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Records of the Week
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')"
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"
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)"
AKKORD (W/ HAXAN CLOAK & VATICAN SHADOW) HTH030 (Houndstooth) 12" 14.98
We've been a bit obsessed with the haunting minimal techno sound design of Akkord, so much so that we made their (his?) full length our Record Of The Week a while back, and ended up comparing it to doom groups like Bunkur and Moss; Akkord's heaving blackened malevolence, and sinister soundtrackiness transforming their dark electronica into something much more epic and harrowing. So it makes perfect sense that two of our other favorite masters of the electronic dark arts would chime in, with their own remix takes on Akkord's already brilliantly bleak soundworld. Haxan Cloak radically reinvent whatever song it is they've chosen, it's impossible to tell, we're tempted to think it might be some confusional collage of all of them, but Haxan Cloak delivers a tripped out sprawl of his own cinematic sound design, stereo-panned heavily, weird ambient sounds swooping from speaker to speaker, draped over a skeletal digidub pulse, and a field of spare Raster-Noton like clicks and flutters, slowly building to a dense barrage of glitched out industrial crunch, the sound veering wildly from hushed pulsation, to wild rhythmic freakout, all the while, wreathed in mournful melodies and moaning drones, with at least one burst of crazily caustic electro-noise that somehow manages to sound intense and beautiful and weirdly moving and sorta heartbreaking. The flipside finds Dominick Fernow, is his guise as Vatican Shadow, offering up a remix that's not nearly as overtly terrifying, much more subdued, and way less abstract, the sound like, well, like Vatican Shadow, a pulsating low slung gothic groove, a gauzy stretch of minimal batcave techno, with syncopated rhythms, and ominous low shimmer, a hazy house music that sounds like it could be some obscure Kompakt 12", but more shadowy and sinister.
MPEG Stream: "HTH020 (The Haxan Cloak's Cloud of Witness)"
MPEG Stream: "Typeface/Greyscale (Vatican Shadow's The World Is Complete)"
ATOBE, SHINICHI Butterfly Effect (Demdike Stare) cd 15.98
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.Housed in a hand stamped, hand numbered, card stock sleeve.
MPEG Stream: "Free Access Zone 1"
MPEG Stream: "Wasteland 1"
MPEG Stream: "Free Access Zone 8"
ATRIARCH An Unending Pathway (Relapse) lp 21.00
Third album from these rain-soaked, Pacific Northwest doom freaks. On their last album, they started carving out their own unique little genre space, mixing all sorts of dark stuff together - doom, black metal, goth rock, and post-punk, to name a few - and we think it's fair to say they've fully carved it out now. The overall template is still huge, crushing doom similar to fellow Oregonians Hell or Merkstave (must be something in water up there), but this one gets even deeper into the hole, with an atmosphere of bleakness that could stand toe-to-toe with early Swans releases. The first two tracks, "Entropy" and "Collapse" immediately hit you with a psyched out, shrieking wall of doom with vocals that could have came straight off an Incantation record. "Bereavement" might be the highlight here, kicking off with some blackened blasts that dissolve into doom-soaked madness before building up again (in case you got used to it). Throughout the whole record, you get moments of psychedelic dirge, deathrock gloominess, and even old school death metal heaviness. It should go without saying that we are fully on board with this record and whatever unending pathways these guys decide to trudge down. Highly recommended.
MPEG Stream: "Entropy"
MPEG Stream: "Bereavement"
AUTHOR & PUNISHER Drone Machines (Seventh Rule) 2lp 21.00
Originally released as a super limited, self-released cd-r in 2010, and then again on cd by Heart & Crossbone, this glorious slab of machine driven one man industrial doom has finally been issued on vinyl, by Seventh Rule!!! AQ regulars should be familiar with A&P by now, but here's our review of this one-man industrial doom band's earliest effort:Author & Punisher's sole member, Tristan Shone, designs and fabricates an incredible array of massive sound generators: a 300 pound spinning metal disc, a huge hydraulic handled chain driven (and seriously physical) drum machine, a motorized handled bass generator, a headgear with a multi mic'd mask, to transform vocals into different sounds and rhythms... We were mesmerized by the footage we saw on a dvd we reviewed years back, our first exposure to A&P, the sound was amazing, heavy and crushing, totally intense, but watching this guy, physically create and trigger the sounds, is what sealed the deal, a brutal and exhausting 'performance', a sweat soaked, instrumental work out, way more interesting than the legion of boring floorcore laptoppers and effects jockeys.The title says it all, Drone Machines, not to mention the front cover image of A&P maestro Shone, hunched over the huge spinning metal disc, coaxing from his machines a churning, chugging, pummeling low end industrial doom crush. Purely sonically, these sounds could have been played by a band, or created on a computer, but just realizing that it's one guy, and his army of sound generators, definitely adds something to the listening experience. Plus there's also plenty of weird sonic manipulation that could NOT be played by a band, thick bass tones slow down like someone pressing their finger down on a record while it's playing, that would be that massive disc, the booming percussion, involves a slamming of the huge chain driven hydraulic handle, hearing this, picturing that, makes it sound that much heavier, but screw it, taken on music alone, the sound of Drone Machines is classic post industrial metal crunch, but twisted and a little warped, a more robotic and machine-like Godflesh maybe, the tone and timbre definitely owes much to Broadrick's industrial beast. But then the record will offer up some weird buzzing almost synthy sounding bass, and weird high end tangles, strange haunting melodies swirling around, a totally tripped out psychedelic swirl, and we're in some far out sonic sci-fi universe, before it gives way to another stretch of lurching lumbering Teutonic pound. The vocals, when there are vocals, are gruff and howled, again harkening back to Broadrick, and add some serious menace to the already sonically menacing proceedings.The best parts for us are the parts where the sound sources become obvious, or at least where you can tell something weird and special is going on, the swooping low end, constantly changing pitch, the various sounds becoming clipped or cut off, the grinding rumbling low end speeding up then slowing down, it makes the whole experience that much more warped and tripped out and psychedelic. The music becomes more than a chunk of industrial metal, it becomes a heaving metallic monster MADE from industrial metal, the various gears and servos emitting strange buzzes and whirrs, its thunderous footsteps the booming beat, the speaker rattling low end it's guttural growl, and the howling vox, the man that commands this beast, and instructs it to do his bidding, a futuristic steampunk, post industrial robotic doom metal dirge, that we just can't get enough of!
MPEG Stream: "Sand, Wind And Carcass"
MPEG Stream: "Burrow Below"
MPEG Stream: "Doppler"
MPEG Stream: "Beginning Of End"
AV OKUBO Dynasty (Maybe Mars) cd 12.98
Dynasty is the latest from Chinese indie/post/electro rockers AV Okubo, and as with most of the rest of the Chinese bands we've been digging lately, they take plenty of influence from the West, but manage to fuse those disparate influences into something pretty original. And pretty bizarre. The garish DIY, computery, lo-res, 8-bit cover art makes way more sense when you get a load of the opener, all swirling synths, spidery guitar melodies, and loping post rock, with some surprising disco drumming, all fused into some soaring sonic majesty, the sort of sound that could score your early eighties, straight to video, big heist getaway. Oh and did we mention the vocodered vocals? Shades of Trans Am at their most retro abound, as do nods to other instrumental outfits like the Champs (albeit way less metal) or Scale The Summit (but also less metal), but the same sort of sprawling epic-ness and heady hypnotic jammage. But it's not all instrumental, the record veers into totally different territory with the next track, which features breathy almost falsetto vox over soulful post punk grooves, and shimmery electro-pop jangle, in turn leading directly to the third track, which somehow fuses the sounds of the previous two, adding some WTF? funkiness and some creepy X-Files melodies to a churning low slung groove, with just a hint of metallic crunch. And as much as we'd like to say you know what you're getting into after that, you really don't, at least not entirely, the sound does stay pretty well lodged in some eighties soundtrack nether-verse, but it veers from Cure-like jangle-goth, to frenetic pogo-pop punkiness, to more motorik krautrock influenced grooviness, to eighties style pop metal, to total bubblegum J-Pop, and at least one track that sounds like a Chinese indie pop version of Surfing With The Alien, and pretty much every sonic gradation in between.Weird stuff for sure, but for fans of modern retro-synth wrangling, faux VHS soundtrack soundscapery, fuzzy, electro-indie rock, and twisted freaky-funk, vocodered post pop weirdness, this might just hit the spot (or spots!)...
MPEG Stream: "World"
MPEG Stream: "Everlasting Regret"
MPEG Stream: "Break Wave"
BLIND SHAKE, THE Breakfast Of Failures (Goner) lp 15.98
Even though this is their 6th or 7th full length (and that's not counting three collaborations with outsider psych rocker Michael Yonkers), this is somehow the first time we're reviewing a record from this Minneapolis trio, which as usual has us scrambling to nab everything we've missed, cuz Breakfast Of Failures is everything we could want in a stoner-garage kraut-psych post-punk noise pop record - all droned out riffs, frantic drum pound, echo drenched Oh Sees-style vocals, and a weird sort of space-y sci-fi vibe throughout. It's swagger and sorta heavy, distorted but crazy catchy, with the usual garage rock-isms peppered with weird alien psychedelic squiggles, plenty of angular crunch, super dynamic arrangements, a little proggy at points, the sound falling somewhere between Ty Segall's hard rocking combo Fuzz, and recent Castle Face garage rockers the Meatbodies, in fact fans of any of the Castle Face jams (not to mention In The Red, and Goner obviously), will find this pretty much totally irresistible. Maybe the coolest part is that there's no bass player. And no it's not one of those two pieces (where we usually end up wishing they were in fact a three piece), instead, it's guitar, drums and baritone guitar, which while occasionally filling in where a bass would normal be, more often gets all tangled up with the other guitar, the two weaving heady, hypnotic sprawl of buzz and thrum, that gives a lot of this a sort of motorik hypnorock vibe, which we're guessing you dig as much as we do.
MPEG Stream: "Old Lake"
MPEG Stream: "Parachute"
MPEG Stream: "Dots In The Fog"
BLUNT, DEAN Black Metal (Rough Trade) 2lp 22.00
While it was obvioLusly too much to hope for that the new Dean Blunt record could actually live up to its tantalizingly grim title, and contain ACTUAL Black Metal, it does end up being a sonic surprise anyway. Right from the get go, with the opening track a looped sunshine pop concoction of swirling strings, jangle pop guitars, and way-up-in-the-mix deadpan vocals, drawled and laid back, it's not ENTIRELY removed from DB's previous full length, the heartbreak comedown album The Redeemer, but things here get stripped down even further, and become further removed from Blunt's previous project Hype Williams. Black Metal is a collection of ultra personal downer pop, looped gloominess, a sort of fractured slowcore, the bulk of the record following the sonic template set by that first track, a series of looped pop jams, all swirling strings, jangle pop guitars, deadpan laid back vocals, Blunt's vocals almost comical in their awkward fit, which might rankle some listeners, but it's really what gives Black Metal its intimate, home brewed vibe, and if Blunt's vocals seems a bit woozy and warble, prepare yourself for the yowling, atonal female vox (a la Kim Gordon), courtesy of Joanne Robertson, which are even more strange and cold and more often than not charmingly off key. Robertson surfaces throughout Black Metal, occasionally lacing the proceedings with haunting guitar figures, but more often countering Blunt's wasted vocals with her own hazy narcoleptic call and response croon.Highlights include "100", which sans vocals could be Galaxie 500, or some other similarly minded jangle pop outfit, but then Robertson and Blunt join the proceedings, and the song is transformed into something more off kilter, and home brewed sounding, still hauntingly intimate, but with a warped DIY vibe, Robertson's vocals in particular reminding us of early 4-track twee pop, but here set amidst a landscape much more lush and layered. There's the sprawling 13 minute epic "Forever", all stumbling, stuttery programed rhythms, over wheezing shimmers and delicate piano, Robertson crooning forlornly, before the sound starts to get a little bit dubby, with echoes and strange sound effects, only to eventually be joined by some (purposefully?) cheesy sax. Which is followed by the mesmerizingly creepy "X", all spidery guitars draped over softly billowing chordal thrum, a gauzy raga like drone, haunting and hypnotic, which unexpectedly blossoms into some woozy, warbly lo-fi electro, and again more of Robertson's endearingly off-key vocals, all driven by what sound like the hiss of a life support machine (!).The rest of the record is populated by fantastic little electro-dream pop fragments, that again, sans vocals are alternatingly sweetly psychedelic or charmingly experimental, whether it's the cascading shoegaze shimmer of "Heavy", or the spare Doug Blunt styled (no relation? this song has us wondering!) skeletal funk groovery of the misleadingly titled "Punk", which is also laced with soft undulating swirls of faux strings, and some cool Appalachian guitars, the distorted electronic tangle of the also misleadingly titled "Country", which sounds like it could have come out on the Pan label, or the dizzyingly looped murk-pop ballad, again rife with "Careless Whisper" style sax, or even the synth heavy closer that sounds like Blunt and Robertson are channeling Angelo Badalamenti, the whole thing collapsing into some twisted synth dirge, driven by stumbling programmed beats, and Blunt sounding almost like SpaceApe (R.I.P.), a gorgeously bleak electro-jazz, gloom pop dirge that unwinds like the score to some lost Lynchian art film.Fantastic stuff. And perhaps appropriately, minimally and confusionally (and handsomely) packaged in all black with practically no information, other than the track titles.
MPEG Stream: "50 Cent"
MPEG Stream: "Blow"
MPEG Stream: "100"
BUDOS BAND, THE Burnt Offering (Daptone) lp 16.98
Daptone's The Budos Band has always been pretty fantastic, kicking out the killer instrumental '70s style Afro-Soul-Funk jams, super tight and groovy and quite authentic-sounding (even though they're from, like, modern-day NYC). We've dug all three of the ensemble's previous albums, but Burnt Offering (pointedly not titled Budos Band IV, even though it follows II and III) might be their best one yet. First, it's got some cool artwork of a Gandalf-lookin' wizard on the cover, a total stoner/psych image that looks like it should be on a Sleep album (or the side of a van). That art might clue you in that The Budos Band has been goin' through some changes... well, what's happened is that they've seriously heavied up their sound, the guitar parts are fuzzier and riffier, supposedly inspired by '70s heavy psych and proto-metal, like Black Sabbath and Pentagram!! They're still quite funky, though, so it's not a total extreme metamorphosis into doom metal or anything. We had kind of figured that meant this would sound like '70s Zambian garage-fuzzsters the Ngozi Family or Witch, but no, not exactly, 'cause what with their big horn section, they still sound like, well, themselves, but just with an additional edge of fuzzy, gritty guitar. Along with the hard-hitting rhythms, and spirited, darkly soulful brass, it's pretty darn cool. Think Fela Kuti gone super heavy psych, with a dark Ethiopiques vibe. Also, this new Budos Band sound reminds us of that awesome Italian 'library music' reissue by Blue Phantom, just a bit. Oh, and we halfway wonder if this transformation wasn't perhaps inspired by the success of Swedish Afro-fuzz voodoo psych sensations Goat?? Certainly Goat fans ought to dig this, too!! Super recommended. Digipack cd, or gatefold vinyl w/ download.
MPEG Stream: "The Sticks"
MPEG Stream: "Aphasia"
MPEG Stream: "Burnt Offering"
CAN Delay (Mute / Spoon) lp 24.00
The latest Can-on-vinyl reissue campaign continues, and there should be much rejoicing. Can were one of the best krautrock bands ever, and really one of the best BANDS ever, period. Previously we've listed Monster Movie, Soundtracks, Ege Bamyasi, Tago Mago and Future Days. Now we've got Delay, which we're listing now with the review we wrote when we listed a cd reissue a few few years back. They've also just reissued Landed, Soon Over Babaluma, Saw Delight, Flow Motion, Unlimited Edition, Out Of Reach, Can, and Rite Time, and we should have most of those in stock as well, just FYI. Of those, Soon Over Babaluma Flow Motion and Landed are perhaps the best, Unlimited Edition is cool too, and Scott and Allan here actually really like the self-titled one as well, but they all have their charms. Delay, however, belong with Can's early classics. So, here's what we said about it before, a definite fave:By this point a history lesson on Can is probably not needed as their importance to the last 25 years of underground and not so underground music and their incredible musical legacy has been quite well documented. And we're pretty excited about the recent renewed interest in Can resulting in the remastering and re-releasing of much of their back catalog. The aptly titled Delay was recorded in the late '60s with Malcom Mooney on vocals. This is a way more stripped down, raw, proto-punk Can then maybe most folks are used to. Recorded around the same time as White Light/White Heat, this shares the same blistering spirit that The Velvet Underground were exploring across the sea. We've no doubt mentioned Can as a huge influence on so many AQ favorites: Circle, No Neck Blues Band, Nurse With Wound, Throbbing Gristle, Radiohead, Tortoise, on and on and on.... but listening to Delay you begin to think that Can may just out-rock them all. A year or so before The Stooges would hit the scene, Can were already displaying such raw emotion and all out rock exuberance, that the world couldn't help but be awed (if they'd heard it). Delay once again demonstrates that no matter what kind of sounds Can were working with they always managed to find the emotional core, and let it seep into every bit of music they made.
MPEG Stream: "Uphill"
MPEG Stream: "Butterfly "
CERRONE 3: Supernature (Because Music) lp+cd 28.00
Rad, this "disco-PROG masterpiece" (to quote our own review, below) now reissued on vinyl - which comes with a cd version as well. Here's what we said before when we listed it on cd alone:We don't do this often, but sometimes, the easiest thing is just to link to a YouTube video. Especially 'cause it's what got us interested in tracking down this reissue in the first place! Made us kind of obsessed, actually. You'll see/hear why if you go to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QgGK4qBTwpw&ob=av2n, and check out the psychedelic video version of this album's title track. (For those who just want a quick idea, take a look at the album cover operating room scene, that's in the vid, complete with people dressed up in disturbing animal masks, a Rolls Royce driving through the desert, naked ladies in the jungle, and, well, just watch it...)So, Jean-Marc Cerrone was/is a French dance music producer and badass drummer (elsewhere on YouTube you can see him live in concert, kicking out the massive drum solos). The more disco-savvy among us here had heard of him, he's up there with Giorgio Moroder in the Euro-Disco pantheon. And Supernature, from 1977, his 3rd album, is the jam. A disco-PROG masterpiece. The title track starts things off, the one that crazy video's for, and dominates, being almost ten minutes long in its album version. An epic. No ordinary club fare here, on the surface maybe, but the disco diva vocals (lyrics by Lene Lovich!) are about some dystopian sci-fi scenario wherein twisted science is turning men into monstrous beasts (which explains - sort of - some of the video's surreal imagery), these mutants rising up against their masters. Hauntingly, she sings lines like "how can I explain, things are different today, darkness all around, and no one makes a sound..." Woah, downer disco. It's pretty dark, and weird, and the thump thump thump of the music gets that way too, with some fat synth bass riffing at about the six minute mark that brings this into imaginary Magma doing disco territory, almost. Cerrone sure puts his state of the art ARP Odyssey Mk III to good use here. The track ends with hint of 2001's "Also Sprach Zarathustra", that's how epic this is. The rest of the side maintains the mood, "Supernature" segueing seamlessly into Cerrone's solo spot "Sweet Drums", his insistent beats heavily effected and spaced out, and that's followed by the more blissfully eerie electronics of "In The Smoke", which could be from a Goblin soundtrack.Side two is the brighter side... More typical fusion-funked Euro-Disco anthems, all three songs with "Love" in the title ("Give Me Love", "Love Is Here", "Love Is The Answer"), great stuff though, top-knotch! Lush, lively dancefloor fodder for sure.So, recommended to fans of Zombi, Goblin, Moroder, and the recently departed Donna Summer.
MPEG Stream: "Supernature"
MPEG Stream: "In The Smoke"
MPEG Stream: "Give Me Love"
CISNEROS, AL Empty Tomb / Sepulcher Dub (Samaritan Press) 7" 19.98
Two more tracks of swirling, murky, druggy dub from Sleep / OM frontman Al Cisneros, whose love of dub seemed fairly evident even in those outfits, but recently, Cisneros has been going full dub, on a handful of singles and eps. The time around, his take on classic dub remains darkly groovy, washed out and laid back, and like his other dub joints, definitely beholden to outfits like African Head Charge and Muslimgauze. The strange/cool thing about these two tracks, is that they sort of sound like the theme music from some obscure seventies cop show, but slowed way down, dipped in FX and stretched out into something way more lysergic and psychedelic. Like his other releases, Cisneros basically just lays down a simple, mesmeric drug-dub loop and lets it roll (we've compared his dub to a slowed down version of Finnish hypno-rockers Circle), tranced out and cyclical, with the variations subtle and minimal, this time around, the main loop/riff/groove is augmented by some distant drones, some hushed metallic swells, over which the ghostly, distorted, lo-fi vocals drift, ghostly and ethereal. It's fantastically murky and moody, as is the B side which is the dub version, stripping away the already minimal vocals, and letting the track itself just smolder and slither, a slowly swirling, head nodding dubbed out murk, that fans of classic dub will no doubt dig, with a sonic connection to Sleep and Om that seems pretty obvious to us. Druggy dubwise divinity that comes HIGHLY recommended.LIMITED TO 1000 COPIES!! And exquisitely packaged, with hand stamped vinyl labels, housed in a letter pressed chipboard jacket and dust sleeve, with a screen printed insert, all printed on a vintage 1910 press, with stunning artwork from artist David D'Andrea and released on his Samaritan Press imprint. Originally ONLY available on the OM tour, and from D'Andrea's website, we got a handful for the shop, but not sure how long those will last. Oh, and FYI, we also just got yet another Al Cisneros dub 7", entitled Lantern Of The Soul, released on his own label Sinai. We'll list that next time, assuming we still have copies. Those are only $5.98.
CONSUMER ELECTRONICS Estuary English (Dirtier Promotions) 2x12" + cd 38.00
Philip Best (Whitehouse, Ramleh, Skullflower) along with legendary noisemaker/producer Russell Haswell and the previously unknown to us Sarah Froelich, an American artist deliver this modern slab of abject, power electronics synth-noise. We originally figured this for an archival reissue, some lost gem from the Shock Records / Broken Flag axis, but it is in fact a brand new record, although sonically, it's not that far removed from CE's early releases, still obviously beholden to that whole Shock / Broken Flag sound/scene. The whole program is only about 20 minutes long, a double lp mastered specifically for vinyl, and to spin at 45rpm, the cd separately mastered for digital, but that's more than enough, CE's nihilistic onslaught directly descended from Bet's tenure in Whitehouse, feral and frenzied, caustic and confrontational. The music itself almost lovely at times, minimal synthscapes, blurts of gristly squelch, spread out into weirdly dynamic pulses, not so lovely at others, lurching from undulating walls of grumblingly distorted synth, to minimal cold wave electronica, to full on grinding, speaker shredding synthnoise. All of which is essentially just a backdrop for Best's venomous vocalizations, some seriously vitriolic spoken word, that again, fans of Whitehouse will definitely dig, on the more minimal tracks, Best's vocals are WAY up in the mix, and are harrowing and sort of terrifying, but as the record progresses, those vocals are subsumed into the chaotic, feedback drenched electronic squalls, and while we might not say it becomes more 'listenable', it does transform into something more musical, Best's voice, just another part of CE's harsh, electronic industrial puzzle. Pressed on heavy 180 gram black vinyl. Housed in a glossy gatefold sleeve. First 500 copies include a cd version of the record, differently mastered than the vinyl.
MPEG Stream: "Teknon"
MPEG Stream: "Co-Opted"
MPEG Stream: "English Estuary"
DEAD SEA APES High Evolutionary (Cardinal Fuzz) lp 21.00
Fans of all that's heavy and fuzzy and krauty and psychedelically wasted, today is a good day, rejoice, for not one but two new releases from the UK's superior quality Cardinal Fuzz label have landed! One is from Bay Area locals Lumerians, yay, and then also here is the second full-length from Manchester, England trio the Dead Sea Apes, featuring seven new instrumental tracks, artfully constructed for maximum might and moodiness, conjuring dark desert landscapes and psychedelically dosed Western soundtracks...The record opens with the stately stoner drone of "Threads", that sounds a bit like a tranquilized Earth playing the intro to Slayer's "Seasons In The Abyss" or something, slightly sinister and very much spaced out. The slo-mo majesty continues on track two, "Planetarium", which builds and builds over a base of echoing rhythm. Then there's the twangy but fuzzy, backwards effected beauty of "Turpentine", and the sheer, swirling, shoegazing, amp worshipping power of "Regolith"... and so it goes, this album a glorious collection of droned-out ragas and hypnotic heaviness, reminding us at various moments of such other aQ faves as Circle, Gnod, Carlton Melton and Barn Owl. It winds up with the eight and a half minute "Wolf II" (a reworking of the song "Wolf Of The Bees" from their previous record, Lupus), a slowly unfurling post-rock journey of quietly brooding reverie and, ultimately, cathartic crush.LIMITED TO 500 COPIES! And as with all Cardinal Fuzz titles, in high demand.
MPEG Stream: "Threads"
MPEG Stream: "Planetarium"
MPEG Stream: "Regolith"
DIRTY BEACHES Stateless (Zoo Music) lp 15.98
Full length number six from Dirty Beaches, aka Alex Zhang, whose from Taiwan but now calls Canada home. And like other recent DB outings, the sound of Stateless is far removed from the avant RnB murk of some past records, and more closely aligned with his more moody cinematic soundscaping, especially his gorgeous Water Park soundtrack. Stateless is similarly somber and dreamlike, four long songs, all instrumental (or mostly instrumental), unfurling a soundworld of pulsing guitarscapes, buried vocals (if those are vocals) stretched out and blurred into hazy droniness, a woozy, psychedelic thrum, that's meditative and washed out, and throbs mesmerically, almost like a more abstract take on Riley or Reich, but also wreathed in clouds of hushed drones and muted buzz. The record blossoms into lush Pop Ambient like billows, waves of chordal thrum, sun dappled and dreamy, a sort of ethereal kosmische, rife with subtle overtones, slow shifting patterns in a field of near static shimmer, that by track three, have grown even more lush and oceanic, a soaring prismatic sonic sprawl, majestic and epic, before finally settling down into a smoldering, subdued, minimal drone-folk drift, all wavery strings, and mournful melodies, a lonesome campfire threnody, but maybe more in the style of Stars Of The Lid, a glimmering sky full of muted moody streaks, haunting and melancholic, a brooding, achingly poignant slowcore ballad, that gets a little darkly jazzy right at the end, with horns subtly adding more layers to the slowly fading soundscape, evoking lonely rainswept streets, flickering streetlights, a late night in a lost city, as that city slowly disappears into the shadows, darkly and delicately dreamy, wreathed in an ethereal haze, like a faded sonic memory.
MPEG Stream: "Displaced"
MPEG Stream: "Time Washes Away Everything"
ELINE COUT s/t (Pretty Penny) lp 24.00
San Francisco's The Mallard called it quits recently; they being something of a weirdo outlier of drone-rock + fuzz-pop on the beloved Castle Face label. That said, they were long one of our personal favorites on Castle Face, given their charmingly stoned take on The Pin Group or Bailter Space, or hell even Stereolab for that matter. Thankfully, this was not the end of the creative spirit for those who left the band. The Mallard's frontwoman Greer McGettrick has re-christened herself Eline Cout, delivering her first set of recordings in a micro-edition slab of vinyl on Pretty Penny Records. While there are hints of The Mallard's lo-fi dreamy droniness are found throughout the Eline Cout tracks, this is starkly mechanical album of analog synth crunch, noise-pulse rhythms, and murky industrial strategies circa 1982. McGettrick quips on the back of the record that this is "to be listened to loudly in one room, while working on a monotonous task in another." Thirteen untitled tracks of quasi-instrumental tracks for chiming monotone guitars, bass-throb, primitive synths, and drums with strange / strangled tape-splice interjections of stolen voices, found sounds, and other utterances that may be confused as lyrics. While there is a certain adherence to structure, McGettrick is stripping away all of the melody from what she brought to The Mallard, engaged in a similar punk deconstructionist adventure that Graham Lewis and Bruce Gilbert began in their Dome recordings. Match that with the squalid noise-junk dourness of Maria Zerfall (seriously, look her up!) and the tumbled-rock percussion of Mars, and there's something close to Eline Cout. Super limited pressing of 100 copies with each album sporting a unique woodcut print of a 10x10 inch square grid, with one square taken away during each pass through the printing press, amounting to different grid configuration cover art for each piece of vinyl. And, each record includes the wooden square removed for the printing of that particular cover, in a little baggie. We've only got a handful of these! A very cool record all around!
MPEG Stream: "Track 1"
MPEG Stream: "Track 6"
MPEG Stream: "Track 9"
HAYNES, JIM Kamchatka (Contour Editions) cd-r 12.98
Thought to be long gone, we managed to get a handful more of these super limited edition discs by our very own Jim Haynes - dronologist, soundscaper, recorder of rusting metal! These two pieces both represent impressions of Kamchatka, a Russian province often referred to as the "Siberia of Siberia", which speaks to its utter isolation, which Haynes manages to evoke magnificently in the opening track "Lilith", which is a 21 minute sprawl of intercepted shortwave broadcasts, captured and reworked into brittle buzzing textures, swirling masses of crumbling sonic shimmer, and deep morasses of subterranean rumble, the sky full of tinkling chimes and blurred static, beneath it fragmented melodies drift below the surface of a tranquil sonic sea. The track seemingly drifts between two extremes, thick layered dronescapes, and spare stretches of Geiger counter like chitter, those sparse passages draped over what sounds like field recordings of boats rubbing against docks, the clatter of oars, or perhaps the slow decay of nature. Somehow these mysterious purloined sounds are captured and recontextualized as a strange field of scrape and rumble, of creak and groan, all beneath soft focus billows of distant shimmer, and those skittery Raster-Noton cricket-like chirps. Haunting and ominous, the track finally seeming to blossom into the blurred bleary final movement, an ethereal wash of blissful thrum and strangely, an almost aquatic shimmer, that evokes images of some placid body of water, surrounded by miles and miles of emptiness.The second track, "Rocks Hills Plains", a slightly reworked version of a soundtrack Haynes performed for a film by Paul Clipson at the ATA in 2008, seems culled from the same source material, opening with a gauzy cloud of static, over a softly undulating sea of low end rumble, and continues in a similar manner, all of the rough edges and more clattery elements of the first piece here, smoothed into a swoonsome sprawl of hushed murky mesmer, haunting and cinematic, the sounds creeping and oozing ominously, until the begin to recede, leaving in the foreground a field of softly percussive scrabbling, sounding like strange ghostly rubbings against the microphone, those sounds slowly growing more ethereal and soon transforming into still more cloudy shimmer. Eventually, the sound of the whole track begins to coalesce into something much more pure tone, seeming to shed any vestiges of the low fidelity with about 7 minutes to go, the sound building to something softly caustic, with some serious sonic heft, on the recording it's still comparatively quite, but live through the proper sound system, it's easy to imagine the sort of sonic energy this passage might emit, lush and layered and darkly dense, a powerful (but still minimal) coda, which quickly subsides, winding down as a barely there bit of ambient thrum, laced with disembodied field recordings, a hushed outro that quickly becomes silence. LIMITED TO 150 COPIES. Each one hand numbered, housed in super swank, archivally printed, oversized 6 panel sleeves.
MPEG Stream: "Lilith (Excerpt)"
MPEG Stream: "Rocks Hills Plains (Excerpt)"
HLADOMRAK s/t (Winter Solace) cd 11.98
First we've heard from this Swedish black metal horde, and we were surprised by the sound, which is quite polished and well produced, not nearly the raw grimness we were expecting, instead, it's more like some super technical blackened death metal, with tons of melody, every burst of blasting black buzz, countered by some super slick melodic heaviness, but it's a pretty potent combo for sure, the musical math of cold grim BM plus Swedish DM tough to argue with. At various moments in the record, the sound does veer decidedly toward one or the other, but more often than not landing right in the middle. The fierce riffage, harsh vokills and technical drumming are all crystal clear, super heavy, but nearly glistening with machinelike precision. And as mentioned above, the melodies are a huge part of Hladomrak's sound, melancholy and minor key, with every song repeatedly lurching from churning chug, or soaring majestic blast, to melodic moodiness, doom melancholia, and in many cases impossible poppiness. But that poppiness does not detract from the record's heft or heaviness, instead it positions Hladomrak in a whole different sonic realm, one well removed from the environs of raw grimness. And while musically, this is already pretty stellar, the record is peppered with some cool subtle weirdness, whether it's little squiggly tangles of shred, progged out mathiness, broody almost doomy breakdowns, blasts of grinding ferocity, cool clean guitar folkiness, or soaring majestic almost Viking sounding epicry, it's all in service of the songs, which are technical, and catchy, and melodic and should definitely appeal to fans of In Flames, At The Gates, Dissection, Unleashed and other sonically similar outfits.
MPEG Stream: "track 1"
MPEG Stream: "track 2"
MPEG Stream: "track 3"
ICEAGE Plowing In The Field Of Love (Matador) 2lp 22.00
Babyfaced Danish dreamboats Iceage return for album number three, and we're happy to report that amidst all of the hype and hyperbole surrounding these dudes that this here is a seriously great record in its own right, not to mention one that's not content to simply sow the same seeds as their records past, but instead marks another leap forward for these Scandinavian scoundrels. Plowing Through The Fields Of Love immediately marks a more dramatic sound for this band. There's a heavier reliance on piano for a start, and there's a sort of looming specter of humid gothic Americana permeating the swaggering barroom (post)punk. Elias Ronnenfelt's off key caterwauling moans seep over the songs like drunken sermons from a derelict pulpit. Plaintive piano stabs drift over clattering stumbling drumming. Slinking serpentine rockabilly rhythms fall in and out of time like some dizzy drunkard's long walk home from the bar. But this record knows how to brood just as much as it knows how to lurch, and amidst the militaristic drum marches, stuttering guitars and clanking dilapidated saloon piano there are moments of gorgeous whiskey-soaked balladeering complete with soaring violins, stretched to their breaking point by stale dry bows. It's a sound that owes a a lot to Tender Prey-era Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds to be sure, but would also probably equally appeal to mourners of dearly departed local AQ faves Pleasure Forever. Fine company to be in for sure, and Iceage takes their place amongst these fellow squalid lovable lowlifes with the confidence of a man with an empty bourbon bottle, a three day old seersucker suit and not a thing to lose. Highly recommended!
MPEG Stream: "On My Fingers"
MPEG Stream: "The Lord's Favorite"
MPEG Stream: "How Many"
ISHRAQIYUN (SECRET CHIEFS 3) Perichoresis (Web Of Mimicry) cd 13.98
Not strictly a Secret Chiefs record, Ishraqiyun is the Chiefs' "neo-Pythagorean electro-folk" side project, which essentially consists of the non-rock based music the band routinely perform live, in non-Western tunings, and on non-Western instruments. But they're not played entirely straight, with most of the tracks sounding a bit like Master Musicians Of Jajouka by way of Don Caballero, with lots of bowed buzzing strings, tabla-like percussion, Eastern rhythms, a serious world music / international folk vibe, but then wedded to wild mathed out drumming, and swoon some cinematic strings, the arrangements intricate and the sound exotic, some mutant strain of math-prog-world music maybe?Ishraqiyun for this debut recording is made up of various Secret Chiefs past and present, including Eyvind Kang and Ches Smith, and of course led by former Mr. Bungle weirdo and SC head honcho Trey Spruance. All the songs are exclusive to this record, although many have been performed live over the years, and anyone who's seen SC live, will definitely recognize some of the tracks here, and recorded they're just as mesmerizing and hypnotic, sprawling world-folk grooves, lush and layered and psychedelic, the sound like some alien Sublime Frequencies release. The title track is apparently the first recorded composition to feature Spruance's "evolving system of musical ideas patterned upon the specific geometrical relationships found in certain polyhedra and the tessellating patterns from which they are derived" Phew! And while maybe understanding what the heck that means might give you an insight into the mad musical genius at work here, it's not a requirement to dig these sounds. Not at all. And while most of the record is as described above, buzzing strings and will percussion, often wound around fierce propulsive proggy drumming, some tracks, like "Base Phive Futur Cossacks" mixes in some of the band's avant garde tendencies, some moments harkening back to the WTF? days of Mr. Bungle, others the band's obsession with John Carpenter style soundtrackiness, with sounds cutting in and out, swirls of mutated samples, thick buzzing synths, weird blurts of baroque pop, all draped over a woozy world music framework, and what at first sounds chaotic and on the verge of collapse, quickly becomes one of the record's highlights. And while the next two tracks (including the epic 16+ minute title track) dial back the weirdness, and deliver more whirling dervish folk prog and brooding hypnotic world music psychedelia, the final track gives us one final taste of that weird international synth-prog space-psych exotica, this time with even more synthy swirl, wild splatters of piano, blown out, distorto psychedelic guitar buzz, plenty of studio fuckery, wild edits (and if not edits, some impossibly dexterous playing), all in a swirling sonic tangle that has to be some of the most seriously dizzyingly next level, psychedelic, avant prog, faux world music we've ever heard!
MPEG Stream: "The 15"
MPEG Stream: "Base Phive Futur Cossacks"
MPEG Stream: "Aptarshi"
KING GIZZARD & THE LIZARD WIZARD I'm In Your Mind Fuzz (Castle Face) cd 13.98
The band with the best/worst name that we've ever had a Record Of The Week by (next to, perhaps, that cd-r by King Kong Ding Dong) is back! When we made this cosmic garage psych rock band from Down Under's previous release (or should we say, releases, 'cause it was two albums in one package) our Record Of The Week just a few months ago, we compared 'em to Thee Oh Sees and Ty Segall, said they fit in with that scene, and they do - this new album is on Castle Face, ta da! Right where they belong. But King Wizard And The Lizard Wizard (still love typing that name!) mostly defy easy categorization. Clearly they've listened to a lot of records (while smoking a lot of weed) from the '60s and '70s, blenderhybridizificating all sorts of classic psychedelic source material, so you get stuff here that's part Pink Floyd, part Captain Beefheart, part T-Rex (especially on "Empty"), part West Coast Pop Experimental Band, part Status Quo... There's blues harp and underwatery vocal FX; flashes of glam pop and krautrock rhythms; spacey boogie jams, with a dash of Eastern exoticism. Often all in the same song. One track, "Cellophane", comes across like Can meets Canned Heat! A little later on, the use of flute in "Hot Water" nods to early Kraftwerk. And always, trippy as they are, these tracks are hella catchy too, like we said, right in there with Ty Segall et.al., thinking King Tuff too when it gets more glammy. Meanwhile, the mellow groove and gentle vocals of "Slow Jam 1" remind us a bit of ol' Olivia Tremor Control. And finally we should mention the fantasy castle music of the awesomely titled "Satan Speeds Up" (well, it's a better title than "Slow Jam 1" anyway), the audio equivalent of the album's equally awesome cover art. Yeah! One more time, ladies and gentlemen: King Gizzard And The Lizard Wizard!
MPEG Stream: "Cellophane"
MPEG Stream: "I'm In Your Mind Fuzz"
MPEG Stream: "Satan Speeds Up"
KROWOS / MALEPESTE Mysterium Coniunctionis (Winter Solace) cd 11.98
An entirely new (and entirely grim) prospect to us here at aQ HQ, Mysterium Coniunctionis brings together two hitherto unheard of corpse-painted practitioners of the dark arts: Italy's Krowos and France's Malepeste, both of whom thrive in the murkiest depths of mid tempo depressive raw black metal. The three Krowos tracks ply almost exclusively in a shuffling Burzumic plod (with the occasional daliance into a Transilvanian Hunger-esque blast) - a dreadful and inevitable suicide trance - the vocals anguished and shrill, the guitar work simple, patient, repetitive and hypnotic. The sound is muddy and lightless (as it should be), a slow motion abyssian slog into nothingness. Malepeste's contribution are no more uplifting, peppering their marching funereal thud with some deep droning Attila Csihar-esque vocals. Musically, they mine a similar field as Krowos, their brand of black metal slow, simple and bleak, but accented by an off kilter looseness that adds a certain sickening delirium to the proceedings. Those interested in black metal's darkest, most hopeless canals need look no further than this staggering, bleeding husk of a split.
MPEG Stream: KROWOS "The Abyss Of Perdition"
MPEG Stream: MALEPESTE "Hymn For Him"
LETTERA 22 Subsequent Teeth (Monorail Trespassing) cassette 5.98
There must be something that we are missing in the moniker Lettera 22, which was a very common, lightweight typewriter that came into circulation in 1949. Two Italians - Matteo Castro and Ricardo Mazza - have adopted that unlikely name for their sordid, junk-heavy noise project that falls somewhere between the aktionist brutality of the Schimpfluch Gruppe and the high-octane power electronics that might come from the Broken Flag side of things. The opening barrage has all of the hair-raising wallop of shoving a fork in a toaster, only have the lesson go unlearned with the fork continuing to make its way into the toaster over and over again. Sparks, blistered fingers, and burnt hair should be expected from any attempts to recreate this. Yup, there are squalls of feedback which puncture the bracing chunks of dirty noise, all of which comes to a grinding halt with one of several trash-strewn concoctions of abject texture from electro-acoustic sources, while still exhibiting the electrical burns from those knife-meets-toaster explorations. The second side musters a thoroughly dynamic assault reminiscent of the pre-digital noise-junk tactics of Merzbow himself, chock full of whistle-screech chaos, cable-buzz exaggeration, harshly-shaped edges of bewilderment, and overdrive anti-psychedelia. Oh, and with this release, we see the return of one of the great cassette labels, Monorail Trespassing.
MPEG Stream: "Subsequent Teeth "
LIGHT, ENOCH Eight Classic Albums (Real Time Music) 4cd 12.98
Back in the day, when we would scour thrift stores for weird easy listening and exotica records, albums by Enoch Light (and His Light Brigade), were at the top of the heap! The sound sitting comfortably alongside Esquivel, Les Baxter, Martin Denny and all the rest, yet somehow, Light was always our favorite. Not sure if it was the super striking minimal album art (which is how we first discovered them/him), or the fact that most of the records had titles like Persuasive Percussion or Provocative Percussion, or that, as those titles suggested, Light was big on percussion, and stereo. He was an early adopter, obsessed with the possibilities of stereo, the sound on his records careening wildly from speaker to speaker, so much so, that initially his records were not played on the radio, since radio was monaural! Every album was equal parts jazz, exotica, easy listening and weird demonstration record. The bulk of the records made up of covers of popular songs, or new versions of standards, but given super drum heavy, and very rhythmic arrangements, wildly percussive (obviously!) and playful, groovy, exotic and jazzy. In our imaginations, Enoch Light looked like the Heatmiser from those old Christmas claymation specials, wild haired, maniac bandleader, gesticulating wildly before a motley crew of musicians, effortlessly whipping up wild blasts of sixties big band jazz, and playful percussive frivolity. This super bargain priced collection gathers up EIGHT classic Enoch Light records on 4 cds!!! You get: Persuasive Percussion Vol. 1 (1959), Persuasive Percussion Vol. 2 (1960), Persuasive Percussion Vol. 3 (1960), Provocative Percussion Vol. 1 (1960), Provocative Percussion Vol. 2 (1960), Grand Award All Stars - Percussion And Brass (1960), Stereo 35mm Vol. 1 (1961), and Stereo 35mm Vol. 2 (1961).
MPEG Stream: "Hernando's Hideaway"
MPEG Stream: "Speak To Me Of Love"
MPEG Stream: "The Lady Is A Tramp"
MPEG Stream: "Hawaiian War Chant"
MPEG Stream: "Bingo Bango Bongo Baby"
LUMERIANS Transmissions From Telos Vol III (Cardinal Fuzz) lp 17.98
There's 2 brand new mind-spacer-outers on this week's list direct from UK psych specialists Cardinal Fuzz, one by the Dead Sea Apes, and this one from local faves the Lumerians! As you know, we love love love the Lumerians, we had 'em play at the AQ 40th birthday party, we made their first full-length a Record Of The Week, and this new one, a prequel we guess to their Transmissions From Telos Vol IV release, does not disappoint. Cardinal Fuzz is a great place for 'em, their motorik psychedelic electro-kraut fits right in. There's four long songs (37 minutes total) on this slab of vinyl, two per side, and damn if they won't free your mind, your ass following right along, like some sort of pulsating Can meets Herbie Hancock meets Circle meets Cave instrumental groove machine. Opening track "Murder Dubbs" is a headnodding groover, super tight and controlled, with bits of flute flutter and bursts of wriggly synth. The groove gets mellower on the faux-ethno "Turiya", with fuzzy sorta thumb-piano sounds like Bebey or Konono, and electric organ a la Mammane Sani. On the flip, there's more krautrocky propulsion and delightful synth sizzle via "Hook For An Eye", before the record wraps up with the longest cut, the twelve and a half minute "Impossible Windows / Caballero Futuro", super spacious and pretty and hypnotic. Nice!!LIMITED, of course! Cardinal Fuzz stuff is usually not long for this world...
MPEG Stream: "Murder Dubbs"
MPEG Stream: "Hook For An Eye"
MAEROR TRI Ambiguitas (Teta-Morphosis) cd 15.98
The material from the cassette releases of Maeror Tri have been trickling back into circulation over the years thanks to a nearly global campaign to keep these recordings into print. Maeror Tri should need no introduction from us by now, they being the German industrial-drone trio that enjoyed a vibrant existence from 1988 to 1996. In the best tradition of the DIY / mail-art / cassette-culture values, they eagerly recorded material for pretty much every request that came their way, with cassette releases and compilation tracks that barely saw much in the way of distribution during that time period, given the limited pressings. Ambiguitas was one of these cassette-only releases that was released in 1995 by the Lebensraum subsidiary of the French power-electronics / dark-ambient imprint Nuit Et Bruillard. It should be noted that the recordings are actually much earlier, dating back to 1991. This is a very bleak album even by the standards of Maeror Tri, who seem to be augmenting their thrumming drones with power-tool expressionism and nocturnal percussive clamor as heard on "Fusion Of Sementary Intelligence" which follows the guttural tape-noise chimney sweeping of the aptly named "Death Surrounds You". The latter half of the album shifts towards those achingly maudlin, long-form guitar drones that Maeror Tri's Stefan Knappe has mastered over the years, transitioning into those into a epochally cinematic form within Troum. Ambiguitas is fleshed out with two possibly unreleased tracks that date back to 1988, when the trio buttressed their ashen bellows with lugubrious synths and delay-pedal dub tricks. This cd edition was reissued by Sergey of Five Elements Music / Exit In Grey on his new imprint Teta-Morphosis in an edition of 500 copies.
MPEG Stream: "Death Surrounds You"
MPEG Stream: "Fusion Of Segmentary Intelligence"
MPEG Stream: "Northern Lights"
MARBLE SKY s/t (Students Of Decay) 2lp 34.00
While he's best known for the pandrogynous polymorph work as Rene Hell, Jeff Witscher released a handful of super private edition cassettes of ambient orchestrations for synths and pedals under the moniker Marble Sky sometime in the aughts. The Marble Sky recordings harken to a specific time of 'post-noise' when Emeralds in particular had emerged out of the Midwestern noise community with their youthful reclamation of kraut electronics and guitars circa 1974. Similar hints of a blustery discontent drift through Witscher's Marble Sky recordings, with the harmonic surges of synth melodies drifting through impressionist scores that rippled with oceanic currents of tempered white noise and tape-mediated meditations of forgotten memories and illusory dreams. Works by the likes of Marble Sky, Taiga Remains, and even Jon Borges' late-period Emaciator embraced ambient symphonic grandiosity in alluding simultaneously to the innerspace vistas from stoner staring contests at passing clouds and the mile-high vantage points of hugely dramatic historical paintings. It's no big leap to make the connections from the introspective reductionism of Stars Of The Lid or even some of Tim Hecker's more docile recordings through the recordings of Marble Sky to arrive at the revisionist infatuation with the crystal-powered navel-gazing of new age recordings.This eponymous collection from the pastorally-droned imprint Students Of Decay takes all of the Marble Sky material that Witscher released on his own Callow God label, which mostly held to the morally bankrupt ethos of brutalist power electronics with the very obvious exception of the Marble Sky recordings. Fragile. Sonorous. Lovely.
MPEG Stream: "Dull Hue"
MPEG Stream: "A Shining Juniper"
MPEG Stream: "Lea; Crossed Eyes"
MB (MAURIZIO BIANCHI) Telmegiddo (Menstrual Recordings) lp 31.00
In 1984, Maurizio Bianchi called it quits for the first time, as the pioneer of Italian Industrial music had found himself and his work at odds with his spiritual beliefs, opting for communion with the divine instead of wallowing in the abjection of humanity. Some 15 years later, he started making music again in a flurry of collaborations and micro-edition releases only to stop rather suddenly in 2009. Bianchi's final official album of the first (and undeniably best) phase was the self-released Armaghedon - a soundtrack to an unfinished film that would have been really interesting to have seen. Unfortunately, Bianchi destroyed more than half of the pressing of Armaghedon, with the film probably suffering the same fate. Telemediggo would have been the follow-up to Armaghedon, and is a continuation of the free-floating almost psychedelic dronework that shows a considerable amount of maturity of Bianchi's compositional prowess. Gone are the almost meandering attempts at Frankensteinian synth-melody and gone are the panzer division rhythms found on albums like Symphony For A Genocide and Menses. Instead, the gasping environments from Bianchi's final period could be considered placid in comparison to his more suffocating works, as if he's allowing for slivers of light to seep through the vast darkness. A heavy piece of refined minimalism! We should note that we've listed this on cd (accompanied with a bonus cd-r entitled Bacterhabitat of unfinished material from 1983 or thereabouts), but this is first time these recordings have been on vinyl. Super limited pressing of just 100 copies. Restocks are unlikely.
MPEG Stream: "Tel"
MPEG Stream: "Mediggo"
MLEHST Cunt Trouble (Monorail Trespassing) cassette 5.98
Yes, yes, yes, that is a very problematic title to a very good noise album. Mlehst has long been one of the stalwarts of the British noise community, releasing tons of micro-edition works in fits and starts since 1993. There's long been an unseemly psycho-sexual nature to the titles and artwork from Mlehst, who had cited that these references had much more to do with the surreal strangeness of sexual perversions rather than any prurient interest in them (pun very much intended); but it's hard to look the other way when it comes to an album with such a misogynistic declaration. Noise is inherently aggressive, but it is not inherently transgressive or inherently macho. There's no justification that we can offer to a title like Mlehst's Cunt Trouble; but we can say that the sounds within could have easily been lifted from the slippery controlled feedback drones that Arcane Device or Ryoji Ikeda had created circa 1992, albeit filtered through the sewer-stained gunk of some cassette left to fester in Mlehst's shed for a decade or so. It's actually very much akin to the recent Kleistwahr album that we listed recently, as a series of dense, psychically-charged, industrial-drone mantras flecked with diamond bright shimmers of shoegazing glassiness that then turn into a leaden-grey fog of rumble and crunch. The recordings do not deserve such a title. It's much better than that!
MPEG Stream: "A Pretorite Am I"
MPEG Stream: "Payment In Kind"
NECRO DEATHMORT EP2 (Distraction) lp 27.00
The second installment in a proposed trilogy of 12"s from one of our favorite weirdo electronic outfits, UK duo Necro Deathmort, who besides having a grim and brootal, almost metallic sounding moniker, kick up a sound that's seriously warped, an atmospheric, blackened electronica, with the early records sounding a bit like SUNNO))) meets Squarepusher, the sound seems to be delving deeper and deeper into texture and nuance, beat driven moodiness, and almost cinematic sounding, tripped out psychedelic dub. Still plenty ominous and sinister, EP2 opens with "Sundive", a droned out, industrial sprawl, that sounds more like the minimal techno murk of Silent Servant crossed with the grim-goth rhythms of Vatican Shadow, the pulsing echo drenched beat draped over a thick backdrop of ominous, rumbling thrum. "Mirus" begins life as a hushed swirl of low end pulsations, and gauzy synthesizer squelch, but before too long, the song explodes into some full on metal, a lumbering droney doom, thick down tuned riffage, minimal metallic drum pound, some serious metalgaze style hypno-dirgery, but the whole thing is wreathed in thick swirls of synth shimmer, and more droniness, the vibe almost like John Carpenter by way of Godspeed by way of Neurosis or Nadja. "Channel Fever" lays down a framework of gated beats woven into a skittery eighties sounding rhythm, again, drifting atop undulating waves of synthdrone and atmospheric shimmer, all spacey and washed out, still a bit ominous, but even more so in the last coupe minutes with some ribcage rattling bass, and some slowbuild atmospherics.The second half of EP2 delivers more of the same. "Bleeding" sounding like it could have been borne of some obscure Justin Broadrick project, or perhaps a remix of Moss or The Body, a churning blackened doomic riffscape spread out over a sea of squelch and a backdrop of crumbling distortion, harsh metallic vokills, a lurching slab of electro-doom, swaddled in arcs of blurred melody, adding a strangely melancholic vibe to the proceedings, but for all the little electronic bits this is some straight up metal crush, that should have doooooooomlords digging it big time, but also probably a little confused, especially when that track bleeds directly into "Deadlight", which sounds like some creepy Carpenter soundtrack, all woozy synths and sinister minor key melody, kosmische drift meets eighties horror VHS ambience, sounding like it could easily have been an alternate soundtrack for recent dystopian seventies style sci-fi art flick, Beyond The Black Rainbow. That sound continues right into the closer "Are", all pulsing synths, and swirling cinematic ambience, unfurling like more soundtrack drift, before the drums come swooping in, transforming the sound into something weirder and heavier, a spaced out doom-psych maybe, or some cinematic psychedelic synth doom, not sure what to call it, but it's pretty fantastic, a lumbering landscape of rumbling, atmospheric drones, swirling synth shimmer, moody melodies, and minimal drum pound, all brooding and tense, super atmospheric, haunting and heavy, again sounding like the score to some lost avant / arthouse sci-fi epic. LIMITED TO 333 COPIES!!
NICOLE 12 First 12 Years (Industrial Recollections / Freak Animal) 2cd 17.98
Nicole 12 is the sicko-noise project of Finland's Mikko Aspa who happens to be the same Mikko Aspa behind one of our favorite black metal hordes Clandestine Blaze AND serves as the current vocalist for Deathspell Omega. Along with running Northern Heritage (black metal label) and Freak Animal (for the power electronics and noise stuff), he happily toils in any number areas of deviant publications that involve considerable levels of filth and degradation. He's claimed that he has no moral dilemmas whatsoever with the work that he publishes, and Nicole 12 is one such project that exists by design at a uneasy end of the libertine spectrum. It's a thin line that Whitehouse walked between entering a dialogue about sexual exploitation and glorifying the negative politics of perversion; and Nicole 12 marches through a similarly uncomfortable minefield of the taboos surrounding the sexualization of youth and the commodification of the body. The politics of Nicole 12 require a strong stomach, and the power electronics are equally blunt in their cold, dispassionate constructions of squalid frequencies, body-shock rumble, and panoptic blurts of vocal command. It's very clear that Nicole 12 (and the whole Mikko Aspa oeuvre) was a HUGE influence on the early work of Prurient, right up to the point when Dom shifted his work towards the rhymthicist productions of Bermuda Drain. This album represents something of a conclusion of one chapter for Nicole 12's catalog, collecting all of the non-album tracks that Aspa recorded since the project's inception in 1999. Upon the completion of this album, Nicole 12 will only be releasing full albums through Freak Animal, or so it seems. Dare we recommend this? It is a pretty amazing piece of filthy-filthy noise, but seriously don't even entertain the notion of checking this out, if you don't know what you are getting yourself into.
MPEG Stream: "Violation"
MPEG Stream: "Still Moment"
MPEG Stream: "Seesaw Romance"
MPEG Stream: "Osaka"
OSWALD, JOHN Grayfolded (Important Records) 3lp 67.00
We have lots of friends who LOVE the Grateful Dead. When Andee was in Finland, aQ pal Jussi from Circle, even made him a mix of just the best jams. No "Truckin'" or any of that stuff, just endless spaced out psychedelic jammage, and we can safely say, that we can definitely get behind that side of the Dead. Really, it's almost like a mellower, more stoned Hawkwind, which definitely doesn't sound like a bad thing at all. Even so, we might still suggest Grayfolded as the only Grateful Dead record you really need to own. In part because it's only KIND OF a Grateful Dead record, well, it is ALL Grateful Dead, but it's multiple versions of the same song, "Dark Star", a bunch of different performances and recordings, all cut up and reassembled Plunderphonic style by John Oswald. So in a way, it's like a more experimental version of that mixtape Jussi made for Andee, and if you didn't know what this was all about, and weren't listening to it on headphones, you might just think it was a straight up psychedelic jam. The edits and the layering and the arrangement are pretty seamless, the multiple performances woven into a super cohesive, slow shifting, constantly mutating whole, spacey and laid back, drowsy, druggy and hypnotic, spidery guitar lines unwind, and tangle up with the same, slightly altered melodies from another performance, the multiple iterations almost ghostly the way they bleed into one another, like listening to the Dead in a carnival funhouse hall of mirrors, but if anything, that only makes it seem more psychedelic, yet all without losing the essence of the original track, which is no small feat. It's the sort of masterful editing that is almost too good, so much so that most folks listening to this won't appreciate the painstaking work that went into its creation. So in that way, headphone listening will be rewarded for sure, allowing the listener to sink deep into all of these many "Dark Star"s, and to not just appreciate the masterful skill of the musicians, but the new alien context they've been placed in after the fact. Psychedelic, plunderphonic genius!
MPEG Stream: "Excerpt 1"
MPEG Stream: "Excerpt 2"
PAVITT, BRUCE Sub Pop USA: The Subterranean Pop Music Anthology, 1980-1988 (Bazillion Points) book 34.95
Like Touch And Go, Sub Pop was another record label that began life as a printed zine, and like T&G, Sub Pop the ZINE, has now also been compiled into a big beautiful book by the fine folks at Bazillion Points. And while we're guessing lots of you are quite familiar with Sub Pop the label, odds are, unless you were living in the Northwest in the eighties, or were very connected from somewhere else, this might be the first time you're seeing the zine version. And it's pretty fantastic. Less like a zine actually, and more like a massive, constantly updated list. Of bands, stores, labels, a comprehensive sampling of the underground by Sub Pop mainman Bruce Pavitt, focused obviously on the Northwest, but also including 'scene report's from L.A., Minneapolis, Milwaukee, Portland, Vancouver, Chicago, and pretty much anyplace else amazing underground music was happening. Subterranean Pop (as it was called initially), was essentially a DIY guide to underground music, a proto-Book Your Own Fucking Life (at one point even supplying pressing plant info so folks could make their own records), and in a way, it even reads a bit like an American underground version of the infamous Nurse With Wound list. Albeit with a bit more context. That context though is pretty hilarious, one review of a Jad Fair 7" simply says: "Jad Fair is the most interesting person in the United States." The Circle Jerks' Group Sex lp is described as "Mellow folk rock. Kinda like Jackson Browne." And about the Flesh Eaters' No Questions Asked lp Pavitt has this to say: "Intense, Satan-inspired poetry. The vocalist is a distinctive, wormy tenor. Creepy punk rock." And check out the SF portions, they read like Superior Viaduct's mission statement, a list of records they have (and likely WILL) reissue. It's super fun reading, and a fantastic sampling of a specific time in the underground, as well as a look at the early days of grunge, and in general, the world of indie rock, pre-internet. Not to mention, as you might have surmised from the above reviews, a lot of the snark you'd expect.Music nerds NEED this, if just for the comprehensive lists of bands and labels, some super obscurities you've likely not heard (or even heard of), and besides all 9 issues of the Sub Pop zine, the book also compiles six months of Pavitt's column for the Seattle Rocket newspaper, which essentially read like mini issues of the zine. Tons of rare photos (by Charles Peterson among others), rare artwork (from Jad Fair, Charles Burns, Lynda Barry and more), reproductions of the columns, the zines, and essays by loads of folks, including Calvin Johnson (Beat Happening, K Records), Gerard Cosloy (Matador Records, 12XU, Conflict) anymore more more! All in a beautiful 400 page, glossy covered, perfect bound coffee table book.
PINK, ARIEL Pom Pom (4AD) 2lp 22.00
Two idiosyncratic Southern California underground pop geniuses on one record! That's right, on this new, ostensibly 'solo' joint, everyone's fave, fey, formerly-lo-fi freakazoid, Ariel Pink, gets some help from his heavy friendz, including none other than the legendary Kim Fowley! Is that cool or what? It is. The Animal God Of The Streets adds an extra dose of cool, bringing more bizarre pop smarts to the mix (as if Ariel didn't have enough of that, but still!). Also on board, Don Bolles (Germs, 45 Grave) Jack Name, Shags Chamberlain, and various current and/or former members of Ariel's band Haunted Graffiti, among many others. As Ariel sez in his humble liner notes, this might in fact be his LEAST 'solo' album ever. In particular, Runaways svengali Fowley gets co-writing credit on five out of the 17 songs, and you can hear him on here too, delivering the spoken vocal on funky vamp "Sexual Athletics".And basically, if you liked (we did, big time!) Ariel's last album, Mature Themes, this one offers up a similarly amusing and earwormy set of songs. Starting of with the '60s psyke pop stylings of "Plastic Raincoats In The Pig Parade", moving on into the '80s new wave inflected "White Freckles", Pom Pom covers all the usual AP bases, from dreamy love song (and sexy sex song) fare, to druggy gothy stuff, to even more wacked out rockin' weirdness.Yeah, as you might by now expect, it's got its goofy side, for sure, with a lot of sound effects, funny voices, silly lyrics, and so forth, maybe sticking tongue too far in cheek with "Nude Beach A Go-Go". Though, that's not the most ridiculous song title on here, an honor that might instead go to "Dinosaur Carebears", a track that surprisingly shifts from sheer cavorting chaos into a slinky, dubby groove. Ariel's more earnest, emotional side is represented too, though - a track like "Put Your Number In My Phone" is fairly romantic, after all…All in all, another very entertaining album from this one of a kind artist!! Dunno if you all have been following the latest AP controversy, but can't really imagine any of these songs on a Madonna album, somehow...
MPEG Stream: "White Freckles"
MPEG Stream: "Goth Bomb"
MPEG Stream: "Sexual Athletics"
SECRET PYRAMID The Silent March (Students Of Decay) lp 15.98
NOW ON VINYL! (As well as cd, as part of the two disc SP set we made Record Of The Week this week...) Here's what we said about this back in 2011, when we reviewed the original, now long out of print cassette version:Record number two from these Canadian krautdrone drifters, featuring one half of aQ faves psychedelic dronerockers Solars. We raved about SP'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. Gorgeous stuff. And this new vinyl version has been remastered by James Plotkin.
MPEG Stream: "Outside"
MPEG Stream: "Come Down Gently"
MPEG Stream: "Still Return"
SKULLFLOWER Draconis (Cold Spring) 2cd 28.00
It's hard to believe UK industrial / noise rock / psychedelic outfit Skullflower has been around for going on 26 years now. And even harder to believe that after numerous lineups and sonic shifts, that Skullflower mainman Matthew Bower and company are still making such a glorious racket. That company this time around (and for the last few SF records) consists specifically of Samantha Davies, Bower's longtime partner in musical crime, and on Draconis, the two somehow channel SF's serpentine sonic path, from lurching pigfuck thud to transcendent psychedelic riffery, to blown out cosmic raga, to black metal / blacknoize ferocity, into something transcendent and strangely lovely, the sound here much more reminiscent of Bower's more blissful alter ego as Sunroof! The opening track erupts in a swirl of keening melodies arcing over a bed of churning and roiling soft noise, with wild tangles of melodies blurred and smeared into a gloriously dense whole, buried voices, maybe samples, all wound up into a shimmering psychedelic super nova, a heady, hypnotic wall of blue and green and orange and red sound, prismatic and impossibly pretty, a delirious dream-noise that somehow bleeds right into the next track, somehow getting even prettier, sure it's buried beneath clouds of hissing static, and gristly glitch, but the lilting loveliness shines through, like some alien folk music, bathed in short wave radio interference, a transmission from some other far away world, the sound decayed and wreathed in clouds of dreamlike interference.The rest of the first disc remains surprisingly pretty, whether it's a lush layered landscape of textured sonic gristle, sculpted static, and buried melodies, or swirling synthy psychedelia, clouds of majestic ur-drones that could just as easily have come from Astral Social Club or Our Love Will Destroy The World. And even when it does get noisy, like the churning industrial clanger "Nightblooms For The Witch Queen", a roiling sea of staticky pulsations and distant pipe fight percussion, it's swaddled in dense swirls of rumbling thrum and greyed shimmer. The first disc finishes off with a serious onslaught of noise, a wild squall of psychedelia, a tangle of synths and guitars, atop what sounds like a buried doom metal churn, somehow those two elements heeled into one, epic, majestic whole. A little foreshadowing, as the second disc starts out a little darker, beginning with streaks of sublimated black metal, filtered through Bower's cracked sonic lens, a brief bout of furious, fast picked distorto-guitar, but WAY down in the mix, beneath a thick layer of grinding, rumbling whir. But that blackness quickly abates, and soon it's back to more soaring sonic effulgence, woozy chords are pitch shifted into dizzying swoops of sound, all the various spidery tendrils wound up into bleary bursts of transcendent psych-noise, butted up against more hushed stretches, the droning, keening guitars muted into dreamlike thrums, over slowly unfolding sprawls of slow motion downer rock, but so stretched out and disembodied that it sounds almost ambient, like a spaced out Dead C.There's still some droned out guitar dirgery, again transformed into something weirdly mesmeric, and almost cinematic, a field of churning downtuned riffs pulsing beneath long tones, layered and gradually decaying and bleeding into the whirling shimmer below, culminating in the 15 minute closer, also noisy, but lo-fi, and again, while the surface seems corrosive and caustic, it's barely obscuring what sounds like some lost Philip Jeck piece underneath, all warmly melodic loops, even some strings, it all ends up sounding like some strange Christmas carol, or ancient hymn, the feel is liturgical, dreamlike, a faded chamber music, nods to the Caretaker too, but that burnished beauty is tempered by the gauzy sonic cowl surrounding it, a crumbling halo of hiss, and what sounds like a lost shortwave broadcast from the ether, the combination of the two is stunning, the whole track infused with a dark melancholia the likes of which we've never really heard from Skullflower before. Stunning packaging too, an oversized 6 panel dvd-style digibook, adorned with all manner of mysterious sigils and mandalas, inside a booklet with strange photographs, Bower's distinctive watercolor artwork, and a diagram of the sky over the pyramids at Gizeh, dated 2500 B.C.
MPEG Stream: "Cauda Draconis"
MPEG Stream: "Dazed Nymph In The N.O.X..."
MPEG Stream: "Sunset Dreams"
STOTT, ANDY Faith in Strangers (Modern Love) cd 19.98
While Andy Stott's last record, 2012's Luxury Problems moved even further into dreamlike murk, blurring his already gauzy sonic palette into something even more hazy and ethereal, there were brief glimpses of Stott's other side, weirdly mixed beats surfacing in the midst of hushed ambience, or a song suddenly splintering into blown out breakbeats. Of course those anomalies were somehow still deftly woven into the woozy fabric of that record's whole, geniusly disruptive variations, that perhaps hinted at not just what once was. But what might soon again be. Faith In Strangers begins as we might have expected, a darkly delicate field of reverbed piano suspended in clouds of dusty, sun dappled shimmer, foghorn moans, and plenty of space, dreamlike expanses of near silence punctuated by haunting tones and subtly layered drones, melancholic melodies wreathed in a softly psychedelic haze, a faded, washed out ambience, a sound that had it stretched out for the remainder of the record unchanged, we would have been perfectly pleased. But like Luxury Problems, Faith In Strangers seems to be more about the outliers. It's not long before delicate vocals drift in, again suspended in a softly swirling ether, but pocked by weird distorted chordal fragments, it's not until midway through the second track that the first beat surfaces, and it's a doozy, a loping, downtempo distorted dirge, the vocals much more prominent than on past Stott outings, not really that processed, sultry and witchy, the sound more like an even more abstract Portishead or Tricky's Nearly God project. Smokey and sexy, dreamily distorted, a gorgeously groovy, smoldering downtempo slab of psychedelic avant trip hop. And in fact, much of the record displays a similarly sonic trajectory, gauzy beats, sultry crooned vocals (with minimal processing, unlike the smears of collaged amorphous vocals on Luxury Problems), thick buzzing basslines, the sounds distorted, the rhythms hissy and staticky, classic drum machine sounds tangled up with some beats of Stott's invention.A few tracks, like "No Surrender", get seriously trippy, ditching any semblance of groove, and instead unfurl a haunting and hypnotic noisescape, all cascading distorted synths, which soon fragment into jagged shards, which then in turn dissolve into blurred ambience, before a barrage of crumbling beats explode into motion, lurching and stuttering, the opening sounds resurfacing in drastically reimagined form, even more fractured and fucked up. The second half of the record is split pretty evenly between big, booming, beats and experimental electro, at times raw and rough, at others dreamy and skittery, and at others, something much more minimal, the final track in particular, mostly just a processed bassline wound around wordless female vocals, everything doused in FX and laid out into softly pulsing swells, eventually laced with spacey blips and bleeps, but for the most part hushed and super abstract, which is generally what we expect from Stott, although in the case of Faith In Strangers, it's actually an anomaly, with the bulk of the record heavy on distorted rhythms, with Stott's distinctive production/sound more in service of the beats, than the other way around.
MPEG Stream: "Time Away"
MPEG Stream: "Violence"
MPEG Stream: "On Oath"
TIRED TAPE MACHINE Not Here (Feeder) lp 19.98
Tired Tape Machine is a Swedish one man project, who, based on the moniker, we initially expected to sound LIKE a tired tape machine, all warped and warmly, garbed and faded, maybe a little Philip Jeck, a little Caretaker, in fact the record was recorded in a cabin in the Swedish forest! But instead, TTM sounds more like a mini orchestra, unfurling dreamy swaths of hazy, sixties drone-pop shimmer, all baroque and wistful, a sort of chamber folk, rife with slow smoldering builds, some classic psychedelia, plenty of swirling strings, folky acoustic guitars, space-y FX, the sound slipping from brooding downer pop to soaring almost Stereolab groop sounds in fact, on first listen, we found ourselves thinking 'Low meets Stereolab', but that shorthand doesn't do justice to the sound here. We hear shades of Cardinal and Witch Hazel, and other practitioners of timeless baroque pop, but it all has a slightly sinister undertone, a mysterious cinematic ambience that seems to infuse even the poppiest moments. The more we listen, the more the moniker makes sense, it's a music out of time, and this strange dusty old tape machine is in fact more than what it seems, pulling in these transmissions from the ether, the moody poppiness, laced too with stretches of haunting, near choral drift, pocked with squalls of psychedelic freakout, all the various disparate sonic elements distilled into a dark, gauzy, softly psychedelic chamber folk, retro pop that we can't get enough of. Fans of aQ faves Death & Vanilla, hankering for some similarly ghostly, symphonic, dreamy-downer, sixties style pop, this will definitely hit the spot. Probably extremely limited, grab one now just in case. You won't be sorry.
MPEG Stream: "Hidden"
MPEG Stream: "Not Here"
MPEG Stream: "Bury"
TY SEGALL $ingle$ 2 (Drag City) lp 17.98
This is the second singles collection from ultra prolific glam-psych garage-popper Ty Segall, a sequel to the first, which came out in 2010 and was available only on cassette. $ingle$ 2 takes up right where the first volume left off, and unlike that one, this time it's available on all the different formats, and gathers up tracks from out of print 7"s and compilations, various songs from songs from 2011-2013, and includes all sorts of killer B-sides as well as some awesome covers (GG Allin, Velvet Underground, the Groundhogs).First up is all three tracks from 2011's Spiders 7" on Drag City. Which at first blush sounds like some crazy heavy noisy freakout, the title track opening with SUPER distorted guitar, all crunchy and in the red, which proves to be just a false start, but then the main riff comes in, and it too is totally heavy and sludgey, and when we first spun the single, we were convinced it was playing at the wrong speed, but no, this is just a dense slab of psychedelic garage pop heaviness, all murky and dirgey and almost doomy sounding, distorted echoey vox over that churning blown out riffage as well as some rad psychedelic guitar. The second track ("Hand Glams") also has a bit of a false start, and while a bit more traditionally psychedelic and garage poppy, it too is petty noisy and distorted, lots of feedback, still a killer pop song, like the first one, just slathered in noisy distortion, and it sort of suits him. "Cherry Red", the Groundhogs cover, is way more groovy and sixties garage rock sounding, fuzzy and poppy with a killer chorus that definitely reminds us of Segall pal Mikal Cronin's aQ Record Of The Week. Up next come two different B-sides to the I Can't Feel It 7" (at the time we didn't realize there were multiple versions), "Falling Hair" a laid back psychedelic groover, a bit of a glammy dirge/ballad, a bit Beatles-esque, hazy and psychedelic, with a slow build, hard rocking second half, while "Children Of Paul" has a sun soaked and dusty quality that smolders with a slow summery sizzle. Basking in some serious '60s and '70s psych vibes, echoes of Syd Barrett, Roky Erickson, and Moby Grape abound.Next up is a track from Segall's split with French garage pop dirge punks Feeling Of Love, which we never even got, and it's another retro-psych groover, all warm shimmery strum, and reverie jangle, reminding us of Redd Kross actually, with the same sort of paisley pop feel, but with a cool, and very weird almost mathy, and noise poppy bridge.Then we have the B side from The Hill single on S & F, a swirly, glammy, fuzz pop gem, with a total Bowie vibe going on, hooky and heavy, fuzzy and jangly. Which leads directly into the B side from the Would You Be My Love 7", and another slab of sixties pop, but super stripped down and acoustic, some dreamy hippy psych pop, all dreamy harmony vocals, steel string strum, and even some whistling at the end. Not hard to imagine this song distorted and supercharged, and fitting perfectly on Segall's Twins full length, but in it's acoustic form, it's pretty much perfect.Up next, Segall's track from the Group Flex II flex disc set on Castle Face, a super distorted blast of howl and pound laced with plenty of horns and sax bleat, followed by a killer cover of "Femme Fatale" from the Castle Face comp Velvet Underground & Nico by Castleface And Friends,with Segall adding lots of feedback, and some Stoogesy swagger to the original, the result noisy and chaotic and super rocking. Then we have something more recent, Segall's track from the Famous Class split with Chad & The Meatbodies, on which he lays down a super funky drum track, swaddles it in organ, then some super distorted percussion, bongos maybe, conjuring up a wild rhythmic freak out, that gets more and more wild and distorted as it goes, bursts of psych-squall noisiness, ultra distorted leads, all somehow wound up into a dense slab of cinematic psychedelic groovery!!And finally, Segall's GG Allin cover, from a 7" of GG Allin covers called Rated G.G., which also featured the Mountain Goats, Fucked up, Ben Gibbard and Ted Leo, and which we also never even had. And as you might imagine, it's about the punkest thing we've heard from Segall, the vocals distorted and doused in FX, the guitars blowout and in-the-red, a galloping noise punk blowout, that somehow manages to still sound like Segall, or maybe more like his hard rocking 'other' project Fuzz, heady and heavy, swaggery and snarly, and still tripped out and plenty psychedelic. All killer stuff, and an easy way to get caught up on all the TS singles stuff you might have missed!
MPEG Stream: "Spiders"
MPEG Stream: "Children Of Paul"
MPEG Stream: "Fucked Up Motherfucker"
MPEG Stream: "Pettin The Dog"
V/A Classic Blues Artwork from the 1920's Vol 12 (Blues Images) calendar + cd 20.00
It's that time again! Almost the end of the year, and time for a new calendar! And yeah, we know, you don't wear a watch or have a camera cuz it's all on your phone, and sure, your phone has a calendar too. However, odds are, that the tiny calendar on your phone, as useful and smart as it may be, is not nearly as bad ass as the Classic Blues Artwork From The 1920's calendar, which has become a sort of institution around here. Like the last however many volumes, this new one is chock full of, as the title makes pretty clear, some killer artwork from rare blues records from the '20s, each month, some rare 78 cover, or vintage photo, whether it's the "Dry Bone Shuffle" by Blind Blake, or "You Got what I Want" by Chocolate Brown, "Shake That Thing" by the Mississippi Sheiks, or "Spoonful Blues" by Charley Patton. Or rare photos of The Famous Blue Jay Singers, Roosevelt Sykes, Cannon's Jug Stompers, Brother Son Bonds and Hammie Nixon, Memphis Minnie and Kansas Joe, and more more more! There are also liner noters with each month's artwork/photo, detailing the featured artist or record, along with historical dates of note, births, and deaths, and the like, all related to the blues. And if that weren't enough, and you've probably already guessed it's NOT, there's an accompanying cd compilation, with all 12 of the tracks from the calendar, from all the above mentioned artists and MORE, as well as twelve extra blues rarities, and those come with a booklet and tray card so you can stick them in a proper jewel case as well. Even sans calendar, the cd is a killer vintage blues comp, worth the price of admission alone, but all together, this is pretty much the perfect gift for the music nerd in your life, even if that music nerd is you.
V/A Pop Ambient 2015 (Kompakt) lp+cd 22.00
Another wholehearted recommendation is in store for the 15th edition of the ongoing Pop Ambient series! As we mentioned many times before, the 'pop ambient' sound can be seen as a catch-all term for a blissed out electronica that scoffs at the practice of just making techno music without the beats. No, this global vocabulary (though conceived in Germany) re-engineers the very functional chill-out music into a divine meditativeness par excellence. Variations occasionally come along within the Pop Ambient vocabularies with entries that slide a bit towards a darker palette and others that engender more organic sensibilities; and we can say that 2015 glistens with the brightness of a well polished silver. As in previous editions, Kompakt allows for introductions to newer artists alongside the stalwarts in their roster of technicians. The hitherto unknown Thore Pfieffer opens the album with two gorgeous pieces of '70s inspired kraut-electronica passing through modern technological tools, thus ending up somewhere near those expansive guitar-n-electronics pieces that Mountains have crafted over the years with hypnotizing acoustic guitar loops brighted with slow-motion laser-show oscillations gently phasing about. Pfieffer's second track "Nero" is clearly the stand-out piece on Pop Ambient 2015, but there are plenty of other gems to track throughout the album. Dirk Leyers picks up right where Cluster & Eno parted ways so many years ago with brightly twinkled electronic sequences and brook-babbling melodic patter. Deep piano chords gird the domestic clicking of a clock that may be settled in Gregor Schwellenbach's living room as he lays down shimmering tones and cinematic contemplation upon the mundane. Further soundtrack references about on the eagle-soaring ambience from Leandro Fresco whose candy colored melodies recall the mood engineering of Angelo Badalamenti from his Twin Peaks sound design. As lovely as ever, this entry from the Pop Ambient series!
MPEG Stream: THORE PFIEFFER "Nero"
MPEG Stream: GREGOR SCHWELLENBACH "Assperg"
MPEG Stream: BVDUB "In White Pagodas, I'll Wait For You"
WAND Ganglion Reef (God?) cd 14.98
NOW ON CD! OR, NOW ON TAPE! Here's what we said about the vinyl, not long ago...First we've heard (other than a split single with Mikal Cronin) from these far out psychedelic garage rockers from LA and fans of outfits/folks like White Fence, Ty Segall, Mikal Cronin, Thee Oh Sees will be wondering how it took them so long to discover these guys. 'Cause the sound is pretty much a perfect mix of fuzzy, jangly crunch, dense, distorted psychedelic swirl, and retro sixties psych pop, the record opening with what is essentially a blast of psych-noise, before blossoming into some impossibly dreamy fuzz pop, the vocals soft focus and almost gently delivered over a bed of rumble and crunch, which appropriately eventually devolves into another squall of psychedelic freakout. Which is precisely how the second track begins, another swirling cloud of spacey squiggles and glitchy squelch, before in comes a crunchy, almost metallic riff accompanied by wild Keith Moon style octopoidal drum splatter, again, a perfect pop song tucked amidst all the howl and skree and noisy druggy trip out, the band seemingly constantly right on the edge between twee pop sugar sonic overload, and total damaged FX drenched psychedelic collapse, but that sweet spot is all theirs, the band claiming it as their own, and navigating it effortlessly, creating what might be our new favorite psych-pop/garage rock record, and is just the sort of record/sound that should, if all the stars align, give the above mentioned garage rock big boys a run for their money. Makes lots of sense that this found a home on Ty Segall's label (you'd easily be forgiven for thinking THIS was in fact the new Ty Segall record), and that Wand mainman Cory Hanson used to play in Mikal Cronin's band!
WHITE HILLS Glitter Glamour Atrocity (Thrill Jockey) lp 19.98
This long out of print cd from aQ beloved space rockers White Hills, now reissued on vinyl for the first time (and again cd too), with new artwork to boot! Here's what we had to say (more or less) about Glitter Glamour Atrocity, when we first reviewed the original cd version way back in 2007...NYC's White Hills blew us away last year with a bunch of limited edition, Julian Cope-approved cd-r releases documenting their mesmeric, motorik, heavy, and very Hawkwindy space rock sound. We're now very pleased to have their new full-length album in stock.This time around, we are initially given the impression that White Hills has decided to mix it up a little, branching off into a more musicianly, refined post-rock realm rather than sticking entirely to the amplification n' effects laden, cosmic droneout krautrockishness set-the-controls ROCK of their cd-rs. Certainly there's more dynamics here, more ambient/acoustic interludes, lots of really pretty, even poppy bits. But what about the heavy hypnotic headnodders? They're here too, don't worry! Fans of Hawkwind, Neu!, Braindonor, Spacemen Three, Comets On Fire, Kinski, Titan, Pharaoh Overlord, etc. will certainly dig the likes of "Love Serve Remember" (which weirdly reminds us of the Pain Teens) and the distorted, psychedelic, jamming excess of the nearly 15 minute long album-closing title track, among others here. This new White Hills is perhaps more nuanced in some ways than their prior output, but any newfound delicacy hasn't dimmed the drugged dementia of the louder portions of this disc and they've always had their wonderfully blissful side anyway, so we're quite happy with their "progress"! Could do without the bits sampled from George W. Bush speeches, though, despite agreeing with the anti-Bush sentiment being displayed....
MPEG Stream: "Under Skin Or By Name"
MPEG Stream: "Spirit Of Exile"
MPEG Stream: "Love Serve Remember"
WIRE, THE #370 December 2014 magazine 9.98
Latest issue of this indispensable magazine of new music, from the UK. This issue's got Japanese singer Eiko Ishibashi, artist/activist Bob Cobbing, trombonist Peter Zummo doing the 'Invisible Jukebox', and plenty more, including a big 16 page cover-story section all about 'freedom in music and liberation in sound', covering everything from protest folk to trap rap, free improv to karaoke music! Plus all the usual news, reviews, etc.
WIZARD RIFLE Here In The Deadlights (Seventh Rule) lp 13.98
NOW HERE ON VINYL TOO!Say revery shoddy, Blizzard Trifle fizz rack!!! Err... Sorry, what we meant to say is: Hey everybody, Wizard Rifle is back!!! Excuse us, it's just a very disorienting experience listening to this band, and things like logic and language tend to lose all meaning. But of course, anyone familiar with these Portland-spawned nutjobs first record Speak Loudly Say Nothing (which we rightly raved about when it came out) knows the sweaty shaky delirium that comes with Wizard Rifle's gonzo progged out noise rockin' math metal, and this record certainly shows the band in no danger of relenting in their sonic/psychological assault. In fact if anything, Here In The Deadlights might find them in an even more venomous, aggressive and ultimately metal mode. And possibly even a little more, dare we say... serious?? Sure, there are still song titles like "Buzzsaw Babes" and "Paul the Sky Tyrant", but there's also a consistent rumble of dissonant dread running across this record's five tracks, as well a genuinely frightening and twisted fury that brings to mind the aggro-avant-heaviness of early Mastodon and Today Is The Day (whose new album we've reviewed elsewhere on this list!). Across the album's relatively brief running time there are also hints of Sabbathian stoned out dirges, apocalyptic Neurosisian tribalisms, High On Fire-ish ale-soaked riffery, and Botch-esque teched out hardcore wizardry. But it's a blink and you'll miss it affair, as the songs seem to speed by in a whiplash blur of incomprehensible time signatures, while at the same time the band's use of repetition can induce a sort of hypnotic fever-trance, like being pumped full of morphine while someone shakes you by the shoulders and screams in your face for half an hour straight. Like we said... a disorienting experience! But one you'll want to experience again as soon as this record's over...
MPEG Stream: "Crystal Witch"
MPEG Stream: "Buzzsaw Babes"
MPEG Stream: "Paul The Sky Tyrant"