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Records of the Week
AANIPAA Through A Pre-Memory (Editions Mego) 2lp 32.00
The basic "band math" of this new project on Editions Mego is also, unsurprisingly, kind of what it sounds like, Aanipaa consisting of 1/2 of arty American doomdrone outfit SUNNO))), teamed up with 1/2 of Finnish electronic experimentalists Pan Sonic! Specifically, it's a collaboration between the ubiquitous Stephen O'Malley and Mika Vainio, with help from some friends, recorded in Berlin (at Einsturzende Neubauten's studio) and mixed in Seattle by Randall Dunn. Talk about a "stupor" group. Ambient and ominous, Aanipaa on their debut Through A Pre-Memory conjure a desolate sprawl of slo-mo glitchery and drone, with sparse distorted strum interspersed over the skeletal rhythm of disembodied machine beats. A string section, which features Eyvind Kang on viola, brings in additional otherworldly textures, upping the drone-dirge density. There's also unsettling vocal samples, and tape manipulations. Speaking of unsettling, if this wasn't already scary sounding enough, O'Malley's former Khanate bandmate Alan Dubin (ex-OLD as well, and also of Gnaw, who have a new disc out we'll be reviewing soon) occasionally provides some of his unique, anguished vocal stylings, "singing" the words of Russian modernist poet Anna Akhmatova on the first and last of the four loooooong tracks here - the album clocks in at over 75 minutes. Imagine a glitch-ridden remix of a Khanate track, stretched out so that it's even slower and sparser, more encompassing of the void... but also stretched out so far that some welcome light shines through. For despite the mood of morose menace - and downright terror - channelled through some of these tracks, this album can be quite beautiful as well, grindingly glorious, especially when those strings come into play. Not that we would expect anything less than impressive, and intense, from these talents. Part modern avant classical, part minimal (very minimal) techno, part multi-o'd industrial dooooooooooooom, Aanipaa is utterly abject, electronically abstract, possibly alienating. And most excellent.Comes in a lovely three-panel digipack cd or gatefold double lp package.
MPEG Stream: "Muse (excerpt 1)"
MPEG Stream: "Muse (excerpt 2)"
MPEG Stream: "Mirror Of Mirror Dreams "
BAXTER STOCKMAN Punter (Ektro) cd 14.98
This week, we've got two recently released cds from Jussi of Circle's Ektro label. They couldn't be more different (though both are cool). One of 'em, Leviticus, is a reissue of a melodic '80s Swedish Christian heavy metal artifact. Then there's this, Baxter Stockman (not person, a band). Out of the present-day Finnish underground, Baxter Stockman are a trio making damaged (and damaging) artpunk that's harsh but regimented, a disciplined noiserock attack whose pounding rhythms and vicious guitar skree should cause a pleasant ringing in your ears, during and after. Ektro references Rapeman, Swans, and G.G. Allin in describing this. Dunno about the latter (we haven't seen or smelled 'em live) but the first two make sense; there's definitely something very Albini about this for sure, also ugly '80s downtown NYC pigfuckery, yeah. With relentless battery, ranting vokills, throbbing bass, cameo "junkelectronix", and monomaniacal riffs worthy of KK Null's Zeni Geva, this is quite a compelling, claustrophobic debut from a band that must rank amongst Helsinki's sickest (and not just 'cause they came up with the clever song title "Poltergeist Pussy").
MPEG Stream: "Punter"
MPEG Stream: "Labour"
MPEG Stream: "Ten Rock"
BOTANIST / PALACE OF WORMS Hanging Gardens Of Hell / Ode To Joy (The Flenser) lp 15.98
Our favorite local one man arboreal black metal band returns with a brief split to tide us over until the impending release of both V and VI, in the seemingly (and thankfully) unending barrage of material oozing up from the verdant realm. And like the last few Botanist releases, the tracks here find the sound drifting every further away from the black metal that, only barely, defined the sound of those recordings. Minus the vokills, the three tracks here are super melodic, a little bit blissy and shoegazey, and sound like some avant post rock you might find on Temporary Residence. Even with blast beats and a healthy heaping of buzz, the tracks here soar and chime, you can almost envision some wistful sad boy vox and suddenly, this is total teenage mixtape material, which is not a bad thing at all. And when the blacker elements are woven in, it becomes something truly strange and wonderful, and just further demonstrates, why the rest of the world, particularly the non metal portion, have been flipping out over this stuff. Palace Of Worms on the other hand, is something all together more metallic and grim, their opening track a creepy doomy sprawl, all woozy minor key melodies, haunting ambience, the sound slowly building to something much more epic and majestic, a black buzz, but one that's muted and swaddled in swoonsome synths, giving the sound a sort of washed out and sun dappled quality, which makes it a good match for Botanist. But those moments of wispiness, are more than made up for by some more intense, growly, metallic black buzz, the sound deftly balance between the two, songs flitting from grinding downtuned churn, to synthy shimmer, to crystalline post-metal drift and back again.Great great stuff from both bands, and some seriously awesome cover art to boot!
MPEG Stream: "Tillandsia"
MPEG Stream: "Ode To Joy (Hurrah, The End Draws Nigh)"
BRADLEY, PAUL, JONATHAN COLECLOUGH, HITOSHI KOJO, & COLIN POTTER Water Mountain (Omnimemento) 2cd 19.98
It has been far too long since we've heard anything from Jonathan Coleclough. So long in fact that we probably need to refresh some of our readership on this stalwart British drone artist, whose name alone became a shorthand for mesmerism that deftly balanced dissonance with sympathetic tones and a subtle use of melody drifting ever so slightly within a narrow band of frequencies. Yup, that's what Coleclough delivers; and for many years now, we've cited his work as the gold-standard of dronemuzik, with perhaps Tim Hecker as the only other experimental musician to get cross-referenced in more instances. Those lovely tones and eerie metallic shimmers that enamored us to Coleclough are firmly entrenched on this album, which also features some other pretty heavy hitters. Colin Potter is another British experimental chap whom everyone should know, not only because he's responsible for working on some of the best Nurse With Wound albums (e.g. Salt Marie Celeste, Thunder Perfect Mind, etc.) but also because he's crafted some intoxicating electronic albums over the years of kosmiche brainbending and full-thrum minimalism that would give Manuel Gottsching and Coil a run for their money. Hitoshi Kojo is the Japanese drone-minstrel who has alternately worked under the solo moniker Spiracle and in the duo Juppala Kappio, slipping between the glassy acoustic mantras of Organum and the freak-folk ragas of most any album on Fonal. Paul Bradley may be the least well known contributor, here; but this British drone musician has done exceptional work over the years with both Potter and Coleclough in various guises. This album was recorded back in 2006 in Colin Potter's former studio, which literally was a water tower with all four parties conjuring their various shadow-clad drones, shivering phase patterns, spectral frequencies, and lonely textures. Water Mountain feels very much like a thoughtful Conny Plank production in which an organic dreaminess flows through all of these sounds, which seem to be transmitted by each individual through whatever means, and effortlessly molded into a eerily blissed out drone album. Watery gurgles, bowed metal trills, and crumbled soil stain the sparkling hums and stretched occlusions throughout both discs, gliding in and out of hallowed, church organ minimalism, tectonic rumblings, and one blustery crescendo of atomically cracked distortion that fires up near the end of disc one. Altogether, this is a magnificent set of recordings and one that will pull Coleclough back into the public spotlight by hook or by crook. Super limited pressing of just 250 copies.
MPEG Stream: "Fata Morgana"
MPEG Stream: "Polar Vortex"
MPEG Stream: "Deliquescence"
CAR-SICK CARS You Can Listen You Can Talk (Maybe Mars) cd 12.98
Not sure what it is about the current underground rock scene in China, but it seems like it's heavily influenced by the US, which is maybe not a huge surprise, but also, more specifically, nineties college/indie rock. Check out some of the Chinese outfits we've reviewed recently: P.K.14, Skip Skip Ben Ben, Streets Kill Strange Animals, Boyz & Girl, all amazing, and all heavily indebted to the Pixies, Sebadoh, Dinosaur Jr, Sonic Youth, My Bloody Valentine, you get the picture. Jangly, crunchy, fuzzy, noisy, poppy, shoegazey, all stuff we, and presumably, lots of you love, so if you've been missing THAT sound, might be time to dig into some of the amazing Chinese noise pop / indie rock that's blowing up over there these days. Last list we reviewed the self titled debut from the awesomely names Car-Sick Cars, and like that record, this follow up, is a fantastic celebration of all the stuff we loved about nineties indie rock, chiming minor key guitars, shimmery atmospheres, laid back drawled sad boy vox, brooding slow build verses and crunchy, noisy choruses, lots of textures and tension, even the prettiest most straight ahead jams here flecked with all manner of experimental studio weirdness and squalls of psychedelic crunch. But unlike that record, which seemed to be brimming with youthful exuberance, this record is a lot more laid back, a bit more contemplative, a little brooding, with most of the tracks settling in a sort of Sonic Youth / Velvets sort of trance out, the guitars looped and layered, the rhythms motorik, stripped down and propulsive, the songs wreathed in woozy textures, the vocals buried in the mix, the songs sprawling, tranced out and hypnotic, and really really good.
MPEG Stream: "Intro"
MPEG Stream: "Dear Friend"
MPEG Stream: "She Will Wait"
CARCASS Surgical Steel (Nuclear Blast) cd 16.98
Well the cat's out of the bodybag! Arguably the best EVER death metal band are back, and after the grizzly success of their multiple reunion tours it wasn't hard to see that a new record might be waiting for us around the corner, ready to pounce out with a scalpel and a chloroform rag at any moment, to drag us away to destinations unknown and terrifying. What was harder to foresee was how that record might turn out. After the less than ideal epitaph that was left by 1995's Swansong, some may have argued this cadaver was best left undisturbed. But we here at aQ HQ are thrilled to report that Surgical Steel is everything you wanted in this record: It's disgusting. It's meticulous. IT'S CARCASS. And we couldn't have asked for more. It would be tempting to call Surgical Steel a culmination of Carcass' whole career, but that's not quite right. There isn't much evidence of the warped guttural expulsions of Symphonies of Sickness, and the tambourines and cowbells of Swansong are entirely absent (some might say mercifully so). Instead this album feels like the missing link between the masterful sporadic death metal of 1991's landmark Necroticism and the more concise hooky approach of 1993's Heartwork. In fact, Surgical Steel almost sounds like the album Carcass might have made instead of Heartwork had they decided to follow their thrashier impulses. And neck snapping thrash this record has in spades! After the brief instrumental introduction of "1985" (with its soaring melodic leads in reverence to Judas Priest's "The Hellion"), "Thrashers Abattoir" bursts through the gates with a frantic blasting thrashing abandon, reintroducing those wretched vomitous vocals we've all missed so much. And then in less than two minutes it's over, and while the rest of the songs aren't quite that short that still kind of sets the tone for the rest of the album. 2013 finds Carcass much more streamlined, and also much cleaner sounding. The production is tight and modern and the songs are played with a surgical precision, which certainly isn't inappropriate for a band so preoccupied with the horrors of medicine. But the playing is so classic and the songwriting so frantic, that it never runs the risk of sounding overly sterile or lifeless. It's not all thrashing madness though (although most of it is!) "A Congealed Clot of Blood" is a roiling whirlwind of windmill double bass, dirgey breakdowns, snakey guitar leads and blasting palm-muted mania. And while Surgical Steel always sounds like classic Carcass it's hard not to feel like the shadows of classic metal orchestrators like golden age Judas Priest and Metallica loom large over the proceedings. In a time when so much death metal is mired either in passionless technical mathematics or riffless plodding inanity, it takes a master of the craft to remind us just how great and more importantly how much fun death metal can be. No anesthesia required!
MPEG Stream: "Thrasher's Abbatoir"
MPEG Stream: "The Master Butcher's Apron"
MPEG Stream: "A Congealed Clot Of Blood"
CARPENTER, JOHN Assault On Precinct 13 (Death Waltz) cd 17.98
Death Waltz alert! John Carpenter alert! Awesome soundtrack alert! Death Waltz finally gets to this Carpenter soundtrack, at last. And they've put it out on compact disc (in stock and being reviewed now) as well as of course on vinyl, which we're told should be here next week possibly. Heck they even did a cassette version, sadly much too limited for us to get.Assault On Precinct 13, a low budget action thriller from 1976, is one of our favorite Carpenter flicks - and film scores. Like so many soundtracks, this mainly consists of variations on a theme - a pretty damn cool theme, though, simple and effective. You'll probably remember it as soon as you hear it... dah dah de dah dah dum dum duh de dum, sorta sounds like it could have been used as the triumphant theme for some Rocky-like boxing movie, except that it's way too sinister for that. Just a few fat distorted synth notes, over a drum machine driven rhythm. The whole soundtrack is drum machine driven, sometimes nothing BUT drum machine, very atmospheric and "old school", sounding like Schoolly D ought to be rapping over it. Which totally fits in with the "urban jungle" race-riot paranoia of this suspenseful, violent movie, which as you may remember is about an enraged street gang attacking an isolated police station in the ghetto of South Central LA. The plot and vibe were inspired by George Romero's Night Of The Living Dead, as well as the western Rio Bravo.Composer/performer Carpenter crafted a taut and minimal synth based score (recorded in just 3 days) that has come to be regarded as a classic. Among the memorable sonic elements found on it are a melodic electric piano motif, and, of course, an ice cream truck jingle, also laid over the usual creepy drum machine tick tick bip bap, for the crucial, shocking scene early in the film involving said ice cream truck. The Death Waltz edition of this previously hard-to-find soundtrack is remastered, boasts excellent new artwork as per DW tradition, and comes with plentiful liner notes in the swank digipack.Now that Death Waltz has done this, clearly the next one up has GOT to be the soundtrack to Walter Hill's The Warriors, are we all agreed? Let's hope!
MPEG Stream: "Main Title"
MPEG Stream: "Targets / Ice Cream Man On Edge"
MPEG Stream: "Wrong Flavor"
CHATHAM, RHYS Harmonie Du Soir (Northern Spy) cd 14.98
We were pleased and privileged to host minimalist composer Rhys Chatham for a signing last week while he was in town for his performance of A Secret Rose for 100 guitars at the Craneway Pavilion in Richmond. He was so nice, cheerful, and engaged (he signed Scott's vinyl copy of Factor X, his first release, and even offered to do his chart, as apparently astrology is one of Chatham's many passions!). Harmonie Du Soir is his latest release, and features two side long tracks. The cd has a 10 minute bonus track, "Drastic Classicism Revisited", which is also included with the digital download that comes with the vinyl. The first, title track begins with a piece for six electric guitars, bass and drums, the same arrangement as Die Donnergotter from 1986, and is a return to form, back to Chatham's early eighties minimalist deconstruction of rock music tropes where the composition seemingly glides along one chord structure yet the arrangement between instruments remains dynamically fluid. The second track/side, "The Dream Of Rhonabwy" is a twenty minute piece written for a seventy piece French brass band called Harmonie de Pontarlier, that is a moving and plaintive piece using slow martial rhythms and sustained tones with amazing flourishes to evoke a dreamlike textural tapestry of sound. So beautiful. Then, bonus cut "Drastic Classicism Revisited", like the title suggests, is a return to an early no-wave-ish whirlwind composition of sustained fast drumming and epic guitar squall. Fantastic!
MPEG Stream: "Harmonie Du Soir"
MPEG Stream: "Harmonie De Pontarlier:The Dream Of Rhonabwy"
CHIPS & BEER Issue #6 magazine 7.00
Alllllllrrriiigggghtt! What you've all been waiting for, a new issue of everybody's favorite hesher-oriented journal of cult stuff, Chips & Beer. 128 newsprint pages packed with all kinds of obscure writing about obscure things that dudes & dudettes with extensive metal vinyl and horror VHS collections will want to read about. Crude drawings too. Main themes as the cover states: Metal, horror, and humor. Well, about 18 of those 128 pages are inexplicably filled with information about the movie Bad News Bears, or reviews of various hot dog brands. Humor we suppose. But elsewhere, more than enough metal and horror - and more humor. A good portion of this ish is devoted to an appreciation of German metal godfathers the Scorpions, from their early '70s krautrock-y origins to world wide heavy metal fame. Going album by album, It's part primer (with facts & figures) and part perplexing prose poetry, as you might expect from Chips & Beer (a magazine wherein at least one writer likes to spell the word "folks" as "foax" for some reason). This section includes lengthy, lively interviews with both former Scorps guitarist, the great Uli Jon Roth (who as always manages to be both hippie mystical AND surprisingly down to earth) and also former Scorps drummer and lyricist Herman "Ze German" Rarebell, who provides frank talk about groupies, among other subjects.Also in #6: Finnish retro-thrashers and Ektro recording artists Ranger, Texan crossover upstarts Power Trip, underground '80s American metal masters Omen, and plenty more, including a chat with the director of an upcoming documentary about the early years of Twisted Sister (can't wait to see it!). Also worthy of note, highly entertaining interviews with two Chris's: Chris Reifert of death metal legends Autopsy (a funny guy!) and Chris Bruni of the Profound Lore label (who is asked to respond to the following wtf? question: "You ever watched Raiders Of The Lost Ark in black and white? How fuckin' hot is Karen Allen in that? She's like Amelie for dudes that listen to early Mudhoney and work in sanitation"). On the horror front, Chips & Beer #6 provides a big feature about the classic monster movies of Lon Chaney (aka "The Man of a Thousand Faces"), as well as latter films & performances in the Chaney tradition, by Karloff, Lorre, et.al. Oh and of course there's the music reviews section, rating records on a six-point scale with associated cartoon icons that range G.G. Allin (worst) to flying tits (best). The new Watain rates a G.G., but they give flying tits to the not-so-new Black In Black by AC/DC!Sometimes we wish it was easier to make sense of some of the more stream-of-consciouness-ish material in Chips & Beer, but possibly we just need to get drunker when we read it. But even sober, there's plenty that's funny and/or interesting if you share their sensibilities regarding cult metal, horror, hot dogs, etc.
CILIO, LUCIANO Dell'Universo Assente (Die Schachtel) 2lp 38.00
Wow, now on vinyl! We reviewed this on cd way back on list #199. Sold quite a few at the time, it was in high demand, it's an amazing record. Now Die Schachtel have repressed it on cd and also put it out on nice double vinyl too!!! Definitely one of our favorite long-lost reissues.Here's more-or-less what we wrote about it the first time around: We'd never heard of Luciano Cilio before, but of course Jim O'Rourke has. The ubiquitous O'Rourke (Wilco/Sonic Youth/you name it) contributes liner notes to this beautifully presented reissue of what amounts to the collected works of Cilio, an Italian avantgarde composer from the '70s whose music is indeed experimental but less academic than you might expect. But even without O'Rourke's endorsement, a listen should reveal to you that Cilio was exquisitely talented, and maybe something of a genius. This is a simply fantastic document of what we might consider a hybrid of 20th century classical, minimalist psych-prog, and folk music, not entirely of this world. The all-white cover perfectly echoes Cilio's lovely, quietly haunting compositions for acoustic guitar, cello, piano and flute, sometimes visited by wordless female vocals. Achingly melancholic, immensely deep, truly beautiful. This release consists of Cilio's sole album, Dialoghi del Presente, which originally came out on EMI in 1977, along with several previously unreleased tracks. Apparently he more or less abandoned music after the album's release, and sadly committed suicide in 1983.Gatefold double lp with insert.
MPEG Stream: "Primo Quadro..."
MPEG Stream: "Interludio..."
CUT HANDS Damballah 58 (Blackest Ever Black) 12" 15.98
Another blast of twisted rhythmic "Afro-Noise" from William Bennett, most famously known for his confrontational harsh noise combo Whitehouse, but who around here is probably more beloved for this project, Cut Hands, his most recent project, which fuses traditional African rhythms, with industrial electronics and techno rhythms, creating a series of dark tangled grooves, that somehow push all our buttons. And this new one basically continues on where the recent Black Mamba ep left off. The A side is a furious polyrhythmic barrage, that slips easily from tribal groove, to lurching, loping, stuttering, industrial crunch and back again, driving and fierce, percussive and pretty goddamn hypnotic, the sort of thing we could listen to forever, and we just listened to the A side about four times in a row, and basically had to force ourselves to stop. The tracks on the flipside are a bit less aggro, sounding a little like old Muslimgauze, or like some current Dom Fernow project (Christian Cosmos, Vatican Shadow, Rainforest Spiritual Enslavement), the beats muted and blunted, at times downright mellow and blissed out, at others, rhythmic but dialed back, sort of murky and moody, but still tranced out and seriously psychedelic...
MPEG Stream: "Damballah 58"
DARK SUNNY LAND Emanations For A Returning (One Hand) lp 21.00
Like all music nerds, we love to read record reviews, even of records we have no interest in hearing, in fact especially those. And we find ourselves turned on to (or off of) records all the time, based on what we've read about it. But generally, even if something gets a terrible review, we still need to hear it for ourselves, considering the fact that there are so many things we love, that lots of other folks didn't dig, or even get. But there are a select few, whose opinions hold great weight, and who with a thumbs up can have us scrambling to track down a record, or a thumbs down can have us not bothering to check something out, no matter how much everyone else seems to love it. A recent addition to that pantheon of reviewers, would no doubt be Jarred and Petey (we are obsessed: http://singintothecomputer.tumblr.com/), a 10/10 Stars!!!!!!!! from those guys and we're all over it. But for a longtime, the mighty Julian Cope, via his amazing Head Heritage website, has been a sort of all seeing mystic, well versed in the arcane arts of drone / metal / psych, and weirdly attuned to EXACTLY what we love. So knowing that Cope had flipped his lid for this, the debut from Dark Sunny Land, we were prepared to dig mightily, and were not disappointed.This Boston based one man outfit delivers a sort of dense psychedelic kraut-drone that balances somewhere right between the hushed guitarscapery of Stars Of The Lid, the abstract avant drift of Taj Mahal Travellers, and the soft noise blackened ambience of the best floorcore technicians. DSL weaves all of that into something heady and hypnotic, ritualistic and mesmeric, long tones blur into soft sheets of billowing feedback, synths and theremins drift and waver, melodies surface, and fragment before submerging beneath the softly undulating thrum, it's the sort of ambient dronemusic that's anything but tranquil and/or new agey, the sound here is dense and tense and rife with some sort of dark energy, while it may be hypnotic and mesmerizing, it's also intense and aggressive, moody and atmospheric, but sinister and shot through with a sort of impending doom, whereas a lot of this sort of music drifts and floats ethereally, the sound of Emanations For A Returning sounds more like the soundtrack to a black hole, to collapsing universes, the score to the scorched expanses of dead planets, to a mysterious blackness that lurks in the shadows, it manages to sound like all that, while being breathtaking beautiful at the same time. Obviously so recommended!LIMITED TO 150 COPIES, and housed in super striking silk screened sleeves!
MPEG Stream: "Emanations 2"
DEATH GRIPS No Love Deep Web (Harvest) cd 10.98
We loved the Death Grips debut, Exmilitary, and the follow up, Money Store, but to be honest, we never thought we'd see this new-ish one actually come out. Considering it was meant to be released ages ago, but the band went ahead and released it online for free, without their (major) label's consent, which resulted in them being dropped. They also publicly shared private emails from their label. Then of course there's the X-rated cover art, that features the album title written in sharpie on an erect penis. There's also the recent Death Grips 'tour', which seemed like some sort of art punk prank, with the shows consisting of prerecorded music, a projection of a suicide note, and a lonely drum kit. Which often resulted in crowds freaking out, and at least at one show, trashing what little DG gear there was to be trashed. But then really, these guys have been all about stirring up shit, almost to the point where the music seemed more a vehicle for all that shit stirring. But even if that's true, the bottom line is that the music is pretty goddamn great, and weird as fuck, warped and woozy and confusional, and we can safely say, that as damaged and demented as those first two records were, No Love Deep Web still manages to up the ante. Swirling synths, blown out bass buzz, stuttering beats, but it's still all about DG mainman Stefan Burnett's insane ranting, which is even more unhinged this time around, to the point that on the opening track he begins to shriek wildly, his voice cracking hysterically, while the tense buzz and lurching beats add their own sonic pathos. And so it goes, the sonic palette remains pretty consistent throughout, thick swaths of synth buzz, and brittle electro beats, all sorts of FX and electronic filigree, the sound dense and thick and layered, with Burnett going nuts over the top, at some points, his vocals, are captured and looped and sent spinning through clouds of effects into the ether, multiple vocal lines collide, and get all tangled up, dizzying demented and fierce as fuck. A few of the tracks strip it way down, leaving mostly just clipped beats and vox, others sound almost dubsteppy, minus the actual dubstep, thick gouts of fuzzed out bass, and swirling clouds of crumbling, distorted low end, but really, the bulk of the record is just mean as fuck, dark and droney, buzzing and blown out, the sort of super sick, bass heavy, industrial laced, electro-hop we can't ever seem to get enough of... Let's also hope their even newer album, Government Plates, sees a physical release soon too.Housed in an artless black vinyl sleeve, to hide the sharpied erect cock cover art inside!
MPEG Stream: "Come Up And Get Me"
MPEG Stream: "Lil Boy"
MPEG Stream: "No Love"
DUCK FIGHT GOOSE Sports (Maybe Mars) cd 13.98
We sold a ton of singles from this Chinese band, based on what was essentially a one sentence review. Which described them as sounding a bit like Tortoise and the Talking Heads. And we got this back in early 2012 before the deluge of Chinese underground rock we've been freaking out over lately. We always wanted to review their full length, due in no small part to the super gross / creepy / cool photoshopped spider lady / weightlifting cover art. Now we finally got enough, and once you make it past the cover, you'll discover a sound that is pretty difficult to describe. Not sure if the Taking Heads / Tortoise description still applies, but DFG are in fact one of the few Chinese bands that does NOT seem to be channeling nineties indie/college rock, instead, they seem to be crafting some sort of mutant stadium rock, that is equal parts sweeping, epic majesty, and twisted, lo-fi noisiness. Strange bedfellows, but it works, at least if you're in the market for something simultaneously poppy and bombastic, damaged and sorta psychedelic. Just check out the opener, which has strident vocals way up in the mix, over a super melodic guitar part, and pounding drums, but the whole thing is wreathed in a cloud of staticky hiss, and underneath everything, there seems to be a churning backdrop of pulsing electronics, not to mention swirly almost proggy sounding synths, the whole thing mathy and noisy, fuzzy, and sorta like a mad scientist was creating a huge arena rock band Weird Science style, but got one of the ingredients just slightly wrong, so the end result was blissfully and twistedly off kilter, but with just enough of the arena rock DNA to keep it from devolving into full on weirdness. And that pretty much sets the stage for the rest of Sports, the band slipping into more groovy, almost new waviness ("Future Is A Cult"), big drum driven sort of sing alongs ("Golden Gate"), fuzzy, krautrocky elecro-pop ("Glass Walls"), and tribal drum / synth buzz blowouts ("Modern Friends"), and that's just the first half of the record. We're thinking some weird mix of Modern Flaming Lips, Gang Gang Dance, and early Arcade Fire? Sound weird, and it is, but that's what makes it so cool, and seriously unlike probably anything you've heard!
MPEG Stream: "Athletes"
MPEG Stream: "Future Is A Cult"
MPEG Stream: "Golden Gate"
EARTHLESS From The Ages (Tee Pee) 2lp 25.00
Also on vinyl!!Just a few weeks back we had the pleasure of hosting an in-store performance by godly guitarist and all around nice guy Isaiah Mitchell, playing solo, just guitar and singing, doing songs from his Black Elk Medicine Band project, some Golden Void stuff too, and he was GREAT. But even better is hearing him in full flight with the rhythm section from his mega power trio Earthless backing him up, as presented here on this brand new full-length from that band, their third studio slab. As expected, it's another excessive exercise in badass bluesy stoner jamming, Isaiah and Co. just wailing away endlessly, the bass laying it down solid, the drums rolling and tumbling, the guitar soaring and searing, these three latter day heavy hippie rockers achieving total psych-fuzz nirvana for the duration. 4 songs, 65+ minutes, utter transportational heaviness, epic and all-instrumental, rendered with taste and chops off the charts. Mitchell sure shreds, but in a psych not metal sense of shred, very sixties sounding, the jamming getting moody and mellow on the likes of "Equus October", but mainly very fluidly ripping and riffing, the album's rockin' tour-de-force being the super energetic title track, first previewed on the band's Live At Roadburn recording, here taking up a whole side-and-a-half, truly a jam "For The Ages". File alongside our recent Record Of The Week by Fuzz, for non-stop guitar-heavy psych-rock awesomeness.
MPEG Stream: "Violence Of The Red Sea"
MPEG Stream: "From The Ages Pt. I"
EVIL DEAD (ROQUE BANOS) OST (La-La Land) cd 16.98
At first the super striking cover art had us thinking this was in fact the original Evil Dead soundtrack, just given a modern makeover and re-released on one of the many horror movie soundtrack vinyl labels that have been popping up (Death Waltz, Waxwork, etc.). A closer look though revealed that this was in fact, music from the 2013 REMAKE of Evil Dead, and while we're not big fans of the remake, especially when it's a movie as iconic as Evil Dead, we have to say, over the last few years, some horror movie remakes have actually been pretty great. The new My Bloody Valentine was legitimately great, as was the recent remake of the slasher/exploitation classic Maniac. We dug the Hills Have Eyes remake too. Hell even the first half of Rob Zombie's Halloween remake was pretty cool (focusing on the childhood of Michael Myers), but even with all that, we LOVE the original Evil Dead, and as open as we are to remakes, Evil Dead did seem sort of sacrosanct. The movie itself is a whole different beast, VERY modern, and seriously scary, and WAY violent, the vibe though is totally different, sure it's kids in a cabin, and there's a book, and people get possessed, but otherwise, it really could have been called anything, it's not like that cabin in the woods trope is super original at this point. But still, from a pure horror movie perspective, it was pretty good, and the soundtrack/score, was AMAZING. Some seriously harrowing sound design for sure, that at times reminded us of Ben Frost, or even Roly Porter. It had us imagining that this is what might have happened if those guys were given a HUGE budget, and a full orchestra, and a seriously gore soaked movie to score. The sound is modern for sure, but it's pretty epic, and really scary, some of the arrangements are super twisted, some are obvious cues, but others are just plain weird, there are operatic vocals, soaring female, and chanted male, symphonic blasts, lost of brooding hushed passages, plaintive piano, the tracks are super dynamic, lots of scary strings, tons of drones, and deep rumbling low end, lots of jump scare style symphonic stabs, pounding percussion, much of the soundtrack sounds like updated black ambient / industrial music, the bits with vocals sound like the scariest neo-folk you've never heard, much of this sounds like a totally terrifying opera, some bits are haunting and delicate, but much of this is just super intense and even removed from the visuals, induces a seriously intense sense of utter dread and desolation. And of course horror. The vinyl is super deluxe, and thus pretty pricey, an ultra striking full color heavy gatefold sleeve, obviously designed to sit next to your Death Waltz / Mondo / Waxwork releases (it's a co-release with Death Waltz in fact, for overseas), the cd though is in a regular jewel case.
MPEG Stream: "I'll Rip Your Soul Out"
MPEG Stream: "Sad Memories"
MPEG Stream: "Don't Say It, Don't Write It, Don't Hear It"
FUZZ Live In San Francisco (Castle Face) lp 14.98
Second in a new series of live records from John Dwyer's Castle Face records, the first being the recent live White Fence set captured just a few blocks down from aQ at the Amnesia (formerly the Chameleon), and now this, a kick ass smoker of a set from Ty Segall's -other- band Fuzz, whose debut we made our Record Of the Week recently, and whose sound is more like sixties psych meets seventies proto metal, super Blue Cheer-y, all fuzzed out, heavy, and spacey. There's lots of wild and chaotic drumming (courtesy of Segall, who mans the kit, while somehow handling vox too) along with some insane guitar shreddery, courtesy of Charlie Mootheart of the Moonhearts and Segall's band proper, who somehow melds classic rock crunch with blown out, cosmic, brain melting Hendrixian Hawkwindian howl. Live they're even MORE fierce, caught here in the act at local leather-daddy dive the SF Eagle, and on Segall's birthday too (the crowd sings happy birthday, and Segall gets a cake and blows out the candles mid-song!!).Needless to say, if you dug the Fuzz full length, odds are you're probably gonna want this too, the songs way more loose and raw, stretched WAY out (only four songs!), the sound noisy and fuzzy and in your face, the band are on fire, it's the sort of sweat drenched, blood soaked blowout that deserves to be preserved for all of eternity. Dig it! And if you get the chance, don't miss these guys next time they play in your neck of the woods. Give this a listen and you'll understand why...
MPEG Stream: "This Time I Got A Reason"
MPEG Stream: "You Won't See It"
HARD STRIPES Demo (Ormolycka) cassette 5.98
Besides being killer (of course), this new tape from Ormalycka has the distinction of being one of the few releases on the label that we could find anything out about online. These Virginia hardcore crushers deliver a demo that's frantic and furious, old school hardcore heaviness, equal parts early eighties UK punk and classic Boston HC, bellowed vox, buzzing riffage, caveman drumming, frenzied punk rock intensity that slips into lurching lumbering doominess, and brooding knuckle dragging swagger here and there. Short sharp bursts of aggro punk fury, tempered by some bass driven dirgery, and some downright poppiness in places. Fans of SS Decontrol, Black Flag, and old school classic hardcore will dig big time...
MPEG Stream: "Flat White"
MPEG Stream: "Enforced"
HOLOGRAMS Forever (Captured Tracks) cd 14.98
Record number two from these gloom punk Swedes, and like their self titled debut, which we described as sounding a bit like Interpol via Iceage via the Undertones, Forever is another batch of crazy catchy pop jams in goth rock clothing. Right from the get go, Forever manages to be somehow even poppier than the debut. Opener "A Sacred State" is all dramatically crooned vox, pounding distorted drumming, fuzzed out guitars, and when the chorus hits, holy shit, chiming eighties style guitar shimmer, and a hook any band would kill for. It's the kind of jam that would/could/should have found its way into some arthouse version of a John Hughes coming of age pic. Total teenage moody pathos and mix tape melancholia. And it never really lets up, every song here is super epic, ultra catchy and totally rocking. the production this time around even better than on the first record, managing to be noisy and reverby and psychedelically echoey, but still lush and layered, letting the hooks shine through, and as mentioned before, there are hooks galore, even the noisiest jams here deliver the sort of choruses that sound simultaneously casually tossed off and meticulously crafted. Synths swirl over barrages of tribal drumming, guitars crunch and shimmer, and the vocals, way up in the mix, but right where they should be, dramatic and powerful, a gorgeous gothy croon, that we can only imagine has fans all a swoon. All of that wound up into some of the best songs we've heard in ages, and a record that gets spun in the store all the time, and one that has us constantly dashing up to the front of the store to see what's playing, convinced we know what it is, that it's some old favorite, only to be (pleasantly) surprised to find out it's the new Holograms!
MPEG Stream: "A Sacred State"
MPEG Stream: "Meditations"
MPEG Stream: "Attestupa"
HORISONT Time Warriors (Rise Above) cd 14.98
We just can't stop spinning this, the rockin' and rollin' new record from Sweden's wondrous Horisont, entitled Time Warriors. More like time trippers. It's another blast of their retro '70s proto-metal stylings, a la countryfolk Witchcraft, Graveyard, and Troubled Horse, but Horisont have a bit more of a "metally" sound to 'em, they're obviously big into the gallop of post-Sabbath '70s metal like early Judas Priest and Scorpions, when those bands were still sorta psychedelic though. We loved Horisont's previous two platters, and this one is hitting the spot just as much, or more!Lotsa good riffs light things up left and right, plus the singer ain't afraid to really belt it out, letting loose with some high pitched screams as the need arises - reminding one aQ customer of the guy from Cirith Ungol! Singer and band both go at it with plenty of passion and power. You sure can tell they love what they do... and are damn good at doing it. Most of the songs are sung in English, though a couple are in Swedish, including one called "Dodsdans" that lopes majestically in the vein of Thin Lizzy. Another one worth mentioning is epic (and aptly-titled) album-closer "All Must Come To An End, Part I & II", which gets super melodic and heartfelt, before a ripping and rollicking finale. Horisont can do emotive, and they can do ass-kicking. Yeah! In the running with Kadavar, Free Fall, and Hot Lunch for best heavy rock album of 2013 that sounds like it came out in, like, 1973. Well, this, maybe more like '76.
MPEG Stream: "Writing On The Wall"
MPEG Stream: "Diamonds In Orbit"
MPEG Stream: "Backstreet"
ICECROSS s/t (aka 1.LP) (Vintage / Rockadrome) cd 13.98
Gruesome/frosty looking logo, very metal-sounding name, morbid b&w cover art. looks like proto-metal... maybe even proto-BLACK-metal?! Icecross has intrigued us for years. Long ago, we read about 'em in one of those encyclopedic psychedelic record collector reference works (Scented Gardens Of The Mind, most likely) and were struck by the description. An ICELANDIC hard rock band from 1972, comparable to Black Sabbath, supposedly! Man we wanted to hear that. Certainly the scary album cover and song titles ("Jesus Freaks", "Nightmare", "Scared", "The End") suggested they played some sort of heavy, Satanic psych-metal. Of course, the book said the record was super rare and impossible to find. Oh the despair. Then, some years ago, a bootleg cd edition surfaced, and we got to hear it. Was it everything we were hoping for? Yes and no - no, it didn't sound much like Black Sabbath, not nearly as heavy as that, or metallic. But, yes, it was pretty darn cool, and weird. Once past the relatively normal first track "Wandering Around" (a standard bluesy boogie with lyrics about "looking for my baby"), then things get hella freaky. Icecross definitely deliver the dark and twisted psych, with songs full of sharp slashing tangles of dissonant guitar, total primal-prog power trio action, playing hard and fast on cuts like "Scared", with wailing psych leads. The vocals remind us a bit of the drama of Van Der Graaf Generator - or on downer-ballad "A Sad Man's Story", of uber-mopey krautrockers Paternoster. Lyrically, the anti-Christian "Jesus Freaks" stands out, with the line "They believe in Jesus, we believe in ourselves" - though the liner notes to this new, at long last legit cd release, indicate that one of the former members of the band did later become religious. This new edition also states the original lp was released in '73 by the way.So, while not exactly an early Icelandic example of heavy metal as described in that reference book, these demented Viking hippies maybe do belong somewhere far back in the lineage of Scandinavian blackness, yeah.Thanks to Vintage/Rockadrome for reissuing this, complete with a booklet full of vintage photos and firsthand accounts of the band's history. And, they're doing a vinyl version too, upcoming in a few months.
MPEG Stream: "Solution"
MPEG Stream: "Jesus Freaks"
MPEG Stream: "1999"
ILLUSION OF SAFETY Sweet Dreams (Substantia Innominata / Drone Records) 10" 15.98
BACK IN STOCK!!! Here's a perfect fit for the Drone Records imprint Subtantian Innominata. Illusion Of Safety is the long-running post-industrial project revolving around Chicago's Dan Burke. Over the past 30 years, he and his band of malcontents have created an amazing, if under-appreciated catalogue of psychologically grim soundtracks, brutal collages, and sublime dronemuzik, with most of the recordings operating on divergent aesthetic paths. On Sweet Dreams, Illusion Of Safety pushes towards an organic melancholy through some downright beautiful passages for guitar and synth explorations that recalls the Connie Plank haze cast upon Harmonia and Cluster back in the day. Yet, Burke detours from the kosmische ethos by snapping concise samples of earthen crunch along Robert Hampson-esque grids with loosened strumming dissolving the title track into a plaintive call and response of the technological and the roughhewn. "Unresolved" treats the guitar with more of a Tim Hecker sensibility for a digitally savvy blissout, followed up on the flipside with the hypnotic and lovely "Always Somewhere Else" whose motorik underbelly gradually levitates through an oscillating sequence of synths, with brightly toned guitar plucks gradually revolving into focus next to celestial choral synths. Quite a surprise from Illusion Of Safety, but one we're delighted to encounter.
MPEG Stream: "Sweet Dreams"
MPEG Stream: "Always Somewhere Else"
INQUISITION Obscure Verses For The Multiverse (Season Of Mist) cd 15.98
Is this, like, the fourth straight album in a row now from Inquisition that we are compelled to proclaim a top contender for Black Metal Album Of The Year? Hell yes it is. Guess that's no surprise. The duo of Dagon and Incubus, originating in Columbia, South America, now based in Washington State, North America, are on top of their game; Obscure Verses For The Multiverse is yet another jewel in their crown. We hope even the non-black-metal fanatics among you are paying attention, 'cause this is one of those records that we'd suggest to try to get you INTO black metal, it's that good. Part of Inquisition's genius is that while they deliver evil, grim vibes galore, and cosmic concepts too, they also don't forget that black metal is METAL, which means it's also rock n' roll, and so their grim musick seriously rocks, impressively so for a two-piece (even live - when we've seen 'em they've been amazing, couldn't believe two guys could pull it off like that). They are also just original enough to be undeniably their own thing, while proudly upholding tradition at the same time.On Obscure Verses, Inquisition once again deploy the chop-chop-chop of blizzard force drum battery, suddenly easing the pace to unleash perfectly lurching mid-to-slow tempo riffage, played with seasick "bent" guitar tones, fuzzed and frozen, all adorned by the distinctive rasping croak of the vocals and majestic leads of Satan-glorifiying, vertigo-inducing virtuosity. As the album oozes forth, or hurtles onward, as the case may be, from moment to moment, each and every one of those moments - whether the crush of a catchy riff, a springy, spiraling guitar lick, a miasmatic atmospheric interlude of subterranean ceremony - EVERY molecule of Inquisition's music here contains and conveys their utter original metal mastery and evil intent in full, there's nary a wasted moment, nothing that doesn't usefully contribute to the totality of effect and stand on its own as well, either to cause a headbanging frenzy or thrust you into melancholic, nauseated trance. Despite their origin in this hemisphere, definitely up there with the most celebrated Norwegian elite, this album (and several preceding it) belonging alongside our favorites by the likes of Enslaved and Immortal in particular. If you're into black metal, we expect you're already an Inquisition fan and know you NEED this; if you're not (yet) into black metal, well you couldn't find too many better albums to point you down the left hand path of no return.Available as a jewel case cd, or double vinyl with bonus track. (There's also a deluxe, specially packaged import cd box edition that also includes that bonus track, and also comes with a goat-leather key ring, but we've sold out of those, not sure if they'll ever be back...)
MPEG Stream: "Force Of The Floating Tomb"
MPEG Stream: "Obscure Verses For The Multiverse"
MPEG Stream: "Spiritual Plasma Evocation"
JAWORZYN, STEFAN Eaten Away By Shadows (Shock) cd 21.00
Eaten Away By Shadows collects a bunch of archival material from Stefan Jaworzyn (once a member of Skullflower, Ascension and other industrial/noise outfits) produced from 1982-83 with some of this material making its way onto compilations and onto a single released by Fusetron sometime in the early '90s. In the equally delightful liner notes to this album, Jaworzyn gleefully extols the virtues of bashing microphones with pieces of metal, and at least on one instance, an axe! The results of these Neubauten-esque excursions are most obvious on the junk-yard clamor of the only untitled piece from this collection. Throughout the clang and bash, Jaworzyn set forth a marching drum machine and distorto-muffled bass riffs whose structured sonic latticework seemed to be standard scum-fuck procedure for early Skullflower, Throbbing Gristle, SPK, etc. A good chunk of the album follows this strategy, with some surprisingly graceful moments, especially on the spacious "M.O.R" which could be some Soft Moon demo track with its eerily spectral guitars hung upon primitive drum machine rhythms. But the latter half of the album gets nasty. Really nasty, through gnarled feedback demolition and unhinged free noise explosions. Such volatility, noted on the very Susan Lawly sounding "Second Orgasm" or the two "Guitar" tracks which made their way onto the above mentioned Fusetron single, all share a transcendent self-immolation with the likes of Merzbow and even Keiji Haino that's far more primordial than any of the stylized ultra-violence of Whitehouse or Sutcliffe Jugend. Fuck!And perhaps you're wondering why it's only on cd? And not vinyl? Well Jaworzyn has very strong feelings about cds and vinyl, as he does about most things, so in his own, creatively combative words, here's a recent missive he sent out about a 12" series he's planning, the recent Skullflower reissues, his intense feelings about vinyl, and more:"Almost every sales site/label/distro seems to be concentrating on vinyl. I don't get it. It's stupidly expensive to produce (and buy - especially considering international postage costs); there doesn't seem to be any way to break even on runs of 300 or less unless you sell most of 'em full price yourself; pressings are regularly horrible (coloured/gimmick vinyl etc is an abomination, 'super-heavy' vinyl a joke); 99% of vinyl is mastered from digital sources anyway so don't give me that drivel about 'analogue sound'... Oh, I could go on and on...So the 12" series is going to lose me quite a lot. But if I sell a relatively small number of CDs I'll break even much faster, can put out another release sooner and I don't feel like a spaz having spunked over a grand on a record no one wants...AND CDs SOUND BETTER. Yes, I said it. CDs sound better. Oh, so you've got a mono UK original Piper at the Gates of Dawn, have you? Sold your kids to Estonian sex-traffickers for it, eh? How droll. Well I have it on CD and IT SOUNDS BETTER THAN THE VINYL. I mean it, man.OK, here's another. Form Destroyer. The LP version is horrible. The cut was rubbish, the pressing was rubbish (the master tapes were fine). The new CD sounds better than any other version. No, your vinyl version is not much cooler, it's simply unlistenable. (Xaman sounds fine on vinyl as it was mastered from the Ð wait, what, no Ð DIGITAL MASTER!)What is this crap always polluting discogs: 'when's the vinyl coming out?' I'll tell you when the vinyl's coming out: 'Fuck right off time' is when the vinyl's coming out.But no, let's pay £20.00 for an LP, which probably doesn't include a download (mp3s are digital smegma), so where do you get your 'listening copy'? You pay ALMOST THE SAME PRICE AS A CD for some shitty flacs, or a quid less for the mpfucking3s. What, are we slobbering slack-jawed mongoloids? Why on bog's green earth would anyone pay around a tenner for flacs? So they can make their own CD? Duh. Oh, flacs are just dandy if you've got a 250GB shitpad that plays them. And they're so convenient to load onto your portable device, eh? Right, just kill me now."Oh yeah, and to end with a delightfully apt Jaworzyn quip, also from the liner notes: "we don't want to hear any moaning about the fact it's in a jewel case, not a repulsive digipak!" Amen, brother.
MPEG Stream: "M.O.R."
MPEG Stream: "Untitled"
MPEG Stream: "Second Orgasm"
MPEG Stream: "Guitars II"
JESU Everyday I Get Closer To The Light From Which I Come (Avalanche) cd 14.98
Justin Broadrick's Jesu continues to drift further and further way from the the churning industrial metallic pummel of his Godflesh project, which makes sense, especially considering Godflesh is back together and a going concern again. But then even before that, Jesu continued to move ever popward, most recently positioning itself alongside the electro-pop of M83, as well as the wistful eighties style John Hughes soundtrack sound. And for all of the heaviness and experimentalism that came before, Broadrick definitely demonstrated a keen knack for pop smithery, which is most definitely in full effect here."Homesick" might be one of the poppiest songs yet, still rife with heavy chugging guitar, but those guitars wreathed in shimmery, chiming melodies, and then extra super polished clean vocals, it's the sort of song that with a different production could be a proper 'hit', but thankfully, here it's still defined by Broadrick's production, and that heavy guitar part, which turns this into a sort of jangle sludge dream pop. "Comforter" is even less heavy, with a warbly effected guitar melody over ethereal synth drifts and swooping backward FX, subtle electronic pulsations, but like the opener, this dreaminess is soon joined by some crunchy downtuned guitar, before the whole thing settles into a weird woozy dream pop dirge, all melty and warbly, as if it was dubbed from a tape left in the sun too long. The rest of the record is more of the same, a sort of stripped down pop, the title track the sort of new wave jangle pop you might expect to hear on Captured Tracks, and the closer "Grey Is The Colour", is also all dreamy and jangly, strummy and shimmery, but right in between, lurks the 17+ minute "The Great Leveller", which begins with some stately piano, wrapped in soft swirls of symphonic strings, and martial snares, clouds of cymbal shimmer, before the sound is nearly swallowed by some seriously distorted and downtuned guitar chug and churn, which is offset by more clean melodic vox, but it's easily the heaviest track here, but again, heavy as in some super melodic sludge pop, but it does get a bit mathy and metallic, with a melancholic interlude partway through, stately and lovely, before returning to the majestic metallic chug, now offset by some seriously lilting melodies, the sort of combo that really shouldn't work, but somehow does, perfectly.
MPEG Stream: "Homesick"
MPEG Stream: "Comfortor"
MPEG Stream: "The Great Leveller"
JUICEBOXXX Pump It (Ormolycka) cassette 5.98
When's the last time you bought a goddamn CASSINGLE?? The nineties? The eighties? Well it's about time to make it right goddamn now, cuz this latest blast from Milwaukee rapper Juiceboxxx (yeah, he's added an X since last time) is a doozy. Now that's it's cold and grey, rainy and grim, this is THEE summer jam that will make the inside of your car feel like you're cruising down the coast, top down, sun shining, cracking 40's, smoking blunts, and scamming on the ladies (or the dudes). Total Beastie Boys style radness, hooky loops, big bouncy loops, and a whole mess of guests including local boy Antwon, who each contribute a verse, the sound slipping from bombastic boombox hip hop, to sample heavy summery electro-pop, with a main vocal hook that will stick in your head like crazy. And flip it over, and you get the a capella, which somehow is just as cool / even cooler. Pressed on a bright pink tape, housed in a full color cardboard cassingle style sleeve. LIMITED TO 50 COPIES!!!
JULIUS SMACK Feels So Right (self-released) cd-r ep 6.98
It's always exciting to get to experience an artist at the beginning of what you know will be a long and rewarding journey of musical and artistic exploration. We first encountered Julius Smack (aka Peter Hernandez) by chance. Some of us here love the avant-drag party High Fantasy thrown every Tuesday night at one of the last standing gay bars in the Tenderloin, Aunt Charlie's. One night we saw an artist whose performance consisted of cool projections, a super distinctive look and persona, meditative movements and even some full on voguing. But what struck us the most, was the alluring music playing during this performance, especially some beautiful entrancing vocals. Our first thought was "Oh my god, how cool, a drag/performance artist using unreleased Arthur Russell tracks as his music!" So we approached him after his stunning performance and asked what the music was and if it was Arthur Russell as we suspected? He humbly replied that the music and the vocals were his own, and that's when we know we had encountered something special.This debut release features his take on left-field electronic pop, with warm melting synths, and that irresistible voice. It's impossible to not hear Arthur Russell in Julius Smack, but we also hear touches of Owen Pallett and maybe a more clubby version of David Sylvian. This ep features four original tracks, some tasteful interludes laced with field recordings, a few remixes of the title track, and two covers. His take on Al Green's "I'm Still In Love With You" is a stunner... and make sure to stick around for the 'secret' Arthur Russell cover (of course) which appears after the last track.This is music that is both delicate and self assured, bold without being flashy, and sensual without relying on played out signifiers. Not sure how many of these were pressed, so best to grab one quick so you can say you knew him when...
MPEG Stream: "Feels So Right"
MPEG Stream: "I'm Still In Love With You"
JUPPALA KAAPIO Alpen Ocean (Omnimemento) lp 21.00
So lovely is the work of Juppala Kaapio! That said, we must sadly report that the Japanese / Swiss, husband-and-wife duo have stated that Alpen Ocean will be their final album under the guise of Juppala Kaapio. Another project is in the works, and they are planning to unveil whatever this may be sometime in 2014. Many of the drone-clad works we champion hedge their bets with the power of the darkside; but there are plenty of choice examples of rapturous, celestial tones and holy minimalism that seek to enlighten rather than darken the consumers' mind. Juppala Kaapio's small catalogue of lovingly crafted minimalism figures somewhere between the summer solstice nature jams of the Finnish freak-folk types and the twinkling harmonics of Terry Riley and LaMonte Young. As for Alpen Ocean, a brightly hued psychedelia of a sunburst and snowblind tableau is rendered through the wide-eyed sense of awe and wonder after calmly sipping a cup of psilocybin mushroom tea. Carole Kojo's delicate falsettos waver into a meditative chorale through tape loops and delay amidst the slow kaleidoscopic arrangements of chiming bells, bowed gongs, glassy electronics, and a few pastoral field recordings thrown in for good measure. It all comes together into bright, rapturous drones that Juppala Kaapio's Hitoshi Kojo describes as "overlaid harmonies of a murmuring of trees, howling skies, roarings of the ocean and the gradual transformation that are accompanied by melodies which may remind you of migratory birds travelling across the sky on a lost ancient continent, or the dream of sea animals that are in eternal slumber in a ridge of mountains." Limited to a mere 300 copies!
MPEG Stream: "Alpen Ocean"
MPEG Stream: "Atlantic Alps"
JUPPALA KAAPIO Rainbow Mask (Omnimemento) lp 21.00
BACK IN STOCK and available again...A swarmingly beautiful, miasmic piece of psychedelic drone folk! Juppala Kaaplo is the husband & wife duo of Carole and Hitoshi Kojo, the latter of whom had released a number of spectacular drone-smear constructions under the moniker Spiracle. Minimalism is certainly a key component to the Juppala Kaaplo sound, but it's the kaleidoscopic trills that you'll get from Terry Riley rather than the steely suspension from Organum or Phill Niblock. Certainly, Spiracle's last affair - the daydreaming ambient record Ananta - was a much friendlier form of minimalism, but we were still not entirely expecting the shimmering, prism-shot psychedelia of this album. A hypnotizing mass immediately emerges from the lp with lengthy repetitions of Carole's vocal that is equal parts Liz Harris and Tara Burke, haunting the forest-dwelling drones from various bowed instruments that Hitoshi stacks into sinewy passages. Throughout, long breathy gasps of aerated noises push to the foreground alongside a revolving set of church organ trills and arpeggiations that faithfully play homage to Terry Riley's classic Rainbow In Curved Air. The second side is a slightly more somber affair with violin and piano gliding out of an aggregate drone from those two instruments. Like the A-side, it's a wonderful bliss-out number albeit sodden from a rainy night out in the Finnish wilderness. Limited to 450 copies and highly recommended!
MPEG Stream: "Rainbow Mask"
MPEG Stream: "Masked Rainbow"
K11 Another Temple To The Great Beast 666 (Utech) cd 14.98
Aleister Crowley-obsessed, site-specific dronologist Pietro Riparbelli, aka K11, returns with a new disc for the esteemed Utech label. This philosophical Italian sound artist has produced several previous recordings of ritualistic droned-out ambience that we've found highly enjoyable & evocative, using - and very much meaning - words like "haunting", "enigmatic", and "arcane" in our review of 2010's Metaphonic Portrait 1230 A.D., an album made with shortwave radio receivers in a reverberant cathedral. Further, we compared it to the work of of both Nadja and Tim Hecker, big aQ faves both.Like the other discs of his we've had, this new effort essentially consists of field recordings from a ceremonial sonic space both created, and documented, by K11. It finds Riparbelli once again capturing hauntological signals from the ether, his shortwave radios apparently dialed to "the other side"... via K11's technology, distorted drones rise from the abyss. It's an electronic seance of sorts, taking place in the Temple Of Diana in Cefalu, Sicily, a historic site associated with The Great Beast himself, occultist Aleister Crowley, who performed yogic mediations and other rituals there in the early 1920s. According to Utech, the aim was for K11 to try and "reclaim the echo of Crowley's presence" in the temple via what is called an "instrumental transcommunication action". Well, whatever one might think of Crowley himself, as well as such "magickal" aural endeavors, we all can appreciate a harrowing, beautiful, atmospheric drone recording - and whether or not Crowley's spirit is in fact heard here, it's not hard to IMAGINE it is, amidst all the hiss and hum and blown out drones. It's powerful played loud, but there are quiet moments too, some revealing field recordings of the more mundane world where the temple stands, with bird twitter and the near-silence of empty spaces. K11's radiowave whines, shimmering elusively, even coalesce into something almost melodic at times. Certainly recommended!As an Utech release, this comes in typically outstanding packaging, a dim translucent sleeve holding the cd and a half dozen square clear acetate sheets bearing excellent pen & ink drawings by Viral Graphics, relating to Crowley and the Temple Of Diana, including a close-up portrait of Crowley, eyes closed, perhaps concentrating in his yogic meditation. The drawings can thus be viewed separately or together, layered in a myriad of combinations, the idea being a visual analog of the "echoes" that K11's audio research documents. Very nicely done. Limited to 300 copies only.
MPEG Stream: "Unio Mystica"
MPEG Stream: "C'hocamah-17"
MPEG Stream: "Geburah"
LEVITICUS The Strongest Power (Ektro) cd 14.98
Here's one of the latest unusual releases from Jussi of Circle's eclectic Ektro imprint (see elsewhere this list for another, Baxter Stockman). So, what's it this time? Could be anything weird that Jussi loves. Scuzzed out noisepunk? 20th Century experimental minimalism? Or maybe one of many crazy Circle side projects? Nope. None of the above. Take a look at the (wonderfully) crude fantasy art on the cover. Try obscure '80s Swedish metal. CHRISTIAN metal, to be precise (yep, Leviticus is a book of the Bible). Guess what? We love '80s Christian metal! Totally got a soft spot for it, Bible-believing bands like Sacred Warrior, Bloodgood, and Recon, it's heavy metal at its most sincere and passionate in a way. So we were excited to hear this, a reissue by a band of that ilk previously unknown to us - though apparently, back in 1985 when this album originally was released, they got some very positive press in the UK's Kerrang! magazine. We can see why. Preaching their faith sure doesn't stop Leviticus from rockin' hard, right from the start. They deliver a mighty one-two punch with majestic opening salvo "The Winner" and the ripping rocka-rolla of 2nd strike "Deborah and Barak". Yup, they tear it up - and are plenty melodic too.Of course, this IS kinda cheesy (see that cover art again), and not just 'cause of the Christianity, Leviticus making a (pretty decent) stab at radio-friendly commercialism at times, with tracks like "King Of Kings" and "I Got Power" hoping to follow countrymen Europe into the arena of, uh, arena-rock. But heck, it's '80s metal, we can hang with that. And anyway, the NWOBHM-y goodness of tracks like "On The Rock" makes up for softer moments such as "A New Day", which brings 1984-era Van Halen keyboards to the fore. Scandinavian metal is better known for pagan Viking imagery, or church burning blackness, but as this proves, there are church-goers up in those frozen climes who who like to rock, too. But you don't have to be a Christian to rock with 'em, 'cause even though Leviticus surely meant the title of their album to refer to God, another way to interpret "The Strongest Power" is, of course: heavy metal!! To that, we all must kneel.Particularly recommended to fans of Ektro's earlier reissues of records by Thor!
MPEG Stream: "The Winner"
MPEG Stream: "Deborah And Barak"
MPEG Stream: "On The Rock"
LIMINANAS, THE Costa Blanca (Trouble In Mind) cd 11.98
The previous full length from French fuzz pop duo The Liminanas, Crystal Anis, might be one of THEE most played records in the shop, even a year after it came out. Somehow it seems to ALWAYS be playing, and whenever someone can't think of what to listen to, that seems to be the record turned to most. And for good reason, it's a doozy. Besides being droney and jangly and hypnotic, and so crazy catchy, it also features lots of ukelele, perhaps in the only non-kitsch usage we can think of. They take the modern krautrock of outfits like Moon Duo, and meld it to the classic popsmithery of Jacques Brel and Serge Gainsbourg. The music simple and stripped down, but super hypnotic and melodic, boy and girl vocals, with plenty of sexy spoken word, that ukelele, a weird mix of folky strum, propulsive motorik groove, fuzzy garage rock, stripped down jangle pop, all wound into perfect chunks of brooding, moody, exotic, fuzzy, jangly radness that we literally could not get enough of. So we were THRILLED to discover a brand new record, and we're happy to report, it's just as good as the earlier one. In fact, it's one of those records, that on first listen seems like it couldn't possibly live up to what came before, but a few listens in, blossoms into something special, and before you know it, you begin to think it's even better, and then a little bit later, you're SURE it is. So that's where we're at now. The sound itself is definitely more lush and well produced, the sound a bit heavier and more layered, and while the songs still don't seem quite as catchy, they're sinking their hooks in a little more with each listen, and at this point, that means it won't be long, since this is pretty much all we want to listen to. Totally recommended, and bound to be playing next time you're in the shop, which as always, is about the highest recommendation we can think of!
MPEG Stream: "Je Me Souviens Comme Si J'y Etais"
MPEG Stream: "My Black Sabbath"
MPEG Stream: "Alicante"
MAMIFFER & CIRCLE Enharmonic Intervals (For Paschen Organ) (Sige) 2lp 22.00
Been waiting for this one now for a while now, a killer collaboration between Northwestern drone/drifters Mamiffer (aka Aaron and Faith), and Finnish hypno-rockers Circle (aka Jussi and Mika), and this foursome whip up some blissed out avant garde minimal dreaminess, utilizing an old organ, in a nineteenth century stone church in Circle's hometown of Pori. The organ's lush chordal whir may form the basis of these tracks, but they are fleshed out by all sorts of elements, some you might recognizes from the members' other bands, some seem to have been conjured from the ether. Long stretched out tones, hazy layers of sonic gauze, wild keening violin melodies (courtesy of Mr. Eyvind Kang), scrapes and creaks, murky percussion, heavily processed vokills buried way down in the mix, the tracks super dynamic and nuanced, slipping easily from hushed shimmer, to howling squall, the mellower parts, truly mesmerizing, with hints of Morricone surfacing in the twang flecked dusky drifts, while the heavier/louder/more chaotic moments seem to be channeling all manner of noisiness throughout the ages, hints of free form floorcore, Japanoise, heavy drone, black ambience, but all masterfully sculpted into brooding, dramatic swaths of majestic minimalism, that seems to be constantly slipping into maximal sonic overload. Hushed and tranquil one second, tense and intense the next, whispery and woozy transformed into caustic crunch and heart-of-the-sun psychedelia. Some tracks unfold like some lost Circle B-side, Mika's strange vocals draped over flurries of acoustic guitar, simple tribal percussion, and that ever present organ drone, while others begin life sounding like some court music from the past, before morphing into something more ominous and gothic, a blackened neo-folk that would sound right at home on Cold Spring. Elsewhere guitar rumbles blossom blackly into something almost SUNN-like, which is countered by some Circle-like dramatic hypno-prog weirdness, operatic and over the top, before finally, resolving with what might be the prettiest of the bunch, the near ten minute closer, a gorgeously hypnotic slab of rumbling, whirring, shimmering dronemusick, that's equal parts barely there modern minimalism, and rib cage rattling low end assault, the end result, both harrowingly heavy, and blissfully dreamy.This vinyl version is LIMITED TO 800 COPIES, in deluxe two part jackets, the fancy inner sleeves housed in a deluxe slipcover.
MPEG Stream: "Kaksonen 1"
MPEG Stream: "Parting Of Bodies"
MPEG Stream: "Vaso Luna"
MAPS AND DIAGRAMS In Circles [Deluxe] (Time Released Sound) cd 52.00
Of all the releases on local label Time Released Sound, Get Lost by Maps And Diagrams, holds a special place in our hearts, as it was the first TRS release we were able to get enough of to actually review. And besides that, it was a gorgeous collection of hazy droney drift, the perfect first release, deftly delivering a sound that would essentially define the label's sonic mission statement, pastoral, dreamlike, woozy and washed out, electronic flecked folkiness and moody droney ambience. So here we are two years later, and Time Released Sound delivers their second Maps And Diagrams record, In Circles, which delves into similar sonic terrain, another sprawling bit of gauze-y dreaminess, soft focus clouds of swirling synths and whirring organs, blurred melodies, and smeared streaks of abstract shimmer, all sculpted into heady, heavenly swaths of ethereal pop ambience, glistening, crystalline shimmer, all infused with a lush, organic vibe. Some of the tracks here are all chiming guitars, gristled electronics and mysterious field recordings, others glistening swirls of slow shifting chordal shimmer, and still others are woozy loopscapes wreathed in a fuzzy patina of Caretaker like faded thrum. At least one track features vocals, and is thus transformed into a haunting drone-folk ballad, underpinned by a softly roiling bed of swoonsome strings and record crackle static. But really, every song here is mysteriously and heart wrenchingly fantastic!The packaging, as always, is top notch, the standard version housed in a digipack and limited to 200 copies, while the deluxe version, limited to just 70 copies, is packaged in a hand altered black digipack, which is collaged, punched, and most strikingly, inlaid inside and our with ornate silkscreened Spanish real cork wallpaper. There's a printed and hand punched insert, everything inside a hand stamped, hand punched, inked and diagrammed translucent envelope, and each one also includes a 75 year old page of hand drawn diagrams and text. Wow!
MPEG Stream: "Talavera"
MPEG Stream: "Bosque"
MPEG Stream: "Valargo"
MPEG Stream: "Ten Black Cards"
MORELLI, RON Spit (Hospital) lp 24.00
Spit is the debut full length from Ron Morelli, probably best know as the man who runs the L.I.E.S. label, whose American Noise / Volume One 2cd comp was a big hit around here, but instead of doing the record himself, Morelli found his way to Dom Fernow's Hospital label, and it's a really good fit, Morelli's murky electronic minimalism definitely in keeping with the music Fernow makes and releases, fans of Vatican Shadow, Christian Cosmos, Rainforest Spiritual Enslavement, Silent Servant will find much to dig here. The opening track "Radar Version", in fact sounds like it could be Fernow, all gothed out industrial gloom, skeletal pulsations over woozy buried melodies, everything dubbed out and doused in effects, and swathed in a grey ambience, which by the end of the track is also buried beneath soft synth shimmers and blasts of electronic noise. The tempo is cranked up a bit for the second track, "Modern Paranoia", a sort of lo-fi, ultra minimal electro, but even then, it's soon joined by some garbled bass warble, like a a dubstep wobble, all melting and oozing and slowed way down, soon there are handclaps and weird percussion, and that rhythm reveals itself as some super cheesy Casio style beat, still beneath that woozy bass. And from there on out, it only gets better, the crunchy acid-y electronic squelch and motorik pulsations of "Crack Microbes", the churning looped industrial noisescapery of "Sledgehammer II", the abstract electro dub weirdness of "Fake Rush", the blooping, bleeping, sample laced primitive early electronics worship of "Director Of...", the gritty, gristly, night-kraut, goth-groove of "No Real Reason", and finally, the blurred, grey-noise drone-drift ambience of "Slow Drown." So good. Totally recommended for Hospital label obsessives, fans of Fernow's various projects, and anyone into grim, gothic industrial minimalism, or if you're like us, all three!
MPEG Stream: "Radar Version"
MPEG Stream: "Crack Microbes"
MPEG Stream: "Sledgehammer II"
MPEG Stream: "Slow Drown"
MR. GRACELESS The Tree Ever Green (Maybe Mars) cd 12.98
One of a whole handful of Chinese indie rock and noise pop releases on this week's list, this is the first we've heard from Mr. Graceless, who like a lot of the other Chinese bands we've been digging lately, seem especially beholden to a certain era of American music, that we too are quite partial to, that would be the nineties, and the sort of college/indie rock we still love to this day. And sure, it could be cuz we sort of musically came of age in that era, but we don't seem to ever get tired of My Bloody Valentine, Sonic Youth, Sebadoh, the Pixies, and the multitude of bands who carried that sonic torch ever since. So yeah, if you like that sort of stuff, or have been digging the recent Chinese releases we've been featuring on past lists (White+, Boyz & Girl, Car-Sick Cars, Dear Eloise, Duck Fight Goose, etc.), then Mr. Graceless will be right up your alley. And while they do obviously count all that nineties American stuff as a huge influence, they also seem to push that sound into more overtly poppy indie jangle realms, with lots of soaring chiming clean guitar and some seriously sweet vocals, positioning the sound of Mr. Graceless a bit closer to pop outfits like the Shins, Avi Buffalo, Spoon, Death Cab, Papercuts, etc. But imagine that sound with just a bit more crunch and fuzz. Super melodic, ultra poppy, crazy catchy, and way recommended for all you (indie/nineties) pop nerds...
MPEG Stream: "Intro"
MPEG Stream: "Listen To Capture"
MPEG Stream: "Lovely Face"
MVULA, LAURA Sing To The Moon (Columbia) cd 12.98
A few months ago, Pitchfork released their list of the most overlooked releases of the year (which happened to feature a few we highly raved about, including former ROTW William Tyler, along with Pharmakon and Prurient), and we were wowed by the sound clips of the British soul singer Laura Mvula and her kaleidoscopic orchestral debut, Sing To the Moon. Mvula blithely channels a psychedelically pastoral folk-soul sound that reminds us of Magic Garden-era Fifth Dimension and Minnie Ripperton from her Rotary Connection days in the late sixties. Sounding like a major Van Dyke Parks production, the orchestral arrangements swell and transport us into a dreamy tapestry of sun-dappled majesty. Cascading harps, bells, horns, flutes and strings tethered by modern rhythms and ethereal gospel choirs are given weight by Mvula's strong yet cool delivery that highlights her incredible control and range. One of the best and unusual modern soul records we've heard in quite awhile. We have been listening to this repeatedly for the past few months and it never fails to transfix. Recommended!
MPEG Stream: "Like The Morning Dew"
MPEG Stream: "Green Garden"
MPEG Stream: "Sing To The Moon"
MPEG Stream: "Flying Without You"
NECKS Open (Northern Spy) cd 14.98
The Necks might be our favorite jazz group, most of their records/performances being single hour long pieces, always a lush, patient, slow build, all texture and mood, super dynamic, but in a way most bands can't pull off, just bass drums and piano, their sound dense and dark, doleful and lovely. The last few Necks records have found this minimal band getting a little maximal, their slow build eventually erupting into something dense and driving and almost psychedelic, as if in response to that, Open finds the group and their most hushed and abstract, with the first few minutes featuring a field of tinkling chimes, spare pointillist piano, and only the occasional flurry of bass notes, spacious and mesmeric, as we usually find ourselves saying about these guys, we would have been happy if there was no slow build at all, and the whole record was just this glistening, glimmering sprawl of abstract free jazz drift. But there is a method to their madness, and at about the eight minute mark, the song shifts dramatically, an electronic pulse, some simple hi-hat rhythms, the occasional bass drum, and nothing else, weirdly hypnotic and barely there, the sound soon joined by a buzzing hum, a snare crack here, some bass thrum there, the sound blossoming into a sprawl of subtle tribal drumming, and more shimmering chimes, soon the piano comes back in, and the song begins to take a more jazz-like shape, albeit one that's still quite free and abstract, the lilting piano melody offsetting the busy drumming, the sound shifting again soon after, with a snare roll that sounds almost like radio static, the bass and low notes on the piano unfurling a dense rumble, those chimes tying everything together again, before settling into something much more tranquil and serene, only to return to that strange electronic pulse / hi-hat section, which slips from jazzy shimmer, to abstract free form almost-psychedelia, the snare locked into another roll, adding a buzzy thrum, the sound finally settling into some hushed, laid back jazziness, wreathed in a dreamy droned out shimmer, gradually fading to silence. Recommended, as always!
MPEG Stream: "Open (excerpt 1)"
MPEG Stream: "Open (excerpt 2)"
OH SEES, THE Singles Collection Volume 3 (Castle Face) cd 13.98
Singles collection number three from these local garage rock heroes. The first was a double lp, and while packed with rarities, collected a lot of the singles we already had, but this one, this one we were super excited about cuz it gathers up a ton of tracks, that we, and presumably many of you, were never able to track down AT ALL, including two jams from their split with David Shrigley, their track from the Bruise Cruise split with Ty Segall, as well as the tracks from a split with Quintron as well as a split with The Mallard. They also toss in their tracks from the two Group Flex comps, as well as one track from the Floating Coffin sessions and two unreleased tracks, so minus 2 or 3 tracks, if you're anything like us, this is essentially like a whole new Oh Sees record!And since it's all singles, it's all over the map, even moreso than Oh Sees records proper. There's the goofy garage pop lope of opener "Ugly Man", there's the percolating, fuzzed out jangle of "Girls Who Smile", and the blown out, almost Redd Kross sounding "Crushed Glass", everything in the red and blown out, a sixties style psychedelic stomp that kills. There's a killer cover of Sonic youth's "Burning Spear" that we might dig even more than the original, "What You Need" is all tribal drumming, Dwyer's reverbed high pitched yips, and yet still more fuzzed out guitars, heavy on the effects and studio fuckery too. "FBI2" from the split with Quintron finds Dwyer and co. doing their own version of a Quintron jam, a seriously primitive swampy graveyard garage rock stomp, while "Wait Let's Go" is pure jangle pop bliss out. "Always Flying" from the second Group Flex is a cool broody, fuzzed out garage pop dirge, all spare and swaggery, which leads right into "Devil Again" from the Floating Coffin sessions, and it sounds like it could easily have made it on the record proper, all sci-fi organs and garagey groove, rollicking and rambunctious, and finally, two live tracks, the first from the SF Eagle, an extended psych-fuzz groove, with some seriously kick ass breakdowns and some wild guitar slinging, and an even more lo-fi / raw live track captured at Death By Audio, which captures the sweat soaked bloody knuckled energy of the band pretty goddamn perfectly. Packaged in a cool eye popping reflective silver digipack (vinyl out in December), and features the latest in the ever changing Castle Face logos, this one maybe our favorite, a grimacing castle/turret/volcano with braces!
MPEG Stream: "Girls Who Smile"
MPEG Stream: "Crushed Glass"
MPEG Stream: "What You Need"
MPEG Stream: "Always Flying"
MPEG Stream: "Devil Again"
P.I.G.S. Libido (Ormolycka) cassette 5.98
Not to be confused with SF heavy noise rockers Pigs, this P.I.G.S. is a mystery, like much of the stuff we get from our pal Jason's Ormolycka label, obviously it's an acronym, that must stand for something. And here is where we usually might offer up all the possible things it stands for, but this time we're gonna skip that, mostly cuz we can't figure out one that accurately describes the grinding, crumbling, speaker shredding assault of these particular P.I.G.S. Think Merzbow, or Incapacitants, there's definitely some old school harsh noise / Japanoise worship going on here. No skree or shriek, this is not high end aural punishment, instead the sonic palette is more low end, rumbles and crunches, a roiling blackened swirl of caustic crush. In fact, it sounds a little like the tape player ate the tape, got all tangled up, and then instead of spitting it out, just got more and more tangled, and the machine got more and more angry, spewing forth a wild tangled of blacknoise. Definitely not easy listening, and only for noise nerds, so if you have a shelf full of old RRR releases and/or have paid to see a long haired Japanese guy yell into a change purse or play something that looked like a wooden plank with effects pedals nailed to it, then this will probably be right up your alley. And yeah, also pretty limited, as these Ormolycka things generally are...
PORTER, ROLY Life Cycle Of A Massive Star (Subtext Recordings) cd 17.98
Life Cycle Of A Massive Star is a pretty ambitious title for a record from post-dubstep beat junkie, but if Roly Porter's last record, Aftertime, which we made a Record Of The Week, was any indication, a lot has changed since Porter's time in the dubstep duo Vex'd. Not that we didn't love Vex'd, we definitely did, their brand of dubstep was way out on the fringe, dark and dour, warped and skeletal, washed out and hazy, but none of this is to imply that Porter's post Vex'd output would in anyway be classified as dubstep, BUT some of the soundscapery that made Vex'd so interesting is definitely in full effect, even more so on this new one. Aftertime was a sprawling experimental epic, more sound design than anything, abstract and ambient, like the score to some mysterious abstract art film, reminding us of another aQ fave, Ben Frost, and like Frost's albums, it was most definitely a record that had us wondering why this guy was not in Hollywood, crafting music for big budget sci-fi blockbusters and twisted art house flicks. So we were actually expecting more of the same, but Life Cycle Of A Massive Star threw us for a loop, the opener "Cloud" does actually sound like a Vex'd jam, a pulsing, pulsating Field like melodic stutter/loop, with some clipped vocal fragments, you can almost imagine the drop coming at any time, a barrage of rib cage rattling bass wobble, and percussive machine gun stutter, but it never does, instead, it locks into a super hypnotic cycle, that has a bit of a kosmische vibe, a sort of synth-age mesmer, but the main pulsating melody is surrounded by dark swirls of keening minor key shimmer, giving the whole thing a super tense, and intense vibe, at least until the last couple minutes, when the loop peels back, revealing an ominous, majestic symphonic score, that could have been lurking below the surface the whole time. And even then, slowly devolves into a creepy stretch of abstract ambience, and post industrial soundscapery. The rest of the record tends toward the sound design of Aftertime, but with some of the newly revisited Vex'd audio of the past. Deep subsonic rumbles, buzzing Eastern melodies, groaning and creaking machine like clatter, clouds of crumbling static, soaring swirling strings, moaning cellos, operatic vocals, that track, sounds like a Vex'd opera, melancholic strings, deep dramatic vocals, peppered with little bursts of percussive skitter, and a 'beat' of sorts, that's more like the opening looped stutter, again a la the Field, but here, wed to the stately operatic majesty, the result is like some post modern electro-opera symphony, super ambitious, and absolutely epic. After a gorgeous track of hushed ambience, the final track gets seriously cinematic, opening with some ominous drones, some blurred barely there melodies, a little bit of orchestral shimmer, creepy chordal swells, distant clang and clatter, like the sounds of an abandoned space station, lovely and cosmic and subtly harrowing, a fantastic bit of sound design evoking images of being lost in space, trapped millions of light years from home, in a huge metal obelisk, floating in starless black, all complete with a gorgeously intense symphonic score.
MPEG Stream: "Cloud"
MPEG Stream: "Gravity"
MPEG Stream: "Birth"
RUBBED RAW Volume IV (Ormolycka) cassette 5.98
Another batch of tapes from our pal Jason's Ormolycka label means another batch of HOLY WTF!!! Starting with this, the first we've heard from / heard of Rubbed Raw, even an internet search revealed nothing but a bare bones Tumblr, talking about the tape on Ormolycka, which is a rarity in the age of everything everywhere at your fingertips, but you'd be surprised how often that happens with stuff on Ormolycka. So we have nothing to offer in the way of background, no idea who these guys are, where they're from, if it's even guys (although a couple are picture on the cover). What we can tell you, is this was originally recorded in 2008, when some guy we never heard of, who probably had something to do with the band disappeared, and it remained unreleased until now. Although that could be bullshit, hardly matters though, cuz what does matter is that this is a stone cold killer slab of twisted lo-fi, beat driven electronic weirdness. The first track along should seal the deal, weird fragmented vocals over spare electronics, that soon blossom into what is maybe the noisiest heaviest blast of electronic music we've heard in ages, a fat fuzzy bassline, big bombastic drumming, and sky full of wild squiggles and tangled feedback drenched skree, it almost sounds like the home brewed electronic version of one of the psych rock bands that everyone digs so much these days, total drugged out megajam, but just electronic, and sort of damaged and WTF. It's hard to explain, but it RULES, and we jammed the first track maybe ten times before we dug any deeper, and as unlikely as it might seem, even after that first track, it just kept getting better, blown out noisy outsider electro, colliding with mad scientist 8-bit noise drenched techno, and weirdo lo-fi dub, all blendered into the sort of thing you might imagine blasting from the speakers in a clown car shaped like a giant skull, being driven by the scariest mother fucker you've ever seen, just cruising up and down the street, top down, system booming, or rather buzzing and howling and skittering and droning and feeding back, while he trolls for his next victim. Holy shit this rules! And of course is crazy limited, so don't blow it...
SAVAGE DAMAGE DIGEST Issue 3, Winter 2013 magazine 6.00
This is a good week for those, like us, who love old school print fanzines! Up above, you'll see we've got the new Chips & Beer, and then there's this, issue #3 of rock n' roll 'zine Savage Damage Digest, from East Bay based editor Cory Lindstrum, who, along with a helpful contingent of likeminded contributors, brings us the dope on a whole bunch of obscure and/or cult music-makers and drug-takers from way cooler times than now. As Cory is the first to admit, it's been far too long since the last issue but at last it's here, and plus he pledges that "as long as I'm still listening to, reading up on, watching, living, breathing, and eating Rock 'n' Roll - I will share with you my opinions and observations of this subject on a printed page" so we the likelihood is that we will have an issue #4 to look forward to, eventually! In any event, #3 is here, let's dig in and dig it.Interview subjects include, among others, seminal '70s San Francisco punkers The Avengers, teenage '70s New York power poppers The Speedies, frontman Peter Daltrey of '60s psychedelic favorites Kaleidoscope (UK), and veteran power pop punk icons Redd Kross. And boy do the interviewers know their stuff. Speaking of knowing stuff, not an interview, but an extremely in-depth eleven-page write-up, is devoted to guitarist Larry Wallis of Shagrat, Pink Fairies and Motorhead fame (the latest in Savage Damage's trademark "Triple Threat" series).Then, there's the "skimpy" reviews section (not so skimpy, really) which among other things, reveals Cory's love for old school death/doom metallers Hellhammer.You will be cooler than you are now after you're done reading this, trust us.80 digest (duh) sized pages, some in full color. Plus, this issue comes with a free Stiff Records button!
SECRET CHIEFS 3 Book Of Souls: Folio A (Web Of Mimicry) cd 13.98
A few weeks back, we were lucky enough to see the mighty Goblin playing live in SF. And of course, they were incredible, goofy and personable, the music mesmerizing, often accompanied by clips from the classic Argento films their songs originally accompanied (Susperia, Profondo Rosso, etc.). But the biggest surprise of the night, for some of us at least, were opening act Secret Chiefs 3, who were mind blowing. Playing a set that seemed perfectly designed for a Goblin opening slot, they were a whirling sonic dervish of genre hopping intensity, kicking out a killer Morricone cover, not to mention, maybe the best version of John Carpenter's "Halloween" we'd ever heard (a version of which is included here!). In between, their originals were dense, and intense, furious and exotic, equal parts classic Klezmer, modern film music, old soundtracks and of course a little math metal. To be honest, were were always a little put off by the Secret Chiefs, due in no small part to their Mr. Bungle roots. And yeah, we know Mr. Bungle seem to inspire slavish devotion, even all these years later, they were often a bit too purposefully goofy, the Zappa vibe often overwhelming for some of us. And the Secret Chiefs stuff we'd heard was cool, and definitely didn't display the same sort of willful wackiness, but thanks to this recent performance, we're newly obsessed, just in time for a new record, which is fantastic, and for fans of past records, essentially offers up more of the same, sweeping, soundtracky epic-ness, brooding exotica, modern avant jazz, plenty of klezmer influences, and all manner of Eastern musics, too, not to mention some metallic crunch, and for a few folks, their trip may still be a bit too over the top, the record not so much like an album proper, but a Naked City style collection of band member musical obsessions. With one track straight up horn laden cinematic majesty, the next like some long lost Beach Boys studio outtake, the next sounding weirdly like Jellyfish, the next like the score to some seventies Italian art flick, the next like some synth laden slab of modern krautrock. There's even a cover of our favorite Jacques Brel track (most famously covered by Scott Walker)... And all of it incredible, with some of THEE best playing you'll ever hear. And for all our past reservations, we've come around, and have been spinning this constantly, as well as the old records, that sound as good as ever through fresh ears. WAY recommended. And by the way, who was the Chiefs' drummer at the Goblin show? The whole band was fantastic, but the drummer in particular was mindblowing, long hair flailing, clad in the Secret Chiefs white monk's robe, arms an octopoidal blur, adding some serious, near metallic heft to the set, and delivering what has to be one of the best performances we've seen in AGES...
MPEG Stream: "Balance Of The 19"
MPEG Stream: "Potestas Clavium"
MPEG Stream: "Personae Halloween"
MPEG Stream: "La Chanson De Jacky"
SHIFTED Under A Single Banner (Bed Of Nails) lp 28.00
We've been going kinda crazy lately for super dark, ultra minimal, abstract techno, the darker and murkier the better, records by Shed and Terrence Dixon, as well as the whole Hospital Records axis (Silent Servant, Vatican Shadow, etc.). We also just discovered Marcel Dettmann, whose latest we'll review on an upcoming list, not to mention recent reissues from Fluxion and Monoton, and then there's this, the first we've heard from Shifted, who delivers exactly what we've been hankering for, super spare, crackly, skeletal, avant techno murk, all clicks and pulses, some sort of spaced out electro dub ultra minimalism that had us in its thrall from the very first few seconds. Equal parts clinical Raster-Noton style electronic abstraction, and Chain Reaction heroin house, the sound of Shifted is gorgeously hypnotic, and utterly mesmerizing, the opening intro a spaced out sort of dronescape, with distorted smears of what sounds like guitar, blurred into a drifty atmospheric haze, laced with strange industrial crunch, the whole thing getting more and more distorted and dirty as it progresses, which had us expecting something a bit more blown out and noisy, but instead, in swoops "Chrome, Canopy & Bursting Heart", a delicate crystalline arrangement of hiss and static, throb, and thrum and pulse, underpinned by a distant rumbling low end, and laced with strange bits of clatter, and softly reverbed texture, another one of those cases, that if the record had simply been a 70 minute version of THIS song, we'd be just as into it. Instead, the sound of Under A Single Banner moves in al sorts of different directions, but never deviating too much from the hushed and clipped minimalism that makes it so hypnotic. "Suspended Inside" is all high end sizzle and skitter, laced with distant rhythmic flurries, peppered with barely there bleeps, and draped over a backdrop of what sounds like crickets, while the title track is an ominous bit of crunchy abstract stutter, this time driven by deep, distorted bass pulsations, and woozy, groovy rhythm, a sort of ghost electro, that's haunting, and subtly harrowing at the same time. "Burning Tyres" is heavy on the reverb and echo drenched, and could be some obscure Hospital Records B side, being spun is a massive cave, the beats ricocheting all over the place, the melodies blurred and smeared, the whole thing a gauze-y fantastically garbled field of blackened and blurred space-house, which leads directly into the much more controlled "Pulse Incomplete", which loops what sounds like a human breath, and links it to percolating rhythms, and subtly blooping and bleeping cascades of muted melody, the beat frantic and frenzied, but somehow also subdued and dialed way back. "Contract 0", makes us think of a Kompakt record stripped of every non essential element, almost like the opposite of Pop Ambience, all the fuzzy, dreamy melodic driftiness pulled back, leaving just the barebones rhythm, and some strange distant glitchery, and fragmented static. Finally, "Story of Aurea" is all droned out mystery, a burbling, softly undulating low end swell, laced with tiny upper register trills, and barely audible dog whistle sonar sine waves, which leads directly into the closer, "Wash Over Me", which begins as some abstract minimal electro dub, just rhythm, and a distant chordal thrum, before the rhythm is joined by some soft billowing clouds of synthy shimmer, the sound transformed into a dreamy bit of new agey soft focus skitter, which again, we would dig a WHOLE record of. So good! One of our new favorite electronic / minimal techno records for sure, our current going to sleep music (which as you all know, is probably THEE highest recommendation we can give to this sort of record), and very likely to end up on some of our top ten lists (cuz list making time is coming up!!)...
MPEG Stream: "Chrome, Canopy & Busting Heart"
MPEG Stream: "Suspended Inside"
MPEG Stream: "Under A Single Banner"
MPEG Stream: "Wash Over Me"
SLOW WALKERS (LIZ HARRIS & LAWRENCE ENGLISH) s/t (Peak Oil) lp 17.98
REPRESSED! BACK IN STOCK! STILL LIMITED!What we said the first time, a few months ago: It's a bit of surprise that we actually got some of these, and even more shocking that we got enough in stock to list, as we got the impression that we would NEVER be able to get very many at all, if any. But we did manage to get a handful, not sure how long these will be aroubd, but guessing not long at all... What's all the fuss? Well, Slow Walkers is in fact a collaboration between Liz Harris (aka Grouper) and Lawrence English - one of the preeminent ambassadors of Australian sound art; and their first fruits are as good as any of us had hoped. The album is dripping with all of the haunted, spectral atmospherics that Harris has brought to her Grouper records as of late, with both artists collaborating on the damp, dreary shadows of melody and drone that float, drift, and creep throughout. The two eschew the song and the voice in favor of a dark, lugubrious ambience that's probably got more in common with the morose tendencies of Cold Meat Industries than the ephemeral shimmer of Kranky, but it's totally entrancing and totally beautiful nonetheless. With this limited to 400 copies and sporting handpainted gold artwork, there's no need to belabor the issue. Grab it while you can, you won't be disappointed. And they'll be gone before you know it...
SMALL CRUEL PARTY Three Simple Eyes Of The Insect Ancestor (Kaon) cd 16.98
BACK IN STOCK!!!Small Cruel Party was the obscurant sound-art project for then Seattle-based Key Ransome, who applied the grandeur of minimalism to the sodden detritus of his surroundings, creating a brilliant amalgamation of texture, noise, drone, atmosphere, tension, bombast, industrial euphoria, and mystical threat. Three Simple Eyes Of The Insect Ancestor was an early cassette by Small Cruel Party, released by Apraxia in 1992 in a package smeared with wax and oversized sticks that would have surely fallen off merely by looking at it sideways. In a rare piece of text accompanying these recordings (found on the Kaon website, and not the cd), Ransome describes a considerable difference in the sound quality between the original cassette and remastered cd, the latter of which negated the former's overblown mulched sound from faulty replication providing 'clarity' for the murky sounds found within. Ransome admits a lack of memory when it comes to the recording of the first track "Crowd Of Small Things" - but the dank atmosphere that hangs on a mysteriously motorized droning erratically hums amidst a slow arcing crescendo of ever-increasing tactile crunches. If anything, it's an existentially bleak soundtrack to an environmental disaster, with the damp forests of the Pacific NW suffocating under the slow ooze of a bunker oil spill. The second track "Tank Ecstasy Between Floors" features recordings make with the members of Yeast Culture in the reverberant stairwell of the Seattle Public Library. Those huge thumps and klangs from the SCP/YC industrial pipe fights are set against a shimmering stream of aquatic field recordings processed with a dreamy delay & reverb combination. In the final mix, Ransome balances the menace of those heavy-handed, thunderous booms in the stairwell with the rapturously hypnotic calm of the watery recordings. A classic Small Cruel Party strategy that's as brilliant as ever.
MPEG Stream: "Crowd Of Small Things"
MPEG Stream: "Tank Ecstasy Between Floors"
SMITH, STEVEN R. / ULAAN KHOL Ending / Returning (Immune) 2lp + chapbook 26.00
LA based guitarist Steven R. Smith returns with this double vinyl release, a split... with himself, essentially! Sides A and B featuring S.R.S.; sides C and D, S.R.S. again - in his Ulaan Khol guise, which means heavier and howlier. Doing different versions of the same instrumental compositions, as well. The idea being that the S.R.S. half is pretty, placid, and "minimal" while the Ulaan Khol versions are "maximal", with more volume and fuzz. The concept sounds good to us - Steven R. Smith can basically do no wrong, after all, and we like him in all his projects, whether it be the guitar blow outs of the assorted Ulaans (Khol, Markhor...) and the Eastern European folk reimaginings of Hala Strana, as well as solo under his own name (in recent years the the lps Old Skete and Cities, the latter also released by Immune), not to mention his participation back in the day in assorted Jewelled Antler groups like Thuja. Giving this a listen... man, it's good. Both records are gorgeous, fortunately we don't have to choose between 'em. The quieter S.R.S. renditions make nice use of piano, quite lovely, the slow moving melodies gently drifting. The same songs done Ulaan Khol style are equally beautiful and entrancing, but warmly droned out with thick guitar distortion and effects, blissfully psychedelic. We could go on and on, but want to get this on the list today, and figure really we probably don't need to say a lot about it, chances are, you love S.R.S. as much as we do and can't wait to hear it. Or, if you've never encountered Steven R. Smith's work before, well, trust us, this one's recommended! Also since it's limited vinyl in lavish packaging, and the version we have is a special even MORE limited version (200 copies made) that comes with a chapbook filled with Smith's art and text for each of the album's songs, not available from most other retailers. We've got about a dozen copies, when they're gone, they're gone, no more chapbooks anyway.
MPEG Stream: STEVEN R. SMITH "Motes"
MPEG Stream: ULAAN KHOL "Motes"
STREETS KILL STRANGE ANIMALS Plan B: Back To The Analog Time (Modern Sky) cd 12.98
We reviewed a single from this Chinese outfit on the last list, our first taste of their take on American nineties indie rock, and like lots of the stuff we've been hearing from China lately, these guys do it so well, sounding almost like a band from back in the day. And on this full length, everything we dug about the single is in full effect, the only real difference, are the vocals, which were more mumbly and sorta sad boy sounding on the single, here are pretty much belted out, but over the same sort of noise poppy fuzzy guitar indie rock crunch, with lots of wild leads, and like that single, the band split their time between rollicking Pixies / Dinosaur Jr. / Sonic Youth style rocking out, and more broody, loping post rock style slowcore. The best moments are tracks like "Bi Li Hou Mian", with its dueling boy/girl vox, chiming super distorted guitars, and crunchy fuzzed out riffage, or the super tripped out psychedelic noise pop of "Guo Cuo", which finds the band getting all Mogwai, and sprawling out into epic slow builds before spending the last half of the song in a wild, free from freakout, that's all swirling electronics, burbling synths, FX laden guitars, wild octopoidal drumming, but in between are plenty of gems, that push all our classic indie rock buttons, noisy and fuzzy, to jangly and drifty, to hushed and moody. Cool stuff for sure...
MPEG Stream: "Li Bai De Ri Zi"
MPEG Stream: "Feng"
MPEG Stream: "Blues 2"
MPEG Stream: "Guo Cuo"
SWAMP WITCH Gnosis (Anti-Matter) lp 17.98
The debut demo from these East Bay doomlords gets a deluxe vinyl reissue, and will be the first time most folks get an earful of Swamp Witch, and in a seriously overpopulated scene, SW definitely do their own thing, in fact, from the first few seconds, we were a bit thrown off, cuz the vibe was way more stonery and classic metal, not sludgey or really even all that doomy, we were ready for some soaring eighties style metal vocals to swoop in, they definitely would have fit, but before that can happen, the song shifts gears and slows to a lurching crawl, accompanied by some demonic vokill bellows, some serious stonery sludge, but then that opening riff resurfaces, and adds some serious melody to the proceedings, this time with added sort-of-leads, but it's what keeps this from being just another slab of boring doom, and it's that push and pull that makes the track so good, the band easily shifting from that lurching crawl, to the more propulsive classic metal rocking and back again, the cool thing being that you can almost feel the pull of the opposing sound the whole time, the sludge-y parts sound like they desperately wanna explode into melodic metal, and the melodic metal parts feel like they're on the edge of being sucked into the black tarpit dirge of the sludge parts. Then at the end it gets sort of psychedelic, with some crazy, sorta shrieked vocals. Such a killer track, definitely worth the price of admission right there. Then there's the second track, which is a bit more traditionally stonery sludge, but with a KILLER main riff, that again, slows down to an absolute slo-mo creep, a chugging, churning crawl, and so it goes again, the band lurching from stonery dirge to creepy crawl, finally culminating in an outro that's all swirling psychedelic feedback. The sidelong flipside is a doozy, the brooding title track takes ages to get revved up, building lots of tension, the vibe super cinematic, all swirling feedback, and groaning bass rumble, keening melodies, all blurred into smeary swaths of mournful minor key sound, and when the song kicks in, it's MASSIVE, so heavy and blown out, some seriously brutal ultra doom crush, the sound remaining mostly entrenched in a tarpit dirge, the variations this time for the most time arrangement wise, some mathy chugging, a slightly more midtempo, groovy stretch, with some killer psychedelic guitars, which eventually bliss out into another feedback drenched guitardrone finale. So killer. Not sure how we haven't heard these guys before now.And if these three tracks are still somehow not sludgey enough for you, do some searching on the internet, and you can find a killer 'chopped & screwed' version, which finds the whole thing slowed way down, fucked with, looped and layered, stuttery and staggery, replete with weird scratching and DJ manipulations, as well as woozy, pitch shifted DJ Screw like vocals. Wish they would have pressed up an extra lp and included this version too...Super nice packaging, a heavy gatefold sleeve, with a little baggie with two buttons, the lps pressed on 180 gram vinyl. Also includes a poster, a patch and a download code!
MPEG Stream: "Novem"
MPEG Stream: "Emerald Serpent"
TELESCOPES, THE Harm (Neon Sigh) lp 17.98
One of those bands to emerge from the Creation Records class of 1992 that brought forth My Bloody Valentine, Swervedriver, and Slowdive, The Telescopes hardly resemble a shoegazing Brit-pop band these days. Their slow-burning, hypnogogic engagement with psychedelia has blown out the final vestiges of the song which even by the time of their previous single on Trensmat had become a smeared deconstruction of Nick Drake's "Black Eyed Dog" through a smoldering space-rock mandala of hashish-laced guitardrone. Harm takes things even further, by tuning all of the instruments to a reference pitch of 444hz and letting everything drift towards oblivion. Yes, that is the vibrational frequency of the human body, often described as the 'healing' frequency; but no, this isn't some exercise in holistic wellness through sound. Sure, we have been getting more 'inner mind music' these days; but The Telescopes blast these frequencies through cranked distortion boxes which give these holy minimalist tendencies a serious White Hills / Bardo Pond crunch. With the multiple guitars swarming on this tone through sheets of buzz, fuzz, glisten, and grime, the drummer mostly glides across the cymbals and only sets up a thoroughly buried motorik kick-drum pattern on the second side. Similarly, the bass is handled as more of a sympathetic rumble than anything remotely structural. Supposedly, the only remaining original member Stephen Lawrie is present behind the microphone; but there's very little evidence amidst these gaping, drooling, totally drugged out ur-drones. Limited? Yeah, probably. The download code on this album also comes with an 8 minute video to boot!
TINDERSTICKS Across Six Leap Years (Lucky Dog) cd 16.98
Not exactly a new album proper, but more an anniversary celebration of sorts, Across Six Leap Years finds Tindersticks convening at Abbey Road to re-record an album's worth of lesser known tracks from their illustrious 20 year career. But far from a fans-only affair, this works surprisingly well as an album in its own right. So much so that this particular aQ staffer didn't even realize it wasn't an actual lp until approximately listen number three! For those unfamiliar with Tindersticks, Across Six Leap Years is a sleepy nocturnal wash of lonely xylophones, spacious pianos, gently strummed guitars, and brushed drumming that pitter-pats like rain against a window. Stuart Staples' hushed fragile vibrato lends a weight to the songs that brings to mind the less schmaltzy moments of latter era Roxy Music, while musically the sparse balladeering of Nick Cave's The Boatman's Call or the woozy nighttime lounge of Morphine would be good comparisons. "Marseilles Sunshine" with its twinkling bells and humming violins has an affect that's truly dreamy, like floating over an empty city in the middle of the night. It's all quite peaceful, but lyrics like "I've got memories / I keep them away from me" reveal a gloomy restlessness creeping underneath, while "Say Goodbye to the City" creates a genuinely menacing sensual tension with its slithering bass, blustery horns and shrill female backing vocals. It's not hard to imagine that the patient slumbering drama of Tindersticks might have had quite an impact on relatively newer groups like The National or Antony & The Johnsons in their younger years. Best enjoyed with a bottle of red wine, a crackling fire and a few old memories you've been trying to rid yourself of.
MPEG Stream: "Marseilles Sunshine"
MPEG Stream: "If You're Looking For A Way Out"
MPEG Stream: "Say Goodbye To The City"
TROUM Syzygie (Cold Spring) cd 17.98
If the opening track to this album sounds awfully familiar to the customers here at aQuarius, that's because "Ater" was originally commissioned for the Painted Black compilation on tUMULt - an album of radical demolitions of the Stones' classic track "Paint It Black." The devilish chords from that song loom as a majestic overture above an insistent, infernal cauldron displaying Troum's darkest, most malevolent dronecraft. Troum, being the duo of Stefan Knappe and Martin Glitsch, eschew the vocals and the drums of the Stones' number for just those chords that collapse wearily into a black hole of negative energy. It still sounds as amazing as when Andee issued it on tUMULt back in 2003 (and we still have copies, if you haven't heard it, it's FANTASTIC!!!). As you might guess, Syzygie is a collection of the compilation tracks that Troum produced at the turn of the millennium. This track is a great opening number no matter how you slice it, leading immediately into a comparably pretty track "Makaria" from the Walls Are Whispering compilation on EE Tapes, with a pastoral shimmer from maudlin guitar chords awash with Cocteau Twins' tears. This, like the Painted Black track, is one of the few tracks on this compilation that we were fortunate enough to hear; but much of this material was released on super obscure compilations. Another highlight here is the slow-burning "Fantauma" which predates much of the Nadja crush of doom-drone guitars and machined drum loops by a couple of years. Amidst the cold drone and heavy hypnosis, Troum's consistency is really notable, especially when so many artists release throwaway tracks for compilations; and it makes for a very solid album. It would have been great if Syzygie included their version of "Cold" by The Cure, from the Pornography cover album on Fear Drop; but we suppose we'll have to wait for the next Syzygie volume.
MPEG Stream: "Ater (Paint It Black)"
MPEG Stream: "S'engourdir"
MPEG Stream: "Wit Wists Fra-Qistjan"
V/A Choubi Choubi! Folk & Pop Sounds from Iraq Vol. 2 (Sublime Frequencies) 2lp 29.00
Originally released way back in 2005, the first volume of Choubi Choubi, a collection of folk and pop music from Iraq, remains one of everybody's favorite Sublime Frequencies releases. And for good reason, besides the political implications of the music, made almost entirely during the reign of Saddam Hussein, which might have you envisioning the typical Middle Eastern story, of people forced to make music in secret, fearing for their lives, their livelihoods, but strangely, as we mentioned in our review of the first Choubi Choubi release, Hussein was in fact an avid supporter of the arts, and started cultural centers for both art and music throughout Iraq. Sadly, performers, artists and musicians who were not commercially successful, were deemed to be of a lower class, and the idea of Choubi, an Iraqi style of music that features rapid fire beats, buzzing oud melodies and wild fiddle playing, was considered by most to be a province of the seedier side of Iraq, dingy nightclubs, prostitutes, criminals, etc. In fact many female performers would wear masks to hide their identities. And while the music was encouraged by the government, music by its very nature is rebellious, so this music of the people had a power that made Choubi essentially the 'national dance of Iraq', and as the liner notes explain, even with Choubi's stigma and reputation, and parties and weddings, Choubi is the music of choice, with people whipping out their best Choubi moves.The first Choubi Choubi comp has been out of print for a while now, so it's super exciting to have another volume to dig into. With the songs culled from the same era and time period, sonically, it's more of what we loved about the first one, wild, chaotic beats, flurries of percussion, super passionate vocals, dramatic and intense, lots of strings, the oud playing distorted and truly psychedelic, the recordings far out and lo-fi, in-the-red, the drums and rhythms slathered in cool primitive FX, reverb and delay, some of the tracks freaked out and energetic, others moody and minor key, some have an almost Bollywood vibe, others, are totally far out drum driven weirdness that reminds us of the twisted Indian soundtracks of Vijaya Anand, and still others sound almost liturgical, while others are distorted and buzzy and hypnotic, but really all of the tracks here incredible! The story of the music and the musicians in Iraq at the time is super fascinating, and is gone into in more detail in the liner notes by Sublime Frequencies' Mark Gergis. As is the roots of Choubi, and what's gone on post Hussein, and post war in Iraq. Those extensive liner notes are accompanied by tons of awesome photos, as well as notes on each track, all on a super heavy full color gatefold sleeve.
MPEG Stream: "1"
MPEG Stream: "2"
MPEG Stream: "3"
MPEG Stream: "4"
V/A Drone-Mind / Mind-Drone Vol. 2 (Drone Records) lp 22.00
You pretty much know what you're gonna get with a compilation called Drone-Mind on a label called Drone Records. The vinyl series is the continuation of what the label started back in the early '90s, when Drone Records released some of the choicest slabs of obscurant dronemuzik, post-industrial occultations, and deep-down dark ambient tracks. Maeror Tri (whose Stefan Knappe is the man in charge of Drone Records), Aidan Baker, Francisco Lopez, Small Cruel Party, Murmer, and Spiracle rank as some of the more well-known projects to have graced the Drone Records imprint, with lots more enigmatic projects to emerge from the sewers of Eastern Europe, Scandinavia, and the former Soviet republics. Although the first artist to grace this compilation comes all the way from that foreign land known as Los Angeles, with this track being from Yann Novak, whose hauntological track is a deft recapitulation of the psychological ambient pieces by Clock DVA, crafted entirely from run-out grooves on pieces of vinyl. The drone diptych from the Slovakian outfit Strom Noir belies their name with a radiant, shimmering, graceful piece of golden ambience that aligns itself more with those cinematic, open-space constructs by Stars Of The Lid. Very lovely. Emme Ya -- a South American project with some connections to Cold Spring -- turns the album's mood definitely toward the darkside with a gloomy set of rumblings, disembodied voices, and catacomb echo. Playing the part of the contrarian is Karl Bosmann, a German sound-sculptor who has wowed us in the past with inventive electronics and uncompromising experiments. His atonal, radiophonic swells build up to a dramatic crescendo that snaps to some strange vocal incantation only to break into a gnarled, overblown rhythmic churn for the final four minutes of his 13 minute excursion that wouldn't be out of place next to Le Syndicat or Esplendor Geometrico. Pretty fucking rad stuff from all four artists!
MPEG Stream: YANN NOVAK "Silent Loop 001"
MPEG Stream: STROM NOIR "Fihavanana"
MPEG Stream: EMME YA "The Golden Eye"
MPEG Stream: KARL BOSMANN "Die Verwandlung "
V/A The Ecstasy Of Gold: 25 Killer Bullets From The Spaghetti West Vol. 3 (Semi-Automatic) 2lp 26.00
Here's volume three in the five part Ecstasy Of Gold series of lps collecting some of the best, and lesser known, tracks from Italian Westerns. As many of you probably already know, the title comes from an Ennio Morricone track, and Morricone is no doubt the godfather of Italian Western soundtracks, but there are so many other incredible composers and musicians responsible for some of the most iconic movie music of that era. Lots of the folks represented on the first two volumes show up here too, with different tracks, there are again, plenty of big time aQ faves: Bruno Nicolai, Piero Umiliani, Francesco De Masi, Lallo Gori, Alessandro Alessandroni, some of which we already knew, but NOT for their Italian Western soundtracks! Plus again, lots of new names, folks we hadn't heard before this series: Luis Bacalov, Nora Orlandi, Michele Lacerenza, Angelo Lavagnino, Robby Poiteven and a bunch more. And again, all of the fantastic variations of Italian movie music are represented here, fluttering flute, fuzzed out psych guitar, deep dramatic vocals, lots of twang and galloping rhythms, moody ambience, soaring orchestral arrangements, Flamenco guitars, wild drumming, whirring organs, strings galore, mournful trumpets, harmonica galore, tolling bells, martial snares, plenty of sound effects and so much more. Like the other comps, this just makes us want more more more. More music from all these artists, another installment in the series, and most of all, we wanna do nothing but watch crazy Italian Westerns!!!!!!!Like the first two volumes (which are already out of print), this is LIMITED TO 750 COPIES!! And housed in a super swank eye popping gatefold jacket adorned with classic images from Italian Westerns, film stills, poster art and more. The gatefold image in particular is super striking, a bloody woman draped over what we can only assume is a dead man, sprawled in the dirt, in some dusty village, so crazy looking it has us wanting to track down whatever movie it's from!
MPEG Stream: "1"
MPEG Stream: "2"
MPEG Stream: "3"
MPEG Stream: "4"
MPEG Stream: "5"
VANGELIS Sex Power (OST) (Sleuth) lp 24.00
The long unavailable solo soundtrack debut of Greek composer Evangelos Odysseas Papathanassiou (aka Vangelis) finally gets an official reissue. The soundtrack to this obscure 1970 French film directed by Henry Chapier (so obscure that the only info IMDB has on it is this eight minute opening sequence found here: http://www.ina.fr/video/VDD08000001/sex-power-video.html), has only seen previous release as a bootleg cd-r and it has been rumored that Vangelis himself has suppressed many attempts to reissue it. Sex-Power, starring a young Jane Birkin, is similar to Zabriskie Point in that it seems to be a desert quest for meaning by young beautiful intellectuals giving up on society for more earthly concerns like walking in the desert naked, and apparently having lots of sex... But regardless of the arty tone of the film, in our book, you can't go wrong with the music of early seventies Vangelis. Early Vangelis recordings are often marked by exotic instrumentation (tribal percussion, water gongs, flutes, and ethnic string instruments) as well as piano, early synthesizer and ethereal female vocal choruses. Like Morricone's majestic early soundtrack work, Sex-Power has a strange free-folk mystery of lilting passages and beguiling pensive mystical soundscapes. It was recorded the same year Vangelis's prog band Aphrodite's Child released their final album, the legendary 666. Recommended for fans of the soundtrack work of Jean-Claude Vannier, Lubos Fiser, and Alain Goraguer, and of course very limited!
VAURA The Missing (Profound Lore) cd 13.98
Emerging once more from the shadowy subterranean recesses of bleary Brooklyn, aQ's favorite misery merchants Vaura have returned with their second dose of heavy glistening gloom rock (and their first for avant-metal tastemakers Profound Lore). By definition a side project of sorts, Vaura features members of Dysrhythmia, Kayo Dot, Gorguts and Secret Chiefs 3... and sound exactly nothing like you would expect a band with that pedigree to sound. There's a myriad of influences here - all brought together with an admirable cohesion. Black metal, '80s goth, post rock, psychedelia... The elements are all there, but The Missing is at its core an atmospheric rock record. Although you wouldn't believe that from the first 30 seconds of the album. The introductory title track opens with a gorgeous wall of sound black metal tremolo grind, a pummeling frantic drum blast and a minimal spacey guitar lead, immediately bringing to mind the recent crop of euphoric black metal bands like Alcest or Deafheaven. But only half a minute later the track crumbles into a bittersweet mid paced dirge of plodding toms, shuffling militaristic snares and deep brooding vocals - much more akin to Ian McCulloch or Andrew Eldritch than any spike gauntleted shrieker. There's also a distinct similarity to mid period Katatonia in the numbed, almost frail vocal approach. Much of The Missing in fact seems to recall a very specific time in recent metal history - a period in the late '90s when extreme metal bands, usually on the doomier end of the spectrum, started experimenting with more traditional rock & roll elements. The uptempo mournful melodic rock of "Incomplete Burning", with its strummed acoustic guitar mingled with distant distorted leads and reverb washed vocals, is pure Judgement-era Anathema - invoking the same sense of wistful psychedelic melancholy. Elsewhere on songs like "Pleasure Blind" and "Putting Flesh to Bone" the slinking basslines creeping under warm ethereal strings bring to mind Beyond Dawn's subtly surreal Electric Sulking Machine. "The Things We Hide", with its dissonant plucked Eastern melodies and sinister echoed vocals, even recalls the more atmospheric moments of British avant-death weirdos Akercocke, as does the pummeling blasting, warped clean guitar and droning synths of "Passage to Vice". It's not all so wonderfully obscure though. There's plenty of Joy Division in those distinctive post-punk basslines and that disjointed repetitive drumming, and the aforementioned Sisters of Mercy are clearly a big influence. "Braced for Collapse" even brings to mind some of Sunny Day Real Estate's more downtempo moments. And could this record have come at a more perfect time? It's that time of the year... The days are getting darker, the winds are getting more bitter, and our playlists are getting even gloomier to match. If the atmospheric goth tinged heaviness of Pinkish Black - or maybe even In Solitude's latest - are your idea of a perfectly dismal night in, then you couldn't do much better than lighting those ceremonial candles, laying out your finest black velvet, and spending some quality alone time with The Missing.
MPEG Stream: "The Missing"
MPEG Stream: "Incomplete"
MPEG Stream: "Pleasure Blind"
WILLIAMSON, DORIAN & BRENNENDES GEHIRN Rites Of The Aethyr (Antithetic) cd-r 7.98
We first heard from Brennendes Gehirn, aka Matt Harries, via his Epidemics Of The Modern Age release, which delivered a crumbling, blown out, black noise sprawl of abstract atmospheres and post industrial murk, that definitely pushed all out MZ412 / Wolf Eyes / Blue Sabbath Black Cheer buttons, so we were super psyched to discover this new releases, a split / collaboration with some guy called Dorian Williamson, who happens to be a member of Adoran, whose lps we raved about recently. For this cd, both Harries and Williamson contribute a single track, and collaborate on a third. Harries opens the disc with a a creepy bit of sonic ritualism, a reverbed female voice speaks over a bed of blurred electronics and deep rumbles. As the voice fades out, in swoop more swaths of low end, deep chordal swells, the only remnant of that voice, a clipped breath, which is looped rhythmically, and ends up adding a strange tense vibe, to the already tense dronescape. The track flecked with crunch and buzz, which slowly builds to a caustic chaotic squall, of swirling feedback and metallic skree, that sustained tension spreading out over most of the track's running time, sounding a bit like a supercharged, more psychedelic Organum, dense layered drone-noise that manages to be weirdly hypnotic, the blunted noisiness transformed into something much more tranced out and mesmeric. Williamson's contribution is much more minimal, a churning expanse of deep, crumbling, blackened sonic swells, foghorn like tones, and rumbling bowed string shimmer, all layered over a mysterious backdrop of miniature sonic events, that sans headphones, simply add texture, but deeper listening reveals a deep dark world of sound lurking below the surface. And while things get noisy here too, it's a muted, washed out noisiness, the net effect being less loud and chaotic, and more sort of blurred and oozing and abstract. The two together surprise by conjuring up something much more than the sum of its parts, channeling the Eastern rhythmic mesmer of Muslimgauze, with a blunted beat, beneath swirls of gristly crunch, a strange reverbed vocal, the sounds building to something noisy, but again it's more a psychedelic noisiness, heady and hypnotic, that beat, anchoring the proceedings, while voices and melodies, dripping with FX and noise, swirl and blur and are eventually smeared into hazy sheets of blissed out softnoise dreaminess. Super cool. But sadly, LIMITED TO JUST 100 COPIES!!!!
MPEG Stream: DORIAN WILLIAMSON "Involution"
MPEG Stream: DORIAN WILLIAMSON & BRENNENDES GEHIRN "Rites Of The Aethyr"
WOODEN SHJIPS Back To Land [Deluxe] (Thrill Jockey) lp + 7" 24.00
Not really sure what needs to be said about psych rockers Wooden Shjips, that we probably haven't covered in our multiple and voluminous reviews of past Shjips records. We've long championed the drowsy, druggy kraut-psych of these local boys (although they're not all local anymore), and have heaped praise upon praise on each and every records, and we should warn you right up front, that this one's not gonna be any different. Cuz it's another great Shjips record, brimming fuzzy guitars, motorik rhythms, simple loping basslines, and echo drenched Velvets/Doors style lugubrious and laid back vox, the songs not so much songs, as jams, no super obvious verse or choruses, instead, much like WS offshoot Moon Duo, these guys pick a riff and lock in, most of the songs, consisting of not more than two parts, but two parts is plenty, for these guys to conjure up a moody sprawl of sonic mesmer, that sounds bit like Hawkwind dosed on horse tranquilizers, the same sort of endless heart-of-the-sun jamming, but dialed down, and stretched way out, not explosive or bombastic, as much as tranced out and hypnotic, and the solos, not so freaked out, more textural and melodic, whether it's guitar or organ, the solos wind their way around the riffs, and become an organic part of the Shjips' hypnorock jammage. On first listen, we were convinced that the band had jettisoned much of the krautrock influence of the earlier records, our theory being that mainman Ripley Johnson took it with him when he formed his new group Moon Duo, which IS heavy on the krautrock, but the more we listen, the more that krautrock influence asserts itself, due in no small part to the endless repetition and the stripped down minimal rhythms, with many of the tracks here sounding like a supercharged, cranked up Can, albeit filtered through some fuzzy sixties garage rock. However you slice it, it's seriously good stuff, head nodding, mesmeric, tranced out, stoned and dreamily druggy, heady, and in its own laid back psychedelic way, also sort of heavy, but like 'heeeavy, maaaaan'. There are a surprising number of uptempo jams, but even those retain the laid back vibe that infuses most of the more druggy droney numbers, it's hard to say if this is the best Shjips record, or our new favorite, but probably safer to say that it's just another great record, from a great band we still dig a while lot. And certainly closer "Everybody Knows" might be the catchiest, poppiest Shjips track yet!The cd comes in a 4 panel mini lp style gatefold sleeve, wrapped in a custom die cut O-card, pretty swank. And while they last, we have the super ultra deluxe limited lp version, green vinyl, housed in a heavy gatefold jacket with glossy UV printing (on the inside too), and also wrapped in a die cut slipcase - and it comes with a bonus 7" with two songs, "Colors" and an acoustic version of album track "These Shadows"!!! (Oh, and we've got a few of the limited cassette version too, nothing deluxe about it, but it's a cassette.)
MPEG Stream: "Back To Land"
MPEG Stream: "Ruins"
MPEG Stream: "Ghouls"
MPEG Stream: "Everybody Knows"
YOUNG, OSCAR Damp Circuits: The Golden Era Of Synthesizers In East Asia - Volume 1 (Sham Palace) 7" 9.98
It was tough to not be won over by this one before we even heard it. It's called Damp Circuits, it features a twisted cover with bright Chinese characters over a murky landscape of clouds and lightning, over which an image of a man fiddling with a huge bank of electronics is superimposed, and it's subtitled The Golden Era Of Synthesizers In East Asia, and yeah, it's just as good as all of that had us hoping it would be. Young was a Hong Kong musician and producer who modernized Chinese folk melodies by performing them on (at the time) state of the art synths, adding fuzzed out wah guitar, groovy basslines and whirring organs, the vibe slips from groovy funkiness to woozy exotica, to fuzzy sixties garage to what sounds like a revved up synthesized traditional folk (replete with weird crowd sounds). Fans of Perry & Kingsley, Dick Hyman, and other synth pioneers will FLIP. Listen to the samples and you'll be smitten, here's hoping there's lots more where this came from! On the Sublime Frequencies offshoot sub-label Sham Palace!
MPEG Stream: "1"
MPEG Stream: "2"