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Records of the Week
GOLDMAN, VIVIEN Resolutionary (Staubgold) lp 23.00
Perhaps best known as a journalist chronicling punk, reggae, and Afro-Carribean music since the early '80s, Vivien Goldman produced a handful of exceptionally good dub-punk / art-rock tunes with some very famous friends - notably John Lydon, Adrian Sherwood, Robert Wyatt, David Toop, and Viv Albertine of The Slits. Her very first foray was as one of the vocalists / lyricists for The Flying Lizards, and then she produced one hell of a single under the mentorship of the production team of Lydon and Sherwood, after that forming the theatrically inclined Chantage new wave duo with Eve Blouin. We've got all of those tracks from her early '80s days on this fantastic new Staubgold compilation, though it should be noted that she also recorded with Prince Far I before all of this and co-wrote tracks with Massive Attack and Moritz Von Oswald afterwards. The dub of "Private Armies" (featured here, in its slightly more sprightly vocal version) has been featured on a number of New Age Steppers collections, with its stark low-slung baselines and heavily flanged rhythms certainly cut from the same British dub production that delivered PiL's Metal Box and The Pop Group's Y. Goldman's "Laundrette", along with her two Flying Lizards cuts, embrace the taunting grooves of The Slits, whilst deconstructing the stereotypical gender roles of housework and other banalities left for women by society. The Chantage tracks shift the focus slightly away from a dub-punk and towards a ramshackle rocksteady, as if recorded in a Parisian cafe of absinthe drinkers. It all comes together as a remarkably good historical look into the British hybrids of punk, dub, and Afro-beat, snapped in vivid Kodachrome with Situationist smarts and feminist brashness.
MPEG Stream: VIVIEN GOLDMAN "Launderette"
MPEG Stream: VIVIEN GOLDMAN "Private Armies"
MPEG Stream: THE FLYING LIZARDS "Her Story"
MPEG Stream: CHANTAGE "Same Thing Twice"
BISHOP, SIR RICHARD Salvador Kali (Exiled) 2lp 30.00
Just got this in today, list day, and we figured we should list it asap, it's kind of exciting, the very first album by Sir Richard Bishop, out of print for years (originally released on cd in 1998), now on vinyl for the very first time. Back when we first listed it, we were a lot less prolix, so here are all of the two sentences we wrote about it then:Sun City Girl Rick Bishop's debut solo release on John Fahey's wonderful Revenant label. Pretty tunes (about knighthood apparently) that sound very "old world," like quaint Italian restaurant music played on guitar instead of mandolin.We'll stand by that today, adding only that we meant what we said in a good way. It's a highly enjoyable album - not remotely so 'difficult' as a lot of Bishop's output with the Sun City Girls that we were familiar with at the time - and you can't beat the pun in the title. It's all instrumental, and in addition to guitar, this features harmonium, and a lengthy solo piano piece as well. The music touches on flamenco and raga and gypsy jazz (with a Django Reinhardt cover). Nice to now at last have it on vinyl, 500 copies made.
MPEG Stream: "Burning Caravan"
BRANCA, GLENN Symphony No. 13 (Atavistic) cd 16.98
Subtitled "Hallucination City", Glenn Branca's 13th Symphony debuted back in 2001, with the score intended for 100 guitars, which was a feat pulled off by Rhys Chatham well over a decade earlier. Both Chatham and Branca do share a drive for an overwhelming totality through the sheer volume and density of their layered orchestrations, but there are considerable differences which should be noted in the compositional styles. Where Chatham situates his orchestration as slabs of sculpted noise that are driven singular rhythm, Branca deliberately sets up two or more rhythms with different tempos through percussion and guitar that orbits within the swarm of dissonance and harmonic sonorities. Branca's 13th Symphony is an aggressively complex piece designed, as we said, for 100 guitars, though Branca is flexible enough to allow for smaller ensembles to perform the piece, probably making up the dynamics with volume. The four-part symphony is archetypal Branca piece, full of sound and fury, with unconventional tunings massed together in meteorologically swirling patterns and currents of controlled volatility all cast in industrial monochrome. Recorded in Rome, 2008.
MPEG Stream: "March"
MPEG Stream: "Drive"
CADAVER EYES Class Mammal (Heart & Crossbone) cd-r 10.98
It's been AGES since we've heard from this weirdo noise / drone one man band. Cadaver Eyes is the work of one half of aQ beloved blackened math metal duo Barbara, who is also behind the always awesome Heart & Crossbone label. As Cadaver Eyes, he wields an arsenal of fucked up noise makers and a drum kit, and pretty much nothing else. The last record was basically a punishing barrage of metallic crush and grinding heaviness. And while this new one is still heavy, it's a whole different vibe, heavy on the drone, lots of space, a sort of spare, spaced out abstract ambient doom drone? Or something. We're immediately reminded of all time aQ favorites Geronimo, or powerviolence noise mongers Man Is The Bastard. Thick undulating sheets of gristly, grinding, electronic noise, blurred smears of crumbling FX drenched filth, a blackened backdrop for wild, impressionistic drum punishment, and some super distorted, ultra anguished vokills. There are a few a moments when things speed up and get almost thrashy, but for the most part, this is sick and filthy, droned out doom drenched plod, an abject death march, creepy crawling, a sludgy slo-mo, tarpit lumber through fields of caustic glitch, a meteor shower of corrosive drones and splinted fragments of white hot noise, smeared into blinding sheets of blistered textures and melting metallic minimalism. Grim and malevolent and utterly, terrifyingly mesmerizing.
MPEG Stream: "SecurITY"
MPEG Stream: "PROsumer conDUCER"
MPEG Stream: "Hyestr"
CHARLIE MUNRO QUARTET, THE Eastern Horizons (Be! Record Productions) lp 29.00
About seven years ago we reviewed a cd reissue of this, now it's been reissued on vinyl as well! Jazz fanciers, check it out:When you think of legendary sixties jazz, you probably don't think of Australia, but this 1967 disc from Charlie Munro and his quartet might just change all that.Arguably one of the most important jazz groups to emerge from Australia, Munro's Eastern Horizons most definitely predates other more well known Eastern Influenced jazz discs of that era, and is just as good. It's definitely free jazz, but the skronk level is quite low, in fact much of the record is moody and muted, due in no small part to the presence of cello and bass violin which add a warm wistful quality to many of the songs. Plus there's marimba and vibraharp as well as "brushes on record cover" (!).Record opener "Islamic Suite" definitely sets the tone, with the horns emulating Eastern instruments, the melodies appropriately Eastern as well, based on an Arab scale according to the liner notes, long form ragas, drones, that slip smoothly into some more traditional sounding bop, but even then, the Eastern influence is still strong. "Malahari Raga" is in fact based on an Indian raga and begins all woozy and swoony, before the drums kick in double time and the song is tranformed into something much more skittery and jazzy. Many of the remaining tracks are delicate and dark, fluttering flute over warm fluid basslines, muted trumpets and lush marimba melodies, until "Minimum", a sprawling free jazz jam, where the horns finally let loose and go wild, pausing briefly for an awesome extended drum solo. There's one more mournful jazzy ballad before the record closes with another chunk of jumpin' jive, skittery rhythms, soaring horns, and an awesome bass solo outro. Killer stuff.
MPEG Stream: "Islamic Suite"
MPEG Stream: "David"
MPEG Stream: "Minimum"
CHROMATICS Cherry (Italians Do It Better) lp 23.00
For whatever reason, this album was recorded back in 2014, released digitally then and never given a physical pressing until now, mid-2016. Ever since their iconic 2007 Night Drive album, Chromatics have kept an even keel on their cruise ship voyage of Italo-disco reinvention, via Johnny Jewel's detached production matched by the subdued diva delivery of Ruth Radelet. The band's sultry slow-motion / two-step disco shuffle nobly takes up a version Joy Division's "Ceremony" (with Ida No of Glass Candy stepping into the vocalist role, though we gotta say both No and Radelet have pretty much the same breathy delivery, making them almost indistinguishable). That cover perfectly in the midst of their seductive disco invocations of carnal longing from the forgotten '80s. Along with this record, Chromatics have also released three others simultaneously, also in stock: Just Like You, Shadow, and Girls Just Want To Have Fun. Woo hoo!
MPEG Stream: "Cherry"
MPEG Stream: "Ceremony"
MPEG Stream: "Looking For Love"
GEROGERIGEGEGE Moenai Hai (Eskimo Records) cd 24.00
For those who may be unaware, the name Gerogerigegege translates from the Japanese as "Shit! vomit! ha ha ha!" This scatalogically inclined Japanese noise-provocation unit hasn't released an album something like 15 years, with Juntaro Yamanouchi now reawakening the project in the guise of a caterwauling noise-rock outfit. There have been full-throttled punk aspirations previously in the Gerogerigegege catalog, whose best known recordings happen to be those exuberant noise albums and performances graced with the exhibitionistic masturbation of Gero 56 - a fellow who eschews all clothing and literally jerks off to Yamanouchi's electronics as a rather daft yet plausible continuation of concept of noise production equating with orgasmic excess. Yet here, on Moenai Hai, Gerogerigegege find themselves in very good company next to Corrupted and Boris in terms of explosive noise / drone rock, entirely without the onanistic grunts of Gero 56. Slow menancing tracks of subterranean creaking and blacker than black ambience spiralling into pools of nothingness bracket one long form extension of Melvins / Boris / Nadja sludge with infinitely repeating riffs, screaming feedback, and bottom-heavy monstrousness. It's pretty damn limited, with restocks uncertain at this time.
MPEG Stream: "Out Of Saiga"
MPEG Stream: "The Gerogerigegege"
MPEG Stream: "Tokyo - Sea Of Losers/Donors For USA"
GRAVE MIASMA Endless Pilgrimage (Profound Lore) cd 13.98
Aquarius doesnt really sell a lot of death metal, not compared to black or doom metal, etc. Not sure why, but that means there's no point in gushing over a death metal record that most people won't buy - well, except that we care about the people who might buy it, hearing about a death metal band we love. But still, we'll keep it short. Do you dabble in the disgusting? Are you shin-deep in a swamp of sickness? Are you a partisan of the putrid? Are you currently in a cave? If you find yourself craving the muddy, recorded-underground riffs of the best Incantation records, if you thought the Cruciamentum record was GOOD but not quite mucky enough (they share members after all), and if you find the idea of a band NOT having branded sweatpants loathsome, you will want to hear Grave Miasma's latest entry into the death metal record books. Another atmospheric, heady, and bleak masterpiece from Profound Lore. Those who want this know who they are, we hope!
MPEG Stream: "Yama Transforms To The Afterlife"
MPEG Stream: "Utterance Of The Foulest Spirit"
HALL, NATE Electric Vacuum Roar (Heart & Crossbone) cd 13.98
Naming your album Electric Vacuum Roar definitely sets some serious expectations. And when it's coupled with a cover photo of the long haired, tattooed, pointy axed hasher responsible for said roar, slumped over against a beat up old Marshall stack, well, not surprising we were expecting some Fushitsusha-worthy guitarnoise-drone-psych. And while that's not precisely what Hall delivers on his latest solo venture, there's plenty of all of those elements in the mix: drone, noise, psych and yeah, lots and lots of GUITAR. It's not that far removed from his day job in US Christmas (previous day job?), two lengthy tracks that sprawl and ooze, blossom and unfurl. The vibe is very Earth-like, a dusky twang wreathed in crumbling cascades of hazy, lysergic psych, with wistful riffage beneath swirling clouds of bleary FX, and buried vocals, all smoldering and pulsing, super hazy and hypnotic - a dense, heavy, and meanderingly mesmerizing slab of hard psych trip out. Dig it!
MPEG Stream: "Dance Of The Prophet"
MPEG Stream: "Mindfull Of Gems"
KING GIZZARD AND THE LIZARD WIZARD Nonagon Infinity (ATO) lp 19.98
ALSO ON VINYL - cd listed last time, thusly:"Nonagon Infinity Opens The Door! Nonagon Infinity Opens The Door!" - so goes the repeated chant that surfaces throughout this album, the latest from the Aussie psych freeks with the best/worst name ever, who are also big AQ faves and past Record Of The Week honorees to boot. It's billed as the world's first infinitely looping record, in the sense that each of its nine songs seamlessly flow into the next, with the very last track ending (or does it?) right back where the very first track began, so put this on repeat and there will be nothing to indicate that it isn't supposed to keep on spinning forever. Yeah it's a gimmick but it's the sort of thing that we appreciate a band taking the trouble to conceive of and actually do, plus those chanted segues add to the sweaty cult ritual vibe of the album - this is trippy psych you can frantically dance to, with uptempo strobe light beats and wild, wailing guitars, harmonica, and FX. The album consists almost exclusively of high energy hyperdelic grooves laced with herky jerky vocal melodies, frenetic prog explosions, and the occasional spacey part - imagine Acid Mothers Temple jamming in the Castle Face garage, perhaps. It's got a "the end is coming!" urgency even though it NEVER ends...FYI, a super limited edition picture disc NINE-sided vinyl version is due out fairly soon as well, but we're only gonna be able to get a small handful of those.
MPEG Stream: "Robot Stop"
MPEG Stream: "Gamma Knife "
MPEG Stream: "Wah Wah"
KONONO NO.1 MEETS BATIDA s/t (Crammed Discs) 2lp 30.00
YAY!! The return of a long-time aQ favorite, the one and only Konono No.1, whose new album for Crammed was made with Angola-born, Portugal-based producer Batida, who has had some cool albums of his own particular electronica/world music melange released on the Soundway label. And never fear, the irresistible & irrepressible DIY sound system, heavily rhythmic dance party vibe they call "Congotronics" is in full effect here, with all the electric thumb piano and scrapyard percussion and joyous singing you'd expect - no big changes you'll really notice, though Batida brings in some additional players (like guitarist Papa Juju) and makes some tweaks to the sounds around the edges in fairly subtle ways. This is not music for standing still, it's for dancing and chanting and having a good time - and once again Konono & Co. deliver, so happy day that this is out!
MPEG Stream: "Nlele Kalusimbiko"
MPEG Stream: "Yambadi Mama"
MPEG Stream: "Nzonzing Familia"
LE BON, CATE Crab Day (Drag City) cd 15.98
NOW HERE ON CD TOO!When the Drinks album came out a while back, we were enamored by the Welsh half of that duo - the beguiling Cate Le Bon. And little did we know that she had three previous solo albums under her belt. So, Crab Day is our first exposure to her solo work; and is it quite the gem of eccentric avant-pop. The title references an imagined holiday by Le Bon's niece, who preferred celebrating Crab Day to April Fool's Day. The tales for her Crab Day spiral out as off-kilter / avant-psych tunes that hark to the discomforting jubilation that Syd Barrett would muster on his solo records. Many of the arrangements are sharply staccato in the rhythms that lock the bass, drum, piano, and even a xylophone onto a singular motorik, yet humanly played beat, with the guitars forming moire patterns of jangly, rhythmic dissonance all of which allows for Le Bon's languid voice to glide effortlessly atop. As a chanteuse, she's not too far from Nico in terms of the cool and detached attitude she applies to her songs, though Le Bon is far more of a playful character.
MPEG Stream: "Crab Day"
MPEG Stream: "Yellow Blinds, Cream Shadows"
MPEG Stream: "What's Not Mine"
MIRRORS FOR PSYCHIC WARFARE s/t (Neurot) lp 15.98
The band name made us think Blue Oyster Cult, but no, this project from the heavyweight duo of Scott Kelley from Neurosis and producer/engineer/sonic guru Sanford Parker (bandmates in sludge supergroup Corrections House) sounds nothing like BoC. Instead, this duo effort is more along the lines of an atmospheric, stripped-down, psych-drone-industrial-noise trip. Dark and dramatic, creepy droney stuff that gets under your skin. Sorta like a ghost of Neurosis, being more haunting than heavy (in a metal sense, though that's not to say it doesn't get heavy noisy). However, one caveat - the vocals on a couple of the tracks don't really do it for us, the "clean singing" we mean, which is less sung here than spoken and sounds a bit forced. But apart from the first track, the album leans towards the instrumental, and vocals, when they appear, are often 'vokills' instead, which work better for us in the context of this slow-build, miasmic music full of late night clankery and distortion-laden drones. It's all malevolently mesmeric & mysterious - majestic too, as per the piano and synthesized horns of the grand finale, "43". Despite the vocals that gave us pause earlier in the record, we ended up really digging this!
MPEG Stream: "A Thorn To See"
MPEG Stream: "Cnn Wtz"
MPEG Stream: "43"
MRS MAGICIAN Bermuda (Swami) lp 15.98
If "Eyes All Over Town" was the only song here, this still might be our new favorite record. A goddamn perfect slab of super catchy, buzz drenched, organ driven, garage rock surf pop!! And if you then tacked on "Forgiveness", which sounds like some impossibly perfect hybrid of the Fuzztones and the Beach Boys, that might seal the deal even more, and you know where this is leading? Maybe to us going through this record track by track and explaining just how great every single song is here? You know us so well. But let's step back a second. San Diego's Mrs Magician knocked our fucking socks off with their Strange Heaven debut, which we made our Record Of The Week, and for some of us, that record has been in near constant rotation ever since. We were heartbroken to find out the band had hung it up, which we initially discovered when Andee tried to get them to play with A Minor Forest on their 2014 reunion tour. So we made do with the subsequent B sides compilation, which for a mess of random tracks, was still pretty goddamn great, and better than most bands could manage when making an album proper. But then lo and behold, the rumors of Mrs. Magician's demise were greatly exaggerated! And here we are. We got a taste of the new record with the "Eyes All Over Town" Record Store Day single, and while that's one of those songs we could listen to over and over and over, and have been, this whole record is brimming with some of MM's best songs yet. There's the aforementioned "Forgiveness", and maybe this time we won't actually go through EVERY song, but let's call out a bunch. "Jessica Slaughter" is a moody, slithery dirge, that is about as minor key and melancholy as these guys get, but it still manages to be crazy catchy. "No Action" sounds like it was cut from the same cloth as "Eyes All Over Town", that organ surfacing again, coloring the power poppiness in shades of classic garage. There's the tense and frenetic "Phantoms", the ultra power poppy "Tear Drops", which almost sounds like it must be a cover of some lost pop classic. "Reborn Boys" almost sounds a little classic rock, while "The Limbo (Party's Over)" is the perfect closer, some vintage psychedelic garage, with a serious end-of-the-night, wind-down vibe, replete with the epic, almost sing-along finale, albeit one wreathed in heaps of swirling FX. There's more garage rock/surf pop goodness to be found within of course, and we highly recommend you avail yourselves of every single bit!!!FYI, cd version upcoming, soon. And also, Mrs Magician will be playing an instore here at aQ on June 17th, before their show at the Hotel Utah that night!!!
MPEG Stream: "Eyes All Over Town"
MPEG Stream: "Forgiveness"
MPEG Stream: "Jessica Slaughter"
OWL GLITTERS Alchemical Tones (Heart & Crossbone) cd 13.98
We had never heard Owl Glitters before, but they definitely sound like something we sure as shit should have. Falling somewhere between exotic psych folk, lysergic pop, hard rocking space rock, ritualistic doom, and even some blackened buzz. It sounds like a mishmash, but all of those disparate elements somehow fuse into some serious sonic headiness. It reminds us a bit of a more unhinged, way more ramshackle version of psych rockers Black Mountain, with a hefty dose of that sort of tribal forest folk of which we can never seem to get enough. Darkly groovy, some songs slither and swagger, others bliss out into sun dappled paisley poppiness; some mutate into haunting vocal chorales, and still others churn malevolently. The vocals are definitely the most distinctive element and seem to be what drives most of these songs, regardless of the particular strain of psychedelia, they're a haunting, chant-like croon, which gives the sound a very liturgical vibe, the whole thing reminiscent of the glory days of acid psych and seventies folk. And as mentioned above, there's still some buzz here and there, with those tracks getting seriously sinister, although overall, this is some seriously woozy and washed out, psych folk mesmer of the highest order!
MPEG Stream: "Dervishes"
MPEG Stream: "Journey Of The Godheads"
PITA Get In (Editions Mego) lp 23.00
Get In is the first major album in some dozen years from Peter Rehberg, though the man has certainly been busy between albums - aside from running the unimpeachable Editions Mego label, he's produced a litany of amazing albums in collaboration with Stephen O'Malley (as KTL), also with rotating crew of avant-garde technicians (Oren Ambarchi, Fennesz, Jim O'Rourke, etc.), and a few bludgeoning noise projects (Peterlicker, Shampoo Boy, etc.). A hovering airship wash of darkened yet sterilized ambience announces the album, quickly giving way to a fractured set of tracks loaded with brash, polyphonous digital noise and rapid-fire electric dislocation, saddling up to such contemporaries and colleagues as Keith Fullerton Whitman and Russell Haswell. The chiming "Line Angel" is more of a sparkling composition of bent-angle bell tones, that brightly ring out with Pita modulating frequencies to shatter the illusion that this carillon is anything but a digital / electronic production, while the the groovy sequence of "S200729" only needs a 909 kick to be the making of a acid trax classic. Rather, Pita flips the switch on a noise destruction unit, sending that groove into an infernal nosedive through blistering immolation and snarling rage. Diverse by design, Get In proves that Pita is still a force to be reckoned with.
MPEG Stream: "20150609 I"
MPEG Stream: "Line Angel"
MPEG Stream: "S200729"
RED HOUSE PAINTERS Old Ramon (Sub Pop) 2lp 22.00
REISSUED ON VINYL!! Here's our rave review from list #111, way back in 2001:Of course, the long awaited new Red House Painters album is wonderful. It doesn't matter how long Old Ramon waited in major label purgatory - 3 years - it's finally here and it sounds completely fresh and masterful and light and lovely (What a relief!). Twangy 'n warm acoustic guitar strummed so carefully and intimately that it seems Painters leader Mark Kozelek is standing right next to you, his gently mournful voice crooning into your ear. The songs are melodic and so well written, and when Kozelek straps on an electric guitar, the music becomes even more lush and harrowingly beautiful. Highly recommended.
MPEG Stream: "Byrd Joel"
MPEG Stream: "Between Days"
RIDE FOR REVENGE Thy Horrendous Yearning (Bestial Burst) cd 14.98
It's always a struggle to know what to say about these guys. Purveyors of some fiendishly sick strain of blackened sludge, some twisted tangle of dirgey doom metal and knuckle dragging noise rock, but filtered through whatever makes Finnish music so goddamn brilliant and baffling. Do Ride For Revenge get better with every release, or were they always this good? Do they get weirder, or did they start out utterly batshit off the rails? We're guessing it's the latter in both cases, but goddamn if every new record has us scrambling for superlatives, and proclaiming it the best RfR yet!After a brief bit of squelchy power electronics (borrowed perhaps from RfR offshoot Will Over Matter?), the band launches into a filthy, lumbering dirge, that sounds like a black metal Flipper. Lo-fi, stumbling, lurching, the demonic vocals are the only thing keeping this sounding like some weird AmRep B-side, or some unreleased Unsane jam. With the vocals though, it becomes some sort of next level noise metal ritualism. And while we'd be happy just zoning out to the group's endlessly motorik pound, the sound begins to twist into weird shapes, sheets of noise cascading down from above, wild tangles of blown out psych guitar, at one point nearly doubling in volume, the background plod sounding still like the Brainbombs on thorazine, but beneath a Fushitsusha or White Heaven worthy noise guitar fug. From there on out, it's damaged and demented variations on a theme, the group adding distant squiggly melodies, some new wave synths, in fact the middle portion of "Sexual Rhythm Of Death" sound downright groovy, like some fucked up mutant new wave, all noisy, but also super melodic and spaced out. There are long stretches where most of the music drops out leaving the vocals to ooze over minimal gurglescapes (like on "Devil's Star On The Rise"), there's the ultra lo-fi, grinding black blast of the title track, and holy shit, "The Reversed Cross" is downright catchy, almost poppy, a tranced out, blackened hypnorock track. After some mathy stop/start feedback weirdness, the song settles into an almost krautrockish groove, super melodic, and downright mesmerizing, again it's only the vokills that keep it from turning into something else entirely. The record finishes with the super minimal, almost industrial sounding "Secrets Of Cryptic Metal", which maybe not surprisingly is possibly the LEAST metal track on the record. the guitars sculpted into these weird, distorted drenched drones, layered melodic pulsations, that woozily undulate, under slo-mo tribal drumming, kinda like RfR's warped idea of death rock, or goth, those monstrous vocals dragging the whole thing down into the pit, before the final few minutes, the dirge now enveloped in swirls of FX and alien electronics, locked into a super tranced out, psychedelic dream-dirge that could/should have gone on forever, but instead winds down into a hushed rhythmic coda. Like pretty much EVERY Ride For Revenge record, completely and utterly head spinningly genius!!
MPEG Stream: "Sexual Rhythm Of Death"
MPEG Stream: "The Reversed Cross"
MPEG Stream: "Soul Abortion"
SKIN CRIME Case Studies In Early Taxidermy Techniques (Hospital) 20cd box 146.00
Here at aQuarius, we are no strangers to the insane noise box sets. There is, of course, the Merzbox, the unholy mother of excessive media, then also the Ground Fault ten lp box featuring twenty California-based noiseniks, and the perfectly titled "Box Is Stupid" ten cd Incapacitants box. So, when Hospital announced it would be reissuing a massive selection of Skin Crime material as a twenty cd box, we barely batted a collective eye. 20 cds? Bring it on. It kinda goes without saying that this has a somewhat limited appeal, and there isn't anyone who is gonna be totally swayed by this review into buying it who had never listened to any noise before. But to anyone whose interest is piqued, but is still unsure: this KICKS ASS!When most people think of "noise music" they probably imagine something somewhat akin to the typical Merzbow sound: totally digital, abstract, blown out, so-noisey-it's-basically-white-noise NOIZE. The most appealing part of the genre for most of us, though, is actually the restraint; that sound of being just on the precipice, hinting towards a menacing threat just around the corner, the sound of something that's about to explode. Skin Crime represent the best work bridging both sounds. Hospital describes it best: "Skin Crime could be said to be the missing link between European musique concrete, Japanese noise, and the gritty abstract electronics of what became the glory and gory days of 'American harsh noise.'" Dense, detailed, layered, and long-form compositions that aurally name check all the masters that came before them - Bianchi, Mauthausen Orchestra, Masonna, Con-Dom, Sutcliffe Jugend - and foreshadow the modern torchbearers of the genre - Prurient, The Rita, Wolf Eyes, Kevin Drumm, and John Wiese. There's tons of great material on here, and a few that stand out as totally essential - Eyestrain and the self-titled lp are major highlights here. We're pretty sure there's only a handful of aQuarius list readers who are even considering this, but trust us, if you only buy ONE noise box set this year, this is without a doubt THE one. Comes in a beautiful cloth bound, foil-stamped box with a ribbon, individual wallets for each cd (with some pretty grotesque art adorning the covers), a 40-page booklet with info on each release, and a massive 2-sided poster. Obviously extremely limited, already sold out at the source, and totally essential.
MPEG Stream: "Eyestrain Part One"
SUN VALLEY GUN CLUB Into The Valley Sun (self-released) lp 14.98
We're gonna say right up front, we LOVE this band. We only discovered them a few weeks ago, but have been listening to virtually nothing else. To the point where we were beginning to think we should slow down, to keep from getting sick of it. And yet, repeated plays every day, and still we seem to be no closer to wanting to stop. In fact, we continue to discover all sorts of new details, a cool little melody here, a turn of phrase there, we honestly can't remember when we were so blindsided by a record. And now here we have ANOTHER Sun Valley Gun Club record, and while we're thrilled to death, we're also actually pretty torn. A whole new set of songs by what is fast becoming one of our new favorite bands! What's not to love? But then we really don't want to stop listening to the other record quite yet... These are the kind of problems we should always have! So Into The Valley Sun is SVGC's previous record, and everything we love about the new one is already in full effect here, it's a bit scrappier, and maybe a bit more obviously beholden to the group's influences (that nineties sound we love love LOVE), and all those comparisons we made in our review of the other record are even more apt here: Ovens, Weed, Herzog etc. This is classic indie popsmithery for sure, with some of the catchiest songs we've heard in ages. And while the newer record is a bit darker, this record, at least on the surface, is more fun, more sunshiny, more jangly, the melodies, even the lyrics, but even so, there's some serious bittersweet melancholia lurking throughout. It took us a minute to warm up to it (but c'mon, really only like A MINUTE), we were still so immersed in the new record (and BTW, if you don't have that one yet, you might as well just toss that one in the cart with this one, you won't be sorry!), but now we're getting lost in this whole new set of songs, and wondering all over again how these guys have remained a secret, and why the fuck they're not huge. Pop nerds, indie rock geeks, trust on this one, this is absolutely your new favorite band. It most certainly is ours. And even though that new record just came out, and we're listening to the shit out of this one too, we're somehow already wanting more!!! Includes a download code as well.
MPEG Stream: "Millions Of Bands"
MPEG Stream: "Bitterness"
MPEG Stream: "Okay, I'm Over It"
SUN VALLEY GUN CLUB s/t (20 Sided Records) cassette 6.98
ONE OF LAST LIST'S RECORDS OF THE WEEK, NOW HERE ON CASSETTE!Yeah, you know us, record store weirdos who love us the latest batch of blurry black metal, the newest glitched out electro noise, the fresh sound of gut rumbling, tectonic, cosmic dronemusic, BUT, we also love songs, and we love pop, and we love rock, and we particularly love a strain of said rock and pop that they don't really make so much anymore. We're all children of the nineties, so our later formative years were spent listening to Pavement and Polvo, Dinosaur Jr and My Bloody Valentine, Superchunk and Silver Jews and Soul Asylum (when they were great, and they WERE great), the Afghan Whigs and Uncle Tupelo, Codeine and Archers Of Loaf, we could go on, but you get the picture. So if any of that strikes a chord, you just might find yourself falling for Sun Valley Gun Club, who hail from right here right now in the Bay but sound like they could be from 1995 Chapel Hill, or 1998 Seattle, or Athens in 1992, but we definitely don't wanna push the retro angle to the exclusion of everything else, cuz while these guys are definitely rooted in that era, and owe a lot to the above bands, they also manage to craft some of the best songs we've heard in ages. In fact it only took one listen to the song "Hey Collapser", before we were hooked, which then lead to about a hundred more listens, and as seems to be our process, we literally listened to nothing else but that song, until once, when we weren't quick enough to cue it up again, and the record went right into "Nebraska", and goddamn if we didn't then become obsessed with THAT song. And you can guess where it went from there. But seriously, "Hey Collapser" is a total stunner, with its smoldering slow build, the laconic, laid back vox, the chorus that kills, the bridge that kills EVEN MORE, big build ups, plenty of bombast, a little bit of broodiness, it sounds like Built To Spill crossed with Uncle Tupelo, and maybe a little Radar Bros., some Pavement too, but really just a sort of classic songsmithery, that for us never gets old. And the aforementioned "Nebraska", which takes all the same elements, and crafts them into a super dark, tense, brooder, that explodes into some epic math rockiness, getting totally anthemic throughout, with some killer guitar parts, and with some of the most irresistible hooks EVER. Goddamn, if this was a seven inch with just those two songs, we'd be talking potential pantheon placement for sure. But lucky for us, and you, there's about three more double A-sided singles' worth on here of classic sounding indie rock crunch and twang flecked, noise pop brilliance. Fans of aQ faves like Herzog, Weed, Ovens, Swearin', Telekinesis, Iran, the Wrens and other modern indie rock revivalists will definitely lose their ever loving shit. Expect this to show up on some year end top ten lists for sure!! (Andee's already got a space reserved!)
MPEG Stream: "Even Before I Learned To Write"
MPEG Stream: "Hey Collapser"
MPEG Stream: "Nebraska"
TACOCAT Lost Time (Hardly Art) lp 15.98
Lost Time, the third slab of power pop by Seattle's Tacocat, is a stunner of a record. The lead song, an homage to Scully from the X-Files, perfectly sets up the quirky cleverness implicit in Tacocat's approach. Drawing heavily from the riot grrl back-catalog, Tacocat unapologetically takes the listener back to the 1990s. Their songs are catchy as hell, dancing is almost inevitable once you put the record on, but the smart, sometimes hilarious lyrics make you want to really listen. After hearing one of their songs on the radio a few weeks ago (the appropriately named "Horse Grrls") we were completely hooked. It has a simple, no-frills verse-chorus-verse-chorus structure, the chorus double-timed and impossible not to nod your head to. An absolutely perfect punk rock song. Anyone who liked the excellent self-titled record by Feels reviewed a few lists ago will want this too. Highly recommended!
MPEG Stream: "Dana Katherine Scully"
MPEG Stream: "Plan A, Plan B"
MPEG Stream: "Horse Grrls"
WIRE #388 June 2016 magazine 9.98
Latest issue of this UK magazine covering the "new music" like nobody else, in depth and around the world. The cover star is Gaika (a London beat-maker bringing "sounds from the megacity"), also this issue includes improv guitarist Ian Brighton, a Primer on Anarcho-punk, Egyptian shaabi master Elsalm Chipsy (tested by the "Invisible Jukebox"), Swedish composer Klara Lewis, a "Global Ear" scene report from Wales, and plenty more!
YOUNG, DENNIS Wave: Electronic Music 1984-1988 (Bureau B) cd 17.98
So, if we told you that German krautrock specialists Bureau B just put out an archival anthology of rare tracks home-recorded in the '80s by a musician who was a huge fan of '70s electronic synthesizer music, and who had amassed a collection of various Moogs and Korgs and other gear to experiment with channeling his heroes like Cluster, Klaus Schulze and Tangerine Dream in his spare time, you'd probably be interested, right?And then what if if we told you (as you've no doubt figured out already) that the musician in question was Dennis Young, the drummer from downtown NYC no-wave funk legends Liquid Liquid?? Then you should be really interested. Yep, that's what we've got here, and it's some pretty nice stuff. Eleven tracks total, taken from three cassette-only releases: Concepts (1985), Reflections (1987), and Quest (1988). Young was clearly a keen student of the "Berlin school" and plenty of pleasantly propulsive, sun-dappled, new agey, kosmiche synth delights abound on this, for sure.
MPEG Stream: "Project Ozma"
MPEG Stream: "Celestial Voyage"
MPEG Stream: "Twilight"
ZIG ZAGS Running Out of Red (Castle Face) lp 15.98
For a band called the Zig Zags, these duders are actually pretty straight up, straight 'atcha on this here 2nd full length that they just busted out with, now on new label Caste Face. The only zigging and zagging going on is between whether each song is gonna sound more punk or more metal, though no matter what they're catchy rippers, the band rockin' their asses off on these tracks, bringing thick fuzzy guitars, rollicking tempos, gang vocals, and lotsa 'tude to the party. One kinda curve ball comes right away with the opener, "They Came For Us", an urgent epic of heavy, Hawkwind-y bludgeon. And then soon after, track three, "The Sadist" - a chunky thrasher with some rad, ropey riffage - really reminds us that Zig Zags are totes a METAL band when they wanna be. Hit the fuckin' lights, these guys go full on kill 'em all on that one, while elsewhere on the album they dial it mostly more towards the punkier, pogo-ier side of things: less Metallica, more Misfits and Ramones and The Dwarves.Yeah, another good 'un for anyone who loved the Zig Zags' debut two years ago as much as we did! Also recommended if you dug Zeke circa Death Alley, or like fellow LA miscreants The Shrine.
MPEG Stream: "They Came For Us"
MPEG Stream: "The Sadist"
MPEG Stream: "My Lighter"