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Records of the Week
FENNESZ Venice (Touch) 2lp 22.00
THIS AQ RECORD OF THE WEEK FROM A DECADE AGO, NOW ON VINYL FOR THE VERY FIRST TIME!! Christian Fennesz' 2001 album Endless Summer firmly established him as one of the electronic avant-garde's greats with his delirious balance of hotwired digital glitches and a nostalgic revisitation of summery pop sensibilities. The assimilation of overloaded digital filtering technologies and guitar driven song fragments has continued to be Fennesz' strongest asset through his celebrated arrangements for David Sylvian's Blemish album, and has even earned him a curious forthcoming collaboration with Sparklehorse! Venice is his fourth studio album and clearly stands as his best work to date. According to Asphodel's Naut Humon, Venice was almost a doomed project, as Fennesz' hard drive crashed less than a month before he needed to deliver the record to Touch. With about a quarter of the album salvageable, he scrambled to reassemble the album from memory. While it's hard to say if this time constraint benefited or detracted from his process, the album itself is stunningly good. Just as Endless Summer channelled the acid fried spirit of Brian Wilson, Venice also finds itself an album with a muse: Kevin Shields. There have always been short-circuited elements of My Bloody Valentine shot from Fennesz' tricked out guitar sound; but Venice pushes Fennesz affection for shoegazer's bucolic atmospheres and sublime melodies to the forefront with marvelous results. Each song appears to be nerve-rattlingly familiar; yet just as Endless Summer invoked Brian Wilson without ever resorting to self-conscious quotation, each of his tracks glides along the same oceanic currents authored by Slowdive, AR Kane, Ride, Loveliescrushing, and The Cocteau Twins. Again, no direct references can be heard in Venice; rather Fennesz taps directly into the hopelessly romantic sentimentality of shoegazer music and replicates it perfectly behind a light dusting of digital pixels. The one track which gives us pause on Venice is the single collaboration with David Sylvian. While this track on its own works as good if not better than anything on their aforementioned Blemish album, it sticks out like sore thumb against the sublimely textured ambience which dominates the remainder of the record. Here on the double lp redux of Venice, Fennesz had the sense to lead the second lp with that track, thus remedying much of the disconnect found with the cd listening experience. Venice stood as one of the finest electronic albums of 2001; and it's still an excellent album a decade later, now fleshed out in its 10th Anniversary vinyl edition with two short bonus tracks of pastoral, pixelated blur, "The Future Will Be Different" and "Tree", presumably recorded at the same time.
MPEG Stream: "City Of Light"
MPEG Stream: "Circassian"
MPEG Stream: "Point Of It All"
GUM TAKES TOOTH Mirrors Fold (Tigertrap) lp 28.00
This recent Record Of The Week, now on vinyl, and Record Of The Week AGAIN!!!We made the first record from this awesomely monikered UK outfit, Silent Cenotaph, our Record Of The Week, way back in 2011, and at the time described them with some band math that looked a little like this: Shit And Shine + Butthole Surfers + Lightning Bolt. The sound was a dizzyingly psychedelic barrage of grinding, rhythmic, electronics doused in druggy tribal freakout, like a super charged This Heat, the drummers kit wired to a mad scientist array of machinery and noise making devices, turning the kit into some giant rhythmic noise machine, and enabling a duo to kick up a din that sounds like it couldn't possibly be made by just two people, and while that first record generally hewed toward a sound that was more chaotic and bombastic, this new one seems to be a bit more melodic and dare we say mellow, there's still plenty of sonic ferocity, and rhythmic bombast for sure, but it sounds more measured, more deftly assembled, maybe less 'punk', but only in the way that bands get better at what they do, and in theory, take what was great about their previous records, and add to it, creating something, even more forward reaching, and ultimately perhaps even better. Such is the case with Mirrors Fold. We still do LOVE Silent Cenotaph, and it routinely gets play on the iPod even still, but this new one is more subtle, more textural, whereas that first one was the sort of music you wanted to rock out to, jump around and go crazy, this new one, manages to harness that feral energy into something much more focused. The opener begins all swirly and serene, with hushed ambient shimmer, chant-like vocals, be before long the drums explode, adding a churning rhythmic component, without detracting from the melodic component or the vocals, it's not really until a brief bit of hushed shimmer, a barely there ambient interlude, that the song truly launches into crazed sonic chaos, a dizzying blurry flurry of drum madness, a wild octopoidal tangle of tangled jumbled rhythms, that eventually give away to a skeletal bit of rhythmic drift, before one final push, where the drums, the vocals, and swirls of FX are all wound into a dense propulsive tribal spacey noise rock blowout. Phew!And so it goes, the band laying down mesmerizing hypno-rhythms, while all around strange effects swoop in and out, extra percussion, echoey vox floating above, thick rumbling bass below, sitar like buzz slithers throughout, the sound and arrangement super dynamic, a bit proggy, certainly psychedelic, a sort mutant psych-prog, Afro-space groove. Some moments are like some outer space version of Afro-fuzz Swedes Goat, others sound like a super charged, space rock Necks, a few tracks get downright heavy, and sound like some tripped out psychedelic space outfit, a few tracks sound like a crazy demonic alter ego of This Heat, a few others remind us of the twisted afro-noise of William Bennett's Cut Hands, there are moments of Muslimgauze like Eastern rhythmatism, there are even moments that remind us of Animal Collective at their very weirdest, but really most of this just sounds Gum Takes Tooth, and absolutely nobody else, a totally twisted genius amalgam of all the above mentioned references, deftly shaped into something at once warped and weird, wild and experimental, but also totally hypnotic, and melodic, strangely lovely and in its own way, extremely catchy. A new favorite for sure. And a total shoe-in not just for Record Of The Week, but for our year end best of's too...Includes a download code!
MPEG Stream: "Mirrors Fold"
MPEG Stream: "White Fear"
MPEG Stream: "The Perfect Surface"
MPEG Stream: "Treaty And Treasure"
AGENTS OF SATAN Discography (Ormolycka) cassette 5.98
Folks who went to metal shows in SF in the nineties no doubt remember seeing some crazy grind metal band, fronted by a maniacal one armed vocalist, who would do flips constantly during the set, landing flat on his back, due to the fact, that he was holding the mic with his one hand. The music a gloriously chaotic blown out powerviolence, very reminiscent of the Slap A Ham stable (Spazz, No Less, etc.). Short blast of furious grinding riffage, sick vokills that swooped from guttural cookie monster death metal bellow, to hysterical shriek, the music lurching from lurching doomy churn, to chaotic blasting fastcore, with song titles like "Rape Your Ass With Drugs", "Silver In Christ's Cornhole", "Snatch In Your Eye", "Cut Off My Dick", "Vomit tar" and "Crust = Glam".While some of this is just goofy noisemaking, some of the tracks here are fierce blasts of metallic mayhem, and punishing bursts of hardcore ferocity. Unsung Bay Area grind from back in the day, leave it to the madmen behind Ormolycka to dig this up and give it new life. Some folks might remember AoS from their split with Burn The Priest (later to become Lamb Of God), this tape collects pretty much everything, and it KILLS. It's also, like most Oromolycka stuff, crazy limited...
MPEG Stream: "Black Scabs"
MPEG Stream: "Rape Your Ass With Drugs"
MPEG Stream: "Silver In Christ's Cornhole"
MPEG Stream: "Crust = Glam"
MPEG Stream: "Cut Off My Dick"
AISLERS SET, THE Terrible Things Happen (Slumberland) lp 14.98
These once local legends have their two full lengths reissued for a legion of new fans who missed their winsome noisepop the first time around in the nineties. Basically they are the band that defined the sound of Slumberland. Here is what we said about them way back when, in the days of briefer reviews:This is the debut album from the highly anticipated new project from Amy of Henry's Dress/Go Sailor, Alicia of Poundsign, Wyatt of Trackstar, and Yoshi of Scenic Vermont. And what a debut it is! There's certainly no shortage of fine songsmiths in this SF combo, and the resulting pop chemistry is pretty darn magical. Soft, pretty and a bit droll, but with ample bounce and feistiness when required. Superb indie pop gems that are not to be missed... really! For fans of Grass Widow, Belle and Sebastian and any of the above bands.Oh, and their third and final album, How I learned To Write Backwards, released on Suicide Squeeze back in 2003, is also now available again, just ask!
MPEG Stream: "California"
MPEG Stream: "Long Division"
AISLERS SET, THE The Last March (Slumberland) lp 14.98
These once local legends have their two full lengths reissued for a legion of new fans who missed their winsome noisepop the first time around in the nineties. Basically they are the band that defined the sound of Slumberland. Here is what we said about them way back when, in the days of briefer reviews:Local popsters Aislers Set finally return with their second, super anticipated full length. Unabashed mod-pop fans of the Postcard Records / Belle & Sebastian / Zombies variety, the Aislers' first album Terrible Things Happen has been a steady bestseller at AQ ever since it came out 2 years ago [now 16 years ago!]. Look for the same to happen with The Last Match - it's that toothsomely good and that insanely catchy. Warm, jangly with honest to goodness real songs. Belle and Sebastian are rumored to be big fans, and coincidentally enough, when we play this in the store some folks mistake the Aislers Set for B&S when Wyatt, not Amy, is singing. For fans of Grass Widow, Belle and Sebastian and any of the bands on Slumberland.Oh, and their third and final album, How I learned To Write Backwards, released on Suicide Squeeze back in 2003, is also now available again, just ask!
MPEG Stream: "Balloon Song"
MPEG Stream: "The Red Door"
AKBAYRAM DOSTLAR, EDIP Nedir Ne Degildir? (Pharaway) lp 28.00
Having recently reissued hard rocking Turkish '70s pop star Edip Akbayram's self-titled 1974 debut, now Pharaway Sounds moves on to the man's next album, done with his killer band Dostlar (Friends), originally released in 1977. It's a severe collision of Western electric rock and Middle Eastern folk, akin to other vintage Turkish psych faves like Mogollar, 3 Hur-el and Erkin Koray, but particularly '70s-sounding in a polyester suit, shag carpet kind of way.The very first track might throw you for a loop, but past that sappy, poppy number with its soft-rock strings and horns and tinkling piano, this record suddenly gets a whole lot rockier, heavier, and funkier. Imagine an Anatolian Pop score for some groovy car-chase flick... the schlocky, sizzling vintage '70s synths enhance the kitsch value and sound good amidst the traditional ethnic instrumentation (arranged by one of the Mogollar guys). Edip and the Dostlar dudes dish out the hard rock and funk with a groovy bottom end, plenty of psych guitar riffage, Edip's powerful vocals and wah-wah augmented Turkish saz. With proggy weirdness like flute attacks and studio tape speed manipulation, this is some badass 'exotica' for sure. Anyone addicted to the Turkish psych rock scene-sound from back in the hazy day like we are will find this a fine addition to their collection. Remastered, includes extensive new liner notes by Andrea Sawyer of Weirdo Records.
MPEG Stream: "Arabam Kaldi Yolda"
MPEG Stream: "Kolum Nerden Aldin Zinciri"
ALPINE DECLINE Go Big Shadow City (Genjing) cd 12.98
NOW ON CD!!!As regular readers of the aQ list no doubt know by now, the current underground indie rock scene is China is blowing up, tons of amazing bands, in both Shanghai AND Beijing, killer record labels, so many incredible records, loads of shows and tours (in fact, Carsick Cars, White+ and others are touring the US right now!), but there are also a ton of American, European and Australian ex-pats in the scene, who have popped up in some aQ faves like Pairs, and now Alpine Decline, two Americans from Los Angeles now living in China, and making some sweet sounds as Alpine Decline. Hard to say where they fit in sonically, but it's definitely a sound we dig. Sort of hazy and druggy, a bit like a slo-mo shoegaze slowcore, loping, droned out noise rock ballads, wreathed in gristly distortion, simple motorik drumming, and wasted zoner vox, ethereal and drifty, the songs slipping from hushed creep, to swirling explosive psychedelia and back again. Just give a listen to opener "Mid-Level Functionary In A Criminal Syndicate", a gorgeous heavy brooder, that should definitely appeal to fans of True Widow and the like, dark and hypnotic, hushed and dreamy, but laced with some dense tripped out noisiness. Some of the tracks are a bit more propulsive, sounding a bit like old Sonic Youth, or some lost Homestead / Touch And Go band, a little bit gloomy and gothy, the guitars jagged and angular, swirling synths underpinning the urgent crush of these brooding jams, the vocals buried in the mix, and doused in reverb and delay, plenty of swagger too, the sound shifting from churning noise rock crunch, to woozy slowcore drift, to spaced out, dream-drone ambience (check out the gorgeous "Hang Around The Creases"), to fuzzy krautpop ("The Transmission Comes Apart"), with plenty of stops in between. We hear hints of other pretty disparate influences too, like Animal Collective, the Wipers, Galaxie 500, a weird concoction, but one that works, and makes AD a good fit with their newly adopted Chinese underground rock brethren, while displaying a distinctly American sonic lineage, that goes all the way back to some of the darker nineties stuff that we loved back then, and still love now.Includes a download code!
MPEG Stream: "Mid-Level Functionary In A Criminal Syndicate"
MPEG Stream: "The Visions Run "
MPEG Stream: "Walk With Mask"
MPEG Stream: "Hang Around The Creases"
BOOTHROYD Idle Hours (Tri Angle Records) 12" 15.98
Latest chunk of electronic weirdness comes by way of 21 year old producer Boothroyd (aka Peter Boothroyd), and whose debut for Tri Angle is fantastically dreamy and druggy and sounds like some mutant strain of shoegaze grime. A dizzying collision of swirling psychedelic sampling, murky, loping beatscapery, spidery melodies, a hazy, lo-fi, almost witch house-y sprawl laced with industrial clatter, distorted swaths of crumbling noise, it's all super atmospheric, a bit cinematic, but also darkly propulsive, and in constant flux, the sound drifting through murky morasses, and into sun dappled expanses of crystalline shimmer, pelted throughout by all manner of glitched out noise, and fractured FX, in places buried voices writhe in garbled tangles beneath robotic beats that stutter and sputter, a sound laced with strange little squelches and squeaks. The production is super dubby too, lots of echo and reverb, the sound mutating from dense and dizzying to spare and hypnotic, often within seconds, crunching cascades of blow out beats dissolve into lush, layered ambience, warped grooves undulate over gristled glitches and cascading un-funky beats, while below, fragmented melodies, and all manner of sonic detritus flit and flutter, billowing clouds of soft noise, that coalesce into dreamy, heaving smears of chordal thrum, and sometimes just as quickly dissolve into confetti like sheets of decaying sonic crumble. A new favorite for sure, and one of the cooler, weirder Tri Angle releases in a while...Includes a huge, full color poster too!
BOYZ & GIRL s/t (Maybe Mars) cd 12.98
BACK IN STOCK!!We've been digging all sorts of kick ass underground indie rock from China, one of our favorites being this one, the latest from a group called Boyz & Girl, named literally for the gender make up of the group, and whose sound falls somewhere between the the blown out shoegaze noise of My Bloody Valentine, the angular dissonance of Sonic Youth, and the quirky post punk poppiness of the Pixies. These guys (and gal) have obviously been raised on a steady diet of classic nineties indie rock and it shows, thick billows of distorted FX heavy guitars, laconic laid back vocals, driving rhythms, heavy and psychedelic, hooks buried throughout, wild tangles of guitars expand into droned out jangle, squalls of wild guitarnoise are harnessed into lush melodic drifts, we also hear hints of the Swirlies and Polvo, the group at their best when their dreamy pop gems are swathed in thick sheets of buzzing guitar, or driven by what sounds like junkyard percussion, "He Must Be" is our current fave, dreamy, poppy, but noisy as all get out, a cloud of constantly crumbling and swirling and howling guitarnoise over some perfect jangle, sweet sad boy vox, and loose propulsive drumming.Amidst all this fuzzed out, noise drenched indie jangle, there's also plenty of experimental weirdness, "Cannot Touch" sounds like Blonde Redhead or Deerhoof, but deconstructed into something much more minimal and skeletal, "Cursed And Cursed Again" is a brief swirl of swooping backwards high end, "The Cold, The War", is a haunting reverb drenched brooder, dark and gloom poppy, but set on a bed of crunchy noise, muted and blurred into a lush and weirdly lovely backdrop. In fact most of the songs here have strange production, and cool weird guitar parts, equal parts jangle and crunch, buzz and spaced out swirl. Fans of that classic indie rock sound, who have been hankering for some noisy, shoegazey, jangle, will flip for this!
MPEG Stream: "Ghost Parade"
MPEG Stream: "He Must Be"
MPEG Stream: "Watchout! Akily Is Dead"
CALLAHAN, BILL I Drive A Valence (Drag City) book 14.98
Subtitled: The Collected Lyrics Of Bill Callahan.Not really gonna "review" this, 'cause it would be like reviewing just the lyrics to 70 different Bill Callahan/Smog songs - that's what this is, a collection of Callahan's lyrics from over the years, accompanied by his own simple and evocative ink-wash drawings, 116 of them, outnumbering the songs.Now, of course, sometimes rock lyrics do not equal poetry and don't belong in a book, but Callahan's we think just might make the grade, fans will know for sure, and that's really who this is for, after all. And his art is nice too. Perhaps, reading through, even the uninitiated could become fans, curious to hear just how such lines as "And though you were / just a little squirrel / you understood every word" and "But hey / what would my wife say / what would my wife say / if I were married" are delivered on record.This 196 page paperback is definitely something for every serious Callahan-fan to have on their night table.
CHIPS & BEER Issue #8 magazine 7.00
Heck yeah, another issue (these guys have a work ethic, though hesher burnouts they might be) of this magazine of metal and movies and comix and other underground culture. Chips & Beer can be counted to to be a) funny b) metal as fuck c) confusing and d) informative. Elements c) and d) often conflict, but a) and b) never failing. Headbanging and headscratching go hand in hand here in other words, but you hopefully know that since we're up to issue #8 and they always sell real well. So, what's in the 128 pages of this one? Special-issue-theme-wise, these guys nerd out on Chinese horror movies, and also Vietnam war movies too. If you're read other issues, you know they go deep. In fact, the Chinese horror movie section includes an illustrated bestiary of monsters commonly appearing in such movies, like the Devil Baby and the Pissing Woman, complete with D&D style stats (though, where's their Hit Dice? Apparently "Advanced Chips & Beer" doesn't use Hit Dice). As for musical content this ish, it ranges from, you know, punk to death metal and beyond (or before), there's chats with the MC5's Wayne Kramer, Danzig guitarist John Christ and AC/DC drummer Phil Rudd (the Chips & Beer guys were STOKED!), also bands like Impetigo and Dead Congregation are featured, and lots more, including an interview with John Carpenter soundtrack collaborator Alan Howarth! Wow. Oh, yeah, there's also a big feature on various types of scary knives favored by the Chips & Beer staff, for all you Rambos out there. Do 'zines get more badass? Finally, there's the reviews section, as always opinionated and amusing and fairly cryptic. It gets really meta by including a review of itself - issue #8 of Chips & Beer magazine. Really. Go read it and see what they think!
COCTEAU TWINS Heaven Or Las Vegas (4AD) lp 21.00
The 1990 album that marked the creative peak of this ethereal and influential British trio gets a proper remastered vinyl reissue and it has never sounded better.Back in the day as young goths and uber fans, we were a bit more suspicious of this record. It was the last album the band did for indie stalwart 4AD of which the band had a long, genre-defining relationship with throughout the eighties, before they headed for major label territory. The sound had noticeably more polish, sparkle, and shimmer in its production than anything previous, introducing them to a whole new audience. Also very noticeable was that the lyrics of singer Elizabeth Fraser contained actual words instead of the wordless glossolalia that had become one of the band's hallmarks. Not that anyone could really divine any coherent narrative from the lyrics, still, these were big changes for a band that seemed so far removed from outside influences and popular trends. They were really going for something larger here as evidenced in the title, and at the time, it seemed sadly like it was the end of an era, and perhaps it actually was. Yet, we have to say, this record has really grown on us over the years and eventually became one of our favorites. The music swoops and floats as if conjured by the wings of the most lovely and magical birds. Somehow it's at once immensely majestic, deeply comforting and sweetly infectious. Robin Guthrie's glistening guitars and Fraser's voice spiral together effortlessly while Simon Raymonde forms waves of regal bass lines that anchor the proceedings. And its influence stretches far and wide into the ethereal-pop sound of so many recent bands from the past couple of years: Echo Lake, Puro Instinct, Still Corners, and Beach House among them. Perhaps the band's most fully realized and strongest release in a string of incredible records. Beautiful and highly recommended!
MPEG Stream: "Iceblink Luck"
MPEG Stream: "Cherry Colored Funk"
MPEG Stream: "Heaven Or Las Vegas"
MPEG Stream: "Fotzepolitic"
COMBAT ASTRONOMY Time Distort Nine (Zond) 2cd 16.98
On this, the 6th album from this unique transcontinental sludge/jazz/prog/improv unit, Combat Astronomy seriously bring the noise by providing not one but two whole discs of their extreme sonics, their most ambitious onslaught yet - part John Zorn style skronk, part industrial beatdown, part ambient dronology, part Magmoid symphonics, always reminding us of a certain strain of artists in the early '90s like 16-17, Painkiller, and God, all longtime faves of ours, as Combat Astronomy are now, too!Disc one takes advantage of the potential to sprawl out in epic fashion that a double disc set affords, offering four pieces, all of 'em long ones, starting with the 17 minute "Tenser Quadrant", that opens with a stuttering, satisfyingly-distorted bass solo, soon joined by martial drumming, horns, and keyboard pulsations. It's a good intro to Combat Astronomy's incredible sound if you haven't heard 'em before: a powerful concoction of super thick heavy bass tones, rubbery rhythms, and suspenseful coloration from the horn section. By 'horn section' we mean Sheffield, UK's Martin Archer (known also to aQ customers also for his Orchestra Of The Upper Atmosphere project), who plays all the trumpets, saxophones, and clarinets on here, along with organ, electric piano, mellotron, glockenspiel, tuning forks, "snorks" (?), and more... Also on board, of course, is the other half of the usual Combat Astronomy collaboration, Minnesota-based James Huggett (5 string fretless and fretted basses, guitar, drum programming). Additionally for this release, drummer Peter Fairclough is employed as well, along with vocalists Julie Archer and Kelli Denoyer on selected tracks - but note, they are credited not with vocals but with 'voices', suggesting a more experimental, textural, abstract role.Ok, back to our report on the first disc: Track two, "Unity Weapon", is even longer at over 21 minutes, and sounds like a BIG ensemble in full flight, a bunch of mekanik kommandos marching into an orchestral fray, lots going on, getting mesmeric in its repetition and layering, and then entering into a dense, atmospheric dream-space once a little past the half-way mark. The many moods of Combat Astronomy!The intense skronk, distortion, and staggered rhythms then come roaring back on the nine minute title track, while disc closer "Hypnogeous" is a 14 minute descent into dark ambient drone, haunting and heavy, winding up in more-or-less power electronics territory.If disc one wasn't devastating enough, there's another eight tracks in store on disc two. The second track, "SuperFestival", might be the most 'pop' thing we've ever heard from CA, while a lot of the others on this disc could vie for the most intense and speed-driven. Many moods, again. But in interest of not making the review quite as epic as the album, we'll skip the detailed rundown on all of 'em and let you investigate for yourself - which we recommend you do!!
MPEG Stream: "Tenser Quadrant"
MPEG Stream: "Time Distort Nine"
MPEG Stream: "SuperFestival"
MPEG Stream: "Exile"
CUT HANDS Festival Of The Dead (Blackest Ever Black) 2lp 38.00
William Bennett (of White House infamy, the misanthropic '80s UK noise terrorists) is back with another chop-chop-chop attack from his amazing, electronic-ethnic "Afro-Noise" project, Cut Hands. The previous Cut Hands, Black Mamba, we made a Record Of The Week, and this new third full-length album is just as good, Bennett further refining and honing his precision, hyper-rhythmic hybrid of traditional African hand percussion beats and computer-aided techno-like track construction. We've been mainlining it since it arrived, makes you work faster and more accurately! (Maybe.)By now, we can probably assume most of you are as big fans of Cut Hands as we are, after spinning their records many times, and witnessing one of Cut Hands' intense & ecstatic live shows a while back. So not a lot more to say here, then, really; it's just another heavy dose of what we love about Cut Hands. Machete-like slicings of beats, kind of like some isolationist, industrial-techno artist on the Hospital Productions label (say, Vatican Shadow) hacking their way through a dark jungle, the rhythms wreathed in a miasmic swamp gas of distortion, atmospherically drone-cloaked.Festival Of The Dead is another essential entry in the somewhat convoluted Cut Hands discography - by which we mean, of the dozen excellent tracks here, most are brand new, though a few it seems are reprised from 2013's Damballah 58 and Madwoman 12"s, and one, "Vandou Take Me High", appeared earlier this year, added to the first half of the two-part vinyl incarnation of Black Mamba.
MPEG Stream: "The Claw"
MPEG Stream: "Damballah 58"
MPEG Stream: "Vaudou Take Me High"
DAGGER, THE s/t (Century Media) cd 15.98
Doth our ears deceive us? Have we been hurtled screaming backwards across the astral plane to the mythical hard rock glory age? To a time spoken of only in forgotten whispers and ancient half recalled prophecy?? An age mortal man knows only as... 1978??? Well, if track 6 on this mystical Swedish rocker of an album is anything to go by, which is LITERALLY called "1978" and references the album titles of at least 11 classic hard rock lp that came out that same year (sample line: "We wanted blood, and we got it for sure / Alive and dangerous, coming back for more!"), then yeah I think it's safe to say aQ HQ has been transformed into some sort of space-time hopping heavy metal Tardis. But let's back up a bit here. Who are these Nordic axe warriors, striding forth from the mists in their flared jeans and denim shirts embroidered with moons and stars (we assume anyway)? Well, surprisingly The Dagger is a Swedish death metal supergroup of sorts! Featuring past and present members of such grave gurgling stalwarts as Grave, Dismember and Nifelheim. But instead of decrepit blast beats & grinding death dirges, this album is chockfull of the kind of late '70s / early '80s hard rockin' heavy metal that we absolutely eat up here at aQuarius. It's pretty heavy on the homage to be sure, but it's done so well and with such genuine joy and enthusiasm that we don't mind one bit. Not to mention The Dagger's reference points build on a hard rock legacy that seldom gets its due from modern bands. As much we love doom metal around here, we'll be the first to admit it can be sort of hard to get excited about a band regurgitating the same Black Sabbath riffs and Ozzy aping vox unless it's done really exceptionally well. But when a band like The Dagger shows up instead sounding almost exactly like some sort of mash up of NWOBHM, early Scorpions, '80s Sabbath, solo Dio and especially '70s Deep Purple/Rainbow (there's even a song called "Skygazer"... hmm... more than a little similar to Rainbow's "Stargazer", eh?!), we're gonna immediately stand up and take notice! This is thing is bursting with Blackmore-ian minstrel harmonies and Uli-esque mystical swaying grooves. Vocalist Jani Kataja is almost a dead ringer for Ian Gillan (which is no small feat!), his strained, bluesy wail lending the songs a serious timeless world weariness, even at the most up tempo of times of which there are plenty. There's swirling Hammond organ, there's talk of "dark gypsy women", there's boogie-woogie numbers, there's Judas Priest style fist pumpers, there's crumbling doomy groovers, hell there's even a Quartz cover, "Mainline Riders"! In short, it's a rusted cauldron bubbling over with everything great about '70s dragon rock. Is it terribly original? Maybe not. But are you gonna find another band that sounds like The Dagger any time soon? Not from this decade you ain't. Recommended.
MPEG Stream: "Ahead Of You All"
MPEG Stream: "Ballad Of An Old Man"
MPEG Stream: "1978"
DALGLISH Dorcha Aigeann (Ge-stell) lp 23.00
Got two new releases this week on the Ge-stell label, run by aQ pal Cameron, who before this also masterminded the Merzbild and Merz Tapes labels, one of which is this new 12" from Dalglish, aka Chris Douglas, formerly O.S.T., a big aQ fave back in the day, and whose last lp on Pan we reviewed not too long ago on list #442. Like that lp, Dorcha Aigeann continues to move away from the Douglas's old beat oriented sound, toward a more sound designed ambience and layered layered textural atmosphere, the opener here sounds like Oval, the same sort of orchestrated glitchery, but where Oval created smooth, almost liquid sounds, here, those glitches remain rough around the edges, a bristled, tangled landscape of keening longform tones an dense metallic shimmer. But the sound of Dorcha Aigeann is not so easily defined, stretches of grinding, sci-fi plunderphonia dissolves into cascades of crumbling static, and garbled alien transmissions, soft noise drift blossoms into haunting, field recording flecked dubbiness, sliced and diced into wild stuttery pulses, and clouds of truncated melodies, wound tight into ping ponging blurts and squelches, woozy kosmische thrum evolves into wild skitters across some alternate universe FM band, staticky squiggles and fractured samples, crumbling loops and malfunctioning FX, all woven into surreal, lysergic landscapes of damaged, disembodied electronica.Both sides also finish with some killer locked grooves, which, if you're not paying attention, you might find yourself listening to for quite a while before realizing they are in fact not a weirdly repetitive track proper...Pressed on 150 gram transparent vinyl, mastered by Rashad Becker, housed in a silkscreened PVC plastic cover, with die cut slit, along with a printed transparent insert.
MPEG Stream: "Aois"
MPEG Stream: "Onair"
MPEG Stream: "Uisge"
DEAR ELOISE Farewell To The Summer (Maybe Mars) lp 17.98
Of the Chinese indie-rock outfits that has been pouring into the store over the past few years, Dear Eloise has been one of our favorites. Fuzz-laden dream-pop par excellence, this husband-wife duo from Beijing has mastered the wistful blur of shoegazing icons such as the Lilys, Galaxie 500, and whatever your current favorite band on Slumberland is at the moment. Both Sun Xia and Yang Haisong had previously been members of the highly respected art-rock outfit P.K.14, with Yang continuing to split his time between both groups. The songs of Dear Eloise drip with sugary barbs of post-Jesus & Mary Chain guitar noise, with vocalist / bassist Sun dictating much of the twee-tastic pop sensibilities through her '60s single-note, hipsway low-end pluck and chanteuse vocal airiness. Farewell To The Summer takes a slightly different turn for Dear Eloise with a slower pacing to the tunes, though all of the squalls of shoegazed noise still snake their way through the record. As such, we're hearing a lot more Low coming through the mix, especially those slowcore early classic albums The Curtain Hits The Cast and I Could Live In Hope. The eight-and-half minute gloom-pop dirge "Room" is a prime example, with the basslines reaching a slow, heavy torpor with a simple drumkit backbeat, while an interplay of deep-background caustic guitar noise and rainy-day electric twang sets a thoroughly introspective, bleary mood. A similar swagger can be heard in the slo-mo pop of "Scenery" and "Elandor", while "Clean" modernizes the Phil Spector wall-of-sound with a relatively up-tempo jangle and more shuffling rhythms. The albums' finale "Silence" looks more to the NZ sound of avant-noise with rolling cymbal crashes and discordant guitar flurries layered as a sustained murmer of high-frequency glistening and shimmering, with Sun's naked vocals being the major difference between this and a great piece of avant-fug-noise by Michael Morley and / or Bruce Russell. Very nice to hear Dear Eloise once again!
MPEG Stream: "I Still Believe"
MPEG Stream: "Room"
MPEG Stream: "Silence"
DOPE BODY Lifer (Drag City) lp 19.98
These Baltimore noise rock weirdos have always been super difficult to describe, and this new record doesn't make it any easier. The opening 1-2-3 punch though might be some of the best stuff we've heard from them. The intro explodes with a wild barrage of drum damage, like some drum corps gone haywire, an opening that sounds like a Buddy Rich solo by way of the Boredoms, before the guitars swoop in, all grungy and noisy, a little bit sludgy, but laced with plenty of melody, sounding not unlike a less bass heavy Lightning Bolt, the same sort of frantic, spastic sonic energy, a wild squall of distorto rhythmic churn. That bleeds right into "Repo Man", which sounds like Dope Body doing their best Nirvana / Wipers, all hushed minimal verses, and heavy, chugging bridge, the vocals world weary and laid back, with a killer, crushing, drum heavy, chorus, that reminds us of Karp or Unwound, the classic indie rock soft/loud soft/loud and repeat, but somehow, through Dope Body's twisted sonic lens it's ultra catchy, noise rock bliss. And then "Hired Gun" harkens back to past records with the band unleashing dizzying fields of distorted harmonics that end up sounding like a metallized Konono No.1, mixed with the hypercharged Weezer worshipping metallic pop crunch of Jeff The Brotherhood, all wound up in some spiky AmRep noise rockiness. Sounds good so far. And it IS. And from there on out, it stays good, and continues to hopscotch from genre to genre with very little regard for the listener, but it's sort of what makes this stuff so appealing, the stripped down blooze swagger of "Echo", the frenetic, fizzed out pop flecked grinding punkiness of "AOL", the almost groovy, Primus channeling (???) noise-funk of "Rare Air", the furious, wiry, metallic post punk crunch of "Day By Day", the downtuned noise rock dirgery of "Toy", and so it goes. Furious freaked out heaviness rife with seemingly out of place poppiness, the sort of band math that rarely works, but that in the case of Dope Body makes pretty much perfect (non)sense.
MPEG Stream: "Intro"
MPEG Stream: "Repo Man"
MPEG Stream: "Hired Gun"
MPEG Stream: "Echo"
DOTSUITARUNEN Grandmother's Milk (Ormolycka) cassette 5.98
Another odd Ormolycka tape here, one of the more mysterious in their current crazy batch of releases. This band we know is from Japan, and that's about it. Could be new, or from the '80s or '90s, we don't know. Ok, wait, we think we found a Japanese-language Tumblr page for them. Hmm, looks like they're a currently active band, from the photos we saw consisting of young dudes with colorful hair, wearing baseball caps, who like to jump up and down and drop their pants. Maybe sorta Boredoms-y.And listening to the tape, what do we hear? Chaotic, trash-can-clattering industrial-noise-punk jams and lo-fi confusional sound collage. With gobs of distortion, violently shouted chanting, random voices, and an overall very agitated vibe, like the perpetrators were into breaking things and trying to arouse their audience to do the same. Some fairly WTF? shit, noisy and nifty and all over the place. One song will sound sorta like skanking ska, the next a parody (?) of cheesy synth-pop. At one point, they do a completely over-the-top, distortodelic destruction of "Tequila"! Weird that Ormolycka provides NO info about them (or any other release, really) on their website, how do they expect to sell their tapes? Oh, maybe 'cause every Ormolyka tape so far has been great, maybe that's it. This one too!
MPEG Stream: "unknown track title"
DUNNOCK Promo 2014 (Psalm 88 / Acephale Winter Productions) cassette 5.98
Latest from this local one man band, the project of the man behind black metal cassette label Acephale Winter, and one of two new tapes from AW offshoot imprint Psalm 88. This 3 song demo is much more raw and primitive than the last Dunnock - the opening track is a furious blast of old school drum machine driven blackness, swirling and chaotic, the vocals a hellish howl above a backdrop of relentless riffing and machinelike drum churn, still plenty atmospheric for sure, but definitely reminiscent of the old days. As is the second track, which cranks up the distortion to dangerous levels, the sound reaching Japanoise like levels of crumbled distorto-garble, but just the sort of tweaked, twisted shit we love. there must be some riffs, and maybe even drums in there, but it's buried beneath layer upon layer of blurred guitar buzz, and howling, FX drenched vokills, everything bleeding and oozing, into one thick, corrosive, churning morass of bliss black noise, and blissful it is, for all its caustic crunch, it's also warm and woozy, and sort of psychedelic. Even though demos are generally raw versions of finished tracks, we're hoping this is the direction Dunnock is heading, cuz we're digging this like crazy. Then finally, the all too brief demo ends with a brief bit of atmospheric blackness, cinematic, creepy and hauntingly melancholy, a soft swirl of synths beneath more harrowing demonic vokills.But probably the coolest part of this tape is the B side, which features a spaced out ambient synthscape, INDIVIDUAL TO EACH TAPE, as in Dunnock recorded EIGHTY EIGHT tracks, one for each tape made, with every tape containing its own individual and unique B side!!!!!LIMITED TO 88 COPIES!!!
MPEG Stream: "Rainy Season II (Drum Machine Demo)"
MPEG Stream: "Kudryavka (Blacknoise Demo)"
ELECTRIC WIZARD Time To Die (Spinefarm) cd 15.98
The Wiz returns!!! With another crushing sprawl of slo-mo psychedelic heaviness, that at first blush, sounds well removed from the impossibly catchy last record, Black Masses, which had even non metalheads around here freaking out. At the time, we couldn't really figure it out, what it was about that record that had such wide ranging appeal, but now digging into Time To Die, it's easy to spot the difference in a side by side comparison. Cuz this new record, at least at first, is WAY less poppy, more wasted and slow, the songs not just doomy, but death march drags, rife with tarpit riffage, and a vocal drawl that sounds like Ozzy nodding off on horse tranquilizers. Hell, we're not complaining, we love this sort of wasted, downer doom, and few do it better than Electric Wizard, And Time To Die is overflowing with drugged out ultra-doominess, with tracks like "I Am Nothing", seeming to forego melody entirely, a churning dirgey drag through musty old crypts, but even then somehow, the band will whip out some cool classic metal, harmonized leads, or long streaks of droned out feedback draped over roiling tribal-tom freakouts, and the song is somehow transformed into something transcendent. Still sort of zoned out and wasted, but the vibe is grimly majestic, and absolutely psychedelic. There are moments throughout Time To Die here the band display a deft (yet subtle) mastery of melody (and hooks), which reveal themselves more and more with each listen, like on the title track, where things get decidedly WAY more melodic, harkening back to the catchiness of the last record, channeling classic Black Sabbath, but filtered through EW mainman Jus Oborn's warped obsession with exploitation flicks and B movie video nasties, bikers and bongs, some surprising catchiness lurking amidst clouds of sonic bongsmoke and swirls of downtuned psychedelic churn. And there's plenty more catchiness lurking elsewhere, it just means sonically sifting through piles of bones, and weed, but even so, after discovering the hidden melodies, our favorite moments on Time To Die might actually be the more abstract, culminating in the totally tripped out psychedelic sprawl of "Destroy Those Who Love God", which sort of sounds like Hawkwind and Monster Magnet slowed down and spaced out, all creepy haunted house organ, endlessly swirling swaths of droned out guitar buzz, wild and loose, almost free jazz drumming, wrapped around creepy samples, and news reports of Satanism and sacrifice, and while that track is JUST that, most of the other tracks, eventually devolve into something similar, jettisoning songcraft in favor of billowing black atmosphere, soundtracks to crumbling castles and rain swept moors, haunted graveyards and dark forests, totally tripped out ambience that seems to eventually, always find its way back to EW's more loping, dirgey, downer doom. All hail the Wizard!
MPEG Stream: "Time To Die"
MPEG Stream: "Destroy Those Who Love God"
MPEG Stream: "We Love The Dead"
ELLARD, TOM Eighties Cheesecake (Dark Entries) lp 17.98
In the early days of 1980, Severed Heads was a proper group, with principle engineer Tom Ellard accompanied at various times by Richard Fielding and Garry Bradbury. So when Ellard sporadically recorded his own solo work during this time period, he released it under his own name. By 1983 or so, Severed Heads was wholly under his control. That said, the Tom Ellard solo works do not fall far from the creative / aesthetic tree of Severed Heads - agitprop electronics, tape-loop errata, skewed post-punk detours, and the occasionally beautiful electro-pop melody tossed in for good measure. Eighties Cheesecake was a cassette of Ellard's that came right on the heels of a short-lived publishing venture called Dogfood Production System, which kicked out four lps from the eccentric community of bleak Aussie post-punk in 1981 but was unable to pay back the $5000 loan, thus forcing him to discontinue that venture. So, he (and Severed Heads) went back to dubbing cassettes through his cottage industry Terse Tapes. Jump forward some 30 years, and an older, more cynical Ellard discovered somebody selling the Eighties Cheesecake cassette online "for a stupid amount of money." His immediate reaction was to crank out an unlimited cdr edition of the cassette. Part out of the desire to confuse / frustrate the populace, part out of necessity to trim down the amount of material to fit onto vinyl, Ellard's recapitulation of Eighties Cheesecake contains only some of the material from that aforementioned cassette, with ancillary tracks from another cassette entitled Snappy Carrion, and previously abandoned tracks that got surgically stitched back together. No matter how you slice it, the Dark Entries release of Eighties Cheesecake is a corker or an album. These are punchy, taut electro-tracks with scabs of culture jamming samples, cheeky attitudes, and hyperbolic anxiety. Some of the tracks found on this version were later included in the Vinyl On Demand boxset of early Severed Heads experiments; though what Dark Entries released is entirely of the industrial pop vernacular. It's notable that Ellard dots the album with the iconic TB303, the bass-sequencer that was a failure for Roland for its intended use but later became the signature instrument for acid house and Detroit techno. For all of the acclaim that was put on the instrument throughout the years, Ellard seeths that "it was the worst piece of shit" in the liner notes. Piss and vinegar aside, Eighties Cheesecake makes for an exquisite revisitation!
MPEG Stream: "Anthem 82"
MPEG Stream: "Mount"
MPEG Stream: "Our Work"
FLYING LOTUS You're Dead (Warp) 2lp 30.00
This record is so wackadoo, and we mean that in the best possible way! Flying Lotus records have always been more about the whole than their individual parts, often built around a large abstract metaphysical concept, where multiple ideas and spaces can congeal and separate. This time around, that concept is revealed in the title, and this album is a journey of short vignettes where like the process of death, there is a hectic loss of control, regrets and fears bubble to the surface, and then there is the quieting and majestic expanse, and sometimes this happens all in one track. When we first put this on, some of us were like, 'What in Jaco Pastorius hell is this?' The sound of prog jazz fusion may not be everyone's cup of tea - regular Flying Lotus collaborator, Thundercat, who makes his own George Duke inspired soul jams, provides the fret-hopping bass and Herbie Hancock (!!) is on the Fender Rhodes! But, those fusion sounds are tempered by some of the most sublimely beautiful ambient passages. What keeps this from being overtly indulgent are the short track times (mostly every track is under 3 minutes) and the genre-jumps from instrumental hip-hop to jazz prog, from cosmic ambiance to mind-rattling raps provided by Kendrick Lamar, Snoop Dog, and Flying Lotus alter-ego, Captain Murphy - who has a vocal affectation of stuffed-up worry that could easily be a voice from one of the Fat Albert kids. You're Dead may be the aural equivalent of the film Enter The Void, but with a sharper focus and an incredible all-encompassing flow that really feels like we have been through a life-altering event. Nothing else out there sounds like this, a black prog beauty!
MPEG Stream: "Turkey Dog Coma"
MPEG Stream: "Corunus, The Terminator"
MPEG Stream: "Descent Into Madness"
MPEG Stream: "The Boys That Died in Their Sleep"
MPEG Stream: "The Protest"
GAME THEORY Blaze Of Glory (Omnivore) 2lp 23.00
The first in a series of reissues from '80s power pop legends Game Theory, fronted by singer/songwriter Scott Miller, who passed away unexpectedly last year (2013), and, as is on glorious display here, was some kind of pop visionary mad scientist. We had sort of forgotten how great (and how weird), the group's 1982 debut Blaze Of Glory really was. From the strange arrangements, the weird mix, the production and the songs themselves, it's a dizzying masterwork, impossibly catchy, and super experimental, starting from the very first few seconds, with a spoken intro, cut off mid sentence, and disappearing in a cloud of tinkling bells and weird stuttering static, distant drones, it's almost as if it was an intro for an entirely different kind of record, but then in come some dreamy acoustic guitars, hazy, whispery vocals, and then POW, the song explodes into a frenetic, almost new wave power pop, with thick buzzing bass, pulsing synths, then some big drums and the chorus swoops in, and it's all over. Even after all these years, we were immediately smitten all over again. Emotional, introspective, but still rocking and a little swaggery, and that's just the first song. There's literally not a dud here, the record flows perfectly, some tracks slithery and groovy, others frantic, caffeinated new wave, and still others, fuzzy, jangly and dreamy. It's easy to hear all the pop bands that would follow in Game Theory's wake, power and otherwise, that owe much of their sounds to these guys, who were so far ahead of their time. Plenty psychedelic, a little bit proggy in places, angular guitars wound up in shimmery dream pop jangle, the drums too, chaotic and intricate, and weirdly mixed, giving the tracks still more of an oddball pop vibe. Just check out the sound samples, if you're at all a pop person, and you've yet to discover the joy of this genius pop groop, be prepared to have your mind blown for sure. And as if the record proper wasn't enough, there are 15 bonus tracks, including some hilarious "Scott Miller Testing Laboratories" interludes, where you can hear the band members, along with aQ pal Dan Vallor (who might be best know to aQ-ers as the man behind avant experimental noise outfit Clarinette, but who was Game Theory's tour manager and sound engineer for much of the eighties, and who had a hand in assembling the reissue, as well as penning some of the liner notes) defacing the record in various ways, scratching it with a compass needle, lighting the record on fire, stabbing it with a knife, smashing it against a desk, but in between, are some amazing songs, some live, some demos, and the best of the bunch might be the tracks from Miller's pre- Game Theory outfit Alternate Learning. Fantastically packaged with lots of rare photos and extensive liner notes, we're already looking forward to the next reissue in the series!
MPEG Stream: "Something To Show"
MPEG Stream: "Tin Scarecrow"
MPEG Stream: "White Blues"
MPEG Stream: "Date With An Angel"
MPEG Stream: "Mary Magdalene"
MPEG Stream: "The Young Drug"
GRACE SINGS SLUDGE Red Light Museum (self-released) cassette 8.98
After a super limited (and now out of print) lathe cut 7", Grace Cooper of local local dream pop combo the Sandwitches returns with a full length tape, and once again, we can't help but be disappointed that Grace Sings Sludge isn't hushed, whispery, dreamy, slow pop versions of songs by Corrupted, or Bongzilla, or Bunkur, or Moss, but once you get past that, it's easy to get lost in Cooper's gorgeous soft psych swirl, her voice very reminiscent of some obscure sixties psych folk chanteuse, her smoky, sultry vocals wound around skeletal jangle pop, muted guitar strum, downer slowcore drift, simple propulsive drumming, lots of space, the vibe spare and spacious, reversed and echoey, a hazy, prismatic, torch song, dream pop that's dark and delicate, hushed and haunting. This time around, some of the tracks get downright gothic, with shimmering piano wreathed in downcast ambience, Cooper's vocals reminding us in places of Chelsea Wolfe, or recent aQ fave Aurora Dorey Alice, those brooding, moody, dirges a foil for the rest of the record, which tends toward the gauzy and gentle, sun dappled and shimmery. Gorgeous, gorgeous stuff. Comes with all sorts of inserts, some hand drawn, and a download code too. And as you might imagine, mighty LIMITED!TO JUST 100 COPIES!!
MPEG Stream: "Difficult To Love"
MPEG Stream: "Bullshit Ceremony"
MPEG Stream: "Haunt Me Albert"
GREY WOLVES, THE Blood And Sand (Cold Spring) lp+cd 24.00
Blood And Sand dates back to 1990 for The Grey Wolves, one of the more notoriously confrontational outfits from the British power electronics scene. The discomforting themes of misogyny, terrorism, fascism, and general hatred of the world at large are commonplace for The Grey Wolves; and Blood And Sand began as a missive against the Gulf War, as a collaboration / split release with the wholly unknown project Shock City. Grey Wolves revisited the material in 2002, reworking the material from that 1990 cassette that proved very prescient of the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003 as well as the NATO coalition attacks in Afghanistan in the wake of the 911 attacks. Jump forward yet another decade, and the conflict continues in Mesopotamia. In crafting this album about the horrors of war, The Grey Wolves have manifested an album that purposefully encapsulates the lack of clarity when it comes to Western boots on the ground in dealing with the local populations as well as the self-perpetuating rhetoric of warmongering from all parties. Quite literally, the album is a sandstorm of military ephemera, radio communication, somatic fluctuation, and deeply plumbed noise. The treads of tanks and twin-blade volatility of attack helicopters are commonplace with the heavy drone from The Grey Wolves. Muddled radio communications, lock-groove surface noise, and tape-loop hypnosis flutter throughout the two long-form pieces, bringing a much more subtle compositional sensibility to The Grey Wolves arsenal of sound. There is an existential gloom and anger to the whole record, expressing a frustration and exasperation that 24 years later this album would STILL be a valid critique of geopolitical turmoil and not a time capsule of a war long since past.
MPEG Stream: "Desert Storm"
MPEG Stream: "Gulf Breeze"
HOUSE OF LIGHTNING Lightworker (Fair Warning) cd 13.98
NOW ON CD!!!We had never heard of House Of Lightning, but who can resist a sticker that says: Members of Floor, Cavity & Dove? Not us that's for sure. And we're guessing plenty of you as well. And it only took about 30 seconds to convince us that we were right to not resist. The Sound is immediately recognizable as that sort of Torche style sludge/pop heaviness, but if anything, HoL is way weird, simultaneously more punk, and MORE METAL. It's strange but the first song explodes into a punk rock gallop, before devolving into some classic metal riffery, plenty of chugs, and pick squeals, and double kick drumming, it's not hard to imagine some wailing air raid siren vocals, but instead, it gets all math metal, a churning, roiling sonic swirl. The second track too, is a weird mix of ethereal wispy vocals, draped over wild progged out drumming, and furious helicopter riffing, the song so intricate and mathy, at times it almost sounds like a wild chaotic jumble, that is until it all manages to fall perfectly into place, and those dreamy drifty vocals swoop back in, for some shoegazey metalpop, before once again, fracturing into some proggy tech-metal. Imagine Breadwinner or Don Caballero mixed with a little Cynic and a lot of Torche, sounds like a weird mix, and it is definitely pretty weird, but it sorta works. In fact as much as we love Torche, from what we've heard of the new one, House Of Lightning is WAY weirder and trippier and more experimental, and is pushing lots of our math metal and weirdo prog buttons, while remaining just poppy enough to be impossibly catchy, even amidst all this tangled weird time signatured freak out. And as you get deeper into the record, the sound get even more varied and twisted, at one point the sound gets all super melodic, the bass CRANKED so much so, that it's like the lead instrument, all the while, the rest of the band is spitting out metallic mathiness just beneath the surface, that bass resurfaces on the B side, as the sound gets briefly super doomy, before erupting into more noisepop-techmetal mayhem, catchy and crunchy, shredding and soaring.
MPEG Stream: "Quickness"
MPEG Stream: "Downbeat Situation"
MPEG Stream: "More Lights More Trails"
HOUSE OF THE DEVIL, THE (JEFF GRACE) OST (Death Waltz) lp 34.00
Ti West's 2009 homage to classic horror/slasher flicks, in which a babysitter discovers her clients have plans to sacrifice her in a satanic ritual, a la Rosemary's Baby, is the latest modern motion picture to get the deluxe Death Waltz treatment, more often reserved for horror classics from yesteryear. But it works, since House Of The Devil is in fact modeled after the horror classics that came before, right down to the score, by Jeff Grace, whose scores for Trigger Man and the Roost we reviewed and raved about back on list 423. For HOTD, Grace goes all out, even down to the cheesy eighties style rock groove that opens the proceedings, a theme that sound like it was plucked right from some lost '80s VHS tape. The rest of the score is appropriately spare and creepy, haunting and moody and minor key, the most striking compositional element being the use of prepared piano, to add an even stranger vibe to the proceedings, the piano parts almost percussive, the notes almost metallic, ringing out in fields of hushed shimmer, slow, smoldering sprawls of sinister sonic malevolence alongside hazy, haunting drones, delicate chamber music amidst swirling strings, and dense atonal orchestral swells. A very classic sounding score for sure, that manages to sound both modern and classic, and more importantly, conjure up some serious heebie jeebies. And like all Death Waltz releases, the label went all out, killer new artwork from Tom Hodge, liner noted from Grace himself, a big full color poster, and a Japanese style obi, with still more notes about the music itself. Oh, and pressed on blood red vinyl!
IDES OF GEMINI Old World New Wave (Sige) lp 21.00
NOW ON VINYL TOO!!!Serenades from the cemetery! Another melancholic, majestic missive from this LA based boy-girl-girl trio, who kind of sound like a metal Mazzy Star (but not metal enough for the internet's Encyclopaedia Metallum site it would seem, can never figure that out). Featuring Decibel columnist J. Bennett on guitar, Kelley Johnson-Gibson on drums, and Sera Timms on vocals & bass, this witchy groop toured the US last year opening for Ghost (!) and we wonder how that went, the Ides Of Gemini possibly fitting in with the vibe of Ghost, being both quite melodic and occultic, grandiose and gothic, but much more stripped down, slo-mo, and serious sounding... On Old World New Wave, we get nine new tracks of their funerary shoegaze, all doomy guitars, doomy drums, and doomy - but beautiful - female vocals, soaring over the plodding gloom below, like a depressed angel singing sweetly, sadly, intoning cryptic lyrics of love and sorrow. It draws you in, each song building up the moody atmosphere, this album definitely one meant to be played straight through, for totality of effect, a hypnotic one which should leave you with fists clenched, and weeping. Another sterling outing from this aQ fave outfit!
MPEG Stream: "Black Door"
MPEG Stream: "Seer Of Circassia"
MPEG Stream: "Fememorde"
JESU Conqueror (Hydra Head ) 2lp 24.00
This long out of print slab of blissed out fuzz-pop metalgaze now reissued domestically on vinyl! Remastered, limited to 1600 copies. Here's what we had to say about Conqueror when we first reviewed the cd version way back in 2007:Who thought the dreamiest, fuzziest bliss pop record of the year would come courtesy of the same man responsible for the soul crushing might of Godflesh's Streetcleaner, and someone who once called Napalm Death home? Well, actually we sort of did. Especially since last year's Silver ep, on which Justin Broadrick's Jesu took the already fuzzy dreamy metallic crunch of their debut, and injected it with all sorts of unlikely glistening pop and muted indie jangle, creating an impossibly pretty metallic dirge pop, equal parts Godflesh, My Bloody Valentine and M83. And as if to prove that Broadrick indeed has a heart of pop beneath that crushing downtuned exterior, we now have the Conqueror, which if anything, pushes Jesu's sound even further into the glistening dreamy realm of pure pop. But fear not, we're not talking sugary sweet, treacly pop music cheese, no this is Jesu after all, spawn of Godflesh, so there's no shortage of dirgey rhythms, BIG crushing guitars, lurching tempos, thick swaths of buzz and fuzz, but it's all just window dressing for some seriously pretty pop. The opener is shockingly poppy, with sweet melodic hooks, tinkling piano, breathy vocals, all processed and wrapped in a fuzzy dreamlike haze. An immediate classic for sure. The rest of the record strikes a delicate balance between the dirgier heaviness of the first Jesu record and Broadrick's newfound love of the jangle and swoon, each track a glistening pop gem, placed delicately into a blown out landscape of loping drum crush and thick shimmery guitar buzz, coruscating sheets of distortion wrapped tenderly around heartfelt epics, soaring vocals, and dreamy melodies.We don't so much hear some Godflesh / M83 hybrid now as we do the dirgey dreamlike murky bliss of nineties New Zealand legends Bailter Space, or the heavier side of the shoegazer spectrum, Swervedriver, Chapterhouse and the like. It's a captivating sound for sure, and a logical progression, and while it's distinctly less metal, there is still much heaviness to be had, even at its most soft focus and glimmering, the guitars retain their buzzy crunch, and the tempos are always dirgey and machinelike, but all the sharp edges have been smoothed out, and the rhythms maybe seem more languid than mechanical, and the fuzzy blissy poppy core of each song seems to radiate from within like some alien sun, giving each song, no matter how heavy, a soft burnished glow.
MPEG Stream: "Conqueror"
MPEG Stream: "Old Year"
MPEG Stream: "Transfigure"
MEATBODIES s/t (In The Red) lp 15.98
We first heard the oddly named Meatbodies when they were still called Chad & The Meatbodies, on a split 7" with Ty Segall, C&TM being Segall's choice for next big thing. Well, now Chad, mainman for the Meatbodies, which is essentially Chad, who wrote all the songs and performs most of them on his own, with the occasional guest, including Segall, delivers his first full length, and it definitely delivers on that single, the sound not that far removed from the Castle Face axis of Segall / Cronin / Dwyer, rambunctious popper pop fused guitar rock crunch, with loads of melody and harmony, the sound ricocheting wildly from the woozy swirling psychedelic intro of "The Archer", to the swagger garage pop pound of "Disorder", to dirge, groovy, noise-pop metallic math-fuzz of "Mountain" (from the aforementioned single), right down to the harmonized lead guitars. And yet as good as this is, and as much as we dig it, which is a whole hell of a lot, it's not like the Meatbodies are reinventing the garage rock wheel, but then that wheel doesn't yet need reinventing, or if it does, that's still gonna be left to someone else. Instead, the Meatbodies are trafficking in a formula similar to most of their sonic brethren, at times sounding dangerously close to Ty Segall or Thee Oh Sees, even some of Chad's affectations, the reversed yelps, and some of the glammy stomps, sound like straight up steals, but fuck it, it doesn't matter all that much considering how goddamn great these songs are, and how catchy and well crafted this whole record is, and honestly, repeated listens definitely position Meatbodies as its own thing, even if it's a bit beholden to what came before, but then what isn't? And really, the more we listen to this, the more these guys move to the front of the pack for us. Fans of all the Castle Face bands, as well as the most recent batch of In The Red releases and all things heavy, noisy, loud, rocking, poppy, punky, garage-y and fuzzed out will obviously dig big time.
MPEG Stream: "The Archer"
MPEG Stream: "Disorder"
MPEG Stream: "Mountain"
MUSK s/t (Holy Mountain) lp 15.98
Woah, nice grotesque, stretched flat flesh-face cover art, doods!! Brought to us by the esoteric rock gurus at Holy Mountain, what does this Musk sound (or smell) like exactly? Well, it's not metal, even though the cover art could be, and some of the vocals veer into almost guttural death metal territory, too. It IS hella noisy, a real reverb-damaged noiserock overload of an album, with much drum kit bashing, guitar/amp smashing, vocal spit splashing, you know, sheer deranged rockin' madness, bathed in distortion - part pigfuck noise, part blues rawk thwump, part fuzzed out garage punk (this wuz recorded by a guy who has twisted knobs for Ty Segall and Thee Oh Sees, as Holy Mountain helpfully points out). So imagine the drunk, bad-trippin', evil twin to one of those acts, crawlling C.H.U.D.-style out of the sewers of downtown NYC or somewhere Down Under (though they're from right here in the Bay Area, and feature a former member of a band called Tractor Sex Fatality from up in Seattle or someplace.) These eleven killer cuts are remarkably catchy considering the chaos in which they are couched. Cool!! Lives up to the awesome, unpleasant cover art. Includes download.
MUTWAWA s/t (Ormolycka) cassette 5.98
We generally consider ourselves pretty knowledgeable as far as weirdo obscure music goes, but every time there's a new batch of tapes from NYC cassette label Ormolycka, we get seriously schooled. Sure we generally recognize a couple of the groups, but we always discover something new and amazing. And in this most recent batch, we were introduced to the Japanoisecore dual drums and vocals trio World, super obscure Redwood City hip hop crew Shed Dwellaz, Japanese psych pop outfit Dotsuitarunen, and these guys, or this guy. We weren't able to find ANYthing about Mutwawa on the web, other than this was recorded in 2013, but fuck it, it hardly matters, what does matter, is this is a seriously sick slice of twisted electronic industrial madness. Churning programed drums, wild squalls of glitchy electronics, pounding and Teutonic, but also sort of psychedelic, a little bit house-y, a little bit EDM, some of the tracks sound like they could be remixes of some Depeche Mode song, but instead of vocals swooping in, the tracks explode and splinter into dizzying electro workouts, multiple beats, cascading distortion, crumbling melodies, some cheesy eighties drum pads, but also some caustic bursts of static, all wound up into dense, and tense and intense dancefloor destroyers. Like everything on Ormolycka, this pretty much rules, and is also pretty goddamn limited...
NICKELL, BRANDON Skyline (Ge-stell) lp 23.00
One of two new releases on the Ge-stell label, run by aQ pal Cameron, who was also the man behind the Merzbild and Merz Tapes labels, the other is the latest from Chris Douglas, aka Dalglish, and then this one, a new 12" from another aQ pal, Brandon Nickell, who previously recorded as Aemae, and runs the Isounderscore label. On Skyline, Nickell explores a moody netherworld of pulsing industrial beatscapery, fractured avant hip hop deconstruction, post rave grooves and acid drenched rhythms, laying down fields of deftly programmed beats, and swaddling them in hazy swirls of melancholy shimmer, a series of strangely reflective backdrops for a constantly transformational rhythmic palette, churning and robotic one second, skittery and stuttery the next, the surrounding sounds though, strangely human, darkly melodic and almost cinematic, the beats less of a driving force oddly, and more a framework for Nickell's moody broodscapes, whether it's the lonesome raga like buzz of "Norvig Trajectory", the keening high end shimmer of "Quartz", or the pulsating retro-cold wave kosmiche of the title track. And even within these various permutations, Nickell manages to evolve and sculpt, transforming the opening droned out skree of the aforementioned "Quartz", into a gorgeously serene, hushed lowercase drift, or the beautifully blissful beats of closer "Tessellate" which lays out a slow motion rhythmic crawl over a background of rapidfire pulse, a darkly propulsive core, to what is otherwise languorous and strangely tranquil, a gorgeous, hypnotic closer, that leaves us wanting more more more. Pressed on 150 gram transparent vinyl, mastered by Rashad Becker, housed in a silkscreened PVC plastic cover, with die cut slit, along with a printed transparent insert.
MPEG Stream: "Bayes"
MPEG Stream: "Norvig Trajectory"
MPEG Stream: "Tessellate"
OUR LOVE WILL DESTROY THE WORLD Frigid Antichrist (Don't Fuck With Magic) cd-r 14.98
Another blast of kandy kolored Kiwi krush from Mr. Campbell Kneale, who previously operated under the moniker Birchville Cat Motel, but who has been operating as OLWDTW for a while now. After a long stretch of near silence, Kneale is back with a bang, and not one, not two, but three consecutive psych-noise bangers. The first a punishing noise freakout under his own name, then the surprisingly lovely Hive Hum Golden Remorse, and now the awesomely titled Frigid Antichrist, which seems to split the difference, Kneale deftly balancing pulchritude with punishment, laying out what sounds like a delicate sprawl of hushed vocalizations, and swoonsome layered melodies, but burying them beneath a barrage of caustic buzz and grinding blacknoise howl. Like lots of Kneale's work, sans headphones this could very well sound like some obscure, damaged Japanoise squall, but dig deeper, and there's much beauty to be discovered, and strangely, much of that beauty lies in how it seeps through the seemingly impenetrable noise, like tufts of cotton candy drifting through tangles of barbed wire, pretty little wildflowers wending their way through thorny thickets, and once you let yourself get lost, it's almost as if the noisiness abates, the two disparate sides of Kneale's sonic palette, somehow bleeding into one, heaving, roiling, churning, throbbing wall of blissed out dream-noise sound. The first track here is downright shoegazey, sounding a bit like My Bloody Valentine crossed with Incapacitants, while the second longer track, gets seriously metallic, Like Birchville covering Gorgoroth, and sounding like it could burst into proper black metal riffage at any point, but instead, strands of glitchy electronic thrum, overdriven and doused in FX, unfurl into undulating sheets of blurry noise, disembodied riffs that buzz malevolently before splintering into shards of grinding noise, and that again, manage to transform into something weirdly pretty, albeit still PLENTY buzzy and blackened. A crushing sprawl of noise-gaze blacknoise bliss for sure. And as with all the new OLWDTW stuff, we're the only place in North America that has it, and it is indeed, VERY limited!
MPEG Stream: "I"
MPEG Stream: "II"
OXIPLEGATZ Worlds And Worlds / Sidereal Journey (Ormolycka) 2 x cassette 9.98
Two of our favorite WTF black metal oddities from the late nineties, available again thanks to the weirdos at Ormolycka, and listening to these records again all these years later, they still sound as ridiculous and confusional as they did back in the day. Not at all what we were expecting from a former member of At The Gates, but we're guessing this could very well have been the reason for his departure, cuz Oxiplegatz is some sort of post black metal, avant power metal, rock opera electronica? Sounds confusing, that's cuz it IS. 1998's Sidereal Journey, the group's last record, is all programmed drums, buzzing riffage, dramatic female vocals, equal parts weird anime soundtrack, Dodheimsgard B-side, and over the top power metal cheese, but all filtered through Oxiplegatz's cracked outsider metal lens, the resulting epic is just geniusly absurd, right down to the band name, which comes from a Donald Duck comic, this sci-fi metal opera is dizzying and epic, totally over the top flitting from spacey ambience, to churning grinding blackened metal crush, to fuzzy girl pop weirdness and back again, with most of the (super brief) tracks some tangled collision of all of the above. Metalheads will likely HATE, but if you like fucked up sonic ridiculousness, albeit expertly constructed, and brilliantly performed, this will definitely hit the spot. And if your taste in metal runs toward the silly and completely baffling, well, this is definitely for you.Sidereal Journey is paired with 1996's Worlds And Worlds, which while still sci-fi, and epic, is much less demented, a furious blackened buzz drenched power metal, that swirls and soars, progged out and super dense, but still extremely METAL. It is however far from straight up black metal, fear not, there's plenty of synthy goofiness, those female vocals (supposedly his girlfriend, whose computer generated naked body is also featured on the cover) all over the place, bombastic dramatic male crooning too, faux strings, symphonic, orchestral, electronics, even what sounds like electronic accordion, crazy stuff for sure, and goddamn if it doesn't sound as cool and crazy all these years later.Packaged in a double cassette case, full color J-cards, one tape bright green, the other lavender, and of course, super duper limited!
MPEG Stream: "A Black Hole Is Swallowing The Sun"
MPEG Stream: "They Learned Of Its Existence"
MPEG Stream: "For Persistence"
MPEG Stream: "So It's Our Final Hour"
MPEG Stream: "The Light From The Perishing Sun"
MPEG Stream: "Aftermath"
MPEG Stream: "Quest"
PAPPO'S BLUES Vol. (infinity symbol) (Ormolycka) cassette 5.98
Wow, we really do never know what to expect from the Ormolycka label, except the unexpected. This latest batch of limited edition tapes is maybe even more diverse, and downright WTF!? than usual. We wouldn't have been surprised by electro rap weirdness, or exotic booty bass, or synthesizer soundscapery, but instead, in this particular case, we get vintage South American rock n' roll!Pappo's Blues were a heavy, bluesy (no duh) psych rock band from Argentina helmed by guitarist/vocalist Norberto "Pappo" Napolitano. They put out their debut, Pappo's Blues Vol.1, in 1971, and six more albums/volumes followed, through 'til 1978. (There are another two also, from when the band reunited in the '90s.) So, we suppose this Ormolycka cassette is some sort of selected 'best of' mix from various Volumes, probably the very earliest ones, though we don't know for sure as no info or track titles are given. Whatever the case, these are assuredly some badass, wailing proto-metal blues jams all right, riffy and distorted, with some fairly rough and ragged vocals in Spanish.Some tracks are in the more traditional, 12-bar, bar-room blues vein, but mostly this is way heavier sounding than that - the very first track on side A ("Sucio Y Desprolijo" from Vol. 3, we managed to figure out), is obviously majorly influenced by early Black Sabbath, as is a lot of the rest. Good times! A tape for anyone into the raw bluesy proto-metal action like Blue Cheer, Juan De La Cruz, Speed Glue & Shinki, Red Dirt, et. al.
MPEG Stream: "Sucio Y Desprolijo"
PIG DESTROYER Mass & Volume (Relapse) lp 21.00
Grind monsters Pig Destroyer offer up one of their rare, but always devastating DOOM efforts here. Rather than the usual horde of frenzied blasts, the brutality here comes in the form of just two long tracks, recorded back in 2006 and apparently saved for a rainy day.The title track is the real long one, over 19 minutes, and operates in a slo-mo realm of distortion-drone sculpting, punctuated by sudden explosive detonations. There's stretches of extended, Eyehategod-esque feedback, and some cryptic spoken samples in the mix as well. Some of it sounds liturgical, like a metal monk ceremony, almost blissful in spots. But very heavy indeed when all is said and done. Mass and volume is right! This is Pig Destroyer entering Boris and SUNNO))) territory.The other, shorter track, "Red Tar", is by far the more, uh, rockin' one, still slow and low but more about lurching riff-crush and nasty, phlegm-choked vokill gargle (and more peals of feedback and other sludgey moves from the Eyehategod and Graves At Sea playbooks, too). By the end, though, it takes on a surprisingly majestic, melodic character, almost uplifting despite all the bad attitude on display, finally fading away with a passage that's purely percussion, after a flourish of feedback.We kinda wish Pig Destroyer would dabble in this sort of slightly post-rockish doom metal more often, they're dang good at it!
MPEG Stream: "Mass & Volume"
MPEG Stream: "Red Tar"
PLASTIC CLOUD s/t (Lion Productions) lp 22.00
This well-regarded one-shot '60 psych artifact has now been reissued on vinyl, too, yay! Canada's Plastic Cloud (they have to be psych with a name like that, eh?) issued this, their sole album, on the Allied label in 1968. And if you like fuzz, it's for you! These darkly melodic psychedelic tunes, maybe something like a harder-edged Kaleidoscope (UK), don't stint on the killer fuzz tone. The band - four modish lookin' gents in their early twenties named Brian, Randy, Mike and Don - sure got the fuzz-laced, post-Peppers acid-psych-pop sound down, complete with sinewy pseudo Eastern sitar-ish stylings, vocal harmonies, and trippy lyrics with themes ranging from notions of reality to anti-war polemic. Includes the original J.R.R.-meets-the-Jabberwocky liner notes, lyrics, and an insert facsimile of the press release that heralded the lp's original release. As melodic '60s vocal psych-pop goes, this is pretty decent (though no major threat to the Beatles or the Beach Boys)... but when they unleash the fuzz guitar, that's when your hair will get hard if you're at all receptive to such soundz. A must-have for fuzz-freaks, essential to any serious '60s psych collection, no doubt. And dabblers may be get hooked too. Limited to 500 copies in this new vinyl edition.
MPEG Stream: "Shadows Of Your Mind"
MPEG Stream: "Dainty General Rides"
PSYCHO RAIDERS (HALLOWEEN NIGHTMARES HORRORGAME MAGAZINE #1) (Emperors Of Eternal Evil) game + magazine 21.00
Just in time for Halloween, here's a brand new game from the demented designers who brought us Cave Evil! Yes, this is a board game, and there's nothing specifically music-related about it, though we could make a lot of suggestions about what horror soundtracks and metal albums would be good to put on while playing it!While not as complicated as Cave Evil, this still isn't for the completely casual game-player - and it's certainly not a 'family game', no sirree. Not with the 'X-rated' (for violence) subject matter, not with the 14 pages of case-numbered rules. But for all the real gamer nerds out there, especially the sickest ones, we think it will be a lot of fun, and not just on Halloween! Since we just got it in, we haven't had a chance to playtest it yet ourselves, but are looking forward to our first session...It's a tactical, hex-and-counters style of game, almost on a role playing level of detail, for 2-8 players, simulating a basic 'slasher flick' type of scenario. The situation: it's Halloween, 1978. A van-driving gang of deranged psychopaths is bent on the ritual murder of a bunch of hapless young campers, who try to hide and/or flee, to seek help from local townsfolk - who may, unfortunately, turn out to be creeps in cahoots with the psychos themselves! In keeping with the source material, the game is intentionally unbalanced. Playing it should be a frightening experience, at least for the camper/victim player(s)!!Looking through the rules, it seems they cover the necessities and then some. There's tables to roll on for weather effects (fog, rain, lightning), there's tables for hotwiring cars, for alerting others with screams, rules for useing flamethrowers and walkie-talkies, it's all here.Psycho Raiders is packaged in the form of a magazine - Halloween Nightmares Horrorgame Magazine #1. (Presumably it will be coming out yearly.) Besides the rules for the game itself, illustrated with lots of crude/scary cartoonish b&w artwork, the magazine features comics, a short story, some ads, and a full-color centerfold photo (lingerie model in gasmask, holding a machete!). The magazine comes in a ziplock bag, along with the game map, a sheet of die-cut counters, and 4 sheets of cards you will have to cut apart, half of which are the "Kill" cards, illustrating various epic, gory demises in black & white & blood red (our favorite: "Leftover Legs").So, this Halloween, crank, like, a Blood Farmers or Umberto album, and start rolling some dice!! (Not included - you'll just need a couple six-siders.)
SCALPED s/t (Warthog Speak) 7" 7.98
Tony Molina from pop heroes the Ovens returns again, with yet another new band. And that hardcore obsession that popped up in the Ovens all the time, whether it was shout outs to obscure NYHC bands on stage or weird straight edge covers, an obsession that first truly became flesh in his hardcore combo Caged Animal, surfaces once again in the form of Scalped, yet another HC outfit, and another one featuring Molina and at least one other Oven. There's no secret poppiness or any of that bullshit, this is some seriously pummeling, punishing old school style metallic hardcore, and metallic it is, with fierce fucking riffs, bellowed throat shredding vox, four songs in less than 6 minutes, a furious onslaught that will no doubt get that pit spinning. Ovens fans seem to be an obsessive bunch, snapping up Caged Animal singles along with Ovens singles, so odds are, you Ovens nerds might want one of these too, but really, this one is strictly for the hardcore kids. And yeah, probably super limited to boot!
MPEG Stream: "At A Cross"
MPEG Stream: "Effort"
SHED DWELLAZ 4 Track Archives Vol. 1 / Launchin' Jewels '96 (Ormolycka) 2 x cassette 9.98
We had never heard of Shed Dwellaz, but apparently these guys were a hip hop crew from Redwood City, active in the nineties, and NYC tape label Ormolycka has dug up these 4 track demos from back in the day, and folks who've been digging Ormolycka know the sort of fucked up taste they have in hip hop (Antwon, Juiceboxx, Lil Ugly Mane, Death Grips, etc.) so the sound of the Shed Dwellaz sounds right at home. Guessing most of these guys are white, it's got that sort of Beastie Boys via Anticon vibe too it, but it's much more lo-fi, DIY and old school, with some sick flows from the MC's and some pretty sweet tracks, swirling harps, stuttering chopped up vox, plenty off fuzz, distortion and static, weird samples. Hints of Wu-Tang of course, but also Sensational, even Hawd Gangstuh Rappaz Wid Gatz, some of this is goofy, but some of it's dark and sinister, shades of Gravediggaz for sure, but home brewed 4-track style. Killer stuff for sure. Housed in a sweet double cassette case, full color J-cards, and like lots of the Ormolycka jams, LIMITED!!!
MPEG Stream: "Five Smoov Lyricists"
MPEG Stream: "Nocturnal Human Beast"
MPEG Stream: "Red Alert"
SLEEP DEPRIVED Transcendence Through Bonding Of Psychedelic Phenomenon (Acephale Winter Productions) cassette 8.98
We're tempted to say this is a weird one, coming from local black metal tape label Acephale Winter, but then pretty much everything we've heard from them has been pretty weird, this one though, definitely takes the weirdo cake. For one, it's not black metal, not at all, for another, much of it was purportedly recorded while tripping on acid. What Sleep Deprived deliver, in fact sounds like sounds created via sleep deprivation, full of swirling ambience and dark motorik kosmische drifts. The opener lays down a barely there rhythm, beneath a field of murky pulsations, and keening minor key melodies, all hazy and washed out, like some sort of ghostly disembodied krautrock, that quickly transforms into some bleak, black ambience, before blossoming into a gauzy sprawl of swirling psychedelia. The rest of the tape plays out similarly, with long stretches of pulsating synths, murky, moody atmospheres, FX drifting in and out, what sound like disembodied voices, insectoid buzz, some tracks get downright symphonic, others remain hushed and whispery, moments remind us of super dramatic film music, others sink ever deeper into creepy minimal thrum. Imagine closing your eyes after days of no sleep, those patterns you see through your eyelids, fractals and slow shifting shapes, this is like THAT set to music, gorgeously mediative, occasionally ominous, super tripped out and hypnotic, a killer collection of druggy, synth-drone, cosmic-psych ambience.
MPEG Stream: "As My Thoughts Fall Victim To The Ethereal Void"
MPEG Stream: "Fully Absorbed Acid Trip"
MPEG Stream: "Surreal Skepticism Pt. II (Insanity Grows Stronger)"
STONE ANGEL s/t (Prog Temple) cd 17.98
Nice new reissue of this underground Britfolk fave. Long ago we had a version on the Kissing Spell label, so here's our succinct but quite positively intended write-up from back then:Dark 70's British folk with mostly female vocals and verses like, "And pale, pale grew her rosy cheek, and pale and cold was she, she seemed to be as surely dead, as any corpse could be."Instrumentation includes dulcimer, recorder, flute, violin, and mandolin in addition to the usual three piece. For fans of Current 93.We'd now go on to add, also for fans of the Midwinter demos disc we reviewed a few months ago, also issued by Prog Temple, since that was the band that later turned into Stone Angel. And of course, for anyone already into the likes of Shide & Acorn, Loudest Whisper, Caedemon, and other British folk-psych obscurities. A classic, no doubt about it.
MPEG Stream: "The Bells Of Dunwich"
MPEG Stream: "Stone Angel"
MPEG Stream: "Black Dog"
SUN RA AND HIS ARKESTRA Mix Tape (Sanity Muffin) cassette 8.98
We won't go too deep into this review, because this is so limited and we likely won't be able to get more after we run out. Dedicated readers of the list know that we've reviewed tons of records from the far out jazz maestro Sun Ra (who may or may not have come from outer space) and his interplanetary Arkestra. So many in fact that it may be difficult to figure out where to start. Well, we've got the perfect introductory solution in this here tape mix. Mostly taken from rare '60s and '70s recordings, we've got cosmic synth stylings, solo abstract piano work, deep trip hop like grooves mixed with horn freak-outs, gospel vocal chants and even some Sun Ra speech insights, as well as beautiful call-and-response jams from Outer Spaceways Incorporated and beyond. The Oakland-based Sanity Muffin label has done an incredible job packaging this with different variations of the cover, hand decorated by Oakland school children and it also includes a faux card from Saturn Records, Sun Ra's record label who had offices in both Chicago and Oakland. Super limited so act fast!
SUPERSILENT 11 (Rune Grammofon) cd 17.98
NOW AT LAST ON CD! When this was first issued, in 2010, it was a vinyl-only, limited release. Nice now to have it available in a format that will allow it to fit on the shelf with all our other Supersilent cds. Released when Supersilent 10 came out, the material on 11 was actually recorded much earlier, back in 2005, consisting of tracks left over from the sprawling studio sessions that produced Supersilent 8. That eighth Supersilent we recall as being possibly their most "rock" sounding effort, and also quite a varied one, and Supersilent 11 does indeed sound like a continuation of that album, more than "bonus tracks", deserving of their own disc... There's percussive/electronic jitterscapes, littered with fractured bits of videogame blips. There's blissful, breathy jazz trumpet dreaminess. There's wack-a-mole percussion spasms. There's ambient driftworks afloat alongside counterintutive rhythmic singularities. Yep, it's more collective electroacoustic improv as only Supersilent can do, in their own special way.It's also the last time they recorded with former drummer Jarle Vespestad in the group. He makes his presence felt as alluded to above.
MPEG Stream: "1"
MPEG Stream: "2"
MPEG Stream: "3"
SUPERSILENT 12 (Rune Grammofon) cd 17.98
Longtime ultimate aQ faves Supersilent, the Norwegian quote-unquote death jazz unit featuring trumpeter Arve Henriksen, electronic 'audio virus' producer Helge "Deathprod" Sten, and keyboardist Stale Storlokken, had not released an album since 2010, when both Supersilent 10 and 11 came out, until this new one, titled in their standard chronological fashion, Supersilent 12, of course. (And along with this release, Supersilent 11 has now also simultaneously been made available on cd for the first time, see the nearby review for that.)So, it's been four years, and worth the wait - Supersilent 12 is a veritable doozy. And a perfect release for this Halloween-y time of the year, as it's both spooky and powerful, reminiscent of a 20th (21st!) Century avant-classical, electroacoustic piece, very soundtracky/soundscapey, Supersilent this time around sounding much more like Xenakis or Ligeti, than the Miles Davis meets Autechre mashup they sometimes have achieved. It's droning, dynamic, totally cold-void-conjuring stuff! Lots of unidentifiable abstract tones and drones, from shimmering, keening high end to tinkling, mysterious melody to deeper lower end ominousness, certainly not in any way jazzy or hyper rhythmic, more about texture and emotion. You do hear in some passages the trademark breathy melancholia of Henriksen's lyrical trumpet, as it appears backgrounded by ever-so-slightly-glitchy electronics, strident drones, and doleful, Varese-like percussion, though.It's serious, it's kind of scary, it's often quite beautiful. Definitely an impressive return statement from these guys, proving that they maintain the ambition to explore new territory and conquer it as well. Not that Deathprod, at least, hasn't ventured into the cold void before...
MPEG Stream: "2"
MPEG Stream: "4"
MPEG Stream: "8"
TAPE Casino (Hapna) lp 22.00
Dreamy Scandinavian soundscapers Tape, who oddly enough to our knowledge have never released anything on cassette, are back with a new, and as always, quite lovely release on digipak cd and vinyl (with download), adorned with a mysterious cover collage that kind of reminds us of a Jewelled Antler release - the music has some similarities too. Tape specialize in quasi-ambient, quite melodic, all-instrumental compositions, softly gorgeous. Casino is the sixth album (not counting collaborations with Tenniscoats and others) from this electroacoustic trio, which consists of the brothers Johan and Andreas Berthling, along with Tomas Hallonsten. On the seven tracks here, these fellows conjure delicate, almost stately dances of sadly blissful, slow moving melodies and more abstract shadings. Among the many instrumental colors woven in, there's pensive piano, with moody washes of synth in the background; gentle guitar, and subtle electronic FX embellishment, all of it creating a rather low key, yet compelling mix for the properly attuned listener.While Tape obviously have a permanent home on Hapna, we can't help but think this album would have been perfect for the deluxe Time Released Sound treatment, it's right up their alley too.
MPEG Stream: "Repose"
MPEG Stream: "Alioth"
MPEG Stream: "Merak"
TATE, DARREN Nothing By Chance (Fungal) cd-r 13.98
Ah, a drone-centric album from Darren Tate this time around; and perhaps it is not surprising that Nothing By Chance is a reissue of a long out-of-print cd-r that the British eccentric produced way back in 2003. Those were the days when Tate was entering the final stages of his work with Ora - the much revered British drone collective that spilled from the collaboration between Tate and Andrew Chalk (alongside Colin Potter, Jonathan Coleclough, and Lol Coxhill). As a continuation of the rich vernacular of Ora, Tate maps a verdant hypnogogia from home-grown psychoactive tones, drones, and field recordings. There are two long-form tracks on Nothing By Chance, with the first one being girded by a bright, ringing sustained tone from a chord organ furthered along by Leslie-styled flutter / oscillation of the frequencies. Here, Tate's work resonates with a stately grandeur found in the best organ-clad work from Charlemagne Palestine. Sodden recordings of rain tumbling between damp stone houses dominates the second much-longer track, which is a whopping 42 minute expedition of somber patter, sullen street noise, and very English dreariness coming to a rainy-day conclusion with a saturnine round of church organ tones gracefully set against the grey backdrop. Limited to 50 copies, of which we have only a handful.
MPEG Stream: "Pool"
MPEG Stream: "Rain During Summer"
V/A BART: Bay Area Retrograde (Vol. 1 & 2) (Dark Entries) cd 15.98
Back in 2011, Dark Entries released a great comp, vinyl-only, called BART: Bay Area Retrograde. All Dark Entries style stuff - vintage minimal wave / new wave / punk electronics - from the SF Bay area. (For those who don't live around here, BART also stands for Bay Area Rapid Transit, the local commuter train system.) Just today, we just got a 2nd volume of Bay Area Retrograde, on vinyl, which we'll review as soon as we can, AND also this, a compact disc containing both volumes, yay!! So, we're listing this cd now, though we can't say much yet about the stuff on here from Vol. 2, other than what we've heard spinning it so far has been great, and it seems maybe a bit more raw and punk and experimental, with tracks from the likes of Factrix, Chrome and Red Asphalt. So, more on that Vol. 2 when we get a chance to properly review it next time, but here's what we said before about Vol. 1, and by itself it means this cd is quite recommended:A few years back, Minimal Wave offered some choice crate digging collections of nearly forgotten darkwave and post-punk electronics through their Lost Tapes and Found Tapes collections, highlighting the differences between the European and American models of underground new wave. Dark Entries produced this anthology in that same tradition, focusing even more tightly on the geography of the Bay Area. As Johnny Ray Huston so rightly points out in the liner notes, San Francisco in the '80s had its own unique crucible of local events that shaped the Bay Area's particular sound (e.g. the assassination of Harvey Milk, the growing AIDS epidemic and the fear surrounding the disease, etc.). While there's none of the art-damaged abstraction filtered from The Residents, Snakefinger, or Tuxedomoon in an obvious lineage to the artists featured here, BART (named after the subway that connects Oakland, Berkeley, and other parts of the East Bay to San Francisco) is a great collection of quirky minimal wave electronics, with a fair amount of unreleased material from obscurant Bay Area new wave bands. Nomimal State opens the compilation and was from the suburban hamlet of Danville, recording this demo 1983 with a militantly uptempo drum machine and urgent synth lines. It's a track that easily fits next to the likes of The Units and Nervous Gender in terms of manic, punkish use of electronics. Speaking of The Units, they round out the compilation in contributing their sci-fi pop anthem "Mission," which is still bitchin' after all these years! Voice Farm is the other 'big name' to appear on this compilation, contributing a sinewy darkwave number from their 1982 album "The World We Live In." Batang State, Quiet Room, and Necropolis Of Love offer more Joy Division / Wire / Kraftwerk atmospheric post-punk number with considerable panache. The Wasp Women were a crossdressing trash-punk outfit, whose demo featured a wastoid lo-fi number and had appeared in the 1982 film "What Ever Happened To Susan Jane." Danny Boy & The Serious Party Gods offer a fabulously campy disco number with suitably over-the-top raunchy lyrics that ramble on and on against anthemic synths. If there's one track that you need to hear from this compilation it's this one! But the whole collection is very well done, and comes highly recommended as with everything that Dark Entries releases.
MPEG Stream: NOMINAL STATE "Middle Class"
MPEG Stream: UNITS "Mission"
MPEG Stream: DANNY BOY & THE SERIOUS PARTY GODS "Castro Boy"
MPEG Stream: VOICE FARM "Voyeur"
V/A Gravity Spells (Bimodal Press) 2lp + 4dvd-r + book 110.00
Earlier in 2014, the multimedia artist John Davis presented an amazing series of expanded cinema at the Kala Art Institute in Berkeley, showcasing Bay Area artists whose work operate in the liminal regions between avant-garde composition and experimental filmmaking. The most visible and vocal proponent of such work is San Francisco's Paul Clipson, whose 8mm and 16mm films of in-camera edits & overlaid imagery have long been the visual accompaniments to the likes of Barn Owl, Grouper, Tarentel, Joshua Churchill, and Brendan Murray (just to name a few). Clipson's work was just one of many artists presented during the month-long festival that Davis curated, with this weighty object - two slabs of vinyl, a hefty book, and four dvd-rs each dedicated to one of four filmmakers - documenting a handful of the pieces that were exhibited / projected / performed during the festival. So, there are filmmakers Lawrence Jordan, Craig Baldwin, and Kerry Laitala joining Clipson on the video programs; and Tashi Wada, Maggi Payne, and Ashley Bellouin & Ben Bracken joining John Davis as the composers. There were far more notable artists whose work did not get covered in this compendium (e.g. Keith Evans, Beige, Mary Helena Clarke, Steve Dye, Andy Puls, and aQ's own Jim Haynes), meaning that there's more than enough material to warrant a second volume. The two slabs of vinyl contain long-form tracks from each of the aforementioned composers, whose work corresponds to the soundtrack of the video programs, but these sounds are also designed to be listened to independent of the image, harboring an indeterminacy to the marriage of sound and image as well as its severance. Bellouin & Bracken are stalwart performers here in the Bay Area, who sadly have not released any of their work up until now. Overtones and harmonics from bowed metal rods, handcrafted glass harmonica, and subtly reinforced electronics offer an amazingly rich composition of melodic sound pools progressing at the pace of a late period Morton Feldman composition. Davis has released his own work through Root Strata and Students Of Decay over the years, with world-weary delicacies of sonic filigree suspended upon field recordings and cracked electronics. Here, he takes on the contemplative sequences of analog synth / library musics with fragments alluding to Susanne Ciani that darken over time through scratchy loops and radiant black drones. The iconic Bay Area minimalist Maggi Payne slips through her quiet hush by way of downpitched white noise into thrumming masses, Shepard tone glissandos, and ice-sharp textures. Tashi Wada's downtuning compositions for two violins resonating acoustically in near lockstep with each other is a perfect recapitulation of Tony Conrad's ideas behind Slapping Pythagoras. Brilliantly done by all of the composers! We'll leave the video components alone for the time being; as Gravity Spells is strictly limited to 100 copies, many of which were sold at the festival itself. There's only a handful of these left. A true labor of love from John Davis, and it shows!
MPEG Stream: ASHLEY BELLOUIN & BEN BRACKEN "After Image"
MPEG Stream: JOHN DAVIS "Strategy Of Belief"
MPEG Stream: MAGGI PAYNE "Black Ice / Static"
MPEG Stream: TASHI WADA "Duet (Take 4)"
WALKER, SCOTT & SUNN O))) Soused (4AD) 2lp 36.00
When we first heard about the collaboration, it sounded like a joke, like some internet meme. It did seem crazy, and on the surface, pretty hilarious, but eventually it was proven to be an actual thing. Then when we first heard a little snippet online, we weren't entirely sold, Walker sounded even more over the top than usual, and the title Soused seems to indicate that maybe Walker was in fact completely wasted when he recorded his vocals, cuz it definitely sounded like it. But when we finally got to hear the whole thing, it suddenly all made sense, Walker's vocals, while still insanely dramatic and over the top, were somehow perfect, and SUNNO))), instead of just doing the guitars-against-the-amps drone thing, really seem to be working way outside their comfort zone, and in fact, lots of this record sounds extremely, sonically uncomfortable. Fantastically so. We were so smitten by opener "Brando", we had trouble digging any deeper into the record. Right from the get go, opening with Walker crooning over a whirring organ, shimmery and sun dappled, and what sounds suspiciously like the Guns 'N Roses "Sweet Child O' Mine" guitar lick, but then the thick, viscous drones creep in, accompanied by strange ticks and pulsations, as well as what sounds like a bull whip, as well as the occasional burst of distorto guitar, the combination of that low end creep, and Walker's vocals, as well as a cool feedback/high end that seems to echo the vocal melody, it's pretty powerful, and stunning, weird, but also weirdly beautiful. "Herod 2014" was our next obsession, with it's weird squelchy electronic rhythm, buried in thick rumbling thrum, it's Walker who carries the song, some sort of demented, and yeah, likely seriously soused, torch song, flecked with static, and driven by a slo-mo Sabbath riff stretched out into near static sprawl, Walker's vocals wreathed in lots of mysterious noise, the whole track peppered with what sounds like some strange banshee wail, or pterodactyl cry, but it's somehow so perfect, that it becomes as integral to the song as any other element. "Bull" is downright balladic after the previous heaving monoliths, but not for long, the song exploding into some serious Swans like pummel, with Walker kicking it up a notch, some loose chaotic drum damage, some junkyard percussion, and a 'hook' that manages to be the catchiest bit on the whole record, the song slipping into slo-mo somnambulant creeps, before launching right back into that 'chorus'. We have to be honest, the first three songs are so perfect, it's not until maybe the 20th listen that we even made it to the last two, but they're similarly broody and bombastic, "Fetish" featuring some seriously buzzed out bass (assuming that's a bass), and like "Bull" before it, another killer 'chorus', that sounds like Swans gone haywire, dosed on some serious narcotics, a wild cacophony of elephant like electronic bleats, churning metallic riffing, monstrous drumming, before settling into what sounds like some sick, mutant strain of kraut-doom. And don't even get us started on Walker's INSANE lyrics, in this case, a refrain of "Choo Choo, Choo Choo mama", which sounds ridiculous, but in the context of the song, it sounds mad, maniacal, and like some sort of twisted genius, which we're assuming it is. Finally, there's "Lullaby", which is one, at least for a moment, until another blurt of atonal, moaning, keening, doom cabaret explodes from the murk, only to settle right back down, most of the track spent in hushed lowercase mode, finishing off super dramatically, a field of barely there guitar rumble, distant sonar like pings, ominous swells, mysterious insectoid clicking, and one final, haunting stanza from Walker. Most definitely a twisted outsider masterpiece, and considering how skeptical we were, it's even more surprising that this might just end up being a record of the year contender for some of us!
MPEG Stream: "Brando"
MPEG Stream: "Herod 2014"
MPEG Stream: "Bull"
WHETHAM, SIMON From The Mouths Of Clay (Helen Scarsdale) cassette 7.50
There's a weirdo theory in the realm of parapsychology (yes, the ultimate land of weirdo theories) that inanimate objects can absorb the psychic energy from the living, especially during that of extreme stress. This postulation is called the Stone Tape Theory, as stone (along with wood) is the most common media for this stored energy that can be replayed in the form of ghostly ectoplasm, disembodied knockings, and just bad vibes. While the peripatetic sound-artist Simon Whetham seems far too sensible a bloke to hold the Stone Tape Theory dear to his heart, we have to wonder if he was spooked at all during the recording sessions for From The Mouths Of Clay. The source material in question was a collection of prehistoric and contemporary South American burial urns. It's unclear if these urns were actually used for the intended purpose or if the remains had been removed during his recording sessions; but it's very clear that these objects can generate quite an ethereal tone. Whetham's tactile investigation of these objects divined a slippery, rasping drone within the ebb and flow of his subtle electronic augmentation (layering, pitchshifting, EQ, etc.). So pure are the harmonics that they have the feel of a glass harmonica - you know, the parlor trick of rubbing a wine glass with a wet finger. Whetham allows these tones to waft in elegant suspension, giving the impression that if they were the sounds from ghosts, then the spirits embrace an enlightened, transcendent, and celestial aloofness, avoiding the baseness of anything physical. At various times throughout the recordings, Whetham drags a contact microphone across the surface of those urns, amplifying prickly textures that scatter with an anarchnoid irregularity. It's an unnerving counterpoint of earthly abjection to offset the innervision luminosity and holy minimalism from Whetham's drones. Think Alan Lamb, Andrew Chalk, Eliane Radigue, Phill Niblock. Yeah, it's that good! Absolutely gorgeous work, and easily the best thing we've heard from Mr. Whetham.
MPEG Stream: "From The Mouths Of Clay"
WHITE+ s/t (Maybe Mars) cd 12.98
This previous Record Of The Week honoree, finally back in stock! Here's our review from when we first listed this back in 2012:Recently, through several friends of aQ, we've been introduced to a bunch of really cool indie rock from China, Boyz & Girl (reviewed elsewhere on this week's list), Pairs, Snapline, Mr. Graceless, Carsick Cars, Duck Fight Goose, but the one that really grabbed us the most was this one right here, the oddly monikered White+, which is in fact not really indie rock at all, but is in fact an experimental offshoot of the Chinese indie rock group Carsick Cars. This duo describe themselves as being a "hardware electronica band", although the friend who turned us on to these guys, described them as sounding like Neu! crossed with Yellow Magic Orchestra, which thankfully is pretty dang accurate. Utilizing a set up of customized keyboards, pedals, samplers, loops and live drums (and the occasional bit of spare ethereal vocals), White+ lay down some droned out, super mesmerizing, darkly motorik krautrock influenced electronic hypnorock, that sounds like a weird hybrid of Circle, the Boredoms and Fabulous Diamonds, or something like that, just check out the opening track here. A cascade of skittering programmed beats, looped and layered, chopped and collaged voices, live tribal drums, swirling electronics, dizzying FX, the sounds warped and constantly shifting speed, the vocals processed into strange streaks of psychedelic melody, the various other loops slipping from crunchy chug, to spaced out shimmer, the whole track churning and propulsive and utterly hypnotic. The second track is where the Neu! first pops up and shines through big time, the band locked into a serious psych-kraut groove, a sound that positions these guys squarely in the current movement of kraut-psych space rock revisionists, but their sound is definitely more electronic, and much more beholden to classic krautrock, albeit here wreathed in psychedelic effects and layered with warm washes of keyboard melody, not to mention clouds of swirling FX.And here's where we'd usually say something like "and that's how it goes from there on out", but these guys aren't so simple to peg. The next track takes seriously driving drums, and adds some electronic bagpipe sounding synths, the result some twisted Amps For Christ / Maserati hybrid, with brief bursts of twisted FX heavy warpage, where the sound slips into near Aphex Twin territory.From there on out, all bets are off, bloopy and bleepy, skittery and playful one moment, all lilting melodies, and hazy dreamlike kraut-age shimmer, brooding buzz drifting atop wild dense drum damage the next, all supporting soaring echo drenched vocals, the vibe ritualistic and trance-like, definitely a sound that fits perfectly alongside modern day Boredoms. The live drums are really what make the band, even the most ethereal sprawl of soft focus electronic ambience, takes on a whole new vibe when anchored by some pounding rhythms, and the mix of programmed beats and real drums makes for a heady rhythmic concoction, with the surrounding sounds just as compelling, equal parts melodic pulsation, kosmische cascade, and tripped out sonic swirl, some tracks sounding like a full on, heavy as hell hypnorock band, others like ultra abstract avant kraut experiments, the vocals transforming some of the tracks into near popsongs, but more often than not, the vocals splinter and are transformed into something more textural or rhythmic, the song following suit, taking that pop element and wedding it to something much more abstract and psychedelic.A unanimous new aQ favorite, and literally every time we play this in the store, we sell a copy! We have a whole bunch, but when we sell out, we'll have to get more from China, so might take a couple weeks. Needless to say, grab one NOW! Super deluxe packaging too, sweet design, massive booklet, obi, etc.
MPEG Stream: "1"
MPEG Stream: "2"
MPEG Stream: "3"
MPEG Stream: "4"
MPEG Stream: "8"
WORLD Discography (Ormolycka) cassette 5.98
How had we never heard this band before. A Japanoise grind/noise/powerviolence trio, featuring a vocalist and two drummers and that's it. No guitar, no bass, but you might never know it. When we first heard it, we thought it was some super obscure metal band, but knowing it's just drums and vocals makes it even more ridiculous and cool, some track are wild chaotic, near metallic freakouts, others are blurred Merzbow style blowouts, but the vibe/sound is way different, that it's all drums and vocals, there's even shards of squealing feedback, that again give the impression there are guitars, and sometimes the drums are so blown out and distorted, they sounds like blurred buzzing riffage, the vocals too, go from wild Boredoms like yowls, to death metal grunts, to hysterical shrieks, to straight up, face melting white noise. The sound sometimes settling into some weird rhythms, just the drums pounding away, before the sound explodes again into full on noise mode, brutal blurred fury, that manages to remain musical, while destroying your speakers and eardrums. We just might have ourselves a new favorite Japanese band. thanks Ormolycka. And yeah, once again, these tapes are pretty dang LIMITED!!!!!
XARKRINUR Dark Rituals (Psalm 88 / Acephale Winter Productions) cassette 5.98
One of two new releases on the newly launched Psalm 88 label, an offshoot of local black metal cassette label Acephale Winter, and the first we've heard from Xarkrinur, a FIFTEEN YEAR OLD one man (boy?) black metal band from Bangladesh (!), whose warped, home-brewed, weirdly produced depressive black buzz immediately reminded us of late great weirdo black metal horde Benighted Leams. Similarly stumbling and damaged, the guitars brittle and buzzy, the programmed drums machinelike and robotic, the rhythms stiff and strangely static, but it's the vocals, a raspy, whispery growl, that seal the deal, WAY up in the mix, eclipsing the music with every foul utterance, we're also reminded of local lo-fi sort-of-black-metal wacko Fastest, a similarly delivered, super dramatic hushed vokill style. But Xarkrinur conjure up a seriously stunning atmosphere, the second track, slows things down, and gets super atmospheric, with some strange harmonic overtones, and a murky, melancholy main riff, the vocals shift too, becoming more hissy and feral, but the music, super emotional and darkly lovely, sans black metal affectation, could be some tripped out lo-fi post rock. The other two songs here are similarly split, the third another brittle blast of raw primitive buzz, while the closer is a smoldering doomic creep, with thick crumbling chords (that sound like an organ almost), the vocals more wasted and weary, a harrowing sprawl of depressive downer doom that we are digging a LOT. For sure need to hear more from this guy. LIMITED TO 88 COPIES!!
MPEG Stream: "Forest Of Mist"
MPEG Stream: "When Angels Cry"