Goliath Bird Eater - Blood Venus (Not Not Fun CD)

I guess a few people wanted me to hear this album because I've somehow wound up with two copies of it and I'm not even sure how I got one of em. Pretty curious lookin' jewel-case deco with absolutely no info whatsoever regarding artist or album title, that kinda info's only privy to you once you crack it open. Goliath Bird Eater huh. Scary name for a band, scarier name for a spider which is exactly what it is. It's also called the bird eating spider but would you name YOUR band Bird Eating Spider? Get fucking serious. What the trip here is that it's a two-man unit like a lot of units seem to be lately, featuring Bobb Bruno (of lotsa oddly-named ensembles and ex-the For Carnation, the only name you might recognize) on guitars, synthesizer, organ, bells and gong along with Jeremy Villalobos (Wives, Neon King Kong, others???) playing drums, gong and sampler. Thankfully no one sings. I don't know much about Bobb or Jeremy's pipes and I'm sure they're quite heavenly after 2-7 beers but I'm a firm believer in keeping voices outta this brand of haberdashery.
Once upon a time in the west I was unfairly pessemistic re: Not Not Fun's no wave thing because those genres generally bring about feelings in me typically reserved for things like genocidal dictators and hangnails but they've been putting out some real corkers lately (do I have to name names?) and have you gotten even a glimpse of that Bored Fortress 7" subscription series they're about to turn the key on? Are you kidding me? So I think it's safe to say my preconceived notions are baseless at best and bestless at base - Goliath Bird Eater (GBE? GoBiEa?) back that up. Really, when "Navigation" kicked in, I'm talking it literally kicked in because I just about miscarried upon meeting the devastating whomp of the duo's stoner metal/noise rock chops, kinda like Big Business but with more moments of inspired instruments disorder free kouts. By the time "Falcon Arrow", "Blood Venus" and "Tiger Emperor" speed by I'm already playing the blender game - Fucking Champs, Motorhead, Lightning Bolt, High on Fire, and Orthrelm working out their Family Issues in a 10x10 closet so close to Lemmy that you can hang your coat on his moles? It's all that plus you have to guzzle those guyses sweat when it's all said and done. "Mongol Hammer" combines searing synth eruption with a Villalobos drum loop so nasty it'll staple you to the floor and the guitar riff on "Emerald Frosien" is the nailgun that makes sure you stay put. "Burning Emerald" and "Anaconda Vice" bring about memories of Sabbath and anything to ever be inspired by them, tainted by living and dying through movements hereafter like punk, noise, no wave, grindcore and all else that's good and decent. And that's only the first half of the album. The other thirty minutes are devoted to one colossal track named "Daitorou" which can probably only be described as a think-piece about a mid-level band struggling with their own limitations in the harsh face of stardom, especially if you ignore anything after the words "think-piece" because I did just steal that line off Almost Famous like you didn't know. But it certainly is a chess match all right, pitting your grey matter (which ain't so hot after the thirty minute battering it just took) against huge, droning electronics, low-slung Oxbow-ish chords and plodding drums that definitely indicate far ominous things coming on the horizon. Does it explode like you think it will? Well I'm not going to spoil the whole thing for you, buy it if you want to know the answer to that question. I spose you could look at it like GBE's "Jerusalem", but if "Jerusalem" were a life preserver I wouldn't toss it out to any Tom, Dick or Harry out in the deep end so I can't just go saying it's on par with THAT classic yet. It does take a little too long to get to where it's going and it brings the running time to just under 70 minutes, ever so slightly excessive in this case I'm thinking...but hey, no one's forcing you to take it all in one sitting. Come at it like morsels man. Like morsels!
Something weird about this album - and I'm probably exposing myself here but not in a way that'd lead to any serious prison time - is that the bulk of the song titles are named after wrestling holds. I guess this is where I should say something like "after all this time spent with Goliath Bird Eater, you'll have felt like your ears were in an Anaconda Vice for the past hour!" but I'll defer to the Iron Sheik here. But not here. "You ask me excellent, excellent question..."


Xexyz - Primeval Mountain (Dipsomaniac Records CD-R)

For those who took offense at Ettrick appropriating the dark arts for their own personal benefit and monetary gain, have I got a record for you! Xexyz. Grim enough band name, grim enough album title, certainly grim enough album art - especially when you dig the pixellated laser printer job - but a quick trip to Google and you'll find out that the majority of the results returned for the word "Xexyz" are for Nintendo ROMs, websites, and the like. Wikipedia sez: "Xexyz is a video game by Hudson Soft for the Nintendo Entertainment System, first released in Japan on August 26, 1988 under the title Kame no Ongaeshi - Urashima Densetsu; it saw a North American release in March, 1990". Oh wait, what? No, it couldn't be...it is! The Nintendo theme/black metal crossover the world was holding its collective breath for! You have the NESkimos and the Minibosses for full-band NES covers, the Advantage for indie rock NES covers, HORSE the Band for hardcore NES covers and now Xexyz for black metal NES covers. Call it...NESBM! Personally I think it's great and can't wait for the doom metal NES covers to sprout up. Can you imagine a 20 minute version of the Legend of Zelda theme or something like that? I'm half-tempted to start my own band just for that purpose. Maybe I can hook up with Reverend J.R. Preston (if that is his real name, he uses an incredible array of pseudonyms), the lone soul behind Xexyz. You might - might - know him from his work in bands like Blood Cult, Tjolgtjar, Enbilulugugal, MMFHL, Raw Hatred, Burning Blood, Bloodwoods and Roadkill Sodomizer, among others I'm sure. In particular Enbilulugugal's "Noizemongers for GoatSerpent" is worth checking out as it is an undisputed classic of fucked up modern-day black metal/noise confusion (and boasts a song titled "Koldgrimm HellMasturbator", can't top that). Man is there nothing else better to do in Illinois than to create a whole bunch of black metal spinoff groups? I'm beginning to wonder, correct me if I'm wrong.
If you couldn't figure it out already, the plot is pretty simple. Whereas other black metal groups use keyboards or synthesizers, Xexyz lifts classic lines straight out of various Nintendo game and then structures an actual song around it. In fact the first track "Temple Above the Wood Hollow" sounds like your regular, lo-fi one-man black metal track until the two minute mark, when the track fades out an is replaced by a hideous/hilarious/awe-inspiring 8-bit squelch. I couldn't tell you just what game it's from since I'm no pro, but it works surprisingly well! Of course it's goofy too, but that's at least part of the point. But everything up until then - buzzing riffs, tinny drums and Xexyz's screeching vocals (reminiscent of bands like Old Wainds or maybe W.O.L.D.) are right on the money. "What Lies Atop Gran Mountain" threads another NES anthem around a blackened stomp and comes off disturbingly epic, but then again Nintendo did have some pretty outrageously bravado themes in their time. Once you hear tracks like "Metroid" and "Nightmare on Elm Street" it hits you in the face just how absolutely perfect the themes were to be married with BM dissonance and the theme to "Rygar's Quest" never sounded so glorious as it does here reimagined as a black metal interlude...it's weird to think that it really wouldn't sound entirely out of place on an early album by Emperor or Ulver or what have you. "The Trojan's Doom" is split in two, the first part devoted to repetitive 8-bit chirping and drumming while the latter half let's the song disintegrate into a truly nasty sounding dark ambient slosh. Final two tracks are "Garloz" and "Attack of the Great Panther", each with its own brand of weirdness - the couple of minutes of "Garloz" are dedicated the sampled theme seemingly played in reverse before segueing into a more, uh, "normal" solo BM basement creation while "Attack" is overloaded with a wash of bizarre swirling sound effects, almost like an NES version of a shoegaze version of a Velvet Cacoon track...comprende?
No doubt there are CERTAIN folks who are gonna balk on Xexyz based on premise alone, but these people also paint their faces before going to shows so you can be the judge on that one. If you've got a sense of humor and maybe 7 bucks burning a hole in your pants, try "Primeval Mountain" on for size. You'd be surprised at just how little shtick is really involved in Xexyz's approach - there are some serious bangers here man and I ain't talking sausage although on second thought maybe I am. All things considered Xexyz makes me wanna paint my face but then I'd risk smudging up my Virtual Boy and you know homie don't play that. I can still rock a spiked Powerglove with the best of em though...


Chauchat - The Cough of a Crane / L. Eugene Methe - One Million Birds Making a Frightfull Racket (Unread Records LP/CS)

Christopher Fischer of Unread Records sent me a dandy of a package awhile ago containing these two trophies from his label, none of which I'd ever heard before - that is to say not the artists nor the label itself. Enclosed was a hand-written note that warmed my cockles (dude writes like a 7-year old, it's great) but I have to tell you I was none too warmed at all upon handling the Chaucat record sleeve which was spraypainted black and left a thick charcoal residue all over my hands and anything else that it came into contact upon removal from its plastic sleeve. I got no problem if you're gonna spray your sleeves but there's ways to do it without turning the whole thing into a hazardous waste situation! But it's cool, I'll live. I'll live even more because the sounds on the record were pretty good, too. If I got the backstory right, Chauchat began as a solo outlet for Pennsylvania (I think) singer/songwriter Tyler Whitney, and has now been expanded to include various other troubadours such as Erik Sahd on drums and Pascal Troemel on additional vocals and piano in this instance. Upon reading that Chauchat had made fans/friends out of folks like the Mountain Goats and Bright Eyes (Bright Eyes?!), I grew - to put it mildly - somewhat skeptical. But then I reminded myself that I own some Dream Theater albums, so who was I to cast any judgement, right?
Sure and suitably enough, "The Cough of a Crane" begins with a coupla tracks that are just as dirty and grimy as the sleeve it comes in - filth-laden, grungy (the adjective not the genre) ancient/lost sounding loner attic one-track jams, just as Jandekian as they are potentially Oberstian. But way way more heinously groused, somewhere along the lines of Ariel Pink and Mark Tucker's 70's classic out disc "Bat Stew". But from those tracks the LP takes a hard left straight into full-band snotty indie pop on "Guenther", very in the vein of Sonic Youth, Neutral Milk Hotel or the Jesus and Mary Chain. Caught me off guard to say the least but it still possessed that homey jamming with your buds in your mom's living room with one microphone in the middle and lots of sunlight pouring in through the bay window - it was nice like that, no fake. "Lights/Garbage" and "Acrobatiz" return to the solo arti-fucked broken folk style of the first few with the latter coming off as particularly devastating - a beautiful solo guitar strum set to the oozing plasma of a melting keyboard's death rattle. It's a what I envision to be a good Saturday night/Sunday morning drunken post-heartache listen. Side two is in the same style as the previous, alternating solo acoustic numbers with full band efforts like "Sleeping Sickness". My preference leans towards Whitney (mostly) solo - "Depart" is a ghostly "Skip" Spence downer-n'-out anthem and the multi-voiced post-punk-smeared dollop of "Carter and Macrae" is both dreary and charming. "Piano Fight" is the last track and it's a lo-fi instrumental batter, one of many such snatches dispersed throughout the album inbetween the more fleshed-out song songs. Nevertheless it leaves your ears feeling as scuzzy and messy and your fingers will be trying to play the damn thing. But I assure you it's worth it. Anybody can make an LP these days but not anybody can write a good song - whether it's always my bag or not doesn't mean that I can't sincerely tell you Tyler Whitney doesn't write a great fucking song.
Okay someone's gonna have to explain this one too me. The legend here is that Christopher Fischer moved into Lonnie Eugene Methe (of a band called Naturaliste - know em? I don't)'s old house and found a tape in the rafters of the house and persuaded Methe to let him release it. Of course, Methe and Naturaliste have already recorded for Unread in the past, so the fact that this could just be a fabricated tale of serendipity is not lost on yours truly. Call me on the ball for once. Apparently when Fischer released it he (or someone) added short acoustic songs to the end of the sides to fill it out, but he couldn't find that version so I got the non-acoustically-augmented version instead. No matter, this is a fucked up enough tape as it is, fucked up like whoa. The first side purports to be "experimentations for answering machine/violin". Whaaaa? Wheels of confusion, they are a-spinnin'. But it's totally feasible. First side is indeed a horrible mess of high-pitched feedback and tape manipulation scramble, seemingly generated from...an answering machine and a violin. You can ever hear the odd voice cropping up now and again, though they're quickled drowned again in metal scrapfest hell. Kinda sounds like Raven Strain, C. Spencer Yeh, Nate Young's Hatred project, or maybe even Robert Ashley's early work like "The Wolfman"...as a matter of fact, shouldn't this be listed on the Hanson distro by now? Wow. Definitely weird. Just when I thought I was for sure about to go blind, the side switched over and got a lot quieter...in fact the entire first ten minutes are seemingly dedicated to a xylophone plucked aimlessly and some rattling chimes and the last ten to the plodding rhythm of a metronome, a wine glass being hit, and indeed the occasional violin cut. What a baffling listen that seems to go on for hours - you'd hate it. All the more reason why you should buy it and be wooed by Unread's monochromatic investigations into bizarro/outsider/top 40 dark matter. I sure was and I don't know if I'll ever be the same. Let's hope not!


Leviathan - The Blind Wound (Southern Lord LP)

Remember in the old days when you wanted to hear one side of a certain artist's split release but didn't really care so much about hearing the other? Well now you don't have to worry anymore! "The Blind Wound" is (stop me if you've heard this before) not the new Leviathan record, but actually Wrest's stand-alone side from his split with Sapthuran, which came out earlier last year on Battle Kommand. Not that I have anything against Sapthuran - in fact I don't think I've ever heard Sapthuran - but I did hear some negativity about him from someone who had heard his part of the split. Dig? At least, I think that's what I heard. Maybe the person actually didn't like Leviathan's side. Whatever. Call me unadventurous. But when it comes to Southern Lord bands, you know if you wait long enough they'll put out an edition of an already-released album that you actually want to own, so I figgered the time was right to buy. Also it has one of the slickest (and unintentionally comical) packaging jobs a Leviathan album has ever been treated to. The cover features an incredible painting by Wrest and, you can't tell from the pic, but has the Leviathan logo embossed glossy style on the front and the same can be said for the tracklist on the back. But the actual coloring job on the vinyl was botched and instead of being a red/green swirl, it's split half-red and half-green (actually why not take a look here). The humor involved stems from the album being released on December 7th, during the traditional Christmas crunch, so this look created here is what you'd expect from a Leviathan Christmas Album, were it to ever exist. Classic! Well I guess with all that colored vinyl flying about these days, you knew a botch-up like this couldn't be far behind. Anyway, I thought it was funny...so uh, shut up.
The material here is kinda spread thin, since it's essentially half an album occupying two sides of a long player, but you get what you pay for. First side is devoted to two tracks, the second to two plus an outro. "Odious Convulsions (They Are Not Worthy of His Name)" is branded with a nasty, twisting intro that segues into an earful of sick, slicing riffs that totally dominate the (live!) drumming and Wrest's scarcely-audible tortured howls. Totally ruthless and fuzzier than a 1940's car crash. The track takes a weird and unexpected detour into post-punk or gothic rhythm before being broken up again with static bolts of harsh guitar buzz. I knew Leviathan had it in him since he covered June of 44 once upon a day, but this swerve came out of nowhere and ruled me. The other track on the first side "The Fourth Blind Wound" is more the "suicidal" black metal type you'd expect from Leviathan - full-on endless teeth-breaking riff beat down leading into droning mega-nod rites a la "Dunkelheit" which is something special to be compared to since it's the best black metal opus ever written. But it's just as 'eavy.
Second side is a double dose of BM minimalism. "Another Sip of Fear" is another blast of furious, guitar-riddled waste set to the tune of one pounding bass drum endlessly burrowing into your skull, aided and abetted by Wrest screaming like a mutant daemon strangled half to death. It's a beautiful thing in an Elephant Man kind of way, trust me. "Crushing the Prolapsed Oviducts of Virtue" (say word) is of the same malevolent spirit, the entire cut engulfed in a firestorm of stomping, blackened riffs all jagged and war-torn. The non-lyrics just add to the suffocating bleak miasma obfuscating the whole affair. Totally rad and probably one of the best "short-form" (e.g. not 9-10 minute) Leviathan tracks I've heard. Side and album close with "Mesmerism", a brief outro that sounds like Ministry and Suicide 78s rotting in a junkyard. Also makes a great soundtrack to watching House of Carters. So...there's that.
Of course if you've already got the original split, this release is fairly useless unless you're some sort of Leviathan completist, in which case I pity your eBay-raped soul. I might even recommend it over the actual split since I just came across two user-contributed reviews on the Metal Archives website that aren't too kind to Sapthuran's side (and I quote: "The unfortunate thing about this cd is that Sapthuran has a few tracks on it" - well okay then!). In any event if you're foaming at the mouth awaiting the next REAL Leviathan full-length, "Massive Conspiracy Against All Life", "The Blind Wound" would do well to tide you over. Even if it's little more than 25 minutes in length, repeated listens are deserved here.


Amon Düde - Amon Düde (Ikuisuus CD-R)

You could say there's only one reason I bought this CD-R, but you'd be wrong. Sure I have a soft spot for gimmicky band names that seem to exist for no other purpose than to draw attention where it may not be warranted. But there is another reason...it's from Finland, man! Finland rules! Ever since the Lal Lal Lal label won my heart over and kept it last year, I've been almost embarassingly attracted to anything Finnish. And not to mention that Ikuisuus, the label that put this one out, have an increasingly-impressive track record. And that the guy behind Amon Düde is also responsible for the ultimate in Finnish stupefaction with main unit Avarus. A recipe for success, Shirley? Or at least a disc worth owning because, why not.
I don't even know if you can call Amon Düde a project or just a one-off with a clever moniker, but nonetheless he does collaborate with a few individuals here - the Hot Rod Boys (who?), Reverend Washington (huh?) and Fricara Pacchu (YES). Other than that, it's pretty much a solo flight, and a short flight at that because it ends 29 minutes in. But that's really not a bad thing as this is the kind of album that could really wear on your nerves in a life-threatening, genocidal kind of way if it went on too long. All seven tracks are untitled, but they do have various notes about the tracks on the insert - for example, tracks 1, 3 and 7 were recorded live during a tour with Paavi, Mark Boombastik and Jack the Rapper; 2 was with the Hot Rod Boys "inside a rock underneath an orthodox cathedral" in Helsinki; 4 and 6 were with Reverend Washington and 5 was with Pacchu in the "sauna department" of the Avarus practice space in Turku. The results can vary wildly. For the most part, the sound here is like a merry-go-round of different electronic noises, tape manipulations, video game sound effects, samples, junky percussion clap-trap and anything else belched up and assimilated by A.D.'s busted machinery. The live tracks are all of the same vein (obviously) with A.D. speeding up and slowing down tape feeds and SFX to increasingly dizzying effect, like an even more childish Aphex Twin or Monstre. On track two A.D. and the Hot Rod Boys combine more baffling sounds, toy horns, the tiny sounds of a drumkit and yelping vocals into a brain-scrambling mess...sure sounds like it was worked over in the "studio" afterwards but whaddo I know. The tracks with this Reverend Washington are quite out-there, the first one sounding like Carl Stalling overseeing a series of noisemakers going off at random intervals while the other is almost like a techno/death metal weld that's entirely marred by some ridiculous vocal undulations that make the track hardly bearable for thirty seconds, let alone five full minutes. Best of the best is (naturally) the "epic 4-track piece" with Fricara Pacchu is still a mess of electronic spittle, frantic percussion and hot-wired epilepsy-inducing flickers but it has the kind of rotten-yet-joyful inspired sense of exuberance about it that permeates so much of what I like about all these Finnish up-and-comers. It may be stupid but I'll be darned if a good time wasn't had by all (me). The whole disc isn't a winner but that 8-minute session with Pacchu makes up for the cost of it alone and the solo bits are quite nice too. Next stop is, in my ideal world, a c30 on Lal Lal Lal. Make it happen!


Bastard Noise & Government Alpha - Resurrection (Thumbprint Press CD)

I think this disc came to me in the same package as the last two Housepig discs, because I seem to remember a note about passing it along as a favor and then I saw Housepig thanked in the liner notes to this one and...I guess I'm just not sure who to thank/blame for it, although Bob H. Pig seems like a safe bet. If you don't know these two noise heavyweights by now, escape while you still can. Government Alpha is the work of Japanese ear-mangler Yasutoshi Yoshida who has been doing just that on record since '99 while Bastard Noise is Bill Nelson and Eric Wood of hardcore group Man is the Bastard unleashing their collective harsh noise tendancies. To be honest I wasn't even sure if they were still around - not like I follow noise all that closely but I try to keep myself aware and it'd been awhile since I heard anything from their camp. Maybe I just have my horse blinders on. That said though, the tracks here (by both involved) were recorded in 2003, so who knows. Maybe the wild opaque/"custom inked triple fold synthetic paper" sleeve the disc comes in had something to do with the delay. Looks stunning but just a tad difficult on the eyes. As if it wasn't already difficult enough on the ears once you put it in. Psshaw.
Contrary to the marquee, Government Alpha's tracks (six of em, thirtyish minutes in length) play first and it's all about the habitual non-stop blast-fest you'd expect now from Yoshida. It's not exactly "Sporadic Spectra" caliber where I had tears in my eyes and was beginning to develop a tangible and conscientious fear of the album but it's still no Vivaldi either. Lord only knows how Yoshida builds up such an intensely immediate sonic fury (it ain't Dell I'm guessing) because every time I look at a picture he's playing some kind of unknown/invented contraption hooked up like a life support system to a mess of effect pedals and what have you. It's not even fair to draw comparisons because the only names I could throw out would only be Government Alpha imitators, but Masonna is definitely a safe bet, as is early Merzbow, the Haters, M.S.B.R. (to whom GA's side is dedicated to) and...Government Alpha. The ringing feedback and sharp tones were the kind that made my dog get up and start barking even though he had no idea where the sound was coming from. I didn't either - I had since gotten dizzy, hit my head on my desk, and split my head open. We all die a thousand deaths listening to music I'm sure, but this was really the only time I had to have the paramedics over.
Bastard Noise's lengthy drone paradisos are almost the perfect way to clot all that bloody from the Government Alpha tracks, if it weren't for that feeling like they were gnawing holes into and through your stomach. "Lost City" sounds indeed like a post-apocalypse fantasy, kind of a transmission from the frozen outer crusts where you're being through Narshe by Magitek soldiers. It's a very hush-hush dark ambient/back alley pursuit, and the fact that over its 20 minutes it never explodes into the sonic reaming you expect it to makes it even better. A perpetual state of tension if you will. "Winter Sacrifice" is has the same kind of desolate droning for a foundation but is also joined by a squelchy, warbly wet noise that makes me think of Yasunao Tone's experiments with damaged CDs. Slowly the droning sounds in the background get louder and louder and this one proceeds to get violent, descending into a complete rupture of the senses by the end. Magnificent! The closing "Iron Mountain" certainly sounds sourced from iron ala Aube but probably isn't, just instead an eternal collision of mechanical, ethereal breath.
Neither contribution here is really a shock outta left field (especially not Government Alpha)'s but both showcase two (or three) talents on top of their games, at least, as it was in 2003. And I haven't heard much about this Thumbprint Press label but if all their releases are as sexy as this one, well I'll just have to keep an eye out.


Bjerga/Iversen - Cosmic Surgery (Housepig Recordings CD-R)

Bjerga/Iversen is the working name for the coalition of a couple of maniacally prolific Norwegian warriors: Sindre Bjerga and Jan Iversen. Of this voluminous output, I've only heard their release on Dead Sea Liner, though they have had releases on labels like Organic Pipeline, Foxglove, Carbon, Barl Fire, MYMWLY, Ruralfaune, Time-Lag so you know they're good people right off the bat. I can only assume they use a variety of noisemakers and household fodder to produce their sounds, but on the insert to "Cosmic Surgery" all it sez is "Bjerga: amplified objects and electronix" and "Iversen: electronix". And that it was recorded in Norway, February 2006. Not a whole lot of clues but that's okay, I like my sounds mysterious too.
My memories of "In Broken Dreams the World Still Keeps Turning" (the Dead Sea Liner CD-R) are faded but I remember very slow, glacial, earthly mostly-electronic tones like Growing or Tim Hecker or something around those parts. "Cosmic Surgery" is kinda similar but altogether more rough around the edges, tattered and jagged like somebody took a Growing recording session and spliced the tapes together using a cheese grater. The result is a foggy, distant, radioed interpretation. "A Condensed History of Failure" opens with a musty piano plunking and then into a hazy, strobelight/incoming ship atmospheric electronic-induced somnambulist. You know the parts on Earth's "Sunn Amps and Smashed Guitars" live album before the songs where there's like a weird effect-driven droney noise before the song starts? Yeah, that's the ticket. Very "Sunn Amps"-era Earth, replete with some actually discernable (if not slightly muggy) rhythms and structure. "Beauty Spot" is - and I say this a lot - anything but, with either Bjerga or Iversen laying down a rumbling, sore-throat basement-floor-scraping loop and Iversen or Bjerga making sounds like the Space Needle poking holes in the ceiling of the sky and letting holy white light pour through. Eventually the whole track is overtaken by a menacing, noisy sine wave monstrosity, relenting only slightly and exploding into a million lasers, darting off into all corners of the known galaxy. "Transmitting into the Void", the third and final piece is a repetitive, head-nodding bit of work similar in theory to the last one although far less erratic. It's like a mangled, lo-fi dub by way of dark ambient/noise. The foundation of the track is another locked-groove style loop and the canopy to that is decorated with all sorts of unknown sounds, crinkles, squeals and blustering. Think early Daniel Menche maybe or even Wolf Eyes at their most doped-up (or is it down?). It's simple, effective, and soothing too!
Unlike the Pulse Emitter disc this CD-R isn't pro-labeled but it does come with a snappy yellow-and-black fold-over insert similar to the cover, and surely lino-blocked by the same gentleman. Only bummer is the disc is barely a half-hour long, and I coulda used a little more dead cow to sink my teeth into.


Pulse Emitter - Planetary Torture (Housepig Records CD-R)

Pulse Emitter first came to my attention with his appearance on the "Portland" 3LP set that came about some time last year, but he's been at it since 2002 and building up quite the solid following during that time. I'm not sure exactly how prolific he is (his "Portland" side was his first ever appearance on the grooved wax, if I'm not mistaken) but here he's responsible for this House Pig release, their aluminum anniversary release in fact. For the record (or CD-R, ha ha!) Pulse Emitter is the work of one Daryl Groetsch and his tools of the trade appear in large part to be of the synsthesizer variety, and "Planetary Torture" is no different as he uses hand-built modular synths to pursue his craft.
"Planetary Torture" consists of four relatively short pieces, with the whole disc clocking in just over the thirty minute mark. "Ape Shit" is an endlessly fluctuating tailspin of near-cartoony synth loops and whooshes, occasionally brought down to near-silence level and then shot all the way back up into the stratosphere, kinda makes me think of John Olson's Waves project, or Damion Romero, or Jessica Rylan (sans vox). "Warming Rays" is pretty much not at all like the title would lead you to believe, instead bogging your cerebellum down in thick, murky tones that just ooze venom from every pore and introduce the listener to a whole 'nother realm of mental disarray, think Jandek and Schnitzler locked in a room banging out a snarling, collapsing stardust phaser. And call me crazy, or at least "gotten to" by all these sickening tones, but "Propaganda Machine" truly sounds to me like a rearranging of far-out works by Sun Ra's Arkestra, except everything is played by one guy handling one synthesizer. The movements are there, the changes in structure are there, and the effervescent free cosmic slap of the Arkestra gone wildhouse is really there, I swear! But it's the fourth and final clip "Ash" that I like the most, a shakey, constantly erupting mash-up of silence, static and soundpooling, all wrestled out of the depths of Groetsch's Frankensynths. Basically it's like entire buildings, populations, towns and civilizations being razed to the ground, except that it's happening in SimCity. Which is good because honestly, I'm not in the mood to be razed and I'm sure you're not either.
Pretty neat curio from this future noise stalwart and verily worth the price of admission at six bones U.S. (eight bones world). Housepig apparently have done a duo of recordings in similar packaging courtesy Seattle lino-block artist Nic Schmidt, and it's an interesting duality because I must say the packages smell like regurgitated vomit and feel just as dirty. In a good way! There's also a nice little cardstock insert with track titles and pertinent information, not to mention the exquisitely pro-printed CD-R faces. Tomorrow I'll chat you up real nice the other release in the set, yet another transmission from the untiring Bjerga/Iversen tandem.


Boris with Michio Kurihara - Rainbow (Pedal Records CD)

About a whiles back in time my left femur started acting up, which meant the world was due for a new Boris release. Shortly thereafter, "Rainbow" did indeed drop and we all rushed to flood the internet with e-commerce transactions to procure it. Actually I waited (for some reason) so it only came in pretty recently. I usually do buy all Boris releases on impulse, but I was particuarly excited about this one because it had gotten a lot of really great reviews and it also starred Michio Kurihara, he of White Heaven and the Stars and sometimes of Yura Yura Teikoku, Ghost and Damon & Naomi. Boris have already collaborated with Japanese sha-men Merzbow and Keiji Haino so I suppose a face-off with Kurihara was not totally unimaginable. Unlike both those collaborations however, "Rainbow" was not a free-form live improvisation. Quite the contrary in fact, this album consists of nine, well-written and thoroughly composed songs, more along the lines of what was accomplished on last year's "Altar" with Sunn O))). Of course, another album and another guest means another paradigm shift for the trio of Takeshi, Wata and Atsuo, and this one sees them tackling a more reflective, shoegazy approach albeit still infused with their trademark heavy metal thunder (and obviously augmented by Kurihara's blistering guitar work). Stylistically I'd say "Rainbow" is probably the middle-ground between 2004's "Mabuta No Ura" and 2005's "Pink", albeit heavily dosed with the psychedelic undercurrent found on the earlier "Feedbacker".
The most immediately arresting thing about "Rainbow" is how poppy it is - this is the best sixties album not made in the sixties, and without the slightest hint of irony, or idol worship, or revisionism, or pastiche, or any of that. The fact that "Rainbow" is so straight-forward might actually be the toughest obstacle for Boris fans to overcome, especially if they lean toward the band's more avant metal excursions. There are at least a few tracks on here that are simply great rock songs, if nothing else: opener "Rafflesia" builds on the epic-yet-restrained noise/shoegaze flares the band previously hinted at on cuts like "A Bao a Qu" and "Farewell"; "Starship Narrator" sounds like a blues/psych update from Atsuo's tailspin drumming and Takeshi's call-and-response verses down to Kurihara's sick, mind-splitting Lou Reed guitar throttle and "Sweet No. 1" is given over almost entirely to the same kind of white-hot bloody-finger soloing from the guest musician, as furious and as vital as you've ever heard from him. Some of the most rewarding moments from the album come on the more experimental tracks, like "Rainbow" where guitarist Wata takes the mic over a near-jazzy midnight moodpiece. Kurihara cuts into this one as well, stepping forward and delivering a soulful, wiry solo before fading into the back and handing centerstage over to Wata for the track's conclusion. "Fuzzy Reactor" is filled to the brim with cinematic bombast as the group makes full use of the studio to produce a dense, swirly bit of Eastern-tinged prog/krautrock while "My Rain" benefits from the same treatment, the entire gentle guitar instrumental built upon a looped backwards-running magnetic tape snapping. The album does lag a bit in the middle, with the back-to-back dramatics of "Shine" and "You Laughed Like a Water Mark" proving to be a bit too much for even me to stomach - the former features Takeshi doing his best pseudo-cathartic "giant release" wail alongside an uninspired take mostly from the bass and drums while "You Laughed Like a Water Mark" features a static blues beat and Takeshi's monotonous vocals in even more static form, although Kurihara does save a bit of grace for the track merely by showing up and doing his thing (and it's also the point in the album where you'll probably notice just how far ahead in the mix Kurihara's solos sound). The not-so-grand finale is "...And, I Want", a gentle little coda that sounds like it was transmitted on a PlaySkool radio and sounds all the better (and warmer) for it.
After the first time I heard "Rainbow" I wasn't at all entirely sure what to think and I still don't know if I do just now. There are definitely great moments on here that'll make it worthwhile for fans of either Boris or Michio Kurihara (or both), but on the whole the album strikes me a tad on the uneven side. Or maybe I was just overhyped by overzealous early word-of-mouth reviews. Nevertheless, you probably know already if you have to have this (they don't really make Boris fans casual, do they?) but I wouldn't yet venture it a crucial document in the group's ever-swelling discography. Maybe mid-rank for now, but I have the feeling I'm going to have to spend a lot more time with "Rainbow" before I really unravel it and see what it's all about.


Ettrick - Sudden Arrythmic Death Vol. 2 (Not Not Fun 3" CD-R)

Looks like I hopped on the bandwagon at just the right time because the Ettrick train just keeps on rolling. This of course is the companion disc to the document that first hipped me to the group (also a 3" CD-R) on American Grizzly. And it also functions as a precursor to the upcoming Ettrick LP (!) coming out this spring on NNF - ample time to build a bomb shelter in preparation I should think. Ettrick, as always, is the duo of Jacob Felix Heule and Jay Korber, both on saxophones and both on percussions. "Sudden Arrhythmic Death Vol. 2" was recorded as live as the last one, this time taken from the final date of a 2006 U.S. tour in Pasadena, CA. It features a pretty slick packaging job with a wrap-around insert, "blood"-tainted CD-R and shards of tile glued to the back of the mini jewel case! I dunno either but I like it.
How's the music? Well you might recall I was slightly underwhelmed by the full-length studio effort ("Infinite Horned Abomination") and this one absolutely wails, so maybe it's safe to say they work better in the live setting although I couldn't tell you from personal experience. Over the course of these all-too-short twenty minutes, Ettrick pull out all the free jazz/black metal stops they practically invented, starting out with skittery percussion like Corsano in the kitchen trying to make some gazpacho but that's quickly interrupted with a saxophone screech that sounds more like a dying semi-human than any instrument known to man. This of course sets off a massive drumming explosion as the two members duel to the death hurtling through and into the abyss (wasn't that a scene in Lord of the Rings?). Five minutes after the arthritic arrhythmia both take to skinning live cats or playing their respective horns, I'm not sure which, but it sounds like hot boiling death either way. Five minutes after that somebody hops back to the kit and they engage in some lovely interplay that for perhaps the first time isn't totally axed on all cyllinders, and indeed in due time it winds down entirely for a Benninkian thumper of a percussion solo, maybe by both members again? It gets hard to tell because the duo work more like a four-armed four-legged six-horned (figure it out) beast than as two individuals. All I can say is that the ending is an absolute scather and not-so-easily the finest moment in the Ettrick discography to date, only because there's so many other good ones to choose from. Of course, you have to suspend your beliefs ever so slightly to consider if there's even a black metal aspect to this, musically-speaking, but it's surely as close to the dark arts as anybody's ever gotten. And in retrospect a 3" disc is probably perfect grounds for Ettrick to wage war on, because I'm not sure I could take being bludgeoned so mercilessly for a full seventy-odd minutes...I'd like to see them try though, now we're talking endurance tests. I probably liked this one even more than volume one (which you know I loved) but you really can't go wrong unless you wait...because there's only 100 copies up for grabs and with Not Not Fun's ever-predominant hipnessosity you know they'll be in high demand.