album enough!
"Hollywood" MPEG Stream:
"Caramel" MPEG Stream:
NO AGE Weirdo Rippers (Fat Cat) cd 14.98
Remember why you fell in love with punk rock? The fearless spirit, the ethos, the sweat, the youthful energy, the conviction, the elation. Remember why you eventually got bored with punk rock? The predictability, the empty slogans, the forced posturing, the generic delivery. Well lucky for many of us past punkers, No Age are doing an amazing job of reminding us of a time when it felt like punk rock could save lives. No Age (not to be confused with the nineties musical movement) are a duo from Los Angeles who have gained a cult-following for their totally engaging and sweat filled live shows. Wild performances on their home turf, at the tiny LA club The Smell, are legendary. They've also put out a handful of kick ass, but now impossible to find 7"s. But lucky for those of us who missed the boat on those 45's, Fat Cat has put them all together on this here cd. Now we know why people have been freaking out over this band. Imagine a youthful exuberance that feels so pure and sincere by guys who love Black Flag and Fugazi as much as they do My Bloody Valentine and Slowdive. In fact there's a lot about No Age that makes us think of prime-era Husker Du, all kinds of great lo-fi feedback and shoegaze moments infused with some serious punk rock spirit. Unpredictable and so immediate, for once the hype is totally right!
"Boy Void" MPEG Stream:
"I Wanna Sleep" MPEG Stream:
VALET Fire / Beachgaze Rendered (Burnt Brown Sounds) 7" 5.50
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. We've been pretty enamored of this whole new ambient processed vocal dreamdrone movement, our favorites probably being Grouper and Valet, both capable of turning simple vocal melody and some old FX into gorgeous drifty epics. We were warned / promised that this new Valet single was nothing like the rest of her recorded out put, supposedly it was the prettiest and most straight ahead thing she's recorded, and damn if that ain't the truth, not to say this isn't still trippy and druggy and space-y, it most definitely is, it just happens to be more folky and, well, song-like. It's almost straight ahead, simple guitars drift and wave, shimmer and sparkle, amidst a soft background of distant drones and soft whirs, but the vocals are way up in the mix, smokey and sultry, very torch song, still bathed in reverb, but more for mood than obfuscation. A languid late night ballad, a throaty croon singing melancholic tales over that spidery minor key slowcore backdrop, definitely reminds us of Mazzy Star or Galaxie 500. The flipside is more of the Valet we're used to, which balances the folkier flip quite nicely, a bit of spaced out shimmer, looped melodies, and blurred vocals set adrift in soft gently flowing streams of abstract ambience, and murky moodiness. So lovely. SUPER LIMITED! Pressed on clear gold vinyl.
TREMBLING BLUE STARS The Last Holy Writer (Elefant) cd 21.00
Wow, does this one push all our shoegaze buttons, a sound we've been craving like crazy lately. There was a time when shoegaze was everywhere, but as of late there's been a serious paucity of classic sounding music in that inimitable style. Luckily there's a brand new one from AQ faves Trembling Blue Stars, who while not always necessarily shoegaze-y, manage to fill that void so perfectly with The Last Holy Writer. Less jangly then their last outing, The Last Holy Writer has everything we've loved about this band on display and in full affect. With a guitar sound that echoes the sound of Curve, introspective lyrics and wry delivery of vocalist Bob Wratten and the bittersweet voice of other vocalist Beth Arzy. It's the perfect combination of breezy and moody, reflective and heartbreaking. So nice to see a group so far into a long career make such a challenging and envelope pushing record. In fact this might even be our favorite Trembling Blue Stars outing yet. The perfect laying around on your bed, holed up in your room, window open, cool breeze soundtrack for heartfelt longing and bittersweet ache. So lovely!
"By False Lights" MPEG Stream:
"This Once Was An Island" MPEG Stream:
DELAY, VLADISLAV Multila (Huume) cd 16.98
Yay, this long out of print Chain Reaction classic from Finnish minimalist Vladislav Delay is now reissed by Huume... here's what we said about it long ago, the first time 'round: The scope of the anonymous metallic techno sound of the Chain Reaction / Basic Channel core of artists has been fractured by the simple fact that Berlin is no longer the locus of activity. Rather, Fluxion, Hallucinator, and Vladislav Delay (the latest wave of Chain Reactors) come from lands quite far from Berlin. Finland's Vladislav Delay retains only a semblance of the Chain Reaction 'heroin house'. Instead of stripping the already minimal techno to its most hypnotic particles, Delay densly layers murky percolations of dubbed pattern phases with the teutonic 909 thump only sporadically emerging from the sonic substrata. An exceptional variation on a proven theme.
"Ranta" MPEG Stream:
ASTRAL SOCIAL CLUB Neon Pibroch (Important) cd 14.98
You thought UK space drone freeks Vibracathedral Orchestra were prolific!? Well get a load of Neil Campbell, one of VCO's founding fathers, who split that scene a while back, only to whip up a new ensemble, well, ensemble is maybe not the right word, since Astral Social Club is just him, let's just call it an Astral Social Club then, even more spacey, abstract, and experimental than the 'Orchestra. Oh and outrageously prolific. An avalanche of cd-r's, every one of them a mind blower, difficult to keep up with, but well worth the effort... This is one of two new releases, the other being vinyl only, both sort of two sides of the same sonic coin, although they definitely both have their own distinct vibe. Read about the lp elsewhere on this list, but the funny thing about the cd is, we could probably describe it in 4 words, and if you are anything like us, those 4 words would have you diving madly for the Add To Cart button.... So what does Neon Pibroch sound like? Well, at least the first track sounds just like *Spacemen 3 on Kompakt*!!! That's right. Imagine those endless loops of druggy effects, the subtle melodies stretched into gauzy soundscapes, super head nodding and hypnotic, but then imagine it with a strangely propulsive, almost techno beat, a relentless pulse, it's easy to imagine that endless spaced out groove pouring out of the sound system on some alien dancefloor. It's nearly twenty minutes long too, so that alone would be worth the price of admission. But hold up... there are two more tracks, and 40 more minutes of drifting beatless bliss to come... The title track begins as a glistening ur-drone, all buzzing strings and keening high end, but part way through erupts into a white hot wall of coruscating grinding guitar buzz, super distorted and blown out, before drifting off again, leaving that burbling cosmic drift to fade gracefully out. The final track offers up more of the same, but if anything it's even more rich and thick and dense, it's the sort of sound that is almost visible, physical, it's like staring into the sun with your ears, makes you want to shade your eyes from the glorious sonic glare... Can this man do no wrong? Guess not when it comes to transcendental sonic space drone... Absolutely essential listening for fans of such things, as is Super Grease, this record's vinyl analog...
"Tripel Foment" MPEG Stream:
"The Big Spree"
EROC Eroc 1 (Universal) cd 17.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. This is a Krautrock masterpiece!!! This cd reissue of the 1975 debut release by Eroc has totally floored us. Eroc's the solo project of Joachim Heinz Ehrig, who was the drummer in Grobschnitt. He used his solo project as a way to explore electronics, cutups and sound collage all surrounding totally beautiful & harmonic instrumental pieces. Of the albums he made under the Eroc moniker this is the one that shimmers with the most beauty while still showing his crazy range and unpredictability. From the blissed out to the abizarre, Eroc 1 is one of those records that you can't believe you've never heard before, and one that once heard will surely go down as one of your favorite psych/kraut/prog gems of the '70s. Every time this plays in the store, someone in the back inevitably comes up front to see what the heck is playing. And often they begin to think that if this keeps up, they just might just have a new favorite record. Striking the perfect balance between experimentation and melody, Eroc melded the use of modular synthesizers, tape, overdubs, sound generators, guitars and percussion into an incredibly forward thinking, densely layered, crazily original sound. There is a golden sonic glow reminiscent of the best moments of Cluster / Harmonia, every track is fantastic and original, each one drives us wild, and the four bonus tracks on this collection are just as good as any of the tracks on the album proper! You can hear the early blueprints of so many musical movements that would take shape in the decades following Eroc's 1975 debut. Moments of dreaminess that foreshadow Durutti Column, glimmering electronics that anyone on Morr Music would kill for, and an integration of so many elements that sonically predate groups like Fridge by decades! We can imagine Andy Votel (Prog Is Not A 4 Letter Word, Finders Keepers) freaking out over this album much like Julian Cope who sang this disc's praises on his Head Heritage website. And certainly all of us here at AQ have discovered a record that is pretty much a shoo-in for many of our all time favorite lists!
"Kleine Eva" MPEG Stream:
"Norderland" MPEG Stream:
ASKA / HYPOTHERMIA Melankoli / Abuse Myself (I Want To Die) (Unjoy) 7" 8.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. Killer match up between two AQ faves, Hypothermia (who we've raved about in the past) and Aska, who have yet to grace our list (until now!). Massive, brutal, abysmal, blackened doomic buzz from both, Aska even tackle a GG Allin cover and dedicate it to Poison Idea's Pig Champion. Awesome.
MARDUK Rom 5:12 (Regain) cd 14.98
For a band much loved by the metalheads around these parts, there's a serious dearth of Marduk albums on the AQ site. Only four out of maybe a dozen full lengths. WTF? No excuse, other than just too much amazing metal to cover... So let's try to right that wrong! We meant to get going on Marduk reviews again when Mortuus from Funeral Mist joined on vocals. We couldn't think of a better combo, the blazing buzz of Panzer Division Marduk, and the grim frosty howl from Funeral Mist, but it seemed most long time fans were super bummed on the change, we however were not. Even though we never got around to reviewing 2004's Plague Angel, it ranks as one of our favorite Marduk records. So for those new to Marduk, the thing with them, is they are fast. Really fast. Furious, relentless, the embodiment of pure black buzz. Lots of folks found the band to be boring because of the lightspeed blur the band seemed to constantly inhabit, but we reveled in their blazing blackness. So we were pretty surprised by this latest disc, sure the band had dabbled in midtempos in the past, even a bit of dirge here and there, but Rom 5:12 is pretty heavy on the midtempo Burzumic buzz, and even the doomy downtuned plod, but fear not those chunks of blackness are surrounded on all sides by that classic ultrafast Marduk buzz. The opening track is all spacious and mathy, even post rocky, sounding not unlike recent Deathspell Omega, lots of gnarled squalls of blackness amidst almost groovy black riffing. The second track though returns Marduk to more familiar ground, but not for long. Check out track three. "Imago Mortis", it's downright pretty, sort of major key, with huge sweeping melodies, a dirgey dramatic breakdown in the middle, and a pounding groove laden back half, all complex and mathy, but not at all blazing fast. The weird thing is it really suits them. It makes the perfect balance for the blinding lightning strike of the other more typically furious and fast numbers. Probably the coolest song on Rom 5:12 is "Accuser/Opposer", which features Alan Averill aka Naihmass Nemtheanga from Primordial and Void Of Silence, who adds a whole 'nother dimension with his throaty wailing clean vocals, sounding quite a bit like Mike Scalzi from Slough Feg at moments, wrap your head around that, Slough Feg vocals over dirgey Marduk, hell yeah. What else to say? This totally rules, much more varied than past releases, but still with plenty of ultra fast fury and black buzzing blast, but with a whole lot more going on. Definitely one of our favorite Marduk discs...
"Accuser / Opposer" MPEG Stream:
"The Levelling Dust" MPEG Stream:
"Cold Mouth Prayer"
GRAVELAND Drunemeton (Forever Plagued) cd 16.98
We gotta go way back for this one. A serious slab of black metal history. The first time on cd for Graveland's infamous third demo, originally released on cassette in 1992, Drunemeton, and while it is way more grim and lo-fi that we've come to expect, it's also way weirder, and you know how we love that. From the very Graveland like intro, tape hiss and church bells, whirling wind, huge buzzing swaths of primitive synth and harsh whispered vocals, you know this is gonna be good, but you definitely can't possibly be prepared for how weird and fucked it's going to be as well. This is so awesomely lo-fi, machine like drums (drum machine we presume) are the focus, WAY up in the mix, louder than everything else except maybe the vocals. The guitars are a churning throbbing pulse more than actual riffing, the vocals a harsh growl laid over everything. The only time you can actually hear the notes and riffs are when things slow down to a dirge and the blast beat becomes a mechanical plod. But the second the blast beat begins again, the guitars become a muted blur and suddenly it's some strange alien industrial jam. In fact, in a lot of ways, it's hard not to hear Godflesh or Pitchshifter in these songs. The drums are so industrial and relentless, a pounding that defines the sound here. Imagine if Godflesh had been into black metal, this is almost what it would have had to sound like. The slow parts are equally strange, with huge sweeps of ultra cinematic keyboards nearly swallowing up everything else, making the guitar buzz seem tiny, and the drums sound like throwing rocks against an aluminum garage door, everything during those slow parts is about the epic synths, moody and melodramatic, before the drums kick back in and we're back in black metal Godflesh territory. Some of the best moments are when those two sounds mix, the sweeping synths, and the industrial pound, and during those stretches the drum machine seems to stumble, struggling amidst a black sea of synth swells and crunchy guitar buzz. Elsewhere, there are weird backwards gongs (at least that's what it sounds like) strange circusy piano melodies, haunting chantlike vocals, the sounds of birds, mechanical clanging and clatter, all wrapped up in the record's machine-like black pound. As if it wasn't obvious by now, this is most definitely the weirdest Graveland record, managing to push both our old school industrial buttons and our grim damaged black metal buttons, AT THE SAME TIME!! The more we listen to this, and we can't seem to stop, the more it seems inevitable that Drunemeton is quite possibly our new favorite Graveland record.
"The Eyes Of Balor" MPEG Stream:
"Shadows Of Doom" MPEG Stream:
"The Days Of Black Sun" MPEG Stream:
CARCASS Reek of Putrifaction (Earache) cd 12.98
If you have to ask who Carcass is, stop reading right here. For those of you who know and love the sick grinding medical school death metal of Earache's finest, this collectors reissue is for you. The classic 'Reek Of Putrefaction' has been reissued on vinyl, with the original BANNED artwork, printed inner sleeve/lyrics and on BLUE wax!! No longer any need to buy this for $100 on Ebay thanks to the nice folks at Earache.
CARCASS Symphonies Of Sickness (Reissue) (Earache) CD 12.98
FEAR FALLS BURNING & NADJA s/t (Conspiracy) cd 15.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. As a music obsessive, it's inevitable that you spend some time fantasizing about the perfect musical match ups. Most of them could never happen, or maybe should never happen, others wouldn't sound as good as one might hope, but some have in fact taken place (SUNNO))) and Boris) and far surpassed our expectations. Which brings us to this, a collaboration between Canadian dream doom duo Nadja, and Dutch one man guitarmy Dirk Serries. These two powerhouses have met up once before, as part of that super limited Conspiracy Records anniversary series, and the sound here is quite similar, hovering somewhere between the colossal crush we know both are capable of, and a surprisingly dreamy drift. Four lengthy tracks, each more sound than song, but that's exactly as it should be. The opener takes the blown out vacuum cleaner buzz of Total or Skullflower and smears it into soft edged swells, an almost static, barely undulating wall of whirring warmth, which quickly dissipates, leaving just a muted minimal shimmer. The second track is more of the same, a massive pulsing rumble smeared with wispy swaths of fuzzy distortion, but with a bit of percussion added, an industrial clang and thump buried way down in the mix, while above the roiling guitars are draped spidery streaks of coruscating feedback, a sort of Skullflower / SUNNO))) style mashup. Blissful and blown out, but at the same time dark and strangely ominous. Track three is the anomaly here, the 'quiet' number, a sort of spacious drift, with tons of room sound, simple drumming way down in the mix all Dead C style, some ghostly melodies, and haunting snippets of clean guitar surfacing here and there and what sounds like seasick organs warbly and wavering. So haunting and pretty. And finally, the closer, which begins with some slightly atonal Nitsch style drones, a wash of what sounds like moaning horns but must be guitars, tense and intense, drawn out for what seems like forever, when suddenly a wall of crumbling distorted guitars drop from the sky like it's raining anvils, a plodding drum beat underpinning the now suddenly caustic riffage, a gorgeously blown out slab of impossibly heavy, and simultaneously strangely lovely, ultra dooooooooom.
"1." MPEG Stream:
MOSS / MONARCH split (Rise Above) 7" 9.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. Finally back in stock! The ultimate dooooooom tag team matchup. If they gave out Nobel prizes for doom metal, whoever it was that managed to get UK doomsludge combo Moss together with French Sanrio doomsters Monarch, would be a shoe in. And it's not just the killer combo, or the alliterative band names, it's the song choice. As if Moss doing Discharge weren't enough for you, Monarch tackle Turbonegro's all time classic "I Got Erection"! Moss transform Discharge's punky stomp into a barely moving morass of sludgy pound. Sounding very much like Eyehategod, with simple pummeling drums, howled vocals, and of course guitars tuned as low as they can go before the strings drop off like wet noodles. On top of all the murk, drift weird high end streaks of surprisingly melodic feedback, giving the whole track a haunting and ominous vibe. Where Moss, turned their song inside out and basically made it their own, Monarch, after a misleading ultra slow count in, do "Erection" pretty straight (ahem), the riff immediately recognizable, same with the "woooooah ooooh" background vocals, so it's up to vocalist Emilie, to make "Erection" her own, and she does, delivering the goofiest, most brilliant lines ever, in a raspy feminine snarl "When I dig a hole... Erection!" It's definitely Monarch at their speediest, and certainly most melodic, and we have to say it sort of suits them. Maybe even better than when black metallers Satyricon covered the same track on a Turbonegro tribute disc some years back, and that was pretty killer too. And of course, SUPER LIMITED!
SEEFEEL Quique (Redux Edition) (Too Pure) 2cd 14.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. We made this reissue a Record Of The Week back on list 265... then Too Pure let it go out of print again! But now, wisely, they've just repressed it and we happily have it back in stock. If you missed it before, please read on to find out why picked it as a ROTW: God, we love this record! We've never stopped loving it. In its fourteen years of existence, it's never sounded tired or dated. Can't say that for a whole lot of other electronica records. So we are really glad to see our good old friend back in print again with this super nice 2cd deluxe re-issue. If you missed this the first time around, then you are in for a real treat, and if you bought this the first time around, you may just need to buy it again to get the whole extra disc of unreleased tracks and alternate mixes. We have been playing this daily since we got it, and we're surprised how many folks have never heard of Seefeel or experienced their incredible ocean of sound. So what is all the fuss about, you say? Well, Seefeel at their peak were one of the main players that spawned the nineties electronica genre, at a time when there were only Dance and Rock sections in most music stores. Their sound was a delirious mash-up between the shoe-gazing swirl of My Bloody Valentine, the machinic rhythm programming of Autechre, the ambient chill of Aphex Twin and the driving pulse of Stereolab, with an early hint toward the looping repetitions of William Basinski. They bridged ambient techno and indie rock by foregoing rock music's verse and chorus structures in favor of beats and loops wrapped inside icy motorik rhythms, industrial whirs, blurbs of female vocals and dubby bass lines. Like the best work of minimal composers, Seefeel's long-form compositions create a warmly hypnotic form of static movement that refused to fit neatly into music for either dance floors or chill out lounges. Quique was their head-turning debut following two EP releases featuring remixes by Aphex Twin. That connection surely gained them a bigger following, but Seefeel was always one of those bands that should have been bigger. Of course such a potent and influential debut would lead to many of their contemporaries, bands such as Bowery Electric, Labradford, Boards Of Canada and Flying Saucer Attack, to take Seefeel's initial explorations in sound further into Post-Rock, Trip Hop, IDM and Neo-Psych territories, leaving Seefeel at a bit of a loss for a follow-up. Signing to Warp, they delved further into a dark ambient direction in the vein of groups like Main, Ice and Scorn, that was just too stark for a wider audience to appreciate. They put out two more albums before splintering off into various side projects such as Scala, Disjecta and Sneakster. The bonus disc contains six previously unreleased tracks, and three alternate mixes from a limited white label 12" and two ambient compilations. Out of the unreleased tracks, "Clique" sounds like it just barely missed the cut from the original album line-up while "Silent Pool" is a longer version of Quique's closing track "Signals". "My Super 20" and "Is It Now?" are long beat-less swims that are a warmer hint at their future direction and the two other unreleased tracks are versions of opening track "Climatic Phase #3, and "Time to Find Me" from their first EP. It might sound like at first listen that there is some repetition between the two discs, but it's really more in line with classic ambient music's infatuation with the Dub tradition of versioning, the adding or removing of various elements in a song to give it a totally different spin. Each version really does give a different feel even if the basic structures seem similar. Seriously, the second disc is just more of what you love already, and gives us a little more of the stuff we've been missing for ages. Listening to Quique fourteen years later, it has lost none of its powerful splendor and warmly chilled charm. Add this to the list of favorite one record bands like My Bloody Valentine and Stone Roses. So Amazingly Awesome!!!! Reissue of the year so far and so totally recommended!!!!!!!!!
"Climatic Phase #3" MPEG Stream:
"Plainsong" MPEG Stream:
"Filter Dub " MPEG Stream:
RILEY, TERRY Les Yeux Fermes & Lifespan (Elision Fields) cd 14.98
The Terry Riley reissue campaign is in full effect and this week we were delighted to see his little heard seventies soundtracks, Les Yeux Fermes (Eyes Closed) from 1972 and Lifespan from 1974 arrive in our store (well, maybe Scott wasn't so delighted after shelling out $30 dollars for Lifespan on vinyl, just a couple of weeks ago). Le Yeux Fermes is comprised of two nearly twenty-minute pieces that are reminiscent of his early work on Reed Streams. The first is "Journey From A Death of a Friend" involving multiple organ and piano lines in counterpoint and the second is a more involved piece with delayed saxophone and organ counterpoints called "Happy Endings". The selections for Lifespan are six shorter pieces, which are a bit more diverse and melody oriented in their structures. "G Song" begins with an organ fugue repetition before the sax melody gives the piece more of a soundtrack theme, while "M.I.C.E.", short for Music In Curved Entrances, begins with a sustained organ and tabla drone before the melodic organ progressions kick into gear leading into the raga drones of "Slow Melody in Bhairavi" and the chanting Tangerine Dream-ish, "In The Summer". "The Oldtimer "is the most playful with an almost carnivalesque organ vamp, while "Delay" is just that, a slow burning organ drone with building and repeating organ lines that coalesce in a sea of pensive harmonics. We're surprised Riley hasn't done more soundtrack work. Listening to this makes us want to see the movies, especially Lifespan, which stars Klaus Kinski as a biochemist on a frantic search for the fountain of youth!
"Journey From The Death Of A Friend" MPEG Stream:
"M.I.C.E." MPEG Stream:
WHITE / LICHENS s/t (Holy Mountain) cd 13.98
"So it was that three hundred electric moons cancelled the ancient green queen of loves with their blinding chalk rays..." So concludes one of the obscure, occultic pieces of text excerpted in the cd booklet of this new disc (in this case the Futurist prose poem "Uccidiamo il chiaro di luna" by Filippo Marinetti) and is to us a suitably evocative and cryptic description of the beautiful, distorted drones conjured by White/Lichens, a collaborative project staffed by Rob Lowe (aka Lichens, who records for the Kranky label in his hometown of Chicago) and Matt Clark and Jeremy Lemos of the Chicago heavy ambient guitar duo White/Light (who have a cd on Rebis). Lichens' previous disc The Psychic Nature Of Being on Kranky (lp version on Holy Mountain) we described as "delicate" and "crystalline", constructed mainly from electronically-treated live improv loopings of his own voice, abetted with guitar and percussion. But the scary dronescapes of White/Lichens are more dense than delicate, the added weight of Clark and Lemos' guitars "heavy-ing up" the Lichens sound. You'll hear rumbling low-end and keening highs in this most satisfying set of billowing electric drone, what distantly sounds like a Morse code transmission buried beneath the destroyed residue of 1,000 doomed violins... It's like the Vibracathedral Orchestra scoring an opium induced nightmare, or the organic decay of an claustrophobic early Kluster track exposed to alien moonlight for the past 40 years. There's five tracks here, the first and last being the longest (19 and 16 minutes apiece, approximately) with the middle three around four minutes each. At its most dense and distortion-filled, as on the final track "Bael", this could be a glitchless version of the murky Merzbowian Sheer Hellish Miasma stirred up by their pal Kevin Drumm. Or KTL's most Earth-y moments tempered by the homebrewed, gentle freeform folk-psych of a Jewelled Antler recording. We don't doubt for an instant that if this was a limited edition cd-r from some mysterious Finnish forest dweller, or lathe cut 10" by a kid in New Zealand, we'd be assured of selling fistfuls of 'em. And therefore, since the well-respected Holy Mountain label judged this to be deserving of not-so-limited cd status, that should indicate it's even MORE worth picking up, than if there were just 50 copies made, intended solely for collectors...
"Cimejes, Or Cimeies, Or Kimares" MPEG Stream:
"Belial" MPEG Stream:
GRAVELAND Will Stronger Than Death (No Colours) cd 16.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. The return of our favorite Polish black metal Viking (huh?). Yep, it's Graveland, the master of epic and majestic Viking flecked black buzz. Graveland IS Rob Darken, perpetually clad in his helmet and tunic, armed with sword and shield, unfurling mighty tales of bloody battles and mighty journeys, of life and death, of blood oaths and sworn vengeance. All told through incredibly expansive blackened soundscapes, rife with killer drumming, awesome riffs, sweeping keyboard swells, Arvo Part like background vocals and tons of moody black ambience. As with lots of records like this, and and as we've mentioned before, the whole Viking angle, and the Nordic pride thing is basically only one step removed (if that) from some very abhorrent racial politics, which unfortunately seem to often be a part of black metal. So as with lots of those bands, Burzum, Nokturnal Mortum, and others, you just have to figure out if you can enjoy the sounds and ignore the politics. It's a bit of a bummer, that a record this amazing has to be marred by that sort of thinking (no matter how subtle) but if you can make it past that, and enjoy Will Stronger Than Death for what it is, an emotionally and personally charged piece of musical art, you're in for what might possibly be the best Graveland record yet. Gone are the days of inept drumming and stumbling rhythms, Darken has perfected his sound. Epic and expansive, open and majestic, and so so tight. Usually the one man band suffers in some department, maybe the one man is not such a hot drummer, or not the best singer, but this is prime Graveland, heavy and hooky, with tons of varied parts, an incredibly rich sonic palette, at it's core still a blast of grim buzzing blackness, but Graveland has turned into something so much more. On first listen, very little has changed since the last disc, in fact, in lots of ways it sounds like The Fire Of Awakening Part 2, which as far as we're concerned is just fine. The drums sound better than ever, instead of loping midtempos or furious blasts, there are plenty of cool, un-black metal beats, weird double snare hit, some of it surprisingly mathy, they perfectly compliment Darken's knack for the droning repetitive riffing, adding a whole 'nother layer of sound. The guitars are massive, downtuned and buzzing, but weaving elaborate tapestries of black sound, some of it bordering on rock and roll, but not in a cheesy way, just an out of the ordinary way, which is maybe why some of these riffs are so damn catchy. But it's the strange vocals that take Graveland's sound to a whole other level, the aforementioned Arvo Part reference should tell you all you need to know. Gorgeous harmonies, choral backdrops to what would otherwise be simple buzzing black metal. It's like a black metal Godspeed sometimes, super dramatic and cinematic. So good. At first we were a bit bummed by how similar this disc was to The Fire Of Awakening, but the more we listen to it, the more we realize ho different it really is and how much more is going on and how much has changed musically. Even if you think you've got all the Graveland you need, think again. BTW: We used to mock Darken's constant battle gear, posing in every photo in his armor and chainmail, always with some sort of weapon, but a close look at the thanks list reveals it may be a little bit more than just playing dress up, since he thanks the Great Warriors from Slavic and Viking Reenactment Groups!
"Fire Dragon Of Black Sun" MPEG Stream:
"Throne Of The Granite" MPEG Stream:
"Battle Of The Giants"
YELLOW SWANS / THE GOSLINGS The Bored Fortress 7" Club (Not Not Fun) 7" 6.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. Latest in Not Not Fun's Bored Fortress 7" series, featuring two long time AQ faves. Former Bay Area freenoise duo the Yellow Swans check in with probably their harshest heaviest sounds yet. A full on white hot soft noise assault, totally blown out and drenched in distortion, dripping with speaker melting crumble, a seriously punishing blast of brutality, BUT, hidden beneath it all is some serious dreaminess. A simple lilting melody, a bit melancholy, a bit mournful, drifts beneath a veritable sonic shitstorm imbuing the noise with emotion and feeling. Very few folks can make caustic noise sound this pretty, you gotta hand it to these guys... The flipside features the Goslings, a husband / wife sludge rock duo from Florida, who we have been totally obsessed with when we first heard them back in 2005. This track demonstrates they still got it going on, so heavy, so impossibly pretty, so damaged and amazing. Outrageously distorted guitar, so much so that it's not just crumbling, but melting into a weird black puddle, the amp literally falling to pieces, so in the red, that the riffs keep overwhelming the recording device adding all sorts of alien buzz and damaged Basinski like drop outs. It's a bit like Boris or SUNN))) produced by Faxed Head, but it's the Goslings, so you gotta toss in a dorky little Casio rhythm, and some drifty throaty female vocals. So what was once just a crumbling heap of melted guitars and chunks of desiccated amplifier, albeit an insanely cool one, becomes some sort of blissy dream sludge. And then there's the weird melodic slowcore outro, which sounds like Low run through a million broken distortion pedals... LIMITED TO 300 COPIES!!!
GROMM Cold Old Thorns (BlackMetal.Com) cd 9.98
Everyone went nuts for the last Gromm full length around here. And it wasn't just because it was called Happiness - It's When You Are Dead, although that was a big part of what we wanted to hear these guys in the first place. That record was a gorgeous blast of Ukrainian black frost, rife with buzz and howl, blast and roar. Hailing from the same area as other AQ black metal faves such as Nokturnal Mortum, Mistigo Varggoth Darkestra, Drudkh, Hate Forest and others, Gromm share some similar sonic traits, if there was a 'Ukrainian sound' (which we do believe there is) then Gromm do fit right in, but as with most black metal we dig, especially the aforementioned Ukrainian ones, Gromm definitely had their own take on things, strange production, unique vocals, and of course their own brilliantly twisted and blackened riffs. Cold Old Thorns (another great title) collects all the old demos, as well as a new song and an unlikely cover. The first half of the disc is the Ferro Ignique demo from 2001-2002, originally a tape limited to 300 copies, which finds the band way stripped down and primitive, but no less ambitious, the sound is murky and lo-fi, the blasts seems to be played by a machine (or a very machinelike human), but the songs are still completely epic and fucked up, super dense convoluted arrangements, plenty of atypical not very black metal song structures, super dynamic, lots of start and stop, the vocals are even more tweaked than they are now, raspy and demonic, gnarled and super creepy, the guitars rip, incredible riffing, emotional and minor key, majestic but furious and fierce, all wrapped in a muffled muted production that makes the whole thing sound just that much more grim and gorgeous. The second half of the disc is made up of the Nails For Gods demo from 2003, also originally a limited-to-300-copies cassette, this time, the sound is a bit more high fidelity, but the mix is insane, the opener "Black Madness" is totally unhinged, the guitars and drums blasting blackly along, pretty low in the mix, while the vocals shriek and soar WAY UP FRONT, it almost doesn't sound like a voice, it's like a strangely musical scraping, steel on steel, and here and there, another guitar part, more melodic and moody joins the fray, also way louder than everything else, making the sound so strange and creepy, but so cool. And those vocals, holy shit! The whole demo is like that, a blanket of buzz over which those crazy inhuman vocals rasp and scrape and various melodies surface and drift. Fucking awesome. As if that weren't enough, there's a new song from last year, dense and fuzz drenched, midtempo and Burzumic, the vocals buried in the mix, just another layer of raspy buzz, four and a half minutes of loping droney black buzz, and a killer cover of Metallica's "For Whom The Bell Tolls", the classic thrash prog epic transformed into a totally necro blast of grimness, the vocals harsh and super distorted, the whole thing blurred into a relentless black blur, except for the chorus, which ends up sounding like the catchiest Darkthrone part Darkthrone never wrote. Liner notes, lyrics, photos, and an awesome black and silver, shiny reflective sticker included...
"Cold Thorns" MPEG Stream:
"Black Fire Legions" MPEG Stream:
"Black Madness" MPEG Stream:
"Provocation / For Whom The Bell Tolls"
GROMM Happiness - It's When You Are Dead (BlackMetal.Com) cd 9.98
As far as black metal album titles, it's pretty impossible to beat Happiness - It's When You Are Dead. Sure Blizzard Beasts is awesome, so is A Blaze In The Northern Sky, even Rebel Extravaganza has its perverse charm. But no album titles we can think of are so simple and succinct. Happiness - It's When You Are Dead. Perfectly capturing the miserablism and death obsessed nihilism of black metal without the usual overwrought hand wringing wordiness. Simple. We like it. And we like Gromm too. Much like how the Russian BM bands share a sonic sensibility, so too do the Ukrainian bands, Nokturnal Mortum, Mistigo Varggoth Darkestra, Drudkh, Hate Forest, and of course Gromm. If you like that stuff, odds are you'll like these guys too. And considering how insular and inbred those scenes are, we wouldn't be all that surprised if Gromm shared members with one, some or all of those bands. For those new to Gromm, on the surface it's everything we love about black metal, furious and frosty, blasting and black and brutal, with guitars that are super distorted, so much so that sometimes they seem to crumble and overload the speakers, recorded so hot they shoot into the red adding another layer of (unintentional?) distortion, the vocals are raw and garbled, not growling or grunted so much as twisted and strangled, the drums are kick ass, furious and blasting, but there is tons of melody in the music of Gromm, and not just in the slowed down melancholy parts, but in the buzzing frosty blasts, melodies and strange catchy bits lurk everywhere. There's some super weird production too, like when an ultra loud effects-heavy acoustic guitar is laid over the black buzz, so loud and thick that it spreads out and almost completely obscures the music beneath it, making it sound really damaged and creepy. And that kind of stuff is all over Happiness, but even without all the subtle weirdness, the record kills, the songs are amazing, the sound is epic and catchy, fast and fuzzed out, brutal and black. Extremely recommended.
"Seeds And Bones" MPEG Stream:
"On The Way Of Chains" MPEG Stream:
"Without A Pack, Without A Herd"
HYPOTHERMIA Kold (Those Opposed) cd 14.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. There couldn't be a more appropriate name for this Swedish duo, as it's unlikely you'll ever hear anything colder or frostier. This is harsh and frostbitten, depressive and miserable black metal. Full length number two, after last year's Veins, Kold takes their monochromatic miserablism a step further, two tracks, two riffs, okay, maybe four at the most, one track twenty seven minutes long, the other nineteen, each one a loping midtempo buzz, the drums a relentless plod, the guitar a buzz so blurry and indistinct it almost sounds like a drone, and the vocals, well, you thought they were weird on Veins, they're even more strangled and bizarre here, somewhere between an Orcish death rattle and some sort of beast vomiting up its last meal, sometimes mumbling in a strange mewling grunt, other times a leather lunged glass throated growl, you can almost feel the blood and spittle. But it's the perfect compliment to the music. Hateful, sorrowful, suicidal, depressive, the sound of Kold is just that, so cold and lonely, emotional and intense. About three quarters of the way through the first track, the distorted guitar drops out leaving just a jangly clean guitar, drums and vocals, which is unexpected for sure, but ends up sounding strangely emotionally charged. Soon the vocals drop out too and it's just drums and clean guitar and it almost sounds like some outsider bedroom indie rock, before the buzz kicks back in and the track unwinds in a Burzumic blaze of frosty buzz. The second track may be even weirder, a blown out buzzy riff, and even doomier rhythmic plod, and the vocals are completely unhinged, falsetto screams, what sounds like that weird breathing-in-backwards singing, growling and grunting and shrieking and wailing hysterically, all over a surprisingly lilting minor key dirge, buzzing and droning, epic yet surprisingly melodic, with another surprise right at the end, a three minute clean-guitar and drum coda, simple garage-y drumming, sort of shuffling and crashing beneath some truly moody jangly strum.
"Svag Fysisk Lusta" MPEG Stream:
HYPOTHERMIA Rakbladsvalsen (Total Holocaust) cd 14.98
Another gloriously grim and frostbitten slab of ultra depressive black metal dirge from these Swedes. Their last two discs were serious AQ faves, their monochromatic blackened plod totally mesmerizing and entrancing. And this one is no different. Rakbladsvalsen begins with an epic 34 minute blast of suicidal black stomp, but like the last few discs, there is a seriously melodic element lurking beneath the buzzing and pounding. In fact, at moments, the melody is almost dreamy, like some jangly indie rock band was possessed by the dark lord, transforming their bright jangle into dark buzz, but never fully letting go of that innate melodic purity. Mournful and melancholy, the main riff repeated over and over and over and over, the drums shifting occasionally from simple plod to stumbling blast and back again, the vocals harsh and haggard, so pained and anguished, but again, like the music, strangely pretty (in a strangled to death sort of way). The song is relentless, the only real shifts over the 30+ minutes are when the drums drop out, leaving the riff to buzz and hover briefly, until the drums once again kick in and the band lurches back into it's crushing black dirge. Theoretically, even though the disc is separated into 4 tracks, they are parts one through four of the same track, and minus the gaps, they do sort of sound like it, the same (or very similar) key, the same lurching loping tempo, harsh and brittle and buzzing and black, but always subtly jangly. The final track is the surprise, expanding on what the band had only hinted at before on past releases, a gorgeous post rock jam, simple and minor key, the guitar sound clean, the riff moody and melancholy, the drums a simple math rock groove, the guitar switches lazily between muted minor key melodies, like some June Of 44 or Slint rehearsal recording, two simple parts, both quite lovely, no blown out buzzing blackness, just a dreamy extended instrumental workout, that demonstrates quite well, that slow and moody can be just as powerful and dark as grim and buzzy.
"Part III" MPEG Stream:
CLOAKS A Crystal Skull In Peru (Athiests Are Gods) cd-r 9.98
Those guys in the Starving Weirdos have been kicking our asses with one amazing release after another. And as if that weren't enough, now they've started signing other like minded noisemakers to their Atheists Are Gods label. The first release comes from Cloaks, aka Spencer Doran, who for his first readily available domestic full length release, offers up two gorgeous lengthy pieces, one for piano, tapes, zither and bells, the other for electric guitar and piano with harmonium and electronics. The result is lush and spellbinding. The closest comparison that even begins to come close is Lubomyr Melnyk, with his dense flurries of notes, creating dizzyingly intricate swirls of melodic fragments that while ultra complex are so intricate they seem to melt into long dreamlike drifts. Such is the case with Cloaks. And then some. The opening track begins with a strange jumble of chaotic percussion, weird boings, effects drenched squiggles, sounding like something that could be a bit goofy for our liking, but after a burst of record crackle and needle on vinyl static, the track settles into a gorgeously sun baked, glistening shimmer, a fine mist of notes enveloping the listener like a warm fog, multiple abstract melodies drifting into one another becoming gloriously intertwined, hovering ghostlike over soft drifts of smeared piano in the background. It almost sounds like Oval's Diskont, but with soft shimmery piano instead of skipping cds. Fluid and organic, softly swelling, so many notes... you know how you can sort of blur your eyes and make everything look all fuzzy, well imagine you could blur your EARS, it's like listening to Reich or Riley or Palestine with blurred ears. Soft focus and indistinct, every once in a while bits of melody coming into view but quickly fading into the sounds around it. So pretty. One of those rare tracks that we wish went on forever and ever... The second track is a subtly different beast but with a similar vibe. Beginning with spare spidery electric guitar, suspended in a wide open expanse of near silence, a sort of skeletal post rock, which quickly slips under a gradually building wave of dense Wave-Lox like piano. Thick roiling low end squalls of reverberating rumble and rich overtones, very lush and intense. Near the final few minutes little bits of electronic glitch and grrr begin to surface, slowly wrapping themselves around the piano flurries, eventually surrounding it completely, becoming a dense buzzing electronic drone with almost no trace of the piano remaining... Packaged in super striking silkscreened digipaks with pasted on textured paper, full color art, and with a hand screened insert.
"A Crystal Skull In Peru" MPEG Stream:
ASTRAL SOCIAL CLUB #1-7 (self-released) MP3 cd-r 10.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. For those of you who missed out on the first seven installments of Astral Social Club's limited series of self released cd-r's (us and probably most of you), the ASC swoops in to save the day with this massive MP3 cd-r, containing every track from all 7 of those discs, 589 mb's, 57 tracks, over FIVE HOURS!!! All for 11 bucks! Hard to beat, and as we've only made it through the first three, we can tell you already, it's well worth it. Astral Social Club just so happens to be Mr. Neil Campbell, the mastermind behind the genius Vibracathedral Orchestra as well, who for years, has been spending his days off from VCO, recording disc after amazing disc of deliriously spaced out drone, blown out extended ragas, and seemingly endless slabs of hypnotic pulse and drift. Pick any track on any of these seven releases and you'll be instantly transported to some other world, where sounds are alive, everything is glistening, the sky is full of vivid blinding streaks of sound, synths pulse and throb, it's like Terry Riley or Steve Reich transported to some imaginary sci-fi future where they spend all their time composing for Tangerine Dream and Popol Vuh. These seven discs cover a whole lot of ground, from epic droning raga like bliss a la Skullflower or Sunroof!, to simple mesmerizing minimalism a la Riley or La Monte Young, sometimes both at the same time. All of it amazing.
"1.1" MPEG Stream:
"1.2" MPEG Stream:
"7.1" MPEG Stream:
OLD WAINDS Scalding Coldness (Miriquidi) cd 18.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. We love Old Wainds. So does Leviathan, Xasthur, Crebain, Draugar, Nachtmystium, and every other black metalhead we know. And as we mentioned before, there is really no better way to discover amazing bands than by discovering who your favorite bands' favorite bands are. Knowing that, Russia's Old Wainds are truly the black metal elite. Very few bands with such limited distribution, no official releases in the United States, and records that end up on eBay more than in shops have managed to make as huge an impression as these guys. And rightfully so. This is absolutely some of the most glorious buzzing blackness we have ever heard. And finally, we've managed to track down three of the four proper Old Wainds releases!! We got a whole bunch but we have a feeling they won't last long, and we're not sure how long it will take before we can get more (or even if we'll be able to at all). Before now we had been been on a never ending quest to track down every single recorded second of music these guys have spewed forth. So much so that one aQuarius employee who shall remain nameless (ahem...Andee) spent an embarassing sum on one of these discs on eBay!! But for now, you are spared that same fate. We have a bunch of copies of Old Wainds' second full length Where The Snows Are Never Gone, the split with fellow countrymen Nav, and this, their most recent release, Scalding Coldness! Which we also managed to get on vinyl!!! So what is it about Old Wainds that has the grim hordes all in a tizzy? And why is Scalding Coldness one of the best black metal records of all time? Hard to explain exactly. If you were standing right here, we'd just play it for you. And it would only be a matter of seconds before you understood. And you can go ahead and listen to the sound samples, it should have the same effect, but we might as well try to put into words what it is that's so amazing about these guys and this disc. With any metal, it's all about the riffs, black metal maybe moreso, because with black metal, it's pretty much entirely about the riff, no matter how buzzy the sound is, how evil and atmospheric the music is, without killer riffs you are NOTHING. Needless to say, Old Wainds whip up some of the catchiest buzziest riffs around. Swirling, snarling, dense and slightly off kilter, definitely in the great Norwegian tradition but with their own unique twist. Crunchy and insectoid, with strange little trills and unlikely chugs, haunting arpeggiated chords... The vocals too, guttural and growly, but not really shrieked or grunted, it's about as close to actual singing as black metal vocals can get. Still harsh and hateful, but more sort of gruff and raspy. And then the songs, epic and majestic, almost cinematic at points, but at the same time grim and frosty, buzzing dronescapes of bleak blackness, infused with a surprising amount of melody. And then there's the weird stuff, the chantlike vocals, the guitar leads that surface here and there, the strange pulsing ambient interludes, the weird breakdowns, ultra dramatic intros with bizarre drumming... but none of those things define the band, they are just part and parcel of Old Wainds' twisted black universe. The perfect blend of Xasthur, Immortal, Leviathan and Darkthrone. Sort of. Take your favorite bits from each of those bands and then smear in some desolate Russian winters, and twist it all up into some black shape that while sort of familiar is unlike anything you've ever heard before. And you'll be getting close. Absolutely essential. In the AQ black metal hall of the elite, atop a mountain wreathed in fire, beneath a sky as black as pitch sit the black metal elite, Satyricon, Emperor, Darkthrone, Burzum, Immortal and the rest, but it's looking like someone just might have to scoot over and make room for Old Wainds at the table...
"Scalding Coldness" MPEG Stream:
"Freezing Winter Breath" MPEG Stream:
"...In The Glance Of The Dead"
OLD WAINDS Scalding Coldness (Negative-Existence) cd 11.98
It's been forever since we've been able to get this all time aQ fave back in stock, but thankfully, this buzzing black gem has been reissued by an American label and a WAY lower price. One of our ALL TIME favorite black metal bands ever. And we're most definitely not alone, read on: We love Old Wainds. So does Leviathan, Xasthur, Crebain, Draugar, Nachtmystium, and every other black metalhead we know. And as we mentioned before, there is really no better way to discover amazing bands than by discovering who your favorite bands' favorite bands are. Knowing that, Russia's Old Wainds are truly the black metal elite. Very few bands with such limited distribution, no official releases in the United States, and records that end up on eBay more than in shops have managed to make as huge an impression as these guys. And rightfully so. This is absolutely some of the most glorious buzzing blackness we have ever heard. Until these records began to becomes a little bit easier to track down, we had been been on a never ending quest to find every single recorded second of music these guys have spewed forth. So much so that one aQuarius employee who shall remain nameless (ahem...Andee) spent an embarrassing sum on one of these discs on eBay a while back!! But for now, you are spared that same fate. So what is it about Old Wainds that has the grim hordes all in a tizzy? And why is Scalding Coldness one of the best black metal records of all time? Hard to explain exactly. If you were standing right here, we'd just play it for you. And it would only be a matter of seconds before you understood. And you can go ahead and listen to the sound samples, it should have the same effect, but we might as well try to put into words what it is that's so amazing about these guys and this disc. With any metal, it's all about the riffs, black metal maybe moreso, because with black metal, it's pretty much entirely about the riff, no matter how buzzy the sound is, how evil and atmospheric the music is, without killer riffs you are NOTHING. Needless to say, Old Wainds whip up some of the catchiest buzziest riffs around. Swirling, snarling, dense and slightly off kilter, definitely in the great Norwegian tradition but with their own unique twist. Crunchy and insectoid, with strange little trills and unlikely chugs, haunting arpeggiated chords... The vocals too, guttural and growly, but not really shrieked or grunted, it's about as close to actual singing as black metal vocals can get. Still harsh and hateful, but more sort of gruff and raspy. And then the songs, epic and majestic, almost cinematic at points, but at the same time grim and frosty, buzzing dronescapes of bleak blackness, infused with a surprising amount of melody. And then there's the weird stuff, the chantlike vocals, the guitar leads that surface here and there, the strange pulsing ambient interludes, the weird breakdowns, ultra dramatic intros with bizarre drumming... but none of those things define the band, they are just part and parcel of Old Wainds' twisted black universe. The perfect blend of Xasthur, Immortal, Leviathan and Darkthrone. Sort of. Take your favorite bits from each of those bands and then smear in some desolate Russian winters, and twist it all up into some black shape that while sort of familiar is unlike anything you've ever heard before. And you'll be getting close. Absolutely essential. In the AQ black metal hall of the elite, atop a mountain wreathed in fire, beneath a sky as black as pitch sit the black metal elite, Satyricon, Emperor, Darkthrone, Burzum, Immortal and the rest, but it's looking like someone just might have to scoot over and make room for Old Wainds at the table...
"Scalding Coldness" MPEG Stream:
"Freezing Winter Breath" MPEG Stream:
"...In The Glance Of The Dead"
OLD WAINDS Where The Snows Are Never Gone (Miriquidi) cd 14.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. Finally, full length number two (of three) from Russian black metal legends Old Wainds. We're still trying to restock their most recent, 2005's Scalding Coldness, but for now, Where The Snows Are Never Gone is probably more grim frosty bleak blackness than you can handle. But that shouldn't deter you from trying. Originally recorded back in 1997 and released on cassette, reissued on cd in 2003, only finding its way to AQ in 2007, Where The Snows Are Never Gone is another epic frostbitten slab of relentless black buzz. It's easy to hear why Old Wainds is the black metaller's black metal band. Wrest from Leviathan, Ancalagon from Crebain, Hildolf from Draugar, pretty much every BM misanthrope we know counts Old Wainds as one of, if not their absolute, favorite metal bands. Old Wainds are not damaged or demented, lo-fi or fucked, this is epic and majestic, the riffs are amazing, the drums a skull caving bombast, the production is massive, a swirling buzz that could swallow you whole. It's hard to know what else to say about these guys that we haven't already said over and over and over. To read more of our Old Wainds raving see any of the other OW reviews on the AQ site... Needless to say, if you're already a fan and don't yet have this, BUY THIS NOW. If you've yet to discover the hellish joys of Old Wainds, this is as good a place to start as any, in fact it just may be our favorite of the bunch. More in line with the primitive thrashing buzz of bands like Darkthrone and Beherit, this is fast and blown out and black, relentless and furious, frosty and so so so grim. The vocals are a Popeye like croak (not all that far removed from Immortal's Abbath) and the tracks are peppered with strange explosions and sonic drop outs, the guitars go from lightning buzz to chugging crunch, the drums sounds like they're being fired out of a gun. Minus a couple intros, this record does not ever let up, even for one second. Until... The final track, which is absolutely gorgeous, definitely the prettiest thing Old Wainds has ever recorded. An endlessly loping minor key midtempo groove, arpeggiated guitar, a sort of sea sick rhythm, motorik drumming, the guitar a warm glistening buzz, vocals a chanted moan, repetitive and so utterly dreamy (in a grim, cvlt, black way of course), until the very end where the song seems to buckle and the band stumble back into action obliterating any traces of loveliness in an explosion of brutal black fury. As with every single Old Wainds recording, totally essential.
"Unholy Norland Fire" MPEG Stream:
"Winter Warriors" MPEG Stream:
"Gods Gazing From Beyond"
BOREDOMS Super Roots 6 (Vice) cd 15.98
Boredoms bonanza! Vice follows up their Stateside re-issuance of Super Roots 1, 3, and 5 with Super Roots 6, 7, and 8! For those who missed our reviews of the first batch, on list 258, let's recap: Japanese band the Boredoms, whose "regular" albums are pretty darn wacked-out to begin with (kitchen sink craziness inspired by everything from the Butthole Surfers to Faust to the Ramones to Lee "Scratch" Perry to Alice Coltrane), started a series of even more experimental, mostly ep-length discs in the mid '90s that we think had a lot to do with the eventual evolution of their signature sound from their earlier, chaotic noise-punk surf-metal madness to the psychedelic, trance-out sounds heard on more recent records like Seadrum / House Of Sun. Most of these Super Roots cds were import-only items, until now. So fans who couldn't find or afford the expensive Japanese editions before should offer thanks to Vice! Super Roots 6, from 1996, is one that Warner Reprise did at one point issue domestically in the USA, as bizarre as that seems now. It's been out of print for a long time, and it's one of our faves in the Super Roots series, so if you missed it back when, we'd suggest picking it up now. Unlike Super Roots 3 and 5, this isn't one long track. And it's not the sound of a live band either. Super Roots 6 is more of a studio project, 17 very rhythmic, mostly instrumental tracks (66 minutes total)... it's the Boredoms' "electronica" album, almost. Or certainly the closest a Boredoms disc has come to one of Eye's DJ mixes. There's certainly bits of noisy weirdness on here (naturally) but the dubby, droning, shuffling beats of a lot of this record are rather more soothing and laid back than (up to this point) we'd come to expect from the Bore-tribe. Mesmerizing like SR 5, but in more varied, less extreme ways. Some of this reminds us a bit of a mellower Christine 23 Onna, with all the synth and groove goin' on. Like the best of the Boredoms, ultimately unique, confounding, and utterly wonderful. PS. the booklet features a photo of the Boredoms all wearing those red Devo dome hats -- all right!
"2" MPEG Stream:
"5" MPEG Stream:
NADJA Touched (Alien8 Recordings) cd 13.98
While not a 'new' record per se, Touched, by AQ dreamdoom faves Nadja is in fact their newest release, a collection of older tracks, from a long out of print cd-r, reworked and retooled into arguably one of the prettiest, heaviest, most blissed out doom records of recent memory. Which makes sense when you consider the fact that Nadja mastermind Aidan Baker, spends the rest of his time creating gorgeous, fuzzy dark ambient soundscapes, all of which end up informing his more metallic alter ego, turning what could have been a run of the mill funereal downtuned trudge, into a mind bending, ear melting psychedelic drift. Quite possibly the heaviest Nadja record yet, this is a serious slab of spaced out, acid fried, FX drenched doom, all wrapped in thick swirls of soft fuzz, and dense clouds of blurry buzz, a monstrous caveman plod through a thick, smeary sonic storm. It's like Godflesh wrapped in My Bloody Valentine filtered through some Wolf Eyes, or the Swans covered by the Jesus And Mary Chain, remixed by Tim Hecker. Or even Mogwai's Young Team run through a bank of effects pedals and played back at 16rpm. Heavy and pretty, punishing but strangely serene. And then there are the vocals, soft and lilting and dreamy, fluttering and floating amidst the crash and cacophony, like mysterious spectres, an amazing juxtaposition of industrial throb and glistening shimmer, which ends up sounding almost more Jesu than Jesu. The guitars are massive, but instead of sounding like the black tar rumble of impossibly downtuned strings, or the jagged crunch and black buzz of other purveyors of metallic slowmotion, Nadja transform their guitars into thick washes of textured sound, constantly pulsing and throbbing, changing shape and color, thick and dense and suffocating, like being submerged in some strange viscous liquid, warm and syrupy, heard from inside this strange sonic cocoon, the outside world becomes a buzzy blur, all the beats and vocals, when they finally make it to your ears, are dull murky plods, or distant wisps of melody. Each track, at its center, contains a perfect little pop core, some gorgeously melancholy melody, a seriously sublimated hook, which is summarily stretched and twisted into long black stretches of blown out sound, an impossibly heavy slowcore, the poppiness, all but totally obscured by the coruscating sheets of sonic rumble and whir, the pumelling pound, and the gauzy swaths of dreamy shimmer. A never ending (we wish) trudge through epic landscapes of black beauty and bleak mystery. Doom was never meant to sound this pretty, but we're sure as hell not complaining!
"Mutagen" MPEG Stream:
"Stays Demons" MPEG Stream:
NADJA Touched (Conspiracy) lp 33.00
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. Now available on vinyl from our pals at Conspiracy. Super limited (we only have 8 copies, not sure if we can get more), super expensive, but so worth it. Incredible new artwork, an embossed, diecut jacket, printed thick full color inner sleeves, visible through the diecut, photos by Seldon Hunt, the vinyl thick as well, weights a ton and sounds amazing. Here's what we said about the record when it came out on cd: While not a 'new' record per se, Touched, by AQ dreamdoom faves Nadja is in fact their newest release, a collection of older tracks, from a long out of print cd-r, reworked and retooled into arguably one of the prettiest, heaviest, most blissed out doom records of recent memory. Which makes sense when you consider the fact that Nadja mastermind Aidan Baker, spends the rest of his time creating gorgeous, fuzzy dark ambient soundscapes, all of which end up informing his more metallic alter ego, turning what could have been a run of the mill funereal downtuned trudge, into a mind bending, ear melting psychedelic drift. Quite possibly the heaviest Nadja record yet, this is a serious slab of spaced out, acid fried, FX drenched doom, all wrapped in thick swirls of soft fuzz, and dense clouds of blurry buzz, a monstrous caveman plod through a thick, smeary sonic storm. It's like Godflesh wrapped in My Bloody Valentine filtered through some Wolf Eyes, or the Swans covered by the Jesus And Mary Chain, remixed by Tim Hecker. Or even Mogwai's Young Team run through a bank of effects pedals and played back at 16rpm. Heavy and pretty, punishing but strangely serene. And then there are the vocals, soft and lilting and dreamy, fluttering and floating amidst the crash and cacophony, like mysterious spectres, an amazing juxtaposition of industrial throb and glistening shimmer, which ends up sounding almost more Jesu than Jesu. The guitars are massive, but instead of sounding like the black tar rumble of impossibly downtuned strings, or the jagged crunch and black buzz of other purveyors of metallic slowmotion, Nadja transform their guitars into thick washes of textured sound, constantly pulsing and throbbing, changing shape and color, thick and dense and suffocating, like being submerged in some strange viscous liquid, warm and syrupy, heard from inside this strange sonic cocoon, the outside world becomes a buzzy blur, all the beats and vocals, when they finally make it to your ears, are dull murky plods, or distant wisps of melody. Each track, at its center, contains a perfect little pop core, some gorgeously melancholy melody, a seriously sublimated hook, which is summarily stretched and twisted into long black stretches of blown out sound, an impossibly heavy slowcore, the poppiness, all but totally obscured by the coruscating sheets of sonic rumble and whir, the pumelling pound, and the gauzy swaths of dreamy shimmer. A never ending (we wish) trudge through epic landscapes of black beauty and bleak mystery. Doom was never meant to sound this pretty, but we're sure as hell not complaining!
"Mutagen" MPEG Stream:
"Stays Demons" MPEG Stream:
MOONDOG And His Friends 2006 (Moondog's Corner) cd 19.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. Finally on cd, this is an AQ favorite from one of our most beloved musicians of the last half century. This new edition includes 3 bonus tracks of some current day folks like Stefan Lakatos adding their own flavor to preexisting Moondog tracks. But of course the real gold here is the original record which is Moondog in his full glory! We only wish this reissue had a little bit more in the way of elaborate packaging as this just comes in a cardboard sleeve. Here is what our pal Dave Katznelson of Birdman Records said about this record when he reviewed it for us back when we had the 10" version in stock: Originally released on Epic in 1953, this long-playing EP is one of the greatest artifacts of the blind New York percussionist available. On par with the excellent Prestige years, with a similar vibe. However, there is something darker here, with an almost acid edge...and the sounds come ripping off the well-mastered vinyl ever so thickly. This classically packaged ten inch boasts an instrumental round that is the precursor to the great All Is Loneliness To Me, "Rim Shot" which is reminiscent of Tyrannosaurus Rex's "Ruminy Soup", and two suites that brilliantly use lush strings behind the signature Moondog hypnotizing percussion. "Be a hobo and go with me," Moondog sings...and why not join him?
"Theme And Variation - Rim Shots" MPEG Stream:
"Tree Frog - Be A Hobo" MPEG Stream:
"Suite No. One Third Movement"
HYPOTHERMIA Veins (Insikt) cd 13.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. Finally after years of demos and splits and cassette tape releases, the first proper full length from Swedish suicidal black metallers Hypothermia. You might remember Hypothermia from their split with Dimhymn, in the review of which we described their sound as "Epic fuzzed out glacial dirge, with thick riffs spread out in a black smear, the drums a caveman plod, and some of the most fucked vocals ever: weird, something-caught-in-the-throat sort of strangulated grunts and mewls, guttural growls and strange falsetto-y squeaks." And not too much has changed. In fact, Hypothermia's final track on that split was an "epic 16 minute midtempo buzzscape, [with] looped riffs, totally repetitive and hypnotic..." and dang if Veins isn't three of those, each a massive buzzing midtempo black dirge, slowly pounding drums, simple raw hypnotic riffing, repeated and repeated, into a mesmerizing musical mantra, the relentless buzz blurring into near drones, and anguished, cries of utter agony, over swirls of dismal black buzz. Definitely for fans of Burzum, Nortt, Make A Change... Kill Yourself, Silencer, Xasthur and other purveyors of doomic black hate. And if the music weren't depressed and dismal enough, the sleeve sports some seriously horrific and blood drenched images, bloody slit wrists, the word failure carved into an arm, a bathtub splattered with blood, and all the lyrics written in blood on blood soaked paper towels...
"Isolation" MPEG Stream:
CHRISTINE 23 ONNA Acid Eater (MIDI Creative) cd 27.00
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. One of aQ's all-time steady-sellers is definitely the debut cd on Alchemy from Japanese super-psychedelic-space-synth instrumental groove outfit Christine 23 Onna, entitled Shiny Crystal Planet. It's been a big fave around here ever since we reviewed it on list #103 back in 2000. A duo featuring Maso Yamazaki (Masonna, Space Machine, Acid Eater) and Fusao Toda (Angel 'In Heavy Syrup), the wild analog electronics of Christine 23 Onna are a retro-delic delight. In 2002, as part of a special Maso Yamazaki "15th Anniversary Freakout Triplex" series (which also included a disc each from Masonna and Space Machine), Christine 23 Onna released their second album, Acid Eater (not to be confused with Maso's freakbeat garage band of the same name). It had ten new, energetic tracks with titles like "Acid Now!" and "Space Mondo Topless". We totally wanted to get some for the store, but had no luck at all finding import copies at any sort of reasonable wholesale price... Well at long last we've finally got some -- and yeah, it's still pretty expensive. But that's Japanese imports for you. We trust that any fan of Shiny Crystal Planet cd would want this though, it's another monstrous onslaught of swirling '60s styled go-go disco and krautrocky kitsch, awash in FX, drenched in distortion, to the point that some of this is spaced-out enough to sound like Hawkwind and Klaus Schulze together playing funk at a LSD-party hosted by the Vampyros Lesbos and Austin Powers!! Or imagine taking tracks from one of the best old "library music" comps and running 'em all through a mad-scientist's laboratory full of synths! From fun and freaky dancefloor numbers to totally out there sci-fi soundtrackiness, we're lovin' this. Play it LOUD. NB. We've also got the other two cds in the Freakout Triplex, and will be reviewing those soon too!
"Fantastico" MPEG Stream:
"Planet Unknown" MPEG Stream:
HYPOTHERMIA / DURTHANG Lead Yourself To Failure (Northern Sky Productions) cassette 5.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. You might remember Hypothermia from their amazing split with Dimhymn a while back, and we review the killer Durthang tape elsewhere on this list. But these two Swedish purveyors of bleak lifeless doomic black metal are the perfect match up. Hypothermia's side is an ultra lo fi blast of midtempo buzz, super murky, almost like a practice space recording, with strangled vocals, and some killer riffing. Definitely some serious cult black brutality. The flipside is two loooong tracks from Durthang, and further convinces us that this could very well be one of our new favorite black metal hordes. A strangely clean sound, but nice fuzzy riffing and way up in the mix drumming. Mournful melodies over relentless double kick drumming. Cool arpeggiated guitar lines over swirling buzzing blackness and blown out distorted vocal shrieks. A darkly depressive Burzumic buzz wrapped around melancholy minor key misery. So good. And so far the only Durthang recording available are on ultra cult cassette tape only!! LIMITED TO 500 COPIES!
SUNN O))) & BORIS Altar (Southern Lord) 2cd 14.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. It was inevitable really. The Japanese masters of Orange Amp-powered drone-sludge and the robed priests of low end doom. How could it not happen? In fact, if you remember the 2005 April Fool's AQ list, we actually jokingly predicted this epochal event! Although in our version it also included Earth, each band playing one note of the world's heaviest E chord. The real question was never IF it would happen, it was when. And how. Especially how. C'mon, how on earth can you fit that many amps in a recording studio. They must have used an airplane hanger, either that or they filled a high school gymnasium with Sunn and Orange stacks and microphones, and actually played in an entirely different room. Regardless, it happened, and it sounds as good as you might imagine. Both bands completely compliment each other. SUNNO))), whose slow motion riffing borders on pure ambience, is given a serious propulsive shove, with more structured riffing and the addition of DRUMS!!! Boris get dragged back into the gloriously glacial tarpit of their older records, discarding their current garage rock rrrooooaaar for that classic slow motion doom trudge. However you look at it, it's basically the best record either band has put out. It's like an EVEN heavier SUNNO))), with bigger riffs and pulverizing doom rock drums, and of course wailing psychedelic leads. For Boris, they've taken their blown out grooves and dipped them in tar, added a million more pounds of guitar firepower and made the best Boris record since Flood. But it's not all pulverizing doom riffage. There's plenty of dark droning ambience too. Huge stretches of swirling guitar rumble, dreamy swaths of wispy steel string shimmer. murky and haunting, processed vocals and minor key melodies swimming in a black sea of echoey ambient guitars and sizzling cymbal shimmer. The strangest track is probably "The Sinking Belle (Blue Sheep)", sort of the Boris / SUNNO))) version of a torch song, with FX smeared piano, strange buried rhythms, and hushed vocals, like a doom metal Mazzy Star. The closer "Bloodswamp" is 14 minutes of churning downtuned guitars and shimmering Sunroof! like ambience. No riffs really, or if they are there, they're stretched into thick streaks of black fuzz. A furiously epic coda to a fucking amazing record. The first 5000 copies come with a bonus disc titled SatanOscillateMyMetallicSonatas (a nod to Soundgarden, there?) that features a single 28 minute track called "Her Lips Were Wet With Venom" guest starring Dylan Carlson from Earth! Before we go any further... are you thinking what we're thinking... April Fool's? SUNNO))) and Boris And Earth!!! And I bet you at least some of the bonus track is in E!! Boy, did we call it. And actually Atsuo from Boris confided in a friend of AQ that indeed, part of the reason they got Dylan to guest was because of that April Fool's review! How cool is that?!? Anyway, the bonus track is a monstrous wall of churning guitars, with occasional howled almost death metal vocals buried way down in the mix, and languorous Earth Hex-like twang guitar draped lazily above a churning blackhole ambience. So good. Besides Dylan Carlson of Earth, there are lots of other guest performers including Jesse Sykes, Joe Preston from Thrones (also ex-Melvins, ex-Earth), Kim Thayil from Soundgarden (aha) and Rex Ritter from Jessamine. Packaged beautifully in a mini cd style gatefold, with AMAZING cover art, black on black with weird muted color and text printed in glossy varnish and metallic gold, both bands be-robed and standing in a cornfield, a full color booklet attached to the inside, a metallic sticker on the front, each copy individually numbered. [whoops, no longer, while we do still have copies of this double cd version left, they don't have the sticker for some reason, a manufacturing snafu we're told... no biggie since it's the extra disc not the sticker that makes these so desirable!!]
"Etna" MPEG Stream:
"N.L.T." MPEG Stream:
"The Sinking Belle (Blue Sheep)"
ASTRAL SOCIAL CLUB s/t (VHF) cd 13.98
As if Vibracathdral Orchestra wasn't prolific enough, VCO mainman Neil Campbell spends his spare time recording even -more- records under the monicker Astral Social Club. This actual cd (not a cd-r). VHF's 100th release, compiles Campbell's favorite tracks from all the various long out of print cd-r's and gives them the remix and remaster super megamix treatment. All tweaked and twisted into one continuous 67 minute spaced out psych collage (although it's tracked for easy listening). But anyone wouldn't want to just sit back and listen to this all the way through is beyond us. A gloriously tripped out psychedelic ambient space rock stretched into pulsing, throbbing buzzy droney bliss. Like the extended outro to every Monster Magnet song all tangled up and mixed together, a blurry, dizzying free rock trip. From hiccupping rhythmic flutter, to super minimal drift, to thick grinding fuzz, to hypnotic krautrock jam and every psychrock stop in between. For fans of Monster Magnet, Bardo Pond, Spacemen 3, the Telescopes, VCO, Loop, Kinski, EAR and all those sonic spacemen ...
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GLASS, PHILIP Analog (Orange Mountain Music) cd 21.00
It can be quite daunting to figure out how to navigate the releases of most 20th Century Composers. What is essential and what is not. That may be especially true for Philip Glass who has often walked the line between totally daring, trance inducing, mind expanding compositions and somewhat schmaltzy, overly sentimental syrupy pap. But there is no doubt, that when he's really ON, he still stands as one of the greatest minimalist composers of all time. Analog is -that- side of Glass, the side we never get tired of hearing. Recalling the intensity and brilliance of Music In 12 Parts, these recordings have been relentlessly seeping into our ears and brains and souls. Culled from never before released recordings made in the late 70's, it showcases Glass playing the electric organ, and it is absolutely hypnotic. Earlier this year you might remember us freaking out over a Finnish release from the band Shogun Kunitoki. It's uncanny how you can hear the roots of that record throughout these recordings. Warm analog notes played at a furiously feverish pitch that it's nearly impossible not to get lost in it's repetitive trance. The sound is so pleasingly physical and intense. And there are vocals, but fear not, they manage to become just another mesmerizing instrument working its way into your subconscious just like the flute, the (tasteful) sax and all the different keyboards. Originally conceived for his first scores for film as well as incidental music for a theater company, this is quickly becoming one of our favorite Glass recordings ever!
"Etoile Polaire: Victor's Lament" MPEG Stream:
"Mad Rush for Organ" MPEG Stream:
"Dressed Like An Egg: Part V"
ASH RA TEMPEL Schwingungen (Spalax) cd 17.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY.
OLD WAINDS Withers Of The Wainds (Arma Diaboli Productions) cd 13.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. Back in stock!!! We once mentioned that the best way to discover the most amazing music in any genre, is to check out what other musicians are listening to. Never has that been more true than with black metal. A genre predicated on bands' underground status or level of grimness, how cult or frosty they are. Which means, some of the best bands aren't often heard outside of tiny circles, many times just other bands and close friends. Limited tape releases, cd-r's, demos. You have to be super tenacious to really be on top of the latest greatest grim horde from Bolivia or Paraguay who only have a single cassette release, and it was limited to 10 copies, each one doused in the band's blood. Such is the case, although not quite so dramatically with Russia's Old Wainds. Ask any of the BM elite. Ask Wrest from Leviathan, Ancalagon the Black from Crebain, Hildolf from Draugar, Azentrius from Nachtmystium, and any one else you can pull from their blackened crypts, who their favorite black metal band is, and odds are all or most of them will tell you Old Wainds. And we might have to concur. The frustrating thing is most of the Old Wainds discs are only available on eBay at totally exorbitant prices. But you know what, it's completely worth it. Old Wainds play some of the most primal, furious, gloriously buzzy black metal we have ever heard. Although it might be better to start here, with this normally priced cd reissue of the bands Withers Of The Wainds demo. Each track a blast of cold black winter winds, swirls of murky buzzing riffage, thrashing drums, and super insane vocals, that are strangely processed / affected so they sound like some strange death rattle, drenched in reverb, like the battle cry of some pterodactyl / rattlesnake hybrid. So completely alien and harshly harrowing. But perfect for the bleak buzzing blackened landscapes below. Killer riffs (you can pretty much boil ALL metal down to their main component, the riff), a murky production that swaths everything in a gauzy black veil, and those insane over the top vocals, all whipped into an impossibly furious black attack. Absolutely and utterly essential black metal. We'll do our best to track down the rest of the Old Wainds discs that are available (not many? none?), and we'll wait patiently for the out of print ones to be reissued (or reissue them ourselves, if Andee can get in touch with the band), but for now, hails to Arma Diaboli for reissuing this disc and saving us all $50, and allowing us the opportunity to finally bask in the unearthly black glow of Old Wainds!!
"Thy Dream" MPEG Stream:
"Fog " MPEG Stream:
DIMHYMN / HYPOTHERMIA Sjuklig Intention (Eerie Art) cd 15.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. From the same label that brought us recent bouts of brilliantly fucked black metal from Wolok and Lorn as well as classic releases from Blodulv and Glorior Belli comes this killer split, featuring two grim legends from the Swedish black metal underground. The awesomely named Dimhymn do some impossible to describe black doom classic rock? Or something. Not sure what else to call it. Super blown out distorted black chug, haunting high end guitar licks, and incredibly catchy little bridges, a plodding dirge that sort of lopes along before the music suddenly screeches to a halt and is replaced by some classical piano, only to immediately be stomped on by a huge black cloud. A massive furious riffy freakout, guitars in the red and crumbling all over the place. The drums so hot that the cymbals' sizzle threaten to overwhelm everything. And before you know it the music blinks out again and in its place a haunting alien ambience that bloops and bleeps before once again the blackness descends. The song ends with mournful reverbed trumpet that sort of drifts off into the ether. WHAT THE FUCK? So awesome. The second track is a huge chunk of black drone, pointillist piano dropped into a bleak soundscape of thick grinding fuzz and insect like melodies. The final track starts off with melancholy guitar melodies before launching into a SUPER catchy groovy black thrash, with soaring melodies, and massive almost Nirvana like breakdowns, the sound still totally overblown and in the red. And again, the weird reverbed trumpet pops in without any warning, disappearing just as fast. The track ends with more of the classical piano from the first track. Wow. So amazing. We hear lots of weird black metal, but Dimhymn's half of the split has catapulted them damn near right to the front of the fucked black metal line! Tough to follow up something like that, so fellow Swedes Hypothermia don't try to out-weird Dimhymn, but somehow manage to be just as bizarre but in an entirely different way. Epic fuzzed out glacial dirge, thick riffs spread out in a black smear, the drums a caveman plod, and some of the most fucked vocals ever. From weird, something-caught-in-the-throat sort of strangulated grunts and mewls, to guttural growls that occasionally break into falsetto-y squeaks as if the vocalist hit puberty right in the middle of recording. Sounds funny, but the overall effect is more creepy than anything. The finish the disc off with an epic 16 minute midtempo buzzscape. Looped riffs, totally repetitive and hypnotic, occasionally the drums break into a not-so-fast blast, but for the most part this is drone drenched monochromatic black dirge rock. Almost like a grim black metal Circle, or a blackened Spacemen 3, all stretched out fuzz guitar and endless trancelike riffing. So great. A pretty much perfect split. Two more impossibly damaged and absolutely essential outsider black metal bands to add to the ever growing list!
DIMHYMN "Drakoforism" MPEG Stream:
HYPOTHERMIA "Fran Ett Depravcrat Inre"
VALET Blood Is Clean (Yarnlazer) cd-r 7.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. Another fantastic release from the brilliantly named Yarn Lazer label. This one from Honey Owens who also does time in Jackie O Motherfucker. We mentioned it elsewhere on this list, but there definitely seems to be a preponderance of vocal based music surfacing lately, Grouper, Bastard Wing, Pump Kinn, Lichens, and Valet also uses the voice as a major component of her sound. Twisting and stretching it into broad sonic strokes and dreamy drones. But it's not just vocals, Owens also weaves darkly delicate little sound worlds, of muted tribal percussion, dark cavernous rumbles, lots of buzz and creak, alien transmissions, clattery minimal percussion, crumbling guitar grit, murky swirls of reverb and delay, the perfect sonic backdrop for all manner of processed and unprocessed vocals, ranging from sultry chanteuse like croon, to chopped and delayed Boredomsy "boop boop"s to breathy ambiance. Really beautiful and understated. Packaged in simple and striking silk-screened cardboard sleeves. LIMITED TO 200 COPIES. ALREADY OUT OF PRINT. WE ONLY HAVE ABOUT 30 AND ONCE THEY ARE GONE THAT'S IT!!
"April6th" MPEG Stream:
"Blood Is Clean"
BATTIATO, FRANCO Pollution (Water) cd 15.98
Although it's only a very small section inside our store, many of our most devout and curious shoppers have found gem after gem in our Italian Prog section. Franco Battiato is one of those gems for sure. One of those endlessly creative artists who completely defies categorization. Sweeping in scope and eccentric in all the right ways it's no surprise that Battiato has finally begun to get the attention he so rightly deserves, as folks like Jim O'Rourke have gone out of their way to champion these forward thinking sounds from decades ago. Released in 1973, Pollution is a psychedelic synth masterpiece foreshadowing so much of what was to come in the landscape of electronic music. With out-of-this-world synths that make Rick Wakeman's playing seem pedestrian, and an otherworldly dimension orchestrated to perfection. Like David Axelrod getting super psychedelic and arranging a record for Ash Ra Tempel. So extravagant yet totally coherent. These sounds are so alive, so full of color, wonder and beauty. It goes without saying that as more folks discover this record it will probably be sampled to death, and we wouldn't be all that surprised if Four Tet, DJ Shadow, or Plaid hadn't already borrowed a bit here and there. Like Jean Claude Vannier's L'Enfant Assassin Des Mouches, this is an early '70s psych-prog masterpiece that is an across the board AQ favorite!
"Areknames" MPEG Stream:
"Plancton" MPEG Stream:
BORIS Dronevil Final (Inoxia) 2cd 25.00
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. It seems like every Boris release is more anxiously anticipated than the last. But somehow this is the one everybody's been waiting for. A double cd reissue of the previously vinyl only Dronevil. And just to ensure that Boris obsessives who already have the lp don't get off easy, the cd version adds two lengthy tracks to each disc and eliminates the pressing defect that plagued the lp release. Dronevil is like the Japanese doom sludge version of the Flaming Lips' Zaireeka! Two discs, one drone, one heavy, intended to be played simultaneously on two separate stereos, but both equally listenable on their own. The 'drone' disc is gorgeous, the first track is a shimmering swirl of sizzling cymbals, thick clouds of reverberating metal, sounding almost like some lost Organum track. Warm metallic swells, that undulate and subtly swing, layer upon layer of gorgeous high end sound. The second is a lugubrious trawl through some dimly lit cavernous underworld, thick tones swirl and drift, super minimal, like the slowed down sound of tolling bells, a slow motion ringing that shimmers and hums, like some distant soundscape viewed through thick panes of fogged up glass. The final drone track is another high end excursion, this time it's a whirl of densely layered tones, like sheets of feedback, played back at different speeds, creating strange tonal clusters and causing the various sounds to beat against each other producing subtle rhythms and streaks of upper register melody. Like a much more minimal Sunroof! or a Phil Niblock piece using Total outtakes as source material. The sludgier disc (or the 'Evil' disc of the Dronevil pair) starts off with the 21 minute "Red", which starts off with some rumbling low end swells, mirroring the shimmering cymbals of it's ambient corollary on disc 1, then some abstract clean guitar, lots of space, about halfway through in come the keening distorted guitar feedback, streaks of psychedelic skree above the spacious abstract soundscape, finally about 15 minutes in the drums kick in, a simple post rock skitter, the clean guitars coalesce into a sort of Morricone-ish spaghetti western twang, above which some spare soulful leads drift and delicately soar, a slow loping groove like some strange slowcore hybrid of Codeine and Low. Dreamy and so good. The second track is where it actually gets heavy, a super distorted slow motion riff builds and builds until Boris are lurching along like some monstrous space rock behemoth, a sludgy trudge, thick walls of distorted guitar, simple pounding drums, all beneath wild psychedelic leads. Very Hawkwindy for sure. A brief near silent interlude sets us up for the hammer to fall, and it does, huge crumbling riffs dripping with filthy distortion, a sludgy black hole riff, and the wild psychedelic leads just keep getting more tangled and freaked out. So totally intense and heavy and super spaced out. The final track is another massive space doom workout. Heavy and thick and dense, but still somehow spacious and epic. Guitars grind and crunch but they also drift and hover weightless, the drums pound one second, and skitter jazzily the next, everything a huge swirling mass of psychedelic spaciness wrapped in massively thick guitars, ending in a barely there acoustic steel string coda. Now when you play the two discs together it all makes sense. The heavy disc is so spare and spacey, because the first disc introduces all of these extra layers of sound, and the first disc is so abstract and minimal, because it's main purpose is to fill out the doom drenched space rock on disc two. But it barely matters. Together, the two discs perfectly meld into a killer postspacerock doom sludge record, heavy and dense and layered. Apart, you've got two amazing records, one super abstract free drone record, and one post slow core psychedelic spacerock record. You can't really lose either way. And as always the packaging is absolutely breathtaking: a Japanese style mini gatefold, printed inside and out, black and light blue ink on thick textured brown cardstock, along the bottom a black and grey printed vellum obi, each disc in its own pocket and beautifully packaged with three circular plastic printed transparencies, all of the images combining with the printed image on the disc. WOW.
"The Evil One Which Sobs" MPEG Stream:
GRAVELAND Dawn Of Iron Blades (No Colours) cd 16.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. Now in a regular jewelcased cd! Sad to report that the special oversized 8" x 6" book version is long gone, but the music remains the same. Here's what we said about it back in 2004: This is the newest release from Polish black metal legends Graveland. Dawn Of Iron Blades is yet another majestic blast of fuzzy, droney, Viking-tinged black metal brutality. Mostly midtempo, often waltzy in that droning seasick style we just can't get enough of. Buzzing and blurry, totally hypnotic and mesmerizing. Single riffs repeated mantra-like until you find yourself in a trance, sitting atop Valhalla, while the angels serenade from above in raspy black metal growls and the Vikings below pay homage with riff after Burzumic riff. Best to try and ignore the problematic politics (Nordic Pride bordering on white power) and just luxuriate in the thick fuzz of grim black metal glory!
"Iron In The Fog" MPEG Stream:
AMON DUUL II Yeti (Revisited ) cd 17.98
It's been reissued again and again, as well is should 'cause this is one of the best albums EVER everyone at AQ agrees and should always be in print, and you should even own more than one copy it's that good. For some reason, the rights to this album (and ADII's others as well) seem to constantly be in flux from one label to the next -- this time it's in the care of an outfit called Revisited Records, who have put it in a digipack almost identical to its previous incarnation on Repertoire, but sadly without the two bonus tracks from singles that that one had. Anyway, maybe you're wondering what the heck the big deal is with Yeti, so here's our review we wrote last time it got reissued: The absolute hardest albums to write about are those we hold in the highest esteem and though we have an aversion to the general notion of a "desert island selection", this Amon Duul II disc is one of those albums that we could see as an definite inclusion on a short list of "must have" rock records! 1970's Yeti is the second album of Amon Duul II, succeeding Phallus Dei, and captures these krautrockers at their zenith. The album opens with the four movement opus "Soap Shop Rock", an amazing 13+ minute track that encompasses the gamut of psychedelia. It begins as an uptempo number with driving bass and drums in which vocals, guitars and amplified fiddles swirl around in a multitude of melodic variations in counterpoint before breaking down into one of the most kick ass tempo changes ever performed in rock; a heavy dirge that never fails to knock my knee caps loose, and it's got a guitar line that certainly must have been held in immense reverence by Kramer at some formative point in his career. The song doesn't settle down there, but continues in its focused meanderings for another ten minutes, retaining enough of an anchor of its beginnings to give it coherence as a unified whole. The rest of the album is equally amazing, touching everything from blasted proto-punk psych ("Archangels Thunderbird" and "Eye-Shaking King") to spacey drone improv (the fifteen minutes of "Yeti Talks To Yogi" and "Sandoz In The Rain"). Essential krautrock. In fact, one of the best records EVER. It's one of those albums, like First Utterance by Comus and Satori by Flower Travellin' Band, that when it's playing, we think, why listen to anything else again??
"Soap Shop Rock - Halluzination Guillotine" MPEG Stream:
"Archangels Thunderbird" MPEG Stream:
"Soap Shop Rock - Flesh-Coloured Anti-Aircraft Alarm Clock"
AMON DUUL II Yeti (Revisited) 2lp 30.00
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. Yes, now reissued on vinyl!!! It's been reissued on cd again and again, as well is should 'cause this is one of the best albums EVER everyone at AQ agrees, and should always be in print, and you should even own more than one copy it's that good. This is the first vinyl reissue we've seen though, released by the same outfit that did the most recent cd digipack reish. Four sides of Yeti's genius, in a gatefold sleeve bearing that iconic krautrock cover image of Shrat with his scythe. Anyway, maybe you're wondering what the heck the big deal is with Yeti, so here's our review we wrote the last time it got reissued: The absolute hardest albums to write about are those we hold in the highest esteem and though we have an aversion to the general notion of a "desert island selection", this Amon Duul II disc is one of those albums that we could see as an definite inclusion on a short list of "must have" rock records! 1970's Yeti is the second album of Amon Duul II, succeeding Phallus Dei, and captures these krautrockers at their zenith. The album opens with the four movement opus "Soap Shop Rock", an amazing 13+ minute track that encompasses the gamut of psychedelia. It begins as an uptempo number with driving bass and drums in which vocals, guitars and amplified fiddles swirl around in a multitude of melodic variations in counterpoint before breaking down into one of the most kick ass tempo changes ever performed in rock; a heavy dirge that never fails to knock my knee caps loose, and it's got a guitar line that certainly must have been held in immense reverence by Kramer at some formative point in his career. The song doesn't settle down there, but continues in its focused meanderings for another ten minutes, retaining enough of an anchor of its beginnings to give it coherence as a unified whole. The rest of the album is equally amazing, touching everything from blasted proto-punk psych ("Archangels Thunderbird" and "Eye-Shaking King") to spacey drone improv (the fifteen minutes of "Yeti Talks To Yogi" and "Sandoz In The Rain"). Essential krautrock. In fact, one of the best records EVER. It's one of those albums, like First Utterance by Comus and Satori by Flower Travellin' Band, that when it's playing, we think, why listen to anything else again??
"Soap Shop Rock - Halluzination Guillotine" MPEG Stream:
"Archangels Thunderbird" MPEG Stream:
"Soap Shop Rock - Flesh-Coloured Anti-Aircraft Alarm Clock"
GORGOROTH Ad Majorem Sathanas Gloriam (Candlelight) cd 14.98
The return of the mighty Gorgoroth!!! With all the non musical drama surrounding these guys it's sometimes hard to remember that Gorgoroth remain one of the only TRUE Norwegian black metal bands still totally capable of utter blackened musical destruction. Vocalist Gaahl has had it tough, arrested, headed for prison, but as we've learned from Lords Of Chaos, if you're gonna commit a heinous crime, do it in Norway. 14 years for first degree murder. Gaahl only got a year or so for taking a man hostage and torturing him. But what this might tell you is that Gorgoroth are indeed still very very EVIL. And they sound like it. There are seemingly two schools of thought on Gorgoroth. There are those who love OLD Gorgoroth, Under The Sign Of Hell being THE ONE, and there are those, like us who lean toward Destroyer, the band's most noisy and fucked up record. We actually love both, but as we're sure you know, we tend to lean toward the damaged and demented. Ad Majorem Sathanas Gloriam falls mostly on the side of the former, a TRUE buzzing and blasting blackness, that does sound fucking fantastic but is not really weird or noisy or fucked up. We still love it, cuz these guys can still basically do no wrong, ands if you are hankering for some blasting frosty fury, some true grim classic sounding black metal, this will definitely hit the spot. The production is better, the band is tighter, the songs are maybe catchier, but it basically sounds like a modernized version of Under The Sign Of Hell, which is a VERY good thing. Secretly we were hoping for the band to totally drop us in our tracks with the weirdest black metal record ever, cuz if anyone is capable of coming up with such a thing, it's Gorgoroth, but hell, we've been to busy banging our heads to really notice.
"Wound Upon Wound" MPEG Stream:
"Carving A Giant"
CHAPTERHOUSE Whirlpool (Cherry Red) cd 16.98
Long overdue reissue of this shoegaze classic. Out of all the bands dubbed shoegazers in the UK in the late eighties, Stone Roses, Primal Scream, Ride, Slowdive, Swervedriver and especially My Bloody Valentine, for some reason, Chapterhouse never really received their due. Sure they sold some records, had a few hit singles, but no one spoke about Chapterhouse with the same hushed reverence as they did when name dropping Slowdive or My Bloody Valentine. Every single band since the nineties, with even the slightest hint of noisiness or spaciness never hesitates to reference MBV as a huge influence, but now that we're finally getting a chance to listen to Whirlpool again, it definitely reminds us how fucking great Chapterhouse were, and what a unique take they had on the whole spaced out bliss out shoegaze thing. Swervedriver may have been the heaviest, My Bloody Valentine the wildest, but Chapterhouse managed to be the most interesting, dipping their toes into both Stone Roses-y dance tracks, and blown out druggy psychedelia a la Swervedriver or MBV. In each instance the band made the sound their own. The heavier tracks here, "Breather", "Treasure", "Guilt" are packed with dense squalls of heavily affected guitars, big swirls of droney ambience, all of the elements that defined the shoegazers, but Chapterhouse were much more subtle, the result sounding much more druggy and droney like Spacemen 3 (their sonic inspirations) than freaked out and wild like MBV. And when they chose to, like on "Pearl" or "Falling Down" they could whip up an ultra danceable groove, albeit still swathed in a good amount of guitar fuzz and blissy psychedelia. Either way, Chapterhouse at their core, were a pop band, and at the heart of each song was a pop song, a catchy hook, that would either get buried in a thick wash of blissy fuzz, or draped over some sort of funky groove. Either way, we love it! This reissue includes the Whirlpool album, the Freefall ep, the Sunburst ep and the Pearl ep. Huge booklet with liner notes, band interviews, photos, original album and ep artwork and all of the lyrics printed for the first time!
"Breather" MPEG Stream:
"Pearl" MPEG Stream:
CIRCLE OF OUROBORUS Shores (Northern Sky) cd 12.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. Not any black metal band can share a split with the mighty and mighty bizarre Urfaust, with their blustery buzz and crazy crooning. But Finland's Circle Of Ouroborus were well up to the task. In fact they actually sound quite bit like Urfaust, albeit in a way more damaged way, which is saying a lot. On the split with Urfaust we reviewed recently, Circle Of Ouroborus offered up their own cracked take on buzzing black metal, murky almost punky, super lo-fi, practice space production, mumble warbly guitars, drums tinny and buried in the mix, and a totally demented vocalist wailing in a growling cracked croon, WAY up in the mix, shouting and howling. We thought they sounded a bit like a grim black metal Fall. On Shores, the band stretch out a bit, but still hew close to the sound they share with their sonic brethren in Urfaust, a loping lurching, midtempo buzz, sing songy melodies, a murky black swirl, downtuned and droney, but stumblingly propulsive. Seasick and swaying drunkenly, these tracks sound more like blackened versions of some eighties British post punk band than some cult black metal band. And when the vocals kick in it pretty much seals the deal. When Mark E. Smith dies, and the Fall are no more, he'll strike a deal with the devil, come back from the dead, and this is where he'll end up. Crooning, in that nasally whine, sing/speaking for some mysterious jangly black metal post punk rock band. And if there was any doubt, Circle Of Ouroborus cover "She's Lost Control" by Joy Division. It's not particularly black either, it's gloomy and gothy and propulsively punky, guitars slide and slither, the vocals a dark croon. It almost sounds like a lo-fi live recording of Interpol or some long lost Damned track. Which is a very good thing for sure. It's just weird that these guys exist as a underground, grim and cult black metal band, when sonically, they owe as much to punk rock, and goth rock, and new wave as they do Darkthrone or Mayhem. Sure there's plenty of buzz and suffocating black atmosphere, but to truly dig this you'll definitely need either a love of totally bizarre and not entirely black metal, or a soft spot for classic newwavepostpunk (Fall, Wire, Gang Of Four, Joy Division) or preferably BOTH! And we definitely have both in spades, so as you might imagine this is WAY recommended!
"Nothingness" MPEG Stream:
"She's Lost Control (Joy Division)" MPEG Stream:
HOLY SHIT Stranded At Two Harbors (UUAR) cd 14.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. HOLY SHIT! we can't get enough of this record...or overcome the urge to say HOLY SHIT every few seconds while talking about this new great collaboration between our favorite art-damaged pop songwriter Ariel Pink and his unlikely partner in musical crime, Matt Fishbeck formerly of the shiny happy LA power-pop band The Push Kings. But don't worry Ariel Pink hasn't gotten all normal and boring on us...in fact in lots of ways this is his most captivating and compelling release yet! With a fuzzy folk lo-fi sound that reminds us of the glory days of the great New Zealand label Flying Nun or like some amazing amalgamation of Daniel Johnston and Roky Erikson playing Orange Juice covers. This is what we wish AM radio really sounded like, fuzzy and warped, demented and all twisted up like some poprock funhouse mirror, while underneath it all lurk perfect and precious. Totally catchy pop hooks and great timeless sounding songs. Fishbeck actually tackles most of the vocal duties here, although you'd be forgiven for thinking it was indeed Mr. Pink, and his voice sounds so perfect amidst the dabs of tape hiss, staticky cracklings and WAY off-kilter production. But deep down inside we know, it's Ariel Pink's cracked pop sensibilities that really mold and create the overall sound, warm and lucid, dreamy and trippy, an album that unfolds revealing a deliriously damaged dreamland and takes you on a pop trip that's weird enough to get lost in but cool and catchy enough that you want to stay lost FOREVER. HOLY SHIT we're in love with this record! Packaged in a cool shiny metallic gold and silver digipak. With a cute photo inside of the bandmates smooching out in a grassy field. Awww...
"Maus Is Missing" MPEG Stream:
"Written All Over Your Face" MPEG Stream:
GOSLINGS, THE Spaceheater / Perfectinterior (Crucial Blast) cd 14.98
We were first turned on to The Goslings, a husband and wife duo from Florida, by a couple of our more Sunn 0))) / Earth obsessed customers, so imagine our surprise when we discovered The Goslings to be in fact, a gloriously unlikely, sun dappled, fog shrouded, druggy, murky space pop combo. Sure they had certain elements in common with those dronedirge lords, but The Goslings were a much gentler, much more introspective beast. Taking their thick fuzz and spreading it out over their minimal blisspop like dew on blades of grass, each drop a sparkling, shimmering, glistening swirl of abstract color. This disc collects two long out of print cd-r's and is the portrait of the artist as a young band, their burgeoning expansiveness only just beginning to take form, but already blindingly beautiful to the ears. The opening track is an endless landscape of hiss and fuzz, rife with random room sounds, the glitch of instrument cables, the feeding back rumble of crappy old amps with unplayed guitars plugged into them, sounds a little like an audience recording of the random sounds between songs at a Dead C show, some drifting vocals surface every once in a while, as do creepy little chimes, and near the end the swirling fog begins to take shape and becomes a warbly organ melody. But such a harrowing, slow moving journey for such little reward. Such is the way of The Goslings. Once you realize that, you realize that every second of hiss, and every minute of near motionless hum are rewards in and of themselves. The rest is easy. The next track is more representative, a Harvey Milk-ish dirge, drifting blurry eyed dopelike dreampop, huge swaths of fuzz drenched melody, soft ethereal vocals buried beneath the fuzz, a strangely lo-fi doomier version of My Bloody Valentine. Elsewhere, guitars unfurl tendrils of simple indie jangle, floating weightless beneath crooning female vocals, all over a rumbling slow motion bass groove, later an almost country ballad, slurred vocals lounged lugubriously over a dusty ghost town of downtuned twang. Each track is its own subtle shade of dopesick and doom drenched, some sinister, some glowing, some crawling broken and buried, some floating heavenward, some cracked and crackly, some lush and dense with soft shimmer. But all of them gorgeous and mysterious.
"Statuette" MPEG Stream:
"Lillian" MPEG Stream:
V/A Basic Channel (Basic Channel) cd 15.98
Finally re-pressed and back in stock! Basic Channel had a short existence, but was incredibly influential on the future of techno. Between 1993 and 1995, Basic Channel released nine singles that infused the jack hammering acid tracks of Detroit Techno with the ghostly hiss that accumulated on Lee Perry's dub productions in the '70s. However, this was not the electronic dub of Pole or Kit Clayton, although both were obviously huge fans of Basic Channel. Rather, Basic Channel offered a hyper-abstract vision of techno that never sacrificed the integrity of the rhythm. Amidst the aerosolized sounds, gray modulations, and purposefully murky timbres, the Basic Channel producers Moritz von Oswald and Mark Ernestus (who would later go on to form Rhythm And Sound) always centered their work along the skeleton of a propulsive techno beat. This Basic Channel compilation is now in its FOURTH pressing; the original came out in 1995 in a fittingly non-descript cardboard sleeve and later in the metal tin designs that were used for their later Chain Reaction series. This compiled the more ambient and abstract and blissed out cuts on those singles while some of the heavier Chain Reaction tracks were compiled on the "Scion Arrange and Process Basic Channel Tracks" cd (now unfortunately out of print). But if you just want to bliss out and drift off and be narcoticized by throbbing pulses and fuzzy grit, you can't do much better than this.
"G Loop" MPEG Stream:
"E2E4 Basic (Reshape)" MPEG Stream:
CARCASS The Gore Gallery of Demos (Hells Headbangers) cd 15.98
Killer gore soaked collection of rare demos from one of Allan's and Andee's favorite bands of all time!!
IMMORTAL At The Heart Of The Winter (Osmose) cd 13.98
The return of Immortal!!! These frosty warriors may have hung up their spiked gauntlets, but their legacy still looms large. Easily one of our favorite black metal hordes EVER, these records have been frustratingly tough to keep in stock over the years. Thankfully, they've all been reissued, in all their frostbitten black blurred glory! At The Heart Of Winter is from way back in 1999, but is one of the later albums by these blizzard beasts. You might be disappointed by the lack of blurred blast beats and blazing Arctic riffs but you certainly won't be disappointed with the results of these corpsepainted Norwegians' last photo shoot! A newfound obsession with pro wrestling and a new, very large and perpetually shirtless drummer (sporting a black metal belly girdle!) make this cd great to look at, but it's actually a great listen as well. As mentioned, gone is the speed of their previous effort Blizzard Beasts --in it's place is a stripped-down, more midtempo, straight-ahead heavy metal sound. Better, more professional production than in the past, plus catchier riffs combined with stumbling, propulsive drumming make this a record that Andee and Allan both love (while big Immortal fan Josh from The Champs votes this as the *worst* metal album of the year--go figure). Note: in the years since this album came out (1999) ol' Josh has had a change of heart and now admits that it's a pretty good record! And Allan rates it as his favorite Immortal opus ever. Andee places it at number two, right behind the classic Blizzard Beasts!
"Withstand The Fall Of Time" MPEG Stream:
"Tragedies Blows At Horizon"
IMMORTAL Blizzard Beasts (Osmose) cd 13.98
The return of Immortal!!! These frosty warriors may have hung up their spiked gauntlets, but their legacy still looms large. Easily one of our favorite black metal hordes EVER, these records have been frustratingly tough to keep in stock over the years. Thankfully, they've all been reissued, in all their frostbitten black blurred glory! This is absolutely the best Immortal record (sez Andee!) and easily one of the most important and most essential black metal releases ever. Released in 1997, Blizzard Beasts find Immortal hovering between the total grim primitive chaos of their earlier records and the sharp tight black metal majesty of their later releases, which kind of makes sense when you realize this is their final record as Blizzard Beasts, after this they would proceed to slow down, write longer songs, massive midtempo epics filled with classic metal riffing as well as more traditional metal song structures. It's almost as if they knew this was their last hurrah, so they went all out, made the tempos faster, the arrangements more complex, the guitars that much more buzzy and blown out, the vocals as inhuman as humanly possible, without losing their uncanny knack for hiding hooks amidst all that black buzz, or their distinctly classic Norwegian sound. The ultimate blast of forsty, wintery black metal, a furiously frigid barrage, an amazingly trance-inducing, complex blur of drums, rasping howls and icicle guitars, stopping and starting but at never less than 100mph! So totally amazing. Up there for sure with Burzum's Filosefem and Darkthrone's Transylvanian Hunger as far as absolutely essential black metal is concerned.
"Blizzard Beast" MPEG Stream:
"Nebular Ravens Winter" MPEG Stream:
IMMORTAL Diabolical Fullmoon Mysticism (Osmose) cd 13.98
The return of Immortal!!! These frosty warriors may have hung up their spiked gauntlets, but their legacy still looms large. Easily one of our favorite black metal hordes EVER, these records have been frustratingly tough to keep in stock over the years. Thankfully, they've all been reissued, in all their frostbitten black blurred glory! The legendary debut from Norway's masters of black winter darkness, lords of their mysterious frostbitten kingdom, originally released way back in 1992 (hard to believe it's been 15 years!) Diabolical Fullmoon Mysticism is one of the essential cornerstones of Norwegian black metal. A buzzing snarling blur of forsty buzz guitars, galloping ice cold blast beats and winter wind banshee howls, this is Immortal at their most primitive, taking their love of Bathory and upping the intensity, the complexity and the overall blackness. Evoking the heart of the forest, pale faced demons riding black fiery-hooved horses up from the pits of hell to lay waste to all in their path. The sound is thick and viscoous, raw and blown out, a swirling dizzying blast of black metal brilliance, that over the course of their career, Immortal would sharpen and hone, but never was it more primal and more perfect than on their debut.
"The Call Of The Wintermoon" MPEG Stream:
IMMORTAL Battles In The North (Osmose) cd 13.98
The final installment in the recent long overdue campaign of Immortal reissues (the rest of which we reviewed a few lists back). The return of Immortal!!! These frosty warriors may have hung up their spiked gauntlets, but their legacy still looms large. Easily one of our favorite black metal hordes EVER, these records have been frustratingly tough to keep in stock over the years. Thankfully, they've all been reissued, in all their frostbitten black blurred glory! As we've said before, you just can't go wrong with Immortal. It's like a big cold hug. For grim black metalheads that is! Everyone has their favorite Immortal. The raw early records, the slow more melodic later releases... and while we definitely love both, our hearts were originally captured by the brief two album black blizzard of buzz that was Blizzard Beasts (1997) and this here slab of frosty grimness Battles In The North. Originally released in 1995, BITN was the record that found Immortal finally unleashing their inner frost giant, from the album art, images of the band members crouching in the snow in full corpse paint with their instruments, to the much more explicit themes of winter and frost and blizzards and ice and snow, to the much frostier sound, a black metal white out, flurries of impossibly fast drumming, blinding swirls of buzzing riffage, the raspy winterdemon like vocals, Battles In The North is fastfastfast, a buzzy blinding blur, brief moments of folky guitar or droney ambience surface here and there, but for the most part this is a black metal avalanche, a huge white wall of black sound. Blizzard Beasts would up the fast and frosty ante a couple years later, but Battles In The North remains a pure and primal explosion of gloriously ultragrim Northern darkness!
"Battles In The North" MPEG Stream:
"Throned By Blackstorms" MPEG Stream:
"Grim And Frostbitten Kingdoms"
IMMORTAL Damned In Black (Osmose) cd 13.98
The return of Immortal!!! These frosty warriors may have hung up their spiked gauntlets, but their legacy still looms large. Easily one of our favorite black metal hordes EVER, these records have been frustratingly tough to keep in stock over the years. Thankfully, they've all been reissued, in all their frostbitten black blurred glory! Damned In Black was originally released in 2000, and was the second to last release before the band called it quits. Immortal, by the time Damned In Black was released, were THE elder black metal statesmen, true members of the Norwegian black metal elite, Abbath (not as in "please take..."!) on guitars and Popeye vox, big ol' drummer Horgh, and new guy Iscariah on bass, (with the sidelined Demonaz still writing lyrics) return after their groundbreaking "At The Heart of Winter", the disc that slowed down (a bit) the previously way FAAASSSTTT tempos characteristic of their speedy-demon classics "Battles In The North" and "Blizzard Beasts" and added more melody, more trad metal riffing, and mo' better production courtesy of Peter Tagtgren & his Abyss studio. "Damned In Black" follows the "Winter" blueprint, being kind of like a "At The Heart of Winter Part II" but without the amusing wanna-be WWF wrestler band photos that garnered so much attention/ridicule last time around. And while the title might suggest some sort of Satanic theme, the Immortal boys stick with their personal mythology of a frosty Northern dimension full of ice, wind, and cold. Immortal fans everywhere (even the ones here in San Francisco who got dissed by the band when they didn't show up to play and went to Mexico instead) should put on some mittens and enjoy this evil icecapade. AGAIN!
"Triumph" MPEG Stream:
"Damned In Black"
IMMORTAL Pure Holocaust (Osmose) cd 13.98
The return of Immortal!!! These frosty warriors may have hung up their spiked gauntlets, but their legacy still looms large. Easily one of our favorite black metal hordes EVER, these records have been frustratingly tough to keep in stock over the years. Thankfully, they've all been reissued, in all their frostbitten black blurred glory! Pure Holocaust was Immortal's second album (from 1993) and is classic old school Norwegian black metal all the way. Grim and frosty, buzzy and blurry. A furious black juggernaut, equal parts Bathory, Darkthrone, Mayhem, Emperor, Burzum, but with their own uniquely wintery spin on that blackened fury, growled demonic old man vocals (hinting at the Immortal Popeye growl that would feature heavily on future releases), buzzing riffs, with hauntinly majestic melodies, furious pummeling drums, everything wrapped in a thick blanket of winter chill, not sure how they did it, but the record is just so evocative of the frozen north, midnights in the forest, wolves baying at the moon. We used to not be so into the early Immortal records, but going back we're reminded just how massive and intense and evil and amazing these records really are!
"Unsilent Storms In The North Abyss" MPEG Stream:
"Frozen By Icewinds"
FUNERAL MIST Devilry (Norma Evangelium Diaboli) cd 16.98
As much as we loved Funeral Mist's Salvation album, it still wasn't enough. We needed more more more!!! So devilry totally hit the spot. A reissue of early FM demos, that while maybe not nearly as heavy and intense as Salvation, still managed to completely and utterly destroy us. Out of print for the last little while, Devilry has been repressed and is finally available again!! For those of you whose black metal addled brains can barely remember all the way back to list #203, Funeral Mist's Salvation was quite possibly THE best black metal release of 2004, and one of our favorite BM records ever! Let's have a quick look at a bit of that review: "It's been forever since we saw a record this beautiful and frightening looking, and so weird but utterly heavy sounding. This is definitely black metal. Appropriately buzzing and grim, with fuzzed out riffs and blasting rhythms and death rattle shrieks, but unlike most other black metal records, this is HEAVY. No, we mean H E A V Y." And thus we went on and on about how unlike most black metal bands, where heaviness is sacrificed for speed and buzz, Funeral Mist manage to be fast and at the same time ultra heavy. Dense and completely pummeling. And beyond that, the songs are linked by and laced with bizarre suffocatingly intense ambient interludes, rife with unrecognizable samples, screams of terror, strange snippets of fifties orchestra music, thunder, lightning, droning rumble and smears of blacknoise, like the sound of hell, and Devilry is quite similar. In fact it might be even more intense, if that's possible. Devilry is from way back in 1998, and the sound is a little bit more raw, the production is a little bit more blown out, but the sound is very much the same, a frighteningly intense blast of Norwegian style black metal, with plenty of doomy melodic breakdowns, but the majority of Devilry is spent in full on blast mode, buzzed out guitars, impossibly heavy AND fast drumming, and super complex catchy songs. Hard to really put into words why this band kicks our asses so hard, their sound is just so visceral, and again SO HEAVY, the buzz is definitely still in full effect at all times, but the drums are hit so hard (there's even a sort of black metal drum solo!!) and the whole thing is just so LOUD and not at all lo-fi like so much of the black metal we love. A blackened upside down cross to the face, and we love it! Also included is the Havoc Demo from 1996, which is a lot more lo-fi than Devilry, like a foetal version of what they would soon become, but even in their demo form, these songs leave practically all other BM in the dust, fuzzy and buzzy, tons of super bizarre affected vocals, strange production fuckery, killer riffs all tucked beneath Funeral Mist's warm black wings. SO FUCKING GREAT!!
"The Devil's Emissary" MPEG Stream:
"Bringer Of Terror"
YELLOW SWANS Psychic Secession (Load) cd 14.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. This out of print import, remixed (supposedly a little less 'noisy') and revamped and available again on Load! It's been a seriously productive year for the Yellow Swans. Multiple cd-r releases, some 7"s, a Australian tour with pals the Grey Daturas, as well as loads of splits and collaaborations with folks like Axolotl and the Skaters as well as teaming up with the Daturas for a couple releases as well. Phew! But thankfully, there seems to be no end in sight. With all those releases, it's a bit surprising to realize the Yellow Swans only have one proper non cd-r release, and that one flew so far under tha radar we wouldn't have known about it at all had one not drifted through here used a while back. So here we have a brand new, shiny silver, actual cd, non-cd-r, blast of Yellow Swans nooooooooooize! Joined on a few of the tracks by fellow noisy folks Inca Ore, Gerritt and Christina Carter (of Charalambides), Psychic Secession is another gorgeous chunk of sweet sweet noise, equal parts glistening shimmer, crushing and jagged skree, skittery diembodied rhythms, haunting ghostly vocals, blistering sheets of distorted electronics, squealing feedback, chiming reverb drenched percussion, glistening delicate ambience, even some ultra processed psychedelic rock, all woven into a dense chaotic and surprisingly gorgeous whole!
"Psychic Secession" MPEG Stream:
"I Woke Up"
ENO, BRIAN / DAVID BYRNE My Life In The Bush Of Ghosts (Nonesuch) cd 17.98
Mixing elements of world, funk, dub, and electronic music has for the most part turned out to be a recipe for disaster. All too many have attempted this mix with a glossy shine and a clumsy hand and without fail have produced pretty tepid attempts at cross cultural imagination. From 1979-1980 Brian Eno and David Byrne recorded -their- take on this fusion years before it became chic and of course with just the right kind of careful and talented hands, and were actually able to make those elements come together and create a brand new language. What's so nice about hearing this reissue is how it's both ahead of its time but also so OF it's time as well. With moments that bring you back to the bits on early Talking Heads records that you could listen to over and over, and with a recording quality so refreshingly raw and primitive. This record was recorded by a large ensemble cast including Bill Laswell who was just then starting his band Material with lots of the same ideas and elements. While not totally related in exact sound we can totally see how many of today's cross cultural sonic explorers were influenced by this record. There's no doubt these were sounds soaked up by the best hip-hop & electronic producers of the '80s and '90s as well as folks like Animal Collective, Excepter and even Glissandro 70, whose record we review elsewhere on this list. This reissue adds a handful of bonus tracks not on the original version and unlike most extras these are in fact all essential.
"Very Very Hungry" MPEG Stream:
"Mea Culpa" MPEG Stream:
"Solo Guitar With Tin Foil"
BATTIATO, FRANCO Fetus (Water) cd 15.98
Strange and introspective Italian prog-rock ballads from the one and only Franco Battiato. Based on themes of creation and rebirth, this first release from 1972 in his eccentric experimental mode is more song-oriented than later synth-prog efforts Sulle Corde Di Aries or Clic, but no less exceptional. A student of Stockhausen with a singing-style reminiscent of Pugh Rogefeldt or Tom Ze, Battiato combines the synthy arpeggios of Tangerine Dream with musique concrete-like manipulations of found recordings and ecstatic bursts of orchestrated pop. Awesome! New reissue includes liner notes from Jim O'Rourke.
"Energia" MPEG Stream:
WIRE 154 (Pink Flag) cd 14.98
While we're not sure we would really want to do it, had we been asked Continuum Press to write one of their 33 1/3 mini books about a favorite album, we just might have to choose Wire's third album 154. Partially, this choice would be something of a compromise as we doubt that a book on Nurse With Wound's Homotopie To Marie would make for a saleable product. 154 stands in our minds as the epitome of what post-punk should be: a bold fusion of post-situationist / punk antagonism and legitimately experimental methodologies with an undercurrent of smarty-pop to keep the kids bouncing up and down. I (Jim) actually came to Wire somewhat late in my record nerd existance, and I actually grew to admire the band through a reverse history of sorts, as I didn't really start enjoying the first three Wire albums (Pink Flag, Chairs Missing, and 154) until other Graham Lewis and Bruce Gilbert projects entranced me with thier experiments in proto-electronica. This was especially true for the ghostly post-structuralism found on their Dome records. And those Lewis / Gilbert projects took their genetic code for shadow and gloom from elements of 154. An album that was made under personal duress, 154 drips of disintegration. In fact the band split apart for almost 7 years after the making of 154, pursuing a variety of projects -- traces of which are quite present in this album as Colin Newman's pop sarcasm continued through his solo records and the vast array of Lewis / Gilbert projects. Recorded in 1979, 154 marks the band's third radical reinvention in three years. Wire's pacing has slowed to a lugubrious, Factory-esque crawl but lost none of their punk antagonism. The slower pacing better suited the baritone vocals of Graham Lewis, who had penned many of the lyrics that Colin Newman sang. In lesser hands, the patchwork of forboding atmospheric dirges and punchy power pop numbers would appear disjointed; but Wire's deft use of synthetic coloring, exquisite timing, and simply great songwriting smear the whole album into a wholly convincing masterpiece. "I Should Have Known Better" and "A Touching Display" represent a few of Graham Lewis' baritone marches through plodding drone and heavy basslines, which have more in common with the late '80s, proto-doom of Swans than of the snarl of the Buzzcocks. Newman's pop brilliance also shines on 154 through "The 15th," which sadly more people recognize from the tepid Fischerspooner cover than by this punk-pop gem. Of the first three Wire albums, 154 proudly stands as the most challenging and most rewarding. So good, I may have to buy it, yet again.
"I Should Have Known Better" MPEG Stream:
"The 15th" MPEG Stream:
"A Touching Display"
WIRE Chairs Missing (Pink Flag) cd 14.98
In 1978, being qualified as "the Pink Floyd of the New Wave" might have come across as something of an insult; and by today's artistic strategies of rampant revivalism such a pithy remark may ring true to many a listener. That statement was, in fact, the critique prescribed to Chairs Missing, Wire's second album, as the album decelerated the pogo punk minimalism found on their first album with an increasing use of experimental production. In hindsight, Chairs Missing is the perfect transition between the high-strung velocity of Pink Flag and the staggering gloominess of 154; yet most transition records have a clunkiness about them, like a lanky teenager not quite able to fit into his sunday best. But Chairs Missing is miles above the average transition album. To many a listener, Chairs Missing stands as the ultimate Wire album, with near perfect pop songs alternating between anthemic punk and eccentric production techniques (i.e. atonal synth drone, staccato guitar chops, overdubbed guitar distortion, etc.). Where Pink Flag kept many of the songs under a minute and half, Chairs Missing is downright baroque in its presentation of 3 minute tunes. The genius of Chairs Missing is how Colin Newman, Robert Gotobed, Bruce Gilbert, and Graham Lewis manage to steer through the diverse songwriting landscape, in how the album's opening track "Practice Makes Perfect" transitions from a delicate prance for jangled guitar into a precise expression of menace, in how "Outdoor Miner" creates the catchiest, Beatlesque chorus you'll never be able to sing back to yourself given the complexity of its rejoining, nonsensical syllables, in how jaggedly clean the guitars of Newman and Gilbert attack each other, in how Lewis' bass is fluid and effortless, in how this run-on sentence seems to have lost its way trying to fathom the complexity of Wire. If you believe that the length of Aquarius' reviews directly correlate to how good the record actually is, then we have failed as we would need to write a fucking a book about how stunning this album is. Yeah, Chairs Missing is incredible; and if you don't have it, you really should. Okay, one thing to bitch about the reissue of Chairs Missing is that the cover is curiously bleached out of its color; the reissue also doesn't come with the (really great!) bonus tracks found on the EMI cd version of the album. Come on Wire, you released this album on your own label. At least you could give us all the bells and whistles found on other versions of this album! This is our only complaint, and a minor quibble for sure.
"Outdoor Miner" MPEG Stream:
"Practice Makes Perfect" MPEG Stream:
"I Am The Fly"
WIRE Pink Flag (Pink Flag) cd 14.98
Really, what more can we say about Wire's Pink Flag that hasn't already been said? The album is so good, so burned in the retina of our brains (even though we still cannot for the life of us unscramble Graham Lewis' lyrics), so nearly perfect that it's sort of hard to write about. In a perfect world, whatever nonsense we may have to say about the record would be moot, as you should already own this record (along with Chairs Missing and 154, Wire's second and third albums respectively). But for those of you who may be enraptured by the recent flurry of post-punk revivalists who continue to make quite a stir, let the reissue campaign of the first three records introduce you to the band that Interpol, Maximo Park, Franz Ferdinand, and Bloc Party only wish they could be. Recorded in 1977, Pink Flag is an immaculately concise punk record, even as Wire recognized that punk was becoming a self-parody and willed themselves to develop through experimentation with structure, technology, and process. Pink Flag's 21 songs cover a mere 35 minutes, many of themclocking in around 90 seconds or "when they ran out of words" as bassist / vocalist Graham Lewis once quipped. Energetic and volatile, each of the songs on Pink Flag thrash through the repetoire of reductivist power-pop riffs as immediately catchy and aggressive as anything by the Damned, the Ramones, and the Sex Pistols. But even on their first album, Wire demonstrated an uncanny ability with chord changes and melodic shifts that by '70s standards were much artier than their punk bretheren. Of course, in the aftermath of math-rock's acrobatic twists and turns, Wire's Pink Flag hardly sounds unpredictable... but if it weren't for Wire would we really have Laddio Bollocko? Probably not. The album's opening track "Reuters" is an anxious introduction to Wire's provocation with lead vocalist Colin Newman over-annunciating a polemic against government's abuse of propaganda (sound familiar?) on top of an increasingly agitated metronomic blast of bass, twin guitar, and drums. Elsewhere near perfect pop songs develop out of the angular punk slashing, as heard on "Ex Liontamers" and "Mannequin." Wire ends the album with the monotone anthem "12 X U" which many have declared their "Anarchy In The UK." With a motorik rhythm punctured by concise punk riff, the track simultaneously decries homophobia and censorship with the song's entire lyrics "I saw you in the mag kissing the man / 1 2 X U!" So yeah, Wire are a seminal band for a reason, and it all started with this album. If you don't have it, please do yourself a favor and buy this album. You won't regret it!
"Reuters" MPEG Stream:
"Mannequin" MPEG Stream:
"12 X U"
SUNN O))) / EARTH Angel Coma (split) (Southern Lord) lp 14.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. Don't get too excited. By the time you read this, it will be long long long gone....
KRIEG Blue Miasma (No Colours) cd 16.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. Final black and bleak missive from metal misanthrope Imperial and his black metal horde Krieg. Practically an institution, Krieg spew a particularly hateful and depressive strain of black metal, falling somewhere between the old school (Judas Isacriot) and the new school (Xasthur) of US black metal. A buzzing chaotic blur, mostly plodding midtempos, guitars a droning hypnotic whir, the drums a splattery framework way down in the murky swirl, the vocals squirming tentacles of howl and shriek, tangled amidst the buzzing riffs and the careening rhythms. Not nearly as harsh as past efforts, this final album is downright melodic at times, some classic sounding thrash riffs surface here and there, huge expanses of droning doom metal share the spotlight with the grim black thrash, the melodies minor key and truly sorrowful sounding, some tracks trail off into ambient stretches of white noise guitar, sounding a bit like Total or Hototogisu here and there. Blue Miasma is hate fueled and harrowing, harsh but weirdly mournful and melancholy, even the ultra fast parts end up sort of blissing out into droning doomy miserablism. Fucking Awesome. Word of warning, Krieg and Imperial have been know to espouse truly abhorrent views, political, racial and otherwise, sort of comes with the black metal territory a lot of the time. It's a personal choice, whether you can enjoy the music and ignore the politics of its creator. You have been warned.
"The Great Beast Trembled In Nightmare" MPEG Stream:
"Who Shall Stand Against Me" MPEG Stream:
"The Blue Mist"
RIMFROST A Journey To The Greater End (No Colours) cd 13.98
More black brutality from No Colours records in Germany. Home to Nargaroth, Graveland, Wigrid and Woodtemple, so you know this is gonna be good, what you might not expect is that Rimfrost's A Journey is basically a super technical slab of brutal black death metal. Super fast tight triggered drums, downtuned but super compressed riffing, growled blackened death metal vocals, the whole thing super polished and ultra tight. We usually expect No Colours stuff to be buzzy and blurry and home recorded, sometimes stumbling, often midtempo, super personal blackness, so this was a huge surprise, but not a bad surprise at all, cuz we love this stuff just as much. Think Khold, Thorns, newer Satyricon, that sort of clinical black metal, but filtered through some early nineties death metal. Fierce and heavy, with lots of half time chug, killer pick squeals, pounding near doom, and c'mon, they're called Rimfrost!
"At The Mighty Halls They'll Walk"
SATYRICON Dark Medieval Times (Moonfog) cd 12.98
Now reissued and available again, this is the very very first black metal record (!) that I (Andee) ever bought, along with Cradle Of Filth's The Principle Of Evil Made Flesh, and upon my very first listen was immediately converted to the dark side. The circumstances of my introduction certainly helped. There are plenty of ways to be introduced to new music, getting a mix tape, having a friend play it for you, hearing it on the radio, whatever, but my introduction to black metal was a little different. And a whole lot better if you ask me. There was a cool punk rock collective record store here in SF years ago (Epicenter, now long gone). I used to work at the thrift store downstairs, so like any self respecting record nerd, I spent all my free time upstairs listening, browsing, shopping, hanging out. There was a woman who worked there who was a punk rock / metalhead dream come true. Super tall, lots of spikes and leather and denim, waist length dyed dreadlocks, earrings, noserings, huge black boots, tattoos, and on top of all that she was totally drop dead gorgeous. Almost like a super model dressed up as a metalhead. And as you might imagine she seemed absolutely and totally unapproachable. Well, one day, she started talking to me, handed me this disc and the Cradle Of Filth and insisted that I'd dig 'em. Not sure why she thought I would or how she may have known, but it hardly mattered, she was talking to me, and there was no way I was not going to walk up to the counter with her and leave proudly clutching those discs. Thankfully, I did in fact love both of them, and like I mentioned, I immediately became obsessed with black metal. My mysterious black metal angel drifted off and disappeared, but my love of black metal stuck. Hard to imagine not being blown away by this record, Satyricon's debut, a gloriously dense, snarling black buzz, with plenty of loping Viking flecked riffage, haunting folky acoustic breaks, blasting double kick, howled guttural vocals. Coming long before the super polished black tech of Satyricon's later records, this is raw and furious, the production is lo-fi but still super thick and heavy, lots of reverb, lots and lots of buzz and fuzz, perfectly situated between the ultra complex blasts of Emperor and Mayhem and the plodding hypnotic buzz of Burzum. It's plenty weird too, huge too-loud keyboard swells, haunting angelic vocals, buzzing sing songy riffs, but already even way back then, you could hear the hints of Satyricon's future as black metal masters, so heavy and strangely catchy, weird and warped, but totally grim and utterly black.
"Walk The Path Of Sorrow" MPEG Stream:
"Dark Medieval Times"
BELONG October Language (Carpark) cd 16.98
Belong, belong (couldn't resist) in a world of washed out sound, faded memories and blistering layers of sound. Imagine the warm crackles of Endless Summer era Fennesz, a touch of Godspeed You Black Emperor aimed at monumental peaks and valleys, a Flying Saucer Attack eyes half closed eyes half open delivery with a My Bloody Valentine shimmering layer of sound thrown in for good measure. A duo from New Orleans, Belong do a really nice job of taking from their influences but also having their own unique take on the whole gauzy smeary ambient free noise sound. Their take being a thick heady blast of sound that doesn't at all lose any of its gauzy dreaminess. October Language is that great kind of record that can take on different lives when played soft vs. loud. It allows you to enjoy it quiet, as a textural layer that you can dream beneath or drift away on top of. Or you can blast Belong and they'll take you out of your dreams, and your head and into another state completely. So nice!
"I Never Lose. Never Really." MPEG Stream:
DEATH IN JUNE The Guilty Have No Pride (NER / Tesco) cd/dvd 23.00
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. In 1981, Tony Wakeford and Douglas P disbanded their anarcho-leftist punk ensemble Crisis in order to focus on their new project Death In June, which ostensibly was a more poetic and esoteric outfit, moving away from the politics that dominated the output of Crisis. The Guilty Have No Pride were the first recordings for DIJ; and immediately, there are numerous differences between DiJ and Crisis, for one, the earlier band had more of a pogo-punk / Oi! sound while DiJ blatantly wore Joy Division's militant gloom on their sleeve. Tony Wakeford still sang with the cockney accent as he did in Crisis (and persists today through his work in Sol Invictus), but Douglas P smoothed his voice into a languid croon not unlike Joy Division's late singer. The grim post-punk inclinations for Death In June resulted in some truly amazing songs found on The Guilty Have No Pride, like "All Alone In Her Nirvana," "Heaven Street," and "Nothing Changes", any of which definitively foreshadow Interpol's black clad revivalism (barring Wakeford's unmistakable voice and Death In June's questionable use of Nazi imagery which they obnoxiously never resolved as either fetishized allegiance or situationist shock-tactics). Politics aside, The Guilty Have No Pride is miles away from the industrialized-folk that Death In June has produced in recent years, and clearly stands as one of their finest moments. Even Andee who is not a huge DiJ fan, LOVES this disc and has been listening to it non stop. This recently re-released remastered version of The Guilty Have No Pride comes with DVD of a live performance from 1982 of much of the material that would later appear on the album itself.
"Till The Living Flesh Is Burned" MPEG Stream:
"All Alone In Her Nirvana"
DER BLUTHARSCH When Did Wonderland End? (Tesco) cd + dvd 25.00
Another glorious missive from Austrian militaristic folk / post industrial / dark ambient outift Der Blutharsch. Ex members of The Moon Lay Hidden Beneath a Cloud and former collaborators with Death In June, DB carved out a truly unique and musically diverse niche in a genre rife with problematic politics and unoriginal ideas. The music of Der Blutharsch was and is a seemingly impossible mix, taking the apocalyptic folk of Death In June, the teutonic metallic stomp of Rammstein, the clattery industrial caberet of Einsturzende Neubaten, the swampy fire and brimstone dirge of Sixteen Horsepower and the dramatic gothiness of Sisters Of Mercy or Bauhaus and crafting all of those disparate elements into something dark and delightfully dreary, creepy and sometimes truly harrowing. Their sound has gone from dark ambience to industrial clatter to dramatic doom, and have now arrived at a sound that is even more difficult to describe. We once wrote that the music of DB sounded like "Dead Can Dance with the vocalist from Rammstein, performing in the forest, covering the Comus record in its entirety, backed up by a military drum corps. Or some impossible mixt of Current 93, Magnetic Fields, World War 2, In The Nursery, Ennio Morricone, a gypsy caravan and every great black metal intro ever" and that still pretty much sums it up. BUT, somehow, for their last hurrah, they've managed to sound even more bizarre and unique and all over the map. The core sound is still dark and droning, but the rock element is much more noticeable this time around, with a seemingly omnipresent churning low slung bass weaving a dense framework of rumbling low end, supporting doom laden soundscapes constructed from moaning cellos and martial snares, wartime sound samples and military speeches, pounding rhythms and dramatic teutonic vocals, gypsy violin and distorted guitar. But even within this industrial doom rock framework, DB manage to inject all sorts of really unexpected twists and turns, one track sounds like some hellish take on a Morricone spaghetti western with little bits of blackened twang, and another even sounds like a lost track from some sixties girl group, albeit in this case, swathed in dark sonic swirls and all sorts of rhythmic interference. So amazing and strange and totally mesmerizing. It's sad to think this is the last we'll hear from Der Blutharsch. Packaged in a gorgeous all black, letter pressed digipak, in a black slipcover, with a little sprig of edelweiss in full color, black text on a black background. Quite striking. And for a limited time, there's also a second disc, a DVD with a really cool and creepy video for the track "So Bring Your Iron Rain Down Upon Me."
"When Did Wonderland End? II" MPEG Stream:
"When Did Wonderland End? III" MPEG Stream:
"When Did Wonderland End? IV"
YELLOW SWANS Bring The Neon War Home (Narnack) cd 14.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. 1st actual cd from these exciting Bay Area noisemakers.
GOSLINGS, THE Between The Dead (self-released) cd-r 10.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. A couple customers suggested we track this down, the debut record from the Goslings, and from what we heard about it we were expecting yet another record of downtuned sludge doom drone, SUNNO))) / Earth worship, but man is this anything but. It's definitely heavy, but not typically heavy, or really sludgy even, which probably has a lot to do with the way this was recorded, ultra blown out and super distorted, sheets of crumbling high end and maybe the harshest crunchiest guitar sound we've heard in forever, but the Goslings take this white hot heaviness, this blown out brutality and somehow make it pretty, lovely, gorgeous even. Drifting female vocals and sweet sweet melodies are buried beneath a dumptruck of fuzz, like the a Mazzy Star record, covered by the Melvins, recorded by Merzbow or Masonna. Every track is hiding a secret center, a streak of lush melodicism that sound like bits of My Bloody Valentine, Jesus And Mary Chain, and huge slabs of warm and wonderful dream pop, all roughed up and dipped in tar and rolled in dirt and sent staggering through a minefield of razor sharp guitars, pounding Teutonic drums, all tangled up into a machinelike throb, trudging relentlessly at a snails pace, a head crushing plod wrapped in barbed wire riffs and a thick haze of violent whir, but still you can see a little glimmer, a shiny little wink from within the massively suffocating clouds of drum dirt and guitar grime, all tape hiss and recording grit and musical chaos, a glowing orb of crystalline shimmer, buried and barely visible, almost like someone was tossing bright shiny pop hooks into a pit filled with snakes and nails and used syringes and garbage and soiled diapers and rocks and dead animals. So is this the most gorgeous ugly record ever? The ugliest lovely record ever? The harshest, sludgiest pop record ever? The loveliest harsh noise-sludge record ever? Maybe all of the above. So good!
"Crow For Day" MPEG Stream:
YELLOW SWANS, DARK DYS (Folding) cassette 4.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. Here's the latest Dark Yellow Swans...or you might better know them as simply Yellow Swans! As with most releases by the very DIY San Francisco fella Mike Donovan (Sic Alps, Big Techno Werewolves, Nam, Sounds Of The Barbary Coast, The Ropers, Dial Records), there is only going to be a very small homespun run of these made, so needless to say, don't snoooooze! Pssst... we also have a small number of some of Donovan's other Folding cassette releases, all with hand made covers -- a couple of short ones from Death Sentence: Panda and Donovan's own current band Sic Alps plus a compilation he compiled with artist Chris Johanson called SSSSSOSS2 and one by NVH with Six Organs Of Admittance's Ben Chasny. Dust off yer cassette deck!
MOONDOG The Viking of Sixth Avenue (Honest Jon's ) cd 17.98
In our minds, one of the greatest composers of the 20th century was a man with a long white beard and a Viking helmet on his head -- Louis Hardin (aka Moondog). Whether it was how he incorporated field recordings into his compositions, unleashed riveting vocal cannons or created confusional worlds of percussion that were light-years ahead of their time, he had such a singular touch and far reaching vision, it's no surprise he's an all time AQ favorite! While we love so many avant composers of the 20th century, there tends to be an undeniable academic angle to their work which sometimes leaves us a bit cold. Moondog on the other hand employed such a playful approach to his work. Whether he was building his own instruments, creating new scales, experimenting with field recordings, inserting fun wordplay into otherwise austere pieces, you get this amazing sense of playfulness, childlike wonder and a totally unique strangely sophisticated kind of joy. The outsider that he was, Moondog answered to no one. No movement, no school, no tradition. He took his love, appreciation and deep-seated knowledge of classical music, his poetic mind, and his free spirit and created sounds that were like nothing of its time. Losing his eyesight at an early age he began writing scores in Braille. Like most truly special artists, he spent much of his life in relative obscurity, he spent much of the 50's and 60's on New York street corners where he would sell his poems, record the sounds of daily life, and soak in all aspects of his atmosphere. Most New Yorkers just thought they were walking by some crazy homeless guy in a Viking costume, they had no idea they were passing one of the most brilliant musical minds of the last century. Thanks to the help of some of his big fans like Janis Joplin, who covered "All Is Loneliness" on her first outing with Big Brother Holding Company, he got a record deal with Columbia and eventually recorded with the London Symphony, and then spent the last 20+ years of his life in Germany where a rich family supported him while he continued to make music, up until the time of his death. His influence runs so deep and continues to spread among the musical underground, but also slowly but surely permeates into mainstream music. There is talks of a tribute album coming soon, in the '90s many hip-hop and electronic producers sampled his works and many avant electronic folks were definitely influenced by his strange musicks, including Mr. Scruf, DJ Shadow and Aphex Twin. Antony and The Johnsons have been doing an amazing version of "All Is Loneliness" in their live show, and you can hear echoes of Moondog's sounds in everyone from Rhys Chatham, to Jon Brion, to Steve Reich, to Philip Glass and even The Residents. The cost on this collection finally dropped down from a prohibitively steep import price so now we finally can list this and urge you to let these 36 songs introduce you to what will no doubt be a life long love affair with one of our favorite musical minds of all time!
"All Is Loneliness" MPEG Stream:
"Oo Debut" MPEG Stream:
"Oasis" MPEG Stream:
GRAVELAND Fire Chariot Of Destruction (No Colours) cd 16.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. Another crushing blast of grim blackness from this Polish black metal institution. Darken and his Graveland weave epic tales of Viking glory, wolves and swords, victory and bloodshed, fire and vengeance. As with many BM outfits, all of this Nordic (umm... Polish?) pride is really only one step removed from super problematic racial politics, seemingly always a part of black metal discussions, but as with Burzum and other groups of that ilk, you just have to decide if you can ignore the subtext and disregard the politics and enjoy the mesmerizingly buzzy blast of hypnotic black-drone-metal. It's hard not to, when presented with a disc as fucking amazing as this, all of stuff we loved about Graveland in the past, all honed to utter perfection, that thick layered droning black metal, is now somehow even more dense and majestic, huge slabs of guitars piled atop one another, all over thrashing relentless drumming, haunting minor key melodies buried deep beneath thick fuzzy swirls of droning riffery, but this time, there's a much bigger focus on vocals, lush swells of chant-like moans, Arvo Part like choral interludes, all add a certain gravitas, a creepy epic heaviness, that truly turns this into more than just another black metal record. It's like a black metal Godspeed You Black Emperor composing the soundtrack to Kurasawa's Ran, so epic and haunting and fucking MASSIVE, it's hard to listen to this without imagining all of the images the music is meant to project: huge black clouds of smoke drifting above burning funeral pyres, rivers running black with blood, the air dense with arrows, bloodied blades and mud caked armor, the stench of death and decay, the mysterious final trip to stand beside all of the fallen warriors from eons past. A massively epic, ultra intense, hauntingly majestic, crushing, droning black metal masterpiece. While they last we have the super deluxe oversized hardcover book version (limited to 1000 copies), once we run out of those you'll get the regular jewel case version (which also happens to be cheaper!).
"War Wolf" MPEG Stream:
"River Of Tears"
GRAVELAND Immortal Pride (No Colours) cd 16.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY.
TYMAH Transylvanian Dreams (No Colours) cd 16.98
Ahhhhh, grim, necro, frosty, raw black metal. It's an acquired taste, but once you've tasted that black blood, there's no turning back. Whether it's Darkthrone's Transylvanian Hunger, Ulver's Nattens Madrigal, or any one of the legion of lesser known black hordes, it's a sound that soothes like only raw fuzzy, buzzy, Burzumic guitardrones and blurry battle blasts can. Hungarian black metal horde Tymah's take on this bleak, harsh and blackened buzz doesn't veer far from their influences, this is as grim and as true and as black as you could hope for, the majority of Transylvanian Dreams a dizzying blur, a near dronelike wash of low end rumble and insect swarm guitars, while beneath, a relentless lightning fast blast, and above, pure tortured yowls and demonic shrieks, which is where Tymah do truly distinguish themselves, as vocalist / guitarist Dim is a woman, a rarity for sure in black metal (and metal in general), not that you necessarily could tell from her harsh and harrowing, truly anguished sounding screech (very reminiscent of Weakling at times), but still there's something truly inspiring about a corpsepainted, be-spiked, axe slinging, sword swinging she-demon lurking wraithlike in that same black forest, holding her own and then some with the black metal boys club. And if for some reason those sorts of things don't do it for you, just close your eyes and forget we said anything, and you'll soon be basking in (unisex) black metal bliss.
"Atoklatomas" MPEG Stream:
MUTIILATION Vampires Of Black Imperial Blood (Tragic Empire) cd 13.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. This is as grim as it gets. Yet another legendary lost French black metal classic gets reissued. The French Black Legions, Vlad Tepes, Belketre and Mutiilation (yes, two i's are more evil than one) were stirring up black clouds of hate way back in the early nineties, early enough to influence basically every black metal band worth a shit, but a little too early (and a little to far from Norway) to be caught up in the black metal mania that made Emperor, Mayhem, Satyricon and the like household words (even in only mildly blackened households). But that's probably for the best. As their records became impossible to find, and only the grimmest and truest BM warriors could boast of ever having heard Mutiilation, their legacy and legend as black metal visionaries was sealed. And listening to this, arguably their best and most revered release, it's easy to see why. And let's not forget that Mutiilation continue to record, having just released a brand new record earlier this year, easily as grim and buzzy and amazing as ever. Vampires Of Black Imperial Blood, released in 1995, sold out of its limited pressing and has remained incredibly difficult to find for years. So this reissue is a godsend (um, devilsend?) with extra artwork, two bonus tracks and remastered sound. But no amount of remastering can disguise the ultra primitive sound quality, that 4-track, practice space sort of recording, the -sound- that fits this sound so perfectly, making Darkthrone sound downright hi-fi. Buzzing minor key guitars, a mournful sounding arpeggiated midtempo droniness that certainly informed Xasthur's sepia toned fuzz, chaotic way-up-in-the-mix drums, guttural, growled vocals, and strangest of all some really catchy songs underneath all that buzz and blackness, Even this reissue is for some reason ULTRA LIMITED, so if we run out we may not be able to get more.
"Black Imperial Blood" MPEG Stream:
"Eternal Empire Of Majesty Death"
VLAD TEPES La Morte Luna (Tragic Empire) cd 13.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY.
VLAD TEPES War Funeral March (Tragic Empire Rex) cd 13.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. Finally someone has seen fit to re-press and re-release all the amazing early French black metal, precursors to everything we now hold grim and true and cult. Mutiilation, Belketre, Togeist, Vlad Tepes and more. Vlad Tepes, might be the most legendary (outside of Mutiilation who seem to be the only one of those bands to still be playing / recording) perhaps due to the scarcity of recordings or maybe the ridiculous monies fetched by originals on eBay. But the music is as vital and brutal as ever, even a cursory listen reveals plenty of sonic similarities to current BM bigwigs Xasthur, Leviathan, Nachtmystium and the like. Thick swaths of blackened buzz abound, but all wrapped around mournful minor key riffing and all sorts of fingerpicked melancholy melodies. There's also some serious eighties true metal worship going on, with some almost NWOBHM sounding riffs and LEADS, you sure won't here most modern black metal bands letting loose way up on the fret board. But it suits the shound, a sloppy, ultra distorted, buzz drenched blurry black metal, recorded white hot, loud vocals (that's sometimes seriously freaked out, swerving from growl to rasp to falsetto screech and back again), loud drums, all wrapped in thick distorto guitar, oozing the sort of evil that most bands spend their entire careers trying to manufacture. As it says in the liner notes: "This is Cletic and Barbarian Black Metal ruled by the voice of the Black Legions Spirits." This reissue includes the ultra rare War Funeral March ep as well as an even more rare 1993 rehearsal tape.
"War Funeral March" MPEG Stream:
"From The Celtic Moonfrost"
VLAD TEPES / BELKETRE March To The Black Holocaust (Tragic Empire Rex) cd 13.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. Finally someone has seen fit to re-press and re-release all the amazing early French black metal, precursors to everything we now hold grim and true and cult. Mutiilation, Belketre, Togeist, Vlad Tepes and more. This is a reissue of an ultra rare split released originally in 1995. The is definitely the best sounding Vlad Tepes recording we've heard, nice and thick and heavy, a buzzing swarm of black metal fury, but there still are plenty of lo-fi-isms and some weird mixing (really loud drums), but here the strange mix actually works in the band's favor, with the guitars at the forefront, huge serpentine riffs, sometimes churning out an almost NWOBHM sound, but more often buzzing and twisting and giving the whole thing a very drone-y washed out feel, definitely looking forward to modern black metal outifts who would stretch their riffs into extended, near drone-like hypno-BM. Vlad Tepes are teamed up here with their way more obscure black metal countrymen Belketre, who are so buzz soaked and so fast and so blown out that their blazing buzzing black metal becomes a superdistorted white hot smear of prickly fuzz guitar, lightning fast blasts, and a thick fog of low end rumble, all tangled up in a swirling streak of chaotic mayhem. Ther are brief stretches of midtempo swoon, with seasick rhythms and clean guitar melodies, but they are quickly subsumed and obliterated by burts of face melting blackend blur. Belketre are quite possibly our favorite new (old) black metal discovery.
VLAD TEPES "Massacre Song From The Devastated Lands" MPEG Stream:
BELKETRE "Night Of Sadness"
ZOVIET FRANCE Music For A Spaghetti Western (Klanggalerie) cd 17.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. Zoviet France formed in relative isolation in Newcastle, far removed from the rest of the UK industrial and art-punk communities. They furthered the mystery around their sonic abstractions by working in anonymity and by presenting their work in beautifully eccentric packaging (i.e. roofing shingles, aluminum foil, wood boxes, porcelain baked cassettes wrapped in radioactive feathers, etc.). The exact history of Zoviet France remains elusive, although a dramatic rift in the project occured in the middle '90s when founding member Robin Storey left Zoviet France to form his solo project Rapoon. Ben Ponton, one of the other founding members, continued on with Zoviet France, drifting away from Storey's signature looping technology and towards an alien isolationism tricked out with disembodied samples. While both Rapoon and the recent Zoviet France records have certainly had plenty of successes, none had matched the collaborative genius of Zoviet France during the Ponton / Storey days. In a rare interview in the mid '80s, Ponton explained that Zoviet France would record hours of material and then sort it out at a later date. This brings us to Music For A Spaghetti Western which dates back to 1986, one of the most prolific periods for Zoviet France as they began recording numerous large scale projects including the 4-part series Charm, Ceremony, Chance, Prophesy which included two LPs and two cassette only material as well as the monumental Popular Soviet Songs and Youth Music (originally housed in the aforementioned porcelain packaging). Given the amount of material that Zoviet France had finished during that time, it's not surprising that a couple of things never got completed, such as Music For A Spagehtti Western. With many of the ZF recordings being splattered collections of short fragments anyway, the shards of hypnotic loops that comprise the ZF Spaghetti Western make sense in the greater context of the band. As on those aforementioned albums, ZF explore the imagined ceremonial music for non-existant cultures bringing chiming strings, hand percussion, breathy flutes, and extended vocalizations to a dark kaleidoscope of tape loop machinations and multiple delay pedals. If this sounds similar to the work of Finland's Avarus or Kemialliset Ystavat, Zoviet France does share some of those aesthetics, expect for the undeniable fact that ZF are maybe even better at it. With almost their entire catalogue in limbo, any new recordings are a reason to rejoice, and recordings as beguiling as these are certainly most welcome indeed.
"Scene 1" MPEG Stream:
"Scene 3" MPEG Stream:
SUNN O))) Black One (Southern Lord) cd 14.98
As you may have noticed, the aQ speakers have been quite clogged of late with the black sonic tar of glacial doom and slow motion sludge, molten flows of downtuned guitars, rumbling bowel churning drones, impossibly slow and primordially plodding drumming, all tangled up in huge squirming, blackened riffs, like mammoths struggling to loose themselves from pits of black tar. We've also been quite obsessed with the more virulent strains of buzzing, bizarre black metal. Leviathan, Xasthur, Benighted Leams, Blackdeath, Deathspell Omega, Furze, Lurker Of Chalice and the like. But just imagine for a moment, if that river of sludge we love so much ran right through the darkened Nordic forest, or if you took all that buzz and fuzz and held it under a thick layer of black pitch, while it struggled desperately for breath, or if you took the bombinating blur of Burzum and slowed it waaaaay doooooooown, or better yet, what if Dylan Carlson of Earth grew up listening to Darkthrone and Mayhem instead of Hendrix and the Mentors. Well you'd probably get something like Black One. To be honest, what forms the basis of Black One is really not all that different than other SUNNO))) records. It's still a series of 16 rpm metal riffs, morphed beautifully into plodding hypnotic smears of metallic ambience. The blackness here comes from several sources: the art and the imagery for one, a very metal looking cover drawing, olde English fonts, O'Malley and Anderson have adopted properly metal monickers for the instruments used: axe subs, icy inverted crosswinds upon four string zamboni, grail, glacial winds, calls from beyond the grave! Then there is the presence of two current BM legends, Malefic from Xasthur and Wrest from Leviathan. That said, there are moments, where SUNNO)))'s immediately recognizable sludge does twist itself into more black metal shapes, and it's those moments that Black One truly taps into a direct line to the fiery abyss. Imagine listening to Immortal through some sort of time warp, where Blizzard Beasts is stretched into a single icy contrail spread out over 666 years, a hazy black cloud swallowing everything in its path. Add some truly frosty and fucked up vocals and ghostly guitars from Wrest and Malefic, all manner of gorgeous sonic filigree from Australian experimental guitarist Oren Ambarchi and noise guru John Weise, some text by Seldon Hunt, and that oh so familiar Sunn-y O'Malley artwork, lyrics via Dead (from Mayhem), Malefic, Wrest and Abbath (of Immortal) and you might just be looking at a truly and utterly black one indeed.
"It Took The Night To Believe" MPEG Stream:
"Cursed Realms (Of The Winterdemons)" MPEG Stream:
LICHENS The Psychic Nature Of Being (Kranky) cd 14.98
Robert Lowe, of the now defunct 90 Day Men, as well as part time member of TV On The Radio, delivers his first solo record, using the name Lichens, and creates a ghostly otherworld, using primarily his voice. That's right. An acapella record. Well, mostly. Lowe's haunting impressionistic vocals are drenched in reverb and sent drifitng into the ether, a soft fluttering falsetto most of the time, a low monk like chant at others, swooping through ominous minor key melodies, over simple sparkling guitar lines, wrapped in a warm and shimmery haze, over a bed of rumbling drones and occasional chiming percussion. Delicate crystalline soundscapes equal parts Pelt, Sigur Ros, Scott Tuma and Jewelled Antler. All three tracks recorded live with no overdubs, all completely otherworldly and breathtakingly lovely.
"Kirilian Auras" MPEG Stream:
"Shore Line Scoring"
NATTEFROST Terrorist (Season Of Mist) cd 15.98
WINDY & CARL Dedications To Flea (Brainwashed) cd ep 12.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. Here we thought exquisite dronesters Windy & Carl were paying tribute to Red Hot Chili Peppers' bassist, but no! This limited edition release is dedicated to their dearly departed doggie, Flea. It features two lengthy tracks of their trademark glistening guitar and keyboard drone compositions embellished with some scuttling sounds from recordings of their pup. Just over 37 minutes long. We just have a few, and it's a LIMITED PRESSING OF 500!!!
"Ode To A Dog" MPEG Stream:
"Sketch For Flea"
NOKTURNAL MORTUM WeltAnschauung (No Colours) cd 22.00
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. There's very few comparisons to listening to Nokturnal Mortum. The Charlie Daniels Band jammin' with Emperor? Bizarre black metal hoedown? Some sort of line dancing campfire jamboree gone horribly horribly wrong? The unholy spawn of the grimmest black metal and a hauntingly festive medieval gypsy folk? Okay, so maybe there are more than a few comparisons, but they all tend to center around NM's unlikely country-gypsy-folk / black metal hybrid. Precisely what makes them so completely and bizarrely brilliant. This Ukranian horde unleash the ghost hounds and the battle commences with the sounds of galloping horses, strange battle horns, the strangled cries of wounded beasts, the clatter of steel on chain mail, sounds that continue throughout the entire record. It's almost like a field recording of some epic medieval battle, a mad dash through corpse strewn villages, with occasional bursts of black metal buzz from some random corpsepainted ghouls playing in the smoking rubble of a burnt and blackened tavern, or from within a copse of twisted trees, the metal soon drifts into the background as you head deeper into the forest, are farther out upon the battlefield. Nokturnal Mortum's particular take on black metal tends toward the buzzing midtempo gallop and lope, thick and gnarled and fuzzed out, a la Burzum, Graveland, Woodtemple, etc. But more often than not, these black bursts twist into unlikely shapes, blackened metallic jigs, strangely festive and rollicking but still razor sharp and dense with guitar buzz and ripping riffs, jubilant (yet still slightly ominous) gypsy stomps, but laced with spiky guitars and blasting drums. Most noticeable this time around are the extensive ambient interludes, swooshy, starlit night twinkle and shimmer, lush wooshes over tinkly melodies, almost new age-y at moments, but it's not long before you are felled once again by a sharp slab of utter blackness, or a rollicking jubilant mace to the temple, all part of the curious journey through Nokturnal Mortum's bizarrely blackened world. While they last we have the super deluxe oversized hardcover book version (limited to 1000 copies), once we run out of those you'll get the regular jewel case version (which also happens to be cheaper!).
"I Feel The Breath Of Ragnarok" MPEG Stream:
"Weltanschauung" MPEG Stream:
"Hailed Be The Heroes"
SUNN O))) / BORIS / EARTH Reserve Not Yet Met (Southern Lord / Inoxia / Sub Pop) cd single 99.00
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. In an attempt to record an album that will induce coronaries in record collectors worldwide, the current monsters of sludge: Sunn 0))), Earth and Japan's mighty Boris, got together and recorded a single track, 11 minutes long, one chord, an E to be exact, with each band handling one of the notes in the chord. Sunn 0))) deftly tackle the G, as if it were a blackened, dying sunn. Earth spews forth the B, with as much vitriol as they can muster. And of course Boris offer up a soul crushing E to complete what is quite possibly the heaviest chord ever recorded. EVER! Unfortunately this is super limited, in fact we didn't get any copies at all. We're currently bidding on the only copy in existence on Ebay right now. The Buy It Now was $25,000, so the fact that the bidding is now at $18,301 and the reserve has still not been met is not very encouraging. But c'mon, three bands, three notes, one chord, eleven minutes, one copy. You just can't put a price on that! And while we all want to own the first edition of this already out of print triple threat sludge match cd, rumours on several message boards suggest there will be a repress, another single copy, but this will be the timeshare version. For a small fee, you will be able to own, listen to, and gaze adoringly at the cd for a brief period of time each year (determined by the number of buyers, limited to 365, so at the very least you can own the disc one day a year), before a courier shows up to deliver it to the next owner. We'll of course keep you posted.
ENO, BRIAN More Music For Films (Virgin) cd 16.98
Here's a straggler that was meant to come out with the last batch of Eno reissues, but was pulled due to a manufacturing defect (is there some rule that at least one Eno disc in each series must have a defect?). More Music For Films stands out amongst the other Eno reissues in that, as an album, it's a previously unreleased one. Let's qualify that statement: More Music For Films contains two albums, one rare and the other rarer, from the early eighties. 11 of the tracks come from Music For Films 2 which was included as a bonus LP to the Working Backwards box set that was released in 1983. The other tracks are culled from a promo-only sampler (only 500 copies printed) which had been sent to a "select group of film directors". Much of the material on More Music For Films comes from the same recording sessions as Music For Films and the album as a whole fits neatly at its side as a companion record. The songs contained herein are all instrumentals, with a variety of moods suitable for use in just about any film.
"Untitled" MPEG Stream:
ENO, BRIAN Apollo: Atmospheres & Soundtracks (Virgin) cd 16.98
The opportunity of a lifetime film score for Brian Eno: providing a soundtrack to the most, quite literally, other-worldy film footage ever shot. Eno was approached by ex-astronaut Al Reinert in the early eighties to put his ambient touch on a project that Reinert was working on documenting the apollo missions. Reinhert had sorted through 6,000,000 feet of NASA film footage shot by astronauts on those missions, picking out what he considered to be the best clips. To this he intended to add only the voices of the astronauts themselves -- both from interviews after the missions and from their transmissions to Houston during them -- and Eno's music. Though Eno's score was released in 1983, Reinert's film -- For All Mankind -- wasn't completed until 1989. Recorded just a year after his Ambient 4: On Land, the material here is quite similar. The compositions are far less conceptual than his earlier ambient works, yet the pieces here have an intuitive, textural and emotional feel without relying on -- for the most part -- melody. All but four tracks on this album use that same Eno M.O. of blurring the idea of "foreground and background", much like his previous release On Land. The guitar and bass, when the appear, are subverted from their original roles -- melodic lead, rhythm and harmony -- and instead are used for texture and atmosphere as much as the synths and electronics. The ambient tracks on Apollo have a foreboding and sublime quality -- appropriate enough for the vast eternity of space and the dessicated & bleak terrain of the moon. The four non-ambient tracks on this disc, all nestled together towards its end, are a bit of a departure from the rest of the album. "Always Returning" is probably the weakest link on the album, with its sentimental guitar part played by Daniel Lanois. Lanois however redeems himself with his pedal steel guitar playing on "Deep Blue Day", like a Sons Of The Pioneers tune, shot full of heroin and launched into the vacuum of space.
"Matta" MPEG Stream:
"An Ending (Ascent)" MPEG Stream:
"Deep Blue Day"
ENO, BRIAN Music For Films (Virgin) cd 16.98
"This album is a compilation of fragments from my recorded work over the last two or three years. Some of it was made specifically for use as soundtrack material, some of it was made for other reasons but found its way into films; most of it is previously unissued in any form." So says Brian Eno in the liner notes. And people continue to milk this album for their films -- as anyone who's taken a film class in college can attest to. Well, at least fifteen or twenty years ago it was still being used to the point of excess. Extreme over use by film students and budding documentarians aside, Music For Films still holds together rather well... okay, maybe it dates itself a little here and there with the occasional synth patch, or bass line. You can hear a lot of the ideas for what went into Another Green World and Before And After Science on here, which makes one wonder how much of this may have been recorded during those sessions and culled from the album. In fact the track "M386" here is a dead ringer for a half-speed dub mix of Eno's "No One Receiving" off of the latter. While not immediately rock in nature -- the songs lack any verse/chorus/verse structure and seem to be devoid of any beginning, middle or end -- they aren't all as flattened out to be merely texture as his other ambient works. The cast of heavy hitter musicians here include many from Another Green World, such as Phil Collins, Fred Frith, Dave Mattacks, John Cale and Robert Fripp.
"From The Same Hill" MPEG Stream:
"Alternative 3" MPEG Stream:
"'There Is Nobody'"
MARDUK Plague Angel (Candlelight USA) cd 16.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY.
"The Hangman Of Prague" MPEG Stream:
"Throne Of Rats" MPEG Stream:
"Perish In Flames"
ENSLAVED Isa (Tabu / Candlelight USA) cd 15.98
Gosh, we're rarely as, um, anticipant (is that a word?) of a new album release by a metal band as we are of anything new by Norway's Enslaved! Pant, pant, pant. And this new album from them, Isa, really got us worked up waiting for it, as an European version was released towards the end of last year but we never were able to buy, beg or steal import copies of it -- although we did get a handful of the vinyl pressing, now gone. But, those extra few months of waiting was worth it, as this domestic cd version boasts some bonus cd-rom footage: the video for the title track, and a twenty minute band interview. Patience pays off. So why were we so excitedly anticipant about this you may ask? Well Enslaved have always been a band who've been adept at pushing all of AQ's buttons (in a good way, that is). There's the old-school Nordic black metal button (which Enslaved, who's first release was a split with Emperor, has no trouble pushing, and here they get guest throats Abbath from Immortal and Nocturno Culto from Darkthrone to apply extra force). There's the epic Floydian psych button. The mood-shattering dynamics button. The Viking tunic and tights button. The avant-garde '70s keyboard-laden prog button. The leather and spikes rock n' roll button. Even the vaguely jazz-fusiony guitar soloing button. The so many buttons button. Now, to be sure, their various records (this is number eight, or so) push these buttons and others in various combinations. At first listen to any of their albums, we often think, hmm, is this working for us? And always it does. Isa is no exception. It continues in what we might call the Opethian progression of recent Enslaved efforts like Monumension and Below The Lights, away from the pure speed and violence of such earlier albums as Frost and Blodheim, but all the polished parts and techy time-changes and such are always offset by a stab at that blackened Norwegian nastiness button, y'know? Jarring yet repetitive riffage coexists here with some clean, Michael Gira style crooning, and droning metal blur, Geiger-counter drumming, and majestic minor-key melody: an art-rock cruise ship rammed and boarded by a Viking longboat. Even with new members (Dirge Rep's replacement on the drum stool is the guy from Red Harvest, we think) and hence new directions, Enslaved have crafted an album that's definitely a progressive part of their now hallowed legacy, replete with menace and grandeur. Too soon yet to tell if this is pushing ALL the same buttons as the godly Mardraum (an AQ Record of the Week once upon a time), or Eld, or Below The Lights but that's what those records are for, anyway. Time for them later, here at last is the NEW Enslaved, so let's let it let us enjoy it!
"Bounded By Allegiance" MPEG Stream:
INQUISITION Magnificent Glorification Of Lucifer (No Colours) cd 16.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. Can the No Colours label do no wrong? Inquisition's Magnificent Glorification Of Lucifer is definitely Allan's favorite black metal release of the YEAR. So grim, so eerie, so very metal, and weird in a weird way. That is, there's nothing else out there quite like this band. They do that thing that the best black metal bands do: they're both totally of their genre (a formulaic genre, to be extra-redundant) yet manage to be utterly their own thing too. Fans of the elite likes of Burzum, Graveland, Mutiilation, Xasthur, and Immortal ought to immediately bow to Inquisition whilst also recognizing just how different a band they are. And it's also the sort of black metal I might spring on an extremity-friendly music fan even if they were unaware of the above mentioned artists. Although this was the first I'd heard of Inquisition, it's actually the third album from this American (Seattle-based, but with Colombian connections?) Satanic black metal band. Redundant again? Sure, all black metal by definition is supposed to be Satanic. But these guys are so SERIOUS about it (well, I don't know for sure... the Inquisition duo of Dagon and Incubus do look kinda silly in the cd booklet photos...but I don't think that's intentional). That they go so over-the-top in their Satan worship is part of what moves them beyond mere stylistic formula and into a realm of obsessive uniqueness. This record works so well 'cause it's simultaneously weird as fuck (hypnotically croaking vocals, the aforementioned Satanically overloaded lyrix, and strange, keening high-end guitar parts that make this the EERIEST black metal I've heard in aeons) while being fully metal with a rock n' roll backbone: slow-to-mid tempos, memorable riffs, and killer old-school fuzz guitar tone. Indeed, were it not for the love of Lucifer they express with every breath, Inquisition could just has easily have opted to call this album The Glorious Magnificence of Fuzz (though a strain of fuzz quite different from the '60s garage fuzz as heralded elsewhere on this week's list in our review of the Plastic Cloud reissue)! Sonically, that's a big part of what satisfies here, a crucial factor in of Inquisition's equation of extremity. It's truly a heavy, buzzing, trance-like blurr. It's got to mean something when I (Allan) play something over and over and over again, considering how much (too much) music I'm getting every week. But this was -- is -- in heavy rotation in my home and even though I put it on my iPod I still took the cd itself along with me on vacation as a talisman/token/icon/fetish object just to look at... good thing I don't actually believe in Satan! I even had to go and track down their harder-to-find first two albums, also both excellent, though I do think this is their best... and if you want someone to back me up, note that Leviathan's Wrest himself is a big Inquistion fan, partial to their second album but also of the opinion that this one is brilliant too. So, an AQ black metal rave, make no mistake! Mesmerizing, crushing, gloomy, fucked up, beautiful, genius.
"Under The Black Inverted Pentagram" MPEG Stream:
"Of Blood And Darkness We Are Born"
SUNN O))) The GrimmRobe Demos (Expanded Edition) (Daymare) 2cd 38.00
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. Yet again, proving that you haven't really owned a Sunn 0))) record until you've bought it at least twice, preferably three times, here comes two more blasts from the dark side of the doom, what many consider to be Sunn 0)))'s finest moments, their debut, The GrimmRobe Demos, and record number three, Flight Of The Behemoth! Both expanded with over the top new packaging, gorgeous Japanese style mini lp gatefold style cd sleeves, inserts, printed inner sleeves, but most importantly a whole disc of unreleased material!! The GrimmRobe Demos was the first most of us had ever heard of this supposed Earth tribute band, their debut disc in a cardboard sleeve, wrapped in a black trash bag silkscreened with the Sunn 0))) logo in metallic gold, the sound a filthier, sludgier version of Earth's classic 2 album. We were in doomdirgedeathdrone nirvana. And still are. After a million Sunn 0))) wannabes, the GrimmRobe Demos still sound as heavy and sludge-y and as gloriously grim as ever. The packaging is of course fantastic, a super thick gatefold mini lp style sleeve, printed in that deep blue and silver, inside a HUGE booklet affixed to the front, with extensive liner notes, in English and Japanese, including a looooong essay, Ode To The Grimmrobe, by Seldon Hunt. Each disc is in a plastic sleeve housed in a full color printed sleeve, the disc proper has more images like those inside the gatefold, while the bonus disc has a flyer and photos from the live show within. So yeah, Sunn 0))) performing live, back in 1999, when they were still an opening act (opening for Angel Rot, who?), 25 + minutes of crumbling low end destruction, gritty and grimy and filthy, a massive roiling morass of downtuned guitar rumble and shimmering feedback, gorgeous and of course brutal, and capturing Sunn 0))) near the beginning. Fans will of course want this, the packaging, the essay, the killer live show, but just like Flight Of The Behemoth, folks who missed out on the GrimmRobe Demos the first time around, should must definitely rectify that situation RIGHT NOW. Of all the SUNNO))) cds, and there have been a LOT, this remains perhaps the closest to the original template of worshipping Earth II to a T. Which as far as we're concerned, at least sonically, is a very very good thing. Earth tribute band? Sunn? Huh? For those confused, or new to the world of Sunn 0))), let's elaborate. Once upon a time, there was Earth, a slower than slow, heavier than heavy Sub Pop combo that took the Melvins molasses drone riffing over the edge. Turning sound into something so slow and physical you could almost feel it more than hear it. They disbanded, disappeared, and since then they've resurfaced, albeit with a new, WAY less sludgey sound, so it was and IS up to the dudes in Sunn 0))) (get it, Earth, Sunn, there's also a Sunn tribute band called Moon) to revisit, and resuscitate Earth's genius genesis (back when Kurt Cobain used to play with 'em!), and thus, Sunn 0))) deliver what could be a part two to Earth 2, loooooong tracks of primordial dirge, humming and rumbling and crumbling and moving like a blackened glacier, riffs sprawled out over minutes instead of seconds, a slowly churning propulsive murky low end beast. One track is even named after Earth leader Dylan Carlson. And of course, as we mentioned above, the band name Sunn is derived from the proximity in the solar system to Earth, but also, and maybe moreso, the amps of choice for both outfits, appropriately so 'cause it's the amps more than the guitars that you hear here. They're not covering Earth tunes here, but are basically following the same formula towards drone metal godhead. Essential for all devotees of the ultra-heavy!
"Defeating: Earth's Gravity"
SUNN O))) The GrimmRobe demos (aka s/t) (Southern Lord) cd 14.98
Now all serious connoisseurs of depression, death, doom and utter grimness have reason to celebrate. No, we're certainly not talking about G.W. Bush's second-term inauguration! It's music we're going on about, and for fans of that brand of heavy, doomful drone that we know so many of you AQ-customers are, this IS good news: the re-release of the debut album from not-so-dynamic doom duo SUNNO)))! Yes! So log off of eBay, save your ninety bucks (that's what Southern Lord says the original cd was going for) and thank 'em for at last reissuing this disc, previously out on Hydrahead subsidary HH Noise Industries back in 2000. Now this classic comes packaged in a jewel case, instead of a spray painted hefty bag sleeve. And yes, there's a BONUS TRACK. Sixteen minutes and forty seconds of bonus track entitled "Grimm & Bear It"...those jokers. That brings this album to over 72 minutes in length, perfect for enjoying your own mini-coma in its ambient embrace. Of all the SUNNO))) cds since, this remains perhaps the closest to the original template of worshipping Earth II to a T. For some "historical" perspective (and for any who are puzzled, to explain that last comment), let's revist our original review of this disc, upon its first release: "Whoa, an Earth tribute band! Y'know, Earth, the slower than slow, heavier than heavy Sub Pop combo from a few years back, the band that took the Melvins molasses drone riffing over the edge. They're not around anymore (and weren't that great toward the end anyway) but this project (featuring members of Burning Witch/Goatsnake/Engine Kid) revisits Earth's genius genesis (back when Kurt Cobain used to play with 'em), for some long long tracks of primordial dirge. One track is even named after Earth leader Dylan Carlson. And of course the band name Sunn is derived from the amps of choice for both outfits, appropriately so 'cause it's the amps more than the guitars that you hear here. They're not covering Earth tunes, but are essentially following the same formula towards drone metal godhead. Essential for all devotees of the ultra-heavy!"
"Defeating: Earth's Gravity"
FORGOTTEN WOODS Baklengs Mot Stupet 1992-1996 (No Colours) 3cd 27.00
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. Never thought we'd be able to list this. Everytime we got it in, it would go too quickly, just flying out the door by word of mouth we guess. Clearly this '90s Norwegian black metal band has a cult following! Then we thought that this triple cd box had gone out of print. But thankfully No Colours just pressed up some more, and we think we scored enough copies to dare list it, even though the label may be out of it already. So...what's the big deal you ask, why are these Forgotten Woods so unforgettable? Well, first off, and at first listen, this will definitely appeal to the whole raw, old-school, Nordic forest black metal necrocrowd. Really good grim stuff in the unholy spirit of classic Darkthrone and Burzum, but with that extra kinda inept, Benighted Leamsish fuckedupedness to it that of course makes us love it all the more. And, additionally and importantly, there's also always a strange, unexpected sort of poppiness underlying everything, despite song titles like "Grip Of Frost" and "Dimension Of The Blackest Dark". As a friend (who also likes this band, and is a member of Thuja, the Blithe Sons, Buried Civilizations, the Skygreen Leopards and a bunch of other Jewelled Antler acts) put it, "man it's good...completely inept, like they're barely pulling it off, total 13-year-old-metal-kid-in-the-basement drums." That by itself would be enough to explain this band's appeal. But our sensibilities here at AQ are further stoked by the fact that the more you delve into these discs, the more you find yourself wondering just what the hell you're listening to...as Forgotten Woods mysteriously morphs by the third cd into something that sounds like jazz-inflected, naive indie-rock mopery, with clean jangly guitars that starts to sound like Felt or The Church or even Maher Shalal Hash Baz! Other tracks seem to echo The Cure, all slow and post-punkish... what a weird band! We can only wonder at what they thought they were doing, and wonder even more so at why they're so accepted by the grim black metal underground. So, even though this is a $25 import triple-disc set, it's the kind of black metal (like Benighted Leams, Xasthur, Lugubrum, Leviathan, Abruptum, Meads of Asphodel, Ved Buens Ende, and Sigh for example) that we have to recommend to all of our customers who are into (not-necessarily metal) weirdness. And in case you're wondering, this does collect the entirety of Forgotten Woods' output (three albums, plus one recorded under the name Joyless) from the years indicated in the title...
"Eclipsed" MPEG Stream:
"With Swans I'll Share My Thirst"
RUSSELL, ARTHUR World Of Echo (Audika) cd 16.98
Having recently listed the highly popular Love Is Overtaking Me, we thought we'd bring in the other side of the Arthur Russell sound, World of Echo, a magical record he released towards the end of his life. We surprised ourselves realizing we never listed it previously, so it's time to do it some justice. While Love Is Overtaking Me introduced a previously unheard side to Arthur Russell fans, it also brought in a new audience perhaps less in tune with Russell's more high-minded musical pursuits. World of Echo is a perfect in-between place for fans and new-comers. Released in 1987, World of Echo concentrates on Russell's use of the cello, percussion and voice filtered through a bank of effects. There is a minimalist oceanic dub vibe that weaves through these highly personal songs that are affecting, not so much by what he is singing but how. Soft and low, his voice quavers over spare echoing instrumentation that bends towards the beautifully abstract. Like floating in calm oceans towards the void of the sun, melting into its warmth, this is a record that influenced a generation of music makers (Grizzly Bear, Coconut, Final Fantasy, Juana Molina, Animal Collective / Panda Bear, Hanne Hukkelberg, etc) and continues to beguile us. Highly recommended!
"Place I Know-Kid Like You" MPEG Stream:
"Hiding Your Present From You" MPEG Stream:
V/A So Young But So Cold: Underground French Music 1977-1983 (Tigersushi) cd 16.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. After being AWOL for a year or so, this longtime fave is now back in stock, and the timing is perfect since we've been raving about a bunch of similar comps of cool vintage French new wave/punk/electro stuff recently like Bippp and IVG and Des Jeunes Gens Modernes. If you liked those, you gotta check this out, 'especially if you're into the proggier side of things. This one was kind of a sleeper hit when we first listed it. I mean, we knew it was a cool record, but boy did people like it. We sold a ton and then the label ran out. At last it's been repressed, so here it is again. Definitely recommended! France. Synths. 1977-83. Intrigued? You should be. This comp, compiled by a couple of today's top trainspotting electronica mavens, highlights what are indeed some obscure, awesome French entries into the field of proto-techno. Richard Pinhas of Heldon we've talked about recently, also Metal Boys, and you might remember Ruth from a reissue a while back, but there's plenty of names here we're getting acquainted with for the first time: Nini Raviolette, Mathematiques Modernes, Kas Product, The (Hypothetical) Prophets, Moderne, The Droids... Sixteen tracks in all of sinister prog/pop electronics, droning ambience, Magmoid robotics, futurepunk, and sci-fi dance darkness. So young, so cold - so stylish.
NINI RAVIOLETTE "Suis-Je Normale" MPEG Stream:
BERNARD SZAJNER "Welcome (To Deathrow)"
ENO, BRIAN Discreet Music (Virgin) cd 16.98
The second wave of Brian Eno reissues is of his genre creating and defining ambient music albums from 1975 through 1982. The first in the series is Discreet Music and it's in the liner notes here that Eno describes the genesis for his ambient music. The story goes that while he was recouperating in a hospital after having been struck by a car he found himself inspired through another sort of accident. Eno had been brought a record of 18th century harp music to listen to but, after having struggled to put the record on in his weakened state, found the amplifier levels way too low and one channel of the recording completely missing. Thus he was forced to strain to hear nothing but the loudest of notes above the ambient din in the room. Add to this Eno's admission that he considers himself a much better conceiver of plans than executor of them and you have the foundations for Discreet Music. Eno's goal was to set up a system which would generate music with as little input from him as possible. To this end Eno created a feedback loop into which he could insert pairs of notes and let the ensuing echo box and delay line do the rest. The flipside of this coin, included on this album, is a suite in three parts entitled "Three Variations On the Canon In D Major By Johann Pachelbel". For this piece Eno took sections of the Canon and, on each of the sections, gives the players different instructions for the treatment of those parts. In each case the directives result in different but beautiful deconstructions of the all too familiar Canon.
"Discreet Music" MPEG Stream:
"Fullness of Wind"
ENO, BRIAN Ambient 1: Music For Airports (Virgin / Astralwerks) cd 16.98
Perhaps the most renowned of Eno's ambient albums, Music For Airports, originally released in 1978, is a (or we should say *the*) seminal -ambient- work. The proof is over a quarter decade's worth of other artists (and some downright imitators) who've amassed an enormous collective body of work directly inspired by this one album. This is the O.G. of gorgeous shimmering atmospheric soundscapes. Truly sublime. While Eno's conceptual "hands off" compositional style is certainly one of the larger factors in his influencing other future ambient artists, the striking thing about this work that makes it so compelling is the way in which the pieces manage to impart a feeling of warmth despite the clinically mechanical way in which the pieces are played. And while the performance here is not executed by machines the impact of it carries on down, all the way to the Aphex Twin's zenith of robotic beauty, The Richard D. James album. The four pieces here (programmatically named "1/1", "2/1", "1/2" & "2/2" for their sequencing on the original LP) build one upon the next. The first is arranged entirely with electric and acoustic pianos (with some help from Robert Wyatt for this), the second a chorus of voices and the third and fourth pieces combination of those elements with additional synth help. The drifting and staggered arpeggios cascade in slow motion giving the pieces a shapeless consistency, somehow always moving forward while remaining frozen. A suitable antidote to muzak if there ever was one. If anything dates, or holds back the three latter pieces on this disc it's the now archaic synth patches. They can be charming, but I've never been able to listen to "2/2" without thinking immediately of Steve Winwood's "While You See A Chance". Needless to say, this small downside can't spoil as great an album as this.
"1/1" MPEG Stream:
ENO, BRIAN Ambient 4: On Land (Virgin / Astralwerks) cd 16.98
While Plateaux of Mirror could be seen as the inspiration for a generation of new age musicians, On Land (released in 1982) is arguably a place card for a wellspring of darker ambient musicians forging soundtracks for non-existant films. Some, like the now obscure J. Grienke made careers out of this single album. Others, like Richard James on the Aphex Twin's excellent double cd Selected Ambient Works Volume 2, pay homage and move on. But hints of this dark collection of audio soundscapes can be heard from the likes of Biosphere, Deathprod, Andrew Chalk, Troum and even Village of Savoonga. The key elements involved are an elimination of melody and rhythm. As Eno puts it, quite well in fact, in the liner notes: "the landscape has ceased to be a backdrop for something else to happen in front of: instead everything that happens is part of the landscape. There is no longer a sharp distinction between foreground and background". A seminal work and a must have.
"The Lost Day" MPEG Stream:
"Unfamiliar Wind (Leeks Hills)"
ENO, BRIAN / HAROLD BUDD Ambient 2: The Plateaux Of Mirror (Virgin / Astralwerks) cd 16.98
Recorded in 1980, The Plateaux of Mirror is the least successful of Eno's ambient works, with the exception of its success in being the blueprint for the myriad new age records that would soon follow in its footsteps. Budd's meandering legato piano lines sound so maudlin in comparison to the austere rigidity of Wyatt's playing on Music For Airports. There are less syrupy moments here that make for fine soundtracks. In fact, I think I've seen no less than a dozen student and/or low budget documentaries in my day that have used these tracks in their scores.
"First Light" MPEG Stream:
"An Arc of Doves"
DEATH IN JUNE & BOYD RICE Alarm Agents (Tesco) cd 21.00
Both Death in June and Boyd Rice pioneered nearly the entire aesthetic, approach, and aural stylings of post-idustrial neo-folk. Their collaboration here is classic and infamous. This album amounts to a sacred text for post-humanist, anti-human humans. Xasthur, Leviathan, or any of the Norwegian hordes have never hated anything on the level of which these guys are capable. An historic document or another reason to join a cult far, far out in the woods and lose contact with humanity? You decide, but definitely an interesting listen nonetheless.
CARCASS Choice Cuts (Earache) cd 14.98
Ask Andee or Allan who their favorite death metal band is, ever, and while you might find them momentarily heming and hawing over Morbid Angel, what they're ultimately gonna tell you is: Carcass. The British inventors, pretty much, of both the genre of gore-core and, as their career progressed, the whole melodic death metal thing that so many Swedish bands have taken to the bank. So this new "best of" compilation comes highly recommended. It spans their career from the early days of absurd vocal extremity and misused medical terminology to their more technical and tuneful later productions. Unlike so many other cookie-cutter, cookie-monster death metal bands, these guys had personality, and most importantly, great songs. Instantly memorable stuff. This comp, selected with the input of Carcass drummer Ken Owen (who, happily, has recently recovered from a long, quite serious illness, which he discusses among other Carcass related things in an interview in the cd booket) hits on the highlights of their career of carnage. Indeed, we probably would have picked most of the same songs. So, a fine introduction to their ouvre. And for those of you already well-versed in Carcass, this comp is still a good purchase because it also includes eight tracks from two early Peel sessions! Amazing to think of it, but Carcass (along with Napalm Death) was championed early on by veteran BBC DJ John Peel. So don't be the last on your block to experience the crepitating cadaveric necroticism of Carcass!
"Corporal Jigsore Quandry" MPEG Stream:
"Crepitating Bowel Erosion (Peel Session)" MPEG Stream:
"Reek Of Puterfaction (Peel Session)"
ENO, BRIAN Another Green World (EMI) cd 15.98
We didn't review Another Green World with the other Eno reissues featured a couple weeks back 'cuz they turned out to have some weird defect, but that's been fixed now and so here you go: Unlike most of the recent reissues of classic albums, Brian Eno's aren't graced / padded with extra bells'n'whistles (outtakes, demo versions and the like) nor are there swollen booklets of liner notes, photos, glowing praise, etc. No, you get the albums as they were originally released -- albeit remastered and packaged in simple digipaks with plain clear plastic slipcovers -- and frankly, with albums as timeless and remarkable as these, that's enough! Each is an inspired and inspiring work, remaining vital and compelling even thirty years later. Needless to say, each is fully deserving of an honored place in any record collection. What remains to be said about one of the all-time classic art-rock records? Here we find Brian Peter George St. John Le Baptiste De La Salle Eno (yes, that's his full name!) leaving behind the song structures of the preceding albums, and jumping straight into inventing the mood-driven, almost-snippits-but-too-composed-to-be-just-parts style of atmospheric 'songs'. A melding of his ambient sides with occasional vocals. "Sombre Reptiles", "I'll Come Running", "St. Elmo's Fire"... MAN, JUST TOO GOOD. If you've never heard this record, buy it and live with it for a few years. It'll getcha eventually... Really, just a flat-out model and inspiration for everything synthetic / experimental / art / punk / pop from Bowie's Low album to Talking Heads to I Am Spoonbender (Cup admits that IAS often uses a set of Eno's 'Oblique Strategies' cards during sessions, just like those mentioned in the liner notes to this essential release. FYI: they were a small black box containing a deck of cards imprinted with an assortment of open-to-interpretation statements... an oracle of sorts that you could refer to in times of creative blocks).
"St. Elmo's Fire" MPEG Stream:
"I'll Come Running"
ENO, BRIAN Before And After Science (EMI) cd 14.98
Unlike most of the recent reissues of classic albums, Brian Eno's aren't graced / padded with extra bells'n'whistles (outtakes, demo versions and the like) nor are there swollen booklets of liner notes, photos, glowing praise, etc. No, you get the albums as they were originally released -- albeit remastered and packaged in simple digipaks with plain clear plastic slipcovers -- and frankly, with albums as timeless and remarkable as these, that's enough! Each is an inspired and inspiring work, remaining vital and compelling even thirty years later. Needless to say, each is fully deserving of an honored place in any record collection. The last of Eno's 'song' records before he drifted off into wind-blown dronespace for good (or bad?). In many ways, this album could be thought of as a more pastoral and less baroque Another Green World, with plenty of experiments near the framework of rock music. It could be that this is exactly what is meant by 'experimental pop music' -- avant garde ideas reworked so as to appear as being something like 'regular music'. As usual, this release features appearances by interesting guests: Can's Jaki Liebezeit and German electronic pioneers Cluster.
"Energy Fools The Magician" MPEG Stream:
"Here He Comes"
ENO, BRIAN Here Come The Warm Jets (Astralwerks) cd 14.98
Unlike most of the recent reissues of classic albums, Brian Eno's aren't graced / padded with extra bells'n'whistles (outtakes, demo versions and the like) nor are there swollen booklets of liner notes, photos, glowing praise, etc. No, you get the albums as they were originally released -- albeit remastered and packaged in simple digipaks with plain clear plastic slipcovers -- and frankly, with albums as timeless and remarkable as these, that's enough! Each is an inspired and inspiring work, remaining vital and compelling even thirty years later. Needless to say, each is fully deserving of an honored place in any record collection. "My baby's on fiyaaaaaaa!"... so good. Eno's first solo album after leaving Roxy Music finds him in 'proto-everything' territory, pre-dating art-pop, punk and indie rock with his Dada-esque lyrics and a fresh 'non-musician' approach (those are his words, although a bit misleading -- it's not like he was a gardener before he walked into the studio!) to avant garde songs. Glammy, brooding, and exploratory. This, along with his mood-masterpiece Another Green World, comprise the essential bits of pre-ambient Eno.
"Needles In The Camel's Eye" MPEG Stream:
"Baby's On Fire"
ENO, BRIAN Taking Tiger Mountain (By Strategy) (EMI) cd 15.98
Unlike most of the recent reissues of classic albums, Brian Eno's aren't graced / padded with extra bells'n'whistles (outtakes, demo versions and the like) nor are there swollen booklets of liner notes, photos, glowing praise, etc. No, you get the albums as they were originally released -- albeit remastered and packaged in simple digipaks with plain clear plastic slipcovers -- and frankly, with albums as timeless and remarkable as these, that's enough! Each is an inspired and inspiring work, remaining vital and compelling even thirty years later. Needless to say, each is fully deserving of an honored place in any record collection. One of Eno's best songs kicks off TTM(BS), the ubiquitous and lovely "Burning Airlines Gives You So Much More", with a gorgeous post-Beatles melody and snaky harmonized guitar (an Eno trademark, often played by Robert Fripp on these releases). From there on out, TTM(BS) expands upon -- but doesn't often better -- the ideas that began with Here Come The Warm Jets. Slightly more introspective. It's also less sneering. Of course, Bauhaus resonated with Eno's idea of absurdist / glam / experimental pop, later covering this album's sixth song "Third Uncle". Really, this often sounds like Chairs Missing era Wire in spots, and we all know that's a good thing!
"Burning Airlines Give You So Much More" MPEG Stream:
BOREDOMS Chocolate Synthesizer (Very Friendly) cd 14.98
These three Boredoms cds were last available in the States as Warner/Reprise releases -- yep, major label product! -- but they've been out of print for a few years now, not surprising considering that they are probably some of the most bizarre and fucked up sonic artifacts ever to come out on a US major. We can thank for that our pal Dave Katznelson, former Warners A&R, current Birdman bigwig. We can only imagine that his bosses at Warners were gripped by Lollapalooza fever in order to sign off on the signing of a crazy band like Japan's Boredoms! Anyway, those days are long gone. Fortunately for fans, the British label Very Friendly has at last licensed these three titles for reissue outside of Japan. (Now someone needs also to reissue their early masterpiece Soul Discharge and all will be right in the world.) So, here's one fan's assessment of these three examples of vintage Boredoms insanity, back when they were basically the Butthole Surfers of Japan. Boasting their ugliest cover (tho the colours are better on this reissue than they were on the previous US version) Chocolate Synthesizer may have been a bit overlooked on its release in 1994 (well, I know I found it to be kind of a 'more of the same' album and didn't really grow to really appreciate it until just recently). But it's a solid example of the Boredoms doing what they were/are best at: confounding the listener and rocking the heck out of the recording studio too. This has got all the tradmark Bore-moves. It's a take-no-prisoners onslaught of trumpet, surreal song structures, wacked-out electronic noises, and lots of gargly, nasal vocals. There's slow starts to most of the songs, always building into crescendos of chaos. This was the last hurrah of the 'classic' period Boredoms, before they made a left turn into the realm of Super Ae and reinvented themselves as a freaking amazing, sorta hippified "trance" outfit of massive proportions. Edwin Pouncey got it wrong in The Wire when he said this record foreshadowed that change, when it was really their Super Roots series which lead to the dense, krautrocky wonders of Super Ae and Vision Creation Newsun. Anyway, this one is way better than we remembered, a blast from the past that seems fresher now than it did then.
"Acid Police" MPEG Stream:
BOREDOMS Onanie Bomb Meets The Sex Pistols (Very Friendly) cd 14.98
These three Boredoms cds were last available in the States as Warner/Reprise releases -- yep, major label product! -- but they've been out of print for a few years now, not surprising considering that they are probably some of the most bizarre and fucked up sonic artifacts ever to come out on a US major. We can thank for that our pal Dave Katznelson, former Warners A&R, current Birdman bigwig. We can only imagine that his bosses at Warners were gripped by Lollapalooza fever in order to sign off on the signing of a crazy band like Japan's Boredoms! Anyway, those days are long gone. Fortunately for fans, the British label Very Friendly has at last licensed these three titles for reissue outside of Japan. (Now someone needs also to reissue their early masterpiece Soul Discharge and all will be right in the world.) So, here's one fan's assessment of these three examples of vintage Boredoms insanity, back when they were basically the Butthole Surfers of Japan. Onanie Bomb Meets The Sex Pistols is the one that's been going for the most $$$ on eBay, probably 'cause it's simply the hardest to find and contains some of their earliest material circa 1986-1988 -- including not only their debut LP originally entitled Osozeran No Stooges Kyo but also their first single Anal By Anal, one aggravating slice of noise-punk fuckery for sure. This disc represents a formative step in the career of Eye and co., and is perhaps the Boredoms disc best used as a lease-breaker. And that's saying a lot. If yr in the mood for some Japanese noise that's punk rock too, here's the ticket. Fun, juvenile Bore-carnage. Definitely some songs on here that rank with their best...Andee says that this sounds like wild geese skronkery billowing cramtappery. I don't know what the heck he means exactly, but his description still seems appropriate. Essential to any true Boredoms fan.
"Boredom, vs, SDI" MPEG Stream:
"God From Anal"
BOREDOMS Pop Tatari (Very Friendly) cd 14.98
These three Boredoms cds were last available in the States as Warner/Reprise releases -- yep, major label product! -- but they've been out of print for a few years now, not surprising considering that they are probably some of the most bizarre and fucked up sonic artifacts ever to come out on a US major. We can thank for that our pal Dave Katznelson, former Warners A&R, current Birdman bigwig. We can only imagine that his bosses at Warners were gripped by Lollapalooza fever in order to sign off on the signing of a crazy band like Japan's Boredoms! Anyway, those days are long gone. Fortunately for fans, the British label Very Friendly has at last licensed these three titles for reissue outside of Japan. (Now someone needs also to reissue their early masterpiece Soul Discharge and all will be right in the world.) So, here's one fan's (Allan's) assessment of these three examples of vintage Boredoms insanity, back when they were basically the Butthole Surfers of Japan. 1993's Pop Tatari has always been one of my favorites, following up their astonishing Soul Discharge and Wow2 releases (and thereby the third Boredoms record I ever heard, one that was eagerly anticipated as I recall...I believe I mail-ordered an import copy from Japan when it came out). And it was very nearly as good as Soul Discharge. It's classic Boredoms at their best, mashing up genres from punk to funk to reggae to metal to noise -- there's references in the songtitles to both the Ramones and the Grateful Dead (and to themselves, of course). Yet Pop Tatari is far from a chaotic mess. Applied listening to this record will really reveal that there's a method to their madness. It's kinda like the same way if you saw them play live more than once, you'd realize that their seemingly improvised, acrobatic, spazzed-out stage act was actually carefully, amazingly choreographed! Mayhem that's totally retarded and totally advanced at the same time. Yamamoto's guitar skronk is lashed to the massive groove of the band's two drummers, while the crashing waves of distorted riffola that anchor many of these 18 tracks are surfed by the unique, extreme vocals of Eye and cohorts. Every detour into whatever sort of weirdness is perfectly timed, these ADD arrangements are the work of pros. Definitely a Boredoms album not to be without, my personal pick of the three Very Friendly reissues (though all are worthy). Very Friendly has reinstated the original song titles and tracklist that were altered for the US edition.
"I Am Cola" MPEG Stream:
"Poy (Mockin' Fuzz 1)"
FUNERAL MIST Salvation (Norma Evangelium Diaboli) cd 16.98
One of our ALL TIME favorite black metal records finally repressed and available again! It originally took us a good long while to get enough copies of Salvation so we could review it on the AQ list, and while we were super psyched to finally be able to turn every one on to this amazing disc, we were also a little freaked out, since suddenly we were faced with the prospect of trying to put into words just what it is that is so amazing about this record. And what it is we decided, is EVERYTHING, from the art to the songs to the production, just everything. It's been forever since we saw a record this beautiful and frightening looking, and so weird but utterly heavy sounding. This is definitely black metal. Appropriately buzzing and grim, with fuzzed out riffs and blasting rhythms and death rattle shrieks, but unlike most other black metal records, this is HEAVY. No, we mean H E A V Y. We often joke about the majority of metal records that speed does NOT necessarily equal heaviness. Never has. In fact it's almost always the opposite. The faster you go, the more brittle the sonic palette, and from a drumming standpoint the softer you hit the drums (until you're forced to compensate with triggers). That's why a massive downtuned riff and a pounding caveman drummer is so completely and utterly heavy. And that's why most black metal is washed out and buzzy and droney, but that's definitely part of the appeal, so fast that everything becomes a hypnotic blur. But when a band comes along and manages to be lightning fast but still crush, with ultra dense guitars and HUGE drums and ridiculously hellish howls, well, it's hard not to be blown away. And of course the record also manages to be catchy (not 'pop' catchy, but surprisingly memorable riffs and parts you'll actually find stuck in your head!) And if that wasn't enough, the whole record rife with ambient interludes and ends up being a complex and harrowing journey through some hellish musical wasteland, Sure, the metal is heavy and the playing is furious and intense, but the production is so weird and creative (especially for a black metal record) and the songs (and the whole record) are peppered with all sorts of unlikely flourishes, that add all sort of bleak weirdness, and quasi-religious creepiness, and make Salvation one of the most chillingly grim and darkly evocative records we've ever heard. From strange lilting choral pieces, to haunting drifting old-timey ambience, to quasi religious chanting. It's all woven seamlessly together and along with the artwork, evokes some Lovecraftian otherworld, all rainy and dark and washed out in miserable greys, and where everything is dead or dying, and every step could be your last. The cover depicts one of the band members crucified next to to eviscerated malformed babies, also crucified, in an alcove in some satanic church. The rest of the booklet is equally as striking (and fucked up) as if Stephen O'Malley and Joel Peter Witkin got together to try and design the most beautiful, most dementedly damaged and disturbing black metal artwork ever. Crowns of thorns, grim reapers, malnourished and emaciated dead bodies, hooded skulls and dark riders, multi limbed and Siamese babies and fetuses, all beautifully laid out amongst lyrics and text printed in ancient-scroll style almost illegible olde English script. The whole booklet is muted black and white, fuzzy and washed out, and again evocative of your innermost fears and a truly horrible place (and sound). In fact the whole package is like some dusty artifact of ancient evil, discovered buried a mile beneath the earth, and since being brought to the surface has caused unspeakable evil and the tragic deaths of everyone who comes near it. Certain damnation to anyone who gazes upon it or lets the hellish sounds within reach of their ears. Too bad we can't stop listening to it....
"Agnus Dei" MPEG Stream:
NARGAROTH Geliebte Des Regens (No Colours) cd 16.98
We haven't been able to list much Nargaroth, unfortunately, mostly because we've been unable to get enough in stock. But as far as elite black metal goes, Nargaroth stands tall in a dubious pantheon that also includes AQ faves Graveland. Hateful German TRUE black metal, Nargaroth have been spewing anti-Christian vitriol for years now, culminating in their legendary Black Metal Ist Krieg album from 2001. So here we have Kanwulf's (the man who is Nargaroth) latest missive, and it's as bleak and miserably misanthropic as ever. Four epic tracks of brittle frosty guitars, plodding midtempos, struggling simplistic drumming, occasional fuzzed out blast beats, throat shredding howls and truly cold cold atmospheric ambience. It's all about the DRONE and the DIRGE. Ten plus minutes of the same riff, sawing away and lulling you into a trancelike state, letting the minor key melodies drift from beneath the sheets of icy guitars and and settle on your lifeless body, entranced by the endless riffage. Seriously, this is like a black metal Gore (Dutch hypno metallers who specialised in repetition). So endless and hypnotic and totally transcendent. And like most black metal we champion, just to keep you confused, there are lots of ambient forest sounds, birds, dripping water, rain, and of course didgeridoos(!). Plus inexplicably, the photo of Kanwulf on the inside of the digipak has lyrics from the Moody Blues' "Knights In White Satin" printed over it!
"Manchmal Wenn Sie Schlaft"
GRAVELAND The Fire Of Awakening (No Colours) cd 16.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. We recently listed the utterly amazing Memory And Destiny album by Polish black metal legends Graveland, a frosty and cult masterpiece of blazing buzzing black metal fury, droning and hypnotic, with unpredictable rhythms and stumbling blast beats. Not exactly new at the time, but we were finally able to get enough to list, and we also wanted to whet everyone's appetites for a new Graveland album, which is finally here! The Fire Of Awakening continues in a similar direction as Memory And Destiny although with a few surprises. The opening track for instance, is remarkably catchy, that's right catchy, with a riff that will stick in your head like a pop song. Granted it's swathed in distorted fuzz and battling thrashing midtempo drums and an angelic chorus, but it's a pretty amazing hook! Fear not though, the riff is subsumed soon enough into utter blackness, with epic Nordic riffery and tribal bleakness butted up against each other, while the drumming gallops unsteadily along, and sing songy folk melodies buzz wildly atop the melee. The best part of Graveland is how they switch from part to part, even though the parts don't seem to fit together at all. It gives everything this struggling, chaotic, almost messy feel, which totally adds energy and immediacy to what could otherwise be straight ahead black metal. Not a lot of blast beats either. Like Nargaroth, Graveland putter along at a hypnotic, trance inducing midtempo lope, with attempts at anything faster resulting in even more stumbling chaos! So epic and furious and heavy and intense and mesmeric and absolutely brilliant. Still problematic politically, however...
"We Shall Prevail" MPEG Stream:
"Battle Of Wotan's Wolves"
SLOWDIVE Souvlaki (Creation) cd 12.98
My Bloody Valentine and Slowdive embody the term shoegaze. If you have, have had, or may one day have even the smallest interest in said genre, you have this or you need this. Guitars are simply texture, bass and drums take the driver's seat, and vocals flutter here and there. This is their second to last album, but kinda the last. After this was Pygmalion, which was recorded by only half the band's members (one more than the other) and caused Creation to kick them off the label. Oh, we should mention that Brian Eno produced one song, and he played on two. Not to mention any names, but one (former) AQ staffer has a Slowdive tattoo. This record is more than recommended, it's essential. Includes 4 bonus tracks "not on import".
"Alison" MPEG Stream:
"Machine Gun" MPEG Stream:
M83 Dead Cities, Red Seas & Lost Ghosts (Mute) 2cd 11.98
This was easily one of our favorite records of last year. So we're super excited that Mute has decided to re-issue it, not only at a lower price, but with an extra disc of remixes, unreleased tracks and two videos! We hadn't even heard of this band until a handful of customers started mentioning them, so we figured we'd best check it out, and guess what? Turned out to be pretty fucking amazing. A huge slab of fuzzy shoegazey electronica-flecked dream pop. We've been listening to this nonstop since it came in. Imagine the post rave swirl of the Orb, mix in the muted warmth of Boards Of Canada, the lalala Neu-worship of Stereolab, the catchy new wave of New Order, then wrap the whole thing in a thick shimmery distorted haze a la My Bloody Valentine and you'll be close. Now imagine that concoction as the soundtrack to the love scene in some super bizarre Anime. You know, the part where the girl is going into space because she can't live on earth because her tentacles keep killing cute little pandas, and her boyfriend is a giant panda, but they love each other so much her tears turn into jewels that the pandas can eat to make them invincible. It's that heartbreakingly good. This will totally hit the spot for electro geeks, shoegazers, pop kids, and everyone in between.
"Unrecorded" MPEG Stream:
"Run Into Flowers" MPEG Stream:
PLURAMON Dreams Top Rock (Karaoke Kalk) cd 16.98
Finally back in stock! Markus Schmickler has enjoyed a long career of artistic reinventions, and his Pluramon project marks yet another with the highly acclaimed album Dreams Top Rock. Back in the early '90s, Schmickler began his musical career with a number of obscure electro-acoustic collaborations including Kontakta and Pol; but Schmickler's first major productions came with his first Pluramon record Pick Up Canyon, an album on which Schmickler worked with with Can's drummer extrordinaire Jaki Leibezeit. Outperforming much of the contemporary post-rock of the mid-90s (i.e. Tortoise, Stereolab, etc.), Pick Up Canyon brought an exceptional use of electronics to the always amazing clustered grooves of Leibezeit. Since then, Schmickler also released painterly electro-glitch collages as Wabi Sabi and an overlooked orchestral album that accurately reflected the ideas of such 20th Century avant-garde masters as Ligeti, Arvo Part, and Xenakis. Schmickler's return to his Pluramon project finds him re-investing in the sublime beauty of shoegazer pop on Dreams Top Rock. As with Pick Up Canyon which hinged upon the percussive prowess of Jaki Leibezeit, Dreams Top Rock revolves around the ego of another. This time it's the David Lynch dream-girl Julee Cruise. Yes, there's plenty of My Bloody Valentine to go around; but to these ears, Dreams Top Rock is also a pastiche of A.R. Kane's very early singles dotted with melodies lifted from the Angelo Badalamenti songbook. Cruise's breathy vocalizations and hushed etherial whispers work incredibly well with Schmickler's adept reinterpretation of the shoegazer sound. Unlike Slowdive or My Bloody Valentine, Schmickler doesn't present himself as a brilliant songwriter. His songs are certainly better than most; but he tends to overwhelm the songs with his flawless production of that narcotized guitar sound. Especially for anyone who bought the recent M83 record, Dreams Top Rock is an essential album. However, one non-music related complaint: Whose bright idea was it to put a sticker on the front of the digipak with the artist name and album title? I mean, sure, leave that info off the artwork, put a sticker on the cd case, or on the shrinkwrap. But if you decide to leave it off the artwork, then why would you put a sticker (that you can't peel off) directly on the cardboard of a digipack?! It makes no sense. GRRRR!!! ARGGHHH!!!
"Time For A Lie" MPEG Stream:
"Hello Shadow" MPEG Stream:
SPACEMEN 3 For All The Fucked Up Children Of The World We Give You... (Sympathy For The Record Industry) cd 13.98
GORGOROTH Twilight of the Idols (Nuclear Blast) cd 14.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. Maybe all seems grim and dismal and you're in the mood for some truly wretched, nasty, evil-as-fuck black metal to match your mood? Or maybe you're perfectly well-adjusted, but like to explore extremes of mood and melody in a metal context? Look no further than this new disc from Norwegian black metal stalwarts Gorgoroth. Twilight Of The Idols provides eight delightful tracks featuring throat-ripped screams and distorto-riff-carnage to match. Carefully, artfully, Gorgoroth weave a complex tapestry, an ancient shroud, from these elements. Not as experimental and fucked up as Gorgoroth's Destroyer, nor as quirkily 'pop' as their last one Incipit Satan, this new album delivers the goods without any gimmickry at all (until, perhaps, you get to the final, what-the-fuck-? faux classical synth coda ending the album, that is). It's pretty much just straight-to-hell, do not pass go, do not collect 200 kroner. There's dense, downer epics of slow trudge, and trancey, higher BPM blur, both having about the same effect, a lot like a less overtly (overly?) prog Enslaved. With their sense of sick melody and technical execution, Gorgoroth are definitely one of the greats. Indeed, if these guys weren't hulking, face-painted, spike-draped Norwegians, but a bunch of skinny American metalcore guys, maybe we wouldn't take 'em for granted as much as we do, and we'd realize that all the praise heaped on the likes of Converge and Isis is also the level of worship worthy of this band...
"Exit - Through Carved Stones" MPEG Stream:
ENSLAVED Eld (Season Of Mist) cd 14.98
Allan and Andee's personal favorite album from these Viking metallers!! Epic, violent genius.
ENSLAVED Frost (Season Of Mist) cd 14.98
An early masterpiece from Enslaved, one of the top Viking black metal outfits ever.
SPACEMEN 3 Taking Drugs To Make Music To Take Drugs To (Space Age Recordings) cd 15.98
Thought we'd better get around to listing this, since it was finally reissued domestically at a much cheaper price! "Taking Drugs To Make Music To Take Drugs To" is one of the best album titles ever, and at least for the heavy pharmaceutical users in Spacemen 3, it's certainly a fitting one. Recorded in the winter of 1985 / 86, the album is actually the most rock of all of the Spacemen 3 albums as their 13th Floor Elevators buzz meets the intensity of early Stooges. Sonic Boom and Jason Pierce felt that the versions of the songs found on "Taking Drugs" were better than those on the subsequent albums. And that may just be true! Easily one of the best and most important documents of eighties space-psych!
"The Sound Of Confusion" MPEG Stream:
"Losing Touch With My Mind"
SUNN O))) White1 (Southern Lord) 2lp 18.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. For a limited time, now briefly available on swank double vinyl!! Rumbing distortion. Doom. Drone. The vibrations have begun, another SUNNO))) disc is upon us! As you probably know, the shorthand description for this band is that they're the SUNN that orbits Earth (the band). But actually this release from Stephen O'Malley and Greg Anderson's heavier-than-thou SUNNO))) proves that (as we knew all along) they exert their own gravity in the universe of dark heavy drone musicks. Previous efforts like "Flight Of The Behemoth" have been faves round here, and they also made a fan out of pagan psych-rock maven / monolith expert Julian Cope, who appears here on the 25 minute opening track "My Wall" reading an epic poem! It's a bit like Current 93 but of course waaaay heavier. SUNNO))) has some other heavy friends involved with this recording too, among them the mighty Joe Preston (Thrones, ex-Melvins, ex-Earth!) who brings in some of the fucked up programmed drumming that makes his Thrones project so special. Meanwhile, Jessamine/Fontanelle's Rex Ritter not only plays on the disc, but took care of the recording and mixing too. And the doom-folk direction that Cope's presence suggests is furthered by vocal contributions from Nordic ice witch doom vocalist Runhild Gammelsaeter (whom some will know from her band with Greg Anderson, Thor's Hammer). The final, spacey track with her and Preston dueting is a dronefolk dream. Holy Wotan! Space rockers, drone fiends, pagans, and doom heads alike all should worship this dark SUNN... And we're told the recording session apparently yielded enough material for more than one album, thus there should be a White2 to look forward to someday!
"The Gates Of Ballard" MPEG Stream:
"A Shaving Of The Horn That Speared You"
SPACEMEN 3 Forged Prescriptions (Space Age Recordings) 2cd 18.98
This is my second favorite Spacemen 3 record, second only to the breathtaking Playing With Fire (which we just listed last time and is still in stock). But the more I listen to this, the more it inches closer and closer. It follows the same sonic path as Playing With Fire, with shimmery, hazy, druggy garage rock drone scapes and occasional squalls of fuzzed out buzz-saw riffs, and while it lacks some of the dreamy summery ambience of PWF, it makes up for it in gritty urgency and bleary, cloudy atmosphere. Some of these songs appear elsewhere, but these are the definitive versions, the way the band had always intended them to sound, adding layers and layers of guitars that were impossible to replicate live. This double disc reissue collects demo versions covers, and previously unreleased songs, all of them amazing. From the opening track 'Things'll Never Be The Same', a blast of thick Stooges-y sludge, to the Velvets-esque 'Walking With Jesus', a fuzzy, sun-spangled, lo-fi drone-y ramble, all shimmery strum and sing-songy vocals, to the bluesy swagger of 'Come Down Easy' sounding like Delta blues broadcast from outer space and dipped in LSD, this stuff is all so good. Yet another band that allows a straight edge goodie-two-shoes like me to dabble in dark and dangerous, dreamy and druggy excess!
"Walking With Jesus" MPEG Stream:
"Come Down Easy (Demo Version)" MPEG Stream:
"Things'll Never Be The Same"
SUNN O))) White1 (Southern Lord) cd 14.98
Rumbing distortion. Doom. Drone. The vibrations have begun, another SUNNO))) disc is upon us! As you probably know, the shorthand description for this band is that they're the SUNN that orbits Earth (the band). But actually this release from Stephen O'Malley and Greg Anderson's heavier-than-thou SUNNO))) proves that (as we knew all along) they exert their own gravity in the universe of dark heavy drone musicks. Previous efforts like "Flight Of The Behemoth" have been faves round here, and they also made a fan out of pagan psych-rock maven / monolith expert Julian Cope, who appears here on the 25 minute opening track "My Wall" reading an epic poem! It's a bit like Current 93 but of course waaaay heavier. SUNNO))) has some other heavy friends involved with this recording too, among them the mighty Joe Preston (Thrones, ex-Melvins, ex-Earth!) who brings in some of the fucked up programmed drumming that makes his Thrones project so special. Meanwhile, Jessamine/Fontanelle's Rex Ritter not only plays on the disc, but took care of the recording and mixing too. And the doom-folk direction that Cope's presence suggests is furthered by vocal contributions from Nordic ice witch doom vocalist Runhild Gammelsaeter (whom some will know from her band with Greg Anderson, Thorr's Hammer). The final, spacey track with her and Preston dueting is a dronefolk dream. Holy Wotan! Space rockers, drone fiends, pagans, and doom heads alike all should worship this dark SUNN... And we're told the recording session apparently yielded enough material for more than one album, thus there should be a White2 to look forward to someday!
"The Gates Of Ballard" MPEG Stream:
"A Shaving Of The Horn That Speared You"
DARKTHRONE Hate Them (Moonfog) cd 12.98
Album number ten from perhaps the most revered (or as the band prefers, most hated) of black metal's old guard, the dynamic duo of Fenriz and Nocturno Culto. Clocking in at just over a half an hour and according to the liner notes, recorded AND mixed in a mere 26 hours, Hate Them is the latest installment in more than a decade of Christ crushing, poser smashing, misanthropic, grim and buzzy black metal. Emperor are gone, Mayhem are old news, Immortal are cartoons, Satyricon are techno, which leaves Darkthrone to carry the torch of simple, hateful, aggressive and virtually-unchanged-since-1990 black metal. You don't fix what ain't broke! Howling barbed wire guitars, bloodied vocal chords, and Fenriz's 'unique' mostly midtempo drumming, thrashy and sloppy. The blast beats may be 1/10 the speed of other black metal bands, but what Darkthrone lack in speed and finesse they make up for in grim atmosphere and raw aggression. Possibly the only true black metal band left.
"Rust" MPEG Stream:
"Det Svartner Na"
MARDUK World Funeral (Regain) cd 12.98
The return of black metal legends, Panzer Division Marduk and their one speed. VERY VERY FAST. Seems most metalheads who don't like Marduk, just get bored because with the exception of a record/song here and there, Marduk pick a tempo and stick to it. And that tempo is almost always faster than a speeding bullet. But if you're in the mood for some hyper fast, hyper produced, christ hating, poser smashing black metal, then this may just hit the spot. I personally LOVE Marduk and have been listening to this record a bunch.
"With Satan And Victorious Weapons" MPEG Stream:
MORBID ANGEL Blessed Are the Sick (Earache) cd 14.98
Deluxe cd reissue of Morbid Angel's classic second helping of death metal mastery, their "B" album (coming between "Altars Of Madness" and "Covenant"). With Pete "Commando" Sandoval's blasting drum artillery, Dave Vincent's aggro growl, and Trey Azagthoth's unhinged squiggly guitar leads, these Floridians made death metal for Satan that was bloodier and blacker than anything outta Norway before or since. Their whole catalog is crucial death metal but "Blessed Are The Sick" holds a special place in our hearts. Here their sick, Slayer to the power of Slayer speed collided with classically-inspired keyboard ambience and doomy dirges, taking death metal to a significant high point of both ridiculous excess and truly affecting evil atmosphere. The original thanks lists in the cd booklet really says it all. Trey Azagthoth says, in part: "I hail to you Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. It is to you I dedicate all my works of past present and future. May they outshine the shadowing voices of this other factor of psychic we share existance with. You are the greatest composer of us all. Hail to you O Ancient Ones, Absu Mummu Tiamat, Kutulu, Pazuzu, Humwawa, Xaztur, Hubbur, Kingu, Baxaxaxa Baxaxaxa, The Arylia of Mummu Tiamat, The churning seas of Nar Mattaru, Yog Sothoth, and the ever bubbly bubblies of Shub Niggurath..." Basically, if you're even a dabbler in "extreme metal" you need to have this disc in your collection, and better late that never, especially as it now comes packaged in a cardboard slipcase, with a Quicktime video for the title track (done all MTV-style) included on the disc, liner notes from Trey, and lotsa photos.
"Fall From Grace"
WINDY & CARL Introspection (Blue Flea) cd 21.00
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. Within the sweeping orbits of the Michigan space rock community, Windy & Carl (whose Windy is not the same as AQ's Windy, thank you!) have continued to count as one of the best and most consistent projects to emerge from that fertile scene. With an incredibly simple template that finds Carl on effects laden guitar and Windy on bass and occasionally singing, the duo crafts gentle washes of blissed-out, shoegazing haziness which is lazily structured by the sparest of songwriting elements -- a vocal melody whispered on one song, an acoustic guitar strumming on another, or a bass steadily progressing through a simple chord progression on another. It seems a little hard to believe that so much of their dreamy output was through tiny edition 7" singles and EPs; yet as this triple cd compendium is filled with tracks from those early singles, as well as compilation tracks, and live / unreleased tracks. Fantastic sleepytime music.
MORBID ANGEL Altars Of Madness (Earache) lp 17.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. Earache's classic vinyl reissue campaign marches on, now hitting us with Morbid Angel's amazing 1989 debut album, "Altars Of Madness". David Vincent's Satanic growl, Pete "Commando" Sandoval's drum artillery, and the squiggly guitar "lava" of bloody Trey Azagthoth and Pete Brunelle: the might of these eventual kings of death metal was on full display here, with some highlights being "Maze of Torment", "Lord of All Fevers And Plague", and "Chapel of Ghouls". Evil Florida death metal, ah those were the days! (But, this this was only their "A" album, they're at "G" in the alphabet now and still going strong.) Reissued on heavy, colored wax, by the way, like the rest of this Earache vinyl series, which is definitely reminding us of how incredible a roster this record label boasted in its prime. Again, those were the days... (CDs still available, of course.)
AT THE GATES Slaughter Of The Soul (Earache) cd+dvd 16.98
From '95, one of the last great Earache releases was Swedish death metallers At The Gates' debut for the label -- definitely ATG's best, but sadly also to be their last, album. "Slaughter The Soul" stands next to Dissection's "Storm Of The Light's Bane" as the apex of the New Wave of Swedish Melodic Death Metal sound. The Iron Maiden-inspired guitar work, the black metal styled throat shredding vocals, and the "Reign In Blood" era Slayer -worthy speed and brutality of this attack showed just how extreme AND melodic metal could get. Acts like In Flames, Shadows Fall, Soilwork, and countless others wouldn't be what they are without ATG. Truly a '90s metal classic, and like "RIB" without an ounce of fat, clocking in at 34 action packed minutes. Not only part of the currently on-going Earache vinyl reissue program, but also now re-released on cd with bonus tracks as well ('cause of course there's room for 'em): one unreleased song called "The Dying" from the "SOTS" sessions, 2 demo tracks, and covers of Slaughterlord, No Security, and of course, Slayer! Now in slipcase w/ bonus dvd: Live in Krakow + "making of" documentary.
"Slaughter Of The Soul" RealAudio clip:
NARGAROTH Rasluka Part II (No Colours) cd ep 13.98
Talk about cult black metal! Nargaroth's Rasluka Part II (not sure what happened to Part I...) pretty much defines it. This four song, 25 minute ep is the latest blast of hate-filled mayhem from infamous German black metal maniac Kanwulf and his hordes. Like all true black metal, this begins with a creepy intro track, featuring someone playing a recorder along to a bunch of morosely-quacking ducks, which then gives way to Naragoth's equally morose but much louder buzzing guitar/drum pound and vocal rasping, a la Burzum, Mayhem, Darkthrone. Nice n' evil like it should be. But despite the almost symphonic, ambient cascades of distortion in which their music is bathed, as well as Kanwulf & Co.'s questionable ideology, this is still at heart simply rock n' roll -- which goes some way to explaining why track four is preceded by sound samples discussing the drunken death of AC/DC's original singer Bon Scott!
"...Und Ich Sah Sonn' Nimmer Heben "
CARCASS Necroticism - Descanting The Insalubrious (Earache) cd 13.98
Allan's favorite 'Death Metal' album (well, along with Morbid Angel's Blessed Are The Sick)! It combines the horrific rawness and insane medical lyrics of Carcass' first two albums (this was their third) with a newfound technicality and NWOBHM-derived catchiness. And they manage to make use of 'samples' in a way that doesn't suck. Definitely their masterpiece (though Andee might argue for Heartwork). Rules.
SUN CITY GIRLS 330,003 Crossdressers From Beyond The Rig Veda (Locust) 3lp 25.00
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. Sun City Girls fans rejoice, the vinyl reissue of their epic crowning acheivement "330,003 Crossdressers..." is upon us. Originally released in 1996 on double cd only, "Crossdressers" almost certainly surpassed "Torch of the Mystics" as the Sun City Girls' most highly regarded recording. The tracks contained herein capture the Girls at their most creepy, beautiful and just downright inspired. Whether it's the plodingly gloomy song "CCC" with its rumbling piano, ominous guitar line, howled chorus and rain, or the So.Cal-esque punk arrangements of traditional sounding East Asian songs like "Soi Cowboy" or the numerous free-jazz meets Javanese gamelan experiments (actually sounds much better than the capsulated description might suggest), the Girls are at the peak of their game on these tracks. Possibly the most remarkable moment of all is the faux-Indian fusion acid-psych jam between the Girls and long time collaborator violinist Eyvind Kang, in which Kang convincingly plays Indian style violin improvisations with gentle accompaniment from the Girls before building into one of the most impressive freak-out frenzies the band has ever commited to tape. On the CD edition the track, "Ghost Ghat Trespass", had been wedded to another live jam between SCG and Kang "Sussmeier", but the two are separated at the spine on the LP with the first taking up the end of side 5 and the latter the beginning of side 6. Methinks this is a better setup any how because after listening to "Ghost Ghat..." it's nice not to be thrown immediately into the skronk of "Sussmeier" so directly. Which brings me to the issue of track arrangement. Though all the tracks included on the CD are present here, they are not in the same order. Which isn't that much of a problem, certainly not for those who've never owned the cd and have yet to wear a groove into their head of the way things "ought to be." The set is beautifully packaged in a double gatefold cover (though it appears the front cover image darkened a bit in the process) and includes a couple extra photos that did not come in the original package including a nice photo of the trio which many may recognize from their interview in The Wire a ways back and another of one of them exotic nekkid lady dancers they like so much. A final note, on the inside reads "this is a limited edition vinyl only release." You know what that means.
"Soi Cowboy" RealAudio clip:
"Lies Up The Niger" RealAudio clip:
"Ghost Ghat Trespass (excerpt 1)" RealAudio clip:
"Ghost Ghat Trespass (excerpt 2)" RealAudio clip:
IMMORTAL Sons Of Northern Darkness (Nuclear Blast) cd 14.98
From the cold frozen north (Norway) comes this, the latest cd from one of our favorite corpse-painted bands ever, Immortal. It's their seventh album but their first for new, big-time label Nuclear Blast, so expectations are high. And "Sons Of Northern Darkness" delivers, in fine Immortal fashion. It's got the unmistakable Popeye-gone-metal vocal stylings of guitarist Abbath, who rasps out the frostbitten fantasy lyrics penned by their former guitarist, the crippled Demonaz, all backed by a blizzard of drums from hefty skinbeater Horgh. Followers of Immortal's career know that they began as your basic, howling at the moon, primitive blasting black metal outfit. They quickly developed a reputation as the fastest band out there, reaching a peak of pure speed with the classic "Battles In The North". Unable to top that, they did an album of Morbid Angel worship, the hectic "Blizzard Beasts"...and then Demonaz left the band, unable to play guitar due to "arm disease". Regrouping, Immortal shifted in a newly melodic, heavy-metal-riff oriented direction, releasing the brilliant "At The Heart of Winter". Some old fans (Josh from The Fucking Champs, you know who you are) were disappointed that the songs wasn't as fast, and the production not as "necro" (i.e. bad) as before, but the drums still blazed and the better production (courtesy of Peter Tagtgren's Abyss Studio) combined with their improved song-craft made for a true masterpiece. They followed that up with "At The Heart of Winter Part II" (actual title: "Damned In Black"), and now here we are with what is essentially part three, "Sons Of Northern Darkness". No, it doesn't top "At The Heart of Winter" but it's indeed more of the same quality Immortal, totally satisfying! While their blasting abilities are still incredible, this disc is perhaps at its best on the slower songs, like "Tyrants". Cold, cold stuff. There's even a song about Antarctica! Immortal. Sometimes, there's nothing better.
"One By One" RealAudio clip:
MY BLOODY VALENTINE Isn't Anything (Sony / Creation) cd 10.98
As we recently listed My Bloody Valentine's hard to find collection "Ecstacy and Wine" as well as their masterpiece "Loveless," it's about time that we got "Isn't Anything" into the Aquarius Records archives. I seem to remember an odd anecdote about the recording process of this album, that it was recorded somewhere in the outskirts of their native Dublin near a sheep farm and the band ended up crashing at the studio throughout the entire recording session. Yet, their sleep patterns were constantly interrupted by the incessant bleating of those sheep, and the collective insomnia contributed to the lethargy and torpor found within "Isn't Anything." Of course, I've been unable to verify this story with anything factual, but this album sure does sound sleepy, mostly sliding towards the realm of deep slumber, but occasionally hopped-up on punchy sleep-deprived nerves. In the name of revisionist history, "Isn't Anything" stands as the transition album between the gilded jangle of "Ecstacy and Wine" and the radioluminescence of "Loveless." My Bloody Valentine had begun to bury much of their emulation of '60s psychedelic pop in Sonic Youth mack-truck riffage and intertwining guitar haze that upstages the Velvet Underground strum-as-drone. Tracks like "Feed Me With Your Kiss" and "Sueisfine" thickly blur the sad lullaby vocals from Kevin Shields and Bilinda Butcher through overblown bass distortion and strangely uptempo rhythms. Yet, My Bloody Valentine will instantly glide out of these into the shoegazing drone-pop of something like "Lose My Breath" with its tone bending extended chords and lack of pronounced rhythms. Only a couple of the songs on "Isn't Anything" are as memorable as those found on "Loveless," but there are plenty of swirling dreamy-pop songs that make this album a treat for shoegazing fans!
"Soft As Snow (But Warm Inside)" RealAudio clip:
"Lose My Breath" RealAudio clip:
"Feed Me With Your Kiss" RealAudio clip:
MY BLOODY VALENTINE Loveless (Warner / Sire) cd 9.98
We just realised that this record, one of AQ unanimous all time favorites, never got listed on the website OR the AQ list. And while most of you may already have this, a few of you are in for a big surprise and a musical awakening. "Loveless" stands at the pinnacle of the UK shoegazer movement of the early '90s also populated by Ride, Slowdive, Blind Mr. Jones, Lush, and dozens of lesser knowns on Creation and Cherry Red Reords. Almost all of these bands were enthralled by '60s pop, extending Phil Spector's wall of sound into thick tapestries of distortion and reverberation that almost completely buried their distinctly pop structures. My Bloody Valentine was no exception, but were certainly the most adventurous in terms of production techniques and most definitely the best songwriters of the lot (though Ride and Slowdive did write some amazing songs) culminating with their masterpiece (and swansong) "Loveless." Led by the intertwined guitars and vocals of the bleary eyed duo of Kevin Shields and Bilinda Butcher, My Bloody Valentine blurred what would normally be punk-as-fuck distortion into a velvety wash of sleepwalking sound, soothed further by their hushed lullabye vocals. Yet, My Bloody Valentine weren't just interested in lulling their audiences to sleep, as "Loveless" borrows more than a few tricks from the contemporary Manchester sound (Stone Roses, Happy Mondays, etc.) with their brilliant track "Soon" filled with rolling basslines and spry breakbeats. That track along with the equally groovy-yet-dreamy "Glider" ep had been the basis for Simon Reynolds curious thesis that My Bloody Valentine had produced some of the earliest jungle tracks. More plausible was that MBV were one of the first rock bands to actively incorporate sampling into their production techniques. My Bloody Valentine had resampled their guitar feedback digitally to created strangely warbling layers of sound and allow for additional tools to build their bittersweet, melancholic melodies. "Loveless" may remain the final testament to the musical prowess of My Bloody Valentine, as Kevin Shields continues to state the claim that another album is in the works... well it's been in the works for over a decade and has no signs of ever being realized. Nevertheless, this album *still* sounds totally fresh and wholly superior to all of the bands that have attempted to revive the My Bloody Valentine sound (Lilys, Swirlies, Flying Saucer Attack, Third Eye Foundation, Fennesz, Chessie, etc, etc, etc). Perhaps our opinion best stated by former Aquarian Marc Kate: "If you don't own it, I won't be mad, but you will certainly earn my pity." An earthshattering record. Period.
"Only Shallow" RealAudio clip:
"I Only Said" RealAudio clip:
"Sometimes" RealAudio clip:
SUNN O))) 3: Flight Of The Behemoth (Southern Lord) cd 14.98
The third (duh) album from the lower-than-low doom duo of Stephen O'Malley (Burning Witch, Khanate) and Greg Anderson (Goatsnake, ex-Engine Kid). SUNN O))), formed in tribute to defunct Sub Pop heavies Earth, never fails to warm our doom-drone lovin' hearts, even as SUNN's thick, sludgy wall of bass-heavy guitar distortion utterly numbs our bodies. We loved their last album "OO Void" so much that we were both eager to hear this new one, and a bit apprehensive 'cause we heard it had a bunch of remixes on it, which sometimes means throw-away BS. But as it turns out, not in this case, thankfully! The first two tracks, totalling 22 minutes, constitute a new SUNN original, with dark waves of Earth-worthy droneriff rolling relentlessly ever onward. (Track one is called "Mocking Solemnity" and track two is called "Death Becomes You", but there's no discernable break between them, it's really all one piece.) Then come the two mixes, and the surprise is that they're even better than the SUNN-alone tracks! Maybe that's 'cause they were produced by Masami Akita, aka the notorious Japanese noise artist Merzbow! His first mix (5 mins) drops some atonal piano into the dronezone of Sunn, while mix number 2 (13 mins) really goes for a grinding godhead experience. He really takes it to another level. After the Merzbow tracks, "Flight" closes out with another original track called "F.W.T.B.T.", and it's another good 'un, featuring guests "Bootsy Kronos" on bass, and, uh, "Aspirin Feast" on drums. Drums! Steve O'Malley did a great job with the album design, too, somehow emulating the graphics of Earth's "2" with nicely colored picture of a hunting dog, a shot of the SUNN boys looking like long haired, black clad twins, and -- get this -- what appears to be a certain rock star's Klonopin perscription from a Beverly Hills pharmacy! Southern Lord recommends this to fans of Earth, Melvins, Thrones, Thomas Koner...and we do too!! Add to that list Boris, Corrupted, Fushitsusha, and Loop (the last two are SUNN fan Julian Cope's comparisons)... "Flight of the Behemoth" is truly a massive, rumbling, varied, experimental DRONEDOOM ESSENTIAL!
"O)))bow1" RealAudio clip:
AMON DUUL II Phallus Dei (Revisited) cd 17.98
Split apart from the more politicized fraction known as Amon Duul I (Psychedelic Underground, etc.), Amon Duul II emerged in 1969 when they released this fantastic debut album. It's a masterwork of drug-dazed guitar psych, long tracks, middle eastern influence, churning trance rock, etc. With the same four bonus tracks as found on the prior Gammarock label cd version: "Freak Out Requiem I - III", & "Cymbals In The End". Where the music of Amon Duul I flowed freely like the loose collective of hippies they were, Amon Duul II was a delirious explosion of psychedelia that, with small exception, always kept one foot firmly planted in structure. The extended jams, especially the title track, have the benefit of being both very accessible straight ahead, heavy, psychedelic rock while retaining the spontaneity of an improv sensibility.
"Phallus Dei (excerpt 1)" RealAudio clip:
"Phallus Dei (excerpt 2)" RealAudio clip:
"Freak Out Requiem II"
ENSLAVED Monumension (Osmose) cd 16.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. Ivar Bjornson, Grutle Kjellson, Dirge Rep and Richard Kronheim are Enslaved. We mention them individually because they and their band deserve to be household names, at least among Aquarius customers. Enslaved are definitely one of our absolute favorite Norwegian black metal acts. Indeed, I (Allan) would go so far as to say, forget Norwegian black metal -- Enslaved are one of the best rock bands in the world today, period! And "Monumension" is their new album, one so highly anticipated here at Aquarius that it's hard to write about. First, the fear: was it even possible? Was it realistic to expect that this band could possibly top their previous album, the Aquarius Record of the Week honoree (list #101) "Mardraum"? Is disappointment inevitable when hopes are so high? We were a-tremble upon first listen, let me tell you. Well, many listens later I'm glad to report that this new Enslaved effort lives up to its mighty predecessor(s). This release marks the 10th anniversary of Enslaved's unique brand of "Viking metal". But it seems like they're travelling not across the waves in longboats, but through the stars in astral bodies. That is, when they're not simply thrashing like more down-to-earth rock n' roll demons. What an amazing band. Spacey, intense, complex, primal, chaotic, beautiful... Ok, enough hyperbole (for the moment). What's "Monumension" really like, and how *does* it compare exactly to "Mardraum"? Well, somebody had told us to expect that the new Enslaved would sound like Genesis, but that's definitely not the case. True, '70s prog rock a la Genesis (or, maybe more accurately, King Crimson and Van Der Graaf Generator) certainly flows in the blood of Grutle, Ivar and Co., along with the more ancient blood of their Norse ancestors. Opeth fans will hear the parallels. But are they truly warriors of modern prog? Not quite, as they are so much more. The first thing an Enslaved fan will notice is the surprising prevalence of death metal style vocals alongside the black metal rasps and Viking chants. Vocally, lyrically and musically, this is some seriously heavy stuff, and violent. But it all flows, sometimes into realms so tripped-out and Floyd-ishly psychedelic that you'll forget you're listening to "metal" at all. But then, the next song will start with a blood-quickening, bone-jarring riff to remind you. Like on "Mardraum", the band brilliantly weaves various metal/rock styles into pure Enslaved music, perhaps upping the "folk" aspect a bit (which balances those death metal elements nicely). There's even a bonus track by a related band called HOV (Trygve Mathiesen and a "tribal choir" which includes all the members of Enslaved) that's meant to evoke traditional Viking music -- although the band stresses that "Enslaved has never been about reproduction or literal interpretations. It is more of a quest for creating our own musical traditions and dimensions. The band is built upon the philosophy, magick and myths of the Vikings, not a desire to dress like they did during a historical period or to talk exactly like them. It is something deeper than a mere roleplay to please the outer eyes and ears." These efforts by Enslaved certainly have resulted in surreal, epic, timeless metal for the mind, body and soul. So yes, these rune-obsessed geniuses, mere youngsters wise beyond their years, have created another utter masterpiece. And it's not just me -- everyone I've discussed this record with agrees that it's amazing. Arrrgh -- my fanboy ramblings can't even begin to do it justice. Emperor, Satyricon, Ulver are all great Norwegian black metal bands that in various ways and to various degress have also branched out into the beyond, but Enslaved are something else again.
"The Voices" RealAudio clip:
"Vision: Sphere of the Elements - A Monument Part II" RealAudio clip:
"The Cromlech Gate" RealAudio clip:
"Convoys To Nothingness"
CARPATHIAN FOREST Morbid Fascination Of Death (Avantgarde Music) cd 14.98
Their first record in three years, Norwegians Carpathian Forest return with their dark and primitve 'Misanthropic Black Metal' but with some new twists. Their overall sound hasn't changed too much, a noisy thrash metal assault tempered with the primitve buzz of Darkthrone, and the simple black metal slop of Venom or Bathory. But Carpathian Forest have always managed to make simple sounds seem sinister and completely diabolical, and this time around it's no different. Buzzing and howling, galloping old school thrash, with occasional blast beats and dark ambient interludes -- and "MFoD" has some surprises too. The most interesting tracks here are the opening track 'Fever, Flames and Hell' which sounds like Immortal mixed with old Human League, growling vocal hiss over industrial military rhythms and belching super-distorted synthesisers, and the track 'Cold Comfort', a loping dreary gothic nightmarescape that features buried strings and saxophone!!
"Fever, Flames and Hell" RealAudio clip:
"Doomed To Walk The Earth As Slaves Of The Living Dead" RealAudio clip:
EMERSON, LAKE & PALMER The Very Best Of... (Rhino) cd 12.98
This is going to be short and sweet. At the risk of some of you losing faith in my (Andee's) reviews, Emerson Lake and Palmer are the greatest rock band ever. Period. Everything you like about every one of your favorite bands, ELP do better. Heavy, bombastic instrumental virtuosity, gorgeous mellow pop chops, everything. A greatest hits record can't really do justice to a band who almost never wrote a bad song (at least until 1977), and if you were actually interested, you'd be better served buying one of their actual albums. Or all of them. But for the timid or the not so daring, this is not a bad place to start. Thirteen tracks by of the most successful, most reviled, act in prog-rock history!
"Knife-Edge" RealAudio clip:
"From The Beginning"
WITCHFINDER GENERAL Death Penalty (Heavy Metal Records) cd 19.98
Death Penalty is one of the lost metal albums from the early '80s, falling victim to its own indecisiveness, not that such is a bad thing. Never really staying "true" either to the glam metal of Hanoi Rocks, Fastway, and Motley Crue or to the shocking horror shows of Ozzy and Iron Maiden, Witchfinder General alternated between both worlds, with the first half of Death Penalty being rowdy party numbers about drinking beer and dropping acid. These songs followed standard blues based rock; but as Witchfinder General was pretty amped up on the aforementioned substances, they were quite a bit more distorted and quick tempoed. By the time Witchfinder General gets to their anthemic "Witchfinder General," this album takes an impressive turn down the dark path of mythologically laden proto-doom metal, loaded with super-heavy (for 1982) Sabbathy grooves and aggro lyrics mostly about killing witches. They also throw in some grave robbing, just to prove how evil they are. A confused classic, recently reissued in the US. One of Jim's (!) favorite metal bands!
"Free Country" MPEG Stream:
WITCHFINDER GENERAL Friends of Hell (Heavy Metal Records) cd 16.98
Witchfinder General's second album picks up right where "Death Penalty" left off, with an album split evenly between the party rock elements from the New Wave of British Metal back in 1983 and their undeniable influence from Sabbath. Just as bipolar (between comical and evil) as the first album, and just as great. One of Jim's (!) favorite metal bands!
"Love On Smack" MPEG Stream:
ASH RA TEMPEL s/t (Spalax) cd 17.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY.
BLACK FLAG Damaged (SST) cd 0.00
BLACK FLAG My War (SST) cd 14.98
ZOVIET FRANCE The Decriminalization of Country Music (Tramway) cd 18.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. We first heard of Zoviet France's latest offering "The Decriminalization of Country Music" back in December; yet it has taken until now for the distribution channels to get into place for this record to finally make its way here to Aquarius. With almost all of their back catalogue out of print and a notable decline in activities throughout the past decade, this delay in distribution is certainly not out of the ordinary for a collective that prides themselves on their well groomed sense of mystery. Zoviet France began 20 years ago as an anonymous collective of musicians who embraced the DIY attitudes of Punk and Situationism, yet found inspiration in Terry Riley's tape mechanisms, Lee 'Scratch' Perry's schizoid dub production, and the wonders of non-Western instruments (tablas, bouzoukis, Tibetan bowls, Egyptian reeds, etc.). While each of their albums hold very distinct aesthetics, the basic ZF sound is a eerie cyclical drone built from a interlocking network of tape loops with dubbed intrusions of the aforementioned ethnic instruments. One of the subtle ties between all of the Zoviet France records is the process of recycling material, in which a handful of discreet sound elements repeat throughout the album within a broad spectrum of recognizability. For an album like "Hessian" it would be the surreal chant "OK, Boys!" and for "Feedback" it would be the distant whir of a sputtering drum machine. "The Decriminalization of Country Music" is one of the more obvious examples of Zoviet France's recycling process, as they had been commissioned by the Tramway Gallery in Glasgow, Scotland to re-interpret the sounds of the gallery's extensive redevelopment from a desolate warehouse to a workable exhibition hall. While ZF utilizes various construction site sounds and the resonant properties of the room itself, the dominate theme for "Decriminalization" is the sound of a languorous slide guitar, making comparisons to Ry Cooder inevitable. At the beginning of the record, Zoviet France boldly introduces the haunting guitar sounds against quiet static loops and rich drone synthesis. Yet as the album progresses, the guitar's presence becomes more diffuse, with only a few fragments of muffled twangs hovering amidst the post-industrial ambience by the end of the album. "The Decriminalization of Country Music" stands as Zoviet France's most minimal piece to date, and like all of their records is an amazing, if not required listening experience.
"Something Spooked The Horses" RealAudio clip:
WHITEHOUSE Cruise (Susan Lawly) cd 16.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. Yes, the notorious Whitehouse are still at it after twenty years. Love them or hate them, you've probably got a strong opinion about Whitehouse. While we at Aquarius do not necessarily agree with the lyrical content of past Whitehouse releases, some of us appreciate the *concept* of Whitehouse, William Bennett's realisation of "a sound that could bludgeon an audience into submission." On this, their sixteenth album, Whitehouse run the risk of losing some hardcore fanatics, while possibly gaining new ones. With the exception of the inclusion of "A Cunt Like You" (which can also be found on 1998's Mummy and Daddy), Cruise marks a new direction for Whitehouse. Tracks like "Princess Disease" and "Cruise (Force the Truth)" are atypically rhythmic, quite enjoyable in fact -- add some amen breaks and you've got the next DHR record! (Whitehouse Remixes, Alec???) Most notable about Cruise is an expansion of lyrical content by William Bennett, pulling us deeper into the depths of his complex and misunderstood mind. And in continuing the concept introduced on Mummy and Daddy, Cruise's centrepiece is a found sound collage of first hand experiences of sexual abuse, arranged by Peter Sotos. Brutal, yet probably the most accessible Whitehouse record to date. Sadly, no cover art by Trevor Brown this time around... Whitehouse have always seemed to position themselves in close proximity to the artworld (while at the same time alienating themselves from the music world), and in doing so, may be positioning themselves closer to the accepted forms of transgressive art such as Vito Acconchi's public masturbation or Jeff Koon's airbrushed pornography. Whatever you may think about Whitehouse (i.e. if they are or are not 'art'), that which lies underneathe the packaging is certainly not going to change your mind about them. You probably know already if you need to own this. However, Whitehouse does change things up a bit on 'Cruise', taking their normally ear shredding shrieks, and lowering the ultra high frequencies to a more gritty mid-range analogue noise.
RILEY, TERRY In C (Atma) cd 15.98
Recent recording of Terry Riley's seminal work "In C." Because of its ambiguous instrumentation and relative ease of performance, "In C" has been performed and recorded in a multitude of varying arrangements in its 37 years of existence. In this version, "In C" is attacked with sitar, tabla, percusssion, voices (mostly extended technique, ie: growls) and orchestra. The performance was recorded live as part of a concert given by the Societe de Musique Contemporaine du Quebec (SMCQ) in 1997. Also included on this disc are two pieces by Quebecois composers Donald Steven (for flutes, clarinets, saxophones, viola, percussion, synthersizer and tape) and Michel-Georges Bregent (for voice, various ensembles, electroacoustic and environmental sounds.) Why these pieces are bundled together I know not, but suspect that the Canadian composers felt they wouldn't sell enough of their pieces unless they piggy-backed them onto a cd with a recording by a popular U.S. composer. Oh, and the liner notes are affixed on the back side of a zany fold out poster.
WINDY & CARL Consciousness (Kranky) cd 12.98
Utterly beautiful, velvet-warm blankets of sound unfold simply and slowly on just a guitar and a bass. "Womb-like" is an overused adjective, but in Windy & Carl's case it's really quite apt. Mix the blissed-out rough strum of Flying Saucer Attack with the seemingly timeless sustained pure notes of Wolfgang Voigt's Gas, only finely smoothed over, so soothing you could fall asleep to it. Indeed, Windy has said this would be the ultimate compliment of her band. Almost completely instrumental. Another wonderful record from the Michigan space rock stalwarts. (Windy and Carl also have a record store, www.stormyrecords.com, tell 'em we sent ya.) (And btw, Windy of Windy & Carl is different person from me, Windy of AQ.)
"The Sun" RealAudio clip:
REICH, STEVE Music For 18 Musicians (ECM) cd 16.98
REICH, STEVE Phase Patterns / Pendulum Music / Piano Phase / 4 Organs (Wergo) cd 24.00
RILEY, TERRY Poppy Nogood All Night Flight Vol. 1 (Cortical Foundation) cd 17.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY.
BUILT TO SPILL There's Nothing Wrong With Love (Up) cd 12.98
Chances are that you know and love this album. If not, you probably just don't know it yet. As far as '90s indie rock goes, this is literally, completely, and wholly essential. Make friends with this record. It sounds exactly like a day dreamer's high school experience should. Catchy songs, breezy reminiscences, and more hooks than you can shake a stick at! Never heard it, lent it to a friend, or sold it during financially thin times in college ... now's the time. Carpe indie!
BOREDOMS Vision Creation Newsun (Birdman) cd 13.98
Yeeeah! This, the new Boredoms album (now a domestic release, good for those whose pocketbooks were unable to handle the $90 import boxed version!), is a worthy follow-up to their amazing, universally-lauded "Super Ae" disc of 1999. It finds the Boredoms venturing even further into "trance" realms (for some of us, this is dangerously hippie; Andee calls Vision Creation "drum circle Boredoms"). This record may actually appeal more to fans of stuff like No Neck Blues Band or Iran than lovers of Japanese craziness. But hell, it's still the Boredoms!
"Vision Creation Newsun"
SUNN O))) 00 Void (Hydra Head) cd 14.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. The world's first, best, only, (and last?) EARTH tribute band oozes forth with their second album on Hydra Head sub-label HH Noise Industries. Some might question if there was more to be accomplished in their emulation of the glacial "power ambient drone" metal practiced by Earth, but this album should quell any skeptics -- it's slower and lower and sets yet another standard for heaviness. Thus, probably an essential addition to the cd-collections of AQ's extreme doom fanatic patrons! And this time the boys in Sunn go beyond their obvious Earth worship to acknowledge another influence: one of the four lengthy tracks found here is a cover (or, an interpretation, anyway) of a Melvins tune! Recommended.
CHRISTINE 23 ONNA Shiny Crystal Planet (Alchemy) cd 21.00
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. Christine 23 Onna is a collaborative effort between Fusao Toda and Maso Yamazaki, better known as Masonna. While the presence of one of Japan's most frightening noisicians should be enough the scare away all of the too-hip-and-too-stoned kids who only care about 'rare grooves,' Christine 23 Onna's "Shiny Chrystal Planet" is actually a pretty damn funky record. Yeah, it's noisy, but in a swirling, synth-overload, super psychedelic way, not like Masonna's usual electronic scream-skree. And really uptempo breakbeats set the rhythmic backbone for some awesome trance-rock much like the latest grooves from their countrymen the Boredoms (a la "Super Are" and "Vision Creation Newsun)". The phase shifting fuzz guitar and cosmic space dusted synthesizers get jammy, but fortunately never too wanky. Those of you familiar with the '60s spy thrillers of Jerry Van Rooyen may recognize one of his tempestous songs covered by Christine 23 Onna (we think we do, anyways, although it's not credited as such...). Wild, spacey groov-adelia. All around great stuff! Amazing cover art recreating Ash Ra Temple's "New Age Of Earth"!
"Christine Hop #1"
ENSLAVED Mardraum (Necropolis / Osmose ) cd 14.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. Whoa! I thought that Weakling's "Dead As Dreams" was gonna be the uncontested "Black Metal Record of the Year" until I heard this, the new album from Norwegian Viking-metallers Enslaved. Now Weakling has some competition! "Mardraum" ("Nightmare") is probably Enslaved's best record to date, no mean feat considering that their "Frost" and "Eld" albums are two of the best Nordic black metal discs ever, in AQ's humble opinion. This new album somehow combines the violent and epic qualities of Enslaved's past works with what can only be considered (despite our dislike, and over-use, of the term) a 'post-rock' sensibility. And, on top of that, there's a full on ROCK element at work here too. During the very first track ("Larger Than Time -- Heavier Than Night") you'll swear that (despite the very metal attack) you can hear in the droning guitar harmonies and mathy drumming the post-rock of a Codeine or A Minor Forest! Enslaved have created a new, multi-layered complexified psych-metal, mixing dangerous speed with slow doom epic majesty (the waves pounding on shore during the Viking longboat raid)...then, amid all this beauty and brutality, they'll go and whip out some leather-clad, almost-punk rock n' roll riffing that's just as foreign to the black metal template as the 'post-rock' aspect just discussed. Not that any of this seems purposefully jarring or ill-fitting (or Mr. Bungle-like) -- it seems quite natural, more artful than artsy. Another example: track seven, "The Ending Empire", starts off with a catchy riff-cycle that strongly reminds me of something like "Insidious Detraction" off the first album by Greg Ginn's Gone, but then the song takes a turn into an almost honkytonk country-western flavored breakdown with a melodic rock guitar solo, before the Viking battle re-commences! Brilliant. Is this the most intense, heaviest, most psychedelic, rockin'est, 'post-black-metal' album ever recorded? We think so. Norwegian genius that puts almost all heavy-duty avant-rock acts to shame, metal or not.
"Det Endelege Riket (The Ending Empire)" RealAudio clip:
"Inngang -- Flukt (Entrance -- Escape)"
SUNN O))) s/t (Hydra Head) cd 11.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. Whoa, an Earth tribute band! Y'know, Earth, the slower than slow, heavier than heavy Sub Pop combo from a few years back, the band that took the Melvins molasses drone riffing over the edge. They're not around anymore (and weren't that great toward the end anyway) but this project (featuring members of Burning Witch/Goatsnake/Engine Kid) revisits Earth's genius genesis (back when Kurt Cobain used to play with 'em), for some long long tracks of primordial dirge. One track is even named after Earth leader Dylan Carlson. And of course the band name Sunn is derived from the amps of choice for both outfits, appropriately so 'cause it's the amps more than the guitars that you hear here. They're not covering Earth tunes, but are essentially following the same formula towards drone metal godhead. Essential for all devotees of the ultra-heavy! Each disc, with a handsome paper sleeve cover, comes sealed in its own spray painted hefty bag!
GORGOROTH Incipit Satan (Nuclear Blast) cd 15.98
The latest from this traditional yet unpredictable Norwegian black metal band. Their previous disc "Destroyer" was a masterpiece of totally noisy, fucked primitive metal and electronics. With that out of their system, "Incipit Satan" is a lot smoother and melodic but bizarre in its own way, going so far as to include bluesy, clean vocals on the love (!?) song "When Love Rages Wild In My Heart".
TREMBLING BLUE STARS Broken By Whispers (Sub Pop) cd 15.98
Aaah, could it be... the return of the shoegazer? Definite shades of early Stone Roses. A little twee and precious, but pretty, mellow, and easy-going with some lovely lush cello and a little bit of simultaneous English-French male-female vocalising to subtly spice things up. The first track absolutely destroys me, which may be due to me missing all this sort of stuff as a high school hessian.
SATYRICON Nemesis Divina (Century Media) cd 14.98
One of the best, most influential, most perfectly grim and black, most brutal, and most importantly one of our -favorite- black metal records EVER! Easily the bands finest moment. When anyone asks us to recommend the most essential black metal releases EVER, this record vies for the top spot along with Burzum's Filosefem, Emperor's In The Nightside Eclipse, Mayhem's De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas, Darkthrone's Transylvanian Hunger and Immortal's Blizzard Beasts. Pretty seriously daunting company for sure, but depending on our mood, a lot of the time Nemesis Divina easily bumps the others out of the top spot. From the all time classic "Mother North", quite possibly THE catchiest black metal songs ever, to the barely audible sscccching! of a sword being unsheathed about 3 minutes into the first song, to the fucking awesome band photos, this record is tough to beat. Any of the above mentioned records would be perfect introductions into the grim world of black metal, but somehow, Nemesis Divina seems like the perfect secret weapon, the record that even a non-metalhead would hear and be forced to bow down to the dark lord. So fucking great!
GOSLINGS, THE Grandeur Of Hair (aRCHIVE) cd 13.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. Not sure if this got repressed or if the label just found a stash of discs under the bed, either way, this monstrous slab of sound is available again, if only briefly... We've been pretty dang obsessed with the Goslings since the very first second we heard them. They have found massive favor with the SUNNO))) crowd, but other than being slow and heavy, they seem to be a whole 'nother beast. This married couple from Florida, craft impossibly noisy and gu wrenchingly heavy pop songs. That's right, you heard us, pop songs. "But wait," you say, "I'm listening to the sound samples and I don't hear any pop..." Well listen closer. Much closer. Hold your breath and close your eyes and dunk your head into the Goslings gorgeously abrasive soundworld and you will feel the pop. That's the beauty of the Goslings, each song is like a diamond dipped in mud and wrapped in barbed wire. Beautiful lilting shimmer-pop doused in crumbling crunchy downtuned guitar sludge and sheets of jagged feedback. A brief snippet, a casual glance, and all you'd see or hear is NOISE. But settle in, lean back, let the Goslings wash over you, suddenly shapes begin to emerge. melodies drift in and out, riffs take shape and then fade into the mist. A super blown out in-the-red dreamlike sludge, equal parts Boris drone, My Bloody Valentine bliss-out, and shimmering crystalline pop. Like a Mazzy Star record dipped in hot tar and then wrapped in a hundred layers of feedingback guitars. So beautifully heavy. And as we've mentioned in other reviews, the Goslings just might be the loveliest harsh noise-sludge pop band ever! Packaged in a cool silkscreened oversized sleeve with abstract pink art and the cd affixed to a little plastic nub on the inside. As always, way too limited.
"Own A Car" MPEG Stream:
"Croatan" MPEG Stream:
MOSS Cthonic Rites (Aurora Borealis) cd 15.98
An all time doooooom favorite finally back in print and back in stock. Now with revised and expanded artwork, including new text from Seldon Hunt. Abject, miserable, mournful, agonized, anguished, tortured and tormented ultra mega doooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooom! That's right. We've officially reached an all time high in o's (40 in case you were counting), and an all time loooooow in DOOM. Every time we hear from these crushing creeps they've pushed it even further into the deep dark damnable depths, forcing us to add more and more o's. That's right, it's the return of Moss, the UK's heaviest, slowest, sludgiest slow motion downtuned doom metal behemoth. Moss take the paint peeling acidic abrasiveness of Khanate and combine it with the warm suffocating murk of bands like Skepticism or Thergothon, or even AQ faves Nadja (who did a split with Moss a while back). Ultra minimal and nearly static in its sludginess, with the simple caveman plod of the drums the only thing keeping this from turning into a full on drone, this is like one HUGE riff, pulled and stretched into two epic streaks of fuzz and pound, with vocals that might even give Alan Dubin from Khanate a bit of a fright, like a demon howling through a mouthful of broken glass and rusty bottlecaps, teeth black with the blood of a thousand vanquished souls, the sound that finally comes out is a noxious black cloud that causes everything it touches to wither and die, totally blown out and so harsh it makes our throats sore just listening to it. But like the best sludge / doom, there is some sort of subtle melodic undercurrent going on, maybe it's deliberate and these guys are on some whole other musical level or maybe it's just some chance occurrence, some strange alignment of overtones or some lucky bit of abstract composition, it hardly matters, the end result is somehow both hauntingly beautiful and horrifically harsh, there's definitely some dark beauty hidden beneath Moss' black sludge exterior, but the joy of music like this is the fact that the music's beauty is buried and bruised, battered and brutalized, the sonic search for the beauty within is like wading waist deep through boiling hot pitch, ears plugged with hot tar, all the while being showered from above by the tears of angels.
"Crypts Of Somnambulance (excerpt)" MPEG Stream:
"The Gate (excerpt)"