Thursday, October 30, 2008

Little Women – Teeth [Gilgongo]/Family Underground – Helium Rug [DNT]

These are a pair of one-sided LPs released by two of my favorite labels as of late.
Little Women is a Brooklyn quartet, composed of a drummer, guitarist, and two saxophonists (one alto and one tenor). From that descriptor, I would certainly get the impression they are a jazz-dominated affair, and jazz certainly makes an appearance on the record, but there’s a lot other styles that come to play here as well. I’ve rarely heard so much music crammed into 20 minutes. I don’t mean that quantitatively, like 30 songs in twenty minutes or something, but the sheer complexity and range the band exhibits over the course of this 20 minute take is fucking mind boggling.
Upon entry, I am immediately hurled into zany skronk shredding, after about 30 seconds in, until a great authoritative, marching melody materializes which lasts for, say, another 30 seconds. This leads to a sad, beautiful but brief bit of lilting sax before the guitar/drums jump back in and start blasting away. The duo of saxophones begin playing a great melody line, vaguely in unison before spiraling off in different directions. Sorry for the play by play, but man, they have so many ideas they run through at a breakneck pace, it’s the only way I can really keep up. There’s a brief bout of silence before the saxophones creep their way back in. I really like the use of doubling the saxophonists employ because it dually focuses their presence while also creating an intriguing volatility to the sounds they make. Things freak out for a while, until the guys settle on a groove. There’s a really great rubber band sax line that works well against the spy movie-inspired guitar melody. Things begin to break apart a little until another great guitar riff moves in, staying to salvage the bit of coherence experienced a minute before. The drums catch on and the drummer just fuckin’ tears shit up. His solo is incredible in how he manages to propel the track (along with the guitar) and remain impeccable rhythmically while going absolutely nuts. After a sax solo the drum/guitar part returns, everything is fused and the whole crew forms like Voltron. I’m half-expecting the stylus to spark and my whole apartment to go up in flames. The very last bit is bizarre with a bunch of weird vocalizations—I don’t know if they got possessed by demon spirits or moved to Finland mid-track or what but a strange beast overtakes the band until the end groove.
This thing is a tour de force. In my saltier moods I can be a bit critical of the one-sided LP format, because if you’re gonna buy or put out a one-sided LP, that side had better fucking slay and a lot them don’t. However, this one does! This is the one that all the amateur one-sided LPs out there looking to make it big need to model themselves on. I don’t even know if my brain could take another side to this monster. There’s so much great stuff to absorb just in these brief twenty minutes and the record continues to excite me more each time I play it.
Meanwhile, I hadn’t heard anything for a little while from Copenhagen’s Family Underground, certainly one my favorite drone acts ever, so it was good to see what these three have been up to. The first sound that jumps out of Helium Rug is a very metallic flickering of frequencies. I don’t know it for a fact but this sounds like live-style Family Underground—heavy vibrations and a non-drum but percussive presence (usually a guitar). I really like the percussive element here, there’s a looped pattern of hollow-sounding noises as well as a slashing metallic clanging which sounds to me like what a home-made hi-hat would sound like. After a minute or two the layers and layers of drones lock in with the groove and further, vocal-sounding layers are added. At some point the record hits a locked groove in middle, though I’m not sure if that’s intentional or not.
I’ve always liked that the Family use varying sound sources—guitars, pedals, vocals, other—and pull out very analogous, complementing sounds that all combine in a sweltering feast of noise. Most of their recent stuff I’m recalling had a pretty dense, round low-end tunneling quality but this piece has a bright tonal quality with a lot of rough edges. It’s like a garage drone band or something. Towards the end a pulsing bit of electronics pushes things along nicely and the piece has a rather modest but significant conclusion. This record is worth checking out if only for the documentation of this phase of their sound. They still sound undoubtedly “Family Underground” but this represents a contrast to the vibe of a lot of their other works in my opinion.
Helium Rug came out in an edition 299 and is sold out at source but I’m sure you could still scrounge up a copy somewhere with a little bit of effort. The art is great, and fitting for Family Underground, the cover is a screen printed clusterfuck of lines and the back has minimal info stamped in smeared metallic gold ink. Also the non-playable side of the LP is spray painted with neon crop circles or something. Teeth is still readily available from Gilgongo and definitely comes recommended. Mick Barr does the art which, oddly, fits the record really well. It comes with a sizable insert as well.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Starving Weirdos – Absolute Freedom [Abandon Ship]/Slasher Risk – Triple Jesus [Kass/Jamps]

With this Starving Weirdos 7incher Nate Rulli has taken the a big first step into the world of vinyl with his Abandon Ship label. Along for the ride is a CD-r reissue of Abandon Ship buddies Slasher Risk’s LP Triple Jesus that Nate, being the nice dude that he is, stuck in with my order.
Starving Weirdos are a crew I’ve had a bit of rocky listening relationship with, I remember quite a while back (2006 I think) there was some double CD that everyone was loving except me (though I think Outer Space Gamelan may have shared my sentiments). I’ve checked in periodically with the group though and I liked the subsequent releases I've heard a bit more but was never wowed. I threw caution to the wind and purchased this sucker because it’s a piece of Abandon Ship history and I love 7inches, and lo and behold, I dig it. It’s also a good way to test my theory that artists put their best material on 7inchs. I can’t exactly tell which is side is A and B but I’m gonna guess that “Absolute Freedom” is the side with “Starving Weirdos” on the label and that “Mt. Josephet” is the on the side with “Absolute Freedom” printed on the label. It’s counterintuitive but that’s my guess.
“Absolute Freedom” is a great track propelled by alternating samples of drums and various glistening drone-inducers. The strong rhythmic presence is the key to the track’s success I think because things keep moving, never outstaying their welcomes. There’s a real off-kilter vibe about the whole thing despite the constant rhythmic push. The piece wraps up with some near-incomprehensible free form rant, free form drumming and then a surprisingly formed (and catchy) alt rock chord progression for the last ten seconds. Weird track but that goes with out saying.
Rhythm plays a big part in “Mt. Josephet” too, with a marching drum pattern and swelling organ tones. Again the rhythmic sensibilities keep things jaunty and on the move. Relatively little changes throughout most of the track so the drums are necessary to help the rest of track get under your skin. At some point the drums fade and the drones run free. Though the track is relatively hypnotic and then pretty, but overall it’s a bit static. I wish there was a bit more going on. But as is, it’s still a one fun to jam.
I reviewed this Slasher Risk record in LP form quite a while ago, and in case you're wondering, I’m not above straight-up recycling my previous review. Though I made the necessary changes to accompany the new CD-r format. However, I review the CD-r’s bonus tracks after the quote.
“Maybe it’s just me, but doesn’t the name Slasher Risk make you think violence? Anyway, I wasn’t sure what I was in for but figured it’d probably be pretty noisy. To my surprise however, the first track is a wandering dual guitar jam. Excellent! I love noise and all but I really love dual guitar jams. This particular one is a warbly, glistening bout of clean toned tanglings. The best reference points I can think of are, Tom Carter projects, Sarin Smoke and Spiderwebs. This Slasher Risk jam though is a bit more consonant than those. Despite the long track length the jam is never stuck spinning its wheels. There’s always a momentum pushing things forward mostly due to the well-employed rhythm/lead style. The guitars trade off playing more coherent/rhythmic parts and more free/textural parts. This track because of its length has to have been improvised, which is amazing to me cause Andy and Sara ceaselessly turn out spectacular arpeggio/interplay/whatever after spectacular arpeggio/interplay/whatever. There are lots and lots of beautiful breaks where they’ll build rhythmically to some point where it all dissipates into a beautiful melody. Things get a bit rougher and more menacing towards the end without really changing their sound at all, which is always a thing for my ears to behold. This piece just keeps on ruling and ruling, never getting old never getting boring. So yeah, this jam is totally killer. Slasher Risk are occupying an interesting space in the guitar-duosphere because a) their guitars are totally meant to sound like guitars b) they use traditional tactics in an interesting way, marrying the long psych jam with good, compelling guitar playing and well composed melodic interaction. Well done.
The course of the next three tracks sees a bit noisier confrontational side of the duo. I can’t tell if they are rolling in dual guitar format or not. There is one guitar definitely, but other person could be guitar or just effects or something. It’s an ominous sounding ride and difficult to pin down. Again, like the first track, Slasher Risk keeps forging ahead running through different portions of sound. At one point there’s a guitar strum and then noisy squiggles made from effects or synth or guitar maybe. At another there’s a pulsing guitar drone interrupted by flashes of static noise. While the movements don’t gel as well as they did on the first piece, there’s still a good momentum to the proceedings. Not so for the next two tracks though. Unfortunately, the third piece is a bunch of random fumbling and never coheres into anything really meaningful, ending rather anti-climactically. Nonetheless, Triple Jesus is still, for the most part, quite a great record.”
Two bonus live cuts are included on the CD-r. Both recordings are totally scuzzed out and the first is a nine minute run of assaulting guitar and drums. It has a definitely more “rock” vibe than anything else on the album. The second track is rad two minutes of sludgy, broken speaker vehemence. The live-quality recording doesn’t always work in the favor of the first bonus track but this cut is right at home. I could see this song fitting snugly on a split 7inch with any number of heavy scuzz rock acts.
The Starving Weirdos’ platter is limited to 500 and still in print. The CD-r looks to be available on Slasher Risk’s myspace. Each come with their own insert with info and images.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Black Pus/Foot Village – Split [DNT/Deathbomb Arc]/Foot Village – Friendship Nation [Gilgongo/Tome]

The subject of tonight’s review is people who play the drums really hard.
DNT keeps working their way up the awesome label chain with another LP, co-released with Deathbomb Arc, notched on its belt, not to mention having some sure to be amazing LPs on the way by Ducktails, Social Junk and Barrabarracuda. The dropping of this LP was timed by Black Pus Brian Chippendale and Deathbomb Brian Miller to coincide with their nation saving effort, Noise for Obama. That’s enough info for right now though, I wanna jam some tunes.
The disgustingly/cleverly named Black Pus (a joke on the three trillion “Black ______” band names in existence) is the solo project of Brian Chippendale—he’s in Lightning Bolt, in case you are unaware. When the needle drops yr hit with the riotous party jam explosion of “Floatzilla”. I know Chippendale is playing drums and singing but there’s a lot of fuzz in here too and I’m not sure where it's coming from cause it sounds overdub-free. Anyway who cares, I’m just loving how groovy and swinging this track is while also being a sludgy bludgeoning. The song moves relentlessly at the max frequency of fun. It real cool, to paraphrase Gwendolyn Brooks. There’s a weird electronic pseudo-flute freak out at the end which is just icing on the cake. “Altar Rat” matches energetic free drumming with crumbling, squeaking noise loops. I think there may be an electronic drum kit at work here in addition to Chippendales usual set-up, because the drums have a bit of a phased/filtered vibe with electro-pad-sounding interjections. This track is a slow-melting mass of drums, feedback, and vocals much like the first track but it sounds like it’s in danger of imploding in on itself at any time. It’s like an unstable nucleus on wax. The Pus’s last entry is “The Black Whole” beginning drumless with a funky low-end synth loop and lots of pretty(!) layers of keyboard on top of it. Even without the drums the piece grooves endlessly (well, until the end groove). I love Chippendale’s drumming but he should totally explore this drumless area further, it’s a rad and different take on synth music. A classic side overall.
L.A. drum nuts Foot Village take the other side with two tracks of silly voices and some the most fiery drumming I’ve ever heard. The silly voices are actually really hilarious particularly the opening dialogue of “Race to the End of Food”, where a sinister sounding dude challenges a hungry guy to a race for food. Every time the guy says “me hungy”, it has me in stitches. However, this isn’t a comedy album (I think) and, as I mentioned, the drumming is ferocious. It reminds a bit of Ettrick in double drum mode but multiplied to the point where all the drumming becomes a blur. This track almost comes off like a noise record because of how all the fury of drums is built upon and matted on top of itself. A few brave souls attempt vocals but can’t really be heard above the volcanic din. My favorite part is a brief drum solo just before the race’s winner is announced, everyone claps and one sane individual in the room says “I can’t believe this is our song”. “420 (National Holiday)” fits in snugly with the classic Foot Village song format, and is one of the best examples of the format I might add. Excellent dynamic, polyrhythmic drumming and everyone contributing to the catchy four-part vocal chants. This too gives way to another hilarious skit about "The Celestial Bong". I usually am not down with stoner-based humor but it's pretty funny here. The female stoner voice is so pitch-perfect that I just lose it when she says “ohhh, that suuucks. I don’t know, maaan.” Another face melting/gut busting recording from the Foot Village.
Speaking of Foot Village they got a whole album of their own and it’s called Friendship Nation. It has been given the CD/LP treatment by UK’s Tome and Arizona’s Gilgongo respectively. The first side of the record is probably the most solid piece of Foot Village jamming I’ve heard. The tracks are kept lean and mean. The public urination law protest song (“Wherever you want, whenever you want, you have the right to go pee”) “Urination” announces the album’s arrival with a thunderous downpour of cymbal and toms before a rollicking rhythm takes shape. Foot Village sound tighter here than ever before, regarding both the drumming and chanting. Things keep rolling with “Crow Call”, which if I’m not mistaken, was released as a single. It makes sense cause it’s a really concise 2.5 minute distillation of the Foot Village sound. However, “Protective Nourishment” is hands down my favorite track on the album. It features a rather long build up of repetitive rhythms until the arrival of vocals and all sorts of complex rhythms start moving in different directions before returning for a breakdown. The second half of the track is total forward thrust with entwined but unified drum lines. I’m not sure whether to call it raw, primal sophistication or sophisticated, raw primitivism. I like the former better. “Narc Party (Let’s Make It Fucked Up)” with its chant of “Kill those narcs! Fuck those narcs!” reminds all that narcs are people just like you and me and like to party too. My favorite element of the track is the really fast background mantra of “Narc! Narc! Narc! Narc!”, which works as a great counterpoint to the more complicated pulses of the drumming.
The second side isn’t quite as solid but is still effective. “Erecting a Wall of Separation” begins with a weirdo vocal quartet, before drumming commences with a simple accompaniment to the mantra. The second part of the track erupts with a vigorous assault of polyrhythms, some of the best drumming on the record. The album’s default epic, “1998”, is another great track exhibiting the group’s talent for just hitting the drums like a bastard—though it’s interrupted by a cavernous telling of a sinking ship which crops up in the middle of track. “Materialist Crap” is a straight two minute jolt to the boogie center of yr brain, with mildly cryptic lyrics about materialist crap (hint: materialist crap? you get none of it). “.” finishes off the album. I really dig vocal-less fashion of the first portion because you can really lock in and get to zoning with the drums, this leads to a recording of someone playing a videogame or sports or something and people cheering(“Hit it motherfucker!”) and then drums segue back in for a while and then the piece ends with more of the recording in the middle of the track.
The CD version comes with 4 remixes as well. BIG A little a delivers a echoey, chopped-up version of “Protective Nourishment” before launching into a little electro diddy that sounds like an IDM ice cream truck to me. Silver Daggers take on “Narc Party”, the first minute or so sounds pretty much just like the original track but this gives way to a piling of short loops taken from the song. The last minute changes again to the song but with an extra “groove” switch flicked on. Tussle handles “1998” the remix sounds just on the verge of going Eurohouse for a while which is as bizarre as it sounds and then things turn dub-dance which you had to kinda expect from Tussle. (Anecdote: I was at a party the other night and there was this record nerd who lived at the house who cradled and admired his clear Tussle LP in the light for literally three minutes before putting it on the turntable. It was just so comical.) Aa, the Daggers and Tussle seem like usual, though not uninspired, choices for remixing this kind of affair so points to whoever called Robedoor to do a remix. Honestly, I’m not even sure if I believe this is a legit remix (gold star if it is) because it sounds more like a Robedoor recorded their own piece and mashed it with “Protective Nourishment” but it’s a cool track either way.
The Black Pus/Foot Village LP is sold out on DNT’s end (though I’d still recommend taking advantage of his killer 3-for-$15 vinyl deal) but Deathbomb Arc is still selling copies last I checked. The artwork is done by Chippendale and it’s an awesome bit of silk screen graffiti over a fold-out animal poster. Each one is different too, I got two cuddly tigers. As far as Friendship Nation is concerned both versions are readily available from Tome and Gilgongo. The remixes are fun but not essential so I’d say get whichever format you prefer.
I'll leave you with a quote I found to be particularly true and well-stated courtesy of Brian Chippendale on Noise for Obama: "Political non-participation in my social sphere often stems from not wanting to 'play the game.' But I’m pretty sure that if you are standing in a city, driving a car down a public road, emailing whoever for whatever, or eating food not grown within walking distance (and even then) you Are playing the game. Earth (and beyond) is the board, and it needs your help to stay a cool place to play."

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Tricorn and Queue – Tapestry Head Ban [Housecraft]/Xiphiidae – Bronze Hut [Housecraft]

It’s taken me way too long to say a few words about Housecraft. They flew under my radar for a while but once they came to my attention I was very impressed. The visual aesthetic is consistently top-notch and head Housecrafter Jeffry Astin has a keen ear for great drone acts, most of them lesser-known (at least to me). I also have much love for any label that peddles cheap tapes, these two are my picks from the sampling Jeffry sent me a while back. So let’s get this review poppin’.
I’m pretty sure that Tricorn and Queue is just the name of the crew and not a collaboration, but don’t quote me. The first of the four stops on the tape is “Gilded Feathers/First Flight Over Ashen Trees” and I’m tempted to call it my favorite but we’ll see where I end up by the end of the review. The first portion of the track is full of skittering muck. Pieces of vocals, sustained tones and clipped, cut, echoing percussive sounds. Despite the complete lack of congruence the group seems oddly focused. Like they know where their impulses will take them before they even have them. There’s a point where, it seems, the players make a conscious effort to get pretty and it sucks me in every time. I'm guessing this is the “Ashen Trees” portion. Lovely tones slip slowly underneath the mild cacophony, surrounding and filling every crack with flowing, floating beauty. It has an amazing effect on my mind, calming but forgoing any sort of blandness. It’s a really wondrous flight that I could fly with forever. Nothing is out of place, every new tone, every peak, every valley; it’s all effortless and all about the oneness with sound. Sorry to get new age-y on yr ass but this is fucking great. There’s a little synth part that eeks out at the very end that’s exceptional too as the piece slowly gives in to silence. “Live @ the 612, Gainesville 7/20/07” fills out the rest of the side, and it continues the somber lilting idea but it's kept in check by an occasional, delayed metallic tapping. Things then turn a bit weirder with a reversed violin-type sound and various washes of noise. This gives way to another set of glacial sounds. A glacier seems like an apt comparison because it’s cool, smooth and pervasive but it’s also subtly destructive at the same time. Tricorn and Queue always have a counterpoint, something that chisels away at the smoothness a bit. Though it may not have the power to flood the world with ecstasy like the first piece, it’s a fine effort.
On the flip, “Stone Fleets Home” leads off. This sounds more aquatic to my ear. I may be psyching myself out a bit but I think there may even be a recording of water in there somewhere as well. This one seems a bit more synth-led but it could easily be blissed-out guitar that I’m hearing. Actually that’s probably it the more I think about it. That piece is over relatively quickly before moving into the finale “Triangled Goldflower/Apache Radiation”. Dude, I don’t know what “Apache radiation” is but I wanna find out. This piece returns to the style of the beginning of the tape. A strange collection of all sorts of sounds, not really smashed together but “lumped” I guess would a better word. There’s a pseudo-choir sound that I’m loving, as well as a lo-fi blues guitar that pops out for a few notes and lots of other cool sounds I’ll leave to your imagination. All the elements cycling in and out make for a dizzying swirl of sound. Always mellow, never boring. Which works pretty well as a descriptor for the tape in general.
I’ve been seeing this Xiphiidae name around town a lot after I got this tape but I had never heard of the project before hearing this little baby. I wouldn’t be surprised if Xiphiidae got a bunch of record deals based on this tape alone. This tape is less airy and about a third of the length of the Tricorn & Q, instead creating a tad bit fuller sound. Lots of glistening sound waves from all kinds of sources. This project seems to be heavier on the synths, though there are some other sounds pushed down a lot I can’t quite pick out. Throughout the side a new set of tones will swoop down to displace another only to be displaced minutes later. I know this is all a bit vague but it’s tricky to pin down all the sounds/phases the track holds in its 7 minutes. The other side is cut from the same piece of cloth though the instrumentation varies a little and the track as whole seems slightly less cloudy. There’s a real nice period on the side where an elegant lo-pitched tone glides along while a crackly hi-pitched din floats on top giving way to chimes and other murkiness.
Two phenomenal releases for fans of tapes, drone and natural highs. Housecraft does an amazing job with packaging and these two are cases in point. Tapestry Head Ban has two-layer j-card with printed vellum and a piece of material soaked with color. Really nice looking. It also comes with an insert and tape labels. Bronze Hut comes with a hand-made collaged j-card and tape labels as well. Both tapes are out of print but I’ve seen copies around at a few distros, if you're interested. I’d also recommend just buying some of the new Housecraft stuff cause it looks rad and is sure to be nice on your wallet and your ears.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Lateral Hyetography – Some Girlzzz [Really Coastal]

This cassingle arrived mysteriously in my mail. I can only think of 3 other cassingles from the last couple years offhand (Ignatz, Barrabarracuda, U.S. Girls) and it’s an unappreciated/forgotten format I think. Although, I wonder what separates a c10 from a cassingle because there are lots of c10s flying about it seems. I believe the only more ponderous “ponderance” than that is, if someone you like asks you “if a tree falls in a forest does it make a sound?” will you begin to think they suck? If you have an answer and/or sub-question to my query, please get in touch cause I’d like to know. Alright, enough with all this meta-magnetic tape mumbo jumbo.
The subject of this review is Lateral Hyetography, and except for one person I know (Mike--weather science freak), Lateral Hyetography is infinitely better than actual hyetography. The tape came with a press release though I can’t seem to find it right now but this tape was made by one dude and it features two versions of “Some Girlzzz”, one on each side of course. I’ve had this song stuck in my head for the last 24 hours so I figured now is good time to get some words down. And it’s a good excuse to sit on my ass and listen to this tape over and over.
I’m partial to the version on the A-side. Though it begins unassuming enough, overdriven guitar, vocals and drum loop, this is actually a seriously epic pop song. Its magic is subtle. The track changes quite a lot without seeming like it. It takes one idea and stretches it as far as it can ago (I mean that in a good way, just so we’re clear). There’s a pseudo-verse/chorus thing at the beginning, “pseudo” cause it doesn’t really repeat or anything. This leads to an extended breakdown of just music which I don’t think you’re supposed to do if you wanna “make it” in the wonderful world of pop, but dude obviously doesn’t care about that—he’s just trying make me/you/everyone sing his song over and over. There’s a nice simple guitar riff that leads to my favorite a.k.a. the best part of the song. I’m pretty sure the guy is just singing “Some girls do-doo-di-do-dah-di-da-daowh”, what does it mean? I don’t know. But do I believe it? Hell yes I do, I should because I sung it to myself at least 200 times today. My only qualm with the song is that the casiobeat that accompanies the track is too loud and gets in the way a bit. The song is inherently propulsive and driven so I think a more subtle use of it would have benefited the track. It’s a very small problem to have though.
When you theoretically flip that shit, you’ll hear “Some Girlzzz” again but this time in acoustic mode. I prefer my pop full force and fuzzed so I take the A-side. This other version is no slouch though, the arrangement is similar with that casiobeat, acoustic guitar and multi-tracked vocals—d.i.y. Beach Boys-style. The guitar drops out and the breakdown consists of a bit of droney keyboard and extra vocal harmony. Even in this version with pretty easily discernible vocals I’m pretty sure he’s singing “do-doo-di-do-dah-di-da-daowh”. Go figure. The edge this version has on the previous side is live drumming that comes in for the last 1.5 minutes or so. It adds a nice, conclusive effect.
The tape is the first release by Really Coastal, though it looks like they just released their second tape—one by Antique Bros. With tapes by Theo Angell, Metal Rouge and more Lateral Hyetography on the way it looks like a label to keep an eye on. The first run of 95 sold out but it looks like there is a second pressing of Some Girlzzz available now at the barnbusting low price of $3.50. Tapes are pro-dubbed/pro-printed beauties housed with a fold-out j-card and bizarrely bizarre and thematic(?) cover art. Hours of enjoyment/3 dollars and 50 cents, I think you know what to do.
And since I’m sure you are dying to know and it was deemed important enough to credit on the j-card, the “cover model” is named Kathryn.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Auxiliary Out Radio Programme #27 (10/19/08)

"Post/Coast" James Fella Post/Coast (CD-r) [C-Salt, 2008]

"Feasting on Energy" Magic Lantern High Beams (LP) [Not Not Fun, 2008]

"My Blue Screen" Day Creeper Split (with Night of Pleasure) (7") [No Label, 2008]

"Initiation" Yellow Crystal Star + Redbird Pre-eminent Dissolution of States of US (CD-r) [No Label, 2008]

"Scanner" Shearing Pinx Ultra Snake (LP) [Isolated Now Waves, 2007]

"Everyman" Ignatz Bored Fortress Series Split (with Shepherds) (7") [Not Not Fun, 2008]

"Tonite We Ride (excerpt)" Burnt Hills Tonite We Ride (CD) [Flipped Out, 2008]

"Micheal J. White Guy" The Pope Do You Wanna Boogie? (CS) [DNT, 2008]

"Floatzilla/Altar Rat" Black Pus Split (with Foot Village) (LP) [DNT/Deathbomb Arc, 2008]

"Side A" Mayyors Mayyors (7") [Waste of Oil, 2008]

"Tornado" Caldera Lakes Caldera Lakes (CD-r) [Sentient Recognition Archive, 2008]

"Rib of His God" Secret Abuse Bored Fortress Series Split (with Inca Ore) (7") [Not Not Fun, 2008]

"Way It's Gotta Be" Nice Face Can I Fuck It (CS) [Jerkwave, 2008]

"Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening" Married in Berdichev Married in Berdichev (7") [Gilgongo, 2008]

"Untitled" K2 Encino Man: Cryogenic Awakening (CD-r) [New Age Cassettes, 2008]

"Out of Control" Catatonic Youth Piss Scene (7") [Hozac, 2008]

mp3: Part 1 Part 2

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Married in Berdichev – Married in Berdichev [Gilgongo]

I’m considering this the wrap-up of my string of Kevin Shields-related reviews. Eva Aguila doesn’t appear anywhere on the record but Brittany Gould does, and together they make up the spectacular Caldera Lakes project. According to Gilgongo, this 7inch is the first widely available Married in Berdichev release because the project has only previously appeared on self-released CD-rs and as part of the Deathbomb Arc Tape Club. So fresh off of blowing my mind with that Caldera Lakes full-length, Gould contributes a mighty fine record to announce Married in Berdichev’s presence to the world.
The A-side, “Feet in the Water”, is a side long dreamer based around layered vocals and a looped thumb piano. I really dig the moderately noisy oscillations that pop up, keeping the track on its toes. There are lyrics but I can’t really make them out. Gould does a great job simultaneously building intensity while keeping the track airy. She also keeps a lot of balls in the air at once, so to speak, which is always an impressive feat to me. The wide variety of sounds here are expertly placed and there’s a nice balance between a few main melodic loops that continue through the entire track and the other more sporadic sounds that show up, burn out/fade away only to have new sounds take their place.
The flipside holds “Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Evening”. While “Feet in the Water” had a lullaby quality to it, this side has a touch of dread. Opening with a round, low organ tone and smoky delayed vocals, the hypnotic but uneasy tone is established quickly and succinctly. Though more minimal than the previous side, there are key sounds, particularly of a percussive nature, that immediately heighten the intensity upon their entry. At a few important points the noisier elements launch a coup, overtaking everything in sight (or earshot). The once clean toned vocals begin surfing on a wave of fuzz, manipulated with various knobs and what-have-you to squelch, sputter and surge. The piece ends memorably with a hi-pitched bit of grainy noise that stutters and lurches, nearly rhythmically, seeming to signal a new movement in the track, but, just like that, it hits the end groove. Even after having listened half a dozen times, it was still catching me off-guard.
The artwork was screened by Gould herself on thick deep navy cardstock with matching LP labels and an insert. This is the archetypal “great 7inch find”: new artist, two magnificent but varied sides, classy packaging, cheap price; it has it all. It’s in-print as of now too, but be warned it’s limited to 300.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Caldera Lakes – Caldera Lakes [Sentient Recognition Archive]

Caldera Lakes is a recently formed duo of Eva Aguila and Brittany Gould. And it actually sounds pretty close to what you would imagine their collaboration would sound like based on their solo projects. It’s similar to a softer version of Kevin Shields or akin to a harsher version of Married in Berdichev. That’s definitely an oversimplification though, because their collaboration effortlessly produces some of the most sublime sounds I’ve ever heard.
The first of the album’s four tracks, “Snowstorm”, begins with an eerie though calming female coo. Before too long, electronic scrapes puncture the entrancing spell being cast, spiking at equal intervals. It’s almost invisible but there is a higher register vocal counter melody that is married beautifully with the main vocal loop. A number of delayed sounds float in and out before a tempered eruption of distorted vocals and noise. The effect evoked with the pairing of Gould’s peaceful vocal loops and the agitated harshness of Aguila’s noise manipulation is incredibly beautiful and even makes me a little emotional somehow. The harshness ceases and more barely audible sounds are layered and cycled as the piece drifts to a close. This piece is profoundly expressive; it takes a sampling of the entire spectrum of sound and births an entirely coherent work of art that creates so many sensations and feelings in me that I don’t know where to begin. They’re probably private anyway, so maybe it’s for the best.
Sorry to get all sentimental on you there for a second, the next track, “Shotgun #2”, at 11.5 minutes is the longest track on the album. Commencing with a bassy synth pulse and a percussive rubbing sound, Gould sings about chiming birds and going to the forest with a shotgun. A few plinking tones are chopped and repeated against a vague electronic swelling. The duo do an amazing job keeping you suspended in anticipation. The track feels like it’s on the verge of an upsurge for the majority of its length. I was guessing there would be a point where the track explodes out of nowhere, but they fooled me. Instead a robust flurry of noise is gradually built in the track’s tail end before dropping out leaving a short loop of vocals and chimes.
The instant-classic “Tornado” is next. Unlike the previous two tracks it begins in jarring nature with a mechanical throb which Gould sings over as Aguila whips up all sorts of gliding tones and feedback freakouts. Over a glorious vocal loop and noisy squall, Gould really exhibits her vocal abilities. I’m no vocal coach or anything but she has exceptional range and control. Her voice, to me, is roughly a midpoint between Björk and Liz Harris—and it’s as beautiful as that sounds, maybe more so. The interplay between Gould’s voice and Aguila’s machinery is phenomenal, the intensity of the piece moves through peaks and valleys. The smoothness of Gould’s vocal and the jagged crash and squelch of Aguila’s efforts seem like utter opposites (and maybe they are) but this song is evidence they were destined to be together. This piece is so tightly paced and constructed (a signature of Aguila’s solo work) that at eight minutes it flies by. There’s a lot more dimensions to the track than I’ve covered here, but I’m not really sure how to capture them.
“We Never Talked About it”, the shortest track, closes the album. In atypical fashion for this record, heavy static noise is applied thickly at the front of track and is slowly stripped away. Gould’s soft vocal competes with Aguila’s noisy tantrums against a minimal bed of tones. Just when it appears the noise has won, a lullaby emerges and is sung until the record’s end.
This is one of those releases where words fail or at least my words fail. I feel all I can really do is talk highly of the album because everything else I’ve written is woefully ineffective at communicating the beauty of this record. Though, that was never really the point. Eva and Brittany have already communicated it to you; I’m just the unnecessary middleman. Anyhow, you must hear this. If it’s not a masterpiece, it’s pretty goddam close. And to hear records this incredible coming from them so early in their formation makes me giddy for the future. Fuck the financial crisis and all that, everything will be fine as long as Caldera Lakes keep putting out records.
Caldera Lakes is available now on Sentient Recognition Archive. It comes in a cardboard slipcase with semi-appropriate/semi-misleading soothing artwork. The CD looks professionally printed with a cute/creepy scan of a young paper doll and accessories. And if you’re living in Europe right now go have, what is sure to be, a life-affirming experience at one of the shows on the Caldera Lakes/Kevin Shields/Married in Berdichev tour, lucky bastards.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Cristopher Cichocki/Kevin Shields/Rale – Artist Series Vol. 1 [Deathbomb Arc/Table of Contents]

This is the next installment of the Kevin Shields-related round-up…
To clarify the title of this review a bit, Cristopher Cichocki is the filmmaker behind this 3” DVD-r of which he created visual accompaniment to a Kevin Shields piece as well as a Rale piece. The goal of the project is to translate the “micro-grain obsessions” of the two composers into a visual medium. This is done through serious, split-second editing working at maximum frame rates. (I stole that bit from the press release, I actually don’t know shit about film editing)
The Kevin Shields track goes first. “Motorhands” was also seen on the vinyl bonanza Thrash Sabbatical but here it’s delivered in spiffy, digital quality (though through my crappy TV speakers). I’m gonna try not to focus too much on what all the visuals are and a bit more on the overall effect the video creates. That said, as a starting point I’ll mention that much of the raw footage from this video looks to be images taken during a Kevin Shields performance. That metallic crank she’s so fond of (apparently a “film synchronizer”, if I can trust internet research) makes a prominent cameo appearance early on. The audio begins with a steady sine tone. When the noise breaks, an image (well actually it’s like a hundred really similar images) of Eva Aguila’s gear begins shaking erratically, moving between images drenched in red light and soft pink. What freaks me out is the way all her gear seems to be continually “slipping” across the table. It is a very disorienting feeling, much like one gets from hearing Aguila’s music. There’s a jump from that relatively static image to a series of images where the camera appears to be swooping in close to Aguila, though that may just be the editing. This set of images is disorienting as well but in another manner. The juxtaposition (sorry if I sound like a tool) of the nearly static image with the next set of short moving images almost creates the sensation in my body of being stationary (which I am) and then suddenly, repeatedly being jolted forward. That isn’t even the real brilliance here; that set of moving images is positioned perfectly with a part in the audio where Aguila repeatedly breaks the flow of noise with a hi-pitched tone, an adrenalized lurching if that makes any sense. The video ends with a frantic, psychedelic mindfuck of nature images with things of various colors: a cool blue, a pale green, a grey and a kinda orange-red-gold. The composite of the frenzied alternation of all those images looks galactic to me which is pretty rad to behold.
The second video is titled “Tattered Syntax” with Rale, which is a project of noise artist and Cassette Gods scribe, Bill Hutson’s. As far as I can tell, this is the first time this track has been released, though I’m far from a Rale expert. No matter. The majority of the footage used here seems to be images of metal, light, earth, modern architecture and probably some other stuff that I’m not catching. There’s a recurring section with what looks like a wall of light bulbs, where their varying intensities in the different images of the bulbs are cut to a shimmering, digital crackle in the audio. Patterned metallic flooring is intercut causing the columns of lights and embossments of the floor to interact, almost as if those little things could dance. The interplay of these two images begins to break up as the audio gets more intense, until it explodes along with a new group of images that are deceptively clear but still play tricks on my mind. There’s a brief lull before the video/audio elements both just go off, for lack of a better term. Each time I watch this I catch a different image I didn’t see before which leads me to the conclusion that Cichocki has weaved a near infinite amount of images here. Both the audio and the video blow right past me which leads to the best part of the video for me. Hutson takes an unexpected break and in that short-lived silence there’s a few images (I’m guessing an upclose shot of a burning joint but who knows) that barely last for a nanosecond and it’s a really dramatic, eerie feeling to suddenly hear silence and see a few beautiful, though still unclear, images. It feels like my heart stops every time I reach that point, even when I know it’s coming. After this there’s a brief return to the light/metal theme before more images jump in, this time geologic, which are increasingly more smeared than the ones before. The track ends how it began with flashing lights and static crackle.
Cichocki has done a great job adapting the work of Aguila and Hutson into visual forms and that is a weighty accomplishment. Watching this DVD-r made me ponder the difference between the way we interpret sound and images. I guess I can only speak for myself but when I look at something visual I try to “make sense” of it as you can see by my preoccupation with figuring out what single images composed these videos. Anything goes for sound, however. While I can often be curious of what is making the sounds I’m hearing, I just accept the sounds as sounds more often than constantly trying to figure out what is producing it. Anyway, I don’t actually have a point about that, just an observation.
I have to mention the packaging as well because, well, it should be mentioned. This 3” DVD-r comes mounted on a 5x7 sheet of aluminum! This is then wrapped in a vellum cover with info and so forth. It looks killer and there’s nothing like holding a DVD mounted on aluminum in yr palm to give a boost to the old self-esteem. Trust me on that one. The release is limited to 75 copies and already sold out at Table of Contents; Deathbomb Arc still has some in stock though so hurry if you want one. It appears Volume 2 has been released as well with audio by Warm Climate and I Heart Lung.
The official theatrical (ha!) trailer

Monday, October 13, 2008

Brian Miller & Kevin Shields – We Had a Baby and It Will Die [Deathbomb Arc]

Here comes the next exciting installment of the Kevin Shields files...
This is the first DVD-r release I’ve ever seen and I can’t think of a more overjoyed/scarier pair to initiate me. Case in point, when you reach the menu an incredibly loud noise loop starts playing and the first time I put the dvd in, it made me jump ten feet in the air. So I’m a wuss, whatever, let’s move on.
We Had a Baby and It Will Die is a “short film” comprised of footage from a handful of BM+KS live sets recorded during a west coast tour, and it is fucking insane.
One of the first images you get features Eva (who also edited the film) manipulating electronics and Brian rolling an amp around on the ground, walking around in circles with a dazed and simultaneously manic look on his face. I’m pretty sure the amp would be safer in GITMO. The first “set” is similar with Eva working with a small array of electronic devices creating strangled, pitchshifted swoops. Brian Miller is a tape fanatic (adhesive not magnetic); he’s never seen with out a roll of packing tape in the entire thing. Anyhow, he tapes all the equipment together and the duo begin rolling around in the pile of equipment against an almighty cacophony. The next set is really short and about half of it is Miller introducing the name of song they are going to play, which is “Possessions are Fleeting”. It’s a Simpsons reference apparently. They start raging and are done after a minute or two. Onto the third set, which sounds like it is raining nails. The video footage is edited together from a number of different sets it looks like. Actually I think I’m gonna give up on trying separate these as “sets”. One performance is amusing where Miller with his trusty tape roll begins wrapping it around everyone/everything in sight eventually becoming caught in his own web and with the help of Eva’s army of sine waves he finds the strength to break free from his self-adhered shackles. The last show of the tour is my favorite because it’s equally chaotic and destructive aurally and visually. There’s an absolutely wrecked speaker cabinet and a guy in a suit with a bowler that’s doing a vaguely interpretive dance. And Aguila is an out-and-out monster with her circuitry, even watching her I have no idea how she does what she does.
It seems to me that this DVD-r is a great summation of Miller’s and Aguila’s attitudes toward making music, particularly noise music. They make music with supreme positivity. Despite the harsh textures they summon and their destructive tendencies, it’s all done in good-natured expression—you know, for fun. There’s no sort of angst or obsession with violence or misogyny that seems to be bound to harsh noise music way more often than not. And the two have my total respect for their approach.
While “short film” isn’t the most accurate term to bestow upon We Had a Baby and It Will Die it beats “concert film” or “album”—and I’m not even sure what term would be accurate. The DVD is more about the spectacle of the performance as a whole; the noise, the venue, the crowd, Miller’s spasmodic disruptions of Aguila’s concentration all evenly make up the experience of watching this. It’s a unique artifact.
Like any DVD worth its salt, We Had a Baby and It Will Die has special features! Miller and Aguila each contribute an extra short. Aguila’s is called “1st Live at Il Corral” and it features music by Brian Miller set to home video of a southwestern wedding and then cuts to a long continuous shot while a camera is pushed through a drain pipe. It’s impossible to describe why but I have a very creeped out, almost physical reaction to the shot in the pipe. I don’t know if that was the goal, or if I’m a closet claustrophobe or what but, man, it freaks me out every time I see it. Brian Miller’s video is titled “I Can Expand My Universe Without You: an I/O composition in the key of I” which is basically signal destruction on film. I’m pretty sure there’s live footage at the center of this but you’d be hard pressed to make anything out through distorted colors and video glitches. The special feature I’d really like to see though is a DVD commentary; here’s to hoping for a 10th anniversary collector’s edition!
This has been long sold out but, hey, long gone stuff pops up in distros randomly all the time, although so you can taste a bit of the insanity yourself…
Peep this and absorb it, keep the planets in their proper orbit

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Brian Miller & Kevin Shields/Pump Kinn & Don – Virgin Passwords [Weird Forest]

So I have accrued a number of slammin’ Kevin Shields-related projects (yes!) and initially I was gonna do a massive roundup review of them all. But in a misguided attempt to create suspense(?) and keep the audience hungry for more(???) I am going to post a review of one of the items once a day for the next however many days. Sound like a fun idea? Probably not; though at least you get to read about Eva Aguila’s and her friends’ excursions into the weird forest of noise! (see what I did there?) Oh, and before we get any further, in case you're unaware Kevin Shields here refers to Eva Aguila's noise project not the guy who is actually named Kevin Shields. And I might add, her work is way better than anything that guy ever did, for serious.
Virgin Passwords is an LP split between a pair of signal crushing duos/collaborations. The Brian Miller & Kevin Shields side consists of three tracks recorded after a massive amount of touring—9 months apparently. “Noise like Weight” begins with shards of static and occasionally stable hi-pitched feedback. Competing with semi-steady arrhythmic shuddering, Brian’s vocals are repeatedly beaten down to the point of almost non-existence but a few lucky syllables slip through the cracks. Near the end the track erupts a little, blowing off steam before an almost pretty passage where vocals return with a slightly stronger presence against a loop of a half-formed melody. It’s actually rather reserved for a BM+KS recording. I’m always amazed by the duo’s ability to control their sound and the sheer amount of sounds they conjure up with a pretty simple, stream-lined set-up. The brilliantly titled, “Ain’t Never Been Down With OPP”, is a bit more confrontational with a thick wave of static before some scurrying pitch-shifted, tape-fucked sounds explode blowing out the walls of wherever they were playing. Lots of other stuff is going on too but it all goes so fast, I’ll be damned if I can get down two words before something new happens and distracts me. The track is over too quick but it ends with brief but seriously groovy stuttering sine waves; making me long for the day when BM+KS put out a dance record. The final piece “Virgin Mafia” may be best of the three but that’s a contentious issue in my mind. This track is heavy; I can’t help jamming it way too loud. It has a relentless forward drive and sticks to developing a few main ideas. That is until it takes a sharp left turn beginning with slowly building hi-pitched feedback before cresting, dropping out, bringing in some sing/speak vocals, and slowly building the whole thing over again but this time extra batshit insane. I’m afraid this fucking thing is gonna set my eardrums on fire or something, but that’s a risk I’m willing to fake. The piece ends in a sublime, ecstatic freakout of charred circuits and synapses. Fuck, man, it’s amazing. This side is the best piece of the Brian Miller & Kevin Shields collab discography I’ve come across and like all Kevin Shields works, it only gets better with time.
On the flip side resides a track by Pump Kinn & Don, neither of which was I previously acquainted. The side is one track, untitled as far as I can tell. It begins with pre-recording chatter and rustling. When things get moving there’s a low synth-y totally seasick groove cycling and slowly feedback bleats overtake it. There’s a kind of distant hypnotic element in the piece which is really strange for a semi-harsh noise track like this one. The piece unsuspectingly coheres with looped percussive clanks buried in distortion pedals before it, just as unsuspectingly, disintegrates before cohering again. The noise maintains its general temperament to sustain but becomes sharper. There is an almost drone-like quality to the piece (in a Hototogisu type way I guess) marking it with a certain patience and slow dynamics that definitely works for the track. There are enough patches where a rhythmic thrust materializes briefly and dissipates not allowing the track to get stagnant. That said though, the track does feel a bit long overall. I’m gonna have to keep my eyes out any more releases by these two though.
Pairing the two artists’ styles of noise is an interesting contrast of the way each assemble their work; BM+KS creating hyperactive—though ingeniously constructed—pieces while Pump Kinn lets their track ebb and flow a bit, coming together gradually. The LP is available for cheap through Deathbomb Arc and through Weird Forest and comes in a classy, multi-layered screen printed cardboard sleeve. If you like noise and vinyl this is the best deal you’re gonna get.
*If you are interested in buying this release, I encourage you to buy it through the Kevin Shields webstore, Eva and Brittany Gould had all their gear stolen in Europe on their Caldera Lakes tour and anything bought through Eva will benefit the extra costs now facing her.

Auxiliary Out Radio Programme #26 (10/12/08)

"Untitled" Daniel Clough A Trip to the Mountain Shark (CD) [Sentient Recognition Archive, 2008]
"Lil John Carpenter Tribute Song" Mudboy MUDMUX Volume 1 (7") [DNT, 2008]
"Cancun" Christian Science Minotaur Map 2 (of 9) (CD-r) [Little Fury Things, 2008]
"Mary Ann" Soft Shoulder Hit Single (7") [Gilgongo, 2008]
"Black Cat Lament/Sexy Music" Ex-Cocaine Ex-Cocaine/Yellow Swans Split (LP) [Not Not Fun, 2008]
"Wavves" Wavves Wavves (CS) [Fuck it Tapes, 2008]
"Bitch Pitch" Night of Pleasure Night of Pleasure (7") [Columbus Discount, 2007]
"Raboual" Bill Diakhou Tani (CS) [Gadiaga, ????]
"Video Kids" Black Orphan Video Kids (7") [Hozac, 2008]
"Side B" The Skaters Physicalities of the Sensibilites of Ingrediential Strairways (LP) [Eclipse, 2008]
"IV" Katchmare Ghost Frequency I (CD-r) [Scissor Death, 2008]
"Crow Call" Foot Village Friendship Nation (LP/CD) [Gilgongo/Tome, 2008]
"Freezing Styles" Blank Dogs Mirror Lights (CS) [Drone Errant, 2008]
"Cock" Gay Beast Disrobics (LP) [DNT, 2008]
"Untitled" Slasher Risk Triple Jesus (CD-r) [Kass/Jamps, 2008]
"Comedy Hypnosis" Yellow Swans Ex-Cocaine/Yellow Swans Split (LP) [Not Not Fun, 2008]

*This show is dedicated to all the tape decks in my life that haven't crapped out on me.
mp3: part 1 part 2

Auxiliary Out Radio Programme #25 (6/1/08)

(Somehow this never got posted back in June. Weird.)

“Samaan Aikaan Toisaalla” Tomutonttu Bound with Skin (5xCD) [Skulls of Heaven, 2007]
“Points of View” Country Teasers The Empire Strikes Back (LP) [In the Red, 2006]
“Elegy for Breeze Von Goodyear/The Gravedigger’s Dance” Maths Balance Volumes Bound with Skin (5xCD) [Skulls of Heaven, 2007]
“Waiting for the Hesitation” Eat Skull Sick to Death (LP) [Siltbreeze, 2008]
“Hung from the Moon” Earth The Bees Made Honey in the Lion’s Skull (CD) [Southern Lord, 2008]
“Strickfadens” Bulbs Light Ships (CD) [Freedom to Spend, 2008]
“Dreamcatcher” Weirdo Begeirdo with Gabe from Yellow Swans Dreamcatcher (3" CD-r) [Not Not Fun, 2005]
“I-5” Nothing People Anonymous (LP) [S-S, 2008]
“Hosianna Mantra” Popol Vuh Hosianna Mantra (CD) [OHR, 1972]
“The Movement the Second” Bobby Beausoliel & the Freedom Orchestra Lucifer Rising Soundtrack (CD) [M.O.R., 1972]
“The Wind Did Blow” The Cherry Blossoms The Cherry Blossoms (LP) [Apostasy/Black Velvet Fuckere/Breaking World/Consanguineous/Hank the Herald Angel/Yeay!, 2007]
“Untitled 3” The Skaters Gambling in Ohpa’s Shadow (CD-r) [Pseudoarcana, 2005]
“The Reservoir” Larkin Grimm after you men explode the world we women will sing it to sleep (split with the beautiful babes in springtime brainwave band ft. earl monster) (CS) [Sloow Tapes, 2006]
“Paint a Babe” Jana Hunter Carrion (LP) [Woodsist, 2008]
“Herrons” Ecstatic Sunshine Way (CD) [Cardboard, 2008]
mp3: coming soon

Friday, October 10, 2008

Locrian/Continent – Split [No Label]

One of the dudes in Chicago’s Locrian, don’t know which, sent me this tape. I was previously unaware of both these projects but this tape turned out to be a nice little surprise.
Locrian’s piece “Burying the Carnival” takes the A-side. It begins unassumingly with a creeping drone. Rather quickly a light shroud of prickly noise begins to swallow it. Meanwhile, a weird fucked-with, barbed wire guitar provides an unusual counterpoint to the looming dark swirl of distortion pervading the track. There is something that sounds like acoustic guitar but it also sounds extremely distorted but not really like a distorted acoustic guitar which confounds me but whatever, it’s working wonders. I’m a big fan of guitar-centric drone so this is right up my alley but there’s one part where there’s even a bit shredding(!/?). “Shred-drone” seems like an oxymoron (and impossible) but Locrian has invented it here and it’s blowing my mind. The organ/keyboard/everything else should be recognized as well because I think they really make the guitar parts work because they have enough of a presence to balance the piece between guitar/non-guitar elements without necessarily being at the forefront or raging against the guitar. It's essential without over extending itself. Locrian spikes the same black vein that Hototogisu or Family Underground do, and this piece is up there with the best stuff of both those acts. Locrian is definitely working in their own minefield which is really neat to see, cause sometimes when artists go for the scathing, black noise/drone thing they end with similar results but that isn’t the case here. Oh yeah, this piece was recorded live too. Holy shit.
As for the other side, I’m not sure I’m qualified to review it but, hey, I’m a renaissance man, I’ll give it my best shot. Continent (totally dig the name) plays what I’m going to guess is called “metalcore”. I think that’s a real genre, but I really am not versed in all the “–cores”. Continent does the cookie monster vocal thing which unfortunately I think I’m innately averse to but no matter. “Widow Insitania” begins with heavy calculated riffing and keeps it coming. Other than the vocals, the track is quite fun to listen to. Continent seems to know how to balance raw energy/volume/whathaveyou with melodically sensible songwriting. “Gulf of Baine” may be my favorite track here cause man, fuck, there are just some awesome riffs here, provoking nonstop foot stomping/head nodding/imaginary moshing. The riffs keep coming, seeming to shift slightly before my ears, getting better and better. “Bel Amica Rolls” has one of those classic speedy, low-end shockwave riffs I’ve always dug in metal. “t44-9w” closes the tape with some raucous, revved up passages of dexterous fingers and muscular double bass drum. The track has a dizzying amount of tempo shifts and split second twists and turns. It would be the perfect soundtrack to a rollercoaster ride in pitch black. (I apologize to Continent and to the readers for the utter ineptness of the reviewing in this paragraph.)
So there it is, quite an anomalous tape, for my collection anyway. Now I have a tape where I can study the sounds a black hole being destroyed and flip it over to get pumped up to go find my own black hole to beat the shit out of. The release is on a yellow tape with labels and a doubled-sided fold-out j-card with info on one side and a photo of Eraserhead-esque urban decay. The tape is self-released so I’d try going to Locrian’s myspace to pick it up.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Night of Pleasure – Night of Pleasure [Columbus Discount]/Night of Pleasure/Day Creeper – Split [No Label]/Soft Shoulder – Hit Single [Gilgongo]

If you made it through the jungle of brackets and backslashes in the title, you’ll know 3 7inch shotblasts are the subject of tonight’s review. To get mathy for a moment, 1/2 of the sides belong to Columbus, OH’s Night of Pleasure, Tempe, AZ’s Soft Shoulder is responsible for 1/3 of them and Day Creeper, also from Columbus, accounts for the last sixth. All groups involved could be called punx to varying degrees, whether it's the lively neo-no wave mode of Soft Shoulder, the lo-fi, bent power pop of Day Creeper or the beautiful basement scuzz of Night of Pleasure.
The self-titled Night of Pleasure 7inch is everything I’ve come to expect from Columbus Discount: raucous, infinitely listenable, totally feel good music—kinda like what jam bands are going for but fail miserably at. The “auteur theory”-inspired track “Godard vs. Truffaut” opens the record. Distorted unintelligible, though probably clever, vocals, guitars steeped in static and a rhythm section with just the right touch of sloppiness. The awesome chorus has flashes of “Whatever Happened to Pong?”, the old Frank Black tune, if yr familiar with that. “Caesar’s Palace” pushes the needle even further into the red, threatening to totally subsume the vocalist’s caterwaul in a downpour of feedback. It almost sounds as if the entire band is running through the same dying fuzz pedal and it’s a wonderful, hissy hulking mess. I thought that side was my favorite until I flipped the record and heard “Bitch Pitch”. This side is pure, sticky ear candy but dropped in the dirt and slightly melted due to harsh solar rays. There is an awesome guitar break, an awesome bridge, an(other) awesome chorus, an awesome verse, and an awesome thumping outro. [Not necessarily in that order] It is just the pinnacle of this kind of shit—it can’t get any better. Listening to this record makes me want like 20 more records of this ilk (and quality) but I have no problem redeploying the needle every time it hits the end groove. You need this.
Two more Night of Pleasure tracks appear on their self-released split with Day Creeper. “Spasm Chasm” opens with an extended intro before lurching into a pretty angular scrape and smash affair before dismantling again and lurching to a stop. “Hipster Downgrade” has a bit more in common with the self-titled record in that it’s a pretty straight ahead, no nonsense, mega-catchy track though there is some brilliant, broken speaker madness near the end breaking up the flow nicely. Night of Pleasure sounds… dare I say it, more sophisticated on this release. I’m not exactly sure what I mean by that but they sound simultaneously more refined and more ready to swim against the current and deconstruct their songs a bit. On the flip, Day Creeper answers with two tracks. “And How!” distinguishes itself from the previous side with a kind of bubblegum garage sound (and with a glockenspiel!). It reminds me a bit of one my favorite Portland groups Exploding Hearts (r.i.p.) but less conscious of/preoccupied with the history of modpunk. “My Blue Screen” is great and bombastic, with some tremendously expressive vocals and anchored by a crunchy Farfisa type organ. Really wonderful chorus that acts on a much grander scale than you’d think the lo-fi production could facilitate.
Hit Single comes classic style, 45rpm with those big annoying holes in the middle that make you look for that little adapter/spacer thing for the middle of yr turn table. I don’t mean that to sound negative though, cause it matches my old Beach Boys singles (cool!) Anyhow, the A-side is titled “Mary Ann”, right away yr dropped into some kind of loose limbed free jazz jam before the drummer signals to get things goin’. A female vocalist sing-speaks to Mary Ann—whoever that is—amongst steady drums and a monster four-note guitar riff before an awesome little sax solo at the very end. The track is way too short but I have to say that the guitar tone is one of coolest I’ve ever encountered. It’s a radio tower broadcasting thunderous, speaker ripping Velcro fuzz. A totally amazing sound. “Temperary” is on the B-side and features all the elements from the previous side but smashes them all together at once. There is a lot more saxxxing which I’m loving and, after a riotous refrain, another free jazz breakdown pops up this time in the middle. It has an odd fairytale type feeling like a detour on yr way to Neverneverland or something. It’s cool though. The guitar leads the charge to bring back the earlier refrain one last time before cutting the power.
The first two 7inchs come packaged in photocopied sleeves with inserts and the Soft Shoulder one features a seriously superb splatter job and an insert as well. All records are still available which is really nice. Night of Pleasure and Hit Single are available for cheap through Columbus Discount and Gilgongo, respectively. And the Day Creeper/Night of Pleasure album is available from the artists’ myspaces as well as a few distros.