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Records of the Week
MASTERY Valis (The Flenser) lp 15.98
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."
ALPS, THE III (Type) cd 8.98
We got these two now-classic cds (III from 2008 and Le Voyage from 2010) on sale for a limited time, from The Alps, featuring aQ staffer Scott Hewicker, Alexis Georgopolous of Arp and Jefre Cantu-Ledesma, whose new album is also featured on this list. Here is what we said about this seven years ago:The latest from Bay Area new-kraut-folk-age combo The Alps, which finds the band sounding more high fidelity than ever, and more kraut than folk, which in both cases suits them big time.For those new to The Alps, a rundown of several members should help give you an idea of where their sound is coming from: our very own Scott Hewicker (Troll), Alexis Georgopoulos (Arp, formerly of Tussle) and Jefre Cantu (Tarentel, Colophon, J.C. Ledesma). But Alps is definitely more than the sum of its parts, their sound is quite varied, expansive, even epic at times, but simultaneously, they manage to craft a sound simple and solid, based as much on rhythm and texture as on song and melody.On past releases, Alps were a much more ramshackle concern, which at the time was definitely a big part of their sound, and thus set them firmly amongst the lo-fi cd-r drone folks scene, their sound a sort of ghostly Appalachia, mixed with longform drone music, muddy muted ambience, minimal soundscaping and plenty of lo-fi buzz and hiss much of the record mired in a corrosive murk, that only added to their dark dronelike vibe. The move to Type Records, coincides, perhaps not coincidentally, with a sonic shift, where once was abstract and low fidelity, is now rhythmic, and propulsive, looped and repetitive, and most importantly, glistening and glimmering, the sound crystal clear, and this time the dreaminess doesn't come from poor recording, it comes from the compositions, and the arrangements, and a super nice sounding recording courtesy of Phil Manley of the Champs and Trans Am. The core members of Alps also have a keen interest in new age music. Not the Deep Breakfast sort of schlock that most seem to equate with the genre, but instead more the sort of inner space, dreamy drift of Tangerine Dream, Deuter, Steve Hillage and the like. And those sounds are all over III as well.The opener is a gorgeous looped soundscape of repetitive guitar figures, and glistening chimes, almost like a dreamfolk Steve Reich, bits of Appalachia, big buzzing synths, strummed zithers, a gorgeous melancholy melody played out over the course of five and a half minutes. The second track finds the band getting their kraut on, channeling Neu! Or Agitation Free but through a much more washed out and weary space rock, like Hawkwind gone new age. Distant drifting vocals, all manner of layered buzz, distorted guitars buried in the mix, space-y FX, very tranquil and mesmerizing. The follow up "Cloud One" finds Alps revisiting their folk roots, taking strummed acoustic guitars, and simple piano, and draping them over a woozy melody and a super spare abstract rhythm. "Trem Fantasma" is a barely there whisper of spaced out dronemusic, Gloriously wreathed in musical mystery, drifting piano, fragmented guitars, some soft sixties 'ladada' vocals, another dreamy drifter that threatens to spirit the listener away to some sun dappled green grassed knoll. "Labyrinths" is another new age / krautrock meander, washed out and shimmery, the drums the only thing keeping the rest of the song from just floating away, playful melodies, that sound like Perry and Kingsley rendered in shades of grey. The next few tracks are more abstract, sounds swooping in and out, rhythms, if there are any, buried beneath soft layers of sound, everything hushed and minimal, until album closer, "Into The Breeze", which sounds just like the title would have you imagine, breezy, soft focus, the drums, simple and stripped down, shimmering steel string guitar, that ever present piano, the melody wistful, the production hazy and a little woozy, effects swirling in the background, the drums gradually becoming more and more tripped out, before fading out completely, leaving just the guitar and the piano to drift heavenward, through a field of soft shimmer and the glistening afterglow of the sounds that came before.The more we listen to III, the more obvious the new age-isms become, which is not a bad thing at all, it wraps the proceedings, no matter how krautrocky or folky or droney, in a sweet swirl of moonlit dreaminess, turning each song into its own sort of otherworldly mesmer.
MPEG Stream: "A Manha Na Praia"
MPEG Stream: "Hallucinations"
MPEG Stream: "Cloud One"
ALPS, THE Le Voyage (Type) cd 8.98
We got these two now-classic cds (III from 2008 and Le Voyage from 2010) on sale for a limited time, from The Alps featuring aQ staffer Scott Hewicker, Alexis Georgopolous of Arp and Jefre Cantu-Ledesma, whose new album is also featured on this list. Here is what we said about this five years ago:Full length number four from these Bay Area kosmische krautfolk visionaries, the sound on Le Voyage (aka IV) the perfect extension of the soundworld they created on 2008's III, and perhaps their most fully realized record thus far, as the band have developed from lo-fi drone and ramshackle free folk, abstract Appalachia and dreamy dronemusic, to something much more measured and sonically subtle, still consisting of many of the same basic elements, yet somehow more haunting and delicate, and occasionally exploring heavier more rhythmic territory.Part of this new expanded sound is the fact that the core trio, our very own Scott Hewicker (Troll), Alexis Georgopoulos (Arp, formerly of Tussle) and Jefre Cantu (Tarentel, Colophon, J.C. Ledesma), is augmented by some serious guests, who contribute tamboura, pedal steel, bass guitar and field recordings to the already impressive (and occasionally baffling) list of sonic implements: palm guitar, 12 string acoustic guitar, Moogerfooger delay, mountain drums, electric clouds, Mini Moog synthesizer, falling piano, symphony space, radiophonic synthesizer, parabolic guitar, memory man, desert guitar, melted glass guitar and more.But don't let the bizarre instrumentation mislead, the sound here is definitely abstract and 'out there', but perhaps not as much as that list might lead you to believe. Those instruments, subtly wielded, result in something dreamy and divine, rhythmic, propulsive, and totally mesmerizing. The record begins with some crystalline Appalachian guitar, warm and sun dappled, underpinned by upper register shimmers, bits of piano, super minimal percussion, and some gorgeous pedal steel that gives the track a sweeping, wide open space vibe, the musical equivalent of laying in knee high grass, watching the clouds drift by in a cobalt blue sky. After a brief bit of jumbled psychedelic samplage, voices, horn fanfares, explosions, dinner party strings, applause, running water and random swirling FX drenched, the band get seriously krauty, with some stripped down tribal drumming, muted squalls of wah guitar, definitely dark and brooding, but as the track progresses, and various instruments join the fray, loping bass, steel string strum, all manner of melody, the track begins to glow, a smoldering almost space rock sounding work out, that sets its sights for the heart of the sun, but instead settles back to earth in a brief stretch of piano flecked drone, before launching into the next track, a dreamy slice of classic sounding psychedelic pop, all spare drumming, and chiming acoustic guitar, not to mention some rubbery basslines and more delicate piano, the second half of the track decidedly less propulsive and more washed out rainy day contemplative. After another brief respite, soundtracked by a warped collage of shortwave buzz, reverbed horns, electronic glitches, swirls of hiss and grit and a brief flurry of marital snares, "Saturno Contro" commences, a lazy, lugubrious bit of dour acoustic dreampop, laced with tinkling chimes, moaning strings, softly cinematic and quite lovely. Which leads into the records closing salvo, a three track, 20 minute fugue, that is the record's climax for sure, beginning with "Black Mountain", a piano laced buzzing raga, a gorgeous sprawling slow burn, that builds to something slightly more rhythmic, a sort of brooding chamber folk, bookended by field recordings of crickets, as if the track was merely the soundtrack for an early evening stroll through the forest. The title track is up next, a lush, loping chunk of hypnorock slowcore krautdrone drift, the drums simple and skeletal, the other instruments subtly urgent, the tone tense and intense, like the final few minutes of some space rock epic, stripped way down, slowed way down and stretched way out, still psychedelic and space-y, but more earthbound, the sound of night and day viewed in time lapse, flowers opening to the sun, and then folding back up to shut out the dark, the shadows rushing across the ground, the sky and ever shifting prismatic expanse, dark and emotional and gorgeous, eventually fading into the buzzing final track, another hazy druggy raga, thick layered buzz wrapped around a simple propulsive bassline, the song building bit time, the drums crashing, the various tones and sounds seeming to blossom like miniature supernovas, the various elements bleeding into one another, a lush cloud of swirling buzzing bliss, that could go on forever, but instead, crumbles into a fractured dubby outro before blinking out completely.A perfectly realized hybrid of krautrock, new age, raga, Appalachia, dronefolk, an ever shifting expanse of cinematic sound, a pop music redefined and reinterpreted as something much more esoteric, hauntingly beautiful, and darkly mysterious.
MPEG Stream: "Drop In"
MPEG Stream: "Crossing The Sands"
MPEG Stream: "Le Voyage"
MPEG Stream: "Telepathe"
ATOBE, SHINICHI Butterfly Effect (Demdike Stare) 2lp 28.00
YAY, NOW ON VINYL!! We'd been waiting and waiting for this great release (one of very few, yet, on Demdike Stare's label) to show up on vinyl, as it's already proven deservedly popular on cd.Shinichi Atobe is probably best known (and weirdly, also least known) for releasing a single 12" on Basic Channel's Chain Reaction label, and consequently disappearing completely. That record became a bit of an obsession for some folks, including the Demdike Stare guys who eventually somehow tracked down Atobe, only to discover an entire record of unreleased archival material, which is this one right here. For fans of Demdike Stare AND Chain Reaction this is some seriously holy grail stuff, and it's easy to see what all the hubbub was (and is) about. The opener is a gorgeous stretch of glitchy digidub murk, distorted chordal swells weaving a dreamlike melodic backdrop beneath a skittery, skeletal groove, before the second track opens the sound up into some hazy house, a softly pulsing four on the floor beneath jazzy chords and fluttery faux Japanese flutes, a second rhythm swoops in eventually, adding a strange, psychedelic off kilter vibe, the mix too is quite strange, with some sounds swooping to the foreground, while others blur into the background murk. The rest of the record careens schizophrenically from grinding glitchiness, to strangely distorted samplescapes fusing more Japanese melodies with crumbling, sputtering squelches, to haunting carnivalesque soundscapes, all woozy synths and strange space-y FX, tripped out industrial dronescapes, with warped, throbbing, barely-there rhythms, all wound around fields of grey noise and blurts of wild chaotic noise. There are a handful of straight up Kompakt style Euro-house groovers too, but those tracks are plopped between softly swirling, looping stutterscapes and weirdly trippy, freeform electro-jazz jams, finishing off with a super psychedelic, beautifully noisy, ultra creepy outro, that's a jumble of distorted alien vox, chopped and looped into a lumbering rhythm, wreathed in wisps of dreamlike thrum, somehow impossible gristly and gauzy AND hauntingly hypnotic.
MPEG Stream: "Free Access Zone 1"
MPEG Stream: "Wasteland 1"
MPEG Stream: "Free Access Zone 8"
BODY, THE & THOU You, Whom I Have Always Hated / Released From Love (Thrill Jockey) lp 17.98
Maybe cause they're just a lonely duo, avant doomsters The Body sure like to collaborate with other folks. Not only with the Assembly Of Light choir who have appeared on The Body's albums, but also on records they've done with Braveyoung, Haxan Cloak, and Thou. They must really dig Thou (sludge bros stick together!), though, 'cause this the second team-up of the two bands, following the Released From Love lp on Vinyl Rites last year. As per that release, you can expect another onslaught of blackened noisy downtuned droning crushing heaviness and so forth. Yep! Sheer peace-destroying sonic ugliness with an undercurrent of majestic desolation is what's on offer here, with the expected elements of wretched vokills, abject blackened atmospheres, shrieks of anguish, occasional ambient interludes, seasick riffage buried under blown out dirge-drone, and industrial-strength tribal rhythmic pummel (particularly on the cover they do of "Terrible Lies" by NIN). Thou and The Body definitely seem like sick soulmates, a match made in heaven, or rather, some bowel of hell. Note: the compact disc version of this includes the tracks from that previous collaboration of theirs, Released From Love, for this first time available in non-analog format.
MPEG Stream: "The Wheel Weaves As The Wheel Wills"
MPEG Stream: "In Meetings Hearts Beat Closer"
MPEG Stream: "The Devils Of Trust Steal The Souls Of The Free"
CANTU-LEDESMA, JEFRE A Year With 13 Moons (Mexican Summer) cd 10.98
A Year With 13 Moons is Cantu-Ledesma's first major release since his debut for Type, Love Is A Stream, back in 2010. Of course he has been busy in between those years, releasing limited tapes, cd-rs and split lps, touring and collaborating, co-running the Root Strata label and moving restlessly from San Francisco to Berlin, to Munich, back to San Francisco and finally settling (for the time being anyway) in Brooklyn. In many ways, A Year Of 13 Moons is the other side of the same coin of Love Is A Stream's glorious embrace of the shoegaze tidal waves of Flying Saucer Attack, Cocteau Twins and Lovesliescrushing. Sonically, they share a kinship. But where the first album appeared to be about the blossoming of new love and the changes it brings, this new one seems more about the dissolution of that love and the moving on from its aftermath; what disappears and what lingers.Recorded during a residency at the Headlands Art Center he shared with filmmaker and visual collaborator, Paul Clipson, the first and longest track, "The Last Time I Saw Your Face" sets the tone with a slow-fading white-hot burst of solar distortion topped by a lilting electric melody that suggests the rushing in of a loving yet painful memory, but half-way through sputters, flickers and changes course in a way that the sound appears to move past you and gets farther away, leaving one adrift both aurally and physically. That trajectory of smoldering intensity, combining a soaring but battered angelic Cocteau Twins-ish guitar drift with the quasar-laden feedback void of magnetic static conveys us through the albums many peaks and valleys, which at times touch on the romantic melancholy of Durutti Column's pastoral guitar and drum machine as well as Main's ominous and sometimes airless ambience. It's a beautiful and heartfelt record, gorgeously realized but one that does not try to endear the listener to its many complex moods. In fact, its blown out acoustics seem designed to be played in big echoing halls as loud as they can. It's face-meltingly bittersweet. (Note: also on vinyl, but we're running low...)
MPEG Stream: "The Last Time I Saw Your Face"
MPEG Stream: "Disappear"
MPEG Stream: "The Spree"
MPEG Stream: "Along The Isar"
COOK, MIRA Eat The Cake (self-released) cd 11.98
While we've loved pretty much everything we've heard from Mira Cook so far, on this new album, Eat The Cake, she's moven to a whole new sonic level. Movement being the key, as this is the most rhythmic, pulsating, and infectious collection of songs she's created yet.Cook seems to have found a way to bring into her music, the physical movement she excels at as a professional dancer who travels the world. Cook is equally skilled in ballet as she is modern and African dance, which again is reflected on Eat The Cake, as she takes delicate and precise steps occasionally erupting into something much more visceral and emotive. Cook's voice is more assured than ever and these songs feel much less like sketches and more like fully realized sonic statements.Organic and odd instrumentation meet electronics, and it becomes difficult to tell which is which. The sounds on Eat The Cake combines the instrumental delicacy and wonder of Colleen and shakes them up, down and all around, adding splashes of vibrant color and passionate energy. Some songs bring to mind a magical meeting of the minds between Broadcast and Lali Puna, while some moments sound like a dizzying mix of a Gamelan orchestra and Molly Nilsson, twirling together in musical ecstasy. Evocative and alluring, purposeful and playful and so highly recommended!
MPEG Stream: "Big Bitch"
MPEG Stream: "Bitten By"
MPEG Stream: "Want To Give Up"
MPEG Stream: "Harpy"
DISAPPEARS Irreal (Kranky) lp 14.98
An opaque record for sure, Disappears' Irreal stakes out an alternate path for the band's hypnorock agenda, which has had more than a few epic riffs that would have made for a classic blast-off groove on your favorite Sonic Youth or Spacemen 3 album. It's even hard to tell if former Sonic Youth timekeeper Steve Shelley is still sitting behind the kit as he was on the previous couple of albums. His input for rhythmic dynamics and start-stop-start avant-pop propulsion really brought out the best in Disappears songwriting; and his knack for also sitting back in a metronomic pulse might be at play here on Irreal. Whoever this drummer may be lays down skeletal rhythms that accompany neck-throttled jittery guitar scratches even more reductive than those offered by Andy Gill from Gang Of Four and monophunk basslines as lifted from the revamped Swans without the bloodlust and ritualized violence. Diamond fractured drones and ghostly echoes slip between all of the spaces that Disappears design in their songs, bumping into the equally fragmented vocal recitations and gliding elsewhere, leaving behind the hint of what may have been a melody. The stark mood of Irreal is distinctly dystopian in nature, evacuating those moments of noise-pop pleasure seeking found earlier in their catalog and replacing them with the drained exasperation of any number of JG Ballard's anti-heroes caught within the feedback loops of a society collapsing upon itself.
MPEG Stream: "Integration"
MPEG Stream: "Irreal"
MPEG Stream: "Mist Rites"
ELDER Spires Burn / Release (Armageddon Shop) cd ep 6.98
ALL RIGHT, FINALLY ON CD! And at a super nice price too. This originally came out on 12" vinyl (also recently repressed and back in stock, btw) back in 2012, and now presumably due to the demands of legions of stoner/sludge rockin' compact disc partisans, has been cd-ified as well. Here's what we said 'bout this before:Are those purple icicles on the cover? We're not sure exactly, but it looks cool and psychedelic and eldritch... perfect for this latest release from these stoner sludge heavies. We loved their MeteorCity cd from 2010, Dead Roots Stirring, a disc of desert-y doom that was both crushingly heavy and mesmerically melodic. This newer ep (two side-long songs, 22 minutes total) follows on from that album with yet more lumbering riffage and fuzzed out psych glory. The second track, "Release", in particular, is a thing of epic, grungy beauty!
MPEG Stream: "Release"
ENEMA SYRINGE Upshutlenvolte (Fragment Factory) 7" 12.98
One of the more obscure, if highly regarded Swedish industrial / experimental projects, Enema Syringe (aka Kai Parviainen) operated in the constellation of projects surrounding the fledgling Cold Meat Industries in the late '80s. Most of the Enema Syringe catalogue remains unattainable with a recent album on Ultra Eczema being one of the only things that may have been available. Parviainen was also one of the members of the eccentric Swedish collective En Halvkokt I Folie, who did publish one of the most baffling and bizarre albums for Cold Meat Industries, coming across much more like Smegma or Keukhot rather than the signature death-industrial dirges of CMI. This single dates back to 1987, right when Parviainen was beginning to find his stride in constructing his deranged, brut-noise assemblages, and these three tracks had never been released up until now. The title cut laces monotone vocal samples and vaudeville piano melodies about a bluster of tone-deadening low-end rumble, that all joins together in a Jorg Buttgereit amalgam of the macabre and the comedic. The other two pieces are prototypes of modern day power electronics with blown-out synth sequencing, squelched frequency modulation, and yelped vocals. Super limited stock on this one!
MPEG Stream: "Upshutlenvolte"
MPEG Stream: "En Krullig Mongoloid"
EOSTRE They Were Made Of White Cloth (Soft Corridor) cd-r 13.98
Eostre is the name of an old Germanic fertility goddess; but in more recent times, it was pegged as the title for a :zoviet*france: album. Given the disquieting tone of lurched drum machine, industrial monochromaticism, and rudimentary synth offerings, this latter reference is much more apt as a launching point for the Belgian project helmed by one Sebastien Schmit. The structures to the pieces on They Were Made Of White Cloth are built from dissonant sequences of clanging rhythm and blorping radiophonia that hold plenty of similarities to the more zombified work of super early Cabaret Voltaire, with the tape collages spinning their way off the reels and the guitar+synth combos swarmed into a sinister buzz. There's plenty of unexpected turns on the album, such as the pummelled beat of "Tree Bark" that hedges against a squall of kosmische step-sequencing; and there's the salacious clattering of computerized randomness lumped onto an un-nuanced, Dilloway plod of dour proportions on the album's two part "Durch Die Meere". The whispering vocals pushed to the foreground provided an unsettlingly voyeuristic feel to a good portion of these oil-stained, retro-garde works of modern day minimal wave. Limited to 100 copies!
MPEG Stream: "Cruising"
MPEG Stream: "Durch Die Meere"
MPEG Stream: "Tree Bark"
EYELIDS 854 (Jealous Butcher) cd 13.98
NOW ALSO HERE ON CD!We kinda flipped for the debut 7" from these guys a while back, and while for whatever reason we never managed to get it reviewed, the killer A side from that single launches the group's new full length, and it remains a potential top pop jam of the year, total hazy, jangly Teenage Fanclub style shimmer pop, an impossibly dreamy melody, soft vocals and lovely harmonies, with shadowy minor key moments laced throughout the track's otherwise sunshiny jangle. It's another one of those records, that if you're anything like us, you might have to hit repeat 5 or 10 times before you can make it past the opener (sound sample below). But go ahead. We can wait. The Eyelids are fronted by Chris Slusarenko (who's played with Boston Spaceships, Decemberists, Elliott Smith, Stephen Malkmus and more) and John Moen, and along with the rest of the 'Lids, they fuse unabashed NZ / Flying Nun worship with plenty of sonic nods to the aforementioned Teenage Fanclub, not to mention other pop faves from the past like Eugenius, BMX Bandits, as well as early R.E.M (and other Athens groups of the time), some of that LA Paisley Underground sound, and of course the Beatles loom large, how could they not? Every track here an impossible jangle pop gem, all chiming clean guitars, wistful melancholic melodies, sun dappled strum, the vocals all sixties and softly psychedelic, and hooks galore, with every song (once you get past the first) vying for best of the bunch. There's plenty of darkness and shadow too hidden amongst the sunshine, with some tracks slipping into haunting minor key melancholia, but even then, those moments are paired with some pure pop bliss. Ovens / Tony Molina fans would do well to check these guys out too, cuz if you couldn't tell, Molina is a serious Teenage Fanclub obsessive. Definite contender for pop record of the year. And there's that single still available too, with two B sides that rival any of the songs from the record proper. Just ask if you want one of those too (you probably do)!
MPEG Stream: "Seagulls Into Submission"
MPEG Stream: "Psych #1"
MPEG Stream: "Forget About Tomorrow"
FUNK, THE (WITH MACHO ALEX) s/t (Psychic Arts) cassette 9.98
***Outsider music alert!!!****There's nothing quite like the innocent wonder and unfettered creativity of children, which is on full display here, a delightful weirdness in the shape of a kid in his bedroom, pressing play/record on a tape recorder, way back in 1995. This kid, named Alex Rinehart (aka Macho Alex) managed to escape the boredom of everyday life by recording himself singing on top of warped bits of music and rambling/singing about everything from dentists to Dracula to McDonalds and monsters.Totally endearing and utterly bizarre, this immediately brought to mind the very early Daniel Johnston recordings, but only 12 years old when this as recorded, it's a sure bet Alex had no clue that anyone else was making similarly idiosyncratic recordings, or for that matter that years later oddball-music obsessives would be freaking out about HIS music. Songs about Randy Savage, rabies and cabbage and beyond... Thanks to his old middle school pal Matt Baldwin (a longtime aQ fave), these recording are finally seeing wider exposure (albeit in this very limited release) via Baldwin's label Psychic Arts. File next to Wesley Willis, the aforementioned Daniel Johnston and yes this is for sure pure incredibly strange music!Both the tape & cd-r come with a digital download and a sticker.
MPEG Stream: "Chicken Lickin Rabies"
MPEG Stream: "Bologna Children"
MPEG Stream: "Terry And His Bomb"
MPEG Stream: "Can't Make a 3-Pointer Blues"
GNAW THEIR TONGUES Collected Atrocities 2005-2008 (Crucial Blast) 2cd 14.98
For years now we've been singing the dark praises of this twisted one man band, whose sound is an ever-shifting sprawl of cinematic blackened noise-doom weirdness. Delivering noxious blurts of industrial crush, wrapped around stately marches and harrowing ambience, moments of almost soundtrack-ish tranquility give away to heaving waves of crumbling power electronics or stumbling caveman pummel. As much as we love Gnaw Their Tongues, even we had trouble keeping up with his output, a barrage of singles and splits, cd-r's and cassettes, driving the obsessive completist music nerds here mad. Well kudos to Crucial Blast for gathering up all of those odds and ends, onto one double disc, and like the releases proper, Collected Atrocities is another malevolent sonic beast, one that fits comfortable between Reeking Pained and Shuddering and An Epiphanic Vomiting Of Blood, which is where much of this stuff falls chronologically anyway, those familiar with either of those records no what sort of glorious epic filth is in store, those who are not, should be prepared for what is essentially a hellish soundtrack, to the most terrifying film never made. Strings shimmer amidst a cacophony of clang and clatter, loops warble and mutate, samples drift in from the ether, vokills howl and shriek behind veils of black thrum, and rib cage rattling low end threatens to turn your bones to dust, it's like a melting symphony colliding with a black metal band dosed on some seriously bad psychedelics, a harrowing sonic swirl, dizzying and darkly delightful, broodingly beautiful in places, but painfully punishing in others, Mories, the man behind GTT, conjuring up some insane alternative musical universe, one that evokes the maddest of hallucinations, and as we must have mentioned before, these SHOULD be the scores to twisted arthouse horror flicks, even though ultimately they don't need any visuals at all, it's that rare sort of sound that opens some primitive portal in your brain, unleashing your imagination, and sending it spiraling into the darkest depths of your blackened soul. Packaged in a super swank 6 panel digipak, with some very cringeworthy artwork.
GNOD & WHITE HILLS Gnod Drop Out With White Hills II (Rocket Recordings) 2lp 30.00
REPRESSED AGAIN! Sold seriously dozens of these back when it first came out in 2010, but it's been gone for 3 or 4 years now... But if you missed it before, it's now back in print once again, but probably not for long...This sprawling double lp of blissed out space rock psychedelia is being touted as the first 'official' teaming up of these two outfits, but it's definitely at least the second, maybe the now out of print Aquarian Downer cd-r is not being counted as properly official, but having freaked out over that a while back, we already knew these two were a good match. And on this collaboration, the two mesh seamlessly, White Hills seeming to let Gnod dial down the intensity and all out rocking, and crank up the shimmery washed out dreaminess, we mentioned Tangerine Dream in our review of the cd-r, and that sound is all over here, but so is Neu!, Wooden Shjips, all sorts of things, but WH and Gnod are clearly space rock masters, and these 4 sidelong tracks only further cement their placement in our personal space rock kraut drone pantheon (what, you don't have one?)!So for this record, White Hills are a four piece, again featuring Oneida's Kid Millions on drums, and Gnod are a SEVEN piece, so you would think 11 rockers jamming out would be a crazy mess, but nope, these guys are so obviously sonic soulmates, from the first side, a slab of slow groovy krautrock, motorik (multiple drummer-ed?) drumming, smoldering minimal riffage, mantra like vocals, the Neu! / Stereolab vibe here is huge, woozy synths, tangled psychedelic leads, all glistening and sunshiney, never exploding into full bore heaviness, instead, just unwinding lazily and dreamily. The second side starts off similarly, a super spare spaced out drift, before launching into a muscular Hawkwind sounding jam, all downtuned crunch, caveman pound, swirly psychedelic effects, churning and chugging relentlessly, the rhythm and groove LOCKED in, while the guitars and synths and effects swirl and whirl all around, finally unwinding with a cool muted bit of cinematic drift, haunting ghostlike melodies that almost sound like strings, all in a softly fuzzy dreamlike haze. Lp 2 begins all rhythmic and almost new agey, cool repetitive melodies, simple and stripped down drumming, all laid over a deep rumbling synth drone, everything washed out and otherworldly. Eventually that gives way to a throbbing fuzzy bassline, matched up with a rock solid rhythm, more effects are applied, as are some wild fragmented super distorted leads, some warped Manzarek style organ, that main groove never faltering, total low slung incendiary psychedelia. And so like us, you were probably expecting the final side to be the full on blow out we had all been waiting for, a free for all freak out of epic proportions, but instead, the band dial it WAY down, and offer up some super sprawling, ethereal atmospheric space folk driftscape bliss out, all spidery crystalline guitars, barely there hand drums, thick languid basslines, gauzy restrained effects, soft focus finger picked neo-Appalachia, totally dreamlike and mesmerizing, it almost sounds like the Alps covering Hawkwind, converting heart of the sun heaviness into something hushed and pastoral, subtly lysergic and utterly divine. So good.
MPEG Stream: "Run-A-Round"
MPEG Stream: "Spaced Man"
MPEG Stream: "Elka (Bonus Track)"
HAINO, KEIJI / JIM O'ROURKE / OREN AMBARCHI Tea Time For Those Determined To Completely Exhaust Every Bit Of This Body They've Been Given (Black Truffle) lp 22.00
At the end of our review of this trio's previous recording, Only Wanting To Melt Beautifully Away Is It A Lack Of Contentment That Stirs Affection For Those Things Said To Be As Of Yet Unseen, we wrote, "we're left wanting more", and now, less than a year later, more is upon us! Vinyl-only for now, Tea Time For Those Determined To Completely Exhaust Every Bit Of This Body They've Been Given (that title, is it Haino's goofiest yet? Tea Time??) again sees this by-now well-established trio doing what they do, which is generally what guitarist/vocalist/flautist Haino does: abstract, intense, shamanic 'outrock'. He's the dominant personality, as usual, but the contributions of the O'Rourke/Ambarchi rhythm section are immense, neither of those dudes being slouches at playing their instruments or being creative, either. Facility with all the appropriate free jazz, post rock, and neo-kraut idioms are no problem for them, needless to say.Recorded live in March 2013 in Tokyo, this lp is, in fact, the second set the trio played that night, the first having been released as Only Wanting To Melt Beautifully Away... album - thus this follows on from that about as closely as possible, indeed. It features 3 long tracks (with long track titles too!), the third taking up an entire album side. Much magic ensues, as the already-obsessed can imagine.Encore! (Again!)
HAMA Torodi (Sahel Sounds) lp 21.00
Another wild blast of African electronic music from the Sahel Sounds label (who also gave us the Music From Saharan Cellphones comps, and amazing records from Mammane Sani Et Son Orgue, Agali Ag Amoumne, Alkibar Gignor, and tons more!). Much like the tracks on Music From Saharan Cellphones, Hama, a composer/synthesizer player from Niger, enjoyed immense popularity throughout his country via the unlikely music distribution of digital recordings on memory cards, traded and played on cellphones. But it's not just the method of distribution that's special/unique, Hama has created a strange hybrid of influences, from American techno, to African folk music, the resulting sounds are all over the sonic map, some like some spaced out krautrock ("Ataraghine"), others like wild video game music, playful and fun ("Tarhanam"), still others like some avant African kosmische, with the synth sounding almost like an alien bagpipe (or maybe a little reminiscent at times of aQ faves Amps For Christ), the rhythms, motorik, and occasionally robotically funky, the whole thing like some futuristic tranced out Tuareg music. So good. Fans of all the Sahel Sounds releases (as well as everything on Sublime Frequencies, Awesome Tapes From Africa, etc.) will definitely dig big time!LIMITED TO 500 COPIES. Hand screened sleeves and hand-stamped labels.
MPEG Stream: "Tagout"
MPEG Stream: "Ataraghine"
MPEG Stream: "Tarhanam"
ISTEN FANZINE: DON'T BREAK THE GHOST (Svart) book 65.00
Holy heck. This is a BIG BOOK. Hardcover, A4 size, 804 pages, it weighs over six pounds. And it's for metalheads only. So much more metal than thou.Isten Fanzine, you'd be forgiven for maybe not knowing, was/is an Finnish metal 'zine that began back in 1984. So it has documented a vast swath of the development of the underground metal scene in Scandinavia and the rest of the world over that period, and this book compiles it all, everything that appeared in Isten (and some previously unpublished stuff too), from 1984-2014. Crucial, cult, historical stuff. Manna for any metalhead. Interviews and reviews and all that sort of fanzine goodness. There's even a tabletop board game printed in one of the issues. Bands featured include Mayhem, Darkthrone, Sigh, Coroner, Carcass, Sabbat, Furbowl, Watain, Morbid Angel, Opeth, Katatonia, Xysma, Order From Chaos, Sadus, Entombed, Samael, Opeth, Living Death, Kreator, Paradise Lost, Deceased, Exit-13, Master's Hammer, Dead Horse, and literally hundreds more. If you've got the huge Slayer Mag Diaries book Bazillion Points put out, you've got an idea about what this is like, but it's even bigger!! And maybe, better, more cult and intellectual in a way, the b&w graphics getting artier and the metallic concepts explored getting headier as the issues go by.Along with the tons and tons of material from the original issues, this book includes new 'narrative' commentary from editor Mikko Mattila, a forward by fan Professor Black (Dawnbringer, High Spirits, Aktor), and essay contributions from others as well. Mattila's writing, along with the massive original 'zine content itself, explains Isten to be truly a fanzine for fanatics, with metal as a form of faith. As Mattila says of this anthology, "It truly is a treasure chest, a time machine, and an open grave."Seriously, this tome is something special, deserving of a place on any true metalhead's bookshelf, if it's sturdy enough. We have about a half-dozen copies at the moment, & we'll probably be able to get more, but it could be a little while. Note for domestic mailorder customers: we suggest media mail for this one, 'cause we'll have to charge for shipping by weight...
JELLYFISH Bellybutton (Omnivore) 2cd 19.98
While lacking some of the Queen-like bombast and the lush, layered, studio-as-instrument production of their 1993 swansong Spilt Milk (reviewed on the last list), beloved powerpoppers Jellyfish still began their career with a bang, in the form of their 1990 debut Bellybutton, whose pop, while perhaps more paisley than power, introduced a group with an uncanny mastery of timeless songsmithery and a whole mess of hooks, which ended up spawning a bunch of pretty big hits, their videos were everywhere in the early nineties, and while their over the top fashion sometimes eclipsed just how goddamn good they really were, Bellybutton was surprisingly a way bigger commercial success than that record's seemingly more polished and professional follow-up. In one way it's not actually all that surprising, first records often display a band hungry for success, and with songs they've been working on since the beginning, and there's no shortage of stone cold classics on Bellybutton, and while the production is definitely of its time, it's also part of that record's charm for sure, the sound is scrappy and a little loose, more like a real rock band than the studio-masters who made Spilt Milk, and yet Bellybutton is still rife with impossible vocal harmonies, amazing playing, and most importantly, some seriously killer songs.We gushed in out review of Spilt Milk that some of us consider it to be one of THEE best records ever, and in some ways, that record could never have happened without Bellybutton, and in others, BB is really just it's own special set of songs. We're reminded of the Posies' Dear 23, another band we love who transformed from a fuzzy, paisley pop band into a super well oiled power pop machine. And just like the Posies, we love both sides of Jellyfish's sonic personality as well. This new version of Belybutton, like the reissue of Spilt Milk is another double disc, tacking on a ton of bonus tracks, with new liner notes and rare art/photos, etc.
MPEG Stream: "That Is Why"
MPEG Stream: "The King Is Half-Undressed"
MPEG Stream: "Baby's Coming Back"
KING WOMAN Doubt (The Flenser) 12" 15.98
Kristinia Esfandiari formerly of SF shoegazers Whirr, delivers a dark brooding gem of introspective heaviness, a mini-songsuite that unfurls lugubriously, and blossoms into a haunting sprawl of crushing, slo-mo metallic, torchsong miserablism. Imagine some twisted fusion of PJ harvey and SUNNO))). Churning washes of crumbling distortion and tarpit riffage drift grimly through billowing clouds of dense layered thrum, roiling blackened backdrops for Esfandiari's throaty, bewitching vox. The sonic heft matched by the lyrical themes of family and religion, and the suffering borne of both.A darkly delicate downer pop dirgery, flecked with keening, melancholic melodies crafted into smoldering sonic arcs, and all wound up into blurred hazy drifts, morose, moody, mournful and melancholy. With the sound very reminiscent of Whirr, but like that groups blissed out metalgaze slowed way down, stretched out into languorous, undulating fields of dreamy, dour, doom-drift shimmer. "Candescent Soul" begins a whispered drumless creep, before transforming into a heart wrenching slow motion sonic pummel, a heart crushing deathmarch dirge reminiscent of some lost Katatonia B-side via nineties slowcore."Burn" follows a similar sonic template, blurred riffs spread out into a hazy landscape of swoonsome buzz and throb, driven by a simple caveman pound, before exploding into some seriously dense introspective crush, spidery tendrils of strange distorted electronics tangled up beneath Esfandiari's increasingly passionate and dramatic vocals. A shoegaze doom that bleeds into closer "King Of Swords", a loping distorted ballad that builds into a brooding slow build bombastic, swirling and psychedelic, almost like a female fronted, shoegaze Afghan Whigs, tortured, heart-on-sleeve indie pop recast as something darkly metallic, that somehow remains woozy, washed out, wasted, and dreamily despondent.
MPEG Stream: "Wrong"
MPEG Stream: "King Of Swords"
LORD DYING Poisoned Altars (Relapse) lp 21.00
Portland sludge merchants Lord Dying are back to beat you up, beat you down, beat you all around with their second album for Relapse. It's doom metal clobberin' time, Lord Dying laying down the lumbering riffs, solo shred, and mean, bellowing vokills (though this time, we noticed some clean singing amidst the guttural roar, at least on "An Open Sore"). Songs like the oh so optimistic "(All Hopes Of A New Day)...Extinguished" wallow in sheer morose chuggery, this album approaching groovy death metal territory at times, sounding more 'core at others.While wouldn't want ALL metal to always sound like Lord Dying, there is something about this that couldn't be any MORE metal. They do their thing just about perfectly, for when you really want to indulge in the simple, extreme, aggro pleasures of riffs, solos, and gruff/tuff vocals.Again, for fans of High On Fire, that sort of doomed out, cranked up, heavy rockin' punishment - and also, once again, nice cover art, that looks like it belongs on a '70s dark fantasy paperback novel by Karl Edward Wagner or something.
MPEG Stream: "A Wound Outside Of Time"
MPEG Stream: "(All Hopes Of A New Day)... Extinguished"
MAGMA Slag Tanz (Seventh) lp 22.00
Praise the gods of Zeuhl. Here's the latest from French spiritual, operatic sci-fi prog jazz masters Magma! Fans over here should be doubly excited, because Magma are soon to embark on their first US tour in ages, including a date here in San Francisco in early April. In all likelihood, they'll be playing some material from this release, and it will fit right in with their classic '70s material. Magma's current lineup - with both young whizzes and old vets - is potent to say the least, we have no doubts that their shows will be amazing.The symphonic onslaught of Slag Tanz is Magma at their usual over the top selves, a complex and conceptual 8-part piece (about 21 minutes total) full of insistent rhythms, heavy duty basslines, operatic exhortations, darkness and light. It's mostly sung in their made up language of Kobaian, of course, so we have no idea what it's "about" (even though the lyrics are printed in the booklet!) but it's clearly something serious, of course. We'd compare it with the likes of Japan's Ruins and Koenjihyakkei, if the influence wasn't in fact the other way around.Cool all-black cover, with embossed logo and title. Digipack cd, or 180 gram vinyl with download code.
MPEG Stream: "Slag"
MPEG Stream: "Vers La Nuit"
MAMUTHONES / EVIL BLIZZARD Collisions Vol. 4 (Rocket Recordings) lp 31.00
The fourth in Rocket Records' 'Collisions series', where the label pairs up like minded bands, and lets 'em rip. Past installments have included nothing but aQ faves: The Heads, White Hills, Oneida, Mugstar, Shit & Shine and Gnod. This volume introduces us to a couple lesser known outfits, up first Italian kraut-psych weirdos Mamuthones, who deliver a sort of motorik grooviness, at times touching on the psychedelic funkiness of Goat, at others, locking into sprawling Hawkwindy headnod heaviness, percussion peppers the proceedings, as does loads of effects, but also plenty of samples. The first track sounds like some strange eighties industrial jam given a psych makeover, while the second drifts into Moon Duo-ish hypno-rock, with distorted vox drifting atop a thick bass throb and choppy guitar crunch, all laced with some squalls of distorto noise guitar freakout. Elsewhere the band channel Devo into something much heavier and noisier, before finishing off with the funkiest jam of the bunch. The flipside features UK post punk noiserockers Evil Blizzard, whose first track is all low slung and slithery, like a more harrowing Joy Division, reverbed vocals draped over sinewy basslines with some chunky guitars, that the label compares to both P.I.L. and Hawkwind, and we have to say that's pretty spot on. The other track is a remix of that same track by another aQ fave, Teeth Of The Sea, who give the original a sort of John Carpenter makeover, unfurling all creepy and cinematic, a lush, smoldering slow build, all atmosphere and tension, hushed and haunting, spacey and seriously tripped out, right down to the moody trumpets that surface partway through, giving it a sort of psychedelic Morricone vibe.Packaged in an eye popping green and black die cut disco style sleeve, with a printed insert. And yeah, you guessed it, very VERY limited.
MPEG Stream: MAMUTHONES "Don't Be Choosy"
MPEG Stream: EVIL BLIZZARD "Sacrifice"
MEDICINE Home Everywhere (Captured Tracks) cd 15.98
Home Everywhere marks the second album in the return to the limelight for Medicine, a band that still garners the pithy epithet as an American equivalent to My Bloody Valentine. When Medicine burst onto the scene as the first American band to get signed to Creation Records in the early '90s, Loveless had only begun to ooze into the musical landscape, with bands like Teenage Filmstars, the Swirlies, and Medicine to take the idea of My Bloody Valentine's resampling and art-pop deconstruction as a zeitgeist to blossom and not merely as an oceanic wash of dream-pop / drone-on psychedelia. Medicine's initial recordings were cut from the same cloth as any punk band circa 1977 being inspired by the Sex Pistols. There was a license to take the ideas first proposed by My Bloody Valentine and go for broke on them. Throughout the '90s, Medicine produced some amazing records that got largely overlooked; and not surprisingly, the band called it quits. When the itch to reform came, Medicine's return was a delightful surprise as it was exactly what we had hoped Medicine would sound like - harmonic noise-laden overdrive, swoonsome vocal harmonies from vocalist Beth Thompson, and some pretty fucking catchy hooks ripping throughout. Home Everywhere is far more decentered and purposefully destabilizing as the baroque paisley pop structures are smashed against the floor with the blindingly sharp shards of noise, rhythm, and melody are pieced back together through an entirely different logic. It's a logic that speaks more of Brian Wilson at his grandest and most lysergic. The songs of Home Everywhere dissolve, tumble, and fragment; and it's hard to tell how much of that is by design of these experiments intentionally shattering their contents. Don't really know how to peg it in just the right way, but we'll just say that Los Angeles has always had its share of weirdos flying their freak-flags a top the Hollywood sign; and Medicine's refusnik noise-pop demolitions seems to adhere to that ethos.
MPEG Stream: "The Reclaimed Girl"
MPEG Stream: "Turning"
MPEG Stream: "Cold Life"
NIGHT DEMON Curse Of The Damned (Century Media) cd 14.98
Last list, in our review of the ep by Aussie retro metallers Outcast, we also mentioned this band, from Los Angeles. Like Outcast, Night Demon are hugely influenced by the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal (which flourished circa 1979-'83, so it's not so New anymore). Curse Of The Damned is Night Demon's full-length debut, after an ep on Shadow Kingdom the never got around to reviewing (but should have). On the ep, Night Demon sounded a lot like NWOBHM greats Diamond Head, not a bad thing of course - a young band today could do a lot worse when picking a mentor. Now on the full-length, the comparison to Diamond Head (and other NWOBHM faves like Angel Witch and Iron Maiden) is still quite apt, but they give a nod to another inspiration with the bonus track on this cd, a cover of "Road Racin'" by American metal legends Riot. That they pull that song off so well speaks to one of Night Demon's major strengths - their vocalist (who also plays bass), Jarvis Leatherby. Now that's a metal name. He's got the pipes - a great melodic but not too polished voice, totally in the classic tradition. Plus Night Demon are heavy, speedy, catchy, and very, very old school metal in all other respects. Naturally, nothing groundbreaking, but still impressive and a good time for any true headbanger - especially fans of the both the NWOBHM and its modern-day worshippers like Outcast, Zuul, High Spirits, Space Vacation, and Blade Killer (members of which provide some backing vocals here).Now (in an alternate timestream) Night Demon just has to wait for Metallica to come along and cover one of these songs (and do for them what they did for Diamond Head...)! FYI, there's also a vinyl version, we'll get that in soon too, hopefully.
MPEG Stream: "Screams In The Night"
MPEG Stream: "Curse Of The Damned"
MPEG Stream: "Save Me Now"
NISENNENMONDAI N' (Blast First Petite) 12" 19.98
Motorik Japanese all-female trio Nisennenmondai's most recent album, N, took the skeletal, minimalist 'choo-choo-choo' sounds of their previous outing, 2009's Destination Tokyo, to a stripped-down extreme. Eschewing a lot of variation, they really just lock in and go with the groove. With standard rock instrumentation, they play what sounds like electronic music - they're an extra-tight 'live' techno band essentially, not unlike Austria's Electro Guzzi.N came out last summer, on cd only (which is currently backordered and possibly out of print). But now, for vinyl folks, and especially DJ types, Blast First has put out a 12" vinyl version, called N'. The tracks here are apparently re-recordings/re-workings of cuts from the N cd proper, but our description of those still holds: long instrumental tracks of purely rhythmic attack that are all tck-tck-tck, scht-scht-scht, thup-thup-thup... Ultra repetitive, up tempo percussive jitter that's sleek and steady, subtle yet urgent, constantly building up the mysterious, nervous energy. Based around live 'loops' of snare hits and bass beats, what sound like Morse code blips and Giger counter clicks, it's a brooding sort of thumping techno, with shimmering shoegaze guitars around the edges, distorted and echo-effected, creating quite a mesmeric & mekanikal, noirish mood. Sort of sounds like Circle playing a rave, really! (And we'd LOVE to experience this live!) Considerably compelling as far as we're concerned, and also kinda curious coming from a band who once upon a time sounded a lot like Sonic Youth and Deerhoof, though they've always been about the repetitive trance-induction, they've just honed that aspect and dialed back on their former noisy no-waveisms.(Note: the sound samples below are from the original cd, not this vinyl version.)
MPEG Stream: "A"
MPEG Stream: "B-1"
OBNOX Boogalou Reed (12XU) lp 16.98
At this point it seems like weirdo psychedelic noise rockers and aQ faves the Puffy Areolas must be done for, cuz PA drummer Lamont Thomas, aka Obnox, can't seem to stop releasing records, it seems like one every couple months, and not just that, but every single one of those records RULE. Not to take anything away from drummers, but holy shit, who knew what this guy had up his sleeve when he was back there bashing away.Now we all know, a dizzying barrage of soulful garage noise and hip hop flecked psych rock, a clutch of wicked songs, and some seriously and deliriously wacked out covers. And while we often reach a saturation point with some bands, we're not even close with Obnox. Boogalou Reed explodes right out of the gate with some blown out organ drenched groovery, that sounds like some weird alien proto metal, Deep Purple via Castle Face or something. And it just never lets up, the songs doused in distortion, the recording super hot, but the vocals surprisingly melodic, in fact, the awesomely titled "Cynthia Piper At The Gates Of Dawn" sounds a little like Purling Hiss mixed with Malachai, which makes no sense, but somehow it DOES. In fact a lot of Boogalou Reed reminds us of the weird retro psych of Malachai, albeit delivered via face melting amplification, and rickety drum kit, captured on a busted 4 track, and blasting from a shitty car stereo as we ride shotgun, white knuckling it while Thomas does his thing. And while it's all gloriously and rambunctiously noisy, buried amidst all the noisiness, like on past records, are the sorts of jams, that are damn near timeless/classic ("Too Punk Shakur" sounds like some old soul song sped up and doused in distortion, while the title track gets all spaced out and seriously trippy). Not sure what else to say about Obnox that we haven't already, other than he rules, and this rules, and you should buy everything you can get your goddamn hands on. Includes a download too.
MPEG Stream: "Cynthia Piper At The Gates Of Dawn"
MPEG Stream: "Boogalou Reed"
OCCULTATION Silence In The Ancestral House (20 Buck Spin) lp 17.98
NOW ON VINYL! Here's what we said a few months ago about the cd version released on Profound Lore:Two years on from their Three And Seven debut, the two doomladies and one doomlord of the Occultation trio return from their negative plane (one of them is IN the band Negative Plane, actually) to offer up another spooky slab of their dimly-lit darkside rituals, playing again an obscure, ominous style of female-fronted, majestic dirge-doom, lashed to hectic bursts of prog-pounding. The witchy, gothic vocals dip and soar, while flurries of organ notes send shivers up the spine... Shades of Paul Chain and other esoteric Italian doom, that sort of arcane atmosphere, as if performed by Ides Of Gemini or even Hammers Of Misfortune. Also, Sabbath's "Electric Funeral" seemingly is always echoing in these compositions (along with some melancholic organ runs out of "Hotel California"). 'Tis haunting and HEAVY and sometimes even quite lovely. Quite a cult-sounding hybrid of many things - '70s prog, '80s metal, goth, doom, even a hint of surf at one reverby-moment or two. Light some candles, play it loud, let it really sink in.Recorded, appropriately, in Salem, Massachusetts, with producer Kurt Ballou (Converge, Beastmilk, many others).
MPEG Stream: "All Hallow's Fire"
MPEG Stream: "Forever Hereafter"
OM Live (Outer Battery) lp 21.00
If you've ever heard OM live, well, you know what it's like to see them live. A piece of vinyl, no matter how weighty, can't really compete with that. But, if you'd like to experience OM's stoned live ceremony from the comfort of your own recliner, divan, or yoga mat - and there's a lot to be said for that - the simply titled Live lp on Outer Battery will do the trick.Mean to emulate a '70s classic rock live boot, with raw sound (no overdubs, man) and a simple white sleeve with a pasted on, wraparound b&w cover photo of the band on stage, this document from one date on OM's 2013 European tour is a must for all OM-heads. It features four tracks - on Side A, "Sinai" and "Meditation Is The Practice Of Death"; Side B has "Cremations Ghat I" and "Bhima's Theme".Featuring much echoing drum-thwack, zoned out chant, mesmerically heavy riffage, and a worshipful crowd of Belgians, it is very much like "you are there". While at the same time, OM can help you to "be here now".On "Acapulco Gold" colored vinyl, LIMITED TO 800 COPIES.
PHIPPS PT. Kiss You So Many Times You Can't Count My Love (Sanity Muffin) cassette 8.98
We've been in a constant state of glowing bliss ever since we first pressed play on this collection of beautiful psychedelic folk songs by Oakland's (by way of Canada) Phipps Pt. Glistening vocals drenched in sheets of intoxicating reverb melt perfectly into majestic guitar shimmer and subtle keyboard textures. We're reminded of one of our favorite UK psych folk artists Pantaleimon, as Lovage (aka Phipps Pt.) has the same kind of voice, all dreamy but with a distinctly dark disposition. It's easy to imagine Current 93 joining forces with Phipps. Pt., the sounds on Kiss melting in a haze dripping with endless warmth. This is such a rewarding and engulfing listen. We could go on and on about how much we love this, but we got the last 8 of these in existence, so chances are this will likely be gone before you've finished reading these words. We can't wait to hear what she does next!
MPEG Stream: "Salty Earth"
RED TEMPLE SPIRITS Dancing To Restore An Eclipsed Moon (Mannequin) 2lp 30.00
We have loved this band since we were in high school, when we first picked up a copy of the Red Temple Spirits' first record. That album - Dancing To Restore An Eclipsed Moon - became something we've returned to over and over again. Then, it was a more adventurous, post-apocalyptic, and lysergically tainted take on the British post-punk / goth-pop albums of our youth. You know, Love & Rockets, Siouxsie, The Smiths, The Cure. But later, upon discovering the Syd Barrett fronted Pink Floyd records, Twink's Think Pink, and the Outsiders' CQ, Red Temple Spirits seemed less to fit in with their contemporaries and more of a feral updated expression of psychedelic awakening of those bands from the '70s. The basslines from Red Temple Spirits may have been lifted wholesale from Steven Severin of Siouxsie & The Banshees, and the guitars could hit the jagged, sparkplug bursts of Gang Of Four or even Crime (but for the most part, they paralleled the dark-eyed jangle of the Abecedarians); but the arrangements were far more convoluted - at times shambolic and rambling, and at others ritualistically intense. The band emerged out of the LA goth-punk scene in 1987, when bassist Dino Paredes departed Psi-Com, which was fronted by none other than Perry Farrell (who would go on to form Jane's Addiction) only to find another amazing frontman in the form of William Faircloth. This British ex-pat was equal parts doomsayer and acid casualty, eagerly waxing poetic about the latter through the lens of the former. Many of these visionary tales mapped out a basic philosophy of universalist gnosticism - "The Light Of Christ" addresses a common gnostic precept that an inner wisdom is trapped within the human condition and can be tapped through meditation, invocation, rigorous study, whatnot, but not before passing through allusions to Buddhism and animism. Vocally, Faircloth sounds a hell of a lot like Black Francis / Frank Black trying to do a Syd Barrett impersonation - a demonic, tonal yelp with a faint trace of a British lisp. The band produced two albums, the aforementioned Dancing To Restore An Eclipsed Moon (1988) and the nearly impossible to find If Tomorrow I Were Leaving For Lhasa, I Wouldn't Stay A Minute More (1989). The bulk of copies of the latter all seemed to end up in Greece for whatever reason, and given the prices for the album online, must have been single handedly supporting the Greek economy. The debut is an astonishing double album that sprawls from languid dirges to frenetic punk-pop songs all lead in dramatic fashion by Faircloth.
MPEG Stream: "Waiting For The Sun"
MPEG Stream: "Dark Spirits"
RED TEMPLE SPIRITS If Tomorrow I Were Leaving For Lhasa, I Wouldn't Stay a Minute More... (Mannequin) lp 26.00
We have loved this band since we were in high school, when we first picked up a copy of the Red Temple Spirits' first record. That album - Dancing To Restore An Eclipsed Moon - became something we've returned to over and over again. Then, it was a more adventurous, post-apocalyptic, and lysergically tainted take on the British post-punk / goth-pop albums of our youth. You know, Love & Rockets, Siouxsie, The Smiths, The Cure. But later, upon discovering the Syd Barrett fronted Pink Floyd records, Twink's Think Pink, and the Outsiders' CQ, Red Temple Spirits seemed less to fit in with their contemporaries and more of a feral updated expression of psychedelic awakening of those bands from the '70s. The basslines from Red Temple Spirits may have been lifted wholesale from Steven Severin of Siouxsie & The Banshees, and the guitars could hit the jagged, sparkplug bursts of Gang Of Four or even Crime (but for the most part, they paralleled the dark-eyed jangle of the Abecedarians); but the arrangements were far more convoluted - at times shambolic and rambling, and at others ritualistically intense. The band emerged out of the LA goth-punk scene in 1987, when bassist Dino Paredes departed Psi-Com, which was fronted by none other than Perry Farrell (who would go on to form Jane's Addiction) only to find another amazing frontman in the form of William Faircloth. This British ex-pat was equal parts doomsayer and acid casualty, eagerly waxing poetic about the latter through the lens of the former. Many of these visionary tales mapped out a basic philosophy of universalist gnosticism - "The Light Of Christ" addresses a common gnostic precept that an inner wisdom is trapped within the human condition and can be tapped through meditation, invocation, rigorous study, whatnot, but not before passing through allusions to Buddhism and animism. Vocally, Faircloth sounds a hell of a lot like Black Francis / Frank Black trying to do a Syd Barrett impersonation - a demonic, tonal yelp with a faint trace of a British lisp. The band produced two albums, the aforementioned Dancing To Restore An Eclipsed Moon (1988) and the nearly impossible to find If Tomorrow I Were Leaving For Lhasa, I Wouldn't Stay A Minute More (1989). The bulk of copies of the latter all seemed to end up in Greece for whatever reason, and given the prices for the album online, must have been single handedly supporting the Greek economy. The second album attempts to tighten up some of the more unhinged aspects, with a few more conventional psych-rock songs but when they hit the cover of Pink Floyd's "Set The Controls To The Heart Of The Sun," it really is a twisted acid trip launched beyond Earth's orbit, through pounding tribal rhythms, Keith Levene-esque guitar scratchiness, and Faircloth's belted vocals.
MPEG Stream: "Meltdown"
MPEG Stream: "In The Wild Hills"
MPEG Stream: "Set The Controls"
SEGALL, TY / BLACK TIME split (Telephone Explosion) lp 22.00
REPRESSED! Originally released in, like, 2009, and quickly out of print. Now it's back (and, unfortunately, more expensive, dang the price of vinyl keeps going up).This split with British band Black Time finds Ty at his most raw and rocking! Seven brand new songs including a smoking cover of The Dwarves "Be A Caveman" from back in their total garage punk days. Black Time were new to our ears and they definitely prove that London can get raw and fuzzy with the best of them, as their way lo-fi and in-the-red sound make them a perfect match for Segall. Maybe a bit more punk in sound and aesthetic than TS, while still totally tapping into the more damaged and distorted side of primitive garage punk. It's such a good time to be a fan of raw and impassioned garage rock cause folks like Ty and Black Time are totally coming correct.
SUTEKH HEXEN Become (Cold Spring) cd 17.98
NOW ON CD! With a bonus track! Released by King Of The Monsters in a super limited (351 copies!) fancy vinyl edition two years ago, and even before than originally as an even more limited and lavishly packaged reel-to-reel tape (!) via Auris Apothecary, this is the third in a loose trilogy of albums from this Bay Area black metal / black ambient horde.Become consists of two sprawling fifteen minute tracks, and is maybe Sutekh Hexen's most abstract work to date. Where other records displayed a distinct delineation between the atmospheric movements, and the buzzing black sections, no such separation exists here, with each track/side existing as a single sonic ritual. The group's black buzz is smeared into blurred squalls of washed out noise, replete with heaving swells of abject industrial thrum, buried vocals, oozing riffage, and buried rhythms. According to the band Become was specifically created to inspire madness through repetition, a tranced out minimal/maximal cloud of roiling black sound! This is more noise than black metal, a near psychedelic blacknoise, the first half featuring some seriously rib cage rattling low end, and when the noisiness abates, the sonic clouds part revealing some haunting beauty, tangled melodies and almost shoegazey textures, lurking just below the surface, eventually building back up to a dense death march crawl, more of a ghostly drift actually, the sound shedding low end, gradually growing more and more brittle, until at the finish its nearly Merzbowian white noise. The second half delivers more of the same, shadowed beauty, beneath cloud of demon breath vokills, of keening ur-drone shimmer, crumbling Caretaker-like atmospheres, occasional gouts of face melting howl and crush, but those moments are balanced by brief passages of sublime sonically tarnished beauty, that drifts darkly through the ether, before being obliterated by one final blast of speaker shredding blacknoise crush.
MPEG Stream: "Five Faces Of Decay"
MPEG Stream: "The Voice / The Void"
THIN LIZZY Vagabonds Of The Western World (Light In The Attic) lp 26.00
We were pleasantly surprised a few years ago when Light In The Attic reissued the first (self-titled) Thin Lizzy album on vinyl, not really LITA's usual sort of jam, but of course cool. At the time, we remember talking to one of our pals who runs the label about it, and asking if they planned to reissue any other albums by the seminal '70s Irish hard rockers, like, maybe, Vagabonds Of The Western World (one of our favorites). Turns out, he hadn't really even ever heard any other Thin Lizzy albums beside the debut, but he said he'd check 'em out! Clearly, now, that's happened, and Light In The Attic has just brought us swank (180 gram, gatefold, tip-on jacket, 24bit/96kHz remaster, 'book-deep' liner notes) first-time vinyl reissues of Lizzy's 2nd and 3rd albums, Shades Of A Blue Orphanage from 1972 (not reviewed yet, but in stock, also cool), and this one, 1973's Vagabonds. Both from the early, oft-underappreciated era of Thin Lizzy, before "The Boys Are Back In Town", before the famed dual-guitar lineup, back when things were slightly more hippy-dippy, sometimes folky, sometimes bluesy, sometimes proggy. But with brilliant guitar work in its own right, courtesy of original Lizzy axeman Eric Bell. And of course, with the charismatic vocals and storytelling songwriting of frontman/bassist/rock and roll legend Phil Lynott, in full effect. Since we reference Thin Lizzy in a lot of heavy music reviews these days, hopefully we don't have to tell you how great they were. But if we do have to tell you, or tell you that they were great even before the Gorham/Robertson dual guitar era, let it be via Vagabonds. Just get it. It's got some killer rockers (including "The Rocker"!), it's got some more mellow, pretty tunes ("A Song For While I'm Away"), it's got the freaky epics ("The Hero And the Madman"), and their traditional Irish folk factor too. Heck, any album with both "Little Girl In Bloom" and "Gonna Creep Up On You" is a GREAT album. And we didn't even mention all the other great songs. A stone classic any way you cut it.
MPEG Stream: "Vagabond Of The Western World"
MPEG Stream: "Gonna Creep Up On You"
TWERPS Range Anxiety (Merge) cd 14.98
Melbourne's Twerps find themselves in very good company at the home of Superchunk, with Range Anxiety being their second album and their first on Merge. Their homespun, jangling songs are the long-lost younger brothers to those penned by The Bats, Yo La Tengo, The Go-Betweens, and whatever your favorite understatedly catchy indie-rock band circa 1992 might have been. Twerps frontman Marty Frawley presents a shaggy demeanor of aw-shucks sincerity topped off with the charms of an entertaining doe-eyed drunk. He shares the vocal duties with Julia McFarlane, who deftly harmonizes with Frawley; but when she takes the center stage she's got all of the summer sunshine clarity of Amelia Fletcher of Heavenly. The band's bittersweet melodies embrace the deceptively simple songs of wistful, delightful, and deliciously nostalgic indie-pop, spinning tales of love and loss. What else is there?
MPEG Stream: "I Don't Mind"
MPEG Stream: "Stranger"
MPEG Stream: "New Moves"
UNIVERSAL TOGETHERNESS BAND, THE s/t (Numero) lp 15.98
We've been listening to this nearly non-stop since we got our hands on a promo late last year. We didn't really know much about the backstory, just were totally floored by the consistently infectious hybrid grooves of funk, new wave, rare groove and jazz fusion recorded between 1979-1982 that it seemed impossible that this group was virtually undiscovered all this time by anyone outside of Chicago. Their sound fits somewhere between the edgy rhythm of Funkadelic, the rare groove of Roy Ayers, and the direct lyrical realness of Heatwave, but at the same time carries an unexpectedly sharp radio-ready pop sense, boosted by a laser-like focus on studio production and topnotch less-is-more musicianship. Learning their backstory after listening to this so much makes the whole thing that much more impressive and explains somewhat how a little known party band who amassed such an amazing back-log of never before released recordings.Taken from tapes recorded in Columbia College's audio department recorded by college audio students at the time, The Universal Togetherness Band, somehow artfully finagled to get FIVE semesters of recording time to put to tape the band's entire repertoire, likely on the school's dime. For some reason a planned album release fell through and the tapes were shelved. Numero has done a great service with the help of mixing by Sean Marquand of Phenomenal Handclap Band to cull down eight solid tracks from the archive that spread themselves out genre-wise yet still stay tethered to the whole. Seriously, not a dud song in the bunch. Highly Recommended!
MPEG Stream: "Ain't Gonna Cry"
MPEG Stream: "Real Thrill"
MPEG Stream: "Try Try Try"
V/A Charred Remains (Radio Raheem) 2lp 26.00
Punk nerds rejoice, this legendary, and LONG out of print hardcore cassette comp from the early eighties, finally reissued, and on vinyl for the first time. For lots of kids back in the day, this was their first taste of some seriously classic punk rock, featuring a handful of bands everybody likely knows now, Die Kreuzen, Void, Husker Du, Articles of Faith, Toxic Reasons, along with a bunch of more obscure outfits that most maybe folks don't (except everybody out there WAY punker than us, and of course, anyone who had this comp the first time around), like UXB, District Tradition, Double O, Sin 34, Rebel Truth and more. Originally released in 1982 on the Version Sound label, this was some early DIY radness, back when the underground was all about homemade zines and tapes, traded between friends and endlessly dubbed. We're guessing this was the soundtrack to many a skate sesh way back when. Mostly unreleased tracks, and demos/live/alternate versions, this is a classic slab of vintage hardcore, the sound all over the punk rock map, from the furious face melting hardcore blowouts of Void and Husker Du, to the poppier gothiness of 5051, from the sing songy hardcore jangle of Rebel Truth, to the frantic fuzz of Personality Crisis (with some super cool/weird/distinctive vox), some classic punk-noise yowl from Die Kreuzen (alternate versions of tracks from the Cows & Beer 7"), some heavy, almost metallic chug and swagger from District Tradition (channeling some later period Black Flag maybe), some blown out, feedback drenched crush from Double O, and tons more. Pressed on thick vinyl, and housed in a heavy jacket with new artwork, includes an old school style printed zine/insert with liner notes from Version Sound head honcho Bob Moore and Die Kreuzen vocalist Dan Kubinski.
V/A Radio Vietnam (Sublime Frequencies) cd 17.98
Sublime Frequencies' fantastic 'Radio' series continues. We've loved em all: Radio Palestine, Radio Thailand, Radio India, Radio Pyongyang (!), and all the rest... The series took a hiatus for a few years, but then came back with Radio Niger last year. And now, thanks to the travels of SF stalwart Mark Gergis, we've got Radio Vietnam! For those unfamiliar with the 'Radio' series, it's basically like (in fact, IS) someone in a hotel room someplace in a foreign country, spinning through the radio dial, recording whatever weirdness catches their ear, and putting it together on disc as a sort of sound-collage sampler of the sublime (and otherwise interesting) AM and FM radio frequencies found in whatever locale is the subject. There's a variety of music, of course, and also DJs and ads and talk shows and whatever else is on the radio. Even some static. Always a crazy 'sonic window' into a non-Western culture.Radio Vietnam finds Gergis recording radio signals in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City over an 11-month period between December 2013 and November 2014. You get the his most interesting and out-there finds, ranging from traditional ethnic music, modern pop, advertising jingles, news broadcasts, exercise programming, and much more. A treat for the armchair traveller in all of us, as always.Digipack with detailed liner notes by recordist/compiler Mark Gergis.
MPEG Stream: "Morning Exercise In The Coded Ether"
MPEG Stream: "America Lost The Vietnam War"
MPEG Stream: "Hit Zones"
WIKKID Murder Music Pt. 1 (Soulthief) 2cd 6.98
You know we love the fucked up black metal here at aQ. This is sooooo up our alley in that regard. DIY, lo-fi, totally outsider WTF? stuff. Makes Striborg and Abruptum and Ildjarn and the rest sound like the Tonight Show band. Twisted, raw, black primitivism, only for the true klvt worshippers of blacknoize ritualism and caveman blackbuzz.We first encountered Wikkid - and seriously, "encounter" is the word, we know we talk about outsider this and that, but this guy is legitimately strange, we know we've met him, and really when he comes in the store, we get a little bit starstruck, you might say, more so than we would for a "real" black metal celebrity. Heck, he invented his own religion called The Black Ism (?!?), more on that later on. As we were saying, we first encountered Wikkid when he brought us a release called The Intro, and we wrote up a big review of it, but he never ending up bringing us more, so we couldn't list it even though we really wanted to - though we did get to eventually list a disc by Wikkid's ambient alter-ego Alturaz, and a Wikkid/Alturaz split too.But now The Intro has at last been repressed (though mysteriously minus two tracks), in the form of a double cd, paired with another, new Wikkid recording entitled Chapter 1. And, on top of that, there are now also TWO MORE double cds of other Wikkid material. We suggest you get them all. You have to get them all. Particularly since they're so cheap (and by the way, we might have accidentally sold some at a higher price, if you're one of those people, please get in touch). So, here's the review we originally wrote for The Intro disc: We were sold on this one before we heard a single note. Based entirely on the cover art. Which is essentially a crude cut and paste, black and white Xerox, of the band name, which is Wikkid by the way, on there twice, along with the title, The Intro, also in two different places, a white smudge and some sort of cut out grid, and most telling of all, a ready made description of Wikkid: 1 Man Black Metal Band, Bay Area California. At first we weren't sure if that was maybe part of the title or what. We're still not sure. But we were psyched. We had been missing home brewed DIY black metal, and this is most definitely that, primo outsider one man BM, raw and primitive, super lo-fi, abstract and trippy and seriously goddamn grim and kvlt. The guitars are sharp and angular, brittle and buzzy, the vocals a monstrous bellow, black shadowy exhalations, the drums stumbling sort-of-blast beats, the music a dense, noisy, chaotic black tangle, lurching and lumbering, collapsing into dense swirls of nearly free blackness, before the second track lurches in, a creeping slo-mo black doom, the drums WAY up in the mix, the vocals too, the guitars a brittle insectoid buzz that's barely audible, minus the occasional shredding squall. And so it goes, the next track ramps it back up to buzzing blast, again, lumbering and on the verge of collapse, the vokills here a garbled, grunted speaking in tongues, the guitars murky and blurry black smears, the tempo fluctuating constantly, the sound woozy and washed out, pure underground blackness, that's so underground, it's seemingly from a DIFFERENT underground than the rest of the stuff we hear.So, we wrote all that about what's now the first disc of the The Intro/Chapter 1 2cd release. We won't delve so fully into the other Wikkids, except to say, they're equally insane and amazing. More stumbling drums, more distorted vox, more disturbing thoughts, more murky guitar drone. If you get one Wikkid, you need 'em all, they're definitely a set, all of 'em basically having that same crude cover design, slightly altered from The Intro's template in ways that almost don't even make sense. Again, sheer WTF? genius. And super duper confusing. Then, one realizes that each disc in each double cd set is really short. Really, really short. Like, five or six minutes! (And the last track on one of 'em even ends with almost a minute of silence!) All six discs probably could have fit on a single cd. (But, they ARE cheap.) And again, in part, that's kind of what's so brilliant, there's just so much WTF? to Wikkid, it's astonishing. Wikkid is almost the black metal Fastest, if you know what we mean.Oh, to give you a little bit more of an idea about what Wikkid is all about, on his website, there's a page of "definitions", here are two particularly helpful ones:THE BLACK ISM - A new religion of black/dark musics & money for laws & guidance. Realism, Naturalism, Shamanism, Selfism & Wikkism as core beliefs.WIKKIDISM - Playing a wicked black metal track on repeat at highest volume until you reach "ISM".Aha, maybe that's why these discs are so short - you're supposed to play each track on repeat, anyway!!
MPEG Stream: "Killing Your Whole Family To Make Your Last Name Extinct"
WISHART, TREVOR Red Bird: A Political Prisoner's Dream (Sub Rosa) lp 16.98
This is a really bizarre record of cyclical howls, bizarre vocalisations, and droning cut ups, recorded over 35 years ago and finally reissued on vinyl, in Sub Rosa's "Early Electronic" series. Very much in the style of Reich or Palestine, with the 45 minute "Red Bird", British electro-acoustic composer and theorist Trevor Wishart takes the sounds of birds, animals and spoken word, chops and reassembles, and gradually transforms these disparate sounds into each other, making for a weirdly beautiful, and kind of creepy, listen. Composed and recorded between 1973 and 1978 at the University of York, and originally released in 1978, this has been a disturbingly intense, avant-WTF? fave ever since we first heard a cd reissue in the year 2000.Silver vinyl, assuredly limited.