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Records of the Week
LORELLE MEETS THE OBSOLETE Corruptible Faces (Captcha) cd 11.98
We already loved this Mexican duo based entirely on the name, even more so when we discovered that it wasn't just a band name. Lorelle sings, plays guitar, bass and organ. The Obsolete plays drums, percussion, bass, Casiotone, organ, synth, piano guitar and also sings. Not sure if they're a proper couple, but they should be, so we're just gonna assume they are. And they do in fact make beautiful music together. A sort of psychedelic krautrock, noise pop, garage rock. In a way, they remind us of another recent fave Liminanas, but where that band channeled French pop, Lorelle Meets the Obsolete seem to be drawing their influence from something much more noisy and raw, psychedelic and dark. Sure it's jangly and poppy in places, but they lock into seriously hypnotic grooves, fans of outfits like the Moon Duo will be utterly enthralled for sure. They also have a bit of swaggery twang, reminding us at times of Crystal Stilts, and at others a little bit of Stereolab, albeit a much rougher low fidelity version. The sound here is lush and warm, woozy and hypnotic, druggy and dreamy, tracks like "The December Riots" sound like the Dum Dum Girls slowed down to a gloriously murky crawl, slo-mo girl group bliss out, while tracks like "Art For Free", add some new wave to the group's garage pop crunch. All the songs here though at their core are jangly and catchy, Lorelle and her partner delivering them in varying states of decay, and varying states of tranced out drugginess. At their poppiest, this is the sort of thing fans of Ty Segall and Thee Oh Sees and Mikal Cronin will flip over, and at their droniest and druggiest, it's a sort of lysergic dirge that should appeal equally to fans of old school drug drift mesmer a la Spacemen 3, and more modern psychedelic noise purveyors like Carlton Melton. Although really, this is just some noisy krauty fuzzy pop, and we LOVE it. A new favorite for sure!
MPEG Stream: "Tales From A High Line"
MPEG Stream: "The In-Between"
MPEG Stream: "The December Riots"
MPEG Stream: "Art For Free"
FLAMING LIPS The Terror (Warner Bros.) 2lp 37.00
Finally, this recent aQ Record Of The Week, now available on vinyl, which includes a sidelong bonus track NOT on the cd, called "We Don't Control The Controls", an epic mash-up collage by Dan Deacon, where he takes the entirety of The Terror, chops it up, slices and dices all the sounds and songs, and somehow mashes it all back together into one gloriously dense, super psychedelic, Flaming Lipped electro-noise blowout! Folks who bought the cd might just have to get another copy to get their hands on this vinyl only fourth side! Here's our review of the rest of The Terror, the album proper, from when we listed the cd version two weeks ago on list #423...We never really stopped digging the Flaming Lips. We'll always probably be partial to the early days, the chaotic, drug addled noise rock psych pop era of course, but even more so that transitional three album arc that marked the band's transition from fucked up underground legends to weirdo stadium rock popstars, Hit To Death In The Future Head, Transmissions From The Satellite Heart and Clouds Taste Metallic. With The Soft Bulletin, the band embraced their pop side, and it paid off, and we have to say we're pretty thrilled, that a band this weird, could end up being one of the most popular bands in the world. And it's pretty heartening, that even while they were crafting these crazy commercial records, they continued to be willfully difficult, and extremely experimental and unconventional. From crazy elaborate performances to bizarre limited releases (thumb drive in a human sized gummy skull!), they're essentially one of the only bands who never seemed to be corrupted by success, and who never let that success go to their heads, or really affect their music. In fact, if anything, the Lips seem to have peaked pop wise with the trilogy of The Soft Bulletin, Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots and At War With The Mystics, and ever since, they seem to have been getting less and less commercial, like some sort of musical Benjamin Buttons. 2009's Embryonic was pretty weird, but The Terror trumps it big time. Originally rumored to be a return to the band's old sound, The Terror instead finds the band slipping into a sort of abstract experimental almost krautrock sounding psychedelia. The sounds are lush and layered, fantastically atmospheric, the vocals sparse and minimal, no proper pop songs to be found anywhere, instead, The Terror delivers long sprawling dream-psych jams that are some of the best songs we've heard from these guys in ages. The opening tracks set the scene, pulsing electronics, woozy looped synth melodies, skittery drums, hazy vocals, the opener "Look... The Sun Is Rising" maybe the closest to modern Flaming Lips, and actual pop song structure, but even here, there's lots of jagged angular crunch, droned out synths, shimmering layers, everything washed out and hazy, the song leading directly into "Be Free, A Way", which is like an even more abstract extension of the opener, with a woozy soporific hook that will stick in your head forEVER, all over a lush landscape of synths and electronics, and murky pulsing rhythms. "Try To Explain" continues on in that drifting ethereal ephemeral psychedelic dream pop style, laying vocals over a lush bed of electronic pulsations, soaring symphonic arrangements and weird sound effects.It's on "Your Lust" where the band seem to slough off the vestiges of pop that defined the opening few tracks, unfurling a heady sprawl of hypno rock electro-kraut grooviness, all sun dappled and woozy, eventually fading out into a lush and lovely coda of warble organ, and distorted chiming melodies. And while there are moments of poppiness popping up throughout the record's remaining five tracks, those tracks seem to bleed together into one gorgeously lysergic sprawling songsuite. The rhythms minimal and motorik, the vocals wispy and ethereal, the sound often bursting into weirdly corrosive crumbles, or densely swirling buzz, blossoming into blown out shoegaze heaviness, before settling back into a twisted bit of swirling sci-fi kraut-pop drift, or some stripped down Can like minimal mesmer, but all wreathed in a constantly shifting cloud of effects and textures and disembodied voices, at one point the band slip into some hushed electronic creep, with falsetto vox, and lots of glitch and buzz, sounding a bit like Thom Yorke's solo record The Eraser, but things here are much weirder, the sound exploding into a noise drenched buzz pop, before devolving into the gorgeously abstract weirdo noise-pop prog of the closer "Always There In Our Hearts", which manages to be both poppy and impossibly catchy, as well as dense and claustrophobic, intense and super dramatic. The whole record bleeds into one fantastic and lysergic whole, it's hard to pick out a single song, or even a single part. in fact we've yet to NOT listen to the whole record in a single sitting, the only thing that separates the songs for us is hearing a phrase, or part of a title, the record in many ways feels like one huge piece, an interconnected songsuite, and while with every listen, certain parts stick in our heads, certain melodies, specific sounds, even textures, or rhythms, we still just can't bring ourselves to not listen to the whole thing, all the way through, over and over and over.
MPEG Stream: "Look... The Sun Is Rising"
MPEG Stream: "Be Free, A Way"
MPEG Stream: "Your Lust"
MPEG Stream: "The Terror"
MPEG Stream: "You Are Alone"
TWINK Think Pink (Sunbeam) lp+cd 29.00
THIS RECENT RECORD OF THE WEEK, NOW ON VINYL! First time we've had a vinyl reissue of this old fave, in fact. And, it comes with a free copy of the cd version tucked into the jacket, which means you do get all the bonus tracks described below, even though they didn't fit onto the vinyl itself. Here's what we said other other day when we listed the cd:Along with the revamped Conet Project, here's another no-brainer for a Record Of The Week… We've listed it before, years and years ago, when there was a cd version on Akarma, but this is a much nicer, expanded, official reissue and it's good to give it a proper review for the first time (back then, we merely quoted The Seth Man from Julian Cope's Head Heritage website, waxing rhapsodic about this record, now we'll do it ourselves).Oh boy. Do you like psychedelia? DO YOU HAVE THIS ALBUM? If not, you're in for a treat, a mindblowing treat. Think Pink was the brilliant solo effort from former Pretty Things drummer John "Twink" Alder, and it's an all-time aQ fave, an all-time underground psychedelic masterpiece, right up there with the essentials from the likes of Amon Duul II, Pink Floyd, Hawkwind, Sam Gopal, Kaleidoscope, and Tyrannosaurus Rex, and it's just been properly reissued on cd by the UK's Sunbeam label, with a whole bunch of bonus freakery added on. Not that this album NEEDS any bonus freakery, it's about as freaky as you can get to begin with, packed with droning chant, druidic prophecy, spaced-out psych jams, weird twisted pop, and acid-folk ramble. But, too much is never enough, right? So heck, we're happy to have the eight bonus tracks too. More on those later. First, let's discuss the original album itself. As we said, Twink played drums for The Pretty Things, but before that had his own sixties R&B outfit the Fairies. After that band, he was in Tomorrow ("My White Bicycle") with future Yes guitarist Steve Howe, around 1967. Twink then briefly formed a duo called The Aquarian Age, before joining up with The Pretty Things and appearing on their concept-album classic S.F. Sorrow in '68, another aQ fave. At that point, for some crazy reason (things were different/better back then) Twink was offered a deal by Sire to do a solo album, and Think Pink was the glorious, if at the time somewhat unheralded, result, recorded in 1969 with Mick Farren of The Deviants producing. Released in 1970 in the US & Europe, but not 'til '71 in the UK, it's been called the first Pink Fairies album, and in a way it is, as soon after making it, Twink did team up with several ex-members of The Deviants, most of whom played on this, to form that infamous proto-punk outfit. And several tracks here feature contributions from what's credited as "The Pink Fairies Motorcycle Club & All Star Rock & Roll Band". Also participating are several of Twink's Pretty Things bandmates, his girlfriend Silver Darling, and Steve Peregrin Took, Marc Bolan's partner in Tyrannosaurus Rex and early T-Rex, who plays, among other things, "pixie horn". And one of the most crucial contributors to Think Pink, besides Twink himself, has to be guitarist Paul "Blackie" Rudolph, who really lets loose, earning a hallowed place in the annals of distortodelic guitar wrangling for his work on this album alone (though in the course of his career before and after, he also played with The Deviants, Pink Fairies, Hawkwind, Robert Calvert, and Brian Eno).Eastern-tinged opener "The Coming Of The Other One" sets the scene, pulling us deep into its trippy Aquarian Age fantasy zone, with a solemn voice reciting Nostradamic verses ("In the year 1999 and seven months, from the skies shall come an alarming powerful king...") accompanied by tablas and sitar. Then comes Think Pink's biggest "hit" as far as we're concerned, an utterly perfect slice of stonery psych called "10,000 Words In A Cardboard Box", just listen to it! That's followed by "Dawn Of Magic" with its raga-like vocal ahhhaaaaahh sounds as if Pandit Pran Nath were on the mic, which suddenly segues into the space-out sike-pop of "Tiptoe On The Highest Hill", a lovely pastoral song that eventually builds into a howling guitar blow-out of the highest order. Then the trippy "Fluid" chimes into being, with its sexy heavy breathing and slinky, springy grooves, making us think of the acid-fried hippy orgasms of krautrockers Brainticket's classic Cottonwood Hill (released later on, in '71, we should also note).Side two (track six here) opens with the martial fuzz-freakout of "Mexican Grass War", all chanting freaks and wild FX like early Amon Duul and Edgar Broughton Band. The freaky vibes continue, quite weird and wonderful, with the glammed up jam of "Rock An'Roll The Joint", the mellow morbid acoustic strum of "Suicide" and the maniacal "Three Little Piggies", before the album ends with the intense edgy psych pop of "The Sparrow Is A Sign", a song with a malevolent, sinister side to it that reminds us a little bit of Comus - and strangely too of the Sun City Girls, perhaps due to the vocals, provided by Steve Took.Then, there's all those bonus tracks, the first two of which are actually from the lone 7" single released in '68 by The Aquarian Age, the immediate precursor to the Think Pink project. There's the A side, being the original version of "10,000 Words In A Cardboard Box", and the B side, an amusing number called "Good Wizard Meets Naughty Wizard", which displays just the sort of twee, hippie British humor the title suggests. It's great to hear both of those, and the bonus tracks proliferate further with unreleased, alternate versions of more Think Pink material, somewhat heavier or rawer or definitely different, including two takes of "Fluid" and another version of "10,000 Words...", which we can't get enough of anyway.All in all, a nicely done reissue, as this deserves, with pages and pages of newly-written, informative liner notes, plus lyrics, credits, vintage photos & graphics. Plus, unlike that previous Akarma version, this is a fully-legit release, done with the participation of Twink himself ("issued under exclusive license from Mohammed Abdullah John Alder, February 2013" it says here, and there's even a picture of him today too - apparently he's become a Muslim, and looks quite happy).By the way... Nobody here at aQ can think about Think Pink, though, and not also think about our "customer" whom we call The Twink Think Pink Guy. We don't believe he's ever actually bought anything, but he's this older guy that comes in once in a while (and has for years) and always, always, ONLY asks about Think Pink, whether we have it in stock or not, and then talks at great length to anyone who will listen about how great it is. It's his favorite record apparently, but don't let that dissuade you, if you get this you probably won't end up like him. Probably. Message for The Twink Think Pink Guy, if you're reading this: we expect to see you soon!
MPEG Stream: "10,000 Words In A Cardboard Box"
MPEG Stream: "Tiptoe On The Highest Hill"
MPEG Stream: "Fluid"
MPEG Stream: "The Sparrow Is A Sign"
MPEG Stream: "Good Wizard Meets Naughty Wizard"
100 FLOWERS s/t (Superior Viaduct) lp 15.98
When legendary So-Cal punk rockers the Urinals decided to retool their sound, and get a little artier, they realized that maybe the band name the Urinals didn't quite match up with what they were going for, and thus, the Urinals became 100 Flowers. This is their one and only full length recording, originally released in 1983, and now reissued by local label Superior Viaduct. To be fair, the Urinals were already kinda arty, their sound super minimal, not punk in the sense of so many punk bands at the time, more sinewy and tribal, the guitars sharp and jagged, the songs short and spare, and that arty minimalism was super prescient of much that would follow. And the fact that only a couple years passed between the Urinals and 100 Flowers, and really, it's essentially the same band, you might think that that sounds would be pretty familiar, but in fact, 100 Flowers was a pretty dramatic shift, the sound much more melodic, less minimal, the sound more full and more poppy, just check out opener "Without Limbs", total jangle pop blissout, with crooned vocals, bloopy bass, shimmery guitars, some kinetic drumming, and a main hook that's pretty tough to resist. But the band didn't ditch all their angular weirdness, follow up, "All Sexed Up" is angular, and actually sort of funky, with sung spoken vocals, and a main guitar part that wouldn't be out of place in a Minutemen song (a group HEAVILY influenced by the Urinals / 100 Flowers), but even that doesn't sum up the new sound, cuz "Our Fallout" gets a bit punky, snarly and intense, the vocals venturing into almost Jello Biafra territory, the guitars fuzzy, the temp frenetic, but then suddenly, there's the minute long "Horizontal", with its weird woozy synth solo, and Devo like vocals, and its stuttering start/stop arrangement.And they're pretty tough to pin down from there on out, but essentially, the elements displayed in those first few tracks, make up the rest of the songs in different measure, the funky punky Minutemen vibe is present throughout, there's also a surf sound that pops up constantly, especially in the guitar, and their So-Cal hardcore roots shine through all over the place, some songs slipping into something more poppy and jangly, others getting buzzier and punkier, and still others, slipping into arty angularity, often some twisted mix of the three.Catchy and quirky, punky and poppy, this stuff sounds pretty great even all these years later. And while we always loved the Urinals, we're now becoming pretty obsessed with 100 Flowers too, and after having only heard songs on comps here and there, are extremely grateful to Superior Viaduct for rescuing and reissuing this killer slab of post punk pop.Includes a printed insert, and a download code as well.
MPEG Stream: "Without Limbs"
MPEG Stream: "All Sexed Up"
MPEG Stream: "Our Fallout"
MPEG Stream: "Horizontal"
MPEG Stream: "California's Falling Into The Ocean"
A PREGNANT LIGHT Death My Hanging Doorway (Colloquial Sound Recordings) cassette 5.50
One of two new releases on this week's list from the Michigan based Colloquial Sound label, a label we just discovered, and who have an incredible catalog which we plan on slowly working our way through! Elsewhere you can read about (and order) the atmospheric Indian black metal of Dressed In Streams, and then there's this, the first we've heard from this experimental avant garde black metal one man band who also just so happens to hail from Michigan, Grand Rapids to be exact, and on this tape offers up a single sprawling 20 minute epic, which begins all clean guitar strum and dense tribal drumming, chugging and droned out and hypnotic, sort of psychedelic too, minimal and stripped down, not at all what we were expecting, but it ends up that's just the intro, which gradually fades out, before the track proper explodes, a furious black swirl of sound, everything DOUSED in reverb and echo, the drums and guitars a chaotic whorl, beneath bellowed vox, eventually, the sounds coalesce into something more structured and rhythmic, super hypnotic and almost mathy sounding, the sound seesawing between that rhythmic mathiness, and more loose howled blackened chaos. But that mathiness is most definitely a core component, the sound constantly returning to a cool intricate math metal, rife with melody, and whether the sound is strummed clean guitar psychedelic shimmer, or seriously grinding blackness, or one particularly cool stretch where the sound locks into an almost Helmet-y groove, albeit way more raw and washed out, it's that rad math rock thread that holds it all together. Seriously cool stuff. And it seems like this guy/group has way more stuff out, and odds are like us, you're definitely gonna want to hear more.
MPEG Stream: "DMHD"
ABLAZE!: THE STORY OF A POST-PUNK POPZINE, 1984-1994 (Mittens On Publishing) book 48.00
Okay zine nerds and eighties/nineties music obsessives, here's a compendium of notorious UK music zine Ablaze! Which existed for a whole decade, every single issue (and then some!) collected here. Starting out a home brewed xeroxed little fanzine, eventually becoming almost a proper mag, later issues accompanied by a flexi disc or 7" single by some seriously cool bands (Wedding Present, Cornershop, Turman's Water, etc.), eventually adding color, and much higher production values to the mix, Ablaze! mastermind Kerren Ablze and her longtime partner in zine crime Gavin managing to inspire and irritate in equal measure. There's a lot about gender, a woman writing about what was mostly a male dominated scene, it was inevitable. Lots of love for female rockers of the time (Silverfish, Pale Saints, Hole, Pixies, Sonic Youth, Throwing Muses, Ut, Babes In Toyland and tons more) but plenty of love for their male counterparts as well. For folks our age, whose musical tastes we formed during the eighties and nineties, the list of bands here is pretty awesome: The Smiths, Eyeless In Gaza, The Membranes, The Stone Roses, The Pastels, Inspiral Carpets, Dustedevils, The Shamen, CUD, Dog Faced Hermans, the Edsel Auctioneer, Dinosaur Jr, The Sundays, Rapeman, Henry Rollins, Mudhoney, Live Skull, Happy Flowers, The Stretchheads, Happy Mondays, Mercury Rev, American Music Club, the Wedding Present, Nirvana, Pavement, My Bloody Valentine, Shudder To Think, Leatherface, Huggy Bear, Tsunami, Hood, Polvo and lots more. Tons of pix and drawings and flyers, lots of letters too, including some hilariously irate ones from the likes of Thurston Moore and Morrisey, there's a lengthy re-examination of the Riot Grrl movement, and each issue is accompanied by an introduction by none other than Kerrin Ablaze all grown up, reflecting on what it was like when each issue was published, and offering up loads of anecdotes about bands and interviews and shows, the opinions then and now, brash and unapologetic, obviously born of a massive love for the music, but never shying away from saying whatever the fuck she wants to. Which made and still makes Ablaze! pretty goddamn fun to read. There's lots of extra stuff too, pre and post Ablaze!, lost interviews, random ephemera that never made it into the original issues, all put together lovingly into a fantastic book, one that's totally essential for anyone into any and all of the above mentioned bands. We're super into this movement of rescuing great iconic zines from obscurity, by turning them into books: Touch & Go, Slayer Magazine, We Got Power, and now Ablaze! Here's hoping some others get a similar treatment: Chemical Imbalance, Butt Rag, Forced Exposure, Opprobrium, Oaken Throne, Bananafish, Unsound, Metal Meltdown, Creep, Last Plane To Jakarta, Cool Beans, and of course... NORDIC VISION!!!
ACCORDION CRIMES Songs To Drive Wives Away (Cash Cow Production) lp 14.98
On the last list, we reviewed a new record from Minneapolis noise rockers Buildings, and we could barely keep em in stock. Folks went a little crazy for their brand of churning AmRep style nineties informed math/post/noise rock heaviness. So we figured we'd review something else on the same label, another band that also seems like they could have been plucked right out of the midnineties. Accordion Crimes are from Denver, but sound like they could/should be from Chicago, the Jesus Lizard vibe is huge with these guys too, but so is Shellac. In fact, where buildings were murky and muddy and thick and blown out, Accordion Crimes' music has a bit more space, it's a bit less pigfuck, and more sort of rhythmic and post rocky. The guitars sharp and jagged, the vocals yelped and crooned, even spoken on some tracks, which definitely makes these guys a dead ringer for that glorious bygone era. And yeah, if you're like us, you sort of miss that sound, and those bands, and these guys channel that stuff brilliantly. The sound throughout is dense, and hypnotic, the bass low slung and sinewy, the drums tight and controlled, the whole sound lurching and lumbering, totally tranced out, and mesmeric, there's the occasional pretty part, but it seems like those are just to build tension, until the band can uncoil and strike. There's even some cello too, adding some lush drama to the pretty parts. We have to admit, we're pretty biased when it comes to stuff like this, but holy shit are we loving it. Along with that Buildings record, and really pretty much everything we've heard on Cash Cow. So yeah, if you need your nineties fix, or just want something heavy and hooky, noisy and catchy, then this will definitely hit the spot. Includes a download code too!
MPEG Stream: "Extractor"
MPEG Stream: "Tilt-A-Wheel"
MPEG Stream: "Stray"
AGNES s/t (Field Studies) 3"cd-r 4.98
Oh, Agnes. We know nothing about you, but you make such hermetically strange drones and noises. Given the utter lack of information - just a name and the sounds on this 3"cd-r - the triangulation towards something like the hauntological noisescaping of Haxan Cloak might be appropriate or maybe the electro-shock rhythms of a latter-day Aaron Dilloway might serve as an apt comparison. That contextual void is a defining characteristic of the Agnes recordings, as she (we'll assume this to be a she) makes compellingly skeletal pieces that orbit around the defined camps of witchy electronics, pulse-tone minimalism, analogue fetishism, oblique experimentation, industrial mind control, and hell, let's throw Fluxus in the mix, cuz that could definitely fit with what she does. There was a Frans De Waard project many moons ago called Goem that took its cues from Pan Sonic and Ryoji Ikeda, but what made Goem really interesting was that many of the rhythms were created from an obsolete medical device which was designed to heal and massage damaged muscles, tendons, and nerves through electrical pulses. Of course, Goem turned that into a rhythm box, and something similar could be the source for Agnes' electro-pulse minimalism. However, Agnes does this WAY better than Goem, whatever she may be using, bringing a mid-tempo voltage control pulse to the first track with cryptically sourced hisses and wheezing tones that surely must be electrical in nature. The second track finds the rhythm more disjointed and its electrical signals overdriven with a whumping bass distortion that would be hard to fabricate within a digital workstation. A strangely percolating half-melody of what might be a feedback loop or might even be a shortwave utility signal beacon repeating around this squelching rhythm. Both tracks never remain static but are constantly shifting, twisting, and morphing. Brilliant stuff. Limited to 70 copies.
MPEG Stream: "Untitled 1"
MPEG Stream: "Untitled 2"
ANONYMOUS Inside The Shadow (Maccu Picchu Ltd. ) cd 14.98
We knew this would get reissued again, one day. It's just too good to not be. You hear about "lost classics" all the time but the Anonymous album definitely is one, a rare, super collectible record originally from 1977, that more people need to hear. We had it when it was reissued before, years and years ago by the Aether/OR label, but now even those reissues are expensive rarities themselves. So be sure not to miss it this time. Out of step with the times when it was first released, the Anonymous album sounds more '67 than '77, heavily influenced by the psych-pop sounds of the Byrds, the Beatles, Crosby Stills & Nash, the Mamas and Papas, etc. Lush 12-string guitarwork, unison male/female vocals, epic song structures, and a heavy California psych vibe permeate the music in a really good way. Very fresh and pretty. If these songs had come out in the late '60s, they could have been hits, no doubt. Instead, the Anonymous album languished in obscurity until the late '90s when a few lucky folks got to hear it thanks to the aforementioned reissues. Hopefully even more people will get to hear it now - if you're one of 'em you might find you have a new favorite '60s album that's not actually from the '60s. Highly recommended!!
MPEG Stream: "Who's Been Foolin"
MPEG Stream: "Up To You"
MPEG Stream: "Pick Up And Run"
BAKER, AIDAN Souvenirs Of The Eternal Present (Anthem) cassette 9.98
The latest of a seemingly endless onslaught of Aidan Baker solo releases (we're not complaining, just a bit overwhelmed!) comes in the form of this extremely limited cassette, released by our pal Jon who runs Anthem Records up in Portland, and it's another good one, keeping stylistically with most of Baker's recent solo records, it finds him conjuring up a dark jazz, but this time, at least on the opener, that swirling Necks like moodiness is tethered to some seriously propulsive rhythms. "Paperhouses" sounds like a krautrock Necks, the tempo locked in at a pretty good clip, driving through clouds of deep thrum and warm whirling shimmer, hazy and haunting and dreamlike, and minus that rhythm, we'd be in pure ambient bliss out mode, but that rhythm changes everything. But then things quickly settle down on the second track, the tempo dialed back down, the track a jazzy dirge, but then something strange happens, the rhythm gets all busy and skittery, and we realize that it's sort of jungly, which is weird, and cool. It never gets full on jungle, but definitely an interesting variation. And one that seems to pop up subtly throughout the rest of the record. Which unwinds similarly, dark, and droney, jazzy and minimal, lots of long tones, layered and slowly drifting, laced with metallic swells and soft focus squalls of sound, but ultimately darkly dirgey and dreamily doomy, the final track, bookending the record by returning to the ramped up rhythm of the opener, again transforming into some darkjazz krautrock, this time the surrounding sounds building to something almost shoegazey, but still dolorously muted and murky. Fans of any of the other recent Baker solo records will for sure dig, and we actually are thinking this might be one of our favorites of the bunch...While they last, we have the special Record Store Day version! Includes a download code!
MPEG Stream: "Paperhouses"
MPEG Stream: "The Child Looked"
MPEG Stream: "Doors As Possible"
BLACK ELK MEDICINE BAND Santa Ana / As The Sun Rose On December 29, 1890 (Valley King) 7" 9.98
The latest from local label Valley King, is the first release from Black Elk Medicine Band, the solo project of Isaiah Mitchell of recent aQ Record Of The Weekers Golden Void, as well as psych rock shredders Earthless, and in BEMB, at least on this single, Mitchell is joined by Phil Manley (Trans Am, Life Coach, The Fucking Champs, etc.) and John McBain of the mighty Monster Magnet (and Carlton Melton!). You'd never know it on the B side, which just happens to be the one we listened to first - a dark, brooding, seventies sounding psychedelic drift, swirling soft tangles of slow burn guitar shred smolder, draped over a thick, ominous sprawl of sinister synth buzz, sounding like Mitchell's homage to Funkadelic's "Maggot Brain", the same sort of dark psych brood, tense and emotional and moody.But flip the record over, and Mitchell and crew let loose with a heady barrage of spaced out psych that wouldn't sound out of place on a Golden Void or Earthless record. A simple skeletal programed rhythm pulses away beneath clouds of heavily flanged riffage, and yep, some seriously soaring heart of the sun shredding, sounding almost like a snippet of a much longer jam, fading in, the action already underway, the band locked into some seriously tripped out psychedelic mesmer, Mitchell laying down another blast of tangled super emotive guitar god leads, over a tranced out motorik background, eventually fading out, as if the actual jam, the one we just got a single side glimpse of, continued well on into the forever.LIMITED TO 500 NUMBERED COPIES!! In a swank sleeve featuring all new artwork from artist Alan Forbes, each one signed!
MPEG Stream: "As The Sun Rose On December 29, 1890"
MPEG Stream: "Santa Ana"
BODY, THE Master, We Perish (At A Loss Records) cd ep 11.98
Seeing this doom duo live is as much a physical experience as it is a sonic one. Standing right in front of the band as they play, the sheer force and volume of the sound, literally blows your clothes and hair back, like they have fans instead of speakers inside their cabinets. The weird horn shaped drums like sonic snowblowers. It's seriously visceral, and pure noise bliss for sure, BUT, it's on record where these guys get to flex their avant doom muscles. Cuz live, it all blurs into a nearly Merzbow-ian onslaught, sheets of ear shredding doomnoise that seems like it would be a room clearer, but instead seems to lull the crowd into a headbanging doom-noise trance. One their last full length, All The Waters Of The Earth Turned To Blood, the band pulled out all the stops, adding a choir, multiple drummers, fucked up experimental production, some tracks ambient, others nearly electronic, their actual doom balanced by all the other sounds, making for what still ranks as one of the coolest weirdest doom records ever. On this new EP, the band balance both sides of their sonic personality, opening with a churning noise drenched dirge, the sound blown out and crumbly and in-the-red, there may be sirens howling in the background, but this is the sound of the band as a two piece kicking out the jams. The vocals a hysterical shriek, the drums crushing, the guitar a wall of churning white noise. It's not until the last minute or so that things start to get weird, electronic drums (or weirdly processed acoustic ones) lock into a loop, leading into the second track, which definitely sounds like it could have been plucked right off All The Waters, a simple minor key strum, a creepy sampled vocal, an angelic choir, weirdly clipped and effected drums, the vibe mysterious and moody, then those shrieked vox come in, then the sound of a cocking shotgun explodes into more blown out doom dirgery, the band finishing things off with a sprawling blast of dirge noise heaviness. Finally, the EP closes with the nearly ten minute "Worship", which begins all distorto drums, swirling psych guitars, collaged sampled voices, the band locked into a tranced out tribal drum driven psychedelic noise dirge, sounding like Gnod via the Butthole Surfers, it's not until nearly 6 minutes in when the hammer finally falls, the band slipping back into their monstrously lumbering downtuned trudge, more shrieked vox, the drums WAY blown out, the band lurching wildly, before it all drops out again, leaving an extended outro of rumbling guitar buzz, more buried voices, strange abstract percussion, manipulated effects, the sound shifting in pitch, warbly and woozy, laced with field recordings, a haunting ambient drift, that easily could have stretched out endlessly... More warped avant doom brilliance from these Portland via Providence heavies, and it definitely has us hankering for the upcoming full length.
MPEG Stream: "I. The Ebb And Flow Of Tides In A Sea Of Ash"
MPEG Stream: "III. Worship"
BONE SICKNESS Alone In The Grave (20 Buck Spin) lp 15.98
Alone In The Grave is the 7 song, 18 minute debut lp from this old school punked out death metal crew who hail from Olympia Washington, and whose sound is totally beholden to the old days, classic death metal punked up into something crusty and noisy and filthy, short sharp songs, most of which begin with feedback drenched creepy lurching doomy intros, which inevitably explode into churning downtuned riffage, belched and bellowed demonic vokills, furious caveman drum pound, the whole thing laced with wild leads and tons of oozy blackened atmosphere. A little grind, a little doom, a little classic metal, but a lot of grunting, head banging death metal heaviness. Not to much to say, these guys aren't reinventing the death metal wheel or anything, instead they're paying homage to all who came before, and injecting the sound with a little of their own punkish Northwestern energy. Fans of recent releases by outfits like Howling, Antediluvian, Knelt Rote, Abyssal and others will dig big time.Primitive black and white cover art by one of the sickos behind the Chips & Beer magazine!
BRAINTICKET Cottonwoodhill (Cleopatra) cd 15.98
A couple years ago, when an expensive import vinyl (+cd) version of this came out, we realized, good golly, we've never listed this before, really??? So we were glad to finally get to do so, 'cause Brainticket's Cottonwood Hill has been a trippy AQ fave for long, long time.Now it's just been domestically reissued on cd, without the extraneous vinyl component, so anyone who missed out on it before can get it, and more cheaply too! This album, originally released in 1971 (that's right!), the debut from Swiss krautrockers (we think you can call 'em that) Brainticket, is simply one of the freakiest, LSD-trip inspired slabs of groovy mu-sick ever. Up there with Funkadelic's Free Your Mind And Your Ass Will Follow, even.The first two tracks on side one, "Black Sand" and "Places Of Light", ease you into it, being laidback groovers laced with stabs of distortion... then the true "trip" begins, the utterly over the top, three-part "Brainticket", that starts on side one and spreads over all of side two, dense and propulsive and repetitive, with orgasmic female vocals and all kinds of intense psychedelic throb. It's the perfect soundtrack to goin' completely mad. In addition to wah-wah guitar, organ, flute, tabla, and sci-fi electronics, there's layers of musique concrete "samples", tapes of rainfall, clanging bells, clattering trains, cheering crowds, all sorts of chaotic noise panic...Quite a overdose of LSD-enthusiasm, that even today still seems more likely to scare folks off from trying drugs than encourage 'em to do so. But then, who needs to actually drop acid when you can just listen to this? Fans of the likes of A.R. & Machines, Amon Duul II, Siloah, Tangerine Dream's Electronic Meditation, and other cosmic trips (as well as hippie kitsch) this is another one you need to get turned on to if you haven't already. Oh, and as a footnote, the drummer went on to play in proto-metallers Toad.Packaged in gatefold digi-sleeve.
MPEG Stream: "Black Sand"
MPEG Stream: "Brainticket Part I"
CAULDRON Tomorrow's Lost (Century Media) cd 13.98
All the headbangers at aQuarius have been waiting for this, the 3rd album from Toronto hesher trio Cauldron. Loved their others, and this one's no different. In fact, these Canucks are nothing if not consistent, once again delivering damn catchy '80s inspired metal that's heavier and tuffer sounding than most MTV hair metal bands back in the day, but still with a bit of that good old glammy, melodic, pop vibe. Rockin' like Dokken in other words, and yet still matching the very menacing metal mood of the album's cover painting, bleak and gloomy. If you liked their other albums, you'll like this one too - and for newbies, why not start here?As always, Cauldron have a knack for coming up with riffs and choruses that immediately stick in your head like you've headbanged to 'em many times before, with the only real weak link being the workmanlike vox of bassist/frontman Jason Decay, not a lot of power there, definitely not "tuff", but we're used to 'em, and anyway by now his singing is a recognizable, distinctive part of the whole Cauldron "sound" that we can't help but respond to, all part of this band's unique charm, the major portion of which is being non-ironically stuck in, like, 1985. Heck, we appreciate how they put so much effort into writing truly "pop" heavy metal songs despite the fact that they stand very little chance of winding up on the radio, being about 30 years too late for that. Thus, Cauldron are in a way a more honest and respectable band than some of their '80s antecedents, being obviously motivated only by their sincere love of that style of metal rather than any mercenary hopes of commercial success and material gain (and hookers and blow). Underground status, maybe, but arena-sized stardom, never. Too bad! But they do have their fans, us among 'em. Long may they rule the nite!!
MPEG Stream: "Nitebreaker"
MPEG Stream: "Endless Ways"
MPEG Stream: "Fight For Day"
CHIPS & BEER Issue #5 magazine 7.00
Hell yeah! Break out the chips and the beer - and crank the metal music LOUD - 'cause it's already time for the fifth installment of Chips & Beer, our favorite idiosyncratic underground cult metal (and more) 'zine. If you've got the earlier issues you know what to expect, if not, how do we explain the charm of Chips & Beer? Well, imagine a metalhead version of the old Bananafish 'zine - cryptic, creative, obviously intelligent, often absurd, and sometimes (especially when it comes to the comix) quite crude. Chips & Beer's writers, whether being straightforward or pseudo-intellectual or just plain weird, always manage to amuse, confuse, and (sometimes) enlighten, and definitely fulfill the FANzine's chief imperative of being enthusiastic admirers of whatever subject they chose to celebrate - in this issue, ferinstance, you get a piece on original Saint Vitus singer Scott Reagers ("Reagerding Reagers") that's practically a prose-poem in its effusive praise of that neglected vocalist's one of a kind talents (sentiments with which this writer can only agree). This issue is the "Italian Metal Special", and as you may already know, the Chips & Beer crew don't half-ass these "specials", nope, you'll find stuff here about every damn crazy Italian metal band you've ever heard of and many more you hadn't, the big features being on Death SS, Bulldozer, Dark Quarterer, and Mortuary Drape, but lots of obscurer Italo HM obscurities get covered too, from Adramelch to Zess - plus there's even an interview with truly obscure AQ fave and former Record Of The Weeker, Tony Tears! The Italian theme continues into in-depth coverage of Italian '80s Z-grade swords & sorcery cinema, and the works of erotic auteur Tinto Brass.But that's not all - also this ish: Betsy Bitch, Morbus Chron, Borrowed Time, Bone Sickness, Moss, Blue Oyster Cult (sort of), Lester Maddox, Longmont Potion Castle (yeah!!) and plenty more, including lots of hard-to-grok music reviews, and also reviews of modern straight to video (well, dvd) horror films, that part including a sidebar interview with director Ti West whose films Triggerman and The Roost we just listed the soundtrack to. 136 action-packed newsprint pages all in all, and recommended - nay, required - for anyone into this shit.
CLIFFSIDES Spirit In The Mountain Temple (Hooker Vision) cassette 8.98
Cliffsides is the solo work of Ryan McGill, a Georgia native currently residing Brooklyn who is half of the kosmische synth project Afterlife. Where Afterlife tightly wound itself around the post Manuel Gottsching / Klaus Schulze ethos that led into so many of those great Emeralds related projects, McGill's solo work is all sleepwalking sprawl and narcotic mist. Bubbling abstractions, big sweeping oscillations, and lazer-shot synth tones work through the variable curtains of delay and echo effects that McGill pours over all of the synthesized sounds. Vast empty spaces with distant vocal and guitar signals cascade through those delay patterns creating a 'floating in outerspace' vibe from the onset, only to glide into a very choice step sequence of Schnitzler-esque melodicism. By the second side, McGill offers forth some midnight electronica / sci-fi worship channelling Tangerine Dream's Zeit only to turn that into a very dark set of ambient passages, complete with ritualized chanting and industrially grim sawtooth synth lines. There's lots to cover on this tape, as McGill sprawls and drones for over 80 minutes here. Nice that somebody is using the long form medium of the cassette to its fullest potential! Limited to 100 copies; and like most everything on Hooker Vision, this will not last long.
MPEG Stream: "La Maison Dieu"
CORDIER, ERIC Breizhiselad (Erewhon) cd 14.98
This former aQ Record Of The Week (List #257), finally available again!!!Making music is all about transporting the listener to another place. Creating sounds or songs that transform the listener's whole world, so with eyes closed, a person could be anywhere, drifting through space, wandering in caves miles below the surface of the earth, laying in tall grass in the countryside, holed up in a concrete bunker during a war, wandering through the smoking ruins of some ancient city, all through the magic of music.Most of our favorite sound makers use their considerable talents to sonically alter the course of time, taking us back with them to some unrealized past, some mysterious otherworld where it's still the middle ages, or the 1900's, or the fifties or even just the seventies. Their sounds are faded postcards, old snapshots browned with age, glimpses of places and people long forgotten, it's all very evocative and hauntingly emotional. Philip Jeck, Tim Hecker, William Basinski, Jasper TX, Machinefabriek, they all meticulously craft windows to other worlds, using various instruments and techniques, they allow us to step through our speakers and into some rainy day, an overcast afternoon, in a barely populated city, an intimate get together with family and friends, a lonely walk through dark alleys and rain slicked streets, but unlike a film or a photo, these are less distinct, more like memories than actual visual images, and like memories, they are nothing but personal recollections of events long past, and like memories, some parts are fuzzy, indistinct, everything seems faded and ghostlike, on the verge of being lost forever. Capturing that ineffable sound, manufacturing a world of mysterious musical memories, with music, never fails to captivate us completely, and we could listen to those sounds, rich with nostalgia and warmth, rife with magic and mystery, pretty much forever...French experimental sound artist Eric Cordier has taken a bit of a detour from his usual electro-improv and installation work and has joined the ranks of our favorite sound makers, with his latest, Breizhiselad, an epic and gorgeously inventive exploration of tape, the turntable and a single 78rpm 10" record found in the attic of a friend's grandmother. The original recording, one of the first to proudly feature the Breton language after years and years of persecution, was to Cordier's ears, "horrible because of the catechism-like vocal arrangements" but the conviction of the vocalists, as well as the condition of the record itself, convinced him that these were important sounds. SO he transferred the sounds to tape, and attempted to capture the essence of the music, the power and the passion, while discarding the rest.The result is a haunting epic, an expansive drift through some lost era, the voices are disembodied and wreathed in murk and static, an EVP broadcast from the beyond, rhythms and melodies develop suddenly amidst a cacophony of distortion and processed voices.The opening track sets the tone, with a looped low end rumble, fuzzy and mysterious, the rich warm sound of deep harmonies, amidst a bed of tangled crackle, looped and chopped into lurching rhythms, like some disembodied short wave doom, a creepy low end moaning melody that gradually fades into a soundscape of layered angelic voices, creating a stuttering blurry chorale. The record is peppered with field recordings and bits of found sound, whipping wind, footsteps, snippets of conversations, the crunch of boots in snow, all woven into the strangely liturgical sound of Cordier's mysterious world of sound.Imagine the murky undersea drift of Oval's skipping cd-scapes, but wrapped in a thick cloak of analog imperfections, skips and pops and crackle and hiss, imbued with an ominous undercurrent, minor key melodies assembled from rumble and hum, thick swells of static and clipped stuttering snatches of organ or voice, all transformed into creepy complex squalls of sound, scraping and hiccuping, but just as often, smoothed into hushed, dreamlike drifts, warm and muted, almost like some analog Pop Ambient, letting us float serenely and ghostlike through a sonic world of dark forests and crumbling castles, small villages and rolling hillsides, battlefields and ruined cities, of war, famine and death, but also of hope and salvation.
MPEG Stream: "Breizhiselad / Ar Baradoz"
MPEG Stream: "Lieux De Repos"
CRONIN, MIKAL MCII (Merge) cd 14.98
After years of being a sidekick of, and special guesting on records by, folks like Ty Segall and Thee Oh Sees, Mikal Cronin came into his own in a big way in 2011, with his self titled debut full length, which we dug so much, we made it our Record Of The Week. And we were psyched that the rest of the world began to finally take notice too. And now here we just a couple years later, and Cronin has a super hyped new record on Merge and seems poised for the sort of success that his fellow SF garage rockers have been enjoying lately. As is often the case with the follow up to a record you love to death, II took some warming up to. At first we were thinking it was a watered down, more mainstream version of the debut, and while it most definitely is WAY more polished, and not nearly as raw and rambunctious, it's definitely not watered down, and after a few listens, the songs began to reveal themselves as the genius pop songs they are. And now that we've had a few weeks of constant listening, we've beginning to think we dig this new one as much as the debut. Check out the sound samples below, the opening 4 song blast is pretty much untouchable, hooks galore, lush classic pop, acoustic guitars, piano, even sax, the guitars jangly and shimmery one second, crunchy and buzzy the next. After raving about the new Telekinesis! record on the last record, we're getting a lot of the same feel from this one. Personal and passionate, super rocking and rollicking, but introspective and sensitive at the same time. The chorus of "Shout It Out" is a killer, the fact that is sits in a song that's predominantly acoustic guitar strum and sweet sad boy croon, only makes it that much more fierce. "Am I Wrong" does something similar, pairing a crunchy, stomping chorus with a lilting main melody, and some sweet falsetto vox. "See It My Way", is a groovy shuffle, again, all spare and psychedelic and jangly, and then a seriously fuzzed out chorus, with wild drumming, and swirling vocal harmonies. And did we mention the opener? Setting the stage perfectly, with it's dreamy piano, heartfelt vocals, and fuzz guitar. Total hook heavy noise pop bliss. That song more than anyone here perfectly straddling the sound of the two records, maybe purposefully acting as a bridge between the raw rocking of the debut, and the more polished poppiness of II. And one thing we noticed is Cronin's mastery of classic heart tugging pop epicness, with many of the songs exploding into those sort of instrumental sprawls that you always hear in movie trailers, or underpinning the super emotional parts of indie art films, soaring, melodic, emotional, majestic, moving, that vibe finding its way into the garage poppiness of the rest of the record and transforming II into something classic and timeless and really fucking great!
MPEG Stream: "Weight"
MPEG Stream: "Shout It Out"
MPEG Stream: "See It My Way"
CRYSTAL SHIPSSS Crystal Shipsss EP (Three Ring) cassette 4.50
A super limited new tape from Berlin based lo-fi noise pop weirdo Jacob Faurholt, aka Crystal Shipsss, only 50 copies in the US, and aQ is the only store carrying them. And this is just the sort of thing that pushes all our warped pop outsider jangle fuzz buttons, and we imagine yours too. At its core, the sound of Crystal Shipsss, is fuzzy, jangly, lilting pop music, sweet sad boy vox, dreamy melodies, plenty of hooks, crazy catchy choruses, but the SOUND is what it's all about. A mad scientist kitchen sink approach to pop songsmithery, with even the sweetest slab of poppiness here wreathed in crumbling distortion, or swirling clouds of fractured FX, the drums are blown out, sounding like they were recording in an airplane hanger one second, on cardboard boxes in a kitchen pantry the next, the vocals wavery and woozy one second, that sweetly crooned the next, the guitars thick and crunchy, exploding into epic, majestic fuzziness, and then slipping right back into dreamy soft focus jangle. Just check out the chorus of "Where The Wild Things Are", it gives Mikal Cronin a run for his money. In fact, this is the kind of record that has us thinking that stuff like this probably won't remain underground for very much longer. Every track here is a warm, swirling, psychedelic gem, "Crushing Like A Skull", is all warm and melty and shoegazey, what sounds like organs, blurred into thick swaths of chordal shimmer, droned out and so so dreamy, while "Listening To Devil Town" is a weirdly creepy minor key fuzz pop dirge, with brittle rhythms buried in the mix, and some seriously weird lyrics about Daniel Johnston and carrot cake (!). "Dusty Vinyls", is a woozy drone-pop ballad, all distorto strum, hazy swirls of droned out tones wrapped around some sweetly fuzzy poppiness, and "Night Of The Creeps" is a drum machine driven sprawl of spare jangly garage pop shuffle, which disappears into a weird cloud of swirling metallic shimmer and woozy soft noise swirl. Fans of everything from home made 4-track pop, to fuzzed out garage rock, to DIY shoegaze noise pop, this could very likely be your new favorite jam.LIMITED TO 50 COPIES!! Includes a download coupon as well!
MPEG Stream: "Where The Wild Things Are"
MPEG Stream: "Crushing Like A Skull"
MPEG Stream: "Listening To Devil Town"
DE ERIOMEM, ARTHUR Drowned By Voices, Somewhat Rather Slowly (Invisible Birds) cd-r 11.98
Arthur De Eriomem is one of the shadowy figures behind Ingenting Kollektiva, a dreamy disintegrated drone project with a keen knowledge of avant-garde music, art, film, architecture, and design, all of which gets churned through whatever arcane processes may be at work, resulting in some rapturously dark driftscaping and visually arresting videos as well. De Eriomem cites that the title of this release was culled from David Toop's Sinister Resonance, a book that runs with the idea that sound, for all of its physical attributes, operates more in the realm of the ghostly. It's an apt description, especially in relation to Simon Reynolds' appropriation of hauntology to describe particular threads of retro-futurism in electronica. Like The Caretaker, William Basinksi, and Phillip Jeck, who augment their sounds through an aural patina of antiquity, De Eriomem's slippery composition has the feel of something very, very old - like a lost wax cylinder recently discovered in some midwestern attic, covered in flecks of ash and dust. It would be easy to believe these warbling recordings are of a 19th Century hurdy-gurdy, playing doleful, repetitive melodies all the while the echoing slowly sustained drones and evanescent blossomings of golden ambience; but De Eriomem mentions the sources to be analogue delay and guitar. It hardly matters how he did it, it's just a gorgeous drone disc, one that would warrant comparisons also to The Aeolian String Ensemble and the guitar based work from Andrew Chalk. Handmade packaging in a numbered of edition of 100 copies.
MPEG Stream: "Drowned By Voices, Somewhat Rather Slowly"
DEAD NEANDERTHALS Polaris (Utech) cd 14.98
Dunno about you, but man, we've always loved some sax/drums improv skree. Its just a thing that rules. Going way back to John Coltrane and Rashied Ali out there in Interstellar Space, you know. This Dutch duo are totally in that tradition, but of course (as you might guess from their excellent name) taking it to the extreme, playing essentially "acoustic noise" in freeform shred mode, one of 'em blowing like crazy, the other attacking his kit - not for nothin' that this Utech release was mastered by Jazzkammer's Lasse Marhaug. Also it's perhaps worth noting that one track is named "Yamatsuka Eye". So, yeah, this disc is intense -not unmusical, but intense - with sudden frantic tangles of tenor sax blurt and spasms of percussion slamming into your skull. Pure pleasure in other words, if you dig Peter Brotzmann machine gunning style sax, Zornified jazzcore, and/or the most aggressive Jooklo Duo stuff! Only just about under a half-hour in length, but that's fine, cuz Dead Neanderthals give it their all for the duration, ripping it up here like the sax/drums equivalent of Slayer's Reign In Blood (RIP Jeff Hanneman btw).
MPEG Stream: "Neck-AIDS"
MPEG Stream: "The Pit"
MPEG Stream: "Pliskken"
DEMDIKE STARE Test Pressings 002 (Modern Love) 12" 17.98
Here be the second 'Test Pressing' from Demdike Stare, which of course is not a real test pressing, but an actual release in an edition of 500 or so. The first of these sold out here in a weekend, and we're expecting the same result for this one too, especially given that we're presented with two more great cuts from Demdike Stare, one of our all time favorite electronica projects, divining the dark arts through horror score allusions, dubstep claustrophobia, and a witchy set of production tricks that are both heavy and ghostly at the same time. The A side "Grows Without Bounds" is a lurching number of industrially grinding electronics that are tempered into a Nocturnal Emissions sound dirge, with a quiet heartbeat pulse easing into the mix. The B side "Primitive Equations" is an updated version of the darkened, cocaine-laden drum & bass stylings of Metalheadz and No U Turn from the mid '90s, complete with sparse placed basslines that stab at a very nice breakbeat that sorta falls between the seminal Apache and Amen breaks, but seems to be something else entirely. Always great to hear Demdike Stare, but if you blink, you might miss out on this one.
DRESSED IN STREAMS Azad Hind (Colloquial Sound Recordings) cassette 5.50
This is one of two new releases on the Colloquial Sound label, a Michigan tape label we had somehow totally overlooked, but are making it our mission to get caught up with, cuz everything we've heard so far has been sorta mind blowing. Including this, the latest from this US black metal band who play "atmospheric Indian black metal", which when we first read about it, we actually thought it was in fact a band from India, but instead, this American outfit mixes murky soaring majestic buzzing blackness with actual Indian music, the A side here starts off with a sample of some traditional Indian music, all buzzing sitars, skittery tablas, intense emotional vocals, then all of a sudden, furious riffing swoops in, the sound exploding into some echo drenched buzzing blackness, the vocals a deep raspy demonic bellow, the drums not blasting so much as pounding, while the guitars are sharp and jagged, and doused in effects, the whole thing noisy, and reverby and sorta psychedelic. The sound gets even more psychedelic as the track progresses, slipping into long stretches of tranced out drone metal and even erupting into something near symphonic at one point, the sound laced with synths (?), giving the track a seriously tripped out vibe, and then near the end, it gets super melodic, and crazy catchy, before finally fading out in a cloud of blackened swirl and atmospheric synth shimmer. The second track/side is more of the same, a dense dizzying swirl of sound, frantic and frenzied, tons of echo and reverb, the sound bordering on utter chaos, but constantly slipping into something more structured, with some cool chugging almost math metal parts, not to mention more epic synth swells, and as if to bookend the two tracks, the blackness fades out leaving just tablas, that mesmerizing Indian rhythm this time wreathed in strange demonic hiss and softly shimmery synths. Super cool. These are the VERY LAST copies we'll be able to get. And apparently Handmade Birds will be doing a Dressed In Streams compilation cd eventually, but get an earful of this now, and grab one before they're gone, you won't be sorry!!
MPEG Stream: "Leaping Tiger"
DUMP I Can Hear Music (Morr Music) 2cd 21.00
The Dump reissue campaign continues! Dump being the one man 4-track bedroom indie rock solo project of James McNew of Yo La Tengo. A few lists back we reviewed Dump's debut, 1993's Superpowerless, a deliriously dreamy collection of indie pop gems, super catchy originals and unlikely covers, all delivered in McNew's warbly croon, the sound varying dramatically from fuzzy jangle to distorted crunch, hushed balladic shimmer to plaintive twee pop, but all of pretty goddamn great. So two years later, and it seems very little has changed in the musical mind (or bedroom recording studio) of McNew, with Dump record number two, 1995's I Can Hear Music, which strikes a similar balance between, sad boy, home brewed, Sentridoh style bedroom minimalism, and some surprisingly ambitious full band blowouts. The opening two tracks here display that perfectly. Warbly, woozy opener "Slow Down", all simple skeletal drum beats, acoustic guitar strum, and sweetly crooned vocals, not to mention all sorts of warble and tape drop out, the result a subtly catchy, super personal chunk dreamy and catchy indie pop, which leads directly into "Jury Duty", which opens with a squall of feedback, and soon explodes into some fuzzed out shoegazey noise rock, which seems a bit too rocking and noisy to have been bedroom recorded, and yet, it still retains much of the vibe that defines the rest of the more intimate tracks. And again, it's pretty goddamn catchy!And so it goes, McNew whipping up another sweet batch of covers, our favorite maybe being his version of Ultravox's "Vienna" which is SUCH a great song to begin with, that even in its stripped down lo-fi form, it manages to be so haunting and moving and goddamn great! Elsewhere McNew tackles jams by Tuli Kupferberg, Bob Dylan, Fish And Roses, Refrigerator, Half Japanese, Mayo Thompson and the Beach Boys (the title track). And in between all those covers, a clutch of originals that more than hold up along side the covers, in fact, like on the first record, if you weren't familiar with the originals, the covers here easily could be McNew originals, which definitely speaks to not only his musical influences, but his knack for songwriting and lo-fi popsmithery. "Invisible" is a hazy, washed out softly psychedelic slowcore ballad, "Liberty Spikes" is distorted Dinosaur Jr / Teenage Fanclub style fuzzed out indie rock, "Beyond The Door" is a gorgeous slab of 4-track bedroom folk, "Never Comes" is a dark brooder, organ driven, laced with primitive Casio drum machine rhythms, the vocals a hushed croon, droney and dreamy, and we could go on and on and on. Needless to say, fans of classic indie rock/pop and lo-fi 4-track bedroom jams, it doesn't get a whole lot better than this. And obviously Yo La Tengo fans will find much to dig here too. This new deluxe version includes a ton of extra tracks (included as a second bonus disc with the cd), and a massive booklet, with new liner notes from McNew, as well as rare photos and drawings, and the original notes from the original release, not to mention hilarious illustrations of McNew's pedal set up, the usual distortion and delay pedals replaced with pedals like Boo Hoo, Mood Ruiner, Frequency Ignorer and Oops. Awesome.
MPEG Stream: "Slow Down"
MPEG Stream: "Jury Duty"
MPEG Stream: "The Letter"
MPEG Stream: "Liberty Spikes"
MPEG Stream: "Never Comes"
MPEG Stream: "Vienna"
MPEG Stream: "I Can Hear Music"
DUST Dust / Hard Attack (Legacy) 2lp 33.00
Rather surprisingly, this two-fer vinyl reissue of these '70s proto-metal classics was one of this year's Record Store Day releases! That being the case, we thought they were already gone for good (we sold out quickly on Record Store Day) but lo! one of our suppliers have found us another small batch of 'em. We've had reissues of both Dust albums before, on cd, so here's the reviews of both of these heavy rock essentials...For those who need to know: the American hard rock trio known as Dust are another of those legendary early '70s bands that get mentioned in the same breath with heavies like Captain Beyond, Sir Lord Baltimore, The James Gang, Bang, Stray, Leafhound, Highway Robbery, and the like. They cut two excellent lps of late-psychedelic-era proto-metal back in '71 and '72. Of their two albums, the first, self-titled one is swampier, with a lot of slide and country/southern rock moves on tracks like "Stone Woman" and "Chasin' Ladies". But then there's the lugubrious and weighty 10-minute epic "From A Dry Camel", and conversely, the gentle acoustic dreaminess of "Often Shadows Felt". Mostly, though, the album kicks ass with uptempo hard rockers, including the ripping, rollicking instrumental "Loose Goose" that closes the album quite frenetically.Following that is 1972's Hard Attack, generally considered the harder of Dust's two albums, the more metal. Though that may be in part 'cause of the awesome Frank Frazetta cover painting, and album title! But perhaps it is somewhat more Sabbathian. "Downer rock" they called it back then (we're told). Their song "Suicide" (the penultimate track on side 2 of the original vinyl) - whooah, that could be Pentagram! That song alone makes this an essential purchase for any true doom/psych fan. It's an all time classic.But it's not all doom n' gloom n' barbarians - Hard Attack has its lighter side, but unlike a lot of their peers, the poppier and/or less rockin' stuff Dust do here is actually really great. Sure, a song like "Thusly Spoken" features strings and a Beatlesy melody, but the lyrics still name-check Satan and speak of dancing demons. Lush, gorgeous downer-pop that sets you up to be crushed by the following, urgently hard-rockin' track "Learning To Die". They do that throughout the album, alternating gentle - even acoustic - numbers with the proggy proto-metal workouts that the headbangers of 1972 must have loved.It's hard to understand why Dust didn't "make" it, as this stuff is certainly the equal of big sellers from their era by Deep Purple or Uriah Heep. Great singing, riffs, melodies, and that "feel" - it's all here.We mentioned Pentagram above - if you've got that Relapse anthology of Pentagram's original seventies recordings, First Daze Here, you should definitely check out the work of Dust, who were both contemporaries of, and an influence on, the Ram's Head boys. Yes, Dust are an important name on the list of forgotten but godlike '70s hard rock bands that make today's so-called stoner rockers sound like punk/grunge wanna-bes. In a word (again): classic. Too bad you'll never hear 'em on your local "classic rock" radio station...Oh, and Dust featured the future Marky Ramone on drums, by the way, before he decided punk was the way to go (or even had that option).Note: as listed last time, there's a two-on-one cd version now available, too. But if you want the vinyl, get it now since it's a limited RSD thing and we're lucky to have any at all.
MPEG Stream: "Stone Woman"
MPEG Stream: "Love Me Hard"
MPEG Stream: "From A Dry Camel"
MPEG Stream: "Walk In The Soft Rain"
MPEG Stream: "Learning To Die"
MPEG Stream: "Suicide"
EAT SKULL Where'd You Go (Volar) 7" 6.98
This single actually came out before the recent III lp, but we only now managed to get our hands on enough copies to list. When it did pop up a few months ago, it was the first anyone had heard from these guys after a fairly long silence. And while we've already raved about III, this single was a welcome return. The weird thing is that this single seems to be the last hurrah of the OLD Eat Skull, total shitgaze bliss, urgently strummed acoustic guitars, stumbling drum pound, wild squalls of psychedelic guitar noise, yowled vocals, goofy lyrics, all wrapped around some pretty crazy catchy melodies, in a way it's the perfect link between the noisier off kilter Eat Skull of the past and the more polished poppiness of III. The first track on the B side definitely sounds like with a little polish it would have fit perfectly on III, but here it's delivered in all its raw, low fidelity glory, and it sounds as good as ever. And the second track on the B side is from a Volar records label comp, and definitely displays a softer side of Eat Skull, all Casio drum machine, shimmery acoustic guitar, lilting melody, really pretty.All in all, a pretty killer single from a band we dig a lot, and considering it's been out for a while, best grab one quick before they're gone for good!
ELECTRIC PRUNES, THE Stockholm 67 (Sutro Park) lp 16.98
Best known for their Nuggets-comped 1966 hit "I Had To Much To Dream (Last Night)", which was written by an outside songwriting team, as well as for a couple neat-o psychedelic symphonic concept albums with religious themes (Mass In F Minor, Release Of An Oath) that were actually mostly the work of producer David Axelrod and a bunch of session musicians, '60s LA combo The Electric Prunes certainly had an odd career, their discography even including a 1969 album credited to "the new improved" Electric Prunes, featuring not a one of the band's original members. But lest anyone think the actual, original Prunes guys don't really deserve to be considered garage greats, we have sonic evidence of their awesomeness, live on stage, sans studio session help. Our pal Dave Katznelson just recently reissued this KILLER record on 180-gram vinyl, and we think he describes it best:"In the winter of 1967, a psychedelic-garage-punk band from Woodland Hills, California, arrived in Europe for what would be their first and last tour of the continent. On the strength of their hit single "I Had Too Much To Dream (Last Night)", the band was welcomed with open arms by European rock fans as well as British rock royalty - they smoked out with Hendrix, partied with Brian Jones and Keith Moon, and hung out in the studio with the Beatles - but were also subjected to harassment and ridicule over the fact that their homeland was at war in Vietnam. Yep, good times, good times... Twenty days and six countries later it was all over. Luckily, on the last stop of the tour someone pushed the record button and this artifact is the result. Stockholm '67 finds the Electric Prunes at the height of the powers. Some ninnies have griped that the Prunes were nothing more than a one-hit wonder, and a studio project at best. This performance burns the criticism to the ground. Over-amplified and fuzzed to the max, the Prunes here are explosive, noisy and wild. This recording proves that the Electric Prunes deserve to be ranked alongside the very best bands of their era." Yep. Includes hits "I Had To Much To Dream" and "Get Me To The World On Time", plus renditions of "Smokestack Lightning" and other, ah, nuggets, some jammed out to six, seven, nine+ minute lengths. (And by the way, believe it or not, the Prunes, reunited decades later, went back to Stockholm and cut another live album there in 2004! Maybe some of the same people were in the audience, we wonder.)
MPEG Stream: "Try Me On For Size"
MPEG Stream: "Long Day's Flight (Til Tomorrow)"
MPEG Stream: "I Had Too Much To Dream (Last Night)"
GALBRAITH, ALASTAIR Cry (MIE) lp 24.00
Originally released on cd by the now we believe defunct Emperor Jones label in the year 2000, this, the fourth solo album from New Zealander Alastair Galbraith (A Handful Of Dust, The Rip, Plagal Grind), is a stunner. Rarely has music this experimental been so ACCESSIBLE. But that's genius at work, folks, right here. "Recorded onto TEAC-4 track in a shed at Taieri Mouth between 1998 and 2000", Cry mixes pastoral folk drones with muted electric guitar outbursts, ominous organ rumblings, and Alastair's sung poetry. It's super pretty and quiet and haunting and we highly recommend it. Even if you've never heard this veteran of the Kiwi music scene's records before, this is a fine, fine place to start. A favorite ever since we first reviewed the compact disc version way back on list #99! So glad UK import label MIE has granted this new life, and for the first time on vinyl - which is limited to 500 copies, and comes with a download code.
MPEG Stream: "Bellbird"
MPEG Stream: "Meatwork"
MPEG Stream: "Wish"
MPEG Stream: "Full Soup Head"
GHOST B.C. Infestissumam (Rise Above / Republic) lp 19.98
NOW ON LP!! Pressed on red vinyl, includes a download code too...Like most of you, we kinda flipped for the 2010 debut record from mysterious Swedish hard rockers / retro metallers Ghost. And some of our pals / customers went absolutely apeshit about 'em - going to every show, buying every possible permutation of the record, picture disc, import cd, along with shirts, hats, whatever. And while we were perhaps not as over the top nuts for Ghost as that, we definitely loved that record, a lot, and played it like crazy. The sound being a strange hybrid of Mercyful Fate like metal, and Blue Oyster Cult like classic heavy rock. The band fronted by a ghoulish Pope-like figure, wearing corpsepaint, and wearing papal robes, often carrying some sort of staff, while the rest of the group were a mystery, their identities hidden by robes and masks. A silly gimmick maybe, but it definitely kept everyone talking about these guys, trying to figure out who they were, which famous metal guys from other Swedish bands were actually involved. And plus, let's admit it, watching some super theatrical performance with costumes and characters, is way more satisfying than a bunch of dorky long haired dudes in jeans rocking out.So anticipation was high for record number two. The band were rumored to have been given $750,000 to record. They flew to the US, and got a high profile producer, and the results are here, and well, the response has been divisive to say the least. Now re-christened Ghost B.C. due to to some legal difficulties, the new record finds the band almost completely ditching the metal, their sound even more firmly entrenched on the seventies hard rock side of their sound. Some of us were thrilled, as we dug that side of the band WAY more, while others, not so much. In fact one of the above mentioned superfans, hated the two songs he heard so much, he didn't even buy the record, and had no plans to do so. While that seems a bit dramatic, considering, minus the less metal, the sound is ultimately not that far removed from the first record, and in fact, the songs are way better, and way catchier, and the production, while to some ears sounded too slick and polished, ultimately sounds perfect for the songs, and with every listen, we become more and more obsessed. In fact two aQ staffers were really, really keen on making this a Record Of The Week. Certainly those two aQ-ers have listened to virtually nothing else since this came in. But there was some dissent, so we'll leave it up to you. The samples below say more than we ever could, but we'll try anyway. While the first record was definitely a metal record, the most you could say about Infestissumam is that it's hard rock, but really it's almost more like hard pop. The songs are crazy catchy, the guitars are distorted, and a little bit buzzy, but the production is such that they don't sound heavy exactly, and the organs from the first record are all over the place here, giving some songs a very carnivalesque, circusy feel, and others a weirdly Partridge Family vibe. The songs so hook heavy, with huge choruses, and equally catchy bridges, the solos are simple, the sort that mirror the main melody, and stick in your head like the vocals, the vibe is actually kind of mellow, slightly ominous, a little bit sinister, but only a little bit. It's bouncy, almost power poppy, epic and lush and super detailed, headphone listening reveals so much sonic detail, that at times it's not hard to believe this record could have cost almost a million dollars. When we were all arguing about whether to make this a Record Of The Week, one aQ-er sent this text to another aQ-er: "Ghost is Satanic bubble gum. Total genius. I've listened to it like fifty times already!" And the aQ-er writing this review wouldn't deign to argue. Cuz it is like Satanic bubblegum. Catchy and bombastic and almost orchestral in places, pure pop in others, hard rock in others, but so far removed from the metal that popped up throughout the first record, it seems insane to call them a metal band at this point. But whatever you call them, and however you feel about their sonic progression from their debut to this new one, have a listen to those sound samples, and see if you can resist. We're guessing you won't be able to. And why fight it?? A glorious slab of Satanic bubblegum hard pop genius!
MPEG Stream: "Per Aspera Ad Inferi"
MPEG Stream: "Secular Haze"
MPEG Stream: "Jigolo Har Megiddo"
MPEG Stream: "Ghuleh / Zombie Queen"
MPEG Stream: "I'm A Marionette"
GLACIERS And The Sea Won The Battle (self-released) lp 14.98
The debut album from these Bay Area post rockers now repressed and available again, this time pressed on clear and blue swirled vinyl and limited to 220 copies. Here's what we had to say about And The Sea Won The Battle when we first reviewed it way back in 2010:First proper full length (after a super limited cd-r), of gorgeously blissed out post rock from this Bay Area ensemble. Lush and textured, rhythmic and hypnotic, slow burning and sprawling, epic and super rocking, these guys take that nineties sound we love so much and make it their own, the songs smolder and pulse, before exploding into dense roiling Godspeed / Mogwai style blowouts. Meandering prettiness, gives way to loping mathy minimalism, chiming guitars, simple spare drumming, looped melodies, a slow build to near metallic crush, the bass throbbing, the guitars tangled up in psychedelic squalls, the drums muscled and propulsive. The sound moody and minor key, cinematic and soundtracky, brooding and intense, heavy and emotional and harrowing. If you dig stuff like Mogwai, Aereogramme, Mono, Pelican, Grails, Explosions In The Sky, Magyar Posse, Red Sparowes, Snowblood, that Temporary Residence instrumental rock sound, that heavy post POST rock, well, Glaciers does it as good if not better than most of your favorites. Not sure how these guys slipped under our radar, since they're from right here in the Bay Area, but it's time to right that wrong, RIGHT NOW.
GOLDEN GUNN s/t (Three Lobed) lp 22.00
Got just a few copies of this left, released for this year's Record Store Day, the first release by a group called Golden Gunn, a collaboration that's one part Steve Gunn, and one part Hiss Golden Messenger (featuring former members of the late great Court And Spark!), hence the name. And it sounds a lot like you might imagine, fusing HGM's Grateful Dead / Dylan style classic country folk with Steve Gunn's penchant for tripped out FX heavy psych. Check out the opener "Vysehrad" a lush, psych-folk sprawl that takes a groovy acoustic guitar riff, a simple skeletal beat, and then wreathes it in swirling synths, billowing clouds of cymbal shimmer, woozy backwards swoops, then lacing in some spidery leads, a seriously dreamy, dark-psych jam that ends way too early even at 8+ minutes. Then there's "Dickie's Theme" which is slithery and soulfully bluesy, with some fuzzy bass, and sinewy minor key melodies, which leads right into "Let Me Shine (Deathhouse)" which finds HGM frontman MC Taylor doing his best Dylan crooning over a bed of snarly psychedelic blues. And so it goes, the sound shifting from dark psychedelia, to dreamy pastoral Appalachia, to drowsy drum machine driven folk flecked country dirgery, to lush seventies sounding Laurel Canyon classic rock, and right back again. Fans of either band will no doubt dig big time. And really anyone into folky psychedelia will want to check this out as well. Too bad they made it so limited. We wanted to get enough to write a m,ore extensive review and properly list it, but it's apparently out of print for now, and it seems these are very likely the last copies we'll have, until it gets repressed, if it ever does. So grab a copy before they're gone, in case these are truly the last ones...
MPEG Stream: "Vysehrad"
MPEG Stream: "Dickie's Theme"
GREAVES, JUSTIN The Devil's Business (Death Waltz) lp 28.00
ALSO ON VINYL!Another awesome new release from UK vinyl horror movie soundtrack reissue label Death Waltz, the soundtrack to 2011's The Devil's Business, which we have yet to see, but the trailer looks pretty incredible. While Death Waltz does generally tend to focus on vintage horror soundtracks, this is not their first foray into modern soundtracks, having recently also released the Let The Right One In.The man behind the music for the The Devil's Business is Justin Greaves, who many aQ-ers should know as a member ofof sludgelords Iron Monkey, as well as the mainman in atmospheric post rock brooders Crippled Black Phoenix, which makes sense, as the music here is not that far removed from Crippled Black Phoenix. The excellently titled opener "My Enemies I Fear Not, But Protect Me From My Friends", perfectly lays out the sonic template sounding like a haunting, brooding, slow burn post rock, loping and doomy, soaring and darkly majestic, the vocals though a deep croon, the sort of voice to imagine singing old hymns in Latin, which perfectly fits the vibe. There's some Morricone-ish twang too, and swirling strings, tense and moody, building to a seriously intense climax, before slipping back into a droney brood. And the thing is, unlike a lot of scores and soundtracks, only a handful of these tracks are cues, most are proper songs, hard to say if the whole songs are used in the movie or just parts, but those tracks are pretty great, droney, and dark, psychedelic and smoldering, super atmospheric and cinematic (obviously), laced with synths and strings, buzzing guitars, plodding rhythms, a few tracks have a gypsy vibe to them, sounding almost circusy, others are slow, creepy doom folk drifts, occasionally laced with operatic vocals, or field recordings, but just as often, allowed to creep ominously, and some songs full on rock sounding like Godspeed or Explosions In The Sky or yeah, Crippled Black Phoenix. A few tracks get reprised at the end of the record, one song is revisited, only spookier (the 'spooky version'), another is an alternate version that recasts the original as sounding more like Goblin or John Carpenter, and one of the shorter jams gets fleshed out as a huge, majestic post rock blow out. The shorter cues are pretty great too, from ghostly high end ambient shimmer, to woozy, sinister synthscapery. As with all Death Waltz, the packaging is super swank, the lp has a killer spot varnished cover, with new art, that makes the movie seem like it could be from the seventies, a huge poster inside as well as liner notes from Greaves. So cool!!
MPEG Stream: "My Enemies I Fear Not, But Protect Me From My Friends"
MPEG Stream: "The Whistler"
MPEG Stream: "Business Is Good"
GRUPPO DI IMPROVVISAZIONE NUOVA CONSONANZA Musica Su Schemi (Superior Viaduct) lp 15.98
Local reissue label Superior Viaduct seems to be branching out beyond the punk/postpunk/industrial genres that they'd heretofore mainly specialized in, with some surprising (but cool) reissue selections, including a record by hillbilly dronester Henry Flynt, and this one, by '60s Italian improv "gruppo" featuring famed soundtrack composer Ennio Morricone, plus also Egisto Macchi and other notables. Long a favorite around here, we're happy to have this new vinyl reish, nicely done. Here's what our pal Drew Daniel of Matmos was kind enough to write about this for the aQ site the very first time we listed it:If there was such a thing as "catchy" improv this sumptuous, careful record would be it. Not reading Italian I am in the dark as to the extent to which this recording is based on "game theory", but the numerous pictures of chess boards in the room with the assembled throng of Italian composers / improvisors suggests that some kind of game based operation produced these sounds - but you don't need to be Bobby Fischer or speak Italian to be stunned by the beauty, immediacy and focus of this gathering, which includes luminaries such as Ennio Morriconne. Far from the skronking racket which "improv" can call to mind in some listeners, there is a kind of majestic, attentive, and totally confident quality to these performances that will have the hair on your neck standing at attention, and the cinematic scope of Morricone's past work is fully in evidence here. When all six musicians build up a resonant, triumphant drone from horns and piano in "Omaggio a Giacinto Scelsi", both honoring and extending the work of the Italian aristocrat / mystic composer, the result is a kind of 17 minute long "transport" that very little contemporary music comes close to. Best of all, they also know when to make a track only two minutes long! Required listening for fans of Morricone, Supersilent, Godspeed or AMM.Bravo, Superior Viaduct, bravo!And it includes a download code!
MPEG Stream: "Schema 1"
MPEG Stream: "Omaggio a Giacinto Scelsi"
HAWKS / BUILDINGS split (Cash Cow Production) 7" 9.98
Seems like Minneapolis noise rockers Buildings were the big hit from the last list. We sold out of their record immediately, and hell, for good reason, that record was a fierce chunk of old school AmRep style heaviness, beholden to all the bands we grew up with and still love, Buildings paying homage, but making that sound their own. So here we have a brand new split single from those guys, teaming up with fellow noise rockers Hawks. Buildings offer up more of what we dig, chugging, churning, rhythmic mathy radness, the bass super distorted, the guitars buzzy, the band immediately locking into some serious crush, swaggery and snarly and heavy as fuck, both tracks here laced with squalls of feedback and driven by some seriously kick ass drumming, not to mention some soaring distorto guitar swirl and some blown out bass buzz. Cannot get enough of these guys!Hawks counter with their own take on mathy, noisy heaviness, starting off with a weird sample, and a slow swell of distorted guitar, before the drums kick in, and the song lurches into a pounding, riffy swagger, the vocals a bearded bellow, it all reminds us of that old classic Sub Pop sound, a bit grungy, a little poppy, but seriously heavy. And when the lead guitar swoops in, it transforms everything, and the song is suddenly catchy as fuck! The second track is a bit busier, with weird chiming guitar harmonics, wild drumming, more bellowed vox, and again, the grunge vibe is huge, which is really the only way we could dig this sort of noise rock sound ANY more. There's a Hawks full length out there somewhere, and these two songs have us begging for more!!While they last, we have the yellow vinyl version. Includes a download code too!
MPEG Stream: BUILDINGS "LPGA"
MPEG Stream: HAWKS "Snag"
HAXAN CLOAK Excavation (Tri Angle) cd 14.98
It seems Haxan Cloak has gone through a bit of a reinvention. Up until now, we would have classified Haxan Cloak as psychedelic folk, their previous records darkly ritualistic, with urgently strummed acoustic guitars, swirling black ambience, chanted monk like vox, moaning cello rumbles, a fluttery folkiness that seemed more in keeping with industrial neo folk outfits like Death In June. Which raises the question, how did they end up on Triangle, and how did they end up sounding like Burial and Vessel and Raime? Not that we're complaining. We can't get enough of this new strain of slo-mo soul, dubbed out minimal electronic murk, and that's pretty much what Haxan Cloak deliver on their Triangle debut. Sure much of the moodiness and black ambience of their previous sound carries over, but then that's the perfect delivery system for spare, skeletal, glitched out rhythms, and Excavation definitely straddles the line between new and old Haxan Cloak, peppering black drifts of deep rumble, and keening sine wave tones, with weird sampled voices, and shimmering Tibetan bowls, but soon that tell tale Burial style wood-block snare sound comes in, all echoey and reverbed, and the song transforms into a blackened electro creep, the background sounds swooping ominously, soft swells of hiss and grit wreath the rhythm, the mix a bit warped as well, the sound pulsing, laced with thick bursts of ominous thrum cranked WAY louder than everything around it, creating a secondary rhythm, one that's even more woozy. Which is pretty much how the rest of the record plays out, and perhaps exactly what you might expect from a formerly psych folk / black ambient technician gone electronic. In fact, strip away the beats, and this would be some harrowing black ambience, but it really is all about the beats, as much as the textures and moody ambience. In some places, the sound slips into an almost dubstep, but a hellish ultra minimal, avant dubstep, a swirling swath of fractured blurred samples, glitched out beats, and rib cage rattling low end.The shorter tracks here seems to drift back toward the Haxan Cloak of old, with scraped cello string rumbles, keening distant melodies, echo drenched industrial plod, ominous minor key piano stabs, but the two 2-part epics here definitely have the new sound on full display, channeling a Burial like minimal dub, and the more spare haunting minimal abstract beatscaping of recent aQ faves Raime, filtering it through Haxan Cloak's sinister black ambient industrial filter, the results might be one of the darkest, meanest sounding electronic records ever. The second half of the record finds some melody filtering through, the second half of "The Mirror Reflecting", is almost pretty, although still fractured and fucked up, but it builds to a seriously psychedelic coda, before the relatively brief "Dieu" delivers the most straight ahead electro jam here, but it's really relative, freaky vocal snippets, swirling strings, buzzing bass thrum, fragmented rhythmic skitter, ominous pulsating melodies, it's almost like an intro for the massive 13 minute closer "The Drop", which ditches beats completely for the first half of the track, instead, weaving a lush undulating landscape of shimmering chiming melodies, moaning strings, deep bass pulsations, lysergic chordal swirls, everything hazy and washed out, the beats do eventually surface, but they're more like processed low end throbs, looped beneath the song's haunting almost orchestral sounding swirl, the beats becoming almost Kompakt worthy for the last half, but the blackened surrounding sounds, and the weirdly static churn of the main single beat rhythm, keeps the track from getting at all 'dance-y', the beats merely adding texture to the song's blurred and blackened abject sonic sprawl. The sort of seriously sinister, cinematic soundscaping that transform any dancefloors into a crushing, harrowing, black pit of sonic despair. Awesome!
MPEG Stream: "Excavation (Part 1)"
MPEG Stream: "Excavation (Part 2)"
MPEG Stream: "The Mirror Reflecting (Part 2)"
HAYNES, JIM The Incident With A Ghost (Hooker Vision) cassette 8.98
After killer releases from Motion Sickness Of Time Travel, Grant Evans, Quiet Evenings, Afterlife and a bunch more, the Hooker Vision label gives us a brand new recording from our very own Jim Haynes, who seems to move well beyond his "I rust things" method of sonic alchemy, creating what in Haynes' world is about as close to a minimal avant garde shoegaze as we can imagine. And in fact, we had wondered if Haynes might try something more overtly melodic for his first Hooker Vision outing, and while perhaps The Incident With A Ghost isn't strictly melodic, it's much more lush and warm than past release, seemingly trading in some of the grey austerity he often traffics in for something more organic. The first side opens with a strange rhythmic tangle made up of what sounds like the warm rhythmic patter of rainfall on clay pots, geiger counter crackle and the snap of crackling fires, those sounds form the core of what becomes a slowly expanding sonic sphere, all softly swirling reverberations, lush tonal thrum, and strange pulses and pulsations. The vibe is definitely some underwater world, or the surface of some alien planet. The sound is stormy, that rhythmic crackle blurring into shapeless whorls, beneath which tones shimmer and churn, before a sudden glitch, sends the track into much more tranquil territory, a deep slow building rumble, that begins to smolder, and transform into a sort of soft focus dream-noise, eventually giving way to some Caretaker like creep, all gauzey longform tones, and timestretched ballroom dreaminess, which billows into thick droney clouds that border on serious shoegaze blissout. Maybe the prettiest thing we've heard from Haynes yet!The flipside is much less active, a sprawl of blackened ambience, pocked with all manner of micro sonic events, scrapes and thumps, rumbles and whirs, the sound a series of slow swells, hazy and haunting, downright tranquil until the last 5 minutes or so, when those tranquil sounds begin to grow corrosive, exploding into a raw, grinding howl of sound, wrapped in junk metal clatter, and jagged shards of static, only to suddenly dissipate, unfurling a haunting outro, all mysterious sounds, voices and machines, buried beneath slow shifting layers of bleak glowing shimmer, a woozy, wraithlike drift.Nice metallic silver packaging. LIMITED TO 100 COPIES!!
MPEG Stream: "From Wasps"
HENDRIX, ANDY & THE SKWAARMALAR MACHINE / SMOKEY EMERY split (Kiamesha Drive) cassette 5.98
Two simpatico noisescapers from Austin square off for this limited split cassette release. We're well familiar with Smokey Emery from his many releases on Holodeck, Indian Queen, and his own Kiamesha Drive imprints, but Andy Hendrix & the Skwaarmalar Machine are new to us. We can't imagine what a Skwaarmalar Machine would look like or how it operates, but the sounds contained on that side of the cassette are cavernously industrial sounding like a go-cart race slowed down for intense drama. The slowly throbbing rev of an echoing motor as it swerves and skids around a warehouse, speeding up to an intense climax then slowing down to a deep bass pendulous pulse. The Smokey Emery side is from four live edits and contain his trademark hazy murk of built up tape loops of infinitely recycled recordings. Using an arsenal of personal recording devices including cell phones, and digital video cameras, it's a rich cloud of tunneling drones containing smoldering pockets of murmurs and atmospheric rumbles that are sublime and at times quite terrifying.
HIGGS, DANIEL Surrender To Love (Wild Sages) cassette 10.98
Super limited tape from modern musical shaman Daniel Higgs, he formerly of the late great Lungfish as well as Lungfish offshoot the Pupils. By now, most readers of the aQ list are familiar with Higgs, post Lungfish, having carved out a truly unique niche for himself, creating distinctly personal, spiritual music, in all manner of sonic forms, whether it's solo jaw harp, banjo drones, or tranced out vocal mesmer. All of those come into play here, a dizzying, tripped out, psychedelic melding of Higgs's peculiar hypno-poetry and his visionary modern minimalism, the opening track here a dense swirl of programmed primitive rhythms, some sort of drones, harmonium maybe? What sounds like banjo and jaw harp, all blurred and tangled into a churning backdrop for Higgs' entrancing vocals, which sort of sets the template for the rest of the tape, even tracks like the second one here, which begins all warm and warbly, just a wheezing chordal drone, soon blossoms into a dizzying soft chaos of layered rhythms, looped voices, and mysterious chants. Here and there, Higgs does break it down, at one point, a reverb drenched banjo (?) is wreathed in reverb and unfurls a fluttery bit of folky psychedelic mesmer, and there's bits that sound like some sort of alien Appalachia, but it all fits perfectly into Higgs' wonderfully warped sonic worldview.EXTREMELY LIMITED! These are likely the last copies we'll be able to get!!
HUMAN EYE 4: Into The Unknown (Goner) cd 13.98
The return of these noise rock sci-fi garage glam blooz punk weirdos, fronted by Timmy Vulgar, formerly of aQ faves Timmy's Organism and frontman of the Clone Defects. But in Human Eye, Vulgar and his cohorts whip up a dizzying collection of warped, whatthefuck, outsider psychedelic space rock garage punk, or something like that, it's heavy, spacey, garagey, bloozey, definitely psychedelic, and definitely kinda punk, all swaggery and groovy, the sound slipping from Stoogesy stomp to Hawkwind style space out, and from organ driven garage rock vamps to brooding almost echo drenched fuzz pop, there are organs whirring all over the place, the drumming is wild and chaotic, everything wreathed in wah wah guitar, with pounding piano, and clouds of FX. The vibe is definitely glammy, and there's all sorts of weirdness going on, bloops and bleeps, analog synths, blorping bass, Human Eye coming off like some alien glam rock combo, and in many way reminding us of the Lee Harvey Oswald Band, the same sort of irreverence coupled with crazy catchy songs, anthemic and hooky as hell. But it's noisy and grimy and sorta slithery and dark too, the sound is dense and dangerous, laced with extreme poppiness, but that poppiness often underpinned by a shadowy sonic malevolence. But just as often, the shrug off the darkness completely and kick out some impossibly poppy jam, or disregard any sort of musical gravity and go careening into the stratosphere, all blissed out and prismatically druggy!
MPEG Stream: "Gettin' Mean"
MPEG Stream: "Alligator Dance"
MPEG Stream: "Immortal Soldier"
MPEG Stream: "Faces In The Shadows"
INVISIBLE HANDS, THE s/t (Abduction) 2lp 29.00
NOW ON VINYL!What?! A somewhat sort of sensible Alan Bishop recording? We had thought the amazing Baroque Primitiva from 2011 might have been the most polite thing the former Sun City Girl had ever released; but his latest project under the moniker Invisible Hands might just take the cake, as this one can be downright lovely, not too far from Giant Sand or Calexico weirdly enough. Nope, there's none of the misogyny or misanthropy which Bishop routinely tosses into his lyrics for the Sun City Girls or as Alvarius B, and most definitely nothing as rude and wild and over the top as his Uncle Jim pseudonym; and that may have to do with the company he's keeping. The Invisible Hands ensemble is comprised of members of the Egyptian rock band Eskenderella; and they recorded this album in the summer of 2011 after the ousting of Hosni Mubarak and the upheaval that spread throughout Northern Africa. Perhaps, the timing was such that it would be unwise to record an album with the sorts of provocative subjects that Bishop is generally known for; but then again, it might have been equally improper to have recorded an album that might have been offensive to an Egyptian sensibility. To Bishop, it might be one thing to offend his politically correct audience in America and another thing to offend his hosts in Egypt, 'cause that would be rude. Eh. Or hell, maybe we're just getting a glimpse of a lesser seen sonic side to this musical misanthrope...Either way, the album's arrangements are lovely and spacious, mostly driven by acoustic guitar with plenty of those Morricone nods common to the Bishop songbook, but there's some more aggressive turns with the theatrical gravity of Tom Waits and a few incendiary psychedelic moments that had us wondering aloud "Hey, when is somebody gonna reissue Torch Of The Mystics?" In fact, one of the songs here "Black Weather Shoes" is a pretty radical reinterpretation of an old Sun City Girls track from their record Grotto Of Miracles. Unlike the cd, the lp DOES feature the tracks that were recorded in Arabic, which are found on the second piece of wax. Same songs, different mixes, different language. We lamented the English version being our only option with the cd, now we've got both! Thanks, Alan!
MPEG Stream: "Black Weather Shoes"
MPEG Stream: "Black Blood"
MPEG Stream: "Death Zoo"
JACOB The Ominous (Utech) cd 14.98
Jacob isn't a person, but a duo, consisting of David Cordero, who belongs to a Spanish experimental post-rock ensemble called Ursula whom we haven't heard before, and Marco Serrato, who's the bassist/vocalist in Spanish avant-doooOOOoomsters Orthodox, whom we HAVE heard (and love). This disc on Utech finds the two working together on a new project in the spirit of what's described as "Xenakis-worship", making a dark and droney soundscape that lives up to its title, and then some! Full of spooky seismic rumblings, fluttering static, scary grinding distortion, speaker-rattling drone, avant-chamber string skree, it's only loud if you turn it up (we dare you), but even at a fairly low volume it's still sinister and eerie stuff. Inspired, perhaps, yes, by the electronic compositions of Xenakis, but also definitely by the duo's mutual love of sci-fi and horror film soundtracks. It doesn't say anywhere what the instrumentation is, but we think we're hearing cello or double bass, and electronics, and bowed cymbals maybe? All played by skeletons, or wraiths, in a dead void of inky blackness. Some haunting buried/effected wordless vokills enter into the listener's (sub)consciousness during the final track, too, we think, and hint at somethings we've heard from Orthodox. But if it turned out that this really was the work of an obscure 20th century composer we'd belive it - and be putting in a call to Creel Pone just to say, why have you been holding out on us?The six tracks of nightmare atmospherics on this disc aren't just ominous, but THE ominous. Seriously. Open-minded Orthodox fans (what other kind are there?) should investigate, as should anyone else into claustrophobic isolationist soundscapery!!Comes in typically nice, slim Utech packaging, with translucent printed sleeve and three cards bearing b&w photographs, morbid and beautiful.
MPEG Stream: "The Ominous Part I"
MPEG Stream: "The Ominous Part II"
MPEG Stream: "The Whore"
KOUYATE, BASSEKOU & NGONI BA Jama Ko (Out Here Rec) cd 16.98
Bassekou Kouyate is like the Steve Vai of Mali. About as close as you'll get to a shredder. His instrument of choice the ngoni, an African lute which is an early ancestor of the banjo. Bassekou builds his own ngonis, at at some point decided he just didn't have enough strings, so started adding MORE, and eventually formed Ngoni Ba, the first ever group formed around FOUR ngonis, augmented by percussion and of course soulful stirring vocals, but it's the ngonis that are the star. Apparently, when Bassekou was a young man, he observed guitar players moving to the front of the stage to solo, and as luck would have it, Bassekou had outfitted his ngoni with a strap, and while most ngoni players traditionally sat to play, when it came time for his solo, he stood up, headed for the front of the stage and proceeded to blow everyone away. Signaling his radical intentions for the instrument. He also developed his own unique style of picking, a unique version of slide guitar technique as well, a style that was quickly adopted by a new crop of young ngoni players in Mali. Jama Ko is the latest from Kouyate and his Ngoni Ba, and is easily the best thing we've heard. His Sub Pop records (!) didn't quite capture the raw energy and emotion, but here, the songs are dreamy, haunting, emotional, passionate, the vocals a huge part of the sound, with the ngonis weaving a lush melodic backdrop, but it's when the ngonis take center stage that things get really good, the sound very reminiscent in places of Konono No.1, the lead ngoni, super distorted and buzzy, unfurling wild tangles of melody, but every song here is incredible, the sound of four ngonis divine, easily slipping into wild psychedelic swirls, with at least half of the record spent in some sort of Afro-psych mode, but just as easily, weaving soft lushly layered textures, over which the group lays down swoonsome minor key melodies, and delivers heartfelt vocal driven Afro pop dreaminess. So great!
MPEG Stream: "Jama Ko"
MPEG Stream: "Dankou"
MPEG Stream: "Ne Me Fatigue Pas"
MPEG Stream: "Kele Magni"
LENTO Anxiety Despair Languish (Denovali Recordings) cd 16.98
It's been a while since we've heard from these Italian atmospheric epic post-prog, math-metal heavies, who in the past have shared a split with psychedelic doomlords and countrymen Ufomammut, and who gave us the stunning Earthen record we raved about a while back, and if anything since then, it seems like everything we dug about these guys has been further honed, their sound still a swirling, chugging, dense and driving, sprawling epic instru-metal, but just, MORE. More mathy, more psychedelic, more proggy, in fact, where most bands like this deliver a handful of lengthy mega-epics, allowing the songs to continually morph and cycle through the millions of parts, Lento cram their metal prog majesty into short, regular song lengths, the longest barely cracking 4 minutes, a few brief two minute blasts, but with most hovering around the 3 minute pop song mark. But there's no way any of these tracks will be mistaken for pop songs, sure, some are dangerously catchy, but for the most part, each song is a dizzying collision of multiple parts, constantly shifting textures, flitting from moody brood, to howling metallic fury, to fluttery folky drift, to loping post rock drift, to hushed jazzy shuffle, to churning almost blackness, to soaring Godspeed worthy, keyboard wreathed swirl and soar, and really, in lesser hands it all might feel like too much, like a band cramming way too many parts into way too little song, but somehow Lento make it feel strangely natural. It's a wild ride for sure, and one that is pretty sonically dizzying, but the songs all feel linked sonically, some sort of prog-math songsuite, and while their Earthen record had a bit of a churning industrial feel, we likened it to Godflesh, and Jesu, as well as more obvious comparisons like Isis and Nadja, the sound here is way more varied, and organic, more math rock and noise rock, with hints of power metal and post rock and spaced out psych and whatever else these weirdos want to mix into their strange sonic brew.We hear lots of Isis and Nadja still, but plenty of Dutch instrumental metal legends Gore too, as well as LOTS of longtime obscuro aQ faves Fuehler, definitely some shades of the Fucking Champs, the aforementioned power metallisms in places, the mathy chug of Meshuggah for sure, but for the most part, Anxiety Despair Languish is just a fantastically forward thinking, wildly progressive, sonically heavy rock record that RULES, and should have metalheads (and heck adventurous non metalheads) of all stripes losing their shit big time.The vinyl version is 180 gram and includes a download code.
MPEG Stream: "Glorification Of The Chosen One"
MPEG Stream: "Death Must Be The Place"
MPEG Stream: "Questions And Answers"
LIFE COACH Alphawaves (Thrill Jockey) cd 17.98
Our pal Phil Manley (Trans Am, The Fucking Champs, Jonas Reinhardt, etc.) has done that thing where the title of his krauty, kosmiche, Schulze-y, synthy solo record from 2011, Life Coach, has now been made the name of his new band, Life Coach, a duo featuring Phil and drummer extraordinare Jon Theodore (Golden, The Mars Volta, Queens Of The Stone Age, etc.), both of 'em pictured cartoonishly on the disc's colorfully trippy cover. Guess Phil's really into the Life Coach concept, and we're into the music for sure, which does sometimes sound like it could be the background track on a New Age motivational speaker's VHS cassette, in a good way of course. And that's just sometimes, 'cause this rocks out a bit more than most real life life coaches could stand, harshing their ponytailed mellow with guitar riffing and pounding drums.We'd always heard a lot about what a great drummer JT is, but it wasn't until we saw Life Coach play live a little while back that we really understood - man, he stole the show! No wonder everyone was always raving about his mad skillz. So, naturally, this Life Coach album is full of rhythmical radness, alongside the spacey guitars and synths of our man Manley. The results are fine listening indeed, as mood music and more. "Sunrise" serves as this album's intro, starting things off appropriately with lovely break-of-dawn, "Rites Of Spring" shimmer, prayer bells tinkling amidst quiet electronic drones, tambura strum, and gentle peals of electric guitar - but then, wham, Jon Theodore's drumkit kicks in with track two, the title cut, and it's all Trans Am bombast meets Michael Rother bliss now, a style of new agey krauty postrock that we'd be happy to enjoy for the duration, and while there's plenty of it throughout the album, Life Coach have a few surprises in store - with Isaiah Mitchell of Earthless/Golden Void dropping in for a couple guest guitar solos (he even appears, with his guitar, in that cover drawing), turning the track "Fireball" into a heavy rocker that sounds a LOT like the fuzzed out '70s-sounding California catchiness of Golden Void, easily a highlight here any devout Golden Void fan (like us) is gonna need to hear. There's singing on that one, by Phil we assume though it sounds much like Isaiah does in GV, but otherwise this album is a mostly instrumental affair, the other notable vocal track being the uptempo "Mind's Eye", lots of electronics swirling around the propulsive beats while Phil sings of inner consciousness, his words floating up above, and beyond. Good times, high times. "Ohm" winds things up with a lengthy wash of cymbals and synthesizers, a wonderfully droned-out finale to this varied and vibrant album.Big thumbs up to Life Coach's brand of uplifting synth-splorations and stoner rock jamz!!
MPEG Stream: "Alphawaves"
MPEG Stream: "Into The Unknown"
MPEG Stream: "Fireball"
LOCUST You'll Be Safe Forever (Editions Mego) cd 16.98
We always wanted to like those Locust records that came out in the '90s, with their alluring 4AD-inspired visual aesthetics and matching moody atmospherics, the sound a darkly silken electronica. Even though Locust's principal technician Mark Van Hoen had worked on the best Seefeel albums (and the underappreciated side project Scala), his work in Locust never really hit the mark. The baroqueness of it all seemed a bit too contrived. The female vocals that he was so fond of seemed superfluous as well. So when Van Hoen resurrected his career last year with a record under his own name on Editions Mego, we approached it with some skepticism, but thankfully that skepticism was unfounded as he finally delivered an album of what we always hoped for. The strengths of that album - the spooky atmospheres, the hypnotic sequencing, and those breakbeats which align so nicely next to the best from Boards of Canada - are reprised here on You'll Be Safe Forever, the first Locust album in nearly 12 years.A somber tranquility eases through You'll Be Safe Forever, with its heavily reliance on swelling ambient synths, languid samples, dark-eyed kosmische vibes, and deconstructed pop motifs. Even when Van Hoen revs up things up on a track like "Strobes," the punchiness of crunched rhythms and taut arpeggiation dissolve within the hypnotic patterning from his female vocal samples and bleary-eyed drones. "The Washer Woman" with its painterly sequencing, skittering rhythm track and tone-bent melodies has all of the tropes of a great Biosphere track. By the end of the record especially on "The Flower Lady" and "Subie", Van Hoen hits those blunted notes of low-slung basslines and slow-motion grooves that would have been right at home on Mo' Wax back in the day. One of the finest electronica records of 2013 for sure.
MPEG Stream: "Strobes"
MPEG Stream: "Fall For Me"
MPEG Stream: "Just Want You"
MELVINS Everybody Loves Sausages (Ipecac) cd 15.98
Fact: the Melvins are one of the best bands ever, and continue to be one of the best bands ever.Fact: the Melvins are always awesome when it comes to doing covers (their version of "Candy-O" by The Cars from Ozma being our favorite, closely followed by their version of KISS's "Going Blind" from Houdini), usually "making them their own" 100 percent.Fact: they've just released a disc that's all covers, with some guest vocalists, and the song selection is quite eclectic to say the least, occasionally obscure too, including one that maybe only folks from San Francisco will freak out over - they do a song by the Pop-O-Pies!!! Cool.Our only complaint about this, really, is that with the presence of the guest vocalists, some of the covers, while totally spot-on or otherwise interesting & well-done, maybe don't sound as much like the Melvins as we'd like - if Buzz woulda sung 'em all, we'd be even happier. But it's a quibble.So, what more do you need to know? Well, the dang tracklist, perhaps. Here it is:1. "Warhead" by Venom, featuring Scott Kelly of Neurosis2. "Best Friend" by Queen, featuring Caleb Benjamin of Tweak Bird3. "Black Betty" not by but as performed by Ram Jam4. "Set It On Fire" by the The Scientists, featuring Mark Arm of Mudhoney5. "Station To Station" by David Bowie, featuring J.G. Thirlwell of Foetus6. "Attitude" by The Kinks, featuring Clem Burke from Blondie7. "Female Trouble" by Divine8. "Carpe Diem" by The Fuggs9. "Timothy Leary Lives" by the Pop-O-Pies10. "In Every Dream Home A Heartache" by Roxy Music, featuring both Jello Biafra and Kevin Rutmanis (formerly of both the Cows and the Melvins)11. "Romance" by Tales of Terror 12. "Art School" by The Jam, featuring Tom Hazelmeyer of Halo Of Flies 13. "Heathen Earth" by Throbbing GristleWow, quite a diverse & cool selection, eh? If you're a Melvins fan, you probably want this (unless, perhaps, you hated The Crybaby, which also featured a lot of unlikely covers/collaborations). 'Cause after all, heck, everybody does love sausages!
MPEG Stream: "Warhead"
MPEG Stream: "Station To Station"
MPEG Stream: "Female Trouble"
MORGEN s/t (Sunbeam) cd 17.98
Nice, reissued again on cd, with lots of bonus tracks! We've had some slightly dodgier editions previously, but Sunbeam (who brought us recent Record Of The Week Think Pink by Twink) do the job legit, with the participation of the original band, so an upgrade is advised.As heavy-ish late sixties psychedelia from the garage goes, this one-off 1969 album from Long Island's Morgen is a worthy contender. The b&w Edvard Munch "Scream" on the cover is perhaps a clue that this will be fairly dark and tripped out, and it is, with druggy lyrics like: "Come take a bite from my gingerbread house, and let your troubles fade away...". That's from the album's first, and we think bestest, track, a definite fuzz psych classic, "Welcome To The Void". The fuzz is so thick, you could cut it with a knife. The singer (who's a better guitarist) delivers some turned on tales of popular nursery rhyme characters, but mainly you'll be hearing fuzzzz. And there's lotsa wild guitar and more fuzz as the album goes on. For fans of the Electric Prunes, Plastic Cloud, The Litter, and others of that ilk. If you haven't found a previous reissue of this already, as already mentioned this one is better than any before, boasting a total of eight bonus tracks (including rare home recordings postdating the album's release), plus there's plenty in the way of liner notes and vintage photos in the thick cd booklet.
MPEG Stream: "Welcome To The Void"
MPEG Stream: "Of Dreams"
MOSS Horrible Night (Metal Blade) 2lp 41.00
NOW ON GATEFOLD VINYL! It's been a little while, but finally time to all out another complement of o's. That's right, UK doomlords Moss return with their latest batch of ultra mega doooooooooooooooom. And like their last record, Tombs Of The Blind Drugged, Horrible Night is another collection of slo-mo-sludge, sub-Sabbathian swing, glacial downtuned creep, and churning, lumbering low end heaviosity. The weird thing is, considering how heavy and sludgy these guys are, we only just now discovered they don't have a bass player, and the singer ONLY sings. We always assumed they were a proper three piece, guitar, bass, drums, with one of those blokes singing. Kinda insane that just guitar and drums can conjure up such a thick, blackened oozing sound. But we digress. While much of the sound on Horrible Night is essentially a continuation of their multiple o'd ultra doom, there is one thing that has changed, and that's the vocals. There are in fact still some throat shredding howls, but the bulk of the vocals are clean, soaring proper singing. Suddenly Moss have a twinge of true doom to them. Vocalist (just vocalist) Olly Pearson does a decent Ozzy-ish wail, which most definitely changes the tenor and tone of the Moss musical universe. The opening title track eventually settles into some old style Mossiness, replete with the howled anguished vokills, there's even some super weird tripped out psychedelic leads at one point, but the whole first half is total old school true doom, slowed down to a crawl, Pearson belting it out. Not sure if we're imagining it or not, but with the clean vocals, even the music seems to swing a but more, sounding a little bit more Sabbathy and stonery. Hard to say if true ultra doomlords will be disappointed, but we're digging it a lot. Definitely adds some melody and musicality to the group's otherwise minimal but massively crushing dour dirgery, and it's interesting too, that the music hasn't changed all that much really, so it's still droned out and doomy, lumbering and trudging, funereal/funeral ultradoom, but now with proper vox. We can't help but feel like the sound's gonna explode into a galloping classic metal groove at any point, and it feels like that expectation imbues the music with a weird dark tension, cuz it never does, Moss have it locked down, keeping their BPM to a minimum, and tuning down as low as they can, unfurling thick sheets of undulating, crumbling, super distorted buzz, the riffs serpentine and slow motion, it's the sort of metal that doesn't inspire headbanging so much as a sort of swaying back and forth, hypnotic, mesmerizing, a many o'd dooooooooooom, given new life, and transformed into the world's slowest, and most abject, blackly psychedelic true ultra doom. And we DIG it.
MPEG Stream: "Horrible Night"
MPEG Stream: "The Bleeding Years"
MPEG Stream: "Dark Lady"
MOTION SICKNESS OF TIME TRAVEL Oust (Sic Sic) cassette 8.98
Our favorite queen of the cassette - Rachel Evans / Motion Sickness Of Time Travel returns! Oust is her most recent release, just released by the German imprint Sic Sic; and yet again, Evans unfurls a gorgeous collection of bleary-eyed electronic abstractions. This time she tilts in an austere direction, reducing the bubbling percolations in favor of oceanic undulations and woozily sung lullabies all dunked in the reverb pool. The opening track "Black Umbrella" pulls her breathy vocalizations to the foreground above her darkened Schnitzler-inspired syncopations. The second track "Row Of Peach Trees" (certainly an allusion to the native Georgian countryside) begins with a similar vibe through her cybernetic arpeggiations and taut filter sweeps, but over the five minute piece, Evans deftly transitions the austere electronics into a twinkling kosmische sound topped with one of those lovely tone-bent melodies that have become an occasional yet beguiling recurring motif in her work. Again she focuses on the vocalization toward the end of side one of this cassette, reprising those melodies found elsewhere. The second side of the tape waltzes around her bright swells all crystal clear, slow melodies that never sound as cloyingly sweet as some of the new age copyists as of late, but there's much more of a sparkling austerity going on here than at the beginning. Lovely as ever. Very limited stock as with all of the Motion Sickness tapes we get in! Just 100 were pressed.
MPEG Stream: "Black Umbrellas"
MPEG Stream: "Rows Of Peach Trees"
MPEG Stream: "The Secret Door"
NIGHTCRAWLERS Space Ritual At St. Mary's (Psychic Arts) cd-r 8.98
A rare live recording from uber-obscure early Tangerine Dream worshippers, Nightcrawlers, a three piece out of New Jersey who released cassettes of their "cosmic floating space music" between 1979 and 1992. Recorded in a church in 1985, these two 30 minute tracks take full advantage of the reverent resonance of the live cathedral environment with beautiful bowed drones, glacial organ and intensely meditative flourishes of futuristic kosmiche. Super-Limited to 50 copies, this group presaged the new age krautrock revival by about 20 years and are long overdue for rediscovery.
MPEG Stream: "Part 1"
MPEG Stream: "Part 2"
NO JOY Wait To Pleasure (Mexican Summer) cd 9.98
Finally, a new record from one of our favorite modern noise pop shoegaze outfits, No Joy, whose first two releases were both HUGE aQ faves, and it looks like this new one won't be any different. We'd like to say No Joy just keep getting better, but they were already pretty goddamn great in the first place, so we'll just say, this new one is just as good as both Ghost Blonde and Negaverse. All of the elements are still in place, huge blown out distorted fuzz guitars, swirling FX heavy atmospheres, dreamy ethereal angelic voices, we basically knew from song one here that there was no reason to resist, but then we wouldn't have wanted to anyway, the simply titled "E" is a monster, churning, soaring, epic and majestic, noisy and distorted and heavy, but somehow simultaneously dreamy and melodic and washed out and woozy, psychedelic and shimmery, we almost wish the track was 40 minutes long and the whole record was just that track. Eventually, the song gets swallowed up in a squall of distorto guitar that is so divine, even the outro noise jam we don't want to end. But like the other records, No Joy strike a good balance between swirling tripped out shoegaze heaviness, and shimmery jangle pop, although we're happy to report that this time around, they seem to be leaning toward the heavy shoegaze psych side of their sound, with even the prettiest songs here rife with blasts of thick guitar chug, and clouds of lysergic psychedelic swirl. All that and hooks too, the songs' catchy cores wrapped in a protective layer of guitarnoise and gloriously crumbling distortion. Imagine the prettiest, jangliest girl pop you can, and just dip the whole thing in an ocean of buzz, and then roll it in fields of hum and thrum, and then supercharge it and send it careening into the heart of the sun, and that's essentially No Joy. The new record is definitely more varied than past outings, with moments of gloom pop murk, some drum machine driven electro-pop, some swirly dubbiness, and all manner of variations on minimal twee pop and jangly shimmer, but all of those are woven together by the thick patina of buzz and swirl that seems to surround the whole record, and while nothing quite reaches the ferocity of the opener, there's plenty of noisiness lurking throughout this fantastic collection of fuzz pop bliss!!Vinyl version includes a digital download!
MPEG Stream: "E"
MPEG Stream: "Hare Tarot Lies"
MPEG Stream: "Prodigy"
MPEG Stream: "Slug Night"
OBNOX Canabible Ohio (Black Gladiator / Slovenly) 2x7" 12.98
The return of Obnox, aka Lamont Thomas of psychedelic garage punks Puffy Areloas, and this double 7" is chock full of surprises, none more so than the A side, a weird, noisy, lo-fi garage hip-hop jam, that's right, hip hop, and it's KILLER, the groove is funky but fuzzy and damaged and perfectly lo-fi, soulful and so good. a killer flow over a blown out dirgey groove, with some seriously super distorted bass. But fear not, flip the record over and Obnox take on two short sharp punk as fuck covers, one by the Urinals, the other by Gaunt, both noisy, and chaotic, and distorted and buzzy kick ass. The second single starts off with a cover of the McCoys' "Hang On Sloopy", plenty sloppy and garagey and chaotic, but plenty groovy and soulful as well, which leads right into the final track, a killer cover of the gospel soul classic "He's Forever" by The King James Version, and Obnox basically just roughs up the edges a bit, retaining much of it's soulful gospel groove, but here wedded to distorted guitars and wrapped in a lo-fi production. Kick ass stuff. Some seriously ruling soul punk from this Puffy Areola gone rogue!Packaged in a full color gatefold sleeve, LIMITED TO 500 COPIES!!
PAIRS If This Cockroach Doesn't Die, I Will (Metal Postcard) 2lp 14.98
The first we heard from this Chinese noise rock duo was via a self released cd-r/dvd-r sent to us by a friend who was traveling in China. And we were immediately obsessed, their sound equal parts lo-fi punked out pop, swaggery UK style new wave infused post punk, and wild noisy shitgaze indie rock radness. Rumor was these guys were a big deal over there and it's easy to see why. We sold a ton of those cd-r's and then recently, the band got in touch to let us know there was a proper full length coming out, a double lp in fact, and here it is, the awesomely titled If This Cockroach Doesn't Die, I Will, and much like the cd-r, it's another killer collection of raw, distorto garage punk indie noise crunch and jangle, that the band describes the record like this: "Some pretty good tracks. Songs about frustration, cock suckery, idiots being in positions of power and a heap of other worldly themes." The inside of the gatefold features liner notes which are essentially a casual letter to the listeners, a pretty funny conversation about the internet, and what it's like being a band now versus then, even offering you the record for free, at least offering to see what they can do, inviting other bands to come to China to tour, and finally, apologizing for the vocals, saying simply "they can be rough in parts". And yeah, they can be, but it's part of their charm, and a big part of the sound, slipping from yowl to howl to a sung/spoken thing that reminds us of the Fall or maybe Art Brut. The music this time around is similarly noisy, the drums dense and tribal, the guitar super distorted, the riffs pretty simple, but woozy and jagged, Pairs locking into some seriously tranced out passages, that almost sound like caveman This Heat. But there's plenty of noisy, angular noise pop too, which is mainly what Pairs traffic in, and they definitely sound more and more British every time we hear them, the vocals have a lot to do with it (pretty sure the singer is a British or Aussie ex-pat), and that aforementioned sung/spoken delivery, all wrapped around raw, urgent primitive post punk pound, it's not hard to imagine these two blowing up in the world of NME and Rough Trade, cuz anyone who digs bands like Arctic Monkeys, Art Brut, Franz Ferdinand and all those groups. But Pairs are WAY more punk, their sound way more raw and DIY and noisy, the rough production, not to mention the seriously twisted experimental bent making their sound way more of an underground proposition, but that's also exactly what makes it so good. And you wouldn't hear a band like Franz Ferdinand lock into a super long stretch of noise drenched, angular, minor key, hypno rock pound, but when Pairs do, it's pretty much totally irresistible, and seems to be a good balance to their noise-poppier side. Here's hoping these two make it over here to play shows, they're definitely one of those bands, as we mentioned in our other review, who sound like they'd be nuts live, wild, sweat soaked, bloody and bruised, the vibe emotional and passionate and seriously intense. And thus WAY recommended. Comes packaged in a nice thick full color gatefold jacket. No download, but check the liner notes, we're sure you can email them and work something out!
MPEG Stream: "Permanent Residence"
MPEG Stream: "Cat Food"
MPEG Stream: "A Surgeon At A Hospital In Shanghai Severed A Nerve In My Groin"
MPEG Stream: "Cosplay Girls"
MPEG Stream: "Slambourine Man"
PAN AMERICAN Cloud Room, Glass Room (Kranky) cd 14.98
Mark Nelson began recording under the Pan American moniker back in 1997, overlapping his contributions in the seminal slowcore, post-rock trio Labradford. He continued on with Pan American after Labradford called it quits a couple years later, and even as Pan American's catalogue has now eclipsed that of Labradford, much of Pan American's sound stems from the Labradford ethos -- spacious melodies, an electronic dubby minimalism, the whisper of a song, and a world-weary miserablism. Here on Cloud Room, Glass Room, Nelson has rechristened Pan American as a full fledged band with avant-drone percussionist Steven Hess (On, Haptic, etc.) at his side and former Labradford bassist Bobby Donne returning to the fray once again. Throughout Cloud Room, Glass Room, there are plenty of slumping passages of restrained guitar drones and layered electronic wash that are as contemplative and open-ended as the night sky. Pan American puncture spells of this ambience with some far more structured pieces when Hess grounds Nelson's guitar drifts with a sense of rhythm, even on the quietly locomotive skitter of "Project for an Apartment Building." Add Donne back into the mix, and it's easy to hear the ghosts of Labradford once again. "Virginia Waveform" could almost be a Codeine instrumental with those slow descending basslines and washed out, blurring guitars, and the opening cut "The Cloud Room" with its weightless flutter from guitars and electronics hovering above the earthbound rhythm section with its decidedly American-frontiersman slow pacing.
MPEG Stream: "The Cloud Room"
MPEG Stream: "Virginia Waveform"
PAN GU Primeval Man Born Of The Cosmic Egg (Utech) lp 19.98
Vinyl-only (with download), limited to 300 copies, on Utech, beautifully packaged, complete with obi, with a gorgeous cover painting depicting a scene from ancient Chinese mythology that's referenced by the band name. Oh, and the music? It's pretty fantastic too, if hard to describe, being an improv session featuring Leslie Low (The Observatory, Arcn Tmpl) and Lasse Marhaug (Jazzkammer) doing a chocolate-in-my-peanut-butter routine, Leslie working with loops of acoustic guitar and voice, gauzey and droney and soft, that meld with the extreme washes of crackling distortion and electronic glitch dished out by Lasse. And it works, the harsh high end insectoid skree sounds and the lovely mesmeric moody looping ones achieving an intriguing harsh/moody synthesis, separately and together quite satisfying to adventurous ears. Imagine, say, something gorgeously drifting and droney on Time Released Sound, remixed by Merzbow. Very nice indeed!!
MPEG Stream: "Silver Needle, Silver Dragon"
MPEG Stream: "Fleas Were The Ancestor Of Mankind"
MPEG Stream: "Each Bay Its Own Kind"
PINK, ARIEL Thrash And Burn (Hem) 2cd 19.98
We really weren't sure what to expect from this, a reissue of a lost collection of 'musique concrete' from warped pop weirdo Ariel Pink, when he was in fact, still Ariel Rosenberg, and long before he would perfect his damaged pop-out-of-time style, fusing lysergic seventies beholden FM radio damage to classic pop music tropes all filtered through some woozy drug addled WTF/ADD sonic experimentation. That said, on first listen, these early tracks, from when Ariel fancied himself a "20th century composer", don't sound all that far removed from what would later become his signature sound. Which is not a bad thing at all. The whole 'musique concrete' tag just smacks a bit of pretentious artworld bullshit, lots of comparisons to Pierre Schaeffer and Xenakis and Luc Ferrari, and sure, some of the techniques here are definitely borrowed from those masters, much of Thrash And Burn assembled from varispeed tape loop experiments, abstract collages, processed primitive loops, home made electronics, all fashioned into a sprawling twisted minimalism, but one that to be fair, definitely looks forward to the warped outsider pop in Pink's future. In fact we'd opine that most ambitious underground music makers tend to employ musique concrete techniques, having grandiose ideas and a limited budget with which to realize them. Fucked up 4-tracks are the modern equivalent to the 20th century composer's tape machines. And if this is Ariel Pink's musique concrete record, then hell, 20th century composer Lou Barlow should get some serious kudos for his musique concrete masterpiece The Freed Weed! Cuz there's some seriously warped, tape damaged, fucked up avant garde sound art experimentation going on all over that record...But really, fans of Ariel Pink, ourselves included, will find much to dig here, a sprawling collection of damaged, minimal lo-fi abstract art pop, much of it in sketch form, as it seems these were culled from piles of busted up old tapes and scratched cd-r's, recorded in the nineties, only recently found on the floor of Pink's Beverly Hills bedroom, the detritus of a crazy prolific composer, and it's easy to see how some of these could have become proper AP tracks, but here, in their super raw and skeletal form, they definitely display another side of Pink, and they perhaps do reflect his interest in 20th century composition, but it's all all filtered through his funhouse mirror warped pop aesthetic. Many of the tracks are really gorgeous, minimal and rhythmic, layered and textured, psychedelic and hauntingly austere, others are like AP pop songs, stumbling programmed rhythms, warbly organs, wavery crooned vocals, everything wreathed in hiss and hum, and still others definitely display an early form of that VHS tape/retrokitsch/eighties Z-movie score sound that folks like Pink and James Ferraro among others would transform into a modern genre. So yeah, all pretension aside, this is a fantastic glimpse into the early years of one of our favorite modern outsider songwriters, it's woozy and warped, dreamily druggy and fantastically fucked up, it's also abstract and minimal, and experimental enough, so that perhaps to certain ears, it could be cast it in a different light, less a weird pop record with experimental tendencies, and more an experimental record with pop tendencies. Either way, whichever you prefer, we like it a lot!
MPEG Stream: "Shoes"
MPEG Stream: "Foul Play"
MPEG Stream: "I Disguise You"
MPEG Stream: "Cemetary Suite"
MPEG Stream: "Starry Eyes"
MPEG Stream: "Those Were The Days (Now I'm 21)"
MPEG Stream: "Nothing At All / Different Names"
MPEG Stream: "Feel It With Your Landlord"
PRETTY & NICE Golden Rules For Golden People (Rory / Equal Vision) cd 14.98
Hard to believe it's been five years since Pretty & Nice's twisted pop masterpiece Get Young. Not only was that hands down our pop record of that year, it's pretty much remained an all time favorite ever since, in our Pop Pantheon for sure. We were pretty geeked when we found out there was a new record on the way, we had sort of given up, assuming the band had called it quits, and even without hearing it, had prepared for an immediate top spot on our year end list. And these boys did not disappoint. Fans of the last record, and we know there are a lot of you out there in aQ land, you might was well just stop right here and toss this in your virtual cart, and count the days til it shows up in your mailbox, cuz it's everything Get Young was, but somehow even more. The band doing the impossible, and making a record that is somehow EVEN catchier, while being more weird and warped. Holy shit. We literally can barely stand to listen to anything else. Check out the first sound sample, if that doesn't convince you nothing will, and we'll likely have to revoke whatever pop cred you've accumulated, cuz we have not heard a jam this fun and frenetic, hooky and twistedly catchy in ages (since the last P&N record??), not to mention plenty of WTF production, and an arrangement that borders on the downright prog, again, without losing an ounce of energy, or a teensy bit of its insane catchiness. Strummy and fuzzy one second, stuttery and wildly distorted the next, soaring falsetto vox, plenty of jangle and crunch, and hooks everywhere. And unlike most bands who save the big hook for the chorus, these guys spread it out over the whole song, so not only is it unclear which part IS the chorus, you end up getting stuck in your head, a part of the verse, or a bridge, or a weird little outro, it's almost like they came up with a killer chorus, and just blew it up, splattering the rest of the song with residual catchiness. So good. And it's not just that one song, but it's the one we're currently crushing on HARD. Back to the beginning, opener, "Stallion & Mare" starts out some old timey baroque pop, before bursting into full on noise pop bliss, slippery, and slithery, groovy, bouncy, falling somewhere between Queen, and Sparks, and maybe Phoenix, with a hint of Ween at their catchiest, quirky and warped, stop start, strange squiggly melodies, it's like math rock transformed into pure pop, and when the bass drops, it's a thick distorted almost-sludge, when strapped to P&N's prismatic pop, it's the most headbangable slab of fuzz pop pretty much EVER.Follow up "Mummy Jets" is no slouch either, a brilliant blast of new wave pogo-worthy stop start jangle pop, with handclaps, swirling psychedelic guitars, and more falsetto, and again, a twisty turny structure that has no place in a pop song, at least your run of the mill pop song, but these guys manage to make twisty and turny crazy catchy, and you'll find yourself humming these impossibly convoluted pop gems endlessly. Years back when we reviewed Get Young, we described their sound as sounding like the "classic pop sounds of groups like XTC, Devo, Gang Of Four and folks like Joe Jackson and Elvis Costello, supercharged, then mashed all up with more modern pop masters like the Cardiacs, the New Pornographers, Maximo Park. Angular propulsive, kinetic, rambunctious, wild, energetic, SO SO SO SO catchy!" And as far as all that's concerned, nothing has changed, the popisms are classic, with certain melodies and turns of phrase, reminding us of classic power pop groups, that Yellow Pills sound, early new wave, but here, it's all tangled up and twisted into crazy, but impossibly catchy sonic shapes. We also hear the Dickies, the Sweet, Jellyfish, all stripes of killer pop warped, wrangled and recontextualized into something impossibly weird and wonderful. If we were sold before even listening to Golden Rules For Golden People, now after about 50 listens in a matter of days, we are completely and ridiculously obsessed. And we can guarantee, that once this week's list is put to bed, reviews all done, posted and sent, some of us are going to listen to NOTHING ELSE but this record for the foreseeable future. So totally and utterly and wholeheartedly recommended. ANYbody into quirky catchy pop, will be in absolute heaven.We're also sorta tickled that these guys found their way on to the Equal Vision label, who tend to specialize in emo/metalcore/Warped tour rock, but do historically have a thing for pop and melody, and as such, Pretty & Nice aren't such a bad fit after all, and heck, would love to see a crowd full of Falling In Reverse and Black Veil Brides fans get a load of these guys...
MPEG Stream: "New Czar"
MPEG Stream: "Stallion & Mare"
MPEG Stream: "Mummy Jets"
MPEG Stream: "Critters"
MPEG Stream: "Q_Q"
ROEDELIUS Offene Turen (Bureau B) cd 17.98
We had a compact disc reissue of this once before, but now Bureau B has reissued it again, with the original cover art - and done vinyl as well as cd!Offene Turen (Open Doors), Roedelius's little known fifth album from 1982, is definitely not like the others. Often considered his "experimental" record, Roedelius completed it shortly after the last major Cluster record, Curiosum, and it sometimes seems as if he wanted to make a record through the eyes of his more taciturn partner, Moebius. While it doesn't quite have Moebius's way with mechanical musical calibrations, the vibe is more stark and atmospheric and the closest we've heard any of the Cluster clan come to sounding cinematically proggy in the vein of John Carpenter and Goblin. Lots of church organ sounds and bell tones with an occasional glimpse into Roedelius's classical romantic side, but less so than on other releases. Definitely one of the worthier weirder records in the Cluster canon, perhaps not the place to start with, but for fans who are looking for something more unusual, there's lots to love, from songs that are seriously spooky and almost Oneohtrix-like, to other tracks that are charmingly naive experiments with the newest (at the time) digital tech. Recommended!
MPEG Stream: "Abenteuerliche Begegnung"
MPEG Stream: "Mit offenem Visier"
MPEG Stream: "Spiegelung"
ROGER NOVA TWELVE s/t (Twice Removed) cd-r 7.98
After a handful of gorgeous drone releases under the name Berber Ox, David Rutledge returns with his new trio, Roger Nova Twelve, and a killer disc of experimental krautrock. The opening track here wouldn't have been out of place on a Berber Ox records, a dark, pulsating sprawl of kosmische low end, a softly undulating dronescape wreathed in squiggly high end filigree and underpinned by a hushed warm thrum. But the sound soon shifts gears, a strange swirl of collaged radio broadcasts and mysterious shortwave transmissions gradually gives way to a simple motorik rhythm, the surrounding sounds building momentum, the drums and what sounds like either a bass or a keyboard, locked into an endless hypnorock loop, while all around it, FX swirl and squirm and shimmer. Eventually guitars swoop into the mix, chugging out a trancey psychedelic riff, while another wraps the proceedings in layers of sonic swirl, and suddenly, we're in total space-psych bliss out, sounding like a dreamier more laid back Heads or White Hills, building to a serious heavy psych blowout, a dense squall of guitarnoise, that gradually fades leaving just a sky full of echo drenched delay and the tracks and traces of fully faded out riff. But that's just part one. Part two begins with a strange muted whirl of percussive murk, peppered with chiming harmonics, everything blurred and bleary, like some strange underwater symphony, burbling and shimmery, voices chopped up and looped into strange textures, laid over the liquid sonic swirl, wreathed in organ and fuzzy soft focus drones, all manner of strange reverbed melodies fragmented and sent spinning off into the ether, all building to a thick billowing cloud of low end, which is when, about 14 minutes in, the first sign of rhythm appears, surfacing gradually, wreathed in the thick swaths of layered loops, finally becoming a proper space jam with about five minutes remaining, droney and tranced out, this blissed out pulsing psychkraut groove fading out way too soon, when it easily could have stretched out for another 35 minutes and filled up the whole rest of the cd-r. Fantastic stuff, and definitely recommended for fans of the current crop of psych/space/kraut rockers, a la White Hills, Wooden Shjips, Carlton Melton, The Heads, Lumerians, Moonrises, Mugstar etc.LIMITED TO 30 COPIES!! Each one hand numbered, and housed in a cool clear coat printed envelop made out of magazine pages, each one different. And each one accompanied by a printed postcard/insert.
MPEG Stream: "Intro"
MPEG Stream: "Part 1"
SACRIPHYX s/t (Nuclear War Now!) cd 9.98
Debut full length from this Aussie Duo, who traffic in a primitive strain of old school thrashing blackness. Raw and ragged and loose, midpaced riffs and lurching drumming send these tracks galloping through eerie atmospheres, evoking the classic era of old school death metal, but definitely blackened, with a unique take on old school metal. Much of the record is spent thrashing and furiously bashing away, but then on tracks like "Victory Of Withdrawal", the band slow things way down, almost balladic, with shredding, super emotional leads, woozy, gloomy basslines, the sound moody and melancholy, underpinning gruff vokills, a weird combo but it makes for a weirdly powerful one, and when the song does finally kick into gear, it's not blasting or thrashing, it's a strange chugging, super melodic churn, that's downright groovy, accompanied by chiming distorted guitar melodies, pretty cool, and definitely weird, and not much like other metal you hear these days. Even at it's most furious, these guys add lots of melody, and a hauntingly mournful mood to the proceedings, not to mention lots of classic metalisms, crazy catchy riffs and melodies pop up throughout, the middle portion of "A.J. Shout VC" is about as catchy as music like this gets! The sound too is odd, murky and sorta lo-fi, with clean crooned choruses popping up now and again, spidery guitars wrapped around woozy riffage, everything hazy and gauzey, reverby and echoey, which gives everything a strange feel, a little bit timeless, but also sorta psychedelic. The whole record seems to be a sonic struggle between fierce furious heaviness, and plodding melancholia, the sound seeming to constantly return to super melodic dirges, and achingly miserable melodies. Apparently, the whole record is a rumination on war, which then makes the melancholic musical thread that runs throughout make more sense. Definitely cool stuff. Maybe not brutal enough for some metalheads, but it's pretty atmospheric, with lots of killer riffs, and sprawling, progged out arrangements, woven into moody doomic dirges, and old school classic metal shreddery, all sort of washed out into a hazy psychedelic death metal that we're digging a lot.
MPEG Stream: "Lone Pine"
MPEG Stream: "Victory Of Withdrawal"
MPEG Stream: "A.J. Shout VC"
SCAM Issue #9 Fall 2012 (Damaged!) magazine 3.00
This is the most recent issue of this NYC zine, the first one we've carried, but it's a great one to start with. This issue is entirely about the making of the very first proper Black Flag full length album, 1981's Damaged. And while it may be in zine form, all photocopied, hand written, cut and pasted old school style, the writing is fantastic, super smart, and the research extensive, with interviews with all the key players, there's even footnotes, that are expanded upon in the back. It's as much about the band and the record, as the scene at the time, and the political and social climate that contributed to the energy and anger of that record, that band, and that scene - including a lot about chief of the LAPD at the time Daryl Gates, the Rodney King riots, and the polcie versus punks mentality that was prevalent at the time. In many ways the mag reads like an excerpt from a bigger, more comprehensive book, and yeah, we know there's been much written about Black Flag and this era, but Scam mainman Erick Lyle does a fantastic job of condensing it all down to a very readable, 50 or so pages. Lots of photos and flyers, as well as a cool introduction by Lyle about why this record means so much to him. All in all an awesome read, and definitely has us wanting to check out the other eight issues we missed...
SLEEP RESEARCH FACILITY Stealth (Cold Spring) 2cd 22.00
Even though we have yet to review anything on the aQ list from this deep listening black ambient drone technician, most of the drone lovers at aQ were already big fans, how could we not be? Sleep Research Facility, aka Scottish soundscaper Kevin Doherty, specializes in an ultra minimal, spaced out black ambience, weaving sprawling landscapes of hushed thrum and sinister murmur, often manipulating field recordings and processing them beyond the point of recognition, assembling them into bleak, epic, haunting, somnambulant drifts. We were particular taken by this most recent missive, which finds Doherty working exclusively from a selection of field recordings, samples collected from a B-2 Stealth Bomber, at a US Air Force base in the UK, and if there was ever a more appropriate sound source for this sort of hushed sonic mystery, it's the military's most mysterious aircraft. And while these recordings are obviously not the sounds of the aircraft in flight, it's easy to imagine that this modern marvel of technology was in fact THIS stealthy, emitting just a strange series of hushed rumbles, a deep shimmery thrum, laced with the telltale sounds of radio transmissions, tinny voices from the ether that sound almost like EVP recordings, ghostly and wraithlike. Doherty's manipulations are subtle, weaving the original sounds into gentle pulsations, layering multiple recordings into lush textures, weaving strange sine wave tones and staticky gristle into the proceedings, blurring and smearing everything into hazy, darkly psychedelic sonic shadows. The mix of abstract low end ambience, and strange transmissions, can't help but remind us of all time aQ fave the Conet Project. It definitely has that same vibe, the clouded provenance of these sounds, the pure musicality of the distinctly non-musical, but Doherty does work his magic, adding subtle swaths of melody, and giving the tracks here, no matter how minimal, a sense of propulsion, beneath the murk and the droned out whir, a barely there rhythmic pulse, while at the same time sculpting the various sound sources into sprawling fields of moody mesmer, a tranced out minimalism that is at once, soothing and darkly tranquil, this record quickly becoming one our favorite records to drift off to in the evening, and yet at the same time, crackling with energy, infused with not just the sounds themselves, but the implied weight of those sounds, borne of this strange machine, one that was devised to inflict violence, the ultimate delivery system for our collective bloodlust, the sounds of which, when at rest, are strangely lovely, albeit rife with a tension implicit in the source, and speak to an alternate purpose, one where this machine, even in repose, becomes less a means of destruction, and instead is involved in the creation of something beautiful and darkly transcendent.The record proper is accompanied by a second disc, which is the 'source' material Doherty used to create his dark droney vision, and the most interesting thing is how musical that material already is. And while these aren't the raw unedited recordings, they are the 'pre-mix' versions, which are meant to represent those source sounds, and while they are definitely much less processed, they still possess a dark musicality, with much of the grit and gristle of the finished record stripped away, leaving just deep tones, and long shifting layers of thrum and hum and whir, like the record itself, occasionally the true source sounds do reveal themselves, whether it's the clang and clatter of work in the hanger, or the squelched blurts of radio static, but ultimately, the source disc is simply another version of Stealth, one that we actually find equally enthralling. Essential modern dronescaping from this master of the dark sonic arts!
MPEG Stream: "Stealth 1"
MPEG Stream: "Stealth 2"
MPEG Stream: "Stealth 3"
MPEG Stream: "Source 3"
SLEEPERS, THE Seventh World (Superior Viaduct) 7" 10.98
A few lists back we reviewed the recent reissue of the only full length from gothic West Coast punks the Sleepers, on local reissue label Superior Viaduct. As a companion to that lp reissue comes this, the group's 1978 7" debut, reproduced right down to the original cover. And unlike the full length, the 7" finds the band sounding way more punk, sure the deep dramatic vox are present, but they had yet to evolve into what Joe Carducci hyperbolically described as "What Joy Division Might have developed into had they had the balls." It's a little gloomy, and a little gothic, and a little psychedelic, but mostly punk, and it's a heady mix, one that may foreshadow the tribal drum driven gloominess of the lp, but also displays a feral punk rock energy that was less present on the lp. Five killer tracks that we've been listening to like crazy!
SOLAR BEARS Supermigration (Planet Mu) cd 14.98
We first heard from Irish psychedelic electronic space synth duo Solar Bears via their 2010 debut She Was Coloured In, which we made Record Of The Week, and it remains one of our favorites, a tripped our collection of prismatic dream pop, mysterious vocodered vox, woozy retro psychedelic grooves, Carpenter / Goblin like synthscapes (well, before it was such a THING), string swept slowcore drift, and hazy washed out psychedelic ambience, and here we are three years later, and these guys have finally returned with a sequel of sorts to She Was Coloured In, and in some ways, their M.O. remains unchanged, although the sound has certainly shifted a bit. After a haunting collaged symphonic intro, which seems to be preparing us for something much darker than we might have expected, the sound explodes immediately into a swirl of cascading minor key synth melodies, tense and moody, their Goblin / Carpenter obsession obviously still in full effect, but SB add had claps, squelchy bass, and soon when the song kicks in proper, they reveal a sound that's more poppy, sounding a bit like a more sinister Phoenix, a dark electro groove slithering beneath that swirl of kosmische synths, and it still sounds pretty goddamn great. Be prepared for the next track though, one of the records' sonic missteps, a bit of cringeworthy electro pop, which on its own might be a little light, but with the dreamy female vox, it becomes something way too twee and fey. But it does signal a sonic change, which is further reflected by the next track, which sounds like the High Llamas gone sci-fi, a sort of Steely Dan retro pop vibe, all woozy electric piano groove, some soulful backup vox, it definitely sound like some classic rock B side transported to the future. The rest of the record seems to strike a balance between songs like "The Girl That Played With Light" and "Komplex" which channel the dreamy kraut-lite grooves of Stereolab through Solar Bears' warped sonic prism, sounding darkly soundtracky, but simultaneously dreamily psychedelic, and more far out kosmische shimmer, minimal pulsing sprawls of future drift and cosmic psychedelic swirl, with the only other duffer being "Our Future Is Underground" which finds that band returning to that folky female vocal driven twee electro pop, which sounds just a tad out of place. The best track here is probably the epic (and epically titled) "Happiness Is A Warm Spacestation", a totally killer slab of futuristic psychedelic spaced out synth pop, sounding like the chase scene from some eighties B movie, or the end credits from some lost seventies television show, dreamy melodies tangle around strange sound effects, lazer blorps and pulsing sequenced synth churn, all driven by a dense driving programmed beat, the main 'riff' doused in FX and constantly mutating, sounding a bit like a more avant Daft Punk, stripped down and sinister. Too bad the whole record wasn't this good, but still a pretty enjoyable psych-pop electro-synth ride!
MPEG Stream: "Happiness Is A Warm Spacestation"
MPEG Stream: "Cosmic Runner"
MPEG Stream: "Love Is All"
MPEG Stream: "The Girl That Played With Light"
STILL CORNERS Strange Pleasures (Sub Pop) cd 14.98
Record number two from these dreamy UK psych pop drifters, who we discovered via a split single with aQ retro pop faves The New Lines, and like on their debut Creatures Of An Hour, Still Corners continue to weave a lush folky dreaminess. But unlike that debut, which seemed to channel Stereolab and Broadcast as well as the various Girls (Dum Dum, Vivian, etc), Strange Pleasures slows things down considerably, positioning itself less as a sort of retro kitschy kraut-psych, and more like some hazy, softly psychedelic slowcore, reminding us mostly of a space age Mazzy Star, if that was even a thing, but judging from Strange Pleasures it most definitely is, and a good thing at that. The gorgeous combination of lush futuristic ambience and warm swirling synths, with acoustic steel string strum, reverb drenched slideguitar, and of course those gorgeous vocals, is pretty tough to resist. And when things do get weird and electronic, like on the second track "Beginning To Blue", it somehow manages to sound perfectly organic, and meshes perfectly with the rest of the record's gauzy folkiness, the weird stuttery start of "Beginning To Blue" flowing seamlessly into what sounds like a more ethereal, modernized Kate Bush, which is also most definitely a good thing. And that Kate Bush vibe surfaces throughout, in different measures. Strange Pleasures as much about songs this time around as sound, the songs darkly haunting, and beautifully brooding, but the sound too, soaring strings, lush textures, there's definitely some new wave and kosmische elements too, much of the record could pass for some lost 4AD rarity, so essentially, imagine some strange hybrid of Mazzy Star and Kate Bush, melded to woozy space age psychedelia and synth soaked dream pop, and it suddenly doesn't seem like such a -strange- pleasure after all...
MPEG Stream: "The Trip"
MPEG Stream: "Beginning To Blue"
MPEG Stream: "I Can't Sleep"
MPEG Stream: "Strange Pleasures"
STYGIAN STRIDE s/t (Thrill Jockey) cd 14.98
Fans of Emeralds and Oneohtrix, here's another fine slab of spacey cyclic synth throb that ought to be right up your alley - the Thrill Jockey debut from Stygian Stride, aka Jimmy SeiTang of AQ faves Rhyton and Psychic Ills. On this solo effort, SeiTang offers up seven tracks of mesmeric electronic pulsations and zoned-out 2001 space odyssey atmospherics, created via vintage analog machines, all very krauty & kosmische, a la Cluster and Klaus Schulze and Tangerine Dream in the '70s, and also very much beholden to Jean-Michel Jarre (whom we should probably name-check more often, really almost as much as we do John Carpenter!). It's good stuff, definitely up there with the aforementioned Emeralds and OPN, and Steve Moore and Majeure, also reminding us a bit of Geoff Barrow & Ben Salisbury's rejected Judge Dredd soundtrack Drokk, the more rhythmic parts anyway, while elsewhere Stygian Stride's machine-based improv does the does the ambient drifting-in-space thing, sometimes slightly sinister soundtrack-sounding, quietly creeping but quite pleasant too. Very much recommended!!
MPEG Stream: "Celestial Stems"
MPEG Stream: "Drift "
MPEG Stream: "Taiga"
UGLY THINGS Spring/Summer 2013 #35 magazine 9.95
About the only bad thing we can say about a new issue of this great magazine of "wild sounds from past dimensions" coming out, is that it means we're all just a little bit older. Other than that, always a happy occasion. #35 is their 30th anniversary issue, so they know what we mean about getting older. Wow, editor Mike Stax started doing Ugly Things (aka "the fanzine that refused to die") back in 1983?! And it's still going strong, this 176 page issue is proof of that. As usual it's packed (in tiny print) with lots of interesting features and interviews on obscure and otherwise bands of years and years past, mostly in the psych/garage genre, also power pop, acid rock, hippie folk, early punk, etc. This time 'round there's stuff on The Seeds, The Nazz, heavy rockers Thunder & Roses, The Radiators From Space, The Paragons, and plenty more, including a piece called "The Secret Police Vs. Hungarian Rock", also a guide to New York Dolls collectibles. Plus of course tons of reviews, and the usual columns and such, like The Pretty Things page and Cyril Jordan of the Flamin' Groovies "San Francisco Beat". Tons and tons of stuff here you maybe didn't know you'd care about, but the stories are so in-depth that they end up always being interesting on a historical, human-interest level even if you never have heard a note of music by the artist in question, though of course the likelihood is that you'll soon want to…So as always, a recommended read - set aside some hours or weeks to fully delve in!
UNCLE ACID Mind Control (Rise Above) lp 42.00
Uncle Acid's debut came out of nowhere to be the runaway heavy rock hit of last year. And like the last Electric Wizard album, it was one of those rare records that seemed to leap all genre lines. Quickly becoming one of the most played records at aQ, with metalheads and non metalheads alike. Similarly, we sold TONS of them, and not just to heavy music folks. And it most definitely IS heavy. But like Ghost, and Goat, and other heavy bands people flipped for recently, the group's heaviness was tempered by heaping helpings of poppiness, that transformed what at first blush might seem simply like more Sabbath worship into something else entirely. Originally released in such tiny numbers that initial pressing disappeared before most anyone got a chance to grab it, that and the weird band name, and of course the 'mystery' surrounding the group and its members, resulted in the sort of hype most bands would kill for. But once we (and everybody else) got an earful, we were sold. Heavy and groovy and hooky, super psychedelic, totally rocking, with a very Ozzy-ish vocalist, killer songs that would have translated seemingly just as well to a non metal band, but metal it most definitely was, but the kind of groovy hook filled metal they just don't make so much anymore. Our first taste of this highly anticipated new record, Mind Control, came in the form of first single "Poison Apple", which pretty much takes up right where Blood Lust left off, sounding like it could have been a deep cut plucked from the first record, a woozy, slithery main riff, that kills, the vocals sing-songy and crazy catchy, lots of swirling psychedelic organ, if anything a little bit darker than the first record, but that's most definitely not a bad thing at all. When we finally did get Mind Control, we were initially convinced that in fact it was much darker and more woozily psychedelic, opener "Mt. Abraxis" is a smoldering slither, all fuzz drenched minor key Sabbathian grooviness, and we were LOVING it, and were totally prepared for a whole record of dark, minor key, psych-metal doom, but then BAM, the song explodes into some seriously catchy, and almost proggy sounding poppiness, still fuzzed out and heavy, but crazy groovy and rocking and sorta FUN sounding if that makes any sense, but then before you know it, they slip right back into another classic doom-ic dirge. Which is pretty much the magic of Uncle Acid, balancing epic Sabbathy true doom groove, with what is essentially heavy popsyke, which results in what will no doubt be lots of folks fave heavy record of 2013, which it's fast becoming for us too. And it seems a strange coincidence that the new Uncle Acid would come out around the same time as the new Ghost, cuz the two bands definitely share some sonic DNA. Check out tracks like "Evil Love", which sounds exactly like Ghost's modern channeling of Blue Oyster Cult, but of course Uncle Acid crank that sound WAY up into something more lysergic and metallic, but at its core, it's still essentially classic hard rock for sure. Or there's "Follow The Leader" that almost sounds like a more metallic Spacemen 3, super droned out and psychedelic, and laced with slide guitar and a bit of twang, wrapped in clouds of hazy heady buzz, but seriously fuzzed out and dreamily druggy. And while we talk about how hooky and poppy Uncle Acid are, they do deliver the doom, it heaping sludgy spoonfuls, with plenty of tracks unfurling like long lost Sabbath B sides (the whole record way better Sabbath than the new ACTUAL Sabbath song we just heard), and it all culminates in the epic closer "Devil's Work", which seems to be the best fusion of all of the group's disparate influences, a droned out main riff, a dense metallic chug, that churns beneath some super poppy seventies classic rock sounding melodies, and eventually mutates into a hushed, dreamy, drifty, slow burn psych jam fade out. So fucking great. With this AND the new Ghost, it's a wonder we've managed to listen to anything else at all lately.
MPEG Stream: "Poison Apple"
MPEG Stream: "Mt. Abraxas"
MPEG Stream: "Evil Love"
MPEG Stream: "Follow The Leader"
MPEG Stream: "Devil's Work"
UNCLE ACID Poison Apple (Rise Above) 7" 14.98
Elsewhere on this week's list you'll find our review of the new full length, Mind Control, from UK psychedelic stoners Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats, but this right here is the teaser single that came out a few months back. We got a bunch and sold out, and just managed to get a handful more, most likely the last copies we'll be able to get. We won't go into too much detail, as a single like this is mostly for the rabid fans, seeing as it's $15 for two songs, one of which is on the new full length. So basically you're paying for one exclusive track, but it's a doozy, and as we've discovered, Uncle Acid fans are an obsessive bunch, so if you are one, might want to grab one before they're gone. The A side is "Poison Apple", from the new record, which pretty much takes up right where the last record Blood Lust left off, sounding like it could have been a deep cut plucked from that first record, a woozy, slithery main riff, that kills, the vocals sing-songy and crazy catchy, lots of swirling psychedelic organ, if anything a little bit darker than the first record, but that's most definitely not a bad thing at all. The B side even more than "Poison Apple" sounds like it could have come straight off Blood Lust. swaggery and swinging, groovy and stonery, a wicked main hook, and a kick ass almost classic metal sounding riff. And unlike much of the new record, that does tend toward a sound that's darker, and slower, and more laid back, "Under The Spell" sounds like what Mind Control could have sounded like if the band just made a Blood Lust part two, a poppy heaviness that few bands can pull off as well as these guys, and the more we listen to this track, the more we think it just might be worth the $14.98. Obviously recommended, mostly for fans, but odds are if this ends up being the first thing you hear from Uncle Acid, you'll end up wanting everything else as well!
MPEG Stream: "Under The Spell"
UNSOUND Volume Three Number One magazine 15.00
Here the latest of the warehouse finds we've been able to dig up stock on Unsound - the seminal underground San Francisco magazine from the '80s focusing on the amorphous regions between punk, industrial culture, the performance-art world, and outsider shock tactics. Volume Three Number One begins Unsound's final year of publication in 1986, with a lead feature / interview with the devilishly funny German noise performance outfit Die Todliche Doris, the journalist / musician / tape-dealer Vittore Baroni, the psychically sexual / sexually psychic duo Audio Leter (sic) with a lengthy critique of their little known work as well as an interview. There's also a suitably bizarre 'interview' with members of the Church Of The SubGenius, the subversive collective of crackpots and giggling conceptual artists that developed into a quite a cultural sensation by the early '90s. Zine reviews, music reviews, and networking contacts galore! A vintage collectible, hence the price.
UNSOUND Volume Two Number Three / Four magazine 15.00
Here the latest of the warehouse finds we've been able to dig up stock on Unsound - the seminal underground San Francisco magazine from the '80s focusing on the amorphous regions between punk, industrial culture, the performance-art world, and outsider shock tactics. This issue has some serious heavy hitters providing interviews: Nurse With Wound, Chris & Cosey, John Duncan, The Haters, Nocturnal Emissions, Club Moral, and Graeme Revelle. Plus, there's an interview with John Zorn, who by the late '90s had embraced a near complete media blackout... so here's some very rare insight into his work from the jazzman himself. This is an extra thick issue with 128 pages in total, chock full at the end with loads of zine and record reviews, and tons of cool old ads (including one for aQ!). A vintage collectible, hence the price.
UNSOUND Volume Two Number Two magazine 15.00
Here the latest of the warehouse finds we've been able to dig up stock on Unsound - the seminal underground San Francisco magazine from the '80s focusing on the amorphous regions between punk, industrial culture, the performance-art world, and outsider shock tactics. Volume Two designates the year being 1985 for Unsound with the typically wonderful array of underground miscreants in this issue including interviews with Controlled Bleeding, a young Karen Finley (well before her 'controversy' from receiving grant money from the NEA for making 'obscene' art... and there's a transcription of her "I'm An Ass Man" performance as well!), Negativland right when they were on the verge of seriously fucking with the San Francisco media with their Escape From Noise pranks, and the lost performance artist Ellen Zweig. Reviews galore from records we could only dream of getting to hear, plus all the networking one could need to begin one's own industrial culture in the pre-Google days. A vintage collectible, hence the price.
V/A Assiyo Bellema (Mississippi) lp 14.98
*MISSISSIPPI ALERT*Another awesome vinyl compilation of amazing sounds from the golden era of Ethiopian music, this time culled from Ethiopiques Vols. 24 and 25. The second you put the needle on the record, you'll be transported, and in fact, the sounds you hear may sound strangely familiar, as legendary Ethiopian vocalist Seyfou Yohannes croons over a track we've definitely heard before, on Ethiopiques 2 we think, but it hardly matters, Yohannes' vocals transform the song completely, still smokey and sexy, but reimagined and reinterpreted. And fantastic!The bulk of Ethiopian records were produced in a single 10 year period, 500 singles, 30 lps, all produced between 1969 and 1978, of those, the tiny Amha label released 103 two song 45's and a dozen lps, between '69 and '75, collecting various tracks that were attempts to modernize traditional Ethiopian music, without radically altering it. Folk music, wedding songs, nursery rhymes, traditional melodies, songs that have been passed down and passed on over generations, some musics and melodies so revered that they have been officially elevated to the status of "musical modes of reference" by official doctrine(!), all borrowed and reinterpreted by various singers and ensembles over the years.The tracks here are almost all acoustic, utilizing traditional instruments, as well as piano, mandolin and accordion, but to these ears it sounds fantastic, as good as ever, that sound that is so immediately recognizable as Ethiopian, horns and drums and percussion and handclaps, and of course the voices, it's so much about the vocalists, especially here, soulful croons, female back up vox, lots of call and response, deep and rough, smooth and silky, but always so expressive and emotional and powerful,But they are all incredible, of course, most of the names are new to us, no Mahmoud Ahmed, no Getatchew Mekurya, a track from Mulatu Astatke, but more folks like Seyfou Yohannes, Ayalew Mesfin, Getatchew Kassa, Tamrat Molla, the sound though is so distinctly Ethiopian, warm languid horns, moody minor key piano, simple shuffling rhythms. and of course the vocals, lush crooning, the perfect compliment to the music's dark sultry mystery. There seem to be two distinct styles represented, the soulful funky slow burning grooves, haunting, late night, sexy, and the more festive and funky, a sort of Ethiopian reinterpretation of American rhythm and blues, with soaring sunshiney melodies, acoustic guitars, and more horns, both are irresistible, and anyone who has even been dabbling in this series or the other Mississippi vinyl reissues, will dig this big time. Just perfect for the impending warm summer days, and lazy summer nights...
MPEG Stream: SEYFOU YOHANNES "Metche Dershe"
MPEG Stream: GETATCHEW KASSA & SOUL EKOS BAND "Bey Lesenabetsch"
MPEG Stream: AYALEW MESFIN "Lene Antchi Bitcha Nesh"
MPEG Stream: TAMRAT MOLLA & VENUS BAND "Ber Anbar Seberelewo"
MPEG Stream: ABBEBE TESSEMMA "Gebre Guratch Gute"
MPEG Stream: DAMTEW AYELE "Wefe Yelala"
V/A Change The Beat: The Celluloid Records Story 1979-1987 (Strut / Celluloid) 2cd 17.98
Celluloid was always one of those prolific kitchen sink labels that you were never sure you could trust. Operating between the late seventies and late eighties, their releases were often hit and miss, mainly because they never consistently focused on any particular genre, gravitating bravely instead towards dynamically urban niche markets (no-wave, punk, hip-hop, future dub and eighties afro-beat) when most of the music industry at the time basked in a mainstream top-40 wasteland of monocultural white MTV blandness. Where else would you find a label with such diverse acts as Fab 5 Freddy, Snakefinger and Ginger Baker? Thankfully, the fine folks at Strut separate the wheat from the chaff and give us a killer introductory comp of the label's best and most obscure moments, serving as a historical record of this unique musical time.Founded by Jean Georgakarakos, a French record shop owner who co-founded the BYG record label and managed at one time the bands Magma and Gong, Celluloid was born from a move to New York and recognizing a need to release socially resistant music that was growing in popularity at underground clubs and parties, but couldn't be heard on the radio or bought at record stores. Noticing trends in New York that were also happening in Europe, Celluloid released new wave music from French acts Mathematiques Moderne and Nini Raviolette as well as Americans, James Chance and Suicide, but eventually moved to hip hop and dub with Afrikka Bambata and Bill Laswell's Material. Laswell often produced most of the later releases especially as the label expanded into dub and African musical territory. The label folded as the mainstream finally caught up with them. MTV finally got on the hip hop train, and more DIY labels were sprouting after the rise of college rock, leading the way towards grunge and alternative rock. Though they weren't always consistent, Celluloid was pretty influential in opening up new genres of music to a much wider audience.Here are all of the artists represented: Shockabilly, Massacre, Ferdinand, Mathematiques Moderne, Thomas Leer & Robert Rental, Snakefinger, Winston Edwards & Blackbeard, Lightin' Rod (with a posthumous appearance by Jimi Hendrix!), Future 2000 feat. The Clash, Timezone, Deadline, Bobongo Stars, Toure Kunda, Nini Raviolette, Modern Guy, Sapho, Ginger Baker, Last Exit, Mandingo Feat. Foday Musa Suso & Herbie Hancock, Manu Dibango, Material, D. St., B Side with Bernard Fowler, Fab 5 Freddy and The Last Poets. Wow!
MPEG Stream: NINI RAVIOLETTE "Suis Je Normale"
MPEG Stream: MATHEMATIQUE MODERNES "Disco Rough"
MPEG Stream: FUTURE 2000 W/ THE CLASH "Escapades Of Futura 2000"
MPEG Stream: FAB FIVE FREDDY "Change The Beat"
V/A Harafin So - Bollywood Inspired Film Music From Hausa Nigeria (Little Axe / Mississippi) cd 14.98
When we think of Bollywood, our minds instantly go to the golden era of Indian film music from the '60s and '70s, with classical sitars and tampuras set to thriller and noir themes and exotic pop, often forgetting that Bollywood has of course never stopped making films, and the film music has continually changed with the times. Even with the discovery of other flourishing filmmaking centers such as Lollywood in Pakistan and the Tamil-speaking Kollywood of South India bringing in the influences of synthesizers and eighties pop, we still weren't prepared for the amazing modern sounds of another fertile film and soundtrack music scene, this time located a continent away in Kano, the capital city of Nigeria - thus their thriving movie industry is called Kannywood. This compilation, brought to us by the folks at Sahel Sounds and Mississippi Records who have previously brought us those Music From Saharan Cellphone comps, is a great introduction to the sounds of popular film music made by the dominant Hausa culture of Nigeria from the past few years.Bollywood music became more popular outside of India as the industry moved from films to television and the music began to be heard on the radio. While the Muslim culture of the Hausa people frowned on Hindi cinema, they began to see the advantages of taking the medium of music and film and crafting their own cultural take on the genre, often lifting the music and plotlines wholesale into their own language and cultural tropes. The music, in the beginning was played with traditional instruments, but the invention of the Yamaha PSR keyboard and the switch from video to digital has increased production into thousands of movies and songs of strangely charming and fluorescent dance pop.For anyone who loved the strange hybrid of new wave dance pop of that Shangaan Shake compilation, or the Saharan Cellphone comps, this compilation carries the same global hybrid of tradition and new technology with most of the music utilizing digital synthesizers and auto-tuned vocals (mostly to imitate the high pitch of Indian Bollywood singers) that emphasizes the exotic side of global pop but yet remains so insanely catchy and infectious.
MPEG Stream: FATI NIGER "Girma Girma"
MPEG Stream: SANI DANJA "Muna Cikin Sanyi"
MPEG Stream: KARAMIN LILISCO "Fashion"
V/A The Return Of The Stuff Dreams Are Made Of (Yazoo) 2cd 31.00
Second volume of Yazoo's The Stuff That Dreams Are Made Of series, 'The Return Of' as it says on the cover, another collection of fantastic and fantastically rare music from the twenties, blues, folk, bluegrass, all manner of American traditional music, in all their crackly glory. Unlike the first volume, which was literally a compilation of THEE rarest records that collector dreams are made of, the second volume focuses more on iconic performances and more famous recordings, tons of amazing stuff, including legendary tracks from performers like Charley Patton, Bukka White, Ernest Stoneman, Furry Lewis, Blind Blake, and loads more. But it's the unknowns (unknown to us that is) that are the most fascinating, including awesomely named groups like the Fruit Jar Guzzlers, or the Mississippi Possum Hunters, or George Edgin's Corn Dodgers. We could go track by track, but odds are if you dig cool collections of 78's, and old timey compilations, these Stuff That Dreams Are Made of collections are tough to beat. Two discs, 46 tracks, all housed in an oversized six panel dvd sized digibook, with a hilarious cover drawing by Drew Friedman, demonstrating the plight of the record collector, which is explored in great detail in the massive booklet, with liner notes detailing the trials and travails of searching out these rare records, from the folks who actually did, it's super fascinating, especially considering how different record collecting is today, and the relative availability of pretty much EVERYthing in the modern world. There's also notes on the music and the performers, as well as some cool photos of said performers, as well as a few super cool shots of old record stores!
MPEG Stream: ALEX HOOD & HIS RAILROAD BOYS "L And N Rag"
MPEG Stream: HAMBONE WILLIE NEWBURN "Roll And Tumble Blues"
MPEG Stream: FRUIT JAR GUZZLERS "Stack-O-Lee"
MPEG Stream: MISSISSIPPI POSSUM HUNTERS "The Last Shot Got Him"
MPEG Stream: GEORGE EDGIN'S CORN DODGERS "My Ozark Mountain Home"
MPEG Stream: CHARLIE POOLE & THE NORTH CAROLINA RAMBLERS "Milwaukee Blues"
MPEG Stream: ELDER GOLDEN P. HARRIS "I'll Lead A Christian Life"
V/A (ALUK TODOLO / NIGHTBRINGER / NIHIL NOCTURNE / SATURNALIA TEMPLE) On The Powers Of The Sphinx (Ajna) cd 9.98
FINALLY AVAILABLE ON CD!! Thanks Ajna! Here's what we said about the long out of print vinyl version when it came out back in 2010...We'd been hearing about this record for a while, a very unlikely gathering of four black metal or tangentially black metal outfits, including two of our favorites, alchemical post rockers Aluk Todolo, and spaced out psychedelic black metal outronauts Nightbringer, along with Nihil Nocturne and Saturnalia Temple. And while all four bands explore dramatically different sonic territories, the disparate sounds and philosophies seem to merge into one mysterious and abstract whole. Saturnalia Temple start things off in a decidedly UN black metal fashion, thick lugubrious riffs, spacey and druggy and woozy and sprawling, laced with soft psychedelic leads. Very early Earth sounding, until the riffs begin to gather momentum and take shape, and then suddenly it sounds like Kyuss at 16 rpm, some sort of sun baked desert rock, slooowed waaaaaay doooooown, lysergic and hazy, a sort of blackened and metalized slow blues, that just crawls and creeps until the drums finally kick in, and then it's some stoner doom, but with the groove dialed way down, a trancelike churn, peppered with bits of minor key melody and deep chanted monklike vocals.Nightbringer step up, and explode in frenzy of whirling spaced out blackness, soaring frantic riffs, blasting black beats, the sound more astral and celestial than grim and frosty, the track constantly shifting, from lightning speed blast to warped midtempo moodiness, wild leads tangled up everywhere, haunting chanted vox, totally majestic and epic, even at its doomiest, the sound transcends, the guitars stratospheric, the arrangements lush and sprawling, a total heart of the black sun blast of galactic black bliss.Nihil Nocturne offer up yet another black facet, theirs a midtempo blackness, dirgey and Burzumy, with just a little groove, giving their track a very Khold like vibe, a sort of modern Moonfog band feel, but with a surprising twist, the track shifting abruptly, into something much more abstract and un-metal, with glimmering clean guitars, electronic rhythms, the stereo super panned, the sounds swooping from ear to ear, speaker to speaker, major key melodies, until a super creepy processed voice begins to intone ominously, and the track begins again, a black metal Godspeed slow build epic, finally finishing off with a frenzied chaotic climax. And finally the mighty Aluk Todolo, who do their own thing, and manage to evoke as much mood and mystery as any of the other bands, even working with a WAY more stripped down and minimal sound, that sort of post noise dark rock kraut drone they seem to have conjured in some strange ritual, and the sounds is indeed ritualistic, but also utterly hypnotic, and mesmerizing, all motorik rhythms, simple serpentine basslines, clouds of keening feedback, and abstract guitar crunch, swirls of effects, drifting fragmented melodies, but the drums driving everything, holding it all together, loose and tight at the same time, locked in, but drifting occasionally. Can, Faust, This Heat, German Oak, not black metal, not even remotely, maybe it's the vibe, or the mood, or the band pedigree, but it hardly matters, this is blackened and heavy totally enthralling dark and mysterious minimal hypno rock and it RULES.
MPEG Stream: SATURNALIA TEMPLE "To Know"
MPEG Stream: NIGHTBRINGER "To Will"
MPEG Stream: ALUK TODOLO "To Keep Silent"
VILLAGES / DIVINE CIRCLE split (Hooker Vision) cassette 8.98
A very nice split release from Hooker Vision, who are introducing us to these two outfits from Asheville, North Carolina. Villages (aka Ross Gentry) actually had a release on Hooker Vision a couple years back and has a more recent LP on Bathetic. We can report that the 25 minute offering from Villages on this tape is pretty killer stuff. After a desolate piano interlude, the tape swells with a fuzzy, shimmering treated guitar drone akin to those wondrous blurred noises from Tim Hecker and Christian Fennesz, gradually giving way to a somber interlude for plucked banjo and maudlin Appalachian fiddles. These moments locate the production as harkening from the south even with all of those digital pixel smears and melodic abstractions. Divine Circles, we know even less about, but the opening melodies plucked on a violin are joined by complementary slow guitar riffs that do recall some of the more introspective moments of Godspeed You Black Emperor or even some of Aidan Baker's hypnotic dronework, before either party were to rip into a full-frontal, pathos laden crescendo. Here, Divine Circles keeps their sounds intimate and calm, slowly building the track in the round, with the violinist taking up the bow later on with gorgeous swells of arboreal melodies along with those slow dirgy guitars and some haunted female vocalizations. Definitely looking forward to more from both of these outfits. 50 minute in total for this cassette; and again with all those Hooker Vision tapes, this one is super limited to 100 copies.
MPEG Stream: VILLAGES "Apparitions"
MPEG Stream: DIVINE CIRCLE "26 Minutes"
WHITE FENCE Cyclops Reap (Castle Face) cd 14.98
We were pretty blown away by the last White Fence record, a sprawling double album spread out over two lps (or one cd), which found one man band WF aka Tim Presley, spitting out a dizzying barrage of fractured jangle pop and warped garage rock, an already massive collection of songs, supposedly culled from more than 80 written for the record, which only confirmed what we sort of already knew, that White Fence was maybe the weirdest and most idiosyncratic outfit in the SF garage rock scene, which is full of genius weirdos (Thee Oh Sees, Ty Segall, Mikal Cronin, etc.). On this new one though, Presley manages to both get even weirder, AND dip into much more traditional songsmithery. It's almost as if instead of working on songs in his garage, Presley assembled a rickety old time machine, which he used to travel back to the sixties, which is definitely where this record seems to find most of its sonic inspiration, but it's almost as if that rickety time machine only barely made it back, jumbling up all of Presley's perfect sixties garage pop songs in the process, so all the lilting melodies, fuzzy, strummy dreaminess, spidery psychedelic leads, hazy crooned vox, swirling acoustic guitars, came through the portal just a little bit fucked up, sounds that seem to melt before your ears, weird blurts of damaged effects, sounds swooping backwards, drums doused in delay, fuzz guitar cranked and jammed WAY above the mix. The mixes all over the place, raw and brittle one second, lush and lovely the next, drums loud, guitars howling, melodies muted and muddy, vocals barely there in the background, then cooing in your ear. In a way, it almost reminds us of Faxed Head, the way their caveman metal was defined by the recording, the tape drop outs, the weird varispeed pitch changes, everything woozy and crumbling and falling apart. Which is basically how Cyclops Reap sounds, BUT, all of that weirdness and fucked up damage, can barely disguise the sheer pop brilliance on display here. Total retro jangle pop garage fuzz genius. Total sixties hippie hookiness, hazy power pop shimmer, swaggery blooze garage stomp, all tangled into some of THEE best and catchiest pop songs EVER. Minus all the damage, this could have easily been some lost sixties artifact unearthed and reissued, in fact, the whole time machine thing above, could easily be swapped out for someone ACTUALLY discovering Cyclops Reap in an old dusty, moldy box, in the basement of some SF flat, the tapes warped and mildewy, that damaged translating into some of the more psychedelic sonics here. Needless to say, we've loved every White Fence record, and this one's no different, in fact it's fast becoming our new favorite. And as hard as Presley seems to be trying to obscure his perfect jangly fuzz pop masterpieces, that sonic obfuscation only serves to make them that much more warped and wonderful.Note: the vinyl version already sold out but is soon to be repressed, we're told.
MPEG Stream: "Chairs In The Dar"
MPEG Stream: "Pink Gorilla"
MPEG Stream: "Live On Genevieve"
MPEG Stream: "To The Boy I Jumped In The Hemlock Alley"
WOLD Freermasonry (Ideologic Organ / Editions Mego) 2lp 32.00
NOW ON VINYL!!Latest blast of twisted noise drenched otherworldly blackness from Moosejaw, Saskatchewan's Wold, fronted by mysterious sonic alchemist Fortress Crookedjaw, this mysterious duo offer up another slab of baffling brutality, that seems now more than ever to be almost completely loosed from the bounds of traditional metal, hell, any sort of metal at all, instead sounding like some sort of industrial / noise / power electronics blow out, the sound buzzing and hissing, looped churning squalls of white noise and grey thrum, the vokills an inhuman croak/whine, having just reviewed Sore Throat, and elsewhere on this list Anal Cunt, we'd posit that Wold's sonic orbit exists more in the realm of noise, it's not really until the third track here, "Free Goat Of Leviticus", the the sound takes on a shape even remotely resembling metal, and it remains REMOTE, the blasting and buzzing blown out completely, the sounds blurred and smeared into crumbling crusty murky swells, blistering blasts of buzz and hiss and rumble, even the vocals a garbled transmission from the depths, all wound into a churning caustic chaos."Inner Ire" offers a little bit of a respite, dialing back some of the distortion, letting a murky pulse surface, even some barely-there melody here and there, but over the top, is laid a Faxed Head worthy melted tape on the dashboard blast of damaged metallic noise. "Dragon Owl Didacticism" too hints at the metal that must lurk below the surface, but considering the surface is a roiling black cauldron of howl and garble, grind and shriek, all muddied and muted and twisted into dizzying blacknoise streaks, that metal remains just that, a hint. The last four tracks though, change everything, sounding almost like a different record tacked on as a bonus, the almost cold wave sounding "Dry Love", with it's programmed beat, cold machinelike groove, buzzing clinical angular melodies and strange detached vox, or the new wave blacknoise of "Working Tools For Paris", with a bloopy electro beat buried beneath a swaggery snarly whining vocal and some hazy melodies, and when the super distorted vox drop out, what remains sounds almost like it could be some coldwave rarity unearthed. "Free Eyes" is crusty punk via black metal filth filtered through warped power electronics, with the main 'groove' downright mesmerizing, and then finally, the nearly 11 minute title track, seems to channel aQ beloved Will Over Matter, with another stretch of super distorted blackened murky electro-noize, replete with haunting spoken word vox, and another bloopy beat, one that becomes more and more blown out over the course of the track, until the whole thing is a thick undulating sprawl of rhythmic hypno-noise bliss. As always, utterly confusing and totally whatthefuck, and as always, we can't stop listening. Baffling brilliant outsider electro-noise black metal genius for sure.
MPEG Stream: "SDL"
MPEG Stream: "Free Goat Of Leviticus"
MPEG Stream: "Freermasonry"
YETI MAGAZINE Issue #13 magazine + 7" 14.95
The latest issue of this long running aQ fave finds Yeti magazine making yet another big change. Several issues back, the companion cd comp was ditched in favor of the much cooler vinyl 7" single, and around the same time, the magazine changed shape as well, presumably to fit better with the new 7", the measurements now a sweet seven by seven. But now, Yeti magazine has finally taken the big step of going full color, and wow does it suit them. Their usual collection of weird music, strange photos, outsider art and underground comics, now look even better, beginning with the stunning eye popping fold out full color gatefold cover, which leads directly into a killer collection of rock posters from New Zealand in the seventies! Then there's songstress/soundscaper/artist/cartoonist Genevieve Castree (aka Woelv), it's her artwork that adorns the cover, then an amazing oral history of Slowcore legends Codeine, a piece that was originally intended to be included with the recent Codeine When I See The Sun box, which includes contributions from Codeine members past and present, our very own Andee, Rebecca Gates from the Spinanes, David Grubbs from Bastro / Bitch Magnet, Mac from Superchunk, Alan Licht and Brendan O'Malley from Love Child, Mike Galinsky from Sleepyhead, Lois Maffeo, Ken from Homestead Records, Richard Baluyut from Versus, Dean Wareham from Galaxie 500, recording engineer Mike McMackin, writer Ned Raggett, Bret Lunsford from Beat Happening, Tim Foljahn from Two Dollar Guitar and Gerard Cosloy from Matador Records. Also includes lots of old photos and flyers. There's some stunning recent works from artist David Moreno, a collection of found photographs from the collection of Mark Sullo, an interview with Fursaxa aka Tara Burke, conducted by Iltas Ahmed, whose collages illustrate the interview, some gorgeous photos by photographer Sarah Meadows, a cool comic by Josh Brayer, photos of a spontaneous Mike Kelley memorial, recreated anonymously recreated a block from the artist's home, there's also a bunch of fiction and non fiction writing, a novel excerpt and more. As always, the ads are all in their own section in the back, but now in color, that section is almost as cool as the rest of the mag. And let's not forget the accompanying 7", which this time around features exclusive tracks from Moon Duo, Karen Dalton, The Great Unwashed, and Trypes, and there's an mp3 comp as well, you can link from the mag to the website for the 7" tracks and loads more. As always, essential reading!!!
ZOVIET FRANCE 7.10.12 (Alt Vinyl) lp+10"+7" 54.00
No need to belabor the point on this one. This is the first Zoviet France record in 13 years. It's a triple vinyl set with a 12", a 10", and a 7". This is the second pressing mind you, as the first sold out in less than a day when it was released back on October 7, 2012 (a fitting date for the format!). We can safely report that the droning loops are as good as anything that Zoviet France did during the latter part of the Robin Storey era (e.g. Shadow Thief Of The Sun, Shouting At The Ground, Look Into Me, etc.). Storey and Ben Ponton were responsible for the best work for Zoviet France from 1981 to the early 90s, producing beautiful hypnogogic sounds, looping passages, and ethnomusicologically unhinged instrumentation all cast through tape delay effects and time-lag accumulation. Storey left unceremoniously in 1992 taking with him Zoviet France's prolific work ethic, but never really achieved the full glory that Zoviet France once had. Ponton continued on with the project in fits and starts, but he never seemed to find the right chemistry... until now. If you know Zoviet France's work even in passing, you will NOT be sorry. At the same time, we are not all that confident we'll be able to stock this in the future. Delay picking this up at your peril.