VIBRACATHEDRAL ORCHESTRA The Sun Balance (Qbico) lp 26.00
VIBRACATHEDRAL ORCHESTRA Tuning To The Rooster (Important) cd 14.98
Vibracathedral Orchestra are one of those rare groups with a completely singular sound and a seemingly endless reserve of psych rock free drone inspiration with which to explore it. For us, they are one of the only bands who we could literally listen to forever, an everlasting endless jam, unfurling over the course of the next 50 years, each riff unfolding every month or so, each drum hit an entire day, melodies stretching for weeks and weeks. Our eyes close and we drift off to the next world while the music plays on... That's exactly how it feels listening to Tuning To The Rooster. The songs are long, and they do feel gloriously and deliriously long, but they're never quite long enough. Not for us anyway. VCO have been masters of the drone, of the slowly shifting soundscape since their inception, but much like Skullflower discovering their inner Hawkwind on recent records, VCO seem to also have rediscovered the RIFF this time around. The opening track is like an Allman Brothers track gone totally apeshit. Or maybe Skullflower jamming with the Outlaws. Or something! There's a jangly sort of Southern rock riff, over chaotic propulsive drumming, a serious jam for sure, but the whole thing is wrapped in a thick cloak of droning shimmering distorted guitar noise, a continual psychedelic freakout SO continual that it becomes a static psych rock drone, with the original riff eventually repeating mantra like until it meshes with the background drone and it all becomes a brain melting divine psychedelic jam of the highest order. Woah, everyone who freaked out over Skullflower's Exquisite Fucking Boredom needs to check this out! The second track is back to that classic VCO sound we can never get enough of. A primal primitive space jam, all drones and rumbles and whirs and shimmers, a glorious pagan ritual that makes us want to lay naked in the middle of the forest and sink into the wet leaves as our eyes sparkle with reflections of shooting stars. Drifting and dreaming... The last two tracks again focus on the riff, hypnotic and repetitive, like Steve Reich composing for Hawkwind. A glorious minimal psychedelic jam, wreathed in a haze of swirling feedback and wild melodies, minor key pianos, and all manner of swoosh and swoop. So utterly and fantastically divine!
"Baptism > Bar > Blues" MPEG Stream:
"Wearing Clothes Of Ash"
VIBRACATHEDRAL ORCHESTRA Versatile Arab Chord Chart (VHF) cd 14.98
The second album from this UK quintet is quite simply jubilant, an adjective not often used to define the circle of esoteric free-noise makers that spawned the Vibracathedal Orchestra, as well as Skullflower, Ramleh, and Ashtray Navigations. Vibracathedral Orchestra embark on the time honored journey of achieving the eternal drone supreme, hobbled together from fuzzed out guitar wash, acoustic guitar strum, long duration violin bowing, church organs and thankfully sporadic skree horns. "Versatile Arab Chord Chart" is well balanced between continual haziness and a variety of textural plucks and scratches, and ends up sounding quite reminiscient of Amon Duul's "Psychedelic Underground," No Neck Blues Band's improvisational hippiness, and Skullflower's lithium laced contemporary 'dream music' as initially envisioned by Cale, Young, etc. (these historical roots are available in a recording found elsewhere on this list).
VIBRACATHEDRAL ORCHESTRA Wisdom Thunderbolt (VHF) cd 13.98
First proper full length in a while from these ur-drone space explorers, which is long overdue, considering the protracted near silence of VCO, and Matthew Bower all but abandoning his Sunroof! in favor of the noisier Hototogisu. Whatever you call that sort of music that Sunroof!/VCO traffic in, very few other outfits have managed to channel the same sort of ferocious guitar freakout and blissy ambient swirl into the magical metallic drift that those two groups did. So here we have Wisdom Thunderbolt, featuring the VCO usual suspects (Neil Campbell, Mick Flower, Bridget Hayden, Adam Davenport) with a whole mess of special guests, underground drumlord Chris Corsano, the aforementioned Matthew Bower (Skullflower, Sunroof!, Hototogisu, etc.), Pete Nolan of the Magik Markers and John Godbert (Skullflower, Total) and the sound is exactly as we remember it. Thick and dense, swirling and blissed out, druggy and blurry, smeared and shimmering. There is percussion, it mostly tinkles and skitters, but occasionally pounds and swings, organs and synths are woven into weird little buzzing soundscapes, horns wail and skronk, guitars growl and jangle... While the opening track is a ramshackle stumble, all over the place, but in a very good way, the second track is where the band locks into that perfect groove they've always been capable of. A blown out stretch of raga like buzz, tribal drums underpinning a simple riff, a spacey sea sick shimmer, all wrapped up in layers of guitar buzz and hissy synth, rich and thick and totally mesmerizing. The rest of the record is more of the same, longform buzz drenched krautrocky drone jams, with some notable exceptions. The 12+ minute "Rainbow Whirlwind, which sounds like some lost Spacemen 3 jam, the guitars pulsing and throbbing, tones beating against other tones, the synths and guitars creating constantly shifting rhythms, interrupted in the middle by a blown out free noise fest, before slipping back into spaced out pulse and dreamy drift. And, the uncharacteristically 'rock'-y intro to "Sway-Sage" that sounds like the Guess Who's "American Woman", before quickly slipping back into some super distorted space jam, with a glitchy buzz laid over a relentless rhythm, and with thick ropy swirls of guitar and synth buzz burying everything in that distinctly VCO warm washed out sonic blur.
"Wisdom Thunderbolt" MPEG Stream:
"A Natural Fact"
VICTIM'S SHUDDER, THE Terror Romance (Paradigms) cd 12.98
While many assumed that Paradigms was an exclusively heavy music label, seeing as many of its early releases were metal, and that it was born out of the death of the truly kick ass Rage Of Achilles label, in fact, from the very beginning, Paradigms has been releasing drone records and free folk records, weird prog records, along side the heavier metal and black metal and noise records, discs by bands like Gnaw Their Tongues, The Angelic Process, Throne Of Katarsis, Titan, Utlagr were balanced by discs from Plants, Tropes, Amber Asylum, Somnam, Snowdrift, this latest from California's The Victim's Shudder definitely fits more with the latter group. Long dreamlike expanses of synthesized shimmer, drifting female vocals. The obvious reference is Cocteau Twins, maybe Dead Can Dance, TVS would have been right at home on 4AD, or at their most bleak and drone-y on Cold Meat Industry. TVS is essentially a one man band, who weaves massive reverby drifts of soft sound, shimmery and dreamlike, ethereal and New Agey at times, flurries of delicate piano drift over synthesized strings, cooing vocals hover in wide open expanses of sun dappled ambience, everything is gauzy and soft around the edges, bleary eyed and blurred. A few tracks up the ante heaviness-wise, like "For Francesca" with its buzzing synths (or could they be real guitars?), growling demonic vox, lots of distortion and crumbling rumbles, grit and interference, all draped over a soaring chunk of stately neo-classical, or the cinematic drift of "A Godless Serene", replete with the sound of water and wind, field recordings layered beneath quivering strings and mournful melodies. The disc closes with the 13 minute "One Last Fatal Suite", beginning as another delicate crystalline blur, vocals indistinct and wordless, piano, simple and pointillist, eventually joined by strange electronic specters, high end streaks, grinding bits of crunch, static, hiss, building to a haunting caterwaul before drifting away completely. Beautiful and haunting, definitely for the 4AD inclined, and fans of neo-classical dark ambience. Maybe not heavy enough for some of the Paradigms faithful, but quite pretty nonetheless. LIMITED TO 500 COPIES. Packaged in a white dvd style case, with a full color cover and printed black and white insert.
"Silent When You Scream" MPEG Stream:
"Enchanting Spiral Gears"
VIDA, BEN Esstends-Esstends-Esstends (Pan) lp 28.00
VIDA, BEN Music For A Soft Epic (Root Strata) cassette 6.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. Not super familiar with Ben Vida, but this super limited cassette for Root Strata has definitely whetted our appetite for more. On two long form synthscapes, originally a soundtrack to a video projection / art installation, Vida takes the whole synthdrone sound, that frankly is getting a little played out, and twists it all up, most noticeably, constantly shifting the speed/pitch, creating unlikely melodies by speeding up the sound, then slowing it down, making those buzzing synths gorgeously woozy and warped and warbly. Not to mention that the whole thing is wreathed in field recordings of chirping crickets, bird song, and the subtle white noise of crashing surf, or burbling brooks, as well as adding extra panpipe like melodies, and some swirling sci-fi spacey fx, but subtly, the various elements, even the field recordings, shifting dramatically in volume, in the foreground one second, barely audible the next, the label describes it as some kind of sonic safari, and it really does sound like it, maybe like some synth/flute performance, taking place in some remote forest glade, the entire thing recorded onto a 4 track with dying batteries, the results, a dreamily druggy, atmospheric ambience, a warped ritualistic Jewelled Antler styled new age, and a seriously divine soft epic. LIMITED TO 100 COPIES.
"Soft Epic, or: Savages of the Pacific West"
VIDA, BEN / KEITH FULLERTON WHITMAN split (Amish / Required Wreckers) lp 19.98
This is the third, in a series of lp collaborations gathered under the heading Required Wreckers (the second being the recently reviewed Ensemble Economiques record Standing Still, Facing Forward), a collaboration between Ben Vida, whose recent Root Strata tape was big hit around here, and longtime aQ fave/pal, Keith Fullerton Whitman, formerly known as Hrvatski. Two side long tracks, one new work from each artist, both experimenting with digital / analog hybrid compositions, Vida starts things off with a flurry of squelchy electronics, a tangle of fragmented melodies, and buzzing tones, the sound flits all over the place from warm whirring shimmer, to glitchy electro crunch, from whirling stereo panned pulses, to fractured sci-fi spacesynth warble, from blooping bleeping lab conjured electronic minimalism, from layered sinewave soundscapes, to playful Radiophonic Workshop style electronic primitivism. Whitman counters with his own high concept piece, one using live recordings, multiple speakers and inputs, room noise and crowd sound, all woven into a constantly twisting and transforming soundscape, that pairs dolphin call like electronic clicks with skittery lo-fi glitchery, ping pong like percussion with super distorted stuttery electro-chaos, almost jubilant sounding high end music box like melodies that seem to fade into more percussive skitter, with hazy, and buzzy garbled almost shortwave sounding transmissions, with thick swaths of keening tones that buzz and undulate while beneath other sounds pulse and percolate. Heady, trippy, strange stuff for sure. Both sides in fact, a bit more academic / avant compared to much of the electronic/synth music we hear, but definitely gorgeous stuff, and essential listening for fans of abstract electronic experimentation. Gorgeously packaged in nice thick sleeves, with a letterpressed mini obi attached with colored elastic string, includes a 16 page art booklet insert as well.
BEN VIDA "Aggregatepulseripper (Damaged IIII)" MPEG Stream:
KEITH FULLERTON WHITMAN "080114"
VIDEO NASTIES Amore E Rabbia (A Giant Fern) cassette 11.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. This is the first we've heard from the awesomely monikered Video Nasties, aka Montreal video artist Rob Feulner, whose sound is a mix of lo-fi psychedelic dub and noise drenched no-fi new wave synth damage. The opening starts out straight up dub, all upstroke guitar and swirling atmospheric shimmer, but soon, a buzzing warbling synth enters the mix, and the sound grows more woozy and washed out, druggy and darkly dreamy, the various effects cranked to 11, that dubbed out beginning soon submerged beneath a wild squall of echo and reverb and wild squiggles and blasts of high end skree, before gradually transforming into a more sort of spaced out droney drift, all scrabbling melodies and blurred chordal drift, before transforming again, into a heady bit of kosmische almost Reich-like carnivalesque home brewed synth wave minimalism. The flipside explodes right out of the gate with a blast of ear piercing feedback, which gives way to some feedback drenched super distorted chords, sounding like an old Casio run through a million distortion pedals, a lilting synth-noise lullaby, driven by a weird industrial rhythm consisting of just short sharp blasts of white noise, the rest of the side shifting from strange distorted bloops and bleeps, to smeared layered textures, and finally another long stretch of pulsing cosmic synthscapery, that sounds like a lo-fi little brother to folks like Zombi or Majeure. LIMITED TO JUST 25 COPIES!!! Each one housed in a gorgeous screen printed wooden box, along with a full color insert and a pin.
"Side One (exceprt 1)" MPEG Stream:
"Side One (exceprt 2)"
VILLA VALLEY / TREETOPS split (Arbor) cassette 5.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY.
VILLAGES / DIVINE CIRCLE split (Hooker Vision) cassette 8.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. A very nice split release from Hooker Vision, who are introducing us to these two outfits from Asheville, North Carolina. Villages (aka Ross Gentry) actually had a release on Hooker Vision a couple years back and has a more recent LP on Bathetic. We can report that the 25 minute offering from Villages on this tape is pretty killer stuff. After a desolate piano interlude, the tape swells with a fuzzy, shimmering treated guitar drone akin to those wondrous blurred noises from Tim Hecker and Christian Fennesz, gradually giving way to a somber interlude for plucked banjo and maudlin Appalachian fiddles. These moments locate the production as harkening from the south even with all of those digital pixel smears and melodic abstractions. Divine Circles, we know even less about, but the opening melodies plucked on a violin are joined by complementary slow guitar riffs that do recall some of the more introspective moments of Godspeed You Black Emperor or even some of Aidan Baker's hypnotic dronework, before either party were to rip into a full-frontal, pathos laden crescendo. Here, Divine Circles keeps their sounds intimate and calm, slowly building the track in the round, with the violinist taking up the bow later on with gorgeous swells of arboreal melodies along with those slow dirgy guitars and some haunted female vocalizations. Definitely looking forward to more from both of these outfits. 50 minute in total for this cassette; and again with all those Hooker Vision tapes, this one is super limited to 100 copies.
VILLAGES "Apparitions" MPEG Stream:
DIVINE CIRCLE "26 Minutes"
VINDVA MEI On Fire (Fire Inc. ) cd 15.98
What could be better than guy sporting serious razorburn for a cover photo? Not much else. Vindva Mei's debut has warranted not only such a great cover but a release on Stilluppsteypa's label Fire Inc. This Icelandic duo's sound is not too far from the skeletal bleeps of the Raster and 12K labels but is even weird enough to be on Phthalo if given the chance. The IDM rhythms of Warp and Skam have been distilled to the simplest of gossamer melodies and terse electronic rhythms. Slow motion time-streched drones, backwards shortwave radio voices, and odd distorted flanges emerge from the post-techno proceedings.
VINTERRIKET Winterschatten (Flood The Earth) cd 10.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. Yet another warehouse find, dug up just a few of these, pretty sure these will be the last copies we can getÉ We had never paid much attention to Swiss (via Germany, or is it German via Switzerland) one man ambient black metal outfit Vinterriket. Partially because he had SO many releases, we count close to SIXTY since 2000, and the ones we did hear, were more sort of swooshy ambience, and did little to distinguish them from the throngs of black ambient groups out there. Somehow we ended up with a handful of these, and we finally gave it a listen and it's actually pretty great. There's still plenty of ambience, but it's woven into long stretches of wintery black buzz (Vinterriket is after all Swedish and Norwegian for 'the winter realm'), and heck he did share a split with aQ beloved Paysage D'Hiver!! Fans of washed out black ambience, or maybe more accurately ambient black metal will dig this for sure. It's been growing on us too, making us think we should maybe check out some of those 59 other releases. Cuz really, who doesn't love blustery, wintery black metal buzz, although here the buzz is almost entirely overtaken by the synths, which definitely makes for a strange listen, sounding more symphonic really than anything, but when the synths are dialed back, you can finally hear the guitar although it's like a low level hum, the vocals are buried in the mix as well, almost like someone playing along to some black metal turned way down on their boombox, while blasting their synths through a cranked amp. The sound does get buzzy and black in places, but it does seem like overall Vinterriket is more about the ambience than the black buzz, and while the first few tracks do offer plenty of buzz and blast with the swoosh and swirl, the last half of the record is all ambient, even a Burzum cover, all rendered in shimmery synths, and wintery blackened ambience. Good stuff though for sure. And recommended for fans of synth heavy blackness, blackened ambiences, and black wintery grimness...
"Schneesturm / Einbruch Der Weissen Dunkelheit" MPEG Stream:
VIOLET Violet Ray Gas And The Playback Singers (Sentient Recognition Archive / Zeromoon) cd 10.98
When we were first told about this Violet record, it was described to us as a noise record, and we just sort of assumed Violet was the woman making the noise, when in fact, Violet Ray Gas And The Playback Singers is way more of an experimental drone record, and Violet is the name of the group, which in fact is the work of one fella, Jeff Surak, but none of that really matters, what does, is that this record is amazing. Dark and mysterious, mixing in bits of Jeck and Tim Hecker, Wolf Eyes, blending them into Violet's ominous world of sound. There's feedback all over the place, but it's far from harsh or jagged, instead it's used like color, to paint greyed out landscapes burnished reds, and melted oranges, thick tones, reverberating chimes, bits of buzz and crunch, disembodied voices, intercepted broadcasts, clouds of hiss, chugging machinery, industrial sonic detritus, warped strings, woozy synths, all wound up into dense walls of sound one second, blurred into delicate crystalline lattices the next. "Plague Numbers" is total Jeck, a skipping scratched record smeared into a gauzy washed out living portrait of sound, indistinct figures, flitting shadows, mysterious shapes, all moving as if through a thick field of static, not even four minutes, but we found ourselves wishing it would never end. Elsewhere the sound of lapping water is swallowed up by a crackling crumbling fog of burnt melodies, and slowed down riffs, a sort of sun dappled lysergic sonic swirl. The title track is a tuning up orchestra stretched out into a softly chaotic symphony of angular tones and fractured melodies, of sine waves and groaning creaking low end rumbles, augmented by curious crackles and strands of distortion arranged in patterns resembling speech, but rendered in impressionistic shards, finishing off with a gorgeous high end ur-drone, a softer Sunroof!, a field of static bagpipes, their overtones creating otherworldly patterns in the ether. Gorgeous.
"All Records Collapse" MPEG Stream:
"Plague Numbers" MPEG Stream:
"Violet Ray Gas"
VITIELLO, STEPHEN Bright and Dusty Things (New Albion) cd 13.98
While Vitiello's intention is pretty cool, his execution has been limited by his insistance that sound art must sound like it came from Mills College, with all sorts of random for the sake of being random MAX / MSP algorithims processing the sounds, a clunky sense of rhythm, and an earnest, but ill-conceived new age penchant for cosmic swooshing. Pauline Oliveros appears with her accordion, but ends up sounding equally randomized.
"18 (Watery Variation)" RealAudio clip:
"Odyssey Guitar Solo (Without The Guitar)"
VITIELLO, STEPHEN Listening To Donald Judd (Sub Rosa) cd 14.98
VITRIOL Randonee 0.06 (SIRR.ecords) cd 14.98
Not the same Vitriol as the solo project from Godflesh's Ben Green as listed on AQL #110, although both outfits operate in the isolationist / drone end of the musical spectrum. This Vitriol is the Portuguese duo of Paulo Raposo and Carlos Santos, who attempt to find an intimate space for electronics within the human condition through the use of immersive ambience. The crackle of digital glitches pop throughout extended glistening drones stretched out of organic scrapes, ending up sounding mysterious and sublime. At times this sounds like a less digitized Fennesz.
VITRIOL s/t (Neurot) cd 14.98
In 1995, Ben Green took a sabbatical from civilization by stepping away from Godflesh's metallic pummel to return to a site of childhood wonder in the tiny cottage of Lanfawr Cwmstwyth in the Cambrian Mountains. During his twelve month stay, Green learned to coexist with his natural surroundings and transcribed his experiences through a basic 8 track, a guitar, and some microphones. In contrast to this warm and fuzzy story of spiritual awakening, Green's resulting musical output is quite ominous. The monstrously deep ambience of multi-tracked guitar grit and down pitched gravel throated vocals set a very dark stage for pagan rituals celebrating nature's mysteries in which the sea, the sun, and the moon hold an undeniable influence upon Green's body and soul. Vitriol parallels the isolationist sounds that fellow Godflesh axeman Justin Broadrick incorporated on his Final albums, yet Green's spiritual impetus makes his first record as Vitriol all the more charming.
"Track 3" RealAudio clip:
VLOR A Fire Is Meant For Burning (Silber) cd 5.00
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. **SALE **SALE* *SALE** **LAST COPIES** Vlor? The name sounds like this should be some sort of obscure black metal band. Or maybe an alien race from a sci-fi TV show. But Vlor is actually a band, or project really, devoted to making lovely layered shoegazing guitar sonics in a minimal, post-rock style, a bit like Windsor For The Derby, or maybe old aQ faves Codeine (like an intro to one of their songs though, before it really kicks in with drums n' all). One guy, Brian J. Mitchell, seems to be the instigator here, playing on all the tracks, joined by various other friendly collaborating guitarists over the course of the album, including members of Remora, Aarktica, Lycia, Rivulets, and Jessica Bailiff (who also contributes some breathy vocals to the very short "Suncatcher", an anomaly on this otherwise instrumental album). Many of the tracks are trembling, mellow and quite pleasant, with some (like "Wires") getting a bit more menacing, with th' distortion factor upped... A good blend of the repetitive, experimental and the almost indie-pop, in the realm of guitar explorations. Quite Nice!
"Wires" MPEG Stream:
VOADKA SOAP Un Chand Pyramdelier (self-released) cd-r 9.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. Final pressing of this super limited tour cd-r from Spencer of the Skaters. We only managed to get a handful of these, so act fast, they'll be gone if you blink. Those of you familiar with the Skaters, already know they are masters of the free floating murk, clattery chaos harnessed into dense smears of sound. Spencer by himself doesn't stray that far from the Skaters' sound. Maybe adding more texture and melody to his murky muddy soundscapes. Bells are chopped into stuttery whistles, melodies are picked apart and flung into dizzying swirls, voices and electronics float in a thick miasma of whirring distortion and glistening shimmer. Then it sounds like the whole thing was dunked in mud and rolled in dirt and leaves and then left in the sun to sort of ferment, giving off all sorts of druggy, vision inducing fumes. The tracks are clipped and chopped and strangely edited only adding to the druggy bliss. SUPER LIMITED!!!!
"Two" MPEG Stream:
"Four" MPEG Stream:
VODKA SOAP Interpretation "The Initiation" (Pacific City Sound Visions) cd-r 8.98
VOICE CRACK Infra-Red (Uhlang Production) cd 16.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. Swiss noise/drone improvisers Norbert Moslang and Andy Guhl, specialists in the invention and use of what they call "cracked everday electronics" have collaborated previously with Borbetomagus, Gunter Muller and Jim O'Rourke. This, though, is one of their solo outings. It links their earlier aesthetic of intense, rough, loud noise (best heard on their "Fish That Sparkling Bubble" collab w/ Borbetomagus) to a new, more subtle & refined sound that results in rich textures and magnified dynamics.
VOICE CRACK_MULLER Buda_Rom (For4Ears) cd 14.98
Voice Crack -- veteran Swiss improvisors Andy Guhl and Norbert Moslang -- team up (again) with fellow vet Gunter Muller, for these seven tracks of staticky drone and murky clank. Guhl and Moslang, of course, make use of their famous "cracked everyday electronics" (which must be pretty darn cracked by now, after all these years): radios, household appliances, and other "non-instruments" perversely put to noise-making use. Mueller, we're happy to report, continues to play only "selected percussion" as well as mini-discs and unidentified electronics. These tracks were recorded live in Budapest and Rome (hence the title), some of them later remixed by Mueller and Moslang. It's like listening in to some energized, humming, buzzing electronic eco-system, teeming with quiet but active life. Nice.
VOICE OF EYE Anthology Two 1992-1996 (Transgredient) 2cd 24.00
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. Volume two in the retrospective collection of unreleased rarities from this legendary, and under appreciated US ambient / ritualistic / ethno / drone combo, we never actually saw the first volume, but you needn't have heard that one to enjoy this, a sprawling collection of lush, dense, hazy, ambient abstractions, and rhythmic experiments, a fusion of Muslimgauze, Crash Worship and Maeror Tri, a strange and varied selection of noise making devices employed within a distinctive production style, allowed VoE to create gorgeous, dark rhtyhmscapes, that definitely bucked the conventions of ambient music. This was something altogether more intense, menacing, and powerful. We hear shades of Savage Republic, as well as more modern groups like No Neck Blues Band, Avarus and Sunburned Hand Of The Man. These tracks are epic and expansive, yet dark and mysterious, culled from all sorts of sources, singles, live shows, demos, compilations, splits, even a 45 minute dress rehearsal for a show that ended up being scrapped, the rehearsal much more raw and immediate anyway. One track was recorded live on the California coast in the Redwoods Jewelled Antler style, employing such odd instrumentation as bicycle, wind, sticks, musical saw and a '77 Chevy van, although the results are much more dense then you might expect, a thick, heaving, mournful dronescape, all buzz and whir, wrapped in aching slow motion melodies. From spare psychedelic flute flecked folk, to churning blackened dronescapes, from chopped up analog tape experiments to swirling, hypnotic tribal rhythmic workouts, from clattery electronic flecked rituals, to washed out almost new agey drift, an incredible collection of dark droning mystery, that we'd imagine will no doubt appeal to aQ-ers. especially fans of minimal drone music and haunting, rhythmic ritualism. Housed in a cool two sided double digipak.
"Ascension Of Joelene" MPEG Stream:
"Flotsam In Solar Wind" MPEG Stream:
"Belladonna" MPEG Stream:
VOICE OF EYE Substantia Innominata (Drone) 10" 13.98
Voice Of Eye is a dark ambient duo which began in Texas some twenty years ago, focusing on ritualist drones and hypnotic ambience using voice, various traditional instruments (guitars, trombone, flutes, Tibetan bowls, etc.), and hand-built inventions, with all of these sounds cast through the heavy fog of reverb and delay. Back in the early '90s, the duo had produced a handful of records which promised great things for Voice Of Eye, as a deep mystery permeated their echoing pools of sound. And then they just stopped. Only recently has Voice Of Eye begun recording again, and it makes perfect sense that Drone Records would once again be their label of choice. While Drone did release an early single of Voice Of Eye back in 1995, Voice Of Eye's recordings were some of the obvious parallels to what Maeror Tri had been doing at the same time. And even now, Voice Of Eye continues down the same dark path of reverberant, melancholy sounds whose comparisons can be found in Troum (whose members were once in Maeror Tri). Angelic female voices and spectral guitars wash together in an ethereal chorus that sounds like Cocteau Twins played 16 RPM with Robin Guthrie playing more the part of Aidan Baker in terms of crafting those darkened clouds flecked with radiant beams of sunlight around the enveloping greys and blacks. One of the better titles to emerge from Drone's 10" series!
VOICE OF THE SEVEN WOODS Black Morning (Sloow Tapes) cassette 9.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. The whole field of neo folkies and folk foresters and modern Appalachians is getting more and more crowded every day. For every Rose and Blackshaw there are about a hundred other wandering troubadours with acoustic guitars, whipping up their own take on modern psychedelic Appalachian folk. And as much as we love that sound, and we do, it takes something super special to prick up our ears and get us all excited again. A few months back, a customer passed on a cd-r by some band called Voice Of The Seven Woods, aka guitarist Rick Tomlinson, and we were floored. Echoes of the usual suspects sure, Rose, Blackshaw, Bishop, but there we something distinctly unique about Tomlinson's approach. The songs long and raga like, with as much space as there are notes, the melodies, dark and twisted, but warm and effulgent, usually nested on a warm bed of hum and whir. And this latest cassette only release is no different. A backdrop of muted whirs and slow swirling ambient rumble, layered and rich, almost pretty and trancelike enough to listen to on its own, but over the top are draped long loops of guitar, electric, steel string, melodies and melodic fragments, gorgeous melodies, dark and drone-y, lyrical and druggy, super emotional and intense, not really even melancholy so much as mysterious and thoughtful, the various strands of notes and chords suspended in a landscape of low end shimmer. The guitars eventually drift off, replaced by simple hand drums, beating out a primitive tattoo, a mesmerizing primal rhythm, as hypnotic and simple as the drones beneath, until the guitars come back in again, and it becomes some gorgeous Comus-y summer folk jam, melodic strum and that strange off kilter beat beneath. So great. We've been trying like crazy to get more releases from VOTSW but they're all so limited that this is the first one we've gotten enough to list, and these will be gone crazy quick too so you know what that means... LIMITED TO 100 COPIES. Already SOLD OUT and OUT OF PRINT at the label. The tapes are all psychedelic and hand painted, with tripped out full color covers.
VOICE OF THE SEVEN WOODS s/t (Twisted Nerve) cd 15.98
Finally! A full length proper cd release from this UK troubadour. After going on a bit in our review of VOTSW's most recent cassette release (the only release we'd ever been able to get in sufficient number to list) we were pretty thrilled to have this cd show up last week, and we've been playing it non-stop ever since. There were a couple surprises in store for us though... The first being that it was released on Finders Keepers / B-Music, a label more well known for its strange reissues of lost classics, and who in the past have brought us records from Selda, Mustafa Ozkent, Susan Christie as well as all time AQ faves like Valerie And Her Week Of Wonders, the Welsh Rare Beat comp and of course Jean Claude Vannnier's L'Enfant Assassin Des Mouches... It all makes a bit more sense when you realize VOTSW, aka Rick Tomlinson, had in the past recorded for Twisted Nerve in the UK, which happens to be part of the same family of labels. The other big surprise, is that where as past VOTSW releases have been mostly guitar, dark Appalachia, drawn out drone-y ragas, steel string guitar plucked and strummed, buzzing gorgeously over distant drones, falling sonically between Jack Rose and James Blackshaw, this disc is all over the map, expansive and epic. VOTSW is now expanded to a three piece, incorporating electric bass, violin, piano, drums, along with the usual guitar, sitar, oud, and it sounds like it. This is lush and produced, a gorgeous rich tapestry of sound. The root is still that buzzing guitar, but here it's surrounded by all sorts of different sonic filigree. The first track begins much like past Voice Of The Seven Woods recordings, a steel string guitar, strummed and picked, a buzzing tangle of notes, a dreamy disembodied twang, but a few minutes in, the band joins in, propulsive percussion, a throbbing pulsing second guitar/bass, the whole thing sounding like some strange krautrock folk, perfectly seguing into the next number, an intense buzzing wild gypsy folk jam, brief but so exhilarating. Then there's the funky effected Bollywood psychrock buzz of "The Fire In My Head", totally freaked out and acid drenched, lots of buzz and strange affected melodies, and a definite sixties funk groove. A few songs later, the super blown out, backwards guitar drenched, acid rock psych jam of "Second Transition", then a song or two after that, a super muddy murky hippy jam, all loping distorted drums, distant strum and wailing crumbling blown speaker leads sprawling all over the place, and near the end of the record, the propulsive acoustic kraut rock soundtracky jam of "Return From Byzantium", gorgeously epic, the drums wild and relentless, the guitars buzzing and droning and locked together as if they could go on forever, all of these sonic excursions separated and peppered with long luxurious stretches of gorgeous languid Appalachian buzz and minor key finger picking, delicate folk flutter, and that oh so warm and familiar buzz and twang. Not at all what we were expecting, but all the better for it! Definitely stuff that if it was on some vintage vinyl, would have the B-music DJs drooling. Essential listening for adventurous lovers of classic folk, sixties psych and obviously for all you far out freak folks...
"The Fire In My Head" MPEG Stream:
"Second Transition" MPEG Stream:
VOIGT, WOLFGANG 20' to 2000 : November (Raster-Noton) cd 14.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. Wolfgang Voigt's contribution to the 20' to 2000 series (subtitled "20 minuten gas im november") is a reference in title (as well as sound) to the three albums he recorded as Gas. All three Gas records were unanimous AQ favorites and this newest release retains the autumnally bleak sound of those albums but still manaages to fit thematically into the hyper minimal 20'-2000 series. Complex grey drones slice in and out of a basic technotic architecture. On the first track the drones are hidden within a thick haze of backwards digital swooping, and on the second track they are framed by the minimalist throb of a drum kick. Even if you've not followed the exemplary 20' to 2000 series, this is an essential piece of electronica.
VOIGT, WOLFGANG Freiland Klaviermusick (Kompakt / Profan) cd 19.98
Probably best known, at least around here, as the man behind pioneering pop ambient project Gas, as well as the head honcho of Kompakt Records, Wolfgang Voigt has been making gorgeous experimental minimal techno of all stripes for years, from muted minimal thump, to ethereal electronic psychedelia, it all bears Voigt's unique sonic stamp, and we've dug pretty much all of it. So were were both intrigued and excited to discover Voigt had recorded a piano record, his take on 20th century classical, taking modern composition and filtering it through his distinctive aesthetic, we definitely didn't know what to expect, but it probably wasn't this. Imagine Conlon Nancarrow's player pianos redefined as modern minimal techno, and you'd be getting close, or maybe a robotic electrified Lubomyr Melnyk melded with simple 4/4 techno, and then stripped down to its very essence, simple looped piano figures are locked into endless motorik grooves, while a simple propulsive pulse drives the track, totally intense and mesmerizing, the piano parts slightly atonal, adding a weird sense of tension, lots of low end, ringing out and reverberating, the melodies strange and haunting, often descending chromatically over and over, very dizzying and disorienting, and just as often transforming into strange little melodic tangles. The last few tracks seem to ditch the beat entirely, instead exploring the piano and the space around it, strange haunting melodies, very very free and abstract, somewhere between modern classical and free jazz, a hypnotic abstract winding down after the rest of the record's more tense and tight rhythmic machinations...
"Alleingang" MPEG Stream:
"Zimmer" MPEG Stream:
"Feld" MPEG Stream:
VOLCANO THE BEAR Classic Erasmus Fusion (Beta-Lactam Ring) 2cd 15.98
Weird jazz. That's what your grandmother or 12 year old cousin might say this sounds like, some kind of weird jazz. Not quite though. True, horns trill, squawk and skronk here. But turntables glitch out as well, and electronics moan, and there's lots more going on besides, as Dada / Surrealist inspired sonic mischief-makers Volcano The Bear from England (featuring Daniel Padden) return with a very impressive, sprawling double cd set. With their kitchen sink instrumental arsenal they engage in some dense improv picture-painting (the kind of pictures with melting clocks in 'em) but also can get under your skin with "real" composed songs with a folky feel...and lots of not-so-folky distortion and weirdness on top (like in disc two's wonderfully droning folk-pop piece "Last Song Of Norway"). Elsewhere with scraping drones and toys and electronic fx, their music becomes a slow squeak on such tracks as "Ong Pate". This moody combination makes this an album of chaotic yet calm, ceremonial-sounding avant-acid folk, something sorta NWW, I mean new, for Volcano The Bear. Very cool and recommended to the (a)typical adventurous AQ customer, especially those who already dig the likes of Vibracathedral Orchestra / Richard Youngs / Devendra Banhart / Sunburned Hand Of The Man and want to follow that sort of sound down the rabbit hole...
"The Merry Potter" MPEG Stream:
"Russian Milk" MPEG Stream:
"Last Song Of Norway"
VOLCANO THE BEAR Egg And Two Books (Vivo) cd 14.98
More shambolic weirdness from this noisemaking, Nurse With Wound approved UK outfit. Recorded at a live show in Leicester, England June 2006, this starts off just as intense as they've ever been, with a wailing ceremonial-sounding piece, like some sort of 20th century classical freakout, or a droning witches' sabbath... then during subsequent tracks, things calm down into more improv-y regions. The drones become more broken, with "jazz" horns in the mix, clattering rhythms, and occasional vocal turns that suggest a twisted, psychedelic cabaret and/or damaged folk balladry. It's a disjointed mix of bedlam and beauty, with twilight soon approaching, the ominous darkness threatened by the first track being kept at bay for only so long...
"My Favorite Tonguues" MPEG Stream:
"Hello Graham" MPEG Stream:
VOLCANO THE BEAR Five Hundred Boy Piano (United Dairies) cd 17.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. Released under the guidance of Nurse With Wound's Steven Stapleton for his United Dairies label, Volcano The Bear has produced an album of such absurdist proportions that very few things (art, film, literature) can warrant comparisons. Volcano The Bear could ostensibly be an English folk band in the vein of the pagan folk of The Wicker Man soundtrack, with deft instrumentation for violin, guitars, piano hand drums, and banjo, but they always manage to throw in something really out of place like a free-jazz burst or a bellowing chorus of drunks. It's sort of like Captain Beefheart and Charles Hayward meeting at a Renaissance Fair, and neither knows if they should trash the place, make fun of everybody, or just join the merriment with a goblet of mead or maybe a couple tabs of acid. Really weird, even by Aquarius' standards.
"Hairy Queen" RealAudio clip:
"Five Hundred Boy Piano"
VOLCANO THE BEAR Massive Furniture Invasion / My Favorite Lungs (alt.vinyl) 8" square lathe cut 26.00
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. Holy shit! Record collector nerds and weird music obsessives might as well prepare to give up their first born or take out another mortgage on the ol' homestead, cuz this series of ultra limited 8" SQUARE lathe cuts is gonna break the bank, but it's so so so worth it. This is the first in a series that looks like it will include a who's who of noise rock / free rock / avant noise / free folk luminaries, including SO many all time AQ faves it makes our heads spin. But let's not get ahead of ourselves. The first batch of these babies just showed up, three titles, each a custom hand cut, Peter King lathe cut, 8", and SQUARE!!! Packaged in gorgeous square and triangular die cut sleeves, super fancy textured paper, with a paste on front cover and a printed insert, each insert hand numbered, each release limited to 150 copies. Phew. For those new to the lathe cut, it's a hand cut record, on polycarbonate not vinyl, they are more fragile than normal vinyl, and after repeated plays the sound quality can degrade a bit, but in our experience, in most cases it just makes them sound cooler. Peter King is THE MAN when it comes to super limited small run lathe cut releases, and pretty much every cool band you can think of has gone to him for some super rare or limited release or another. So anyway, these are clear, they are 8"s across, shaped like a square, in super spiffy hand assembled sleeves, and are insanely limited, and thus, pretty dang expensive! This is the first in the series and features UK dadaist pop group Volcano The Bear who offer up two brief bursts of their off kilter absurdist pop. The first side is a nursery rhyme melody, all fuzzy and buzzy over pizzicato strings, with high clear Charles Hayward style vocals, the whole track sounding not unlike Camberwell Now doing children's music. The second side is also warbly and fuzzy, but the fuzz is in the backdrop, a warm whirring soundscape over which weird whistle melodies drift and dance. Simple percussion surfaces here and there, making this sound like some strange funeral march composed for kazoo and tin whistle. Weird and wonderful.
VOLCANO THE BEAR The Birth Of Streisand (No-Fi) 7" 5.98
2006 release from this surreal British experimental rock outfit, limited to 150 copies - we've still got 3 'cause we never listed it!
VOLCANO THE BEAR The Idea Of Wood (Textile) cd 16.98
We've been meaning to list this for ages but we hadn't been able to get enough copies until now. On the same label that brought us the amazing Daniel Padden record, which makes sense since Mr. Padden just so happens to be a member of Volcano the Bear. We have to admit that occasionally in the past, Volcano The Bear has definitely tread dangerously close to the too purposefully weird. The musical equivalent of that old joke: How many surrealists does it take to change a lightbulb? A fish! Yep, a little too "Look at Me!! Isn't this stuff CRAZY?" But the fact is, they ARE weird, and the music they make is genuinely strange. On the Idea Of Wood, VTB has managed to make a record that is at once genuinely weird, totally damaged and utterly otherworldly, but at the same time absolutely hauntingly lovely. Delicate and subtly ominous. Clinking clanking percussion, creaking acoustic guitars, ghostly falsetto vocals, carnivalesque melodies, creeping lugubrious tempos. A haunting Eastern European alien gypsy folk music constructed from brittle acoustic instruments, wheezing and straining and warbling, crumbled trumpet melodies, warbling violins, snatches of ambient found sound clatter and choirs of insect like vocals. So nice!
"She Whistles, I Cough Like A Tiger" MPEG Stream:
"Golden Hot Bite"
VOLCANO THE BEAR The Inhazer Decline (United Dairies) cd 18.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. When Nurse With Wound's "A Chance Meeting on a Dissecting Table.." was first released in 1979, the response was one of bafflement. Volcano The Bear's first album for NWW's United Dairies is just as baffling. Ostensibly following the 70s art-rock damage of Faust (especially 'Tapes') and the willfull eccentricity of The Shadow Ring, Volcano The Bear (Byram refuses to call them anything but BJ and the Bear) plods through disjointed percussive riffs with alien droning, incongruous guitar work, and a crystal clear production which wouldn't be out of place on Too Pure. It's not hard to see why Steven Stapleton sought this group out after their Pickled Egg debut for a United Dairies release.
VOLCANO THE BEAR The Mountains Among Us (Beta-Lactam Ring) cd 22.00
VOLTAIC OMEN You're Fucked (self-released) cassette 5.00
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. It's been a while since we've heard from mysterious one man band Voltaic Omen, who we first discovered via a barrage of unlabeled emails packed with mp3's, and who, once tracked down, was more than happy to send us each new release as it was spawned, usually JUST for us, and in numbers that make most other limited releases seem bountiful. Well that definitely hasn't changed with this one, an email showed up saying "just sent you a box of the new tape, 23 copies, it's fucked, in fact it's called "You're Fucked". Needless to say we were pretty thrilled, especially considering the fact that when someone whose music is ALREADY totally fucked, proclaims a record to be 'totally fucked', well, it's gotta be good. And seriously fucked. which You're Fucked most definitely is. Another barrage of tripped out low fidelity buzz, wreathed in epic melodic swirl and druggy spaced out atmosphere, the songs lurching from epic majestic drum machine driven pound, to blurred flurries of tangled black buzz and garbled grunted gurgles, from almost punkish chunks of d-beat pound to dirgey psychedelic industrial dirgery, with all sorts of sonic weirdness, gloomy spidery melodies, hissy whispered vox, machinelike clatter, clouds of swirling black crunch, clean almost folky psych guitar, and dig even deeper, and it's easy to see VO has definitely progressed, with some of these tracks bordering on epic black prog, the drum programming (or maybe real drumming, hard to tell now), way more weirdly mathy, the arrangements too constantly shifting and transforming, and if that wasn't already rad enough, two covers this time around, Melvins and Nirvana. Hell yeah. LIMITED TO 23 COPIES!!!! Might be the only copies we can ever get so act fast...
VOLTAIC OMEN / FIRE ISLAND, AK Dweller On The Threshold (Condor Breeze) cassette 4.50
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. Ahhhh, yes, more Voltaic Omen, the one man black metal weirdo from the Pacific Northwest, who has been blowing us away with recording after recording of fucked up and fractured lo-fi what-the-fuck blackness. And it just keeps getting better, and weirder! This time around Mr. VO is teamed up with a noisemaker called Fire Island, AK, who we'll get to in a second, but first, VO begins proceedings with a super creepy stretch of processed ambience, all haunting minor key melodies, backwards cymbals, fractured loops, mumbly speaking in tongues vocals, it may be black metal, but it also sounds a bit like some of the super far out Teenage Filmstars stuff. Then all of a sudden, the track kicks in, and it sounds like it's being broadcast from a speaker atop a pole, down the street, murky and muddy and lo-fi, but with a strange clattery, almost Muslimgauze sounding rhythm laid over the top, before slowing down and tripping out, and transforming into some sort of doomic black ritual, slow pounding percussion, groaned vocals, distant tarpit riffing, haunting minor key melody, super hypnotic. Fire Island, AK, who we'd never heard before, are way more of an experimental free noise outfit, exploring textures and tempos, patterns and layers, reverbed electronic squiggles wrap around bits of scrape and glitch, looped and repeating, gradually growing more dense and frantic, never quite attaining total Merzbowian overload, which is a good thing, even at its most impenetrable and chaotic, there still lurks some texture and rhythm, giving form and propulsion to could otherwise become pure noise. Cool stuff for sure. Buy this for the Voltaic Omen, stick around for the Fire Island. Definitely recommended. Cool full color inserts, photocopied insert, LIMITED TO ONLY 100 COPIES, each one stickered and hand numbered!!
VOLTIGEURS Carrion (Second Layer) lp 26.00
While the last few Voltigeurs records found the duo of Matthew Bower (Skullflower, Total, Hototogisu, Sunroof!, etc.) and Samantha Davies (Skullflower) in a distinctly black metal direction, this new lp see the BM pushed way into the background, the sound here much more of a guitarnoise record, albeit with some black buzz lurking below the surface. Four extended tracks, the opener titled "Morning Raga", but that title is a bit misleading, as the sound is less raga, and more a dense cloud of caustic grinding guitars, buried synths and unrecognizable piano, woven into billowing swirls of crumbling caustic distortion, shot through with shards of rib cage rattling low end and underpinned by a roiling sea of tangled melodic squiggles, barely audible over the din above. The second track reimagines the same sound as a more murky buzzy industrial framework, weirdly and subtly rhythmic, again buried beneath and avalanche of grinding, crumbling heaviness, but again, this is not simply a wall of guitars (and synths), within this noisy onslaught lurks all manner of weird droned out buzz and strange spidery melodies, all of which seem to ooze from Voltigeurs' blacknoise murk. The flipside begins with a heaving landscape of metallic buzz, and an undulating low end rumble, all smoothed out into something more droney, and downright hypnotic, strangely cinematic in its own way, still noisy and abrasive, but haunting and harrowing, laced with keening minor key melodies, and infused with mysterious electronics (or something that sounds like electronics). The final track dials back the noise a bit, and sculpts what's left into a minimal sprawl of crumbling static, this time, there seems to be some black metal buzz churning away underneath, but so low in the mix as to be just another layer of buzzing thrum, the sound here reverby and cavernous, the aforementioned black metal elements distant and abstract, all swirling behind a gristly wall of grinding high end hiss, and weirdly glitchy hum, again transforming abstract guitarnoise/synthnoise into a mesmerizing slab of droned out mesmer. LIMITED TO 350 COPIES!!
VOLTIGEURS Nazi Ponies (Stiff Opposition) 3" cd-r 14.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. Latest blast of blackened buzz from Matthew Bower's Voltigeurs project. Bower and partner in buzz Samantha Davies (who also does time with Bower in Skullflower) continue to take the sound of Voltigeurs in a distinctly black metal direction. Sure past records definitely hinted at the blackness that informed them. We described their sound at one point as sounding like "a symphony of black metal cassettes unspooling in zero gravity", which actually sort of still applies, but if anything, the sound of Voltigeurs seems to be bucking the trend of Bower's other projects. While Skullflower seems to be rapidly (d)evolving into something much more akin to pure noise, the last few records growing increasingly harsh and chaotic, on Nazi Ponies the sound seems to be approaching something much more obviously black metal, albeit via Bower's cracked sensibilities. The sound of Nazi Ponies is still a swirling cloud of chaotic noise, of blurred crunch and layered skree, but within this roiling black cloud, Bower unwinds mournful, depressive melodies, almost folky at times, as if someone removed the melodic skeleton from a Drudkh or Arckanum jam and dropped them into a swirling black cauldron of Bower's grinding post industrial freenoise soundscaping, the results are pretty divine, and again sound like some loose approximation of black metal, as if some strange force was pulling apart the very molecules of buzz and blast, into whatever this is, an amorphous sprawl of blurred buzz, and creeping ominous minor key buzz. The second part basically sounds like a supercharged even more distorted version of part 1, the buzz cranked way up, the low end thick and viscous, that same folky blackened minor key melody, now barely audible beneath heaving waves of crumbling greynoise crunch and churning pulled apart riffage, a glorious blown out smear of caustic and chaotic blackness. LIMITED TO JUST 77 COPIES!!
"Nazi Ponies Part 1"
VOLTIGEURS Possession (Turgid Animal ) cd 13.98
Full length number two (or three, counting the recent Carrion lp) from this Skullflower offshoot, which finds SF mainman Matthew Bower once again joined by his partner in recent Skullflower outings Samantha Davies, and once again, the two deliver some sort of warped ritualistic black noise experimentation, even further removed from past Voltigeurs outings, no distinctly black metal buzz, or perhaps not gone, but buried and blurred into almost unrecognizable shapes, and much of the 'guitarnoise' seems to have been reshaped into pure noise. The opener here is like the Caretaker via Merzbow, a long stretch of blunted white noise, cascading sheets of gristle and hiss over murky melodies, and what sounds like a metal band playing down the hall, all record surreptitiously and recorded onto a wax cylinder. The level is low, the sounds weirdly hushed, and not overly harshed, but cranked, one can catch glimpses of what must be going on within Voltigeurs' psychedelic sonic squall. The second track is much heavier, and the guitar returns to the fore, but instead of riffing, just emits noxious clouds of buzz and grinding low end, at least in the beginning, but part way through, the tone changes dramatically, and the sound shifts, and morphs into some seriously dense black buzz, occasionally coalescing into strange sonic shapes, a shadowy impressionistic avant black metal ambience, doused in blacknoise buzz. The rest of the record follows a similar path, soaring frenzied fast picked melodies, are laid beneath, a crackly chaotic cloud of crumbling blackness, which on the surface sounds like pure noise, but reveals itself as strangely soothing and hypnotic, blissed out buzz drifts through pockets of blistering freenoise shimmer, underpinned by heaving weirdly melancholy melodies, full on psychedelic guitarnoise blowouts unfurl ever shifting layers, the guitars tangled and serpentine, and finally, a blast of black metal buzz, blurred into an ambient noisescape, that again, mirrors the Caretaker, if the DJ in his old time ballroom was spinning old scratchy Darkthrone 45s and limited Merzbow lathecuts. Awesome. LIMITED TO 500 COPIES!!!
"Eidola Of Set" MPEG Stream:
"Kiss The Whip" MPEG Stream:
VOLTIGEURS s/t (Turgid Animal) cd 11.98
The latest project from the mighty Matthew Bower (Skullflower, Total, Sunroof!, etc.) is not all that far removed from more recent Skullflower records in several ways. The first is the lineup, Voltigeurs is a duo of Bower and one of his newer SF bandmates, Samantha Davies, the second is the sound, which once again finds Bower exploring his own little dark corner of black metal, an admitted recent obsession for him. Much like the SF "black metal" discs (including the most recent, Malediction, reviewed elsewhere on this week's list), Bower's black metal is a whole 'nother twisted noise slathered beast than what we're used to. Sure the sound is raw and grim and buzzy and heavy, but this blackness is more concerned with texture and tension, with drone and density, than proper riffage, no drums, so the songs don't blast or pound, even at their heaviest, they still drift, the guitars, possibly the thickest and crunchiest we've heard from Bower in ages, do seem to be unfurling some sort of black riffage, but here the blur and smear into thick clouds of FX drenched buzz, of howling feedback and string strangling crunch, Davies, who plays cello in Skullflower, must be doing terrible things to her cello here (assuming she hasn't switched to guitar), because it's nearly impossible to differentiate who's who and who's playing what in Voltigeurs' big glorious tangle of heaving fractured heaviness. It almost sounds like a symphony of black metal cassettes unspooling in zero gravity, a swirling mass of a million mobius strips of sound. The strange thing is, for being one of the heavies things we've heard from Bower, it also seems to be one of the loveliest, and most melodic. Not always mind you, but here and there, the furious fug clears, and reveals some woozy mournful soaring bit of melodic doominess, the opening of "Pearlescent Abyss" sounds like some lost early doom jam, slathered in noise and tape hiss and amp buzz, but still, the sound oozes with emotion and anguish. And those moments do surface throughout the record, giving Voltigeurs' noisiness a definite black doom vibe. There's also a distinctly dronedoomdirge feel to a lot of the songs, Bower's guitar more obviously a guitar, the sounds he's conjuring up more obviously riff based, SUNNO))), Fear Falls Burning, Vulture Club, it's like that sound but more feral, more fierce, less composed, more loose, more instinctual, and somehow more alive, a constantly expanding ball of buzzing smoldering abstract riffage, the sound organic and lush, while remaining fuzzy and abrasive and intensely heavy. The record finishes off with another bit of melodic mystery, the 9 minute "Condor", is a slow buzz drenched crawl, the guitars crumbling, wrapped around a lurching slow motion pulse, a dense blackened throb, but swirling throughout and within that main guitardrone, spidery tendrils of melody burn white hot, shards and streaks of warm shimmer, a lugubrious bit of glacial downtuned beauty. Voltigeurs debut full length seems like the perfect foil for the new Skullflower (maybe it was intended to be just that), it's like that other record's shadow, its less evil twin, where the other is noxious and corrosive, this one is effulgent and luminous, where the other is blackened and chaotic, this one seems to glow with some long buried beauty, it almost sounds like the two could be played simultaneously, to create some intense multi part, blacknoise dronedirge epic, but each, on its own, is fantastic, each one in its own way psychedelic and heavy, blackened and buzzy, but Voltigeurs might be the slightly prettier of the two, but still somehow manages to remain as heavy and as intense as any guitardrone record we've heard. WAY WAY recommended (As is the Skullflower!)!!
"Archon" MPEG Stream:
"Lamia" MPEG Stream:
VOLTIGEURS Tentacle Rape (self-released) 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. Second release from this Skullflower side project, fronted by (of course) SF mainman Matthew Bower, who in Voltigeurs teams up with SF cellist Samantha Davies for a bit of Skullflowery blow out. Their M.O. seems to remain the same as on the self titled disc on Turgid Animal, a head splitting rib cracking wall of crumbling super distorted noise, but a noise shot through with more texture and melody than one might expect. As with most music like this, a glancing listen, or hearing it as background sound, will do nothing for you, a white noise vacuum cleaner Merzbowian blowout. But crank the volume a bit, strap on some headphones, and you will gradually become able to parse these caustic sounds. Not sure if it's the presence of cello, or if Davies brings out Bower's softer side, but the sounds within the sounds here are surprisingly melodic, little tangles and squiggles, fragments and shards, but it's not just the inner sounds, the constantly coruscating frenzy of blown out guitar buzz, is warm and textural, layered and dense, a rich sound that seems to be constantly shifting and changing hues, timbre and tone, slipping from warm whir, to grating skree, to crumbling crunch, to in-the-red frenzy, but at every step along the way, the sound is much more than just NOISE, it most definitely IS 'noisy', and when we go on about Bower's softer side, it is of course, all relative, Bower's softer side is still about a hundred times harsher and heavier than the next guy's, but since we are not really big fans of harsh noise at all, it definitely takes a special touch for us to enjoy something this noisy, and Bower and Davies most assuredly have it. From the most recent Skullflowers to this (and the previous) Voltigeurs disc, the duo have figured out how to harness noise, hot to sculpt and create with noise, the sort of noise than in lesser hands would be uncontrollable, and would overwhelm, here becomes sound, which in turn becomes music, a heavy, harsh, hellish, blown out music, no doubt, but from these two we would expect nothing less. Essential for Skullflower obsessives obviously, and a pretty perfect second movement in the ongoing Voltigeurs sonic saga...
"Bleak Harvest Pts 1+2" MPEG Stream:
VOM Primitive Arts (At War With False Noise) cd 14.98
Not to be confused with legendary Bay Area black metal horde Von, although Vom's sound does sonically link back to Sixx, the post Von, gothic deathrock combo we reviewed a while back. These grim Scots spew out a depressive, atmospheric, super distorted sort of gothic cold wave, the label suggests the sound falls somewhere between Scream-era Siouxsie And The Banshees, early X-Mal Deustchland and the first Killing Joke lp, which is definitely pretty right on, but for the aQ faithful, we might also throw out some recent list faves like Soror Dolorosa, the aforementioned Sixx, Ye Olde Maids, Second Decay, Factums, even Cold Cave, but imagine all those bands if they were way more heavy and harsh and hateful, raw and rough and intense, and you'd be getting closer to the sound of Vom. Pounding pummeling drums, grinding crunchy guitars, throbbing rumbling bass, howled vocals buried in the mix, hooks all over the place, but somewhat obscured by the bands furious deathrock onslaught, this stuff is gloomy and heavy and catchy and harrowing, and so goddamn good. Anyone into the recent wave of cold wave revivalists or goth rock wannabes, who found themselves hankering for something way harder and heavier, these guys might just be your new favorite band. LIMITED TO 500 COPIES!!!
"Turkish Delight" MPEG Stream:
"Dark Mavis" MPEG Stream:
VOM / GUMMY STUMPS split (Winning Sperm Party) lp 12.98
BACK IN STOCK!! We were pretty into Vom's Primitive Arts record from a while back, which we described as a "depressive, atmospheric, super distorted sort of gothic cold wave", and who we likened to groups like Soror Dolorosa, Sixx, Factums and Cold Cave, but whose particular version of sound was a much more raw and primitive beast, sort of crusty and filthy, from the production to the actual instrument sounds, even the atmosphere, it was as if a metal band or a noise band or somehow both, decided to make a gloom pop record, and failed spectacularly, and came up with something way meaner, weirder and more amazing. This brand new split teams Vom up with another group of sonically like minded Scots with the awesome name Gummy Stumps, each group taking a whole lp side. Vom offer up more of the same, their sound driving and darkly post punky, the guitars thick and jagged, the bass fuzzed out and super distorted, the drums almost like some weird strain of motorik krautpunk, the vocals an effects drenched bellow, the group locking into long stretches of buzzing, snarling, minor key hypnorock, that sound like a goth rock Circle, pounding away relentlessly, the guitars unfurling slippery slithery melodies, over churning riffage and gloomy gothic bombast. But it's an epic, so the band sort of cobble together a songsuite, equal parts crash and burn, drift and smolder, shimmer and creep, the sound managing to be surprisingly lush while retaining its raw power. At one point haunting soundtracky synths drift in and transform the sound completely, before the band works its way up into another psychedelic cold wave gloom punk blowout. These guys are so fucking good, it's a crime they're not more well known. With a name like Gummy Stumps, these guys had our hopes pretty high, and while they're not as grim or gloriously noisy, they're definitely a good match, their sound more of a Messthetics sort of post punk, all jagged angular guitar crunch, frenetic rhythms, and dueling call and response vocals. But again, like Vom's side, there's lots of space to fill, so the band stretch way out, slipping from murky psychedelic shimmer, to something that sounds like way more punk Arab Strap, to blown out drum heavy noise rock crunch, to surprisingly catchy punk pop and right back again to the angular post punkiness that started it all off. Housed in super swank silk screened covers, with printed insert, cool lyrics booklet, and we're guessing it's pretty dang limited too...
VOM "B" MPEG Stream:
GUMMY STUMPS "A"
VOMIT ORCHESTRA Antecrux (Autumn Wind Productions) cd 11.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. Folks went a little crazy for the Vomit Orchestra on the last list. A little surprising given the sort of distasteful moniker. But the name fit. Macabre Paradigm was a collection of sounds, meticulously arranged into a black symphony of gurgling low end, buzzing bleak ambience, damaged percussive clatter and some seriously frightening atmosphere. A gorgeous collection of miserablism and musical misanthropy for sure. While that 2 disc set was a collection of long out of print and unreleased material, Antecrux is the newest Vomit Orchestra full length, recorded in 2006, and the two couldn't sound any different. Granted, the mood and meaning are similar, a sort of deep dark hatred and disdain for life and the living, an abstract spiritual malaise, but if anything, Antecrux is actually pretty. For the most part at least. The first two tracks are lilting minor key drifts, processed guitars that float and flutter, everything blurry and dreamlike, thick reverbed guitars unfurling jangly melancholy riffs. Sad more than depressive or hateful. From there on out it gradually gets creepier and creepier. "Dance Ov The Sugardrugged Feary" is a wash of fuzz and static that over some strange warbly 78, a fuzzy murky twisted sort-of show tune that bursts into white noise before fading into starry sky twinkles. The next few tracks drift lazily from buzzing minimal shimmer to loping mopey slow core to glistening outerspacescape, murky reverbed tones set adrift in a jet black sky shot through with fuzzy streaks of muted hiss. Some strange electronic rhythms surface, skittering through some laid back downtempo dreaminess, before the guitar returns, emotional and melodic, insistent and intense, sounding a little like Roy Montgomery. Antecrux culminates in the 10 minute final track "The Lotus Of Denial". That by now familiar guitar returns to meander through an expansive field of glitch and static, an army of record players, needles in the run out groove, letting loose clouds of clicks and pops into the black night sky, far below lurks an ominous field of low end rumble, the whole thing incredibly creepy and evocative. A gloriously record-crackled minor key slow core coda that is both lovely and mysteriously sorrowful. Much like the rest of Antecrux...
"The Divine Conception" MPEG Stream:
"Vein I" MPEG Stream:
"Dance Ov The Sugardrugged Feary"
VOMIT ORCHESTRA Bridges Burnt (Autumn Wind Productions) cd 11.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. It seems like only yesterday... well, hell it was actually on the last list, when we listed the first proper full length release from strangely named East Coast audio ambient terrorists Vomit Orchestra, and here we are not two weeks later with a BRAND NEW full length. It's sort of unclear why VO gets lumped in with the metal crowd, or even the black ambient crowd, the name maybe? The misanthropic intent? The blackened past? Whatever it is, it's a bit misleading, because the sound of the Vomit Orchestra couldn't be further removed from metal. And it's not really all that mean or frightening. It's dark, sure, mysterious and ominous maybe, but hardly overtly evil sounding. If anything, it's more of some sort of fuzzy abstract ambience, there are guitars here and there, but they mostly pick out simple sad melodies or are smeared into blurry streaks. For the most part, the world of VO is a dark deliriously dreamy, electronic organic hybrid, haunting soundscapes that veer from whispery drone and whir, to caustic abrasive crunch, but spending most of its time in the former. The record opens with a maniacal mechanical toy orchestra intro, that quickly gives way to a dreamy looped ambience not unlike Jeck or Basinski, with a distinctly fuzzy sepia toned old timey feel. The rest of the record plays like a midnight wander through some strange funhouse, room after room of bizarre sights and strange sounds, disembodied female vocals drift and hover over snippets of a man speaking, her voice like a Theremin, weaving minor key melodies in a wide open black space, stabs of atonal organ, warble and whir amidst a fluctuating field of reverb and damaged delay, a downtuned guitar and what sounds like a harp play some sort of angular funereal duet, lovely but slightly off sounding, fuzzy guitars are looped into odd harmonies and hypnotic rhythms, the record finally closes with an epic 23 minute trawl though a dark tunnel, surrounded on all sides by creepy sounds, obscured melodies, buzzing noise, jagged shards of crumbling drone, mysterious fragmented riffing, with occasional stretches of simple strummed tranquility, lasting only seconds before some other ghastly sound or soul stirring sonic spirit wraps its bony fingers around your neck... So great!
"Dying" MPEG Stream:
"Scraping The Pipe" MPEG Stream:
"A Dirty Glass Ceiling"
VOMIT ORCHESTRA Macabre Paradigm (Autumn Wind Productions) 2cd 16.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. Ahhh, Vomit Orchestra. Brings to mind the most unpleasant of images. Thoughts of tuxedo clad men hurling through tubas and trumpets, women in their best evening wear, puking onto timpani's. But fear not, this is nothing of the sort. Although it is a collection of sounds virulent and vile, violent and vicious. Vomit Orchestra are a mysterious outfit who traffic in a sort of black ambience, but their sound is far from ambient. Lengthy stretches of rumbling drones and disembodied voices, growled super distorted growls, blown out percussion, sort of tribal, sort of industrial, dark and creepy and seriously fucking scary. Macabre Paradigm collects rare and unreleased tracks from the first few years of VO's existence, the first disc is the long out of print cassettes, the second disc is unreleased rarities from the Vomit vaults. The more we listen to this the more black it sounds, like some strange disembodied black metal, with the blasts and the buzz sucked out leaving weird bloated corpses of grim hellish beats, wallowing in pools of black blood, emitting a lonesome cry that sounds a bit like free jazz black metal, or, here's an obscure reference, Aussie what-the-fuck black metallers Vorak, guitars squiggle and screech, drums stumble and splatter, underneath drones rumble and whir, vocals are whirring rasps. Similar to how Abruptum explored black ambience, VO seem to be stalking the same skull encrusted catacombs. A hellish brew of audio experimentation, damaged and desiccated black metal, and deep dark drones. The sound may be drone based, but this is in no way soothing, this is still heavy, and fierce, and way blacker than most black metal, ominous and menacing, grim and cult and true, and pure audio evil, like being trapped underground in the pitch black, surrounded by demons, by death, and by despair. Completely amazing. Essential listening for black souled, iron eared, strange sound obsessed audio warriors...
"Under The Shadows..." MPEG Stream:
"Behold... The Eve Of Conclusion"
VON HAUSSWOLFF, C.M. 800,000 Seconds In Harar (Touch) cd 15.98
The Swedish conceptualist took a trip to Harar, Ethiopia at the behest of a director for a theater in Sweden who was going to be putting on a play based upon the life of Arthur Rimbaud and asked Hausswolff to compose the score. Harar was one of the last stopping points for Rimbaud in his peripatetic and often debaucherous life; and Hausswolff used that particular location as the jumping off point for his composition involving little more than field recordings, his trusted oscillator, and drones culled from a krar, a tradition Ethiopian lyre. The piece follows Hausswolff's signature ultra-minimalist strategies found on many of his earlier recordings, but the use of the krar as a sound source has proved to be a major find for Von Hausswolff. On the three part "Day And Night," he's built a series of subtle modulations from the sonorous low tones of the krar whose rasping dissonance gives more than a passing resemblance to the work of Eliane Radigue and Phill Niblock, accompanied by the field recordings of wind, insects, rustling leaves, and water. The final piece "The Sleeper In The Valley" is sourced from the Rimbaud poem of the same name, but fear not, this is not a spoken word piece as Von Hausswolff tells us that the morse code blips that run through the layered arcs of low-end sine tones are a transcription of that poem. As common as this is within the Hausswolff vernacular, it's hardly the dead-line drone that Hausswolff will sometimes produce in installations. Instead, this is much closer to the more composed (albeit minimally) of his classic collaborations with John Duncan and his Operation Of Spirit Communication album. Excellent stuff.
"Day" MPEG Stream:
"Alas!" MPEG Stream:
"The Sleeper In The Valley"