SLOMO The Grain (Trilithon) cd 11.98
Sleepers, awake! Or rather, the opposite, as we herald the return of Yorkshire, England's Slomo, a "Highly Ritualised Somnambulant Glumbient Downer band" as they describe themselves - and we couldn't have come up with a better description ourselves ("Glumbient", that's great!). The duo of Chris McGrail (aka Holy McGrail, leader of another, eponymous heavy pagan drone psych unit) and Howard Marsden continue to live up to their band name with over 67 minutes of slow-motion doomdrone bliss on The Grain. Two tracks this time, unlike the one apiece that appeared on their previous albums The Creep (2005) and The Bog (2008), but of course both tracks here are loooong. McGrail is credited with "strings & reeds", Marsden with "machinery"; what we're hearing is a lot of synths and some guitar, but it all of course takes a while to come into focus, the opening title track, duration 42:15, being just about thee ultimate definition of a "slow-build" piece! At the start, it's as if the sounds are emerging from nothingness, the primordial soup of (near) silence. Gradually, subtly, slowly, creepily, they build and build, a deep tone, a drone, another drone, at first purring, then softly growling... the rumble becoming rhythmic over time, echoing, echoing, echoing... When finally recognizable, McGrail's guitar manifests as a gentle subterranean wind-howl, or subaquatic whale-call. The gritty synth machine drones are equally cavernous, and the entire effect, especially after you've experienced the lengthy build up to full mind-altering force, is massively mesmeric, and indeed rather "Glumbient", we agree! Then, track two, "Against The Grain", while shorter (only 25:17) somehow sounds even more stretched-out, the grain of the drones here even more, uh, "granular", with sudden clouds of creaking clicking, like field recordings of some strange bird or insect, drifting about the soundfield, backed by deeper dronier windier waves. It really is a bit like one of those environmental recordings from a pond, the faux-electronic sound of amplified water beetles, their buzz and glitch married to the guitar-leaning-on-amp whoosh of any one of our favorite dronescapers. Nice! Somehow spooky -and- soothing, simultaneously. Definitely recommended to all old-school SUNNO)))-worshippers, if you can imagine SUNNO))), as we stated in a previous Slomo review, "perhaps sleeping and snoring and drifting in dream". Other good references would be old Earth (circa 2), Bohren, Black Boned Angel, Jonathan Coleclough, and Slomo's fellow rural UK, J. Cope-approved dronesters Urthona, with a slight dose of Coh or Ryoji Ikeda in the drone-mix. These two have also been known to refer to themselves as playing "agricultural" doom, as they they're some sort of slowly spreading strain of fungal potato blight or something. But, here, maybe we can hear it - tall fields of wheat, waving and rustling in the autumn wind, those sounds slowed down and amplified, likewise with the chittering of insects living it up inside the grain silos - but still, they sound more like guitar 'n' synth wielding dronologists than they sound like that long-ago AQ fave cd, Insect Noise In Stored Foodstuffs... Slomo's latest sure gives this week's other Record Of The Week honoree, Kompakt's new Pop Ambient comp, a run for its money as ideal going-to-sleep music - and none of the Pop Ambient tracks are this long, either, ever!! Coming packaged in an attractive, slender digi-sleeve, it's been worth the four year wait (with Slomo, naturally not unexpected), for this new dose of the duo's somnolent dronedoom. Highly recommended.
"The Grain (excerpt 1)" MPEG Stream:
"The Grain (excerpt 2)" MPEG Stream:
"Against The Grain"
SLOUGH FEG Ape Uprising! (Cruz Del Sur) cd 15.98
Underground hometown heavy metal heroes Slough Feg, aka The Lord Weird Slough Feg are back on the attack with this new album, their seventh (not counting their most recent release, the demos/live collection The Slay Stack Grows, reviewed here not long ago). You may recall us raving about several (all!) of their previous efforts, though in our review of Slay Stack, we did say that one was pretty much intended for fans only, not the place to start if you were new to the band. But, if you're someone who still hasn't checked out a proper Slough Feg album, well THIS one would certainly be recommended. And Slough Feg fans who loved their last studio record, Hardworlder, will find Ape Uprising! takes that sound and, well, goes a bit ape with it. Some have called this their heaviest album yet. We'd say, yes, maybe, due to certain doom elements and the thick, '70s sounding production with prominent bass. But it's also perhaps their poppiest! At a tight 37 and a half minutes it brilliantly synthesizes all the best of the band's '70s and '80s classic metal and hard rock influences (Black Sabbath and Iron Maiden, Thin Lizzy, etc. - nothing past, say, 1982) whilst also sounding like something only THIS eccentric band of nerd barbarians could or would ever record. Utter heavy metal zeal unleashed via massively heavy, awesome riffage, triumphant vocals, memorable melodies, and twin guitar shred EVERYWHERE ALL THE TIME. Yes! For an example of said awesome riffage, look no further than the start of the 10-minute-plus title track. And for an example of the latter, try the dazzling midpoint of "Ape Outro". Or just drop the needle (well, laser for now) on this anyplace! All that plus intelligent, ironic lyrics that make mention of opposable thumbs. It's not exactly a Planet Of The Apes concept album, but it's close... half of the eight songs here have to do with the apes vs. humans theme (as ridiculously depicted in the wonderfully comic book-y cover art, that kinda makes this look like a punk rock album). And those four songs make it pretty clear that Slough Feg are on the side of the apes. Charleton Heston would not approve. In the progtastic "Simian Manifesto", a song full of over the top Queen-like drama, sudden stoner rock groove, and even some jangly placid pop parts, Mike says it best with the immortal lines: "Never coming down from the trees / Never bending down on my knees!" So, we've made it pretty plain we dig Slough Feg and always do our utmost to spread the word - we even had 'em play and slay our SXSW showcase this year. It used to be that Allan here considered himself to be probably the world's #1 Slough Feg fan, but now that honor might go to the guy in Idaho who got a portrait of Mike Scalzi tattooed on his leg! (Seriously, we've seen a photo.) Yep, these days the band has made enough of a name for themselves, that it's not just Aquarius going apeshit for 'em anymore, when we used to be the only place that cared. On the internet, you'll find quite a few reviews of Ape Uprising! already out there in advance of ours, almost all of 'em insanely positive ('cause when you like this band, you really like this band). Even All Music Guide, not exactly a bastion of heavy metal fandom, beat us to it, giving Ape Uprising! a four-and-a-half out of 5 star rating. So, while quite obviously we're always excited when Mike and the gang have a new album out, we're also always a bit apprehensive about being able to do their weird genius justice in our reviews. So this time around, we asked AQ customer Glenn Simpson, a known Slough Feg fan, and also the guy who first turned us on to those '70s heavies Jerusalem that we later made Record Of The Week when it was reissued, to shoulder a bit of the burden and write some more for us about Slough Feg's new album. He was nice enough to give it a shot, so let's turn this over to him: "I want to start by saying that I'm not sure what this review can really accomplish. If you're a fan of Slough Feg, you automatically want their new album, right? If you're not a fan, I don't know what to say to change your mind that Aquarius hasn't already said in reviews of previous albums. But here goes. Ape Uprising! is more of everything that makes Slough Feg one of the best metal bands on the planet. At once familiar and fresh, this new album carries on musical and lyrical motifs that are distinctly Feg-ian, while simultaneously developing its own clear identity. This trait runs throughout the band's discography. There is an unmistakable Slough Feg sound, yet a song from one album would seem out of place on any other album. One of this album's compositional quirks: in the past, Slough Feg records have usually included a few instrumentals. This one doesn't, but several of the songs basically turn into instrumentals halfway through. Scalzi gets the singing out of the way, and then he and fellow guitarist Don Angelo Tringali go to town on their Les Pauls. Maybe that's by way of indicating that the (non-verbal) apes have taken over? Though it happens in several of the non-apey songs as well. Some early reviews of Ape Uprising have deemed it one of the band's heavier albums. With the acknowledgment that "heavy" means different things to different people, I would say instead, I was struck by overall how energetic and frenetic much of this is, displaying attitude which maybe makes sense given the concept implied by the album's title. About half of the tracks on Ape Uprising! share a sort of punk aggressiveness. You'll hear a little more chug in the guitars, a little more gruffness in the singing, and a little more thud in the drums than on the band's galloping and epic sci-fi opus Traveller (2003), for instance. While I would not come anywhere near calling this Slough Feg's "punk" album, I would say they've scaled back the Thin Lizzy a wee bit and inserted some Stiff Little Fingers - or at least some Motorhead. But maybe that's just me. Also, a few parts of Ape Uprising! expand on the near boogie rock element that cropped up first on Atavism (2005) and then on Hardworlder (2007). This album's "Frankfurt-Hahn Airport Blues" is I guess the NWOBHMish hot rocking ripper "Shakedown At The Six", complete with brief drum solo breakdown. However, Slough Feg also haven't lost their Celtic folk touch, which you'll most prominently in the majestically stirring "White Cousin", with lovely acoustic guitars woven in. Really, its mishmash of influences from the 1970s makes Ape Uprising! sound somewhat timeless. I'll say a little bit about my two favorite songs. (So far.) The biggest surprise on the new album is the first track. Where the previous three Slough Feg albums began with short fast instrumentals, Ape Uprising! throws fans for a loop by opening with a straight-up old-school doom track, a blown out, slowed down, heavier-than-thou dirge entitled, either cleverly or not, "The Hunchback of Notre Doom"! It turns out Slough Feg does doom that is both traditional AND original as well as they do 'true metal' that is both of those things. It also turns out that Mike Scalzi's rich, expressive vocals are surprisingly well suited to doom. Stunning. (This track alone could account for the heaviness ascribed to the entire album by some reviewers.) Slough Feg have dabbled in doom before, in parts (such as Traveller's "Vargr Moon") but never taken it to this extreme. It sounds like Saint Vitus, if Vitus were more influenced by Dio-era than Ozzy-era Black Sabbath [although, we are reliably informed that the other, equally bad pun the band thought up to call this song was "Ozzymodo"]. Doom freaks would probably be happy if the whole album sounded like this, but Mike Scalzi (who admittedly suffers from attention deficit disorder) sure wouldn't. Thus the rest of Ape Uprising! surges with a variety of Slough Feg songwriting stratagems. For example, my other favorite song is the final track, the surprisingly poppy but also totally rockin' "Nasty Hero", which sounds so authentically traditional metal that I was certain it was a cover and spent more than a few minutes trying to figure out what brilliant, obscure '70s metal band wrote and recorded it. To my amazement, it's a Slough Feg original. If a young Iron Maiden jammed with a veteran UFO in 1979, they could not do better than this! I wish I didn't have to wait two years between Slough Feg albums." Us too!
"Ape Uprising" MPEG Stream:
"Simian Manifesto" MPEG Stream:
"Shakedown At The Six" MPEG Stream:
SLOUGH FEG Ape Uprising! (Iron Kodex) lp 17.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. NOW ON VINYL! Super limited (666 copies), already all gone at the label. We only got about a dozen. Packaged in a gatefold sleeve, with large insert. Here's a slightly abreviated version of our review of the cd, a recent Record Of The Week: Underground hometown heavy metal heroes Slough Feg, aka The Lord Weird Slough Feg are back on the attack with this new album, their seventh (not counting their most recent release, the demos/live collection The Slay Stack Grows, reviewed here not long ago). You may recall us raving about several (all!) of their previous efforts, though in our review of Slay Stack, we did say that one was pretty much intended for fans only, not the place to start if you were new to the band. But, if you're someone who still hasn't checked out a proper Slough Feg album, well THIS one would certainly be recommended. And Slough Feg fans who loved their last studio record, Hardworlder, will find Ape Uprising! takes that sound and, well, goes a bit ape with it. Some have called this their heaviest album yet. We'd say, yes, maybe, due to certain doom elements and the thick, '70s sounding production with prominent bass. But it's also perhaps their poppiest! At a tight 37 and a half minutes it brilliantly synthesizes all the best of the band's '70s and '80s classic metal and hard rock influences (Black Sabbath and Iron Maiden, Thin Lizzy, etc. - nothing past, say, 1982) whilst also sounding like something only THIS eccentric band of nerd barbarians could or would ever record. Utter heavy metal zeal unleashed via massively heavy, awesome riffage, triumphant vocals, memorable melodies, and twin guitar shred EVERYWHERE ALL THE TIME. Yes! For an example of said awesome riffage, look no further than the start of the 10-minute-plus title track. And for an example of the latter, try the dazzling midpoint of "Ape Outro". Or just drop the needle (well, laser for now) on this anyplace! All that plus intelligent, ironic lyrics that make mention of opposable thumbs. It's not exactly a Planet Of The Apes concept album, but it's close... half of the eight songs here have to do with the apes vs. humans theme (as ridiculously depicted in the wonderfully comic book-y cover art, that kinda makes this look like a punk rock album). And those four songs make it pretty clear that Slough Feg are on the side of the apes. Charleton Heston would not approve. In the progtastic "Simian Manifesto", a song full of over the top Queen-like drama, sudden stoner rock groove, and even some jangly placid pop parts, Mike says it best with the immortal lines: "Never coming down from the trees / Never bending down on my knees!" We asked AQ customer and Slough Feg fan Glenn Simpson to shoulder a bit of the burden and write some more for us about Slough Feg's new album. He was nice enough to give it a shot, so let's turn this over to him: "I want to start by saying that I'm not sure what this review can really accomplish. If you're a fan of Slough Feg, you automatically want their new album, right? If you're not a fan, I don't know what to say to change your mind that Aquarius hasn't already said in reviews of previous albums. But here goes. Ape Uprising! is more of everything that makes Slough Feg one of the best metal bands on the planet. At once familiar and fresh, this new album carries on musical and lyrical motifs that are distinctly Feg-ian, while simultaneously developing its own clear identity. This trait runs throughout the band's discography. There is an unmistakable Slough Feg sound, yet a song from one album would seem out of place on any other album. One of this album's compositional quirks: in the past, Slough Feg records have usually included a few instrumentals. This one doesn't, but several of the songs basically turn into instrumentals halfway through. Scalzi gets the singing out of the way, and then he and fellow guitarist Don Angelo Tringali go to town on their Les Pauls. Maybe that's by way of indicating that the (non-verbal) apes have taken over? Though it happens in several of the non-apey songs as well. Some early reviews of Ape Uprising have deemed it one of the band's heavier albums. With the acknowledgment that "heavy" means different things to different people, I would say instead, I was struck by overall how energetic and frenetic much of this is, displaying attitude which maybe makes sense given the concept implied by the album's title. About half of the tracks on Ape Uprising! share a sort of punk aggressiveness. You'll hear a little more chug in the guitars, a little more gruffness in the singing, and a little more thud in the drums than on the band's galloping and epic sci-fi opus Traveller (2003), for instance. While I would not come anywhere near calling this Slough Feg's "punk" album, I would say they've scaled back the Thin Lizzy a wee bit and inserted some Stiff Little Fingers - or at least some Motorhead. But maybe that's just me. Also, a few parts of Ape Uprising! expand on the near boogie rock element that cropped up first on Atavism (2005) and then on Hardworlder (2007). This album's "Frankfurt-Hahn Airport Blues" is I guess the NWOBHMish hot rocking ripper "Shakedown At The Six", complete with brief drum solo breakdown. However, Slough Feg also haven't lost their Celtic folk touch, which you'll most prominently in the majestically stirring "White Cousin", with lovely acoustic guitars woven in. Really, its mishmash of influences from the 1970s makes Ape Uprising! sound somewhat timeless....I wish I didn't have to wait two years between Slough Feg albums." Us too!
"Ape Uprising" MPEG Stream:
"Simian Manifesto" MPEG Stream:
"Shakedown At The Six" MPEG Stream:
SLOW LISTENER Only On My Own Am I Truly Loved (Celebrate Psi Phenomenon) cd-r 11.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. First in a new batch of releases from Campbell Kneale and his Celebrate Psi Phenomenon label. This one from some mysterious UK outfit called Slow Listener. Kneale has dubbed them slumberpunk which is as good a descriptor as any. Five tracks, the shortest 7 minutes, the longest 14, each an expansive sonic sprawl, from distantly drifting soft fuzzy warbles, to silvery slivers of high end twinkle and glimmer, from full on lo-fi vacuum cleaner hum, to crumbling soundscapes of muted melody and mumbled industrial clatter, from cavernous scrape and shriek, to effulgent streaks of white hot guitar grind, from gauzy soft focus melodic whir, to thick swirling shimmer, from dense blistering abstract space psych blow outs, to upper register sun dappled ur-drones, a gorgeous and utterly dreamy cacophony of sound. Birchville, Skaters, Yellow Swans, Quetzolcoatl, Bonecloud, Bonus, Ghosting, you can now add Slow Listener to that ever growing list... SUPER LIMITED AS ALWAYS!! NOT SURE WE'LL BE ABLE TO GET MORE WHEN THESE ARE GONE!
"Bad Santana" MPEG Stream:
"Sarcasm My Old Friend"
SLUMBERWOOD Yawling Night Songs (A Silent Place) cd 10.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. As much as we try to not judge records by their covers, sometimes you just have to, especially when the record is called Slumberwood, and features some strange blurred painting of a cartoon-ish dragon, in what looks like some sort of psychedelic forest, the name scrawled in fuzzy golden letters that look like they're made of light. And the record is called Yawling Night Songs, and it sort of looks like that cartoon dragon just may be 'Yawling'. Plus there's a sticker that compares Slumberland to Werner Herzog, Coil, Nurse With Wound, Big Star and This Heat. That's some serious praise, but the more we listen to this, the more we're convinced that maybe it's not all hype. From the first track we were smitten, a noisy, swirling chunk of slow building psychedelia, mysterious voices, wild distorted guitars, simple krautlike percussion, swells of cymbal shimmer, thick rib cage rattling bass thrum, feedback everywhere, we would have been just fine if the rest of the record had sounded exactly the same. Instead, the sound shifts constantly, the second track is all weird echoey voices, strangled melodies, all floating in clouds of reverb, until the song kicks in proper, and the drums pound and the guitars grind and snarl, creating a sort of unhinged, speaking in tongues, dark forest kraut folk, while the track after sets hushed crystalline steel string guitars over distant wheezing shimmer, and flecks of electronic glitch and squelch, barely audible, more like some sort of sonic fireflies drifting in this sun dappled glade of a song. And so it goes, weirdly bluesy one second (complete with harmonica), meandering post rock the next, rustic almost roots rock psychedelia one second, murky hazy pulsing druggy dronemusic the next, before finishing off with what kind of sounds like some sort of looped, cyclical indie rock jangle. Too bad we have so few of these, cuz folks around here have gone a little crazy for this. Sadly, WE ONLY HAVE SIX COPIES, the label no longer exists, which means we can NOT get any more of these, so grab one before they are gone...
"Yahoo" MPEG Stream:
"Galline" MPEG Stream:
"Thru Crop Fields"
SMALL CRUEL PARTY All Early Parts (Incubator / Petri Supply) cassette 13.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. It's a fucking shame we have so few copies of this cassette. Small Cruel Party is a project from the mysterious Key Ransome, who once lived in Seattle and may now live in France; and unfortunately, we've grown to appreciate his work well after the bulk of his material has disappeared from distribution. Field recordings, found object manipulation, and minimalist blasts of noise-drone are the common tools of Small Cruel Party, paralleling those used by Joe Colley, Coelacanth, Giancarlo Toniutti, and many others championed here at Aquarius; but the Small Cruel Party application of his restricted elements (often no more than three or four layers of distinct sounds) comes across as the audio equivalent to a Bruce Naumann video piece. At first, it seems that not a lot happens in a Small Cruel Party piece, but as the elements slowly emerge into view, the sounds become wholly engaging yet mysteriously distant. This tape collects a bunch of material originally issued on cassette back in the late '80s, including some collaborative work with Abo from Yeast Culture. With any luck we'll be able to stock more of these and make a much bigger stink about these amazing sounds. Small Cruel Party deserves it.
SMALL CRUEL PARTY An Accident In Substance (Harbinger Sound) 3cd 26.00
An obscure project with an obscure agenda. Small Cruel Party was the brilliant / difficult sound project of Key Ransome, who operated in and around the Incubator warehouse in Seattle from the early '90s up until he left for Paris around 2003 when he became a vegetarian chef and shed much of the contacts with his former life. But back during his most prolific periods, Small Cruel Party managed over 30 releases (including a disproportionate amount of seven inches) and contributed to nearly as many compilations. But since he left, nothing. The precipitous cessation of Small Cruel Party can appear to have all of the trappings of Maurizio Bianchi's demonstrative retirement back in the early '80s, but where Bianchi might have cracked under the existential weight of his depressive electronics, Small Cruel Party may have transcended itself out of existence. In a rare piece of text accompanying the almost Dada-ist titles of his pieces, Ransome speculated that Small Cruel Party "... focused on the inherent mysterious and beautiful quality of sound itself, with the emphasis on noninstrumental sound sources, the source itself not being readily apparent. Work generally involves manipulation of physical objects in acoustic space and a great deal of concentrated activity. Even in pieces involving dense sound at high volume the resultant effect is one of intense calm." Even as one hears the haptic sounds from rocks, sand, bells, scribblings, strange whisperings, electrical hums, sodden field recordings, and barren drones, the raw sounds are given over to a ceremonial austerity whose liturgy is completely unknowable. The work is certainly informed by minimalism, but more from a context of sculptural physicality through the barest of materials instead of the musical forms of Phill Niblock or LaMonte Young. A Small Cruel Party composition is often just two or three sonic elements, with Ransome creating subtle shifts in the orbits of those elliptical sounds or mustering an ectoplasmic glow around a formless tone that ominously lifts out of nowhere to the foreground. Accident In Substance is a wholly impressive document, collecting a bunch of those compilation and seven-inch tracks and presenting them in chronological order based on when they were created (and not necessarily when they were released). The earliest piece "Even The Lives Of Our Grandfathers" may be the most musical with a hypnotic, Terry Riley-esque repetition on a couple of piano notes, Ransome layers such with scabrous textures and breathy whispered utterances devoid of any specific words. It's eerie, beautiful, and sublime. While Ransome eschews the melody on every other track since, that haunted, hidden sensibility strengthens throughout his body of work. Thickets of acoustic noise and thudding rumbles find strange bedfellows with a chorus of handbells on the dramatically intense track "Home Borders" all of which cascade like a grim kaleidoscope of urban refuse. Those same bells blossom into a Ligetti-like swarm of linear dissonace on the blindingly glistening track "Iron Moment." Stuttering electrical pulses murmur as distant beacons amidst the field recordings of unknown actions in dank warehouse spaces on the "Second Honor" and "Ceremonies of Memory." The sense of mystery that hangs on Small Cruel Party's recordings is really something to behold. Our own Jim Haynes claims Small Cruel Party as a huge influence on his rusted sound-art, to the point where one of the tracks on his 2009 album Sever is an homage to SCP. Accident In Substance is required listening for anybody whose been smitten by AMM, John Cage, Daniel Menche, Zoviet France, Organum, Loren Chasse, and Steve Roden. Yeah. It's that fucking good.
"Even The Lives Of Our Grandfathers" MPEG Stream:
"Some Movements" MPEG Stream:
"Home Borders" MPEG Stream:
"Iron Moment" MPEG Stream:
"La Poussiere Des Murs Detruit Le Passe"
SMALL CRUEL PARTY Three Simple Eyes Of The Insect Ancestor (Kaon) cd 16.98
Small Cruel Party turns up again, just a few weeks after the release of the impeccable 3cd anthology An Accident In Substance released by Harbinger Sound. As we mentioned in the review of that set, 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.
"Crowd Of Small Things" MPEG Stream:
"Tank Ecstasy Between Floors"
SMALLCOCK, DJ Yinyue (Dual Plover) cd 9.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. Don't know much about this artist, but "Yinyue" is supposedly an hour long journey through Beijing via static laden radio transmissions collected and manipulated by DJ Smallcock. Essentially, these recordings (all clocking in at 3:33, by the way) are split second snippets cut together via pressing pause / unpause on a tape recorder whilst flipping through various stations on the FM dial. Totally fucking stupid. Any asshole can do this bullshit. I just can't believe Dual Plover actually pressed this (presumably in large quantities) on an actual factory pressed disc and not on a cd-r in a small run. Too bad someone has too much money to throw around and no good sense to put out something somewhat interesting.
"Piece Of Shit"
SMALLWOOD, SCOTT, SAWAKO, SETH CLUETT, BEN OWEN, AND CIVYIU KKLIU Phonography Meeting 070823 (Winds Measures Recordings) cd 12.98
Another beautifully austere letterpress design housing another beautifully austere set of recordings of found sounds by way of Winds Measures Recordings. This album was the result of a performance at the Issue Project Room in Brooklyn a few years back in which these five artists consecutively mixed unprocessed environmental recordings. The whole set is pocked with silences and quiet moments of sonic inactivity, working compositionally in sync with the latter day / lowercase acolytes of Morton Feldman (e.g. Bernhard Gunter, Steve Roden, etc.), but also speaks to the growing lack of quietude in the 21st century society. Scott Smallwood is a sound artist who worked with Pauline Oliveros in the past and had a fantastic, if under appreciated disc of desert wind recordings released on Deep Listening about a decade ago. His field recordings here focus on aquatic details and rippling textures, that deftly cut to the resonance from wind chimes and back to those watery sounds. In a terse piece of text that accompanies the disc, Smallwood speaks of the unwanted / unexpected / hidden sounds that blur the lines between the natural and man-made sound ecologies. One has to wonder if those bells would qualify as an "unwanted" intrusion for Smallwood as he tried to situate his microphones near an alpine stream, and as such, would those seemingly innocuous sounds bemoan an urban interlocution with the natural soundscape. Sawako's bizarrely reflective echoings of disembodied human speech seem completely unnatural, but we'll assume that her contribution held true to the modus operandi of unprocessed sources. Church bells introduce the field recordings of Seth Cluett, who transitions towards a series of small tactile cracks and thunderous scrunches from contact microphone recordings, feeling like a hyper-amplified listen into the crevices of a teeming colony of ants. Ben Owen's wooden clunking events transition perfectly out of Cluett's sounds, again focusing on the amplification of the minuscule through the contact microphone. Civyiu Kkliu completes the album with a humming drone from an unknown electrostatic source, crafting a sustained minimalist howl akin to his sporadic collaborator Toshiya Tsunoda, rounding out a wonderfully introspective record of pure sound. Limited to a mere 300 copies!
"Extract 1" MPEG Stream:
"Extract 2" MPEG Stream:
SMITH, BARTON Reelizations One & Two: The Sound Of Barton Smith (EM Records) 2cd 29.00
This EM label fave of ours, at long last repressed and back in stock!! There is a very fine line between schizophrenia and a totally eclectic diverse creativity and we seem to enjoy music most when that line remains really blurry. This 2cd set, recorded between 1980-82 by electronic alchemist Barton Smith definitely straddles that weird blurry line. One moment basking in tender beauty while the next moment flourishing into a noisy wall-of-sound. Very little was known about Smith. The fact that Smithsonian Folkways originally released these tracks on vinyl back in the early '80s, and still Smith remained a relative unknown, just adds to the mystique. The first disc opens up with what sounds like gamelan influenced percussion on homemade instruments, followed by pastoral pretty meandering guitar and then underwater sounding rumblings drenched in primitive sounding electronics. We have been totally intrigued and in awe of these recordings since we first got this set in a few weeks back. Listening to it nonstop, and trying to think about how this was received in the early '80s when even now it still sounds so ahead of its time. Former AQ-er Windy came in recently and jumped for joy to see this on the new arrivals rack, telling us how she scored an original vinyl copy years back at a flea market and it's always been a record she found so weird and wonderful and special. Outside of Windy, we haven't really come across anyone else who knew anything about Barton Smith. We've come to discover that these were recordings he made for modern dance troupes and we can only struggle to imagine bodies moving to his ever changing sounds. While for most musicians it can be tricky and problematic to change gears and sounds so often within an album, there is something so natural and lucid and smooth about the extremes explored on Reelizations. We can't think of many musicians who have the ability to explore such a wide range with this much success and intrigue. Moondog's versatility and eclectic output is someone who came to mind when trying to figure out how to classify Mr. Smith. From acoustic tranquility to electric outbursts this had us picking up on a totally diverse range of reference points: Sandy Bull, Jim O'Rourke, This Heat, Koji Asano. And for sure you could start seeing how years later groups would start exploring similar sonic atmospheres. Black Dice, Excepter, Loren Connors are some who come to mind. Scott even suspects that Kieren Hebden might have heard this at some point, as there is a really good chance that the Barton Smith track "Lotus" was sampled on the Four Tet album Rounds. This is a record that we can't stop listening to or thinking about. We hear so much music everyday, when something kicks our ass this hard we know we've discovered something really special. As with all releases on the fabulous Japanese reissue label EM, this is gorgeously packaged, coming in an oversized double jewel case, with a huge booklet, tons of photos and lots of liner notes - those unfortunately all in Japanese.
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SMITH, CHES Congs For Brums (Free Porcupine Society) cd 14.98
The debut solo album from percussionist / vibraphonist about town (and beyond) Ches Smith! He's built quite a name for himself as both a studio and touring percussionist. Perhaps you've seen/heard him perform with the likes of Secret Chiefs 3, Marc Ribot, Xiu Xiu, Carla Bozulich or Trevor Dunn's Trio-Convulsant? Congs For Brums is comprised of ten explorations in rhythmic and dynamic progressions incorporating a broad spectrum of percussion instruments, both the conventional and the less so. The works range from the absolutely stark single strike per instrument tour at the beginning of the second track "My Motherfuckin' Roda!" to the more fleshed out full kit rush of "Metal Vacation" to the resonant vibraphone tones of "The Clarinet In B Flat" (uh, there is no clarinet!) and "Mental Vacation". A particular fave is a repeating segment of track #5 "Homemade Posi" that brings to mind a drunken camel. While this disc may not find itself on regular rotation in your living room, it's so well recorded that we'd bet that pieces of it are going to resurface as prime sample material for many other musicmakers.
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SMITH, CHRIS Bad Orchestra (Death Valley) cd 15.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. Finally! After years of being a huge fan of Australian guitarist Chris Smith, and only being able to track down split eps and comps, or collaborations, we've finally got our hands on the latest, and seems only in-print cd releases from this amazing musician. Some of you might remember Smith from the split FatCat 12" he shared with Jewelled Antler outfit The Ivytree a while back, or more recently, the killer collaboration with fellow Australian Justin Fuller, reviewed at the beginning of this year (and still in stock!). All of Smith's proper releases, even a stateside collection of 'greatest hits' are all out of print and unavailable, which is s massive shame as this man is a guitar genius. But where other records feature Smith mostly solo, using his guitar to weave magical landscapes of abstract sound, on Bad Orchestra, he seems to have put together an actual band (a Bad Orchestra?) and written some songs, for a record that is as rock as we've heard him for sure. Thankfully, Smith's rock is as good as his non-rock, dark and emotional, epic and intense, at times sounding like Dinosaur Jr. channeling Crazy Horse, right down to the vocals, a whiney plaintive croon, at others sounding a bit like a more moody meandering Dirty Three, and still at others unwinding into sparse deserty twang. The guitars thick and reverb drenched, the drums slightly distorted and heavy, acoustic guitars below sheets of psyche rock fuzz, that alone would have made Bad Orchestra a winner, but the rock tracks here are scattered amidst more abstract (and more familiar to us) pieces, guitarscapes and expansive ambience, the opener, a brief spell of Scott Tuma style Appalachian murk, to the forlorn sounding piano-in-a-warehouse of "Glue Factory" or the glistening high end raga of "Slight Problems (Intermission)", the Dead C like fractured noise pop of "Jimmy's Theme" to the blurred Tim Hecker like washed out soundscape of "Your Tunnel". A pretty perfect mix of gorgeous ambient experimentalism, blown out RAWK, and haunting dark desert pop. Obviously WAY recommended.
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SMITH, CHRIS Cabin Fever (Avalanche Express) cd 13.98
SMITH, CHRIS & JUSTIN FULLER s/t (Sweat Lung) cd 12.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. Dug up 5 or 6 of these. Thought they were sold out for a while now, so grab em while you can... We're huge fans of Australian guitarist Chris Smith, but until now had only ever been able to get a hold of the split 12" he shared with the Ivytree. There have been plenty of other releases, but the only proper stateside release has been out of print for ages. So finally, we managed to get a bunch of these, Smith and fellow countryman Justin Fuller's first full length collaboration, a full 7 years in the making, and it's quite nice. Hard to discern exactly what the instrumentation is, there are most certainly guitars, and according to the liner notes there is also piano and accordion, but with records like this, it's not what you're playing, it's how you play them and what you do with the sounds once you've made them. These two wrangle the various sounds into long stretches of slow shifting ambience. Some tracks are delicate and dark, barely there shimmers of crumbling low end and distant glimmering high end, while others are massive walls of guitar, churning chaotically, but smoothed into warm thick whorls. The heavier tracks definitely remind us of Sunroof! or Vibracathedral Orchestra or even a less mangled Wolf Eyes or a way prettier SUNNO))). The prettier tracks have a bit of Tim Hecker going on, all blissy and fuzzy and beautifully blurred. The whole record is quite dreamy in fact, whether buzzing malevolently, or drifting languorously, a gorgeous chunk of blissed out guitardrone. The usual suspects will definitely need this...
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SMITH, GARY SuperTexture (Sijis) 2cd 17.98
Ok, here's a clever way to get maybe not-just-the-usual people interested in an album of difficult, avant-garde electric guitar improv solos. Make it a double cd, where the raw improvs by British guitar maverick Gary Smith found on the first disc are used as source material for the exclusive "treatments" and "interpretations" by a disparate variety of other artists that populate the second disc. So if scrabbling, abstract textural guitar glitch isn't enough to pique your interest (for some it certainly will be enough, Gary Smith is no slouch at coming up with strange sounds from his axe, for fans of that sort of thing), perhaps the likes of Steve Roden, Bernhard Gunter, Peter "Pita" Rehberg, Elliott Sharp, This Heat's Charles Hayward, BJ Nilsen, and others on the second disc will!! First, the first disc... Imagine Nels Cline and Derek Bailey and a bunch of mice, playing guitar and mixing drinks. It's a quietly noisy disc of tangled strings and liquid chimings. Tinkling ice. Crystalline shards. Counterintuitive guitar-based beauty. Like a "normal" guitar track had been crumpled up and irradiated and examined under a microscope. Now for the "compilation" disc, where that radiation produces mutation. This is one diverse batch of characters taking Gary Smith's sounds in all sorts of interesting, often surprising directions, their own music adding to or twining around Smith's. It starts off with a lovely psych-folk tune entitled "Pear Tree Tomorrow" from obscure legend Bill Fay!!! Yes the same Bill Fay whose early '70s albums were recently reissued to great acclaim. Many of the other participants, some mentioned above, are more in the line of "usual suspects" for experimental projects such as this. But it's still a very diverse collection, from the bleak poetry of Current 93's David Tibet, to the violent digital breakcore of Tom Wallace, to the harsh noise-rock of Aufgehoben (with whom Gary Smith has collaborated before, on the devastating Magnetic Mountain album). There's Tianna Kennedy's ambient low end scrape and Paulo Raposos's high end drone. And lots more. Somehow, Gary Smith's guitar ties it all together. Puzzling out how Smith's material was "used" is an interesting, if mostly inconclusive, exercise. Wow. Even by itself this would be a great comp. The Smith solo disc almost a bonus. Though we like 'em both!
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TOM WALLACE "Acquired Waste"
SMITH, GARY & JOE GALLIVAN s/t (Paratactile) cd 18.98
Spacy and sizzling collision of the electric stereo guitar wielded by Gary Smith (of current UK power improv trio Mass) and the Moog synths and electronic percussion of Joe Gallivan (known for his obscurely legendary '70s fusion outfit Love Cry Want). Ranges from exotic sci-fi soundscapes to thunderous high-energy blowouts. Pretty cool for fans of this sort of thing.
SMITH, JACK Les Evening Gowns Damnées (Table Of The Elements/Audio ArtKive) cd 15.98
Soundtracks from some of Jack Smith's legendary performances and films from the early 60's that gave birth to the New York 60's underground. Features Tony Conrad, John Cale and Angus MacLise. A first release from Table of the Element's new imprint Audio ArtKive, run by Tony Conrad.
SMITH, LADONNA Rare Earth (Table Of The Elements) 12" 15.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. This is the latest installment in Table Of The Elements' series of single sided silkscreened 12"s celebrating the label's 10th anniversary. I had heard the name Ladonna Smith, but had never actually heard her music before, and it's a shame because this disc is quite intense and beautiful. Violin and viola intertwine lazily, unfurling minor key laments, like some sort of avant gypsy folk, moving and emotional, occasionally building to a maniacal intensity but always stretching back out into dark and sweetly langorous tunefulness. Toward the end of the record, melodies fracture into a chaotic swirl of wildly sawed violin, atonal anti-melody, rattling percussion and haunting chromatic scales, eventually becoming a blast of all out noise, an ear piercing assemblage of hyperspeed skree, upper register screeching, industrial roar and good ol' white noise. Splattery yellow swirls silkscreened on red/orange vinyl, looking like some alien sun engulfed in solar flares. Maybe the nicest looking 12" so far in the series.
SMITH, STEVEN R. Antimony (Digitalis Industries) cd-r 8.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. Right off the bat, we have to warn you that this new cd-r release from AQ fave Steven R. Smith (Thuja, Mirza, Hala Strana, etc) is as always SUPER LIMITED. Only 100 copies made, and we only got a little less than half of those. So once these are gone they are gone. Six new gorgeous instrumentals, all dark and dreamy, ranging from heavily reverbed Appalachia, to haunting and spare abstract ambience. Electric guitars waver and shimmer, in a vast cavern of sympathetic overtones. So beautiful. You can almost picture a lone mysterious hooded figure, perched on a small outcropping of rock, at the bottom of a huge cavern, playing strange mournful odes by the light of a lantern, serenading all the creatures in the dark, kept at bay by the light, and narcoticized by the tranquil and elegant sounds. So nice. Each disc comes in a beautifully textured paper sleeve with silver ink and each comes with a Steven R. Smith woodcut!
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SMITH, STEVEN R. Cities (Immune) lp 14.98
Good ol' Steven R. Smith. Whether in bands - Jewelled Antler flagship Thuja, for one - or on his own, doing his wonderful Hala Strana and Ulaan Khol projects among others - the presence of SRS a reliable indicator that you're going to hear some quite nice and in fact transcendental music. He's got that magic. Sometimes playing droning, home-built stringed things, or Eastern European ethnic instruments, or out-n-out amped up psych guitar, or all the above... whatever it is, we're always happy to hear more from SRS. Here's something new under his own name, another reverie-inducing solo outing, in part improvised, all-instrumental, emotive and abstract and melodic and minimal and sad and shimmering and altogether lovely. This limited edition LP (vinyl only, but it comes with a download card or whatever so you can get mp3s, though we'd prefer if there were also a cd version) is entitled Cities. But this mostly calm and quiet music doesn't seem all that urban. There's no hustle and bustle here, no teeming crowds or honking traffic. Instead, the cities this evokes are ancient ones, empty ones, abandoned ones, unknown ones. Or perhaps the cities to which this LP refers are still are home to people, the listener wandering through them only in the desolate, faintly glowing pre-dawn hours, down secret streets and through dreamy, dewy parks. Ah, our meager musings don't do this justice, but we're sure that you'll find this music capable of stirring some melancholic mental imagery... As with much of SRS's music, while there's an acoustic rustic folk element to this, there's an electric one too, with gorgeous, gentle distortion and drone at the edges. He's playing a plethora of instruments here: assorted guitars, fiddle, psaltery, melodica, cello, organ, electric piano... Slowly unfolding, echoing, the mood pieces SRS crafts on Cities make us nostalgic for imagined places we've never been.
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SMITH, STEVEN R. Crown of Marches (Catsup Plate) cd 13.98
Housed in a beautiful black-on-black digipack, this new solo disc from Jewelled Antler comrade Steven R. Smith is something else. By that we mean, it's really great -- and it's just a little bit different from what you've heard from him lately in the guise of his very popular ('round here anyway) Eastern European folk-influenced project Hala Strana. The one long track found on Crown Of Marches maybe really harks backs to his daze in the more amped up, spaced-out, krautrocky pre-Thuja combo Mirza. It's dreamy, droney, and heavily distorted. Playing an assortment of instruments (as is his wont) including "electric and baritone guitars, xaphoon, fretted hurdy gurdy, baritone psaltery, noah bells, organ, electric piano, bowed cymbals, tympani", Smith has crafted a billowing psych-scape that will embrace you in its darkness, a thickly ambient bliss-out of 40+ minutes duration, that ends with lonely horn (?) melodies surfacing amidst the somber, drifting electric muzz. Recommended! Crown Of Marches is a one-man effort that could / should appeal to fans of all sorts of droney bands such as Tarentel, Mogwai, SUNNO))), Godspeed You Black Emperor!, Labradford, Davis Redford Triad, Doktor Kettu, Kinski, Acid Mothers Temple, Bardo Pond... and of course Mirza, Thuja and Hala Strana.
"Crown Of Marches [excerpt]"
SMITH, STEVEN R. Lineaments (Emperor Jones) cd 14.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. Any avid reader of the AQ list will be well aware that we've long been huge fans of Steven R. Smith, his solo records, his work in Mirza, Thuja, Hala Strana, all totally amazing. So we were super excited recently to find out that Mr. Smith had a stash of some long out of print titles. We took everything he had, which unfortunately wasn't a lot, so if you want to nab one of these, best be quick! Since these titles have been out of print for ages, once this last handful of these titles are gone, they are gone for good. After relocating to Los Angeles, several years back, Smith continued to contribute to San Francisco avant-drone-improv-rock ensemble Thuja but at the same time released a handful of solo records before beginning to record as Hala Strana. Lineaments is one of our favorites, a fantastic solo album of his distinctively cinematic psychedelia. In a better world, Smith's work would get the same universal acclaim as the syrupy melodrama of Sigur Ros or the socially conscious marches of Godspeed! You Black Emperor. But as it stands, Smith's revelatory instrumentals of bittersweet leitmotifs and sublime crescendos remain one of the greatest secrets in the expansive realms of avant-rock. Where Thuja explores the theatre of atmosphere, Smith's solo work is firmly grounded within a simple, yet very expressive use of melody. Smith announces the beginning of each of the songs on "Lineaments" (as with his previous recordings) with a lilting melodic stanza for fuzzed organ or drone guitar which repeats itself throughout the entirety of the song. Around this basic structure, Smith builds incremental layers of sound through complementary overtones, golden applications of spring reverb, and scribbled flourishes from additional organs, guitars, violins, and other less typical instrumentation. While Smith's solo process involve a considerable amount of multi-track production, he -- like Thuja and the interconnective Jewelled Antler gaggle -- relies upon spontaneity in the construction of these scores to give his music a floating effortlessness. "Lineaments" is no exception and definitely gets the thumbs up from Aquarius. WE ONLY HAVE 20 COPIES IN STOCK! After that, this is gone forever!
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SMITH, STEVEN R. Tableland (Emperor Jones) cd 14.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. Any avid reader of the AQ list will be well aware that we've long been huge fans of Steven R. Smith, his solo records, his work in Mirza, Thuja, Hala Strana, all totally amazing. So we were super excited recently to find out that Mr. Smith had a stash of some long out of print titles. We took everything he had, which unfortunately wasn't a lot, so if you want to nab one of these, best be quick! Since these titles have been out of print for ages, once this last handful of these titles are gone, they are gone for good. Fifth (almost) full-length release by ex-local drone rocker Steven R. Smith (of Thuja and Mirza.) Right before the recording of Tableland, Steven invested in a brand new 8-track recording deck and "Tableland" could well be considered a christening of the new machine. It's probably important to note that the move from 4 tracks to 8 tracks does not equate with a move to overproduction. No, the lush and saturated qualities that are so indicative of Steven R. Smith's recordings are still here to envelope you like a warm wool blanket on a cold day. Five new instrumentals make up "Tableland" and Steven fills out his lonesome arrangements with reverb drenched guitars, bowed metal stringed instruments (possibly zithers?), swelling organs, bells, drums, piano and various other instruments resulting in grainy film scores for non-existent films. So totally gorgeous. WE ONLY HAVE ABOUT 10 COPIES IN STOCK! After that, this is gone forever!
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SMITH, STEVEN R. The Anchorite (Root Strata) cd 14.98
Finally, another vinyl only gem gets the cd reissue treatment, so all you sans turntable, can finally feast your ears on this amazing record from long time aQ fave Steven R. Smith (Thuja, Mirza, Hala Strana) and the rest of us who have been spinning this nonstop can get it on our iPods and listen to it even more! A total shoo-in for record of the week, in fact, the only reason we didn't make it ROTW first time around was because of its vinyl only status. But now that Root Strata has reissued this on disc... Originally released as part of Important Records' "Arts & Crafts" series, this full length recording is everything longtime Smith fans (like us!) have come to love. When the lp was first released, the label dropped names like Popol Vuh and Arvo Part, and while we do hear some of that here, we also hear plenty of Nadja and Tim Hecker and Philip Jeck and that sort of foggy fuzzy dreamy drift. The magic of Smith is that he creates those impossibly gauzy sound worlds without a computer or loads of processing, just a bizarre arsenal of sound making implements and a dangerously deft hand. Fretted spike fiddle, fretted hurdy gurdy, psaltery, cello, xaphoon, bombard, ney, bouzouki, glockenspiel, organ, hand drum, cymbal, shaker, noah bells, tambourine, kaen, melodica, electric guitar mandolute and tapes are all woven into a rich and washed out soundscape of wheezing melancholy melodies, thick slabs of distorted guitar crumble, haunting simple strums, thick low end reverberations all wrapped up in a dense sonic fog. Some ancient otherworld observed through old photographs or a dusty old oracle. As thick and dense as it is washed out and dreamy. Fans of the current crop of dronedoomdirge might just dig this as well, although it's much prettier and soft than all that. But still plenty dark and enigmatic, lovely and mysterious. Features all new artwork, a super striking black and white offset printed gatefold sleeve. And like the lp version, EXTREMELY LIMITED!! Only 500 copies!!!
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SMITH, STEVEN R. The Anchorite (Important) lp 14.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. A super limited lp only release from AQ fave Steven R. Smith (Thuja, Mirza, Hala Strana). This is part SEVEN in Important Records' "Arts & Crafts" series, and is essentially a brand new full length album. The sticker on the front name drops Popol Vuh and Arvo Part, and while we do hear some of that, we also hear lots of Nadja and Tim Hecker and Philip Jeck and that sort of foggy fuzzy dreamy drift. The magic of Smith is that he creates those impossibly gauzy sound worlds without a computer or loads of processing, just a bizarre arsenal of sound making implements and a dangerously deft hand. Fretted spike fiddle, fretted hurdy gurdy, psaltery, cello, xaphoon, bombard, ney, bouzouki, glcokenspiel, organ, hand drum, cymbal, shaker, noah bells, tambourine, kaen, melodica, electric guitar mandolute and tapes are all woven into a rich and washed out soundworld of wheezing melancholy melodies, thick slabs of distorted guitar crumble, haunting simple strums, thick low end reverberations all wrapped up in a dense sonic fog. Some ancient otherworld observed through old photographs or a dusty old oracle. Lovely and mysterious. LIMITED TO 500 COPIES. Packaged in gorgeous hand screened sleeves, with an original linocut, created, printed, signed and numbered by Smith, affixed to the front.
SMITH, WADADA, LEO & HENRY KAISER Yo Miles! (Shanachie) 2cd 19.98
Kaiser and Smith join together to pay tribute to Miles Davis' electric '73-'75 period, joined by The Rova Sax Quartet, Nels Cline, Elliot Sharp, John Medeski, Lukas Ligeti, Oluyemi Thomas and many others...
SMOKEY EMERY Incident at Town Lake (Kendra Steiner Editions) 3" cd-r 4.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. Austin based artist Daniel Hipolito has been recording as Smokey Emery for over a decade making small runs of self-released cd-rs of drone-based tape and field recordings. His musical aesthetic of manipulating industrial sounding drones made with vintage tape recorders into warm shimmering layered compositions that evoke the feel of memories of a fading past, rainy days and old photographs, the mystical feel of night and unspoken, perhaps terrifying secrets, have made him one of the more interesting figures to come out of Austin's growing experimental music scene. For this special but extremely limited 3" release (only 12 copies made!) on local Austin label Kendra Steiner Editions, there are two new pieces. The title track is like a Brian Eno recording for the Twin Peaks Soundtrack, giving off a dark foreboding yet alluring ambience. The second track, "Nightly" creates a chilly peacefulness of a dark meadow before sunrise, perhaps a restful solitude after a night of violence. Limited to 12 copies, we have 6, of those, and -might- be able to get a few more, but odds are once these are gone, they're gone for good!
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SMOKEY EMERY Lives (Kiamesha Drive) cd-r 5.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. Originally made as a tour only cd-r in 2011, the four tracks on Lives document the live sound of one of our favorite tape-drone artists as of late, Smokey Emery. Recorded on cassette and digital camera in warehouse spaces in San Francisco and Austin between 2006 and 2010, these long-form tracks take pieces made with multiple tape recorders plus the abundant room ambiance and filter them through a murky drift of concrete industrial drones, machinic whirs, woozy snippets of orchestrated music and murmured vocals. Subtle gauzy shifts in tones hint at underlying ghostly melodies, giving a glowing aura to the chill. Like a more shoe-gazing Indignant Senility, these live tracks tantalize in their blissfully gloomy gloam. Limited!
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SMOKEY EMERY Lives Vol. II (Kiamesha Drive) cd-r 5.98
Volume II in Smokey Emery's series of live performance edits expand from the first volume into 9 pieces taken from performances over the last couple of years around Austin, Texas and Colorado. Adding to the industrial foggy ambience of Smokey Emery's sound proper is the fact that these recordings were made on low-fi tape recorders, cell phones and digital cameras, further murking up the cloudy din. Listening at low volumes might be akin to listening to your refrigerator hum, but turned up a bit, there are distilled blooms of haunted sounds, muffled dialogue and far off buried music. We had this playing loudly one morning in the store, the day after the election in fact, when we had a sudden cold snap after days of warm dazzling sunshine and the store took on this sudden charge of a soft industrial autumn haze that was chilling and melancholic, but also blithely peaceful. We guess we'll be looking forward to winter after all! Limited!
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SMOKEY EMERY Quartz (Indian Queen) 7" 11.98
The debut vinyl release from Smokey Emery aka Daniel Hipolito on Silent Land Time Machine's Indian Queen imprint is a pastoral grey affair, lush with church organ ambience and analog equipment malfunction, a sort of Carnival of Lost Souls meets the Sinking of the Titanic. Split into three movements, the first called "Movement VI (Jumping the Fire)" is an abrupt organ loop shifting in pitch maniacally in a zombie-ish two-step wrenched in the reverbed clacking and whistling of old portable tape machines. "Movement VII: A Craft in Control" sounds at first like an old ballpark anthem slowed way down to a ghostly crawl, but its source may be more sacred or sinister, eventually churning what could be a hymn into a demonic funeral dirge just like the female lead in the aforementioned film. The flip side dedicated to the final movement "Movement V" expands on the previous theme, letting the sound sprawl into a foggy underwater wash of ocean liner doom and the muddled voices of once heralded memories of happier times. Limited to 300 copies comes in a thick duotone b&w folder-cover of dueling catastrophe-collages by Daniel Hipolito himself.
SMOKEY EMERY Soundtracks For Invisibility (Vol.1): Youth Burnt While Traveling (Holodeck) cassette 7.50
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. We're pleased to present three inaugural cassette releases from psych/noise label Holodeck, championing the exploding underground electronic experimental scene in Austin, Texas, with beautifully packaged and designed cassettes. Have a look elsewhere on this list for other releases by Lumens and Thousand Foot Whale Claw. But we're really pleased to see Smokey Emery's Soundtracks For Visibility series getting a full cassette reissue run. Long out of print on cd-r, here is what we said about Volume One when we first listened the cd-r version: Recorded in 2002, these tracks of cinematic drones and loops quietly build from slow-burning sonic embers that pulse and throb to subtlety shifting drifts of piano, bells, and music boxes mutating into far-off whirring rhythms and wobbly melodic ellipsis. "Invisibility Vignettes" is an epic 16 minute track of 5 movements that lays out what sounds like a barren mechanical wasteland before a soft guitar and organ figure shines a small ray of humanity on the proceedings slowly evolving into an off kilter robotic heartbeat leading into the final track of a lovely far-off and decaying church organ loop. Lonely, Beautiful and of course LIMITED!
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SMOKEY EMERY Soundtracks For Invisibility Vol. II: You Take The High Road (Holodeck) cassette 7.50
NOW AVAILABLE ON CASSETTE! One of six new tapes from the always awesome Holodeck label out of Austin, Texas. Here is what we said about this Austin murkscaper's long out of print record when we first had the cd version back in 2009: Austin-based painter and installation artist, Daniel Hipolito has been composing and releasing music in limited releases under the moniker Smokey Emery for awhile now. Composed of far away drones and loops, Hipolito builds his compositions like he builds his cave-y black and white painted installations and environments, cinematically, with a fine-tuned sense for mystery, vague longing and subtle dramatic flair. Like the lights of heavy traffic at sunset or a slowly sinking ship, there is an ineffable lonely quality to these compositions that is both beautiful and doomed, but fully engaging enough to still make us keep listening as the lights slowly fade.
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"The Lights Are Big and I'm Driving Home" MPEG Stream:
"Over a Thousand Lakes"
SMOKEY EMERY Soundtracks For Invisibility Volume II: You Take The High Road (Kiamesha Drive) cd-r 8.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. Austin-based painter and installation artist, Daniel Hipolito has been composing and releasing music in limited releases under the moniker Smokey Emery for awhile now, but we've only just finally managed to get some for the store. Composed of far away drones and loops, Hipolito builds his compositions like he builds his cave-y black and white painted installations and environments, cinematically, with a fine-tuned sense for mystery, vague longing and subtle dramatic flair. Like the lights of heavy traffic at sunset or a slowly sinking ship, there is an ineffable lonely quality to these compositions that is both beautiful and doomed, but fully engaged enough to still make us keep listening. Each cd-r is hand packaged with a unique photographic cover and wrapped in a vellum envelope. Lovely and Limited!
"Over The Side, Into The Storm" MPEG Stream:
"The Lights Are Big and I'm Driving Home" MPEG Stream:
"Over a Thousand Lakes"
SMOKEY EMERY Youth Burnt While Traveling: Soundtracks For Invisibility (Kiamesha) cd-r 8.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. Volume one of Smokey Emery's Soundtracks For Invisibility Series (we reviewed Vol. 2, a couple of lists ago). Since we listed these out of order, Daniel Hipolito, the man behind Smokey Emery, repressed Vol. 1 just for us! Recorded in 2002, these tracks of cinematic drones and loops quietly build from slow-burning sonic embers to subtlety shifting drifts of piano, bells, and music boxes mutating into far-off whirring rhythms and wobbly melodic ellipsis. "Invisibility Vignettes" is an epic 16 minute track of 5 movements that lays out what sounds like a barren mechanical wasteland before a soft guitar and organ figure shines a small ray of humanity on the proceedings slowly evolving into an off kilter robotic heartbeat leading into the final track of a lovely far-off and decaying church organ loop. Lonely, Beautiful and of course Limited!
"This Is The Wrong Place " MPEG Stream:
"Sad Machine In Soap Opera" MPEG Stream:
SMOLEN, DAVE Malleable Laminates (Sprout And Flora) cd-r 5.00
**SALE **SALE* *SALE** **LAST COPIES** A while back we reviewed a disc by a group called Flittermice Of Eld, a sort of abstract ambient drone homage to Darkthrone, in particular their classic track "As Flittermice as Satan's Spys", which of course ended up sounding nothing like Darkthrone at all, but kicked our asses nonetheless. So what do these Flittermice do when they're not pulling apart black metal institutions and reshaping the bits into their own twisted little soundscapes? Well, actually, sort of the same thing, just without the Darkthrone bits (although we can't say for sure there are no Darkthrone bits here). But Mr. Dave Smolen, he of the aforementioned Flittermice, here strikes out on his own, and the result is very similar to the sound on Flittermice, albeit a bit more minimal and electronic, a slow burning lowercase trawl through a soundworld of electronic crackle and minimal glitch and buzz, twenty minutes of drifting static discharge, bursts of high end shimmer and shift, layers of metallic reverberation drift through spacious expanses of whir and rumble, clouds of spacey FX swirl around disembodied shards of percussion and muted rhythms. Serene and ambient, but also dense and intense, like slithering through a lightning storm, or crawling through a field of electrically charged vibrating steel strings... Weird and quite cool... SUPER LIMITED!!! Of course, packaged in hand screened cardstock jackets housed in thick vinyl sleeves.
SNAWKLOR It Would Have Lived Here (Synaesthesia) cd 16.98
"To the technically semi-literate, post-Techno soundart can present a confusing spectacle, but with this beguiling recording such considerations are irrelevant. Snawklor is Dylan Krasevac and Nathan Gray, both playing laptops with sampler/loop programs live, and this is their second full length CD - Rushes appeared earlier on another small local label Marsupial Sounds. Snawklor's compositions process and layer samplings of field recordings, creating a rich acoustic ecology incorporating miked-up metallic percussion and tape debris. They recognisably draw on contemporary electronica while genuflecting to musique concrete tradition. There's a sense of involvement in live performance, and unusually for sampler-based acts, most sources are from their own field recordings. Snawklor reject the easy presentation of drone-like streams of sound, and the negativism of subdued minimal approaches, in favour of a more dramatic language. It's music of rich density Ð soundart but a clearly musical soundart. Some tracks, like the first, "doublivores back", have a discernible pulse, but it's always varied, sometimes polyrhythmically, avoiding electronic music's frequent rhythmic banality. "Doublivores" combines inner city field recordings with R+B influenced rhythms and glimpses of the cassette's underlying recording, a residue of Grandmaster Flash. "War In The Trees" might remind the inattentive listener of Windham Hill, but even here there are hidden depths, and it's an isolated episode; the insect-like scurryings and avian twitterings of "Nocturgical" share the inspiration of Bartok's pieces of night music. This enormously varied but consistently beautiful disc testifies to the vibrancy of contemporary Antipodean soundart." - Andy Hamilton, The Wire
SND STDIO (Mille Plateaux) cd 14.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. SND applies a heavy dose of what must be a factory preset handed out to all of the graduates of Force Inc's Institute of Auricular Fragmentation and Recombination. This is a silken yet firmly digital sound, sort of like a ring modulator fused with a hammond organ. SND encodes this signature sound to hyper-minimal shuffling house rhythms that could have been constructed out of the glitch rhythms found on Oval's "Diskont 94." The tonalities and phase patterns are so cool and detacted that it's hardly a shadow of a groove. They call this click house. How does this differ from glitch funk?
SNOWDRIFT s/t (Paradigms) cd 12.98
Lots of you are probably pretty obsessed by now with UK label Paradigms and pick up pretty much everything they release. Always interesting, gorgeously packaged, and Snowdrift is no exception. Veering dramatically from their drone/metal direction, Paradigms surprised us a while back with the recent full length from Plants, a dark, psychfolk duo from Portland who reference everything from Comus to Incredible String Band to M83 to Charlemagne Palestine. And now, Paradigms have dug up another dark treasure from the Northwest, this time from Seattle, Snowdrift are a dark brooding ensemble, who aren't nearly as far out as the rest of their labelmates. The label mentions Low and Mazzy Star and Amber Asylum and those are pretty good starting points. Imagine a moody shuffling post rock, with moaning cellos, shimmering guitars, sort of laid back and smoky, with occasional squalls of subtly blown out psych, but for the most part sort of drifting and slithering dreamily. The focal point is definitely the vocals, female, dark and throaty, a rich velvety croon, perfectly matched to the warm shimmery musical backdrops. And while the band does explore and experiment here and there, this is nothing so much as moody minor key mope rock. A sort of post rock slowcore pop... On a different label, one could definitely imagine these guys and gal on the radio, maybe even MTV, the dark moodiness just accessible enough for regular folks, but dreamy and dramatic enough to keep it interesting. The songs are fairly conventional, but they are often wrapped in decidedly unconventional layers, be it a thick swaths of shimmering strings, a fuzzy rumbling drone, some clattery abstract ambience. Cool stuff for sure. But might be a bit tame and middle of the road for the truly experimental among you. And if you were hoping for something a little more Hjarnidaudi or Angelic Process, then see elsewhere on this list for the other new Paradigms release from the decidedly more fucked Wraiths. Limited to 750 copies, packaged in a colorful mini lp style sleeve wrapped in a hand stamped brown paper outer sleeve.
"September" MPEG Stream:
"Sleeping Man" MPEG Stream:
SNYDER, DOUG AND BOB THOMPSON Daily Dance (Lion Productions ) cd 14.98
Woah! We've got the return of a way, way, way, WAY OUT electric guitar and drums duo document here, an improv maelstrom of uber DISTORTION freakout action that proves there's nothing new under the sun, 'cause this was cranked out by two long haired American hippies back in the early Seventies. In the annals of underground noise, they deserve a special place. This is proto everything! Mick Barr, No Wave, Ascension, Rhys Chatham, Glen Branca, Sonic Youth, High Rise, The Blue Humans, Dead C, Harry Pussy, Lightning Bolt, D!O!D!O!D!, even the Rangda we listed a couple weeks ago... heck, we're hearing all of that here. Wow. A total feedback and bashing attack, but not negative in attitude or anti-musical at all. In fact, it's presented with a lot of positive hippy-dippy charm ("listen for the time when the drums play themselves - when the spirits in the drums themselves are dancing" - that's a quote from drummer Bob Thompson found on the '98 release, and the title Daily Dance comes from the writings of Ken Kesey of Merry Prankster/Acid Test fame). Yet, it makes one of their own influences - The Stooges - seem square in comparison. These two go further in channeling spiritual free jazz a la Coltrane and Sanders into a stripped down, amped up primal "psych rock" context, it's hard to think of many earlier examples of such out-rock exploration. And it was also totally DIY punk too - of course, no label back then, or now for that matter, would have seen much commercial potential in this volume-dealing duo's pioneering skronk fest! Daily Dance was recorded in 1972, and subsequently released as a private press lp in '73 via Carla Bley's New Music Distribution Service. It was reviewed favorably by Creem magazine in '77 (you can see, this didn't get all that much attention when it first came out, but has grown in cult status over the years), with Doug Snyder's guitar squall indeed compared to James Williamson of The Stooges. Snyder also cited the Velvet Underground and Sonny Sharrock as his guitar influences... Japan's Masayuki Takayangi was probably unknown to Snyder at the time but we bet he'd have been into him too, though the Daily Dance duo definitely are more ROCK than they are jazz. Or at least, they manage to combine rock and jazz without coming close to "fusion", not that there's anything wrong with fusion, good fusion anyway, but there's lots of bad fusion and this ain't either. Now it's been reissued on cd for the second time (the previous edition, from '98, is long out of print) and on vinyl as well, making it available to a new generation of improv noise rock freaks. [Vinyl? Yes, unfortunately we're out of stock on the vinyl right at the moment, but will get it back in soon, so please let us know if you want a copy in that format.] Pretty neat to hear music "like this" being made for what might have been the very first time, certainly Snyder and Thompson were "pushing the envelope" as they knew it then, advancing into territory not entirely mapped out by things they'd already heard. And even if it wasn't from '72, anyone who likes loud, full-on freakout, rhythmic skree, and droney noisy textures will be variously entertained, whether it be by the moody, mystic feedback and percussive shimmer that closes out the epic title track, or the dense rumble of "Teenage Emergency" at the end of the disc that makes us think of Sharrock playing some sort of static surf music... Lion Productions, in association with Cantor Records (responsible for the vinyl reissue mentioned above), has done this up nicely, in a fancy Japanese-looking miniature lp style paste-on sleeve, complete with obi. Remastered from the original tapes, and packaged with a 20 page booklet with liner notes and photos. Nice! FYI, this compact disc edition also includes a previously unreleased two-minute bonus track, "Unseen, Unheard", that was left off the both the original and reissued vinyl for reasons of space (and it's not on the previous cd version either).
"Daily Dance" MPEG Stream:
"Hit And Run" MPEG Stream:
SO PERCUSSION Amid The Noise (Cantaloupe Music) cd + dvd 21.00
We had been hearing the name So Percussion being thrown around a lot lately, but we actually hadn't actually heard their music until now. Based on their name and the fact that they are made up of young percussionists we were worried that maybe it was going to be like the audio equivalent of seeing Stomp. And while we do actually love going to see Stomp with our Mom's (ahem), we are happy to report that the music that So Percussion makes is not merely a "look at us we're making drum sounds out of everything." In fact, Amid The Noise actually pushes the percussion to a much more subtle and ambient level, having more in common with Eno and Reich as it does street musicians drumming on garbage cans or Blue Man Group. Meditative playing that recalls Tortoise at their zenith, and the most delicate and intricate moments of Aphex Twin's Druqk's. Disciplined and perfectly played yet not sterile. The second disc is a DVD of beautiful films by Jenise Treuting of Japanese street scenes set to the music of So Percussion. We're definitely happy to finally know what So Percussion are all about.
"White" MPEG Stream:
SO PERCUSSION & MATMOS Treasure State (Cantaloupe) cd 21.00
Like the best of improv musicians, Matmos have proven to be such mindful and masterful collaborators over the years. Teaming up with everyone from The Kronos Quarter to J Lesser, David Pajo to Marshal Allen of the Sun Ra Arkestra, Wobbly to Rachel's, Terry Riley to Bjork, the list goes on and on! What's always exciting about these collaborations is that Matmos really do shed their skin and mutate into something totally different as they play off the blueprints of the folks they are collaborating with, and help bring that sound to entirely new places, stretching the bounds of outer sound possibilities. This time they're working with So Percussion, the percussive based collective whose sound exists somewhere between Steve Reich and Tortoise, but with Matmos thrown into the mix the sound becomes much more stretched out with unexpected twists, turns and nuanced vibrations. From a Penguin Cafe Orchestra vibe to postmodern gamelan rhythms, this is a record that really encapsulates what it means to be sound artists feeding off of each other. These are all musicians who you can tell are stretching way out, using their imaginations and having fun while they create something together that they wouldn't have come up with on their own. Highly recommended!
"Shard" MPEG Stream:
"Water" MPEG Stream:
SOCCER COMMITTEE & MACHINEFABRIEK Drawn (Foxy Digitalis) cd 13.98
"High Pitched Drone I" MPEG Stream:
"Very Well Drawn" MPEG Stream:
"For I Have None"
SOCIAL JUNK Born Into It (Digitalis) cd 13.98
Don't know too much about these guys (this guy?) other than the fact that they create the sort of hazy mechanical looped soundscape we can't seem to get enough of. Imagine the music of Philip Jeck, Wolf Eyes, Tim Hecker, Starving Weirdos and This Heat but all stripped down and reassembled into some abstract collage of post industrial loops, gritty lo-fi dronemusic and abstract motorik krautrock abstraction. Hard to say what exactly these guys are using as sound sources, there is some sort of metallic percussion, super processed vocals, tons of FX, layer upon layer of fuzzy grit, grimy blurs and deeprumbles, there's a drumkit in there too, lurking below the woozy fug above, but occasionally exploding in a little burst of sizzling cymbals. There's a definite grim gothic vibe too, when the noise occasionally peels back, it reveals a moody meandering sort of doom drift, cold wave, gloom pop, all tribal and haunting and hypnotic. With warm warbly organ, weird swirling production, before the record explodes again in a sprawl of clank and clatter and crunch. The record shifts and transforms constantly, but often finds a gorgeous washed out hypnotic sound and settles in, sticking with it for long stretches, lulling the listener into an altered state, and then yanking them out and hurling them into an avalanche of crumbling distortion and fractured truncated beats, streaks of feedback and heaving swells of muted distortion. Even at its noisiest, Born Into It manages to be weirdly pretty and super mesmerizing, but more often than not, the noise is tamped down by thick swaths of thick whirring dreamdronedrift, and wrapped around abstract skeletal rhythms. Super cool stuff.
"It Just Isn't The Same" MPEG Stream:
"Those Final Seconds" MPEG Stream:
SOCIAL JUNK Somebody Should've Told You (Two Thousand Tapes) cassette 5.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY.
SOFTWAR s/t (Digitalis) cd 12.98
Full disclosure: the members of this new, Jewelled Antler-related outfit making their debut release on the Digitalis label are not only all friends of ours, but one of 'em, namely Christine Boepple, worked here at AQ for a spell (she was the charming lass dealing with all your mailorder requests). And until recently, another of the Softwar bunch, Kerry McLaughlin, was also working here side-by-side with Christine. So, OF COURSE this is great! And if all you regular mailorder customers don't order one, well, don't say we didn't warn you about what happens when you get on Christine's bad side... But seriously, this IS good, a relaxing fantasy camping trip into the wilds of Northern California (and into the basement musical lairs where these folks dwell when they're at home). It is, as you might expect, improvised, abstract psych-folk. Drifting and densely detailed. Jewelled Antler's Franciscan Hobbies (among other JA acts) would be a close parallel, as would Finnish contemporaries Kemialliset Ystavat. Softwar's mysterious droning moods are sweetened by distorted melodies and haunting, gentle female singing. The sounds and structures are inherently unstable, with queasy keyboards and overloaded electronics sending the listener softly to the floor (or up to the clouds), where one can safely bask in the queer beauty of Softwar's fragmented songforms, which range from whispery lullabies adorned with clinking and tinkling atop their shimmering drones, to much more beard-stiffening, rhythmic jamming, with suggestions of a primitive communal hippy vibe recalling krautrockers Siloah ferinstance. Like the artwork that accompanies it -- vintage photos of happy, groovy people playing "non-competitive group games" in the Whole Earth Catalogue era of the 1970s -- the music is playful and nicely captures the spirit of icebreaking games that were designed sincerely with the ideal of changing society. We mentioned Kerry and Christine, who have played in a zillion bands from this scene; Kerry in Franciscan Hobbies, Buried Civilizations, and Skygreen Leopards among others, Christine in Skygreen Leopards, Ov, Kyrgyz, Franciscan Hobbies, Whysp, etc. But Softwar's also got two guys to go with those two girls: Geoff Koops (Franciscan Hobbies, The Shitty Listener) and long-time AQ fave Loren Chasse, whom we're sure you already know quite well from all of his myriad projects. Let's list a few together shall we? Thuja, id battery, Of, Ov, Coelacanth, Blithe Sons, Franciscan Hobbies, Child Readers, L/R, Kyrgyz, etc. etc. etc. As wonderful as so many of those other projects have been, we're truly convinced that these four teaming up to wage Softwar is a very special thing.
"Psychic Shake" MPEG Stream:
"Hagoo (The Victory Over Moods)" MPEG Stream:
"The Softwar" MPEG Stream:
SOG For the Love of God (Kompakt) 12" 28.00
SOGAR Apikal Blend (12K) cd 14.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY.
SOIL SING THROUGH ME (Manhand) cd-r 8.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. FEATHERS and SUNBURNED HAND OF THE MAN! Not much else to say. Especially since we only managed to get about a dozen of these, and as with all SHOTM related releases, it's very likely we will never see these again. So if you do want one, be quick on the buzzer or be prepared to be disappointed. Soil Sing Through Me is a wild whirring improvised abstract free for all collaboration between folks from both of these two underground outfits. The sound seems to fall much closer to the Sunburned end of the spectrum, with huge freeform dirges, wild Dead C like drumming, layers of whirring distortion and amp buzz and gritty reverb. Sonically, this definitely sounds like some lost release from NZ, some unreleased Xpressway cassette, Dead C, Trash, Gate, This Kind Of Punishment, A Handful Of Dust, a whirling suffocating skree, a dense drone dripping freerock space jam, psychedelic and totally mind melting. AWESOME! Packaged in a super trippy, massive psychedelic fold out poster. And again, only about a dozen of these, so odds are these will be gone before you can blink...
"Four Hands Carveed The Figure With Four Breasts" MPEG Stream:
SOIL SING THROUGH ME MEETS KOHOUTEK New Milk (Wabana) cd-r 13.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. Second release we've been able to get our hands on from Soil Sing Through Me, a sort of underground freak folk supergroup featuring members of Feathers and Sunburned Hand Of The Man, who for this disc have teamed up with DC outfit Kohoutek for an evening of communal music making, the results should be no surprise, a druggy blown out meandering laid back psychedelic folk free for all. Blasted, stoned, groovy and fucked up. You can definitely hear more SHOTM than Feathers, or maybe it's Kohoutek who we had never heard anyway, but this is not so much folky as sort of spaced out and trippy. Simple propulsive tribal rhythm jams and simple stripped down rock beats are the framework for these inner space excursions, wah guitar and slivers of silvery feedback drift to and fro, melodies are spread out over the proceedings like a tattered old blanket, there seem to be vocals too, but they are minimal and are usually buried under a ton of FX and psychedelic shimmer, keyboards buzz and huge spacious expanses offer the players plenty of space to stir up subtle bits of percussive clatter, glistening flurries of blurry buzz, strange spidery little melodies all tangled up amidst the stumbling drums and rumbling bass. This definitely has a Dead C vibe, but then what improvised noise rock psych jam doesn't? No good ones, that's for sure. The usual suspects will eat this up. Sunburned Hand obsessives for sure need this, as do all you free folk noise rock cd-r freaks... LIMITED TO 200 COPIES, most likely already out of print. Packaged in the instantly recognizable skull and crossbones Wabana purple painted digipak.
"III" MPEG Stream: