AREA C Haunt (Last Visible Dog) cd 9.98
AREA C Traffics + Discoveries (Last Visible Dog) cd 11.98
And, back in stock: Another one we first heard on that massive Invisible Pyramid: Elegy box set that Last Visible Dog put out a few months ago (Mudboy was the other Providence, RI drone artist that we discovered via the IP box). And now, like Mudboy, Area C has their own cd release on LVD. Actually a one-man guitar loops and effects (and other things besides, like farfisa organ) effort, Traffics + Discoveries starts out very blissful and calm, ambient like Eno perhaps...and as the disc goes along it stays quite beautiful but gets edgier and darker and more nervous-making. We like it quite a bit. Chalk another one up for both Providence and LVD, in the everybody-wins competition for who's got the best drones around!
ARECIBO Trans Plutonian Transmissions (Soleilmoon) cd 14.98
Sounding something like a hybrid of Lustmord and Dopplereffekt, Trans Plutonian Transmissions is a long lost album from Brian Lustmord's one-album side project Arecibo, released back in 1994 through the Dark Vinyl imprint Atmosphere. This offshoot of its more seminal dark ambient / post-industrial main label was something of a conceit to the blossoming ambient techno scene of the early '90s, spiralling out of labels like Emit, Fax, and Reflective. Lustmord is best known for his quintessential dark ambient work of subterranean drones and deep space isolationism on the timeless and existentially bleak albums Heresy and The Place Where The Black Stars Hang. In fact, Trans Plutonian Transmissions was recorded about the same time as Black Stars, and draws from the same conceptual pool by sourcing the universe itself albeit to different ends. The dark matter and occluded hues of that album resound in Trans Plutonian Transmissions but with the major addition of stalking downtempo rhythms and acidic 303 basslines. Plenty of NASA communications with astronauts and reclaimed data from NASA research into pulsars, quasars, and black holes embue this album with paranoid aesthetic paralleling the X-Files; and those pointilistic squiggles and squelches dropped into minor key chords and judiciously bathed in blackening reverberation further those metaphors. The one Arecibo record had a few contemporaries, including the Patashnik album from Biosphere, the Pete Namlook / Richie Hawtin collaborations as From Within, as well as the early Pan Sonic and Mono Junk recordings of icey post-techno out of Finland, all from the mid '90s. The album is a product of its time, but is certainly no worse for the wear because of it. Lustmord's production touch is impeccable as always, lending that steely gaping quality to every sound, as if it were slowly getting injested by a galaxy crushing black hole. Recommended.
"3C147 (Beyond The Heart Of Space)" MPEG Stream:
"NGC 5427 (Anomalous Intermittent Radio Source)" MPEG Stream:
"3C295 (Pulse Burst Decryption)"
AREVALO, GASTON Classical Landscapes (The Tapeworm) cassette 8.98
There's two new tapes from UK tape label the Tapeworm on this week's list; this one's from Uruguayan composer/soundscaper Gaston Arevalo, who takes traditional instruments like viola and guitar, along with all manner of abstract samples and field recordings, and somehow melts all of these sounds down into a haunting ethereal brew, the various sounds smeared into warm swirling swells, and deep lush rumbling whirs. The result a stunning series of hushed gauzy softly symphonic soundscapes, definitely reminding us of The Caretaker, or like something you might expect to hear on Type or Miasmah, that same sort of subtly ominous, blissfully bleary ambient drift, a dreamily nocturnal bit of gristly chordal thrum, rife with buried melodies, and constantly shifting layers, there's definitely a new age vibe, but that's blended with a blackened almost pop ambience, and then wreathed in starfields of crackle and hum, and washed out billows of lush shimmer, a practically perfect collection of late night, rainswept, cinematic, dreamdronedrift lullabies.
ARFORD, SCOTT Radio Station (Antifrost) cd 11.98
ARFORD, SCOTT Zombie Dub (Resipiscent) cd-r 11.98
ARFORD, SCOTT / RANDY H.Y. YAU Edit For Unconsciousness (Auscultare) cd 9.98
In response to the incendiary buzzes and periodic electrified gasps of sharp noise emanating from the stereo at the front of the store, Andee had to wonder if Aquarius had unbeknownst to him started offering free tattoos with every purchase. Unfortunately, such a service is out of our league (sorry) and the noises in question originated from the exceptional split release from Bay Area composers Scott Arford (aka Radiosonde) and Randy Yau. As directors for the 23five sound arts organization, Arford and Yau have been quite active promoting an assortment of experimental and noise artists through their annual 'Activating The Media' festivals and the sporadic performances at 7Hz. Their "Edit For Unconsciousness" disc proves that Arford and Yau are not merely noble benefactors, but also worthy sonic comrades with John Duncan, Zbigniew Karkowski, and Francisco Lopez (all of whom have graced San Francisco with 23five's help). Yau opens the procedings with a muscular application of the Carsten Nicolai / Mika Vainio glitch, as jagged static cracklings collapse into low end rumblings and nervous electrical tones. Arford's follow-up incorporates similarly tense cracklings, but releases them into expansive swells of grey noise. Gradually the record's tension disperses and the lines between whose sound is whose dissolve, as the electrical hissing previously mentioned as replicating the rapid machinations from a tattoo gun slowly take over, softening further into hypnotic vibrations. Very impressive.
RANDY YAU "Realia" RealAudio clip:
SCOTT ARFORD "Drift Counter"
ARFORD, SCOTT / RANDY H.Y. YAU / MICHAEL NINE 7HZ (Auscultare Research) cd 9.98
Operating in the legendary Cyclone warehouse space near Hunter's Point in San Francisco, 7hz has functioned as one of the few SF venues that is exclusively dedicated to experimental sound art, and also has served as the live / work spaces (in the truest sense of the term) for Scott Arford (aka Radiosonde), Randy Yau (23five), and Michael Nine (aka Death Squad). During the fall of 2002, 7hz took their show on the road, as Arford, Yau, and Nine embarked on a European tour. This disc is essentially the tour support album, offering an exclusive sampling of each artist's work. Arford's sonic reconstitutions of video static have made for stunning audio / visual performances (almost unheard of in the visually sterile realm of laptop composition). Here, his contributions spit forth digitally corrosive bits of static and noise (which resemble remote control / shortwave detritus) along mechanized grids. Altogether, Arford's tracks resemble the pained electric noise of those collaborations between Zbigniew Karkowski and Pita Rehberg. Yau defines his work as an "action concrete," in which recordings of impromptu vocal outbursts have been dissected and reanimated through a number of electro-acoustic techniques, often sounding like a mutation of Robert Ashley's classic "Automatic Writing" with far more jarring and confrontational results. Michael Nine's work comes out of the Whitehouse / Con-Dom approach of primitive noise assaults as transgressive theater. All in all, an excellent introduction to these San Francisco artists.
SCOTT ARFORD "Zero Point" RealAudio clip:
RANDY YAU "Praemonere" RealAudio clip:
MICHAEL NINE "5150"
ARIEL PINK'S HAUNTED GRAFFITI Pedestrian Pop Hits (Latitudes 0:05) (Southern) cd 11.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. It took some of us a while to come around to the mad, maddening, drug addled defect pop world of Ariel Pink. We were convinced it was all an act, a put on, but it soon became apparent that Mr. Ariel Pink is indeed INSANE, and his music suddenly became less of a complicated art project and more a tantalizing glimpse inside the mind of a seriously fucked up musical madman. Pedestrian Pop Hits is 15 minutes of freaked out, psychedelic effects laden, dementedly catchy otherworldly pop. This is definitely not pop for the faint of heart, this is twisted and dark, like pop from an alternate dimension, where pop song hooks are chopped up and flung to the ground and stomped on in wild musical temper tantrums, rhythms careen wildly from in time to not even remotely toe tappable, sweet guitar melodies get dunked chorus first into deep vats of jabbering lyrical nonsense and blooping burping synthesizers, the whole thing run through forty delay pedals and broadcast through the speaker on a passing ice cream man's truck. Somehow, with all this damage and what-the-fuck going on, these songs (or this song) manages to sound pretty lush, and impossibly catchy. Imagine Brian Eno on Mescaline or listening to AM radio after a full frontal lobotomy. Wow! A testament to the mad genius of Ariel Pink for sure. Comes packaged in a super intricate hand screened die cut fold over sleeve with a full color insert. Each copy hand stamped and numbered. Limited to 1000 copies worldwide, 500 of which made it to the United States, about 50 of which made it here. So you know what that means!
"Pedestrian Pop Hits 1" MPEG Stream:
"Pedestrian Pop Hits 2"
ARKHONIA Trails/Traces (White Box) cd 15.98
Another fantastic bit of electronic dronescaping, this one from the mysteriously monikered Arkhonia, which is apparently one half of a UK collaborative project called even more mysteriously, jz-arkh. We couldn't discover much else about these guys (or this guy) but it hardly matters, this is some gorgeous and heady deep listening, melding pop ambient shimmer, with Eno like drift, long form LaMonte Young style sonic exploration and hushed modern minimalism. Long stretches of muted buzz and smeared abstract melody, all gauzy and hazy and dreamlike, notes are stretched out and laid atop one another, creating, gently undulating expanses of murmured whir and crystalline hum. Soft squalls of hissing white noise are smoothed out into the dreamy white noise of waves on a beach, all blurred into a slowly shifting cloud of pixelated grey wash, tinkling melodies ring out and sunk beneath warm sonic swells, chopped and looped subtly into something approaching a rhythm, but dissipating before achieving any sort of momentum, instead left to drift and float and hover. Some moments definitely remind us of the gorgeous aquatic sounding digital errata of Oval, all warped and woozy overlapping skippings and skitterings, while others are pure warm sound, peppered with bursts of what sound like strings or chords, suspended in some sort of sonic ether. The closing song suite creates a swirling dramatic cloud of almost sci-fi sounding tension, with deep swells of processed organs wrapped in a hazy psychedelic halo of smeared soft focus gauze, before finishing off with another sculpted white noise soundscape, the hiss and static creating indistinct shapes and textures, obfuscating a creeping low end whir, which eventually overtakes the white noise, unfurling to the finish with a Raster-Noton like field of minimal click and hum. Awesome.
"AAOpening" MPEG Stream:
"BCTrails" MPEG Stream:
ARMPIT Butta Daze (Celebrate Psi Phenomenon) cd 14.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. Thought this was out of print, but managed to get a few more copies albeit at a slightly higher price). Don't miss out again! We raved about the last Armpit record (they were known then by the more regal monicker Thee Armpit) which demonstrated the Armpit as being one of the few outfits boldly and successfully carrying on the rich NZ noise rock tradition of bands like the Dead C and Gate. This record continues in the same vein, mining the past for reusable noise artifacts while giving things their own unique spin. Murky, dirty rumbling riffs, spread out all thick and nasty like hot tar on toast, with yelped indecipherable vocals, bound and gagged by filthy sheets of white noise, droning amp buzz, ominous soundscapes dotted with scattered percussion and obscured sheets of wild feedback WAY in the distance, slow motion sort-of-garage-rock with hardly-there melodies and impossible-to-tap-your-foot-to rhythms, gritty crackle and hum with guttural frog-like vocals, and warm walls of thrum and fuzzz, like a more lo-fi Sunroof! So nice.
"Shiti Withs Gods Attention" MPEG Stream:
ARMPIT Mano O Mano (Rhizome) cd-r 8.98
We love Thee Armpit. Don't get to type that nearly enough, but it's true, this NZ drone combo, the strangely named Armpit, is in fact one of our favorites, every record we've gotten our hands on has offered up a bounty of dark and drone-y delights, and this one is no different. Well, actually it is a bit, in that we've actually had these here for quite a while, they somehow found there way into a corner in the closet and were only unearthed now after maybe a year or more of slipping through the cracks. All that means is that there's a good chance these might be impossible to restock, and very well may be out of print, so if you're a fan of Thee Armpit, like us, then do yourself a favor and don't dawdle, cuz these will most likely disappear right quick. But if you do manage to get your hands on one, you'll be in some serious lo-fi free drone soft noise heaven. These guys have been known to rock out Dead C style now and again, but this disc tends toward the more introspective, long washed out fuzzy drones, fractured bedroom folk, all strummed guitar and tape hiss, warbly music box drift, super spare folky drift, fractured tape experiments, all very murky and muddy and woozy and gauzy and dreamy and weirdly pretty. Armpit freaks (c'mon, you know that's you!) are gonna want this for sure. But anyone into the folkier Dead C stuff, the Finnish forest folk, and all the sort of bedroom lo-fi 4-track stuff will definitely dig this as well. Again, CRAZY LIMITED, get one while you can...
"Track 1" MPEG Stream:
ARMPIT Reach Out (Dreamtime Taped Sounds) 5xcd-r 26.00
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. It's been ages since we've heard from NZ combo Armpit (also occasionally known as Thee Armpit). Past releases (on PseudoArcana, Celebrate Psi Pheomenon and Pink Skulls) have been huge faves around here, and this latest seems to be no different. Armpit seem to thrive when given plenty of space to stretch out, when allowed to sprawl, their bizarre blend of dreamdrone and murkpop and thudrock is transformed into something otherworldly and divine, trancelike and intense, epic and gorgeously confusional. Their finest moment as far as we're concerned was their double cd The Praying Mantis, two plus hours of strange and wondrous sounds for sure, but now we have what might be the ultimate Armpit document (never thought we'd ever type that phrase), a massive FIVE cd-r set, 4+ hours documenting Armpit's strange musical universe. The set opens with a 12 minute Dead C like free rock jam, so very murky. The various instruments are hard to separate from one another. It's like a strange organic being, made up of percussive thud and rumbling feedback, mumbled voices and the smeared whir of distorted guitar, but with a glorious pop core, glowing in there, buried under layers of hiss and crunch. And while the record swerves and veers all over the place, the sound of this track is sort of a touchstone to which Reach Out always seems to return. Over the course of the five discs, the sound drifts widely from the aforementioned murky blurry free rock, to blissed out folky jangle, to super abstract raga like skree, to billowy soft focus drone, often some strange tangled blend of all of those. Blissed out, meditative, dreamy, hypnotic, occasionally abrasive, always fascinating and just so goddamn good. Fans of stuff on either PseudooArcana or Celebrate Psi Phenomenon will find this to be essential for sure, and anyone looking to get gone in some mystical murky world of strange sound could hardly do better than this one right here. The packaging is as mysterious as the music within. All the cd-r's packaged in multicolored sleeves, with what seem to be bits of found art, includes an insert/poster, almost no liner notes at all, no song titles, all housed in a sewn fabric bag. And as if we even needed to tell you, limited as all get out...
"One" MPEG Stream:
"Two" MPEG Stream:
"Three" MPEG Stream:
ARMPIT Tron (Last Visible Dog) cd 9.98
Latest from this NZ noisemaker, and only the second actual cd release (the other one Butta Days is out of print) after a ton of cd-r's. Armpit is the work of one Clayton Noone, who also plays in CJA and the Futurians, but unlike the minimal droney drift of CJA and the fractured new wave of the Futurians, Armpit, is, as the name might suggest, dank and dark and sweaty and, well you get the picture, Armpit is all free noise and abstract sonic experimentation. We've been blown away by pretty much every Armpit record we've heard, including a massive 5cd-r set, so we were super psyched to get our ears around this one. And it's another sprawling expanse of strange sounds and mysterious noises, expertly woven into thick layered soundscapes and abstract clattery anti-songs. The title track, on first listen, sounds like a soft cacophony of clink and clank, but soon rhythms emerge, a strange minimal lo-fi industrial loop, laid over a strange moaning foghorn melody, and lots and lots of tape hiss, soon the clatter dissipates leaving a warm hissy expanse of drone-y murmur and distant electronics, that eventually coalesce into a bit of skittery drum programming. Weird. "Rainy Romm To Room" is a warped organ driven slow jam, all mumbled vocals, atonal melodies, detuned guitar, woven into a sort of Wreck Small Speakers kind of ballad. "Whiskey Bottle" is like a low tech stab at some sort of SUNNO)))-like sludge, almost pulled off except for the fact that any noises near the microphone reveal that the recording is from the back of the room on a handheld recorded, which only makes it sound cooler, not to mention the mysterious drop outs, and occasional voices. "You & I" is another sort of ballad, all aggressively strummed acoustic guitar, and weary crooned vocals, muted percussive thumps, and a sweet sad melody. "Hung Burning" is another live one, and is another HEAVY one, a noisy feedback drenched Dead C like chaotic noise jam, which quickly gives way to album proper closer "A Strange Girl", a brief lo-fi bedroom folk, plastic pail percussion dream jam, all hazy and warm and washed out. So nice. As a bonus, tacked on to the end is an 8 track, nearly 20 minute ep collecting various recordings from the late nineties up until 2001, featuring more of the same, a dizzying mix, of fractured lo-fi anti-pop, dense collaged soundscapes and thick swirling soft focus noise...
"Tron" MPEG Stream:
"Rainy Room To Room" MPEG Stream:
ARMPIT AND PUMICE Society Of Dogs (Pink Skulls) 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. Another missive from Pink Skulls, the label started by Glenn Donaldson of Jewelled Antler /Thuja / Skygreen Leopards / etc. for stuff that was too punk or weird for JA. And boy does this certainly qualify, a New Zealand noiserock tag team of unprecedented proportions. First up is Pumice, whose recordings sound like they were played through a tin can in a cave and recorded on a microcassette recorder. And that's a good thing! The first track finds Pumice turning G.G. Allin's "I Want To Fuck Women" into Pumice gold, fitting perfectly with his other two tracks, hyper distorted ballads, guitars so distorted they threaten to stop being guitars, while melodies waver and wobble under a wild wash of delay and hiss. Good stuff. We raved about Thee Armpit a few lists back, and even though they've dropped the Thee from their name, they still whip up some serious treble (like trouble, get it? Oh forget it.) Deliberately strummed guitars amidst clouds of angrily hissing shortwave, songs rendered completely unrecognisable by the thick patina of buzz and skree and battered equipment-malfunction glitch. Seriously speaker shredding. And great.
PUMICE "I Want To Fuck Women (G.G. Allin)" MPEG Stream:
ARMPIT "Never See You Again"
ARMPIT, THEE The Praying Mantis (Pseudo Arcana) 2cd-r 15.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. This unfortunately monickered duo make up for the name, with a wild and woolly sound, raw and noisy but dreamy and soothing at the same time. Carrying on the tradition of 'classic' NZ noise ala the Dead C / Gate, TA take instruments, REAL instruments, and spread them over our ears in a thick and prickly, warm and sticky, pummellingly beautiful mess of sound. From thud rock dirge, to outer sound explorations, to almost-pop, to deconstructed rhythmic workouts, to shoe-gazey space rock, all filtered through that distinctly noisy NZ lo-fi aesthetic. Really really great. Two cd-r discs in a nice handpainted cover, with some truly strange comics inside.
"Rocket" RealAudio clip:
"Gallows" RealAudio clip:
ARNALDS, OLAFUR And They Have Escaped The Weight Of Darkness (Erased Lapes) cd 16.98
Precious modern classical merged with that certain Icelandic grandiose post-rock sensibility.
ARP & ANTHONY MOORE FRKWYS Vol.3 (RVNG International) lp 24.00
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. For the third in the series (or second, because we don't think there was actually a Vol. 1) of collaborations between new bands and their older progenitors, we get this beautiful collaboration between Arp (Alexis Georgopoulos of The Alps and Q&A, and formerly of Tussle) and Anthony Moore (Slapp Happy, Henry Cow). Inspired by Moore's early and little heard minimalist compositions from 1971's Pictures of a Cloudland Ballroom, rather than Moore's later art-rock leanings, the duo build upon old and new material, utilizing piano, cello, synth and tape manipulations into eight pieces of gorgeously placid minimalism. Two of the cello based tracks are dedicated to Robert Wyatt and Arthur Russell and you'll hear their influence as well as shades of Penguin Cafe Orchestra, Eroc, and Franco Battiato. The final song, "Slow Moon's Rose" is the only vocal track, sounding like a lovely lost Slapp Happy outtake sung by Georgopoulos instead of Dagmar Krause. A far cry from the last collaboration in this series between Excepter, Chris & Cosey and J. G. Thirlwell, but one with more depth, as it feels like a true collaboration between two mutually inspired artists rather than a couple of interesting remixes. Highly Recommended! And ultra limited!!
"Spinette" MPEG Stream:
"Wild Grass II (For Robert Wyatt)" MPEG Stream:
"Mirrors & Forks" MPEG Stream:
"Slow Moon's Rose"
ART FLEURY I Luoghi Del Potere (Die-Schachtel) cd 27.00
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. There's thankfully more than a few labels whose reliable track record and special aesthetic makes us ALWAYS interested in what they're putting out. Several examples: EM Records, Hapna, Ektro, Holy Mountain, Paradigms, Lampse, and Andee's own tUMULt (of course). Also among those "likely essential" labels is Italy's Die Schachtel, an outfit that either digs up the most wonderful Italian experimental obscurities from the '70s or presents the most intriguing new underground bands from their country, always in super-snazzy packaging. Unfortunately, 'cause so much of their output is so great, it's tough for us to keep up with 'em all, but here at least is a review of our of their more recent gems, a cd reissue of an unusual 1980 record by what was a young Italian group called Art Fleury, who played shows with the likes of Area and Henry Cow and was right there on the cutting edge of politically and musically radical avant-prog, Rock In Opposition sound-making... This album of theirs, the title of which means "The Places Of Power", was apparently conceived as an imaginary soundtrack of sorts, and it's indeed quite soundtracky, you could imagine this being the score to a very arty, serious and suspenseful Italian film. It's a sonic collage that effectively deploys skittering percussion and tape-splicing studio fuckery, instrumental prog bombast and jazz improv freedom, the proceedings often infused with moody textures of glitch and crackle, visited by musical cues or voices set amidst radio static, as if sampled from a random spin of the dial. This is very much in keeping with the sounds of modern-day Die Schachtel acts like A and Christa Pfangen, and their colleagues 3/4hadbeeneliminated. We're also reminded of AQ faves Village Of Savoonga, and to several of Art Fleury's contemporaries or near-contemporaries like Faust, This Heat, and Nurse With Wound. You probably get the idea: recommended! This cd comes packaged in a oversized cardboard box, inclosing a booklet with liner notes along with a poster of the album's black & white cover graphic of a clenched fist. By the way, while six tracks are listed, there's only five actually indexed on the cd, implying that two are run together... thus we might not have gotten the titles of our sound clips right (i.e "e=mc2" might be "La Morte Al Lavoro" actually).
"e=mc2" MPEG Stream:
"L'Overdose" MPEG Stream:
"Uno Spettro Si Aggira Per"
ART LESSING The Plastic Couch (self-released) cd-r 9.98
Bay Area sound artist Art Lessing is one prolific d.i.y. fellow. Each year without fail he releases at least one cd-r of his living room recorded aural creations, and we've got his latest one. His musical roamings know no boundaries freewheelin' from neo-folk rambles ("Plastic Couch") to buzzy space rock ("Badly") to hazy contemplative minimal guitar resonance ("Tinkle Star") to Ween-ish pitch-shifted fuckery ("Moe The Slow"). Likewise, his battery of instruments includes many unconventional homemade implements. Ooooeeee, this is a strange one and it draws customer queries each time it's played in the store.
"Badly" MPEG Stream:
"Moe The Slow"
ART OF PRIMITIVE SOUND Musical Instruments From Prehistory The Paleolithic (Hic Sunt Leones) cd 16.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. Conceptually, this record seemed destined to be right up AQ's alley. The next Conet Project?! Maybe not...Recordings made in natural environments, using only pre-historic instruments; magnolia leaf rattles, ribbon reeds, slate slabs, bamboo stalks, branches, swan feather quill, egyptian sugar cane, oak sticks, sea urchin rattles, cow horns, porcupine quills, dried pomegranates and stalactites(!). The sound is occasionally beautiful and dark, reminiscent of No Neck Blues Band and other stumbling drum circle folk, but unfortunately veers dangerously close to straight up new age. Not as fantastic as we had hoped, but still definitely worth checking out.
ART ZOYD u.B.I.Q.U.e (Inpossible) cd 15.98
Brand new disc from this long-running Belgian art-rock orchestra. Just as creepy as any of their early '80s chamber rock classics, "u.B.I.Q.U.e" is a "symphonic poem" for guitars, saxophones, trumpets, trombones, tuba, drums, and samplers. The samplers bring in an 'industrial' vibe that synchs up with the album's inspiration, the works of cult sci-fi writer Philip K. Dick.
ARTEFACTUM Sub Rosa (Drone Records) 7" 9.98
Hailing from Poland, Artefactum is a project self-described as 'female esoterica' by the sole member, Merissa d'Erlette. Throughout her handful of releases, she's wrapped her dark ambience and occasional neo-classical sounds in the traditions of alchemy and hermeticism, pushing toward the more baroque ends of the Cold Meat Industry catalogue. Here, Artefactum offers a suitably mysterious set of recordings for the much-lauded Drone Records series of singles. Wordless vocals haunt the halls of these two recordings, as they form dark shadows that flicker alongside ghostly fragments of orchestral samples and bowed metallic drones. Rhythms from hand drums pulse in time with dark rumblings on one of the two tracks, creating a murky, moody atmosphere worthy of being the music of a secret society ritual of your choice. Limited to 300 copies with decoupage artwork and sewn shut with a pink ribbon.
"Rosa Alba" MPEG Stream:
ARTIFICIAL MEMORY TRACE Evaporation (Celebrate Psi Phenomenon) cd-r 14.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. Easily the most high concept Celebrate Psi Phenomenon release so far, Evaporation is one 47 minute track, assembled from numerous 'sound paintings' based on the concept of, obviously, evaporation. But evaporation in all facets of the world and our lives, the change from one state to another, changes in thought and behavior, everything. All contructed and recorded by Danish composer / sound artist Slavek Kwi, Evaporation is a subtle sonic world constructed from microscopic sound events, as well as everyday sonic intrusions, wind and conversation and clinking silverware and splashing water, but all subsumed into the whole, a vast expanse of gurgling electronics, crystalline shimmers, muter blips and bleeps, rumbling reverberations, ringing overtones, and all manner of miniature sound, interrupted halfway through, but only briefly, by a thnderstorm of rainlike sound, which quickly recedes as the piece resumes its barely there sonic metamorphosis. Definitely requires close and active listening, but for the listener who IS willing to lean in close and explore Artificial Memory Trace's slowly evaporating world, the reward is quite delicate and subtly beautiful. SUPER LIMITED AS ALWAYS!! NOT SURE WE'LL BE ABLE TO GET MORE WHEN THESE ARE GONE!
ARTIST 02 Album Title (Label) cd 17.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. A while back we reviewed a compilation of early REDACTED experimental music called REDACTED, that documented the lively scene there in the sixties and seventies, from playful goofy sound manipulation, to austere soundscapes, hand built instruments, vocal experimentations, freaked out avant rock and more. A pretty amazing document, that unfortunately seems to be unavailable lately. Not long after we reviewed it, a REDACTED label contacted us with an entire album from one of the artists on the comp, by the name of ARTIST 02. To be totally honest, at the time we couldn't remember who was who and which tracks were ARTIST 02's, since by that time the comp had been gone for a while, but we figured that folks loved that comp so much that a whole record by ARTIST 02, regardless of which tracks were theirs would be amazing. So we got the discs in and they looked amazing, gorgeous eight panel silkscreened sleeve, with totally confusing but eminently readable liner notes from REDACTED, and two front covers depending on which way you held it, since it compiled two different sets of pieces. We decided to listen to REDACTED first, two pieces, one from 1962, one from 1968. The first track begins with ARTIST 02 repeating a single word over and over. And over. And over. Well, weird. Skip to the end of the first track, still repeating that same word, over and over and over. Okay, we'll go to the second track. Hmmm. Same word. Over and over. Obviously being 'performed' live as you can hear throat clearing and seat shifting and foot shuffling. Wow. 13 minutes of the same word, repeated over and over in a deadpan monotone. Slowly shifting in pitch and inflection, but very, um. similar. But stick with us, after those tracks, which have now grown on us quite a bit, this becomes a super cool, super weird, and totally primitive turntablist / plunderphonic / mashup record. The majority of REDACTED, the pieces that make up the second half of the disc, is manipulated vinyl lps, 78's, 7"s, all tweaked and affected and fucked with. A series of smokey jazz records are slowed way down, pitch shifted up and down, up and down, warbling and wobbling, woozy and dizzyingly soothing, like listening to old jazz 78's through a funhouse mirror, melodies stumble clumsily into each other and pile one on top of another, jostling to return to some normal speed, some semblance of regular jazz, but continue to weave drunkenly, seasick and sleepy, drunken and druggy. Not all that different than stuff we've heard Kid Koala and other modern turntablists do which is pretty amazing. Then: a looped snippet of piano and a weary vocal singing "I'm Alabama bound" over and over, a seemingly endless loop, until the words stop making any sense and become nothing but strange melodic concepts, and then the voice riffs its way out of the loop, the effect similar to when a massive drone finally ends, there's that moment where the tension is finally relieved. Later: a record of thirties boogie woogie is scratched and skipped and looped and becomes a skittering, hypnotic, jumble of female vocals and jaunty horns, all sort of bouncing and hiccuping and skipping, creating strange rhythms and melodic fragments. Probably the most compelling and amazing piece is "REDACTED", where multiple versions of "I've Got You Under My Skin" are played simultaneously, piled atop one another, seemingly at random, performed at different tempos, in different keys, sounding a bit like a random round, until all of the singers sing the word 'reality' at the same moment, and which point the song starts to loop and repeat and blur, becoming a confusing collage of multiple 'reality's. Literally.
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ARTIST 04 Album Title (Label) cd-r 15.98
Latest release from REDACTED's REDACTED, this one from the mysterious ARTIST 04, which when you realize that ARTIST 04 is in fact REDACTED himself, doesn't seem so mysterious after all. (But now it is!!) REDACTED, who previously performed as REDACTED, still performs as REDACTED, used to run the REDACTED label, and who also plays in REDACTED, seems to have returned to his ARTIST 04 moniker to create something a bit more minimal and dark. Far removed from the collaged and looped heaviness of REDACTED, the doomy blackened crush of REDACTED and the blissed out cacophony of REDACTED, ARTIST 04 here occupies a space much more abstract, and when we said minimal and dark, we meant WAY minimal and WAY dark. The record starts out so hushed we had to crank the volume to be sure anything was going on, but once we did, we were quickly enveloped in a dark swirling low end fog, a rumbling whirring creep, that almost sounds like an even more abstract minimal Bohren. Around this amorphous bassy drift, float random sounds, breaths, footsteps, all manner of ambient noise, but be prepared at about 8 minutes, if you have the volume cranked, you're gonna want to dial it back quick, before your speakers blow and the vibrations send everything crashing to the floor. A thick swath of rib cage rattling bass, warm and thick and loud, but loud in the way only extreme low end can be, felt more than heard, and so it goes, all manner of tones and drones, layered and intertwined, unleashing more low end overtones. It's at about 21 minutes in, when all that low end is joined by a strange soft cacophony of chiming tones and mysterious textural scrapes, those sounds too are soon blurred and smeared into another layer of deep dark shimmer, the final 8 or 9 minutes find the low end receding, leaving a strange collage of percussion and fragmented melody, skitters and scrapes, creaks and chimes, all slowing down and slowly fading out. Wow. not at all what we expected, but we like it, A LOT. Reminds us of Thomas Koner or Organum, in fact ARTIST 04 seems to fall right in between the two, a mix of bowed metal and clatter and clang, and deep subterranean resonance. Super dark and gorgeous and hauntingly hypnotic and... EXTREMELY LIMITED. We got about half of the extremely small pressing, and if past REDACTED releases are any indicator, these will no doubt disappear quick, and it's unclear whether we'll be able to get any more or not...
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ARTIST 05 Album Title (Label) lp 17.98
Lots of radiophonic blorp, orbital bleep, and weird science are to be found on ARTIST 05's solo lp REDACTED. ARTIST 05 ranks amongst the more prolific members of the REDACTED experimental scene, starting out in the heavy-drone trio REDACTED and moving onto the Vangelis-esque progressive electronic outfit REDACTED and the spasmodic DIY electronics of the REDACTED. REDACTED follows the retro-clad affairs of REDACTED, but his modular synths are dialed into a more cerebral, more academic approach to electronic music, with swarms of spiralling oscillations firing at every conceivable trajectory. ARTIST 05 gives the impression that he's set all of his careening, spiralling sounds in motion and allows them to crash into each other with regularity, as if they were all toy robots and remote control cars banging together. The violence of this atonal, electronic cacophony is all comedy, recalling the most playful explorations of Conrad Schnitzler in the '80s and the most angular / obtuse productions of Oneohtrix Point Never.
ARTIST 06 Album Title (Label) lp 16.98
A stellar follow-up to 2010's REDACTED on REDACTED, REDACTED from this local REDACTED drone duo, REDACTED and REDACTED, aka ARTIST 06, finds theses two with an even more focused and nuanced dynamic sensibility. Of course that sensibility centers around REDACTED's classically trained koto playing, which plays a large part in ARTIST 06's overall sound, but here that element is really given ample room to stretch out and breathe. Instead of being merely one component in a layering process of cascading shifting dronescapes, the high relief sound of the texture of strings, the slow growing lyrical motifs and the solemn resonant pauses between phrases set up the pieces as they bloom into delicate shimmers and then oceanic swells of drifting unsettled moods. Pushing the momentum along on the first track, "REDACTED" is the loping bass pulse of REDACTED (REDACTED, REDACTED, REDACTED), that has us surfing waves of sound before settling into a swirling miasma of crystalline tones and airy phases. Taking us to the final track, "REDACTED", the longest track at 20 minutes is set up by a long introduction of gorgeous and breathtakingly spacious koto playing that like falling leaves in gusts of winds unfurl into bellows of sky high cloud drones, gathering and darkening in fields of rich pulsating grey thunderous tones and then watercolor washes of blissful ambiance, the storm cleared and fading away, set to awaken in some far-off place. Beautiful!
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ARTIST 07 Album Title (Label) cd 10.00
Is there no end to the wonderful musical mysteries REDACTED has to offer? We sure hope not. Whether it's demented black metal, crushing doom sludge, freaky forest folk, or shimmery pop, REDACTED never disappoints. And now you can add, ultra minimal outsider solo guitar to that list. ARTIST 07, who we know absolutely nothing about, and Google searches also reveal practically nothing, other than the fact that he is REDACTED years old, is less of a "guitarist" and more of a guitar explorer, a guitar experimentalist. Falling somewhere between the abstract scrabble of Derek Bailey and the moody minimalism of Loren Connors, ARTIST 07 crawls all over the guitar, spending as much time thumping the body, scraping the bridge, and coaxing all manner of buzz and rattle from his guitar as he does either picking or strumming. The opening track is a strange percussive soundscape, punctuated by an awesome deep reverberant buzz drenched throb, as well as some fragmented chunks of slide. While all around these almost-melodies, lurk tons of black space, and all manner or subtle shuffle and accidental squeaks and creaks. Later on, some deliberately stumbling strum becomes a harmonic drenched melody, lurching and stuttering along a very abstract path. Elsewhere the guitar is rubbed to create strange whispery ambience, notes are hurled violently from the guitar, left to flutter to the ground, where they are sprinkled with glistening flurries of harmonics. Lots of angularity and atonality, but their are bits of delicate beauty tucked amidst the twisted and convoluted guitarscapes. A strange strange record. Not beautiful in any sort of typical way, but damaged and difficult and in that musical obstinance, quite lovely indeed. Fans of Bailey, Connors, Taku Sugimoto, Fabrice Eglin and of course Keith Rowe as well as other atypical six stringers will find much to explore and enjoy...
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ARTIST 08 Album Title (Label) 2cd 11.98
Sprawling double disc of self described 'other planetary field drone' from this mysterious REDACTED duo featuring members of doomsludge heavies REDACTED, avant noisemakers REDACTED, and grey metallers REDACTED, one disc of collected tracks, the other disc a 'collaborative' collage put together by ARTIST 08, and made up entirely of an unreleased collaboration between the now defunct REDACTED and the also now defunct REDACTED, but more on that in a second. The collected tracks disc, gathers up various jams from the last few years, all of them hushed and minimal and mysterious, strange dronescapes of abstract ambience and microscopic events, field recordings and performances, long stretches of creak and whir and thrum and rumble, laced with mysterious voices, fragments of melodies, a sound somewhere between the free forest clatter of Avarus, the ritualistic black abstraction of Abruptum and the free sonic exploration of A Handful Of Dust. Long streaks of feedback, overloaded mics, monstrous howls, low end crumble, whirring layers of glitch and hum, washed out hazy shimmer laid over murky sonar mumbles and muted clatter and clank, doomy crumbling rhythms pulled apart into sprawling industrial blurs, all smeared into creepy hushed black ambient drifts, and groaning, creaking, whispery abstract free noise minimalism. The second disc, finds ARTIST 08 assembling somewhat similar sounds, but using only a recording of REDACTED and REDACTED from 2006 as source material, and according to the liner notes: "pots, pipes, a clay skull and a wooden tube". And it sort of sounds like it. Sort of. Ultra minimal, abstract and ambient, stretches of what sound like alien field recordings give way huge heaving swells of crumbling buzz, squalls of roiling blacknoize splinter into full on drum freakouts and blurred drone jams, deep cavernous rumbles explode into jagged shards of hissing static and beastly vocal mewling, gorgeous blown out swells of chordal whir dissipate into chiming metal-buzz minimalism, these lengthy bursts of sonic energy, which actually don't sound all that messed with, more like they're just straight up recordings of those two bands rocking out, but those blowouts are all separated by short interludes of barely there shimmer and hazy muted drift. Killer stuff. On bad ass REDACTED label REDACTED, and most likely crazy limited...
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ARTIST 14 Album Title (Label) lp 13.98
We've mentioned it before, but we love it when people we know make amazing records, and we're then available to share them with all of you. Such is the case with this, the oddly monikered ARTIST 14, the project of aQ customer/pal REDACTED, who hails from REDACTED, and who is solely responsible for the gorgeous sounds to be found on REDACTED, a collection of abstract ambience, deep drones, and experimental rhythmic minimalism. Beginning with the brief minute long intro "REDACTED", a smoldering bit of crumbling distorted piano, and shimmering overtone rich drift, ARTIST 14 reveals itself as something more raw and immediate than much of the ambient/drone/electronic music we hear. It's super well crafted, and lush and lovely, but it's still raw, and rough around the edges, which makes the sounds more warm, the vibe more human and organic, instead of sounds, these feel like songs, long tones shimmer and undulate, melodies seem to slowly evaporate into a haze of high end whir, scattered throughout are fragmented rhythms, dubby and abstract, disembodied pulses and ghostly beats, a sort of electrokrautrock that seems to be gradually coming apart, like some old space station left in orbit, the various pieces drifting off into the ether, some into the heart of the sun, some into the cold black void, here liquid squelches demarcate loose swirling melodic tangles, and thick swells of feedback wreathed buzz, acoustic guitars let loose spare notes, that flutter like leaves falling from trees, or mysterious detritus floating through space. In a few places, the sounds go haywire, explosive bursts of almost jungle like rhythms, or exploding firecrackers woven into frantic beats, but even then the sounds surrounding these blasts are warm and whirling and sweetly soothing, while elsewhere, the sounds slip into dubby Portishead like low slung downtempo grooves, culminating in the 14+ minute epic "REDACTED", a constantly shifting soundscape that plays out like a soundtrack to some mysterious art film, swirling electronics, lush textures, fractured effects, pulsing synths, the sound seeming to shift ever minute or two, finishing off with a stretch of grinding downtuned lo-fi dirgery, which leads directly into the closing number, a fantastically blissed out sprawl of super distorted melodies, all hazy and spacey and dreamlike, but wrapped in crunchy buzz and hissy static, which eventually slips away, leaving lush lustrous sonic swells, lovely hushed computer vox and what sounds like field recording, all woven into a softly undulating bit of dreamlike drift. Fantastic stuff. Highly recommended.
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AS LOUD AS POSSIBLE #1 magazine 9.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. The editorial statement in this inaugural edition of As Loud As Possible claims to want "to solve a problem: to offer a contrast to the fumbling coverable of noise and experimental music found in most glossy music magazines... To them, all Merzbow records sounds more of less the same, and... they can hear no differentiation between a Merzbow, a John Wiese, a Macronympha, or a Sudden Infant." Editors Chris Sienko and Steve Underwood have collected 160 attractive pages of insightful, compelling, and sometimes incendiary thoughts in search of the mutable definition of Noise Culture. Probably the main attraction here is the duo's massive undertaking of delving into the history of the seminal Broken Flag label, investigating ALL of their releases, attempting to contact ALL of the artists involved. 40 pages later, and you'll be needing to track down the Vinyl On Demand box of the best that Broken Flag released! There's some great interviews with Rudolf Eb.Er of Runzelstirn & Gurgelstock / Schimpfluch infamy, No Fun bossman Carlos Giffoni, and Ides Recordings' Nicole Chambers. While there's tons of reviews in this issue of As Loud As Possible, Sienko and Underwood seek out direct communication with the artists involved to get their own take on Noise. A massive and highly commendable undertaking, for sure; one that makes for an exceptional read!
ASAHARA, MASAYO Saint Agnes Fountain (Audiolaceration) cd 16.98
The back-story on this is a good one, so let's start with that: We heard about this from a friend of ours (who shall remain nameless). So Loren came in and asked us one day if we could get an obscure album by some '70s Japanese experimental composer named Masayo Asahara. Apparently it was recently reissued on cd by a label in England... and was said to sound like Terry Riley meets Magma meets Soft Machine or something! Well THAT sure sounded interesting. So we looked it up online. Sure enough, Masayo Asahara's rare 1974 LP Saint Agnes Fountain was now available on cd. Here's what the label's website had to say about it: "A forgotten drone-prog-jazz classic from the 1970s Japanese underground...St Agnes Fountain was composed while Masayo Asahara was completing her masters degree at the University of Osaka in 1974. Asahara's doctorate concerned the music of the early American minimalists, especially LaMonte Young and Tony Conrad, and her composition reflects her involvement not only in that music, but also with the thriving Osaka free jazz scene from whose ranks this one-off band was put together specifically for this recording. Asahara also cites Faust, Soft Machine, and the Rolling Stones as influencing her work during this period. The rather curious title and artwork come via Asahara's parallel studies of mediaeval European history and pagan imagery in Protestant hymnal writing." Wow! We had to order that! Wish we could hear if first though...hmm...maybe there's a sound sample here...click here for more info it says...ok...wait, what's this?! We read: "St Agnes Fountain was composed by Martin Archer and UTT/Foster, and was recorded at Yellowarch Studio, Sheffield during 2002. This music is different from Martin's core music, and we have created Masayo in the hope of bringing a different audience into our music journey." Huh?! Turns out the whole thing is a cruel hoax! Albeit not a very deceptive one, if you did a little research. But hadn't our friend said that he'd heard of this supposed composer Masayo Asahara before? He had -- when he visited experimental/jazz musician Martin Archer in England! So, there's no such person as Masayo Asahara at all, she's merely the alter-ego Martin Archer. Apparently he only wanted to fool some of the people some of the time, in aid of making a fantasy LP come true. So, disappointed but still intrigued, we got Martin to send us a copy, thinking, it had better be good! And...it IS good! Really good. Dunno if we would have been fooled had he not revealed the truth, it certainly sounds inspired by all the stuff cited above, though the recording itself is perhaps not authentically '70s-sounding. And what we really think this sound like, is Gas gone prog. The disc begins with the track "Begin" -- twelve minutes of heavily filtered electric organ chording, endlessly building, eventually morphing into the 17+ minute "Continue"! Further into the disc, new themes and instrumentation are introduced, but the basic hypnotic concept progagates. It's a very satisfying trip, the kind of thing that you don't really realize is playing for as long as it is. It really sounds like the pulsing electronics of Wolfgang Voigt's Gas project combined with the minimalist jazz-drone of Australia's The Necks (two big AQ faves you'll note), with some detours into psych-fusion freakouts, via Hammond organ and what Martin Archer and his co-conspirators consider their tribute to "Magma's horn section". If this really WAS a long-lost Japanese LP from '74 we'd be losing our minds over it...so why not anyway? Martin Archer's fantasy has resulted in a quite fantastic musical reality on this here disc.
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ASANO, KOJI A Second Dam (Solstice) cd 14.98
Wow, what with a new Koji Asano release coming out every month (literally!) it's a bit hard for us to always come up with something original to say. If you search for "Asano" on our website you'll find a ton of reviews of his past releases, many of them AQ-faves, which should give you a fairly good picture of this eclectic experimentalist and his works. Briefly though, Asano is a young Japanese sound-artist who puts very few limits on his creativity -- or the frequency of his output. In general, he miraculously manages to do pretty well on both sides of the quality/quantity equation! This new title, though, might really be one for hardcore Koji Asano fans only, as it consists of over an hour of varying tones of the sort discomforting to both dog and man alike. Did I say "frequency of his output"? Yep, no limits there: this is a painful program of high pitched whines that perhaps can be considered Asano's tribute to Iannis Xenakis' equally earhole abusing "La Legend d'Eer". Brutal, but if you're tough enough you'll find the beauty in it.
"A Second Dam (excerpt)"
ASANO, KOJI A Secret Path Of Rain (Solstice) cd 14.98
Two 20+ minute tracks of solo computer noise music from the prolific 26 year-old Japanese composer Koji Asano (now based in Barcelona). Although a computer is involved, this ain't glitchy laptop techno! This material isn't that far removed from the electroacoustic drone/static of his excellent previous album "Momentum". Lovely cover photo by Asano as usual, not indicative of the difficult sounds inside. Asano says: "At this stage, powerful but sensitive music constructed by strong high frequencies and the space. Sometimes sounds are like small steps of insects or huge movements of the ground."
ASANO, KOJI Absurd Summer (Solstice) cd 13.98
ASANO, KOJI Autumn Meadow (Solstice) cd 14.98
By now most readers of the AQ New Arrivals list should be familiar with the work of Koji Asano, the uber-prolific Barcelona-based Japanese experimental composer who has long been a big favorite here at Aquarius. We didn't have to wait long for this, the 21st-or-so release by Koji on his own label Solstice, and it's another of his more abstract/ambient electro-acoustic pieces (his varied ouevre also includes guitar improv, piano meditations, computer noise, chamber music, etc.). "Autumn Meadow" is a long (68 minute) single track of whistling, droning feedback-derived (?) hiss. We're not entirely joking when we say it kinda sounds like Koji recorded and processed the sounds made by his hot water radiator -- though it quickly grows louder and scarier than that -- maybe a poltergeist-possessed radiator? But whatever the source, appreciators of lengthy, creepy, distorted drone-works will find this to be a satisfying listen.
"Autumn Meadow (excerpt)"
ASANO, KOJI Avalanches (Solstice) cd 14.98
"Even Jim O'Rourke would be left gasping at the depth and range of his output"--that's what the Wire magazine says about 25-year old Tokyo composer/multi-instrumentalist Koji Asano, and here are three new cds to prove it. Sunshine and Avalanches both explore noisy electronic realms with extreme frequencies both high and low, and some strange analog rhythmic 'beats' in places. Monsoon, meanwhile, is quite different: a truly gorgeous piano-improv session, very good falling-asleep at night trance music. We also have the rest of the very prolific Asano's hard-to-find back catalog in stock, including his insane guitar/drums/keyboards trio record Gravity which somehow combines metal, surf music, and improv skree. Other highlights are "Solstice" (electronics/noise/ping pong game sounds...), "You Can't Open The Door Because It's Already Open" (beautiful, far-away sounding piano bliss), "Pheromone" (guitar/noise/weirdness), "Vacant Land" (crinkly noise soundscapes), "Caffeine" (another guitar-oriented fave, some really beautiful stuff on here)...and a couple other fine discs. Check out his website for more details.
ASANO, KOJI Caffeine (Solstice) cd 14.98
Koji's second album, with a different cover from its original release on his pre-Solstice label RAB. Lots of his rarely-heard these days avant-guitar playing on this one.
ASANO, KOJI Celeste (Solstice) cd 14.98
Piano on this early one.
ASANO, KOJI Crevasses (Solstice) cd 14.98
Disc number 25 (!) from one of our favorite Japanese experimental composers, the ever prolific Koji Asano. With his album-a-month schedule, we've been worried about quality control, but he rarely disappoints, although it's been tough for us to keep up -- we're still digesting his lovely four volume "The Last Shade of Evening Falls" drone-work. But for those of you ready for another dose of Koji, here's "Crevasses", a disc on which Koji generates (using a computer? we're not sure) over seventy minutes of intense, subtly-shifting, multi-tracked, various-pitched drone. It's not 'Japanese noise' in its harshest sense, but it's not about beats and melodies either. Rather, you get abstract bell-like electronics, buried bass burbling, extended sonar bleeps and strangely soothing siren sounds. Students of such 'dronology' should investigate! "Crevasses" is never *too* shrill, but there is more treble than bass in this example of alien, not-so-ambient electronics. As the disc develops, it gets dirtier and denser, and the 'buzz' factor builds until it's eventually like you've stuck your head into some sort of spaceship slash wasp's nest. After 73 minutes, you'd think you'd be ready for some silence, but the album's abrupt end just leaves you wanting more.
ASANO, KOJI Final Insurance: Collection Vol. 2, 1992-1994 (Solstice) cd 5.00
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. **SALE **SALE* *SALE** **LAST COPIES**Koji's thirty eighth career disc, Final Insurance, isn't actually a brand new recording, it is (as the full title suggests) a collection of previously unreleased tracks from the period directly prior the release of Asano's first actual album, Solstice, in 1995. Wow, that was a while ago now, but I remember when we first got that disc -- who would have guessed that ten years later we'd have reviewed dozens more cds by him? There's twelve tracks here, varied in approach from squeaky, sci-fi electronic noise (a la Ryoji Ikeda) to gentle field recordings (kinda like something Toshiya Tsunoda might do). There's improvs on guitar and piano as well... everything here is interesting, some of it harsh, some of it beautiful. He carefully selected these tracks from a vast amount of material recorded in this youthful period of sonic activity and discovery, and it's all good stuff that deserves to be heard!
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ASANO, KOJI Flow-Augment (Solstice) cd 14.98
Japanese experimental music wunderkind Koji Asano has already produced a slew of fine albums that range in focus from guitar noise-rock to meditative piano improvisation to electronic soundscapes... Now, with this release, he ventures into the realm of modern classical, with three long tracks of melancholy and unsettling yet not-unmelodic music for strings, performed by the Koji Asano Ensemble (piano, cello, viola, violin, and contrabass). Koji Asano is perhaps Japan's answer to the United States' own prolific and multitalented new music prodigy Jim O'Rourke (and Asano has yet to release any dubious "pop" music). Recommended.
ASANO, KOJI Fret (Solstice) cd 14.98
Another eclectic early recording from our fave Japanese composer living in Spain.
ASANO, KOJI Gondola Odyssey (Solstice) cd 14.98
ASANO, KOJI Gravity (Solstice) cd 14.98
One of Koji's first releases, with his group Gravity: an instrumental, guitar-keys-drums avant-rock band! Hard to describe, improv-meets-surf-meets-metal-meets-prog music, quite different from much of his vast catalog, but nonetheless one of Allan's faves.
ASANO, KOJI January Rainbow (Solstice) cd 14.98
Koji Asano, the AQ-beloved Barcelona-based Japanese sound artist, is back at last with a new cd (the twenty-seventh release on his own label Solstice). This new one, "January Rainbow", consists of a 64 minute long track that successfully combines two of our favorite Koji Asano compositional styles: his abstract but lovely piano improv, and electro-acoustic noise-drone! Asano's flowing piano explorations of almost romantic, fractured melodies are heard through a more-than-ambient fluctuating field of thick static, hum, and crackle. If you play this at a low volume, it's like listening to a mellow and pretty avantgarde piano recital over a messed-up shortwave radio signal. But turn it up, and the physical presence of the rumbling electronic noise really takes over! Your choice, both are nice. Those familar with Koji's back catalog need only imagine a DJ mix of his solo piano discs "You Can't Open The Door Because It's Already Open" or "Monsoon" (which already had their a background-ambient-noise element to 'em) with one of his noise-drone oriented discs like "Momentum" or "The Last Shade of Evening Falls". A truly mesmerizing, beautiful balance of melody and drone is the result. So, not only are we glad to hear from Koji again, but we think this is one of our favorite entries in his vast catalog so far!
"January Rainbow (excerpt)"
ASANO, KOJI Momentum (Solstice) cd 14.98
Here's another great release from one of our favorite sound artists, Japanese twenty-something Koji Asano, a fellow who really ought to be on the cover of The Wire sometime, in a just world. He is more deserving of that sort of coverage than, say, last issue's cover star Pole. Not that we don't like Pole, but c'mon, that guy has made more-or-less the same record three times in a row, and his work is not based on that original of an idea in the first place. However, Koji Asano has produced over a dozen creative albums, all of them excellent and inventive, in a variety of experimental subgenres, from piano-ambient to electro-noise to skronky guitar rock... but no hip hype for him. Anyway, this newest effort from Asano deviates from his recent discs of piano improvisations and chamber music compositions with a collection of recordings that we've been told have been "created by two loudspeaker's woofers and the air pressure from the movement of them. Two microphones put inside of the speakers and directly touched on the woofers to make a sound of moving. Those movements were amplified again and again by controlling the mixer and changing the position of microphones." The result is a wash of crunchy, squealing and pulsing drones not all that far from some of Maurizio Bianchi's early power electronics, but without any of the doom 'n' gloom industrial-horror imagery. To go into more detail: the first of the three unamed tracks, is 10 and a half minutes based on a rhythmic helicoptering sound, a clipping rotor-like "whack whack whack" that modulates in tone, tempo, and volume over the length of the track. Also occuring is additional, carefully sculpted feedback noise. Very nice, really, sounding somewhat like a more "live air", electro-acoustic version of the sort of "clicks & cuts" music made by the likes of Noto, but more driving and organic and less sterile. The second, much longer (42'33") track has bursts of scratchy electronic hum forming interwoven patterns of drone. Static never sounded so good. Eventually the "feedback" comes to the fore, rather like some impossibly precise, persistent, obsessive, repetitive guitar / amplifier battle session. Piercing sounds mix with deeper, hesitant drone-segments, eventually mutating into insect realms of buzzing whine. That segues into the final track, seventeen minutes that morph the insect-like sounds into something resembling some solo saxophone free improv I've heard, rather quiet and sparse, but with a bit of lawnmower-sounding blurt as well. The whole disc is always changing, always alive, and thus full of interest for the adventurous listener. Check out Koji's website at http://personal4.iddeo.es/koji for more info and sound samples of his stuff, most of which we have available at Aquarius.
ASANO, KOJI Monsoon (Solstice) cd 14.98
See "Avalanches" for info.
ASANO, KOJI Octopus Balloons (Solstice) cd 14.98
Koji's back (again)! The very prolific Barcelona-based Japanese composer -- who just returned from the Instal 2002 festival in Glasgow, where he appeared alongside the likes of Mirror, Ryoji Ikeda, Alva.Noto and Phill Niblock -- follows up his recent, wonderful "January Rainbow" release with this new disc (#28!) of experimental electronics. No pretty piano this time, rather you get a dreamlike, if ominous, background hum out of which glitchy bursts of chirping, grinding electronic noise emerge. These interruptions build in intensity and density, first establishing some kind of abstract rhythm, then coalescing into a loud, layered, rumbling drone. Eventually Koji brings the piece back into a zone of bleep-punctuated silence. These could be the voices in the head of an unstable antagonist in an imaginary techno-psycho-horror film...to our ears, quite nice! If you like the, shall we say "abrasively listenable" side of Koji's eclectic sound explorations, the stuff that aligns him with Merzbow and Aube, "Octopus Balloons" should interest you indeed. And as with all of Koji's recent releases on his label Solstice, this disc comes packaged in a slim cardboard sleeve, featuring another of Koji's beautiful urban landscape photos on the cover.
"Octopus Balloons (excerpt)"