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Records of the Week
GUM TAKES TOOTH Mirrors Fold (Tigertrap) cd 14.98
We made the first record from this awesomely monikered UK outfit, Silent Cenotaph, our Record Of The Week, way back in 2011, and at the time described them with some band math that looked a little like this: Shit And Shine + Butthole Surfers + Lightning Bolt. The sound was a dizzyingly psychedelic barrage of grinding, rhythmic, electronics doused in druggy tribal freakout, like a super charged This Heat, the drummers kit wired to a mad scientist array of machinery and noise making devices, turning the kit into some giant rhythmic noise machine, and enabling a duo to kick up a din that sounds like it couldn't possibly be made by just two people, and while that first record generally hewed toward a sound that was more chaotic and bombastic, this new one seems to be a bit more melodic and dare we say mellow, there's still plenty of sonic ferocity, and rhythmic bombast for sure, but it sounds more measured, more deftly assembled, maybe less 'punk', but only in the way that bands get better at what they do, and in theory, take what was great about their previous records, and add to it, creating something, even more forward reaching, and ultimately perhaps even better. Such is the case with Mirrors Fold. We still do LOVE Silent Cenotaph, and it routinely gets play on the iPod even still, but this new one is more subtle, more textural, whereas that first one was the sort of music you wanted to rock out to, jump around and go crazy, this new one, manages to harness that feral energy into something much more focused. The opener begins all swirly and serene, with hushed ambient shimmer, chant-like vocals, be before long the drums explode, adding a churning rhythmic component, without detracting from the melodic component or the vocals, it's not really until a brief bit of hushed shimmer, a barely there ambient interlude, that the song truly launches into crazed sonic chaos, a dizzying blurry flurry of drum madness, a wild octopoidal tangle of tangled jumbled rhythms, that eventually give away to a skeletal bit of rhythmic drift, before one final push, where the drums, the vocals, and swirls of FX are all wound into a dense propulsive tribal spacey noise rock blowout. Phew!And so it goes, the band laying down mesmerizing hypno-rhythms, while all around strange effects swoop in and out, extra percussion, echoey vox floating above, thick rumbling bass below, sitar like buzz slithers throughout, the sound and arrangement super dynamic, a bit proggy, certainly psychedelic, a sort mutant psych-prog, Afro-space groove. Some moments are like some outer space version of Afro-fuzz Swedes Goat, others sound like a super charged, space rock Necks, a few tracks get downright heavy, and sound like some tripped out psychedelic space outfit, a few tracks sound like a crazy demonic alter ego of This Heat, a few others remind us of the twisted afro-noise of William Bennett's Cut Hands, there are moments of Muslimgauze like Eastern rhythmatism, there are even moments that remind us of Animal Collective at their very weirdest, but really most of this just sounds Gum Takes Tooth, and absolutely nobody else, a totally twisted genius amalgam of all the above mentioned references, deftly shaped into something at once warped and weird, wild and experimental, but also totally hypnotic, and melodic, strangely lovely and in its own way, extremely catchy. A new favorite for sure. And a total shoe-in not just for Record Of The Week, but for our year end best of's too...
MPEG Stream: "Mirrors Fold"
MPEG Stream: "White Fear"
MPEG Stream: "The Perfect Surface"
MPEG Stream: "Treaty And Treasure"
HAVE A NICE LIFE Deathconsciousness (The Flenser) 2lp 25.00
A few years back, all of a sudden loads of so-called new wave of shoegaze bands, or nu-gaze, as some folks like to call it (the same folks who now have us using the term metalgaze) began to surface. Some were good, some not so much - and then someone suggested we check out Have A Nice Life, explaining that the band was some sort of doom, metal, black metal, gothic, new wave, shoe gaze hybrid, so obviously we were pretty curious. So we emailed the band. No response. Emailed the label. No response. Then, we happened to find a double cd-r package just sitting on the desk, in a pile, where it must have been for weeks, a cool creepy cover, a color painting of a stabbed man, in a bathtub maybe, in his note some strange text, the words "the plow that broke the plains" on a black field above it. And it was bundled with a big book, full of equally mysterious text. Hmmm. With the word Deathconsciousness printed on the front. And wham. It clicked. Those guys had already sent us a copy, which had somehow slipped through the cracks. So we quickly threw it on, and it was everything we had expected, everything we had hoped for, and more.We got some more, and listed it, and as we mentioned in our original review, we WANTED to make this an aQ Record Of The Week back then, but at the time, the band opted to not make any more copies of that super limited cd-r version, so as far as we knew then, those would the last copies we'd ever see... But now, lucky for everybody, folks who missed out, but also everyone who had been dreaming of a vinyl version, your twisted outsider WTF sort-of black metal weirdness prayers have been answered, and thanks to local label The Flenser, we CAN make it a Record Of The Week, 'cause they've reissued it as a swank double lp, WITH the book, on double vinyl. (Flesner wanted to do a proper cd too, but the band said no, unfortunately.) Two lps, jam packed with dark blissed out shoegazey, new wave-y, slightly metallic nearly perfect pop. Beautiful, and weird as fuck. The songs insanely varied, but impossible cohesive. Some sort of sprawling bliss rock opera. Each track, perfect on its own, but even more perfect as part of the bigger whole. The first half is the prettier and poppier. The opening track is a creepy stretch of Goblin like synth ambience, peppered with simple minor key acoustic guitar, haunting and lovely, which quickly gives way to thick ropy basslines, and reverbed electronic drums, a definitely Joy Division vibe, swirls of thick guitar, gorgeous melodies and heartfelt vocals, it's dirgey and doomy and depressive, but so catchy and poppy. The next track is a big blown out pop epic, all effected vocal harmonies and washed out watercolor guitars, reminding us quite a bit of M83. The rest of the first lp slips easily from gloomy goth pop, to minimal drone, to shimmery shoegaze, often all at once, finishing off with a gloomy dirge, all downtuned grindguitar and pointillist piano. Softly crooned vocals, and a surprisingly catchy melody. Which perfect leads into the second, darker and heavier half, which begins with a track the boasts probably the greatest song title EVER: "Waiting For Black Metal Records In The Mail". But don't be expecting any black metal, instead it's a killer slab of eighties style indie doom pop, jangly guitar, propulsive drumming, and killer vocals, all wound into an awesome blast of hooky retro gloom, very reminiscent of the Comsat Angels. Hot on the heels comes another awesomely named song: "Holy Fucking Shit: 40,000", but again the title gives no clue that the song is a lilting mostly acoustic jam, with more piano, sad vocals, minor key melodies, a super reverby eighties production, all set to that Casio keyboard preset metronome rhythm. But about half way through, the track shifts and becomes a pounding rocker, the guitars thick and distorted, the drums pounding, but then all around synths buzz, vocals croon, the heaviness transformed into something much more dreamy and blissy. "The Future" is an aggro, almost no wave workout, all jagged guitars and shouted vocals, and more of that thick throbbing bass, but just like the rest of the tracks, it gets totally twisted around, his time by the addition of fake strings, and yet another killer and totally irresistible hook. "Earthmover" finishes things off, but instead of being some dirgey doom epic, it's another blissed out popscape, lots and lots of fuzz and buzz, glistening melodies, minimal rhythms, all buried beneath layers of woozy whir and sun dappled sparkle. Almost like a much prettier and poppier Nadja.And the thing about this record and these songs, is that, they all manage to be outrageously catchy, but not obviously so, and while they straddle about a million different genres, they manage to weave them all seamlessly into each other, making Deathconsciousness feel less like a rock band's collection of songs, and more like one massive organic mass of blackened dronepop jangle-goth bliss. Which as far as we're concerned it actually is. And then there's the booklet. A dvd-sized, 80 page black & white book, filled with lyrics, liner notes, woodcuts, engravings, illustrations, and a massive amount of text on the soul, spirituality, death, sorcery, Medieval heresy and more, all supposedly penned by some mysterious East Coast professor and scholar.So awesome!
MPEG Stream: "Waiting For Black Metal Records To Come In The Mail"
MPEG Stream: "Holy Fucking Shit: 40,000"
MPEG Stream: "Bloodhail"
MPEG Stream: "The Big Gloom"
MPEG Stream: "Hunter"
BALDWIN, MATT Golden Twins (Sloow Tapes) cassette 9.98
Two gorgeous longform tracks of psychedelic nu-age made with electric guitar, synths and field recordings from this Bay-Area based multi-instrumentalist and Psychic Arts label-head. The A-side, a deep excursion into synth drones that leads to an exuberant takeoff of ecstatic and majestic electric guitar leads, was only released on vinyl in an edition of ONE for his girlfriend/wife, so we can basically say these two tracks have not been widely available to a large audience. The B-side is more meditative with delicate filigrees of guitar widely spaced between long passages of field recordings of bird sounds and ocean waves. Both tracks filling up either side of the tape, these are two keen examples of intrepid guitar and synth wizardry from one of the Bay Area's finest practitioners. Limited!
BARREN HARVEST Beautiful Flowers (Black Horizons) 3x7" 24.00
Somehow we managed to miss the debut full length on Handmade Birds from Barren Harvest, the duo of Lenny Smith from Atriarch and Jessica Way of Worm Ouroborus, and we're kicking ourselves now, 'cause this new release of theirs, on local label Black Horizons, reveals a compellingly mysterious soundworld, that owes more to groups like Comus and Death In June than it does to anything properly metal. While technically this is their latest release, what's on here are actually the earliest recordings from Barren Harvest, early demos, many of which would go on to be reworked and rerecorded for their full length, but they sound fantastic here just the way they are. Skeletal, minimal, bare bones, hushed and intimate, simple spidery arrangements of steel string buzz, delicate piano, moaning strings, darkly crooned male and female vocals, harrowing harmonies, almost liturgical at times, the sound a sort of neo-folk torch song, haunting, elegiac threnodies that seem to be emanating from those dark woods, or seem to be crooned by those robed figures surrounding that crumbling altar amidst the brambles by the seaside, the vibe windswept and overcast, grey, otherworldly and mysterious.LIMITED TO 233 COPIES, fantastically packaged, three 7"s, each packaged in their own sleeve, each one adorned with a drawing of a flower on one side, a sigil on the other, and each with a little printed lyric sheet, all printed in metallic silver on black, all housed in an inner AND outer slipcover, each again adorned with metallic silver artwork, and inside a small printed piece of owl art, very very very nice.
BATWAN Ich Sehe Dich Wenn Du Schlafst (self-released) cd-r 5.00
Back in 2012, we raved about a cd from some mysterious French instrumental math/post/noise rock combo called Poles. At the time, we compared them to Psychic Paramount, Dazzling Killmen, Laddio Bolocko, Don Cab, Breadwinner, needless to say, these guys fit perfectly amongst those math/post rock elite. We had been hankering for more ever since, and recently, the band got in touch to let us know, that there might finally be more on the horizon, but in the meantime, one of the Poles had a new record under the name Batwan, but warned us right up front it was NOTHING like Poles, and he was not kidding. Instead, the music of Batwan is a sort of blackened industrial soundscaping, the opener a long sprawling field of pulsing guitar thrum, and dense sweeps of gnarled noisiness that ebb and flow, all over a constantly roiling field of ambient noise, and industrial whir, but that noisiness soon abates, leaving hazy drifts of softly reverberating thrum, shot through with barely there melodies, and buried percussion, not to mention what sounds like human voices processed into a chorus of croaking frogs, not to mention what sounds like some scissor snipping, some abstract drumming, some keening sine wave tones, little electronic squiggles, bells and chimes, all woven into what eventually becomes a sort of Caretaker-esque bit of faded melancholic drift. And that's just the first track. The rest of the pieces are much shorter, but share a similar sonic palette, from a throbbing sort of minimal industrial house music, all muted and muddied and draped with cleaning metallic melodies, to a blurry little stretch of kosmische synth swirl, peppered with bits of crunch and clatter, to creepy haunted house noisescapes, to hushed minimal avant rock creep, to warped electro weirdness, to harrowing cinematic ambience, and finally to a harrowing, droned out slow build, that takes an unsteady raga, and transforms it into something woozy and melty, and gradually more and more soul stirringly ominous, before finally fading out completely.
MPEG Stream: "I"
MPEG Stream: "II"
MPEG Stream: "III"
BITCHIN BAJAS s/t (Drag City) 2lp 25.00
Long languorous drones, and blissed out ultra minimal ragas are how we're introduced to the latest from these Midwestern cosmic sonic warriors with the misleadingly goofy moniker. But longtime readers of the list know full well our affection for these Bitchin Bajas, and listening to this new double lp (and um, cassette) we're immediately reminded why. At first blush, we were a bit surprised by the opening track, the first half of which fills the A side with a lush, softly undulating landscape of drones and tones, a gorgeously heady bit of meditative raga sprawl, plenty of sitar like buzz, slow shifting overtones, buried rhythms, swirling synths, we'd have been perfectly content if all four sides were filled with such sublime sonic dreaminess, but instead, those synths begin to emit tangled melodies, little squalls and swirls above the slow shimmering tranquility below, the vibe a little bit like an even more spaced out Amps For Christ, or the dreamiest, druggies planetarium show EVER. Thankfully, the sound never explodes into something else, at least here, with some strings and woodwinds adding to the soft, serene din, adding a bit of folkiness to the otherwise cosmic shimmer, and again, we find ourselves thinking one side of an lp is not nearly enough, this is the sort of music that lets you get lost, and makes you wanna STAY lost. But hey, there's three more sides!! The flipside is not nearly as droney and raga-like, but does remain quite tranquil and dreamy, music box melodies over a lush, synthy thrum, almost like a spaced out gamelan, wreaths in warm billows of swirling synths. The percussion and rhythms dissipate, leaving just hazy expanse of new age ambience, lovely chordal swells, hushed barely three melodies, the textures all soft focus and ethereal, a sound that lulls you into a fantastically soporific state, before the final track which winds sci-fi FX squiggles around birdsong, all over another stretch of mesmeric synth drone, which eventually settles into a darkly and dreamily rhythmic bit of kraut-drone drift, all fluttering flutes, buried rhythmic pulsations, and more warm swirls of soft synth. The second lp continues on in much the same manner, long sprawling synthscapes, a little bit kraut-psych, a little new age, one track sounding like Terry Riley or Steve Reich by way of Kraftwerk, another all jazzy and folky, and psychedelic, a droned out spiritual jazz fused to some abstract avant minimalism, pulsing, throbbing rhythms underpinning, a sky full of free form flutter, which in turn gives way to a final two part side / movement, the first, another hushed arrangement of long tones and slowly swirling synths, that ends up sounding almost liturgical, albeit sort of alien / alternative universe liturgical, but still, and then finally, an even dark, more minimal finale, more long synth tones, subtle guitar strum, electronic squiggles woven into the track's ever expanding fabric, the sort of music you can imagine accompanying a long tracking shot across the vastness of space in some seventies documentary, warm, wondrous, psychedelic and mysterious. Super simple packaging, self titled, nothing on the cover but the band name, a full color printed insert. And no download. Or cd version. Though there is a double cassette of it.
BLOOD OF KINGU Dark Star On The Right Horn Of The Crescent Moon (Season Of Mist) cd 14.98
Ukrainian black metallers Blood Of Kingu continue down the lefthand path, as their sound continues to move ever further from their earlier folk flecked roots, and if anything this latest one might be the best, and weirdest of the bunch so far, the new sound darker, and more denser, seemingly more raw and minimal the production too, lo-fi, but not shitty BM lo-fi, instead, all the sounds blur and bleed and ooze like some huge squirming slithering hell borne entity. But it's not just buzzing and blasting, although there is of course plenty of that, there's also some weirdly majestic percussion, just check out the opener, which seems locked into some seriously mesmerizing black buzz murk, even the vocals, are closer to a monstrous death metal cookie monster bellow, but all of those sound, when combined with the production, transform into some twisted dizzying psychedelic blackness, that at one point, explodes into something surprisingly (and subtly) melodic, complete with bombastic percussion booming in the background, while the guitars wind around each other into epic trills, and there even seems to be some buried shred, and then again, the song switches gears, and somehow gets faster and more furious, relentless and mesmerizing. Some of the coolest, weirdest, most original black buzz we've heard in ages. And fear not, they haven't ditched their obsession with Sumerian and Egyptian mythology, nor have they totally abandoned the folky interludes, but you'll be hard pressed to think of any of that stuff once you're immersed in BoK's fucked up outsider black metal soundworld. Check out the second track, beginning with some haunting folkiness, but soon explodes into some seriously intense buzz, but when the vocals come in, they're a weird sort of choral croon just below the surface, and then later on, most of the buzz is peeled back, leaving but booming percussion, paired with relentless double kick drumming, some moaning guitar melody, and minimal vokills, it's crazy effective and evokes the creepiest of atmospheres, before swooping right back into it. Holy shit. We had forgotten how much we love Blood Of Kingu, and yeah, sure we love Drudkh, and Hateforest, and Lucifugum and Kladovest, and Astrofaes, and all the other bands these guys have played in, but Blood Of Kingu just might be the coolest, and the weirdest. And this record just might be our favorite so far...
MPEG Stream: "Crowned Scarlet Moon Is Waiting for Eclipse"
MPEG Stream: "He Who Is Not To Be Named"
MPEG Stream: "Mother Hydra"
BOTANIST VI: Flora (The Flenser) lp 17.98
Another mysterious missive from the verdant realm, which can only mean one thing, the return of THE BOTANIST, our local eco-terrorist drum and dulcimer black metal band, who in fact, have actually expanded into a proper band, and have been playing shows throughout the US recently, which we have witnessed and are pretty incredible. We can also say, that in some ways, they're even better than the records. Odds are you've likely never heard dueling hammered dulcimers, amplified and projected at great volume, accompanied by blasting drums and wheezing sruti box. But ultimately hearing the strange metallic tones of the dulcimers are extreme volume, it's kind of transcendent. That's not to take away from the records at all, this new one, the fifth in three years (and that's not counting a split with Palace Of Worms, or the fact that they/he skipped number five for some reason), is another fantastic , psychedelic, bizarre and beautiful assemblage of sounds, most of which at this point are really only tangentially black metal. Vokill rasps, check. Furious blast beats, check. But beyond that, Botanist tend to explore some other sonic world entirely, one that's droney and atmospheric, minimal and MAXimal at the same time, the melodies of the dulcimers, no matter how much they're meant to emulate blackened riffing, sound way more alien, and abstract, in some ways it reminds us of the just intonation black metal of Jute Gyte, but the furious flurries of notes, the harmonics and the overtones, all blend into one glorious, constantly shifting organic field of sound, that's utterly mesmerizing and totally immersive, as if all the other elements are just window dressing for these thick, hypnotic, psychedelic swirls of sound. And very much like on IV: Mandragora, the songwriting seems to continue to follow a similar path, one that gets less and less black with every release, with many of the tracks here downright melodic and lovely, sans the harsh vokills, they sound more like Mono or Mogwai, epic and majestic, sun dappled and hopefully, burnished with some inner light, the melodies glowing, the sound emotional and lush, prismatic and heart wrenching. And yeah, sure there are moments more grim, but those just offer shadow, to the rest of Flora's sonic light.
MPEG Stream: "Stargazer"
MPEG Stream: "Leucadendron Argenteum"
MPEG Stream: "Pteridophyte"
MPEG Stream: "Cinnamomum Parthenoxylon"
CAMERA Remember I Was Carbon Dioxide (Bureau B) lp + cd 24.00
We're always talking about "modern day krautrock" bands - Circle, Hills, The Oscillation, Cloudland Canyon, 3 Leafs, Mugstar, Von Himmel, the list goes on and on - but Berlin's mostly-instrumental Camera, a band known for impromptu shows in public spaces, has a better claim than most to the "modern day krautrock" tag, 'cause of course they are actually from Germany! Not only that, but they've previously played/collaborated with members of Neu! and Harmonia, among others. Funnily enough, though, the press material for this highly anticipated 2nd album of theirs tries to claim that "Camera are not seeking to emulate the sound of older Krautrock bands" - that any sonic similarities to those bands from the '70s are merely coincidental, the result of a shared methodology of music making, we're to suppose. And then it says "You can still call it Krautrock, if you must." Guess what? We must! It is, and really good, too.Remember I Was Carbon Dioxide (strange title, that) naturally kicks off with a motorik beat, opener "From The Outside" gradually adding shimmering tendrils of synthesizer to what the drummer is laying down, building up to something both lovely and well-muscled. The next track, "Parhelion", takes a similar, uber-hypnotic approach, much more moody though, spaced out and plodding - "slo-mo-motorik" we'd call it. The hissing synth swoosh and echo-effected guitar with which this is layered makes for a thing of beauty, the use of distortion reminding us of some early Salvatore stuff, to cite another "modern day krautrock" fave of ours. That track could lumber forever onwards and we'd be ok with it, but eventually it does come to an end, and the next one, "Synchron", ups the tempo, lightens the mood, more melodic and sunshiney, but the thumping beat is still motorik, and gnarly noises do arise from the shoegazing guitars. Real nice - how they can suggest that Neu! and Harmonia and early Kraftwerk aren't being consciously "emulated" here is crazy! Next, the skree-laden, garage-kraut attack of "Roehre" features guest saxophone doing some free jazz damage to its HEAVY, propulsive stomp.There's eight more tracks on this album, each in possession of its own special charms. And while many of these tracks mesmerize with their motorik beats (the rhythm just grabs a hold of you and you can't resist it!!), it's not all purely that, and a track like "Ozymandias" works its magic through eerie, droning textures of psychedelic moodiness, shimmering sounds from guitar and keys, the drumming taking a backseat, its skitter just another texture. Most of the tracks bring both rhythm and texture together, in potent aural doses of moody, druggy, majestic krautrock ritual. Fantastic stuff. Available on cd or vinyl, the latter of which comes with a cd of itself.
MPEG Stream: "Synchron"
MPEG Stream: "Roehre"
MPEG Stream: "Haeata"
CAN Ege Bamyasi (Mute / Spoon) lp 24.00
The um, most crucial canon of Can, by which we mean the krautrockers' first four albums, Monster Movie, Soundtracks, Ege Bamyasi and Tago Mago, have once again been reissued in beautifully remastered vinyl. How do they sound? Well, we've just had a customer who is a sound engineer trade in all his previous reissues of these lps which currently fetch high prices on the interwebs, saying, "You just can't beat the new technology", so there you go! Though keep in mind the sound samples are from the older reviews.Ege Bamyasi! Can's fourth album, originally released in 1972, features their second and most fantastical vocalist, Damo Suzuki. Ege is one of our faves from Can, especially of Allan's, though we think he just envies Suzuki's amazing hair! Let us just say that if you don't own this already, what are you waiting for?? Can's Ege Bamyasi is absolutely brilliant. Can of course were one of the most important 'krautrock' bands, along with Amon Duul II, Kraftwerk, Cluster, Faust and a few others. With Japanese singer Damo Suzuki at the mic on this he sings some of their best songs, like "Sing Swan Song" and "Vitamin C" and "I'm So Green" and... Actually EVERY song on here is wonderful. Languid and laidback, yet rhythmically insistent. Mellow and gorgeous and deep. Right on. Fans already know how good this is, everybody else should trust us and pick up one of these, you won't be sorry!
MPEG Stream: "Sing Swan Song"
MPEG Stream: "Vitamin C"
CAN Monster Movie (Spoon / Mute) lp 24.00
The um, most crucial canon of Can, by which we mean the krautrockers' first four albums, Monster Movie, Soundtracks, Ege Bamyasi and Tago Mago, have once again been reissued in beautifully remastered vinyl. How do they sound? Well, we've just had a customer who is a sound engineer trade in all his previous reissues of these lps which currently fetch high prices on the interwebs, saying, "You just can't beat the new technology", so there you go! Though keep in mind the sound samples are from the older reviews.Monster Movie! Can's first album features their original vocalist, Malcolm Mooney. Let us just say that if you don't own this already, here's a good chance to buy, not only this reissue, but a whole bunch of the best early Can on lp. Here's what we said about this when the vinyl was reissued some time ago:Monster Movie was the 1969 debut LP from The Can, that band of kraut-rockin', Stockhausen-studyin', JB's-lovin, beat-poetry-recitin' hippy freaks. This album features the unique vocals of black American singer Malcolm Mooney, and establishes Can's signature style of relentless rhythmic psychedelia with songs such as the 20-minute "Yoo Doo Right". Along with the Velvets and the Stooges, Can were one of the most 'advanced' groups of the era, and certainly one of the best Krautrock bands. If you've yet to explore the world of Can, you could do a lot worse than starting here.
MPEG Stream: "Mary, Mary So Contrary"
MPEG Stream: "Outside My Door"
CAN Soundtracks (Spoon / Mute) lp 24.00
The um, most crucial canon of Can, by which we mean the krautrockers' first four albums, Monster Movie, Soundtracks, Ege Bamyasi and Tago Mago, have once again been reissued in beautifully remastered vinyl. How do they sound? Well, we've just had a customer who is a sound engineer trade in all his previous reissues of these lps which currently fetch high prices on the interwebs, saying, "You just can't beat the new technology", so there you go! Though keep in mind the sound samples are from the older reviews.Soundtracks! These are tracks from various indie films scored by the group in 1970. Features the 14 minute, psych guitar-heavy "Mother Sky" and the beautiful Malcolm Mooney-sung jazz-lounge piece "She Brings The Rain", both all-time favorites of most Can fans. Let us just say that if you don't own this already, here's a good chance to buy, not only this reissue, but a whole bunch of the best early Can on lp.
MPEG Stream: "Don't Turn The Light On, Leave Me Alone"
MPEG Stream: "Soul Desert"
CAN Tago Mago (Mute / Spoon) 2lp 32.00
The um, most crucial canon of Can, by which we mean the krautrockers' first four albums, Monster Movie, Soundtracks, Ege Bamyasi and Tago Mago, have once again been reissued in beautifully remastered vinyl. How do they sound? Well, we've just had a customer who is a sound engineer trade in all his previous reissues of these lps which currently fetch high prices on the interwebs, saying, "You just can't beat the new technology", so there you go! Though keep in mind the sound samples are from the older reviews.Tago Mago! Let us just say that if you don't own this already, what are you waiting for?? 1971's Tago Mago double album was Can's third full-length release, and their first with expatriate Japanese singer Damo Suzuki (whom they discovered busking on the street outside a club). It's truly a sprawling masterpiece of krautrock. Witness the weird noise/drone stuff on the 17 minute "Aumgn", or the totally hypnotic rhythmic psych groove of the equally side-long "Halleluwah". Again, we probably don't have to say much more, you already have this, right? But if Can's new to you, we'd recommend this (as well as Monster Movie and Ege Bamyasi and Soundtracks) as among their best efforts. PS: If you like Circle and you don't have this record, get it!!
MPEG Stream: "Mushroom"
MPEG Stream: "Oh Yeah"
CARLTON MELTON Live At Hebden Bridge (Triangle Sounds) cassette 9.98
This was reviewed this on the last New Arrivals List, and sold out immediately. We just managed to get the last remaining copies, direct from the band, and since there are only 100, this is most definitely your last chance to nab one of these... Which is too bad, cuz it's pretty great. Carlton Melton doing their thing in the UK during 2012's Photos Of Photos European tour, hazy, druggy expanses of extended psych drift, sun dappled slow build epics, some pounding drum driven kraut-psych workouts, a handful of CM classics reworked live, swooping easily from hushed prettiness, to fierce, fiery heaviness, wild tangles of psych guitar draped over squiggly spaced out synths, simple motorik rhythms locked tight, anchoring the group's otherwise heavenward drift. Dense and droney, darkly rocking, psychedelic and epic, essential psychedelia for sure, and CM fans won't want to miss out. Sad thing is lots will, so those quickest on the trigger will nab one. And as if you needed to be told, one per customer.LIMITED TO 100 COPIES, the tapes silver/purple glitter, with 12 different labels, each housed in a cloudy plastic clamshell case with a full color sticker.
DEFORCE, ARNE & MIKA VAINIO Hephaestus (Editions Mego) cd 16.98
Hephaestus, the blacksmith, the ancient Greek god of fire and metal. Also, the title of a 1993 album by skate metal avantgardists Iceburn, one of our faves of theirs that we wish would get reissued. However, THIS Hephaestus has got nothing to do with skate metal, although it is avantgarde. On this experimental drone disc issued by Editions Mego, cellist Arne Deforce's classically acoustic, acoustic classical instrument is subjected to the electronic effects of Pan Sonic's Mika Vainio. We hadn't heard anything by Deforce before, but there's nothing like cello for creating some seriously dark, doleful atmospheres. And Mika Vainio is Mika Vainio - heck it's not really 'experimental' if he does it, 'cause you know the result will turn out great, right? So what you get here is pretty fantastic, six tracks (whose names all come from the cartography of Greek mythology) of spacious, abstract dronescapes. The first track, "Phlegethon", starts off in subtle stealth mode, quietly haunting, before the cello's drone is distorted into sounding something more like an aircraft engine, rumbling with distortion and feedback - yeah it gets HEAVY, sounding like SUNNO))) or Earth, or even Merzbow. Sudden -boom- explosions of low-end, the volume peaking, add even more dynamism. That's how it goes throughout the disc, there are restrained passages of cinematic near-ambience; and others, wherein the cello sonics are processed into something more fragmented, frazzled, even frightening. You'd think you were listening to a Caspar Brotzmann guitar solo some of the time! Really well done, and recommended.
MPEG Stream: "Section One: Phlegethon (Stream Of Fire)"
MPEG Stream: "Section Five: Lethe (River Of Forgetfulness)"
EARTH Primitive And Deadly (Southern Lord) cd 14.98
We'd been hearing a lot of gripes about this new Earth record, and seen more than a few bad reviews, most of them based on the fact that this is the first Earth record to feature singing, and not just any singing, but from guest vocalists, as in Mark Lanegan, and Rabi Shabeen Qazi of Seattle psych rock outfit Rose Windows, and heck, speaking of guests, even the guy from Built To Spill plays guitar! But don't get to freaked out, the sound is most definitely very Earth-like, and if anything it's a lot heavier than the last few records, it's still all twang flecked and glacial, a woozy, loping sprawl equal parts SUNNO))) and Morricone, and this time around, it actually sounds like the went all the way back to their 1996 Pentastar record for some inspiration, the opener, is dense, and heavy as fuck, with a killer main riff, not to mention lots of extra guitars keening and winding their way around the proceedings, the drums more of a minimal pulse, but the sky full of swirling guitars, sheets of feedback, down tuned chugs, it's fierce and fucking fantastic, and we'd have been happy if that was the only song and it just stretched out forEVER. So let's get to the vocals by starting with the fact, that we'd be hard pressed to find someone who didn't think Lanegan has a killer voice. Sure some of his record have been a bit blah, but his voice is fantastic, weathered and worn, raspy and emotional, expressive and passionate, his low rumbling croon easily swooping into a wail, and really, it's not hard to imagine why Earth chose him, his voice is perfect for Earth's slow burn dirge metal blooze, and like the first track, the sound is massive, lots of feedback, and tangled melodies, a plodding behemoth of a rhythm, and Lanegan's voice, which transforms it into the heaviest Screaming Trees song that never was, which is absolutely a good thing. The there's Rabi Shabeen Qazi, who sings on "From The Zodiacal Light", the track that had been making the rounds before the record's release, and it's gorgeous, languorous, smoldering and sultry, twangy, bloozey, a little dirge, dusky, dusty, and Qazi' vocals work perfectly, he voice smokey and sultry, and powerful, sounding a times a little like Perry Farrell too which is strange, but makes sense, that timbre of voice paired with heaving heaviness, at times we expected thing to explode into "The Mountain Sound", but instead, the track unwinds gradually, a heady, heavy, psychedelic slow burn that really, it's tough to find anything not to like about it. Lanegan returns again closer "Rocks Across The Gate", and more than the other track, this almost sounds like a jam from one of Lanegan's solo records, albeit a bit heavier, and again, it works, perfectly. Wouldn't be surprised if he joined Earth on a semi-permanent basis, we sure wouldn't complain, that's for sure. Either way, musically, it's more of the Earth we love, a bit heavier, but essentially, more blown out twang flecked metal blooze, the vocals add a whole 'nother dimension, that we are digging a LOT.The lp version includes a bonus track not on the cd, which is a sort of sonic bookend to the opener, another slow-blooze heavy psych crawl, this time with some extra fuzz and FX, but a pretty perfect finish for sure...
MPEG Stream: "Torn By the Fox Of The Crescent Moon"
MPEG Stream: "There Is A Serpent Coming"
MPEG Stream: "From The Zodiacal Light"
ELECTRIC WURMS Musik Die Schwer Zu Twerk (Warner Bros) lp 29.00
Musik Die Schwer Zu Twerk was initially described to us as a solo record from Steven Drozd of the Flaming Lips, which we were EXTREMELY excited about, cuz as followers of the Flaming Lips and longtime fans, even though frontman Wayne Coyne is himself some sort of twisted genius, we all know/knew it was Drozd that was the group's secret weapon, a musical polymath who could play pretty much anything, and live is always constantly flitting from drums to keyboards to guitar and back again. We even saw one amazing show where Drozd filmed himself playing drums in his living room. Just in shorts and a T-shirt, and even with a couple breaks to get up and get a drink, readjust the drums, etc. and then somehow, the band played to that projection perfectly in sync, even with the weird stops and asides, and it was fun and funny and sort of mind-blowing.So when we heard about Drozd's new band Electric Wurms, we were pretty psyched, and we still are, but it seems that the Wurms is in fact, essentially just another Flaming Lips record in all but name, Coyne's on board, as are a bunch of other folks, Coyne and Drozd and crew wrote the record, so while it might not have been the fucked up mind bending Drozd solo record some of us were hoping for, it is still pretty great, and essentially plays like a slightly weirder, proggier Lips record proper, which is most definitely not a bad thing. Tracks sprawl and drift, there are swaths of woozy vocodered vox over drifts of synthy shimmer, muted murky motorik rhythms, occasional squall of wild psychedelic freakout, a little bit of electronica woven throughout, with buried housey beats here and there, passages of jazzy skitter, bit bombastic drum pound, all wreathed in clouds of druggy atmosphere, heady and hypnotic, much of the record sort of blissed out, laid back and a little stoned sounding, but with the occasional moment of gloriously prismatic kosmiche, or wild tribal jamming that sounds a bit like aQ faves Goat, and some sound just like dreamy, soft focus, dreamily psychedelic Flaming Lips balladry. It's all pretty great, and Lips fans will dig it a bunch, easily as much as the last Lips record proper, but it does have us wondering just what it is that makes this an Electric Wurms record and not just a Flaming Lips record. But really, it hardly matters...
MPEG Stream: "I Could Only See Clouds"
MPEG Stream: "Futuristic Hallucination"
MPEG Stream: "The Bat"
EXTNDDNTWRK Just Tracks (Fourth Dimension) 2cd 22.00
UK white boy hip hop duo Sleaford Mods were an unlikely hit around here. When we first read about them on the Norman Records website, proclaiming them as they favorite band of the year, we were totally skeptical, but we ordered a few anyway, and then quickly found ourselves becoming obsessed, and suddenly, we got it, and we agreed, and then a second record came out, and we dug that one just as much. What the hell? Who can explain stuff like that, but it did have the effect of making us curious about this, the first proper release from Extnddntwrk, which just so happens to be one of the guys from the Sleaford Mods, a collection of all the random home recorded electronic weirdness he'd put together over the last few years, and we have to say, it's pretty goddamn great.We were definitely expecting what would essentially amount to instrumental 'Mods backing tracks, and some sound like they could be just that, and you might find yourself imagining those guys rapping along, but really, this stuff is pretty mesmerizing, and hypnotic, just check out the first track "Care Less", a low slung looped groover, that's plenty dark, a little moody and minimal, in a way it sounds like a more electro Boards Of Canada, but a bit darker and more skeletal, and that actually does describe a bunch of these tracks, but since it's a collection of odds and sods, it is a bit all over the map. "Dirty Soup" is a weird gloomy creep, pocked with synth blurt and distorted guitar chug, but still driven by a primitive Casio style beat. "Foul Play" is definitely one of those tracks that sounds destined to be a Sleaford Mods track proper, but then it butts up right against "Crystal Ball", which is spare and weirdly lovely, all shimmery melodies and pizzicato string plucks, melancholy and moody. And so it goes, from sort of calypso exotica, to Meat Beat Manifesto style industrial electro, to crackly, murky slow-soul groove, to cool start/stop stuttery avant soul weirdness, to what sounds amazingly like skweee. There's also an unlisted 18 minute secret track at the end of disc 1, that is essentially a wild plunderphonic free-for-all that sounds like some mad scientist flipping from channel to channel, but it's pretty fun. The second disc is more of the same, with the exception of a killer/weirdo cover of Big Black's "Bad Penny", which slows it down, recasts it as a sort of woozy, synth dirge, the sounds heavily panned, swooping from speaker to speaker, this one with vocals, a whispery croon, way up on the mic, as if he was whispering ominously right in your ear, occasionally becoming weirdly vocodered, it all makes for a pretty awesome, and awesomely creepy version of an already extremely creepy classic.
MPEG Stream: "Care Less"
MPEG Stream: "Dirty Soup"
MPEG Stream: "Foul Play"
MPEG Stream: "Bad Penny"
GRIM Psycho Sun (Steinklang) cd 17.98
Not all that long ago, we got in what we thought could have been a new Grim album. That being the very unlovely Love Song album on the Japanese imprint Art Into Life, released in 2013. There was no information about when it may have been recorded; but the industrial nihilism for iron-fisted rhythms, eye-gouging noise, and those strangely saccharine organ drones which comprised the Grim aesthetic of the early '80s was wholly intact. It very well could have been that Love Song was a lost recording from back in the day, never released until Art Into Life dug them up. Regardless, we can safely report that Psycho Sun is in fact a new recording from Grim - the first since the mid-'80s (well, all of this is according to Steinklang Industries). Grim is the nom de guerre for Jun Konagaya, an obscure pioneer of Japanese industrial music whose aesthetic slips outside the histories of Keiji Haino, Merzbow, Hanatarash / Boredoms, Incapacitants, etc. He began in late '70s as part of the equally volatile and even more obscure White Hospital (with Tomo Kuwahara later of Vasilisk), where the torturousness of Grim had incubated within a feral noise-junk crucible. Both in White Hospital and in the early incarnations of Grim, Konagaya would juxtapose these strangely ethereal, almost celebratory organ tunes with teeth-clenching pummel of metal-on-metal overdrive with throat-ripped vocalizations. This also defines what he's doing in the modern-day Grim, with a few minor tweaks - the organ tunes are augmented by detuned radiowaves bent through the electrically irradiated landscape of urban Japan, the metal bashing finds chunks of guitar noise to wrestle with at center stage, and the vocal range has deepened slightly. Despite these augmentations, Grim remains an uncompromisingly perverse project of brutality, violence, and nihilism.
MPEG Stream: "Nomad"
MPEG Stream: "Shelter Song"
MPEG Stream: "Radio Wave Church"
GROSSKOPF, HARALD Oceanheart (Bureau) lp 24.00
We reviewed Harald Grosskopf's effervescent 1980 solo debut, Synthesist, a few lists back, an album inspired by LSD and heartbreak in equal measure. Along with that new reissue, Bureau B has also reissued Grosskopf's follow-up from six years later, Oceanheart, with a remastered sound and new cover art and it's equally effervescent if slightly more tranquil than its predecessor.Is there a more new-ageish title than Oceanheart? The change in cover art too had us scrambling to Google to see what the original cover looked like, and there it was in all of it's new age glory, a softly painted ocean vista as viewed from behind a strange rock wall, not bad really. But then that FONT! Not even a good terrible eighties font, but that more pretentious bookstore font that was so overused in the later eighties. Ugh! Glad they changed the cover.The thing is Oceanheart is not really that new agey. Apart from the title song that is the only true ambient track, most of Oceanheart is very percussive and propulsive, apt for someone who began his career as one of Krautrock's foremost percussionists. Most of the tracks carry a minimal driving uptempo rhythms that suggest a flowing stasis with built-up melodic nuances. Even when the tracks slow down to mid or even no tempo, there is still a strong Teutonic vibe that reminds us of a more ambient Kraftwerk, or more rhythmic Manuel Gottsching. In fact it's VERY reminiscent of Gottsching's New Age of Earth, and as that is one of our favorite ambient kraut records ever, that is not a bad thing whatsoever!
MPEG Stream: "Minimal Boogie"
MPEG Stream: "Pondicherry Dream"
MPEG Stream: "Oceanheart"
HAFLER TRIO, THE Cleave: 9 Great Openings (Nextera) cd 15.98
Once again The Hafler Trio has all but disappeared from the public eye, with the principal architect Andrew McKenzie choosing a very limited audience in Estonia for his 'sessions' interweaving psychotherapy, sound design, and sleights of hand (amongst other ideas). There have been no recorded works released since 2006, and much of the back catalog is slowly disappearing. Cleave: 9 Great Openings may be one of the last available documents we will offer from The Hafler Trio's inscrutible catalog of gnostic-minimalism, conscious-jamming conceptualizations, and psychoacoustic strategies. This album is the first part of a trilogy of works that McKenzie released during a flurry of activity at the beginning of the millenium. The source material for this album (and perhaps the other two entries in the trilogy) was a gift that McKenzie composed for a friend's wedding ceremony in Nepal. The album is a very slowly paced piece of minimalism paralleling the work of Niblock and Radigue, with a thoughtfully composed set of harmonic intervals that spiral in slow-motion through phasing patterns eventually culminating in a rasping crescendo of sawtooth drones that flutters down to a meditative calm. Ever changing yet wholly hypnotic, Cleave is a masterful album of holy minimalism filtered through the mysteries of the ancients onto a concise 60 minute album. Lovely. As with all Hafler Trio albums, by decree of the man/band, there shall be no sound samples.
HEAD BOGGLE Serge Modular In Hi-Fi (Experimedia) lp 21.00
Derek Gedalecia is a man who gets around. The Bay Area synthwrangler has largely been releasing Head Boggle tapes on pretty much every cassette imprint under the sun (NNA Tapes, Fag Tapes, Rainbow Bridge, Tusco/Embassy, and his own Greedmink imprint amongst some two or three dozen others); and his two slabs of vinyl have come via pretty fucking high-profile venues. First up was his eponymous album back in 2012 via Spectrum Spools, and here's this album released through Experimedia. The titular instrument that Gedalecia used was found at the Electronic Music Lab at SF City College. For those synth-nerds, this particular model was probably built by Serge Tcherepnin sometime in the late '70s. Tcherepnin had designed this modular synth as an inexpensive alternative to the rather pricey Buchla synth that had been developed also on the West Coast around the same time. The schematics for the original synth are available for those with a soldering iron and considerable patience to build his or her own. With patchbay cables wildly pulled & plugged, knobs twiddled spasmodically, and oscillator switches toggled irregularly, Gedalecia creates a semi-improvisatory free-for-all feel akin to the pioneering work of Francoise Bayle or the polyglot analogue+digital systems of Keith Fullerton Whitman. Seeing him do this stuff live where he's bopping around and literally head-banging to step-sequenced tone bursts, you get the sense that he's having a blast doing this stuff. What separates Gedalecia from every other dilettante with a synth fetish.
MPEG Stream: " '68 News"
MPEG Stream: "'78 District Party Committee"
HEAT Labyrinth (This Charming Man) cd 14.98
Named after Miami's basketball team, or perhaps not, this heavy band of psychedelic stoners hails from Berlin, Germany, and really rip it up here on this disc, brought to us by This Charming Man Records, who also first turned us on to aQ faves Kadavar. They are very '70s sounding, in the vein of Kadavar, yep, and Witchcraft, Graveyard, and the like. Hard rockin' stuff, with vaguely Ozzy-ish vox (but not as Ozzy-ish as some bands) wailing over twin guitar jamming, lotsa bellbottomed wakka-wakka-wah-wah action, and some Hammond organ too, Heat riffing away like it's still 1973, pretty darn kick ass really. They have a melodic side to 'em too, on moody but still energetic numbers like "The Golden Age", and deploy plenty of non-lame bluesiness as well (the band features ex-members of Samsara Blues Experiment, by the way). This sort of thing is of course the result of years of study of the masters: Sabbath, Zeppelin, Lizzy, early Scorps, Wishbone Ash, etc., but besides the worship and woodshedding, you've gotta have an authentic spark, and Heat sound like they have it for real.Heat will surely warm the hesher hearts of all who've been digging the recent likes of Spiral Shades, Electric Citizen, Ovvl, Sons Of Huns, Carousel, Admiral Sir Cloudsley Shovell... man we're living in a real heavy retro rock renaissance these days!!
MPEG Stream: "Siamese Smile"
MPEG Stream: "The Golden Age"
MPEG Stream: "Barbarossa"
HENRIKSEN, ARVE The Nature Of Connections (Rune Grammofon) cd 17.98
Latest on Rune Grammofon from Supersilent's trumpeter Arve Henriksen. Here Henriksen eschews the glitch and electronics, these tracks purely acoustic and untreated as far as we can tell, but still beautifully layered with sweet sounds from Arve's instrumental ensemble - in addition to his own breathy trumpet playing, and piano, there's violin, hardanger fiddle and viola d'amore from Nils Okland, cello played by Svante Henryson, double bass by Mats Eilertsen, subtle drumming from Audun Kleive, and more violin and hardanger fiddle courtesy of Gjermund Larsen. Together, this group creates some quietly melodic, rather melancholic, slow-moving chamber music, the aural equivalent of watching drops of water slowly streaking down a windowpane on a rainy day, as tree branches gently sway in the wind outside, against the whiteness of the overcast sky beyond. It seems very Scandinavian, indeed, and aligned with classic ECM "jazz" stylings. Loveliness incarnate. Most of the tracks are calm and restful, though a few towards the end of the disc display some more active, uptempo inclinations. The perfect soundtrack to a sleepy Sunday sitting in the garden.
MPEG Stream: "Bla Veg"
MPEG Stream: "Hambopolskavalsen"
MPEG Stream: "Budbringeren"
HOLOVR Holo Earth (Opal Tapes) lp 26.00
In the past it's been quite difficult to get stuff on the Opal Tapes label, so we've been pretty excited to get our hands on the last couple releases. The first, reviewed on last week's list, was the latest from Siobhan (we have a few copies left, just ask) and now this, the previously unknown to us Holovr, aka Jimmy Billingham, whose sound is appropriately murky and moody, some strange hybrid of the Caretaker and Boards Of Canada, all grey and hazy, gauzy and washed out, evoking a moodiness similar to BoC, but instead of pastoral and sun dappled, here it's damp and overcast, cloudy and full of shadows, the sound itself, a bleak skitterscape, shot through with burnished guitar skree, in wiry tangles beneath the surface, while over the top, strange kosmische synths drift in and out, the sound seemingly enveloped in blurred billows of hiss and haze, even at it's most propulsive and beat driven, the music is buried beneath a gauze of low fidelity thrum and sonic detritus, making for something ethereal and hauntological. Throughout the record, mysterious voices surface, sampled vocals weave in and out, the beats fragment and grow more jagged and distorted, before slipping back into some sort of somnambulant house music, before once again blossoming into prismatic ambient bliss out, the beats routinely wreathed in a backdrop remains of swirlingly serene, mesmeric and dreamlike, lo-fi bleary eared drift.
MPEG Stream: "Out Land"
MPEG Stream: "Bubble Glade"
MPEG Stream: "Native Iron"
HOWLING WIND, THE Of Babalon (Sylvan Screams Analog) cassette 5.00
The Howling Wind is the duo of Tim Call and Ryan Lipynsky, whose combined black metal CV is kinda ridiculous/amazing: Aldebaran, Serpentine Path, Saturnalia Temple, Villains Mournful Congregation, Hail, Thralldom, Unearthly Trance and loads more. Needless to say, these two make a potent pairing, and this one is a cassette version of their 2012 release Of Babalon (there's a new one one since called Vortex), which sounds a bit like you might imagine from the above list, sure there's dense, buzzing furious blackness, but there's also churning, downtuned doomi-ic sludge, most of the tracks are laced with psychedelic leads, or wild metal shredding, and the sound itself, while plenty grim, offurs much in the way of ambience and atmosphere, with even the blurriest of blasts infused with plenty of haunting moodiness, and the guitars layered into epic swaths of sonic fury, soaring majestically, and becoming almost psychedelic at times. There's also a seriously proggy vibe as well, the tracks lurching from tangled chaos to looped harmonic wooziness and back again. Definitely a good balance between classic black metal and the new wave of modern avant/post USBM, and some of the tracks definitely remind us of other likeminded outfits, like Yellow Eyes or Ash Borer or Krallice (Colin Marston from Krallice did produce this record after all), one even reminds of Norwegian BM groovers Khold! But Howling Wind situate themselves somewhere closer to the classic sound of orthodox black metal, albeit, reworked for the modern age...
MPEG Stream: "The Seal Upon The Tomb"
MPEG Stream: "Beast Of The Sea"
MPEG Stream: "Graal"
JUTE GYTE Ressentiment (Jeshimoth Entertainment) cd-r 6.98
The latest from microtonal black metal master Jute Gyte, aka Adam Kalmbach, the third and final installment of a trilogy, but fear not, even if you missed the first two, you won't be too lost. But you will be sort of confused, cuz by it's very nature, the music of Jute Gyte is pretty dizzyingly demented, most folks likely don't have much experience with microtonal tuning, it's certainly rarely (read NEVER) used in popular music, and hell, even Unpopular music like black metal, but just give a listen to the first track below, and you'll understand why. Why most folks don't use it, and why Jute Gyte DOES. It's maddeningly off kilter, to untrained ears (and likely some trained ones too), it sounds out of tune, or more accurately, like it's constantly changing tuning, the first flurry finds the band seemingly slowing down, when in reality, the pitch/melody are in flux, making the whole thing sound like it's melting, it's woozy and warped and seriously WTF, but in a way, the microtonality reminds us of drum and dulcimer weirdos Botanist, who also use a tuning system well beyond the usual guitar and bass. It's even more notable during the less heavy parts, where it really sounds angular and atonal and totally UN-tuned, the whole thing a dizzying concoction of tangled melodies and impossibly obtuse harmonies. Eye watering, ear boggling, next level avant blackness for sure.It definitely takes some getting used to, but for folks into damaged outsider heaviness, this will totally push all your WTF buttons. Otherwise, JG deliver some seriously orthodox black buzz, it's just that the black buzz here is so bizarrely tuned it sometimes makes stuff like Deathspell Omega and Blut Aus Nord sound like AC/DC. That said, Jute Gyte still deliver some of the fiercest fucking black buzz we've heard, due in no small part to the strange overtones, furious squalls of dizzying insectoid buzz and relentless blast beats, which only make it that more dramatic when it devolves into some loped, lurching, WTF wooziness.Heavy and damaged, tripped out, fucked up, psychedelic and extremely experimental black metal that will likely have you scratching your head while banging it like crazy. Awesome!Housed in a dvd style case, with full color artwork and a printed insert/lyric sheet.
MPEG Stream: "Mansions Of Fear, Mansions Of Pain"
MPEG Stream: "Oh Soft Embalmer Of The Still Midnight"
MPEG Stream: "The Central Fires Of Secret Memory"
KAISER, JIM Swept Through & Nullified (Petit Mal) 3"cd-r 5.98
A bicycle wheel, a bow, a couple of radios, and a few open reel tape decks - that's all East Bay avant-noise artist Jim Kaiser brought with him during a tour of Eastern Europe in 2013, and even the bicycle wheels he managed to borrow in Prague and Berlin. Yet, his practice through these reductive tools dials in the juxtaposition of those various objects to craft one of the more unique aesthetics from the Bay Area's vibrant communities of sub-underground musicians. Informed by the instrumentation of industrial texture and acoustic noise a la David Jackman / Organum as well as the cassette murk of the Joseph Hammer liaisons within the Los Angeles Free Music Society, Kaiser's work explores a psychic sewer system of lost transmissions echoing through the damp, concrete architecture. Dank drones of bowed metals leak through super-fucking wet reverb units, with field recordings of wind-swept noise and garbled conversation that sound as if they were being echoed through a network of drainage pipes obfuscating everything except for the murmuring patter of a female human voice. At the conclusion of this 20 minute piece, Kaiser bloodies his knuckles on a somewhat restrained smashjob of fist-to-glass-to-contact-microphone. It's restrained in comparison to the chaotic torrents of Einsturzende Neubauten or Justice Yeldham. Still, Kaiser's cracked glass ramps up to a suitable abrasive conclusion after which the power is suitably cut. Exit stage left. Limited to just 35 copies.
MPEG Stream: "Swept Through & Nullified"
LES AMBASSADEURS DU MOTEL DE BAMAKO s/t (Sterns Music) 2cd 21.00
Long overdue reissue from this seventies African supergroup, which included legendary vocalist Salif Keita as well as Amadou Bagayoko (now one half of Amadou & Mariam) along with a handful of other notable musicians, all of whom were gathered together by an ambitious army lieutenant in 1969 who decided he needed a top notch band to entertain visitors and VIPs at his favorite hangout, the Motel De Bamako of the title. He of course needed a band as good as the other other popular band at the time, the Rail Band De Bamako, who already performed at another hotel near the train station! Les Ambassadeurs coup was luring Keita away from the Rail band, making Les Ambassadeurs THEE preeminent Malian band of the time, with a slew of hits, big tours, and even a handful of international performances!Beyond the back story, and the dramatic rivalries, the music itself is fantastic, a mix of traditional African music, jazz, R&B even some Latin American sounds found there way into Les Ambassadeurs music (and much of the African music of the time), and while the vibe is very traditionally highlife, an amazing horn section, lush guitar jangle, soaring emotive vocals, it's also kind of psychedelic, with some seriously distorted lead guitars, and plenty of wild xylophone, everything lush and layered, warm and softly distorted, rhythmic and funky, the songs effusive and bursting with energy, often slipping into groovy psych jams, before slipping right back into something a bit more traditional. According to the notes, the visiting VIP's and tourists would also bring some of their favorite records for the band, which they would dutifully learn in the afternoon, practicing for a few hours, before playing those songs the very same evening!The disc is housed in a full color slip cover, and includes a big booklet with liner notes, rare photos and reproductions of the group's various record covers.
MPEG Stream: "Bolola Sanou"
MPEG Stream: "Nagana"
MPEG Stream: "Saranfing"
LORDS OF BUKKAKE Desagravio (Total Rust) cd 11.98
These Spanish masters of monumental ultra doom stoner sludge return, with four new tracks. And as we mentioned last time, don't confuse these guys with the Master Musicians Of Bukkake, while both take their name from a somewhat problematical source (Google it - or maybe don't), the Lords are a much heavier proposition, as becomes pretty obvious a few minutes into the first track. Although they do start out with a wild tangle of chaotic psychedelic noisemaking, a squall of swirling skree, all set to some monster drumming, but soon, the song proper kicks in, and the band lock into some groovy stoner metal, all slithery riffage, and propulsive drumming, but this is not just rehashed riffage, the band whip out some wild squiggle guitar harmonies, and the vocals, not at all what you might expect, a sort of super processed, demonic, underwater shriek/gargle, totally changes the tone of the band, especially when they kick out some stonery wah wah guitar shred, but then it's wrapped around those crazed vokills, a dizzying mix for sure. And those guitars, that's really what halls make this something else entirely, when the guitars go careening off course, and instead of churning away, the riff splinters, leaving will blasts of psychedelic freakout, or groovy shred, or just tripped out noisiness, always to eventually somehow return to the roiling riffiness. The songs are long too, so they go through all sorts of transformations/permutations, from doomy creeps and crawls, to psychedelic blooze blowouts, super stretched out slo-mo ultradooooooom to Sabbathy swing, all pocked with spacey FX, wild guitar aktion and more of those twisted alien vox. Killer!
MPEG Stream: "Boca Acida"
MPEG Stream: "Hereditaria"
LUSSURIA Industriale Illuminato (Hospital Productions) lp 26.00
First album proper from this shadowy purveyor of hauntological industrial ambience, after a handful of releases which were more like singles collections. Industriale Illuminato functions as a continuous songsuite, one that plays out like the soundtrack to some eerily romantic art film, or the score to a trip down the rabbit hole, or more accurately, some strange miix of the two. A mix of electronic and organic instruments, the sound lush, and cinematic, but also murky and mysterious, strange voices are looped into hiccuping rhythms, other voices seem to decay and crumble into the ether, while thick waves of rumbling thrum ebb and flow, synths swirl, clouds of cymbal shimmer sizzle and dissipate, clouds of blurred ambience drift lazily over a bleary, washed out landscape of bleak atmospheric sprawl. Beats surface throughout, conjuring a vibe similar to Boards Of Canada, but cast with a deathly pallor, the sounds and the beats more rough edged, the sounds oozing and bleeding, the needle pegged, and that in-the-red grit a part of the atmosphere. The vibe shifts constantly throughout, from churning industrial techno gloom, to creeping soundtrack shimmer, to straight up cinematic ambience, replete with what sound like field recordings (or clips from whatever imaginary movie it's from), while other tracks are tangled stretches of mangled beats, that seem to roil restlessly, as if trying to desperately untangle themselves. The majority of the record though is darkly serene, ominously tranquil, dreamlike bordering on nightmarish, rhythmic, and hypnotic, with some tracks slipping into downright beauty, albeit a sort of faded decaying beauty, a strangely lovely sinister sonic rot that seems to be slowly eating away at all of Industriale Illuminato, and transforming it into a fantastic collection of crumbling black hearted drone-gloom bliss.
MPEG Stream: "Boneblack"
MPEG Stream: "Petra Marina"
MPEG Stream: "Venus In Retrograde"
MPEG Stream: "Wind Carries Soot"
MIDDLEMARCH Wolf Hall (deluxe edition) (Time Released Sound) cd 60.00
Ahh, yes, it's time for another release from the Time Released Sound label (every couple of weeks, it would seem, is the timing of their releases). As usual, it's from an artist we've never heard of before; as usual, both the music and the packaging are utterly gorgeous. Especially, with regards to the packaging, when it comes to the limited "deluxe" edition - most things on TRS have both regular and deluxe versions, as followers of the aQ list know, and the deluxe is REALLY deluxe, essentially a one of a kind, original work of art - in this case, quite literally so, as each of the deluxe ones features a unique 8" x 10" mounted collage (in surreal Max Ernst style, made from Victorian era prints, images of birds and architecture, etc.) suitable for framing, though already set in a fold-out, stand up sleeve. The deluxe discs with their collages are also packaged inside a hand assembled envelope made from antique wallpaper. It's pretty fancy & fantastic. However, the regular digipack editions look quite nice too, and are of course considerably cheaper...As for the music, well, Middlemarch are a quasi-ambient duo, consisting of Dimitris Avramidis on piano and Ross Baker on electronics. The piano provides the main, melodic content, while the electronics create an additionally atmospheric bed of shimmering hum and glitch, for the gentle piano notes to hover above, sometimes below. Soft focus, melodic piano motifs glide slowly, surely (or sometimes, spill like a babbling brook) over transparent, calming drones. It's very "organic" sounding, reflective of nature (indeed, some natural field recordings of bird calls and such are woven into the mix on at least one of the tracks, we hear distant church bells too). It could be good music we're sure for soothing a baby to sleep, but has enough rougher textures to keep our adult selves interested, too. If you've liked most other TRS releases, you'll like this too! Also would fit in with stuff on the Miasmah label, but without their usual darkness (though sometimes it does get dim). Dreamy.Standard edition limited to 150 copies, the deluxe limited to only 85!
MPEG Stream: "Wolf Hall track 1"
MPEG Stream: "Wolf Hall track 4"
MPEG Stream: "Wolf Hall track 8"
MIDNIGHT No Mercy For Mayhem (Hells Headbangers) 2cd 13.98
Odorously belched from the cesspit of Lucifer's most depraved sulphur kegger, Midnight have returned as subtly as a spiked fist in a circle pit to deliver only their second proper full length since first slithering forth from Cleveland's fetid devilwomb over a decade ago. Those most cult and initiated know what's on tap here: Only the filthiest blackened punk & roll clatter in the truest MotorVenom mold, vocalist Athenar's depraved howl literally sounding like Cronos reborn. The songs ranging from uptempo necksprainers to mid tempo plodding fist pumpers, but always fucking dirty, fucking rowdy, and above all really fucking catchy. In fact, that's the only real noticeable difference between No Mercy For Mayhem and these hooded menaces' previous output - the hooks. Every song is an instant sing-along speedball, chockfull of brainworm choruses and dangerously addictive riffs - it's basically impossible not to get caught up in all the sleazy fun. So no, this ain't no grand departure for Midnight, but who in the hell would want that?? No Mercy instead finds them refining their sound to the point of bloody leathered ecstasy. Obviously recommended for fans of the aforementioned Venom and Motorhead, but also newer upstart maniaxe like aQ faves Speedwolf. But don't think about it too much. Just turn the stereo on, turn your brain off, turn the cross upside down, etc etc. And then spend the next 36 minutes losing your mind. (Satanic side note: Include a bonus live disc for further aural devastation!)
MPEG Stream: "Evil Like A Knife"
MPEG Stream: "Prowling Leather"
MPEG Stream: "Degradation"
MONOLORD Empress Rising (Easyrider) 2lp 26.00
Now we finally have the vinyl version of this Sleep-y Swedish sludgefest to list, yay! here's what we said when we reviewed the cd of this a few months back:Hey, an awesome uber-heavy band from Sweden, what a surprise! Last list we had Salem's Pot, also now on the same label comes this album from psychedelic stoner sludge outfit Monolord. (As in, Lord of the Monolithic riffage!) What they do, and do well, are massive mesmeric doom jams, derived from the devolved DNA of old grandads Black Sabbath. While that's nothing we haven't heard before from the likes of OM and Electric Wizard, Nibiru and UFOmammut, Gonga and Sleep, we're still suckers for it - the blown out speaker-rumbling amplifier worship, the repetitive riffs, extended song structures, the mantric vocal chants (utilizing an echoing underwater-y sort of effect, much more stoned sounding that way). There's five long songs here, one of 'em an instrumental, the others featuring fantastical, occult lyrics fixated on death and ritual. It's OM/Sleep, perhaps, that these ceremonial riff/chant tracks remind us of most, not a bad thing at all. Recommended to all who like to be able to throw on a disc, crank the volume, and be helplessly, hypnotically buried beneath a slow moving, oozing mound of HEAVY.
MPEG Stream: "Empress Rising"
MPEG Stream: "Harbinger Of Death"
NEW PORNOGRAPHERS Brill Bruisers (Matador) 2lp 17.98
The first song on this new record from longtime aQ faves the New Pornographers is SO good. It's easily their best song since their breakout hit "Letter To An Occupant", it instantly evokes the classic Brill Building of the title, the powerhouse hit factory from the sixties, and positions the Pornographers as real Brill Bruisers, whipping up a track like the title track here effortlessly, lush, bombastic, almost symphonic, hooky as hell, with amazing vocals, melodies, plenty of ooohhh's and aahhhh's, even some synths, it's just shy of 3 minutes, but it really is one of those songs most pop bands spend their whole lives striving toward. When we first discovered the New Pornographers, they were a revelation, born of one of our favorite pop bands ever, Zumpano (c'mon Sub Pop, time's ripe for a Zumpano reissue!!!), The NP's took Zumpano's orchestral bombast and polished it up a bit, adding Neko Case to the equation and striking gold. Over the years, the NPs made their way squarely into the mainstream, and while we have always been tempted to write them off as mom rock or dad rock or NPR rock, every time we dig into a new record, we're reminded that these guys and gals are kind of pop geniuses. And this new one drives that point home big time. If you can make it past the opener, which to be honest, took us about 20 plays, there's lots more pop goodness to be found. The sound instantly recognizable as the New Pornographers, but with plenty of modern tweaks, more synths, a lush production, but ultimately, just some fantastic sounds, expertly crafted, music, vocals, sound, it's all wound into gorgeously hook heavy ebullient pop music, that sounds totally timeless, making the title even more appropriate. And while to varying degrees we love all the tracks here, other super favorites include "War On The East Coast", which is a bit darker and synthier, but with one of the records best, and most bombastic hooks, then there's "Backstairs" which almost sounds like some old Zumpano B-side, or "Fantasy Fools" which might have been our favorite track here if it weren't for that opener, heck, just get over whatever guilty pleasure / "these guys are all over NPR" reservations you might have, and dig into what might be one of the best pop records of the year. You won't be sorry. And please write a letter to Sub Pop and let's get this Zumpano reissue campaign going!!
MPEG Stream: "Brill Bruisers"
MPEG Stream: "Champions Of Red Wine"
MPEG Stream: "Fantasy Fools"
MPEG Stream: "War On The East Coast"
ONE OF YOU s/t (Little Axe) lp 16.98
Nico meets Jandek in these beautifully introspective proto-goth dirges by an anonymous woman from Czechoslovakia who moved to Canada and self-released these songs on a series of singles in the late seventies and early eighties. Music was her outlet to deal with the depression and alienation she felt living away from her home country, and these songs are almost laughably dour, though also quite lovably naive. Mostly performed with delicate Eastern-European tinged organ drones, she later recorded under the name, The Triffids (no connection to The Australian group), with an instrumental track that includes percussion and synth. Early demos are also included here, and display a slightly brighter air with acoustic guitar and reverbed vocals that will appeal to fans of Liz Harris (aka Grouper). Perhaps not a record for everyone, but those with unusual and eccentric tastes towards obscure but sincere outsiders will find a lot to love here!Comes with insert with lyric translations. Limited edition of 500.
MPEG Stream: "Life Is So Hard"
MPEG Stream: "Faded Flowers"
OOZE s/t (Total Rust) cd 11.98
Has there ever been a better name for a doom / sludge band? We think not. And with a name like that we were imagining some multiple o'd mega ultra doooooooooooom, but instead these Italians aren't as ooze-y as you might expect, in fact they traffic in something a bit groovier, their psychedelic slo-mo doom rife with, stonery, Sabbathy swing, right from the get go (after a little intro with silly Satanic samples over a field of feedback) the band launch into the first of many serious stoner rock jams, but fear not, there's plenty of sludginess and abject downtuned churn, and the vocals too, a harsh, Eyehategod style glass gargling bellow/shriek, the sound massive, the guitars thick, and practically oozing (yep!) crumbling distortion, and yeah, there are grooves all over the place, the band lumbering druggily between stonery riffage, and knuckle dragging dirgery and back again, with some tracks landing somewhere right in the middle, a few bordering on classic doom, others something all together more harsh and hateful. It's all heavy though, extremely heavy, blown out psychedelic stoner doom stomp of the highest order, druggy and dirgey and slithery and Satanic and while maybe a little too groovy for the grim, troo, ultra doooooooomlords out there, for everybody else, this is some seriously primo stoner-sludge psych-doom, and if you're anything like us, it's a sound you just can't get enough of...
MPEG Stream: "Thankless Life"
MPEG Stream: "Night Gastrix Reflux"
MPEG Stream: "Worthless"
ORDAINED FATE (AKA CRYPTIC AXE) Demo Anthology (Stormspell) cd 11.98
We haven't listed 'em all (yet), but here's one of the more outstanding recent entries in the Stormspell label's ongoing "Red White and Heavy" series of obscure '80s metal demo anthologies (previous faves of ours in the series include Max Plank, Aerian Rage, and Detest). Ordained Fate were an American band, from the Midwest (Wisconsin/Illinois), and this collects their early demo tape tracks, circa 1986-1990. Press play on track one and almost immediately you'll sit up and take notice, that singer has some pipes! Super high pitched screams, and guess what, the singer's a girl! Female-fronted underground '80s speed metal shreddery, kicking ass on so much of the female-fronted "occult rock" making the rounds today. Hell yeah! Whoops, sorry, we should say heck yeah. 'Cause Ordained Fate were in fact an anti-occult, CHRISTIAN metal band. ("Our vision is to be used by the Lord at His timing and in His will only, using the talents given by Him to glorify Him and sharing our hope to the unsaved, entertaining people as that is what the Lord has gifted us with.") Gifted and talented is right. Ordained Fate, or Cryptic Axe as they were originally known, back in the earliest of these demo days, were a powerful sounding band, both musically and in the sheer sincerity of their delivery. They MEAN it, when they sing it. One thing you can't knock Christian metal bands for, the best of 'em anyway. Their convictions make for some impassioned listening, that even the atheistically inclined can appreciate, we think.And, further setting Ordained Fate/Cryptic Axe apart, not only was their singer female, but also the guitarist and bassist, too! The only guy in the band the was drummer (married to the guitarist, by the way). How often do you hear a mostly all female Christian metal band? Probably not very often! More importantly, they're really good.The cd booklet includes rare photos and detailed liner notes - which explain, that, strangely enough, the band formed before the members became Christians, then one by one they found the Lord and turned into a Christian band.For fans of Powers Court (especially Powers Court!!), Sacred Warrior, Cirith Ungol, Manilla Road, and other arcane '80s acts both secular and saved...
MPEG Stream: "Minions Of The Adversary"
MPEG Stream: "Midnight Exodus"
MPEG Stream: "Sweet Dreams"
OUBA Freak Out Total (Out-Sider) lp 28.00
REISSUED ON VINYL! We reviewed this freaky, kitschy psychedelic artifact years ago when Gear Fab did a cd reissue, so here's the gist of that review:Ouba were a French-Canadian psychedelic rock band, who released the half-hour of music found here (basically one long track, split into two lp sides) back in 1968. This disc is definitely accurately titled - it's a freak out session for sure. Totally. Lots of drug-blasted chant and other vocal babble, funky organ jamming, fuzz guitar soloing, pounding percussion frenzies... freeform hippy energy music! But groovy, man, groovy. As the intensity of the jamming builds up, vocalist Tony Roman's soul singing experience weirdly comes to the fore, very strange indeed! Lots more interesting than the majority of the nondescript '60s garage/boogie rock Gear Fab usually dig up. Ouba has been compared by others to early Can, and we can actually see why! Far out. By the way, we're told that these guys had something to do with Jean Pierre Massiera's Les Maledictus Sound, another freaky Montreal psych ensemble we've discussed before.
MPEG Stream: " Premiere Partie"
OUR LOVE WILL DESTROY THE WORLD Hive Hum Golden Remorse (Don't Fuck With Magic) cd-r 14.98
After a brief spell of relative musical inactivity, or so it seemed, Mr. Campbell Kneale is back. Most recently with a solo cd-r we reviewed right here a few lists back (we still have a few copies just ask) and now with another new jam, this one from his alter ego Our Love Will Destroy The World, who dials back some of the sonic onslaught of his recent solo outing, and sculpts something much more hauntingly majestic and noisily raga-like, a deliriously Sunroof-like ur-drone, wavery and woozy, wreathed in dense sheets of undulating noise, and underpinned by an ominous, almost doom-like creep, loping and lumbering, the sound in constant flux, strangely melancholy, but dreamily sun-dappled, even when smothered by grinding static and heaving chordal thrum. Some of the buried melodies sound almost like wordless vox, giving it a strange, almost Amps For Christ like vibe, at times like some noise drenched alien sea shanty, and at others like a twisted remix of some lost Hermann Nitsch aktion. Headphones are most definitely required, and allow you to sink deep into Kneale's wildly psychedelic noise-world, which just might be the prettiest/best thing we've heard from him in a while. WAY recommended, for noise nerds, dronelords, and raga revellers alike!Super duper limited as always, we're maybe the only place in the US that's got 'em, and in the usual fancy Don't Fuck With Magic packaging, an oversized full color sleeve, adorned with original Kneale artwork.
MPEG Stream: "Hive Hum Golden Remorse"
PIG HEART TRANSPLANT For Mass Consumption (20 Buck Spin) cd 10.98
Latest slab of pummeling, punishing industrial power violence from this local one man band, who also just so happens to be 1/2 of another band we love, Iron Lung, but unlike Iron Lung, BHT, aka Jon Kortland, creates twisted blurts of caustic noise, grinding, distorted power electronics, and brutal metallic churn. This latest is split into 28 tracks, each 44 seconds long, each a sonic stunner, from skull cleaving blown out crush to sculpted static over stuttering jack hammer rhythms, it's a hard sound to swallow, difficult listening for sure, and it's likely most metalheads might find this a bit too brutal, and too abrasive, and probably not metal enough, which is saying a lot, but for folks into twisted avant noise, industrial and power electronics, outfits like Ramleh and Skullflower, Whitehouse and Swans, Brighter Death Now and Bastard Noise, PHT definitely fits somewhere amongst all their equally sonically twisted brethren! Some tracks are strangely atmospheric, others purely rhythmic, the sounds themselves blown out and in-the-red, plenty of sonic gristle, crumbling feedback, hiss and hum and skree and squalls of feedback, metallic clang and clatter, with sounds often exploding into wild gouts of white noise, but just as often evolving into murky pulsations. Heady, heavy and hypnotic, the vocals a wild bellow, the only really link to the group's punk/metal roots, otherwise, the sounds is more experimental, and avant, and even with the vocals, the vibe is more like some lost industrial outfit from the eighties or nineties. There are plenty of surprise too though, moments of unlikely melody and beauty ("1970"), gorgeous bits of grey ambient drift ("Scum"), and a bunch of tracks that almost play out more like some warped variant of minimal techno, all skeletal crunch, and stuttery throb, and yet, it all somehow works together as this bizarre, noise drenched hydra-headed, 28 part psychedelic, power electronic noise-crust epic. And it KILLS. Awesome orange and black minimal cover art too.
MPEG Stream: "Drug"
MPEG Stream: "Film"
MPEG Stream: "Gift"
MPEG Stream: "Dull"
MPEG Stream: "Copy"
MPEG Stream: "1970"
POTTER, COLIN & THE HAFLER TRIO A Pressed On Sandwich (Nextera) cd 19.98
FINAL COPIES!!! Warehouse find, just a small handfuls of this disc thought to be long out of print...Fucking brilliant. Yeah, you should expect that these two high caliber sound sculptors would manage something great; and they do not disappoint. As for the obligatory introductions, Colin Potter may be best known from his ongoing contributions to Nurse With Wound over the past two decades, but has been privy to some of the finest in British dronescaping thanks to his work in Ora and Monos. The Hafler Trio is the creation of Andrew McKenzie, a sound research project which has been investigating the impact of sound upon the body, mind, and spirit through the lens of a Byzantine gnosticism. A couple years back, Potter had the good fortune of witnessing the Hafler Trio's How To Slice A Loaf Of Bread performance in Preston, England in 2003; after the show, Potter and McKenzie struck up a conversation, whence McKenzie suggested that the two collaborate. Shortly thereafter, McKenzie sent Potter a collection of the source material from that very performance as the foundation for their collaboration. Potter stated his intentions clearly, that he wanted to preserve the shape of the material while pushing it into another space. It's an understatement to say that Potter merely achieved his intention; as A Pressed On Sandwich ranks as one of the best things that he's worked on, on par with his work with Steven Stapleton on the existential void of Nurse With Wound's Salt Marie Celeste. Yeah, it's that good! Of course, McKenzie ultimately stretched out his own material of monumental dronings over a whopping six discs on the twin set of triple cds also entitled How To Slice A Loaf Of Bread (all of which are long out of print); so Potter's redux is a bit easier to digest, but certainly no less an album! You'll encounter the drone supreme here on A Pressed On Sandwich with electrified tonal vibrations, undulating phase patterns, and oceanic gasps of sublime expanses. The album starts off with a very cold, shivering feel but eventually transitions into a dynamic interplay of tones that simultaneously capturing the solemnness of church organ droning (with all of the overtones of holy symbolism) and the unnerving purity of feedback (with all of the allusions of technology on the brink of collapse). We mentioned it before, and we'll mentioned it again: fucking brilliant.As with all Hafler Trio releases, sorry no sound samples...
QUIET EVENINGS Other Windows (Hooker Vision) cassette 8.98
Perhaps the most prolific couple in music today, Rachel and Grant Evans have been sprinting ever since 2014 began. Rachel, with her Motion Sickness Of Time Travel project, has recently completed the Ballade For A Moon monthly series; and Grant has kicked out a couple of fantastically guttural, scourge-noise albums (along with his curation of the occult-informed Vaald imprint); and here they've patched the cables from one side of their rural farmhouse to another to begin their pastoral dreamtime sessions for their Quiet Evenings duet. Other Windows is a beautifully bleary proposition layered from beds of kosmische ambient tones that suspend time at the crepuscular moment right after the sun fades in the evening while the sky traces with blazing colors and shadows pock the entire landscape. Layers of washed-out guitar from Grant (we're assuming) spills upon these electric drones, offering an eerie, Aeolian drift to the first side of the cassette. By the second side, Rachel (again, we're assuming) dials in a hypnotic synth-pattern of dark burbling tones through which the allusions to a stoned sunset collapse into comparatively tense, nocturnal coda with all of the right sci-fi filmscore references (e.g. Forbidden Planet, Solaris, The Fog, etc.). Super limited pressing on the Evans' impeccable Hooker Vision imprint.
MPEG Stream: "Beach Coil"
RANGER Shock Skull (Full Contact) 7" 8.98
You want a shock to your skull? You could slam your head into the wall, or hit it with a hammer... or, better yet (and more entertaining), just slap on this 7" by Finnish ragers RANGER, whose song "Shock Skull" is a ripping onslaught of underground thrash madness, in the style of '80s Slayer, Metallica and other masters of nasty speed metal Satan worship. Distorted guitars, pounding drums, shrieking vocals, widdly solos, yeeeaaaah!! It's a fine follow up to their Knights Of Darkness 12" from last year, again released on Ektro label's vinyl imprint Full Contact, so it's got the Circle seal of approval - though Ranger are as far as we know are a REAL metal band, not the more conceptual kind like the so many "NWOFHM" side projects of those Circle guys. The flipside, "Omen Of Doom", is another neckbreaker. All in all, seven inches of old school shreddin', slaying stuff with a ton of youthful energy to it. Limited to 1000 copies, colored vinyl (500 blue and 500 green, they're sealed so we aren't sure what each one we have is).
MPEG Stream: "Shock Skull"
SAMMATH Godless Arrogance (Sylvan Screams Analog) cassette 5.00
First we've heard from this Dutch combo, even though it's their FIFTH full length, and judging from this new one, man have we been missing out. The first minute is an impossibly furious and fierce, almost blacknoise blowout, a flurry of blast beats wrapped in sheets of blurred buzz that ends up sounding almost like wild, experimental blackened freenoise, eventually, the sound settles into something a bit more traditionally black metal, but only just, Sammath's black metal retains that unhinged, chaotic vibe throughout, with pretty much every note here wound up in dense, dizzying tangles of death tinged blackness, the sound vicious, raw, harsh, hellish and noisy, reminding us at times of Gorgoroth's Destroyer record, at least in terms of pushing the actual sonics about as far as they can go. Closer listening reveals much going on below the surface, a churning morass of raw black metal fused to almost psychedelic sounding blackness, the group deftly (and subtly) adding melancholic melodies and lush textures to what is otherwise a gloriously grim and sonically punishing onslaught, the tracks continuously exploding into epic majesty before (d)evolving into more frenzied avant black buzz. AWESOME!
MPEG Stream: "Shot In Mass"
MPEG Stream: "Fear Upon Them"
MPEG Stream: "Godless"
SERRATO, MARCO Seis Canciones Para Cuervo (Alone) cd 14.98
Solo album (and we mean SOLO), from the bassist for eccentric Spanish doomlords Orthodox. Avant-garde and experimental, this disc consists of improvised soundscapes of creaky string screech and droning, bowing rumble on acoustic double bass. It's all very dark and atmospheric, difficult listening at first, but then it gets kind of mesmeric, Serrato layering his bass textures into constructs of claustrophobic density. The penultimate track "Las Dos Caidas De Cuervo" adds horns and drums (all ALSO played by Serrato via the magic of overdubbing), for more of an overt free jazz (or "death jazz"?) approach. Comes with liner notes from Serrato, commenting on each track with regards to this album's overarching "story" (a mythic concept about an unborn crow...) was well as citing specific musical inspirations including raw early '90s black metal, Hindemith, Xenakis, Ligeti, Black Sabbath, and fellow improvising bassist Simon H. Fell.Orthodox fans looking for doom metal won't really find any here, not that it's not "doomy" in other ways. But if you like the more un-orthodox extremes of what Orthodox does, then check it out. By the way, Serrato also plays in the isolationist duo Jacob, whose disc on Utech we reviewed last year.
MPEG Stream: "Cuervo Devora Lo Ojos de Su Padre"
MPEG Stream: "Baila, Cuervo, Baila!"
MPEG Stream: "Las Dos Caidas de Cuervo"
SHIT & SHINE Powder Horn (Diagonal Records) 2lp 29.00
You could argue that EVERY record from these Texas via UK via Texas noise rock weirdos is sort of a 'dance' record. Every one rife with rhythms and grooves, hypnotic and repetitive, tranced out and yeah a little bit groovy. Although most of that was countered by blown out distorted bass buzz, squealing noise made by squeezing air from balloons, thick swaths of analog synth blurt, crushing down tuned bass buzz, multi drummers, bizarre and ultra creepy costumes, but really, at the core of $&$, was rhythm. And as the band has shed its revolving phalanx of multiple drummers, and slimmed down its ranks to what is essentially just one man, $&$ mastermind Craig Clouse, the sound has changed as well, with Clouse pushing the music of his previously bombastic noise rock juggernaut into something more electronic, the entity that is now Shit & Shine, instead of being some weirdo noise rockers, are in fact some twisted, avant, and yeah, still noisy and WTF version of electronic music, one that's not strictly electronic, just to muddy the waters just a little more. In fact, right from the get go, the sound is akin to the Butthole Surfers recording for Warp, or some extremely bastardized version of that new slo-mo soul sound. Opener "Hiss" sounds like Burila or How To Dress Well, but all drugged up and doused in FX, at least for a minute or two, then in comes some proper guitar some synths, and the 'band' sound like an actual band, a cleaner, more streamlined, more 'danceable' Buttholes perhaps, but in the history of $&$, it doesn't sound all that out of place, even though it is a lot different than most of what's come before. But we dig it, a noisy, rock groove, peppered with swirls of squelch and gristle, some buried progged out synths, FX that send sounds stuttering into cloud of dizzying psych, but al wedded to that unwavering groove. And that's just the beginning, with Clouse utilizing his kitchen sink approach, but in this case, the kitchen sink in question is a dirty rusty sink in an old abandoned meth lab on an empty lot somewhere in bumfuck Texas, but that only adds to the WTF of Clouse's 'electronica' and doesn't prevent him from conjuring up squelchy little bas driven synth heavy grooves like "You Can't", which sounds like some warped version of Neu!, or the ultra minimal glitchy electro skitter static of 'Pearl Drop", or the big bass, block rockin' "PG 13" that takes a super funky groove, adds some metallic vokill screech, some distort blasts of psych noise, all of which eventually devolves into a sort of eighties soundtrack groove. From there on out, there's the demented James Brown-ish "Blowhannon', which sounds like his back up band was either Earth Wind And Fire or Rusted Shut or BOTH. "Who's Your Waitress", is a shittier shinier take on FM radio yacht rock, a smooth groove, laced with just enough subtle WTF-ness to keep it confusional, "Value" is all big beat bombast, sounding like it could be some lost DHR b-side or another Meat Beat style cruncher. There's more of course, from low spun, creeps wrapped around rubbery bass billows, and dubbed out drum splatter, and some pounding 4 on the floor acid house, albeit equally acid fried, and wreathed in some creepy John Carpenter synthiness. And if you're lucky, and remain a cd person, the aluminum version has bonus tracks from the last $&$ 12", one a cool collaged rhythmic groove, replete with mangled vocal samples, skipping bass blurt, some gurgled cookie monster vox, even some guitar crunch, one is a full on disco blowout, albeit a bit distorted and twisted, and FX heavy, especially toward the end, where it seems to melt into a sort of Butthole Surfers megamix, and one is a murky skitter, that slowly builds to a sort of warbly dubbed out funk-murk electro dirge, that is about as danceable as it is weird. Which is 'very' on both counts.
MPEG Stream: "Hiss"
MPEG Stream: "You Can't"
MPEG Stream: "Pearl Drop"
MPEG Stream: "PG 13"
MPEG Stream: "Blowhannon"
SULTANS, THE More Houserockin' And Other Boogies (Ektro) cd 15.98
Jussi from Circle (how many of our reviews start with those 3 words?) is a big big fan of this band, a stripped down minimal blues boogie duo who also hail from Finland, and now have this compilation cd out on Jussi's Ektro label. One chord, two chords, three chords maybe, they do the most basic blues progressions over-and-over-and-over-again, it's super simple and super repetitive stuff, hypnotically head noddin' for sure, kind of lazy and laidback. They do sound a bit like Circle, if Circle were just guitar and drums and played the blues out on a backporch somewhere, drunk on moonshine, endlessly chooglin' away. A few tracks add a bass player, a few also have singing, but mostly this is all instrumental, just drummin' and strummin', primitive stompin' and geetar honkin', nothin' but. Real simple. Zen blues or something. It's so monomaniacal it almost gets ridiculous; we mean really, while we do like this, at the same time, it might be totally stupid. Or awesome. We can't even tell. But like we said, Jussi from Circle is a big fan. And there's 80 minutes of this stuff here, the disc is packed to the brim, 23 tracks in all, five of 'em previously unreleased, the others taken from 7"s and albums going back to 1995.
MPEG Stream: "Broken Amps Boogie"
MPEG Stream: "Doom Blues"
MPEG Stream: "Houserockin' (live)"
SURF NAZIS MUST DIE (JON MCCALLUM) OST (Strange Disc Records) lp 28.00
Most of us went to see Surf Nazis Must Die back in the day (the day being 1987) based entirely on the movie title, and the awesomely over the top poster which featured a a nazi with a machine gun in one hand, his other hand a metal claw, on a surfboard, pierced by a chainsaw, riding a wave, about to land on a terrified bikini clad beach bunny on another surfboard, the beaches burning in the background, with the legend: "The beaches have become battlefields... The waves are a warzone!"Who could resist? Certainly not us. Although it's been a while, but if memory serves, the plot was pretty goofy, like most Troma movies. An earthquake destroys the West coast, neo nazi surf punks battle for control of the beaches, but when a boy is killed, the boy's grandma breaks out of her nursing home for REVENGE! It got a rating of 1.5 stars on IMDB, and 1 star on Rotten Tomatoes, but we remember it being pretty funny. What we did NOT remember was the soundtrack, which has never been available until NOW. And you would think a Troma movie from the eighties would have an appropriately cheesy soundtrack, you might be surprised by John McCallum's score, which is very creepy and synthy, a little bit John Carpenter, a little bit Tangerine Dream, swirls of synth buzz, and moody minor key melodies, some squiggly FX. Lots of the tracks are tense and driving, that very classic 'chase scene' sound, with programmed drums, the vibe sort of soundtracky but new wavey, for sure Carpenter fans, and folks who've been digging this new renaissance of retro-synth music, will flip for sure, even without seeing the movie. And while that original poster was so cool, the new artwork is pretty bad ass, a huge chrome skull, floating in a blue sky over the Pacific Ocean, above two crossed surfboards (skull & crossboards?), with the legend: "Welcome To California"...LIMITED TO 800 COPIES, housed in nice thick jackets, with new liner notes from McCallum, the director, and various crew members. The new artwork was done by McCallum too!!
MPEG Stream: "Main Theme"
MPEG Stream: "Awaiting Death"
MPEG Stream: "Prepare To Battle"
TIETCHENS, ASMUS Sinkende Schwimmer (Barooni) cd 16.98
Asmus Tietchens albums are uniformly austere, and his collaborations with Thomas Koner are no exception. Those two pioneers of German sound-art have collaborated over the years under the banner of Kontakte Der Junglinge, whose title itself is an homage to Stockhausen, another German artist with a penchant for austerity matched only by his gravitas. Sinkende Schwimmer dates back to 1991 and marks the earliest collaboration between Tietchens and Koner, as the elder statesman processed and manipulated source material from the younger Koner. While the ghosts of a glacial ambience trace from Koner's source material (whatever they might have been), Sinkende Schwimmer is very much a Tietchens productions, described through his serialist actions for electronic mark-making and mathematical formalism collaged into an exacting piece of abstraction. Tietchens has long been an advocate of 'absolute music' implying that there are to be no external references interfering with the sounds themselves. Sinkende Schwimmer fights with this definition somewhat as the irregular pointillism, ring-modulated atonalities, and sterile grey drones deflect much of the signifiers; but the gasping shadows that haunt this album (perhaps thanks to Koner's presence) speak to a vacancy and an isolationism that hold a subtle poetry at the edges of these complex compositions. Limited quantities on this original pressing from back in the day!
MPEG Stream: "Arnheimer Recyclica"
MPEG Stream: "Folienschall"
MPEG Stream: "Speeclus 2"
TORTURE CORPSE Invocation of Niriti (Sanity Muffin) cassette 5.98
The return of this Dutch drone/dirge/doom weirdo, courtesy of local label Sanity Muffin (their second for the label), and yet another batch of gloriously grim atmospheres, psychedelic power electronics, and twisted avant industrial noise. Like the previous two, it's a dizzying din, with SUNNO))) like guitar heave wedded to garbled, demonic vokills, all wound around streaks of blown out feedback, coruscating guitar noise, and constantly shifting sheets of blurred noise, and somehow, amidst all that going on, some of the sounds seem to coalesce into some sort of rhythm, giving the sound the momentum of some sort of lumbering sonic behemoth. We're reminded a bit of Gnaw Their Tongues for sure, as well as Teeth Engraved With The Names Of The Dead (who turned us on to this guy in the first place), but Torture Corpse inhabit their own bleak corner of this harrowing sonic universe, the tracks peppered with all manner of strange sample voices, moaning, or chanting, crooning or mewling, all the while a black cauldron of sound roils and churns in the background, often oozing into one massive black hole swirl, but just as often, splintering into jagged shards of grey noise and clattery percussive splatter, and in both cases, the sounds are often processed into something else entirely, dense tangles of squelch and glitch, or stuttering fields of hiccupping static, and yet, those processed sounds are still set amidst haunting shimmers, and mesmerizingly psychedelic drones. Sans headphones, it can all sound like a wild, chaotic jumble, and it sort of is, but deep listening definitely reveals a sonic underworld of surprising complexity, a twisted landscape of sculpted white noise, of looped raga-like mesmer, of punishing, head cleaving skree, and of droned out industrial bliss, all woven into something sinister, blackened, brutal and beautiful.LIMITED TO 100 COPIES. Each one hand numbered in gold ink, the distressed black and white artwork also splattered with gold ink.
TUJURIKKUJA Om De Nimic (Computer Tapes) lathe cut 7" 9.98
Tujurikkuja is a meeting of San Francisco musical minds, namely Kit Clayton and Chris Dixon. It has been a very long time since we've heard anything from Clayton, the digital wunderkid who recorded a handful of deliriously glitched-out dub albums around the turn of the millennium and also ran the highly influential Orthlong Musork imprint which released work by Stephan Mathieu, Blectum From Blechdom, Akira Rabelais, AGF, Timeblind, and Gold Chains. While he hasn't released much of anything in the past six or seven years, he does perform here in the Bay Area mining the gaps of audiovisual errata as well as DJ-ing full-frontal techno sets. His partner in the Estonio-phonically named Tujurikkuja has recently been copping a dour drone-noise pose under the guise Earth Jerks, but he's long been a noisenik artrocker in Death Sentence Panda and Murder Murder. This one-sided lathe-cut 7" sports a spaced-out electro-drone mantra with Dixon churning through a shoegazing riff muffled through a mountain of cotton candy FX, and with Clayton delicately layering analogue (or seemingly analogue) electronic tones and drones throughout. Very lovely stuff; and we do hope to hear more from Tujurukkuja very soon. For those who care about such things, the lathe was cut at Funky Frankenstein the heart of middle Tennessee on a sheet of polycarbonate which shouldn't degrade or do any damage to the needle. Limited to 50 copies!
MPEG Stream: "Om De Nimic"
UNCLE ACID Runaway Girls (Rise Above) 7" 14.98
As we wait anxiously for a new full length from these aQ beloved psychedelic stoners (as well as their first ever SF show coming up soon!), for now we have one new track to tide us over. And fear not, it's a groovy good one. Nothing new really, but then we didn't actually want any sort of massive seismic sonic shift, we just wanted MORE, and that's just what you get. A new track called "Runaway Girls" that sounds like it could have been plucked right off of either of their albums proper, with a cool slithery riff, distorted wailing vocals, super melodic Sabbathy basslines, shambolic drumming, wild psychedelic leads and gorgeous guitar harmonies, the whole thing all warm and washed out and dreamily distorted, sounding like it could have been transported from some hard rocking alternate universe sixties, the song twisting and turning, from almost metallic riffing, to shimmery, melodic drift and back again.The flipside is an acoustic version of what might have been our favorite track from Mind Control, that record's closer "Devil's Work", here recast as something darkly dreamy, and hauntingly folky, the track still fantastic, but more hushed and moody, like some lost Wicker Man track, or some deep cut by an ultra obscure seventies British acid folk combo. Cool!SUPER DUPER LIMITED!! The batch we got is on blue vinyl, but hard to say if we'll be able to get more when we run out, and what color the next batch will be. And oh yeah, it's a pretty pricey import!
MPEG Stream: "Runaway Girls"
MPEG Stream: "Devil's Work (acoustic)"
V/A Pulsating Strings: A Collection of Psychedlic Asian Guitar Music (Sanity Muffin) cassette 5.98
The Sanity Muffin cassette label just keeps bringing out the gems. This one is a fantastic mix of obscure psych guitar gems from Asia from the '60s and '70s. From cinematic Spaghetti Western-ish sojourns to go-go pop, electric guitar weirdness, pastoral exoticism and funky eastern soul. Like the Teenage Dance Music from China, Indonesian guitar, Shadow Music of Thailand and Cambodian Rock comps, this is an incredible mix of little heard guitar driven music coming out of various Asian countries. Here are the groups included: The Red Stars, Cousen Brothers, M. Shariff and The Zurah, Salim I., The Caterpillars, Adnan Othman & The Wanderers, The Tones, The Steps, Jong-Yee Sho, The Hawks, M. Johari & Quandos, TLA Production Group, Mei Fong W/ Tony & The Polar Bear Five, Charlie and The White Cloud Orchestra, Group 123, and Apollo Band.Super limited to 100 copies! Get it while you can!
V/A Spiritual Jazz 5: Esoteric, Modal And Deep Jazz From Around The World 1961-1979 (Jazzman) 2lp 28.00
Another amazing installment of the Spiritual Jazz series, and after volumes focusing on America, and Europe, and Americans in Europe, this time the series broadens its focus to the rest of the world. No small feat there, since the idioms of how jazz became defined in America and in Europe developed from a multiplicity of cultural musical traditions around the globe. But this volume is not about the ethnic origins of jazz, but how the popularity of jazz reflectively spread its influences back into the ethnic communities from which they originated. Largely culled from major label recordings as well as obscure private releases, this volume travels from remote Africa to Great Britain, Argentina to the Caribbean, and across Russia through Asia to deliver an incredible account of how music gets transformed through regional influences and nuances.Includes tracks by: Charlie Munro Quartet, Paul Winter Sextet, Fitz Gore, Ahmadu Jarr, Eric Nomvete's Big Five, The Braz Gonsalves 7, Tete Mbambisa, Aquila, The London Experimental Jazz Quartet, Hideo Shiraki, Chivo Borraro, Jazz Semai, Jazz Work Shop, Virgilio Armas Y Su Cuarteto, Louiz Banks, Oladepo Ogomodede, and Jorge Lopez Ruiz.Every volume has been spectacularly great, and this one is a fine place to start if you haven't heard the others.
MPEG Stream: AHMADU JARR "Kathung Gbeng"
MPEG Stream: THE BRAZ GONSALVES 7 "Raga Rock"
MPEG Stream: FITZ GORE "Gisela (Lion Rock)"
MPEG Stream: THE LONDON EXPERIMENTAL JAZZ QUARTET "Destroy The Nihilist Picnic"
WHETHAM, SIMON Hydrostatic (Auf Aubwegen) cd 16.98
The globe-trotting British sound artist Simon Whetham found himself in Shreveport, Louisiana in 2011 where he was commissioned to develop a body of work based on the defunct MacNeill Street Pumping Station. This artifact of the 19th Century was the last known steampowered water plant in the United States and has been a historical site for several decades now. He was one of many acclaimed artists asked to contribute to the seemingly inactive MacNeill Street Pumping Station New Music Festival, alongside Tim Hecker, Lawrence English, Mark Fell, Eli Kezler, and about a dozen other denizens of avant-garde soundcraft. It was a great idea to have all of these artists develop compositions, installations, and performances within such an interesting space; and we can hope that the festival is merely on temporary hiatus. Needless to say, here we have the stereo mix of Whetham's multichannel installation that he presented at the festival. His source material consists of drones from the huge metal pools and the network of pipes from that space, focusing mostly on the resonant frequencies of the ghostly drones and watery tones. Overlapping, sinewy electric vibrations tumble into a pool of isolationist dank at the beginning of the album before a reverberant flute utters a solitary bellow amidst the metallic klang reverb articulating two of the techniques of Whetham's sound-hunting - that of the contact microphone on sonorous objects and the open-air recordings of those reflective surfaces. Deep, low-end rattlings gird the bulk of Hydrotasic with wind-swept thrumming, agitated found objects, and plenty of nocturnal clutter being moved around by the ghosts that lurk in the sticky humidity of a Louisiana swamp, or at least that's what it sounds like. Brilliantly akin to the processed field recording work of Jonathan Coleclough, Thomas Koner, and BJ Nilsen.
MPEG Stream: "Hydrostatic 1"
MPEG Stream: "Hydrostatic 2"
WHITE MANNA Come Down Safari (Captcha) cd 11.98
Originally released as a Record Store Day picture disc on local label Valley King, the fine folks at Captcha have now made this available on cd, the latest record from stoner psych space rock visionaries White Manna, and like the two Holy Mountain records that came before, Come Down Safari, is another gloriously tripped out sonic sprawl, all hazy, buzzy throb and tranced out heart-of-the-sun mesmer, looooong tracks that seem to unfurl endlessly, the drums and bass weaving lush languorous backgrounds, that seem to pulse and ooze, over which the guitars soar and howl, melodic streaks blurred into heaving washes of chordal shimmer, riffs stretched out into druggy sonic mantras, the sound slipping effortlessly from churning psychedelic heaviness, to soporific, dream-drone drift, WM channeling the sound of their psychedelic forefathers, into heady, abstract sonic rituals, that manage to take the sound of classic early space rock and fuse it to a more modern take on retro psych. Fans of the usual suspects (the Heads, White Hills, Mammatus, Carlton Melton, etc.) should already be WAY into these guys, and if they're not, this should fix that pretty quick. And speaking of Carlton Melton, check out the photo inside the digipak, of Andy from CM hanging out with White Manna in a squat in Europe...
MPEG Stream: "Deathless Guru"
MPEG Stream: "Hassan"
MPEG Stream: "The Sound Of One Hand Clapping"