Sunday, February 22, 2009

Auxiliary Out Radio Programme #37 (2/22/09)

"For Naguib Mahfouz" The Hunter Gracchus Sacred Object of The Yiye People (LP) [Chironex 2008]

"Thru the Legs of Ilgausgus" Night of Pleasure Fuck Vinyl (CD-r) [No Label 2008]

"Twins" Bromp Treb Twins (7") [Breaking World/Yeay!/Apostasy 2008]

"Straw Hat 1" Sean McCann Midnight Orchard (CS) [Roll Over Rover 2009]

"Amps into Instruments" Locrian Rhetoric of Surfaces (CD) [Bloodlust! 2008]

"Feather Duster/Belonging Pit" Blue Shift Ghost Singers 3 (CS) [Breaking World 2008]

"Brown Cloud/Magic Dragon" Chaostic Magic Phantasmagoria (CD-r) [Debacle 2008]

"Clubtraxxx I-III" Foot Village Fuck the Future 2 (CD) [Gilgongo 2009]

"The Great County Fair" Ugly Husbands The Faith of the Family (CS) [Roll Over Rover 2009]

"Pan Shamanic" Kabyzdoh Obtruhamchi Kabyzdoh Obtruhamchi (CS) [Stunned 2008]

"Disco Cloud" Forrest Friends Forrest Friends (CD-r) [Debacle 2008]

"Rockers" Fossils from the Sun The Living Mixer (CS) [Peasant Magik 2008]

"Side A" Hairmaiden of the Totem Robe Lured to the Ground (CS) [Housecraft 2008]

"Lord of the Trees" Transcendental Manship Highway Lord of the Trees (CD-r) [Carbon 2008]

mp3: Part 1 Part 2

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Auxiliary Out is a Drag Radio Programme #1 (2/15/09)

Special show with Jeremy, host of the killer The World is a Drag radio show (saturdays 9am-11), filling in for me. Thanks Jeremy.

“Side A” Yellow Swans Yellow Swans/Gosling Bored Fotress Split (7") [Not Not Fun 2007]

“Did You Expect the Gods to Tread Lightly When They Came Among You?” Caldera Lakes Caldera Lakes (CS) [Accidie 2009]

“Poltergeist Palm” Naked on the Vague Poltergeist Palm (7") [Skulltones 2008]

“Lantern Pt. 2” Youth of the Beast Lantern (7") [Arbor 2008]

“Dreamland in Machineland” The Geeks Dreamland in Machineland (7") [S-S 2003]

“Jungle Cat” The Pink Noise Dream Code (LP) [Sacred Bones 2008]

“Wave Yr Flag (Books on Tape Remix)” Big A little a Bipolar Bear/Big A little a Split (7") [Kill Shaman 2007]

“It's Not a Perch” Hair Friend Arbitron/Hair Friend Split (2xCS) [Real Fake Tapes 2008]

“Sinking” AFCGT AFCGT (LP) [Uzuaudio 2008]

“Pizza Time” Ducktails Ducktails (7”) [Breaking World 2008]

“Why Pharaoh Hanged the Baker” Gang Wizard God-Time-Man Universal Continuum Calibration Disc (LP) [Green Tape/Lost Treasures of the Underworld/olfactory/Tanzprocesz 2008]

“Mt. Josephet” Starving Weirdos Absolute Freedom (7") [Abandon Ship 2008]

“Untitled” Fabulous Diamonds Fabulous Diamonds (LP) [Siltbreeze 2008]

“They Broke the House” Stress Ape 42012 (CS) [Hard Scrabble Amateurs 2008]

“XX Spectrum” Black Orphan Circuits (7") [UFO Dictator 2008]

“Shitstorm Trooper/Way It's Gotta Be” Nice Face Can I Fuck It? (CS) [Jerkwave 2008]

“See Inside/Inside Out” Factums Factums (7”) [Pollymaggoo 2008]

“Drum Like Devil” CAVE Hunt Like Devil/Jamz (LP) [Permanent Records 2008]

“Binding Feet” Circuit Des Yeux XXperiments (LP) [Die Stasi 2008]

“Wild (Chip) Munks” Black Pus Black Pus 1 (CD-r) [No Label 2004]

“Apple Orchard” Cro Magnon Cro Magnon (7") [Bruit Direct Disques 2008]

“Freezing Styles” Blank Dogs Mirror Lights (CS) [Drone Errant 2008]

“Baby Talk” The Suspicions The World's Lousy With Ideas Vol. 3 (7") [Almost Ready 2008]

“I am a Girlfriend” Nobunny Love Visions (LP) [Bubbledum 2008]

“Live in Seattle” GHQ GHQ/Ex-Cocaine Bored Fortress Split (7”) [Not Not Fun 2007]

mp3: Part 1 Part 2

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Albero Rovesciato – Ancient Shining Drums of the Covered City [Stunned]/Kabyzdoh Obtruhamchi - Kabyzdoh Obtruhamchi [Stunned]

Everyone knows Stunned Records out of Long Beach is an outstanding label, but it is my opinion that Stunned is at its absolute top when it goes international. These two tapes make my case real easy. The first is by Albero Rovesciato a two man percussive crew out of Berlin by way of Italy and the second is the Russian psych homebrew Kabyzdoh Obtruhamchi.
Ancient Shining Drums of the Covered City begins with a startling vocal yelp and an absolutely clattering downpour of metallic objects. The second piece features a bit more space and the slightest (seriously slight) hints of melody possible from a thumb piano and possibly an organ. The j-card is of some help both guys take on “bells, gong, objects” and each one takes on either bass drum or snare drum. Objects is intentionally vague but is an important piece of the sound. Anyway, now you have an idea of the palette these boys are working with let me say what they do with it is incredible. The second piece is pretty epic though crazily difficult to write about (the tape in general is). This is the most wild chunk of sound on the side and it covers a pretty wide spectrum of sound which doesn’t always happen with percussion only groups. It’s pretty amazing that Albero Rovesciato can capture the sound of things falling apart and the sounds of totally groovy percussive jams simultaneously. The third piece features an organ upfront but it too is used as a percussive instrument. It isn’t played amelodically, but the melody is skeletal, sketched out with curt stabs at the keys. The fourth piece is brief and returns to agressively drenched sound of heavy metallic rain. The fifth piece is a wondrous gamelan-type ordeal. Metallic tones are in constant resonance; it’s soothing but a little unsettling as well. Voices begin speaking briefly during the piece and the effect is surreal. No. 6 actually has a steady, almost 4/4 beat. I feel like these guys have to be using loops to be creating sounds this dense, cause there’s only four arms between them. But whether there are loops or not, this all sounds live. It is interesting because a lot the sounds here sound like dropping a pan on your kitchen floor or someone tapping their glass to make a toast but these guys mold all those sounds into a strictly musical context. It’s a fascinating listen.
Flip it over and there’s even more great stuff. It’s hard to find an analog for these guys but the closest I can think of is Bromp Treb minus the tape machine doohickery. This stuff is totally liberated from imposed rhythmic constraints and finds a true, natural flow of rhythms. That isn’t to say they’re above relentless, authoritative pounding as on the second piece but as that part fades a thicket of clicks, clacks, clinks clanks, thrums, dings, dongs etc. materializes against a super sparse minor key organ melody. Resolving the percussive in a (somewhat) more coherent way against a pulsing organ loop beware going nuts in the final 15 seconds. A brilliant piece. The last two pieces are also great. The first is shorter and has a droning presence along with percussive rattle that starts out friendly before getting real complex real quick. The last piece initially sounds like marbles and silverware slung down a bar through a labyrinth of beer glasses. It’s somewhat disorienting but appealingly tactile and immediate. I don’t even really hear drums anywhere in the piece, and it doesn’t matter, the two guys manage to create a rich, exciting piece out of these incidental sounds that people usually ignore in their everyday life. There's some squeaking towards the end that sounds like saxophone almost, but I’m pretty sure it’s just coming from the friction of someone rubbing a glass. Not only is this tape just a flat out brilliant and enjoyable percussive brouhaha, these guys are creating something really distinctive, complex and enthralling.
Kabyzdoh Obtruhamchi is the project of one man psych machine Sergey Kozlov and, damn, this is also some really brilliant stuff. The first piece is called “Intro” but don’t let that fool you it’s a great smoky psych jam on its own. Kozlov ramps things up with “YebashilNepopodja”. I’m not sure how Kozlov does it but his stuff has a very distinct sound that separates it from the leagues of basement wah pedal psych dudes. The intro almost has a shambling Ignatz quality to it but this “YebashilNepopodja” is blistering. Multiple tracks of saturated guitar, the voices of dead spirits ever present but just beyond reach, and seriously catchy rhythms. There is this one cowbell/percussion part that crops up turning everything from feedback mind tunnel to dance party. The great hand percussion continues in “Pan Shamanic” as shades of voice and electric guitar are applied over a repeated acoustic figure. It’s an unassumingly pretty piece that swells and expands throughout its duration. The guitars at work here unwind and mingle and digress over the constantly moving rhythmic bed. This tape side is sensational because at a fairly long 25 minutes it never slows. It is paced amazingly well. I don’t know the last time I could truly say that about a psych rock jam. There’s a beautiful changeup where things get so unabashedly groovy and fun it brings a smile to my face. This cut has to be the feel good hit of the winter; I never want it to end. It almost doesn’t, it just rides the groove off into the sunset. It’s a beautiful thing. I’d be satisfied with just this A-side but Koslov has four cuts on the back which is just icing on the cake.
“Joey Jewey” starts things off on side B sweetly. Wandering layers of mellow guitar simmer, bathed in sunlight and the percussion slides in after a minute. The tempo picks up a bit just before the track calls it quits. A lovely piece all around, probably directly transmitted from the heavens. Koslov is a master of everything he plays it seems cause every note of this tape is perfect. “Anepoe Khamunado” is fuzzy guitar and a flute fragment. The percussion is very minimal and deliberate compared to the other stuff on the tape and the crawling tempo is a nice, literal change of pace. The track wraps up with some odd, fractured melodies pieced together. “Danunahza Epalcea” continues the slower, minimal sound with sloshed vocals to go with it. The track trudges along to an eerie melody with a brittle keyboard providing a counterpoint melody. The track is too short in my estimation but I’ll take what I can get. “Extra” closes the tape surprisingly without percussion, consisting of some heavily effected, mild-mannered shredding and gently yelping keyboards fading into an old timey piano rag and a sample of Black Francis saying “You fuckin’ die!” from Surfer Rosa which gets serious bonus points from me cause I'm Pixies to the death. An unexpectedly great outro to a great tape.
Each cassette looks plenty beautiful. The Albero Rovesciato one features a double-sided fold-out j-card with a little double-sided cardboard insert and imprinted, deep red tapes. The Kabyzdoh tape features a double-sided fold-out j-card and opulent themed imprinting on clear tapes with snazzy gold foil inlays. Like just about everything worth owning these two are sold out at source but I’d try hard to track them down. Both are highly recommended.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Auxiliary Out Radio Programme #36 (2/8/09)

“Side A” Futuresport Virtual Eye (CS) [Avocado Jungle 2008]

“Inventions on Carmen Burina’s Fantasy” Mike Tamburo White Noise Vol. 2 (CD-r) [Dynamo! 2008]

"Xaoh" Trash Dog Buddha (CS) [Deathbomb Arc 2008]

"Deliveries on Sunday" Arklight Villain Got Uzis (CD-r) [Cloud Valley 2009]

"Tiger Woods' Teeth" Embarker Embarker (LP) [Malleable/Send Help 2008]

"Ancient Druid Origins" Wether Split with Vestigial Limb (CS) [Heavy Psych 2008]

"It's True" Nobunny Love Visions (LP) [Bubbledum 2008]

"Side B" Slasher Risk Shoe Mania (CS) [Abandon Ship 2009]

"Untitled" Uneven Universe Nightcrawler Walls (CS) [DNT 2008]

"Untitled" Schurt Kwitters Schurt Kwitters (CS) [Open Mouth 2007]

"Creeping Cloth Roadway" Sparkling Wide Pressure Seven Inside and Out (CS) [Stunned 2009]

"Incapable of Flight" Hunted Creatures The Failure of Human Instinct (CD-r) [Dynamo! 2008]

"I'm a Little Betty (For Guitars and Cellos)" Josh Beyer White Noise Vol. 2 (CD-r) [Dynamo! 2008]

"Home No More" Caldera Lakes Caldera Lakes (CS) [905 Tapes 2008]

"Side B (excerpt)" Albero Rovesciato Ancient Shining Drums of the Covered City (CS) [Stunned 2009]

mp3: Part 1 Part 2

Friday, February 6, 2009

Locrian/Katchmare – Split [Pilgrim Talk]/Veyou – Veyou [Scissor Death]

Nick Hoffman of Scissor Death and its brand new vinyl arm Pilgrim Talk sent these over recently.
I’m always to happy get a Locrian record in the mail and this is the first time I’ve heard them on vinyl. They fill the first side of this 7inch with “Drosscape”. Beginning with distorted guitar tones, Locrian immediately casts a dank fog over the room. There’s a tense, ascending theme that is repeated and layered upon gradually. Brief bursts of feedback are spread across the track occasionally until a moderately violent eruption comes near the end putting the strained but relatively calm drone at odds with the bloodthirsty guitar feedback. Locrian has a real talent for finding a small, engaging idea and manipulating and modifying it through the course of a track, this piece is a perfect example. Just before the side abruptly ends there’s a bunch of delayed guitar tones piled on top of each other creating a weird, polyrhythmic web. It’s really quite cool.
On the flipside, Hoffman’s solo project Katchmare contributes “Scarab”. I’ve never been able to put my finger on Katchmare and this side doesn’t help me out too much either. The track seems relatively straight forward at the outset. There are a couple layers of pulsing drones and one almost bubbling type sound. Everything gets pitched up before another more distorted tone comes in. This is where the track starts to get good, there’s a great Velcro-quality to the new tone and it brings the track alive with a heavy, vibrant pulse. Before long, a squeezed, filtered tone takes over spurting almost haphazardly before jumping to sustained tones and then cutting back and forth between those tones, silence and distortion; it gets to be almost too much for the brain to handle. True to Katchmare style, the track gets increasingly odd and disorienting until it meets its conclusion.
Veyou is a duo of Hoffman and Stephen Holliger (Swim Ignorant Fire) and as far as I can tell this tape is the first of, what I hope will be, many more releases. Like Katchmare, bouts of silence and quick cuts between sounds play a big part here. Once the tape starts rolling there are quiet guitar plucks, trudging machinery, shimmering synth tones, and a big echoing Jabba the hut type growl are floating around being manipulated, repositioned and mashed together. Sharp drone galvanizes everything around and a single chiming bell enters at semi-regular intervals before backing off and dropping back to a mess of sounds a la the beginning of the side and without warning I’m thrust back into more intense drone proceedings that alternate between being pleasant and uneasy but always riveting. After a brief period of silence, there’s an absolutely perfect ending which initially echoes some of the previous sounds but instead washed out and distant, then there’s a 20-30 second bit with a catchy, looped techno melody. Bizarre, awesome shit. You gotta hear this stuff.
The second side starts up with a number of competing textural tones before a filtered drum machine or something like it falls into a lurching rhythm. The bell from the previous side makes an appearance along with some acoustic percussive jangle and I think there might even be a cymbal in there somewhere but maybe it’s a sample or something. Unlike the last side, this piece moves pretty linearly accumulating an assload of cool sounds into its maelstrom before dropping out leaving a sine tone and more percussive sounds. An ascending/descending synth melody applies a bit of pressure and slowly takes over the track, though insubordinate shards of feedback and synth squelches undermine it. This side strikes a delicate balance between fluid, full-bodied drone and unpredictable, manipulated noise dynamics. It just builds and builds to a wonderfully dense cacophony before being sent on its way by a spacey synth tone. Let me reiterate what I said before, this is great shit. You gotta hear it.
Both are cool records, great solid stuff by Locrian and Katchmare, but this Veyou stuff is blowing me away. The 7inch is packaged with grim thoughts in mind, grey on black artwork and cool grey marbled vinyl. The tape comes with placid artwork that belies its sonic contents, an insert and hand-drawn labels. Both are still available but be advised that the 7inch is limited to 100 and the tape is limited as well I’m sure.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Embarker – Embarker [Malleable/Send Help]

Embarker is the pun-y solo guise of Michael Barker (get it? M. Barker?) who plays in other projects such as Sharks With Wings. This is his first LP as far as I can tell. I’m pretty far removed from the Philly noise scene so I’d never heard any of Barker’s work before. Last year’s Mincemeat or Tenspeed LP (also released by Malleable) was the only dose of Philly noise I’ve had and it was rad so I was obviously psyched to hear more.
Embarker treads in much darker waters than Mincemeat. This stuff is harsh and concentrated. Barker uses a variety of modified electronics along with a lapsteel-like instrument to whip up these shitstorms and I’m surprised he doesn’t trip himself up with as fast as these tracks move. The first side opens with “Fake Forrest/Former Friends”, about ten seconds of cut up vocal(?) sounds and then things get heavy. There is a lot of play between each channel so you can really hear the nuances with head phones. This track has a cyclical structure where there will be a heavy, heavy jackhammering of noise before backing off (slightly) and coming back full force. “Fuck Jesse Power” is one of my favorites and way too short at a minute. It’s a great heaving, lurch and roll with buried vocals. “Ars Nova Sweatshop” actually kinda conjures up that image, halfway between an audio art exhibition and a factory. There is a loop of chiming metallic tones sliced up just about beyond recognition. There seems to be a drumnbass/jungle influence on this record where sounds are fractured and reconstituted into impossibly complex rhythms. After hearing the endpoint of “Ars Nova Sweatshop” you don’t even remember how it started the original loop is manipulated and restructured so completely. “Resident Beardo” features a spoken intro over what sounds to me like a sample of a train going by. There are some great high frequencies here that sound like stuck or breaking gears which are intercut frantically with a low rumble. “Diamond Shoals” closes the side. The track actually has a melodic figure buried way down under the distortion and hi-pitched frequencies sure to make a dog kill itself. The sound source doesn’t seem to be electronic (maybe that lapsteel thing?) which is a nice change of pace.
The second side leads off with “Tiger Woods’ Teeth” which returns to the frenetic traffic jam of multiple 500bps rhythms. Barker plays with dynamics, revealing that behind all the static and noise there are some really cool, fucked up sounds skittering about. “Kings of the Beach” is built around a loop of gadgetry noises. There’s a really low, creeping almost drone-like sound that anchors the piece allowing for the other sounds to get chopped into a million little pieces without seeming messy. “Bring me the Head of JM” is intense and more vocally driven which I don’t respond to so much in harsh noise. I don’t know who JM is but if I was him/her I’d be scared out of my mind because Barker sounds like he means business. “Elizabeth City” is a shockingly pretty track featuring polyphonic synth burbling steeped in static which the occasional dropping of a heavy bass note. It’s a cool track and a nice respite from the pain and exhilaration of the rest of the album’s sound spectrum. “Invisible Yarmulke” closes the album. It’s a bit more clattering than the other tracks without a central driving force. Barker generates mostly an assortment of colliding percussive sounds but some synth tones pop up occasionally which is a nice surprise to find in the craggy din.
I have a love/hate relationship with harsh noise a lot of the time but this is some stuff I can get behind. It’s well-paced and the record keeps you guessing but there’s still a vaguely recognizable composition to most of the tracks here. This record could probably crumble some buildings if played loud enough too. The album is severe but also complex which is a potent combination.
I don’t see a credit anywhere but an A+ goes to whoever mastered this thing, sounds crisp and loud and amazing. A damn fine job. As far as looks go, this LP is the epitome of class. Screenprinted jacket with a big, matching insert and weird circular diagrams that show up on the back cover, insert and labels—even the record sleeve is a matching solid black rather than the standard white. They really wanted to make this look nice as can be and it shows. Still available from Send Help and Malleable for the low, low price of 10 bucks.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Talibam!/Wasteland Jazz Unit – Ecstatic Jazz Duos [Thor’s Rubber Hammer]/Long Legged Woman – Untitled [Thor's Rubber Hammer/Pollen Season]

I have a couple of vinyl offerings from Lars Gotrich's Thor's Rubber Hammer label--and they couldn't be more different. The Ecstatic Jazz Duos LP features two acts crumpling up jazz and then trying to press it flat again while the Long Legged Woman 7inch in some ways feels like a lost relic of the 90s but still somehow sounds very "now."
Talibam! covers the first side with "The Geometric Mophometrics of P.P.P.P.P. McNasticals". Beginning with chiming church bells/church organ sounds and then promptly freaking out, Talibam! gives you a good idea of what you’re in for right off the bat. Having downsized into a duo of synthesizer and drums since the last record I heard by them, they sound tighter here. They indulge more in their idiosyncrasies but also incorporate them more coherently. After that freak out full of pitch bender and modulation wheel spinning things settle into a pretty heavy, thick maelstrom of sound—always impressive coming out of two people, especially on synth and drums. The drums begin to shoulder the majority of the wigging out and the synth interjects a few sci-fi organ parts before getting heavy once more and bringing it all home. Probably my favorite moment of the whole record is this heavy pummeling is resolved with a totally unexpected hip hop section where someone is yelling “party one” or something like that and other voices are saying unintelligible stuff too. It’s a brilliant, inspired moment to be sure. After the 30 seconds of party jams things return to normal but with a slightly more rock vibe to go with the skronk. The element that makes this side work is Talibam! keeps things moving constantly. There are no dead sections or places where the two aren’t sure exactly where they are headed. This is a pretty rare and impressive aspect to find in jazz in general and especially in underground jazz stuff I’ve heard. After that freak out ends, there is a vaguely fugue-like part where the synth keeps looping parts over itself. It’s quite cool but doesn’t last as the drums crash the party rather quickly. Matt Mottel’s synthwork runs the gamut here contributing mellow organ-type parts like that as well as weird farty, ray-gun sounds that jump around Kevin Shea’s unfailingly energetic and hectic drumming. A pretty rad 18 minutes that flies by. I’m gonna be away in Europe when they’re playing Seattle in the spring, and after hearing this I’m even more bummed about it. Compared to the stuff I heard from them a year or more ago they are really taking things to the next level.
Wasteland Jazz Unit resides on the second side. I’d heard the name around but I knew nothing about them, but I figured with a name like that how can they not be great? This shit fully exceeded my expectations, not to mention that I just lost it when I saw this is only saxophone and clarinet. WJU seriously maximize the badass potential of a sax/clarinet line-up. I refuse to believe someone could make gnarlier, more intense sounds with that set-up than Jon Lorenz and John Rich do. My favorite of the two tracks here “Termite Prayer” comes first and let me say it is dangerous to listen to with headphones. The two guys spit out probably thousands of shards of feedback in this track. It’s almost like harsh noise. There are layers of sound here, but they aren’t static. Tones are very rarely sustained and when they are its meaningful. I’d describe the sounds as “jellybone” if they weren’t so punishing. You can still tell the sounds are coming from sax and clarinet but those instruments are morphed into entirely different beasts. Similarly to my comment about the Talibam! side, things are in a constant state of motion here, never getting stale or feeling long. “Cicada Sermon” begins less harshly with an almost industrial vibe (not the genre) before things explode in low-end rumble and blaring sax or clarinet not even sure which. The textures conjured up here are just phenomenally tactile and jagged. It’s not quite as in-the-red as “Termite Prayer” so there is a little bit more by way of melodic tones coming to the surface. No doubt it’s still crushing. I’m amazed how Lorenz and Rich create such a strong, if constantly shifting, sense of rhythm. They aren’t using loops that I can hear, and obviously there is no percussion driving the pieces, but they’re rhythmically driven nonetheless. I guess that ability is just one thing that separates them from your average free jazz crew. Anyone into non-traditional jazz, noise, improvisatory music or just really intense sounds should check this record. A tour-de-force of a jazz album in a way I’ve never heard before.
Long Legged Woman is an act I’ve never heard of but apparently they are formerly from Athens, GA and now in San Francisco. This single fits into the classic form with the uptempo number on A-side and a ballad-type track on the B-side.
“Something is Pressing Against it from the Inside” starts up quickly with a ringing guitar arpeggio which is joined up with chugging palm-muted chords. The chorus slows wayyyyyy down that there is almost a vaguely classical quality to me, I can’t quite pinpoint it. The whole track has a bit a 90s revivalist sound to me--I was only aged 2-12 during throughout the 90s so there may be an obvious musical reference point that I'm failing to pickup on. The track is fairly brief and it’s on to the next side.
Long Legged Woman change things up with “Scalpels in the Sky” a mellow, faraway track of acoustic strumming and a melodica/reed organ melody. The vocals and something else, maybe electric guitar, sound even further away. There is a great sleepy, mysterious vibe to the track. It’s like when I’m up late watching movies and they seem extra surreal cause I’m half asleep. The song strikes a strange balance between being a lonesome downer and being sweetly melodic. Restless but dreamy, strange but still quite normal. The first side is solid but it’s been the B-side that’s spent the most time on my turntable. Great, peculiar song.
The packaging of these two releases has its finer points as well. Long Legged Woman comes on super slick marbled seafoam green vinyl and Ecstatic Jazz Duos features extreme closeup (whaaaaahhohhh!) artwork by Cristopher Cichocki. (sorry for the Wayne's World reference I couldn't help myself.) Both records are still in print, and Ecstatic Jazz Duos is available solo or as part of a subscription series (next installments feature I Heart Lung/DWMTG and Valerio Cosi & Enzo Franchini/Jeremiah Cymerman & Matthew Welch)

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Favorites of 2008 (if anyone still gives a shit)

So now that we're into the second month of the new year here is my "best of" list. What a disgrace I am. I had some hindrances but it's still pretty pisspoor journalistic activity. Anyway, for anyone who finds this to be still relevant, I hope you dig this in all its mostly-written-in-December-but-posted-in-February glory...

Last year I was too burnt out (and not a big enough fan of "best of" lists to compensate for it) to make a list, but had I, I probably woulda said the best record of the year would be Kevin Shields' The Death of Patience or The Cherry Blossoms' LP with best track going to the Yellow Swans' side of their split 7inch with The Goslings. For some reason I feel a bit more up to doing one of these things and maybe it'll be lame but I'll never know if I don't try it out. I didn't want to do a hierarchal "Top 20" or anything but the first section are the records that just blew me away the most this year, while the second section is bunch of other great records I listened to a lot. All are worth hearing, and if I hadn't gotten sick of writing this there'd be a shit ton more records listed here.

Gang Wizard God-Time-Man Universal Continuum Calibration Disc (LP) [Green Tape/Lost Treasures of the Underworld/olfactory/Tanzprocesz]
What an album. This thing is a total monstrosity. Each of the three tracks here are brilliant but I can't not listen to this as a whole. It just doesn't feel complete otherwise. I don't know how it happened, but it feels like there some's divine hand guiding all the mayhem here. Whether intentional or not this sounds like the most meticulously constructed record I've heard all year. It's just perfect.

Night of Pleasure Night of Pleasure (7") [Columbus Discount]
So technically this came out last year but I didn't hear it until this year so... I don't give a shit, it is going on this list. This record can't be more than 6 or 7 minutes in total but I listened to these three songs (especially the b-side "Bitch Pitch") possibly more than any of other group of songs this year. I have a huge soft spot for basement scuzz rock and this 7inch is kind of a distillation of what's great about that style. It doesn't hurt that records has HOOKS (note the capitalization). It was still in print last time I checked and super cheap. Strongly recommended.

Blank Dogs Untitled (7") [Daggerman]
Probably could have put any of Blank Dogs output from this year on this list so I'll save some space by just putting my favorite. "In a Web" is an instant classic worth a million plays with it's euphoric detuned central riff and ominous baritone vocals. "They Said" and "Stuck Inside the World" aren't too shabby either. All hail 2008's darkest pop sorcerer.

Mudboy MUDMUX Vol. 1 (7") [DNT]
This 7inch is amazing on all fronts, great artwork, clear blue vinyl and most of all two equally sensational (but different) sides. Mudboy takes on two songs here and remuxes them, still not quite sure what that entails, but the final product is an absolute beauty, whether its the eerie, impossibly groovy jam on the first side or plaintive accordion ballad on backside. Just a phenomal single. When the hell do I get to hear Vol. 2 already??

Ducktails Untitled (7") [Breaking World]/Ducktails/Mudboy Summer of Saucers [DNT]
Maybe more than any other artist this, Ducktails has made waves in the underground and rightly so. These two pieces of the Ducktails saga seem the most essential to my ears. The 7inch features the supergroovy, sunshinin' cosmitropic Ducktails sound with four (or is it three) songs and the tape dials down the rhythmic factor creating a gorgeous 13 minute free floating, adventure through space that moves though a handful of movements concluding with a lonely but still smilin' acoustic guitar.

The Hospitals Hairdryer Peace (LP) [No Label]
I remember reading somewhere an enthusiastic listener calling this album "the best record of the past two years!" Now, I wouldn't go that far but it's probably one of them. Like that Gang Wizard LP this record really feels like an album. There are a couple songs here that are great by themselves ("Animals Act Natural"; "Dream Damage") but the 14 songs here sound their best within the context of the album. Complete with its recurring, national anthemic riff, this album absorbs you into its world; listening is almost like a trek through a noisy jungle. The Hospitals find total sonic synergy in this messy, ragged collision of cacophony and rock songs. I can imagine in the future, having kids and putting this one on the turntable and saying "take a seat, we're going to listen to a great album." It feels like one of those albums you don't forget.

Caldera Lakes Caldera Lakes (CD-r) [Sentient Recognition Archive]
Man oh man, I was not prepared for how good this Caldera Lakes shit is. Obviously, I knew it would be (or at least should be) because Eva Aguila is one of the most consistent artists around but Caldera Lakes (which is Aguila and Brittany Gould of Married in Berdichev) have unlocked a section of the sound spectrum no one new existed. All their releases deliver the same sublime, harsh/soothing beauty but this release in particular I really connected with maybe only because it was the first I heard. Though I will assert that "Tornado" is the finest kernel of sound they have yet produced: a mess of feedback, siren-like vocals and an amazing construction of loops. Whatever release it is, you need Caldera Lakes in your life.

Oneohtrix Point Never Ruined Lives (CS) [Young Tapes]
So when I initially noticed this project I read the name as "Oh-nee-oh-tricks", then "One-oh-tricks" and now I'm pretty sure it's "One-oh-tree" a little like Tweety Bird saying "103". If anyone has information on this matter don't hesitate to get in touch. Regardless of the pronunciation this may be the most stunning, beautiful tape I've heard this year and I'm really kicking myself I didn't jump on this guy's stuff earlier in the year. I respect the approach taken here because it's dreamy but not because it's drenched in reverb or obscured in any way. Instead, a cosmic new age palette is employed to it's fullest extent. The thing is though, even the great stuff from the cosmic new age style still has a quaint cheesiness to it and this tape is so genuine and moving that there is nothing quaint or cheesy about it. It's simply a lovely, brooding, lonely score to an imaginary space age romance. Or so my mind hears it. As soon as it ends, I flip it over and immediately play it again. Space has never sounded so lush.

Black Pus/Foot Village Split (LP) [Deathbomb Arc/DNT]
Brian Chippendale has outdone himself with his side here. Some of it was released awhile back as part of the DBA tape club but I never heard it then so it's all new to me. "Floatzilla" was my election night theme song as I have mentioned before. Relentlessly groovy, relentlessly great. Oozing with positive vibes and posessing your body with dance movements you never thought possible. "The Black Whole" is also brilliant synth only stuff that has a different feel than all other synth jammers I've heard. Synth dudes take note. The flipside contains Foot Village at their most furious and hilarious, worth hearing as well.

Ex-Cocaine/Yellow Swans Split (LP) [Not Not Fun]
I don't know what kinda stuff the DYSwans have in the vault but their side of this LP may as well be their swansong (pun realized but not intended). 15 minutes of hulking majestic blackened beauty. A perfect outro for the one of the greatest bands in history and the best live performers I've ever witnessed. Ex-Cocaine also contributes the best shit they've ever made including an awesome Meat Puppets cover.

Maths Balance Volumes Information is Pain (CS) [Taped Sounds]
Don't know much (read: anything) about these two(?) dudes(?) other then they live somewhere out in Minnesota. This tape, from what I think is the latest carnation of Lieven Marten's Belgian Bread & Animals label, is a potentially addictive substance. An unknowable combo of stewed tapes, guitar blues and slurred vocals--that's my guess anyway. Catchy and creepy; they do their thing like no one else.

Angel Snake/Monopoly Child Star Searchers Split (CS) [New Age Cassettes/Pacific City]
Of the thousands of Ferraro/Clark projects that come out every year, I guess it seems logical some would get lost in the shuffle but it's a bummer this one seemed to be. It's the first instance I've heard of Ferraro on one side and Clark on the other and I think works out great. The first part of Side A is one of my favorite things to come from Ferraro's brain or even the Skaters' collective brain. On the B-side contains the strongest overall Star Searchers release in my opinion; same style as the other releases but just done better for some reason. Typically zonked fold out full-sized paper cover.

Little Women Teeth (LP one-sided) [Gilgongo]
A supreme twenty minute scorcher with plenty of moments of beauty and plenty of anguish emanating from guitar, drums and dueling saxophones. This is virtuosity matched with inspiration. Not much more to say.

Du Hexen Hase Under the Clouds of Sleep (3" CD-r) [No Label]
This little disc is an anomaly to me because it's a pretty long piece at 17ish minutes and relatively little changes throughout its course but it's one of the most listenable, affecting pieces of music I've heard all year. Total bleakness but with an ever present glimmer of hope. If you weren't one of the lucky 47 to score a copy of this, I heard a rumor that it may be reissued as a split LP with Blue Sabbath Black Cheer which would be totally boss. Say your prayers for that.

Bulbs Light Ships (CD) [Freedom to Spend]
Unlike just about everything else that made it onto this favorites of 08 list, this album didn't get on here because I couldn't stop listening to it. I've listened to it a fair amount, sure, but this isn't quite ear candy in the way that most other stuff here is. Don't get the impression I don't like this, cause I do very much, but this is a record I really respect. One that challenges and amazes me every time I pull it out. It contains too many mysteries, and surprises that never fail to surprise, to not hear it. Very much worth the listening investment.

Vapor Gourds Dagger Magic (CS) [Yeay! Cassettes]
This tape has been trapped in my walkman since I got basically. I've always wanted to hear something like this, even trying and failing to create it myself. Lucky for me Vapor Gourds has succeeded. 30 minutes of short beats of all types, though the best are the ones with the hip hop stylee in my opinion. This tape makes me want to record some rhymes over it Grey Album-style (well Grey Album in reverse anyway). The finale is just impeccably classic too. Yeay! did a great job matching the the audio magic with visual magic, 4 or 5 color screenprinted cover and screenprinted tapes in a ghettofab/cartoonish font. Peep it and absorb it.

Radiant Husk Beyond the Endless Swale (CS) [Bezoar Formations]
Dudes, check this tape out. Even the casual reader probably knows how much I love the sax but the thing is it always seems kinda typecast despite being great (like Brian Cox). Enter Matthew Erickson's (Sudden Oak, Anenome Lodge) solo project Radiant Husk. The guy takes a saxophone (along a bit of electronics and keyboards and whatnot) and just paints the sky beautiful, ominous, static-y colors with it. Unique and transcendent and all sorts of synonyms for rad. I guess its kinda noisy and droney and psychedlic but none of those tags seem to capture it. Everytime I roll tape I'm continually amazed. Well worth the meager 5 bucks Bezoar is asking for. Bonus: acid trout collage on the back of the j-card.

Other pieces of the puzzle:
The Skaters Physicalities of the Sensibilites of Ingrediential Strairways (LP) [Eclipse]
Some people seemed to be down on this record, but I dig it. It's another solid platter of the sound only the Skaters can create.

Cheveu Cheveu (LP) [S-S]
Brilliant lo-fi French electro-punk from the sweetly pummeling "Superhero" to the utterly creepy but still kinda beautiful "Happiness"

Girl Talk Feed the Animals (CD) [Illegal Art]
Not the impeccably crafted masterwork that Night Ripper was but still a great pop record. I'm a sucker for this guy's stuff.

Nice Face Can I Fuck It (CS) [Jerkwave]
Don't know anything about this Nice Face guy other than he knows how to write a song. Check "Way it's Gotta Be" for proof. Fuzzed to the nuts (did I just write that?) with more hooks than a pirate ship. (wait did I just write that??) Extra points for putting this gem out on cassette rather than vinyl as most of his contemporaries do.

Nobunny Love Visions (LP) [Bubbledum]
Now that Nobunny has released this LP millions of people can throw away their anti-depressants and just put on "I am a Girlfriend" when they're feeling blue. It is literally impossible for me to listen to that song without getting up and dancing and loving life. The rest of the record is great too which is a total bonus cause it'd be worth having for that song alone.

The Pope Do You Wanna Boogie? (CS) [DNT]
Riotous, feedback stained shit rock. Totally great and so totally necessary to hear it on tape. Supposedly their last release (lame) R.I.P. the Pope

Black Orphan Circuits [UFO Dictator]/Black Orphan Video Kids [Hozac]
Don't know what it is about the midwest but it seems more, often than not, the best songs from this year came from there. "XX Spectrum" and "Video Kids" are utterly fantastic.

Traum Ecke Traum Ecke (CS) [Goaty Tapes]
I think this duo is guitar and keyboard and may have just been a one-off since I haven't seen anything else by them around. The first side is really ambient magic crystal drone stuff and the flip retains the floatiness with a nice subtle groove. Excellent packaging from Goaty as well with bitchingly bright yellow tapes.

Caldera Lakes Caldera Lakes (CS) [905 Tapes; Blackest Rainbow; Deathbomb Arc]
Each of these Caldera Lakes tapes is pretty evenly matched so I'm just putting all three on here. As mentioned before Caldera Lakes just have an amazing sound and any of these tapes will give you glimpse of it. I just happen to be extra nuts about that sound so I picked up every Caldera Lakes release I could find this year and I'm not even one of those completist types. The Blackest Rainbow one features fantastic artwork by Jake Blanchard too.

Kevin Shields/Droughter Split (CS) [Heavy Psych]
Probably most people that read this are aware by now how much I love Eva Aguila's Kevin Shields project so obviously I picked up this tape. To my surprise, and while the KS side is solid, I was really impressed with the B-side. Droughter brings it for 17 straight minutes never letting up and, here's the important part, never getting boring. One of the finest long form noise tracks I've heard this year.

Locrian Burying the Carnival/Exhuming the Carnival (CS) [No Label]/Locrian Rhetoric of Surfaces (CD) [Bloodlust!]
It seems like these guys have been around for a while and some how I missed 'em. Too bad for me. I remember hearing "Burying a Carnival" for the first time and thinking "Shit, how did I not know about these guys". Fantastic blackened noise/drone stuff that's up there with the greats of the genre.

Super Minerals The Piss (CS) [DNT]/Super Minerals The Thaw (CS) [Not Not Fun]
This duo is my personal favorite from the Magic Lantern web. I dig how The Piss sounds like it was recorded in some dank air pocket ten feet below the earth's surface. Never heard drones so dry and moldy before. The Thaw meanwhile has got to be biggest bang for your buck of the year, a c120 of the greatest hits of SM's own private stock.

Tricorn & Queue Tapestry Head Ban [Housecraft]
I'm sucker for a brilliant drone stuff which is why this is on the list. The first
piece, oh man, it's just beautiful as hell.

Do Tell Sewn to the Current [Housecraft]
I'm a sucker for brilliant drone pt. 2... The mastermind behind this 90 minute double cassette somehow manages to keep you floating for its whole duration.

Mincemeat or Tenspeed All Critters (LP) [Big Monies Tapes/Deathbomb Arc/Malleable]
So no computers, samplers, musical instruments... dude, what then??! Somehow this was created without any of those things, and fuck, what an impressive record it is. Gnarly techno-surf shit. Check it out.

Gay Beast Disrobics (LP) [DNT]
Gay Beast was actually supposed to be here on the 31st of Dec but sadly it appears to have fallen through but at least I have this LP to get me through. GB have a great sound visceral, angular and mathematically complex/precise which somehow makes it seem even more raw. Solid album and "Cock" and "Good Government" are two of the finest songs of '08

Lateral Hyetography Some Girlzzz (CS) [Really Coastal]
Not much to say about this cassingle other than it's a wonderfully epic pop number and I can't wait for more.

John Thill The Sluts (CS) [JK Tapes]
I can rarely understand a word this guy is singing when I do it's usually a bit creepy but this tape is the best folk/songwriter release I've heard this year I think. Dude, knows how to write a pretty song and a hilarious review.

Night of Pleasure/Day Creeper Split (7") [No Label]
Great self-released split from Columbus crews, Night of Pleasure and Day Creeper. More great messy NoP stuff is matched the more pop stylings of Day Creeper featuring the especially great bedroom bombast of "My Blue Screen".

Fag Cop Psychic Sickness (7") [Milk N Herpes]
My friend said that Fag Cop is scuzz rock. The more I think about it I'm inclined to agree. All songs are great but "Automatic Kansas" is the best of the gnarly, gnarled bunch. I may have found a reason to go to Kansas.

AFCGT AFCGT (10") [Dirty Knobby]
Local legends A Frames and Climax Golden Twins unite and make history. See them live, they will rattle your brain loose.

I also want to give a special mention to DNT records. I know I didn't hear everything that was released by every label last year but, for my money, DNT put on a better show than anyone else. Every release ranged from good to fucking classic, the artwork was always great etc. etc. and prices are CHEAP. I was impressed to no end and it looks like DNT has plans to top itself next year--look at the upcoming release schedule, it's stacked!