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


album cover TROLLER Graphic (Holodeck) lp 19.98
Had anyone else found it strangely lurid / alluring that Beach House titled one their two 2015 albums Thank Your Lucky Stars, when Whitehouse screeched out their power electronic classic of that same name some twenty-five years earlier? Probably not. After all, we are all sick in the head here at Aquarius. But if the sultry Beach House chanteuse Victoria Legrand were to adopt some unseemly industrial alter-ego clad in black leather trenchcoats, what might that sound like? We'll offer Troller as our answer, with the caveat that Troller is probably more worthy than what our fantasy may have conjured up. Graphic is the epic second album from this Texan quartet of gloom-synth portent fronted by the steel throated Amber Goers.
As much as we raved about Troller's eponymous debut five years ago, this one is even better. The band posted a video for the albums' "Storm Maker" which is a beautiful swoon of an synth ballad harking to those emotive tracks that OMD sculpted early in their career. A lovely track to say the least, but the Siouxsie / Kate Bush allusions may be the siren call to draw unwitting listeners into the dark pit at the soul of this album. Snarled electronic death rock and synthetic industrial catharsis is found throughout the rest of Graphic, highlighted by the title track's Cranes-ish pummel of heaven and hell, "Sundowner" (a track of a Diamanda Galas theatricality affixed to what the whole witch house scene aspired to but failed in delivering while busy coming up with ascii symbol nomenclature), and the diabolically death-disco anthem "Torch" with its ice queen vocal crescendos and tense drum-machined inventions for the dungeon. Luridly alluring indeed, and recommended.
MPEG Stream: "Graphic"
MPEG Stream: "Storm Maker"
MPEG Stream: "Sundowner"
MPEG Stream: "Torch"

album cover WOODS City Sun Eater In The River Of Light (Woodsist) cassette 10.98
We've thrown around maybe every possible adjective to describe Woods' instantly recognizable lo-fi-ish, reverb-happy, poppy psychedelic folk: "summery", "dark", "hazy", "jangly". But amidst the flurry of shape-shifting sound over their now nine-full-length career, Woods have consistently remained one thing: really fucking good.
Their newest album, City Sun Eater In The River Of Light, pushes them in a direction we haven't heard yet - with dubby beats and wavery organ, this album adds something especially slinky and groovy to their usually jammy sound that even suggests to us Jamaican reggae or Ethiopian jazz (a la our favorite Ethiopiques discs). We're hit with this right off the bat on opening track "Sun City Creeps" (named for seminal aQ faves Sun City Girls), which also features muted horns that serve well the fuller arrangement Woods have been moving towards on recent releases. The mood switches quickly but not unnervingly on third track "Morning Light", which opens with a sweeping steel guitar, recalling Harvest Moon era Neil Young. The straight up groovy rhythm section on "Can't See At All" creates something which, in the best way possible, belongs on the soundtrack to an action-packed '70s cop drama.
A Woods record would, of course, not be complete without a requisite dose of dark psychedelia, and City Sun Eater delivers on the second half of this album, especially in the powerful, woozy breakdown of "The Take", while "I See In the Dark" seems to be channelling the relaxed motorik drive of Can. This album really covers its bases in highlighting all the aspects of their unique sound and is tied together as always by the silvery thread of Jeremy Earl's delicate, signature falsetto.
Woods have masterfully mixed the richer, reverent production of their recent releases and the experimental shroomy weirdness of their early albums. Side two's "Politics of Free" proposes "in a world of shit, let's tune out tonight", and we can't wait to do just that again and again to the sounds of City Sun Eater In The River Of Light. Unforgettable.
MPEG Stream: "Sun City Creeps"
MPEG Stream: "Can't See At All"
MPEG Stream: "Politics of Free "

album cover LIFETONES For A Reason (Light In The Attic) lp 27.00
"Somebody needs to reissue this!" has been often uttered around aQ in reference to this 1983 gem by Lifetones, a one-off band created by Charles Bullen of This Heat. And finally, after years of praying and hoping and wishing, our wish has been granted! Our fellow music obsessives at Light In The Attic have stepped up to bring this all-time favorite the attention it so richly deserves. For A Reason is one of those rare records, that from the very first time you hear it, immediately seduces with its immediacy, uniqueness, and zoned-in sonic focus. And after that first listen, it's likely that you'll find yourself addicted, and craving more, as the record only hits harder and deeper with every listen.
It's shouldn't be a surprise to the aQ faithful that we would be raving about a This Heat related project (This Heat being a unanimous all time aQ favorite, their vinyl reissues being recent Records Of The Week here too!), we've gushed about other post This Heat music from both Charles Hayward and Gareth Williams in projects like Flaming Tunes and Camberwell Now. But really, Charles Bullen has always been the underrated/unknown/unsung part of the This Heat equation, as very little was ever written about him or his post This Heat endeavors. Just like those Hayward and Williams projects, the record Bullen made after the demise of This Heat somehow manages to transcend and creates its own distinct soundworld.
Influenced by dub, Indian rhythms and instrumentation, as well as the deep-in-the-groove elements of krautrock, Lifetones has this magical ability to sound like no one else while feeling strangely and warmly familiar. It's like the band/record we always imagined in our head, or wished existed, proof that experimentation and smart sonic vision can also be so totally enjoyable and utterly irresistible.
While this record has been a cult secret for way too long, it's undeniable that many of today's brightest altered-zone music makers have been touched greatly by these magical and mysterious sounds. We hear echoes in Sun Araw, Fabulous Diamonds, Panda Bear, Peaking Lights, Anika, Blues Control, and we can't quite put our finger on it, but there is an ineffable sonic sexiness, tension and tone that even reminds us of when we first heard Interpol's debut way back in 2002.
Imagine Public Image Ltd's Second Edition melted and warped into African Head Charge's Songs Of Praise, and then somehow dissolving into Can's Tago Mago - it's that sort of entrancing, exotic, indescribable sonic alchemy that might give you a clue of what For A Reason is all about. But really, beyond the intoxicating sound, there are the songs - each one rife with incredible hooks and profound lyrics that hit their mark and cut deep.
Thank you thank you thank you from the bottom of our music nerd hearts to Light In The Attic for finally doing justice to one of our favorite records of the last 35 years!
The vinyl reissue comes in a gatefold jacket on high quality wax and both the vinyl and the cd versions come with an essay and a download card.
MPEG Stream: "For A Reason"
MPEG Stream: "Good Side"
MPEG Stream: "Distance No Object"

album cover DARKSPACE I (Avantgarde) 2lp 28.00
We were never able to get copies of this on vinyl way back when, back when we first discovered this cosmic sci-fi black metal horde, and gushed endlessly about their tranced out black buzz on the list. In fact at the time, the cds weren't so easy to come by either. So apparently there were some copies of the vinyl from 2014, lurking in a neglected corner of some dusty warehouse, and thus, WE HAVE THE VINYL NOW!!! So for those of you who were holding out, your patience hath been rewarded. Here's what we had to say about Darkspace I when we first listed it way back in 2007.
We know the black hearted aQ legions rely on us to trawl the dark depths and the fiery pits, in search of any essential blackness, that their cursed souls would wither without. With that in mind, we have been trying, for ages now, to get a hold of music from Swiss black metal horde Darkspace. Those of you in the know, probably realize, that one of the cloaked and corpsepainted members of Darkspace is the man responsible for the epic frosty buzz drenched majesty that is Paysage D'Hiver. And judging from how big a hit Paysage was around these parts, it's no small leap to think that EVERYONE who bought the Paysage absolutely NEEDS this as well.
Whereas Paysage was one man's vision, twisted buzzing glorious epic blasts of grim black metal and extended Tangerine Dream like sythnscapes, gorgeous subterranean drones and hushed ambient shimmer, based around themes of winter and spirituality, darkness and astral projection, the music stitched into expansive worlds of sound, Darkspace is an actual band, and in many ways is WAY heavier than Paysage. The focus is on the riff as much as the ambience, if not more so, and the riffs are some of the best we've ever heard, downtuned and super distorted, minor key and crunchy, thick and dense, twisted and black, gnarled but incredibly catchy, often, the band explodes into furious wintery blasts, dense chaotic furies, topped off by huge sweeping melodies that sound like washes of keyboards (although no keyboards were used), before settling back into a gorgeously loping buzz encrusted mid tempo, a weird black groove, haunting and intense. But fast and fierce is the order of the day, and these guys are indeed true Blizzard Beasts, whipping up nearly impenetrable walls of swirling, roiling black frost. Which is sort of why the slow parts have such impact, the riff just sort of emerges from the dense black blur, to chug briefly before being swallowed up again. And whereas in most music, sound samples and snippets of dialogue from films, usually mean less re-playability, and often eventually bug more than they enhance, here are used to fantastic effect. Darkspace are futuristic black metal voyagers, the stars, planets, the universe the cosmos, the music is all about space, and it sounds like it, epic and so MASSIVE, simultaneously like a black hole sucking up all light, and a blinding supernova, the bits of dialogue are buried in the mix and delivered like some mysterious transmission from the farthest reaches of the galaxy. The fast bits and Burzumic passages are balanced by tripped out ambience, crazy dub drenched interludes, long drawn out SUNNO)))-scapes, huge walls of guitar, riffs splayed and spread out over epic expanses of low end drone, rumbling murmuring ambience....
Listening to Darkspace, we almost wish we hadn't used so much hyperbole in the past, or described other black metal bands as epic, or majestic, or even intense or brutal, or frosty and grim, because this is the music those adjective were designed for. In fact, we're almost compelled to create new words, a handful of superlatives, black metal specific, in order to do justice to these sounds. To explain just how fucking massive and intense this stuff is. NOW is the time for hyperbole, but it's not hyperbole if it's true right? And never has anything sounded this intense and blown out, heavy and black, we almost forgot how completely mind blowing this stuff was. But hearing it again, it makes us wonder why most black metal bands even bother...
The album is separated into seven parts (1.1-1.7), with song lengths averaging about 10 minutes. Each one a burst of black chaos, little epics compressed into the length of a normal song, like it must be some trick of the light, as if unleashed they would expand and stretch out forever.
As if the music wasn't enough (and it is), their aesthetic is just as intense and mysterious. The band, all in matching corpsepaint and high necked robes, look like some alien black metal priests, or cenobites even, the band's logo, simple and subtle, a pentagram within a crescent moon, the artwork, spare and sparse, just the band logo, and the name of the record, the song titles are numbers, "Dark 1.1", "Dark 1.2", "Dark 2.8", a barely visible alien image beneath the tray card, everything printed in bluish silver on black, very austere and space-y...
A gloriously blinding sonic dying sun, a burst of pure blackened brilliance, obviously black metal record(s) of the year, this year, or whatever year they actually came out, maybe black metal record(s) of forever. And yeah, we're serious.
MPEG Stream: "Dark 1.1"
MPEG Stream: "Dark 1.2"
MPEG Stream: "Dark 1.3"

album cover LIFETONES For A Reason (Light In The Attic) cd 16.98
"Somebody needs to reissue this!" has been often uttered around aQ in reference to this 1983 gem by Lifetones, a one-off band created by Charles Bullen of This Heat. And finally, after years of praying and hoping and wishing, our wish has been granted! Our fellow music obsessives at Light In The Attic have stepped up to bring this all-time favorite the attention it so richly deserves. For A Reason is one of those rare records, that from the very first time you hear it, immediately seduces with its immediacy, uniqueness, and zoned-in sonic focus. And after that first listen, it's likely that you'll find yourself addicted, and craving more, as the record only hits harder and deeper with every listen.
It's shouldn't be a surprise to the aQ faithful that we would be raving about a This Heat related project (This Heat being a unanimous all time aQ favorite, their vinyl reissues being recent Records Of The Week here too!), we've gushed about other post This Heat music from both Charles Hayward and Gareth Williams in projects like Flaming Tunes and Camberwell Now. But really, Charles Bullen has always been the underrated/unknown/unsung part of the This Heat equation, as very little was ever written about him or his post This Heat endeavors. Just like those Hayward and Williams projects, the record Bullen made after the demise of This Heat somehow manages to transcend and creates its own distinct soundworld.
Influenced by dub, Indian rhythms and instrumentation, as well as the deep-in-the-groove elements of krautrock, Lifetones has this magical ability to sound like no one else while feeling strangely and warmly familiar. It's like the band/record we always imagined in our head, or wished existed, proof that experimentation and smart sonic vision can also be so totally enjoyable and utterly irresistible.
While this record has been a cult secret for way too long, it's undeniable that many of today's brightest altered-zone music makers have been touched greatly by these magical and mysterious sounds. We hear echoes in Sun Araw, Fabulous Diamonds, Panda Bear, Peaking Lights, Anika, Blues Control, and we can't quite put our finger on it, but there is an ineffable sonic sexiness, tension and tone that even reminds us of when we first heard Interpol's debut way back in 2002.
Imagine Public Image Ltd's Second Edition melted and warped into African Head Charge's Songs Of Praise, and then somehow dissolving into Can's Tago Mago - it's that sort of entrancing, exotic, indescribable sonic alchemy that might give you a clue of what For A Reason is all about. But really, beyond the intoxicating sound, there are the songs - each one rife with incredible hooks and profound lyrics that hit their mark and cut deep.
Thank you thank you thank you from the bottom of our music nerd hearts to Light In The Attic for finally doing justice to one of our favorite records of the last 35 years!
The vinyl reissue comes in a gatefold jacket on high quality wax and both the vinyl and the cd versions come with an essay and a download card.
MPEG Stream: "For A Reason"
MPEG Stream: "Good Side"
MPEG Stream: "Distance No Object"

album cover WOODS City Sun Eater In The River Of Light (Woodsist) cd 13.98
We've thrown around maybe every possible adjective to describe Woods' instantly recognizable lo-fi-ish, reverb-happy, poppy psychedelic folk: "summery", "dark", "hazy", "jangly". But amidst the flurry of shape-shifting sound over their now nine-full-length career, Woods have consistently remained one thing: really fucking good.
Their newest album, City Sun Eater In The River Of Light, pushes them in a direction we haven't heard yet - with dubby beats and wavery organ, this album adds something especially slinky and groovy to their usually jammy sound that even suggests to us Jamaican reggae or Ethiopian jazz (a la our favorite Ethiopiques discs). We're hit with this right off the bat on opening track "Sun City Creeps" (named for seminal aQ faves Sun City Girls), which also features muted horns that serve well the fuller arrangement Woods have been moving towards on recent releases. The mood switches quickly but not unnervingly on third track "Morning Light", which opens with a sweeping steel guitar, recalling Harvest Moon era Neil Young. The straight up groovy rhythm section on "Can't See At All" creates something which, in the best way possible, belongs on the soundtrack to an action-packed '70s cop drama.
A Woods record would, of course, not be complete without a requisite dose of dark psychedelia, and City Sun Eater delivers on the second half of this album, especially in the powerful, woozy breakdown of "The Take", while "I See In the Dark" seems to be channelling the relaxed motorik drive of Can. This album really covers its bases in highlighting all the aspects of their unique sound and is tied together as always by the silvery thread of Jeremy Earl's delicate, signature falsetto.
Woods have masterfully mixed the richer, reverent production of their recent releases and the experimental shroomy weirdness of their early albums. Side two's "Politics of Free" proposes "in a world of shit, let's tune out tonight", and we can't wait to do just that again and again to the sounds of City Sun Eater In The River Of Light. Unforgettable.
MPEG Stream: "Sun City Creeps"
MPEG Stream: "Can't See At All"
MPEG Stream: "Politics of Free "

album cover WOODS City Sun Eater In The River Of Light (Woodsist) lp 17.98
We've thrown around maybe every possible adjective to describe Woods' instantly recognizable lo-fi-ish, reverb-happy, poppy psychedelic folk: "summery", "dark", "hazy", "jangly". But amidst the flurry of shape-shifting sound over their now nine-full-length career, Woods have consistently remained one thing: really fucking good.
Their newest album, City Sun Eater In The River Of Light, pushes them in a direction we haven't heard yet - with dubby beats and wavery organ, this album adds something especially slinky and groovy to their usually jammy sound that even suggests to us Jamaican reggae or Ethiopian jazz (a la our favorite Ethiopiques discs). We're hit with this right off the bat on opening track "Sun City Creeps" (named for seminal aQ faves Sun City Girls), which also features muted horns that serve well the fuller arrangement Woods have been moving towards on recent releases. The mood switches quickly but not unnervingly on third track "Morning Light", which opens with a sweeping steel guitar, recalling Harvest Moon era Neil Young. The straight up groovy rhythm section on "Can't See At All" creates something which, in the best way possible, belongs on the soundtrack to an action-packed '70s cop drama.
A Woods record would, of course, not be complete without a requisite dose of dark psychedelia, and City Sun Eater delivers on the second half of this album, especially in the powerful, woozy breakdown of "The Take", while "I See In the Dark" seems to be channelling the relaxed motorik drive of Can. This album really covers its bases in highlighting all the aspects of their unique sound and is tied together as always by the silvery thread of Jeremy Earl's delicate, signature falsetto.
Woods have masterfully mixed the richer, reverent production of their recent releases and the experimental shroomy weirdness of their early albums. Side two's "Politics of Free" proposes "in a world of shit, let's tune out tonight", and we can't wait to do just that again and again to the sounds of City Sun Eater In The River Of Light. Unforgettable.
MPEG Stream: "Sun City Creeps"
MPEG Stream: "Can't See At All"
MPEG Stream: "Politics of Free "

album cover MANNERFELT, PEDER The Swedish Congo Record (Archives Interieures) cd 17.98
Wow. How many electronic albums have you heard that feature track titles like "Mambuti Pigmy Flutes", "The Ceremonial Drums Of Chief Kokonyang", or "Elephant Feast"? How about "Circumcision Dance"?? Probably none, until this one. The basic concept here, in a fast phrase, would be "Switched-On Pigmy Music". Conceived by electronic artist Peder Mannerfelt, who is one half of Roll The Dice, that aQ fave duo of Swedish cinematic soundscapers, it's an all-synthesizer recreation (no sampling) of a 78rpm record, originally released in 1950, that documented ethnographic field recordings of traditional African music made in the rainforest of the Belgian Congo. "Stirring rhythms and unusual melodic tunes as played and sung by the people of the great Equatorial forest", according to that old record's liner notes. Made all the more unusual now. In transforming those vintage "Belgian Congo Recordings" into these new "Swedish Congo Recordings", Mannerfelt has managed something unique and magical. Such field recordings already conjure a world apart from one's own; this does so in an entirely illusory way, and that world is even more far off and far out. Musically, Mannerfelt's reinterpretations are surely different, but not completely different, retaining the spirit and intricacy of the original tracks while translating them into another realm, these tribal folk rhythms computerized and synthesized into something both primitive and technological, living and mechanical, real and artificial. It's not only an interesting, clever concept, and a very impressive undertaking (quite a bit of careful work went into this we're sure), but even more crucially it ended up as a compelling listen - dynamic, complex, and often delightfully melodic. A lot of this comes of like Cut Hands meets Cluster, or an Africanized Aphex Twin!
Sometimes it's easy to imagine how the sounds from the original field recordings that Mannerfeld based this on must map to these electronic sounds, while at others times it's a lot harder to imagine - but even then, the rhythms come through, and certainly in many places some of the timbres & textures of his synths clearly suggest log drums and hand percussion, or even passages of vocal chant, but on other tracks you'd have to dig deeper to discover the shared DNA, as they display much more of an abstract & overtly electronic sound - examples being the droning feedback of the aforementioned "Elephant Feast" or the sci-fi spaciness heard on "Pygmies Of Kigali", or the clicks and cuts of "Flagellation".
Perhaps, possibly someone, somewhere is going to cry "appropriation!", but we'll leave that issue for others to concern themselves with; we consider this a respectful reimagining / recontextualization of these ancient rituals and dances from another culture (again, with no sampling) that will utterly fascinate and enrich both world music fans and electronic heads.
MPEG Stream: "Baprere Dance"
MPEG Stream: "Bawata Pigmy Dance 1"
MPEG Stream: "Bawata Pigmy Dance 2"
MPEG Stream: "Elephant Feast"

album cover ORANSSI PAZUZU Varahtelija (20 Buck Spin) lp 24.00
LAST WEEK'S RECORD OF THE WEEK, NOW ALSO ON VINYL!!!
So a couple lists ago, we were blown away by the arrival of new Aluk Todolo material, in the form of their Voix cd, which was an obvious, immediate, no shit Record Of The Week. But the Gods of cosmic hypnometal smile upon us, as we get the newest transmission from Oranssi Pazuzu, the Finnish space metallers, only a couple weeks after that disc of krauty French blackness! It is without question that Oranssi Pazuzu's Varahtelija rockets right out of the atmosphere and into our Record Of The Week spot as well.
We've gushed over these guys before, for good reason. Along with the aforementioned Aluk Todolo, Oranssi Pazuzu have set the bar incredibly high for their brand of tripped out, intergalactic lysergic black metal. Oranssi's take on black metal has been refined and perfected - organic, dizzying, and crushing black metal that stands toe-to-toe with any of the greats, progressive but not overly technical. The psychedelia is similarly elevated, heady, cosmic, and heavy, like Ash Ra Tempel played through My Bloody Valentine's amp stacks. Blended together, both elements amplify each other and create a pitch-perfect take on psychedelic black metal that other bands have attempted with not-quite-as-great results.
Have we dropped enough superlatives on you yet? Varahtelija is Oranssi Pazuzu at their peak, simultaneously cosmic and organic, cohesive yet chaotic, precise and catchy. It goes without saying that everyone who bought a copy of Voix NEEDS to hear this disc as well - most non-metalheads will also find this album necessary. Totally essential and a easy early contender for our favorite metal record of the year.
MPEG Stream: "Saturaatio"
MPEG Stream: "Hypnotisoitu Viharukous"
MPEG Stream: "Vasemman Kaden Hierarkia"

album cover ALUK TODOLO Voix (Ajna) lp 16.98
THIS RECENT RECORD OF THE WEEK, NOW ALSO ON VINYL (AND THUS ONCE MORE RECORD OF THE WEEK)!!!
The latest from aQ beloved occult rockers Aluk Todolo begins sounding like a black metal This Heat, and it only gets better from there. These metallic minimalists from France are masters at maximizing their instrumental guitar/bass/drums assault, taking what most bands uses to make some regular old rock and roll, and instead weave lush, elaborate rhythmscapes, unleash throbbing sprawls of textured and nuanced noise, create math-metal in the guise of dark psych, and conjure psychedelic krautrock in the form of barely harnessed black buzz. Like on previous releases, the music here is less about songs and more about movements, and movement - fiendishly deft arrangements of sound, like miniature black symphonies. It's hard to articulate just what Aluk Todolo do, cuz honestly it's kind of difficult to even understand it.
From a purely sonic standpoint, all analysis and deep digging set to the side, the music is pure, organic, and emotional. It's dark, but not theatrically, or even introspectively, so. It's a constantly shapeshifting musical chimera, seemingly always more than what it seems, moody and mesmeric, melodic and measured, unhinged and chaotic, heavy and hellish, delicate and abstract, jazzy and atmospheric. The drums are just as often used to create textures as they are rhythms, while moments surface throughout that sound like some lost Goblin soundtrack, sometimes morphing into a brief moment of almost Van Halen worthy riffery, other times blurring into tension filled stretches of blackened mesmer.
Some tracks sound like Australian jazz minimalists the Necks covering Motorhead, some sound like Godspeed You Black Emperor tripping on acid and amphetamines, the moody broodiness of that group whipped up into a cloud of pulsing, chaotic black energy. This record in particular is their least metal so far, and maybe the jazziest, the drums are in constant motion, with frenzied skitter giving way to abstract shuffles, the bass too, no simple basslines, dense tangle and knots of sound, the rhythm section somehow impossibly, inhumanly tight, yet totally loose at the same time, balancing on a razor thin line between composition and collapse, and it's the constant push and pull that makes every moment fraught with energy and emotion, passion and pathos. And that's not to say there is no metal, the band effortlessly rip into jagged shards of downtuned crush, and furious frenzied riffing without batting an eye, but contextually, those moments seem to be more about evoking a certain feeling, or reaching a certain musical destination, but with the idea that this whole record, and arguably this whole band, is entirely and utterly about the journey. Every song here could be stretched out forever, and as a listener, we would not hesitate to let ourselves get sucked in, and LISTEN forever. And ever. The energy of Aluk Todolo is transcendental, a concept that if removed from sound would seemingly exist beyond human comprehension, but here, delivered as pure, instrumental, sonic energy, it takes on a form we understand, and fundamentally enjoy, a sound that touches on many other sounds near and dear to our hearts, and souls, but it's the arrangement, the composition, the delivery, the power, the depth, the ineffable otherworldliness that transforms this divine musical message from the great beyond, into something that speaks directly to us, in a language we all understand.
MPEG Stream: "8:18"
MPEG Stream: "5:01"
MPEG Stream: "5:34"

album cover KHUN NARIN ELECTRIC PHIN BAND II (Innovative Leisure) cd 13.98
Yay, record number two from this rotating ensemble who took the internet (and aQ) by storm a couple of years ago when a mysterious video surfaced on the Dangerous Minds blog of a group of young men in a village processional in Northern Thailand unfurling THEE craziest psychedelic guitar music from their huge homemade soundsystem (proudly featured on the cover of the new record). Shortly thereafter an lp appeared, which we made Record of The Week, and now here we have its follow-up and we were so excited we couldn't help but make Khun Narin a Record of the week once again!!
So what has changed? Apart from a couple of new members, not very much. And that's the way we like it! As with Konono No.1, the rhythmic African group who hooked up kalimbas and homemade percussion to their own homemade soundsystem, their indigenous DIY sound isn't rooted in seeking out mainstream popularity (it actually sought them out!), but in pursuing a self-reliant approach to a deeply traditional music. There are subtle differences between the two albums - the songs here are more languid and flowing, yet still increase with hypnotic tempos and intricate searing guitar lines - the structure of the music remains the same, which is totally fine with us.
It's funny to think that music that sounds so far out and strange to Western ears is so rooted in everyday life somewhere else that it could be seen as routinely commonplace. We would gladly trade the last 20 years of mainstream western pop music for music like this, any day. Recommended!

MPEG Stream: "Phua Kao"
MPEG Stream: "Phom Rak Mueang Thai"
MPEG Stream: "Thang jai Thang Jao"

album cover KHUN NARIN ELECTRIC PHIN BAND II (Innovative Leisure) lp 16.98
Yay, record number two from this rotating ensemble who took the internet (and aQ) by storm a couple of years ago when a mysterious video surfaced on the Dangerous Minds blog of a group of young men in a village processional in Northern Thailand unfurling THEE craziest psychedelic guitar music from their huge homemade soundsystem (proudly featured on the cover of the new record). Shortly thereafter an lp appeared, which we made Record of The Week, and now here we have its follow-up and we were so excited we couldn't help but make Khun Narin a Record of the week once again!!
So what has changed? Apart from a couple of new members, not very much. And that's the way we like it! As with Konono No.1, the rhythmic African group who hooked up kalimbas and homemade percussion to their own homemade soundsystem, their indigenous DIY sound isn't rooted in seeking out mainstream popularity (it actually sought them out!), but in pursuing a self-reliant approach to a deeply traditional music. There are subtle differences between the two albums - the songs here are more languid and flowing, yet still increase with hypnotic tempos and intricate searing guitar lines - the structure of the music remains the same, which is totally fine with us.
It's funny to think that music that sounds so far out and strange to Western ears is so rooted in everyday life somewhere else that it could be seen as routinely commonplace. We would gladly trade the last 20 years of mainstream western pop music for music like this, any day. Recommended!

MPEG Stream: "Phua Kao"
MPEG Stream: "Phom Rak Mueang Thai"
MPEG Stream: "Thang jai Thang Jao"

album cover WHITE HILLS No Game To Play (300mics / White Hills Music) lp 14.98
You know how it is, often the best record a band does is their first? That rule might even apply to aQ space rock faves White Hills, though we've loved everything by the duo. But still, some of us here think their awesomely motorik 2003 debut No Game To Play is their best, and now at long last it's been reissued, for the VERY first time on vinyl, by San Francisco label 300mics, remastered, limited to 1000 copies pressed, in tri-fold jackets, and boasting not one but two previousy unreleased bonus tracks from the same era!!! Here's what we wrote about the original cd-r version, way back when:
We'd been hearing good things about this band for ages. Someone we know was raving about 'em, and they also had the recommendation of Julian Cope... But we were having some difficulty tracking down the band, or a way to get their record for the store. Until an insane bit of coincidence / serendipity. In walked one Dave Weinberg, who a decade earlier had been Andee's boss at Holey Bagel in Noe Valley, across the street from the old aQuarius (back when Andee worked at both establishments). He had copies of a cd-r by his band, and what do you know? Dave's band just so happened to be White Hills! Wow. Thus we managed to get 30 or so copies of the second pressing of the No Game To Play cd-r and it's just as good as we had hoped. In a word, SPACEROCK. Or if you prefer, two words. Either way, this is some seriously tripped out swirling cosmic proggy, krautrock flecked, keyboard drenched outer outer outer space rock. Think just the jams from all the best Hawkwind songs, or the dreamiest mellowest bits of your favorite Monster Magnet tracks. Mix in some Neu! and some Faust and even some Stereolab at times and you'll just be scratching the surface of White Hills' sound. The opening track is a grungy, lowslung garagey drug addled space rock stomp, think the Stooges dropping acid until they started drifting off and began to sound more like Hawkwind, a killer hypnotic riff, a simple shuffling drum beat, mumbled vocals buried in the mix, and a swirling squall of wigged out guitars and all manner of synthesizer squiggle and swoon. It sounds quite a bit like Circle too, that riff just repeating and repeating, mantra like, a super tranced out rock that you want to go on forever. The centerpiece of the record is definitely "They've Got Blood Like We've Got Blood", a near static synth swirl over a shuffling tribal rhythm, while guitars just sort of drift and float lazily amidst the whir and drone. Sounds a little bit like Brian Eno jamming with Crash Worship while somebody goes apeshit in the background on the synths. A gloriously mesmerizing hypnorock. Then a brief blast of straight up blown out, super distorted Neu! worship before the drifting ambient closer "Ulan", an abstract synthesizer soundscape that sounds like some lost Tangerine Dream jam. Blissy and totally dreamlike.
MPEG Stream: "No Game To Play"
MPEG Stream: "They've Got Blood Like We've Got Blood"

album cover CIRCLE Miljard (Hydra Head) 3lp 30.00
Circle, as you probably know, are one of our very favorite bands, and this is one of our favorite Circle albums, now issued on vinyl for the very first time, cool beans! Here's a lot of what we said 'bout the original 2cd version back on list #265, in 2006, when we were first wowed by the atypically riff-less Miljard...
Delicate? Calm? Circle? Yes. Listen up. You'd think that for a band with, no less than, what, twenty albums to their name AND who always write songs with an invariable central musical concept (circularity, natch, the repetitive pulse that all their songs share no matter what else is different betwixt 'em) we'd by this point feel like we'd heard it all from them already - even if their all is ALL really great. But no. This new album surprised even us. And it too is great. Really great. If you're expecting the NWOFHM (New Wave Of Finnish Heavy Metal) stylings of Tulikoria or Sunrise, or the motorik krautrockiness of Alotus or Guillotine, or the heavy prog of Prospekt, or the spacey jazzy dubbiness of Pori, or all of the above (as these descriptors actually apply to pretty much all their albums to varying degrees), well that's NOT exactly what you get with Miljard. There's really no comparisons this time to Neu!, Can, Tortoise, or Hawkwind, let alone Judas Priest! Instead we'll mention Thuja, The Necks, Morton Feldman, Bohren und Der Club Of Gore, Philip Jeck, 3/4hadbeeneliminated... But it's still definitely Circle. It's just that, as Ektro's website put it, "rocking has been traded for some quiet reading on the couch at home". And boy is this hauntingly atmospheric, instrumental music PERFECT for such activity.
Miljard NEEDS more than one disc, because this music is so spacious and expansive, a slow-moving stream, or the ripples in a pond. The pond, perhaps, frozen in the Finnish winter, in a twilight landscape softened with snow... The first track, "Parmalee", is a twenty minute piece that sets the relaxed and gorgeous tone of this record. Meandering, pretty piano, reminding us of Rob Reger's playing in Thuja, quietly joined by abstract electronics and guitar...and Circle's usual repetition and pulses are still there, at about 11 minutes the pulse becomes more noticable, by that time you're absolutely entranced... already we're convinced, this is a fantastic record, and there's still five sides to go!! The next track, "B.F.F." is slightly more uptempo, but still has the classical vibe from the piano. And then another twenty-minute cut "Duunila" comes on, a whispery dark drone, hushed, with some sparse clatter, and gentle bass notes. Oooh, sheer beauty. And on it goes, all the way through to the gauzey, vaguely gamelan-like 20-minute "Viitane" which occupies the sixth side, nearly two hours all told of amazing music, the soundtrack to a limpid dream from which we'd never hope to wake.
Geeze, what *can't* they do? With Miljard we're pretty sure Circle have cemented their status as just about the best band ever, as far as we're concerned. Ok, the AQ universe of best bands ever is pretty big, but Circle might just be the best of the best... Recommended, people!!!
MPEG Stream: "Duunila"
MPEG Stream: "Salenius"
MPEG Stream: "Muhle"
MPEG Stream: "Viitane"

album cover ORANSSI PAZUZU Varahtelija (20 Buck Spin) cd 13.98
So on our last list, we were blown away by the arrival of new Aluk Todolo material, in the form of their Voix cd, which was an obvious, immediate, no shit Record Of The Week. But the Gods of cosmic hypnometal smile upon us, as we get the newest transmission from Oranssi Pazuzu, the Finnish space metallers, only a couple weeks after that disc of krauty French blackness! It is without question that Oranssi Pazuzu's Varahtelija rockets right out of the atmosphere and into our Record Of The Week spot as well.
We've gushed over these guys before, for good reason. Along with the aforementioned Aluk Todolo, Oranssi Pazuzu have set the bar incredibly high for their brand of tripped out, intergalactic lysergic black metal. Oranssi's take on black metal has been refined and perfected - organic, dizzying, and crushing black metal that stands toe-to-toe with any of the greats, progressive but not overly technical. The psychedelia is similarly elevated, heady, cosmic, and heavy, like Ash Ra Tempel played through My Bloody Valentine's amp stacks. Blended together, both elements amplify each other and create a pitch-perfect take on psychedelic black metal that other bands have attempted with not-quite-as-great results.
Have we dropped enough superlatives on you yet? Varahtelija is Oranssi Pazuzu at their peak, simultaneously cosmic and organic, cohesive yet chaotic, precise and catchy. It goes without saying that everyone who bought a copy of Voix NEEDS to hear this disc as well - most non-metalheads will also find this album necessary. Totally essential and a easy early contender for our favorite metal record of the year.
MPEG Stream: "Saturaatio"
MPEG Stream: "Hypnotisoitu Viharukous"
MPEG Stream: "Vasemman Kaden Hierarkia"

album cover VIGROUX, FRANCK & MATTHEW BOURNE Radioland: Radio-activity Revisited (Leaf) lp+cd 23.00
Radioactivity is Kraftwerk's seminal album from 1975 of electronic pop, touching on a distinctly German melancholy whilst pioneering the future of music with an elegant, simple sci-fi pop for synths and drum machines. Matthew Bourne and Franck Vigroux offer their replicant revisoning as an homage in celebration of the classic krautrock album's 40th anniversary. Vigroux, we know from a recent collaboration with Mika Vainio, while Bourne we're just making an acquaintance with here.
The album begins true to the original with a click pulse simulation of a Geiger counter (not a real Geiger counter, mind you) leading into the heavenly synth pop of the title track. The latter half of the record veers away from the original with a particularly atonal and noise-crunched version of "Antenna" and the hushed vocal abstraction of "Radio Stars". The differences in technology between 1975 and the present day become apparent only in these more abstract and dissonant moments, though the synth patches that Bourne & Vigroux dial up are particularly rich and well suited to Kraftwerk's original sound. It may not be as good as the original, though Vigroux and Bourne have plenty of solid ideas for this new take on the material. Well worth checking out, and since we never got a chance to make the original Radioactivity a Record Of The Week, this is certainly deserving.
The vinyl comes with a cd version too, and the cd edition comes 24-page book packaging.
MPEG Stream: "Radioactivity"
MPEG Stream: "Airwaves"
MPEG Stream: "Antenna"

album cover VIGROUX, FRANCK & MATTHEW BOURNE Radioland: Radio-activity Revisited (Leaf) cd 15.98
Radioactivity is Kraftwerk's seminal album from 1975 of electronic pop, touching on a distinctly German melancholy whilst pioneering the future of music with an elegant, simple sci-fi pop for synths and drum machines. Matthew Bourne and Franck Vigroux offer their replicant revisoning as an homage in celebration of the classic krautrock album's 40th anniversary. Vigroux, we know from a recent collaboration with Mika Vainio, while Bourne we're just making an acquaintance with here.
The album begins true to the original with a click pulse simulation of a Geiger counter (not a real Geiger counter, mind you) leading into the heavenly synth pop of the title track. The latter half of the record veers away from the original with a particularly atonal and noise-crunched version of "Antenna" and the hushed vocal abstraction of "Radio Stars". The differences in technology between 1975 and the present day become apparent only in these more abstract and dissonant moments, though the synth patches that Bourne & Vigroux dial up are particularly rich and well suited to Kraftwerk's original sound. It may not be as good as the original, though Vigroux and Bourne have plenty of solid ideas for this new take on the material. Well worth checking out, and since we never got a chance to make the original Radioactivity a Record Of The Week, this is certainly deserving.
The vinyl comes with a cd version too, and the cd edition comes 24-page book packaging.
MPEG Stream: "Radioactivity"
MPEG Stream: "Airwaves"
MPEG Stream: "Antenna"

album cover ALUK TODOLO Voix (Ajna) cd 13.98
The latest from aQ beloved occult rockers Aluk Todolo begins sounding like a black metal This Heat, and it only gets better from there. These metallic minimalists from France are masters at maximizing their instrumental guitar/bass/drums assault, taking what most bands uses to make some regular old rock and roll, and instead weave lush, elaborate rhythmscapes, unleash throbbing sprawls of textured and nuanced noise, create math-metal in the guise of dark psych, and conjure psychedelic krautrock in the form of barely harnessed black buzz. Like on previous releases, the music here is less about songs and more about movements, and movement - fiendishly deft arrangements of sound, like miniature black symphonies. It's hard to articulate just what Aluk Todolo do, cuz honestly it's kind of difficult to even understand it.
From a purely sonic standpoint, all analysis and deep digging set to the side, the music is pure, organic, and emotional. It's dark, but not theatrically, or even introspectively, so. It's a constantly shapeshifting musical chimera, seemingly always more than what it seems, moody and mesmeric, melodic and measured, unhinged and chaotic, heavy and hellish, delicate and abstract, jazzy and atmospheric. The drums are just as often used to create textures as they are rhythms, while moments surface throughout that sound like some lost Goblin soundtrack, sometimes morphing into a brief moment of almost Van Halen worthy riffery, other times blurring into tension filled stretches of blackened mesmer.
Some tracks sound like Australian jazz minimalists the Necks covering Motorhead, some sound like Godspeed You Black Emperor tripping on acid and amphetamines, the moody broodiness of that group whipped up into a cloud of pulsing, chaotic black energy. This record in particular is their least metal so far, and maybe the jazziest, the drums are in constant motion, with frenzied skitter giving way to abstract shuffles, the bass too, no simple basslines, dense tangle and knots of sound, the rhythm section somehow impossibly, inhumanly tight, yet totally loose at the same time, balancing on a razor thin line between composition and collapse, and it's the constant push and pull that makes every moment fraught with energy and emotion, passion and pathos. And that's not to say there is no metal, the band effortlessly rip into jagged shards of downtuned crush, and furious frenzied riffing without batting an eye, but contextually, those moments seem to be more about evoking a certain feeling, or reaching a certain musical destination, but with the idea that this whole record, and arguably this whole band, is entirely and utterly about the journey. Every song here could be stretched out forever, and as a listener, we would not hesitate to let ourselves get sucked in, and LISTEN forever. And ever. The energy of Aluk Todolo is transcendental, a concept that if removed from sound would seemingly exist beyond human comprehension, but here, delivered as pure, instrumental, sonic energy, it takes on a form we understand, and fundamentally enjoy, a sound that touches on many other sounds near and dear to our hearts, and souls, but it's the arrangement, the composition, the delivery, the power, the depth, the ineffable otherworldliness that transforms this divine musical message from the great beyond, into something that speaks directly to us, in a language we all understand.
MPEG Stream: "8:18"
MPEG Stream: "5:01"
MPEG Stream: "5:34"

album cover THIS HEAT Deceit (Modern Classics) lp 26.00
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY.
Oooh, at last nicely reissued on vinyl, automatic Records Of The Week!!! All three of 'em, 'cause as we've said before, we know very few people, whom upon hearing any music from This Heat, even a single song, weren't immediately compelled to get their hands on every single bit of recorded material they could find. The music of This Heat is most definitely that powerful, that intense, having informed almost all of the music we've loved since. And sounding as fresh and forward thinking today as it did when it was first recorded.
We're almost jealous of folks who have never even heard This Heat. The thought of entering into this music completely blind, is almost frightening, as the world of This Heat is so singular, so powerful, it will be difficult to ever listen to music the same way again. Trust us.
Deceit was This Heat's second full length album, released in 1980, hot on the heels of the Health And Efficiency ep from earlier that same year, and sadly ended up being their final proper release. Deceit found the band continuing to expand and explore, consisting of shorter songs, but that didn't mean their process, or disdain for convention was altered. If anything, they managed to subvert pop music in a way never thought possible. Imagine Brian Eno circa Taking Tiger Mountain, but filter that through some avant industrialism, angular new wave and hyper rhythmic krautrock and you'll begin to get the picture. The songs on Deceit are impossibly catchy, especially when examined closely. Abstract, obtuse, angular, convoluted, tangled up but without ever losing that thread, that melodic sensibility that grounded the songs, kept them from falling apart completely, instead, the perilous arrangements only added tension and emotion. An incredibly explosive sound that somehow hybridized all of the countercultural fury of punk and situationism, within a sonic context informed by the technological advances of musique concrete and electro-acoustic experimentation. The sound was definitely punk in its own way, but certainly wasn't expressed through three chord song structures or snarling postures, instead This Heat injected their own complex pop agendas with a jittery nervous tension always building to a dramatic and cathartic release.
180-gram vinyl packaged in gatefold jacket with a booklet.
MPEG Stream: "Paper Hats"

album cover THIS HEAT Health And Efficiency (Modern Classics) 12" 22.00
Oooh, at last nicely reissued on vinyl, This Heat's three records from '79, '80 and '81, reissued by Light In The Attic subsidiary Modern Classics to celebrate the band's 40th anniversary! Talk about modern classics!!! Automatic Records Of The Week in aQ-land.
The Health And Efficiency ep (which we've never had a vinyl reissue of before) followed This Heat's self-titled debut and took their sound in a strangely pop (for them at least) direction, sounding like some tweaked and twisted version of Wire, the title track all angular new wave guitars, monotone vocals, driving drums, strange convoluted arrangements and creepy background sound effects before the whole thing splinters into super abstract rhythmic experimentalism, looped grooves, played over and over, while sounds float and careen in the background, so incredibly hypnotic and repetitive. The second track on Health And Efficiency is "Graphic/Varispeed (45rpm)", a lengthy drone, a warm synth whir that surfaces within other This Heat tracks, recontextualized and often chopped up and reassembled, but here, it's a slow shifting slow motion single tone soundscape, with the tone occasionally being pitched up or down, very simple but quite haunting, and a cool glimpse at how This Heat managed to mix and match, use and reuse, without ever treading water. This ep is only 20 minutes long, consisting of just two songs, but it's still well worth it!!
180 gram, gatefold, with booklet.
MPEG Stream: "Health And Efficiency"

album cover THIS HEAT s/t (Modern Classics) lp 26.00
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY.
Oooh, at last nicely reissued on vinyl, automatic Records Of The Week!!! What more is there to say that we haven't already said (at length, below, you'll see) about these This Heat records? Other than that these new vinyl editions, timed for the band's 40th anniversary, are on 180-gram vinyl in gatefold jackets, with booklet insert.
Trying to explain why this record is so good is sort of like trying to explain why ice cream is so delicious.
Or maybe it's kind of like writing an introduction for the new Pynchon novel. Or telling a few jokes before Richard Pryor comes on stage. Or throwing a couple quick passes before Joe Montana comes on the field. It's that daunting, that overwhelming, that impossible.
The trio of Charles Hayward, Charles Bullen, and Gareth Williams known collectively as This Heat were one of the few bands that literally changed people's lives. Changed the way folks thought about music. I (Andee) couldn't believe music like this actually existed. It was everything I wanted to listen to before I knew that THIS was exactly what I wanted to listen to. Hit It Or Quit It publisher / rock critic / indie scenstress Jessica Hopper once wrote that she literally pee'd her pants the first time she heard This Heat. And it's not hard to see why. Without This Heat, modern, alternative, avant garde music as we know it would be a whole different beast. Post rock, math rock, avant rock are hugely indebted to the genre shattering experimentalism of This Heat. Tortoise, You Fantastic, Yona Kit, Brise Glace, Psychic Paramount, Laddio Bolocko, Radian, Village Of Savoonga, Larsen, Starfuckers, Circle, Salvatore, I Am Spoonbender - none of those bands would even exist if it weren't for This Heat, or if they still did you can bet they would sound a whole lot different. And that's just off the top of our heads, AND that's -just- bands whose sound directly reflects the influence of This Heat. Imagine how many performers and artists were influenced by This Heat but who let that influence manifest itself in not so obvious ways.
We once described This Heat as "Krautrock-ish hyper rhythmic tape-looped prog." Which comes close to succinctly describing the magical musical alchemy of This Heat, but still only scratches the surface. This is their self titled debut, originally released in 1979, which manages over the course of about 50 minutes to redefine almost all music that has come before.
The sound of This Heat is rhythm and texture and dynamics. The recording studio as instrument. Every sound and every song is based on rhythm and texture. There are hooks, and melodies, but they exist to serve the rhythm and are often born from the deft manipulation of sound and tempo. Even the most static and repetitive parts manage to sound -musical-. There are vocals, but they are minimal and otherworldly, weary and sing songy and completely mesmerizing. A droning musical accompaniment to the haunting whirs and clanging percussion in the background. This record is such a totally immersive and strangely lovely musical environment. From the machinelike Krautrock of "Horizontal Hold" to the dreamy contemplative "Twilight Furniture" with its simple chiming guitars, muted tribal percussion and keening vocals, to the bizarre affected drum workout of "24 Track Loop", it's like wandering through some alien musical world. As sky full of greys and blues, smeary drones floating gently by, haunting quavering vocals drifting below, like tendrils of smoke, the barren landscape littered with all manner of rhythmic outcroppings, harsh jagged crashes and booms, as well as low rolling thumps and stutters, off in the distance simple spare melodies float and hover, each note a glowing spot on the horizon. Absolutely and utterly overwhelmingly brilliant.
There are plenty of places on the web and in magazines to read more about the history of the band, the band members, the various releases and reissues (see elsewhere on the AQ website for reviews of past editions of various TH recordings) but none of that ultimately matters as much as the sound. And oh the glorious sound. Just take a listen to the sound samples and no words will be necessary.
MPEG Stream: "Horizontal Hold"
MPEG Stream: "24 Track Loop"
MPEG Stream: "The Fall Of Saigon"

album cover COREY, GILES s/t (The Flenser) 2lp 45.00
Giles Corey is not a person. Not Exactly. It's simply (or not so simply) another musical alter ego of Have A Nice Life's Dan Barrett, who is also Black Wing (reviewed recently here) AND the head honcho of the awesome Enemies List label, and much like HANL and Black Wing, Giles Corey is a fantastically idiosyncratic slab of gloomy, dreamy weirdness, and like those other projects, the sound of GC is really difficult to describe. The first song alone seems to be in a constant state of metamorphosis, from haunting piano driven balladry, to chaotic collaged noisiness, to abject angsty howl, to lumbering industrial creep, to freaky field recording soundscape, to noisy psychedelic skree, to drowsy, downer slowcore. It sounds kind of scattered, but it all somehow hangs together. Perfectly. The rest of the tracks, while occasionally a heady mix of sounds, are all rooted in a surprisingly classic songsmithery. "Blackest Bile" sounds a bit like a more reverby, noisier Elliott Smith, while "Grave Filled With Books" is something close to classic torchsong, a little like Low maybe, and closer "Buried Above Ground" is some kind of baroque pop, replete with horns and an almost impossibly anthemic chorus. The sound of the record touches on lush cinematic swirl, breathy, bedroom folk, and moody minimalism, but certainly more than any of Barrett's projects hews closest to proper indie rock, or at least some psychedelic variant, with voice and guitar forming the backbone of most of the tracks here, and it's a testament to Barrett that the songs are equally effective whether left unadorned, or wildly kitchen sinked. And while we generally recommend Barrett's records to fans of weird sounds, there's definitely much to love here, even if your tastes tend toward the not so wild side. In fact adventurous indie rockers would do well to explore this (and potentially Have A Nice Life and Black Wing as well)!
This reissue is a fancy double lp box set, that includes the book that originally accompanied the long out of print cd version, presented here housed in a foam block(!). Hence the price. Shipping might be extra too, cuz it's a lot bigger than your average lp!
MPEG Stream: "Blackest Bile"
MPEG Stream: "Empty Churches"
MPEG Stream: "I'm Going To Do It"
MPEG Stream: "No One Is Ever Going To Want Me"

album cover IRON DOGS Free & Wild ( Iron Bonehead) lp 17.98
These brilliant Canadian metalpunks are back with their second full-length album. Like their debut Cold Bitch, it's another "single-coil assault" of rollicking, punked-out, '80s influenced speed metal that's absolutely unfuckwithable. No, not in the sense that it's the most technically advanced musically, or super high in fidelity, no, we're talking about the sheer spirit of it. And it's the sort of thing that's just kind of perfect in its DIY imperfection. Not by any means a tired, unimaginative exercise in emulating the past that we hear from so many retro thrash bands, instead the Iron Dogs fashion inspiration from their '80s faves - the likes of early Iron Maiden, English Dogs, Exciter, Cirith Ungol, and Tank - into something newly vibrant and alive. Proudly old school while still sounding 'young'. Delightfully loose and exuberant, ready to rock right off the rails, but not careless or half-assed, despite the raw garaginess of it all.
Now, some other, less enlightened people might find fault with the production (solid but certainly not slick), or not be on board with guitarist Jo Capitalicide's untrained rough-and-tumble vocal holler (with drummer Dan Lee's backing vox adding even more jubilance). But those folks are obviously not punk rock enough - and/or cult metal enough - to 'get it'. To us what makes this so special comes through loud and clear in each of this album's eight tracks, all of 'em exploding with energy, catchy hooks and epic feel, crammed full of delicious bits of metallic goodness. Opener "Firebird" is a melodic, motivational speedy anthem to get things going. From there, the half-hour run time of this album rips by with highlight after highlight, Jo singing of fighting, freedom, and fantasy. We love every bit of this. The heartracing riffage. The majestic Moog moments. The up-and-down cascade of wordless vocal woah-oh-oh-ohs in the middle of "Island Of The Dead". The way Jo's voice cracks on that one verse in "Storm Warning". The folky fast picked guitar motif on "Adversity" - indeed all the melodic guitar licks bursting out everywhere. This rousing Iron Dogs album, non-ironic but not over-serious, epitomizes the positive power of metal in a shitty world.
Ok, so we're hopeless Iron Dogs fanboys... but there's a reason for that! Listen and learn. If it's not your thing, it's not your thing. We won't call you a poseur. But we'll still feel sorry for you. 'Cause Iron Dogs RULE!
[But sadly, they are no more - however, Jo now has a new band called Ice War that picks up where Iron Dogs left off, hopefully we'll have their cassette in stock sometime soon.]
MPEG Stream: "Adversity"
MPEG Stream: "Evil In The Keep"
MPEG Stream: "Storm Warning"

album cover KRENG Cooties (OST) (Milan) cd 14.98
We made the Death Waltz vinyl of this our Record Of The Week last time, now we also have a cd version too!!
Oh man, we wanted to see this movie from the second we first heard about it. Kids in a primary school get a wicked case of the 'cooties', which transforms them into zombie like wee beasties, and it's up to the teachers to survive, and if need be (which need very likely does be!) dispatch of the hungry, demonic hordes roaming the playground. The trailer looks ridiculous and over the top (we haven't actually seen it yet), and very much like a grade school version of another awesome horror-school classic, The Faculty. Beyond that just being such an amazing concept for a movie, there's the added bonus of the incredible score by weirdo soundsculptor / dronelord / avant grade composer (and huge aQ fave) Kreng, aka Pepijn Caudron.
Longtime readers of the aQ list are also likely fans of the Miasmah label, which Kreng generally calls home. His releases on Miasmah are moody and murky and minimal, twisted and shadowy, waste and faded and gorgeously mysterious. And while all that sounds like the perfect ingredients for a seriously sinister horror score, since this is not your typical horror movie, Caudron gets to explore WAY out of his usual sonic comfort zone, whether it's long sprawls of DJ Shadow like beat driven grooviness (in one instance, the haunting main theme is played by what sounds like a sitar!), or swirly, symphonic exotica, or hushed, somber shimmer, it's all woven together into a proper album, that is a pretty fantastic listen, even sans the film.
The DJ Shadow comparison is actually pretty apt as beats and breaks surface throughout, but it's in the execution that things get and stay weird, in fact one of the best musical moments is when a loping beat limps along beneath a cacophony of detuned brass. But it is a horror soundtrack, so Carpenterisms abound (reworked in Kreng's inimitable style), there are plenty of tense, driving synth jams, barely there haunted house ambience, darkly delicate pianoscapes, strangely dubby drifts, some deliriously atonal 20th century sounding cacophony and bursts of what sounds like some rad eighties VHS soundtrack, all dayglo distorted, blaring and bombastic.
While not nearly as dark as some of the Miasmah releases, there's an ominous underpinning to the proceedings, even at it's most playful and melodic, it's fun and freaky, and like the best soundtracks, not only is a great listen, but has us wanting to see the movie even more than we already did!
MPEG Stream: "Opening Titles"
MPEG Stream: "Rick's Tape"
MPEG Stream: "Oh Look! Carnage"
MPEG Stream: "End Credits"

album cover TANDAAPUSHI Fire Disposal (Jvtlandt) cd 11.98
It's always nice when something we had NO knowledge or expectations about, never heard of before, with a odd name to boot, that we were simply sent a promo of in the mail, and eventually gave a blind listen to, turns out to be so much up our alley and in fact, in this case, totally Record Of The Week worthy! Ok, maybe this is not for absolutely everyone, but those of us into heavy-duty, hypnotically repetitive, distortion 'n' drone damaged jamming, then this obscure outfit on an obscure Danish label has indeed produced a Record Of The dang Week. Tandaapushi is an improvisatory, instrumental power trio of keyboards, bass and drums, formed in Brussels not long ago, and this is their debut album. Tokyo-based Leo Dupleix, who has a Master's degree in piano jazz from the Royal Conservatory in Brussels, would appear to be the band leader. He plays the keyboards and electronics - synth, electric piano, mixing board, etc. Meanwhile the two members of the rhythm section are active and accomplished in the Belgian free jazz scene. So yeah their music here is "mostly improvised" - but not, like, JAZZ, not unless your idea of jazz is the Dead C and Supersilent jamming together, having switched up instruments perhaps. Or you gotta imagine The Necks as produced by Pumice, something like that. Perhaps Circle or Cave running wild in the INA-GRM studio? It's a dense, energetic, experimental, extremely rhythmic mix of avant noise rock, experimental electronics, musique concrete, and free jazz improv. Weird and warped but definitely on point with what they're doing, which is hard to describe, but must require a certain level of musicianship (noisicianship?), tight communication, and a special shared aesthetic, sound-wise, devoted to making trance-inducing grooves with noisy, droney, unidentifiable textures.
The disc is divided into four tracks, Parts 1-4. Part One hooked us immediately, with its eight minutes of thick throbbing feedback skree and droning hum and waver, a grimy, rhythmically-krauty plod. Part Two is a bit of a quirky interlude of electronic beep-boop, distortion and cryptic clatter, brief at just 2:45. Part Three gets back to the droned out intensity of part one, pounding and pulsing for over well over 15 minutes, the rhythms giving way to pure grinding drone-whoosh by the very end. That segues right into Part Four, which brings back the beat, a quietly crunchy rhythm laced with feedback, steadily squelching along for another eleven minutes which bring in all sorts of chitterings and other strange sounds of indeterminate origin. Percussive punctuation pushes through the decaying electronic haze, and we could zone out to this FOREVER. When it all wraps up you're wondering what the heck it was you were listening to, but ready to dive back in at the beginning again.
MPEG Stream: "Part 1"
MPEG Stream: "Part 3"
MPEG Stream: "Part 4"

album cover CIRCLE Pharaoh Overlord (Sige) cassette 10.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY.
Not sure if we'll be able to get more of these on vinyl ever, though we probably will eventually restock the cd, but at least now we have a handful of the domestically issued cassette version Sige just put out... Here's our review from back in the Spring when we made this (and its twin by the band this album is named after) our Records Of The Week...
Circle, and their not-all-that-different-really side-project band Pharaoh Overlord have now simultaneously released albums with the titles "Circle" and "Pharaoh Overlord", no, not self-titled albums, the Circle one is called Pharaoh Overlord and the Pharaoh Overlord one is called Circle. And they have very similar art/graphics. Yep. That's what they do for laffs up in Finland, although knowing Jussi from Circle, he probably has some very serious, meaningful reason behind this scheme, but the explanation would be impossible to understand. It makes a circle or something. Regardless, what we've got here are TWO NEW Circle and/or Pharaoh Overlord albums, however you slice it, and that's a good thing!
The Circle album is quite, well, it's pretty much redundant and superfluous to say in a review of a Circle album that the music is "mesmeric" but goshdarnit, this is indeed mesmerizing. They don't try to sound especially like Pharaoh Overlord, by the way, whatever that would entail, not of course that they don't, either. Instead, the quick takeaway here would be that this is "the Circle album with horns". (Oh, wait, there's a PO album called Horn, maybe that's the weird connection, hmmm??) Anyway, the horns are the big X-factor here, tooting along syncopatedly and cyclically Circle-like. A little jazzy, certainly proggy, those horns, along with the wordless vocal choirs, make us think of Magma and other '70s large-ensemble prog symphonics. We're also put in mind of some suspenseful '60s/'70s film soundtracks, like David Shire's The Taking Of Pelham One Two Three just a bit. It gets intense, with stabs of distorted guitar chords to further intensify the mood. Meanwhile, the vocals, which include some impressive caveman freakout screams, are also crucial, and hark back to the early days of Circle, when they did the monk-chanting thing in their own made up language (a la Magma as well) on albums like Zopalki.
Ultimately, it's really gorgeous and, again, super mesmeric, these tracks all of course built around endless repetitive grooves, simple (deceptively so, we're sure) and effective in the usual Circle style. And the only reason one track ever ends, it seems, is that another one needs to begin. And we wouldn't have it any other way. This Circle consists of circles within circles to spin the mind around. Wow, nice. Recommended, as is the other one by the other band.
MPEG Stream: "Kavellen Luiden Paalla"
MPEG Stream: "Aldebaran"

album cover PIG DNA Mob Shity (La Vida Es Un Mus) 12" 17.98
Local gutter dwellers Pig DNA are only one full-length deep and already they're a no-brainer for Record Of The Week. It was precisely 34 seconds into Mob Shity that we knew this one was special, a drum fill that queues an almighty wall of blown out fury, a cathartic release of energy that does not let up for one second on the rest of the record. While Pig DNA's aesthetic has obvious nods to Japanese hardcore legends like G.I.S.M. and first-wavers like Discharge, the sound on here has much more in common with the fucked up anti-music of infamous Japanese noise group The Gerogerigegege than Randy Uchida's lobotomized take on hardcore and metal in G.I.S.M. Despite the franticness of Mob Shity, these 14 minutes or so of music are surprisingly rhythmic and calculated, also calling to mind the overblown pounding of early Whitehouse material, done without the aid of electronics.
This is punk music stripped down to its most pure musical form, primal, furious, relentless, and totally out-of-control. Easily one of the best punk records to come out on this side of the Pacific Ocean last year.
MPEG Stream: "Foire"
MPEG Stream: "Wolf"

album cover LADDIO BOLOCKO Live and Unreleased: 1997 - 2000 (No Quarter) 3lp+dvd 30.00
We've mentioned it before, but there are a handful of bands that seem to perfectly embody what aQ is all about. Bands and records that even though they shouldn't, have crazy crossover appeal. Weird black metal records that pop nerds obsess on, wild noisy hypno rock that inexplicably appeals to hip hop headz as much and indie rockers. It's not a set in stone list, it's nebulous, and it's different for everybody. Depending on the person, different bands mean different things, and pretty much everybody might have a different idea of the ultimate aQ band or record. The Conet Project is a definite contender. Finland's Circle are definitely in he running. And then there's Laddio Bolocko. Easily one of THEE greatest indie rock / noise rock / post rock / math rock bands ever. Pretty sure there are no aQuarians who don't worship at the altar of Laddio Bolocko.
And anyone who's heard these guys understands why. The group are masters of some ineffable musical alchemy, at once willfully difficult and extremely challenging, but also totally melodic, and mesmerizingly hypnotic. The krautrock vibe is huge, a motorik streak a mile wide runs through the works of LB, but they're also an explosive rock band, capable of total facemelt on par with most metal bands, they're also immersed in some wild, avant psychedelic free jazz, which also looms large in their canon. That might sound like it makes for a mess, but if it is, it's a glorious, unfuckwithable mess.
We've lavished much praise on Laddio Bolocko over the years (as well as on post-Laddio project The Psychic Paramount), and now it's time to do it again, with this stunning collection of rare live and unreleased recordings. And before you think this must be some sort of cash grab, releasing a bunch of shitty live tapes, consider that: A. This band is not nearly popular enough to merit any sort of cash grabbing (sadly), and B. just listen to this shit. The live stuff here blows most bands' best studio albums out of the water. The proof is in the 43 minute opening track pudding (appropriately titled "43 Minutes Of (Excerpt)"), a sprawling mega-jam that is constantly mutating, beginning as a gloriously blown out, and super melodic sort-of-space jam, gradually growing more gnarled and distorted, some of the tones reminiscent of Amps For Christ, before devolving into a droned out, buzz drenched slo-mo soft-noise dirge, that once again slowly builds to a wild psychedelic squall, that swirls and whirls and gradually settles into a slow burn fade. We used to compare LB to This Heat, and that's even more apropos here, with the band locking into dizzying rhythmic permutations, and slathering those various iterations in wild noise, or blurred chords, or crumbling distortion, or free jazz skronk and bleat. That This Heat influence becomes more marked as this collection progresses (just check out the clattery skeletal dub of "Afrostructure Pt. 1", or "As If By Remote", which imagines This Heat as a modern math rock band). Slintisms abound as well, with some moody meanders, and the live in Slovenia set sounds like some heavy rock band channeling the roots of spiritual jazz. What the fuck?! How did these guys do it? And why were they not huge? How did so much of the world miss out on these guys?! Laddio Bolocko is the rare group that has the potential to not just appeal only to weirdo music nerds (although if you are one of those, you very likely already LOVE this band!). The jazzy bits are not like some rock band simply aping jazz, they OWN jazz, and in doing so, create a new musical vocabulary for a classic musical form. The same is true for krautrock, math rock, noise rock, whatever the fuck kind of rock they want to take on, every song, every performance is a reinvention, every new movement a discovery. It's exciting and organic, tense and expansive, gnarled and abstract, alive and emotional, and just utterly and breathtakingly stunning.
Liner notes by Kid Millions. And both the double cd and limited triple lp formats (the latter of which is packaged in a deluxe box) come with a dvd disc, featuring more than two hours of live performance footage, that's really nicely done, looking less like typical live video than monochrome art film from decades earlier. Fans will be stoked.
MPEG Stream: "43 Minutes Of"
MPEG Stream: "Afrostructures Pt I"
MPEG Stream: "Realm Of Ideas"
MPEG Stream: "How About This For My Hair? Part A"

album cover LADDIO BOLOCKO Live and Unreleased: 1997-2000 (No Quarter) 2cd+dvd 17.98
We've mentioned it before, but there are a handful of bands that seem to perfectly embody what aQ is all about. Bands and records that even though they shouldn't, have crazy crossover appeal. Weird black metal records that pop nerds obsess on, wild noisy hypno rock that inexplicably appeals to hip hop headz as much and indie rockers. It's not a set in stone list, it's nebulous, and it's different for everybody. Depending on the person, different bands mean different things, and pretty much everybody might have a different idea of the ultimate aQ band or record. The Conet Project is a definite contender. Finland's Circle are definitely in the running. And then there's Laddio Bolocko. Easily one of THEE greatest indie rock / noise rock / post rock / math rock bands ever. Pretty sure there are no aQuarians who don't worship at the altar of Laddio Bolocko.
And anyone who's heard these guys understands why. The group are masters of some ineffable musical alchemy, at once willfully difficult and extremely challenging, but also totally melodic, and mesmerizingly hypnotic. The krautrock vibe is huge, a motorik streak a mile wide runs through the works of LB, but they're also an explosive rock band, capable of total facemelt on par with most metal bands, they're also immersed in some wild, avant psychedelic free jazz, which also looms large in their canon. That might sound like it makes for a mess, but if it is, it's a glorious, unfuckwithable mess.
We've lavished much praise on Laddio Bolocko over the years (as well as on post-Laddio project The Psychic Paramount), and now it's time to do it again, with this stunning collection of rare live and unreleased recordings. And before you think this must be some sort of cash grab, releasing a bunch of shitty live tapes, consider that: A. This band is not nearly popular enough to merit any sort of cash grabbing (sadly), and B. just listen to this shit. The live stuff here blows most bands' best studio albums out of the water. The proof is in the 43 minute opening track pudding (appropriately titled "43 Minutes Of (Excerpt)"), a sprawling mega-jam that is constantly mutating, beginning as a gloriously blown out, and super melodic sort-of-space jam, gradually growing more gnarled and distorted, some of the tones reminiscent of Amps For Christ, before devolving into a droned out, buzz drenched slo-mo soft-noise dirge, that once again slowly builds to a wild psychedelic squall, that swirls and whirls and gradually settles into a slow burn fade. We used to compare LB to This Heat, and that's even more apropos here, with the band locking into dizzying rhythmic permutations, and slathering those various iterations in wild noise, or blurred chords, or crumbling distortion, or free jazz skronk and bleat. That This Heat influence becomes more marked as this collection progresses (just check out the clattery skeletal dub of "Afrostructure Pt. 1", or "As If By Remote", which imagines This Heat as a modern math rock band). Slintisms abound as well, with some moody meanders, and the live in Slovenia set sounds like some heavy rock band channeling the roots of spiritual jazz. What the fuck?! How did these guys do it? And why were they not huge? How did so much of the world miss out on these guys?! Laddio Bolocko is the rare group that has the potential to not just appeal only to weirdo music nerds (although if you are one of those, you very likely already LOVE this band!). The jazzy bits are not like some rock band simply aping jazz, they OWN jazz, and in doing so, create a new musical vocabulary for a classic musical form. The same is true for krautrock, math rock, noise rock, whatever the fuck kind of rock they want to take on, every song, every performance is a reinvention, every new movement a discovery. It's exciting and organic, tense and expansive, gnarled and abstract, alive and emotional, and just utterly and breathtakingly stunning.
Liner notes by Kid Millions. And both the double cd and limited triple lp formats (the latter of which is packaged in a deluxe box) come with a dvd disc, featuring more than two hours of live performance footage, that's really nicely done, looking less like typical live video than monochrome art film from decades earlier. Fans will be stoked.
MPEG Stream: "43 Minutes Of"
MPEG Stream: "Afrostructures Pt I"
MPEG Stream: "Realm Of Ideas"
MPEG Stream: "How About This For My Hair? Part A"

album cover KOWLOON WALLED CITY Container Ships (Brutal Panda) lp 21.00
This former aQ Record Of The Week, circa 2012, from these multiple-Record Of The Week honorees, has now been repressed on vinyl at long last! (Also we still have their more recent Record Of The Week winning Grievances, from this year, on vinyl too)...
Full length number two from these SF heavies, and while they haven't sacrificed any of their Teutonic crush, or noise rock heft, they do display a surprisingly melodic side on Container Ships, a soft white sonic underbelly that was hinted at on their recent split 7" with Thou, on which they covered a Low track, and it feels like much of the sensibilities that not only drove that choice, but determined what they did with it as well, are all over Container Ships. And while nothing here is quite as darkly delicate, the band do definitely dial back the heaviness, letting the sounds linger, letting clean guitars spread out and set the mood, and when the hammer does fall, the sound this time around is much more crisp and lush, even when the guitars are downtuned, churning and chugging, they ring out, the sounds reverberant and rich. The debt to the Unsane and Helmet no longer so obvious, at least not all the time. On the opener, which might be the prettiest song here, the band offer up their own sort of slowcore minimal math rock / noise rock sprawl, subtly nuanced, and super melodic, another big change on display here is frontman Scott Evans' vocals, which have transformed from a gruff bark, to a serious croon, still rough around the edges, but way more emotive and the perfect match for the band's ever developing sound.
But fear not, get an earful of the second track, "50's Dad", which is all loping, chugging noise rock crush, Evan's vocals higher than on past record, which definitely changes the vibe throughout, and makes even the heaviest tracks here, less of a knuckledragging vibe, and more of an emo edge, which again totally suits them, especially when the band lock into a weird loping groove, and Evans sings himself ragged, his voice rough and raw and impassioned. Not to mention the burst of tangled psychedelic guitar leads that are wrapped around the middle of the track.
The guys have been busting their asses for years now, and we always sort of wondered why they weren't huge, but goddamn if this record doesn't change all that nothing will.
The whole record is a sort of push and pull between the muscled mathy noise rock of the early records, and this desire to make beautiful music, even if it's dark, mean, ugly, hard and heavy beautiful music, which this most certainly is, and it's that balance that makes this record, and these guys so good. The title track here is a dirgey doomy drag, the chords ringing out, the vocals carrying all the melodic weight, and transforming a dirgey chugfest into something epic and intense, the song revealing a grasp and mastery of dynamics that was most definitely underutilized on past records, but gets a serious workout here.
"Cornerstone" is about as poppy as these guys get, and again, they not only mange to pull it off, they also make it this hook heavy noise-pop fit seamlessly into the way heavier rest of the record, not to mention demonstrating another element the band have in their arsenal but obviously choose to employ very judiciously. The record finishes off with the 9 minute epic "You Don't Have Cancer", which again reveals their slowcore proclivities, and demonstrates their ability to subsume that sound into their own, the resulting hybrid another sprawling, gut wrenchingly emotional, crushingly heavy, surprisingly melodic epic, that would, and does, put most other heavy bands to shame.
MPEG Stream: "The Pressure Keeps Me Alive"
MPEG Stream: "50's Dad"
MPEG Stream: "Beef Cattle"
MPEG Stream: "You Don't Have Cancer"

album cover KRENG Cooties (OST) (Mondo / Death Waltz) lp 28.00
Oh man, we wanted to see this movie from the second we first heard about it. Kids in a primary school get a wicked case of the 'cooties', which transforms them into zombie like wee beasties, and it's up to the teachers to survive, and if need be (which need very likely does be!) dispatch of the hungry, demonic hordes roaming the playground. The trailer looks ridiculous and over the top (we haven't actually seen it yet), and very much like a grade school version of another awesome horror-school classic, The Faculty. Beyond that just being such an amazing concept for a movie, there's the added bonus of the incredible score by weirdo soundsculptor / dronelord / avant grade composer (and huge aQ fave) Kreng, aka Pepijn Caudron.
Longtime readers of the aQ list are also likely fans of the Miasmah label, which Kreng generally calls home. His releases on Miasmah are moody and murky and minimal, twisted and shadowy, waste and faded and gorgeously mysterious. And while all that sounds like the perfect ingredients for a seriously sinister horror score, since this is not your typical horror movie, Caudron gets to explore WAY out of his usual sonic comfort zone, whether it's long sprawls of DJ Shadow like beat driven grooviness (in one instance, the haunting main theme is played by what sounds like a sitar!), or swirly, symphonic exotica, or hushed, somber shimmer, it's all woven together into a proper album, that is a pretty fantastic listen, even sans the film.
The DJ Shadow comparison is actually pretty apt as beats and breaks surface throughout, but it's in the execution that things get and stay weird, in fact one of the best musical moments is when a loping beat limps along beneath a cacophony of detuned brass. But it is a horror soundtrack, so Carpenterisms abound (reworked in Kreng's inimitable style), there are plenty of tense, driving synth jams, barely there haunted house ambience, darkly delicate pianoscapes, strangely dubby drifts, some deliriously atonal 20th century sounding cacophony and bursts of what sounds like some rad eighties VHS soundtrack, all dayglo distorted, blaring and bombastic.
While not nearly as dark as some of the Miasmah releases, there's an ominous underpinning to the proceedings, even at it's most playful and melodic, it's fun and freaky, and like the best soundtracks, not only is a great listen, but has us wanting to see the movie even more than we already did!
MPEG Stream: "Opening Titles"
MPEG Stream: "Rick's Tape"
MPEG Stream: "Oh Look! Carnage"
MPEG Stream: "End Credits"

album cover KOWLOON WALLED CITY Grievances (Gilead Media) lp 23.00
NOW HERE ON VINYL!!! This was a Record Of The Week recently on cd via Neurot, so it gets a loooong review:
The sound of local noise rock outfit Kowloon Walled City has always straddled the line between Unsane/Helmet like measured metallic brutality, and a more spacious, song-oriented introspection, bordering on a sort of ultra heavy slowcore (at times hinting at our long time fantasy of a more metal Codeine). It was the tension between those two sonic sides that always gave KWC an edge over their noise rock compatriots for us. And while their last record Container Ships still mostly tended toward the heavier side of the equation, Grievances, their first for Neurosis' Neurot label, swings in the almost exact opposite direction. Which is not to say Grievances is not heavy, because it certainly is, it's just more subtle, more delicately crafted. And if the metal-Low thing SORT of applied before, on Grievances, it seems KWC has made a total transition from metal with slowcore moments, to a brooding, downer rock, with more metallic tendencies.
And we have to say, it definitely suits them. In fact, for long time fans of the band, it feels like the group's ever evolving sound has finally found that sweet spot, one that will no doubt bum out some of the group's more metal fans, but for the rest of us, this might be THE ONE. Much of Grievances is spent exploring space, and texture, tension and mood. For every bout of churning, hypno-riffage, there's a hushed stretch of Slint like Sprawl. Modern mope rockers True Widow are another reference point, as again are Low and Codeine and Galaxie 500. KWC have managed to take that sort of introspective mesmer, and transform it into something with way more heft. The only real remnant of the group's noise rock roots is frontman Scott Evans' feral bark, but even that has become something much more, taking that throat shredding yowl, and letting it do much of the melodic heavy lifting. Which gives the whole thing a sort of anguished, bruised quality, infusing the already introspective heaviness, with even more emotion and pathos.
And let's not take away from the record's heaviness, the sound (recorded by Evans) is stunning, the drums sound massive, the guitars thick and corrosive, some of the more melodic guitar parts are gnarled and gristly, squalls of controlled feedback are sculpted into jagged, mesmerizing melody, and when the band lock into a bout of hypnotic heavy riffing, it does most decidedly sound metallic, but it also blurs into a kind of mesmeric hypno-rock, often stretching out long enough, that even though it's all distorted chug, the sound becomes a burnished thing of beauty, equalling its core heaviness.
Even just from a purely technical standpoint, this record is a marvel, which is helping get KWC the sort of widespread love they have so long deserved, but should also finally get Evans the sort of adoration more generally reserved for engineers like Steve Albini. And it's a combination of that deft hand behind the board, along with stunning songs, subtly catchy songwriting, and a seemingly effortless mastery of tone and texture, that not only makes Grievances KWC's best by a mile, but makes this a serious contender for our top spot of 2015!
MPEG Stream: "Your Best Years"
MPEG Stream: "Grievances"
MPEG Stream: "Backlit"

album cover STENZEL, KURT Jodorowsky's Dune Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (Cinewax) 2lp 26.00
A lot of the soundtracks we review, are for movies we haven't actually seen. This one though, we had been hearing about forever, and saw the minute it came out. The sci-fi nerds around here were already familiar with the story of the failed attempt by demented genius / cinematic auteur Alejandro Jodorowsky (El Topo, The Holy Mountain) to adapt and film Frank Herbert's classic sci-fi novel Dune. And sure, some of us dig the version by David Lynch that eventually did get made, but it couldn't hold a candle to Jodorowsky's vision, one that was to include art design by H.R. Giger and Moebius, music by Magma and Pink Floyd, special effects by Dan O'Banon (Heavy Metal, Lifeforce, C.H.U.D., Return Of The Living Dead, Total Recall), and stars Mick Jagger, David Carradine, Orson Welles and Salvador Dali!! Why oh why did that not happen?! In the realm of things that should absolutely exist, Jodorowsky's Dune most definitely is high up on the list. And thus, what a fantastic story, and minus having the actual Dune movie, this documentary is about the closest we'll ever get.
And enlisted to score this tale of what could have been, is none other than aQ pal Kurt Stenzel, one half of local synth duo Spacekraft, who has conjured up a spectacular accompaniment, one that perfectly suits the documentary, but in fact could easily have been the actual score to Jodorowsky's Dune, had it ever come to fruition. It's super evocative, definitely retro, a burbling cauldron of synth tones and mysterious melodies, moody music cues and abstract fragments of sound. In many cases, snippets of Jodorowsky's dialogue from the film are set atop these synthscapes, which only adds a surreal quality to the already far out proceedings, Jodorowsky's voice and delivery are so unique, like some shaman or cult leader sermonizing, even more so with the amazing kosmische backdrop. Stenzel masterfully conjures up classic scores of that era, anyone who's been obsessing on all the various soundtrack reissues on Death Waltz and Mondo, could easily believe that this was in fact some lost score to a crazy eighties B movie. Squelchy analog synths burble and pulse and pulsate, oozing into atmospheric ambience, or coalescing into dramatic chase scene tension, swirling clouds of sound shimmer and glisten, slow shifting fields of texture drift like alien fog, conjuring visions of futuristic cities, of post apocalyptic wastelands, of futures undreamed of, and futures dreamed of only in the past. It's utterly mesmerizing, dreamily psychedelic, and totally fantastic.
MPEG Stream: "Coming Of A God"
MPEG Stream: "Rescue From A Sandworm"
MPEG Stream: "Feyd Rautha"
MPEG Stream: "I Am Dune"

album cover HARRY PUSSY s/t (Superior Viaduct) lp 15.98
When we were putting together our vintage New Arrivals list a few weeks back, the one with super short reviews like we used to write back in the day, we had planned on reviewing this reissue of the debut from Florida avant-primitive noise-core duo Harry Pussy, with this super succinct description: "SKROWWWWWWW, EEEEEEEEEEEEEE CLANGBLAPCLANG, SHRIEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEK, SKRONK, GRRHHHTTTTTRFFHHHDEEEWWW OOOOOOOW CHHRRRGGGFFFGGG FGGGGGRRRRRRHHHHHHOOOOOWWWWWW BOOOOOOONGCRAAAAAASHBLANG EEEEOOOOOOWWWWWWWWEEEEEEE." What more is there to say really, the duo of Adris Hoyos and Bill Orcutt created some of the most visceral, most innovatively chaotic and confrontationally raw punk rock noise EVER. Whatever noise group you can think of - Hanatarash, Incapacitants, Borbetomagus - Harry Pussy could more than hold their own and deliver the equivalent audial destruction, as well as an amount of audience baiting that was nearly unprecedented, certainly in the experimental underground. Guitarist Bill Orcutt has more recently become a bit of an outsider solo guitar icon, with his primitive blues scrabble and deconstructed avant Appalachia, and if you're familiar with his solo stuff, imagine that plugged into a shitty amp, cranked to deafening volume, and then paired with some of the most frighteningly original drumming ever, courtesy of she-devil Adris Hoyos, her self-taught drum pummel the equivalent to laying at the bottom of an elevator shaft, while a dump truck unloads its payload of busted cymbals, warped drums, broken sticks, in a clattery, caustic cascade. AND then there's her banshee like vocals, fierce and feral.
But that's not to say HP traffic purely in unfettered, unstructured noise (although there is plenty of that too) - within these swirling squalls of sound, Hoyos and Orcutt continually lock into impossibly dense, mathed out anti-grooves, or spar maniacally with each other, a back and forth, tangled sonic wrestling match as swarms of skree and crape wind around octopoidal drum pound, the sounds occasionally winding down into distorted blues crawls, sometimes exploding into barrages of frazzled noise-jazz squiggles, and often just splintering into total face melting amp-destroying noise-fuck.
The strange thing is, as much as we remember this record being brutal and unrelenting and punishingly noisy listening to it again recently, it's revealed itself as truly and strangely lovely, textural and nuanced, a balance between melody and mayhem that might not be obvious on first listen, but there's a lot more going on here than first meets the ear. And for all the attitude, and legendarily violent performances, the actual music here is stunning, and weirdly magical, it's a rare sort of abstract, absurdist, psychedelic noise that manages to transcend the strictures of 'noise music', attaining the sort of beauty that would rarely be ascribed to such a fucked up slab of sound. Also contains one of the best Kraftwerk covers EVER.
MPEG Stream: "1986"
MPEG Stream: "Pussy Control"
MPEG Stream: "Fuckology"

album cover CANAVARRO, NUNO Plux Quba (Drag City) lp 19.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY.
Plux Quba is a record that after the nearly 30 years of its existence remains impossible to categorize. It's almost as if it was an alien broadcast beamed in from another planet. Little is known about its creator, Nuno Canavarro, outside of his native Portugal, and its discovery is so unbelievably legendary and riddled with hearsay that it's easy to dismiss this as a probable hoax.
Recorded in 1988 and released on a private label, it was believed to be discovered in 1991 by Jim O'Rourke while traveling through Europe with Jan St. Werner (Microstoria, Mouse On Mars) and Carsten Schulz (C-Shultz and Hajsch). Liking what he heard, Rourke eventually started a label call Moikai in 1998 and the first release was Plux Quba remastered by Portuguese guitarist and composer Rafael Toral. That the sounds contained on Plux Quba would go on to heavily influence the sound of all three artists' later output (not to mention bearing a strong sonic forbearance to Aphex Twin's early ambient pieces, Boards of Canada's nostalgic filmstrip melodies, Prefuse 73's glitch-hop, and Christian Fennesz's sublime Endless Summer) is a bizarre case of cosmic synchronicity. Rumors that this was an elaborate prank by the three electronic artists have since been quelled by enough evidence of Canavarro's existence as an architectural student, a member of semi-popular Portuguese new wave bands, and his subsequent compositional work in Portuguese cinema.
Indeed, the 15 tracks (8 of which are untitled - many clock in just over a minute) of Plux Quba can be seen as a bridge between the electro-acoustic computer-processing works of Robert Ashley (1979's Automatic Writing) and David Behrman (1984's Leapday Night) on the Lovely music label, and the advent of laptop-based electronica of the nineties. Yet Plux Quba seems less aware than that, as if created in a total vacuum. Its mystery remains one of its key attractions.
I (Scott) was turned on to this by friend and Alps band-mate Jefre Cantu-Ledesma in the nineties when he dubbed it to cassette for me, after raving about it endlessly. At first, I didn't understand the appeal. It doesn't endear itself to the listener right away. Each track is its own micro-universe of texture and mood. The first bursts of high piercing squelches, random cluster tones, bell drones and squeals, come off as abrasive and abstract, appear than disappear. Its soft-volume minimal experiments are heightened by pauses of pregnant silence that are not easy on casual listeners. It's not until about five short tracks in that processed disembodied voices, bird-like chirps and chord washes begin to emote a tangible melancholy melody, and that's when Plux Quba begins to work its magic. It took so many concentrated listens to that tape before I was finally under its spell.
Made with electronics, melodica, and pre-recorded tapes of acoustic instruments such as harp, flute, bells, marimbas, organ, an out of tune toy piano, and accordion, the overall sound is augmented by whispered transmitted voices, abstracted squeals, glitchy computerized electronics, toy instruments, crying children, animal noises, Conet Project style shortwave babble, and off-kilter hand percussion. It's almost as if a computer was fed some primitive bedroom recordings performed by children and asked to mimic the results. The cover art with its childlike drawing and strange font layouts doesn't offer any clues either, unless one is versed in Portuguese perhaps. But even then, Plux Quba seems to be mining a territory where language is useless as an orienting factor, but trades on a highly prevalent universality of emotion. It remains a singular and beguiling artifact that won't appeal to everybody, but offers massive rewards to the curious, adventurous and patient.
MPEG Stream: "O Fundo Escuro de Alsee"
MPEG Stream: "05"
MPEG Stream: "07"
MPEG Stream: "Wolfie"
MPEG Stream: "Bruma"
MPEG Stream: "Cave"
MPEG Stream: "15"

album cover FORESTS Dead Species (self-released) lp 23.00
We've said it many times before, but the best album discoveries are the ones that come totally out of nowhere. Forests came to us on a tip from a friend, a Taiwanese band with little in the way of press or internet presence, and one minute into the first track we heard and we were hooked. Think "Mix Up" era Cabaret Voltaire but with the a drummer that falls somewhere between the skeletal pulse of Disappears and the repurposed junk-drumming of Einsturzende Neubauten. A lysergic swirl of strange, effects-laden synths and electronics, dark, brooding post-punk bass lines, hypnotic rhythms, and monotone vocals, all with a kind of outsider approach that makes you wonder if they've even heard the bands they sound like. Quite a welcome departure from their previous incarnation as a more Sebadoh/Pavement style indie rock band, we must say. Weird, awesome, and highly recommended!
(We got these direct from the band in Taiwan, so if/when we run out, we will get more but it might take a little while, just fyi.)
MPEG Stream: "Monolith"
MPEG Stream: "Pale Fire"
MPEG Stream: "This Era"

album cover STENZEL, KURT Jodorowsky's Dune Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (Cinewax) cd 15.98
A lot of the soundtracks we review, are for movies we haven't actually seen. This one though, we had been hearing about forever, and saw the minute it came out. The sci-fi nerds around here were already familiar with the story of the failed attempt by demented genius / cinematic auteur Alejandro Jodorowsky (El Topo, The Holy Mountain) to adapt and film Frank Herbert's classic sci-fi novel Dune. And sure, some of us dig the version by David Lynch that eventually did get made, but it couldn't hold a candle to Jodorowsky's vision, one that was to include art design by H.R. Giger and Moebius, music by Magma and Pink Floyd, special effects by Dan O'Banon (Heavy Metal, Lifeforce, C.H.U.D., Return Of The Living Dead, Total Recall), and stars Mick Jagger, David Carradine, Orson Welles and Salvador Dali!! Why oh why did that not happen?! In the realm of things that should absolutely exist, Jodorowsky's Dune most definitely is high up on the list. And thus, what a fantastic story, and minus having the actual Dune movie, this documentary is about the closest we'll ever get.
And enlisted to score this tale of what could have been, is none other than aQ pal Kurt Stenzel, one half of local synth duo Spacekraft, who has conjured up a spectacular accompaniment, one that perfectly suits the documentary, but in fact could easily have been the actual score to Jodorowsky's Dune, had it ever come to fruition. It's super evocative, definitely retro, a burbling cauldron of synth tones and mysterious melodies, moody music cues and abstract fragments of sound. In many cases, snippets of Jodorowsky's dialogue from the film are set atop these synthscapes, which only adds a surreal quality to the already far out proceedings, Jodorowsky's voice and delivery are so unique, like some shaman or cult leader sermonizing, even more so with the amazing kosmische backdrop. Stenzel masterfully conjures up classic scores of that era, anyone who's been obsessing on all the various soundtrack reissues on Death Waltz and Mondo, could easily believe that this was in fact some lost score to a crazy eighties B movie. Squelchy analog synths burble and pulse and pulsate, oozing into atmospheric ambience, or coalescing into dramatic chase scene tension, swirling clouds of sound shimmer and glisten, slow shifting fields of texture drift like alien fog, conjuring visions of futuristic cities, of post apocalyptic wastelands, of futures undreamed of, and futures dreamed of only in the past. It's utterly mesmerizing, dreamily psychedelic, and totally fantastic.
MPEG Stream: "Coming Of A God"
MPEG Stream: "Rescue From A Sandworm"
MPEG Stream: "Feyd Rautha"
MPEG Stream: "I Am Dune"

album cover SKEPTICS Amalgam (Captured Tracks / Flying Nun) lp 14.98
An aQ Record Of The Week when the cd reissue came out, now also available again on vinyl!
Even some New Zealand music fanatics haven't heard (or heard of) the Skeptics, a band that featured one of the Gordons, and a member of Bailter Space (the same guy actually), but that's the sort of NZ pedigree that should have most Flying Nun / NZ underground rock nerds flipping their lids. But don't be expecting the murky thud of the Gordons, or the blown out shoegaze heaviness of Bailter Space, the Skeptics occupied a whole different sonic realm, fusing the NZ sound we all know and love to something much more avant grade and experimental, with programmed rhythms and samples, the vibe almost industrial at times, the resulting sound twisted, damaged, demented and totally genius.
Both III (1987) and Amalgam (1990) have been insanely hard to track down for years now, reissued briefly in 1992 in a 4cd box set, which quickly went out of print, and immediately surfaced on the collector's market, and was not surprisingly, outrageously expensive, so we were so psyched to discover that Captured Tracks was including these records in their ongoing Flying Nun reissue campaign (and here's hoping they reissue all the other Skeptics stuff too!). So for now, we can revel in the group's 3rd and 4th records, that 4th record released after the death of David D'Ath, and the group's subsequent dissolution, but what a sonic legacy, one that long deserved the sort of love heaped upon so much other NZ music of the time.
III begins with a twisted smear of looped samples and stuttering sonics, which soon blossom into a lurching creep, snarly crooned vocals over big booming drums, wound up in streaks of distorted guitar buzz, the vibe, gloomy and dark, a sort of post industrial downer rock, that lumbers ominously, and is peppered with weird fragmented samples, melodic shards, super heavy, ominous, and intense, but also weirdly catchy. And it doesn't get any less weird, the sound veering dramatically, from the piano driven post punk of "Agitator", again peppered with strange sound FX and distorted electronics, sounding almost cabaret, like some mutated balladic torch song. "Turnover" slips back into the woozy, murky creep of the opener, the guitars thick and viscous, the vox slithery and blackly sexy, all anchored by a looped rhythm, and again, laced with strange electronic squiggles and twisted blurry samples. And so it goes, "La Motta" almost sounds like Scott Walker via the Butthole Surfers, but with a damaged industrial makeover, "Notice" too is a sort of drugged out industrial noise rock dirge, with some jagged shards of guitar, over a muddy moody downer rock murk, with the rest of the record splitting the difference between home brewed industrial goth and grinding avant post punk crush.
While Amalgam has a similar sonic template, it's a bit more polished, the vocals more prominent, the drums more driving, the pop element more up front, there's even a bit of a new wave vibe, just check out opener "And We bake", which sounds like some lost new wave classic, fused to some girding metal buzz, and twisted mechanical rhythm. But the sound remains sonically sick, the second track, slipping right back into a woozy, warmly dirge, lurching detuned weirdness, clouds of FX and squiggly alien electronics wreath rubbery bass billows, melting riffs, and mush mouthed vocals, seriously trippy and gloriously fucked up.
Amalgam is a lot more varied than its predecessor, some tracks super electronics, others smeary buzzscapes of layered guitars, and super creeped out vocal samples, new wave electro pop and grim, noise drenched sprawls of grim, harrowing, psychedelic noise. It's that balance that makes the record so cool, twisted poppiness, colliding with speaker shredding weirdness, often the two bleeding into each other, creating some unholy hybrid of avant industrial post punk psych-noise, the sort of thing the should appeal equally to weird music obsessives, adventurous goths and fans of experimental twisted noise pop. Which really is pretty much most everybody we know!
MPEG Stream: "And We Bake"
MPEG Stream: "Pack Ice"
MPEG Stream: "Never Tire Of Looking At The Stars"

album cover SKEPTICS III (Captured Tracks / Flying Nun) lp 14.98
An aQ Record Of The Week when the cd reissue came out, now also available again on vinyl!
Even some New Zealand music fanatics haven't heard (or heard of) the Skeptics, a band that featured one of the Gordons, and a member of Bailter Space (the same guy actually), but that's the sort of NZ pedigree that should have most Flying Nun / NZ underground rock nerds flipping their lids. But don't be expecting the murky thud of the Gordons, or the blown out shoegaze heaviness of Bailter Space, the Skeptics occupied a whole different sonic realm, fusing the NZ sound we all know and love to something much more avant grade and experimental, with programmed rhythms and samples, the vibe almost industrial at times, the resulting sound twisted, damaged, demented and totally genius.
Both III (1987) and Amalgam (1990) have been insanely hard to track down for years now, reissued briefly in 1992 in a 4cd box set, which quickly went out of print, and immediately surfaced on the collector's market, and was not surprisingly, outrageously expensive, so we were so psyched to discover that Captured Tracks was including these records in their ongoing Flying Nun reissue campaign (and here's hoping they reissue all the other Skeptics stuff too!). So for now, we can revel in the group's 3rd and 4th records, that 4th record released after the death of David D'Ath, and the group's subsequent dissolution, but what a sonic legacy, one that long deserved the sort of love heaped upon so much other NZ music of the time.
III begins with a twisted smear of looped samples and stuttering sonics, which soon blossom into a lurching creep, snarly crooned vocals over big booming drums, wound up in streaks of distorted guitar buzz, the vibe, gloomy and dark, a sort of post industrial downer rock, that lumbers ominously, and is peppered with weird fragmented samples, melodic shards, super heavy, ominous, and intense, but also weirdly catchy. And it doesn't get any less weird, the sound veering dramatically, from the piano driven post punk of "Agitator", again peppered with strange sound FX and distorted electronics, sounding almost cabaret, like some mutated balladic torch song. "Turnover" slips back into the woozy, murky creep of the opener, the guitars thick and viscous, the vox slithery and blackly sexy, all anchored by a looped rhythm, and again, laced with strange electronic squiggles and twisted blurry samples. And so it goes, "La Motta" almost sounds like Scott Walker via the Butthole Surfers, but with a damaged industrial makeover, "Notice" too is a sort of drugged out industrial noise rock dirge, with some jagged shards of guitar, over a muddy moody downer rock murk, with the rest of the record splitting the difference between home brewed industrial goth and grinding avant post punk crush.
While Amalgam has a similar sonic template, it's a bit more polished, the vocals more prominent, the drums more driving, the pop element more up front, there's even a bit of a new wave vibe, just check out opener "And We bake", which sounds like some lost new wave classic, fused to some girding metal buzz, and twisted mechanical rhythm. But the sound remains sonically sick, the second track, slipping right back into a woozy, warmly dirge, lurching detuned weirdness, clouds of FX and squiggly alien electronics wreath rubbery bass billows, melting riffs, and mush mouthed vocals, seriously trippy and gloriously fucked up.
Amalgam is a lot more varied than its predecessor, some tracks super electronics, others smeary buzzscapes of layered guitars, and super creeped out vocal samples, new wave electro pop and grim, noise drenched sprawls of grim, harrowing, psychedelic noise. It's that balance that makes the record so cool, twisted poppiness, colliding with speaker shredding weirdness, often the two bleeding into each other, creating some unholy hybrid of avant industrial post punk psych-noise, the sort of thing the should appeal equally to weird music obsessives, adventurous goths and fans of experimental twisted noise pop. Which really is pretty much most everybody we know!
MPEG Stream: "Feeling Bad"
MPEG Stream: "Agitator"
MPEG Stream: "Turnover"
MPEG Stream: "La Motta"

album cover SUN CITY GIRLS Torch Of The Mystics (Abduction) cd 15.98
So, we already put this on our special all-Torch Of The Mystics in-between list last week, because we just couldn't wait to list it, and here it is again, a no-shit, straight to the top Record Of The Week. An absolute must-buy, a record that DESPERATELY needed to be reissued (along with almost all 10,000 other Sun City Girls records, certain crazy people would argue). So here it is on both cd and vinyl! And here's the expanded, in-depth review we promised...
So what to say about this fuckin' record? Originally recorded in 1988 during a time when the Bishop brothers and Charles Gocher had been making much more overtly subversive work. 1987's Horse Cock Phepner (an album that could use this reissue treatment, by the way) experimented with drug-addled spoken word, hypno-percussive vulgarity-ridden tributes to Nancy Reagan, and Urinals-esque minimalist noise-punk. This makes sense given the Bishop brothers' musical upbringing in the early '80s Arizona punk and hardcore world. But the recordings sessions that would become Torch of the Mystics had such a different result. Like we mentioned last week, due in large part to the success of labels like Bishop's Sublime Frequencies, in making the SCG's third world influences more familiar to us, this record does get the "most accessible" label, maybe even more than it seemed originally. It's still fantastically out-there, but yeah, compared to other Sun City Girls output before and after this record, this is downright radio friendly.
It's hard to talk about records that are this fantastic, we don't really have words that can do it justice. Right from the first snare crack of opener "Blue Mamba", it's impossible not to get sucked into another world. The first notes of the bass line immediately floor us, then the whole band comes in, with droll vocals not even really saying coherent words over some sort of desert-scorched melody, part Sahara and part Sonoran. "Tarmac 23" is up next, a total outsider improvised psych freak-out, the guitar line an off-kilter loop, Gocher's drumming managing to keep the whole thing together. "Esoterica Of Abyssynia" and "Space Prophet Dogon" are, of course, the masterpieces of this record. "Esoterica" has a twisting and looping guitar line like something John Fahey would play if he studied under the tutelage of Ravi Shankar, and also owned a distortion pedal. "Space Prophet Dogon" is one of those instances that makes us all go full Andee and say "perhaps THEE greatest song EVER!" Seriously, without trying to sound too over-the-top hyperbolic, "Space Prophet Dogon" (later covered by the Grails) is one of those songs that should be played at funerals. A spiritual, otherworldly lick with its roots somewhere in Egypt or maybe a Moroccan hash cafe, but in true Sun City Girls fashion, twisted and warped to their liking. The longest song on the record (a scant 7 minutes) with the last 2 and a half completely improvised, and perhaps the most beautiful part, a bleary-eyed psych trip. This record would be totally worth it if it just played this song 11 times, trust us. But there's so much more! "Cafe Batik", "The Flower", "Papa Legba", and "Burial In The Sky" all follow in the footsteps of "Tarmac 23", improvised, warped, outsider-jazz-raga-middle eastern psych-folk numbers with Gocher's percussive mastery and Alan Bishop's sung/shouted vocals taking front row. "The Shining Path" could be a lost track off a Morricone soundtrack, a whistle-and-acoustic guitar number with that catchy and haunting melody line sung over it. "Radar 1941" is like the Ventures on thorazine, a slowed down, chewed up and spit-out attempt at surfy skronk. Like a foreshadowing of his solo career, "The Vinegar Stroke" is a classic Sir Richard Bishop piece, a masterfully played acoustic guitar track that feels like it's pulling inspiration from 5 different musical styles at once.
In short, (ha!) Torch Of The Mystics is an album that is from both everywhere and nowhere. It constantly plays with things you've maybe heard, but can't quite recall. It's at once high and low brow, mimicking some criminally underheard guitarist in the Sahal, or a drunkard trying to recite the Rigveda from memory. The babbling of Charles and Alan are in either some unknown foreign language or complete gibberish, perhaps playing with some sort of postmodern idea of Western cultural appropriation and our often naive and hamfisted takes on "world" music, or maybe they were just high and fucking around.
An utter masterpiece, a no-brainer must-have piece of every music collection.
MPEG Stream: "Blue Mambo"
MPEG Stream: "Esoterica Of Abyssynia"
MPEG Stream: "Space Prophet Dogon"
MPEG Stream: "The Vinegar Stroke"

album cover SUN CITY GIRLS Torch Of The Mystics (Abduction) lp 19.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT T SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. HOWEVER, IT WILL BE REPRESSED IN 2016 WE'RE TOLD.
So, we already put this on our special all-Torch Of The Mystics in-between list last week, because we just couldn't wait to list it, and here it is again, a no-shit, straight to the top Record Of The Week. An absolute must-buy, a record that DESPERATELY needed to be reissued (along with almost all 10,000 other Sun City Girls records, certain crazy people would argue). So here it is on both cd and vinyl! And here's the expanded, in-depth review we promised...
So what to say about this fuckin' record? Originally recorded in 1988 during a time when the Bishop brothers and Charles Gocher had been making much more overtly subversive work. 1987's Horse Cock Phepner (an album that could use this reissue treatment, by the way) experimented with drug-addled spoken word, hypno-percussive vulgarity-ridden tributes to Nancy Reagan, and Urinals-esque minimalist noise-punk. This makes sense given the Bishop brothers' musical upbringing in the early '80s Arizona punk and hardcore world. But the recordings sessions that would become Torch of the Mystics had such a different result. Like we mentioned last week, due in large part to the success of labels like Bishop's Sublime Frequencies, in making the SCG's third world influences more familiar to us, this record does get the "most accessible" label, maybe even more than it seemed originally. It's still fantastically out-there, but yeah, compared to other Sun City Girls output before and after this record, this is downright radio friendly.
It's hard to talk about records that are this fantastic, we don't really have words that can do it justice. Right from the first snare crack of opener "Blue Mamba", it's impossible not to get sucked into another world. The first notes of the bass line immediately floor us, then the whole band comes in, with droll vocals not even really saying coherent words over some sort of desert-scorched melody, part Sahara and part Sonoran. "Tarmac 23" is up next, a total outsider improvised psych freak-out, the guitar line an off-kilter loop, Gocher's drumming managing to keep the whole thing together. "Esoterica Of Abyssynia" and "Space Prophet Dogon" are, of course, the masterpieces of this record. "Esoterica" has a twisting and looping guitar line like something John Fahey would play if he studied under the tutelage of Ravi Shankar, and also owned a distortion pedal. "Space Prophet Dogon" is one of those instances that makes us all go full Andee and say "perhaps THEE greatest song EVER!" Seriously, without trying to sound too over-the-top hyperbolic, "Space Prophet Dogon" (later covered by the Grails) is one of those songs that should be played at funerals. A spiritual, otherworldly lick with its roots somewhere in Egypt or maybe a Moroccan hash cafe, but in true Sun City Girls fashion, twisted and warped to their liking. The longest song on the record (a scant 7 minutes) with the last 2 and a half completely improvised, and perhaps the most beautiful part, a bleary-eyed psych trip. This record would be totally worth it if it just played this song 11 times, trust us. But there's so much more! "Cafe Batik", "The Flower", "Papa Legba", and "Burial In The Sky" all follow in the footsteps of "Tarmac 23", improvised, warped, outsider-jazz-raga-middle eastern psych-folk numbers with Gocher's percussive mastery and Alan Bishop's sung/shouted vocals taking front row. "The Shining Path" could be a lost track off a Morricone soundtrack, a whistle-and-acoustic guitar number with that catchy and haunting melody line sung over it. "Radar 1941" is like the Ventures on thorazine, a slowed down, chewed up and spit-out attempt at surfy skronk. Like a foreshadowing of his solo career, "The Vinegar Stroke" is a classic Sir Richard Bishop piece, a masterfully played acoustic guitar track that feels like it's pulling inspiration from 5 different musical styles at once.
In short, (ha!) Torch Of The Mystics is an album that is from both everywhere and nowhere. It constantly plays with things you've maybe heard, but can't quite recall. It's at once high and low brow, mimicking some criminally underheard guitarist in the Sahal, or a drunkard trying to recite the Rigveda from memory. The babbling of Charles and Alan are in either some unknown foreign language or complete gibberish, perhaps playing with some sort of postmodern idea of Western cultural appropriation and our often naive and hamfisted takes on "world" music, or maybe they were just high and fucking around.
An utter masterpiece, a no-brainer must-have piece of every music collection.
MPEG Stream: "Blue Mambo"
MPEG Stream: "Esoterica Of Abyssynia"
MPEG Stream: "Space Prophet Dogon"
MPEG Stream: "The Vinegar Stroke"

album cover SUN CITY GIRLS Torch Of The Mystics (Abduction) lp 19.98
REPRESSED ON VINYL!! This super mega Record Of The Week from last year flew off the shelves fast, but if you somehow missed it, it's now been repressed... An absolute must-buy, a record that DESPERATELY needed to be reissued (along with almost all 10,000 other Sun City Girls records, certain crazy people would argue).
So what to say about this fuckin' record? Originally recorded in 1988 during a time when the Bishop brothers and Charles Gocher had been making much more overtly subversive work. 1987's Horse Cock Phepner (an album that could use this reissue treatment, by the way) experimented with drug-addled spoken word, hypno-percussive vulgarity-ridden tributes to Nancy Reagan, and Urinals-esque minimalist noise-punk. This makes sense given the Bishop brothers' musical upbringing in the early '80s Arizona punk and hardcore world. But the recordings sessions that would become Torch of the Mystics had such a different result. Like we mentioned last week, due in large part to the success of labels like Bishop's Sublime Frequencies, in making the SCG's third world influences more familiar to us, this record does get the "most accessible" label, maybe even more than it seemed originally. It's still fantastically out-there, but yeah, compared to other Sun City Girls output before and after this record, this is downright radio friendly.
It's hard to talk about records that are this fantastic, we don't really have words that can do it justice. Right from the first snare crack of opener "Blue Mamba", it's impossible not to get sucked into another world. The first notes of the bass line immediately floor us, then the whole band comes in, with droll vocals not even really saying coherent words over some sort of desert-scorched melody, part Sahara and part Sonoran. "Tarmac 23" is up next, a total outsider improvised psych freak-out, the guitar line an off-kilter loop, Gocher's drumming managing to keep the whole thing together. "Esoterica Of Abyssynia" and "Space Prophet Dogon" are, of course, the masterpieces of this record. "Esoterica" has a twisting and looping guitar line like something John Fahey would play if he studied under the tutelage of Ravi Shankar, and also owned a distortion pedal. "Space Prophet Dogon" is one of those instances that makes us all go full Andee and say "perhaps THEE greatest song EVER!" Seriously, without trying to sound too over-the-top hyperbolic, "Space Prophet Dogon" (later covered by the Grails) is one of those songs that should be played at funerals. A spiritual, otherworldly lick with its roots somewhere in Egypt or maybe a Moroccan hash cafe, but in true Sun City Girls fashion, twisted and warped to their liking. The longest song on the record (a scant 7 minutes) with the last 2 and a half completely improvised, and perhaps the most beautiful part, a bleary-eyed psych trip. This record would be totally worth it if it just played this song 11 times, trust us. But there's so much more! "Cafe Batik", "The Flower", "Papa Legba", and "Burial In The Sky" all follow in the footsteps of "Tarmac 23", improvised, warped, outsider-jazz-raga-middle eastern psych-folk numbers with Gocher's percussive mastery and Alan Bishop's sung/shouted vocals taking front row. "The Shining Path" could be a lost track off a Morricone soundtrack, a whistle-and-acoustic guitar number with that catchy and haunting melody line sung over it. "Radar 1941" is like the Ventures on thorazine, a slowed down, chewed up and spit-out attempt at surfy skronk. Like a foreshadowing of his solo career, "The Vinegar Stroke" is a classic Sir Richard Bishop piece, a masterfully played acoustic guitar track that feels like it's pulling inspiration from 5 different musical styles at once.
In short, (ha!) Torch Of The Mystics is an album that is from both everywhere and nowhere. It constantly plays with things you've maybe heard, but can't quite recall. It's at once high and low brow, mimicking some criminally underheard guitarist in the Sahal, or a drunkard trying to recite the Rigveda from memory. The babbling of Charles and Alan are in either some unknown foreign language or complete gibberish, perhaps playing with some sort of postmodern idea of Western cultural appropriation and our often naive and hamfisted takes on "world" music, or maybe they were just high and fucking around.
An utter masterpiece, a no-brainer must-have piece of every music collection.
MPEG Stream: "Blue Mambo"
MPEG Stream: "Esoterica Of Abyssynia"
MPEG Stream: "Space Prophet Dogon"
MPEG Stream: "The Vinegar Stroke"

album cover STEEL POLE BATH TUB Tulip (Sinister Torch) lp 22.00
"You were hired by a bitch to find scum!!" That striking dialogue taken from a '60s private eye thriller (Harper) begins the song "Misty Mountain Blowtorch" here, deep into side two, before the track launches into an especially distorted & catchy riff, and that combo somehow sums up the attitude/aesthetic of this album and this band. Heavy, noisy, grungy rock action laced with lots of cool/weird samples, it's an hallucinatory and head caving mix for sure!! As the label that did this necessary reissue put it, Tulip is a "twisted noir detective story on a bad acid trip". Damn right. Psychedelic, metallic, chaotic, freaked out, heavy as heck, full of surprises, and strangely hooky and melodic too, as it explosively lurches through a delirious daze of surfy, sludgy sounds and strange non-sequitur samples.
A little while back, you may recall, we we listed a warehouse find, the first lp by Milk Cult, Milk Cult being the sample-based side project of one of San Francisco's best ever bands (by way of Bozeman, Montana), Steel Pole Bath Tub, back in the late '80s / early '90s. Hopefully that piqued your interest if you weren't already into these noiserock madmen, the trio of Dale Flattum, Darren Mor-X, and Mike Morasky. They were sort of a surreal, soundtracky, noise-noir version of their pals The Melvins, in a way, also using and abusing samples as alluded to above. The kind of band that would do both Black Sabbath and Sonic Youth covers (they have - not found here though). Certainly a band that anybody into the Melvins back then would also have liked, and did, a lot. Stuff on Trance (like Pain Teens) and AmRep also comes to mind. SPBT even managed to eventually wind up, albeit briefly, on a major label (like so many unlikely, underground bands during the '90s alt-rock boom). Their bulk of their career more or less predated our "list", so we never wrote a review of this great album when it was originally issued back in 1990, their sophomore release. Thus it's especially exciting that this has been reissued on vinyl, at long last, and we can list it, finally. Probably our favorite record by these guys - though they made a bunch of good ones. There's just something about this one that's the complete package, the perfect witches brew of their unique sound, immediately compelling and highly entertaining.
Gatefold sleeve, with new jacket art, and an 8-page booklet with photos, art, and new liner notes by Henry "Chunklet" Owings, Noah Landis, and Tom Flynn, plus stuff from the members of the SPTB as well. Nice!
MPEG Stream: "Soul Cannon"
MPEG Stream: "Pirate 5"
MPEG Stream: "The Scarlet"

album cover FUZZ II (In The Red) cd 13.98
Yowza. Hells to the yeah. It's Fuzz II time. If'n you don't know, Fuzz is the stomping heavy psych power trio featuring garage pop wunderkind Ty Segall (playing the flailin' drums) as well as the Ty Segall Band's Charlie Moothart, wailin' on the guitar, and rounding out the trio, Chad from The Meatbodies is now their bassist. After a couple brilliant singles, Fuzz released their eponymous debut in 2013, blowing us away and earning Record Of The Week honors at aQ. Now they're back... with another ROTW, natch!
Fuzz II means the next level of Fuzz. Advanced Fuzz. Definitely more Fuzz - there's 14 tracks here, some short blasts, but others mega jams - including a lengthy, 13+ minute album-ending epic freakout that is apparently titled "II" (yes, a numbered album with a title track, brilliant!).
Of course, if you call your band Fuzz, that's what you gotta deliver. And they sure do, job number one. Lots and lots of fuzz, check. Moothart again channels the likes Leigh Stephens, Randy Holden, Martin Weaver, and other legendary axe-wielding fuzzmasters of yesteryear. Ye olde stoner rawkin' Blue Cheery, Black Sabbathy heaviness is a big part of the Fuzz equation, as are the garage psych pop smarts Segall is known for on all his other records. For us, it's a killer combination!! And this time 'round their longhaired retro-proto-metal riffage is maybe a mite more proggy and complexified, more Sir Lord Baltimore baroque than Blue Cheer basic. Well, they still turn the air into cottage cheese, but there's a whiff of some fancy camembert in there too, with a couple tracks bringing in some orchestrated sounds (must be by the guest credited with "InterstellarStringSweeping"). And there's keys and synths and stuff too. Not that it's nothing but muscular hard-hitting rock action though, sounding like some lost late '60s / early '70s classic that just couldn't be, 'cause it's so grindingly badass and freshly in your melted face.
We're digging it big time, all the freaky sounds and hooks and riffs and FUZZ. Ty Segall never lets us down, and as serious heavy psych lovers, Fuzz is one of our favorite projects of his. For fans of all its proto-metal inspirations like Sir Lord Baltimore, as well as the music of Ty's pal King Tuff, and even moreso, King Tuff-related band Witch.
MPEG Stream: "Time Collapse II / The 7th Terror"
MPEG Stream: "Rat Race"
MPEG Stream: "Silent Sits The Dust Bowl"

album cover FUZZ II (In The Red) 2lp 24.00
Yowza. Hells to the yeah. It's Fuzz II time. If'n you don't know, Fuzz is the stomping heavy psych power trio featuring garage pop wunderkind Ty Segall (playing the flailin' drums) as well as the Ty Segall Band's Charlie Moothart, wailin' on the guitar, and rounding out the trio, Chad from The Meatbodies is now their bassist. After a couple brilliant singles, Fuzz released their eponymous debut in 2013, blowing us away and earning Record Of The Week honors at aQ. Now they're back... with another ROTW, natch!
Fuzz II means the next level of Fuzz. Advanced Fuzz. Definitely more Fuzz - there's 14 tracks here, some short blasts, but others mega jams - including a lengthy, 13+ minute album-ending epic freakout that is apparently titled "II" (yes, a numbered album with a title track, brilliant!).
Of course, if you call your band Fuzz, that's what you gotta deliver. And they sure do, job number one. Lots and lots of fuzz, check. Moothart again channels the likes Leigh Stephens, Randy Holden, Martin Weaver, and other legendary axe-wielding fuzzmasters of yesteryear. Ye olde stoner rawkin' Blue Cheery, Black Sabbathy heaviness is a big part of the Fuzz equation, as are the garage psych pop smarts Segall is known for on all his other records. For us, it's a killer combination!! And this time 'round their longhaired retro-proto-metal riffage is maybe a mite more proggy and complexified, more Sir Lord Baltimore baroque than Blue Cheer basic. Well, they still turn the air into cottage cheese, but there's a whiff of some fancy camembert in there too, with a couple tracks bringing in some orchestrated sounds (must be by the guest credited with "InterstellarStringSweeping"). And there's keys and synths and stuff too. Not that it's nothing but muscular hard-hitting rock action though, sounding like some lost late '60s / early '70s classic that just couldn't be, 'cause it's so grindingly badass and freshly in your melted face.
We're digging it big time, all the freaky sounds and hooks and riffs and FUZZ. Ty Segall never lets us down, and as serious heavy psych lovers, Fuzz is one of our favorite projects of his. For fans of all its proto-metal inspirations like Sir Lord Baltimore, as well as the music of Ty's pal King Tuff, and even moreso, King Tuff-related band Witch.
MPEG Stream: "Time Collapse II / The 7th Terror"
MPEG Stream: "Rat Race"
MPEG Stream: "Silent Sits The Dust Bowl"

album cover DEPARTMENTSTORE SANTAS At The Medieval Castle Nineteen 100-Year Lifetimes Since (Superior Viaduct) lp 17.98
If Martin Newell from Cleaners From Venus or Robert Pollard of Guided By Voices somehow grew up in the sleepy San Diego suburb of La Mesa, CA in the seventies, managed to secure a bunch of instruments and recording equipment from garage sales and swap meets and then recorded in their bedroom an elegiac ode to the ordinary charm and civic pride of their childhood hometown, you would get something very close to this brilliantly lo-fi slab of DIY bizarro-pop wondrousness!
Recorded in 1984 by Joseph D'Angelo and a handful of friends, At The Medieval Castle Nineteen 100-Year Lifetimes Since (one of the best titles ever!), is the kind of obscure scrappy visionary recording (along with the likes of Daniel Johnston, Sun City Girls and The Frogs) that is embedded in the DNA of so many indie bands that came afterward - from Yo La Tengo and The Supreme Dicks to The Unicorns and the bands of The Elephant 6 collective. It's a hotly Technicolor teenage daydream of nostalgic childhood, of Sears Christmas catalogs, Disneyland, skate parks and summer carnivals, that is slowly fading away, as some songs here delve into more ornery young adult concerns, like the psychedelic pseudo anti-drug PSA of "An Open Letter To The Seniors From Mackenzie". Layered riffs of guitar, horns, organs and drum machines, sometimes used in pondering twee instrumentals, but more often in wide-eyed and wobbly surreal psych-pop confections, seemingly sung by earnest but very warped high schoolers. In our minds we can imagine Departmentstore Santas trying to enter this record in a city wide talent contest sponsored by the local chamber of commerce and barely squeaking by with an honorable mention from a baffled jury. So very great and weird!! Thanks to the folks at Superior Viaduct for digging out this obscurity. A must have for fans of any of the above bands/artists mentioned!
MPEG Stream: "Kaleidoscope"
MPEG Stream: "Kids On A Merry-Go-Round At Eucalyptus Park"
MPEG Stream: "An Open Letter To Seniors From Mackenzie"
MPEG Stream: "Play In The Sun"
MPEG Stream: "W"

album cover BLUNT, DOUG HREAM My Name Is Doug Hream Blunt (Luaka Bop) cd 17.98
We can't believe it's been five years since Doug Hream Blunt himself walked into our store and consigned his self-released recordings of home-brewed, proto-chillwave dance funk, recorded with washy and chirpy synths and genuinely out there guitar solos, with songs about dancing, fly guys and ladies' butts. Kind of a smoother Wesley Willis (ok, much smoother!) with Jimi Hendrix dreams, Blunt's genuinely infectious musical enthusiasm shined through on each track. We made Gentle Persuasion record of the week back in 2010, without knowing much about its backstory. Doug was very vague on details too, saying the recording was from 2000, but we believe that was when it was pressed, but not recorded. Having suffered a stroke a few years before, he couldn't go into great length about the recording at the time (he's doing much better now, as evidenced by our recent record signing event!), but we had an inkling that the recordings were known in certain crate-digger / DJ circles, which were immediately confirmed once we had it on our website and orders from all over the world started pouring in.
Seriously, we have sold tons of his release, and now lo and behold, Doug is finally having his well-deserved, big moment of larger recognition and discovery via David Byrne's Luaka Bop label, with this reissue of his complete recordings which include the two previously self-released discs we previously listed: Gentle Persuasion and Big Top, remastered and put together for the first time - these tracks have never sounded better! A lo-fi but breezy outsider funk, made with repetitive cheap-sounding keyboards loops and tones (the kind being currently exploited by Dam-Funk, Ariel Pink, and James Pants, all Doug Hream Blunt fans by the way), strange metallic tropical guitar tones that sound more like steel drums and flute sounds than actual guitar, and sly, laidback vocals and catchy, infectiously naive grooves that work their way into our heads and never let go. So delightful!!
And we finally get more of the story behind these recordings: Back in 1985, when Doug was 35, he decided he wanted to learn guitar and found an extended learning class called 'How To Form A Band' run by Victor Flaviani out of his garage. Victor taught Doug the guitar, even though Victor barely knew the instrument himself, and Doug set about writing and recording the songs with his other class mates. We remember seeing the video of Gentle Persuasion we found on Vimeo from a cable access TV video with Doug and what seemed to be an all-girl band, which turns out were his fellow classmates, which included Victor and his wife Angela too on drums and guitar respectively.
It's pretty phenomenal that this record went from getting the suspicious side-eye when we first took it in on consignment, five years ago, to becoming one of our favorite "WTF?" records ever. Not that it's so impossibly strange, but it's a genuine home-grown San Francisco DIY funk artifact with minimal ambitions that is finally being turned on to a larger audience, and we couldn't be happier for Doug! For fans of that Personal Space compilation of private press electronic soul, Dam-Funk, Ariel Pink or Dean Blunt, who apparently took the Blunt name in tribute to Doug!
Download code included with the vinyl btw. Also btw, if you missed the remix 12" that Luaka Bop put out as a teaser for this earlier this year for Record Store Day, we still have three or four signed copies of that left in stock...
MPEG Stream: "Fly Guy"
MPEG Stream: "Gentle Persuasion"
MPEG Stream: "Wiskey Man"
MPEG Stream: "Big Top"
MPEG Stream: "Trek"

album cover BLUNT, DOUG HREAM My Name Is Doug Hream Blunt (Luaka Bop) lp 21.00
We can't believe it's been five years since Doug Hream Blunt himself walked into our store and consigned his self-released recordings of home-brewed, proto-chillwave dance funk, recorded with washy and chirpy synths and genuinely out there guitar solos, with songs about dancing, fly guys and ladies' butts. Kind of a smoother Wesley Willis (ok, much smoother!) with Jimi Hendrix dreams, Blunt's genuinely infectious musical enthusiasm shined through on each track. We made Gentle Persuasion record of the week back in 2010, without knowing much about its backstory. Doug was very vague on details too, saying the recording was from 2000, but we believe that was when it was pressed, but not recorded. Having suffered a stroke a few years before, he couldn't go into great length about the recording at the time (he's doing much better now, as evidenced by our recent record signing event!), but we had an inkling that the recordings were known in certain crate-digger / DJ circles, which were immediately confirmed once we had it on our website and orders from all over the world started pouring in.
Seriously, we have sold tons of his release, and now lo and behold, Doug is finally having his well-deserved, big moment of larger recognition and discovery via David Byrne's Luaka Bop label, with this reissue of his complete recordings which include the two previously self-released discs we previously listed: Gentle Persuasion and Big Top, remastered and put together for the first time - these tracks have never sounded better! A lo-fi but breezy outsider funk, made with repetitive cheap-sounding keyboards loops and tones (the kind being currently exploited by Dam-Funk, Ariel Pink, and James Pants, all Doug Hream Blunt fans by the way), strange metallic tropical guitar tones that sound more like steel drums and flute sounds than actual guitar, and sly, laidback vocals and catchy, infectiously naive grooves that work their way into our heads and never let go. So delightful!!
And we finally get more of the story behind these recordings: Back in 1985, when Doug was 35, he decided he wanted to learn guitar and found an extended learning class called 'How To Form A Band' run by Victor Flaviani out of his garage. Victor taught Doug the guitar, even though Victor barely knew the instrument himself, and Doug set about writing and recording the songs with his other class mates. We remember seeing the video of Gentle Persuasion we found on Vimeo from a cable access TV video with Doug and what seemed to be an all-girl band, which turns out were his fellow classmates, which included Victor and his wife Angela too on drums and guitar respectively.
It's pretty phenomenal that this record went from getting the suspicious side-eye when we first took it in on consignment, five years ago, to becoming one of our favorite "WTF?" records ever. Not that it's so impossibly strange, but it's a genuine home-grown San Francisco DIY funk artifact with minimal ambitions that is finally being turned on to a larger audience, and we couldn't be happier for Doug! For fans of that Personal Space compilation of private press electronic soul, Dam-Funk, Ariel Pink or Dean Blunt, who apparently took the Blunt name in tribute to Doug!
Download code included with the vinyl btw. Also btw, if you missed the remix 12" that Luaka Bop put out as a teaser for this earlier this year for Record Store Day, we still have three or four signed copies of that left in stock...
MPEG Stream: "Fly Guy"
MPEG Stream: "Gentle Persuasion"
MPEG Stream: "Wiskey Man"
MPEG Stream: "Big Top"
MPEG Stream: "Trek"

album cover ZEUS B. HELD Vinyl Collection (Medical) lp 21.00
With a name like Zeus B. Held, this German musician/producer sounds more like some sort of superhero or a character from some seventies sci-fi novel. And in a way, he is a musical superhero, especially if you're into wild, seventies jazz prog, seeing as Zeus was a member of the German heavy prog outfit Birth Control. Post Birth Control, he also had a storied career as a producer, including, maybe most notably for aQ folks, producing the album Nice Mover by Gina X Performance, a record we raved about right here a while back (and one that former aQ staffer Pam described as "the best kind of slutty Dracula music!"). Held also recorded and produced a Hawkwind album (more superhero stuff!), as well as records by Men Without Hats, Nina Hagen, and Transvision Vamp. Furthermore, he collaborated with Guru Guru, and members of Can, and he even remixed Gary Numan!
And yet somehow, in the late seventies/early eighties, Held still found time to record three amazing solo records (Zeus' Amusement, Europium and Attack Time), from which the tracks on this comp are culled. And those tracks are all over the sonic map, running the gamut from tripped out avant kosmische drift, to vocodered Euro-disco, to freaky future classical, to electro-prog pomp, to weirdo new wave pop (specifically a WTF? Beatles cover, that features Gina X on vocals!). It's crazy stuff, a twisted funhouse of electro-robo-muppet-funk-kraut-pop that will for sure appeal to fans of Bruce Haack and Felix Kubin and Gina X and Giorgio Moroder. Heck, it even has Jaki Liebezeit from Can playing drums on a couple tracks! Ridiculously cool.
Like all Medical releases, beautifully packaged, and this time pressed on eye popping, yellow/orange solar flare colored vinyl!
MPEG Stream: "Enfant Terrible"
MPEG Stream: "Held It"

album cover APPRENTICE DESTROYER Glass Ceiling Universe (Castle Face) lp 15.98
The first thing worth mentioning about the geniusly warped and bafflingly brilliant debut release from Apprentice Destroyer, is that the whole thing was recorded at Guitar Center. Secretly and surreptitiously, over the course of months (maybe years?). Repeat trips were made to capture bass parts, drum loops, synth melodies, essentially treating Guitar Center like an impromptu multitrack studio. And as any one who's been to Guitar Center knows, it's often infuriating, as random folks pound away on drums, or shred on guitar. So now imagine one of those guys was actually recording an album. Playing whatever part was needed until an employee would make him stop. Enlisting his girlfriend as a distraction, to keep the clerk busy while he bashed out another drum part of another layer of sound. That alone had us sold. It almost didn't matter if it was even good or not. Just the concept, and the execution. And of course, that's not to mention that Apprentice Destroyer is the work of the same madman behind sci-fi tech-prog improv black metal one man black metal band Mastery, as well as actual one man black metal band Pandiscordian Necrogenesis (as in he plays drums with his feet, while playing guitar and singing) AND he also sings and plays bass in SFBM horde Pale Chalice! But don't be expecting metal, Apprentice Destroyer is more psychedelic krautrock styled, tripped out kosmische spaciness, wild, FX drenched 8-bit bleep and bloop, whirring zoner dronescapes, skittery mutant electronica, a little bit of all that fused into a totally trippy, mesmerizingly moody sprawl of heady, sonic delight.
The opener sounds like Neu! hopped up on amphetamines, or some early Stereolab B-side spinning at 78rpm, all cascading arpeggios and sped up motorik grooves, the sound switching back and forth as if some mad scientist producer with ADD was cycling between channels. The whole record isn't as maddeningly hypnotic, in fact, much of Glass Ceiling Universe is nearly ambient, there's the churning cosmic swirl of the title track, sounding like music from some twisted planetarium show, or an alternate score to the retro-thriller Beyond The Black Rainbow, or the hazy pulsating shimmer of "Downward To Greendeep". The record does deliver moments of super charged crunch and energetic, rhythmic disruption throughout, the almost Afro-noise sounding "Welcome, Destroyer", or the gristly electro-skitter of "Metamammal", but they're surrounded by surprisingly tranquil soundscapery, and moody, muted, softly rhythmic pulsations, that make Glass Ceiling Universe align more with sonic bliss out than blow out.
It's easy to forget that this was recorded at Guitar Center, and not in a proper studio, which is a testament to the genius involved, and the perfect foil to what is ultimately a gimmick, but the fact that that gimmick is subverted by these incredible, and fantastically realized sounds, is really what makes this so special. But just to make sure you DON'T forget, there's a whole track made from recorded snippets of Guitar Center employees, including some serious dude/bro talk, somehow expertly woven into a cool, smear of murky, psychedelic kraut-drone!
In case it wasn't obvious, this RULES, and gets THEE highest aQ recommendation. And you can expect this to end up on a lot of our year end lists. And we're guessing very likely yours too!
MPEG Stream: "Chrome Temple"
MPEG Stream: "Jovian Sky"
MPEG Stream: "The Cloud Fortress"
RealAudio clip: "Metamammal"

album cover CHASSE, LOREN The Animals And Their Shadows (Semperflorens) cd 14.98
San Francisco is a city with a populace in constant flux, with only a few that could claim to have legitimately made a mark upon this city. Loren Chasse was one such artist, who had called San Francisco home for well over a decade and a half before taking up residence in Portland a few years back. His musical explorations begin through an endless curiosity with the uncanny sounds of the environment. In his art, work, and life, Chasse's sense of wonder with with acoustic details and phenomena played out like kid with soil-stained hands searching underneath every moss-encrusted rock and rotten log for salamanders, scorpions, beetles, millipedes and other creatures of the soil. He's equally at home exploring such ideas and thoughts with school children (the day job both here in San Francisco and up north) and rummaging around vast piles of sticks in one of the many deconstructed, psychedelic happenings he released under the banner of Jewelled Antler. Thuja, The Blithe Sons, The Child Readers, and The Franciscan Hobbies were some of the Jewelled Antler projects in which Chasse participated, though Jewelled Antler was seamless and fluid in recording a 'temple music' of their own making, wherein the roughhewn interventions of guitar, piano, zither, and gong morph into the ambience of a field recording and vice versa. This dedication to these organic networks of sound and the discovery of the transcendent through these explorations are just a few of the reasons as to why aQuarius has championed Chasse's work for so many years.
And so we get to The Animals And Their Shadows, only Chasse's second album since 2008, making his return to the recorded medium all the more welcome. As in particular with Thuja and his solo Jewelled Antler recordings under the name Of, Chasse loosely locates his sound objects in acoustically rich locations and often rebroadcasts those recordings back into those spaces to further the environmental resonance. The tracing of sonic footpaths with dripped sand matches the cold spray of the surf, with Chasse imparting a dislocation of the two intertwined coastal elements, emblematic of the way that he observes, shapes, and interacts with sounds both captured in studio and in nature. Radiant drones, leaf clatter, shapeless wateriness, and even a few stains of industrial detritus populate The Animals And Their Shadows finding parallels to both the almighty Taj Mahal Travellers and Akio Suzuki at the same time. Even when the sounds are distinctly from a drum kit or from a bowed dulcimer, Chasse finds a way to tilt those sounds into an organic other. A wonder to behold.
Packaged is a slim, dvd-sized case with hand-assembled insert.
MPEG Stream: "The Animals And Their Shadows"
MPEG Stream: "When The Flower Throwers Wither"
MPEG Stream: "A Jut Of Air And Open Stone"

album cover APPRENTICE DESTROYER Glass Ceiling Universe (Castle Face) cd 13.98
The first thing worth mentioning about the geniusly warped and bafflingly brilliant debut release from Apprentice Destroyer, is that the whole thing was recorded at Guitar Center. Secretly and surreptitiously, over the course of months (maybe years?). Repeat trips were made to capture bass parts, drum loops, synth melodies, essentially treating Guitar Center like an impromptu multitrack studio. And as any one who's been to Guitar Center knows, it's often infuriating, as random folks pound away on drums, or shred on guitar. So now imagine one of those guys was actually recording an album. Playing whatever part was needed until an employee would make him stop. Enlisting his girlfriend as a distraction, to keep the clerk busy while he bashed out another drum part of another layer of sound. That alone had us sold. It almost didn't matter if it was even good or not. Just the concept, and the execution. And of course, that's not to mention that Apprentice Destroyer is the work of the same madman behind sci-fi tech-prog improv black metal one man black metal band Mastery, as well as actual one man black metal band Pandiscordian Necrogenesis (as in he plays drums with his feet, while playing guitar and singing) AND he also sings and plays bass in SFBM horde Pale Chalice! But don't be expecting metal, Apprentice Destroyer is more psychedelic krautrock styled, tripped out kosmische spaciness, wild, FX drenched 8-bit bleep and bloop, whirring zoner dronescapes, skittery mutant electronica, a little bit of all that fused into a totally trippy, mesmerizingly moody sprawl of heady, sonic delight.
The opener sounds like Neu! hopped up on amphetamines, or some early Stereolab B-side spinning at 78rpm, all cascading arpeggios and sped up motorik grooves, the sound switching back and forth as if some mad scientist producer with ADD was cycling between channels. The whole record isn't as maddeningly hypnotic, in fact, much of Glass Ceiling Universe is nearly ambient, there's the churning cosmic swirl of the title track, sounding like music from some twisted planetarium show, or an alternate score to the retro-thriller Beyond The Black Rainbow, or the hazy pulsating shimmer of "Downward To Greendeep". The record does deliver moments of super charged crunch and energetic, rhythmic disruption throughout, the almost Afro-noise sounding "Welcome, Destroyer", or the gristly electro-skitter of "Metamammal", but they're surrounded by surprisingly tranquil soundscapery, and moody, muted, softly rhythmic pulsations, that make Glass Ceiling Universe align more with sonic bliss out than blow out.
It's easy to forget that this was recorded at Guitar Center, and not in a proper studio, which is a testament to the genius involved, and the perfect foil to what is ultimately a gimmick, but the fact that that gimmick is subverted by these incredible, and fantastically realized sounds, is really what makes this so special. But just to make sure you DON'T forget, there's a whole track made from recorded snippets of Guitar Center employees, including some serious dude/bro talk, somehow expertly woven into a cool, smear of murky, psychedelic kraut-drone!
In case it wasn't obvious, this RULES, and gets THEE highest aQ recommendation. And you can expect this to end up on a lot of our year end lists. And we're guessing very likely yours too!
MPEG Stream: "Chrome Temple"
MPEG Stream: "Jovian Sky"
MPEG Stream: "The Cloud Fortress"
MPEG Stream: "Metamammal"

album cover KOWLOON WALLED CITY Grievances (Neurot) cd 14.98
The sound of local noise rock outfit Kowloon Walled City has always straddled the line between Unsane/Helmet like measured metallic brutality, and a more spacious, song-oriented introspection, bordering on a sort of ultra heavy slowcore (at times hinting at our long time fantasy of a more metal Codeine). It was the tension between those two sonic sides that always gave KWC an edge over their noise rock compatriots for us. And while their last record Container Ships still mostly tended toward the heavier side of the equation, Grievances, their first for Neurosis' Neurot label, swings in the almost exact opposite direction. Which is not to say Grievances is not heavy, because it certainly is, it's just more subtle, more delicately crafted. And if the metal-Low thing SORT of applied before, on Grievances, it seems KWC has made a total transition from metal with slowcore moments, to a brooding, downer rock, with more metallic tendencies.
And we have to say, it definitely suits them. In fact, for long time fans of the band, it feels like the group's ever evolving sound has finally found that sweet spot, one that will no doubt bum out some of the group's more metal fans, but for the rest of us, this might be THE ONE. Much of Grievances is spent exploring space, and texture, tension and mood. For every bout of churning, hypno-riffage, there's a hushed stretch of Slint like Sprawl. Modern mope rockers True Widow are another reference point, as again are Low and Codeine and Galaxie 500. KWC have managed to take that sort of introspective mesmer, and transform it into something with way more heft. The only real remnant of the group's noise rock roots is frontman Scott Evans' feral bark, but even that has become something much more, taking that throat shredding yowl, and letting it do much of the melodic heavy lifting. Which gives the whole thing a sort of anguished, bruised quality, infusing the already introspective heaviness, with even more emotion and pathos.
And let's not take away from the record's heaviness, the sound (recorded by Evans) is stunning, the drums sound massive, the guitars thick and corrosive, some of the more melodic guitar parts are gnarled and gristly, squalls of controlled feedback are sculpted into jagged, mesmerizing melody, and when the band lock into a bout of hypnotic heavy riffing, it does most decidedly sound metallic, but it also blurs into a kind of mesmeric hypno-rock, often stretching out long enough, that even though it's all distorted chug, the sound becomes a burnished thing of beauty, equalling its core heaviness.
Even just from a purely technical standpoint, this record is a marvel, which is helping get KWC the sort of widespread love they have so long deserved, but should also finally get Evans the sort of adoration more generally reserved for engineers like Steve Albini. And it's a combination of that deft hand behind the board, along with stunning songs, subtly catchy songwriting, and a seemingly effortless mastery of tone and texture, that not only makes Grievances KWC's best by a mile, but makes this a serious contender for our top spot of 2015!
And thus, another Record Of The Week for 'em.
MPEG Stream: "Your Best Years"
MPEG Stream: "Grievances"
MPEG Stream: "Backlit"

album cover SCOTT, SIMON Insomni (Ash International) cd 15.98
With his first release under the auspices of the Touch label (via their Ash International subsidiary), after others on Miasmah and Immune, Simon Scott offers up yet another exquisite album, once again treading far beyond the shadow of Slowdive. Yes, Scott is the drummer from that beloved shoegazing / noise-pop ensemble; but there's nary a rhythm to be found on Insomni, which graces us with radioluminscent guitar drones, data-crunched sheets of noise, abstracted field recordings, and a number of languid ellipsis on the acoustic guitar. All of this comes together for a damn near perfect album that is right at home alongside so many of the other greats on Touch and Ash International (like Fennesz, BJ Nilsen, Lawrence English, Phill Niblock, Oren Ambarchi, Chris Watson, etc.). The album operates somewhat like a diptych with the first half of the album re-coding dilated shoegazing drones into effervescent explosions of digitalia girded with sublimely somber harmonics and loping melodies. Many of the environmental sounds address the album's title of insomnia, with Scott capturing those household drones and electrical hums that can dig into the brain as an unwelcome sonic earworm, late at night when one is trying to sleep but cannot. Scott amplifies and expands these sounds and coaxes something transcendent out of them amidst his soft-focused explosions of guitars and whatnot. The second half of the album is dominated by his beautiful acoustic guitar explorations that certainly pay homage to someone like Robbie Basho or Peter Walker, with these crystalline figures chiming into elegant fugues and languid passages equally melodic as they are hypnotic. Undoubtedly, Insomni is the best solo recording we've heard from Simon Scott yet!
MPEG Stream: "An Angel From The Sea Kissed Me"
MPEG Stream: "Confusion In Her Eyes"
MPEG Stream: "Nettle Bed"
MPEG Stream: "Nember"

album cover STARS OF THE LID And Their Refinement Of The Decline (Kranky) 3lp 37.00
YAY! At last, reissued on vinyl again! Here's our original review when it first came out, circa 2007 (and was a Record Of The Week then, too)...
We've been huge fans of the Stars Of The Lid ever since their first record, Music For Nitrous Oxide, way back in 1995. And their last record, Tired Sounds Of... is a beloved favorite and all time AQ best seller. It's been fascinating to observe their sonic development, from murky guitar based 4-track bedroom guitar drones, all foggy and fuggy and murky and dreamlike, to their current sound, a more modern, almost classical sound, of rich reverberant swells, and lots and lots of space.
The Stars' sound has obviously become much more clear and well defined, polished even, but everything we loved about Nitrous Oxide is still present, albeit in slightly altered form. The Stars' were always about swells, ebb and flow, melodies and compositions played out over expansive stretches of oceanic shimmer, and that at least hasn't changed on And Their Refinement Of The Decline. Notes aren't just played, they begin as tiny sparkles, little distant glimmers, and gradually grow into thick rich whirs, or massive rumbles, before just as quickly fading away again. Oceanic is definitely an apt descriptor, as the music here, as on the more recent records, does have that feel, like some epic dimly lit sonic sea swirling and churning, sometime tranquil and barely moving, other times heaving and tumultuous. It's the sound of a new dawn, an impending storm, or the birth of a galaxy, it's so completely epic while at the same time managing somehow to be pastoral and contemplative and breathtakingly beautiful.
In the early days it was just 2 guitars and a four track, and the sound reflected that, much more gritty and fuzzy, the mood a lot darker, evoking the desert, the starry sky, a druggy dreamy innerspace of muted minimal shimmer. As the band grew, and added instruments, more players, recorded in real studios, the sound changed dramatically, and suddenly, instead of some indie bedroom project, the Stars were crafting pieces that could stand alongside any modern classical piece, while remaining dreamy and drone-y enough to tickle the ears of indie dronesters worldwide. Which is probably the most fascinating part of the Stars' sound. They were making music equally as expansive and epic and gorgeous 10 years ago, but those sounds were limited by the technology, by the band's meager recording set up. And only now it seems that the band is able to fully realize the sound they have been hearing, and essentially creating, all along.
There are guitars here and there, it is after all still the root of their sound, but they seem to be overshadowed by the other instruments (although it is often difficult to pinpoint the instrument creating many of the sounds), heavy on the strings, three violincelles and a harp, as well as a surprising arsenal of horns, two trumpets, flugelhorn and clarinet, AND a children's choir!! But it's not just the players or the instruments, but how they interact and the music they create, and here the results are divine. Many of the tracks do sound like bits of modern classical stretched out into languorous stretches of muted drone and subtle shimmer, like watching the planets from outer space, observing the epic drifts of solar systems and an infinity of cosmic interactions, but others definitely reference more earthly sonic treasures, "Apreludes (In C Sharp Major)" has some serious Morricone going on, and "Don't Bother They're Here" references Scott Tuma's washed out guitar work in Souled American. But whatever subtle flavor is introduced into each track, the sound is definitely and distinctly Stars Of The Lid. Their shift to double disc releases also seems to suit them, allowing their slow burning soft swell compositions plenty of time to sprawl and spread and evolve into epic and soul stirring soundscapes. But even two compact discs worth (or, six lp sides) is not nearly enough as far as we're concerned, so everyone buy this one, so next time, these guys can release a four disc set, or a ten disc set or a twenty disc set...
MPEG Stream: "Dungtitled (In A Minor)"
MPEG Stream: "Articulate Silences Part 1"
MPEG Stream: "Dopamine Clouds Over Craven Cottages"

album cover STARS OF THE LID Tired Sounds of Stars of the Lid (Kranky) 3lp 37.00
YAY! At last, reissued on vinyl again! Here's our original review when it first came out, circa 2001 (and was a Record Of The Week then, too)...
Epic double cd (make that triple lp) masterpiece from Austin, Texas' kings of the lullaby drone. Stars of the Lid's sound, while similar to past efforts, has undergone some pretty dramatic changes. Their multi-layered 4-tracked guitars are still present in all their serene beauty and dark tranquility, but the sound is more lush and more detailed, with treated strings, organs, backwards tubular bells and field recordings adding even more depth to this already layered and impossible-to-grasp-in-one-listen recording. 'Tired Sounds...' is easily the Stars' most obviously melodic record, thanks in no small part to the addition of strings, horns and piano. Dreamy nocturnal slow motion drones are the glorious backdrop to the ebb and flow of dark sonic swells and soaring strings. While lots of 'drone' music sounds sinister and threatening, and often clinical and cold, the Stars manage to imbue their minimal soundscapes with warmth and humanity, and a sort of hope and joy. When the mood does change, it's more melancholic, lost, maybe lonely, never evil. Really human, organic emotions brilliantly conveyed through sound. So much avant / experimental music is technical and electronic, but the shimmering ambience of the guitars and the grit and grime of the recording, as well as the perfect arrangements make this music transcend its contemporaries, filling your ears with thick slow sound, until it slowly spreads through your whole body. Think Angus Maclise, Terry Riley, Brian Eno, Low, Alan Lamb's wire recordings, Pauline Oliveros' deep listening recordings, a more pastoral Skullflower, a more idyllic Total, John Cale, Godspeed You Black Emperor, the harmonium works of Hermann Nitsch, or Tony Conrad. But mix in those magic (non-academic) ingredients (rock background, songs, melodies) and you have probably one of the most beautiful recordings we have ever heard.
MPEG Stream: "Requiem For Dying Mothers part 1"
MPEG Stream: "Broken Harbors part 1"
MPEG Stream: "Austin Texas Mental Hospital part 1"

album cover HELEN The Original Faces (Kranky) lp 14.98
Sure, let's call 'em a super group. Why not? Helen is fronted by Liz Harris. Yes, THAT Liz Harris, of Grouper fame; and she's joined by bassist Scott Simmons of Eat Skull, and Jed Bindeman, who seems to be the only drummer in Portland, Oregon given his ubiquity in so many great projects (Eternal Tapestry, Heavy Winged, Operative, The Greys). Also, the trio list an eponymous Helen as the backing vocalist, who sounds remarkably like Liz Harris herself.
They've also made claim that the band's first intentions were to be a thrash band. Now, that would have been quite amazing had Helen followed through on that concept; but that was not meant to be. Instead we have this lovely lovely lovely shoegazing noise-pop project. Liz Harris has long been able to craft drifting, pop-narcotic perfection through her slumbering songs as Grouper. Joined by a rhythm section, she's forced herself to step forward with her melodies - both vocally and on guitar, both of which are still buried in rainclouds full of reverb and sadness - and it's a gambit that pays off very nicely. Simmons tends to throttle the bass, which has him sounding more like D Boon than Deb Googe more often than not; and Bindeman take an understated, if upbeat approach to the kit. Actually, the whole rhythm section of Simmons and Bindeman can be pretty upbeat, with Harris adhering a jangly blur to the wintery grandeur that's long been her trademark. It's a nice mix. The atmosphere on The Original Faces is pretty damn captivating, reminiscent in all the right ways of Black Tambourine, The Aislers Set, The Lilys, and whatever your favorite Slumberland band is, past, present, or future. A wonderful release!
MPEG Stream: "Violet"
MPEG Stream: "Felt This Way"
MPEG Stream: "Dying All The Time"

album cover V/A Cold Waves of Color (Color Tapes) lp 23.00
As listed on our in-betweener last week, this aQ Record Of The Week from last year is now again available on vinyl, we'd only had a few before (in fact, it was only the cd version we had been able to list as Record Of The Week at the time). And it's a bit cheaper now too. We ALSO just got in on vinyl a Volume 2 of Cold Waves Of Color, which we'll hopefully list next time!! (If you want one now, please just ask).
Anyway, here's our review of Volume 1 again, if you missed it...
Do you like runaway drum machines? Dubby echo? Danceable DIY '80s underground electronics? Homebrewed minimal electro pop? The Vox Populi! anthology we made a Record Of The Week last year? All the many cool synthwave reissues on Dark Entries? Then please give THIS your attention, you won't be sorry.
The Color Tapes label - later known as Color Discs for the vinyl editions - was the cottage industry of UK art-rock synthesist Gary Ramon, who with the music documented on this collection, sort of comes across like a new wave doppleganger of Cleaners From Venus. And there actually was a split cassette release between Cleaners From Venus and Ramon's band Modern Art (who later morphed into psychrockers Sun Dial) from 1986 or so. Here was a prolific songwriter of coldly sequenced and somewhat quirky minimal wave albums, mostly all of which were released on cassette with a small audience that radiated outward from the coastal village of Waltham, England. He, along with a loose collective, recorded in a handful of interchangeable projects - Modern Art, Mystery Plane, and WeR7 being three with the largest discographies, each with at least a dozen albums recorded in a six to eight year period. The former two projects later warranted vinyl anthologies from Vinyl On Demand; and it seems that the interest in this material blossomed from there.
Ramon and his cohorts were a talented bunch, following the rabbit-hole of darkly minded electronica. Think Factory, Sheffield, Industrial Records, Depeche Mode, Soft Cell, and all of those Wire side-projects and you'll be able to triangulate the sound of Color Tapes. There was a knack for the pop-hook and the death-disco backbeat present this material that makes all of this material age very well. The opening track to the comp is from Berserk In The Hayfields, with its clamorous electro-bongo fills girded to a taut techno pulse sounds very prescient of the Belgian EBM scene some five or six years later. Live Of Angels and The Lord were two non-Ramon projects and both peddled in weird-science blorp and effects-happy guitars above spry programming. But the strongest material is through the streamlined step sequences and deft rhythms that showcase Ramon's engineering prowess.
Note there are two bonus tracks on the cd not found on the wax, unfortunately.
MPEG Stream: BERSERK IN A HAYFIELD "Tease"
MPEG Stream: MODERN ART "Alternative Universe"
MPEG Stream: STEREO MACHINES AND KINESIS "Excerpt From Cassette Number 10"

album cover HELEN The Original Faces (Kranky) cd 14.98
Sure, let's call 'em a super group. Why not? Helen is fronted by Liz Harris. Yes, THAT Liz Harris, of Grouper fame; and she's joined by bassist Scott Simmons of Eat Skull, and Jed Bindeman, who seems to be the only drummer in Portland, Oregon given his ubiquity in so many great projects (Eternal Tapestry, Heavy Winged, Operative, The Greys). Also, the trio list an eponymous Helen as the backing vocalist, who sounds remarkably like Liz Harris herself.
They've also made claim that the band's first intentions were to be a thrash band. Now, that would have been quite amazing had Helen followed through on that concept; but that was not meant to be. Instead we have this lovely lovely lovely shoegazing noise-pop project. Liz Harris has long been able to craft drifting, pop-narcotic perfection through her slumbering songs as Grouper. Joined by a rhythm section, she's forced herself to step forward with her melodies - both vocally and on guitar, both of which are still buried in rainclouds full of reverb and sadness - and it's a gambit that pays off very nicely. Simmons tends to throttle the bass, which has him sounding more like D Boon than Deb Googe more often than not; and Bindeman take an understated, if upbeat approach to the kit. Actually, the whole rhythm section of Simmons and Bindeman can be pretty upbeat, with Harris adhering a jangly blur to the wintery grandeur that's long been her trademark. It's a nice mix. The atmosphere on The Original Faces is pretty damn captivating, reminiscent in all the right ways of Black Tambourine, The Aislers Set, The Lilys, and whatever your favorite Slumberland band is, past, present, or future. A wonderful release!
MPEG Stream: "Violet"
MPEG Stream: "Felt This Way"
MPEG Stream: "Dying All The Time"

album cover SHIT AND SHINE Everybody's A Fuckin Expert ( Editions Mego) cd 16.98
Venerable noise rock miscreants Shit And Shine have essentially been a one man show for a while now. And long gone are the days of costumed, multi-drummered Buttholes Surfers-like rhythm-noise blowouts. No, in addition to being a one man band, they've also essentially transformed into a sort of outsider dance music / damaged DJ / UIDM (unintelligent dance music!) outfit. Which is not to say Mr. Shit And Shine, Craig Clouse, is a dummy, cuz he's most definitely not. In fact, he's some sort of Joe Meek like mad genius, it's just that the 'dance' music he creates, is fucked up and fractured, demented and brain damaged, occasionally funky or groovy, but just as often chaotic and caustic. Usually some dizzying, ear shredding mix of all of those.
This latest clutch of jams, which somehow found its way onto the Editions Mego label (where to be honest, it's a pretty great fit) is actually the least obtuse, with Clouse seemingly either mastering the tools of his trade, or opting to be less willfully antagonistic, at least sonically. Which again is not to say this shit is smooth, it's most definitely not. In fact it's defined by its rough edges - opener "Signal Noise" sounds like some mutant strain of Neanderthal house music, filtered through a drug addled Art Of Noise if that makes any sense. It probably doesn't, but that only makes the comparison somehow that much more apt. "Upside Down Cheeseburger" is a stuttery low slung groove, with processed children's voices, some reverby twang, it's kind like a home brewed dub, but with some kraut-psych energy, and like most of the tracks a motorik element, with most of the songs a single loop, that essentially goes through various permutations, a minimal techno by way of outsider noise and Texas psychedelic noise rock.
Everybody's A Fuckin' Expert does keep a relatively low profile when stacked up next to the rest of the Shit And Shine catalog. Tracks like "Hay Ride" are murky sprawls of alien techno, which transform into looped, fragmented block party electro ("Chop The Night"), but remains plenty muddy and lo-fi. This might actually be the first Shit And Shine record that could properly find its way into an actual DJ set, and we mean like a proper dance floor DJ, not some experimental weirdo. "Picnic Table", for all its avant filigree, is pretty goddamn groovy, hypnotic and sorta slinky. Then there's "Rastplatz" that sounds like some lost Chain Reaction rarity. But it is Shit And Shine after all, so there's also "Ass" (the title should have given it a way), a manic bit of frenzied lo-fi skitter, underpinned by blurred buzz and squiggly squalls of noisy FX. But again, even here, Clouse manages to rein it in, balancing delicately between total collapse, and total, well, whatever the opposite of collapse is.
We love these guys (this guy?) and always have. And, fuck, we still do. Big time! Rare is the band that can make full bore speaker destroying noise rock pummel, and then weirdo avant techno, and not only keep their identity intact, but do it in a way, that folks who dig the former, can't help but like the latter, and vice versa. Every record is somehow, fantastically confusing, eminently satisfying, and bafflingly brilliant, and Everybody's A Fuckin' Expert is no different.
PS There's double vinyl of this too, we'd be listing it now but our supplier accidentally sent us the wrong record, whoops. However, we'll have copies early next week, fyi...
MPEG Stream: "Upside Down Cheeseburger"
MPEG Stream: "Working On My Fitness"
MPEG Stream: "Ass"

album cover FLYING SAUCER ATTACK Instrumentals 2015 (Drag City) cassette 9.98
THIS RECENT AQ RECORD OF THE WEEK, NOW ON, YES, CASSETTE!!
We had almost given up on ever hearing from Flying Saucer attack ever again. After all, it's been 15 years since the last record (2000's Mirror), and now nearly twenty since Rachel Brook left the band to focus on Movietone. They (or now he really, as it's essentially been a David Pearce solo project for a while now) still rank amongst our all time favorite psychedelic shoegaze outfits EVER. And even on this new one it's easy to see why.
While not a proper new -album- per se, Instrumentals plays out more like a collection of sonic sketches, impressionistic textures and guitarscapes, still covering much of the same found that FSA did back in the day, be it chiming, pastoral psych-folk, or shimmering ambient drift, or distorted, washed out soft-noise. The songs are mostly short here, none breaking the 10 minute mark, and many hovering around 90 seconds or less, and yet somehow, it manages to sound cohesive, these ideas, sonic suggestions, these hazy movements, all flow and ooze and bleed into one another, the whole thing gorgeously amorphous and mesmeric.
Fans of the group probably didn't have to even read this far, news of a new FSA record is likely all it took, and those folks will not be disappointed. But somehow, Instrumentals serves as a perfect introduction to the group, an easy entree into a catalog of subtly difficult music. And there are difficult moments here too, guitars detune, explode into squalls, settle into hushed whispery thrum, but even at its most caustic or bombastic, there's a tranquility, a depth and weight to these sounds, that unfurl like pieces not songs, fragmented for sure, but the fragments are allowed to billow and expand, the layers piling up, and often peeling away, as much about texture, timbre and tone as mood and melody, if not more so. The songs are even named generically, as if to not color the listener's impression, allowing the sound to reveal what lies beneath, and within. And like all the FSA records, this is far from a high fidelity affair, the sound gritty, and grimy, amp buzz, and tape warble, hiss and hum, all subtle shadings in the sound, and in many cases, perfectly blended with the music itself, to add heft, or gravitas, or hell, just some extra noise.
Throughout, it's hard not to be swept away. Pearce conjures up a musical world that's at once magical and mysterious, the sound transcendent and transformative, minimal on the surface, but hiding a maximal energy within. And yeah, we're far from objective. We've loved this band forEVER, and were dying for this record when we first heard about it, and were definitely inclined to love it no matter what. But after repeated listens, what at first seemed like a sonic sketchbook (albeit good one at that), has blossomed into something more purposeful. There's a melancholic, meandering, musical path that runs through these 15 tracks, a path that leads simultaneously inward and outward, and coheres into a darkly delicate songsuite of somnambulant lullabies and softly psychedelic threnodies.
MPEG Stream: "Instrumental 3"
MPEG Stream: "Instrumental 7"
MPEG Stream: "Instrumental 11"

album cover CIRCLE Pharaoh Overlord (Ektro) lp 19.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY.
NOW HERE ON VINYL, as promised, at last. We reviewed this (and its twin by the band this album is named after) a couple months back, when they first showed up on cd, making 'em our Records Of The Week then, here's what we said...
Oh lord, what will the mischievous mind of Circle mainman Jussi Lehtisalo come up with next? Not long ago, there was the conceptually confusional arrangement under which our Finnish space rock faves Circle changed their name to Falcon (Ex-Circle), and then recruited a completely different group of musicians to record an album under their former name of Circle (which was great!), after which the original Circle guys switched back to being called Circle (Ex-Falcon). Whew. And now they're just Circle, again. BUT, how's this for another confusing idea: Circle, and their not-all-that-different-really side-project band Pharaoh Overlord have now simultaneously released albums with the titles "Circle" and "Pharaoh Overlord", no, not self-titled albums, the Circle one is called Pharaoh Overlord and the Pharaoh Overlord one is called Circle. And they have very similar art/graphics. Yep. That's what they do for laffs up in Finland, although knowing Jussi, he probably has some very serious, meaningful reason behind this scheme, but the explanation would be impossible to understand. It makes a circle or something. Regardless, what we've got here are TWO NEW Circle and/or Pharaoh Overlord albums, however you slice it, and that's a good thing! Of course, they just showed up yesterday, the day before our list, but we already have spun these a bunch of times and know we will spin them lots more, so sure let's make 'em both Records Of The Week!
The Circle album is quite, well, it's pretty much redundant and superfluous to say in a review of a Circle album that the music is "mesmeric" but goshdarnit, this is indeed mesmerizing. They don't try to sound especially like Pharaoh Overlord, by the way, whatever that would entail, not of course that they don't, either. Instead, the quick takeaway here would be that this is "the Circle album with horns". (Oh, wait, there's a PO album called Horn, maybe that's the weird connection, hmmm??) Anyway, the horns are the big X-factor here, tooting along syncopatedly and cyclically Circle-like. A little jazzy, certainly proggy, those horns, along with the wordless vocal choirs, make us think of Magma and other '70s large-ensemble prog symphonics. We're also put in mind of some suspenseful '60s/'70s film soundtracks, like David Shire's The Taking Of Pelham One Two Three just a bit. It gets intense, with stabs of distorted guitar chords to further intensify the mood. Meanwhile, the vocals, which include some impressive caveman freakout screams, are also crucial, and hark back to the early days of Circle, when they did the monk-chanting thing in their own made up language (a la Magma as well) on albums like Zopalki.
Ultimately, it's really gorgeous and, again, super mesmeric, these tracks all of course built around endless repetitive grooves, simple (deceptively so, we're sure) and effective in the usual Circle style. And the only reason one track ever ends, it seems, is that another one needs to begin. And we wouldn't have it any other way. This Circle consists of circles within circles to spin the mind around. Wow, nice. Recommended, as is the other one by the other band.
MPEG Stream: "Kavellen Luiden Paalla"
MPEG Stream: "Aldebaran"

album cover CREEPING PINK Mirror Woods (Castle Face) lp 15.98
There's a dearth of actual info about the the 'band' Creeping Pink, whose Mirror Woods is the latest release on the Castle Face label run by Thee Oh Sees' John Dwyer and a couple of his cronies. All we could find was a picture of a long haired dude on a dirt road, and a poem-like description penned by Dwyer, in which he compares Creeping Pink to The United States Of America, Vangelis, July, Silver Apples and Arthur Russell (or at least AR's NY apartment). All of which we can definitely see. We might also add Sentridoh, the fucked up, home brewed, early acoustic alter ego of indie rock institution Sebadoh, cuz along with the various mutated psych elements, the fractured beats, the collaged samples, and melted melodies, there's a streak of outsider, avant, downer folk, fused to some serious psychedelic drug-pop. In fact if we had to whip up some band math, it might look something like: SENTRIDOH + TEENAGE FILMSTARS = CREEPING PINK!!! Or maybe WHITE FENCE x ELEPHANT SIX = CREEPING PINK. You probably get the idea. This stuff is damaged, and druggy, gorgeously shambolic, noisy, loose, but also pretty, lilting, shimmery, dreamlike and mesmerizingly melodic.
Many of the tracks here are more fragments than songs, but in the tradition of other lo-fi visionaries, those 'pieces' weave the proper 'songs' (themselves barely even songs by most traditional standards), into a lush, flowing psychscape, that drifts drowsily from the motorik, soft focus haze pop of "Come Into My World", pairing warbled vox with blurry, retro new-wave-isms, the whole thing seemingly recorded on some seriously fucked up old cassettes, to the baroque DIY pop of "Sour Fruit", which reminds us of a less purposefully antagonistic Strapping Fieldhands. From there on out, "Peaches" unfurls as a murky, smeary space jam, hypnotic and loopy, while "Bacavan Blues", is some sort of glam-folk piano ballad, one that's dipped in droning organs, and wreathed in yet still more warble. The bulk of he record tends toward a laid back and trippy, droned out zoner-fi folk-pop that over the course of the record, bolsters each chunk of perfect (albeit damaged) poppiness (the impossibly catchy "The Town"), with more abstract soundscapery (the gorgeously hazy "A Well Placed Mirror"), or FX drenched mellow creep (the haunting, brooder "By This River Again"), or even moments of straight up Joe Meek like sonic alchemy and kitchen sink experimentalism (the kosmische lullaby closer "Mirror Woods Abduction").
Plenty poppy, extremely trippy, easily on the far out side of the Castle Face canon, the sort of thing that will appeal to fans of weirdo/avant/outsider/lo-fi pop, and still definitely recommended for the more adventurous fans of the usual CF suspects (Ty Segall, Thee Oh Sees, White Fence, Fuzz, Bare Wires, Warm Soda, Trin Tran, etc.).
MPEG Stream: "Come Into My World"
MPEG Stream: "Peaches"

album cover SWEAT LODGE Talismana (Ripple) cd 14.98
FINALLY HERE ON VINYL AND BACK IN STOCK ON CD TOO!! This Record Of The Week (and Allan's #1 of the year), went completely AWOL from distribution shortly after we first listed it last summer, d'oh. Now at last the label sorted out a new distro, and so we have the cd back from limbo, and also the vinyl version now available too for the first time!!! Here's our original review...
Not to be confused with a few other Sweat Lodges out there (we reviewed a tape by a screamo punk band called Sweat Lodge a few years back), this Sweat Lodge is a heavy psych stoner rock band outta Austin, Texas, and they are AWESOME. Seriously, all the stoner rock digging peeps here at AQ immediately fell in love at first listen, they're that good. Actually we meant to list it a few weeks ago, but our supplier was out of stock - but now we've 'em are not only listing it, but making it Record Of The Week, just 'cause everybody here (not just the stoner rock digging peeps) has been digging it so much and we're still spinning it a LOT.
There's a big Black Sabbath influence evident here, you know, jamming grooves, powerful riffage, and Ozzy-ish (but not too Ozzy-ish) vocals... Sure, lots of bands play that game these days, but these guys are winners. Just super solid, with catchy songs, a dark and trippy vibe, and maybe most crucially, those vocals - the guy is good! Also the sound and mix is just right, clean but not too polished or produced, just a very satisfying, listenable sound, heavy but accessible and melodic. Along with the Sabbath, what we're hearing reminds us of the likes of Uncle Acid, Freedom Hawk, (fellow Austinites) Fogg, maybe even some Golden Void, and other heavy, rockin' faves so if you're into stuff like that, do yourself a favor and check out Sweat Lodge!!!
Weirdly, this band started out as a three piece, of just bass, drums, and vocals - no guitar! They performed and even put out a 7" and demo tape with that lineup, and that stuff WAS cool (lotsa heavy fuzz bass and those killer vocals, yeah why not?) but really they made the right decision recently to expand the band to its current five-piece format, as documented on this debut full-length, bringing in not just one but two guitarists for not just a fuller, even heavier sound but a lot more interesting psychedelic interplay and texture. Sabbath with twin guitars, nice idea. Just listen. Everybody we've played it for so far has gotten hooked!
MPEG Stream: "Bed Of Ashes"
MPEG Stream: "Slow Burn"
MPEG Stream: "Black Horizon"

album cover SWEAT LODGE Talismana (Ripple) lp 24.00
FINALLY HERE ON VINYL AND BACK IN STOCK ON CD TOO!! This Record Of The Week (and Allan's #1 of the year), went completely AWOL from distribution shortly after we first listed it last summer, d'oh. Now at last the label sorted out a new distro, and so we have the cd back from limbo, and also the vinyl version now available too for the first time!!! Here's our original review...
Not to be confused with a few other Sweat Lodges out there (we reviewed a tape by a screamo punk band called Sweat Lodge a few years back), this Sweat Lodge is a heavy psych stoner rock band outta Austin, Texas, and they are AWESOME. Seriously, all the stoner rock digging peeps here at AQ immediately fell in love at first listen, they're that good. Actually we meant to list it a few weeks ago, but our supplier was out of stock - but now we've 'em are not only listing it, but making it Record Of The Week, just 'cause everybody here (not just the stoner rock digging peeps) has been digging it so much and we're still spinning it a LOT.
There's a big Black Sabbath influence evident here, you know, jamming grooves, powerful riffage, and Ozzy-ish (but not too Ozzy-ish) vocals... Sure, lots of bands play that game these days, but these guys are winners. Just super solid, with catchy songs, a dark and trippy vibe, and maybe most crucially, those vocals - the guy is good! Also the sound and mix is just right, clean but not too polished or produced, just a very satisfying, listenable sound, heavy but accessible and melodic. Along with the Sabbath, what we're hearing reminds us of the likes of Uncle Acid, Freedom Hawk, (fellow Austinites) Fogg, maybe even some Golden Void, and other heavy, rockin' faves so if you're into stuff like that, do yourself a favor and check out Sweat Lodge!!!
Weirdly, this band started out as a three piece, of just bass, drums, and vocals - no guitar! They performed and even put out a 7" and demo tape with that lineup, and that stuff WAS cool (lotsa heavy fuzz bass and those killer vocals, yeah why not?) but really they made the right decision recently to expand the band to its current five-piece format, as documented on this debut full-length, bringing in not just one but two guitarists for not just a fuller, even heavier sound but a lot more interesting psychedelic interplay and texture. Sabbath with twin guitars, nice idea. Just listen. Everybody we've played it for so far has gotten hooked!
MPEG Stream: "Bed Of Ashes"
MPEG Stream: "Slow Burn"
MPEG Stream: "Black Horizon"

album cover CLARA MONDSHINE Luna Africana (Fifth Dimension) cd 17.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY.
The music of such '70s krautrock pioneers as Kraftwerk and Can has long been treasured; and during the cd reissue boom of the '90s yet more classic kosmische & motorik sounds of the seventies were rediscovered, from the likes of Cluster and Neu!, along with many other amazing but lesser-known acts of the era revealed via the exhaustive efforts of dodgy but helpful labels like Germanofon. Yet, of course, there's always more! And now it seems that a second generation of rather more obscure cosmic, electronic krautrock from the eighties is giving up its secrets, little by little, with reissues by artists like You, Gunter Schickert (well, his later works), and Rudiger Lorenz, to name just a few. To name another: Clara Mondshine.
OH YES!!! We've been intrigued by this artist & album ever since seeing mention of it in a useful reference book we found called New Sounds: A Listener's Guide To New Music, published in 1987... After checking it out online (thank you, blogs and YouTube), we were like, someone really should reissue this! Happily, someone just did. And here it is. One might hope for Clara Mondshine to be the rare female (or perhaps transexual, a la Wendy Carlos) krautrock composer, but no, in fact Clara Mondshine was the pseudonym or project name for a man named Walter Bachauer, a radio director and journalist as well as composer and musician. His krautrock pedigree does extend back to the '70s when he played in Peter Michael Hamel's excellent improvising acoustic/ethnic ensemble, Between. As a solo artist, he released three albums under the Clara Mondshine moniker, starting with this one, Luna Africana, in 1981. (Perhaps he would have made more records, but he sadly passed away in 1989.)
Mondshine's music on Luna Africana is DIY cosmic electronica, 'Berlin School' style, made with analog synths and other probably fairly lo-tech, lo-fi electronic gear. Mondshine's repetitive machine mesmerism is super droney and trippy, and almost playful too, these all-instrumental space-outs also sometimes having a touch of ethnic/world music to 'em as well (a la Between). This is also another example of something at the intersection of krautrock and (good) new age. Hence titles, once translated into English, like "Raga Of The Rising Planet" and "Harp Of The Amazons". On one track, delightful melodic figures repeat over equally charming pulsing patterns of motorik rhythm, followed by a more atmospheric excursion into the outer space drone-zone on the next, and then it's back to relaxing runs of gentle tones over cyclic bleep-bleep-bloop, wreathed in whips of drone╔ What's not to like about that? Definitely for fans of much Cluster, Kraftwerk, A.R. & Machines, and Axxess from France, among others... Also, we just realized that an edit of the first track on here was included on that excellent Dirty Space Disco compilation we crushed on a few years back!
Note: also reissued on vinyl, but we couldn't get enough lps to list, hopefully more will be forthcoming soon.
MPEG Stream: "Die Drachentrommler"
MPEG Stream: "Lange Melodie Fur Den Countdown"
MPEG Stream: "Fischer Des Meeres Der Stille"

album cover NIBIRU Padmalotus (Argonauta) cd 13.98
Those who fancy a little didgeridoo in their doom, get ready for the latest from esoteric Italian doom-psych cult Nibiru, who have returned to visit our plane of existence again, bringing with them another intense new set of sonic rituals. The two previous albums, Caosgon and Netrayoni, from this trio of shamanic freaks were both throbbing slabs of trance-inducing, ceremonial stoner rhythm and riffage, and that heavy, and heavily rhythmic, aspect of earlier Nibiru is well represented here, for instance, by the repetitive, tumbling, bass heavy attack that kicks in about two thirds of the way through track 2, "Ashmadaeva", preceded however by an expanse of droned-out atmospherics. The pounding track 3, "Trikona", is another sludgey juggernaut, one positively slobbering with drug-gobbling madness. There's plenty of that, actually, all across all four of these lengthy, effects-laden invokations, but things also seem just a bit more sprawling and abstract, in all sorts of diverse, delirious directions. The vokills are taken to almost monstrous extremes, this time 'round almost black metallish, a rasping exhalation/exaltation of their godz, while all the hallucinogenic, hypnotic heaviness, seems borne on opium scented winds from outer space.
The nearly 29 minute finale, "Khem", is arguably the album's tour de force / piece de resistance, passing through many and varied episodes, from its monkish groaning-droning intro, veering into a blasting black metallish segment, from surprisingly catchy moments of lurching riff-rock to a sudden break into This Heat-ish drum-thwap and Fushitsusha-worthy feedback to shimmering spectral synthesis graced with some haunting, harrowing guest female vocals, and on to ambient-noise sequences morphing into glitchy quasi-techno industrial metal. Yeah, it's weird. All over the place.
Weird and warped, dense and distorted, sounding like drone-doom metal descendants of ESP-Disk's Cromagnon tribe at times... Also this Nibiriu is still for fans of Gnod, Bong, and fellow space traveling Italians UFOmammut, these these tracks suggestive of that band indulging in actual cult worship!!
MPEG Stream: "Krim"
MPEG Stream: "Ashmadeaeva"

album cover NOVELLA Land (Sinderlyn) lp+7" 19.98
Land is the first full length from this all female British psychedelic noise pop crew, who have previously shared a split with another aQ fave, nineties shoegaze revivalists The History Of Apple Pie, and while their sounds aren't all that familiar, they're definitely complimentary.
And fans of that sort of dreamy jangly retro-indie rock sound will definitely find much to love here, a sound reminiscent of groups like Stereolab, Electrelane, Lush, Curve, and the like, but these ladies give the psychedelic space rock boy's club a serious run for their money as well, fusing those super melodic pop elements to seriously heady stretches of droned out, motorik mesmer, dense hypno-rock grooves wrapped in distorted spidery guitars, the group slipping effortlessly from straight psychedelic indie pop, to explosive heart-of-the-sun, out-jams that, minus the vocals, would likely elicit comparisons to heavier psych/space/neo-kraut rockers like Wooden Ships, White Hills, Carlton Melton or even Loop. In fact there are plenty of moments on Land that sound like total Loop worship, channeling the taking-drugs-to-make-music-to-take-drugs-by grooviness of Spacemen 3 and cranking it way up and looping (yup) those supercharged sounds into a druggier, more driving sprawl.
But at their heart, Novella are definitely a pop group, with a handful of hooks to die for, with pretty much every track here boasting some earwormy melody, some fantastic vocals, lovely harmonies, which just happen to be often paired with some groovy, fuzzy, jammy psychedelic trip out. It's a pretty stunning combo, and one that will likely have pop kids, space nerds and psych freeks equally smitten. Slipcased cd or vinyl with 'bonus' 7" featuring two tracks also on the cd.
MPEG Stream: "Follow"
MPEG Stream: "Sentences"
MPEG Stream: "Phrases"

album cover CREEPING PINK Mirror Woods (Castle Face) cd 13.98
There's a dearth of actual info about the the 'band' Creeping Pink, whose Mirror Woods is the latest release on the Castle Face label run by Thee Oh Sees' John Dwyer and a couple of his cronies. All we could find was a picture of a long haired dude on a dirt road, and a poem-like description penned by Dwyer, in which he compares Creeping Pink to The United States Of America, Vangelis, July, Silver Apples and Arthur Russell (or at least AR's NY apartment). All of which we can definitely see. We might also add Sentridoh, the fucked up, home brewed, early acoustic alter ego of indie rock institution Sebadoh, cuz along with the various mutated psych elements, the fractured beats, the collaged samples, and melted melodies, there's a streak of outsider, avant, downer folk, fused to some serious psychedelic drug-pop. In fact if we had to whip up some band math, it might look something like: SENTRIDOH + TEENAGE FILMSTARS = CREEPING PINK!!! Or maybe WHITE FENCE x ELEPHANT SIX = CREEPING PINK. You probably get the idea. This stuff is damaged, and druggy, gorgeously shambolic, noisy, loose, but also pretty, lilting, shimmery, dreamlike and mesmerizingly melodic.
Many of the tracks here are more fragments than songs, but in the tradition of other lo-fi visionaries, those 'pieces' weave the proper 'songs' (themselves barely even songs by most traditional standards), into a lush, flowing psychscape, that drifts drowsily from the motorik, soft focus haze pop of "Come Into My World", pairing warbled vox with blurry, retro new-wave-isms, the whole thing seemingly recorded on some seriously fucked up old cassettes, to the baroque DIY pop of "Sour Fruit", which reminds us of a less purposefully antagonistic Strapping Fieldhands. From there on out, "Peaches" unfurls as a murky, smeary space jam, hypnotic and loopy, while "Bacavan Blues", is some sort of glam-folk piano ballad, one that's dipped in droning organs, and wreathed in yet still more warble. The bulk of he record tends toward a laid back and trippy, droned out zoner-fi folk-pop that over the course of the record, bolsters each chunk of perfect (albeit damaged) poppiness (the impossibly catchy "The Town"), with more abstract soundscapery (the gorgeously hazy "A Well Placed Mirror"), or FX drenched mellow creep (the haunting, brooder "By This River Again"), or even moments of straight up Joe Meek like sonic alchemy and kitchen sink experimentalism (the kosmische lullaby closer "Mirror Woods Abduction").
Plenty poppy, extremely trippy, easily on the far out side of the Castle Face canon, the sort of thing that will appeal to fans of weirdo/avant/outsider/lo-fi pop, and still definitely recommended for the more adventurous fans of the usual CF suspects (Ty Segall, Thee Oh Sees, White Fence, Fuzz, Bare Wires, Warm Soda, Trin Tran, etc.).
MPEG Stream: "Come Into My World"
MPEG Stream: "Peaches"

album cover CRYPT VAPOR Tombe Della Citta (Heavy Chains Records & Tapes) cd 10.98
BACK IN STOCK! A restock on this Record Of The Week from back in July finally just arrived via the slow boat from Tasmania. Here's the review again if you missed it:
Terror from Tasmania!! (Or perhaps from Italy, depending on what you wish to believe). The mysterious Crypt Vapor is the latest and one of the greatest, we think, in the realm of the New Wave Of Horror Soundtrack Sounding Stuff or whatever we ought to call it (there's gotta be a better name for this phenomenon, but we can't think of one right now). You know, underground musicians making Goblin and John Carpenter inspired, instrumental "imaginary soundtracks" that sound like they come from obscure '80s witchcult slasher flicks and badly-dubbed sci-fi suspense films. We're thinking of such VHS-loving artists as Umberto, The Night Terrors, Nightsatan, Zombi, Zombie Zombie, and of course John Carpenter himself, whose Lost Themes album on Sacred Bones we also made a Record Of The Week recently. If you loved that, you'll love this, though rather than an actual band recording, Crypt Vapor are very much a DIY, lo-fi deal, probably just one guy alone in a bedroom, basement (or crypt) with a 4-track and some secondhand electronic gear. Almost comes across like sinister "skwee" music at times.
A portion of this compact disc was originally released as cassette tape put out not long ago by the same outfit that now brings us this cd version, the cult Tasmanian metal label Heavy Chains Records And Tapes run by the front man for aQ-fave eccentric doomsters The Wizar'd (although, this is NOT metal, more like electronic music). In addition to including that prior (and already out of print on tape) Erotik Maniac ep, this disc features the brand new six-track Tombe Della Citta ep, and an additional three tracks from an earlier tape called Panic Night, for 17 tracks in all of Crypt Vapor's exceedingly spooky synth ditties, full of creepy drones and thudding heartbeat bass lines; urgent reverbed-out rhythms and eerie atmosphere. Plus a dose of almost-psychedelic synth soloing let loose here and there. Very effective, all of it, really pretty much exactly what we want from this sort of thing. Reminds us of what felt when we heard the very first Umberto cd-r, just YEAH, this perfectly captures that '80s synth-laden, hypnotically groovy, sinister soundtrack vibe. Crypt Vapor's style is simple and to the point, doing nothing unnecessary or unwanted. The synths are so raw and fuzzed out; the melodies eerie and earwormy. Ideal for listening to on a night drive through the wrong side of town, or waiting for the train on a desolate subway platform. If you dare.
Each moment of music on here, even the most danceable, sounds like it could be the last thing you'll ever hear - as your life is suddenly ended by the thrust of a knife in the back, or a blade across the throat. STAB! SNIP! Or, fade any track out, and it's a slow death, strangulation by black-gloved hands, or suffocation in the vacuum of space as the airlock is emptied... Anybody making a retro giallo horror movie or low-budget sci-fi thriller ought to sign up Crypt Vapor for the soundtrack, and seriously, some specialty label like Death Waltz or One Way Static should get on this, stat, and put out a fancy vinyl version for all the horror soundtrack obsessed LP collectors!
MPEG Stream: "Tombe Della Citta"
MPEG Stream: "Subway Crawler"
MPEG Stream: "Theme From Ritual (Panic Night version)"

album cover CHERUBS 2 Ynfynyty (Brutal Panda) lp 21.00
Austin, Texas weirdos the Cherubs are responsible for two of our favorite early nineties noise rock classics, 1992's Icing, and 1994's Heroin Man, which was released right after they broke up. That's right, broke up. 21 years ago. But this is the age of rock and roll reunions, when it's easier to think of bands that HAVEN'T gotten back together. And while we all have wish lists of bands we'd love to see play again (The Cows, Lubricated Goat, Dazzling Killmen, Slag...), probably a lot of bands on those lists already did just that: Slint, Killdozer, Failure, Swervedriver, the Grifters. Hell, some of those bands didn't just get back together for reunions, they actually made new records, and in many cases, those records are as good as anything they recorded back in the day.
Which perhaps surprisingly, is precisely the case with the Cherubs' new one. For a band that was a gloriously chaotic hot mess the first time around, you might think they would have trouble conjuring up the same energy at middle age, as they did in their prime, and to be fair, 2 Ynfynyty might be a bit more restrained than either Heroin Man or Icing, but really not by much. And the big changes are actually for the better. For one, the songwriting is killer, like proper pop hooks and real singing, positioning themselves closer to, say, the sludge pop of Torche, fusing melody to bash and howl, and the results are pretty fucking spectacular. Opener "Sandy On The Beach", is not only heavy and buzzy, but will get stuck in your head like crazy. Some of the tracks do get a bit more wild and psychedelic, the almost crooned vox on the aforementioned opener transformed into keening wails, but inevitably the sound slips right back into some impossible and improbable poppiness, "Monkey Chow Mein", is downright dreamy, with its vocal 'ooooohs', and zoned out fuzz guitar, the wailing vocals perfectly complementing the stonery swagger, sounding sorta like a noise rock Flower Travellin' Band, hazy, hypnotic and blissfully heavy, while "Cumulo Nimbus" (Longmont reference perhaps?) sounds like under appreciated grunge second stringers Love Battery gone noise rock shoegaze. A lot of the record sounds like some unlikely hybrid of the Melvins and Led Zeppelin, which obviously is a seriously good thing, and the final two tracks add a confusional coda to the proceedings - "Party Ice" is all bass driven distorto pop, with some almost Southern rock styled swagger, which gives way to weirdly sensitive closer "Sunday Mondays", which is straight up British Invasion strum and croon, wound in a cloud of distorted guitar squall, sounding not unlike some strange, but beautiful Guided By Voices outtake.
Weird and wonderful, And a pretty perfect return to form, the kind of comeback most bands can only dream about. Here's hoping we don't have to wait another 20 years for more!
MPEG Stream: "Sandy On The Beach"
MPEG Stream: "Crashing The Ride"
MPEG Stream: "Monkey Chow Mein"

album cover FLYING SAUCER ATTACK Instrumentals 2015 (Drag City) cd 14.98
We had almost given up on ever hearing from Flying Saucer attack ever again. After all, it's been 15 years since the last record (2000's Mirror), and now nearly twenty since Rachel Brook left the band to focus on Movietone. They (or now he really, as it's essentially been a David Pearce solo project for a while now) still rank amongst our all time favorite psychedelic shoegaze outfits EVER. And even on this new one it's easy to see why.
While not a proper new -album- per se, Instrumentals plays out more like a collection of sonic sketches, impressionistic textures and guitarscapes, still covering much of the same found that FSA did back in the day, be it chiming, pastoral psych-folk, or shimmering ambient drift, or distorted, washed out soft-noise. The songs are mostly short here, none breaking the 10 minute mark, and many hovering around 90 seconds or less, and yet somehow, it manages to sound cohesive, these ideas, sonic suggestions, these hazy movements, all flow and ooze and bleed into one another, the whole thing gorgeously amorphous and mesmeric.
Fans of the group probably didn't have to even read this far, news of a new FSA record is likely all it took, and those folks will not be disappointed. But somehow, Instrumentals serves as a perfect introduction to the group, an easy entree into a catalog of subtly difficult music. And there are difficult moments here too, guitars detune, explode into squalls, settle into hushed whispery thrum, but even at its most caustic or bombastic, there's a tranquility, a depth and weight to these sounds, that unfurl like pieces not songs, fragmented for sure, but the fragments are allowed to billow and expand, the layers piling up, and often peeling away, as much about texture, timbre and tone as mood and melody, if not more so. The songs are even named generically, as if to not color the listener's impression, allowing the sound to reveal what lies beneath, and within. And like all the FSA records, this is far from a high fidelity affair, the sound gritty, and grimy, amp buzz, and tape warble, hiss and hum, all subtle shadings in the sound, and in many cases, perfectly blended with the music itself, to add heft, or gravitas, or hell, just some extra noise.
Throughout, it's hard not to be swept away. Pearce conjures up a musical world that's at once magical and mysterious, the sound transcendent and transformative, minimal on the surface, but hiding a maximal energy within. And yeah, we're far from objective. We've loved this band forEVER, and were dying for this record when we first heard about it, and were definitely inclined to love it no matter what. But after repeated listens, what at first seemed like a sonic sketchbook (albeit good one at that), has blossomed into something more purposeful. There's a melancholic, meandering, musical path that runs through these 15 tracks, a path that leads simultaneously inward and outward, and coheres into a darkly delicate songsuite of somnambulant lullabies and softly psychedelic threnodies.
MPEG Stream: "Instrumental 3"
MPEG Stream: "Instrumental 7"
MPEG Stream: "Instrumental 11"

album cover FLYING SAUCER ATTACK Instrumentals 2015 (Drag City) lp 27.00
We had almost given up on ever hearing from Flying Saucer attack ever again. After all, it's been 15 years since the last record (2000's Mirror), and now nearly twenty since Rachel Brook left the band to focus on Movietone. They (or now he really, as it's essentially been a David Pearce solo project for a while now) still rank amongst our all time favorite psychedelic shoegaze outfits EVER. And even on this new one it's easy to see why.
While not a proper new -album- per se, Instrumentals plays out more like a collection of sonic sketches, impressionistic textures and guitarscapes, still covering much of the same found that FSA did back in the day, be it chiming, pastoral psych-folk, or shimmering ambient drift, or distorted, washed out soft-noise. The songs are mostly short here, none breaking the 10 minute mark, and many hovering around 90 seconds or less, and yet somehow, it manages to sound cohesive, these ideas, sonic suggestions, these hazy movements, all flow and ooze and bleed into one another, the whole thing gorgeously amorphous and mesmeric.
Fans of the group probably didn't have to even read this far, news of a new FSA record is likely all it took, and those folks will not be disappointed. But somehow, Instrumentals serves as a perfect introduction to the group, an easy entree into a catalog of subtly difficult music. And there are difficult moments here too, guitars detune, explode into squalls, settle into hushed whispery thrum, but even at its most caustic or bombastic, there's a tranquility, a depth and weight to these sounds, that unfurl like pieces not songs, fragmented for sure, but the fragments are allowed to billow and expand, the layers piling up, and often peeling away, as much about texture, timbre and tone as mood and melody, if not more so. The songs are even named generically, as if to not color the listener's impression, allowing the sound to reveal what lies beneath, and within. And like all the FSA records, this is far from a high fidelity affair, the sound gritty, and grimy, amp buzz, and tape warble, hiss and hum, all subtle shadings in the sound, and in many cases, perfectly blended with the music itself, to add heft, or gravitas, or hell, just some extra noise.
Throughout, it's hard not to be swept away. Pearce conjures up a musical world that's at once magical and mysterious, the sound transcendent and transformative, minimal on the surface, but hiding a maximal energy within. And yeah, we're far from objective. We've loved this band forEVER, and were dying for this record when we first heard about it, and were definitely inclined to love it no matter what. But after repeated listens, what at first seemed like a sonic sketchbook (albeit good one at that), has blossomed into something more purposeful. There's a melancholic, meandering, musical path that runs through these 15 tracks, a path that leads simultaneously inward and outward, and coheres into a darkly delicate songsuite of somnambulant lullabies and softly psychedelic threnodies.
MPEG Stream: "Instrumental 3"
MPEG Stream: "Instrumental 7"
MPEG Stream: "Instrumental 11"

album cover CARLTON MELTON Out To Sea (Agitated) cd 15.98
Another killer batch of music from the dome! The dome being the home base of local space drone psychonauts Carlton Melton whose MO is holing up at said geodesic dome and spending marathon sessions recording endless, heart-of-the-sun jams, that they somehow later work into proper records. This latest might be the heaviest yet, opening with the seriously bombastic "Peaking Duck", which starts with some kosmische synth shimmer, which is soon joined by some Bonham-esque drum crush, then some hazy psychedelic swirl, laced with squiggly, pulsating FX, wild wah wah guitar freakout, the whole thing wound up into a brooding, hypno-psych churn. The sound is almost doom, especially when the low end come swooping in, not sure if it's synth or distorted bass, but it's thick, and dense, droned out and mesmeric, a tranced out, throbbing groove that oozes right into "Wheel And Deal" which is blown out, sun baked and stonery, a serious Kyuss vibe going on, but a sort of more minimal mesmeric take on that group's desert rock. "The Barrier" too is a seriously sinister sprawl of zoner-psych space doom, that never really coalesces into a song proper but instead, loops cyclically into a hazy hypnotic mesmer, while the title track is equally, if not more abstractly heavy, ditching the drums, and unfurling thick undulating layers of processed guitars and sheets of shimmering feedback.
In between all this heaviness, there's plenty of grooviness and more laid back jammage, some of it, softly strummed, almost pastoral psychedelic folkiness ("Diamond In The Rough", "Similarities", "It's Been Summer All Winter"), some of it almost funky, lurching and lumbering ("Amfmpm", "Perdiddle"), and some of it super abstract, slow motion, brooding drift and thrum, laced with spidery melodies, swirling synths, and subtle tribal rhythms ("Too Close To Home").
Once again, these aQ beloved, psychedelic spacelords push all our psych/kraut/space/drone/cosmic/stoner rock buttons, delivering on a sound we already love, but giving us something just different enough to keep things interesting: plenty of extra heft, alongside more tripped out introspection. We've already been playing this to death, and anxiously await CM's next transmission of lysergic dome-doom dreaminess and zoner-drone riffiness...
Available on cd, or double lp (blue vinyl, while they last) with a cd of the album included too!
MPEG Stream: "Peaking Duck"
MPEG Stream: "Out To Sea"
MPEG Stream: "It's Been Summer All Winter"

album cover CARLTON MELTON Out To Sea (Agitated) 2lp+cd + poster 23.00
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY.
Another killer batch of music from the dome! The dome being the home base of local space drone psychonauts Carlton Melton whose MO is holing up at said geodesic dome and spending marathon sessions recording endless, heart-of-the-sun jams, that they somehow later work into proper records. This latest might be the heaviest yet, opening with the seriously bombastic "Peaking Duck", which starts with some kosmische synth shimmer, which is soon joined by some Bonham-esque drum crush, then some hazy psychedelic swirl, laced with squiggly, pulsating FX, wild wah wah guitar freakout, the whole thing wound up into a brooding, hypno-psych churn. The sound is almost doom, especially when the low end come swooping in, not sure if it's synth or distorted bass, but it's thick, and dense, droned out and mesmeric, a tranced out, throbbing groove that oozes right into "Wheel And Deal" which is blown out, sun baked and stonery, a serious Kyuss vibe going on, but a sort of more minimal mesmeric take on that group's desert rock. "The Barrier" too is a seriously sinister sprawl of zoner-psych space doom, that never really coalesces into a song proper but instead, loops cyclically into a hazy hypnotic mesmer, while the title track is equally, if not more abstractly heavy, ditching the drums, and unfurling thick undulating layers of processed guitars and sheets of shimmering feedback.
In between all this heaviness, there's plenty of grooviness and more laid back jammage, some of it, softly strummed, almost pastoral psychedelic folkiness ("Diamond In The Rough", "Similarities", "It's Been Summer All Winter"), some of it almost funky, lurching and lumbering ("Amfmpm", "Perdiddle"), and some of it super abstract, slow motion, brooding drift and thrum, laced with spidery melodies, swirling synths, and subtle tribal rhythms ("Too Close To Home").
Once again, these aQ beloved, psychedelic spacelords push all our psych/kraut/space/drone/cosmic/stoner rock buttons, delivering on a sound we already love, but giving us something just different enough to keep things interesting: plenty of extra heft, alongside more tripped out introspection. We've already been playing this to death, and anxiously await CM's next transmission of lysergic dome-doom dreaminess and zoner-drone riffiness...
Available on cd, or double lp (blue vinyl, while they last) with a cd of the album included too!
MPEG Stream: "Peaking Duck"
MPEG Stream: "Out To Sea"
MPEG Stream: "It's Been Summer All Winter"

album cover CARLTON MELTON Out To Sea (Agitated) 2lp+cd + poster 23.00
THIS AWESOME AQ RECORD OF THE WEEK FROM EARLIER THIS YEAR, NOW REPRESSED, AND BACK IN STOCK!!
Another killer batch of music from the dome! The dome being the home base of local space drone psychonauts Carlton Melton whose MO is holing up at said geodesic dome and spending marathon sessions recording endless, heart-of-the-sun jams, that they somehow later work into proper records. This latest might be the heaviest yet, opening with the seriously bombastic "Peaking Duck", which starts with some kosmische synth shimmer, which is soon joined by some Bonham-esque drum crush, then some hazy psychedelic swirl, laced with squiggly, pulsating FX, wild wah wah guitar freakout, the whole thing wound up into a brooding, hypno-psych churn. The sound is almost doom, especially when the low end come swooping in, not sure if it's synth or distorted bass, but it's thick, and dense, droned out and mesmeric, a tranced out, throbbing groove that oozes right into "Wheel And Deal" which is blown out, sun baked and stonery, a serious Kyuss vibe going on, but a sort of more minimal mesmeric take on that group's desert rock. "The Barrier" too is a seriously sinister sprawl of zoner-psych space doom, that never really coalesces into a song proper but instead, loops cyclically into a hazy hypnotic mesmer, while the title track is equally, if not more abstractly heavy, ditching the drums, and unfurling thick undulating layers of processed guitars and sheets of shimmering feedback.
In between all this heaviness, there's plenty of grooviness and more laid back jammage, some of it, softly strummed, almost pastoral psychedelic folkiness ("Diamond In The Rough", "Similarities", "It's Been Summer All Winter"), some of it almost funky, lurching and lumbering ("Amfmpm", "Perdiddle"), and some of it super abstract, slow motion, brooding drift and thrum, laced with spidery melodies, swirling synths, and subtle tribal rhythms ("Too Close To Home").
Once again, these aQ beloved, psychedelic spacelords push all our psych/kraut/space/drone/cosmic/stoner rock buttons, delivering on a sound we already love, but giving us something just different enough to keep things interesting: plenty of extra heft, alongside more tripped out introspection. We've already been playing this to death, and anxiously await CM's next transmission of lysergic dome-doom dreaminess and zoner-drone riffiness...
Available on cd, or double lp (blue vinyl, while they last) with a cd of the album included too!
MPEG Stream: "Peaking Duck"
MPEG Stream: "Out To Sea"
MPEG Stream: "It's Been Summer All Winter"

album cover CAMINITI, EVAN Meridian (Thrill Jockey) cd 14.98
Our Record Of The Week last week, the latest glorious solo outing from Evan Caminiti, is now also here in the compact disc format as well! (The gold vinyl we listed previously is now gone, but we did get a restock on regular black vinyl along with these cds, fyi.) The sound-sculpting Mr. Caminiti you probably know as being one half of the aQ fave duo Barn Owl, who on their last album V, had really begun to morph from making dusty guitar-based doom drone und twang into something whose shimmering psychedelic sonics were ever more reliant on synthesizers, electronics, machines...
Further electronic exploration continues on Meridian, wherein Caminiti conjures a mysterious, mostly electronic soundscape, having set his guitar aside to deftly orchestrate droning synths and processed field recordings in a densely detailed, actively ambient, Tangerine-Dream-y production. Cinematic and somber, and still very organic-sounding despite its electronic origins, Meridian is a gorgeous all-instrumental set of one-word-titled tracks ("Signal", "Arc", "Mercury", etc.), somehow both intimate and spacious, that should still very much appeal to Barn Owl fans despite the lack of ye olde guitar.
Caminiti's somnolent, sometimes sinister synth drones tend to be all frayed and glitchy around the edges, the listener slowly swimming/sinking through static buzzings. echoing tones and submerged hum. At times, suggestions of percussive beat-skitter comes to the surface, driving these darkling mood pieces forward into more rhythmic territory, drifting and pulsing and crackling with latent energies. Deep and lovely this is. Truly, we can understand being jaded about the glut of droney electronic music these days, but trust us, as you should expect from either of the Barn Owl boys, this is really good and worthy!
MPEG Stream: "Curtains"
MPEG Stream: "Steam"
MPEG Stream: "Signal"

album cover CAMINITI, EVAN Meridian (Thrill Jockey) lp 19.98
While they last, which won't be long [and in fact wasn't*], we have a few of the special limited-to-200-copies-only GOLD VINYL edition of this, the latest glorious solo outing from the sound-sculpting Mr. Caminiti, whom you probably know as being one half of the aQ fave duo Barn Owl, who on their last album V, had really begun to morph from making dusty guitar-based doom drone und twang into something whose shimmering psychedelic sonics were ever more reliant on synthesizers, electronics, machines...
Further electronic exploration continues on Meridian, wherein Caminiti conjures a mysterious, mostly electronic soundscape, having set his guitar aside to deftly orchestrate droning synths and processed field recordings in a densely detailed, actively ambient, Tangerine-Dream-y production. Cinematic and somber, and still very organic-sounding despite its electronic origins, Meridian is a gorgeous all-instrumental set of one-word-titled tracks ("Signal", "Arc", "Mercury", etc.), somehow both intimate and spacious, that should still very much appeal to Barn Owl fans despite the lack of ye olde guitar.
Caminiti's somnolent, sometimes sinister synth drones tend to be all frayed and glitchy around the edges, the listener slowly swimming/sinking through static buzzings. echoing tones and submerged hum. At times, suggestions of percussive beat-skitter comes to the surface, driving these darkling mood pieces forward into more rhythmic territory, drifting and pulsing and crackling with latent energies. Deep and lovely this is. Truly, we can understand being jaded about the glut of droney electronic music these days, but trust us, as you should expect from either of the Barn Owl boys, this is really good and worthy!
As mentioned, Thrill Jockey were nice enough to provide us with copies of the limited gold-colored vinyl version, meant for their mailorder, when they're gone we'll get the regular black vinyl. Includes digital download.
*Gold vinyl NOW GONE, black vinyl in the house.
MPEG Stream: "Curtains"
MPEG Stream: "Steam"
MPEG Stream: "Signal"

album cover EVIL ACIDHEAD In The Name Of All That Is Unholy (Agitated) cd 15.98
Sometime in the late eighties, John McBain, member of mighty space rockers Monster Magnet, frontman of psychedelic groovers Wellwater Conspiracy, and (not so) secret weapon of local space-psych explorers Carlton Melton, birthed this brilliant, sonic abomination. A dizzyingly tripped out sprawl of oozing, churning, abstract drone-noise-psych, In The Name Of All That Is Unholy sounds like classic psych rock, slowly unravelling, revealing all manner of crumbling sonic detritus within. The multiple movements shifting from plodding doomy creep, to tranced out pulsating dronemusic, to wild, blurred space shred, with sounds in constant flux, pitch shifts and tonal warbles, everything off kilter but somehow hanging together as some sort of drug addled, heart-of-the-sun, damaged cosmic epic.
To us, the heavier moments sound a bit like Philip Jeck or John Oswald constructing a Greyfolded style collaged megamix from old Butthole Surfers records, all smeared into hazy indistinct lopes and lumbers, the melodies distorted and processed, almost like some sort of acid fueled fever dream, the music melting before your very ears. The opening track in particular is reminiscent of the Butthole's "Jimi" (from Hairway To Steven), albeit slowed way down and stretched out into even more twisted brainmelt dirgery. But the deeper you get into the record, the more abstract and weirdly blissed out it becomes. Moments of extremely mesmerizing tranquility coexist alongside murky power electronics, and full on kosmische shimmer, the whole middle section is basically some sort of WTF? soundtrack for an alien planetarium show. You can almost hear the bizarre shapes and prismatic colors warping and curdling, before blossoming into a hyper-delirious barrage of flickering, fluttering, fractured melodies, all tangled up into a thick, layered stretch of hypnotic, undulating sonic mesmer.
But those sounds eventually rupture, and splinter, and lock into stuttering looped hiccups, all wrapped in more of those super distorted psychedelic leads, and underpinned by what sounds like growling beasts, locked into a skipping-record style riffage, delivered as some sort of mind-control metallic mantra. A mantra that quickly (d)evolves into more Jeck-like repletion, albeit a distorto-psych variant, the chug and churn slipping beneath a murky industrial pulse, before exploding again even more blown out, growly and buzzy, before a blast of uber-distorted, FX drenched guitarnoise, and some robotic/alien/monster vocals dissolve into a final squall of crumbling crunch and decaying distortion.
Truly some next level outsider, sampler-damaged psychedelia, that should of course appeal to fans of McBain's other groups, as well as like minded psychedelic noise makers, but also folks into wilder strains of electronic psych-noise weirdness (Our Love Will Destroy The World, Astral Social Club, etc.) will find much to dig here as well.
Originally released on cassette, now the full Evil Acidhead experience is available again, thanks to Agitated, on both on cd and swank double lp. The vinyl version comes on colored wax and also includes both a cd copy of the record and an 'eye-searing' poster!
MPEG Stream: "Part I: Invocation"
MPEG Stream: "Part IV: Acceptance"
MPEG Stream: "Looped In The Temple Of Yeti"

album cover EVIL ACIDHEAD In The Name Of All That Is Unholy (Agitated) 2lp+cd 23.00
Sometime in the late eighties, John McBain, member of mighty space rockers Monster Magnet, frontman of psychedelic groovers Wellwater Conspiracy, and (not so) secret weapon of local space-psych explorers Carlton Melton, birthed this brilliant, sonic abomination. A dizzyingly tripped out sprawl of oozing, churning, abstract drone-noise-psych, In The Name Of All That Is Unholy sounds like classic psych rock, slowly unravelling, revealing all manner of crumbling sonic detritus within. The multiple movements shifting from plodding doomy creep, to tranced out pulsating dronemusic, to wild, blurred space shred, with sounds in constant flux, pitch shifts and tonal warbles, everything off kilter but somehow hanging together as some sort of drug addled, heart-of-the-sun, damaged cosmic epic.
To us, the heavier moments sound a bit like Philip Jeck or John Oswald constructing a Greyfolded style collaged megamix from old Butthole Surfers records, all smeared into hazy indistinct lopes and lumbers, the melodies distorted and processed, almost like some sort of acid fueled fever dream, the music melting before your very ears. The opening track in particular is reminiscent of the Butthole's "Jimi" (from Hairway To Steven), albeit slowed way down and stretched out into even more twisted brainmelt dirgery. But the deeper you get into the record, the more abstract and weirdly blissed out it becomes. Moments of extremely mesmerizing tranquility coexist alongside murky power electronics, and full on kosmische shimmer, the whole middle section is basically some sort of WTF? soundtrack for an alien planetarium show. You can almost hear the bizarre shapes and prismatic colors warping and curdling, before blossoming into a hyper-delirious barrage of flickering, fluttering, fractured melodies, all tangled up into a thick, layered stretch of hypnotic, undulating sonic mesmer.
But those sounds eventually rupture, and splinter, and lock into stuttering looped hiccups, all wrapped in more of those super distorted psychedelic leads, and underpinned by what sounds like growling beasts, locked into a skipping-record style riffage, delivered as some sort of mind-control metallic mantra. A mantra that quickly (d)evolves into more Jeck-like repletion, albeit a distorto-psych variant, the chug and churn slipping beneath a murky industrial pulse, before exploding again even more blown out, growly and buzzy, before a blast of uber-distorted, FX drenched guitarnoise, and some robotic/alien/monster vocals dissolve into a final squall of crumbling crunch and decaying distortion.
Truly some next level outsider, sampler-damaged psychedelia, that should of course appeal to fans of McBain's other groups, as well as like minded psychedelic noise makers, but also folks into wilder strains of electronic psych-noise weirdness (Our Love Will Destroy The World, Astral Social Club, etc.) will find much to dig here as well.
Originally released on cassette, now the full Evil Acidhead experience is available again, thanks to Agitated, on both on cd and swank double lp. The vinyl version comes on colored wax and also includes both a cd copy of the record and an 'eye-searing' poster!
MPEG Stream: "Part I: Invocation"
MPEG Stream: "Part IV: Acceptance"
MPEG Stream: "Looped In The Temple Of Yeti"

album cover WELBURN, JAMES Hold (Miasmah) lp 22.00
Quite an impressive solo debut from British noiserocker James Welburn! His bio quips that he's been playing in various art/drone/noise rock outfits since the '90s, though a quick glance through the entire internet didn't provide much in the way of information on what those projects might be. However, we know that back in 2008, he had a release under the name Project Transmit, which also featured the fantastic drummer Tony Buck from trance-inducing Australian 'jazz' group The Necks. Now, Buck has joined forces with Welburn once again for Hold - a well-controlled album of darkly ascendant drone guitars guiding a well-heeled rhythm section that's crushingly muscular when it needs to be and skeletally restrained when called for at other times. Second track here "Peak" falls into the latter camp with Buck and Welburn conjuring the slow-core nocturnes from Low's first couple of albums, with a Joy Division-y spaciousness on the bass and Buck tapping metonymically on the ride. Welburn fills in the blanks with cinematic melancholy dripping from his guitar strings into pools of drone. Buck stomps hard on the accelerator for the next track "Shift" with a punk-as-fuck jackbooted riff on the black metal blast beat, albeit done on a jazz kit, with Welburn slipping the buzzsaw guitars into icy layers. The detuned bass that anchors "Duration" with a bloody-knuckled masonry on par with Todd Trainor of Shellac, with the guitars again crashing forward with drone-metal blurs and slabs of frigid noise. Swans and Godflesh are reasonably close neighbors of what Welburn is up to here, although these tracks are entirely instrumental with the songs hitting their dynamics through slow-burn and flame-out approaches to their compositional arcs. Just imagine if Welburn and Buck were to get a hold of two or three dozen guitarists with their slipstream noise perfectly in step with Welburn's compositional prowess. Look out, Branca. Look out, Chatham.
MPEG Stream: "Peak"
MPEG Stream: "Shift"
MPEG Stream: "Transience"

album cover KROG, KARIN Don't Just Sing: An Anthology 1963-1999 (Light In The Attic) cd 16.98
Most Americans (well, not most Americans, but the ones paying attention) were first introduced to the progressive versatility of Norwegian jazz singer Karin Krog back in the nineties when European distribution regulations finally relaxed enough for wider promotion and availability across the Atlantic, and what a discovery it was. Having performed and recorded since the early sixties, Krog was essentially a household name in her native country, having worked with the some of the most esteemed bandleaders and arrangers of the post-bop jazz world, Dexter Gordon, Archie Shepp, Jan Garbarek, Steve Kuhn, and John Surman among them. Her then 30 year old back catalog was a treasure chest for crate diggers and beat heads and sure enough compilations of her work along with other groove heavy "Black Forest" jazz figures from Scandinavia, Germany and Poland, like Wolfgang Dauner, Michael Urbaniak and Urszula Dudziak, began to crop up in the early 2000's.
It's been about 13 years since Crippled Dick released the first Krog survey, Raindrops, Raindrops, which mainly focused on her seventies work. Some of those tracks reappear here, like the great Herbie Hancock composition, "Maiden Voyage" and "We Could Be Flying". On Don't Just Sing, Light In The Attic expands that survey into the margins on both sides of her career from the sixties to the nineties, and truly highlights her wide range from funk-laden jazz pop to cosmic fusion explorations into freer modes of vocal expression and electronic experimentation. Krog's delivery can weave an incandescent tapestry no matter if the material is traditional or experimental. Her approach to standards is by no means by the book and indeed is quite innovative. Who else could turn the Mississippi Delta twang of Bobbi Gentry's "Ode to Billy Joe" into a Scandinavian jazz groover? Or transform John Coltrane's "A Love Supreme" into such blithely cool rapturous devotion? Krog's dry lilting voice is effortlessly breezy, at times near lackadaisical as it almost trails off a the end of a phrase - but also at times spitfire, full of life and in total control. "Don't Just Sing" is not only a track here exploring how much the voice can do without words, it's also a personalized mantra for how the voice can convey emotional and tonal complexities as well as transform audible worlds into poetic vision.
While we long for full reissues of her essential records like We Could Be Flying, Hi Fly (with Archie Shepp) and Joy, any survey of Karin Krog is warmly welcomed and this one is particularly great! Includes archival photos and liner notes including a Q& A with Krog herself. We cannot recommend this compilation enough! (Also be sure to check out her feature in this month's Wire magazine!)
MPEG Stream: "Lazy Afternoon"
MPEG Stream: "Raindrops, Raindrops"
MPEG Stream: "Maiden Voyage"
MPEG Stream: "Just Holding on"
MPEG Stream: "Don't Just Sing"

album cover KROG, KARIN Don't Just Sing: An Anthology 1963-1999 (Light In The Attic) 2lp 28.00
Most Americans (well, not most Americans, but the ones paying attention) were first introduced to the progressive versatility of Norwegian jazz singer Karin Krog back in the nineties when European distribution regulations finally relaxed enough for wider promotion and availability across the Atlantic, and what a discovery it was. Having performed and recorded since the early sixties, Krog was essentially a household name in her native country, having worked with the some of the most esteemed bandleaders and arrangers of the post-bop jazz world, Dexter Gordon, Archie Shepp, Jan Garbarek, Steve Kuhn, and John Surman among them. Her then 30 year old back catalog was a treasure chest for crate diggers and beat heads and sure enough compilations of her work along with other groove heavy "Black Forest" jazz figures from Scandinavia, Germany and Poland, like Wolfgang Dauner, Michael Urbaniak and Urszula Dudziak, began to crop up in the early 2000's.
It's been about 13 years since Crippled Dick released the first Krog survey, Raindrops, Raindrops, which mainly focused on her seventies work. Some of those tracks reappear here, like the great Herbie Hancock composition, "Maiden Voyage" and "We Could Be Flying". On Don't Just Sing, Light In The Attic expands that survey into the margins on both sides of her career from the sixties to the nineties, and truly highlights her wide range from funk-laden jazz pop to cosmic fusion explorations into freer modes of vocal expression and electronic experimentation. Krog's delivery can weave an incandescent tapestry no matter if the material is traditional or experimental. Her approach to standards is by no means by the book and indeed is quite innovative. Who else could turn the Mississippi Delta twang of Bobbi Gentry's "Ode to Billy Joe" into a Scandinavian jazz groover? Or transform John Coltrane's "A Love Supreme" into such blithely cool rapturous devotion? Krog's dry lilting voice is effortlessly breezy, at times near lackadaisical as it almost trails off a the end of a phrase - but also at times spitfire, full of life and in total control. "Don't Just Sing" is not only a track here exploring how much the voice can do without words, it's also a personalized mantra for how the voice can convey emotional and tonal complexities as well as transform audible worlds into poetic vision.
While we long for full reissues of her essential records like We Could Be Flying, Hi Fly (with Archie Shepp) and Joy, any survey of Karin Krog is warmly welcomed and this one is particularly great! Includes archival photos and liner notes including a Q& A with Krog herself. We cannot recommend this compilation enough! (Also be sure to check out her feature in this month's Wire magazine!)
MPEG Stream: "Lazy Afternoon"
MPEG Stream: "Raindrops, Raindrops"
MPEG Stream: "Maiden Voyage"
MPEG Stream: "Just Holding on"
MPEG Stream: "Don't Just Sing"

album cover VATICAN SHADOW Death & Unity With God (Complete Version) (Modern Love) 3cd 22.00
Death & Unity With God was originally one of those tiny edition tape boxsets that Hospital Productions released at some point in 2014. Yes, those six cassettes sprawled across 20 tracks, of which only 12 were pressed onto the double vinyl edition that came and went earlier in 2015. But now, as promised, Modern Love delivers a complete package in the form of this triple cd set!
Vatican Shadow is, of course, Dominick Fernow - the man also behind Prurient and the Hospital Productions empire. Over the past three or four years, Fernow has shifted his focus almost entirely to toward Vatican Shadow, using a loose critique of religious indoctrination as the conceptual framework for his spare rhythmic exercises in crunchy Middle Eastern electro dervishes. The precursor of this work is obviously Muslimgauze; and the work on Death & Unity With God continues along this same trajectory, linking the distinctly American cult of personality catastrophes (Jim Jones, David Koresh, Timothy McVeigh) with the ideological endgames of Al Qaeda and the Islamic State. The political rhetoric of this work quickly wanes in the seductive power of Fernow's rhythms, and that may be the point. But more likely this disconnect recalls a common critique of Fernow's work as being thoroughly surface oriented with a armor-plated facades of masculinity, intellectualism, etc. covering up something that's hollow, missing, or lacking. This however is all thrown out the window when it comes to how good a producer Fernow can be, with Death & Unity With God being one of his most subtly dramatic pieces of modern day electronica. Bleak electrical chorales and dread-inducing rumblings haunt these 20 tracks that are girded upon slowly unfurling spare rhythms whose breakbeats slink with an desert-dry Arabic groove alternating with nocturnally muted techno, laced with arid dub echo, gothy whipcrack snares, and motorik noise hypnosis. The near 26-minute "Al Qaeda (Branch Davidian)" is one such track that never made its way onto wax and is a creeping exploration of slug-paced techno torpor which sounds like an exhumed Muslimgauze track intended for 45rpm played a 33. The depressive-electronics of "McVeigh Figures" pocked with gunshot echo and better-than-witch-house shadowiness make for some of most evocative and downright haunting that Fernow has ever created.
So fucking good, this one is!
MPEG Stream: "Living On And Off At The Shadow Motel"
MPEG Stream: "Small Explosives And Blasting Caps"
MPEG Stream: "McVeigh Figures"

album cover DHAMPYR Oceanclots (Acephale Winter) cassette 6.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY.
Some records walk through the doors of aQuarius with a gravitas about them, some sort of heavy indefinable weight that's apparent before we even hit play for our first listen. Oceanclots, the umpteenth release from Dhampyr but only the second one we've stocked, is one such album. Written and recorded by the minimally monickered H.L. after the tragic death of his girlfriend (with the help of some collaborators, including vocal contributions from Jacob Thomas of local blown-out hypno-black metallers Dunnock), Oceanclots serves as a harrowing, cathartic, beautiful, singular tribute to her - a swirling, mesmerizing watercolor flurry of hazy blissful psychedelic black metal. Everything about the album is immersive, not least of which the in-the-red wall of sound production, almost indiscernible at first, inaccessible, and then as your ears adjust suddenly alive with lush shimmering detail, like your eyes adapting to the darkness of a jungle. Everything blends together and then seems to come apart. The distant ghostly spoken vocals and the anguished piercing screams. The cloudy melodies like half-memories drifting in and out, impossible to determine even what instrument they might belong to. The crumbling static of white-noise guitar enveloping everything (apparently all of which, due simply to H.L. not having any other way to record, are acoustic, but altered later on to sound like a blistering avalanche of gravelly static - just another piece of evidence that this is an album born of raw emotional necessity.) The truly blissful quiet passages, draped in alien echoes, haunting reverb, and glittering ambience. But beyond the music, as wonderfully and brutally psychedelic as it is, there are so many other details that complete the surreal portrait of this album. The ocean theme, a perfect compliment to the sounds you'll hear, which are like your eardrums bursting and the blissful drift of floating atop the ocean waves all rolled into one. The gorgeously labyrinthine song titles like "Mine Isabella Of Frosts & Poppypins" or "A Kodak Of Guncotton Shipwrecks". The surrealistic and heart breaking free form prose that adorns the booklet. And the final track, the beautiful dreamlike "Sea-Eclogue For Genevieve", seemingly an abstract drift of melodic reverb complimented by pulsing bass & plodding percussion, but which is in fact composed entirely using manipulated recordings of H.L.'s late girlfriend's voice, molded and twisted into an unending landscape of woozy hypnotizing beauty. The perfect end to such an exhaustingly harrowing yet euphorically cathartic album. An essential listen.
MPEG Stream: "Mine Isabella Of Frosts & Poppypins"
MPEG Stream: "Waltz Of The Salivating Avalanche"
MPEG Stream: "Sea-Eclogue For Genevieve"

album cover DAMAGED BUG Cold Hot Plumbs (Castle Face) cd 13.98
Record number two from Thee Oh Sees' John Dwyer in his Damaged Bug electro synth pop guise, and like his first outing under that moniker, Hubba Bubba, Cold Hot Plumbs is another strangely delightful collection of quirky home-brewed pop, that sounds a little like Thee Oh Sees, but without guitars, and produced by Joe Meek and Brian Eno. And as much as we love Thee Oh Sees (and we do, a LOT), we find ourselves digging Damaged Bug even more.
The record begins with a brief bit of cheesy Casio sounding schmaltz, before launching into "What Cheer", all synth buzz, laid back vocals, and wild, tribal drumming, pocked with some Stereolab style squelches, as well as some sax (!). "The Mirror" is up next, and it's very reminiscent of the first record, and sounds like an electro pop version of Thee Oh Sees, you can definitely imagine it recast all distorto guitars and yelped vox.
But it's here where Cold Hot Plumbs gets REALLY good, and demonstrates Dwyer's pop song smarts, the record darkening considerably, but at the same time revealing previously unplumbed (yup!) depths of songsmithery. "Jet In Jungle" is anchored by an arpeggiated synth melody, the vocals are wispy and falsetto, all driven by propulsive rock drumming, and everything wreathed in wheezing synth buzz, and laced with cool, creepy backwards vocals, the sonics are practically perfect, but the song is too. We got to this song and spun it about 20 times before we could move on - and then were quickly rewarded with what might be our favorite Dwyer jam yet, Damaged Bug or otherwise, the brooding, moody "Der Mond", with its woozy melody, skittery rhythm, and moody vocal croon. Every time this song comes on, we almost forget what we're listening to, it sounds like some lost electro-folk rarity from the sixties or seventies, and yeah, just like "Jet In Jungle", we played this track to death before digging any deeper.
And you'll probably not be surprised to discover, that Cold Hot Plumbs had much more to offer seeing as we weren't even halfway in. From playful singsongy electo-glam, that sounds like a more new wave Ty Segall, to pulsing almost krautrock sounding groovery, wreathed in swirling shimmer and bouncy synth chords, to synth-funk electro reminiscent of Perrey & Kingsley, albeit with some swoonsome vox over the top, to wild spacey, psychedelic synth pop, to full on synth drenched garage rock crunch, to what sounds like some lost seventies library music. All impossibly catchy, and super melodic, and sonically lush, and really, fast becoming our favorite Dwyer record EVER.
MPEG Stream: "What Cheer"
MPEG Stream: "The Mirror"
MPEG Stream: "Jet In Jungle"
MPEG Stream: "Cough Pills"

album cover DAMAGED BUG Cold Hot Plumbs (Castle Face) lp 15.98
Record number two from Thee Oh Sees' John Dwyer in his Damaged Bug electro synth pop guise, and like his first outing under that moniker, Hubba Bubba, Cold Hot Plumbs is another strangely delightful collection of quirky home-brewed pop, that sounds a little like Thee Oh Sees, but without guitars, and produced by Joe Meek and Brian Eno. And as much as we love Thee Oh Sees (and we do, a LOT), we find ourselves digging Damaged Bug even more.
The record begins with a brief bit of cheesy Casio sounding schmaltz, before launching into "What Cheer", all synth buzz, laid back vocals, and wild, tribal drumming, pocked with some Stereolab style squelches, as well as some sax (!). "The Mirror" is up next, and it's very reminiscent of the first record, and sounds like an electro pop version of Thee Oh Sees, you can definitely imagine it recast all distorto guitars and yelped vox.
But it's here where Cold Hot Plumbs gets REALLY good, and demonstrates Dwyer's pop song smarts, the record darkening considerably, but at the same time revealing previously unplumbed (yup!) depths of songsmithery. "Jet In Jungle" is anchored by an arpeggiated synth melody, the vocals are wispy and falsetto, all driven by propulsive rock drumming, and everything wreathed in wheezing synth buzz, and laced with cool, creepy backwards vocals, the sonics are practically perfect, but the song is too. We got to this song and spun it about 20 times before we could move on - and then were quickly rewarded with what might be our favorite Dwyer jam yet, Damaged Bug or otherwise, the brooding, moody "Der Mond", with its woozy melody, skittery rhythm, and moody vocal croon. Every time this song comes on, we almost forget what we're listening to, it sounds like some lost electro-folk rarity from the sixties or seventies, and yeah, just like "Jet In Jungle", we played this track to death before digging any deeper.
And you'll probably not be surprised to discover, that Cold Hot Plumbs had much more to offer seeing as we weren't even halfway in. From playful singsongy electo-glam, that sounds like a more new wave Ty Segall, to pulsing almost krautrock sounding groovery, wreathed in swirling shimmer and bouncy synth chords, to synth-funk electro reminiscent of Perrey & Kingsley, albeit with some swoonsome vox over the top, to wild spacey, psychedelic synth pop, to full on synth drenched garage rock crunch, to what sounds like some lost seventies library music. All impossibly catchy, and super melodic, and sonically lush, and really, fast becoming our favorite Dwyer record EVER.
MPEG Stream: "What Cheer"
MPEG Stream: "The Mirror"
MPEG Stream: "Jet In Jungle"
MPEG Stream: "Cough Pills"

album cover PLANNING FOR BURIAL Leaving (Flenser) 2lp 25.00
Originally released as a limited cd back in 2010, this gloriously downtrodden slab of hazy, gazey doom-meets-slowcore is finally available once more courtesy of the increasingly essential hometown heroes at Flenser Records. Planning For Burial's last full length Desideratum was a serious staff favorite over here at aQ HQ last year, and while PFB has approximately a squillion (and a half) eps, demos and splits to his name, that aforementioned masterpiece of glistening gloom was in fact only the second Planning For Burial full length. And here presented for the first time on monolithic wax is the first Planning For Burial album, originally released as a limited (and now impossible to come by) cd in 2010 by Enemies List. It's a shockingly fully realized testament to all things beautiful, sad & heavy.
Those already familiar with Desideratum may at least somewhat know what to expect here (think Jesu meets Red House Painters, Swans meets Elliott Smith, Khanate meets My Bloody Valentine). But the truth is Planning For Burial don't make the kind of records you can really *prepare* yourself for. Instead, they make records to sink into, records to wrap yourself in. The music is beautiful but not necessarily comforting, somber but not necessarily depressing. It's a bittersweet listening experience. A little sad maybe, but also altogether hugely cathartic. Heart swelling melodies flutter amidst a hailstorm of crackling gravel guitar thrum, the plodding simplicity of an automated drum machine at wonderful odds with the raw emotion in the music. The vocals a distant and warm hum, beckoning you back to some half remembered place you might have seen once in a dream when you were eight years old. A computerized voice reflects on past loves & regrets. Sorry, this might all sound a bit dramatic, but that's exactly what Leaving is: an unapologetically lush monolith of blossoming doom, glittering with starlit twinkling bells collapsing under the looming dread comfort of an enormous bass rattle, leaving behind an empty expanse of delicately plucked strings and contemplative piano. It's a mythical record, the kind that builds its own world up around you while you listen, a world of lush greenery & cloudy skies & open fields forgotten and discarded by time. It's the kind of record hyperbole was made for, and for 55 minutes nothing else in this world will matter.
MPEG Stream: "Wearing Sadness And Regret Upon Our Faces"
MPEG Stream: "Memories You'll Never Feel Again"
MPEG Stream: "Oh Pennsylvania, Your Black Clouds Hang Low"

album cover DHAMPYR Oceanclots (Acephale Winter) cd 11.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY.
Some records walk through the doors of aQuarius with a gravitas about them, some sort of heavy indefinable weight that's apparent before we even hit play for our first listen. Oceanclots, the umpteenth release from Dhampyr but only the second one we've stocked, is one such album. Written and recorded by the minimally monickered H.L. after the tragic death of his girlfriend (with the help of some collaborators, including vocal contributions from Jacob Thomas of local blown-out hypno-black metallers Dunnock), Oceanclots serves as a harrowing, cathartic, beautiful, singular tribute to her - a swirling, mesmerizing watercolor flurry of hazy blissful psychedelic black metal. Everything about the album is immersive, not least of which the in-the-red wall of sound production, almost indiscernible at first, inaccessible, and then as your ears adjust suddenly alive with lush shimmering detail, like your eyes adapting to the darkness of a jungle. Everything blends together and then seems to come apart. The distant ghostly spoken vocals and the anguished piercing screams. The cloudy melodies like half-memories drifting in and out, impossible to determine even what instrument they might belong to. The crumbling static of white-noise guitar enveloping everything (apparently all of which, due simply to H.L. not having any other way to record, are acoustic, but altered later on to sound like a blistering avalanche of gravelly static - just another piece of evidence that this is an album born of raw emotional necessity.) The truly blissful quiet passages, draped in alien echoes, haunting reverb, and glittering ambience. But beyond the music, as wonderfully and brutally psychedelic as it is, there are so many other details that complete the surreal portrait of this album. The ocean theme, a perfect compliment to the sounds you'll hear, which are like your eardrums bursting and the blissful drift of floating atop the ocean waves all rolled into one. The gorgeously labyrinthine song titles like "Mine Isabella Of Frosts & Poppypins" or "A Kodak Of Guncotton Shipwrecks". The surrealistic and heart breaking free form prose that adorns the booklet. And the final track, the beautiful dreamlike "Sea-Eclogue For Genevieve", seemingly an abstract drift of melodic reverb complimented by pulsing bass & plodding percussion, but which is in fact composed entirely using manipulated recordings of H.L.'s late girlfriend's voice, molded and twisted into an unending landscape of woozy hypnotizing beauty. The perfect end to such an exhaustingly harrowing yet euphorically cathartic album. An essential listen.
MPEG Stream: "Mine Isabella Of Frosts & Poppypins"
MPEG Stream: "Waltz Of The Salivating Avalanche"
MPEG Stream: "Sea-Eclogue For Genevieve"

album cover NOVELLA Land (Sinderlyn) cd 13.98
Land is the first full length from this all female British psychedelic noise pop crew, who have previously shared a split with another aQ fave, nineties shoegaze revivalists The History Of Apple Pie, and while their sounds aren't all that familiar, they're definitely complimentary.
And fans of that sort of dreamy jangly retro-indie rock sound will definitely find much to love here, a sound reminiscent of groups like Stereolab, Electrelane, Lush, Curve, and the like, but these ladies give the psychedelic space rock boy's club a serious run for their money as well, fusing those super melodic pop elements to seriously heady stretches of droned out, motorik mesmer, dense hypno-rock grooves wrapped in distorted spidery guitars, the group slipping effortlessly from straight psychedelic indie pop, to explosive heart-of-the-sun, out-jams that, minus the vocals, would likely elicit comparisons to heavier psych/space/neo-kraut rockers like Wooden Ships, White Hills, Carlton Melton or even Loop. In fact there are plenty of moments on Land that sound like total Loop worship, channeling the taking-drugs-to-make-music-to-take-drugs-by grooviness of Spacemen 3 and cranking it way up and looping (yup) those supercharged sounds into a druggier, more driving sprawl.
But at their heart, Novella are definitely a pop group, with a handful of hooks to die for, with pretty much every track here boasting some earwormy melody, some fantastic vocals, lovely harmonies, which just happen to be often paired with some groovy, fuzzy, jammy psychedelic trip out. It's a pretty stunning combo, and one that will likely have pop kids, space nerds and psych freeks equally smitten. Slipcased cd or vinyl with 'bonus' 7" featuring two tracks also on the cd.
MPEG Stream: "Follow"
MPEG Stream: "Sentences"
MPEG Stream: "Phrases"

album cover DEATH & VANILLA To Where The Wild Things Are (Fire Records) cd 15.98
Death & Vanilla should hardly be a secret anymore, as the Swedish retro-futurist outfit has catapulted their low-key releases on Hands In The Dark to the seminal British independent imprint Fire Records. Those earlier albums were on the shortlist of those albums we'd play in the shop on busy Saturday afternoons, knowing that we'd capture the imagination of our enlightened customers here at aQuarius. In years past, others on that list might have also been Os Mutantes, Neutral Milk Hotel, Boards Of Canada, shit even the Conet Project, and yes The Beta Band (which we had known to tickle the ear well BEFORE it was the punchline in High Fidelity). Seductive retro-art-pop of sci-fi dreaminess and bachelor pad slinkiness, that's the stuff of Death & Vanilla. Their soft-as-snow production has all of the feel of an all analog recording by the Silver Apples or the United States of America, with the ghostly vocals of Marleen Nilsson rippling through the echoplex and spring reverb before settling onto the tactile magnetic tape drawing magical daylight out of the arctic dark nights. To Where The Wild Things Are doesn't seem to have anything to do with the beloved Maurice Sendak book of a very similar name. Given how much control and precision they exact over their references, what else might the title refer to? The interwoven melodies and harmonies for Nilsson's voice, those analogue synths, and the bell-tone tremolo guitars latch onto a deluge of impeccably written drifting waltzes, motorik Kraut rhythms, and jaunty beat-pop grooves. We're not alone in seeing the obvious connection between Death & Vanilla and lamentably late Broadcast; and the Swedes are clearly channeling the ghosts of Broadcast in their studio sessions as seance, but there's much that Death & Vanilla brings to the table that's their own. One of the most charming pop records of 2015.
MPEG Stream: "Necessary Distortions"
MPEG Stream: "Time Travel"
MPEG Stream: "The Hidden Reverse"

album cover DEATH & VANILLA To Where The Wild Things Are (Fire Records) lp 29.00
Death & Vanilla should hardly be a secret anymore, as the Swedish retro-futurist outfit has catapulted their low-key releases on Hands In The Dark to the seminal British independent imprint Fire Records. Those earlier albums were on the shortlist of those albums we'd play in the shop on busy Saturday afternoons, knowing that we'd capture the imagination of our enlightened customers here at aQuarius. In years past, others on that list might have also been Os Mutantes, Neutral Milk Hotel, Boards Of Canada, shit even the Conet Project, and yes The Beta Band (which we had known to tickle the ear well BEFORE it was the punchline in High Fidelity). Seductive retro-art-pop of sci-fi dreaminess and bachelor pad slinkiness, that's the stuff of Death & Vanilla. Their soft-as-snow production has all of the feel of an all analog recording by the Silver Apples or the United States of America, with the ghostly vocals of Marleen Nilsson rippling through the echoplex and spring reverb before settling onto the tactile magnetic tape drawing magical daylight out of the arctic dark nights. To Where The Wild Things Are doesn't seem to have anything to do with the beloved Maurice Sendak book of a very similar name. Given how much control and precision they exact over their references, what else might the title refer to? The interwoven melodies and harmonies for Nilsson's voice, those analogue synths, and the bell-tone tremolo guitars latch onto a deluge of impeccably written drifting waltzes, motorik Kraut rhythms, and jaunty beat-pop grooves. We're not alone in seeing the obvious connection between Death & Vanilla and lamentably late Broadcast; and the Swedes are clearly channeling the ghosts of Broadcast in their studio sessions as seance, but there's much that Death & Vanilla brings to the table that's their own. One of the most charming pop records of 2015.
MPEG Stream: "Necessary Distortions"
MPEG Stream: "Time Travel"
MPEG Stream: "The Hidden Reverse"

album cover ZIRAKZIGIL Worldbuilder (Anthem) cd 12.98
Zounds! Zoinks!! ZIRAKZIGIL!!! "Z" is the letter of the week here at aQ thanks in part to this absolutely enormous slab of cosmic progressive supersludge courtesy of Portland's very heaviest Z-word. Worldbuilder is only the sophomore full length from these grizzly wanderers of the astral plane (after their debut "Battle Of The Peak" which we rightfully raved about back in 2013), but already pulses with a wild streak of spiritually charged confidence usually reserved for bands of the Neurosis, Mastodon, Om ilk. What immediately sets Zirakzigil apart from some of their simpler minded sludged-out contemporaries is the level of musicianship on display. While this certainly bears similarities to the aforementioned Neurosis (especially in the vocals) and perhaps also to bands like Isis or Yob, Zirakzigil eschew any kind of hypnotic repetitive approach, instead peppering their songs with whirling stop start time signatures and off kilter drumming, dramatic twisting structures and dizzying transitions, at times even sounding like some jazz-fusion answer to monolithic post-metal. But as wonderful and thrilling as all of that weirdness is, it only serves as a compliment to something even grander. That's Zirakzigil's real secret weapon, distraction. The awesomeness of the more frantic passages, with all their warped musicianship, frenetic rolls & confounding riffing, provides the ultimate disarming contrast to Zirakzigil's truest strength: Those Enormous. Epic. Riffs. When Worldbuilder really opens up and simplifies, it becomes the stuff of mountain crumbling legend - the kind of thing you want to ride out into battle and die to (whether that's on horseback or in a starship is unclear... it seems like either one could apply equally to this record!) It's an approach not dissimilar to Elder's newest album (which we also made ROTW recently!), but Zirakzigil are way more immediate and aggressive. Confrontationally spacey if you will! The way every song seamlessly leads into the next (four tracks all running at 13+ minutes by the way) only makes the experience all the more massive, like being torn slow-motion-asunder by an enormous hour long suite of galaxy swallowing black hole orchestration - a pummeling meteor shower of multicolor Northern Lights heavy, heavy, heavy metal. Glorious, twisted & very recommended.
MPEG Stream: "Kategoria"
MPEG Stream: "Prolegomena"

album cover SWIFTUMZ Everybody Loves Chris (Melters) lp 15.98
Woah! The boys at Melters continue to absolutely amaze by releasing the most catchy, heavy, trippy pop music being made in the Bay Area. In addition to the Tony Molina (of Ovens notoriety) solo lp, they've brought us the fucked up bedroom pop of Violent Change, whose full-length we made a Record Of The Week last year. So, when Mr. Eli Melter himself came in with a stack of the new Swiftumz album, we knew we were in for a treat. Well, we kind knew it also 'cause we're Swiftumz fans. We've gushed over Swiftumz releases before (the last one being a two-song 7" released back in 2013 that we still have a couple copies of), but on Everybody Loves Chris, the titular Chris McVicker has stepped up his game on every possible level, crafting a stoned mix of stuck-in-your-head pop hooks, saccharine love songs that you want to play over and over again, and Ariel Pinkish bedroom lo-fi weirdness. Did we mention wanting to play them over and over again? This record is seriously difficult to not start right up again after it ends.
By the time we finished track three on the first listen, this was pretty much automatically a Record Of The Week, bringing to mind Teenage Fanclub power pop, Guided By Voices, and maybe even the more sunshine-y Sparklehorse tracks out there. Then you get a track like "Come My Way", just blown out synth and harmonized vocals, but it totally works, adding to the spaced out stoner vibe of the record. "Taste the Gray", too, gets spaced out towards the end, heavy and repetitive, but still totally catchy. "Walter's Song" and "Ladybird" have a drugged-out, childish Ariel Pink vibe that still manage to be total hook-centric pop tunes.
Another stunner from McVicker, and Melters, a totally unexpected masterpiece. Everybody Loves Chris, or at least, Everybody Should!! If there was any musical justice in the world, Swiftumz will blow up and McVicker will get famous for this, but, at least those of us "in the know" will be able to spin this record again and again.
MPEG Stream: "Creepy Eyed Girls"
MPEG Stream: "Come My Way"
MPEG Stream: "Ladybird"

album cover MELT-BANANA Return Of 13 Hedgehogs (MxBx Singles 2000-2009) (A-Zap) cd 13.98
We love Melt-Banana. And really, we kind of always have. From the early days when they were a furious frenzied punk band, to their current incarnation of blissed out, glitchy electro-punk noise pop. And while sometimes we forget just how much we love MxBx, it generally only takes about ten seconds to remind us just why we love them so much (and boy, can Melt-Banana pack a LOT into ten seconds!), and to get us listening to them obsessively all over again.
We flipped over their most recent full length Fetch, in 2013, which found the group paired down to a duo, but the tracks collected here on this singles collection, represents the band arguably at their zenith, gathering up some of our favorite MxBx jams EVER, all the tracks from comps, EPs and split singles, from the years 2000-2009, including their 8" split with Three Studies For A Crucifixion, their split 7" with Dynamite Anna And The Bone Machine, their split 7" with Big D And The Kids Table, their 666 6", their split 7" with The Locust, their split single with Daemien Frost, their Initial T 7", their split 7" with Narcosis, their split 10" with Chung, their split 5" with Fantomas, their split mini CD with Fatday, their split single with Young Widows and finally, their Ai No Uta 5" single. Whew! And amongst those twenty nine tracks lurk a few covers, including Melt-Banana taking on the Damned's "Love Song", Devo's "Uncontrollable Urge", and even more strangely, "Monkey Man", originally by Toots & The Maytals!
And while Melt-Banana don't need to resort to covers to impress us, those covers are pretty fucking mind blowing. They don't really fuck with "Love Song", other than speeding it up to a dizzying blur, and replacing Dave Vanian's gothic croon with Yasuko Onuki's distinctive hyper active high pitched chirp as well as adding some cool electronic glitchery, and the Toots & The Maytals song is a blast, hearing Melt-Banana's hyperactive take on reggae, and the way they fuse it to their own frenzied punk pop buzz. The Devo track, of course you know MxBx will do it right.
The rest of the comp is sonically all over the map, the band mixing totally freaked out experimental weirdness to lightning speed J-Pop turned noise punk, and engaging in some extended WTF noisescaping, as well as coming up with short sharp blasts of perfect chipmunk punk, some of the tracks are murky and blown out, others are glistening and transcendent, the sound lurching wildly and veering constantly from sound to sound, total head spinning ADD radness, that in other hands might be unbearably schizophrenic, but MxBx have such an effortless mastery of melody and texture, that even the most furious and blasting chunk of noisiness will get its hooks into you and never let go. We're reminded a little of the Toy Dolls too, who basically took super catchy poppy punk, cranked it way up, added helium vox, and blasted out jittery, caffeinated, pogo punk that we still love like crazy to this day. So imagine a what-the-fuck, avant garde, Japanese psychedelic noise punk Toy Dolls, and you might be getting close. But really, NOBODY sounds like Melt-Banana, and no one ever will. And no one ever could.
MPEG Stream: "Dog In Lost"
MPEG Stream: "Creeps In A White Cake"
MPEG Stream: "Steel Me Lust"
MPEG Stream: "Uncontrollable Urge"

album cover WELBURN, JAMES Hold (Miasmah) cd 19.98
Quite an impressive solo debut from British noiserocker James Welburn! His bio quips that he's been playing in various art/drone/noise rock outfits since the '90s, though a quick glance through the entire internet didn't provide much in the way of information on what those projects might be. However, we know that back in 2008, he had a release under the name Project Transmit, which also featured the fantastic drummer Tony Buck from trance-inducing Australian 'jazz' group The Necks. Now, Buck has joined forces with Welburn once again for Hold - a well-controlled album of darkly ascendant drone guitars guiding a well-heeled rhythm section that's crushingly muscular when it needs to be and skeletally restrained when called for at other times. Second track here "Peak" falls into the latter camp with Buck and Welburn conjuring the slow-core nocturnes from Low's first couple of albums, with a Joy Division-y spaciousness on the bass and Buck tapping metonymically on the ride. Welburn fills in the blanks with cinematic melancholy dripping from his guitar strings into pools of drone. Buck stomps hard on the accelerator for the next track "Shift" with a punk-as-fuck jackbooted riff on the black metal blast beat, albeit done on a jazz kit, with Welburn slipping the buzzsaw guitars into icy layers. The detuned bass that anchors "Duration" with a bloody-knuckled masonry on par with Todd Trainor of Shellac, with the guitars again crashing forward with drone-metal blurs and slabs of frigid noise. Swans and Godflesh are reasonably close neighbors of what Welburn is up to here, although these tracks are entirely instrumental with the songs hitting their dynamics through slow-burn and flame-out approaches to their compositional arcs. Just imagine if Welburn and Buck were to get a hold of two or three dozen guitarists with their slipstream noise perfectly in step with Welburn's compositional prowess. Look out, Branca. Look out, Chatham.
MPEG Stream: "Peak"
MPEG Stream: "Shift"
MPEG Stream: "Transience"

album cover PHARAOH OVERLORD Circle (Ektro) cd 15.98
Oh lord, what will the mischievous mind of Circle mainman Jussi Lehtisalo come up with next? Not long ago, there was the conceptually confusional arrangement under which our Finnish space rock faves Circle changed their name to Falcon (Ex-Circle), and then recruited a completely different group of musicians to record an album under their former name of Circle (which was great!), after which the original Circle guys switched back to being called Circle (Ex-Falcon). Whew. And now they're just Circle, again. BUT, how's this for another confusing idea: Circle, and their not-all-that-different-really side-project band Pharaoh Overlord have now simultaneously released albums with the titles "Circle" and "Pharaoh Overlord", no, not self-titled albums, the Circle one is called Pharaoh Overlord and the Pharaoh Overlord one is called Circle. And they have very similar art/graphics. Yep. That's what they do for laffs up in Finland, although knowing Jussi, he probably has some very serious, meaningful reason behind this scheme, but the explanation would be impossible to understand. It makes a circle or something. Regardless, what we've got here are TWO NEW Circle and/or Pharaoh Overlord albums, however you slice it, and that's a good thing! Of course, they just showed up yesterday, the day before our list, but we already have spun these a bunch of times and know we will spin them lots more, so sure let's make 'em both Records Of The Week!
On Pharaoh Overlord's Circle, they indeed do their best Circle impression - not so hard since the band consists ENTIRELY of members of Circle after all (the lineups on these two albums are identical except that vocalist/keyboardist Mika Ratto only appears on the Circle one, which also has a guest horn player). And while PO were originally conceived as the heavier, "stoner rock" alter ego of Circle, here they evince a lighter touch than what Circle do on their parallel Pharaoh Overlord album, less heavy, less dark, instead being delightfully upbeat and sunny sounding, but of course with lots of the usual rhythmic urgency, gently directed. The all-instrumental music is layered with lots of pretty synth sizzle, almost giving it a 'new wave' vibe, uplifting and sprightly, even. We like the bloop bloop lava lamp sound going on throughout track two, "Tarkennus", and the first track, "Elain Rientaa Kotiin", features a melodic synth flourish that sure reminds us a lot of Stereolab... as of course does the similarly Neu! derived motorik beat. "Villaa", track 4, really blurs the lines between the typically krauty pulse of Circle and loop-based dance music. And so it goes. Providing a blissful rhythmic workout overall, this is a great Circle/Pharaoh Overlord/whatevertheywannacallthemselves album that we'll for sure be returning to on days when we need a sweet, lively, Circular pick me up. Recommended, as is the other one by the other band.
FYI, vinyl versions of both of these are forthcoming in a month or two...
MPEG Stream: "Tarkennus"
MPEG Stream: "Verbi"

album cover CIRCLE Pharaoh Overlord (Ektro) cd 15.98
Oh lord, what will the mischievous mind of Circle mainman Jussi Lehtisalo come up with next? Not long ago, there was the conceptually confusional arrangement under which our Finnish space rock faves Circle changed their name to Falcon (Ex-Circle), and then recruited a completely different group of musicians to record an album under their former name of Circle (which was great!), after which the original Circle guys switched back to being called Circle (Ex-Falcon). Whew. And now they're just Circle, again. BUT, how's this for another confusing idea: Circle, and their not-all-that-different-really side-project band Pharaoh Overlord have now simultaneously released albums with the titles "Circle" and "Pharaoh Overlord", no, not self-titled albums, the Circle one is called Pharaoh Overlord and the Pharaoh Overlord one is called Circle. And they have very similar art/graphics. Yep. That's what they do for laffs up in Finland, although knowing Jussi, he probably has some very serious, meaningful reason behind this scheme, but the explanation would be impossible to understand. It makes a circle or something. Regardless, what we've got here are TWO NEW Circle and/or Pharaoh Overlord albums, however you slice it, and that's a good thing! Of course, they just showed up yesterday, the day before our list, but we already have spun these a bunch of times and know we will spin them lots more, so sure let's make 'em both Records Of The Week!
The Circle album is quite, well, it's pretty much redundant and superfluous to say in a review of a Circle album that the music is "mesmeric" but goshdarnit, this is indeed mesmerizing. They don't try to sound especially like Pharaoh Overlord, by the way, whatever that would entail, not of course that they don't, either. Instead, the quick takeaway here would be that this is "the Circle album with horns". (Oh, wait, there's a PO album called Horn, maybe that's the weird connection, hmmm??) Anyway, the horns are the big X-factor here, tooting along syncopatedly and cyclically Circle-like. A little jazzy, certainly proggy, those horns, along with the wordless vocal choirs, make us think of Magma and other '70s large-ensemble prog symphonics. We're also put in mind of some suspenseful '60s/'70s film soundtracks, like David Shire's The Taking Of Pelham One Two Three just a bit. It gets intense, with stabs of distorted guitar chords to further intensify the mood. Meanwhile, the vocals, which include some impressive caveman freakout screams, are also crucial, and hark back to the early days of Circle, when they did the monk-chanting thing in their own made up language (a la Magma as well) on albums like Zopalki.
Ultimately, it's really gorgeous and, again, super mesmeric, these tracks all of course built around endless repetitive grooves, simple (deceptively so, we're sure) and effective in the usual Circle style. And the only reason one track ever ends, it seems, is that another one needs to begin. And we wouldn't have it any other way. This Circle consists of circles within circles to spin the mind around. Wow, nice. Recommended, as is the other one by the other band.
FYI, vinyl versions of both of these are forthcoming in a month or two...
MPEG Stream: "Kavellen Luiden Paalla"
MPEG Stream: "Aldebaran"

album cover ENCENATHRAKH s/t (P2) cd 11.98
As faithful readers of this here aQ list no doubt figured out long ago, we love insane music. It doesn't even matter whether it's pop or metal, indie rock or hip hop, the more twisted, and damaged, and confusional and what-the-fuck, the more we love it. If you do a search on the aQ site for words like "fucked", "freaked-out", "demented", you'll get a (maybe not so) surprising number of results. And also maybe not so surprisingly, it would probably read like an all time aQ best-of. Knowing all this, a friend of ours suggested we check out Encenathrakh, the new WTF improv death metal / free grind outfit made up of a who's who of difficult heaviness - there's the inimitable Weasel Walter (Flying Luttenbachers, Burmese, Hatewave, Cellular Chaos and lots of others), weirdo shredder Mick Barr (Orthrelm, Ocrilim, etc.), weirdo shredder #2 Colin Marsten (Gorguts, Behold The Arctopus, Krallice, etc) and weird shredder the third, Paulo Henri (Copremesis). If you're thinking all these shredders means a goddamn glorious, chaotic mess, you wouldn't be far off. Especially considering this stuff is supposedly all improvised.
Thus what you've got is a dizzying barrage of impossibly furious and frenetic, free-form death-grind. Not that far removed from the gore grind we love, all insectoid buzz, machine like blurred beats, and of course guttural gurgling vokills. But imagine one of those bands being covered by Naked City, or maybe the other way around. The drums are all over the place, brutal blasts to wild machine-gun splatter, the riffs too, like all three guys were shredding wildly in the studio sans headphones, a furious musical rat king like tangle, that will have your head spinning and your ears begging for mercy.
That's not to say it doesn't gel, cuz it does, at least sort of, well, maybe once in a while, or really about as much as you'd want something like this to. Which if you're anything like us is probably not much at all. Fans of the recent Mastery record, might find this even more wildly, and willfully, next level baffling, cuz really, for all the metal that's going on, it's almost like Borbetomagus, with the sax swapped out for more guitars. Churning, roiling, blurry, swaths of swirling buzz and blast, laced with blurts of atonal shred, and even some mysterious electronics, all wound up into what might be the craziest, coolest, metalhead-frustrating chunk of avant death metal EVER.
Oh, and here's a list of this album's selling points, according to the label: NO DIGIPAK. NO LOGOS. NO SONGS. NO TRIGGERS. NO LYRICS. NO BASS. NO SWEATPANTS. 1000 percent Technical Guttural Supremacy!
MPEG Stream: "Atenggor"
MPEG Stream: "Ngthra"
MPEG Stream: "Thraicev"

album cover BALMS s/t (20 Sided) 12" 12.98
As you've no doubt heard us mention before, as much as we love scouring the depths for cool new music (whether it be dusty used bins, garage sales, recommendations from friends or good old fashioned Bandcamp), there's a special joy reserved for aQ walk-in discoveries. That is to say, someone who just strolls into the shop unexpectedly, brandishing an album they've just released - no expectations or preconceived notions. There's nothing quite as exciting as placing said brandished record on the turntable & experiencing that moment of discovery as the realization dawns... It's good. It's reeeeal good. Such is the case with Balms! Seeping through the speakers like dust-speckled rays of hazy sunlight comes some of the most beautifully executed shoegazey dreampop we've heard in quite some time. And for a sound that's arguably in no short supply right now (not that we're complaining) that's really saying something. There's a pitch perfect balance of atmosphere & poppiness here. Guitars twinkle & drip like glittering syrup, the vocals lush & anesthetized, but surprisingly audible. As much as most bands plying in this trade like to bury their vocals in reverb & murk, Balms have a much more direct approach, and the result is an immediate emotional connection, a much more human sounding sort of shoegaze. And though Balms never really get heavy like, say, Nothing or Whirr (although they're sure to appeal to fans of those guys) there's still a rousing drive to their music - it's just a drive that allows the spaciousness of their sound, the bittersweet heartswelling tug of those lost-summer-memory melodies, and the concise hookiness of their songwriting take center stage. It's simple powerful stuff - the kind of record you want to hit repeat on over and over. Without a doubt one of our favorite recent local discoveries, and along with Modern Charms & Dissolve another glittering jewel in San Francisco's dreamy shoegaze crown! For all of those unafraid to get a little starry-eyed, bleary-eyed & teary-eyed this couldn't come more highly recommended!
MPEG Stream: "Golden Hair"
MPEG Stream: "Head In A Safe"
MPEG Stream: "Aboriginal"

album cover ELDER Lore (Armageddon Shop) 2lp 28.00
LAST LIST'S RECORD OF THE WEEK, NOW HERE ON VINYL!!
Hark! By the telltale crumbling ceiling tile and violent vibrating of the floorboards we can only deduce that Massachusetts stoner-doom-sludge heavyweights Elder have returned to wreak a foul bongload of havoc upon the unwitting civilians of the Aquarian realm!! After much love received around these parts by Elder's earlier highly-reliable slabs of psychy blown-out heaviness, we were all ready to settle in for more of the same, which we certainly wouldn't have complained about, but what Lore delivers isn't really that at all. Lore is one of those dramatic forward-leaps that your average band never quite gets around to making (especially one of the stoner doom variety - a genre often a little too ready to rest upon its laurels of simple slow riffery!). Instead here we have a heaping dose of what could probably be best described as... stoner-math? Or maybe doom-gressive?? Prodge??? (That's prog & sludge combined, if that wasn't clear.) Literally within the first two seconds of album opener "Compendium", with its twitching insectoid riffing & dizzying stop start time signature, it's abundantly clear that things have changed. Don't get us wrong, there's plenty of lurching grooves & thundering drumming here for true doomheads to sway madly too, but there's also a lot of unpredictability, not only in the song structures but in the sound in general. There are shades of Tool if they'd been weened on way more Sleep & Kyuss, Mastodon if they were feeling a bit meditative, Pallbearer funneled through Fragile-era Yes, Baroness on Quaaludes. There are even flirtations with glistening drifting Explosions In The Sky style post-rock and loopy hypnotic Comus-esque psych-folk. On paper, noodly time-signature manipulation and stoned out Sabbath wizardry shouldn't really a match in Heaven make, but in a scene so rife with by-the-numbers plodding (as much as we love that sometimes) it's pretty damn refreshing to hear this kind of take on it. Above all Lore sounds like a serious shot at the quote-unquote BIG TIME from a band no one really had any right to expect it from. Lore climbs the summit of heaviness and screams confidently from the precipice! A vibrant, daring slab of tricked-out progressive doom.
FYI, the vinyl version has a fancy die-cut cover, and comes with download; the jewel-boxed cd is nice but not so fancy.
MPEG Stream: "Compendium"
MPEG Stream: "Legend "
MPEG Stream: "Spirit At Aphelion"

album cover WEED Running Back (Lefse) cd 13.98
Stoners and loners Weed are back with another full-length of dopey noise-pop sad jams, and once again, we're fully on board. You remember that episode of "The Simpsons" where Homer goes to Lollapalooza in an effort to be cool, and is met with a crowd of swaying Gen-X'ers mumbling to Sonic Youth? Yeah, this record kinda sounds like that, in the best way possible. Right off the bat, we get a quick modulating buzz before it kicks right in, and wouldn't you know it? The first line is a monotone "I don't wanna feel like this anymore". Running Back is that perfect nineties blend of mopey, noisey nihilism and sugary, perfect pop. "Thousand Pounds," for example, captures this blend perfectly; pounding rhythm, almost shoegaze-esque fuzzed-out guitars, and buried but melodic-as-hell vocals that brings to mind the last Nothing record, super bombastic and poppy, but also melancholic and despondent. "Meet Me With Ease" is the other side of the Weed coin, the faster, more punked up, more "rock" jam that will have every stoned twenty-something swaying with it.
There's a kind of no-nonsense, punkish approach on Running Back that distinguishes it from the wave of new shoegaze (is that called Nu-Gaze?) bands - everything's a little faster, a little more to-the-point, and it works so well on this record. If you still have a soft spot in your heart for the grungy, noisey, poppy sound of bands like Dinosaur Jr and Sebadoh (and why wouldn't you?), you'll be pumped on this record.
MPEG Stream: "Stay In The Summer"
MPEG Stream: "Thousand Pounds"

album cover WEED Running Back (Lefse) lp 15.98
Stoners and loners Weed are back with another full-length of dopey noise-pop sad jams, and once again, we're fully on board. You remember that episode of "The Simpsons" where Homer goes to Lollapalooza in an effort to be cool, and is met with a crowd of swaying Gen-X'ers mumbling to Sonic Youth? Yeah, this record kinda sounds like that, in the best way possible. Right off the bat, we get a quick modulating buzz before it kicks right in, and wouldn't you know it? The first line is a monotone "I don't wanna feel like this anymore". Running Back is that perfect nineties blend of mopey, noisey nihilism and sugary, perfect pop. "Thousand Pounds," for example, captures this blend perfectly; pounding rhythm, almost shoegaze-esque fuzzed-out guitars, and buried but melodic-as-hell vocals that brings to mind the last Nothing record, super bombastic and poppy, but also melancholic and despondent. "Meet Me With Ease" is the other side of the Weed coin, the faster, more punked up, more "rock" jam that will have every stoned twenty-something swaying with it.
There's a kind of no-nonsense, punkish approach on Running Back that distinguishes it from the wave of new shoegaze (is that called Nu-Gaze?) bands - everything's a little faster, a little more to-the-point, and it works so well on this record. If you still have a soft spot in your heart for the grungy, noisey, poppy sound of bands like Dinosaur Jr and Sebadoh (and why wouldn't you?), you'll be pumped on this record.
MPEG Stream: "Stay In The Summer"
MPEG Stream: "Thousand Pounds"

album cover RST & LENZ Heavy With Illusion (Metal Postcard) cd 10.98
Heavy With Illusion is a collaboration between RST and Lenz, the latter being a previously unknown singer from Shanghai; and the former being one of our favorite New Zealand drone technicians, aka Andrew Moon. The previous RST outings are all-consuming thrums of amplifier smolder and long-form drone topography, coming out of the same tradition that begat Gate, Birchville Cat Motel, Surface Of The Earth, etc; and we had loved everything Moon has ever touched. That still remains true with this collaboration, though this album is very much a departure for RST. Heavy With Illusion allows us a glimpse into Moon's craft for the song, taking up the mantle of lumbering slowcore previously mined by Codeine, Low, or even the latter day incarnation of Earth. There's a melodic miserablism to Moon's chiming if heavy guitar which make full use of loud-soft dynamics with occasional drums punctuating the crashes spread out through these songs. Lenz mostly sings in Cantonese, very occasionally in English, those instances, along with the translated lyrics, speak to the morose poetry of Lenz's lyrics - death, the loss of love, psychic dislocation, and the disconnection from nature. She alternates between a plainspoken narration and world-weary melodies, as if Jenny Toomey of Tsunami were to front a Codeine / Charalambides cover band. Moon does offer two tracks of his drone-centric work with Lenz sitting those out on the sidelines. But the two together create a special sort of minimal musical magic. Pretty amazing, we gotta say!
MPEG Stream: "Little Shaking"
MPEG Stream: "They Told Me I Was Dead"
MPEG Stream: "Fade In Out"

album cover SEATON, MILES COOPER Functional Music Vols 1 & 2 (Jackknife Records) 2cd 14.98
We often get requests from Yoga Instructors and Massage Therapists for music suggestions for their practices that are ambient and relaxing, but not super cheesy as the stuff that is directly marketed to them. It's really not that easy. Sure someone like Anton Batagov, Lubomyr Melnyk, Pulse Emitter, Oneohtrix Point Never or the folks featured in the Kompakt Pop Ambient series might have some sounds that fit the bill, but there is often a certain level of distraction, emotive changes in tone, that take the listener out of their passive involvement and into active engagement and that doesn't always work in a bodywork kind of environment.
Recently, local musician and Psychic Arts label head Matt Baldwin dropped by these cds for a friend of his who runs Jacknife records in LA, who released this double cd of ambient works by Miles Cooper Seaton, known to many folks as a founding member of experimental rock collective Akron/Family. Seaton has been working for the past few years on exploring an idea of music made for a specific function, whether it be Satie's concept of Furniture Music, or the ritual music of religious sects and cults, basically music that is free of individualized emotive narrative instead leaning towards a concept of pure universality and purpose. Functional Music.
When we put on the first disc, or we should say first track, as each disc is just one long 35-40 minute track, we didn't know this was music designed with yoga in mind, though we could see it being used for that purpose, it didn't necessarily have the same kind of new age trappings that most yoga music always seems to have. But in fact, Seaton has been performing his solo music for large outdoor group yoga and visualization performances in various locations in Southern California and the Southwest for the past couple of years. "Echo" begins with a deep bassy meditative drone later met after some time with spacey synth high tones that cluster in loose buoyant formations and clanging resonant bells. Over time, the tones build and recede in subtle layers of sound much like the stratified layers of the geode that grace the cover of the album, moving ever farther outward. "Void" takes a deeper turn inward. Organ and synth drones combine in resonant overtones, eventually delving into an oceanic expanse that ebbs and flows in intensity as what sounds like bowed guitars begin to hover like approaching spacecraft ready to transport us to a higher plane. Incredibly cosmic, meditative and beautiful!
MPEG Stream: "Echo"
MPEG Stream: "Void"

album cover ELDER Lore (Armageddon Shop) cd 15.98
Hark! By the telltale crumbling ceiling tile and violent vibrating of the floorboards we can only deduce that Massachusetts stoner-doom-sludge heavyweights Elder have returned to wreak a foul bongload of havoc upon the unwitting civilians of the Aquarian realm!! After much love received around these parts by Elder's earlier highly-reliable slabs of psychy blown-out heaviness, we were all ready to settle in for more of the same, which we certainly wouldn't have complained about, but what Lore delivers isn't really that at all. Lore is one of those dramatic forward-leaps that your average band never quite gets around to making (especially one of the stoner doom variety - a genre often a little too ready to rest upon its laurels of simple slow riffery!). Instead here we have a heaping dose of what could probably be best described as... stoner-math? Or maybe doom-gressive?? Prodge??? (That's prog & sludge combined, if that wasn't clear.) Literally within the first two seconds of album opener "Compendium", with its twitching insectoid riffing & dizzying stop start time signature, it's abundantly clear that things have changed. Don't get us wrong, there's plenty of lurching grooves & thundering drumming here for true doomheads to sway madly too, but there's also a lot of unpredictability, not only in the song structures but in the sound in general. There are shades of Tool if they'd been weened on way more Sleep & Kyuss, Mastodon if they were feeling a bit meditative, Pallbearer funneled through Fragile-era Yes, Baroness on Quaaludes. There are even flirtations with glistening drifting Explosions In The Sky style post-rock and loopy hypnotic Comus-esque psych-folk. On paper, noodly time-signature manipulation and stoned out Sabbath wizardry shouldn't really a match in Heaven make, but in a scene so rife with by-the-numbers plodding (as much as we love that sometimes) it's pretty damn refreshing to hear this kind of take on it. Above all Lore sounds like a serious shot at the quote-unquote BIG TIME from a band no one really had any right to expect it from. Lore climbs the summit of heaviness and screams confidently from the precipice! A vibrant, daring slab of tricked-out progressive doom.
FYI, the vinyl version has a fancy die-cut cover, and comes with download, though we're out of 'em right now unfortunately; the jewel-boxed cd we're listing now is nice but not so fancy - and a lot cheaper.
MPEG Stream: "Compendium"
MPEG Stream: "Legend "
MPEG Stream: "Spirit At Aphelion"

album cover LITURGY The Ark Work (Thrill Jockey) cd 15.98
Controversial as always, Brooklyn's Liturgy, the band 'troo' black metallers love to hate, is back. And it's not just purists who have found Liturgy's self-proclaimed 'transcendental black metal' (and accompanying manifesto) to be way too pretentious, arty, overly intellectual and dare we say hipsterish. And yeah, sure, Liturgy ARE intellectual and/or pretentious, but they also make some freaking amazing, weird music. So let's get all that out of the way by saying, they can call it whatever they want, just don't expect us to read the manifesto. To us, ok, maybe we wouldn't really consider them a bonafide black metal band, but the music they make wouldn't exist (probably) if there weren't such a thing as black metal. It's a part of their sound that they, well, have transcended? They're definitely their own 'thing' whatever it might be, a thing that beyond the black metal elements also incorporates math rock and academic new music and IDM electronica and other strange stuff besides. Totally up our alley in other words - although making The Ark Work an aQ Record Of The Week was also was a wee bit controversial here, 'cause we'll admit right off the bat that this isn't an easy album to sit through all at once. It's just so tripped out and CRAZY and exhausting, as you mentally process what you're hearing. But even if you can't take it all in one sitting, it's the sort of thing where we swear you'll be compelled to play individual tracks on repeat, over and over, just to get your head around 'em, and because certain parts can be so intense and mesmerizing, you want to really try to fully absorb/understand the awesomeness of them before experiencing the next draining yet uplifting track. So Record Of The Week it is, none can deny that it's an impressive piece of work and unlike anything else really. It's gonna have you going, what IS this? Very aQ-worthy, indeed.
Liturgy's bandleader, guitarist/vocalist/composer Hunter Hunt-Hendrix (whose name is only slightly less plausible than, say, Guy Mann-Dude, anyone remember that '80s metal shredder?) is one ambitious & talented dude... man... guy. Some pretentiousness may be a side effect of that, but whatever. It's not like we're paying attention to the conceptual lyrics about who knows what (though you might, they could be worthwhile). We're just busy being blown away by all the choppy stop-start arrangements; the symphonic horn parts; the insectoid guitar buzz that sounds like a Glenn Branca guitar orchestra made up of a whole bunch tiny, tiny, pygmy-like black metal guitarists; the mesmeric, trance-inducing drumming by the inhuman Greg Fox (Guardian Alien); the glitchy digital stutter that, seizure-like, grips bits of these tracks occasionally; the post-rocky, sea-saw way these tracks can build and build; the sheer proggy/mathy grandiosity of the whole thing, and all the other surprises, including, despite this music's difficulty-factor, some really beautiful, blissful parts too.
There are bagpipes, too, along with the trumpet and trombone, all played by guest musicians, but in addition there are also synthesized MIDI horns on here, the latter giving a bit of the vibe of an outsider composer realizing his epic opus with DIY bedroom recording technology. Then there are the processed vocals, also kinda melodic, but chant-like, a mantric supplication, sorta sounding like Om, but with the tape sped up perhaps or otherwise manipulated, and still quite emotive.
Yeah, we said they sure came up with something that doesn't sound like anything else, at least not anything that exists, though we can come up with some this-meets-that, hybrid of this-and-that esoteric band math equations to try to describe it, like, um, Orthrelm doing their version of Om (if Om attended the Church Universal and Triumphant), or Phantomsmasher goes to conservatory... or how 'bout this: the track "Vel Valhaal" sounds like a song by outsider epic metallers Realmbuilder, remixed by Venetian Snares, with a gamelan thrown in for good measure, mashed up with a Herman Nitsch aktion. How's that? We're trying.
If all that's not ridiculous enough, oh then there's the fact that Liturgy recently they appeared on an episode of NBC TV show The Blacklist, with freakin' Peter Fonda behind the drum kit. WTF? If haters gonna hate anyway, you might as well cash in with surreal shit like that.
You've got your whole life to listen to this Liturgy album, so don't delay, get it now! While maybe we can't say yet for sure, we think it's one we will be coming back to when some other, more acceptably 'troo black metal' albums are long forgotten.
Oh, and 'cause we told 'em we were making it a Record Of The Week, Thrill Jockey has kindly offered a special BONUS for folks who buy it from us, and only us, this week. While they last, we'll be including a download coupon with each purchase that gets you an mp3 of the crazy remix that Soft Pink Truth (Drew from Matmos) did of the track "Vitriol", which is otherwise is only available on the version of the cd released in Japan. It's not as if Liturgy isn't already insane and fucked up enough sounding, but you can imagine what SPT does to 'em.
FYI the swank gatefold double vinyl version includes a download of the full album, too, while the gatefold cd version has no need of that.
MPEG Stream: "Follow"
MPEG Stream: "Vel Valhaal"
MPEG Stream: "Quetzalcoatl"

album cover LITURGY The Ark Work (Thrill Jockey) lp 22.00
Controversial as always, Brooklyn's Liturgy, the band 'troo' black metallers love to hate, is back. And it's not just purists who have found Liturgy's self-proclaimed 'transcendental black metal' (and accompanying manifesto) to be way too pretentious, arty, overly intellectual and dare we say hipsterish. And yeah, sure, Liturgy ARE intellectual and/or pretentious, but they also make some freaking amazing, weird music. So let's get all that out of the way by saying, they can call it whatever they want, just don't expect us to read the manifesto. To us, ok, maybe we wouldn't really consider them a bonafide black metal band, but the music they make wouldn't exist (probably) if there weren't such a thing as black metal. It's a part of their sound that they, well, have transcended? They're definitely their own 'thing' whatever it might be, a thing that beyond the black metal elements also incorporates math rock and academic new music and IDM electronica and other strange stuff besides. Totally up our alley in other words - although making The Ark Work an aQ Record Of The Week was also was a wee bit controversial here, 'cause we'll admit right off the bat that this isn't an easy album to sit through all at once. It's just so tripped out and CRAZY and exhausting, as you mentally process what you're hearing. But even if you can't take it all in one sitting, it's the sort of thing where we swear you'll be compelled to play individual tracks on repeat, over and over, just to get your head around 'em, and because certain parts can be so intense and mesmerizing, you want to really try to fully absorb/understand the awesomeness of them before experiencing the next draining yet uplifting track. So Record Of The Week it is, none can deny that it's an impressive piece of work and unlike anything else really. It's gonna have you going, what IS this? Very aQ-worthy, indeed.
Liturgy's bandleader, guitarist/vocalist/composer Hunter Hunt-Hendrix (whose name is only slightly less plausible than, say, Guy Mann-Dude, anyone remember that '80s metal shredder?) is one ambitious & talented dude... man... guy. Some pretentiousness may be a side effect of that, but whatever. It's not like we're paying attention to the conceptual lyrics about who knows what (though you might, they could be worthwhile). We're just busy being blown away by all the choppy stop-start arrangements; the symphonic horn parts; the insectoid guitar buzz that sounds like a Glenn Branca guitar orchestra made up of a whole bunch tiny, tiny, pygmy-like black metal guitarists; the mesmeric, trance-inducing drumming by the inhuman Greg Fox (Guardian Alien); the glitchy digital stutter that, seizure-like, grips bits of these tracks occasionally; the post-rocky, sea-saw way these tracks can build and build; the sheer proggy/mathy grandiosity of the whole thing, and all the other surprises, including, despite this music's difficulty-factor, some really beautiful, blissful parts too.
There are bagpipes, too, along with the trumpet and trombone, all played by guest musicians, but in addition there are also synthesized MIDI horns on here, the latter giving a bit of the vibe of an outsider composer realizing his epic opus with DIY bedroom recording technology. Then there are the processed vocals, also kinda melodic, but chant-like, a mantric supplication, sorta sounding like Om, but with the tape sped up perhaps or otherwise manipulated, and still quite emotive.
Yeah, we said they sure came up with something that doesn't sound like anything else, at least not anything that exists, though we can come up with some this-meets-that, hybrid of this-and-that esoteric band math equations to try to describe it, like, um, Orthrelm doing their version of Om (if Om attended the Church Universal and Triumphant), or Phantomsmasher goes to conservatory... or how 'bout this: the track "Vel Valhaal" sounds like a song by outsider epic metallers Realmbuilder, remixed by Venetian Snares, with a gamelan thrown in for good measure, mashed up with a Herman Nitsch aktion. How's that? We're trying.
If all that's not ridiculous enough, oh then there's the fact that Liturgy recently they appeared on an episode of NBC TV show The Blacklist, with freakin' Peter Fonda behind the drum kit. WTF? If haters gonna hate anyway, you might as well cash in with surreal shit like that.
You've got your whole life to listen to this Liturgy album, so don't delay, get it now! While maybe we can't say yet for sure, we think it's one we will be coming back to when some other, more acceptably 'troo black metal' albums are long forgotten.
Oh, and 'cause we told 'em we were making it a Record Of The Week, Thrill Jockey has kindly offered a special BONUS for folks who buy it from us, and only us, this week. While they last, we'll be including a download coupon with each purchase that gets you an mp3 of the crazy remix that Soft Pink Truth (Drew from Matmos) did of the track "Vitriol", which is otherwise is only available on the version of the cd released in Japan. It's not as if Liturgy isn't already insane and fucked up enough sounding, but you can imagine what SPT does to 'em.
FYI the swank gatefold double vinyl version includes a download of the full album, too, while the gatefold cd version has no need of that.
MPEG Stream: "Follow"
MPEG Stream: "Vel Valhaal"
MPEG Stream: "Quetzalcoatl"

album cover PIOULARD, BENOIT Sonnet (Kranky Records) cd 14.98
We've given good reviews to several Benoit Pioulard releases in the past, but if you think you know just what to expect here, think again. Pioulard's fifth album shifts away from those languid dream-pop songs of bedroom folk melancholia sung with a maudlin, reverb-saturated baritone we'd often heard from him before, in favor of thoroughly abstracted numbers. He builds this lush shoegazing wash from field recordings and his responses to them through guitar and tape manipulation, with nothing digital getting in the way of all of this tactile, gossamer haze.
Sonnet is an entirely instrumental album, which is certainly not out of the ordinary for the roster of Kranky Records, the home for A Winged Victory For The Sullen and Tim Hecker, two heavyweights of blearily atmospheric music; but we have to say that the Pioulard (instrumental) voice is especially a thing of beauty. The sibilance of air conditioning vents, summer time lawn sprinklers, washing machines, and the mid-day rasp of a swarm of locusts can become indistinguishable from amplified tape hiss. That's where Pioulard (who sounds French but is actually a Pacific Northwesterner named Thomas Meluch) begins to shape the work of Sonnet. Guitars, loops, and some twinkling synths come into the mix all of which are firmly sympathetic and complementary to the bittersweet coloring from his tapestries of sound. These droning nocturnes reflect the shimmer and feel of a Cocteau Twins instrumental or the ambient interludes found on Boards Of Canada or the even more soaring numbers from Troum. Highly recommended, this gets asked about and purchased by customers nearly every time we play it in the store!
MPEG Stream: "The Gilded Fear That Guides The Flow"
MPEG Stream: "Whose Palms Create"
MPEG Stream: "The Very Edge Of Its Flame"

album cover PIOULARD, BENOIT Sonnet (Kranky Records) lp 14.98
We've given good reviews to several Benoit Pioulard releases in the past, but if you think you know just what to expect here, think again. Pioulard's fifth album shifts away from those languid dream-pop songs of bedroom folk melancholia sung with a maudlin, reverb-saturated baritone we'd often heard from him before, in favor of thoroughly abstracted numbers. He builds this lush shoegazing wash from field recordings and his responses to them through guitar and tape manipulation, with nothing digital getting in the way of all of this tactile, gossamer haze.
Sonnet is an entirely instrumental album, which is certainly not out of the ordinary for the roster of Kranky Records, the home for A Winged Victory For The Sullen and Tim Hecker, two heavyweights of blearily atmospheric music; but we have to say that the Pioulard (instrumental) voice is especially a thing of beauty. The sibilance of air conditioning vents, summer time lawn sprinklers, washing machines, and the mid-day rasp of a swarm of locusts can become indistinguishable from amplified tape hiss. That's where Pioulard (who sounds French but is actually a Pacific Northwesterner named Thomas Meluch) begins to shape the work of Sonnet. Guitars, loops, and some twinkling synths come into the mix all of which are firmly sympathetic and complementary to the bittersweet coloring from his tapestries of sound. These droning nocturnes reflect the shimmer and feel of a Cocteau Twins instrumental or the ambient interludes found on Boards Of Canada or the even more soaring numbers from Troum. Highly recommended, this gets asked about and purchased by customers nearly every time we play it in the store!
MPEG Stream: "The Gilded Fear That Guides The Flow"
MPEG Stream: "Whose Palms Create"
MPEG Stream: "The Very Edge Of Its Flame"

album cover WAND Golem (In The Red) cd 13.98
Record number two from these distortion wrangling, psychedelic-garage rock groovy ghoulies. We loved their last record, Ganglion Reef (released on Ty Segall's God? label), and now their In The Red debut manages to pretty much up the ante on everything we dug about the first one, not the least of which is the insane catchiness and ridiculously hook heavy songsmithery. The production is huge, the guitars thick and buzzy, the songs peppered with all sorts of twisted glitchery and malfunctioning synth freakouts, but really all that's in service of some of the best songs we've heard from this whole crew in ages (and yeah, we're counting Segall, Cronin, Dwyer et al). Golem sounds like some mutated hybrid of Queen, the Rocky Horror Picture Show, seventies glam, psychedelic metal and weirdo synth punk, bombastic and beautiful, the melodies massively earwormy, and not the least bit less catchy for being swaddled in shredding psych guitar leads and epic sonic majesty, all of that, and a total nod to classic pop of the past too, psychedelic Nuggets style shimmer and buzz, a little bit paisley here and there, and that's not to mention the sort of heaviness you might expect from an outfit like Harvey Milk, but here, recast as just another perfect part of Wand's demented psych-garage noise-pop WTF masterpiece.
MPEG Stream: "The Unexplored Map"
MPEG Stream: "Reaper Invert"
MPEG Stream: "Planet Golem"

album cover WAND Golem (In The Red) lp 15.98
Record number two from these distortion wrangling, psychedelic-garage rock groovy ghoulies. We loved their last record, Ganglion Reef (released on Ty Segall's God? label), and now their In The Red debut manages to pretty much up the ante on everything we dug about the first one, not the least of which is the insane catchiness and ridiculously hook heavy songsmithery. The production is huge, the guitars thick and buzzy, the songs peppered with all sorts of twisted glitchery and malfunctioning synth freakouts, but really all that's in service of some of the best songs we've heard from this whole crew in ages (and yeah, we're counting Segall, Cronin, Dwyer et al). Golem sounds like some mutated hybrid of Queen, the Rocky Horror Picture Show, seventies glam, psychedelic metal and weirdo synth punk, bombastic and beautiful, the melodies massively earwormy, and not the least bit less catchy for being swaddled in shredding psych guitar leads and epic sonic majesty, all of that, and a total nod to classic pop of the past too, psychedelic Nuggets style shimmer and buzz, a little bit paisley here and there, and that's not to mention the sort of heaviness you might expect from an outfit like Harvey Milk, but here, recast as just another perfect part of Wand's demented psych-garage noise-pop WTF masterpiece.
MPEG Stream: "The Unexplored Map"
MPEG Stream: "Reaper Invert"
MPEG Stream: "Planet Golem"

album cover FATHER MURPHY Croce (The Flenser) lp 17.98
Croce is the newest collection of distorted, dark psychedelic, industrial cabaret from this Italian boy/girl duo, who, after a series of ever darkening releases, have arrived at this, a concept record about the cross, and yeah, it's THAT cross (Croce in Italian), with one side of the record sonically representing the suffering and sacrifice, the flipside reflecting what comes after, the end of said suffering, resurrection, or perhaps oblivion.
The sounds are shadowy, the atmospheres muddy and murky, from which spring unexpected blurts of impossibly catchy noise pop, approaching at times something almost operatic, like some twisted psychedelic musical detailing the trials and tribulation of the crucifixion, with male and female vox intertwined over distorted blasts of guitar crunch, anchored by stuttering homebuilt percussion, a sound both textural and nuanced, but also noisy and chaotic, that chaos carefully sculpted into jagged shards of fragmented pop, and that pop oven into a dramatic, almost theatrical songsuite.
At points, the songs can seem to gradually lose cohesion, the lumbering and loping angular grooves (d)evolving into wild psychedelic squalls, or alternately stripped down to just the skeletal essence of the song, while the duo proceed to add layer upon layer, rhythm upon rhythm, working their way up to another blast of glorious cacophony. That percussion is a driving force throughout, whether it's swirling billows or rubberband twang and big booted thump, or sinewy pulses, wound up into tense, and intense low slung swaggers, all beneath cascades of wild junkyard crumble and soaring devotional vox, sung/spoken intonations over bell-like clang and the almost tuned sounding metallic sproings of reverberating springs.
The first side finishes up with "In Solitude", an appropriately dour slab of murky miserablism that sounds like a slow sonic death, the hazy, nocturnal sound gradually fading, retreating further into the shadows, loping, lumbering creeps, soft chordal swirls beneath strange metallic rhythms, too slow to be motorik, but a similarly hypnotic vibe, albeit more sort of druggy and slo-mo, a haunting moody dirge that dissolves into that ineffable space that exists between the record's second side, the netherworld, the afterlife, Purgatory even, an endless expanse of nothingness, from which few return. But Father Murphy erupt from this Stygian blackness, with the second half of Croce, meant to be the light, to the A side's dark, and yet the opener is still somehow strangely doomy, a field of metallic shimmer, and more junkyard percussion, strung together into a spare framework, over which dramatic male vocals soar, the female vocals responding like some demonic Greek chorus, but true to the theme, the vibe grows strangely warm, an otherworldly glow, nearly sundappled in places, you can almost hear the rays of light breaking through the grey cloud filled skies.
But really, these two have a strange idea of 'light', with "All The People Yelling Fire" seemingly still cloaked in shadow, a lumbering cacophony of rhythmic crashes and metallic pounds, not to mention some elephant like bleats, moaning horns suspended in a field of distant drones, very ominous and sinister, but before you know it, it's right back to the clatter and clang, leading directly into the penultimate "We Walk By Faith", a harrowing hymn, both droney and almost liturgical, with throat singing like vocalizations, wound around long, softly undulating tones, modern minimalism by way of some ancient ritual, the music evoking flickering firelight, dancing shadows, primitive worship to the cosmos, driven by muted thumps and buried beats, another one of those rickety rhythms surfacing from beneath the murk, a swampy, apocalyptic psychedelia, melted down into a viscous sonic crawl.
The finale, "They Won't Hurt You", is all majestic pipe organ, a stirring and stately court music, lush and lovely and epic, the sound of rebirth, redemptive and ultimately restorative, a return from the beyond, arisen from the grave, ascended into the heavens, the sounds drifting upwards, beyond the galaxy, the universe, into the unknowable infinity.
MPEG Stream: "A Purpose"
MPEG Stream: "So This Is Permanent"
MPEG Stream: "In Solitude"
MPEG Stream: "We Walk In Faith"

album cover ZEX Fight For Yourself (Magic Bullet) cd 10.98
If you're a follower of the aQ list, you know that there's this retro-but-fresh Canadian metal band called Iron Dogs, that we think is really, really special, eh? We've raved about their two records of punked out, DIY old school heavy metal worship - in fact, we made their Free & Wild album a Record Of The Week about a year ago. Well, the singer/guitarist in Iron Dogs, a talented & busy bloke with the very punk name of Jo Capitalicide, is also in a few other cool bands, one of 'em being the freaking great Zex, who sound kinda like a cross between Iron Dogs and the Rezillos, because compared to Iron Dogs they're more punk, more poppy, and they've got a female singer. This is their debut album, which also has to be aQ Record Of The Week for sure, 'cuz they've waxed a classic, we think, when it comes to records with a "youth gone wild in the streets", us-against-the-world vibe, that will make you feel like a 16 year old runaway again. Heck, we've been wanting to list something by Zex for a while, ever since we first heard 'em, but their two 7"s sold out too fast. But now we're so happy Magic Bullet has just released a US edition of their full-length on both cd and vinyl that we can at last stock and shout about.
Zex, who like Iron Dogs are based outta Ottawa, find Jo playing guitar alongside Gab Sex (bass), Tasha G (drums) and Gretchen Steel (vocals).
On Fight For Yourself this crew crank out ten catchy 2-to-3 minute long blasts of energetic, anthemic streetwise punk with a NWOBHM inspired flair. (That's New Wave Of British Heavy Metal - though plain ol' New Wave is a factor here too!) Really, take Iron Dogs, keep the early Iron Maiden influence, but add a bunch more Ramones, maybe some Fuzzbox, the aforementioned Rezillos, some Joan Jett perhaps, and you've got Zex. So Iron Dogs fans oughtta dig this if they're into punk at all; really quite a few of the tracks, like "Savage City", could easily have been Iron Dogs songs, they've got the same guitar tone, same riff-writing knack, same gnarly, twangy Strat soloing from Jo - but when the vocals kick in, instead of Jo's charmingly rough yobbish yowl, you get Gretchen's more melody-capable, obvious-frontperson-worthy singing, which is tough & sneering enough to convey commanding metalpunk attitude, while also sealing the deal on the uplifting pop side of this band. And, she's got zex appeal (ba-dum-bump). Gretchen's vocals and Jo's riffing make for, at the end of the day, quite a poppy listen indeed - just spin songs like "XXX" or "Wanderlust" and dare them not to get stuck in your head, especially when the choruses (often with gang vocals) roll around. This is one of those albums where it was tough (or easy, depending on how you look at it) for us to pick which tracks to make our sound samples for, 'cuz they're pretty much all killer.
Obviously, we got into Zex 'cuz we love Iron Dogs, and Zex have so much of the same sound & spirit. But even if we'd never heard Iron Dogs, we're pretty sure this still would have grabbed us. So for those of you not yet hip to Iron Dogs, well, do you like, say, the garagey metalpunk of Zig Zags? Or, do you the ripping girl-powered power pop of Ex Hex?? Fans of either could totally get into this. For that matter, d'you just like the teenage excitement of some good ol' rock n' roll? Then check this out. We've been spinning it so much that you could almost call us Zex addicts...
FYI, vinyl version we have at the moment is limited colored (clear, actually) and includes insert with lyrics and show fliers, whereas the cd comes in a slim cardboard sleeve.
MPEG Stream: "Fight For Yourself"
MPEG Stream: "Screaming At The Wall"
MPEG Stream: "XXX"
MPEG Stream: "Savage City"

album cover ZEX Fight For Yourself (Magic Bullet) lp 14.98
If you're a follower of the aQ list, you know that there's this retro-but-fresh Canadian metal band called Iron Dogs, that we think is really, really special, eh? We've raved about their two records of punked out, DIY old school heavy metal worship - in fact, we made their Free & Wild album a Record Of The Week about a year ago. Well, the singer/guitarist in Iron Dogs, a talented & busy bloke with the very punk name of Jo Capitalicide, is also in a few other cool bands, one of 'em being the freaking great Zex, who sound kinda like a cross between Iron Dogs and the Rezillos, because compared to Iron Dogs they're more punk, more poppy, and they've got a female singer. This is their debut album, which also has to be aQ Record Of The Week for sure, 'cuz they've waxed a classic, we think, when it comes to records with a "youth gone wild in the streets", us-against-the-world vibe, that will make you feel like a 16 year old runaway again. Heck, we've been wanting to list something by Zex for a while, ever since we first heard 'em, but their two 7"s sold out too fast. But now we're so happy Magic Bullet has just released a US edition of their full-length on both cd and vinyl that we can at last stock and shout about.
Zex, who like Iron Dogs are based outta Ottawa, find Jo playing guitar alongside Gab Sex (bass), Tasha G (drums) and Gretchen Steel (vocals).
On Fight For Yourself this crew crank out ten catchy 2-to-3 minute long blasts of energetic, anthemic streetwise punk with a NWOBHM inspired flair. (That's New Wave Of British Heavy Metal - though plain ol' New Wave is a factor here too!) Really, take Iron Dogs, keep the early Iron Maiden influence, but add a bunch more Ramones, maybe some Fuzzbox, the aforementioned Rezillos, some Joan Jett perhaps, and you've got Zex. So Iron Dogs fans oughtta dig this if they're into punk at all; really quite a few of the tracks, like "Savage City", could easily have been Iron Dogs songs, they've got the same guitar tone, same riff-writing knack, same gnarly, twangy Strat soloing from Jo - but when the vocals kick in, instead of Jo's charmingly rough yobbish yowl, you get Gretchen's more melody-capable, obvious-frontperson-worthy singing, which is tough & sneering enough to convey commanding metalpunk attitude, while also sealing the deal on the uplifting pop side of this band. And, she's got zex appeal (ba-dum-bump). Gretchen's vocals and Jo's riffing make for, at the end of the day, quite a poppy listen indeed - just spin songs like "XXX" or "Wanderlust" and dare them not to get stuck in your head, especially when the choruses (often with gang vocals) roll around. This is one of those albums where it was tough (or easy, depending on how you look at it) for us to pick which tracks to make our sound samples for, 'cuz they're pretty much all killer.
Obviously, we got into Zex 'cuz we love Iron Dogs, and Zex have so much of the same sound & spirit. But even if we'd never heard Iron Dogs, we're pretty sure this still would have grabbed us. So for those of you not yet hip to Iron Dogs, well, do you like, say, the garagey metalpunk of Zig Zags? Or, do you the ripping girl-powered power pop of Ex Hex?? Fans of either could totally get into this. For that matter, d'you just like the teenage excitement of some good ol' rock n' roll? Then check this out. We've been spinning it so much that you could almost call us Zex addicts...
FYI, vinyl version we have at the moment is limited colored (clear, actually) and includes insert with lyrics and show fliers, whereas the cd comes in a slim cardboard sleeve.
MPEG Stream: "Fight For Yourself"
MPEG Stream: "Screaming At The Wall"
MPEG Stream: "XXX"
MPEG Stream: "Savage City"

album cover BABA COMMANDANT & THE MANDINGO BAND Juguya (Sublime Frequencies) lp 23.00
Well, there's Records Of The Week, and then there's Records Of The Week. This one was quite a nice surprise. And it's not like we don't already expect great things from the globetrotting subversives at the Sublime Frequencies label, they're always making great discoveries - we almost take 'em for granted now, we suppose. So with this album, by the wonderfully-named Baba Commandant and the Mandingo Band, which boast a striking cover design too, at first we were like, that's probably going to be cool, but then when we heard it, we were like, this is REALLY cool. We were expecting some kind of funky Afrobeat, and that's what it is, but much wilder than we ever imagined. Totally off the hook!
Baba Commandant (aka Mamadou Sanou) and his band are from the West African state of Burkina Faso (formerly the Upper Volta), and in a true, underground, DIY style, mix up the traditional, tribal Mandingo music of their region with a more modern, electric approach. Baba Commandant, born in 1973, who sings and plays the ngoni (an ancient, traditional lute), has been an active and original presence on the music scene in Burkina Faso for many years. He's been in various other bands, but as far as we know, this is the debut release from this group. It's a cool discovery on the part of Sublime Frequencies, but we bet Baba Commandant & Co. would have been heard sooner or later over here, just due to the tons of rhythmic energy radiating from their music. Yup, they've got plenty of power (there's guitars to go with the ngoni, horns too, and they don't hold back), making for some pretty hot jams. The wide ranging vocals of Baba and his backup singers are crucial too, and together the group really casts a hypnotic spell. Fans of Konono No.1, of all the cool desert guitar bands that Sublime Frequencies has brought us before (like the late, great Koudede, whom Baba Commandant has performed a live tribute to), of anything Afro-funky and maybe a bit eccentric in that vein, check this out, you will dig!!
On cd and lp, and as usual with Sublime Frequencies, the vinyl is a limited edition release.
MPEG Stream: "Waso"
MPEG Stream: "Folon"
MPEG Stream: "Ntijiguimorola"
MPEG Stream: "Siguisso"

album cover INFLATABLE BOY CLAMS s/t (Superior Viaduct) 2x7" 15.98
Well, this is a first for the aQ list, at least as far as we remember. We're hitting list #469 so forgive us our senility if it's happened before, but we do believe this is the very first 7" we have made Record Of The Week! And it's not just any 7" but a double 7", one that hasn't seen the light of day since it was first released in 1981 right here in San Francisco by Subterranean Records, containing the sole recordings (five songs) of legendary all female art punk eccentrics, Inflatable Boy Clams. Long sought after by collectors of bizarre music and fetching indecent prices online, it's amazing to have this left-field punk artifact available again.
Featuring Carol Detweiler and Judy Gittlesohn of local new wave heroes Pink Section (whose collected recordings were just released as well and reviewed on this list), Jo Jo Planteen and saxophonist Genevieve Boutet de Monvel of Longshoreman and Club Foot Orchestra, Inflatable Boy Clams were not so much a traditional band as they were a performance art collective, rotating instruments and vocal duties for each song. Barebones arrangements with minimal musicianship of carnival organ, saxophone, angular bass riffs and incredibly oft-kilter singing put them in a kinship with bands like Monitor, Flying Lizards, The Art Bears, and The Raincoats, and later with bands like The Double U, Thinking Fellers, and Smack Dab, but the Inflatable Boy Clams were even weirder, funnier and much more cooly deranged.
The first 7" features "Skeletons", a Halloweenish children's song made by what sounds like very unhinged children, with the B-side "Snoteleks" being, you guessed it, "Skeletons" played backward making a weird surreal song even more fun-house like and disorientating.
The second 7" has three songs, starting with the satirical "Marin", a sort of send-up of richness and comfort of the affluent county north of San Francisco, sung by Gittlesohn in an arch French accent. The next track, "I'm Sorry", was perhaps the Clams most well-known song, often getting airplay on Dr. Demento's radio show. A sort of cover of Walter Donaldson's 1926 hit "What Can I Say After I've Said I'm Sorry" (Donaldson gets a writing credit), a chorus of voices sing a slow refrain of the main lyrics, while Gittlesohn and Planteen trade confessional stories of mutual bad friendship to each other (stealing boyfriends - or maybe girlfriends, electrocuting pets, ruining a dress, destroying beloved cassette tapes), with very disingenuous apology. The final song on the B-side, "Boystown" is a curious martial dirge about boys going back to Boystown with their guns and knives as the gals sing with slow sinister "good-riddance" tra-la-la glee.
But really, words and descriptions can't quite quantify what a bizarre, hermetic and wholly contained piece of DIY musical art from content to packaging this is. One whose mystery and unexplainable attraction would likely have been diluted had the group attempted to continue and make more recordings. That shirk of commercial success brand identity and skewering of gender politics is in turn what makes San Francisco punk stand apart and sound so fucking great right now. Thanks to Superior Viaduct for making this and the Pink Section recordings available again! Highly Recommended!
MPEG Stream: "Skeletons"
MPEG Stream: "I'm Sorry"
MPEG Stream: "Marin"

album cover BABA COMMANDANT & THE MANDINGO BAND Juguya (Sublime Frequencies) cd 16.98
Well, there's Records Of The Week, and then there's Records Of The Week. This one was quite a nice surprise. And it's not like we don't already expect great things from the globetrotting subversives at the Sublime Frequencies label, they're always making great discoveries - we almost take 'em for granted now, we suppose. So with this album, by the wonderfully-named Baba Commandant and the Mandingo Band, which boast a striking cover design too, at first we were like, that's probably going to be cool, but then when we heard it, we were like, this is REALLY cool. We were expecting some kind of funky Afrobeat, and that's what it is, but much wilder than we ever imagined. Totally off the hook!
Baba Commandant (aka Mamadou Sanou) and his band are from the West African state of Burkina Faso (formerly the Upper Volta), and in a true, underground, DIY style, mix up the traditional, tribal Mandingo music of their region with a more modern, electric approach. Baba Commandant, born in 1973, who sings and plays the ngoni (an ancient, traditional lute), has been an active and original presence on the music scene in Burkina Faso for many years. He's been in various other bands, but as far as we know, this is the debut release from this group. It's a cool discovery on the part of Sublime Frequencies, but we bet Baba Commandant & Co. would have been heard sooner or later over here, just due to the tons of rhythmic energy radiating from their music. Yup, they've got plenty of power (there's guitars to go with the ngoni, horns too, and they don't hold back), making for some pretty hot jams. The wide ranging vocals of Baba and his backup singers are crucial too, and together the group really casts a hypnotic spell. Fans of Konono No.1, of all the cool desert guitar bands that Sublime Frequencies has brought us before (like the late, great Koudede, whom Baba Commandant has performed a live tribute to), of anything Afro-funky and maybe a bit eccentric in that vein, check this out, you will dig!!
On cd and lp, and as usual with Sublime Frequencies, the vinyl is a limited edition release.
MPEG Stream: "Waso"
MPEG Stream: "Folon"
MPEG Stream: "Ntijiguimorola"
MPEG Stream: "Siguisso"

album cover TONY TEARS Music From The Astral Worlds (2000-2014) (Minotauro) 3cd 32.00
Tony Tears, you've come a long way, baby. When we first discovered psychedelic doom outsider Tony Tears a few years ago, he was an eerie, despondent Italian fellow with very few friends/fans, judging by his MySpace page (see below). Nowadays, he still is eerie and despondent (and Italian) but he's got some fans now, maybe even a cult. Cult enough to now have a handsome lil' box set release, containing three cds, collecting all of his significant public recordings to date, including Voci Dal Passato, the weird Goblinesque DIY doom masterpiece that we made an aQuarius Record Of The Week when we first got it on cd back in 2009. That cd quickly sold out, but fortunately there then was a cassette version released, which also soon went out of print, but then after that, it was released on vinyl. So it wasn't just us that had become obsessed with Tony Tears, it seems. We know some of you are too, and this box of music from Tony's Astral Worlds is for you!
We'd managed to track down only one other Tony Tears release, a cd-r we listed two years ago, and which is also long gone too of course. But, having begun his career as Tony Tears back in 1988, the man has got a bunch of other releases, all of them incredibly hard to find, most of 'em limited run cd-rs and even more obscure demo tapes. Fans should be very thankful, then, for this box set put together by, naturally Minotauro Records (what with that label being home to another cult Italian psychedelic doom genius, Paul Chain). Besides Voci Dal Passato, the box includes Fears And Sensations In The Claustrophobic Mirror from the year 2000 (the cd-r we did get before), along with The Reality Before All (a cd-r from 2004), Tony's half of a split 7" with Abysmal Grief from 2004, the All My Black ep from 2007, and perhaps best of all, the more of less brand new 2014 Tony Tears full-length album, Vortice, previously issued on cd-r and very difficult to obtain. Vortice is pretty great, something we'd have considered making a Record Of The Week by itself, though definitely different from Voci Dal Passato, being rather more spacey and spooky than heavy, though parts are quite heavy too. On it, Tony is no longer alone, he has recruited a new member into what's now we guess the Tony Tears band, a vocalist, named David Krieg, who also must be Italian though. At first we we apprehensive, 'cause we like Tony's semi-spoken vocals. But this new singer has a haunting, almost operatic style that gives Vortice's heavily synthesizer laden, abstract ambient drone doom sound a touch of Early Music or 20th century classical avantgarde. 'Nuff said, perhaps, 'cause we're about to tack on our original reviews of Voci Dal Passato and Fears And Sensations, so this is gonna get loooong. We figure if you read about those and don't have 'em already, you can figure out if you want this box; if you DO have 'em, you probably already know you want this box for everything else, anyway.
The final two sound samples below are from Vortice, though, fyi.
And a word about the box itself - in addition to the three cds in cardboard sleeves with credits and tracklistings, there's also a separate set of cards with the original cover art for each release on 'em, and a fold-out insert with photos and liner notes from Tony himself, in both Italian and English. In a nice touch, the inside surfaces of the box feature full-color occult artwork by Tony, too.
So, here are the two Tony Tears reviews we've previously published, for those who need to find out more...
Voci Dal Passato:
We first got a couple of these in a few weeks back ('cause we were curious) and it didn't take long before we realized we had a Record Of The Week on our hands. It was obvious, really, since some of us here ending up getting so obsessed with this that it was just about ALL they'd listen to, for days, getting home after work and throwing it on, listening to it going to sleep at night, and when they'd get up in the morning, playing it at the store too... At first, though, we thought well heck maybe that's just us, maybe we're weird to like Tony Tears that much. But of course, we ARE weird, and so are a lot of AQ customers, and that's why this is definitely a good choice for Record Of The Week. Anything this hypnotic and dirgey and doomy and last but not least weird, has got AQ (and possibly you) written all over it.
We had to go to some trouble to acquire enough of these to list, contacting Tony Tears via MySpace, importing copies from Italy, getting all the cds we could lay our hands on. Which means we may or may not be able to get more when we run out, and if we can, it will certainly take a while, so be forewarned...
Tony Tears? So what IS that, you ask? Actually when we first saw the name, we thought it said Ebony Tears, which is the name of another band. But no, it's Tony Tears, as in a guy named Tony, last name Tears. And the "band" is indeed just the work of one man, whose (we presume) stage name gives this its monicker. How perfect is that, a mournful Italian doom metaller named Tony Tears? Already you feel sorry for him. Awww, Tony Tears...
Tony Tears' MySpace page is also perfect for this sort of depressed, lonely sounding music. It's really stark and plain, with a sort of electric purple/pink background color. He's got, like, only 66 friends (one of 'em us), and in his "top friends" listing he still has Tom. You know, Tom the founder of MySpace, who is automatically your first and only friend when you first sign up, but then of course you remove Tom 'cause he's not actually someone you know or care about... But lonely Tony, grateful for Tom's friendship, keeps him around.
So, anyway, to answer your question, this is some sort of underground doom metal, but also Italian in that spooky proggy soundtracky way, so it's kind of like Goblin crossed with St. Vitus, or Umberto teamed up with Trollman Av Ildtoppberg. Or, our early '70s proto-doom prog faves Jacula, channelled through someone's (Striborg's?) basement 4-track today.
Tony wrote the lyrics and the music, sings, and plays all the instruments... there's layers of fuzzy, foggy bass, gorgeously melancholic psychedelic electric guitar leads, eerie Goblin-y synths tinkling and droning, and a rhythmic foundation of slightly stumbling drum machine programming. Along with enough echo effects to give parts of this a bit of a dubby, or druggy, vibe.
Perhaps most crucial to our enjoyment of this are the vocals, which are spoken rather more than sung, and are all in Italian. Which works great, it's a language which even when simply spoken still sounds rather musical, we LOVE hearing Italian in this manner (we're reminded of old fave "Ordine Pubblico" by Starfuckers, especially by the track "Antichi Messagi" here), and we feel Tony's echoing, emotional chant-like recitations further enhance the hypnotic aspect of this lugubrious music. We can imagine Om fans zoning out to this quite easily!
Speaking of hypnotic, one of the times recently we had this playing in the store, a customer asked if it was some sort of new Circle side project... we can see why he thought it might be.
The overall atmosphere of this record is sooooooooo sad, yet somehow comforting. Even though we don't understand the Italian, this comes across as being very intimate & personal, and not just because of a certain sparseness to the mix that speaks to this being a one-man effort.
Tony Tears' repetitive lumbering heavy riffs and dark keyboard coloration, punctuated with mechanical, but not entirely predictable drum beats, awash with flangey, spacey effects and further embellished with his poetically mannered, incantatory Italian, has had quite an effect on the psyches of those here who can't help but keep this in heavy rotation. While rather raw and ragged in a charming DIY home-recorded way, the results are sheer beauty, weird weeping dreamlike beauty.
Definitely in the tradition of such strange Italian dark underground metal/prog/psych as Death S.S., Paul Chain, and Black Hole. But quite something else besides, with no prior interest in that tradition being necessary for appreciation of this. Being into doom metal isn't a prerequisite, as long as you like unusual music. Being into Goblin though might help.
Fears And Sensations In The Claustrophobic Mirror:
This is first official release of TT's debut demo from 2000, Fears And Sensations In The Claustrophobic Mirror, consisting of six tracks (the last an extended, 4 part suite lasting 15 minutes). Just like the Tony Tears album we made ROTW, it's a lo-fi morass of mesmeric doomed-out psychedelia, inspired by Paul Chain, Goblin, Black Hole, and other esoteric Italians, with wobbly keyboards, crude drum programming, chant-like and sometimes extremely distorted Italian-language vox, and of course heavy fuzzed out doom guitar riffage, the whole thing giving off uniquely eerie, eccentric vibes galore as each track slowly plods forth through a haze of hiss and murk.
We mentioned Umberto with Striborg-level production and performance in our review of Voci Dal Passato, and guess what, these earlier recordings are even MORE like that. It's a beautiful thing. Tracks like "The Return To The Underground Temple", mostly echo effected keyboards and weeping guitars over simple steady rhythms, have so much weird psychedelic atmosphere that Tony Tears should not be limited to a 'cult doom metal only' audience. Devoted dronologists should hear the quietly ominous "Forze Invisibli Bussano Al Cuore", the aforementioned four-part suite - it's pulsating electronic cosmic mystery that could be from some lost '70s krautrock lp or sinister soundtrack, at least until the super slowed down sludge part kicks in, with vocals and guitar sounding like they're recorded at quarter-speed or something, as if you're listening to it on a device with dying batteries.
MPEG Stream: "Le Ossa E Il Fuoco"
MPEG Stream: "Voci Dal Profondo"
MPEG Stream: "Antichi Messagi"
MPEG Stream: "Mondo Parallelo"
MPEG Stream: "Coniurationes Mundi"
MPEG Stream: "The Return Of The Underground Temple"
MPEG Stream: "Forze Invisibli Bussano Al Cuore"
MPEG Stream: "Gli Anni Del Tempo Veloce"
MPEG Stream: "Il Sole Nella Casa Dell'acquario"

album cover MASTERY Valis (The Flenser) lp 15.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY.
It's been a really long wait, but it's finally here, the debut full length from SF one man black metal horde Mastery. After a collection of demos on Andee's tUMULt label, and splits with Palace of Worms and Skullflower, we now have Valis, which, if anything, has pushed an already confusional sound further into the realms of total WTF? unreality. That tUMULt demo collection was impossibly next level, and Valis is definitely a progression, into something twisted and cosmic, less songs as much as sprawling pieces, partially (perhaps wholly?) improvised, riff after riff after riff, the 18 minute opener boasting what has to be a hundred different riffs, some buzzy and black, others atonal and Greg Ginn-ish, all wound around each other in furious tangles, croaked vokills and wild drumming only adding to the cacophony, the end result almost like multiple black metal bands playing at once, but somehow orchestrated into something strangely cohesive, brutal and punishing, but also mesmerizing and trancelike, a prismatic sonic blur, undulating wildly, occasionally coalescing into proper blast and buzz, but more often splintering into wild gouts of blacknoize or arcing sheets of black psych freakout. It definitely might be too much for the meat and potatoes metalheads out there. This is most definitely AVANT, whether it's the sudden intrusion of acoustic guitar above simple snare roll, or the swirling kosmische interludes, the blasts of head spinning squiggly shred, or the slippery melodies, that sound like multiple slide guitars run through a battery of busted distortion pedals, the lurching, lumbering doom that oozes like the instruments are melting as they're being played, wild bursts of distorted crumble or the frantic Bernard Hermann like intro to the record, or just the sheer fury and velocity of some of the black buzz here, making other black metal bands sound like they're trudging through tar... Valis is less like black metal and more like a constellation of sonic smears and brutal blurs, all layered into one of the strangest, most challenging, and definitely one of the most deliriously demented outsider/experimental/avant black metal records EVER.
Killer cover art too.
MPEG Stream: "S.T.A.R.S.E.E.K.E.R."
MPEG Stream: "V.A.L.I.S.V.E.S.S.E.L."

album cover MASTERY Valis (The Flenser) lp 17.98
We made this album a Record Of The Week a few months ago, it sold fast and had to be repressed, which they did, with alternate, red instead of blue cover art. Collect 'em all! No, but if you missed it before, don't miss it now...
It's been a really long wait, but it's finally here, the debut full length from SF one man black metal horde Mastery. After a collection of demos on Andee's tUMULt label, and splits with Palace of Worms and Skullflower, we now have Valis, which, if anything, has pushed an already confusional sound further into the realms of total WTF? unreality. That tUMULt demo collection was impossibly next level, and Valis is definitely a progression, into something twisted and cosmic, less songs as much as sprawling pieces, partially (perhaps wholly?) improvised, riff after riff after riff, the 18 minute opener boasting what has to be a hundred different riffs, some buzzy and black, others atonal and Greg Ginn-ish, all wound around each other in furious tangles, croaked vokills and wild drumming only adding to the cacophony, the end result almost like multiple black metal bands playing at once, but somehow orchestrated into something strangely cohesive, brutal and punishing, but also mesmerizing and trancelike, a prismatic sonic blur, undulating wildly, occasionally coalescing into proper blast and buzz, but more often splintering into wild gouts of blacknoize or arcing sheets of black psych freakout. It definitely might be too much for the meat and potatoes metalheads out there. This is most definitely AVANT, whether it's the sudden intrusion of acoustic guitar above simple snare roll, or the swirling kosmische interludes, the blasts of head spinning squiggly shred, or the slippery melodies, that sound like multiple slide guitars run through a battery of busted distortion pedals, the lurching, lumbering doom that oozes like the instruments are melting as they're being played, wild bursts of distorted crumble or the frantic Bernard Hermann like intro to the record, or just the sheer fury and velocity of some of the black buzz here, making other black metal bands sound like they're trudging through tar... Valis is less like black metal and more like a constellation of sonic smears and brutal blurs, all layered into one of the strangest, most challenging, and definitely one of the most deliriously demented outsider/experimental/avant black metal records EVER.
Killer cover art too.
MPEG Stream: "S.T.A.R.S.E.E.K.E.R."
MPEG Stream: "V.A.L.I.S.V.E.S.S.E.L."

album cover CARPENTER, JOHN Lost Themes (Sacred Bones) cd 11.98
This really kind of had to be Record Of The Week. We're darn excited about it, and we're sure as heck not the only ones. John Carpenter, as you probably know, is a director of horror films and sci-fi thrillers, who also composes the soundtracks - suspenseful, powerful, pulsating - for many of his movies (often with collaborator Alan Howarth). We've reviewed reissues of many of our favorites: Halloween, The Fog, Assault On Precinct 13, Escape From New York╔ classics, all.
In recent years, as you probably also are away, there have been many, many, MANY artists who are hugely, obviously, inspired by the film music of John Carpenter. We're talking artists like Zombi, Umberto, The Night Terrors, Majeure, Nightsatan, Steve Moore, Roll The Dice, Zombie Zombie (who did a whole disc of Carpenter covers), Crypt Vapor, and quite a few others. So, in our reviews, we're constantly saying stuff sounds "Carpenter-y", "Carpenter-esque", referring to "John Carpenter worship", and in general using the soundtracks of John Carpenter as a necessary reference point for all these bands who indeed do worship him. (Italian giallo soundtrack greats Goblin, of course, are also another big influence on this crowd, but the synth-ier side of things is especially Carpenter-y.)
So it's about time John Carpenter himself got in on the act, and put out an album of his own, of music for the music's sake, not associated with any particular, actual film. Sacred Bones has scooped everybody with this brand new album of non-soundtrack music by John Carpenter. Carpenter recently formed a trio with his son (who is in a rock band) and godson (a film composer) and they jammed in his home studio until they came up with these pieces, freed entirely from the constraints of scoring specific scenes in a film. Instead, YOU provide the mental images╔ Despite the title, these tracks weren't ever meant for any of his films - it's not like they're from the cutting room floor, or were intended for movies that never got made - although, he could always use some of these themes in something in the future, we suppose.
In light of what we said above, you know it's tough for us to review this without quite tautologically saying it sounds very John Carpenter-y!! Which is EXACTLY what we all want it to sound like, obviously. Heavy on the spooky '80s sounding synths, and propulsive chase-sequence grooves. The nine tracks here are each given a simple but evocative title, almost like this is Carpenter's own collection of "library music". There's thumping opener "Vortex", urgent and ominous, haunted by a repeated piano motif, followed by the melodic nightmare romance of "Obsidian", its powerful throb taking on epic proportions. Next, "Fallen" is another suspenseful transmission from the horror-zone. Then, side one (on the vinyl) closer "Domain" takes on some more uplifting qualities, but evokes many moods, propelled by Euro-disco beats and colored by heavy synth and organ flourishes. Powerful stuff, big grooves, stirring melodies, lots of atmosphere, and a bit of that "training montage" vibe we love.
And so it goes, the remaining tracks ("Mystery", "Abyss", "Wraith", "Purgatory", "Night") replete with eerie tinkling synths, creepy organ, soaring guitar soloing, minimal percussive skitter, hypnotically repetitive rhythms, thick synth bass, and the miasma of droning electronics.
Very, very satisfying; recommended to all fans of Carpenter and his acolytes! While we won't say "accept no imitations" (we LOVE the imitations), it is nice to get the real deal from the maestro.
Now if only they'd go on tour... and if SB would reissue the rare record JC made in 1985 with his band The Coupe De Villes, pressed only for friends...
Note: there is vinyl of this too, but we didn't get as many copies as we'd ordered, and have already run out - but, we're told a repress is on the way, possibly around the end of March.
MPEG Stream: "Obsidian"
MPEG Stream: "Domain"
MPEG Stream: "Night"

album cover HOT SNAKES Audit In Progress (Swami) lp 15.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY.
REPRESSED! Been unavailable for a while, now it's back on wax, here's what we said back in 2004 when it was an aQ Record Of The Week (and five dollars cheaper)...
Hot Snakes' second release on Swami Records is finger lickin' good! Yow! Rick and John (both ex-Drive Like Jehu) have enlisted a new drummer, Mario Rubalcaba (ex-pro-skateboarder and ex-Clickitat Ikatowi) since former drummer Jason left for the Burning Brides. Hot Snakes also now feature San Diego rock luminary Gar Wood (Beehive and the Barracudas) on bass. Man this band totally kicks ass!!! What else can we say? Imagine the Godlike Drive Like Jehu, but stripped down to its garage rock bare bones, but sacrificing none of the fury or intensity or musical chops. Raw and catchy and makes you want to just jump up and down and bang your head and wiggle like crazy. The recording of Audit In Progress awesomely captures their fired-up energy and offers an accurate taste of their live show. I saw them recently here in San Francisco - all types of new HS fans and older Jehu fans were going totally bananas. This album and their live show will kick you in your face and you'll be begging for more! Plus it's always nice when bands actually produce their own artwork instead of just stealing someone else's, or hiring some crappy graphic designer. Rick Froberg, HS's singer/illustrator/animator is an incredibly talented and respected artist in addition to being a wicked rock frontman. The last Hot Snakes record was so perfect who would have thought the ante could be upped. But upped it has been...It's been upped...well, you know what we're saying. This record rules! And this band just keeps getting better and better. Buy this now!
MPEG Stream: "Braintrust"
MPEG Stream: "Hi-Lites"

album cover ERASE ERRATA Lost Weekend (Under The Sun) lp 15.98
We didn't realize how much we had been missing this beloved Bay Area post-punk trio. It's been over EIGHT years since their last album, but the moment Lost Weekend came ringing out our speakers, we were again enveloped into the band's familiar warm & urgent sounds, and after just a few listens we could feel these songs digging deeper and deeper into our brains/hearts/souls in a way we knew wasn't going to stop.
While the previous Erase Errata albums that we love so much were marked with more of a herky-jerky and angular disposition, this is a different and even more potent beast. The songs and playing are more assured, a slow burn is thrown into the mix, and the riffs are as heavy and chunky as they are punchy and catchy. The darker elements of their sound that came to the surface on Night Time, their last lp all those years ago, is present here with even more of a hypnotic and propelling glow.
It goes without saying that a lot has happened in the 8 years since their last release. The face of San Francisco has changed, as has much of the lives of the three members of Erase Errata. While not all the members of the band live in the Bay anymore, there is something forever San Francisco about their sound and energy. The band's vocalist/guitar shredder Jenny Hoyston moved to Texas but the legacy she left in the city working and booking shows at El Rio makes us remember a more inspired and hopeful time in the city. The band's drummer, Bianca Sparta, became a proud mama, and it's no accident that the record's title Lost Weekend is the name of our all-time favorite video store of the same name, which is located right across the street from aQ, as Bianca worked their for years.
On this record the band taps into a psychedelic groove that's both swirling, steady, direct, and deep cutting, but with room to twirl and freak out. They continue to show how they are masters of musical economy as there is not a wasted note or second on the album, yet it feels like the most expansive and wide reaching set of songs they have created yet. We've been listening to Lost Weekend alongside classic albums by bands like Wire, The Fall, The Ex, Sonic Youth, and Siouxsie & The Banshees and the quality and space those bands were able to tap into so very much resonates on this album too. It's kind of crazy how much this record has grabbed a hold of us, as we find ourselves listening to it over and over and over and still not getting sick of a single second. Much like Deerhoof, another of our favorite all-time bands that began during what is a very special era for many of us in the city, the second you hear an Erase Errata song you know it's them. It goes beyond just their distinct playing, tuning, and style and into those intangible qualities like spirit, soul, and electric energy. They have kept the potent intensity of what we love about punk rock but have always found a way to transcend the limitations of genre and create music that rings with relentless and purposeful intention.

album cover DE LA SIERRA, JORDAN Gymnosphere: Song of The Rose (Numero Group) 2cd 15.98
Boy, has this reissue been a long time coming! Seeing that it's been a holy grail for new age collectors and long-form music heads long before the new age revival began revving up nearly a decade ago, it's surprising how long it has actually taken. We in fact have been listening to our ripped mp3's for the past few years courtesy of Greg Davis's incredible (and deeply missed) new age tape music blog, Crystal Vibrations. But now Jordan De La Sierra's masterpiece from 1977 has been given the deluxe reissue treatment it deserves, and for the very first time has been released as it was meant to be. Four gloriously long form well-tuned piano tracks (one per side for the lp, 2 for each cd), that hypnotically spiral and cascade in delirious transcendent clouds of chordal clusters and glacial repetitions. Recorded and edited from hours of sessions, the subsequent tape recordings were then taken to Grace Cathedral in San Francisco and taking advantage of the space's unique acoustics and 30 second natural delay, played back and rerecorded as they transmitted throughout the deep resonant space.
Hailing from California's Central Valley and later influenced by Terry Riley, La Monte Young, and Pandit Pran Nath as well as teachings from his spiritual explorations in India, De La Sierra wanted to take his classical music training to a different place when he was granted a scholarship at San Francisco's Conservatory of Music where he immersed himself in the avant garde and performed works by John Cage, Robert Ashley, and Earl Brown. He eventually moved into Project Artaud right here in our own Mission District where he worked with small ensembles of like minded artists and musicians. His spiritual curiosity led him everywhere and under the tutelage of Pandit Pran Nath, to composing music in India. But he eventually worked his way back to the Bay Area, where he met up with Stephen Hill who ran the legendary radio program Hearts in Space on KPFA, who championed De La Sierra's music and led him to the fledgling Bay Area label Unity Records, which released Gymnosphere, but not without a few hiccups. Poorly managed and hemorrhaging money, the label ditched the planned release of a double lp by De La Sierra complete with booklet of Indian inspired drawings and poems and instead only released the first half on one lp. The process had taken so long that by the time of the release, De La Sierra had moved onto other projects, one of them forming the Dylanesque folk ensemble The Jemstone Band. Gymnosphere sank into obscurity.
So now The Numero Group has restored the original release to its originally intended glory, including a full catalog of drawings, poems and liner notes, housed in an embossed outer sleeve with a tantric design. Beautifully packaged, this long awaited reissue has long influenced many modern day soundmakers like James Blackshaw, Jefre Cantu-Ledesma and Gregg Kowalsky. Fans of Iasos, Lubomyr Melnyck, Ariel Kalma, Anton Batagov or any of the musicians mentioned above, this is essential!
MPEG Stream: "Temple of Aesthetic Action"
MPEG Stream: "Sphere of Sublime Dances"

album cover DE LA SIERRA, JORDAN Gymnosphere: Song of The Rose (Numero Group) 2lp 26.00
Boy, has this reissue been a long time coming! Seeing that it's been a holy grail for new age collectors and long-form music heads long before the new age revival began revving up nearly a decade ago, it's surprising how long it has actually taken. We in fact have been listening to our ripped mp3's for the past few years courtesy of Greg Davis's incredible (and deeply missed) new age tape music blog, Crystal Vibrations. But now Jordan De La Sierra's masterpiece from 1977 has been given the deluxe reissue treatment it deserves, and for the very first time has been released as it was meant to be. Four gloriously long form well-tuned piano tracks (one per side for the lp, 2 for each cd), that hypnotically spiral and cascade in delirious transcendent clouds of chordal clusters and glacial repetitions. Recorded and edited from hours of sessions, the subsequent tape recordings were then taken to Grace Cathedral in San Francisco and taking advantage of the space's unique acoustics and 30 second natural delay, played back and rerecorded as they transmitted throughout the deep resonant space.
Hailing from California's Central Valley and later influenced by Terry Riley, La Monte Young, and Pandit Pran Nath as well as teachings from his spiritual explorations in India, De La Sierra wanted to take his classical music training to a different place when he was granted a scholarship at San Francisco's Conservatory of Music where he immersed himself in the avant garde and performed works by John Cage, Robert Ashley, and Earl Brown. He eventually moved into Project Artaud right here in our own Mission District where he worked with small ensembles of like minded artists and musicians. His spiritual curiosity led him everywhere and under the tutelage of Pandit Pran Nath, to composing music in India. But he eventually worked his way back to the Bay Area, where he met up with Stephen Hill who ran the legendary radio program Hearts in Space on KPFA, who championed De La Sierra's music and led him to the fledgling Bay Area label Unity Records, which released Gymnosphere, but not without a few hiccups. Poorly managed and hemorrhaging money, the label ditched the planned release of a double lp by De La Sierra complete with booklet of Indian inspired drawings and poems and instead only released the first half on one lp. The process had taken so long that by the time of the release, De La Sierra had moved onto other projects, one of them forming the Dylanesque folk ensemble The Jemstone Band. Gymnosphere sank into obscurity.
So now The Numero Group has restored the original release to its originally intended glory, including a full catalog of drawings, poems and liner notes, housed in an embossed outer sleeve with a tantric design. Beautifully packaged, this long awaited reissue has long influenced many modern day soundmakers like James Blackshaw, Jefre Cantu-Ledesma and Gregg Kowalsky. Fans of Iasos, Lubomyr Melnyck, Ariel Kalma, Anton Batagov or any of the musicians mentioned above, this is essential!
MPEG Stream: "Temple of Aesthetic Action"
MPEG Stream: "Sphere of Sublime Dances"

album cover VISITORS s/t (Lion) lp 21.00
Merci beaucoup, Lion, for reissuing this on wax! We sold a ton of these five or six years ago when we had a cd reissue version. Now this, in all its sci-fi freaky glory, can be a Record Of The Week on vinyl, kind of a good follow-up to the La Planet Sauvage soundtrack we made ROTW last time!!
Not sure when/where/how we first found out about Visitors and their cult 1974 self-titled album, but for the prog lovers here at Aquarius, it was love at first sight - literally, check out that cover art! A hyperencephalic space alien standing in a glowing doorway, the open door labeled "Sesame". The back cover is pretty bizarre too: the disembodied heads of members of Visitors floating in front of an atomic mushroom cloud that's exploding out of a giant egg! And, yes, the music lived up to these silly-strange images. The album's heavy opener, "Dies Irae", with backwards effects, faux-Gregorian chant, wild synth flourishes, and wailing psych guitar, among other outre ingredients, is a grand(iose) introduction to the Visitors' over-the-top, apocalyptic prog pleasures, coming off like a hybrid of Magma and an Ennio Morricone soundtrack. The tracks that follow maintain the same majestic/eccentric momentum. Imagine our favorite, craziest '70s Italian prog (Osanna, Area, Museo Rosenbach, etc.) meeting up with groovy orchestrations of a Serge Gainsbourg or Jean-Claude Vannier album. Visitors being in fact French, hence the latter comparisons.
A lot of AQ customers might be interested in this for another, specific, reason - Visitors was an exploitation-prog project of musical mastermind Jean-Pierre Massiera, whose surreal pop productions were the subject of a number of other collections and reissues that have proven quite popular at aQ.
Now's your chance to hear, from start to finish, an entire cult sci-fi concept album as envisioned by Massiera, unabashed prog bombast that's often haunting yet groovy at the same time. Although, at the time of its release, Visitors was a one-off album intended a cash-in on the progressive rock fad of the early '70s, and the UFO fad too, its sci-fi concept probably not meant to be taken seriously either, nowadays it seems as valid, and certainly as enjoyable, as any other of the fabulous prog excesses of its era. So recommended!!
Includes insert with liner notes and an interview with Massiera himself!

MPEG Stream: "Dies Irae"
MPEG Stream: "Terre-Larbour"
MPEG Stream: "Visitors"

album cover VACCINA, LINO CAPRA Antico Adagio (Die Schachtel) cd 22.00
This 1978 minimalist masterpiece by Italian composer Lino Capra Vaccina got reissued last year on the Die Schachtel label but quickly went out of print. Now the cd (which includes 4 bonus tracks) has been repressed, we can finally list it, as it's a wondrous masterpiece of minimal majesty that sits somewhere loosely between new age and world music sensibilities as well as electronic and avant-garde. Vaccina is a percussionist and composer and inspired by Steve Reich's Drumming album, created this work which is grounded in percussion but at the same time atypical of what a percussion focused piece would be expected to sound like. Using vibraphones, gongs, and marimbas, Vaccina employs a long-form sonorous foundation built on timbres and resonances that build abstractly into sublime dreamy clusters. Filtered voices and electronic enhancements give flowering shape to the scrapes and bells, evolving into meditative ruminations and curious otherworldly sounds. Magnificent in scope, there is a connecting thread to like-minded composers such as Roberto Cacciapaglia, David Behrman, Nuno Canavarro and early Anton Batagov. Even Kieran Hebden of Four Tet is a major fan (he provides the liner notes here). Incredibly moving and highly recommended!
Note: Vaccina vinyl has been released (and repressed) as well, but the tracks from this disc are spread across two separate lps, each of which cost more than this single cd - the original six-track album Antico Adagio and another called Frammenti Da Antico Adagio containing the four bonus tracks included on this cd. We'll stock 'em soon, though, so let us know if you're interested.
MPEG Stream: "Elegy"
MPEG Stream: "Voice in XY"
MPEG Stream: "Fragments of Sleep"
MPEG Stream: "Ancient Adagio"

album cover MONDSAAL Eight Revelations (Winter Solace) cd 11.98
Shambling from the darkness of Saint Petersburg's deepest wooded overgrowth into the even darker darkness of Saint Petersburg's dankest dampest cave (we presume), comes Mondsaal! An entirely new prospect to us, this bizarre disc of murky, woozy Russian cosmic hatefulness arrived seemingly out of nowhere, but we're finding ourselves pretty damn smitten by its lurching weirdness. The esteemed Encyclopaedia Metallum describes Mondsaal as "dark/black metal", and we have to say "dark metal" is a pretty great way to describe these weirdos. Aesthetically it's sort of black metal. There's Burzum-esque midpaced plodding, there's otherworldly synthesizer strings draped over almost everything, but there's also a thick murkiness to their sound that feels more reminiscent of Swedish crypt-dwelling death metal or the warm bloodletting anesthesia of funeral doom bands like Skepticism or Until Death Overtakes Me. Even the mid-range vocal growls lean more towards the death than the black, and the blast beats (on the rare occasion that they do decide to show up) are eerily slow and shambolic. It's a sound that's strange, sorrowful, damaged, ugly, but weirdly warm & enveloping all at the same time. The constant droning of soft synth pads and the squonking of dissonant horns (yes, that's right, there's horns) stand in stark contrast to the naked writhing ugliness of everything else that's happening, and the result is pretty psychedelic & spacey (in a bit of a similar way to the Dunnock/Intergalactic Holocaust split we reviewed on the last list!). The whole affair closes out with a hazy ritualistic rainy desertscape ambient piece, leaving the impression that you've just passed through some living slow motion morphine nightmare. It's a pretty entrancing experience - either hideously beautiful or beautifully hideous, we're not sure yet, but either way: very very recommended.
FYI, though, as you may or may not know, a lot of Russian (and other) black metal is, rather absurdly, Nazi-leaning, and while there's nothing about this Mondsaal that we can tell that's overtly NSBM, it however is on a label that seems to have some sympathies in that direction at the very least. Fair warning if that is going to bother you.
MPEG Stream: "Mysterious Drop"
MPEG Stream: "Minutes Of Hell"
MPEG Stream: "Crystal Song"

album cover FOGG Death (Play Pinball) lp 17.98
Folks hankering for their seventies psychedelic biker doom fix need look no further than these Texas downer rock scuzzlords, who it seems took all the time and effort they DIDN'T put in to the cover art of this lp, and instead devoted it to maximizing the amount of FUZZ found on here. Fogg traffic in the same sort of drug fueled, garage-bound heaviness as outfits like Satan's Satyrs and Uncle Acid. The guitars appropriately fuzzy, the wailing Ozzyish vocals a perfect compliment, but unlike the punked out heaviness of the Satyrs, or the bell bottomed doominess of Uncle Acid, Fogg somehow sound more wasted and washed out, the sound less heavy, a bit brittle and tinny, extremely lo-fi, but it suits their mesmerizing heavy hippy psych punk swagger.
Opener "Time Ride" sets the scene, right down to the lurching stop start bridge, and some scuzzy guitar shred would around the murky main riff, that's as Sabbathy as can be, but decontextualized into something a bit more ramshackle and loose. And while seventies biker rock might be the core of their sound, they also get pretty sixties, "Rainbow" finds the guitar and bass playing strange harmonies, over a wildly groovy shuffle, laced with still more shred, lysergic and laid back, but on the verge of exploding into full on headbanging at any moment.
And yet for all that, when need be, these guys can conjure up the ghost of doom past, just check out the massive lumbering "Fried Cheer", which does actually sound like some especially acid fried take on Blue Cheer, the song lurching from swagger lumber to furious punky pound and back again. The more we listen to these guys, the more we hear outfits like Earthless and Hot Lunch, that sort of skate shred, woven into Fogg's Sabbathy swing.
They also stretch out (way out) on a handful of tracks, locking into almost krautrock-like stretches of hypnomesmer, as well as meandering space rock/jam rock, the song unfurling into waves of heady/heavy mesmer, tripped out and sinister, and downright sludgy, like on the appropriately titled "Sludgemother", that sounds like a downer Uncle Acid, a glorious slab of wasted skater doom, or witchy downtuned zoner psych, whatever you call it, it's heavy and tranced out and freaky as fuck (oh and there's a DRUM SOLO). Oh yeah, and of course stick around for the closer, another awesomely titled jam, "Womb To The Tomb", that sounds like a more poppy, way more brain damaged Electric Wizard, dirgey and droney and totally messed up and mesmeric, and just about the best thing we've heard in ages. This is a record that no doubt will be right at home right wedged between that played to death lp of Blood Lust, and that scratched up vinyl version of Die Screaming, or next to your copy of the Darkscorch Canticles compilation.
Vinyl-only, and sorry, no download.
MPEG Stream: "Fried Cheer"
MPEG Stream: "Tongue Melts "
MPEG Stream: "Sludgemother"

album cover V/A Cold Waves Of Color (Color Tapes / Lion) cd 16.98
Do you like runaway drum machines? Dubby echo? Danceable DIY '80s underground electronics? Homebrewed minimal electro pop? The Vox Populi! anthology we made a Record Of The Week last year? All the many cool synthwave reissues on Dark Entries? Then please give THIS your attention, you won't be sorry.
The Color Tapes label - later known as Color Discs for the vinyl editions - was the cottage industry of UK art-rock synthesist Gary Ramon, who with the music documented on this collection, sort of comes across like a new wave doppleganger of Cleaners From Venus. And there actually was a split cassette release between Cleaners From Venus and Ramon's band Modern Art (who later morphed into psychrockers Sun Dial) from 1986 or so. Here was a prolific songwriter of coldly sequenced and somewhat quirky minimal wave albums, mostly all of which were released on cassette with a small audience that radiated outward from the coastal village of Waltham, England. He, along with a loose collective, recorded in a handful of interchangeable projects - Modern Art, Mystery Plane, and WeR7 being three with the largest discographies, each with at least a dozen albums recorded in a six to eight year period. The former two projects later warranted vinyl anthologies from Vinyl On Demand; and it seems that the interest in this material blossomed from there.
Ramon and his cohorts were a talented bunch, following the rabbit-hole of darkly minded electronica. Think Factory, Sheffield, Industrial Records, Depeche Mode, Soft Cell, and all of those Wire side-projects and you'll be able to triangulate the sound of Color Tapes. There was a knack for the pop-hook and the death-disco backbeat present this material that makes all of this material age very well. The opening track to the comp is from Berserk In The Hayfields, with its clamorous electro-bongo fills girded to a taut techno pulse sounds very prescient of the Belgian EBM scene some five or six years later. Live Of Angels and The Lord were two non-Ramon projects and both peddled in weird-science blorp and effects-happy guitars above spry programming. But the strongest material is through the streamlined step sequences and deft rhythms that showcase Ramon's engineering prowess.
Note there are two bonus tracks on the cd not found on the wax.
MPEG Stream: BERSERK IN A HAYFIELD "Tease"
MPEG Stream: MODERN ART "Alternative Universe"
MPEG Stream: STEREO MACHINES AND KINESIS "Excerpt From Cassette Number 10"

album cover HAMBURGER, NEIL Great Phone Calls (Ipecac) lp 13.98
OMG! Automatic Record Of The Week. Hands down. Such a nice surprise, that Ipecac has just reissued this all-time aQ fave on vinyl, originally released back in 1992. Great Phone Calls lives up to its title, it's one of the funniest prank call albums ever made, up there with Kathy McGinty and the best of Longmont Potion Castle. Heck, it's one of the funniest records we've EVER heard, period. Then again, maybe something is wrong with us. In any case, stuff from this album has entered our personal lexicon, catch phrases, you know, like they way people pick up on stuff from SNL.
When Great Phone Calls came out so many years ago (1992) it quietly marked the first appearance on record of the now-infamous Neil Hamburger, sad sack comic who has since gone on to great heights of "humor" (or perhaps the term is anti-humor) recording for the Drag City label.
The collection of calls here ranges from the aggro bass player who answers a musicians-wanted ad (and insists, "I'm in your band!"), to a fat guy who went to college at "Yaoo" (not Yale) trying to order a low-fat pizza, to a computer giving away tickets to a Bette Midler movie called Hijinx (and its sequel, Hijinx II: Sodom). Some of the calls are borderline offensive, and some jump right over that line, so be forewarned, but it's so worth it anyway. The Hamburger-as-Hamburger tracks are among his best stuff, 'cause unlike later recordings of his live paying-gig performances, here on Great Phone Calls he's trying so desperately just to get a gig, calling comedy clubs and harassing the bookers with his "jokes". The unique brand of comedy on display here really takes things to a demented, ridiculous level, Hamburger essentially delivering extemporaneous monologues to the poor saps on the phone more akin to performance art than anything else. The shaggy dog story of a joke Hamburger tells on the track "A Nationally-Known Comedian" goes on for, like, six minutes. Why his victims don't hang up sooner, we'll never know. He's brilliant, if you've ever doubted it, this is the proof.
Originally out on Amarillo, this was reissued on cd - and now on lp - by Mike Patton's Ipecac label, and he makes an uncredited sneak appearance on the record too.
MPEG Stream: "I'm In Your Band"
MPEG Stream: "Hijinx"
MPEG Stream: "(Write My) Name On The Toilet"

album cover RASPBERRY BULBS Privacy (Blackest Ever Black) lp 23.00
Emaciated. Fractious. Toxic. Violent. Raspberry Bulbs is the blackened punk outfit that Marco del Rio conceived after dissolving the cult black metal duo Bone Awl in 2010 or thereabouts. The raw-nerve energy of Raspberry Bulbs is a continuation of Bone Awl's brand of D-beat primitivism, but with some downright catchy riffs and pop-hook chops replacing the black metal. Over three albums, Raspberry Bulbs has perfected that formula - one that could be cranked out on a single worn-torn guitar and knuckle-busting drum kit. Even as Raspberry Bulbs has swollen from a sole venture for del Rio to a formidable five-piece, the riffs have a crust-punk urgency that's completely in the moment and full of wild-eyed rage.
Raspberry Bulb's 2013 album Deformed Worship caught many people off guard, coming out on the boutique publishing house of paranoiac electronica, Blackest Ever Black. Despite the aesthetic differences, the malaise and the claustrophobia and the tension of Black Rain, Cut Hands, and Raime find easy parallels in the jackbooted punk stomp of Raspberry Bulbs. It also makes a hell of a lot of sense that Dominic Fernow / Prurient released the first (and dare we say, slightly undercooked) first album from Raspberry Bulbs. So there's the connection for you. Privacy picks up right where Deformed Worship left off as an antisocial, bad-seed punk brother to Christian Death's Only Theatre Of Pain, starving the skeletal riffs into a acid batteries of ravenous angst and eschewing the goth miserablism in favor of a throat-ripped snarl. The guitars sound like they've been strung with razor wire and hot-wired into Crime's pawn shop amps. With the multiplicity of guitarists, Raspberry Bulbs just sounds louder, snottier, and meaner. Fucking awesome, we gotta say.
MPEG Stream: "Light Surrounds Me"
MPEG Stream: "How The Strings Are Pulled"
MPEG Stream: "Finger Bones"
MPEG Stream: "Hopelessly Alive"

album cover SECRET PYRAMID The Silent March / Movements Of Night (Students Of Decay) 2cd 13.98
Movements Of Night, from these Canadian krautdrone drifters, was already an AQ Record Of The Week in its original vinyl incarnation when it came out last year. Now it's been issued on cd, in a specially priced two cd set with ANOTHER great Secret Pyramid album, The Silent March, that we'd previously reviewed back when it was but a cassette release, now long out of print (that one's also now been issued on vinyl, separately, by SoD, and can be found elsewhere on this list). So, this double disc is a great deal for all you cd types!! Here are our reviews of the two halves of this release, first, The Silent March:
We raved about Secret Pyramid's first release, a super limited (and now out of print) cd-r called Ghosts, describing it as sounding like "Flying Saucer Attack collaborating with Andrew Chalk" which still pretty much applies. Right out of the gate, SP launch into some thick heady dronemusic, blustery swells of heavily layered buzz, warm washes of blurry chordal bliss, that grows thicker and louder as the track progresses, easing into full on Nadja metalgaze territory, sans the propulsion, instead this dreamlike heaviness is allowed to drift and shimmer.
The label mentions Popol Vuh, and in spirit we can hear the comparison, but these guys (or this guy) are more about deep, heavy dronemusic, building layer upon layer, and letting the overtones and the shifting sonic colorations lend movement to these otherwise near static sprawls. There are rhythms, but you have to dig deep, they've buried way down in the mix, more a distant pulse, or a strangely textural shuffle, but when the rhythm locks in, like on "Still Return", it changes the feel completely, even the melodies seem to coalesce into dark abstract pop, the vibe way more shimmery and shoegazey, but just as kosmische and blissed out as the rest of the record. The rest of the record in this case playing out as a series of dronepsych drifts, slipping from warm, washed out, muted pop ambient blur, to softly strummed folky dirge, to thick blown out psychedelic squall, to lush gauzy dronescape, and finally to a hazy bit of choral thrum, laced with buried melody, and blurred into a fantastically blissed out smear of dreamy druggy drift.
Then, Movements Of Night: As much as we loved Secret Pyramid's prior releases, this new one, released on the venerable Students Of Decay label, manages to take their sound even further. From the opening couple minutes, we were totally smitten - the sound a lush, swirling, psychedelic morass, of lush layered textures, of keening, heartwrenching melodies, buried beneath gristly fields of soft focus static, under which, a meditative pulse throbs hypnotically, so cinematic and majestic, haunting and stirring, it's the kind of part most bands spend half a record, or at least most of one long song building up to, but these guys start out, with this dense, cathartic soundscape, which really sets the tone for the whole record, aligning them sonically with Philip Jeck, William Basinski, Tim Hecker, Stars Of The Lid, a sort of darkened psychedelic take on Pop Ambience, a looped dreamscape of heady, hypnotic, blissed out dronemusic, that is so mesmerizing, it has us wishing it would never end.
And while we were prepared to explain that nothing else on the record manages to reach the same sort of sonic and emotional peak, it's actually somehow, not at all true. The next track, in fact, seems to effortlessly conjure up another deep, emotional soundworld, all slow shifting minor key swells, softly reverbed melodies, washed out strings, and lysergic chordal drift, the sound building and building, before slipping right back into a muted field of drifts and swells. And so it goes. Every track, a dark, moody, brooding, cinematic gem, some ultra minimal and abstract, wispy fields of lowercase sound, others bold and strident, emotional and expressive, some almost symphonic, majestic and epic in scope, bordering on psychedelic noise, others hushed and whispery, barely there, brief blurred smears of sonic color, but every single second, of every track on Movements Of Night, is stunning, moving, and utterly breathtaking.
MPEG Stream: "Outside"
MPEG Stream: "Come Down Gently"
MPEG Stream: "Still Return"
MPEG Stream: "A Descent"
MPEG Stream: "Quiet Sky"
MPEG Stream: "Closer"
MPEG Stream: "Escape (Fade Out)"

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

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

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

album cover FENNESZ Endless Summer (Editions Mego) 2lp 27.00
Just last list we had the first-time-on-vinyl version of Fennesz's Venice as our Record Of The Week. Now, here's also a new-and-improved vinyl reissue of another brilliant Fennesz album (and former aQ Record Of The Week), Endless Summer. Repressed, remastered, expanded into a gatefold double lp (previously it had been issued as a single lp), which allows it to includes two bonus tracks from the Japanese cd edition, and one exclusive, expanded cut as well. Here's what we said about this all-time AQ favorite back in 2001 (little did we know how influential the album would become, and how much of an impact it would have on the realms of the avant-garde and electronic music at large):
While the label that Fennesz calls home is certainly guilty of propagating a specific aesthetic (harsh digital soundscapes based upon the flotsam of cybernetic errata), Fennesz has always produced what we had imagined should be the salvation for experimental electronica - an ever vigilant, but necessarily shifting search for balance. As Fennesz does incorporate the guitar quite a bit into his creative process, there is a finely tuned balance between rock and electronica archetypes. However, his egalitarian views of intention and execution, dissonance and melody, metaphor and metonym, structure and arrhythmia, analog and digital, warm and cool, etc. are exactly what electronica needs.
Fennesz' third album - the aptly titled Endless Summer - picks up where his ep of Rolling Stones / Beach Boys covers left off with a digital dispersion of "fun in the sun" rock mythologies. While there are no obviously discernible pop culture references, Fennesz builds a sound that really is quite summery from odd duets between disintegrating acoustic guitar strums and the coalescence of digital errata. Thus, this album has the feeling of the classic Beach Boys sound, but very little of that structure. These are NOT Beach Boys covers, but if he said they were, we'd have no basis to call him a liar. Regardless, Fennesz's Endless Summer is a stunning record.
MPEG Stream: "Endless Summer"
MPEG Stream: "Happy Audio"

album cover DEUTSCHE WERTARBEIT s/t (Bureau B) cd 17.98
At last reissued again, now on Bureau B, on both 180 gram vinyl, and compact disc. Here is what we said about this present and former Record Of The Week femme-kraut synth classic back in 2010, when we listed the lp-only reissue that Medical Records did then (that label's very first release, in fact):
We can probably count the major female figures of Krautrock on one hand. Most of them like Rosi Mueller of Ash Ra Tempel, Renate Knaup from Amon Duul II, Djong Yun from Popol Vuh, or Sabine Merbach from Gila were either singers or muses for their male-led bands. And don't even mention Clara Mondshine, which was a pseudonym for Walter Bachauer, a very real actual man. But even among those women, you don't find too many female krautrock composers. Enter Dorethea Raukes.
Released on Sky Records in 1981, Deutsche Wertarbeit was Raukes' first solo effort after years of being the singer for a German Progressive band we're not familiar with called Streetmark, who started in 1968, and released 4 lps between 1976 and 1981. Two of those were also released on Sky Records and one of them was even recorded in collaboration with Wolfgang Riechmann, the same year he was murdered. What? Really? Why didn't we know of this already? Just goes to show, there are still many treasures to be unearthed.
And if you dug Wolfgang Riechmann's Wunderbar reissue, that we raved about awhile back, or Klaus Schulze, Tangerine Dream, Cluster, Peter Baumann, Harald Grosskopf, or even some of the later Manuel Gottsching recordings such as New Age Of Earth, then add Deutsche Wertarbeit to the essential kosmiche synthscape canon. But while she definitely fits in with those artists, she carves out her own defining sound of warm minimal hypnotic rhythms and vocoder voicings that display a joyous exuberance you don't see as much in artists like Schulze or Baumann. In fact this would have fit in well with the stuff on that Dirty Space Disco comp, as it sounds like a mystical combination of Vangelis and Popol Vuh, expansive and cosmic, upliftingly propulsive while keeping it all beautifully reined in.
Highest Recommendation!!!!!!
MPEG Stream: "Guten Abend Leute"
MPEG Stream: "Auf Engelsflugeln"
MPEG Stream: "Der Grosse Atem"

album cover MELTED TOYS s/t (Underwater Peoples) lp 14.98
We've been fans of this local dream-gaze band since their first ep a few years ago. Then besides a split 45, we heard little from them. We were psyched to see them open for Italian synth-prog cult Sensations Fix this past September, because we had heard they had a new full length out on Underwater Peoples, we knew we needed to stock. But then something unexpected happened. The band imploded, cancelled their appearance at that gig and broke up. Not sure what happened, band drama no doubt, we were bummed for sure. But as it turns out, we then discovered that our new and cool next door neighbor Ole was actually in the band (or until recently, had been) and had copies of their first full length - and final - recording in hand to consign to us, probably because it won't likely get promoted too much since the band is done. Which is super too bad, because this record is so amazing! But at least, we finally get to hear it and share it with you.
Burnt out dreamy hazy pop jangle, pastoral and romantic, melancholy and bittersweet, but kind of druggy too in a sun damaged LA way. Foggy daydream break-up songs that carry a worn and faded sadness of distant memories and unrealized dreams. Reminds of our favorite bands on Creation or Sarah Records, The Field Mice, Weekend or House of Love, even bands like the Great Unwashed or The Three O'Clock, super catchy, compelling and crushing heartbreak pop perfect for rainy day or really any day listening. Our current autumn soundtrack for sure. Limited stock!
MPEG Stream: "Horizons"
MPEG Stream: "Blush"
MPEG Stream: "Come On"
MPEG Stream: "Always"

album cover DEUTSCHE WERTARBEIT s/t (Bureau B) lp 23.00
At last reissued again, now on Bureau B, on both 180 gram vinyl, and compact disc. Here is what we said about this present and former Record Of The Week femme-kraut synth classic back in 2010, when we listed the lp-only reissue that Medical Records did then (that label's very first release, in fact):
We can probably count the major female figures of Krautrock on one hand. Most of them like Rosi Mueller of Ash Ra Tempel, Renate Knaup from Amon Duul II, Djong Yun from Popol Vuh, or Sabine Merbach from Gila were either singers or muses for their male-led bands. And don't even mention Clara Mondshine, which was a pseudonym for Walter Bachauer, a very real actual man. But even among those women, you don't find too many female krautrock composers. Enter Dorethea Raukes.
Released on Sky Records in 1981, Deutsche Wertarbeit was Raukes' first solo effort after years of being the singer for a German Progressive band we're not familiar with called Streetmark, who started in 1968, and released 4 lps between 1976 and 1981. Two of those were also released on Sky Records and one of them was even recorded in collaboration with Wolfgang Riechmann, the same year he was murdered. What? Really? Why didn't we know of this already? Just goes to show, there are still many treasures to be unearthed.
And if you dug Wolfgang Riechmann's Wunderbar reissue, that we raved about awhile back, or Klaus Schulze, Tangerine Dream, Cluster, Peter Baumann, Harald Grosskopf, or even some of the later Manuel Gottsching recordings such as New Age Of Earth, then add Deutsche Wertarbeit to the essential kosmiche synthscape canon. But while she definitely fits in with those artists, she carves out her own defining sound of warm minimal hypnotic rhythms and vocoder voicings that display a joyous exuberance you don't see as much in artists like Schulze or Baumann. In fact this would have fit in well with the stuff on that Dirty Space Disco comp, as it sounds like a mystical combination of Vangelis and Popol Vuh, expansive and cosmic, upliftingly propulsive while keeping it all beautifully reined in.
Highest Recommendation!!!!!!
MPEG Stream: "Guten Abend Leute"
MPEG Stream: "Auf Engelsflugeln"
MPEG Stream: "Der Grosse Atem"

album cover FENNESZ Venice (Touch) 2lp 22.00
THIS AQ RECORD OF THE WEEK FROM A DECADE AGO, NOW ON VINYL FOR THE VERY FIRST TIME!!
Christian Fennesz' 2001 album Endless Summer firmly established him as one of the electronic avant-garde's greats with his delirious balance of hotwired digital glitches and a nostalgic revisitation of summery pop sensibilities. The assimilation of overloaded digital filtering technologies and guitar driven song fragments has continued to be Fennesz' strongest asset through his celebrated arrangements for David Sylvian's Blemish album, and has even earned him a curious forthcoming collaboration with Sparklehorse! Venice is his fourth studio album and clearly stands as his best work to date. According to Asphodel's Naut Humon, Venice was almost a doomed project, as Fennesz' hard drive crashed less than a month before he needed to deliver the record to Touch. With about a quarter of the album salvageable, he scrambled to reassemble the album from memory. While it's hard to say if this time constraint benefited or detracted from his process, the album itself is stunningly good. Just as Endless Summer channelled the acid fried spirit of Brian Wilson, Venice also finds itself an album with a muse: Kevin Shields. There have always been short-circuited elements of My Bloody Valentine shot from Fennesz' tricked out guitar sound; but Venice pushes Fennesz affection for shoegazer's bucolic atmospheres and sublime melodies to the forefront with marvelous results. Each song appears to be nerve-rattlingly familiar; yet just as Endless Summer invoked Brian Wilson without ever resorting to self-conscious quotation, each of his tracks glides along the same oceanic currents authored by Slowdive, AR Kane, Ride, Loveliescrushing, and The Cocteau Twins. Again, no direct references can be heard in Venice; rather Fennesz taps directly into the hopelessly romantic sentimentality of shoegazer music and replicates it perfectly behind a light dusting of digital pixels.
The one track which gives us pause on Venice is the single collaboration with David Sylvian. While this track on its own works as good if not better than anything on their aforementioned Blemish album, it sticks out like sore thumb against the sublimely textured ambience which dominates the remainder of the record. Here on the double lp redux of Venice, Fennesz had the sense to lead the second lp with that track, thus remedying much of the disconnect found with the cd listening experience. Venice stood as one of the finest electronic albums of 2001; and it's still an excellent album a decade later, now fleshed out in its 10th Anniversary vinyl edition with two short bonus tracks of pastoral, pixelated blur, "The Future Will Be Different" and "Tree", presumably recorded at the same time.
MPEG Stream: "City Of Light"
MPEG Stream: "Circassian"
MPEG Stream: "Point Of It All"

album cover FATHER MURPHY Croce (The Flenser) cd 13.98
Croce is the newest collection of distorted, dark psychedelic, industrial cabaret from this Italian boy/girl duo, who, after a series of ever darkening releases, have arrived at this, a concept record about the cross, and yeah, it's THAT cross (Croce in Italian), with one side of the record sonically representing the suffering and sacrifice, the flipside reflecting what comes after, the end of said suffering, resurrection, or perhaps oblivion.
The sounds are shadowy, the atmospheres muddy and murky, from which spring unexpected blurts of impossibly catchy noise pop, approaching at times something almost operatic, like some twisted psychedelic musical detailing the trials and tribulation of the crucifixion, with male and female vox intertwined over distorted blasts of guitar crunch, anchored by stuttering homebuilt percussion, a sound both textural and nuanced, but also noisy and chaotic, that chaos carefully sculpted into jagged shards of fragmented pop, and that pop oven into a dramatic, almost theatrical songsuite.
At points, the songs can seem to gradually lose cohesion, the lumbering and loping angular grooves (d)evolving into wild psychedelic squalls, or alternately stripped down to just the skeletal essence of the song, while the duo proceed to add layer upon layer, rhythm upon rhythm, working their way up to another blast of glorious cacophony. That percussion is a driving force throughout, whether it's swirling billows or rubberband twang and big booted thump, or sinewy pulses, wound up into tense, and intense low slung swaggers, all beneath cascades of wild junkyard crumble and soaring devotional vox, sung/spoken intonations over bell-like clang and the almost tuned sounding metallic sproings of reverberating springs.
The first side finishes up with "In Solitude", an appropriately dour slab of murky miserablism that sounds like a slow sonic death, the hazy, nocturnal sound gradually fading, retreating further into the shadows, loping, lumbering creeps, soft chordal swirls beneath strange metallic rhythms, too slow to be motorik, but a similarly hypnotic vibe, albeit more sort of druggy and slo-mo, a haunting moody dirge that dissolves into that ineffable space that exists between the record's second side, the netherworld, the afterlife, Purgatory even, an endless expanse of nothingness, from which few return. But Father Murphy erupt from this Stygian blackness, with the second half of Croce, meant to be the light, to the A side's dark, and yet the opener is still somehow strangely doomy, a field of metallic shimmer, and more junkyard percussion, strung together into a spare framework, over which dramatic male vocals soar, the female vocals responding like some demonic Greek chorus, but true to the theme, the vibe grows strangely warm, an otherworldly glow, nearly sundappled in places, you can almost hear the rays of light breaking through the grey cloud filled skies.
But really, these two have a strange idea of 'light', with "All The People Yelling Fire" seemingly still cloaked in shadow, a lumbering cacophony of rhythmic crashes and metallic pounds, not to mention some elephant like bleats, moaning horns suspended in a field of distant drones, very ominous and sinister, but before you know it, it's right back to the clatter and clang, leading directly into the penultimate "We Walk By Faith", a harrowing hymn, both droney and almost liturgical, with throat singing like vocalizations, wound around long, softly undulating tones, modern minimalism by way of some ancient ritual, the music evoking flickering firelight, dancing shadows, primitive worship to the cosmos, driven by muted thumps and buried beats, another one of those rickety rhythms surfacing from beneath the murk, a swampy, apocalyptic psychedelia, melted down into a viscous sonic crawl.
The finale, "They Won't Hurt You", is all majestic pipe organ, a stirring and stately court music, lush and lovely and epic, the sound of rebirth, redemptive and ultimately restorative, a return from the beyond, arisen from the grave, ascended into the heavens, the sounds drifting upwards, beyond the galaxy, the universe, into the unknowable infinity.
MPEG Stream: "A Purpose"
MPEG Stream: "So This Is Permanent"
MPEG Stream: "In Solitude"
MPEG Stream: "We Walk In Faith"

album cover GUM TAKES TOOTH Mirrors Fold (Tigertrap) lp 28.00
This recent Record Of The Week, now on vinyl, and Record Of The Week AGAIN!!!
We made the first record from this awesomely monikered UK outfit, Silent Cenotaph, our Record Of The Week, way back in 2011, and at the time described them with some band math that looked a little like this: Shit And Shine + Butthole Surfers + Lightning Bolt. The sound was a dizzyingly psychedelic barrage of grinding, rhythmic, electronics doused in druggy tribal freakout, like a super charged This Heat, the drummers kit wired to a mad scientist array of machinery and noise making devices, turning the kit into some giant rhythmic noise machine, and enabling a duo to kick up a din that sounds like it couldn't possibly be made by just two people, and while that first record generally hewed toward a sound that was more chaotic and bombastic, this new one seems to be a bit more melodic and dare we say mellow, there's still plenty of sonic ferocity, and rhythmic bombast for sure, but it sounds more measured, more deftly assembled, maybe less 'punk', but only in the way that bands get better at what they do, and in theory, take what was great about their previous records, and add to it, creating something, even more forward reaching, and ultimately perhaps even better.
Such is the case with Mirrors Fold. We still do LOVE Silent Cenotaph, and it routinely gets play on the iPod even still, but this new one is more subtle, more textural, whereas that first one was the sort of music you wanted to rock out to, jump around and go crazy, this new one, manages to harness that feral energy into something much more focused. The opener begins all swirly and serene, with hushed ambient shimmer, chant-like vocals, be before long the drums explode, adding a churning rhythmic component, without detracting from the melodic component or the vocals, it's not really until a brief bit of hushed shimmer, a barely there ambient interlude, that the song truly launches into crazed sonic chaos, a dizzying blurry flurry of drum madness, a wild octopoidal tangle of tangled jumbled rhythms, that eventually give away to a skeletal bit of rhythmic drift, before one final push, where the drums, the vocals, and swirls of FX are all wound into a dense propulsive tribal spacey noise rock blowout. Phew!
And so it goes, the band laying down mesmerizing hypno-rhythms, while all around strange effects swoop in and out, extra percussion, echoey vox floating above, thick rumbling bass below, sitar like buzz slithers throughout, the sound and arrangement super dynamic, a bit proggy, certainly psychedelic, a sort mutant psych-prog, Afro-space groove. Some moments are like some outer space version of Afro-fuzz Swedes Goat, others sound like a super charged, space rock Necks, a few tracks get downright heavy, and sound like some tripped out psychedelic space outfit, a few tracks sound like a crazy demonic alter ego of This Heat, a few others remind us of the twisted afro-noise of William Bennett's Cut Hands, there are moments of Muslimgauze like Eastern rhythmatism, there are even moments that remind us of Animal Collective at their very weirdest, but really most of this just sounds Gum Takes Tooth, and absolutely nobody else, a totally twisted genius amalgam of all the above mentioned references, deftly shaped into something at once warped and weird, wild and experimental, but also totally hypnotic, and melodic, strangely lovely and in its own way, extremely catchy. A new favorite for sure. And a total shoe-in not just for Record Of The Week, but for our year end best of's too...
Includes a download code!
MPEG Stream: "Mirrors Fold"
MPEG Stream: "White Fear"
MPEG Stream: "The Perfect Surface"
MPEG Stream: "Treaty And Treasure"

album cover SLANT 6 Soda Pop*Rip Off (Dischord) lp 14.98
Fell in love with this band over 20 years ago!! Slant 6 were an all-girl indie-punk trio from DC, who made two albums for Dischord back in the early nineties. Soda Pop*Rip Off was their first, and arguably best (though Inzombia was good too, hopefully Dischord will soon be reissuing it as well). You might have noticed we mentioned Slant 6 in one of our Record Of The Week reviews last list, Rips by Ex Hex. Ex Hex being the new band of Mary Timony of Helium/Wild Flag - who long ago, before Helium, was in a band called Autoclave with Christina Billotte. Christina then went on to front Slant 6, and later, Quix*o*tic (with her sister Mira, later of White Magic), as well as the Casual Dots. We detected a hint of Slant 6 in Ex Hex's garagey pop, for sure, and as it turns out Ex Hex has even covered Slant 6's "What Kind Of Monster Are You?", so it's such good timing that this album, originally released in 1994, has just been reissued on (red) vinyl - which now also includes a download.
It's an obvious choice for Record Of The Week, when a great old fave like this happens to get the vinyl reissue treatment (or even, sometimes, if we just find a cache of original copies, like that Treepeople we made a Record Of The Week recently). After all, there's got to be lots of you out there who missed out the first time, right? So we're super happy to have this to write about this week, and fall in love with all over again. And if you liked the Ex Hex, you gotta hear this, Slant 6 still an inspiration all these years later, an exemplar of youthful, girls-that-rock energy and girls-that-take-no-shit attitude. Super catchy, super cool, more fun than Sleater-Kinney (who came along a little later), less didactic than some of their Riot Grrrl contemporaries such as Bikini Kill, just a killer band fervently kicking out the pop-punky, new wavy blasts, and often having something serious to say while they do it.
All 16 tracks here are great, some dark and angry, some moody and melodic; usually pretty tightly wound, topped off with Christina's excellent, distinctive vocals and slashing guitar. The trio also included Myra Power on bass and backing vox, and Marge Marshall on drums. We note that Marshall sports a Boredoms sticker on her kit in the back cover photo - and also plays trumpet, a la Yoshimi, on one odd instrumental jazz-march song here. Part DC hardcore, part surfy garage, part art-femme-punk, so very rollicking and choppy and hooky and right on.
We remember being so excited seeing them live back in day, and this spinning this record still gives us a thrill. Check it out!
Note: lp lacks the 3 tracks from the "What Kind Of Monster..." 7" included on the cd edition, but the mp3 download does have 'em.
MPEG Stream: "Don't You Ever?"
MPEG Stream: "Double Edged Knife"
MPEG Stream: "Poison Arrows Shot At Heroes"

album cover EX HEX Rips (Merge Records) cd 14.98
When we first heard this in the store, Harry was upfront manning the stereo, and we were actually convinced he was spinning some old glam rock record, so we were pretty surprised to discover it was actually Mary Timony from Helium's new band (named after a solo album of hers from a while back), and as much as we love(d) Helium, we never would have expected Timony to make a record that sounds so much like The Sweet. But she did, and it's awesome! At this point, we imagine most reviews will riff on the record title, but how can you resist, this record rips for sure, the sound super retro, but somehow modern and supercharged, the guitars fuzzy and reverbed, the songs swaggery and glammy, power pop stomps overflowing with crazy catchy hooks and amazing guitar melodies, and Timony's vocals seal the deal, the whole package sounding like some obscure seventies glam pop combo. We're immediately reminded of Matthew Melton's Bare Wires - Melton and Timony are most definitely kindred sonic souls, both mining a similar vein of retro psych/garage/glam rock, and both nailing it. We definitely hear hints of Timony's ex-Autoclave bandmate Christina Billotte's nineties indie rock outfits Slant 6 and Quix*o*tic too, and of course the Runaways. Really though, Timony has always been a master, with Helium, and solo too, but this might be our favorite record of hers since Helium's 1997 masterpiece The Magic City, but imagine that sound reworked and recast as something way more retro and glam poppy, and you'll get an idea of what this sounds like. A new unanimous store fave, and one that will likely end up on more than one year end top ten...
MPEG Stream: "Don't Wanna Lose"
MPEG Stream: "Beast"
MPEG Stream: "Waste Your Time"

album cover EX HEX Rips (Merge Records) lp 17.98
When we first heard this in the store, Harry was upfront manning the stereo, and we were actually convinced he was spinning some old glam rock record, so we were pretty surprised to discover it was actually Mary Timony from Helium's new band (named after a solo album of hers from a while back), and as much as we love(d) Helium, we never would have expected Timony to make a record that sounds so much like The Sweet. But she did, and it's awesome! At this point, we imagine most reviews will riff on the record title, but how can you resist, this record rips for sure, the sound super retro, but somehow modern and supercharged, the guitars fuzzy and reverbed, the songs swaggery and glammy, power pop stomps overflowing with crazy catchy hooks and amazing guitar melodies, and Timony's vocals seal the deal, the whole package sounding like some obscure seventies glam pop combo. We're immediately reminded of Matthew Melton's Bare Wires - Melton and Timony are most definitely kindred sonic souls, both mining a similar vein of retro psych/garage/glam rock, and both nailing it. We definitely hear hints of Timony's ex-Autoclave bandmate Christina Billotte's nineties indie rock outfits Slant 6 and Quix*o*tic too, and of course the Runaways. Really though, Timony has always been a master, with Helium, and solo too, but this might be our favorite record of hers since Helium's 1997 masterpiece The Magic City, but imagine that sound reworked and recast as something way more retro and glam poppy, and you'll get an idea of what this sounds like. A new unanimous store fave, and one that will likely end up on more than one year end top ten...
MPEG Stream: "Don't Wanna Lose"
MPEG Stream: "Beast"
MPEG Stream: "Waste Your Time"

album cover BEBEY, FRANCIS Psychedelic Sanza 1982-1984 (Born Bad Records) 2lp 29.00
We made the last Francis Bebey compilation from the Born Bad label, African Electronic Music 1975-1982 our Record of The Week back in 2012 (was it really 62 lists ago? Geez!). Yet, as much as love this Cameroonian musician and composer, if this new compilation was somehow more of the same, we wonder if we would bestow it the same honor. Hmmm... Guess the point we're trying to make is that this new compilation, Psychedelic Sanza 1982-1984 is an altogether different but equally amazing collection, the sound well removed from the electronic afro-pop of its predecessor. Why is that? Well. it helps to know that the sanza is an African thumb piano, also known as the mbira or kalimba, among many other names, depending upon region and design, and this compilation focuses specifically on the hypnotic ethereal music Bebey made with this instrument. Seriously, ever since the first compilation was released we've been hoping one would come out documenting this subsequent period as these are some of our very favorite recordings by Bebey. Music that is so incredibly groovy, but distinctly otherworldly, moving and hauntingly transportive that we HAD to make this one Record of the Week as well!
Compiled from recordings released on the Ozileka and Original Music labels from 1982-1984, Bebey's sanza recordings are less pop structured and more tribal and rhythmic, enhanced by loping funk-driven basslines and propulsive percussion. Yet despite their funkiness, they mark a more serious side of musical study away from the humorous pop songs Bebey became famous for and into a more tonal world of ethnological polyphony. The tonal range of the sanza doesn't adhere neatly to Western tuning standards either, adding a kind of mystical quality to the overall song structure, like a primitive version of minimalist composition. There's a dreamier element as well, as the fuzzy metallic bell tones of the sanza coalesce into mesmerizing whorls of sound with Bebey's voice floating above, sometimes in keening wordless bird calls of sound or deeply sustained ragged warbles. In others, Bebey sings alternately in French, English and Duala, sometimes spoken English like in "Forest Nativity" about a jungle child born to conquer wickedness, or in beautiful heartfelt laments like the french-sung "Sanza Tristesse".
The only liner notes provided are a remembrance by Bebey's son Patrick who recalls his initial misgivings with the instrument because he was trained on piano and the sanza never sounded right. Yet eventually his father won him over by gently prodding him to play and see what he could do with it. He writes, "Playing the sansa, you enter a world that enraptures you in a very serene and mesmerizing way. I think its sounds evoke a rainbow, with rain falling while the sun shines. A very peaceful feeling. It allows you to make music that truly sounds like life." Indeed!
Both the cd and vinyl beautifully packaged with incredible cover art, the lp pressed on nice thick vinyl, though unfortunately there's no download code.
MPEG Stream: "Binta Madiallo"
MPEG Stream: "Bissau"
MPEG Stream: "Ngoma Likembe"
MPEG Stream: "Sanza Tristesse"

album cover INQUISITION Ominous Doctrines Of The Perpetual Mystical Macrocosm (deluxe vinyl edition) (Hell's Headbangers) 2lp 37.00
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY.
This former Record Of The Week, now issued for the 2nd time on vinyl via Hell's Headbangers, this edition being all super deluxe and stuff, more expensive too but you're getting laser etched artwork on side D, a poster insert, and custom trifold 'tome' style packaging, which features the original Antichrist Kramer artwork on an inner fold out, while the outside now is black, with a big metallic blue die-cut "I" affixed to the front cover. Neat-o. Here's our original review of the music portion of this release:
Time once more to touch the magic hoof! As we mentioned in our write up of Negative Plane's long awaited new one last list, we're also basking in the evil radiation of a new release from another cult back metal fave of ours as well, and finally have enough copies of 'em in to not only review, but make Record Of The Week, as our Lord Satan commands, and this incredible musick deserves, laced as it is with killer riffs and curious weirdness. That'd be the latest from the duo known as Inquisition, who, although they sound like they hail from some alien Hell, actually currently dwell in the grim fog of the Pacific Northwest, originating however from the jungles of Columbia.
Ominous Doctrines Of The Perpetual Mystical Macrocosm (a great title, and one that makes this review itself perhaps not seem so verbose and purplish of prose) is again full of what we expect from Inquisition: blazing battery, buzzing guitars, and most crucially the bizarre croaking of the "robot frog" as the Invisible Oranges blog so pithily describes the vocal stylings of guitarist Dagon. His unique voice, unlike any else in black metal (though most closely akin to Abbath of Norwegian blizzard beasts Immortal, whom they remind us of in other respects as well) is one of the main things we like about the idiosyncratic Inquisition. In a way, his rasping ribbetting and our reaction to it is representative of the whole of what makes Inquisition so great. It's absurd, it's eccentric, it's evil, it's impossible to forget once you've heard it. Likewise with their eerie guitar tones and occult atmospherics, no one else sounds quite like them even within the highly formalized realm of black metal. Furthermore, the eccentric and otherworldly elements of their music are like 1000X more brilliant because Inquisition are simultaneously rooted in pure old school metal, meaning memorable riffs, indeed actual, quite catchy SONGS. Which has a lot to do with why we were so blown away when we finally got to seem them play live on tour last year. If you saw 'em too, you know it was one of the best 2 piece performances by a metal act ever. Very very metal, a churning maelstrom of axes and spikes and swords given musical form. Listening to this album, it's all here, the keening guitar soli that burrow into your brain, the riffs like the lashings of a whip, and the vokills such stern Satanic admonitions. And moments of majestic melody amidst the buzz and blurr, including one cheery passage we might have to play 'round Xmas time, hahaha.
So, another one to worship from Dagon and Incubus! And once again, adorned with excellent Antichrist Kramer artwork, more third eye skull psychedelia of morbid metalhead fantasies, something which we could also say of the music itself.
MPEG Stream: "Astral Path to Supreme Majesties"
MPEG Stream: "Command of the Dark Crown"
MPEG Stream: "Desolate Funeral Chant"

album cover CORTINI, ALESSANDRO Sonno (Hospital Productions) cd 15.98
Perhaps best known for being the 'electronics guy' in the live version of Nine Inch Nails, Alessandro Cortini is also a formidable solo artist, as well as one of the few masters of the Buchla synthesizer. Having heard none of his solo work to date, we were actually expecting some sort of analog synth, goth industrial hybrid, would make sense since it ended up on the Hospital label, but instead, Sonno is a gorgeously hushed and evocative collection of minimal synthscapes, recorded in various hotel rooms on tour, all with just a single synth and a delay pedal, occasionally some portable speakers, the sounds defined not simply by Cortini's compositions and the settings on the instruments, but also the rooms, open windows, resonant tiled bathrooms, faucets on, the whir of air conditioners, sounds from the outside leaking in, all of this subtle and deftly woven into delicate, crystalline sprawls of soft focus synthsound, some tracks here cinematic an sinister, but most are ethereal and airy, fans of Emeralds will find much to love here, although Cortini's vision is much more low fidelity, but it's easy to forget about the fidelity completely, as the sounds are lush, and lovely, even the darker, shadowier movements, are gauzy and dreamlike, sometimes building to ominous billows of resonant thrum, but just as often settling into something tranquil and tranced out.
Imagine Stars Of The Lid, and Emeralds, and William Basinski, and the Caretaker, all blurred into a hauntingly mesmeric ambient kraut-psych, a pulsing, atmospheric dream-drone drift... gorgeous stuff...
MPEG Stream: "Rovine"
MPEG Stream: "Voltaggio Solitario"
MPEG Stream: "Dell'Influenza"
MPEG Stream: "Passatempo"

album cover CORTINI, ALESSANDRO Sonno (Hospital Productions) lp 30.00
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY.
Perhaps best known for being the 'electronics guy' in the live version of Nine Inch Nails, Alessandro Cortini is also a formidable solo artist, as well as one of the few masters of the Buchla synthesizer. Having heard none of his solo work to date, we were actually expecting some sort of analog synth, goth industrial hybrid, would make sense since it ended up on the Hospital label, but instead, Sonno is a gorgeously hushed and evocative collection of minimal synthscapes, recorded in various hotel rooms on tour, all with just a single synth and a delay pedal, occasionally some portable speakers, the sounds defined not simply by Cortini's compositions and the settings on the instruments, but also the rooms, open windows, resonant tiled bathrooms, faucets on, the whir of air conditioners, sounds from the outside leaking in, all of this subtle and deftly woven into delicate, crystalline sprawls of soft focus synthsound, some tracks here cinematic an sinister, but most are ethereal and airy, fans of Emeralds will find much to love here, although Cortini's vision is much more low fidelity, but it's easy to forget about the fidelity completely, as the sounds are lush, and lovely, even the darker, shadowier movements, are gauzy and dreamlike, sometimes building to ominous billows of resonant thrum, but just as often settling into something tranquil and tranced out.
Imagine Stars Of The Lid, and Emeralds, and William Basinski, and the Caretaker, all blurred into a hauntingly mesmeric ambient kraut-psych, a pulsing, atmospheric dream-drone drift... gorgeous stuff...
MPEG Stream: "Rovine"
MPEG Stream: "Voltaggio Solitario"
MPEG Stream: "Dell'Influenza"
MPEG Stream: "Passatempo"

album cover DE SAINT-OBIN, ANDRE Sound On Sound (Plinkity Plonk) lp+cd 17.98
AN AQUARIUS EXCLUSIVE!!!
Yeah, Bernard Sumner may have claimed the computer as the ultimate punk instrument; but not everybody in 1982 could afford a computer to program samples while sipping cocktails at the Hacienda. Tape - now THAT is a punk as fuck tool. It was everywhere; it was cheap (not so much anymore, mind you); and the tools to edit tape could be as simple as a razor blade and a tape recorder. Andre De Saint-Obin was of this DIY mindset, a musician making the most out of the least, utilizing that aforementioned punkest form of technology. This Dutch fellow was home-taping for only a few short years in the early '80s, releasing a couple of singles and a cassette... and then he just disappeared. An impressionable Frans De Waard (the man behind Korm Plastics, Plinkity Plonk, Vital Weekly, and too many bands to mention) was smitten by that De Saint-Obin cassette back in the day, and years later, he embarked on a quest to seek out De Saint-Obin in hopes of reissuing the album. We'll skip forward through the bits about interminable internet searches and dropped conversations due to artist idiosyncrasy and flighty weirdo behavior; for here we have the glorious fruits of De Waard's labor of love - a minor masterpiece of Dutch post-punk / minimal-wave eccentricity: Sound On Sound by Andre De Saint-Obin.
The title refers to means-of-production, De Saint-Obin didn't have a multitrack recorder, but rather he could overdub tracks onto a single piece of tape in the tradition of Les Paul and the earliest of sound engineers. Yup, in mono! Built up from the bottom up, starting with drum machine, then bass, the guitar, and finally voice, each of Andre De Saint-Obin's songs required considerable foresight and architectural planning. The process was a destructive one, so if he fucked up on one of the last layers, he would have to start all over again. The fact that these songs are so fractured, so lysergic, so dystopian speaks to the cracked vision of De Saint-Obin. The opening number (eponymously titled "Introduction") is an instrumental cut with swollen basslines plucked with the swaggering panache of a Peter Hook or a Simon Gallup, punched with spark-plug guitar jitteriness and mechanoid electronic rhythms. It's pretty damn close to being a perfect piece of gloom pop, but fixed to a woozy DIY axis instead of a baroque goth polish. The spasmodic anti-funk number "Dance Till I Die" sports jagged guitar fuzz and exasperated vocals above a backbeat of machined click and churlish basslines, lending to visions of Pere Ubu or James Chance in a fit of epileptic delirium. The manic-depressive bounciness of "Hey You" sways toward sexual frustration, and "I Got Plopmusic" veers towards the truly bizarre in the vein of Fad Gadget or any of those synth-punk ditties that Colin Potter put to tape around the same time.
The accompanying cd, in addition to the record proper, features 5 bonus tracks, including the predatorily creepy yet captivatingly catchy "Stay Tonight" and the much sought after "Everytime We Say Goodbye" originally released on one of Alain Neffe's Insane Music compilations. Sound On Sound finds company with a few contemporaries in the head-scratching Factory Records ensemble Crawling Chaos and Pete Shelley's aptly named Strange Men In Sheds With Spanners; but was very much a precursor to what the Blank Dogs and Ariel Pink attempted several decades later.
We should note that aQuarius is the ONLY shop in North America that you can get one of these, and get one you should!!! Fuck yeah!!!
MPEG Stream: "Introduction"
MPEG Stream: "Hey You"
MPEG Stream: "I Got Plopmusic"
MPEG Stream: "Desolation"
MPEG Stream: "A Tempo Cresc"

album cover BEBEY, FRANCIS Psychedelic Sanza 1982-1984 (Born Bad Records) cd 17.98
We made the last Francis Bebey compilation from the Born Bad label, African Electronic Music 1975-1982 our Record of The Week back in 2012 (was it really 62 lists ago? Geez!). Yet, as much as love this Cameroonian musician and composer, if this new compilation was somehow more of the same, we wonder if we would bestow it the same honor. Hmmm... Guess the point we're trying to make is that this new compilation, Psychedelic Sanza 1982-1984 is an altogether different but equally amazing collection, the sound well removed from the electronic afro-pop of its predecessor. Why is that? Well. it helps to know that the sanza is an African thumb piano, also known as the mbira or kalimba, among many other names, depending upon region and design, and this compilation focuses specifically on the hypnotic ethereal music Bebey made with this instrument. Seriously, ever since the first compilation was released we've been hoping one would come out documenting this subsequent period as these are some of our very favorite recordings by Bebey. Music that is so incredibly groovy, but distinctly otherworldly, moving and hauntingly transportive that we HAD to make this one Record of the Week as well!
Compiled from recordings released on the Ozileka and Original Music labels from 1982-1984, Bebey's sanza recordings are less pop structured and more tribal and rhythmic, enhanced by loping funk-driven basslines and propulsive percussion. Yet despite their funkiness, they mark a more serious side of musical study away from the humorous pop songs Bebey became famous for and into a more tonal world of ethnological polyphony. The tonal range of the sanza doesn't adhere neatly to Western tuning standards either, adding a kind of mystical quality to the overall song structure, like a primitive version of minimalist composition. There's a dreamier element as well, as the fuzzy metallic bell tones of the sanza coalesce into mesmerizing whorls of sound with Bebey's voice floating above, sometimes in keening wordless bird calls of sound or deeply sustained ragged warbles. In others, Bebey sings alternately in French, English and Duala, sometimes spoken English like in "Forest Nativity" about a jungle child born to conquer wickedness, or in beautiful heartfelt laments like the french-sung "Sanza Tristesse".
The only liner notes provided are a remembrance by Bebey's son Patrick who recalls his initial misgivings with the instrument because he was trained on piano and the sanza never sounded right. Yet eventually his father won him over by gently prodding him to play and see what he could do with it. He writes, "Playing the sansa, you enter a world that enraptures you in a very serene and mesmerizing way. I think its sounds evoke a rainbow, with rain falling while the sun shines. A very peaceful feeling. It allows you to make music that truly sounds like life." Indeed!
Both the cd and vinyl beautifully packaged with incredible cover art, the lp pressed on nice thick vinyl, though unfortunately there's no download code.
MPEG Stream: "Binta Madiallo"
MPEG Stream: "Bissau"
MPEG Stream: "Ngoma Likembe"
MPEG Stream: "Sanza Tristesse"

album cover TREEPEOPLE Guilt Regret Embarrassment (K) cd 10.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY.
This is not a normal Record Of The Week. It's not new. It's not even a newly released reissue. But what it is, is one of our favorite records EVER. And it just so happened Andee was in Olympia this last weekend, and got to visit K Records, where they discovered a little box of these stashed away in the warehouse. And since most of the records by this band predate the current version of the list, we were psyched to suddenly be presented with the opportunity to gush like crazy over the debut album from the late great Treepeople. And really, as far as we're concerned, if any band deserved a comprehensive reissue campaign, it's the Treepeople, but until then, dig this...
For those unfamiliar with the Treepeople, it's essentially pre Built To Spill, with BTS mastermind Doug Martsch honing his chops in a much wilder, more punky, noisy, but no less catchy context. In fact, if you've heard the first Built To Spill record, Ultimate Alternative Wavers, that record essentially sounds like a slightly more polished Treepeople Record. Imagine the glorious hooks and super catchy melodies of BTS, but wrapped in spidery intertwined guitars, swirls of feedback, wild chaotic drumming, the whole vibe more noisy, and loose, definitely more punk, aggressive and heavy, but still impossibly poppy. With every track here, on the group's 1991 debut, a stone cold killer, the opener "No Doubt" lays out the template, multiple guitar lines in constant motion, as if there were multiple solos being played at once, a dizzying backdrop of distort melodies, wound around sinewy basslines, and frenetic drumming, all beneath Martsch's distinctive vocals, oh and feedback, EVERYwhere, but somehow these guys make it sound as much a part of the sound/song as any other instrument. When people talk about noise pop, this is the sort of thing we imagine, equal parts jangle pop and urgent post punk, with some hints of proginess and psychedelia. And since we're all friends here, we'll fess up to the fact, that one of us here (ahem, Andee) had no idea that track two, "Andy Warhol" was a Bowie cover. Which also helps to give you an idea of the sound happening here. The opener bleeds right into the Bowie cover, almost as if they were conceived and composed together, with the Treepeople's version extra fierce and fuzzy (they'd do something similar to the Smiths' "Big Mouth Strikes Again" a year later).
"Gre" comes next, and might be one of our favorite Treepeople songs ever, frantic and fuzzy, noisy and punky, but again, super catchy, with drums and guitars in a seemingly constant squall, and yet molded into something most proper pop bands would kill for, if they could even figure out what to do with it. And from there on out, it just keeps getting better, some songs jangly and woozy, others straight up punk pound, more often than not a little of both, and almost as often, with even more sonic weirdness swirled into the equation. The Treepeople are one of those rare groups whose sound is actually totally and truly unique, there are definitely moments and parts and sounds and hooks that touch on other strains of indie rock, but much like Polvo, they seem to have taken the parts of a proper sound, pulled them apart and then reassembled them with no regard for the instruction manual, the resulting musical monstrosity emerging far more twistedly beautiful than it was ever meant to be, and the sort of sound that has stood the test of time like little else, this record (along with the group's entire catalog) on constant heavy rotation pretty much nonstop for that past 20+ years. And as much as we love Built To Spill, we find ourselves, almost without thinking, replying to almost every BTS related query with something like "yeah, but have you heard Treepeople?!?", cuz really, they're like a much crazier, noisier, heavier, more experimental version, which obviously for us, means even BETTER. A gloriously noisy concoction that should be essential listening for all indie rockers, young and old, and which should eventually, hopefully one day, get these guys, and all their records, the sort of love and accolades they so totally deserve. For now, we'll just do our part. And you should do yours, you won't be sorry, you might just have a new (old) favorite band!
Non musical note: this was the record that first introduced us to the stunning and horrifyingly beautiful pencil art of Mike Scheer!
PS here's our original brief and to the point, but equally rave, review, when we listed the cd some years back:
The genius of Mr. Doug Martsch recorded pre-Built To Spill/Dub Narcotic. Kick-ass hook-laden pop rocks from 1991. Harder and much more angstful than BTS. Plus a cover of David Bowie's "Andy Warhol". Awesome.
MPEG Stream: "No Doubt"
MPEG Stream: "Andy Warhol"
MPEG Stream: "Gre"
MPEG Stream: "Pity"

album cover TREEPEOPLE Guilt Regret Embarrassment (K) lp 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 not a normal Record Of The Week. It's not new. It's not even a newly released reissue. But what it is, is one of our favorite records EVER. And it just so happened Andee was in Olympia this last weekend, and got to visit K Records, where they discovered a little box of these stashed away in the warehouse. And since most of the records by this band predate the current version of the list, we were psyched to suddenly be presented with the opportunity to gush like crazy over the debut album from the late great Treepeople. And really, as far as we're concerned, if any band deserved a comprehensive reissue campaign, it's the Treepeople, but until then, dig this...
For those unfamiliar with the Treepeople, it's essentially pre Built To Spill, with BTS mastermind Doug Martsch honing his chops in a much wilder, more punky, noisy, but no less catchy context. In fact, if you've heard the first Built To Spill record, Ultimate Alternative Wavers, that record essentially sounds like a slightly more polished Treepeople Record. Imagine the glorious hooks and super catchy melodies of BTS, but wrapped in spidery intertwined guitars, swirls of feedback, wild chaotic drumming, the whole vibe more noisy, and loose, definitely more punk, aggressive and heavy, but still impossibly poppy. With every track here, on the group's 1991 debut, a stone cold killer, the opener "No Doubt" lays out the template, multiple guitar lines in constant motion, as if there were multiple solos being played at once, a dizzying backdrop of distort melodies, wound around sinewy basslines, and frenetic drumming, all beneath Martsch's distinctive vocals, oh and feedback, EVERYwhere, but somehow these guys make it sound as much a part of the sound/song as any other instrument. When people talk about noise pop, this is the sort of thing we imagine, equal parts jangle pop and urgent post punk, with some hints of proginess and psychedelia. And since we're all friends here, we'll fess up to the fact, that one of us here (ahem, Andee) had no idea that track two, "Andy Warhol" was a Bowie cover. Which also helps to give you an idea of the sound happening here. The opener bleeds right into the Bowie cover, almost as if they were conceived and composed together, with the Treepeople's version extra fierce and fuzzy (they'd do something similar to the Smiths' "Big Mouth Strikes Again" a year later).
"Gre" comes next, and might be one of our favorite Treepeople songs ever, frantic and fuzzy, noisy and punky, but again, super catchy, with drums and guitars in a seemingly constant squall, and yet molded into something most proper pop bands would kill for, if they could even figure out what to do with it. And from there on out, it just keeps getting better, some songs jangly and woozy, others straight up punk pound, more often than not a little of both, and almost as often, with even more sonic weirdness swirled into the equation. The Treepeople are one of those rare groups whose sound is actually totally and truly unique, there are definitely moments and parts and sounds and hooks that touch on other strains of indie rock, but much like Polvo, they seem to have taken the parts of a proper sound, pulled them apart and then reassembled them with no regard for the instruction manual, the resulting musical monstrosity emerging far more twistedly beautiful than it was ever meant to be, and the sort of sound that has stood the test of time like little else, this record (along with the group's entire catalog) on constant heavy rotation pretty much nonstop for that past 20+ years. And as much as we love Built To Spill, we find ourselves, almost without thinking, replying to almost every BTS related query with something like "yeah, but have you heard Treepeople?!?", cuz really, they're like a much crazier, noisier, heavier, more experimental version, which obviously for us, means even BETTER. A gloriously noisy concoction that should be essential listening for all indie rockers, young and old, and which should eventually, hopefully one day, get these guys, and all their records, the sort of love and accolades they so totally deserve. For now, we'll just do our part. And you should do yours, you won't be sorry, you might just have a new (old) favorite band!
Non musical note: this was the record that first introduced us to the stunning and horrifyingly beautiful pencil art of Mike Scheer!
MPEG Stream: "No Doubt"
MPEG Stream: "Andy Warhol"
MPEG Stream: "Gre"
MPEG Stream: "Pity"

album cover VESSEL Punish, Honey (Tri Angle) cd 14.98
The first full length from Vessel, aka producer Sebastian Gainsborough, 2012's Order Of Noise, was a perfect fit for the Tri Angle label, sounding very much like labelmates oOoOO, Balam Acab, Holy Other, etc. All warped and woozy, fractured slo-mo soul, dark, slithery, downtempo creeps that sounded like Portishead 12"s melted down, and then repressed into something much more alien, and otherworldly.
Punish, Honey is something else altogether, though. Gone are the pitch shifted vocals, the spare dubbed out minimal moodiness, and in their place, something much more bombastic and percussive, dense and collaged, and WAY more experimental. While that first record channeled the soulful murk of Burial, the sound here is almost more post industrial, still soulful for sure, but with hints of Throbbing Gristle, This Heat, and other much more avant influences, that you might not expect to hear woven into what is ostensibly dance music. That said, the music here is truly not designed for the dancefloor. Instead, in some ways at least, it hews closer to the sound design of folks like Ben Frost and Roly Porter. In fact, imagine some sort of Portishead / Ben Frost mash-up and you'd be getting close. From the opening intro, you know something has changed, what sounds like a solo performance on snare drum, in a big empty room, that blown out snare soon joined by processed recordings of what sounds like jackhammers, the result is some super abstract 20th century sounding weirdness, replete with skittery, stuttery rhythms, and keening siren like tones. It's not all that far out, but a lot of it comes close.
"Red Sex" sounds like Latin Playboys if the group was made up of robots, Marc Ribot like guitars wrapped around metallic buzz, and a churning looped beat, the vibe hazy and nocturnal, you can almost imagine someone like Tom Waits hearing a track like this and then recruiting Gainsborough to work on his new record. It's the moody, murky "Drowned In Water And Light" that really seals the deal, a cloud of swirling tones, gives way to a lumbering big beat, those tones bleeding and blurring into sinister shimmers, the sound almost like the score for some silent movie, wound around a lurching plod and pound, the atmosphere in constant motion, buzzing and thrumming, rich and lustrous and seriously haunting. From there on out Gainsborough continues to push the envelope, his mutant electronica harrowing at times, wistfully obtuse at others, a few tracks, like "Anima" sound almost like Amps For Christ, a sort of noise-folk psychedelia subtly infused into the otherwise mesmeric churn, or tracks like "Black Leaves And Broken Branches", that sounds like some lost Jewelled Antler campfire jam, all wheezing chords, muted percussion, lazy, languorous melodies, clouds of cymbal shimmer, distant horn bleats, albeit pocked with the occasional industrial burst. The final track is the 'danciest' of the bunch, but even there, the sound is noisy, and distorted, and dizzying, clattery and psychedelic, and it's preceded by two tracks of dreamy soft noise skitter and blurred Caretaker like ambient drift. Love it!!!
MPEG Stream: "Febrile"
MPEG Stream: "Red Sex"
MPEG Stream: "Drowned In Water And Light"
MPEG Stream: "Anima"
MPEG Stream: "Black Leaves And Broken Branches"

album cover VESSEL Punish, Honey (Tri Angle) 2lp 17.98
The first full length from Vessel, aka producer Sebastian Gainsborough, 2012's Order Of Noise, was a perfect fit for the Tri Angle label, sounding very much like labelmates oOoOO, Balam Acab, Holy Other, etc. All warped and woozy, fractured slo-mo soul, dark, slithery, downtempo creeps that sounded like Portishead 12"s melted down, and then repressed into something much more alien, and otherworldly.
Punish, Honey is something else altogether, though. Gone are the pitch shifted vocals, the spare dubbed out minimal moodiness, and in their place, something much more bombastic and percussive, dense and collaged, and WAY more experimental. While that first record channeled the soulful murk of Burial, the sound here is almost more post industrial, still soulful for sure, but with hints of Throbbing Gristle, This Heat, and other much more avant influences, that you might not expect to hear woven into what is ostensibly dance music. That said, the music here is truly not designed for the dancefloor. Instead, in some ways at least, it hews closer to the sound design of folks like Ben Frost and Roly Porter. In fact, imagine some sort of Portishead / Ben Frost mash-up and you'd be getting close. From the opening intro, you know something has changed, what sounds like a solo performance on snare drum, in a big empty room, that blown out snare soon joined by processed recordings of what sounds like jackhammers, the result is some super abstract 20th century sounding weirdness, replete with skittery, stuttery rhythms, and keening siren like tones. It's not all that far out, but a lot of it comes close.
"Red Sex" sounds like Latin Playboys if the group was made up of robots, Marc Ribot like guitars wrapped around metallic buzz, and a churning looped beat, the vibe hazy and nocturnal, you can almost imagine someone like Tom Waits hearing a track like this and then recruiting Gainsborough to work on his new record. It's the moody, murky "Drowned In Water And Light" that really seals the deal, a cloud of swirling tones, gives way to a lumbering big beat, those tones bleeding and blurring into sinister shimmers, the sound almost like the score for some silent movie, wound around a lurching plod and pound, the atmosphere in constant motion, buzzing and thrumming, rich and lustrous and seriously haunting. From there on out Gainsborough continues to push the envelope, his mutant electronica harrowing at times, wistfully obtuse at others, a few tracks, like "Anima" sound almost like Amps For Christ, a sort of noise-folk psychedelia subtly infused into the otherwise mesmeric churn, or tracks like "Black Leaves And Broken Branches", that sounds like some lost Jewelled Antler campfire jam, all wheezing chords, muted percussion, lazy, languorous melodies, clouds of cymbal shimmer, distant horn bleats, albeit pocked with the occasional industrial burst. The final track is the 'danciest' of the bunch, but even there, the sound is noisy, and distorted, and dizzying, clattery and psychedelic, and it's preceded by two tracks of dreamy soft noise skitter and blurred Caretaker like ambient drift. Love it!!!
MPEG Stream: "Febrile"
MPEG Stream: "Red Sex"
MPEG Stream: "Drowned In Water And Light"
MPEG Stream: "Anima"
MPEG Stream: "Black Leaves And Broken Branches"

album cover BLACK RAIN Dark Pool (Blackest Ever Black) cd 17.98
We've been super obsessed with this killer slab of grim, blackened, nocturnal, techno minimalism, a dread fueled sprawl of bleak electronica and droned out sci-fi industrialism that's even more remarkable as it's the first Black Rain release in 18 years!!
Black Rain mastermind Stuart Argabright is hardly a household name, yet the man has an impressive catalog of high-caliber recordings along an axis of futurist / cyberpunk / darkly post-punk electronica dating back to the late '70s. His first fruits were in the form of the Factory sponsored Ike Yard, whose gloomy electro-dirges followed in the wake of the No New York contingent, followed by some far more club-oriented projects including the one-hit wonder Dominatrix and the eccentric Death Comet Crew (working with the pioneer of Afro-futurism, Rammellzee). Black Rain was the band that Argabright began with fellow DCC-member Shinichi Shimokawa in 1992 or thereabouts, and was originally commissioned to draft the score for a film version of Johnny Mnemonic. Despite his long-standing friendship with Phillip K. Dick, the Black Rain tracks were scrapped in favor of a high-budget Hollywood score after Keanu Reeves was pegged for the lead. After Blackest Ever Black pressed up a short-program lp 2010 of that soundtrack work from the early '90s (all of which had appeared on the Fifth Colvmn cd entitled 1.0), Argabright returned to the Black Rain moniker, possibly with Shimokawa at his right hand again.
Dark Pool continues the thread of tense cyborg-electronica crafted through those nixed Johnny Mnemonic soundtracks. The introductory track features a spoken word preface from Sean Young (best known as the android Rachel from Blade Runner) amongst a flurry of electrically screeching birds, extending the P.K. Dick allusions. Dystopian electronic shadows and hauntological drones brace much of Dark Pool, with Black Rain snapping into rhythmic passages of taut pneumatic samples and polished-machine drum programming. "Xibalba Road Metamorph" is a track that Dominick Fernow could only dream of producing as Prurient or Vatican Shadow, hammering its electro-static pulses with iron-fisted brutality and cold-blooded precision. The aptly named "Data River" spills out clinical beeps and drill-hammer rhythms on par with the sterility of Mika Vainio's Metri or any of the Raster Noton folk, with toxic drones of any villainous techno track lurking in the distance. Black Rain does pull the rug out from under us on the final track which rockets forward with a modern-day Moroder-esque tension, all dynamic arpeggiation and teeth-gritting electronic suspense only to abruptly cut the power, marking the end of the album. If we were to apply the cinematic, gothic / sci-fi allusion that this albums begs for, then this coda marks the unexpected termination of the android protagonist. Achtung! Bang! Click. End.
MPEG Stream: "Burst"
MPEG Stream: "Xibalba Road Metamorph"
MPEG Stream: "Night In New Chiang Saen"
MPEG Stream: "Who Will Save The Tiger?"

album cover BLACK RAIN Dark Pool (Blackest Ever Black) lp 27.00
We've been super obsessed with this killer slab of grim, blackened, nocturnal, techno minimalism, a dread fueled sprawl of bleak electronica and droned out sci-fi industrialism that's even more remarkable as it's the first Black Rain release in 18 years!!
Black Rain mastermind Stuart Argabright is hardly a household name, yet the man has an impressive catalog of high-caliber recordings along an axis of futurist / cyberpunk / darkly post-punk electronica dating back to the late '70s. His first fruits were in the form of the Factory sponsored Ike Yard, whose gloomy electro-dirges followed in the wake of the No New York contingent, followed by some far more club-oriented projects including the one-hit wonder Dominatrix and the eccentric Death Comet Crew (working with the pioneer of Afro-futurism, Rammellzee). Black Rain was the band that Argabright began with fellow DCC-member Shinichi Shimokawa in 1992 or thereabouts, and was originally commissioned to draft the score for a film version of Johnny Mnemonic. Despite his long-standing friendship with Phillip K. Dick, the Black Rain tracks were scrapped in favor of a high-budget Hollywood score after Keanu Reeves was pegged for the lead. After Blackest Ever Black pressed up a short-program lp 2010 of that soundtrack work from the early '90s (all of which had appeared on the Fifth Colvmn cd entitled 1.0), Argabright returned to the Black Rain moniker, possibly with Shimokawa at his right hand again.
Dark Pool continues the thread of tense cyborg-electronica crafted through those nixed Johnny Mnemonic soundtracks. The introductory track features a spoken word preface from Sean Young (best known as the android Rachel from Blade Runner) amongst a flurry of electrically screeching birds, extending the P.K. Dick allusions. Dystopian electronic shadows and hauntological drones brace much of Dark Pool, with Black Rain snapping into rhythmic passages of taut pneumatic samples and polished-machine drum programming. "Xibalba Road Metamorph" is a track that Dominick Fernow could only dream of producing as Prurient or Vatican Shadow, hammering its electro-static pulses with iron-fisted brutality and cold-blooded precision. The aptly named "Data River" spills out clinical beeps and drill-hammer rhythms on par with the sterility of Mika Vainio's Metri or any of the Raster Noton folk, with toxic drones of any villainous techno track lurking in the distance. Black Rain does pull the rug out from under us on the final track which rockets forward with a modern-day Moroder-esque tension, all dynamic arpeggiation and teeth-gritting electronic suspense only to abruptly cut the power, marking the end of the album. If we were to apply the cinematic, gothic / sci-fi allusion that this albums begs for, then this coda marks the unexpected termination of the android protagonist. Achtung! Bang! Click. End.
MPEG Stream: "Burst"
MPEG Stream: "Xibalba Road Metamorph"
MPEG Stream: "Night In New Chiang Saen"
MPEG Stream: "Who Will Save The Tiger?"

album cover STREET TRASH (RICK ULFIK) OST (Lunaris ) lp 25.00
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY.
We LOVE Street Trash, one of the silliest, goriest, goofiest movies ever, and easily one of our favorite good 'bad' movies. The label describes the 1987 horror flick as the ultimate "melt movie", which is definitely true, although we never realized that was an actual genre. And for lots of you, that probably makes no sense at all. But it will. Street Trash begins when a liquor store owner finds an old case of 'Tenafly Viper' in his basement, some kind of cheap wine, and decides to sell it cheap. It's of course snapped up by the city's homeless population, who begin to, yep, you guessed it, MELT!! THEY MELT!!!
There's also a subplot about a mean Vietnam Vet who rules the junkyard, but really it's all about the glorious gore, and again, it's not bloody gore as much as it's a sort of over the top Technicolor gore, with the hapless victims of the tainted malt liquor dissolving into greasy pools of rainbow hued goop, most notably one guy who sits on a toilet to drink in peace, and who begins to melt and drip and ooze and eventually becomes a mushy prismatic pool in (and around) the toilet bowl...
And really all the rest is just window dressing, you know, there's some story and a little plot and all that, but it's all about the melting, a grossout hobo holocaust that is like that head melting scene from Raiders Of The Lost Ark stretched out into a feature length film!
And like a lot of these films, we didn't necessarily remember the music, but revisiting now, we were pretty blown away. The score by Rick Ulfik is pretty cool, creepy and synthy, some tracks all weird echoey percussion, moody, haunting atmospheres, really cool stuff, but it was the eighties, so there's also plenty of goofy synthy drum machine dorkiness, and some geniusly cringeworthy, ultra cheesy sax driven groovers, what one aQ staffer described as 'trashjams', but to our ears sounds like the retro-futuristic schmaltzy VHS mall music of ex-Skater James Ferraro. One of those tracks is so good (bad?) that it gets lodged in our head like crazy, and we find ourselves not just digging it, but humming it to ourselves at odd times during the day, LONG after having actually listened to it.
But the bulk of the record is made up of grim, ominous creepscapes, the whole thing in fact reminiscent of another aQ fave soundtrack, The New York Ripper, a similarly weird mix of cheesy eighties funkiness and seriously scary soundtrackery, the difference here being that most of the sound FX are left in, we're guessing because no real masters exist, so perhaps this was all mastered direct from someone's original VHS copy, and it sounds like it, as it's sort of tinny, and lo-fi, but it suits the sounds, and the movie if you've seen it, perfectly. And that's also a part of the score's charm, that most of the cheesiest tracks are bookended by the anguished FX drenched howls of some hapless soul melting, screaming in anguish, those screams turning into wordless gurgles, and usually leading right into another long stretch of creepy, synthy ambience.
Then there's the final song, what we remember as the end credits track, a sort of bastardized version of Frank Sinatra's "My Way" kind of jam, with some of THEE most ridiculous and hilariously over the top lyrics EVER. In fact, we had forgotten about that track completely, and the first time it played in the store, had we all been drinking, it would have induced some seriously comedic spit takes, as it is, we were in stitches, lines like:
"Shut your face, you little scumbag", "You can stop the bullshit cuz this is the end", "Oh what's this?? I'm startin' to ooze! you little creep! What's this fuckin' shit??" and of course "Your face I'm gonna reshape - I'm gonna eat your fucking eyeballs like grapes", all delivered in a dramatic croon, one that becomes increasingly more unhinged as the track progresses, and as the singer presumably begins to melt himself!
So great! Easily one of our favorites in this recent spate of horror movie reissues (obviously, as it's our Record Of The Week). And the Lunaris label, the latest to throw their bloody hat in the horror movie vinyl reissue ring, did a great job, killer new artwork, extensive liner notes, the whole shebang. And like all the best soundtracks, it has us wanting to watch Street Trash again SO BAD!!
MPEG Stream: "Opening Sequence"
MPEG Stream: "Viper Theme"
MPEG Stream: "Paulie Melt"
MPEG Stream: "Mournful Theme"
MPEG Stream: "Flashback"
MPEG Stream: "Junkyard Hop"
MPEG Stream: "Wizzy Death"
MPEG Stream: "We Do Things My Way"

album cover GUM TAKES TOOTH Mirrors Fold (Tigertrap) cd 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 the first record from this awesomely monikered UK outfit, Silent Cenotaph, our Record Of The Week, way back in 2011, and at the time described them with some band math that looked a little like this: Shit And Shine + Butthole Surfers + Lightning Bolt. The sound was a dizzyingly psychedelic barrage of grinding, rhythmic, electronics doused in druggy tribal freakout, like a super charged This Heat, the drummers kit wired to a mad scientist array of machinery and noise making devices, turning the kit into some giant rhythmic noise machine, and enabling a duo to kick up a din that sounds like it couldn't possibly be made by just two people, and while that first record generally hewed toward a sound that was more chaotic and bombastic, this new one seems to be a bit more melodic and dare we say mellow, there's still plenty of sonic ferocity, and rhythmic bombast for sure, but it sounds more measured, more deftly assembled, maybe less 'punk', but only in the way that bands get better at what they do, and in theory, take what was great about their previous records, and add to it, creating something, even more forward reaching, and ultimately perhaps even better.
Such is the case with Mirrors Fold. We still do LOVE Silent Cenotaph, and it routinely gets play on the iPod even still, but this new one is more subtle, more textural, whereas that first one was the sort of music you wanted to rock out to, jump around and go crazy, this new one, manages to harness that feral energy into something much more focused. The opener begins all swirly and serene, with hushed ambient shimmer, chant-like vocals, be before long the drums explode, adding a churning rhythmic component, without detracting from the melodic component or the vocals, it's not really until a brief bit of hushed shimmer, a barely there ambient interlude, that the song truly launches into crazed sonic chaos, a dizzying blurry flurry of drum madness, a wild octopoidal tangle of tangled jumbled rhythms, that eventually give away to a skeletal bit of rhythmic drift, before one final push, where the drums, the vocals, and swirls of FX are all wound into a dense propulsive tribal spacey noise rock blowout. Phew!
And so it goes, the band laying down mesmerizing hypno-rhythms, while all around strange effects swoop in and out, extra percussion, echoey vox floating above, thick rumbling bass below, sitar like buzz slithers throughout, the sound and arrangement super dynamic, a bit proggy, certainly psychedelic, a sort mutant psych-prog, Afro-space groove. Some moments are like some outer space version of Afro-fuzz Swedes Goat, others sound like a super charged, space rock Necks, a few tracks get downright heavy, and sound like some tripped out psychedelic space outfit, a few tracks sound like a crazy demonic alter ego of This Heat, a few others remind us of the twisted Afro-noise of William Bennett's Cut Hands, there are moments of Muslimgauze like Eastern rhythmatism, there are even moments that remind us of Animal Collective at their very weirdest, but really most of this just sounds Gum Takes Tooth, and absolutely nobody else, a totally twisted genius amalgam of all the above mentioned references, deftly shaped into something at once warped and weird, wild and experimental, but also totally hypnotic, and melodic, strangely lovely and in its own way, extremely catchy. A new favorite for sure. And a total shoe-in not just for Record Of The Week, but for our year end best of's too...
MPEG Stream: "Mirrors Fold"
MPEG Stream: "White Fear"
MPEG Stream: "The Perfect Surface"
MPEG Stream: "Treaty And Treasure"

album cover TAURUS No/Thing (Devout) cd 11.98
Most doom metal can be pretty easily classified, categorized or pigeonholed, whether it be stoner doom, funereal doom, sludge, epic doom, doom-folk, death-doom, psych-doom, dooooooooom or whatever other variant folks have cooked up. While plenty of bands do manage to transcend their classification, rare is the doomy beast that defies categorization all together, which is most definitely the case with Northwest duo Taurus, made up of Stevie Floyd (from psychedelic avant doom duo Dark Castle) and Ashley Spungin (of late great mystical metallic garage rockers Purple Rhinestone Eagle). Together they have conjured up a sound we could describe as impressionistic doom, or maybe abstract doom. Right from the outset, the various doomic elements, the usual sonic tropes are recast, filtered through the lives and experiences of these two woman, the result super dynamic, ultra heavy, extremely atmospheric, darkly ritualistic, hauntingly psychedelic, the opening track's main riff sounds like slo-mo Voivod played by Greg Ginn, all woozy and warbly, over churning drum pound, and laced with both deep witchy crooned vox, and more harsh vokills, all wound in a dizzying atonal sonic spiral that's harrowingly hypnotic and utterly mesmeric. But before that even happens, there's a gorgeously terrifying intro assembled from looped riffy churn, pounding percussive bombast, weird sample voices, and more howled shrieked vokills, a tense, and intense push and pull. The sound soon settles into something a bit more traditionally metallic, but only just, the vibe more like slowed down black metal than doom. It's like Deathspell Omega at 16rpm, barring the brief squalls of frenzied blackened freakout, but again, like that first track, the sound is warped and avant, even choice of notes, melody, rhythm, all seem obtuse and OTHER, which gives the whole record a sense of OTHERness, an outsider quality, that infuses even the most orthodox of moments with twisted pathos and deep emotion.
After those two relatively brief tracks, Taurus unfurl an epic psychedelic sprawl with "Set Forth On The Path Of The Infinite", setting the stage with swooping backwards melodies, simple ukulele (!) melody, reverbed samples, dense throbs of crumbling low end, a slow build bit of black ambience that sounds more like some lost arthouse soundtrack, and even when the drums come in, instead of exploding into a metallic onslaught, the track lopes and lumbers. And again, in swoop the guitars, and they're strange and alien, the melodies difficult, obtuse, accompanied by feral vocal howls, the song bursting into action in fits and starts, the sound ebbs and flows, eventually switching gears completely, with soaring angelic vox, over a backdrop of thick drum pound, and a slowly melting tangle of guitar keen and moan, before finishing off with another bit of haunting folkiness.
The tracks here are less riffscapes, and more a sort of ever shifting landscape of doom-ed sound, the riffs that do surface, are often indistinct, not so much riffs, as loose tangles of notes and chords that seem ghostly, and gauzy, occasionally indeed coalescing into proper riffage, but just as often drifting apart into something less distinct, more blurred and smeary, those sounds oozing and bleeding into each other, what in the hands of a more traditional doom outfit, would be more riffy and song-like all howl and pound, here becomes something ethereal and darkly psychedelic, abstract and ephemeral, and yeah, it's still heavy, but that heaviness is only loosely tethered, instead it's allowed to drift and dissipate, like on the other epic track here, "Increase Aloneness", which layers choral vocals over some roiling organ, a sort of blackened disembodied prog, by way of Arvo Part perhaps, here the build is slow, and distinctly non-metallic, samples only adding to the creepiness, to the twisted emotion, until finally, a MASSIVE riff comes cascading in, and the song is transformed into a churning, chugging behemoth, but that riff occasionally flickers and blinks out, leaving just Spungeon's double kick drum bombast, and that swirling psychedelic organ, building tension until the riff returns and so it goes, back and forth, light and shadow, love and hate, a tense/intense blackened majesty, an impossibly epic culmination of it's various constituent parts. The final track features Wrest from Leviathan adding vocals (he plays in a new group with Floyd called Devout), and we were expecting straight up some straight up black buzz brutality, but instead Wrest's croak drifts wraithlike atop a swirling morass of whirring organ, loose almost jazzy drumming, surrounded by dense billows of mysterious murk, and lush, decaying layers of drone and thrum, a sinister sprawl of grim psychedelic ambience, and textured cinematic moodiness, a Cold Meat Industry style sonic brood building to a bleak coda, suffocating and soul shearing, all by way of something infinitely more black and unknowable. No/Thing is harrowing and heavy, dense and demonic, but also spiritual and personal, intimate and introspective, and fucking fantastic.
We have both the lp version and the cd version, and for a very limited time, we also have just a tiny handful of the super limited, ultra deluxe BOXset version of No/Thing, which includes the colored vinyl version of of the lp, the cd version as well, a large silkscreened back patch / tapestry, a double sided lyric sheet / mandala, all housed in a hand screen printed, stained and shellacked wooden box, each one hand numbered and limited to 100 copies, and again, we only have a two or three...
MPEG Stream: "Nothing / Longing, Human Impermanence"
MPEG Stream: "Lives Long For Own"
MPEG Stream: "Set Forth On The Path Of The Intimate"

album cover TAURUS No/Thing (Devout) lp 14.98
Most doom metal can be pretty easily classified, categorized or pigeonholed, whether it be stoner doom, funereal doom, sludge, epic doom, doom-folk, death-doom, psych-doom, dooooooooom or whatever other variant folks have cooked up. While plenty of bands do manage to transcend their classification, rare is the doomy beast that defies categorization all together, which is most definitely the case with Northwest duo Taurus, made up of Stevie Floyd (from psychedelic avant doom duo Dark Castle) and Ashley Spungin (of late great mystical metallic garage rockers Purple Rhinestone Eagle). Together they have conjured up a sound we could describe as impressionistic doom, or maybe abstract doom. Right from the outset, the various doomic elements, the usual sonic tropes are recast, filtered through the lives and experiences of these two woman, the result super dynamic, ultra heavy, extremely atmospheric, darkly ritualistic, hauntingly psychedelic, the opening track's main riff sounds like slo-mo Voivod played by Greg Ginn, all woozy and warbly, over churning drum pound, and laced with both deep witchy crooned vox, and more harsh vokills, all wound in a dizzying atonal sonic spiral that's harrowingly hypnotic and utterly mesmeric. But before that even happens, there's a gorgeously terrifying intro assembled from looped riffy churn, pounding percussive bombast, weird sample voices, and more howled shrieked vokills, a tense, and intense push and pull. The sound soon settles into something a bit more traditionally metallic, but only just, the vibe more like slowed down black metal than doom. It's like Deathspell Omega at 16rpm, barring the brief squalls of frenzied blackened freakout, but again, like that first track, the sound is warped and avant, even choice of notes, melody, rhythm, all seem obtuse and OTHER, which gives the whole record a sense of OTHERness, an outsider quality, that infuses even the most orthodox of moments with twisted pathos and deep emotion.
After those two relatively brief tracks, Taurus unfurl an epic psychedelic sprawl with "Set Forth On The Path Of The Infinite", setting the stage with swooping backwards melodies, simple ukulele (!) melody, reverbed samples, dense throbs of crumbling low end, a slow build bit of black ambience that sounds more like some lost arthouse soundtrack, and even when the drums come in, instead of exploding into a metallic onslaught, the track lopes and lumbers. And again, in swoop the guitars, and they're strange and alien, the melodies difficult, obtuse, accompanied by feral vocal howls, the song bursting into action in fits and starts, the sound ebbs and flows, eventually switching gears completely, with soaring angelic vox, over a backdrop of thick drum pound, and a slowly melting tangle of guitar keen and moan, before finishing off with another bit of haunting folkiness.
The tracks here are less riffscapes, and more a sort of ever shifting landscape of doom-ed sound, the riffs that do surface, are often indistinct, not so much riffs, as loose tangles of notes and chords that seem ghostly, and gauzy, occasionally indeed coalescing into proper riffage, but just as often drifting apart into something less distinct, more blurred and smeary, those sounds oozing and bleeding into each other, what in the hands of a more traditional doom outfit, would be more riffy and song-like all howl and pound, here becomes something ethereal and darkly psychedelic, abstract and ephemeral, and yeah, it's still heavy, but that heaviness is only loosely tethered, instead it's allowed to drift and dissipate, like on the other epic track here, "Increase Aloneness", which layers choral vocals over some roiling organ, a sort of blackened disembodied prog, by way of Arvo Part perhaps, here the build is slow, and distinctly non-metallic, samples only adding to the creepiness, to the twisted emotion, until finally, a MASSIVE riff comes cascading in, and the song is transformed into a churning, chugging behemoth, but that riff occasionally flickers and blinks out, leaving just Spungeon's double kick drum bombast, and that swirling psychedelic organ, building tension until the riff returns and so it goes, back and forth, light and shadow, love and hate, a tense/intense blackened majesty, an impossibly epic culmination of it's various constituent parts. The final track features Wrest from Leviathan adding vocals (he plays in a new group with Floyd called Devout), and we were expecting straight up some straight up black buzz brutality, but instead Wrest's croak drifts wraithlike atop a swirling morass of whirring organ, loose almost jazzy drumming, surrounded by dense billows of mysterious murk, and lush, decaying layers of drone and thrum, a sinister sprawl of grim psychedelic ambience, and textured cinematic moodiness, a Cold Meat Industry style sonic brood building to a bleak coda, suffocating and soul shearing, all by way of something infinitely more black and unknowable. No/Thing is harrowing and heavy, dense and demonic, but also spiritual and personal, intimate and introspective, and fucking fantastic.
We have both the lp version and the cd version, and for a very limited time, we also have just a tiny handful of the super limited, ultra deluxe BOXset version of No/Thing, which includes the colored vinyl version of of the lp, the cd version as well, a large silkscreened back patch / tapestry, a double sided lyric sheet / mandala, all housed in a hand screen printed, stained and shellacked wooden box, each one hand numbered and limited to 100 copies, and again, we only have a two or three...
MPEG Stream: "Nothing / Longing, Human Impermanence"
MPEG Stream: "Lives Long FOr Own"
MPEG Stream: "Set Forth On The Path Of The Intimate"

album cover STREET TRASH (RICK ULFIK) OST (Lunaris ) cd 14.98
We LOVE Street Trash, one of the silliest, goriest, goofiest movies ever, and easily one of our favorite good 'bad' movies. The label describes the 1987 horror flick as the ultimate "melt movie", which is definitely true, although we never realized that was an actual genre. And for lots of you, that probably makes no sense at all. But it will. Street Trash begins when a liquor store owner finds an old case of 'Tenafly Viper' in his basement, some kind of cheap wine, and decides to sell it cheap. It's of course snapped up by the city's homeless population, who begin to, yep, you guessed it, MELT!! THEY MELT!!!
There's also a subplot about a mean Vietnam Vet who rules the junkyard, but really it's all about the glorious gore, and again, it's not bloody gore as much as it's a sort of over the top Technicolor gore, with the hapless victims of the tainted malt liquor dissolving into greasy pools of rainbow hued goop, most notably one guy who sits on a toilet to drink in peace, and who begins to melt and drip and ooze and eventually becomes a mushy prismatic pool in (and around) the toilet bowl...
And really all the rest is just window dressing, you know, there's some story and a little plot and all that, but it's all about the melting, a grossout hobo holocaust that is like that head melting scene from Raiders Of The Lost Ark stretched out into a feature length film!
And like a lot of these films, we didn't necessarily remember the music, but revisiting now, we were pretty blown away. The score by Rick Ulfik is pretty cool, creepy and synthy, some tracks all weird echoey percussion, moody, haunting atmospheres, really cool stuff, but it was the eighties, so there's also plenty of goofy synthy drum machine dorkiness, and some geniusly cringeworthy, ultra cheesy sax driven groovers, what one aQ staffer described as 'trashjams', but to our ears sounds like the retro-futuristic schmaltzy VHS mall music of ex-Skater James Ferraro. One of those tracks is so good (bad?) that it gets lodged in our head like crazy, and we find ourselves not just digging it, but humming it to ourselves at odd times during the day, LONG after having actually listened to it.
But the bulk of the record is made up of grim, ominous creepscapes, the whole thing in fact reminiscent of another aQ fave soundtrack, The New York Ripper, a similarly weird mix of cheesy eighties funkiness and seriously scary soundtrackery, the difference here being that most of the sound FX are left in, we're guessing because no real masters exist, so perhaps this was all mastered direct from someone's original VHS copy, and it sounds like it, as it's sort of tinny, and lo-fi, but it suits the sounds, and the movie if you've seen it, perfectly. And that's also a part of the score's charm, that most of the cheesiest tracks are bookended by the anguished FX drenched howls of some hapless soul melting, screaming in anguish, those screams turning into wordless gurgles, and usually leading right into another long stretch of creepy, synthy ambience.
Then there's the final song, what we remember as the end credits track, a sort of bastardized version of Frank Sinatra's "My Way" kind of jam, with some of THEE most ridiculous and hilariously over the top lyrics EVER. In fact, we had forgotten about that track completely, and the first time it played in the store, had we all been drinking, it would have induced some seriously comedic spit takes, as it is, we were in stitches, lines like:
"Shut your face, you little scumbag", "You can stop the bullshit cuz this is the end", "Oh what's this?? I'm startin' to ooze! you little creep! What's this fuckin' shit??" and of course "Your face I'm gonna reshape - I'm gonna eat your fucking eyeballs like grapes", all delivered in a dramatic croon, one that becomes increasingly more unhinged as the track progresses, and as the singer presumably begins to melt himself!
So great! Easily one of our favorites in this recent spate of horror movie reissues (obviously, as it's our Record Of The Week). And the Lunaris label, the latest to throw their bloody hat in the horror movie vinyl reissue ring, did a great job, killer new artwork, extensive liner notes, the whole shebang. And like all the best soundtracks, it has us wanting to watch Street Trash again SO BAD!!
MPEG Stream: "Opening Sequence"
MPEG Stream: "Viper Theme"
MPEG Stream: "Paulie Melt"
MPEG Stream: "Mournful Theme"
MPEG Stream: "Flashback"
MPEG Stream: "Junkyard Hop"
MPEG Stream: "Wizzy Death"
MPEG Stream: "We Do Things My Way"

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

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

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

album cover PALLBEARER Foundations Of Burden (Profound Lore) 2lp 25.00
We made the cd of this a Record Of The Week in August, but had already blown through all our copies of the vinyl version. Now that sold out double lp has been repressed, and this gets to be a Record Of The Week, again...
Soaring, heartbreaking, really heavy and *gasp* REALLY CATCHY. The treacherous "difficult second album" from Arkansas' epic doom dealers Pallbearer is one of those records that you kind of wish every doom album sounded like, yet so few seem to pull it off. A heavy metal record absolutely unashamed to wear its heart on its sleeve and to embrace shimmering melodic bliss, Foundations Of Burden joins such classics as Solstice's New Dark Age, While Heaven Wept's Of Empires Forlorn and Warning's Watching From A Distance as a towering testament to how beautiful, cathartic, honest and human doom metal can really be. (Although we're guessing this is the only one on that list that debuted in the Billboard Top 100 - Wha???). All pretenses are stripped away. There's no concern here with sounding evil, occult or clinically suicidal. Instead this is gut wrenching, soul baring stuff. As a band Pallbearer have improved immensely since their already highly acclaimed debut Sorrow And Extinction, and no element more so than Brett Campbell's vocals. While before they took a bit of a backseat to the immense riffery, here the vocals are much more in focus, no longer buried in the sludge, sounding like some shadow cast hybrid of Ozzy, Trouble's Eric Wagner and Patrick Walker from the aforementioned, much missed and deeply mourned Warning/40 Watt Sun. The balance of weariness and drama he's able to convey really elevates Pallbearer's songs, imbuing them with a sort of classic theatrical tragedy. The production on the record (courtesy of Billy Anderson) is also perfectly enormous. There seems to be space everywhere, but also a real warmth and cohesion between the instruments - overwhelming, crushing, but strangely comforting. And as for that catchiness we mentioned earlier╔ These songs have some serious hooks, and for 10+ minute songs that move approximately apace of a huge and heavily sedated prehistoric snail, that's no small feat. But there's a real ear for songwriting and harmony here, that manages never to sacrifice the heaviness or punishing plod of the music. And while heaviness, heartbreak and humongous riffs are all well and good, the album's true highlight might come in the form of the penultimate "Ashes" - clocking in at only three minutes and consisting mostly of electric piano and vocals, it sounds like it would be more at home on a Mogwai record. It's easily the album's least heavy and most sparse moment, but it's also the most devastating and beautiful, and a perfect offset to the slow motion crushing gravity of the rest of the album. Doom album of the year contender. Metal album of the year contender. Let's just say album of the year contender and leave it at that.
MPEG Stream: "Worlds Apart"
MPEG Stream: "The Ghost I Used To Be"
MPEG Stream: "Ashes"

album cover CRIME Murder By Guitar (Superior Viaduct) lp 19.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY.
Now finally, also reissued on vinyl! Thanks to local label Superior Viaduct. When we got the cd version of this on Kitten Charmer late last year, we didn't happen to make it a Record Of The Week, but probably should have. We certainly sold enough of 'em for it to have been the Record Of The Week by default. So, now that it's on vinyl, let's make it official! (Oh, and the cd version is now gone it seems.)
The first proper, non-bootleg reissue of classic material from this seminal SF punk group came in the form of a demos collection released on John Reis from Rocket From The Crypt's Swami label, and in that review, we offered this concise description of Crime: "Crime proclaimed themselves to be San Francisco's 'First and Only Rock and Roll Band'. That hyperbole of course ain't quite true but indicates the level of punk attitude you're in for. Hard rocking, fast, and snotty, Crime were violent and stylish - they kicked out the jams in SFPD uniforms and shades! This definitely belongs on the same shelf with your Iggy & the Stooges and Dead Boys discs╔"
And now finally this long in the works, OFFICIAL singles collection sees the light of day, now on vinyl too, gathering up the groups iconic first three (and only) singles, along with what is essentially a whole record of previously unreleased studio tracks! Up first is there debut single, "Hot Wire My Heart", which was famously covered by Sonic Youth, and listening to the original, it's easy to hear why SY were drawn to it, with its droned out melodies, killer hook, and noisy guitars (especially for the time), in fact, it actually kind of sounds a little Sonic Youthy in its original form, which is pretty remarkable. The flipside "Baby You're So Repulsive" is all swaggery knuckle dragging snarl, and like the A side is surprisingly noisy and is definitely prescient, knowingly or not, of what would follow. There's some strange stuttery lurches too, which make this just slightly damaged, and a fucking killer jam that sounds as good now as it did 35 years ago!! "Terminal Boredom" is a furious blast of nihilistic punk rock, laced with plenty of poppiness, a killer main guitar melody, and some mush mouth vocals, that perfectly capture the titular mood. The flipside of that single starts out loose and sloppy, and practically falls apart, before they launch into "Dillinger's Brain", which manages to sound nearly as loose and sloppy, somehow without actually falling apart!
"Frustration" is up next, and the group inject some power poppiness into the aggro punk stomp, with a super catchy main riff, as well as more kick ass guitar melodies (sort-of leads?), before they finish off the singles proper with the B side that gives this collection its name, a Black Flag sounding doomy dirge (SF's doomed for sure), all churning creep, before things crumble into chaos halfway through, only to explode into some serious almost surf punk sounding crunch, that quickly devolves into some snarly, sonic swagger.
And if that weren't enough, there's NINE extra tracks, most of which sound like classic Crime, except maybe for the weird electronics flecked "Gangster Funk", but stick around for the crushing alternate version of Crime's classic "San Francisco's Doomed"!
MPEG Stream: "Hot Wire My Hearrt"
MPEG Stream: "Baby You're So Repulsive"
MPEG Stream: "Terminal Boredom"
MPEG Stream: "Murder By Guitar"

album cover PALLBEARER Foundations Of Burden (Profound Lore) cd 13.98
Soaring, heartbreaking, really heavy and *gasp* REALLY CATCHY. The treacherous "difficult second album" from Arkansas' epic doom dealers Pallbearer is one of those records that you kind of wish every doom album sounded like, yet so few seem to pull it off. A heavy metal record absolutely unashamed to wear its heart on its sleeve and to embrace shimmering melodic bliss, Foundations Of Burden joins such classics as Solstice's New Dark Age, While Heaven Wept's Of Empires Forlorn and Warning's Watching From A Distance as a towering testament to how beautiful, cathartic, honest and human doom metal can really be. (Although we're guessing this is the only one on that list that debuted in the Billboard Top 100 - Wha???). All pretenses are stripped away. There's no concern here with sounding evil, occult or clinically suicidal. Instead this is gut wrenching, soul baring stuff. As a band Pallbearer have improved immensely since their already highly acclaimed debut Sorrow And Extinction, and no element more so than Brett Campbell's vocals. While before they took a bit of a backseat to the immense riffery, here the vocals are much more in focus, no longer buried in the sludge, sounding like some shadow cast hybrid of Ozzy, Trouble's Eric Wagner and Patrick Walker from the aforementioned, much missed and deeply mourned Warning/40 Watt Sun. The balance of weariness and drama he's able to convey really elevates Pallbearer's songs, imbuing them with a sort of classic theatrical tragedy. The production on the record (courtesy of Billy Anderson) is also perfectly enormous. There seems to be space everywhere, but also a real warmth and cohesion between the instruments - overwhelming, crushing, but strangely comforting. And as for that catchiness we mentioned earlier╔ These songs have some serious hooks, and for 10+ minute songs that move approximately apace of a huge and heavily sedated prehistoric snail, that's no small feat. But there's a real ear for songwriting and harmony here, that manages never to sacrifice the heaviness or punishing plod of the music. And while heaviness, heartbreak and humongous riffs are all well and good, the album's true highlight might come in the form of the penultimate "Ashes" - clocking in at only three minutes and consisting mostly of electric piano and vocals, it sounds like it would be more at home on a Mogwai record. It's easily the album's least heavy and most sparse moment, but it's also the most devastating and beautiful, and a perfect offset to the slow motion crushing gravity of the rest of the album. Doom album of the year contender. Metal album of the year contender. Let's just say album of the year contender and leave it at that.
FYI, the vinyl double lp version pretty much sold out already, but is being repressed...
MPEG Stream: "Worlds Apart"
MPEG Stream: "The Ghost I Used To be"
MPEG Stream: "Ashes"

album cover DAMA / LIBRA Claw (Northern Spy) cd 14.98
We've long championed the work of Joel Phelps, an unsung hero of the indie underground, beginning with his stint in Silkworm - he was the group's secret weapon, with an aching, about to break voice that could soar into a powerful howl, his songs tense and intense, delicate balances of hushed brooding shimmer and explosive angular crunch, his wild guitar wrangling the perfect match for that utterly distinctive voice. Then came a clutch of solo records, all stunning, and almost all completely under the radar. And then, nothing. He seemed to have disappeared. Stopped making music. Until now.
There's a new Phelps solo record, which is fantastic, and we'll review that one soon too, but this new project is something else entirely.
We often talk about bands or records that seem custom made for aQuarius, and this definitely seems like one of those. Joel Phelps, teamed up with Stuart Dahlquist, of Burning Witch, Asva and SUNNO))), the result very much like you might imagine, and like we would have hoped, the best, creepiest, Silkworm songs, fused to the slow, droned out creep and crawl of Dahlquist's previous bands, ultra-doom torch songs, indie rock fused to Arvo Part, avant drone meets intimate songsmithery, a difficult combination for sure, but one that rewards patient and deep listening. Fans of either/both Phelps and Dahlquist will marvel at this haunting soundworld the two have conjured, from the brief opening, with Phelps, crooning over simpler percussion, and slow shifting layers of chordal shimmer, aching and heartfelt, bittersweet and melancholy, seemingly setting the stage for something much more like Phelps' previous works, but instead, the sound shifts, the second track "Stravinsky" unwinding as a dense layered drone, and when the vocals swoop in, they explode into strange harmonies, those harmonies woven into thick bass tones, the result some sort of alien chorale, downcast and stirring, even sans vocals, it would be a gorgeous sprawl of bass driven droned out dirgery, at once ethereal and atmospheric, dense and down tuned, but the song, like the whole record is rife with dramatic dynamics, long stretches of airy organ, drifting weightless, other movements bordering on avant doom, and still others dreamlike and choral, which is a sonic microcosm of the rest of the record.
Dahlquist delivering some breathtaking sound design, field sod digital glitchery, wound around glimmering soft focus swirls of sound, heaving low end thrum, soundtrack like melodies, all wound into tense slow-builds, sometimes transforming into some hushed Phelps like downer slow core pop, othertimes blossoming into something even blacker. On tracks like "The Chant", simple percussion underpins Phelps' harrowing vocals, which are soon joined by keening organ drones, the vibe intense and sinister, until another cascade of thick bass buzz swoops in, and Phelps' vocals explode into incredible and alien harmonies, the sound mutating into drowsy, sun dappled doom, laced with twinkling electronics, and buried dreamlike melodies. And without going track by track, the rest of the record continues to expand, prismatically, slipping easily from strangely psychedelic indie pop, albeit fractured and flecked with weird steel drum like percussion, to field recording laced dronescapes, to quietly broody stretches of moody agent pop, psychedelic slowcore drift, to minimal, almost liturgical ambience.
Dizzying in scope, stunning in execution, a practically perfect, and perfectly IM-perfect, hybrid of haunting avant indie rock and modern composition, brooding, downer folk minimalism and expansive sound designed dronescapery, dreamlike torch songmithery and outsider, cinematic ambient bliss.
MPEG Stream: "Moonshine And Lion"
MPEG Stream: "Stravinsky"
MPEG Stream: "Boy, Dock"
MPEG Stream: "The Chant"
MPEG Stream: "Thine"

album cover KHUN NARIN ELECTRIC PHIN BAND s/t (Innovative Leisure) cd 13.98
It all started with a video on YouTube. Odds are one of your music nerd friends sent it to you already, or maybe you WERE one of those music nerds, sending it to everyone you know. Check it out:
http://youtu.be/IYGl-l0Toig?list=FLCuwmGlbaOAStwXMiPVY5Kw
A mysterious video with very little in the way of description, but really, it hardly needed a description, the sound was incredible, a wild, percussive, effusive, droning psychedelia, like a Thai version of Konono No.1, all buzzing distorted melodies, hypnotic rhythms, we, like many of you, must have watched that video a hundred times. And the visuals too, a group of musicians, relaxing in plastic chairs, in a town square, all in matching red vests, presumably from their jobs as taxi drivers, the sound pumped out through a wheeled, home built PA, all manner of instruments, double necked guitar style lutes, hand cymbals, drums, percussion, while all around them, people mill about, seemingly oblivious, to the psychedelic genius going on right before their strangely averted eyes!
Well somehow, some fella got in touch with the band in the video, and organized a proper recording for the group, which we discovered was in fact, Khun Narin Phin Sing, or Khun Narin's Electric Phin Band, the name taken from the group's use of an electrified, double necked version of a traditional Thai instrument, the lute-like phin. As for the folks in the video that seem to be ignoring the music and the musicians, apparently this sort of music is pretty commonplace in Thailand, even former aQ staffer Byram, who lived there for the last few years, told us he'd wander past bands like this playing all over, all the time, but for the rest of us, this stuff is a revelation, and Khun Narin Phin Sing crazy new Thai psych rock stars that we're totally obsessed with.
The record itself was recorded in a way to as closely as possible replicate the YouTube video, no fancy studios, no expensive mics and multi-track recorders, no overdubs, instead, the band set up in a field right outside their town, in the mountains on Thailand's Northern border, and the music was captured field recording style, live, one take, the group made up of multiple generations, from kids in high school, to men in their '60s, the band running their instruments through chains of guitar pedals, using home built instruments and amplifiers, and of course that custom PA system, a visually and sonically striking behemoth made of 8 loudspeaker horns mounted atop a huge bass cabinet, with wheels of course, and the group just let loose, unfurling a glorious sprawl of droning, buzzy, heady, hypnotic Thai psychedelia, spidery distorted guitar melodies over motorik rhythms, minimal percussion, loping sinewy basslines, the sounds growing more urgent and frenzied, the wild phin shredding drifting atop a roiling bed of constantly swirling and shimmering buzz and thrum, gloriously mesmerizing, and totally transcendent, so utterly amazing, and absolutely recommended to anyone into weird and wonderful sounds, but especially fans of Sublime Frequencies style desert psych, who will be in heaven!!
Vinyl version comes with a download card, btw.
MPEG Stream: "Lam Phu Thai"
MPEG Stream: "Lai Sing"
MPEG Stream: "Show Wong Khun Narin"

album cover KHUN NARIN ELECTRIC PHIN BAND s/t (Innovative Leisure) lp 16.98
It all started with a video on YouTube. Odds are one of your music nerd friends sent it to you already, or maybe you WERE one of those music nerds, sending it to everyone you know. Check it out:
http://youtu.be/IYGl-l0Toig?list=FLCuwmGlbaOAStwXMiPVY5Kw
A mysterious video with very little in the way of description, but really, it hardly needed a description, the sound was incredible, a wild, percussive, effusive, droning psychedelia, like a Thai version of Konono No.1, all buzzing distorted melodies, hypnotic rhythms, we, like many of you, must have watched that video a hundred times. And the visuals too, a group of musicians, relaxing in plastic chairs, in a town square, all in matching red vests, presumably from their jobs as taxi drivers, the sound pumped out through a wheeled, home built PA, all manner of instruments, double necked guitar style lutes, hand cymbals, drums, percussion, while all around them, people mill about, seemingly oblivious, to the psychedelic genius going on right before their strangely averted eyes!
Well somehow, some fella got in touch with the band in the video, and organized a proper recording for the group, which we discovered was in fact, Khun Narin Phin Sing, or Khun Narin's Electric Phin Band, the name taken from the group's use of an electrified, double necked version of a traditional Thai instrument, the lute-like phin. As for the folks in the video that seem to be ignoring the music and the musicians, apparently this sort of music is pretty commonplace in Thailand, even former aQ staffer Byram, who lived there for the last few years, told us he'd wander past bands like this playing all over, all the time, but for the rest of us, this stuff is a revelation, and Khun Narin Phin Sing crazy new Thai psych rock stars that we're totally obsessed with.
The record itself was recorded in a way to as closely as possible replicate the YouTube video, no fancy studios, no expensive mics and multi-track recorders, no overdubs, instead, the band set up in a field right outside their town, in the mountains on Thailand's Northern border, and the music was captured field recording style, live, one take, the group made up of multiple generations, from kids in high school, to men in their '60s, the band running their instruments through chains of guitar pedals, using home built instruments and amplifiers, and of course that custom PA system, a visually and sonically striking behemoth made of 8 loudspeaker horns mounted atop a huge bass cabinet, with wheels of course, and the group just let loose, unfurling a glorious sprawl of droning, buzzy, heady, hypnotic Thai psychedelia, spidery distorted guitar melodies over motorik rhythms, minimal percussion, loping sinewy basslines, the sounds growing more urgent and frenzied, the wild phin shredding drifting atop a roiling bed of constantly swirling and shimmering buzz and thrum, gloriously mesmerizing, and totally transcendent, so utterly amazing, and absolutely recommended to anyone into weird and wonderful sounds, but especially fans of Sublime Frequencies style desert psych, who will be in heaven!!
Vinyl version comes with a download card, btw.
MPEG Stream: "Lam Phu Thai"
MPEG Stream: "Lai Sing"
MPEG Stream: "Show Wong Khun Narin"

album cover JERUSALEM s/t (Rockadrome / Lion) lp 23.00
AFTER A TWO YEAR ABSENCE, FINALLY REPRESSED!!
This asskicking, best selling proto metal aQ favorite now gets its long overdue VINYL reissue! In a fancy gatefold jacket to boot. Here's what we said when we made the cd version a Record Of The Week a couple years back:
Here's one of those albums that we KNEW we'd make Record Of The Week - IF ever it was reissued. And now it has been! Here's a fully legit reish of this cult '70s hard rock rarity, a record by one of those bands who seem simultaneously to be both testosterone-tanked young men and wizened ol' wise wizards. Yeah, a Record Of The Week easy, on account of it not only being an old fave of some of us here, but something that immediately caught on with the AQ staffers who hadn't heard it before, this reissue getting played in the store quite steadily (and loudly!) since it arrived. Let's listen in, as Jerusalem's vocalist belts it out, in an emotive yowl a bit like Robert Plant but with Ozzy Osbourne's paranoid feelings: "Hey girl, will you never learn? Who d'you think you're fooling with your lyin' and your cryin'? You'll only be happy the day you see me dyin'!" But then, in more of a normal speaking voice, we get the casual aside: "Oh yeah, that's the way it happens sometimes. Ha."
Right on, brilliant. That's from "Frustration", the first of nine fantastic tracks on the one and only album by this English band, recorded in 1971, released in '72 on Deram/Decca, produced by Deep Purple's Ian Gillan. Why Jerusalem didn't get big is a mystery, though the liner notes give some clues as to why they disbanded. Heck they're even fairly unknown (or a well-kept secret) among connoisseurs of '70s heavy psych and hard rock, with this being its first ever official, non-bootleg reissue on compact disc. Now, there's lots of great obscure heavy rock rarities from the early '70s. We've raved about reissues of many of them (Dust, Leaf Hound, Toad, Bang, T2, etc.). But as far as unheralded proto-metal goes, this belongs pretty much at the top of that longhaired, bellbottomed heap, as essential as any of 'em anyway. Pentagram, Bedemon, Blues Creation, Budgie, Night Sun, you name it.
Allan here first heard Jerusalem a few years back when a friend who shares his taste for proto-metal passed along a cd-r copy of this otherwise unavailable album (thanks, Glenn!). Killer stuff indeed, damn it was good. One of the heaviest things from the era he'd ever heard, Jerusalem took it to an extreme that most of their peers didn't approach. With elements of both biggies Sabbath and Zeppelin, but more frenzied and frantic on one hand, more plodding and suicidal on the other.
Crashing, fuzzed out guitars. Energetic hectic riffage. Doomy, thudding blues. Wicked stinging, sliding soloing. Punkish attitude (competitive with contemporaries Crushed Butler). The vocals often hoarse, on the verge of screaming, or gone over that edge. Yeah, pretty heavy for '72! This is rough, raw, proto headbanging mania mixed with mystical, melodic proggy interludes, of course we love it. Plus it's got a genuine dark, occult, despairing vibe, with poetic lyrics about madness, murder and death... And you can't get much more "downer rock genocidal" sounding than the truly, uh, primitive bludgeon what might be the heaviest track here, "Primitive Man".
Pretty darn metal when it comes down to it, forget the "proto". In their own way though, Jerusalem sounding halfway betwixt '60s garage rock and '80s New Wave Of British Heavy Metal... which on balance puts them a bit ahead of their time. In fact, since what's old is new again, this actually sounds like if could have been made now, not because it sounds modern (it doesn't) but because it's so line with certain stonery retro-stylings popular today, particularly in Sweden. In other words, if you like Witchcraft, you'll love Jerusalem!! We always thought that of all the obscure '70s bands that are their forebears, Witchcraft sound most like Jerusalem (well, next to Pentagram). Remember what we said in all caps about Witchcraft's debut? "PERHAPS THEE BEST '70s INSPIRED DOOM ALBUM EVER!" Well the same would go for this, except that it's the real deal, which makes it even better.
Anyway, to return to our story, after Allan got that cd-r dub, he knew he had to find a proper cd. There HAD to be one, this was too good not to have been reissued, right? But, after looking and looking, no luck. Then, one day, Allan came to work at Aquarius and lo and behold what did he hear, but Jerusalem blaring from the store stereo! No, it wasn't this reissue. This was still a few years ago. Turns out, Andee had found a used copy of a bootleg cd someplace, and had bought it simply 'cause he thought the cover looked cool (he's like that), without knowing anything about the band. Life is so unfair, thought Allan. But he was able to eventually guilt Andee into giving him the cd for a birthday present (thanks, Andee! You can have that one back now). Later on, we discovered a Japanese reissue that may or may not have been a boot but in any event was way too expensive and hard to get, nothing we could easily stock and sell for a reasonable price. But NOW, we happily are able to share Jerusalem with you thanks to this nicely done reissue on the Rockadrome label's Vintage imprint! Yeah!
MPEG Stream: "Hooded Eagle"
MPEG Stream: "When The Wolf Sits"
MPEG Stream: "Primitive Man"

album cover GUN CLUB, THE Fire of Love (Munster) lp 21.00
We made the Superior Viaduct cd reissue of The Gun Club's Fire Of Love one our Records Of The Week last time, and now have the 2014 repress of the Munster lp reissue too! Here is what we said about the cd:
Death, drugs, sex, voodoo, evil blues, macabre horror and a sublimely detached southern gothic sensibility pervade the music of The Gun Club who sat somewhere between the margins of the "death rock" and "cowpunk" or "gothabilly" genres of the LA punk scene of the late seventies and early eighties without fitting neatly into either.
The commanding vocal prowess of Jeffrey Lee Pierce leads the band's scorched delta blues, a darkened mixture of Johnny Cash, Charley Patton and Elvis recycled through a furious yowling intensity. The band rotated line-ups often and has featured throughout their existence key players of the LA punk scene such as Kid Congo Powers (The Cramps, The Bad Seeds), Patricia Morrison (Sisters of Mercy, The Damned, The Bags) and Terry Graham and Rob Ritter (The Bags). While the band had a run of great albums, Fire of Love is largely regarded as their most influential, containing an impressive string of punk hits: "Sex Beat", She's Like Heroin To Me", "Fire Spirit" "For The Love of Ivy", "Ghost on The Highway", and "Jack On Fire", many of them produced by Chris D. of The Flesh Eaters.
Such a great album and without it bands like The White Stripes and The Black Keys simply wouldn't exist.
MPEG Stream: "Sex Beat"
MPEG Stream: "For The Love of Ivy"
MPEG Stream: "She's Like Heroin To Me"

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

album cover VIOLENT CHANGE Celebration Of Taste (Melters) lp 13.98
Full length number two from these local post punk noise poppers, and according to the liner notes, it might also be their last. But with VC, it's pretty hard to tell if they're taking the piss, usually safe to assume they are. And while their self-titled debut was gloriously lo-fi and ramshackle, noisy and chaotic, enough that we made it our Record Of The Week, A Celebration Of Taste manages to be even MORE, with much of it sounding like it was recorded in a cave, or a huge metal box, or underwater, on what we can only assume is probably a broken 4-track, everything with dying batteries, but then out of some impossibly impenetrable murk, will emerge a burst of crunchy, fuzzy power pop, that sounds like an unearthed gem from back in the day. So we figured this one too had to be another Record Of the Week...
Check out the opening 1-2-3 punch, "(I'm A Star) In Outer Space" is some seriously classic songsmithery, jangle guitar galore, some impossibly catchy guitar melodies, plenty of background buzz, keening vocals and hooks for days, but the tinny, no-fi production makes Guided By Voices sound like U2, but then there's "Micro Flesh", which takes that same sound, and piles on the murk, treble turned to zero, bass to ten, then slowed down, so it's a muddy, woozy, warmly creep, grinding, and gristly, before suddenly, "Faster" explodes into action, sounding like some weirdo lost Mod outfit from the sixties, this still lo-fi but cranked up, gloriously noisy and psychedelic, feedback everywhere, and buried under all that noisiness, a fucking killer, classic jam.
And so it goes, these guys dipping their toes into seventies power pop ("I Was Never Young" sounds like an outsider Purling Hiss), glammed out punk rock stomp ("Malleable Love"), all swaggery hip shaking crunch, total experimental noisescapery ("Abductors Pt. 1"), fifties style balladry filtered through cracked modern noise rock, and crumbled into something barely songlike ("Hairline-esque"), super distorted fuzz pop a la GBV ("Someone In This House")... Needless to say, we could go on and on and on. But if anything, this new one is somehow both more fucked up and damaged, and more catchy and well crafted, than their debut, that well crafted-ness pretty much entirely disguised by all the noise, and weirdo production, and detuned damage, and constantly in-flux production, and the varying degrees of shitty sound, but it's all glorious, and freaky, and psychedelic, and catchy and freaked out, and we're really really really hoping this isn't the last we're gonna hear from these guys, cuz this record is some seriously next level outsider pop genius! Fucked up and utterly confusional obviously, but then that's a big part of what makes it so goddamn great.
Includes two inserts and a download code.
MPEG Stream: "(I'm A Star) In Outer Space"
MPEG Stream: "Micro Flesh"
MPEG Stream: "Faster"
MPEG Stream: "Malleable Love"
MPEG Stream: "Hairline-esque"
MPEG Stream: "Someone In This House"

album cover CLEAN, THE Anthology (Merge) 4lp 44.00
This past Record Of The Week finally available on VINYL, and a fancy quadruple lp boxset at that!!!
The history of the legendary New Zealand indie label Flying Nun quite literally begins with The Clean. Impressed by a slew of The Clean's live performances in their home town of Dunedin, New Zealand back in 1980, Roger Shepherd began Flying Nun, simply in order to release the band's first single "Tally Ho." That song, an upbeat but simple post-punk number that crashed together jangling guitars and persistent organ melodies, surprised everybody with a considerable amount of commercial success in New Zealand, and became one of many songs by The Clean that found enthusiastic audiences in the US during the college rock days of the '80s, offering a quirky, exotic alternative to staples like REM, the Replacements, Robyn Hitchcock, and Elvis Costello.
Formed in 1978 by the Kilgour brothers David and Hamish, The Clean never stooped to the depths of the Gallagher brother's public fisticuffs; but the band - which flushed out its membership with Robert Scott and (in the early days) Peter Gutteridge - spent more time broken up than together. Yet, their eternally catchy pop songs became the blueprint for almost all of the other Flying Nun bands (in part due to the numerous Clean related projects on Flying Nun, including The Bats, The Great Unwashed, Bailter Space, Snapper, Stephen, and others). The Clean's self-explanatory "Anthology" runs through their numerous albums, offering a good chunk of their fantastic early work (the aforementioned "Tally Ho," the "Boodle Boodle Boodle" ep, the "Great Sounds..." ep, and a couple of oddities) all in one epic collection. Edgy yet unswervingly optimistic, these songs were sloppy four-track recordings of monomaniacally simple rhythms, cacophonously jangly guitar melodies, and happy-go-lucky vocals. Also included are excerpts from the '90s albums "Vehicle," "Modern Rock," and "Unknown Country," which marked a considerable polishing of The Clean's sound, in part because they recorded that material in well established studios like Blackwing studios in London, but also the songs, while still simple in their own right, became slightly more restrained.
Highly recommended!
RealAudio clip: "At The Bottom"
RealAudio clip: "Tally Ho"
RealAudio clip: "Point That Thing Somewhere Else"

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

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

album cover FLESH EATERS A Minute To Pray, A Second To Die (Superior Viaduct) cd 15.98
Superior Viaduct does it again, bringing us much needed reissues of not only one but two classic LA underground records from 1981: The Flesh Eaters' amazing A Minute To Pray, A Second To Die, and The Gun Club's incredible debut, Fire of Love. We're gonna (gotta!) make 'em both Records Of The Week!
Death, drugs, sex, voodoo, evil blues, macabre horror and a sublimely detached southern gothic sensibility pervades the sound of these two bands who sat somewhere between the margins of the "death rock" and "cowpunk" or "gothabilly" genres in the LA punk scene of the late seventies and early eighties without fitting neatly into either.
Chris Desjardins, or Chris D., was the central force behind The Flesh Eaters as well as producer for The Gun Club, and other bands of the era such as Tex and The Horseheads (featuring his then girlfriend Texicala Jones) and his later band, The Divine Horsemen. Once a writer for the popular underground fanzine Slash, Chris D assembled The Flesh Eaters from many bands of the scene, such as The Blasters, Wall of Voodoo, Los Lobos, and X, and indeed no Flesh Eaters record had quite the same line-up. Their second release, A Minute to Pray, A Second to Die remains the band's most critically regarded effort and it's easy to see why. Featuring John Doe and DJ Bonebrake from X on bass and marimbas respectively, Dave Alvin and Bill Bateman from The Blasters on guitar and drums and Steve Berlin from Los Lobos on sax, the band's swampy but driving voodoo rhythms marked most notably by the unusual use of marimbas and saxophone and Chris D's horror-spun lyricism and guttural vocals put them in a similar scene as bands like 45 Grave and The Cramps, but with a fiercer edge and far less campy aesthetic. Instead, A Minute to Pray, A Second to Die is like a dark spaghetti western full of werewolf marauders, evil curses, night fevers, grave-digging and a rollicking hell-bent fury. Essential listening for fans of The Birthday Party, Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds, and any of the bands mentioned above.
MPEG Stream: "Digging My Grave"
MPEG Stream: "Divine Horseman"
MPEG Stream: "River of Fever"
MPEG Stream: "Satan's Stomp"

album cover FLESH EATERS A Minute To Pray, A Second To Die (Superior Viaduct) lp 17.98
Superior Viaduct does it again, bringing us much needed reissues of not only one but two classic LA underground records from 1981: The Flesh Eaters' amazing A Minute To Pray, A Second To Die, and The Gun Club's incredible debut, Fire of Love. We're gonna (gotta!) make 'em both Records Of The Week!
Death, drugs, sex, voodoo, evil blues, macabre horror and a sublimely detached southern gothic sensibility pervades the sound of these two bands who sat somewhere between the margins of the "death rock" and "cowpunk" or "gothabilly" genres in the LA punk scene of the late seventies and early eighties without fitting neatly into either.
Chris Desjardins, or Chris D., was the central force behind The Flesh Eaters as well as producer for The Gun Club, and other bands of the era such as Tex and The Horseheads (featuring his then girlfriend Texicala Jones) and his later band, The Divine Horsemen. Once a writer for the popular underground fanzine Slash, Chris D assembled The Flesh Eaters from many bands of the scene, such as The Blasters, Wall of Voodoo, Los Lobos, and X, and indeed no Flesh Eaters record had quite the same line-up. Their second release, A Minute to Pray, A Second to Die remains the band's most critically regarded effort and it's easy to see why. Featuring John Doe and DJ Bonebrake from X on bass and marimbas respectively, Dave Alvin and Bill Bateman from The Blasters on guitar and drums and Steve Berlin from Los Lobos on sax, the band's swampy but driving voodoo rhythms marked most notably by the unusual use of marimbas and saxophone and Chris D's horror-spun lyricism and guttural vocals put them in a similar scene as bands like 45 Grave and The Cramps, but with a fiercer edge and far less campy aesthetic. Instead, A Minute to Pray, A Second to Die is like a dark spaghetti western full of werewolf marauders, evil curses, night fevers, grave-digging and a rollicking hell-bent fury. Essential listening for fans of The Birthday Party, Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds, and any of the bands mentioned above.
MPEG Stream: "Digging My Grave"
MPEG Stream: "Divine Horseman"
MPEG Stream: "River of Fever"
MPEG Stream: "Satan's Stomp"

album cover GUN CLUB, THE Fire Of Love (Superior Viaduct) cd 15.98
Superior Viaduct does it again, bringing us much needed reissues of not only one but two classic LA underground records from 1981: The Flesh Eaters' amazing A Minute To Pray, A Second To Die, and The Gun Club's incredible debut, Fire of Love. We're gonna (gotta!) make 'em both Records Of The Week!
Death, drugs, sex, voodoo, evil blues, macabre horror and a sublimely detached southern gothic sensibility pervade the music of these two bands who sat somewhere between the margins of the "death rock" and "cowpunk" or "gothabilly" genres of the LA punk scene of the late seventies and early eighties without fitting neatly into either.
The commanding vocal prowess of Jeffrey Lee Pierce leads the scorched delta blues of The Gun Club, a darkened mixture of Johnny Cash, Charley Patton and Elvis recycled through a furious yowling intensity. The band rotated line-ups often and has featured throughout their existence key players of the LA punk scene such as Kid Congo Powers (The Cramps, The Bad Seeds), Patricia Morrison (Sisters of Mercy, The Damned, The Bags) and Terry Graham and Rob Ritter (The Bags). While the band had a run of great albums, Fire of Love is largely regarded as their most influential, containing an impressive string of punk hits: "Sex Beat", She's Like Heroin To Me", "Fire Spirit" "For The Love of Ivy", "Ghost on The Highway", and "Jack On Fire", many of them produced by Chris D. of The Flesh Eaters.
Such a great album and without it bands like The White Stripes and The Black Keys simply wouldn't exist.
Note: Unlike The Flesh Eaters, Superior Viaduct didn't do a vinyl version of this reissue - but it turns out there was a vinyl reish on Spain's Munster records a few years back that has been recently repressed, so we'll probably get copies in sometime soon...
MPEG Stream: "Sex Beat"
MPEG Stream: "For The Love of Ivy"
MPEG Stream: "She's Like Heroin To Me"

album cover THOMAS EDISUN'S ELECTRIC LIGHT BULB BAND The Red Day Album (Guerssen) lp+7" 32.00
THIS RECENT RECORD OF THE WEEK, NOW OUT ON VINYL TOO! Here's what we said about the cd version on Gear Fab just a few months ago...
Holy moly, this is quite a discovery. A hitherto unknown album of wonderful Sgt. Peppery (flower) power pop, that ought to make fans of the Beatles, early Bee Gees, The Kinks, Big Star and so forth very, very happy indeed.
We admit were a bit skeptical when we first heard about it, 'cause there's so many reissues and whatnot these days that claim to be lost classics, but as soon as we put this on we were hooked! And more amazingly, while we'd certainly consider this a lost classic, it isn't even technically a reissue. Except for two songs here that appeared on a 7" single, this material was never actually released to the public, until now! Recorded in 1967, yes, but the tapes languished forgotten all these years, which is hard for us to understand - how could this gem stay unknown for 46 years?! These songs are so great! As always, makes you wonder what else is out there... And, at first, it also made us wonder if this was even really a group from the sixties - we suspected it could be a more modern-day band (a really good one!) emulating the sounds of yesteryear, a la The Dukes Of Stratosphear, The High Llamas, or Jellyfish. Especially since the production job, while vintage-sounding, is also so top notch (even though the liner notes tell us the whole thing was recorded and mixed in merely a weekend). Heck, a modern band trying to put one over could have added the analog tape hiss. But no, our skeptical conspiracy theories are all wrong, we have it from trusted sources that this is indeed for real, from 1967, the work of a bunch of talented, Anglophilic youngsters from Louisiana. But the vocals here are often (but not always) delivered in a lilting faux English accent, a common practice amongst the paisley-clad syke popsters of the day, wherever they were from, wanting to sound like they too were a part of the British Invasion. So, definitely Beatles-esque; as with Peru's We All Together, there's quite a few tunes here, like "Marigold", that sound like they were written by Paul McCartney - and the band name is an obvious homage to a certain Sgt.'s Lonely Hearts Club Band. Though this is sometimes more White Album than Sgt. Pepper's, really, the band even pushing into edgier sounds like the rather manic "Have You Been To The Light" - that's a weird one, and great. "Hope" is another of the album's harder, garage rockin' tunes.
But so much of this just delightfully sunshiney stuff, sometimes quite melancholic too. There's super melodic, energetic toe tappers and dreamy blissouts both, stuff that will get stuck in your head immediately, sounding so lovely and familiar right from the get go. There's the gentle, hushed intimacy of "Merlin", the lively, layered "Alexander Graham Bell", the heartfelt grandeur of the ELO-ish "Walk Out With Your Heart", the sweet & mellow soft pop of "Common Attitude" (which reminds us of Curt Boettcher's Millennium), and so many, many more highlights, that we can't possibly detail them all (and deciding which ones to make sound samples of was tough!). Oh, and the album's final track, a brief "outro" of druggy, tape-manipulated studio trickery, is titled "Dream Me Up Snotty"!!!
So, grab this and get in on the ground floor with the first ever release of an unheard, utterly obscure '60s artifact that ought to be way up there in the psych power pop pantheon!!
This new vinyl version is an improvement over the cd with better cover art and graphic design (and has a blurb from AQ on the cover sticker too!). It comes with an insert with photos and detailed liner notes by Jeremy Cargill (Ugly Things/Got Kinda Lost). And the two songs from the cd that were previously released on that 7", are included here on a separate 7", a repro of the rare original single. Nice!
MPEG Stream: "Red Day"
MPEG Stream: "Have You Been To The Light"
MPEG Stream: "No One's Been Here For Weeks"
MPEG Stream: "Walk Out With Your Heart"

album cover CLONE Sons Of Octabred (Dead-Cert) lp 24.00
This is another one of those records, that's almost too good, and too weird, to be true. Especially coming as it does from the Dead-Cert label, run by weirdo music obsessive Andy Votel. In fact, based on the description, AND the sound, we were pretty much convinced that this had to be Votel himself conjuring up some imaginary lost sonic artifact. How could it not be? Son Of Octabred is/was apparently a 'birthing' record, as in an album to assist/instruct with giving birth (?), recorded on primitive analog synths and 'originally broadcast' on a radio show in Anchorage, Alaska - its sound a strange hybrid of kosmische synthscapery, spaced out kraut-psych, minimal dronemusic, and percolating early electronica. But once again, whether it's all true or not, almost doesn't matter: if it IS true, what a ridiculous and impossibly WTF find, and if it's NOT, well, goddamn, total brilliant art prank / fictional sound conjuration.
The record begins with a female voice instructing the listener to breath and push, with some strangely poetic descriptions of having a baby, then a man's voice talks weirdly about 'his pregnancy', before in swoop some space synths, and we're off, on a cosmic journey, some alien planetarium show, swirling percolations, swooping FX, shifting textures, playful melodies, there's definitely a sort of John Carpenter / Klaus Schulze vibe, pulsing kraut-psych gives way to weird vocodered vocals, not singing so much as just humming/crooning more textures, and again if this is real, it's hard to imagine just flipping on the radio in the middle of the night and hearing THIS. Or, being born, and hearing it! Crazy.
The sound soon erupts into something much more sinister, thick swells of swirling shadowy rumbles, and staticky clouds of hiss, all over buried voices and keening melodies, some serious black ambience for sure, that sounds like birthing music for Rosemary's Baby. The flipside returns to the playful percolation of the opening, sounding a bit like Perrey & Kingsley, before devolving into a weird sprawl of dubby gamelan like percussion, and strangely processed abstract rhythms, all floating in the ether, before a Close Encounter synth melody surfaces, swopping wildly from speaker to speaker, the whole thing dizzying and seriously trippy, before once again drifting into darker sonic territory, some ominous shadowy drift, that eventually returns to the light, for a final bout of bouncy bloopy synthiness and one final burst of wild tangled psych-synth freakout. So cool, and so weird. Real or not, we love it!

album cover FOSSIL AEROSOL MINING PROJECT 17 Years In Ektachrome (Hand-Held Recordings) cd 14.98
We first heard of the Fossil Aerosol Mining Project on :zoviet*france:'s fantastic podcast A Duck In Tree, and we were certainly baffled to discover that this enigmatic project from the outskirts of Chicago has been in existence since the early '80s. A cassette here or there might have materialized throughout the years, but it seems that the bulk of the output was just secreted away until some of this stuff started showing up on their website, revealing a dreamy, narcotic ethos of post-industrial tape-loopery. Think Phillip Jeck. Think Terry Riley. And most of all, think :zoviet*france:! The etymology behind the name Fossil Aerosol Mining Project harkens to the act of rummaging through abandoned warehouses, whose crumbled surfaces were dappled with graffiti. The remnant waste from all that graffiti was the never-ending supply of crushed and spent spraypaint aerosol cans. So, the punk-scavenger miscreants who would find themselves sifting through the rubbish of those abandoned warehouses in search of a motherlode of 16mm film or reel-to-reel tape machines would undoubtably come across countless, discarded cans. Quite a poetic allusion for this tape-heavy Mining Project.
The quotations of bird song and the pleasant ambient wash of the initial 30 seconds snap into something quite foreign with a series of radio communication bursts and snippets of slow-motion monologues from Ronald Reagan, whose soothing, patronizing declarations would raise the hackles of many critical thinkers and agit-prop artists during his presidency. Nowadays, it's something of a distant, sonorous ghost, something that we're supposed to dread but can't quite figure out why. The Fossil Aerosol Mining Project cycles through a myriad of sympathetic loops, each of which harbors its own patter of delay, lending to a complex web of crumbling sound furthered along by backward tapes of textural scrabblings and iridescent drones. This network of eerie, diaphanous sounds and hypnotizingly soft-focus rhythms which may have their origins in a thoroughly forgotten fragment of a song, whose content was wholly lost to the magnetic erasures, dubbing-upon-dubbing-upon-dubbing, and / or the bacterial decay which flecked away the ferric oxide leaving behind an entirely different set of chemical stains. What's left is just a shadow of whatever emotion might have been imprinted onto the tape. It's a beautiful coagulation of sound, the musical equivalent of a Joseph Cornell box... either that or the recapitulation of the classic :zoviet*france: albums (e.g. Look Into Me, Assault & Mirrage, Just An Illusion, etc.). One of the best albums of 2014.
MPEG Stream: "Backbone 1982"
MPEG Stream: "From The Lowlands"
MPEG Stream: "Systems Clock"

album cover CLIPPING. Clppng (Sub Pop) cd 14.98
While the rest of the world is freaking out over Death Grips' drum driven aggro noise drenched hip hop, especially with the recent release of a downloadable new collaboration with Bjork called Niggas On The Moon, it might be a good time to also dig into the brand new Sub Pop debut from LA noise-hop trio Clipping. (and yeah, the period is part of the name). Their sound, like Death Grips, finds its roots in classic hip hop, but both diverge in interesting ways. In the case of Death Grips, it's a live drummer (Zach Hill from Hella), and some seriously bombastic noise, not to mention the confrontational flow of rapper Stefan Burnett. It's a sound we love for sure, but the sound of Clipping. we love even more. Imagine that instead of that drum driven noisiness, you replaced the music with super minimal abstract noise, the sort of stuff you might hear on an RRR comp, think Bastard Noise or Sissy Spacek making a hip hop record and you'd be close. Even more interesting though, is that the two guys responsible for the music in Clipping. are Jonathan Snipes and William Hutson, whom avid readers of the aQ list, and film nerds too, might know more from their stunning score to the Stanley Kubrick conspiracy documentary Room 237, the soundtrack which was released on Death Waltz.
But this is no retro soundtrackery, this is twisted noisy weirdness, wild feedback drenched analog skree, squelch drenched gristle, hiss and hum and screech and howl and thrum and buzz, blasts of digital noise wound around low slung beats. Check out the intro, which features rapper Daveed Diggs, spitting rapid fire flow a cappella over an ear piercing sine wave tone, eventually delivering the closer "It's Clipping bitch", before launching into the record proper, which gets no less weird, and no less noisy. "body & Blood" rides a grinding industrial beat, with a creepy processed voice 'chorus', but then "Work Work" surprises (as does much of the record), with its almost dreamy looped glitchy gamelan, that transforms into some low slung low rider booming bass throb. And while at first blush, some of the lyrics sound typically hip hop sexist, dig deeper, and there's way more going on, which is again balanced when Cocc Pistol Cree delivers her bad ass verse. And there are other guests too, King T, Gangsta Boo, Guce and more, but it's the core three who have their sound down. King T's guest verse on "Summertime" is a crusher, especially when the background sound swells into a cloud of alien laser blasts, deep bass thrum, and woozy sonic squiggles. Then there's tracks like "Taking Off", which sounds like it was made from damaged cd's, all skipping rhythms, looped and layered into a weirdly lurching beat, the perfectly wasted stuttery backdrop for Diggs' rapid fire flow. Gangsta Boo delivers a killer verse as well, over a weird bed of creaks and gristly moans, again a weirdly perfect match for her toasting flow, not to mention the strangely Kanye-ish chorus croon, with a rumbling thick low end swell underneath, the sort of track that would be all over the radio, if there was any justice. And let's not forget the insanely infuriatingly brilliant "Get Up", where the music is essentially JUST the sound of an alarm clock, maddening for sure, but then so satisfying when they modulate the sound into a weirdly radio pop chorus. And so it goes, Digg's flow world class, the background sounds a continually shifting landscape of fractured loops, woozy synths, clanging pipe fight rhythms, digital glitchery, weird damaged turntable rewinds, and dizzying noise collages, so unlikely, but so impossibly catchy, the magic of Clipping. in that it can be so obtuse and difficult, but still so groovy, so hooky, so funky, and so goddamn, catchy, this is exactly the sort of shit we'd be blasting through our booming system, no doubt shattering glass and bursting eardrums as we passed.
On both cd, and vinyl, both of which are slightly different (the aforementioned "Intro" is not included on the lp, but the version of "Body & Blood" is longer for example) but vinyl nerds are still in luck, cuz the lp comes in a super swank spot varnish printed triple gatefold, with an extra lp side, loaded with ONE HUNDRED locked grooves, noisy, distorted, blown out, abstract, dubby, clicky, funky, bloopy, bleepy and pretty much every variation in between. Both versions feature a bad ass blinged out Sub Pop logo too...
MPEG Stream: "Intro"
MPEG Stream: "Body & Blood"
MPEG Stream: "Work Work"
MPEG Stream: "Summertime"
MPEG Stream: "Taking Off"
MPEG Stream: "Tonight"

album cover CLIPPING. Clppng (Sub Pop) 2lp 24.00
While the rest of the world is freaking out over Death Grips' drum driven aggro noise drenched hip hop, especially with the recent release of a downloadable new collaboration with Bjork called Niggas On The Moon, it might be a good time to also dig into the brand new Sub Pop debut from LA noise-hop trio Clipping. (and yeah, the period is part of the name). Their sound, like Death Grips, finds its roots in classic hip hop, but both diverge in interesting ways. In the case of Death Grips, it's a live drummer (Zach Hill from Hella), and some seriously bombastic noise, not to mention the confrontational flow of rapper Stefan Burnett. It's a sound we love for sure, but the sound of Clipping. we love even more. Imagine that instead of that drum driven noisiness, you replaced the music with super minimal abstract noise, the sort of stuff you might hear on an RRR comp, think Bastard Noise or Sissy Spacek making a hip hop record and you'd be close. Even more interesting though, is that the two guys responsible for the music in Clipping. are Jonathan Snipes and William Hutson, whom avid readers of the aQ list, and film nerds too, might know more from their stunning score to the Stanley Kubrick conspiracy documentary Room 237, the soundtrack which was released on Death Waltz.
But this is no retro soundtrackery, this is twisted noisy weirdness, wild feedback drenched analog skree, squelch drenched gristle, hiss and hum and screech and howl and thrum and buzz, blasts of digital noise wound around low slung beats. Check out the intro, which features rapper Daveed Diggs, spitting rapid fire flow a cappella over an ear piercing sine wave tone, eventually delivering the closer "It's Clipping bitch", before launching into the record proper, which gets no less weird, and no less noisy. "body & Blood" rides a grinding industrial beat, with a creepy processed voice 'chorus', but then "Work Work" surprises (as does much of the record), with its almost dreamy looped glitchy gamelan, that transforms into some low slung low rider booming bass throb. And while at first blush, some of the lyrics sound typically hip hop sexist, dig deeper, and there's way more going on, which is again balanced when Cocc Pistol Cree delivers her bad ass verse. And there are other guests too, King T, Gangsta Boo, Guce and more, but it's the core three who have their sound down. King T's guest verse on "Summertime" is a crusher, especially when the background sound swells into a cloud of alien laser blasts, deep bass thrum, and woozy sonic squiggles. Then there's tracks like "Taking Off", which sounds like it was made from damaged cd's, all skipping rhythms, looped and layered into a weirdly lurching beat, the perfectly wasted stuttery backdrop for Diggs' rapid fire flow. Gangsta Boo delivers a killer verse as well, over a weird bed of creaks and gristly moans, again a weirdly perfect match for her toasting flow, not to mention the strangely Kanye-ish chorus croon, with a rumbling thick low end swell underneath, the sort of track that would be all over the radio, if there was any justice. And let's not forget the insanely infuriatingly brilliant "Get Up", where the music is essentially JUST the sound of an alarm clock, maddening for sure, but then so satisfying when they modulate the sound into a weirdly radio pop chorus. And so it goes, Digg's flow world class, the background sounds a continually shifting landscape of fractured loops, woozy synths, clanging pipe fight rhythms, digital glitchery, weird damaged turntable rewinds, and dizzying noise collages, so unlikely, but so impossibly catchy, the magic of Clipping. in that it can be so obtuse and difficult, but still so groovy, so hooky, so funky, and so goddamn, catchy, this is exactly the sort of shit we'd be blasting through our booming system, no doubt shattering glass and bursting eardrums as we passed.
On both cd, and vinyl, both of which are slightly different (the aforementioned "Intro" is not included on the lp, but the version of "Body & Blood" is longer for example) but vinyl nerds are still in luck, cuz the lp comes in a super swank spot varnish printed triple gatefold, with an extra lp side, loaded with ONE HUNDRED locked grooves, noisy, distorted, blown out, abstract, dubby, clicky, funky, bloopy, bleepy and pretty much every variation in between. Both versions feature a bad ass blinged out Sub Pop logo too...
MPEG Stream: "Intro"
MPEG Stream: "Body & Blood"
MPEG Stream: "Work Work"
MPEG Stream: "Summertime"
MPEG Stream: "Taking Off"
MPEG Stream: "Tonight"

album cover SWANS To Be Kind (Young God) 3lp 30.00
The latest masterpiece from these aQ-beloved musical misanthropes has moved well beyond the already boundary stretching sound of their previous album The Seer, and continues in a similar direction, shedding elements of song, and moving closer and closer to pure sound, with most of the tracks here unwinding like free form / free rock explorations, with only the barest hint of structure to keep them from drifting into utter shapelessness, but even then, whatever sonic constraints that are put in place, seem to be disregarded most of the time, the resulting records is hardly a rock record at all, but a gorgeous collection of brooding soundscapes, allowed to sprawl and ooze and drift and build, almost like an even more ephemeral / abstract Godspeed, and yet somehow, the tracks here are infused with an intensity, and sonic dread, that marks this as pure Swans.
That said, the opener "Screen Shot" might be the most curious of all the tracks here, as it's centered around a baseline, and drum part that are without a doubt, bordering on 'funky', so much so that before we even heard the record, people we posting online that the new Swans sounded like Primus. Which weirdly enough just made us want to hear it more. And when we finally did, well, we could definitely see that, but only Primus slowed down and stretched out and infused with a terrifying malevolence, and really, that funkiness become something else in a matter of minutes, some mutant strain of grim grooving bunkurfunk, that sounds more to us like Skull Defekts, and Michael Gira's vocals a dead ringer from the shamanistic conjuring of Defekts collaborator Daniel Higgs, but before you know it, the song blossoms into something even more tripped out and psychedelic, a swirling piano loop, jagged shards of guitar, eventually exploding into a wild cacophony that could go on forever, but instead burns bright and quickly fades out. An intense, invigorating start to what just might be the best of the modern Swans records.
There's not a track here that's less than 5 minutes, with the bulk closer to 15, and one clocking in at a stunning 34, and as mentioned above, they've done away with traditional compositional concerns, and have instead endeavored to craft their own modern minimalism, and it's truly stunning, from the slow core creep of "Just A Little Boy", that sounds a bit like the Necks via Woven Hand, but stretched out into one extended slow motion balladic dirge, laced with some truly terrifying vocals, to the atonal lope of "A Little God In My Hands", which sounds like multiple New Orleans jazz bands playing at once, before settling into a gorgeously creepy march, all glimmering electronics and swirling melodies, and some twisted call and response vocals.
Then there's the record's centerpiece, the 34+ minute "Bring The Sun / Toussaint L' Ouverture", which lurches right out of the gate as maybe the most rocking song here, a lumbering drum heavy riff, that instead of turning into a song, just locks into an endless hypno-rock cycle, that you never want to end, and for a while, it seems like it never will, before eventually setting into another apocalyptic swampy creep (and again reminding us of Woven Hand), before beginning and epic, majestic slow build, a vocal chorale draped atop a dark cacophonous roar, that gets almost metallic before dissipating into a free rock sprawl, all long tones, and drones, moaned vocals, and warm electric piano shimmer, as well as some FX heavy percussion, and finally a wild freaked out psychedelic squall. Disc one ends with a hushed horror ballad, all moaning distant horns, and sinister vox, and atonal melodies swirling throughout. And most bands would hang it up there, but this is the Swans after all, so we're only halfway there.
The second disc begins with a twisted bit of malformed Tom Waitsian weirdness, all groovy percussion, swirling junkyard ambience, and some strange vocals refrains, before erupting into some swampy garage rock swagger, slithery and sinister, distorted and psychedelic, the sound layered and dense and seriously fierce. From there on out, To Be Kind seems to open up into some sort of alternate universe rock opera, brooding ballad gives way to horn flecked death march dirge, wild kraut-funk groovery grows more and more atonal, pocked with elephant bleat blasts, and feral vocal bellows, long stretches of kosmische drift, and jazzy piano shimmer slowly evolve into another bout of swampy swagger, "Nathalie Neal", a piece that's drum driven and intense (and named for an aQ pal!), before finally finishing off with the title track, a haunting, subdued finale, all dramatic croons and whispery chordal drift, that bursts into a full on freakout, blistering arcs of distorted guitars wreathed around pounding drum damage, and billowing swirls of psychedelic noise, the rare piece of music that is as exhausting and exhilarating to hear, as it presumably is to play.
Totally transcendent, dizzyingly ambitious, stunningly executed, and thus utterly and totally recommended. Creepy baby face cover art too! And, while they last, we've got the Deluxe Edition, which comes with a live dvd, featuring performances of several songs from this album along with renditions of "Coward" and "The Seer". That's if you get the double cd, your other option is the swank triple vinyl, but no dvd with that, but it does have a download.
MPEG Stream: "Screen Shot"
MPEG Stream: "Just A Little Boy (For Chester Burnett)"
MPEG Stream: "She Loves Us"
MPEG Stream: "Kirsten Supine"
MPEG Stream: "To Be Kind"

album cover WINER, LESLIE Witch (Superior Viaduct) lp 17.98
Why it has taken so long for this to be reissued is baffling, but we're just so glad it's finally here. We have raved about Leslie Winer's musical work on two previous archival releases from Tapeworm and its offshoot label Wormhole, but those really only hinted at the genius of Witch, her only previously released record, from 1993 (though much of it was recorded in the late eighties). Records don't get more cult than this. Released on a white label, using the copyright symbol as her moniker, here designed as a circle of Ourobouros that was originally hand stamped onto blank white sleeves. Even the album and song titles with their alphanumerical wordplay ("N1ear", "1nce Upon A Time") would fit right at home with the obscurant syntax of witch house, even though this was recorded nearly 20 years before. Witch has been labeled as "proto-trip-hop", which it sort of is, as this record predates what Massive Attack, Portishead and Tricky were doing just a year or two later, and even Winer herself has been called by NME "The Grandmother of Trip Hop", a label she has rejected and rightly so. "Grandmother" doesn't have the same aura of respect as what the music press names male musical innovators such as "Godfather" or "King", and Winer, a poet and formal model with a chic androgynous style who was close friends with both William S. Burroughs and Jean-Michel Basquiat is hardly a little old lady.
Witch is both a product of its time and far ahead of it. On the surface, it's not that far removed from Sinead O'Connor, especially her song "I Am Stretched On Your Grave" with its James Brown drum sample and spoken intonations, but Witch is much darker, cooler and more subdued. It has a very London feel to it, a feeling of frustrated action against cultural stagnation and trying to create something new out of nearly nothing. Winer doesn't necessarily sing as much as observe and respond with cool detachment, a sort of soundtrack of her experiences relayed poetically to an unknown listener as beats, dub rhythms (from Jah Wobble no less), and musical samples and snippets of dialogue coalesce around her. It's a heady mixture, definitely dreamy and druggy, but she refreshingly doesn't try to endear the listener to her own personal entanglements and positions on gender, beauty and social norms. It's more like she's having a searching complicated conversation with herself.
Musically, what Witch really predates is the contemporary woozy and warped electronica of Peaking Lights and Maria Minerva, especially in the layering of breezy dub rhythms in hazy reverb and abstract murk. It's a beautifully extraordinary work that continually rewards the more we listen. Big thanks to Superior Viaduct for making this more widely available. Incredible and soooo recommended!
MPEG Stream: "Dream1"
MPEG Stream: "John Says"
MPEG Stream: "The Boy Who Used 2 Whistle"

album cover SD LAIKA That's Harakiri (Tri Angle) lp 18.98
The Tri Angle label has brought us some of our favorite weirdo electronica, from witch house to slo-mo-soul, from dronestep to warped hip hop, just a quick list of some of our favorite Triangle artists speaks volumes: Forest Swords, Vessel, FiS, Haxan Cloak, Water Borders, oOoOO, Clams Casino, Balam Acab, Holy Other, How To Dress Well...
So the fact that this might be the weirdest, noisiest, most out there Triangle release yet should not be taken lightly, cuz the bar had already been set pretty goddamn high, but the oddly monikered Sd Laika, aka Milwaukee producer Peter Runge, knocks it out of the park, with what is some sort of post grime, post dubstep, electro noise oddity, that pushes ALL our buttons. The sort of thing that you might have expected to come out on DHR back in the day. The opening one two punch is all it should take, the 90 seconds of "Peace", all grinding gristly synth buzz, keening high end skree and squiggly psychedelic melody, wreathed in swaths of hiss and him, fragmented and blown out, noisy, lurching and lumbering, it kills us that that song didn't stretch out to fill up the whole record. But then comes "Great God Pan", which eases our pain a little, with big billowing clouds of buzzing low end, glitches out drones, and staticky buzz, a field of hazy drift, that is soon interrupted by a seriously twisted beat, that sounds like it was assembled from discarded fragments of others songs, noisy, clattery, skittery, stuttery, all the while, in the background, thick swells of black buzz pulse ominously, and over the top, haunting alien melodies, all tethered to that super sick, unholy anti-groove. Murky and sinister and seriously fucking next level.
And it never lets up, all the beats sound like they were filtered through some homespun analog telephone transistor radio broadcast system, fuzzy, and crackly, always dropping out, and then swooping back in, imagine a grime record recorded onto a wax cylinder and then broadcast via short wave radio, in a moving vehicle so the reception is in constant flux. And even when everything is in range, and the sound is relatively hi-fi, the sounds are still warped and woozy, and before long the sound devolves into another gloriously distortion drenched sprawl, often sounding like Leyland Kirby's Caretaker having a go at dubstep, and failing spectacularly.
There are some mysterious shards of 8bit sound, some twisted fragmented samples, some flurries of tangled melody, and cascades of synth blorp and grinding fields of staticky thrum, the sound occasionally dipping into cubby tranquility, but again, quickly snapping back into a twisted variant of alien IDM. The whole record is a dizzying collage of fractured sonics, of shattered rhythms, reassembled into damaged, demented rhythms, hints of minimal techno, Pop Ambient, dub, house, electro, all find their way into the sound, but in true mad scientist fashion, those elements are melted down, dissected, and transformed utterly and completely into some strange hybrid of experimental dada-soundscapery and avant electronica, a gloriously mind bending, brain melting, dance floor defying masterpiece.
MPEG Stream: "Peace"
MPEG Stream: "Great God Pan"
MPEG Stream: "Gutter Vibrations"
MPEG Stream: "Percressing"

album cover BOGNER, URSULA Recordings 1969-1988 (Faitiche) cd 19.98
This aQ Record Of The Week from way back in 2008, finally available again!!!
So when you were a kid, what do you think your Mom got up to while you were at school, or out playing with your pals? Doing laundry? Cleaning the house? Doing the dishes? A little gardening? Or maybe playing bridge? Canasta? Going to the grocery store? How about collecting and building analog synthesizers? Building a soundproof recording studio in the extra room? Recording strange space-y minimal electronic music on reel to reel tapes? Or building an 'orgon accumulator' in the backyard? Such were the activities of a mild mannered housewife named Ursula Bogner, who in addition to being a pharmacist, as well as a loving wife and mother, just so happened to also be obsessed with electronic music and analog synthesizers, but unlike others with similar interests (were there other 30 something housewives so obsessed?), Bogner didn't just read about electronic music, she attended seminars, followed the activities of various groups and musicians (even apparently sharing her children's enthusiasm for new wave pop!) eventually deciding to create music herself.
She never released any recordings, didn't even really make public her hobby, instead, she simply spent her free time, creating, composing, recording, experimenting, for over 20 years, amassing an incredible body of work. All of that wouldn't merit anything but a cursory glance and maybe a chuckle, if the music weren't amazing, but it is, fantastical and inspired, primitive and raw, playful and childlike, but also, haunting and mysterious, otherworldly, and so incredibly varied, from spare academic sounding minimalism, to Perrey & Kingsley style playfulness, to super stark click and skitter that would be right at home on Raster-Noton, to swirling fantastical spaced out soundscapes that could have been sixties sci-fi soundtracks. The sounds are so evocative, so mysterious, it almost seems impossible that they were recorded by a Mom in a spare room in a house in the suburbs.
The collection opens with "Begleitung Fur Tuba", which indeed features tuba-like tones, locked into a playful grove with a bleepy bloopy rhythm, which is eventually joined by streaks of static, and a warbly main melody. From there, highlights include "Proto" which is kaleidoscopic and groovy with a super minimal click-track rhythm. "2 Ton" is almost like space age lounge music, with it's reverbed guitar like shimmer, and slithery tempo. "Speichen" is another playful number, the burbles and bloops, and definitely predicts groups like James Bong, Luke Vibert, Boards Of Canada and the like. "Punkte" is another minimal groover, with a hissy static rhythm, a bloopy bassline, and all manner of descending and ascending electronic tones, as well as pizzicato bleeps that almost sound like an alien thumb piano. The longest track is "Soloresonanzen" and is maybe the dreamiest, taking the minimal click of Raster-Noton, and draping it over slowly shifting layers of electronic whir and buzz, peppered with bits of click and glitch, textural hiss, woozy melodic fragments, very dreamlike and meditative. And finally the record finishes with a brief burst of tangly scribbly electronic whir and skree, all mad scientist machines gone haywire, but deftly arranged into a pretty alien lullaby, weird and wonderful.
Bogner's music was discovered via some pretty incredible happenstance, Jan Jelinek, who runs the Faitiche label, met Bogner's son on a plane and the two got to talking, Jelinek was an electronic musician, so was Bogner's deceased Mother weirdly enough, and well, the rest is history. Or is it? There has been much talk that this is all a massive hoax, or more correctly, the ultimate concept album. Carefully crafted down to the tiniest details, photos, back story, Bogner's artwork, everything. In some ways it doesn't really matter, in fact, it's almost more impressive if the whole thing was in fact fabricated, but you know what, fuck it, it's so much more fun to just go along with it...
The cd is gorgeously packaged in a thick book-like digipak, with extensive liner notes from Jan Jelinek, notes on each song, lots of photos, as well as various reproductions of Bogner's various outer space linocuts.
MPEG Stream: "Begelitung Fur Tuba"
MPEG Stream: "Inversion"
MPEG Stream: "Metazoon"
MPEG Stream: "Atmosphare 1"
MPEG Stream: "Punkte"

album cover DRIVE LIKE JEHU Yank Crime (Headhunter) lp+7" 14.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY.
Finally available again on vinyl, and it comes with the "Bullet Train To Vegas" / "Hand Over Fist" 7" as a bonus! Here's what we said back in 2009 when we made the cd reissue Record Of The Week:
Sometimes it's hard to believe that certain records just go out of print. I mean who would let the Conet Project go out of print, or Souled American, or the Incredible String Band. It's even weirder when the record is not old or obscure. Then it's usually some bureaucratic red tape or major label bullshit that keeps people from hearing some great record. Such is the case with the second, swansong release from San Diego's Drive Like Jehu, originally released on Interscope in 1994. A record Allan and Andee and Jim and Sadie and Windy and quite possibly the rest of the aQ staff past and present would rank as one of the best rock records ever! Easily as good/important as Slint's Spiderland. For those who don't know, Drive Like Jehu was fronted by John Reis of Rocket From The Crypt and featured vocalist Rick Farr (his rock name, he's also known as Rick Froberg) who later went on with Reis to play in the Hot Snakes and then still later to front the Obits. Drive Like Jehu also just happened to have one of the tightest rhythm sections EVER. E V E R! Yank Crime is a tightly wound record of 'post rock' (before post rock meant watered down instrumental indie rock bullshit) with head nodding, repetitive grooves, propulsive, ultra concise drumming, and some of the most inventive guitar playing we've ever heard. All topped off with Farr's distinctive high pitched vocals (familiar to all you folks who dig the Hot Snakes). The songs are looooong and hypnotic but never boring. The band locks into totally intense, static grooves, that can go on for minutes before exploding into mayhemic bursts of controlled fury. So goddamn good. Anyone who likes the Hot Snakes MUST own this record. Drive Like Jehu is like a hyper charged, heavier, more intense and complex, MUCH BETTER Hot Snakes. Anyone who likes Feuhler or Don Cab or Slint or Engine Kid or almost any post rock will discover what all those other comers had been shooting for. This is IT. Trust us. An automatic aQ "record of the week" selection as soon as we heard it was finally being re-released!!!!
This new version comes pressed on colored vinyl as well! And includes the aforementioned "Bullet Train To Vegas" / "Hand Over Fist" 7"...
MPEG Stream: "Do You Compute"
MPEG Stream: "Sinews"

album cover MUGSTAR Sun Broken (Cardinal Fuzz) lp 24.00
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY.
Yet another former aQ Record Of The Week, now available on vinyl! Sadly, it's super limited, and we're one of the only stores in the US carrying it. And like all the Cardinal Fuzz releases, it's super fancy as well, pressed on heavy 2 color swirled vinyl, housed in an ultra swank embossed sleeve, with new artwork and printed in metallic ink, with an insert as well!
Here's our review from back in 2010 when we first listed the cd version:
It was inevitable really. After a handful of 7"s, and a single mostly overlooked and way under appreciated full length that we raved about way back when, these guys are finally getting their due. This new full length on Important should finally position these guys at the head of the class, in the pantheon of modern spacerockers. White Hills, The Heads, Burnt Hills, Gnod, 3 Leafs, Bardo Pond, Gunslingers, Eternal Tapestry, Heavy Winged, Sleepy Sun, Plastic Crimewave, Titan, we love em all, but they're all gonna have to step up their games, cuz Mugstar has definitely thrown down the drug rock heart of the sun gauntlet. Sun, Broken is a colossal slab of speaker shredding, in-the-red, druggy, psychedelic, hypnotic Hawkwind channeling space rock bliss. Heavy, lush, dense, mesmerizing, sprawling and expansive, epic and majestic, incredible drumming, tangled guitars, warm whirring organs, complex mathy almost proggy arrangements, songs that lock into looped stretches of near static throb and pulse, before splintering into convoluted freakouts only to explode moments later into black hole supernova psychspace blowouts.
"Technical Knowledge As A Weapon" pretty much sets the stage, a swirling cloud of effects gives way to a tribal chunk of primal hypnorock pound, which lurches into a killer stop start Hammond organ stutter, before launching right back into the fray, the track growing ever more urgent and explosive, peppered with organ breaks, the whole thing dense and repetitive, and so so epic. "Ouroboros" starts out all tangled and mathy, a churning hypnotic almost looped sounding sprawl of metallic prog, which slowly transforms into a sort of muted pulsing minimal space rock, swirling effects surround a static guitar melody, and dense drum flurries, and tripped out vox, before the inevitable psych-skree outro, all tangled and jagged fucking FIERCE.
"Labrador Hatchet" is the record's first breather, a two and a half minute space-y trip out, all thum and throb, through a billowing cloud of heavily effected scrapes and clicks and glitches, which gives way to "Today Is The Wrong Shape", a dead ringer for Finnish hypnorockers Circle at their leanest and meanest, the main riff and the pounding krautrock rhythm, like a super charged way revved up Circle, with a cool, angular proggy breakdown, before yet another crushing bout of extreme spaced out damaged FX heaviness.
Another brief bit of swirly psychedelic effects weirdness leads into the nearly 14 minute closer, "Furklausundbo", which begins with warm melodic swells, before the bassline slips in, then the simple stripped down rhythm, and from there it's a totally mesmerizing slow build, locked and looped, riff and rhythm in perfect sync, while all around, streaks of sound swirl and swoop, unlike the other tracks, there's no explosive climax, no freaked out space rock free for all, instead the songs twists and transforms, slipping into a doomy plod at one point, getting downright twangy at another, the main groove getting doused in clouds of reverbed high end guitar at another, but all the while, the pulse, the beat, stays solid, and unfailing, total mind trancelike hypnotic dronerock mesmer, that eventually dissipates in a blurred smear of layered organ and washed out drones.
Easily the space rock, kraut drone, buzz drug, psych swirl jam of the year!
MPEG Stream: "Technical Knowledge As A Weapon"
MPEG Stream: "Ouroboros"
MPEG Stream: "Furklausundbo"

album cover FENNESZ Becs (Editions Mego) lp 22.00
Aside from a couple of respectable collaborations and some soundtrack work, Christian Fennesz hasn't released a proper solo album since the album Black Sea, which came out on Touch WAY back in 2008. On Becs, Fennesz returns to the label that introduced him to the world, in Editions Mego; and he pretty much continues along the same path that he set for himself on that last album he recorded for them, the much lauded Endless Summer from 2001. That was a fracturous record of polygonal melodies bathed in a candy-crush fuzz of pixelated, shoegazing blur, always alluding to the sunkissed glow of the California Dream, whatever that may be. Becs may not have the advantage of following up one hell of a single by Fennesz (in the very late '90s, he covered The Beach Boys and The Rolling Stones, the latter of which was originally commissioned for tUMULt's Painted Black anthology!), whereby he contextualized his sonic dislocation within the lineage of rock'n'roll and all of its mythologies of dissent, rebellion, sex, and whatnot. Yeah, it's a tough act to follow; but Becs is a wildly adventurous album with a substantial parity when it comes to the risk/reward equation. A heavily flanged, blindingly bright corona of digital treatments surrounds the Fennesz' guitar sound at the album's introduction, with all of the soft melodies buried in twinkling electronics and mirrored refractions. Fennesz follows this with a detuned alarm-call pulse that forms an insistently crawling rhythmic structure blasted with a malleable distortion, which in turn he counterpoints with a gorgeous, cathedral drone of sustained harmonics. An incremental retinal burn of guitar distortion shapes the brilliant track "Liminality" built upon a beautifully bittersweet, slowcore guitar chord whose roots lie in Slint, Codeine, or maybe even the Durutti Column. Sparkling ambient passages beget discordant piano treatments akin to a computer-cracked Angelo Badalamenti which in turn beget more blossoming noise. Fucking brilliant.
MPEG Stream: "The Liar"
MPEG Stream: "Liminality"
MPEG Stream: "Pallas Athene"

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

album cover SD LAIKA That's Harakiri (Tri Angle) cd 14.98
The Tri Angle label has brought us some of our favorite weirdo electronica, from witch house to slo-mo-soul, from dronestep to warped hip hop, just a quick list of some of our favorite Triangle artists speaks volumes: Forest Swords, Vessel, FiS, Haxan Cloak, Water Borders, oOoOO, Clams Casino, Balam Acab, Holy Other, How To Dress Well...
So the fact that this might be the weirdest, noisiest, most out there Triangle release yet should not be taken lightly, cuz the bar had already been set pretty goddamn high, but the oddly monikered Sd Laika, aka Milwaukee producer Peter Runge, knocks it out of the park, with what is some sort of post grime, post dubstep, electro noise oddity, that pushes ALL our buttons. The sort of thing that you might have expected to come out on DHR back in the day. The opening one two punch is all it should take, the 90 seconds of "Peace", all grinding gristly synth buzz, keening high end skree and squiggly psychedelic melody, wreathed in swaths of hiss and him, fragmented and blown out, noisy, lurching and lumbering, it kills us that that song didn't stretch out to fill up the whole record. But then comes "Great God Pan", which eases our pain a little, with big billowing clouds of buzzing low end, glitches out drones, and staticky buzz, a field of hazy drift, that is soon interrupted by a seriously twisted beat, that sounds like it was assembled from discarded fragments of others songs, noisy, clattery, skittery, stuttery, all the while, in the background, thick swells of black buzz pulse ominously, and over the top, haunting alien melodies, all tethered to that super sick, unholy anti-groove. Murky and sinister and seriously fucking next level.
And it never lets up, all the beats sound like they were filtered through some homespun analog telephone transistor radio broadcast system, fuzzy, and crackly, always dropping out, and then swooping back in, imagine a grime record recorded onto a wax cylinder and then broadcast via short wave radio, in a moving vehicle so the reception is in constant flux. And even when everything is in range, and the sound is relatively hi-fi, the sounds are still warped and woozy, and before long the sound devolves into another gloriously distortion drenched sprawl, often sounding like Leyland Kirby's Caretaker having a go at dubstep, and failing spectacularly.
There are some mysterious shards of 8bit sound, some twisted fragmented samples, some flurries of tangled melody, and cascades of synth blorp and grinding fields of staticky thrum, the sound occasionally dipping into cubby tranquility, but again, quickly snapping back into a twisted variant of alien IDM. The whole record is a dizzying collage of fractured sonics, of shattered rhythms, reassembled into damaged, demented rhythms, hints of minimal techno, Pop Ambient, dub, house, electro, all find their way into the sound, but in true mad scientist fashion, those elements are melted down, dissected, and transformed utterly and completely into some strange hybrid of experimental dada-soundscapery and avant electronica, a gloriously mind bending, brain melting, dance floor defying masterpiece.
MPEG Stream: "Peace"
MPEG Stream: "Great God Pan"
MPEG Stream: "Gutter Vibrations"
MPEG Stream: "Percressing"

album cover SWANS To Be Kind (Young God) 2cd + dvd 22.00
The latest masterpiece from these aQ-beloved musical misanthropes has moved well beyond the already boundary stretching sound of their previous album The Seer, and continues in a similar direction, shedding elements of song, and moving closer and closer to pure sound, with most of the tracks here unwinding like free form / free rock explorations, with only the barest hint of structure to keep them from drifting into utter shapelessness, but even then, whatever sonic constraints that are put in place, seem to be disregarded most of the time, the resulting records is hardly a rock record at all, but a gorgeous collection of brooding soundscapes, allowed to sprawl and ooze and drift and build, almost like an even more ephemeral / abstract Godspeed, and yet somehow, the tracks here are infused with an intensity, and sonic dread, that marks this as pure Swans.
That said, the opener "Screen Shot" might be the most curious of all the tracks here, as it's centered around a baseline, and drum part that are without a doubt, bordering on 'funky', so much so that before we even heard the record, people we posting online that the new Swans sounded like Primus. Which weirdly enough just made us want to hear it more. And when we finally did, well, we could definitely see that, but only Primus slowed down and stretched out and infused with a terrifying malevolence, and really, that funkiness become something else in a matter of minutes, some mutant strain of grim grooving bunkurfunk, that sounds more to us like Skull Defekts, and Michael Gira's vocals a dead ringer from the shamanistic conjuring of Defekts collaborator Daniel Higgs, but before you know it, the song blossoms into something even more tripped out and psychedelic, a swirling piano loop, jagged shards of guitar, eventually exploding into a wild cacophony that could go on forever, but instead burns bright and quickly fades out. An intense, invigorating start to what just might be the best of the modern Swans records.
There's not a track here that's less than 5 minutes, with the bulk closer to 15, and one clocking in at a stunning 34, and as mentioned above, they've done away with traditional compositional concerns, and have instead endeavored to craft their own modern minimalism, and it's truly stunning, from the slow core creep of "Just A Little Boy", that sounds a bit like the Necks via Woven Hand, but stretched out into one extended slow motion balladic dirge, laced with some truly terrifying vocals, to the atonal lope of "A Little God In My Hands", which sounds like multiple New Orleans jazz bands playing at once, before settling into a gorgeously creepy march, all glimmering electronics and swirling melodies, and some twisted call and response vocals.
Then there's the record's centerpiece, the 34+ minute "Bring The Sun / Toussaint L' Ouverture", which lurches right out of the gate as maybe the most rocking song here, a lumbering drum heavy riff, that instead of turning into a song, just locks into an endless hypno-rock cycle, that you never want to end, and for a while, it seems like it never will, before eventually setting into another apocalyptic swampy creep (and again reminding us of Woven Hand), before beginning and epic, majestic slow build, a vocal chorale draped atop a dark cacophonous roar, that gets almost metallic before dissipating into a free rock sprawl, all long tones, and drones, moaned vocals, and warm electric piano shimmer, as well as some FX heavy percussion, and finally a wild freaked out psychedelic squall. Disc one ends with a hushed horror ballad, all moaning distant horns, and sinister vox, and atonal melodies swirling throughout. And most bands would hang it up there, but this is the Swans after all, so we're only halfway there.
The second disc begins with a twisted bit of malformed Tom Waitsian weirdness, all groovy percussion, swirling junkyard ambience, and some strange vocals refrains, before erupting into some swampy garage rock swagger, slithery and sinister, distorted and psychedelic, the sound layered and dense and seriously fierce. From there on out, To Be Kind seems to open up into some sort of alternate universe rock opera, brooding ballad gives way to horn flecked death march dirge, wild kraut-funk groovery grows more and more atonal, pocked with elephant bleat blasts, and feral vocal bellows, long stretches of kosmische drift, and jazzy piano shimmer slowly evolve into another bout of swampy swagger, "Nathalie Neal", a piece that's drum driven and intense (and named for an aQ pal!), before finally finishing off with the title track, a haunting, subdued finale, all dramatic croons and whispery chordal drift, that bursts into a full on freakout, blistering arcs of distorted guitars wreathed around pounding drum damage, and billowing swirls of psychedelic noise, the rare piece of music that is as exhausting and exhilarating to hear, as it presumably is to play.
Totally transcendent, dizzyingly ambitious, stunningly executed, and thus utterly and totally recommended. Creepy baby face cover art too! And, while they last, we've got the Deluxe Edition, which comes with a live dvd, featuring performances of several songs from this album along with renditions of "Coward" and "The Seer". That's if you get the double cd, your other option is the swank triple vinyl, but no dvd with that, but it does have a download.
MPEG Stream: "Screen Shot"
MPEG Stream: "Just A Little Boy (For Chester Burnett)"
MPEG Stream: "She Loves Us"
MPEG Stream: "Kirsten Supine"
MPEG Stream: "To Be Kind"

album cover LEON, CRAIG Nommos (Superior Viaduct) cd 15.98
THIS RECORD OF THE WEEK FROM LAST YEAR, NOW ON CD!
This is a reissue of one of those deep "in-the-know" records that we're perplexed that we had somehow never heard of before now, especially given its pedigree. It seems to be one of those weird anomaly recordings that when it's not acting as a "proto" example of genres that now exist today (dub-step and minimal techno), it works as a bridge between genres we never imagined being connected before (new age and industrial music, minimalist composition and new wave, minimal synth and ethno-folk music). It's a rare six-degrees-of-separation record that bafflingly connects Suicide to John Fahey, and it's utterly gorgeous to boot.
Craig Leon may not be a well-known name to most, but he was the producer or co-producer behind many of the bands of our youth including Blondie, The Ramones, Talking Heads, Richard Hell, Suicide, The Weirdos, DMZ, The Zero's. The Bangles and 45 Grave. But he's also a classically trained composer and orchestrator who has worked with Lucio Pavoratti, Sir James Galway and The London Symphony Orchestra. Nommos was the first album of his own material, originally released in 1981 on John Fahey's Takoma label and there really is just nothing quite like it.
With evocative titles like "Donkeys Bearing Cups", "Four Eyes To See The Afterlife" and "She Wears A Hemispherical Skull Cap", Leon uses minimal synthesis to explore repetitive rhythm and texture in hypnotic trance inducing compositions. The opener, "Ring With Three Concentric Circles" explores a kraut-y kosmiche sound employing cosmic synth washes over skeletal mechanical rhythms, but it's the second track, "Donkeys Bearing Cups" that prognosticates many of the production tropes of modern dubstep and minimal techno, the shuffling almost dance-y mechanized rhythms, as well as the squelched siren noise that opens it. Many of the tracks could be paired down backing tracks for Suicide songs, minus Alan Vega's vocals and Martin Rev's knack for propulsion. Instead Leon seems to dwell on the nuance of his robotic rhythms, tweaking the reverb and decay in bass pulses and cymbal clangs, but encasing them in a beautiful floating stasis.
The longest track at nearly 12 minutes, "Four Eyes To See The Afterlife", seems to have the least going on. It's plodding hiccupping rhythm stretching for minutes before we notice a woman's voice almost operatically singing way off in the background. Her voice almost feels like another synthetic texture in the composition and we at first had to turn the volume down to see if we were hearing things, but it's just another impeccable detail that Leon is carefully layering and weaving into seemingly bare-bone compositions making us ever conscious of the meditative nature of the work. This is definitely a producer's record, and an incredible one at that! If you are a fan of modern techno composers like Vladislav Delay, Andy Stott, Demdike Stare, anything on the Dead-Cert label, or even outlier composers like Moondog, Julius Eastman or Barton Smith, this is essential!
Download card included!
MPEG Stream: "Ring With Three Concentric Circles"
MPEG Stream: "Donkeys Bearing Cups"
MPEG Stream: "Four Eyes To See The Afterlife"

album cover FENNESZ Becs (Editions Mego) cd 16.98
Aside from a couple of respectable collaborations and some soundtrack work, Christian Fennesz hasn't released a proper solo album since the album Black Sea, which came out on Touch WAY back in 2008. On Becs, Fennesz returns to the label that introduced him to the world, in Editions Mego; and he pretty much continues along the same path that he set for himself on that last album he recorded for them, the much lauded Endless Summer from 2001. That was a fracturous record of polygonal melodies bathed in a candy-crush fuzz of pixelated, shoegazing blur, always alluding to the sunkissed glow of the California Dream, whatever that may be. Becs may not have the advantage of following up one hell of a single by Fennesz (in the very late '90s, he covered The Beach Boys and The Rolling Stones, the latter of which was originally commissioned for tUMULt's Painted Black anthology!), whereby he contextualized his sonic dislocation within the lineage of rock'n'roll and all of its mythologies of dissent, rebellion, sex, and whatnot. Yeah, it's a tough act to follow; but Becs is a wildly adventurous album with a substantial parity when it comes to the risk/reward equation. A heavily flanged, blindingly bright corona of digital treatments surrounds the Fennesz' guitar sound at the album's introduction, with all of the soft melodies buried in twinkling electronics and mirrored refractions. Fennesz follows this with a detuned alarm-call pulse that forms an insistently crawling rhythmic structure blasted with a malleable distortion, which in turn he counterpoints with a gorgeous, cathedral drone of sustained harmonics. An incremental retinal burn of guitar distortion shapes the brilliant track "Liminality" built upon a beautifully bittersweet, slowcore guitar chord whose roots lie in Slint, Codeine, or maybe even the Durutti Column. Sparkling ambient passages beget discordant piano treatments akin to a computer-cracked Angelo Badalamenti which in turn beget more blossoming noise. Fucking brilliant.
MPEG Stream: "The Liar"
MPEG Stream: "Liminality"
MPEG Stream: "Pallas Athene"

album cover SATAN'S SATYRS Die Screaming (Trash King) lp 28.00
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY.
Remember the movie 2000 Maniacs? Where tourists are lured to a small Southern town and are forced to participate in 'games' that are essentially elaborate and ultra gory (and quite inventive) excuses for extreme torture that ultimately lead to their deaths. Or howabout the sixties biker classic Easy Rider? The ultimate drugged out hippie motorcycle road movie. Or maybe the seventies British horror flick Psychomania, about psychopathic suicidal bikers who make a pact with the devil, kill themselves and return from the dead to terrorize the squares? So now, imagine some crazed, druggy, doomy, psychedelic, psychotropic, head spinning mix of all three, and Satan's Satyrs are pretty much the perfect house band. Similarly, Die Screaming is essentially the soundtrack to the above, some impossibly insane, low budget, blood drenched, exploitation-splatter Z-grade alien biker undead epic. The opening track "Thumper's Theme" is uncharacteristically upbeat, but you can almost imagine this fuzzed out organ fueled jam playing beneath the credits as a porky, leather vested biker, presumably "Thumper" rolls into town, as the townsfolk lock their doors and lower their blinds, all to the strains of fuzzed out distorto riffage, wheezing organ, tumbling toms, all a little bit surfy, infused with just a bit of sonic swagger. But it's on "Instruments Of Hellfire" where things get really good, or perhaps bad if you're one of those innocent bystanders, wild squiggly psychedelic leads over blown out Stooges-y metallic garage punk pound, plenty of wild wah wah guitars, totally tripped out, and when the vocals swoop in, totally whiney, high pitched, and echo drenched, somewhere between a young Ozzy, and a more unhinged hysterical version of Uncle Acid, and in fact, Uncle Acid fans should be ALL over this. It's like a more raw and primitive take on the same sort of seventies psychedelic hard rock, but with SS, it all sounds so much more desperate and unhinged, frantic and dangerous. Oh and then out of nowhere, in comes a barrage of bongos and hand percussion, that gives the sound a little bit of a Goat vibe, but only for like 10 seconds, and then it's right back into another, lurching, lumbering psych-doom garage rock blowout.
Apparently UK doomlords Electric Wizard are huge fans, which makes sense, as they share much of the same sonic DNA, a similar psych-doom bent, and the same obsession with exploitation movies, horror flicks from the sixties and seventies, SS's jams even more that EW's evoking rubber suited beasties, blood spurting ultra violence, greasy bikers and bodacious bikini babes, if it's possible for a 'sound' to be greasy, and filthy, dirty and caked in dried blood, well, Die Screaming is as filthy, bloody and lysergic as it gets. And stick around for the sprawling creepfest closer, the 12+ minute title track, which is a drugged out doom crawl: over a bed of whirring organs, SS unfurl a lumbering dirge, a wasted psychedelic downer rock sprawl, that explodes in the last few minutes into a final, frenzied blast of heavy-horror biker rock crush that KILLS!!!
All that, and then when you add in the blood dripping logo, and melting skull cover art, it's pretty much a guaranteed aQ Record Of The Week! YOU WILL DIE SCREAMING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
MPEG Stream: "Thumper's Theme"
MPEG Stream: "Instruments Of Hellfire"
MPEG Stream: "Curse Of The Corpse"
MPEG Stream: "Die Screaming"

album cover SOULEYMAN, OMAR Jazeera Nights (Sublime Frequencies) lp 22.00
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY.
RELEASED ON VINYL FOR RECORD STORE DAY! Just a few copies remaining. Here's what we said about the cd version of this when we made it a Record Of The Week in 2010:
We'll admit, we're a sucker for Sublime Frequencies, they've yet to release a record that didn't totally blow our minds. Which says as much about SF's curating as it does about the unheard music worldwide. Treasures everywhere, amazing and passionate and personal and far out sounds, being made in homes and yards, on street corners, in bars, at picnics and parties, not conceived for public consumption, meant for a small audience, and often for a specific purpose, getting a glimpse into these magical musical moments is what Sublime Frequencies is all about, and we feel lucky to get to experience these sounds.
This is the third record from Omar Souleyman on Sublime Frequencies, and just might be the best one yet, which is saying A LOT. A collection of live recordings culled from nearly 15 years worth of cassettes, these tracks are incredible, energetic, passionate, so full of life, effusive and emotional, funky and celebratory, and to Western ears, seriously far out. There's almost a wild Bollywood vibe (even though this is from the Middle East, not India), in the vocals, and the rhythms, and with the crazy tangled synthesizer melodies, the propulsive drumming, and Souleyman's distorted, wailed vocal delivery, it all sounds just so perfect, even listening to this music on record, it sounds sweaty and exhausting and cathartic, it's easy to imagine a big crowd of people dancing and bouncing along, freed from all cares and concerns letting the music just carry them away.
Like all Sublime Frequencies releases, the liner notes offer up so much information, on Souleyman, his life, the history of Syria, on Syrian folk music, etc, but even without all that info, if it's just about the music, these are some of the most amazing sounds you'll ever hear. Frantic Eastern melodies, frenetic percussion, analog synths wound around Souleyman's vocals, this is party music, dance music, but not like party or dance music the way we normally think about it. The music of Souleyman is transcendent, spiritual, psychedelic, transformative, a folk pop known as Dabke, rarely heard in the West, perhaps not at all if it wasn't for Sublime Frequencies, and we'd imagine these sounds might be overwhelming for casual world music listeners, it is after all wild and frantic and relentless, the melodies complex and twisted and tangled, there are some moments that verge on folky for sure, the final track is a gorgeous haunting lament, just vocals and buzzing synthesizers, but barring that track, even on the folkier jams, those strange synths, the unique melodies, the repetitive tranced out rhythms, those all transform Souleyman's folk into something much more, and in most cases, it's not long before the band explodes into yet another super intense sweat soaked psychedelic Syrian folk pop workout. So great!
MPEG Stream: "Hafer Gabrak Bidi (I Will Dig Your Grave With My Hands)"
MPEG Stream: "Ala Il Hanash Madgouga (The Bedouin Tattoo)"
MPEG Stream: "Hot Il Khanjar Bi Gleibi (Stab My Heart)"
MPEG Stream: "Kell Il Banat Inkhatban (All The Girls Are Engaged)"

album cover MEDICO DOKTOR VIBES Liter Thru Dorker Vibes (Companion) cd 14.98
THIS AMAZING REISSUE, A RECORD OF THE WEEK FROM LAST YEAR, NOW AVAILABLE ON CD! AND RECORD OF THE WEEK AGAIN OF COURSE!! Here's what we said 'bout the vinyl version:
Few records in recent memory have had us so excited in anticipation for their release, but this outsider visionary gem is so unquantifiably unique that it has worked its magical charm on us in such an intense way that we knew we had to make it Record Of The Week. Even before we heard a lick of music, the album cover, title and artist had us asking so many questions. That simple but puzzling orange cover with a vintage stock photo of San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge, the mysterious and oddly misspelled title, Liter Thru Dorker Vibes, by an even more mysterious and misspelled artist name, Medico Doktor Vibes. Dorker Vibes??? What on earth could this be? Only a small text in the bottom right corner that said, 1979 Compton, CA and the record label Bi-Russell Records offered any clues to its origins. But the music inside, even stranger still is a primitive bedroom concoction of Caribbean-inflected outsider rock made with electric guitar, kalimba, synthesizer and drum machine that is an equally woozy, weird and introspective set of spell-casting witch-doctor psych groove.
Folks who bought Johan Kugelberg's excellent book on Private Press records, Enjoy The Experience, may recognize the cover as it was featured in that book as well as the opening song, "Diska Limba Man" which was included on the companion musical compilation, but its curious lack of back story in the book only give the record a more mysterious aura as if beamed into our world from another dimension. And it's almost like it was, as this record was just discovered at an Oakland Colosseum flea market only a few years back and made its way to the ever-curious vanity record enthusiasts at Companion Records. Companion, who have brought us some incredible private press reissues from Stan Hubbs, Michael Farneti, The New Creation, Marc Mundy and Luie Luie, did the legwork (with help from Rob Sevier of Numero Group) to track down the artist, who it turns out is a Guyanese man named Bill Russell, and worked with him to see this unique release resurrected. True to Companion's mission, they have reissued the record in the same form as the original with an old style tip-on sleeve, blank back cover and no liner notes, so as to experience the record as it is, unfettered from preconceptions. However, we did press the label for a little context and we'll get into some of the record's back-story a little later.
Each of the seven songs here vary in tone, but they are united by the instrumentation mentioned above in different combinations and Russell's accented softly mumbled delivery, as well as a seemingly urgent determination to get each song recorded as envisioned. As primitive as the recording and performances are, every song seems to have a deliberate focus, with moodier songs on side one and more rocking songs on side two. The record doesn't seem to have been made to promote himself as a professional or as a demo to make better produced recordings. In that, it is a perfect one-off record, its only obvious influential musical touchstones apart from some Caribbean musical rhythms, might be a bit of Santana and Hendrix perhaps (though this doesn't quite reach their heights, quite the opposite), but we're hearing a bit of Chrissy Zebby Tembo, Otis G. Johnson and even some Suicide in there too. It really just sounds like Russell plugged all his instruments directly into a 4-track, hit record and worked around the mistakes, never letting them curtail his vision.
The opener, "Diska Limba Man" sets the tone with an off-kilter synth sequencer and wonky slow-disco rhythm, the tempo slowing down and speeding up in an elliptical groove while an electric guitar and a tinny kalimba add melody and texture respectively. Russell's voice thickly accented but emerging from an introspective murmer sings of a small musical instrument and the man who plays it, embarking on a hypnotic repetition as the song progresses into a sort of subdued dark disco trance. The second track, "Kalimba Tune", is just that, the kalimba alone in a beautifully played magical weaving instrumental that borders on the minimalist composition of Philip Glass. The third track, "Take A Closer Look" ends the first side with a slow looping organ dirge with a loping martial rhythm, inflected with a simmering guitar melody that adds a mystical resonance. The song urging the listener to "take a closer look at the life you are living" points to the lighter ("liter") and darker ("dorker") vibes the album title implies.
Side two has more of a heavier rock feel. "Givers of Affection" opens with a motorcycle blues guitar riff and what sound like harmonica blasts and rudimentary drum machine in a Canned Heat style, Russell's voice double tracked in a driving falsetto. "Lonely No More" has a more laid back sunbaked Zam-rock vibe, with funky Caribbean rhythms and freaked out synth leads, filtered through homegrown distortion and double tracked vocals layered incongruously into a strange psychedelic brew. "Dig This Calypso" is a stoned sunny and breezy take on the origins of the calypso beat, and we're usually not that big on calypso, but as with all the songs on the second side, this one layered with warm distortion and gritty guitar squalls all filtered back in a lo-fi Caribbean funk groove, makes it one of the better calypso inspired songs we've heard. The final track, "Water Late" is an instrumental with a medium-fast shuffled martial rhythm, and some seriously wonky exploratory guitar leads as if Doug Blunt was fronting some primitive cave rock band like Cromagnon. It ends the record on a slightly open ended note as we're left to wonder what in the hell did we just listen to? But that is exactly the kind of naive quality in this record that makes us want to put it back on and listen to it again, figure out the words and try and put together what it all means, and why for all of its outsider artistry, these songs remain so hopelessly and wonderfully implanted in our brains. And most importantly, who or what is Medico Doktor Vibes?
The folks at Companion filled us in a bit. Bill Russell is an immigrant from Guyana who came to the United States and served in the U.S. military in the seventies. He came from a musical family and after serving, settled in the LA suburb of Compton and decided to make a record. He bought the recording equipment and instruments he used on the record all at once and set about making this one and only lp. He chose the cover image carefully by color because he thought it matched the mood of the record and thought it would appeal to people, even though he oddly didn't notice the Golden Gate Bridge, or at least it didn't register any additional symbolic meaning for him and he didn't have any Bay Area connection. The title though intentional is logically vague. The story goes that Russell saw the recording as a bridge between "light" and "dark" people, but felt that just calling it Lighter Through Darker Vibes was too politically charged and so he twisted the words to "Liter" and "Dorker" in avoidance (this must have been before the word "dork" came into a more common parlance). His hopes were that both Light and Dark people would come together and groove out to his music , though it was distributed modestly with only 100 original copies and went absolutely nowhere. Perhaps now with this reissue, Russell's original vision will finally come to pass. We certainly hope so.
MPEG Stream: "Diska Limba Man"
MPEG Stream: "Kalimba Tune"
MPEG Stream: "Take A Closer Look"
MPEG Stream: "Givers of Affection"

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

album cover TRUE WIDOW s/t (End Sounds) 2lp 40.00
This all time aQ favorite, and past Record Of The Week, re-pressed and reissued for Record Store Day. We have a handful left, this time on 180 gram yellow/creme vinyl!!! Here's what we had to say about True Widow's self titled debut, when we made it ROTW way back in 2009...
Records like this come along so rarely. The sort of record that immediately reveals itself as something so more then just another disc to add to your collection, or the sort of record you play once or twice and then file. The second we heard this, we knew we had to hear more, and hear it over and over and over again. We discovered these guys online, heard a few songs and immediately bought a copy, and then set out to order them for the store (one of us was so obsessed, he even ordered all the records by the True Widow mainman's OLD band).
Not sure what it is exactly about True Widow, it could be that after hundreds of records of rumbling dronemusic and blasting grim buzz and hushed ambient shimmer, that a band that writes songs, incredibly catchy and melodic and heavy songs, is exactly what our ears craved. Not to take anything away from the band, even if we were immersed in straight up pop and heavy rock (which we sort of are also), these guys (and gal) would most definitely shine. This is the sort of music we rarely hear anymore. We originally expected this to be metal, maybe some sort of heavy post rock metal hybrid, and while it is heavy, it's way more indie rock, or maybe slowcore, more like some haunting mix of the two, the guitars are thick and distorted, but not metallic, and they drift into slow drifting creeps as easily as they do pounding majestic roars. Other reviewers have described True Widow as 'sonic noir' and 'stonegaze', both of which are fairly appropriate, it's definitely dark and moody, certainly shoegazey, and a little bit stonery, but it's really just some sort of perfect gloomy heavy postrock. We hear Codeine, Low, Seam, the vibe is laid back and disaffected, weary and washed out, but still somehow completely rocking.
Every song here is practically perfect, and each one segues seamlessly into the next, the sort of record where you don't just remember the melody or the lyrics, but which songs comes next, and how long the pause between songs is, the sound just so hypnotic and mesmerizing, a sort of lyseric doom pop, a druggy post rock, but the thing is, none of that really explains how addictive these songs seem to be. Literally, from the moment we first heard this record, we have not been able to stop listening to it. We've found other reviewers elsewhere who had the same reaction. Which speaks to the power of the songs, so well crafted, brooding, yet incredibly catchy. Just check out opener "Aka", with its strange mesmerizing main riff, the mysterious pause, and then when the band kicks in, it give you chills, and it's 40 seconds into the record.
The second track, "Duelist", is one of the few tracks that features vocals from bassist Nicole Estill, her warm purr draped over big drums and a simple minimal bass throb, before the band launches into a slow burning minor key lope, only to crank up that opening part, infusing it with just a bit more muscle, and peppering the proceedings with a cool woozy chorus. Then there's "Sunday Driver", a gorgeous hazy reverby almost ballad, skeletal guitars, the drums still solid and loud, the vocals laid back and drugged out, the main melody so catchy, and a chorus that kills. Just writing this now, we've skipped back to the beginning of that song 3 times!
This isn't really new, it came out last year, but we only just discovered it, and it had such an impact on us, we figured it was worth sharing with the rest of you. Cuz even if only a fraction of you have the same sort of response to True Widow that we did, it was well worth it. This has immediately leapt to the top of our year end best of list, even though it didn't come out this year, and hell, for some of us, True Widow immediately made it onto our best EVER list. And yeah we know, we traffic in hyperbole a lot around here, we can't help it cuz we love music so much and are excited to turn people on to the music we love, but there's no denying the empirical evidence, we can't seem to listen to anything else but this record. And that doesn't look like it will be changing anytime soon.
Just listen to the sound samples, the first two tracks alone should do the trick. So goddamn good.
Super deluxe (hence the price, sorry), 180 gram vinyl, full color ultra thick gatefold sleeve, two printed color inserts, very fancy, and like the first pressing, very limited.
MPEG Stream: "AKA"
MPEG Stream: "Duelist"
MPEG Stream: "Sunday Driver"
MPEG Stream: "Flat Black"

album cover COHEN, CHARLES A Retrospective (Morphine) 2cd 28.00
Never heard of Charles Cohen? Neither had we. Which is really not surprising, considering this composer and master of the Buchla Music Easel synthesizer (he's one of the few Buchla masters in the world), managed to remain largely unknown outside of Philadelphia, where he spent the late seventies and eighties composing for dance performances and art installations, famously refusing to record, concerned with the 'ephemerality' of his music, and being somewhat of a recluse outside of his music making. But oh the music he made! In a world and time where pretty much any unheard record is considered reissue-able, very little of it truly is, and yet Cohen's music is so well deserving of a wider audience, especially considering how sonically prescient his music truly was.
A mix of musique concrete, kosmische new age, electronic krautrock, alien exotica and layered dronemusic, the sounds collected here are at once all over the map and unpredictable, but also all somehow also sonically linked. It's impossible to describe two discs' worth of Cohen's music in shorthand, but too daunting two go through each of the 22 tracks, one by one, but imagine, a fluid soundscape in constant flux: murky, lo-fi flurries of percussion wreathed in swirling electronics, almost like some alien gamelan - weird abstract dub, all glitchy and spaced out, almost industrial, but also sort of dreamy and ambient - very Kraftwerk sounding propulsive electro grooves, squelchy and shimmery, but hazy and psychedelically cosmic - Les Baxter like electro-exotica, maybe as envisioned by Nurse With Wound, and that's just the first four tracks. From there on out, it just gets cooler and weirder, more mysterious and even more abstractly beautiful.
"Sonomama" sounds almost like Asian folk music, again as re-envisioned by someone like the Residents, especially the second half when the sounds become more frantic and chaotic. Some tracks almost sound like eighties Carpenter soundtracks, check out the "Velcro Dance", which totally sounds like it could be playing as the credits roll on some old VHS tape, but then seconds later, there's the darkly delicate "Sunrise Women-Men", which almost sounds like Morricone, a wistful, cinematic sprawl, laced with muted melody and occasional percussion, before transforming surprisingly into something way more futuristic! At this point, we essentially are going track by track through the whole collection, but it's hard not to. Every track here is a mysterious gem, sonic surprises lurk around every corner, some short bursts, others, long, slow building epics, some playful and almost goofy, others somber and haunting, even sinister, but again, every second of sound here is utterly stunning.
There's tons more info in the liner notes, lots of rare photos and different writers and fellow composers offering their impressions of Cohen and his music, much of it truly fascinating, but like all great music, even knowing nothing about its provenance, doesn't take away from the magic and power of the sounds here. A truly fantastic discovery, and no doubt a contender for reissue of the year!
MPEG Stream: "Club Revival Performance"
MPEG Stream: "Tubs"
MPEG Stream: "Ukip2"
MPEG Stream: "Blue Krishna"
MPEG Stream: "Sonomama"
MPEG Stream: "Velcro Dance"

album cover CLOUD NOTHINGS Here And Nowhere Else (Carpark / Mom + Pop) cd 14.98
Cleveland's Cloud Nothings began life as fuzzy jangle poppers, but even in those early days, the group displayed a knack for not just crafting killer hooks, but also for being pretty adept and serious psychedelic noisiness and blown out bombast, which all came to a head with their most recent full length, Attack On Memory, which was way darker and noisier than anything that came before. If anything, this new one splits the difference, still heavily indebted to that classic nineties indie/college rock sound, Cloud Nothings make it their own, crafting noisy, poppy gems that slip easily from hooky, fuzzy crunch, to wild, blown out shoegaze noise rock pound. Opener "Now Hear In" sounds like something you could have heard on the radio back in the day, roughed up a bit and doused in distortion. Which when we think about it pretty much describes the whole record. If you love that sound, and as we've established by now, most of us do, then Here And Nowhere Else is about as good as it gets, a perfect approximation of that sound, but cranked to high heaven, rife with impossible hooks, raspy vocal howl, wild tangled of buzzy guitars, sheets of noisy distortion, wild chaotic drumming, some tracks slowing it down a bit, but even those seem to always eventually explode into full on frantic and frenetic noise rock blowouts, that like on Attack On Memory, often verge on total emo/screamo, and all with a bit of gothy, gloominess running throughout, which means fans of Interpol, Ceremony, Holograms, Iceage and the like will dig this too.
Closing track "I'm Not Part Of Me" might be the catchiest jam here - which is weird, cuz what band tucks their catchiest potential hit way at the end of a record? A band like Cloud Nothings with hooks and potential hits to spare!
We loved this the very first time we played it, but with every listen we dig this record more and more, and for the noise pop nerds around aQ, this is fast becoming a contender for our favorite record of the year! Definitely a Record Of The Week.
MPEG Stream: "Now Hear In"
MPEG Stream: "Quieter Today"
MPEG Stream: "Psychic Trauma"

album cover CLOUD NOTHINGS Here And Nowhere Else (Carpark / Mom + Pop) lp 19.98
Cleveland's Cloud Nothings began life as fuzzy jangle poppers, but even in those early days, the group displayed a knack for not just crafting killer hooks, but also for being pretty adept and serious psychedelic noisiness and blown out bombast, which all came to a head with their most recent full length, Attack On Memory, which was way darker and noisier than anything that came before. If anything, this new one splits the difference, still heavily indebted to that classic nineties indie/college rock sound, Cloud Nothings make it their own, crafting noisy, poppy gems that slip easily from hooky, fuzzy crunch, to wild, blown out shoegaze noise rock pound. Opener "Now Hear In" sounds like something you could have heard on the radio back in the day, roughed up a bit and doused in distortion. Which when we think about it pretty much describes the whole record. If you love that sound, and as we've established by now, most of us do, then Here And Nowhere Else is about as good as it gets, a perfect approximation of that sound, but cranked to high heaven, rife with impossible hooks, raspy vocal howl, wild tangled of buzzy guitars, sheets of noisy distortion, wild chaotic drumming, some tracks slowing it down a bit, but even those seem to always eventually explode into full on frantic and frenetic noise rock blowouts, that like on Attack On Memory, often verge on total emo/screamo, and all with a bit of gothy, gloominess running throughout, which means fans of Interpol, Ceremony, Holograms, Iceage and the like will dig this too.
Closing track "I'm Not Part Of Me" might be the catchiest jam here - which is weird, cuz what band tucks their catchiest potential hit way at the end of a record? A band like Cloud Nothings with hooks and potential hits to spare!
We loved this the very first time we played it, but with every listen we dig this record more and more, and for the noise pop nerds around aQ, this is fast becoming a contender for our favorite record of the year! Definitely a Record Of The Week.
MPEG Stream: "Now Hear In"
MPEG Stream: "Quieter Today"
MPEG Stream: "Psychic Trauma"

album cover DOLLFACE Corvette Summer (Bird Dialect) lp 14.98
Herzog! Weed! Swearin'! Milk Music! You've probably been noticing us freaking out over a whole mess of new bands heavily influenced by the sound of the nineties underground, so we figured it was the perfect time to heap some serious praise on a couple actual records from the nineties, and not just the underground, the WAY WAY underground, in fact, if you didn't live in central Illinois, you likely had never heard, or even heard OF these guys, but goddamn, now that we have, we're kind of obsessed! And we were warned. The guys at the Bird Dialect label had been talking up this nineties Chicago grunge/noise/power pop outfit for ages, we had never heard of them, and hadn't heard a lick of music, and were thus a bit skeptical, cuz really, what label DOESN'T hype their next release? But holy shit, these guys are amazing. It's hard to imagine a band like this not making it big. Cuz they had it all, heavy and hooky, killer songs, a vocalist with a seriously rad raspy yowl, the band whipping up a sort of grungy, glammy power pop, but with shades of classic Twin/Tone bands, and early Homestead Records, if we had heard these guys in the nineties, no doubt they'd be one of our favorite bands. Swaggery glam punk meets garage pop, fuzzy grunge meets ramshackle noise rock. The label calls them Peoria's answer to Urge Overkill, and we can definitely hear that, but imagine UO without all the kitsch and smarm, and add WAY more grit and punk rock swagger, we also hear tons of early/classic Aerosmith, there's a huge Seattle grunge vibe a la Green River/Mudhoney or actually more like grunge lesser knowns like Swallow, we also hear lots of Skunk (pre-Chavez), and heck maybe some Chavez too, definitely Soul Asylum as well, back when they were AWESOME (which they were, for a long time), not to mention Finnish grunge/glam wastoids Smack, and heck, if we're going totally obscure, they reminded some of us of the band Clumsy, whose Center Of Attention Deficit Disorder is a mostly unheard nineties classic. So yeah, these guys, at least sonically, seemed poised for the big time, and listening to this now, it's almost criminal that more people haven't heard (of) these guys.
Their 1994 debut Corvette Summer is a stone cold classic, opener "Kick The Ball" opens with a grungy, blown out riff, the sound is sort of power pop in punk rock clothing, like a meaner, noisier Cheap Trick, it's the sort of jam you can imagine inspiring some seriously sweaty crowds to go apeshit, the song lurching from chugging noise pop, to tangly noise rock and back again. "Timi Yuro Song" ups the pop ante, but that grunge vibe still shines through, especially when it slips into a low slung chug/dirge/swagger, and that voice, cigarettes and whiskey definitely played a part, and here we're definitely hearing some Love Battery, which is most definitely a good thing. "Half A Chance" is total Aerosmith worship, all woozy guitar shimmer, a total slow build ballad, like Dollface's "Dream On", and yeah, we don't make that comparison lightly, and we should mention the part where the vocalist sings "make them scream" and in the background, you can suddenly hear the sound of a wildly screaming crowd. Brooding, intense, minor key, some serious pathos heavy hard rock for sure. We could go track by track, but odds are you know by now if this is your thing, and if you're ANYthing like us, it most definitely is. The band do mix it up - there's the the power pop bounce of "Opportunities", the fuzzy almost psychedelic jangle of "Valentines Day", the playful pop punk of "No Duh No Doi", there's even hand claps on a few tracks, not to mention some seriously anthem worthy choruses, as well as some goofy, but pretty funny lyrics, all of which is well balanced by the bands grungier, more hard rocking side. This is fast becoming a new favorite, and definite contender for reissue of the year!
MPEG Stream: "Kick The Ball"
MPEG Stream: "Timi Yuro Song"
MPEG Stream: "Half A Chance"

album cover DOLLFACE Lights The Pilot!!! (Bird Dialect) lp 14.98
Herzog! Weed! Swearin'! Milk Music! You've probably been noticing us freaking out over a whole mess of new bands heavily influenced by the sound of the nineties underground, so we figured it was the perfect time to heap some serious praise on a couple actual records from the nineties, and not just the underground, the WAY WAY underground, in fact, if you didn't live in central Illinois, you likely had never heard, or even heard OF these guys, but goddamn, now that we have, we're kind of obsessed! And we were warned. The guys at the Bird Dialect label had been talking up this nineties Chicago grunge/noise/power pop outfit for ages, we had never heard of them, and hadn't heard a lick of music, and were thus a bit skeptical, cuz really, what label DOESN'T hype their next release? But holy shit, these guys are amazing. It's hard to imagine a band like this not making it big. Cuz they had it all, heavy and hooky, killer songs, a vocalist with a seriously rad raspy yowl, the band whipping up a sort of grungy, glammy power pop, but with shades of classic Twin/Tone bands, and early Homestead Records, if we had heard these guys in the nineties, no doubt they'd be one of our favorite bands. Swaggery glam punk meets garage pop, fuzzy grunge meets ramshackle noise rock. The label calls them Peoria's answer to Urge Overkill, and we can definitely hear that, but imagine UO without all the kitsch and smarm, and add WAY more grit and punk rock swagger, we also hear tons of early/classic Aerosmith, there's a huge Seattle grunge vibe a la Green River/Mudhoney or actually more like grunge lesser knowns like Swallow, we also hear lots of Skunk (pre-Chavez), and heck maybe some Chavez too, definitely Soul Asylum as well, back when they were AWESOME (which they were, for a long time), not to mention Finnish grunge/glam wastoids Smack, and heck, if we're going totally obscure, they reminded some of us of the band Clumsy, whose Center Of Attention Deficit Disorder is a mostly unheard nineties classic. So yeah, these guys, at least sonically, seemed poised for the big time, and listening to this now, it's almost criminal that more people haven't heard (of) these guys.
Lights The Pilot!!! was the band's second record, originally released in 1996, and like Corvette Summer, it's a hard rocking doozy, just give a listen to "Destiny, Oh Destiny", which sounds like some lost Nirvana B-side, right down to the vocalist's inflection, and the weird chugging grunginess, in fact, anyone who digs Nirvana (and modern Nirvana worshippers like Roomrunner) will lose their shit for this. It's like the weirder, darker, noisier side of Nirvana, which was sort of always our favorite, super melodic busy basslines, crumbling distorted guitar jangle and crunch, two and a half minutes that you'll likely find yourself playing over and over and over. But the rest of the record is not too shabby either, slipping from the pogo-y punk pop of "Rods And Cones", to the fuzzy, noisy, grunged out power pop of "I Breakdown And Cry", with its killer woozy bridge, and the awesome, about-to-crack vocals, and from the crazy catchy, chugging jangle pop of "Atlantis", to the the twisted experimental new wave weirdness of "I Light The Pilot, and so it goes. We hear some Rocket From The Crypt, some Hot Snakes (especially on "Monkey House"), lots of familiar sounds for sure, but all wound up into a pretty unique package, one that pushes pretty much all our nineties rock buttons, and along with Dollface's Corvette Summer debut, these are getting played around here like crazy!
MPEG Stream: "Destiny, Oh Destiny"
MPEG Stream: "Rods And Cones"
MPEG Stream: "I Breakdown And Cry"
MPEG Stream: "I Light The Pilot"

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

album cover BURNT ONES Gift (Castle Face) lp 15.98
Finally! A new full length from these psychedelic sixties style garage murk masters, the first in fact we've actually managed to get (it's their third apparently), and it's a doozy, washed out and warped, drowsy and druggy, but super catchy, and impossibly lush and psychedelic. The opener "Pulse" sounds like the Kinks, albeit a way more wasted version, the sound fabulously muddy and murky, melodic and catchy as all get out.
We first discovered these guys on the second Group Flex flexi-book on Castle Face, then on the Castle Face Velvet Underground tribute, and most recently, on the I Need You Bad comp on Polyvinyl. In each case, we inevitably found ourselves going straight to the Burnt Ones' tracks, and then playing them over and over. So, Gift is totally hitting the spot, a gloriously prismatic and cracked collection of paisley pop doused in LSD and sent sprawling through fields of slow motion motorik marches, hazy organ wheeze whirls, and blurred guitar shimmer, the sound super amorphous and abstract, and then without warning, the sound will suddenly come together into a blast of practically perfect baroque pop, albeit still swaddled in fuzz and buzz and hiss, in fact "Money Man" does just that, spending its first two minutes in a sort of bleary suspended animation, before erupting into a riffy, psychedelic stomp, equal parts Kinks, Beatles and Bee Gees, but then roughed up and sent careening wildly into the fray, replete with a final burst of falsetto crooning. And so it goes, the whole record lurching druggily from woozy psychedelic gem to warped dirge pop ditty, every song blossoming like some prismatic sonic flower, revealing more and more as the sounds unfurl and unwind, melodies swoop in from nowhere, hooks hover, fade out, and then suddenly pop up minutes later, lilting, chiming loveliness wrapped in grunge and gristle, there's some crazy primitive drum machine weirdness, some glammy swagger, some 8-bit bleep bloop, plenty of fuzzy synth swirl, FX all over the place, but none of the noisiness or damaged sonic weirdness can disguise the perfect poppiness lurking within pretty much every single of of these twisted psych-garage gems.
MPEG Stream: "Pulse"
MPEG Stream: "Money Man"
MPEG Stream: "Submarine"
MPEG Stream: "Bye Bye Floating Charm"
MPEG Stream: "New Heroes Of Subscription Services"

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

album cover BURNT ONES Gift (Castle Face) cd 13.98
Finally! A new full length from these psychedelic sixties style garage murk masters, the first in fact we've actually managed to get (it's their third apparently), and it's a doozy, washed out and warped, drowsy and druggy, but super catchy, and impossibly lush and psychedelic. The opener "Pulse" sounds like the Kinks, albeit a way more wasted version, the sound fabulously muddy and murky, melodic and catchy as all get out.
We first discovered these guys on the second Group Flex flexi-book on Castle Face, then on the Castle Face Velvet Underground tribute, and most recently, on the I Need You Bad comp on Polyvinyl. In each case, we inevitably found ourselves going straight to the Burnt Ones' tracks, and then playing them over and over. So, Gift is totally hitting the spot, a gloriously prismatic and cracked collection of paisley pop doused in LSD and sent sprawling through fields of slow motion motorik marches, hazy organ wheeze whirls, and blurred guitar shimmer, the sound super amorphous and abstract, and then without warning, the sound will suddenly come together into a blast of practically perfect baroque pop, albeit still swaddled in fuzz and buzz and hiss, in fact "Money Man" does just that, spending its first two minutes in a sort of bleary suspended animation, before erupting into a riffy, psychedelic stomp, equal parts Kinks, Beatles and Bee Gees, but then roughed up and sent careening wildly into the fray, replete with a final burst of falsetto crooning. And so it goes, the whole record lurching druggily from woozy psychedelic gem to warped dirge pop ditty, every song blossoming like some prismatic sonic flower, revealing more and more as the sounds unfurl and unwind, melodies swoop in from nowhere, hooks hover, fade out, and then suddenly pop up minutes later, lilting, chiming loveliness wrapped in grunge and gristle, there's some crazy primitive drum machine weirdness, some glammy swagger, some 8-bit bleep bloop, plenty of fuzzy synth swirl, FX all over the place, but none of the noisiness or damaged sonic weirdness can disguise the perfect poppiness lurking within pretty much every single of of these twisted psych-garage gems.
MPEG Stream: "Pulse"
MPEG Stream: "Money Man"
MPEG Stream: "Submarine"
MPEG Stream: "Bye Bye Floating Charm"
MPEG Stream: "New Heroes Of Subscription Services"

album cover DEADBEAT & PAUL ST HILAIRE The Infinity Dub Sessions (Blkrtz) 2lp 26.00
We've long loved Paul St Hilaire, aka Tikiman, THEE voice of minimal dub geniuses Rhythm And Sound, his gorgeous, otherworldly croon adding some serious soul to R&S' darkly digital world of gristly dubbed out, slow skitter creep, and really, if there was ever one of those 'could sing the phonebook' voices, it's St Hilaire's. Years back, St Hilaire performed with Deadbeat, aka Scott Monteith, another aQ fave, a dub scientist in Berlin by way of Canada, whose sound was and is equal parts Rhythm & Sound skeletal dig-dub, and Pole style click and pop minimalism. Over the years, Monteith and St Hilaire stayed in touch, even playing the occasional show, but this is the first proper recording the two have made together, and it's a total stunner. And as you might imagine from the above, it's pretty much just what you'd expect, a sprawling collection of gorgeous super spare electro dub, a lot like Pole crossed with Rhythm & Sound. But that sound is stretched way out, some of the tracks here almost house-y, some very Kompakt sounding, but regardless of the sonic influence or inspiration, Monteith and St Hilaire make the sound totally their own, conjuring up some spiritual musical magic that makes The Infinity Dub Sessions totally divine. Especially the first track, which is worth the $18 price tag all on its own. Maybe the most perfect, and perfectly mysterious and moody modern dub track we've heard, all woozy, thick bass rumbles, wreathed in static, deep mesmeric swells, laced with dubbed out upstroke chordal thrum, as well as the occasional dubstep style bass wobble, little bits of glitch and squelch scattered throughout, super minimal melodies drifting like bongsmoke in the background, even instrumental, this would be totally hypnotic and irresistibly mesmerizing, but add St. Hilaire's gorgeous croon, and it becomes something even more transcendent.
Nothing else is quite as dark and bass heavy, but all the tracks are tranced out, softly swirly and psychedelic, the sound simultaneously minimal and skeletal, but also deeply lush and layered, ranging from the super percussive churn of "Dopa", with some seriously twisted, echo drenched vox, to the more reggae sounding "What The Heck Them Expect", St Hilaire's vocals the focal point, the background music a dark, languorous groove. "Working Everyday" is a dubby, dreamy sprawl, all soft focus and prismatic, billowy chords drifting atop a lazily propulsive rhythm, while "Rock Of Creation" is a hazy techno-dub ballad, a field of gristly and crackle the framework for shimmery synths and hushed melodies, St Hilaire crooning seductively amidst ethereal clouds of sound. The final three tracks have a huge Kompakt vibe, but imagine if Kompakt was headquartered in Kingston, Jamaica, with The Infinity Dub Sessions a chronicle of St Hilaire and Monteith's mobile sound system, the streets of Jamaica sonically transformed into some otherworldy dream-dub dancehall.
MPEG Stream: "Hold On Strong"
MPEG Stream: "Dopa"
MPEG Stream: "What The Heck Them Expect"
MPEG Stream: "Working Everyday"

album cover PRIZEHOG Re-Unvent The Whool (Eolian Empire) lp 14.98
We were heartbroken when our pals, the local weirdo boy-girl-boy doom crush psych sludge trio Prizehog, decided to leave San Francisco, but we understood - hell, SF is a harsh place to live these days if you're not rich, and ultimately, we weren't surprised to see Prizehog settling in Portland, a city arguably much more hospitable to struggling musicians and artists, but listening to the sonic results of this move, you'd think they were transported to some alien planet, transmitting this new record via some sort of futuristic technology. Cuz holy fuck, if this band was one of our favorites already, they somehow still managed to up the musical ante, taking everything we loved about them before, and making it, well, more. More heavy, more noisy, more psychedelic, more warped, more twisted, more confusional, more proggy, more what-the-fuck, and really just more ridiculously, mindblowingly next level doom-sludge genius. We may be prone to hyperbole, but it still feels like we might be understating just how goddamn good Re-Unvent The Whool really is.
Imagine a warped doom-prog, like some alternate universe metal Magma, processed vocodered vox, tangled up in churning spaced out riffage, underpinned by droning rumbles, and laced with twisted fragmented melodies, launching occasionally into full on sludge-pop creep, like some killer Torche jam spinning in slow motion, a gloriously glacial single digit rpm onslaught, that definitely makes the usual the Harvey Milk comparisons still pretty apt, but imagine HM if they were somehow slower, druggier, proggier and more totally and confusionally WTF. Songs explode some furious grinding metal, squalls of chugging riffage, barraged by machine gun drumming, all wrapped around the bellowed alien vox. But this is doom or sludge, or some twisted avant version, so songs inevitably slow down to a tarpit crawl, swirls of sparkling sci-fi FX surround the proceedings like glittery clouds of malevolent sonic fairy dust. And that's just one song in! And it only gets more gloriously fucked up and next level from there. It's hard to describe what's even going on, cuz some of the music here is literally so unlike anything else out there. These hairy weirdos are channeling some twisted alternate universe sonic garble, and transmuting it into fucking blown out, twisted genius ultra doom, noise pop, prog-sludge nirvana.
The record seems to blackly blossom in stop motion, flitting from near stasis, to frenzied crush and back again, tribal drumming avalanches over thick, coruscating chords, synths spitting out symphonies of klaxons and alarms, the backdrop for the unfurling of an impossibly downtuned, droned out slab of multiple o'd doooooooooom dreaminess, that manages the impossible feat of being crushingly, punishingly heavy, but also, kinda pretty too. Some seriously lovely 'oooooohs' will surface in the midst of a wild chaotic squall of churning blacktar throb, or a cascade of harmonics will rain down like shooting stars over a field of grinding, corrosive crunch, it's goddamn musical alchemy, the sort of musical magic almost no bands are capable of. And then out of fucking nowhere, Prizehog will get all twangy, offering up some sort of country doom, that sounds like it should be ridiculous, and it sort of is, but it's also just about the goddamn greatest thing you'll ever hear, like Earth, Barn Owl, Morricone, Scenic, all melted down, and spit out as a creepy massively metallic Wall Of Voodoo sort of campfire crush, sounds bizarre, and it totally is, but it's a bizarre brilliance that once again, should convince pretty much any doom lover with a penchant for sonic weirdness, that these three are the sludge saviors we've been waiting for, written about in some forbidden text, a fragment from the lost metallic scriptures, and Re-Unvent The Whool, their second coming, signalling some musical rapture, where we're all engulfed in fields of musical flames, but fuck, if this is what the end sounds like, and we can only hope it is, then we say bring it on, and what a way to go.
It's hard to know what else to say, other than repeat what we've always said, Prizehog should be adored, they should be worshipped the way Harvey Milk and Boris and the Melvins are, cuz maybe at one point, Prizehog were simply kids aping their heroes, aspiring to the sludge-y genius and twisted outsider metal of those other groups, but as hard as it may be for some folks to believe, Prizehog, might have outheavied, and outweirded, and outgeniused those masters, and become masters themselves, masters of fucking alien prog-doom, long haired, psych sludge, dirge-drone, damaged art pop. Fuck yeah.
Super striking, full color, eye popping, Wildildlife-worthy cover art, swank spot varnish printed jackets, and includes a download too...
MPEG Stream: "Parradiggum"
MPEG Stream: "Whoady"
MPEG Stream: "Shed"
MPEG Stream: "Gnumskull, The Ruler"

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

album cover DEADBEAT & PAUL ST HILAIRE The Infinity Dub Sessions (Blkrtz) cd 17.98
We've long loved Paul St Hilaire, aka Tikiman, THEE voice of minimal dub geniuses Rhythm And Sound, his gorgeous, otherworldly croon adding some serious soul to R&S' darkly digital world of gristly dubbed out, slow skitter creep, and really, if there was ever one of those 'could sing the phonebook' voices, it's St Hilaire's. Years back, St Hilaire performed with Deadbeat, aka Scott Monteith, another aQ fave, a dub scientist in Berlin by way of Canada, whose sound was and is equal parts Rhythm & Sound skeletal dig-dub, and Pole style click and pop minimalism. Over the years, Monteith and St Hilaire stayed in touch, even playing the occasional show, but this is the first proper recording the two have made together, and it's a total stunner. And as you might imagine from the above, it's pretty much just what you'd expect, a sprawling collection of gorgeous super spare electro dub, a lot like Pole crossed with Rhythm & Sound. But that sound is stretched way out, some of the tracks here almost house-y, some very Kompakt sounding, but regardless of the sonic influence or inspiration, Monteith and St Hilaire make the sound totally their own, conjuring up some spiritual musical magic that makes The Infinity Dub Sessions totally divine. Especially the first track, which is worth the $18 price tag all on its own. Maybe the most perfect, and perfectly mysterious and moody modern dub track we've heard, all woozy, thick bass rumbles, wreathed in static, deep mesmeric swells, laced with dubbed out upstroke chordal thrum, as well as the occasional dubstep style bass wobble, little bits of glitch and squelch scattered throughout, super minimal melodies drifting like bongsmoke in the background, even instrumental, this would be totally hypnotic and irresistibly mesmerizing, but add St. Hilaire's gorgeous croon, and it becomes something even more transcendent.
Nothing else is quite as dark and bass heavy, but all the tracks are tranced out, softly swirly and psychedelic, the sound simultaneously minimal and skeletal, but also deeply lush and layered, ranging from the super percussive churn of "Dopa", with some seriously twisted, echo drenched vox, to the more reggae sounding "What The Heck Them Expect", St Hilaire's vocals the focal point, the background music a dark, languorous groove. "Working Everyday" is a dubby, dreamy sprawl, all soft focus and prismatic, billowy chords drifting atop a lazily propulsive rhythm, while "Rock Of Creation" is a hazy techno-dub ballad, a field of gristly and crackle the framework for shimmery synths and hushed melodies, St Hilaire crooning seductively amidst ethereal clouds of sound. The final three tracks have a huge Kompakt vibe, but imagine if Kompakt was headquartered in Kingston, Jamaica, with The Infinity Dub Sessions a chronicle of St Hilaire and Monteith's mobile sound system, the streets of Jamaica sonically transformed into some otherworldy dream-dub dancehall.
MPEG Stream: "Hold On Strong"
MPEG Stream: "Dopa"
MPEG Stream: "What The Heck Them Expect"
MPEG Stream: "Working Everyday"

album cover VOX POPULI! / PACIFIC 231 Cut Chemist Presents ... Funk Off (A Stable Sound) 2lp+7" 33.00
Somewhere in France, sometime in the '80s: a radical independent underground micro-scene peopled by creative teenagers who grew up listening to Kraftwerk, Throbbing Gristle, A Certain Ratio, Metal Urbain, and Cabaret Voltaire, making their own synth- and sample-based music, with heavy beats and noisy dubbed out FX, that's like a post-punk/industrial hybrid of old school hiphop, Detroit electro, and tape-splicing musique concrete experimentation, releasing it themselves on artfully packaged cassette tapes and occasional pieces of vinyl, in limited editions heard only by the most dedicated international networkers in that pre-internet age. Sound good? It is! That's what this release documents, remarkable DIY music that's been aptly described as "like Wild Style on dust". Or imagine some other underground '80s industrial experimentalists from France, like Le Syndicat, toning down the noise (a little) and trying to make tracks like Afrika Bambaataa.
And please don't get confused, either, 'cause noted turntablist, producer and crate digger Cut Chemist's name is on the cover. This isn't a DJ mix, or remix, or collaboration, or anything like that. Cut Chemist doesn't himself have anything to do with the music of the two closely related bands on here, Vox Populi! and Pacific 231, other than having discovered 'em on one of his record-buying excursions (specifically via finding Vox Populi!'s track "Megamix" on a rare compilation LP called Alternative Funk, released by VP!'s own Vox Man label), and then making it his mission to find out more about them and get their stuff reissued - which he did, after many years of research, and friendships forged with both Vox Populi's leader Axel Kyrou and his colleague Pierre Jolivet, whose own project Pacific 231 ran parallel to Vox Populi!, and was also an important part of the collective described above.
So, thanks to Cut Chemist, whose imprimatur will hopefully help get this music some additional well deserved attention, we've now got this fantastic anthology of twenty VP! and P231 tracks rescued & remastered from rare cassette and vinyl comps, eps, etc., with plenty of previously unreleased material too. It's a real treasure trove of headnodding, mindblowing, utterly rad stuff, what could be indeed called, "alternative funk". Make that, alternative WTF? funk. These wide-ranging tracks contain, in varying combinations and degrees, all manner of frizzled blip bloop electronics, propulsive drum machine rhythms, subversive cut-ups, spanking funk bass, gothic cold wave vocals, ambient synth trances, crazed echoing dub effects, and reel-to-reel tape manipulation (the DJ "scratching" sounds you'll hear). All we can say is, upon hearing this, we immediately understood Cut Chemist's obsession!
Musically, the French always seem to have their own unique, unusual take on things, whether it's disco or prog or black metal, and the hard-to-define genre this represents is no exception.
The thick cd booklet (or big lp insert) is full of detailed liner notes, graphics and photos, which should give one a good sense of the exciting artistic/cultural/musical milieu these folks inhabited. Highly, highly recommended. (Note, the double vinyl version comes with a bonus 7" of extra tracks, which are also included on the cd.)
MPEG Stream: VOX POPULI! "Bala Mala"
MPEG Stream: VOX POPULI! "Mind"
MPEG Stream: VOX POPULI! "Funk Off"
MPEG Stream: PACIFIC 231 "Radio Moscou/Satyriasis"

album cover WEED Deserve (Couple Skate) lp 16.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY.
The opening minute or so of "Heal", the first track on Deserve, at first blush seems like it could give very much the wrong impression of these Canadian noise poppers, although the more we listen to Deserve, the more it seems like maybe it was in fact ultimately the all together RIGHT impression. The record opens with a squall of swirling feedback, what sounds like multiple guitars unfurling layer upon layer of feedback, and even when the song kicks in proper, it's mostly a crumblingly distorted single chord, over pounding caveman drumming, until all of a sudden, that noisiness coalesces into some impossibly perfect pop, a twisted chunk of nineties style indie rock jangle, wistful and super melodic and crazy catchy, albeit, plenty noisy and fuzzy, distorted and blown out, and from there on out, the song swings deliriously from lilting, loping, Sebadoh-style lo-fi pop, to a full bore, buzzing psychedelic sort-of-chorus/refrain, howled vocals over one of those chord changes that gives you chills, the sort of thing most bands struggle to come up with, but throughout the course of Deserve, these guys seem to toss off those moments like there was some limitless supply, and who knows? Maybe for these guys there is. Deserve gives us no reason to think otherwise. But before we can get to more of those moments, the band finish off "Heal" with a full two minutes worth of abstract psychedelic feedback noise drenched drift, almost as if in the studio, they just leaned their guitars against the amps, and stepped out for a smoke. But it's that willful, listener baiting noisiness, and the fact that of "Heal"s six and a half minutes, less than three is proper 'song', that helps balance the group's popsmithery, with a sort of sneering punk rock energy, that as you might imagine, finds its way into even the poppiest moments here. And there's something about two minutes of droned out noise, that when the second track "Set Me Back" finally explodes, there's a sense of sonic relief, that only adds to what is yet another glorious slab of blown out fuzz pop, big guitars, deep crooned vocals buried in the mix, melodies to die for, and another one of those choruses, that sounds like it was plucked right out of some classic Dinosaur Jr jam, but Weed's sound is more muddy and murky, and all the better for it, swirling and psychedelic, every song here, sounds like one of those songs or one of those bands that should have been huge, but instead, stayed your little secret, the best band nobody else knew about, understood, or in most cases had ever even heard, or heard of. And that totally taps into something most music nerds hold near and dear, and positions Weed, no matter how popular they get, as the sort of band, that could easily become YOUR band.
And while there's nothing nearly as chaotic and freaked out as the opener, there is most definitely no shortage of fuzz pop bliss. "Gun Shy" is rollicking and punky, but again, crazy catchy, mixing droned out guitar, furious buzz, tangled melodies, and some super heavy, almost emo sounding noiserock blowouts. "Silent Partner" almost sounds like a slightly punkier, more youthful Swervedriver, and that shoegaze vibe surface throughout, giving all of Deserve a fantastically dreamy, druggy vibe, a sound that shifts easily from hazy, fuzzy drift, to grinding punkish pound and back again, often settling somewhere right in between, and again, amidst all this noisiness and sonic chaos, all this crunch and fuzz, blast and pound, is some of the craftiest popsmithery we've heard in ages, the sort of thing, that recast, and super polished, could have the potential to be the next big thing, thankfully, these guys seem to have no interest in that at all. The poppiness of these jams more like some sonic artifact, the seemingly random result of nothing but loud guitars, sweaty, bloody basement shows, lots of booze, youthful exuberance, and just fucking rocking, it's the perfect mix of that classic nineties indie rock sound that we can't ever seem to get enough of STILL, home brewed fuzz pop, and wild, chaotic noise rock crunch, all woven into something more fresh and and raw and punk and poppy, and it's just about the best thing we've heard in forever.
MPEG Stream: "Heal"
MPEG Stream: "Set Me Back"
MPEG Stream: "Gun Shy"
MPEG Stream: "Silent Partner"

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

album cover ECHOLOGIST Storming Heaven (Prologue) 3x12" 34.00
We continue to be obsessed with the darker side of techno and house music, the strains that are all murky and shadowy and mutated, the four on the floor beats slowed down to a dying-heartbeat pulse, most of the dancefloor sucked out of the sound, leaving just the twisted skeletal remains. Elsewhere on this week's list you'll find a new record from Lucy, whose sound is just that sort of dubbed out techno-murk we can't get enough of, but this new one from Echologist is something else all together. We just discovered this is the TENTH record by Brendon Moeller, aka Echologist, but the first one we've heard, and we are totally smitten. Not nearly as murky and dark as much of the stuff we dig, what Moeller does is, is something similar to The Field, creating super lush, layered repetition, little blurts and pulsations, bits of glitch and static, sculpted and woven into deep undulating electronic soundscapes, that only sound tangentially like proper techno, and instead, sound super tripped out and psychedelic, almost like some sort of avant experimental noise music, but in the guise of techno.
The opener here "Frequency Of Love" pretty much lays it all out, exactly what is so amazing abut Echologist and why we knew this had to be Record Of The Week. A dense field of pulsing squelch, all hazy and gauzy, some alien machine language transformed into sound, a glorious blend of droned out raga-shimmer, and percolating electro, droney and trancey, and less about the rhythm, as the texture created by the rhythm, and when the low end drops out, as it occasionally does, the sound becomes some sort of airy drift, before the low end swoops back in and the sound gets, well heavy again, for lack of a better word. But then heavy is the word for what happens next, when the sound begins to thicken, the tones all gradually descending in pitch, those sounds suddenly coalescing into a thick, buzzing drone, which grinds away malevolently, before dropping out completely, leaving just a field of glimmering chiming melody, and a hazy keening high end drone. Fuck! We say it a lot, but that track, could easily have been the whole record, and we still would have made it Record Of The Week. We're guessing it'll take some serious will power to keep from setting that track on repeat play. But you know, fuck it, go for it. Still worth the price of admission if you never make it any further in.
But if you do, you'll be rewarded with more of Echologists, haunting, propulsive and mesmeric machine music, from churning industrial crunch, to loping tranced out techno, and from squelchy and cinematic low end deep dub, to gristly static drenched skitter, and from lush, almost poppy, drone-gaze electro, to stuttery sci-fi glitch-buzz groove. But those thumbnail descriptions are only part of the equation, cuz once Moeller sets the scene, lays down the beat, loops the sample, whatever electronic voodoo he does, it's all about how the sounds develop, and pro/re-gress, tone and timbre in constant flux, the background sounds a dizzying, hyperactive soundworld all their own. The sound impossibly immersive, the sort of rare electronic music that manages to be weirdly dancefloor appropriate, while still the perfect bliss out / chill out / come down soundtrack, and equally rare in that sonically, it's way more than 'dance music' or 'techno', it's a fantastically next level mutant strain of electronica, or even more specifically, some modern minimalist avant electronic experimental soundscapery, that just happens to involve elements of techno and house music, and that we find utterly and endlessly addictive. We're guessing most of you will too...
MPEG Stream: "The Frequency Of Love"
MPEG Stream: "Next Exit"
MPEG Stream: "Storming Heaven"
MPEG Stream: "Deep Fried"
MPEG Stream: "M13 + DPO"

album cover SKEPTICS Amalgam (Captured Tracks / Flying Nun) cd 14.98
Even some New Zealand music fanatics haven't heard (or heard of) the Skeptics, a band that featured one of the Gordons, and a member of Bailter Space (the same guy actually), but that's the sort of NZ pedigree that should have most Flying Nun / NZ underground rock nerds flipping their lids. But don't be expecting the murky thud of the Gordons, or the blown out shoegaze heaviness of Bailter Space, the Skeptics occupied a whole different sonic realm, fusing the NZ sound we all know and love to something much more avant grade and experimental, with programmed rhythms and samples, the vibe almost industrial at times, the resulting sound twisted, damaged, demented and totally genius.
Both III (1987) and Amalgam (1990) have been insanely hard to track down for years now, reissued briefly in 1992 in a 4cd box set, which quickly went out of print, and immediately surfaced on the collector's market, and was not surprisingly, outrageously expensive, so we were so psyched to discover that Captured Tracks was including these records in their ongoing Flying Nun reissue campaign (and here's hoping they reissue all the other Skeptics stuff too!). So for now, we can revel in the group's 3rd and 4th records, that 4th record released after the death of David D'Ath, and the group's subsequent dissolution, but what a sonic legacy, one that long deserved the sort of love heaped upon so much other NZ music of the time.
III begins with a twisted smear of looped samples and stuttering sonics, which soon blossom into a lurching creep, snarly crooned vocals over big booming drums, wound up in streaks of distorted guitar buzz, the vibe, gloomy and dark, a sort of post industrial downer rock, that lumbers ominously, and is peppered with weird fragmented samples, melodic shards, super heavy, ominous, and intense, but also weirdly catchy. And it doesn't get any less weird, the sound veering dramatically, from the piano driven post punk of "Agitator", again peppered with strange sound FX and distorted electronics, sounding almost cabaret, like some mutated balladic torch song. "Turnover" slips back into the woozy, murky creep of the opener, the guitars thick and viscous, the vox slithery and blackly sexy, all anchored by a looped rhythm, and again, laced with strange electronic squiggles and twisted blurry samples. And so it goes, "La Motta" almost sounds like Scott Walker via the Butthole Surfers, but with a damaged industrial makeover, "Notice" too is a sort of drugged out industrial noise rock dirge, with some jagged shards of guitar, over a muddy moody downer rock murk, with the rest of the record splitting the difference between home brewed industrial goth and grinding avant post punk crush.
While Amalgam has a similar sonic template, it's a bit more polished, the vocals more prominent, the drums more driving, the pop element more up front, there's even a bit of a new wave vibe, just check out opener "And We bake", which sounds like some lost new wave classic, fused to some girding metal buzz, and twisted mechanical rhythm. But the sound remains sonically sick, the second track, slipping right back into a woozy, warmly dirge, lurching detuned weirdness, clouds of FX and squiggly alien electronics wreath rubbery bass billows, melting riffs, and mush mouthed vocals, seriously trippy and gloriously fucked up.
Amalgam is a lot more varied than its predecessor, some tracks super electronics, others smeary buzzscapes of layered guitars, and super creeped out vocal samples, new wave electro pop and grim, noise drenched sprawls of grim, harrowing, psychedelic noise. It's that balance that makes the record so cool, twisted poppiness, colliding with speaker shredding weirdness, often the two bleeding into each other, creating some unholy hybrid of avant industrial post punk psych-noise, the sort of thing the should appeal equally to weird music obsessives, adventurous goths and fans of experimental twisted noise pop. Which really is pretty much most everybody we know!
MPEG Stream: "And We Bake"
MPEG Stream: "Pack Ice"
MPEG Stream: "Never Tire Of Looking At The Stars"

album cover SKEPTICS III (Captured Tracks / Flying Nun) cd 14.98
Even some New Zealand music fanatics haven't heard (or heard of) the Skeptics, a band that featured one of the Gordons, and a member of Bailter Space (the same guy actually), but that's the sort of NZ pedigree that should have most Flying Nun / NZ underground rock nerds flipping their lids. But don't be expecting the murky thud of the Gordons, or the blown out shoegaze heaviness of Bailter Space, the Skeptics occupied a whole different sonic realm, fusing the NZ sound we all know and love to something much more avant grade and experimental, with programmed rhythms and samples, the vibe almost industrial at times, the resulting sound twisted, damaged, demented and totally genius.
Both III (1987) and Amalgam (1990) have been insanely hard to track down for years now, reissued briefly in 1992 in a 4cd box set, which quickly went out of print, and immediately surfaced on the collector's market, and was not surprisingly, outrageously expensive, so we were so psyched to discover that Captured Tracks was including these records in their ongoing Flying Nun reissue campaign (and here's hoping they reissue all the other Skeptics stuff too!). So for now, we can revel in the group's 3rd and 4th records, that 4th record released after the death of David D'Ath, and the group's subsequent dissolution, but what a sonic legacy, one that long deserved the sort of love heaped upon so much other NZ music of the time.
III begins with a twisted smear of looped samples and stuttering sonics, which soon blossom into a lurching creep, snarly crooned vocals over big booming drums, wound up in streaks of distorted guitar buzz, the vibe, gloomy and dark, a sort of post industrial downer rock, that lumbers ominously, and is peppered with weird fragmented samples, melodic shards, super heavy, ominous, and intense, but also weirdly catchy. And it doesn't get any less weird, the sound veering dramatically, from the piano driven post punk of "Agitator", again peppered with strange sound FX and distorted electronics, sounding almost cabaret, like some mutated balladic torch song. "Turnover" slips back into the woozy, murky creep of the opener, the guitars thick and viscous, the vox slithery and blackly sexy, all anchored by a looped rhythm, and again, laced with strange electronic squiggles and twisted blurry samples. And so it goes, "La Motta" almost sounds like Scott Walker via the Butthole Surfers, but with a damaged industrial makeover, "Notice" too is a sort of drugged out industrial noise rock dirge, with some jagged shards of guitar, over a muddy moody downer rock murk, with the rest of the record splitting the difference between home brewed industrial goth and grinding avant post punk crush.
While Amalgam has a similar sonic template, it's a bit more polished, the vocals more prominent, the drums more driving, the pop element more up front, there's even a bit of a new wave vibe, just check out opener "And We bake", which sounds like some lost new wave classic, fused to some girding metal buzz, and twisted mechanical rhythm. But the sound remains sonically sick, the second track, slipping right back into a woozy, warmly dirge, lurching detuned weirdness, clouds of FX and squiggly alien electronics wreath rubbery bass billows, melting riffs, and mush mouthed vocals, seriously trippy and gloriously fucked up.
Amalgam is a lot more varied than its predecessor, some tracks super electronics, others smeary buzzscapes of layered guitars, and super creeped out vocal samples, new wave electro pop and grim, noise drenched sprawls of grim, harrowing, psychedelic noise. It's that balance that makes the record so cool, twisted poppiness, colliding with speaker shredding weirdness, often the two bleeding into each other, creating some unholy hybrid of avant industrial post punk psych-noise, the sort of thing the should appeal equally to weird music obsessives, adventurous goths and fans of experimental twisted noise pop. Which really is pretty much most everybody we know!
MPEG Stream: "Feeling Bad"
MPEG Stream: "Agitator"
MPEG Stream: "Turnover"
MPEG Stream: "La Motta"

album cover DAMAGED BUG Hubba Bubba (Castle Face) cd 13.98
We had been hearing about this for a while, John Dwyer of Thee Oh Sees' 'electro synth pop' solo record, and while we were envisioning lots of things, it wasn't this. It's definitely electro pop, lots of synths, and programmed rhythms, but there's still plenty of the fuzzy, jangly garage pop of Thee Oh Sees, and Dwyer's songwriting is in fine form, so much so, that this is fast becoming our favorite set of Dwyer jams in ages. Listen to opener "Gloves For Garbage" and you'll know just what we mean. Ostensibly, it could really have been an Oh Sees song proper, just with more synths, but it reveals itself as something else entirely, a gorgeous chunk of gloomy pop, with some of the catchiest hooks we've yet heard from Dwyer, the vocals delivered in an uncharacteristically deep, dramatic croon, plenty of clean guitar jangle and simple drumming, surrounded by pulsing, fuzzy synths, not to mention an end of song breakdown where things crumble into a cool churning sprawl of motorik kosmische, Dwyer's vocals draped over the top, totally blissed out electro-gloom, goth pop that we can't stop listening to. So much so, that it took 4 or 5 listens before we even made it to the next song. And if you need more clues as to what Damaged Bug is all about, the most telling is probably the inclusion of a painting of Brian Eno included in the record's futuristic psych-ship cockpit cover art, cuz if you can imagine Eno as a SF garage rocker / synth wrangler, you wouldn't be that far off the mark.
And the rest of the record, maybe unsurprisingly, is just as good. "Eggs At Night" sounds like a more lo-fi version of something you could hear on the radio. Instead of the swoonsome moody distorted vocals, you can almost imagine some overproduced diva, but instead, it remains a quirky little electro pop gem, with some mid-song synth swirl that transforms the song into some alternate universe John Hughes misunderstood-teen movie anthem.
There's another side to Damaged Bug, which is a serious krautrock obsession, which first pops up via the unabashed Neu! / Kraftwerk worship of "SS Cassidinea", all motorik pulse and psych-kraut throb, but continues to surface throughout. There's plenty of Radiophonic Workshop style bloop and bleep, often wound around woozy primitive electro pop creep, the result strangely dark, all moody and broody, but that's balanced by plenty of spaced out, synth driven fuzz pop, with awesome swaths of thick, rib cage rattling low end, but before you know it, the sound swoops back into some warped electronic kraut-pop, complete with some weirdly effected vocals that sound almost Germanic, and remind us of a certain infamous Dwyer project of old, Zeigenbock Kopf, but this isn't nearly so leather-y and Teutonic, instead, Damaged Bug slips easily from billowy and dreamy in places, like on the super spaced out sonic fever dream of "1/2 An Airplane", to gurgly, rumbling synth-doom dirgery like on "Metal Hand", the dirge-y doominess somehow blossoming into another gorgeous tranced out sprawl of kraut-synth mesmer. And yeah, it's an electro pop record, so there are of course some vocodered vox, but they're usually all tangled up in sounds not so distinctly electro pop, whether it's spaced out rhythmic skitter, fuzzy, garage-y jangle, or shimmering, pulsing drones. The record finishes off with a heady, hypnotic blast of wild, chaotic, non-programmed, actual drumming, pounding away through fields of lazer zap squiggles and thick, fuzzy, squelches, almost like some free-synth freakout, but not noisy, just sorta swirly and psychedelic and totally hypnotic, and then the vocals come in, and the song quickly takes the shape of yet another practically perfect. dreamily dour electro pop gem, but only briefly, before disappearing in one final swirl of electronic starburst swirl...
MPEG Stream: "Gloves For Garbage"
MPEG Stream: "Eggs At Night"
MPEG Stream: "Hubba Bubba"
MPEG Stream: "1/2 An Airplane"

album cover DAMAGED BUG Hubba Bubba (Castle Face) lp 15.98
We had been hearing about this for a while, John Dwyer of Thee Oh Sees' 'electro synth pop' solo record, and while we were envisioning lots of things, it wasn't this. It's definitely electro pop, lots of synths, and programmed rhythms, but there's still plenty of the fuzzy, jangly garage pop of Thee Oh Sees, and Dwyer's songwriting is in fine form, so much so, that this is fast becoming our favorite set of Dwyer jams in ages. Listen to opener "Gloves For Garbage" and you'll know just what we mean. Ostensibly, it could really have been an Oh Sees song proper, just with more synths, but it reveals itself as something else entirely, a gorgeous chunk of gloomy pop, with some of the catchiest hooks we've yet heard from Dwyer, the vocals delivered in an uncharacteristically deep, dramatic croon, plenty of clean guitar jangle and simple drumming, surrounded by pulsing, fuzzy synths, not to mention an end of song breakdown where things crumble into a cool churning sprawl of motorik kosmische, Dwyer's vocals draped over the top, totally blissed out electro-gloom, goth pop that we can't stop listening to. So much so, that it took 4 or 5 listens before we even made it to the next song. And if you need more clues as to what Damaged Bug is all about, the most telling is probably the inclusion of a painting of Brian Eno included in the record's futuristic psych-ship cockpit cover art, cuz if you can imagine Eno as a SF garage rocker / synth wrangler, you wouldn't be that far off the mark.
And the rest of the record, maybe unsurprisingly, is just as good. "Eggs At Night" sounds like a more lo-fi version of something you could hear on the radio. Instead of the swoonsome moody distorted vocals, you can almost imagine some overproduced diva, but instead, it remains a quirky little electro pop gem, with some mid-song synth swirl that transforms the song into some alternate universe John Hughes misunderstood-teen movie anthem.
There's another side to Damaged Bug, which is a serious krautrock obsession, which first pops up via the unabashed Neu! / Kraftwerk worship of "SS Cassidinea", all motorik pulse and psych-kraut throb, but continues to surface throughout. There's plenty of Radiophonic Workshop style bloop and bleep, often wound around woozy primitive electro pop creep, the result strangely dark, all moody and broody, but that's balanced by plenty of spaced out, synth driven fuzz pop, with awesome swaths of thick, rib cage rattling low end, but before you know it, the sound swoops back into some warped electronic kraut-pop, complete with some weirdly effected vocals that sound almost Germanic, and remind us of a certain infamous Dwyer project of old, Zeigenbock Kopf, but this isn't nearly so leather-y and Teutonic, instead, Damaged Bug slips easily from billowy and dreamy in places, like on the super spaced out sonic fever dream of "1/2 An Airplane", to gurgly, rumbling synth-doom dirgery like on "Metal Hand", the dirge-y doominess somehow blossoming into another gorgeous tranced out sprawl of kraut-synth mesmer. And yeah, it's an electro pop record, so there are of course some vocodered vox, but they're usually all tangled up in sounds not so distinctly electro pop, whether it's spaced out rhythmic skitter, fuzzy, garage-y jangle, or shimmering, pulsing drones. The record finishes off with a heady, hypnotic blast of wild, chaotic, non-programmed, actual drumming, pounding away through fields of lazer zap squiggles and thick, fuzzy, squelches, almost like some free-synth freakout, but not noisy, just sorta swirly and psychedelic and totally hypnotic, and then the vocals come in, and the song quickly takes the shape of yet another practically perfect. dreamily dour electro pop gem, but only briefly, before disappearing in one final swirl of electronic starburst swirl...
MPEG Stream: "Gloves For Garbage"
MPEG Stream: "Eggs At Night"
MPEG Stream: "Hubba Bubba"
MPEG Stream: "1/2 An Airplane"

album cover NADLER, MARISSA July (Sacred Bones) lp 15.98
For her first record for Sacred Bones, Marissa Nadler has put together a pretty heavy hitting band, one that features folks like Steve Moore of Zombi, and Eyvind Kang, but really, Nadler doesn't need anyone but her own bad self, her gorgeous, haunting vocals, and delicate guitar playing are practically perfect. Just check out opener "Drive (Fade Into)", the first two minutes of which are just Nadler singing and playing guitars, spare and sparse, ethereal and so lovely, lush, lustrous harmonies, the Mazzy Star vibe which was always present, is huge here, in the phrasing, the timbre of Nadler's voice, occasionally layered into gorgeous multi-tracked harmonies, and while we would have been happy with a solo acoustic record, the band deftly, and quite subtle, add perfect sonic colorations, soft streaks of feedback, shimmery swells of pedal steel, the final stretch all twang flecked and dusky.
From there on out, Nadler and her band deliver one gorgeous song after another, some funereal and somber, dark, dolorous torch songs, others dark slowcore dirges, others darkly dreamy psychedelic country. A few favorites include "1923", laced with Kang's lilting strings, the track peppered with bits of effects dusted guitar swirl, all driven by some gorgeously languid, muted percussion, gloomy downer pop bliss via classic old time songsmithery, or "Dead City Emily", with Nadler's vocals soaring over a tangle of steel string buzz, everything wreathed in echo and reverb, with some surprising bits of piano and synth, the song blossoming into something impossibly expansive and lush, or the haunting dark country of "Desire", which sounds like it could have been performed by Mark Lanegan or David Eugene Edwards from Woven Hand, but at the same time, it couldn't have been anyone but Nadler.
We've loved pretty much everything we've heard, and have raved about almost all of her records, but July definitely takes Nadler's sound, her voice, her songs, to the next level, and positions her as one of this generations most stunning songwriters. Certainly fans of Chelsea Wolfe and Zola Jesus will no doubt love Nadler, if they don't already, but Nadler's sound is much more pure, more classic, some of the songs here do of course have moments of gothiness, and gloominess, but it definitely transcends any micro genre classification, and manages to arrive at something truly timeless, and will definitely be vying for top spots on lots of folks best of 2014 year end lists, even though it's only February.
Fantastic!
MPEG Stream: "Drive (Fade Into)"
MPEG Stream: "1923"
MPEG Stream: "Dead City Emily"
MPEG Stream: "Desire"
MPEG Stream: "Anyone Else"

album cover OH SEES, THEE The Master's Bedroom Is Worth Spending A Night In / Help (Burger) cassette 5.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY.
Another very affordable, but limited, 2-fer cassette from Thee Oh Sees, this time with both 2008's full band debut The Master's Bedroom Is Worth Spending A Night In, and 2009's Help (an AQ Record Of The Week!). Limited to 250 copies, act fast!!!
Here's our massive original reviews of those two records...
Master's Bedroom: The Oh Sees have changed a lot since they were the OCS. Back then, Oh Sees frontman John Dwyer had his Coachwhips, a wild sweat soaked, garage stomp party, furious and frenzied, throbbing and in-the-red, so OCS was the outlet for Dwyer to explore the other sides of his multiple musical personality. The debut OCS record (released on tUMULt) was two discs, one of mostly solo acoustic guitar, a super intimate bedroom folk, all dusty and crackly, warm and super intimate, bits of damaged Casio, warbly old vinyl, damaged FX, lovingly crafted into some sort of heartfelt lo-fi sonic loveletter. The other disc was more noisy, super abstract, blown out blasts of free jazz weirdness, drones and rumbles, howling feedback, white noise, pink noise, and every color in between. OCS 2, 3 and 4 followed a similar pattern, a sort of lonely lo-fi homebrewed indie folk, off kilter and melancholy, wistful, damaged and dreamy.
But with the dissolution of the Coachwhips, came a name change for OCS, now The Ohsees, or sometimes The Oh Sees, a change in sound, and a transformation into a full band.
While not as freaked out and furious as the Coachwhips, the Oh Sees new record sounds more like the long lost CW's than any of Dwyer's records since. Garage-y jangle, shuffling drums, the vocals distorted, the songs simple and stripped down, but the big difference is that here Dwyer splits the vocals with bandmate Brigid Dawson, the result is truly endearing harmonies, with Dwyer often the wailing counterpoint to Dawson's sweet angelic croon. And songs that sometimes sound like alien versions of that classic Phil Spector girl group sound. But at its heart, the sound is still fuzzy and buzzy and skeletal, groovy and garage rocky, wouldn't be hard to imagine this disc on In The Red, or see these guys on tour with the Dirtbombs or the Country Teasers or the Husbands. (Bonus points for having a song about aQ pal and local artist extraordinaire Maria Forde!)
Help: Listening to Help, it's almost impossible to hear anything but mere traces of the chaotic noise rock path John Dwyer followed to make it to Thee Oh Sees (aka OCS, and Ohsees), but it's that noisy past, and penchant for musical shit stirring, that informs the jangly garage pop on Help, and transforms the band's jangle and shuffle and pound into near perfect buzzy fuzzy catchy retro pop, and makes it easily the best Oh Sees record yet. And a definite contended for (garage) pop record of the year.
Most of us were introduced to Dwyer via his two piece noise rock costume rock combo Pink And Brown (after brief stints in some well known Providence outfits), but unlike most of the costumed joke bands at the time, P&B offered some serious songsmithery along with the unhinged live shows and audience baiting. A brief stint drumming for SF grindlords Burmese led directly into the band that brought Dwyer to worldwide attention, the Coachwhips. Arguably one of the best live bands around, the Coachwhips made up for what they lacked in actual songs with sweat and alcohol soaked performances, utter chaos, and sometimes literally, ultra destructive houseshows. Coachwhips shows were all about the energy, the vibe, jumping around, flailing wildly, getting wrecked and having a blast. Sometimes though, that energy was difficult to translate to home listening. Take away the sweaty throng and the deafening volume and, well why would you want to do that?
And so came the Oh Sees, originally called OCS, and a double cd release on Andee's tUMULt label a few years back, essentially a solo record, one disc of folky fluttery lo-fi twang flecked pop, another of corrosive textured noise experiments, which ended up being, for many of us, one of our favorite post Pink And Brown Dwyer documents. OCS transformed into The Oh Sees and became a real band, and seemed poised to follow in the sonic footsteps of the Coachwhips, stripped down garage rock, super lo-fi, lost of brittle high end, yelped distorted vocals, tribal drumming, but there was definitely something more, more refined, more catchy, more timeless sounding, something much more than garage rock, a sound that reminded us of sixties girl groups, of Phil Spector productions, raw and primal, but lush and expansive and catchy. But that catchy lush side of the Oh Sees remained hidden beneath squalls of tweeter abuse and fractured effects, a wall of fuzz and buzz more than an actual wall of sound. Until now.
Help finds the band making their first record for garage rock stalwarts In The Red, which is ironic as this is Thee Oh Sees' least typically garage rock record yet. Instead, the sound is total pop, plucked fresh from a time capsule buried in the sixties, the guitars jangle as much as crunch, lots of reverb, the vocals wreathed in a haze of delay, lots of female vox, the choruses are lush, the drums are still tribal, but much more measured, often quite spare, the arrangements though are anything but classic, sometimes getting super abstract, but never losing their catchiness, sometimes adding all sorts of extra distorted overload, but just as quickly slipping into something smooth and groovy. Minus the weird moments and the fucked up productions, some of these songs do really sound like they were just transported forward four decades.
"Meat Step Lively" starts off all Cramps-y, with a fuzzy grinding main riff, simple pounding rhythm, but adds some awesome female vocals and background 'ooooohs', some spidery lead guitars, and coolest of all breaks it down with about a minute to go into a swinging sixties smoke-y jazzy flute flecked groove. "The Turn Around" is a minute of blown out drum damage and fractured effects, but wrapped around a sing songy main riff, and some cool distorted and reverbed vox, in total Guided By Voices fashion, they truncate what could have been the jam of the record, and launch into "Can You See", which is all slithery and washed out, with angelic background vocals, shuffling drums, and a cool dreamy bridge, but the whole thing still manages to sound ominous and intense and weirdly sexy.
The record closes with "Peanut Butter Oven", which we first heard on the recent (and sadly now out of print) Awesome Vistas 12", and it's obvious why this was the single, it definitely is THE jam of the record, with it's simple stripped down jangle, workmanlike drum beat, and soaring minor key strings, and let's not forget the gorgeous harmony vocals draped over the singing strings and that irresistible main riff.
And so it goes, every track here is a gem, each one offers up something new, some twisted take on that classic sixties garage rock sound, but it's that sound revved up and filtered through Dwyer's gloriously cracked pop sensibilities, bathed in buzz and fuzz or stripped way down and left shimmery and crystalline, sometimes wrapped in HUGE hooks or allowed to simmer and slither, the catchiness subtle yet so irresistible, and unlike past efforts, even at its noisiest, the noise element seems more an organic part of the sound, and is often shaped into something barely recognizable as noisy.
We knew Dwyer and company had it in them, and now they've proven it, BIG TIME. Dying to see what they come up with next, if they could possibly one up this here disc, but hell, for now, Help has us way satisfied. And records like these are exactly why they invented that repeat button on your cd player. Folks with turntable will just have to get up and flip the record over and over and over, again and again and again.
WAY recommended.
MPEG Stream: "Block Of Ice"
MPEG Stream: "Visit Colonel"
MPEG Stream: "Maria Stacks"
MPEG Stream: "Meat Step Lively"
MPEG Stream: "Ruby Go Home"
MPEG Stream: "Rainbow"

album cover PYE CORNER AUDIO Black Mill Tapes Volumes 1-4 (Type ) 3cd 26.00
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY.
It is a red letter day for us here at aQ, in that we finally actually get to write about and sell you a Pye Corner Audio release instead of lamenting the fact that our supplier for PCA recordings only sent us a fraction of what we had initially wanted - or is more often the case, that it sold out completely before we could get our hands on ANY. To be sure, over the past couple of years, a few of Pye Corner's releases have slipped in and out of the shop, leaving just an ectoplasmic stain of picture-perfect electronic retro-futurism on our collective minds; and it also seems fitting that Pye Corner Audio released an album of his hauntological disco on the Ghost Box label, which again we've never gotten enough of to list. But now, hurrah, we have this!! As the title specifies, this triple cd set collects the first four volumes of Pye Corner Audio's Black Mill Tapes, which were originally released on vinyl as a couple of double lp sets which are (as noted) long gone.
Pye Corner Audio is the work of audio wizard Martin Jenkins, who is one of the in-house engineers at Miloco Studios in London where he works alongside the likes of Alan Moulder, Flood, and Trevor Jackson - yeah, top flight producers for sure. It's obvious that the work of Pye Corner Audio did not develop in a bubble, as there are very clear ideas and a fully formed sound language that is very savvy in its references to Delia Derbyshire's sci-fi electronics, the autobahn precision of Kraftwerk's songwriting, John Carpenter's bold synth melodies, and the bad-ass swagger of Detroit techno. In a rare interview, Jenkins described the working methods of PCA as being quickly sketched-out variations onto quarter inch tape and even four-track cassettes with a couple of no-name Japanese monosynths and a drum machine. He continues that "I definitely embrace imperfection. In my days as an engineer, I spent so much time polishing performances and correcting mistakes that I realised it made for pretty sterile recordings. I also felt extremely liberated after coming to the realisation that there is no absolute final version of a song. There are just alternative interpretations. Once I stopped chasing that elusive perfection, things eased massively."
Through those monosynths and simple step sequencers, Jenkins builds a unique, forgotten sound of alien ambient passages made foggy through an almost Basinski-like approach to tape disintegration punctuated with crackingly good Italo-disco jams. These rhythms are where Pye Corner Audio really shines, presenting a whipcrack / leather-glove seduction that comes straight out of the Throbbing Gristle playbook for "Hot On The Heels Of Love", but if those four somehow had an imagined electronic music summit with John Carpenter at the other side of the table trying to score a soundtrack for Cronenberg with none of those super-egos getting in the way of each other. Yeah, this stuff is timeless. Just fucking timeless.
MPEG Stream: "We Have Visitors"
MPEG Stream: "Electronic Rhythm Number Seven"
MPEG Stream: "Hexden Channel"
MPEG Stream: "Void Bounds"
MPEG Stream: "Evil Surrounds"

album cover HAVE A NICE LIFE The Unnatural World (Enemies List / Flenser) lp 17.98
The first release from this twisted avant shoegaze, black-doom, new wave, industrial psych pop duo, Deathconsciousness, was a sprawling double disc, complete with a huge book filled with lyrics and obscure text, strange illustrations, sonically and conceptually it was utterly stunning, we had been getting emails about that band and record for months before we got our hands on copies, and in our review of that record, we proclaimed that it really SHOULD have been a Record Of The Week, but the band decided to stop making copies, and we had the last copies ever. We were so obsessed with the record that at one point it was even slated to be reissued on Andee's tUMULt label too, but sadly, that never came to fruition either, and we hadn't heard much from Have A Nice Life since, a tape, a cd-r of outtakes, a few live performances, we began fearing the worst, that Deathconsciousness was the first and final proper record we'd hear from these guys.
But now, six years later, local label The Flenser continues their shift from black metal to twisted dark pop and avant heaviness, and reveal a brand new Have A Nice Life record, and we get to right that old wrong, and finally make Have A Nice Life our Record Of The Week, cuz the new record is really damn near as good as the first. And sonically a good fit for The Flenser too, their new even less metal sound settling somewhere right between outfits like Aussie black-jangle noise poppers Loss Of Self and math-doom electro-sludge goth rockers Wreck And Reference. And yeah, HANL were really never metal, and now, they seem to have settled into a sound that's equal part gloomy death rock, noisy jangle pop and nineties style shoegaze, with a weird lo-fi production, almost entirely clean vocals, lots of angular guitars, reverb heavy goth rock drumming, and huge thick swirls of crumbling distortion and psychedelic freakout guitars. The record opens with "Guggenheim Wax Museum", a heady blast of fuzzy, super distorted dirge pop, blown out and shoegazey, with deep, dramatic vocals, and wild squalls of swirling psychedelic noise, like a slo-mo Godspeed fused to a blackened My Bloody Valentine, which bleeds right into "Defenestration Song" a super melodic, gloomy, goth pop gem, all thick fuzzy bass, a little Joy Division, molded into a sort of post industrial doom-gaze death rock with some super dramatic, almost emo vox.
"Burial Society" sets moody pianos amidst a slowly skittering drum machine, beneath crooned hushed vocals, buzzing guitars, sounding almost like a darker, meaner, more underground Deftones (which is a VERY good thing by the way), the same sort of goth informed, dramatic metallic pop, but filtered through a much more fractured and fucked up sonic filter, laced with some surprising vocal oooh's and aaah's that add even more poppiness. "Music Will Untune The Sky" unfurls as a creepy raga like drone, keening, wailing vox, heaving low end swells, lush and layered, slowly blossoming into something darkly melodic and prismatic, before slipping into the confusionally chaotic opening to "Cropsey", a tangle of overlapping samples, buried muted rhythms, chiming barely there melodies, before the song finally explodes in a frenzy of tribal drumming, swirling strings, and more strident death rock vox. "Unholy Life" is some serious, total eighties style goth pop, a little bit new wavey, echo drenched drums, minor key melodies, but with some cool angular metallic guitars, and a wild noisy, psychedelic shoegaze second half, which gets gloriously blown out and blissed out. "Dan And Tim" cranks up the mathy post punk, sinewy and slithery, before transforming into more hazy gloom pop shimmer, the mathiness of the opener continually churning away beneath ethereal swaths of fuzzy guitar and heavily reverbed vocals, blurry and bleary. And finally, closer "Emptiness Will Eat The Witch" is all hushed and dreamlike, buried melodies and muted shimmer, all beneath a hypnotic drone, that shifts subtly, changing timbre and tone, vocals surfacing, the sound coalescing into some dour pop dreaminess, but still darkly droney, it's not until 5 minutes in that the song truly takes off, but instead of exploding into something heavy, the vocals soar and swirl, thick clouds of dreamy, droney vocal harmonies, pulsing and pulsating, peppered with strange abstract percussion, before settling into one final drift, haunting, and hypnotic, and darkly and dreamily mysterious.
So goddamn great, and while it was totally worth the six year wait, let's hope we don't have to wait that long for more...
MPEG Stream: "Guggenhein Wax Museum"
MPEG Stream: "Defenstration Song"
MPEG Stream: "Burial Society"
MPEG Stream: "Unholy Life"
MPEG Stream: "Emptiness Will Eat The Witch"

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

album cover NADLER, MARISSA July (Sacred Bones) cd 14.98
For her first record for Sacred Bones, Marissa Nadler has put together a pretty heavy hitting band, one that features folks like Steve Moore of Zombi, and Eyvind Kang, but really, Nadler doesn't need anyone but her own bad self, her gorgeous, haunting vocals, and delicate guitar playing are practically perfect. Just check out opener "Drive (Fade Into)", the first two minutes of which are just Nadler singing and playing guitars, spare and sparse, ethereal and so lovely, lush, lustrous harmonies, the Mazzy Star vibe which was always present, is huge here, in the phrasing, the timbre of Nadler's voice, occasionally layered into gorgeous multi-tracked harmonies, and while we would have been happy with a solo acoustic record, the band deftly, and quite subtle, add perfect sonic colorations, soft streaks of feedback, shimmery swells of pedal steel, the final stretch all twang flecked and dusky.
From there on out, Nadler and her band deliver one gorgeous song after another, some funereal and somber, dark, dolorous torch songs, others dark slowcore dirges, others darkly dreamy psychedelic country. A few favorites include "1923", laced with Kang's lilting strings, the track peppered with bits of effects dusted guitar swirl, all driven by some gorgeously languid, muted percussion, gloomy downer pop bliss via classic old time songsmithery, or "Dead City Emily", with Nadler's vocals soaring over a tangle of steel string buzz, everything wreathed in echo and reverb, with some surprising bits of piano and synth, the song blossoming into something impossibly expansive and lush, or the haunting dark country of "Desire", which sounds like it could have been performed by Mark Lanegan or David Eugene Edwards from Woven Hand, but at the same time, it couldn't have been anyone but Nadler.
We've loved pretty much everything we've heard, and have raved about almost all of her records, but July definitely takes Nadler's sound, her voice, her songs, to the next level, and positions her as one of this generations most stunning songwriters. Certainly fans of Chelsea Wolfe and Zola Jesus will no doubt love Nadler, if they don't already, but Nadler's sound is much more pure, more classic, some of the songs here do of course have moments of gothiness, and gloominess, but it definitely transcends any micro genre classification, and manages to arrive at something truly timeless, and will definitely be vying for top spots on lots of folks best of 2014 year end lists, even though it's only February.
Fantastic!
MPEG Stream: "Drive (Fade Into)"
MPEG Stream: "1923"
MPEG Stream: "Dead City Emily"
MPEG Stream: "Desire"
MPEG Stream: "Anyone Else"

album cover ECHOLOGIST Storming Heaven (Prologue) cd 17.98
We continue to be obsessed with the darker side of techno and house music, the strains that are all murky and shadowy and mutated, the four on the floor beats slowed down to a dying-heartbeat pulse, most of the dancefloor sucked out of the sound, leaving just the twisted skeletal remains. Elsewhere on this week's list you'll find a new record from Lucy, whose sound is just that sort of dubbed out techno-murk we can't get enough of, but this new one from Echologist is something else all together. We just discovered this is the TENTH record by Brendon Moeller, aka Echologist, but the first one we've heard, and we are totally smitten. Not nearly as murky and dark as much of the stuff we dig, what Moeller does is, is something similar to The Field, creating super lush, layered repetition, little blurts and pulsations, bits of glitch and static, sculpted and woven into deep undulating electronic soundscapes, that only sound tangentially like proper techno, and instead, sound super tripped out and psychedelic, almost like some sort of avant experimental noise music, but in the guise of techno.
The opener here "Frequency Of Love" pretty much lays it all out, exactly what is so amazing abut Echologist and why we knew this had to be Record Of The Week. A dense field of pulsing squelch, all hazy and gauzy, some alien machine language transformed into sound, a glorious blend of droned out raga-shimmer, and percolating electro, droney and trancey, and less about the rhythm, as the texture created by the rhythm, and when the low end drops out, as it occasionally does, the sound becomes some sort of airy drift, before the low end swoops back in and the sound gets, well heavy again, for lack of a better word. But then heavy is the word for what happens next, when the sound begins to thicken, the tones all gradually descending in pitch, those sounds suddenly coalescing into a thick, buzzing drone, which grinds away malevolently, before dropping out completely, leaving just a field of glimmering chiming melody, and a hazy keening high end drone. Fuck! We say it a lot, but that track, could easily have been the whole record, and we still would have made it Record Of The Week. We're guessing it'll take some serious will power to keep from setting that track on repeat play. But you know, fuck it, go for it. Still worth the price of admission if you never make it any further in.
But if you do, you'll be rewarded with more of Echologists, haunting, propulsive and mesmeric machine music, from churning industrial crunch, to loping tranced out techno, and from squelchy and cinematic low end deep dub, to gristly static drenched skitter, and from lush, almost poppy, drone-gaze electro, to stuttery sci-fi glitch-buzz groove. But those thumbnail descriptions are only part of the equation, cuz once Moeller sets the scene, lays down the beat, loops the sample, whatever electronic voodoo he does, it's all about how the sounds develop, and pro/re-gress, tone and timbre in constant flux, the background sounds a dizzying, hyperactive soundworld all their own. The sound impossibly immersive, the sort of rare electronic music that manages to be weirdly dancefloor appropriate, while still the perfect bliss out / chill out / come down soundtrack, and equally rare in that sonically, it's way more than 'dance music' or 'techno', it's a fantastically next level mutant strain of electronica, or even more specifically, some modern minimalist avant electronic experimental soundscapery, that just happens to involve elements of techno and house music, and that we find utterly and endlessly addictive. We're guessing most of you will too...
MPEG Stream: "The Frequency Of Love"
MPEG Stream: "Next Exit"
MPEG Stream: "Storming Heaven"
MPEG Stream: "Deep Fried"
MPEG Stream: "M13 + DPO"

album cover DEMDIKE STARE Tryptych (Modern Love) 3cd 22.00
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY.
REISSUED! After being out of print for over a year or more, all three compact disc format releases by these aQ fave hauntologists have been repressed, two of the three now in new packaging (jewel cases instead of elaborate digi-sleeves) and at a lower prices! So, needless to say, if you somehow missed out on any of these before, two of which have been aQ Records Of The Week, we're very happy to present 'em to you now. All three - Symbiosis, Tryptych, and Elemental - are highly recommended. Read on...
Finally, Demdike Stare's dark and dizzying, murky and mysterious hauntological black dub triptych, previously available via three separate slabs of now very out of print vinyl, is now available on cd, gathered up into a single, nicely packaged triple disc set. And loaded with bonus tracks (nearly 40 minutes extra all told), which makes this pretty much a shoe-in for Record Of The Week...
Demdike Stare are one of the few bands who seem to be a unanimous aQ favorite, everyone here LOVES these guys, and judging on how many of the various lps we've sold, everyone out there does too. Which makes sense, when you consider, DS basically create a kind of black metal dubstep, or as we (and others) like to describe it, a blackened dub record on Chain Reaction. Either one should give you an idea of the sort of dark sonic energy these guys conjure up. Thick claustrophobic atmospheres, skeletal rhythms, thick throbbing bass, skittering dubbed out beats, disembodied voices, stuttering minimal sort-of-dubstep, looped and processed African folk music (??), swirling glitched out electronics, deeeep pulsing dronemusic, reverb drenched post-rock-via-techno skitter, all woven into a swirling organic mass of dub flecked blacktronica, dark and sinister and dubby, and weirdly house-y, sprawling and epic and creepy and so totally sweeping and cinematic.
The first disc, Forest Of Evil, was originally two sidelong tracks, the first starts out all deep shimmer, with a softly melodic buzz, spidery acoustic guitars, long stretches of billowy black ambience, bits of shuffly jazzy drift, peppered with thick shards of buzzy fractured dub bass and Kompakt style skitter, giving way to glistening late night techno, whirling pop ambient, and blissed out ethereal dronemusic, while the second is darkly dramatic, epic and majestic, like some lost Italian soundtrack, big drums, orchestral and ominous, looped samples, blurred melodic smears over deep pulsing bass, whirling clouds of cymbal shimmer, insectoid FX buzz, jumbled atonal melodies (hints of Bernard Herrmann), the vibe tense and haunting, with some dubstep bass buzz, that slowly dissolves into a Caretaker like outro, all layered strings wreathed in hiss and crackle, hazy and druggy and divine. The bonus track "Quiet Sky" conjures up just what the title implies, a quiet sky, but a dark, bruised midnight sky, flecked with stars, soft swirls of metallic shimmer like gauzy clouds, the song gradually developing a strange minimal hiccuppy rhythm, underpinning the deep melancholic swells, a strange almost industrial tinged bit of pop ambience.
The second disc, Liberation Through Hearing, is thematically related to the Book Of The Dead, and focuses on the space between death and rebirth. Rendered in greys and blacks, in buzz and rumble, beginning with some woozy late night Portishead style downtempo trip hop, low slung looped skitter and swell, lush swirls of cinematic strings, ghostly choirs, a softly lurching rhythmic stutter, a deep cavernous throb, sounding like a ghostly stripped down dubstep. Which gives way to heaving expanses of black tidal thrum, muted scrapings, all wound into hypnotic pulses of dark energy, laced with distant chiming melodies, a haunting, gauzey faded memory in sound, drawn from radios with dying batteries and gradually slowing turntables, a soft focus symphony of creaks and rumbles and blurred low end shimmer. The first half finishes with a swoonsome smear of looped ambience, like a field recording of an after hours nightclub captured in a temporal loop, warm and druggy and fuzzy, strangely hypnotic and rhythmic, totally trancelike, a creeped out wasteland soundscape, mysterious and chilling, which is eventually augmented by thick slabs of corrosive low end, and heavily reverbed industrial clatter, which eventually emerges into a strange sea of crackle and hum, of warbly rhythms, chiming bells and distorted crunch, sounding a bit like Jeck spinning Pole record, abstract and spaced out and hauntingly lovely.
The second half opens with thick streaks of ghostly mesmer, all washed out and slowly decaying, underpinned by thick swaths of dubstep style bass wobble, but muted and smoothed into soft smears of undulating blackness. Subtle skitter surfaces, as do distant voices, the sound getting more and more dubby, a bit like a Caretaker record on Chain Reaction, that sort of hazy abstract drift, but anchored to barely there beats, the buzz building to an intense coda, all the while wrapped in throbbing woofer punishing low end.
Some super stripped down rhythms are laid over a swirling ghostly backdrop of fragmented melodies and a buried house music thump, tangled and blurred strings wrap the proceedings in a veil of softened reverb and subtle echo, the almost Eastern sounding pulse and swell reminding us a bit of the late great Muslimgauze.
Finally, the record collapses into some sort of melancholic sonic reverie, a hushed ambient outro, a tranquil sea of soft swirling swells, clouds of echo and reverb, a dreamy darkness, a blackened bit of blurpop minimalism, laced with muted streaks of fuzz and hiss, but all gradually sinking into Demdike Stare's endless trancelike billowing blackness.
The bonus tracks on this one (3 of them, clocking in at nearly 20 minutes) continue the record's surreal sonic journey, spidery rhythms, and chiming melodies are looped and layered over a simple pulsing propulsive groove, the whole thing slightly warped and warbled, as if recorded onto an old piece of tape, and played back on some dusty old ramshackle tape player, ghostly, but surprisingly playful at first, before slipping into some seriously creepy, deeeeeep droning rumbles, wreathed in shimmering solar winds, softly billowing sheets of hiss and static, eventually shedding all of that, leaving just a thick morass of softly undulating low end, shot through with a slo-mo house music pulse, only to have the hiss and whir return, this time relegated to the background, until the track finishes surprisingly with what sounds like a bit of African style funkiness, before disappearing in a brief cloud of swirling hushed buzz.
Finally, the third disc, Voices Of Dust, unveils the Tryptych's final movement, opening with "Black Sun", a short stretch of some super minimal electronic dronemusic, all layered overtones and strange sonic shadings, which gives way to the chopped and looped and stuttery vocal driven "Hashshashin Chant" which takes tribal drums and traditional folk music vocals, and twists them all up, and tangles those elements with strange percussion, industrial buzz, the whole thing a dizzying chunk of hypno-electronic collaged psychedelic mashup weirdness, before slipping into the much murkier and minimal "Repository Of Light", which unfurls like some sort of Hawkwind-meets-Pole spaced out digi-dub drift. And so it goes, the sound flitting between impossibly realized miniature sound worlds, cinematic electronic ambience, ominously pulsing low end rumble, hazy glitchy dubbed out Jeckian smears, super blown out electronic big beat bombast, almost industrial sounding avant big band abstraction, roiling corrosive soft noise, bellowing foghorn-like melodies, warped and woozy scratchy old lp warblescapes and beyond.
The bonus tracks are the perfect, hazy, ghostly coda, the first, a warm, whispery bit of keening abstract melody and thick pulsing thrum, all very washed out and space-y and dreamlike, a constantly vibrating living thing, a throbbing organic expanse of minimal space drone psychedelic ambience, until finally, the whole disc is laid to rest with 9 minutes of heaving, glacial, metallic creep and creak, wreathed in record crackle, the final sounds unfurl like some old dusty Tim Hecker 45 spinning at 16rpm, mournful moaning melodies, buried rhythmic thumps, shimmery sitar like buzz, all hazy and smeared and lysergic and mysteriously murky, the perfect slipping-into-darkness, leaving-this-world-behind finale...
Gorgeously evocative, creepy and cinematic, abstract and otherworldly, druggy and dreamy, fantastically haunting and utterly spine tinglingly stunning. And thus, absolutely recommended.
Matt's addendum: "Really feeling this collection of tunes these days. Love blasting this spooky dub-collage REAL loud in the shop! Thee neighbors get upset, but they need to chill cuz it has to be MASSIVE!"
MPEG Stream: "Forest Of Evil (Dusk)"
MPEG Stream: "Caged In Stammheim"
MPEG Stream: "Eurydice"
MPEG Stream: "Regolith"
MPEG Stream: "Hashashin Chant"
MPEG Stream: "Repository Of Light"
MPEG Stream: "Rain And Shame"

album cover IRON DOGS Free & Wild (self-released) cassette 5.98
Never listed this former Record Of The Week on cassette before, but just scored a handful so, let's! Also, we just managed to get a few copies of the out-of-print vinyl in, too!! Here's some of what we ravingly wrote about Free & Wild a couple years ago:
These brilliant Canadian metalpunks are back with their second full-length album. Like their debut Cold Bitch, it's another "single-coil assault" of rollicking, punked-out, '80s influenced speed metal that's absolutely unfuckwithable. No, not in the sense that it's the most technically advanced musically, or super high in fidelity, no, we're talking about the sheer spirit of it. And it's the sort of thing that's just kind of perfect in its DIY imperfection. Not by any means a tired, unimaginative exercise in emulating the past that we hear from so many retro thrash bands, instead the Iron Dogs fashion inspiration from their '80s faves - the likes of early Iron Maiden, English Dogs, Exciter, Cirith Ungol, and Tank - into something newly vibrant and alive. Proudly old school while still sounding 'young'. Delightfully loose and exuberant, ready to rock right off the rails, but not careless or half-assed, despite the raw garaginess of it all.
Now, some other, less enlightened people might find fault with the production (solid but certainly not slick), or not be on board with guitarist Jo Capitalicide's untrained rough-and-tumble vocal holler (with drummer Dan Lee's backing vox adding even more jubilance). But those folks are obviously not punk rock enough - and/or cult metal enough - to 'get it'. To us what makes this so special comes through loud and clear in each of this album's eight tracks, all of 'em exploding with energy, catchy hooks and epic feel, crammed full of delicious bits of metallic goodness. Opener "Firebird" is a melodic, motivational speedy anthem to get things going. From there, the half-hour run time of this album rips by with highlight after highlight, Jo singing of fighting, freedom, and fantasy. We love every bit of this. The heartracing riffage. The majestic Moog moments. The up-and-down cascade of wordless vocal woah-oh-oh-ohs in the middle of "Island Of The Dead". The way Jo's voice cracks on that one verse in "Storm Warning". The folky fast picked guitar motif on "Adversity" - indeed all the melodic guitar licks bursting out everywhere. This rousing Iron Dogs album, non-ironic but not over-serious, epitomizes the positive power of metal in a shitty world.
Ok, so we're hopeless Iron Dogs fanboys... but there's a reason for that! Listen and learn. If it's not your thing, it's not your thing. We won't call you a poseur. But we'll still feel sorry for you. 'Cause Iron Dogs RULE!
[But sadly, they are no more - however, Jo now has a new band called Ice War that picks up where Iron Dogs left off, hopefully we'll have their cassette in stock sometime soon.]
MPEG Stream: "Adversity"
MPEG Stream: "Evil In The Keep"
MPEG Stream: "Storm Warning"

album cover STICKMEN, THE s/t (Homeless) lp 24.00
Hobart, the capital of Tasmania. This picturesque hamlet is situated on the south end of that remote island, but there's not really a whole lot going on in town. Well, probably not much until recently - we are extremely curious about the Museum of Old and New Art that opened there up not too long ago, a real head-scratcher with its radically adventurous programming (seriously, lo-fi black metal weirdo Striborg is scheduled to perform there sometime this year, under the shadows of works by such figures as Chris Olffi, Anselm Keifer, and plenty of decay-oriented Australian artists... and yes, The Stickmen played the 'Dark Mofo' festival at MONA in 2013). So, the creative kids from Hobart back in the '80s and '90s were much more likely to flee to the much larger metropolises of Melbourne or Sydney over in mainland Australia. The Stickmen were the rare band from Hobart who persevered in their hometown long enough to develop into an amazing antipodean amalgam of Flying Nun / Xpressway NZ fuzz-pop, post-Birthday Party scum rock, and dour American math-rock, but probably not that many people ever heard about them. In fact, WE had never heard of them, until this album showed up in the shop; and yeah, they are pretty goddamn great.
Their eponymous debut album originally came out in 1998 as a mutant, garage punk blast of sharp guitar riffs, driving rhythms, cheap-ass transistor radio vocals, and weird sounds transmitted from a turntablist who spun drones and noises on his decks. The photo on the inner-sleeve is worth a thousand words with the microphone taped to a broom (complete with bristles) and suspended from the ceiling via a thick piece of rope for the guitarist to sing into (or not), while one of the band members fiddles with a mess of pedals and reaches up to backspin a record. The sound broadcast from such a Rube Goldberg contraption is brilliantly intense, somewhere between the Swell Maps avant-punk melodies, The Oh Sees' jubilant mania, and the scientific aggression of Pitchblende. Tracks (like the emphatic "No!" or the belligerent "Wired Wrong") accelerate from a Tracy Pew swagger up to wah-wah freakout guitar explosions that wouldn't be out of place in a Comets On Fire jam, albeit much more punk and violent. It was around this time in The Stickmen's career that they played at the Risdon Medium Security Prison; and you gotta wonder if the energy these guys could muster should have started a riot... if it didn't happen, why the fuck not? A great, great find! We're all totally stoked on this!!
Fancy tip-on sleeve with super high gloss printing in a pretty limited edition. Download code? You bet!
MPEG Stream: "Without A Clue"
MPEG Stream: "Wired Wrong"
MPEG Stream: "Creep Inside"
MPEG Stream: "On The March"
MPEG Stream: "Who Said It Should Be Good?"

album cover VOX POPULI! / PACIFIC 231 Cut Chemist Presents ... Funk Off (A Stable Sound) cd 17.98
Somewhere in France, sometime in the '80s: a radical independent underground micro-scene peopled by creative teenagers who grew up listening to Kraftwerk, Throbbing Gristle, A Certain Ratio, Metal Urbain, and Cabaret Voltaire, making their own synth- and sample-based music, with heavy beats and noisy dubbed out FX, that's like a post-punk/industrial hybrid of old school hiphop, Detroit electro, and tape-splicing musique concrete experimentation, releasing it themselves on artfully packaged cassette tapes and occasional pieces of vinyl, in limited editions heard only by the most dedicated international networkers in that pre-internet age. Sound good? It is! That's what this release documents, remarkable DIY music that's been aptly described as "like Wild Style on dust". Or imagine some other underground '80s industrial experimentalists from France, like Le Syndicat, toning down the noise (a little) and trying to make tracks like Afrika Bambaataa.
And please don't get confused, either, 'cause noted turntablist, producer and crate digger Cut Chemist's name is on the cover. This isn't a DJ mix, or remix, or collaboration, or anything like that. Cut Chemist doesn't himself have anything to do with the music of the two closely related bands on here, Vox Populi! and Pacific 231, other than having discovered 'em on one of his record-buying excursions (specifically via finding Vox Populi!'s track "Megamix" on a rare compilation LP called Alternative Funk, released by VP!'s own Vox Man label), and then making it his mission to find out more about them and get their stuff reissued - which he did, after many years of research, and friendships forged with both Vox Populi's leader Axel Kyrou and his colleague Pierre Jolivet, whose own project Pacific 231 ran parallel to Vox Populi!, and was also an important part of the collective described above.
So, thanks to Cut Chemist, whose imprimatur will hopefully help get this music some additional well deserved attention, we've now got this fantastic anthology of twenty VP! and P231 tracks rescued & remastered from rare cassette and vinyl comps, eps, etc., with plenty of previously unreleased material too. It's a real treasure trove of headnodding, mindblowing, utterly rad stuff, what could be indeed called, "alternative funk". Make that, alternative WTF? funk. These wide-ranging tracks contain, in varying combinations and degrees, all manner of frizzled blip bloop electronics, propulsive drum machine rhythms, subversive cut-ups, spanking funk bass, gothic cold wave vocals, ambient synth trances, crazed echoing dub effects, and reel-to-reel tape manipulation (the DJ "scratching" sounds you'll hear). All we can say is, upon hearing this, we immediately understood Cut Chemist's obsession!
Musically, the French always seem to have their own unique, unusual take on things, whether it's disco or prog or black metal, and the hard-to-define genre this represents is no exception.
The thick cd booklet (or big lp insert) is full of detailed liner notes, graphics and photos, which should give one a good sense of the exciting artistic/cultural/musical milieu these folks inhabited. Highly, highly recommended. (Note, the double vinyl version comes with a bonus 7" of extra tracks, which are also included on the cd.)
MPEG Stream: VOX POPULI! "Bala Mala"
MPEG Stream: VOX POPULI! "Mind"
MPEG Stream: VOX POPULI! "Funk Off"
MPEG Stream: PACIFIC 231 "Radio Moscou/Satyriasis"

album cover AKKORD s/t (Houndstooth) 2lp 36.00
So imagine some sort of ultra doom band, like Bunkur or Moss or Corrupted, the downtuned low end heaviness, the brooding, harrowing blackened sound world; now imagine, if you can, a band like that that doesn't make doom metal, or sludge, or even dronemusic, but instead makes electronic music. Imagine some hellish danceclub, hidden away in some cavern, far below the surface of the earth, where only demons, and those that dwell in the shadows, could be found. And certainly not on the dancefloor - this music is not for dancing, it's too ominous, too grim, too blackened. That club is wreathed in shadows, with some mysterious DJ spinning records with ribcage rattling lowend, skull caving beats, the sounds droney and bleak, blown out and minimally murky, some sort of black avant dub maybe? That may all sound too good to be true, or classic aQ hyperbole, but this debut full length from Akkord, definitely evokes exactly that sort of scenario. Just check out the opener, "Torr Vale", preferably on a really loud speaker, or in a car, system BOOMING, or in headphones, volume cranked, it's stunningly immersive, the low end a physical presence, less dance music or electronica than abstract sound design, we're tempted to make comparisons to Ben Frost, Roly Porter, Pole, Demdike Stare, there's definitely a huge hauntological vibe going on for sure, but somehow, this is even more grim and sinister than anything Demdike Stare has conjured up. Swaths of blackened shimmer, clipped beats, submerged in a murky sprawl of tarpit ambience, squelchy synths add subtle colorations, but it's all about the low end, the rumbling, whirring, churning bass, peppered with sonar pings, and rhythmic pulsations for sure, but those elements play out more like light desperately trying to escape from a black hole, and that's what Akkord have conjured up, a sonic black hole, crushing, and blackened, dark and yeah, doomy. It took us ages before we could make it past that first track, and while nothing on the rest of the record is nearly as black and bleak, that dark energy definitely surges throughout, or more accurately, oozes. "Smoke Circle" cranks up the rhythm a bit, the feel sort of double dutch, a little tribal, with little blurts of free jazz skitter mixed in, but all draped over another ominous backdrop of low end rumbles, this time accompanied by a cool looped vocal, buried way down in the mix, the vibe undeniable groovy, but with a seriously sinister undercurrent.
Some tracks, like "3dOS" get downright house-y, sounding like they wouldn't be out of place on some Kompakt release, but even here, the sound is wreathed in shadow, about as feel-bad as a feel-good music can get, especially when it breaks down into, some swirling, pulsing death dub drifts. "Folded Edge" is another groover, almost jungle-y, but wreathed in creepy slowed down vox, and in the background, all manner of low end warble, and rib cage rattling thrum, the echo drenched vocal snippets dubbed out and psychedelic, the whole thing tripped out and trance-y. The rest of the record offers up variations on Akkord's grim sonic theme, pulsing, motorik rhythms, some house-y, some jungle-y, some techno, all clipped and fragmented, and all sort of shadowy and sinister. The best moments though remain tracks like "Channel Drift", where the beat is a monotonous pulse, buried beneath a sprawl of cinematic shimmer, weird field recorded clatter, all hazy and murky and washed out, it's not until more than halfway through that the beat emerges from the murk, a bit of skittery jungle, that devolves into a woozy lope, or the killer closer "Undertow", another bit of creaking low end grimnity, hauntological for sure, swirling and heavily panned, sounds swooping from speaker to speaker, sounding more like Nurse With Wound via Demdike Stare, some mutant strain of abstract industrial electro-dub minimal murk. So killer.
Fans of the Basic House record we made Record Of The Week recently, or Ben Frost, Roly Porter, Demdike Stare, Andy Stott, Vatican Shadow, Silent Servant, all all those various strains of dark mutant electronica, this could very well be your new favorite record. It is ours!
MPEG Stream: "Torr Vale"
MPEG Stream: "Smoke Circle"
MPEG Stream: "3dOS"
MPEG Stream: "Folded Edge"
MPEG Stream: "Channel Drift"

album cover OH SEES, THEE Singles Vol. 1 & 2 (Castle Face) cd 13.98
FINALLY AVAILABLE ON CD!!!!
This one really shouldn't need too much of a description, this cd (previously a double lp) collects essentially ALL of the Oh Sees singles: The Carol Anne 7", Peanut Butter Oven 12", the split 7" with Paul Cary, the split 7" with The Intelligence, the Grave Blockers ep, the Tidal Wave single, the Blood In Your Ear single, the Sub Pop single, the tour split 7" with Jay Reatard, as well as a few previously unreleased surprises. The first half of this comp is actually the same stuff that was on the bonus cd that came with the Zork's Tape Bruise lp released on Kill Shamen way back when, while the rest is newly compiled. It's a pretty bad ass collection, Thee Oh Sees were and are definitely one of those bands who seem to do their best rocking in the short format, and these are definitely some of our favorite Oh Sees jams. Absolutely essential for fans of course, and newbies, well, we can't really think of a better place to start.
Need more? Here are several excerpts from reviews of a few of the singles included in this collection:
Blood In Your Ear: Some fuzzy, distorted lo-fi sixties pop infused garage rock that totally rocks. Crunchy, distorted, fuzzy, groovy, doused in reverb and delay, the vocals a distorted yelp, the guitars all jangly, this time around there's even some harmonica, stomping and hooky and kick ass. That's just the A side. The flipside just might be one of our favorite Oh Sees jams yet, all brooding and power poppy, reminding us of the Wipers, but with strange bloopy keyboards, and a weary washed out minor key vibe, so super catchy, we find ourselves humming it through the days, and running to the front of the store when it gets played. Awesome.
Peanut Butter Oven: Full of that sixties big beat cavernous murky wall of feedback pop that we love. "Kingsmeat" is all melancholy Farfisa over upbeat rhythms and ringing feedback tones before turning up the Bo Diddley pace for "The Freak Was Clean", before the almost shoe-gazy "Kids In Cars" winds us down quite nicely.
Tidal Wave: Totally perfect, ultra catchy blasts of pure garage pop genius!
Split with The Intelligence: The two Oh Sees songs end before you know it but they're so good and infectious that we've just been playing them over and over and over.
You get the picture. And like the lp version, killer topless magic marker fake tattoo Oh Sees fan boy sleeve too. Nice!
MPEG Stream: "Carol Ann"
MPEG Stream: "The Freak Was Clean"
MPEG Stream: "Bloody Water"
MPEG Stream: "Hey Buddy"
MPEG Stream: "Grave Blockers"

album cover AKKORD s/t (Houndstooth) cd 16.98
So imagine some sort of ultra doom band, like Bunkur or Moss or Corrupted, the downtuned low end heaviness, the brooding, harrowing blackened sound world; now imagine, if you can, a band like that that doesn't make doom metal, or sludge, or even dronemusic, but instead makes electronic music. Imagine some hellish danceclub, hidden away in some cavern, far below the surface of the earth, where only demons, and those that dwell in the shadows, could be found. And certainly not on the dancefloor - this music is not for dancing, it's too ominous, too grim, too blackened. That club is wreathed in shadows, with some mysterious DJ spinning records with ribcage rattling lowend, skull caving beats, the sounds droney and bleak, blown out and minimally murky, some sort of black avant dub maybe? That may all sound too good to be true, or classic aQ hyperbole, but this debut full length from Akkord, definitely evokes exactly that sort of scenario. Just check out the opener, "Torr Vale", preferably on a really loud speaker, or in a car, system BOOMING, or in headphones, volume cranked, it's stunningly immersive, the low end a physical presence, less dance music or electronica than abstract sound design, we're tempted to make comparisons to Ben Frost, Roly Porter, Pole, Demdike Stare, there's definitely a huge hauntological vibe going on for sure, but somehow, this is even more grim and sinister than anything Demdike Stare has conjured up. Swaths of blackened shimmer, clipped beats, submerged in a murky sprawl of tarpit ambience, squelchy synths add subtle colorations, but it's all about the low end, the rumbling, whirring, churning bass, peppered with sonar pings, and rhythmic pulsations for sure, but those elements play out more like light desperately trying to escape from a black hole, and that's what Akkord have conjured up, a sonic black hole, crushing, and blackened, dark and yeah, doomy. It took us ages before we could make it past that first track, and while nothing on the rest of the record is nearly as black and bleak, that dark energy definitely surges throughout, or more accurately, oozes. "Smoke Circle" cranks up the rhythm a bit, the feel sort of double dutch, a little tribal, with little blurts of free jazz skitter mixed in, but all draped over another ominous backdrop of low end rumbles, this time accompanied by a cool looped vocal, buried way down in the mix, the vibe undeniable groovy, but with a seriously sinister undercurrent.
Some tracks, like "3dOS" get downright house-y, sounding like they wouldn't be out of place on some Kompakt release, but even here, the sound is wreathed in shadow, about as feel-bad as a feel-good music can get, especially when it breaks down into, some swirling, pulsing death dub drifts. "Folded Edge" is another groover, almost jungle-y, but wreathed in creepy slowed down vox, and in the background, all manner of low end warble, and rib cage rattling thrum, the echo drenched vocal snippets dubbed out and psychedelic, the whole thing tripped out and trance-y. The rest of the record offers up variations on Akkord's grim sonic theme, pulsing, motorik rhythms, some house-y, some jungle-y, some techno, all clipped and fragmented, and all sort of shadowy and sinister. The best moments though remain tracks like "Channel Drift", where the beat is a monotonous pulse, buried beneath a sprawl of cinematic shimmer, weird field recorded clatter, all hazy and murky and washed out, it's not until more than halfway through that the beat emerges from the murk, a bit of skittery jungle, that devolves into a woozy lope, or the killer closer "Undertow", another bit of creaking low end grimnity, hauntological for sure, swirling and heavily panned, sounds swooping from speaker to speaker, sounding more like Nurse With Wound via Demdike Stare, some mutant strain of abstract industrial electro-dub minimal murk. So killer.
Fans of the Basic House record we made Record Of The Week recently, or Ben Frost, Roly Porter, Demdike Stare, Andy Stott, Vatican Shadow, Silent Servant, all all those various strains of dark mutant electronica, this could very well be your new favorite record. It is ours!
MPEG Stream: "Torr Vale"
MPEG Stream: "Smoke Circle"
MPEG Stream: "3dOS"
MPEG Stream: "Folded Edge"
MPEG Stream: "Channel Drift"

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

album cover IRON DOGS Free & Wild (Iron Bonehead) lp 17.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY.
Now at last we have a tiny handful (otherwise, we'd Highlight it) of this former Record Of The Week on vinyl, to list! Here's what we said 'bout the digipak cd, which we also still have copies of...
As promised, these brilliant Canadian metalpunks are now back with their second full-length album. Like their debut Cold Bitch, it's another "single-coil assault" of rollicking, punked-out, '80s influenced speed metal that's absolutely unfuckwithable. No, not in the sense that it's the most technically advanced musically, or super high in fidelity, no, we're talking about the sheer spirit of it. And it's the sort of thing that's just kind of perfect in its DIY imperfection. Not by any means a tired, unimaginative exercise in emulating the past that we hear from so many retro thrash bands, instead the Iron Dogs fashion inspiration from their '80s faves - the likes of early Iron Maiden, English Dogs, Exciter, Cirith Ungol, and Tank - into something newly vibrant and alive. Proudly old school while still sounding 'young'. Delightfully loose and exuberant, ready to rock right off the rails, but not careless or half-assed, despite the raw garaginess of it all.
As hopefully you well remember, we freakin' raved about Cold Bitch last year, likening it to a cross between Speedwolf and Slough Feg, and this new one takes the sound of that album and runs with it, delivering the goods with another batch of songs just as good or better than the first, if anything. So while Free & Wild isn't super different than Cold Bitch, that's just fine with us! Some bands are about 'progression', you want 'em exploring new sounds and ideas from record to record; others, you don't want anything to change, you just want MORE, new killer songs in the same style, which is what you get here. And since we loved Cold Bitch so much and spun it so often, we HAD to make Free & Wild a Record Of The Week. Free & Wild even sports a similar cover concept - a photo of a sword wielding, blood-drenched naked lady. She's being "Free & Wild" we guess, taking men's heads and putting them on stakes (or perhaps this tableau is inspired by track six here, "Cannibal Death Cult"). Cold Bitch's cover was a bit more clever but this one is no less striking.
One change with this album, not that you would notice it, is that Iron Dogs are no longer a trio, but a duo, with Dan Lee on on drums and Jo Capitalicide on vocals, guitar, bass, and even some synth. And as a two piece, Jo and Dan are now our favorite metal duo since Fenriz and Nocturno Culto - and we'd imagine that those two Darkthrone dudes would highly approve of what the Iron Dogs are up to, the mix of NWOBHM gallop and crusty punk fervor is right up their alley.
Now, some other, less enlightened people might find fault with the production (solid but certainly not slick), or not be on board with Capitalicide's untrained rough-and-tumble vocal holler (with Dan Lee's backing vox adding even more jubilance). But those folks are obviously not punk rock enough - and/or cult metal enough - to 'get it'. To us what makes this so special comes through loud and clear in each of this album's eight tracks, all of 'em exploding with energy, catchy hooks and epic feel, crammed full of delicious bits of metallic goodness. Opener "Firebird" (for which they've made an entertaining low-budget video, perhaps inspired by Benny Hill as much as the videos of Canadian antecedent Thor, see it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PWZsD2kFeSo) is a melodic, motivational speedy anthem to get things going. From there, the half-hour run time of this album rips by with highlight after highlight, Jo singing of fighting, freedom, and fantasy. We love every bit of this. The heartracing riffage. The majestic Moog moments. The up-and-down cascade of wordless vocal woah-oh-oh-ohs in the middle of "Island Of The Dead". The way Jo's voice cracks on that one verse in "Storm Warning". The folky fast picked guitar motif on "Adversity" - indeed all the melodic guitar licks bursting out everywhere. This rousing Iron Dogs album, non-ironic but not over-serious, epitomizes the positive power of metal in a shitty world.
Ok, so we're hopeless Iron Dogs fanboys... but there's a reason for that! Listen and learn. If it's not your thing, it's not your thing. We won't call you a poseur. But we'll still be sorry for you. 'Cause Iron Dogs RULE!
MPEG Stream: "Adversity"
MPEG Stream: "Evil In The Keep"
MPEG Stream: "Storm Warning"

album cover COWLEY, PATRICK School Daze (Dark Entries) cd 14.98
NOW ON CD! (Fyi, for space reasons, it's one track shorter than the double vinyl version we previously made record of the week - and is currently being repressed).
For every ecstatic high, there often needs to be a soul crushing descent, a dark, dark comedown. San Francisco electronic music pioneer Patrick Cowley is best known for his trailblazing signature sound which helped spawn a whole dance music genre (Hi-NRG), as well as his amazing production work, not to mention guest spots on many of our favorite Sylvester tracks. But we always knew there was another side to Patrick Cowley's musical genius. His life ended way too early, as one of the first victims of the AIDS epidemic (before they even understood what AIDS was), but in the short time he was on this planet he recorded hours and hours of electronic music light-years ahead of its time. Most of those recordings have never seen the light of day.
In recent years it seems a whole genre of "space-disco" has emerged out of the influence of the Sylvester track "I Need Somebody To Love", produced by Cowley, who almost single handedly created the cut's distinctive minimal spacey/sensual sound. And within the many solo Cowley releases, there were hints of this darker sonic side, a whole part of his music making beyond the greatness he created for disco divas and sweaty dance floors. Tracks like "Mutant Man" and "Sea Hunt" gave us an intoxicating glimpse into a much weirder and way more abstract world of synth-sounds, that had us hungering for more...
Enter School Daze, a Dark Entries collection of previously unreleased tracks, which showcase that warped and dark side of Cowley's music. These tracks were originally commissioned by the LA-based Fox Studios, makers of gay porn, and as we listen to this over and over, we can only imagine what kind of hazy, foggy, fucked up, beyond high, drug addled state of mind that folks must have been in to watch pornography set to these dark & dizzying sounds!
The opening track is the outlier here, a chunk of classic Cowley Hi-NRG, but it's certainly a misleading introduction, as throughout the rest of School Daze, there is hardly a trace of Cowley's typical dance floor production, instead these songs much more concerned with capturing a mood and vibe that evokes melting and dripping trippiness, seemingly designed for late, late nights long after the party has ended. Tracks like "Tides Of Man" take us on a harrowing dark voyage, the listener losing control and spiralling deeper and deeper into the empty void. "Seven Sacred Pools" displays an epic side of Cowley's sound, the track drifts drowsily from underwater warble and woozy spaciness into shimmering and tranquil soft wave shimmer, the sort of soundworld we wish could get lost in forever. The title track reveals Cowley reigning over his own majestic prog sci-fi fantasyland. Whatever the sound, Cowley somehow makes it his own! And we love it!
Traces of Tangerine Dream, Vangelis, Jean Michel Jarre, Kraftwerk, Harmonia, Cluster, The BBC Radio Workshop and even musique concrete are woven throughout School Daze. We're also reminded quite a bit of some of the proto-dark techno records that Moebius was making in the early '80s with Conny Plank and Gerd Beerbohm, on albums like Double Cut, Strange Music, Material, and Zero Set. What's even more astonishing is how so many of these sounds predate by several decades the sound of so many of our favorite contemporary electronic artists. In fact, we might go so far as to call the sound on School Daze "proto-IDM", as these tracks contain blueprints to the more spaced-out sides of artists like Aphex Twin, Boards Of Canada, The Orb, Seefeel, Bola and Isolee, as well as some of our more recent faves like Glitterbug, Actress, Reuber, Gatekeeper, Delia Gonzalez & Gavin Russom.
It's unclear exactly how many of these tracks actually made it into the films, but we can safely say this is still some of the most fucked up, avant-garde porn music we've ever heard. In fact we wonder if Matmos took inspiration from some of these Cowley tracks when they were asked to create their own soundtracks to some underground kinked out porn...
While the circumstances of these songs being commissioned for porn makes for a fascinating and intriguing story, there's certainly no shortage of lost reissues with wild stories behind them. Sadly, it's often the case, that many of those super hyped releases, are way more interesting to read about than actually listen to. But in the case of School Daze, these are truly subversive and trance inducing sounds that still hold up after all these years. In fact, some of this stuff actually sounds way more damaged and avant than almost any new left-field electronic release that comes our way. For an artist so known for taking his listeners higher, School Daze plays out like the sonic version of what happens afterwards, the wasted aftermath of staying up all night, awake for days, smiling, sweating, arms in the air, it's the sound of bodily displacement, the dreadful coming down. When you can no longer dance, or even stand, but instead are left gliding, sliding, swirling, reaching, caressing, wishing, hallucinating, and grasping for one last chance of ecstatic bliss. This is the dark, drifty, drugged out record of the year!
HUGE kudos to Dark Entries not only for releasing this amazing artifact, but for donating the proceeds to Project Open Hand and AIDS Housing Alliance, two wonderful San Francisco nonprofits who do important work helping those whose lives have been impacted by HIV and AIDS.
***Prude Alert*** The cd booklet contains LOTS of explicit still images from the pornos that many of these songs were featured in!! You have been warned!
MPEG Stream: "Nightcrawler"
MPEG Stream: "Mockkingbird Dream"
MPEG Stream: "School Daze"
MPEG Stream: "Journey Home"

album cover MIND SPIDERS Inhumanistic (Dirtnap) cd 13.98
For some reason, we always thought Mind Spiders were from Australia. They definitely have that Aussie post punk vibe, but they are in fact from Denton, Texas, and our description in our review of their last record, still pretty much applies:
"Imagine Thee Oh Sees via Gary Numan, or the Ramones if they were on Captured Tracks, or maybe even Bare Wires covering Snowy Red..."
If anything, this new one is more stripped down, more old school power pop, with swirling synths, and