Frank Rothkamm - Moers Works (1982-1984) (Monochrome Vision CD)

If you know who Frank Rothkamm is, you're already a step ahead of me. "Moers Works (1982-1984)" was greeted with nothing but a blank stare when I laid eyes on it, but then again nobody ever accused me of being the most knowledgeable of ones. Can't say the label was a tip off for me either. Monochrome Vision operates out of Russia and generally releases archival material of 80's and 90's avant-garde electronic and tape music, although they've been known to present modern works too. Frank Rothkamm, meanwhile, is a computer programmer, professionally trained musician and composer, not to mention sole proprietor of the Flux Records label. Born in 1965, he apparently began his composing career (for piano) at age 12 but an attraction to electronic music was soon borne out of the limitations of the piano and and at age 16 (in the town of Moers) he created an analogue sampling system comprised of a turntable, a shortwave radio, a phaser, an EQ, a cassette recorder, and an UHER reel-to-reel tape recorder. He also devised what the liner notes refer to as "the method of irreversible additive overdubbing of monophonic tracks with stereophony achieved with tape delay". I hope that means something to you because while it sure sounds impressive to me, I'm no gearhead and can scarcely imagine just what that all means. I think when I was 16 I was getting notes sent home to my parents for talking in science class. Regardless. Since these initial works, Rothkamm has kept himself busy with other recordings: 9 solo albums to date on labels as disparate as Capital, PolyGram and Knitting Factory as well as close to 300 compositions with numerous soundtracks, remixes, jingles, and such under his belt. Not exactly of Edward De Deyster scale elusiveness, to say the least.
"Moers Works" boasts a wide range of methods and sound sources. For example, "Relikt" and "Arpeggiator" feature a Korg MS-20 synthesizer, "Ruckkopplung" was recorded during a week-long sleep schedule adjustment, "Quartett" serves as the overture to a Heiner Muller play of the same name and tracks four through six ("Industrie", "Wasser" and "Klavier") are excerpts from his "Fisch II" series, written for four "actors/instrumentalists", four lights, tape, and fish - the ritual killing of which on-stage would bring Rothkamm his highest degree of notoriety within the public eye. But despite all this, "Works" still - ahem - works as a coherant and fully-formed album and not merely a compilation. What's even more is that all the tracks are totally great. "Rauschmittel" clocks in as by far the longest piece at 12 and a half minutes but every single second is pure joy - an amusing/frightening work of warped tape, electronic/synth gulps, orchestral pomp and chamber pop, and packed the gills with lots of samples, jump cuts and plunderphonia of just about everything you can imagine. The perpetual pulse reminds me of the first time I heard "Dark Side of the Moon" and I have to think that kinda stuff bore some degree of influence on Rothkamm when he made this. The aforementioned "Quartet" is a great theatrical piece indeed, the brunt of which is devoted to stretched out violin whines but also makes time for an epic sci-fi sounding soundtrack loop. The three "Fisch II" tracks are ominous atmoscapes of dark water electronic-induced ambience and noise that match up pretty evenly with the likes of Nurse With Wound, Throbbing Gristle, Whitehouse, and the Schimpfluch actionists. Also worth mentioning is "Relikt". At just under six minutes it's the second longest track on the compilation and is a definite stand-out - Conrad Schnitzler-type space drones are bathed, first in a static pummel, then in the sound of delirious chime glimmer, and finally back to the onrushing waterfall of stasis that started it off. The two book-ending tracks "Ich" and "hcI" are lovely slices of fuzzy ambience and chopped up voices, providing almost a direct lineage to the paths of current electronica names like Tim Hecker and Thomas Koner. What's startling is the fact that there's nary a dull moment or a bad sound to be found over the course of these 50 minutes. What's shocking is that he was still in his late teens when he produced this unearthly music.
"Moers Works (1982-1984)" probably takes more than a few cues from 60s/70s electronic and electronic-inspired artists (some of whom are no doubt getting the reissue treatment from the likes of Creel Pone even as we speak) but it's still no less an amazing collection. In fact this sounds like exactly the kind of thing Creel Pone would be handling, if it didn't fall outside their statute of limitations on the golden age of electronic music. Or maybe something you read about one day out of the blue on Mimaroglu Music Sales (and who better than Keith Fullerton Whitman to provide the straight dope on a guy like Frank Rothkamm) but it ain't there, at least not yet. Whatever Trevor - if you see this around I'd strongly suggest picking it up. Ain't nothing fancy about it (I'm starting to understand the name Monochrome Vision a little more...) but it ain't none need to be when the sounds are this boggling.



Warm Climate - Forced Spring for Rising Tide (Robert Barry Construction Associates CD)

Warm Climate is Seth Kasselman and Rune Freeman from Los Angeles, CA (aren't they all from California now? Bloody hell) and apparently they've been around long enough to make this their fifth album although I've been totally oblivious up to this point. Maybe it's just me. Their press release says they've been known to "play songs, document the sounds of volcanic ash, and perform selections from Stockhausen's "Aus Den Sieben Tagen"". Sounds okay to me. Apparently "Forced Spring for Rising Tide" is a year-long documentation inspired by/recorded during a trip to Arizona and indeed the liner notes claim the four songs here were recorded both indoors and outdoors. I'm not sure if the part about this recording finding them "lost in Sequoia National Park and the Arizona desert" is to be taken literally or what but regardless it sheds at least a tiny light on the brand of bizarridity these two are into.
This disc is a strange one, and of course it's Meant to Be Like That but I think it should be said anyway because it really did throw me (and is throwing me) a curve. Something else that should be said is that opening track "Sincerely, the Moon" has to absolutely be one of the worst anythings I've ever heard at all in recent memory. I don't know if you've ever had it where you're standing in front of your stereo watching the time display count up and trying to figure out if it's really worth your continued attention or if you should just give up all hope right away, but that's about where I was 2 and a half minutes into this thing. I don't want to harp too much but imagine some kind of ill-advised jumble of Current 93, the Residents, Tom Waits, Derek Bailey and Mr. Bungle's "Everyone I Went to High School With is Dead" and, well, yeah. The less said the better. If you make it through that though you gain access to the half-hour title track, clearly the centerpiece of the whole shebang. And to be real, pretty much the entire first third of the piece is taking a ride shotgun in the No-Neck Volkswagen but there's a lot of real nice moments too, including some delightful horn play that brings about Idris Ackamoor's grand funk at times. Mostly it's a comfy two-step groove with all the usual oddities tossed in...most deft of these is the clanging bell/chime symphony that builds up to a point where it totally dwarfs the rest of the tune and ingrains itself directly in the lifeblood of the tune, no beats missed. It could've ended sooner as I wasn't really into the claptrap that eats up the last 7 or so minutes of airtime, but you just can't stop these types of probably bearded and possibly barefoot troupes...you can only hope to contain them. "NASA March" builds itself up into a playful krauty xylophone kerplunk battling through an ever-growing current of noise, static and other effects, and the closing "Creole Accordion Whisper" is a mighty fine Six Organs/Ashtray Navigations dirt raag (and really the only one that inspires visions of Arizona in my head) but it's woefully brief at just under four minutes - ain't that sometimes the way? A whole side of this and I could've been wooed from the get-go and might notta even thunk to make a Phil Todd/Volkswagen rib. But I doubt it.
So yeah like I said, pretty wild ride here and I kinda think that I'd be better having heard Warm Climate's four other albums before coming to this one so I don't come off so cultureshocked, but then again about half the material on this doesn't really make me want to either. And I don't even know what is up with that label name but I think I like it and not even in a "so bad it's good" type way. More like an I dunno and I dun wanna no way.

Forced Spring for Rising Tide (excerpt)
NASA March (excerpt)


Various Artists - Siked Psych: Not Not Fun Gold (Not Not Fun CD)

I'm so behind on records that while I'm reviewing NNF050, you can go and order NNF079 off their website. Whaaaat??? Either I'm superslow or they're supersonic, probably a bit of both. Actually I'm so slow that my second shipment from NNF came in, containing the first batch of Bored Fortress 7"s, yeah! So look for a review of those in April...2009. Ha ha! I wish I was joking. So yeah, the CD. Well you probably clued in on the gold/50 correlation right there but I'm basically under the impression that this is a sort of compilation wherein classics are dusted off and unearthed gems are, uh, earthed makings this an odds n' sods summary excercise in NNF's first 49 releases. In the blurb they bemoan the 75-minute limitation of the common audio compact disc (which is about where this one tops out indeed), but did you know that when the first CDs were being developped they were originally as big as a vinyl record and could hold something obscene like 37 hours of music? Of course that wouldn't have been practical so it was trimmed down to a length that could accomodate most popular symphonies (or at least where a lull in the action would be reached so spreading it across two or more discs wouldn't be such a bother). I relate this story to nobody in particular oftentimes because, although the costs would be exorbitant, can you imagine a world with 37 hour CDs? Do you want to? Right on...maybe I'll get to producing those sometime but for now 75 minutes is still a lot of gristle to chew on, especially if it's filled to the brim with 21 totally bizarre bands and groups and people most of us might not have ever heard before.
As you might expect this compilation runs the full gamut, from trashy low-slung noise rock/sleaze punk outfits to quirky/, Residents-inspired insanity to balls to the wall jamming to full-on noise to...you get the picture. A bunch of "established" groups pull through in the clutch and prove why they deserved to be established in the first place: Impregnable absolutely kills it with a jarring hyperblast of Prurient style noise walling on "She Left This Morning For the Endless Sea"; Raccoo-oo-oon's "Visage of the Fox" could be the best track I've ever heard them play, a perfect campfire/heavy metal thunder meld; Goliath Bird Eater do their best High on Fire/Lightning Bolt impression and it still sucks me in and ruptures my testicles; Foot Foot's sun-kissed folk whimsy is hitting the spot in a big way if that's yr game and likewise for Abe Vigoda's Teenage Jesus/Stooges marble garble. Can't say I was too wooed by D. Yellow Swans' cut "The Murder Of Two Men By A Young Kid Wearing Yellow Colored Gloves" (like a live amp and not much else) or Yuma Nora's off-kilter prog stylings in "Rundry" (bares a shocking resemblance to the Mars Volta - who I usually like! Go figure). As for some of the acts I'm less familiar with, the Wolf Tracks' "How I Feel About Going On Stage" is pretty charmful Animal Collective-besting euphoric clatter while Foot Village and Herr K nail down some pretty epic epics like Rush only without the Canada and the tiny glasses. Wasn't impressed with the stuff from NNF that doesn't usually impress me - the pseudo-noise (My Little Red Toe, Haunted Castle, Quem Quaeritis) and is-it-or-isn't-it-ironic indie ramble (Barr, Child Pornography, Mikamiko). Closing track "Little Raccoon" by Belly Boat may fall into the latter category too but the organ/piano weep is too solid for me to not be melted by...like so much (too much!) of what Not Not Fun often dabble in. You gotta have a sense of humor and playfulness about you to dig it all, and if you do than you're probably one of the ones pictured in the group photo on the inside and you've already got this CD in your racks so what're you still reading for? For the restivus there's still lots of choice cheese here and if you've got a slew of NNF oddities at your house already, you'll get a kick out of this too (especially for 8 bucks). Doesn't hurt either that the packaging is super nice - not only do you get scathing psychedelic doodles from Devon Varmega aka Hair Party but the innards are covered in sparkles (dust that CD off before you put it in) and it all comes wrapped in one of ten homestyle cartoons depicting a band from the CD. You can't tell from the picture I shamelessly "borrowed" from the NNF website but mine's about Abe Vigoda and even if I don't know the first thing about the band I still find it amusing. Because, c'mon, that's what life is too, right?

The Wolf Tracks - How I Feel About Going on Stage
Abe Vigoda - Here We Are Caves
Foot Foot - Pilgrim Hat on the Indian Summer


Lambsbread - King of the Crop / Sic Alps - Semi Streets (Skulltones 7"s)

I wasn't too sure who this Skulltones label was or what to make of them when they sent in these two 7 inchers but some Googling told me it was a label ran by one Ry Wharton, a name that sent off an awful many bells in my head when I read it. It wasn't coming to me though so I continued my research and discovered that Ry Wharton is also the man behind the excellent tape drone/delay unit Tombi. Aha! But wait, what's this? He also runs the Twonicorn label? A label just as great in its own right? And now this, Skulltones? When I say whoa, I mean whoa. Looks like he's going for the one format per label trick; Twonicorn devoting itself to tapes and Skulltones (so far) immersing itself in the 7" EP (the elusive "big hole" format which means they're more like 45s n' anything else). Both choice formats and neither will draw a peep of complaint out of me - just more to keep up with is all. I guess Skulltones is pretty new because these are SKT002 and SKT003 respectively - unfortunately for me I missed out on SKT001, an EP by the amazing Teenage Panzerkorps! Ugh, I'm so mad at myself! Guess I'll keep holding on for the Siltbreeze LP if that's still happening. For now I'll make do with singles from Lambsbread and Sic Alps, two bands I've heard a lot about but never one iota of their music. Guess it's never too late to get acquainted what say.
Lamsbread's outing is called "King of the Crop" but the A-side has a track called "Summer's Torch" and the B-side has one called "Torch of Summer" - you tell me. I don't know who these guys are and where they're from (haven't I done enough research?) but the Skulltones site tells me they're "three Midwest dwellers" and that's OK by me. The thing I like absolute best about it is how it's got no vocals so it plays great at either speed. Played at 45 it sounds like wildly frantic and frenetic post-Dead C/NZ noise sludge paced way ahead of itself like some punk slobs playing catch-up with the music they themselves are sposed to be playing for the duration of each side. It might not make sense now, but it sure won't when you hear it either. Think, like, Skullflower covered by C.J.A. or some other such form destroyers. At 45 rpm it turns into a gnarled, rotting noise/metal shakedown that crosses Godflesh's wires with, say, Harry Pussy. Sure it's rudimentary, but then again so am I.
Sic Alps are also some sort of trio configuration, or maybe it's a quartet, but either way it all just runs together like blood and red wine when heard through a stereo. First side has the title track and "And What Came Next", I can't even remember if there was a track division or what but maybe that's for the better...what I remember is ScAlps bringing an anthemic chug via guitar battery acid/razorwire mix and jelly-armed percussion spatter. Whoever's singing brings a real good sorta bored and general disinterest air to the side spreading the acid-ragged vibrations all around in jammed, crazed fashion. Side B opens with some kind of urban field recording deal before descending once more into the netherlands of treble-wraught aggression spoil, like it was recorded to tape at the same time the spools were running off said tape and the song's clinging on for dear life. If none of these metaphors make any sense, then I've succeeded in conveying the total disorientation Skulltones is repping with these two records.
Skulltones has a Short Eyes 7" on tap as well as another cloaked in a degree more of secrecy but whatever they are I'm sure they're gonna be good. With the references to Teenage Panzerkorps and C.J.A. here I'm left wondering if maybe Skulltones is the spiritual heir to Pink Skulls' throne. Wouldn't that be a treat? Maybe it already is!


Pete Swanson - Static Space (Root Strata CD-R)

I'm actually two packages behind on Root Strata releases; it's tough to keep up with the greats. I'll engage and some catching up tonight and rest assured that the new Machinefabriek and Starving Weirdos discs ain't too far back in the stack. Not like he needs introducing but Pete Swanson is one-half of psychic seceders D. Yellow Swans along with Gabriel Mindel Salomon. I've heard lots of Yellow Swans recordings in my day but never a solo outing so I was quite looking forward to "Static Space". It'd be too cheap n' easy to suggest that it sounds like what it is (one-half of the Yellow Swans making a record) but if you're familiar with the YS catalogue then you probably won't find nothing shocking about this one. Pete himself lays it out pretty plainly in the Xerox: all the pieces were performed using two self-oscillating distortion pedals as the source sounds run through various effect routes on his mixers.
There's an interesting duality going on with the four untitled tracks here. The first cut is a brief (six minute) piece that, while not being totally harsh, is still working the aggressive perfector routine and sorta forces a profoundly in-your-face type wind tunnel drone through into one ear and out the other, making me think back a bit to Aaron Dilloway's solo work or maybe even Charlie Draheim. The following, equally-curt track is quite the opposite. A hollowed-out blank stare drone stands tall as the foundation while Swanson manages to carve out blizzard-white gusts of scrapey, eerie frontal lobe activity over top for a tune that manages to be as harrowing as it is hypnotizing. But the next track nails right back down to earth with the sound of multiple hot-wired amps ready to explode and this is the sound of them caught on tape before the inevitable chaos. The final thirteen minutes serve to round out the half-hour with a shapeshifting, ethereal drone layered heavily with thin static and meditative dithering. C.C.C.C.'s Hiroshi Hasegawa way stoned in duet with Z'ev, mixed by Francisco Lopez...lovely way to close out an all-too-short CD-R.
As usual, Root Strata have done an exquisite packaging job with "Static Space" - each one boasts a unique acrylic/oil painting affixed to the front of the cardboard sleeve. But don't go barking up that tree - sold out at source. Your four favorite words! I recommend the Usual Suspects and by that I mean Aquarius, Volcanic Tongue, Fusetron, Eclipse, and other such arms dealers.

Untitled (track 1) (excerpt)
Untitled (track 2) (excerpt)
Untitled (track 4) (excerpt)


Siren - Living Light / Changeling - The Truth of the Blossom (Buried Valley CSs)

Kinda funny that with all or both of the references to Changeling in the past two days, we come full circle with a tape by them (not to mention Siren) on the newish Buried Valley who are quite nondescript but almost read like a Not Not Fun offshoot with the products they're pushing. Pocahaunted, Robedoor, Quintana Roo and now this Siren tape who is in fact Bethany of Pocahaunted...it's like six degrees of seperation all over the place, go figger. These two tapes serve as my introduction to Buried Valley as I was not aware of their existance until this point. Sounds like a nice place to hang out for a spell at the very least.
I started based on lower catalogue number which means I played Siren's tape first. It's kinda funny, aside from that little four minute slice on the Not Not Fun 3" reviewed the other day, I know virtually nothing about them and yet I still thought "Living Light" gave off a heavy Pocahaunted vibe...then I found out it was one-half of Pocahaunted at work and man, sometimes I even impress myself. I have to say though after a while all these new drone groups and sideprojects and what have you start bleeding together but that's okay, I'm none too picky myself. And since La Monte still has the vault on lockdown I might as well check out the trickle down effect while I'm alive what say? This Siren tape is just a c20, 10 per side, kinda tough to get a full-on mental float going on when you're dreading the clicking sound of the tape giving out but "Living Light" does the trick in a pinch. First side "Feather Crown" is a fine pinkish mist with dilapidated chord jangles softly coaxed out of what I can only assume to be a six-string electric. The ghostly female (obv.) moans over the top are a pretty deft touch. It ain't academic but it shore is pretty. The bee side "Spiral Spell" is doubly delirious, mega stratosphere-exceeding levitation served with plenty of hallucinatory loops and distant, dream-like vocals. There's almost a Current 93 with an AWOL Tibet feel going on here; at least it's got the apocalyptik vizion intact. Imagine if heaven was a real sweaty place and here you are.
The Changeling tape fought me from the get-go, I had to start with side two and even then a little fast-forwarding over the initial rough spots in the actual tape were needed. Nevertheless I made it and I'm glad I did. I rather like this Changeling dude, whoever he may or may not be. I have to say the first track on the "wrong" side, "Solitude", is an even mooore dragged out chapel haunted infected with a very Nitschian vibe...way zen yet way face-blooded undercurrent. The other half "Without Saying" reps more in the way of slow-burning gamma rays and genetal acid-blazed fuzz. It's a beauty, but it's too short. Gimme sixty minutes! Flipped it over and got side A working which is a ten-ish minute piece called "Falling", pretty appropriate; at least if you're falling out of a jumbo jet at five hundred thousand feet. Sounds like a torched organ, overhead scream and burning but not as harsh as you may interpret that...think of it like an aural sunburn more than anything. Don't want to overwrite it so I'll tell you it's yet another great side of somnambulism from this expert of the field, you know how essential Changeling's stuff is by now. Limited to 60, don't miss!
Also on tap for the Buried Valley label are cassettes from Frozen Corpse (who had a great Sloow Tape last year), Changeling & Nackt Insecten, Bonecloud and (VxPxCx)...future looks bright. For them and for you. And me. And all of us!

Siren - Feather Crown (excerpt)
Siren - Spiral Spell (excerpt)


Glass Organ - Two Tapes (Tone Filth/Twonicorn LP)

I know what you're saying - it's called "Two Tapes"...but it's a HELL PEE? Right! Because it was originally tapes you see, one side being a Tone Filth c20 and the other being a Twonicorn c20. And now the two labels have come together in harmonious harmony to unify the two long-gone releases on a single slab of wax. I don't know about titles but I do know that the Tone Filth cassette came out in August 2005 (ltd. 100) and the Twonicorn one is dated January 2006 (ltd. 45). But all that is is proverbial water under the proverbial bridge. Let's cut straight to the bone!
Glass Organ is the duo of Tom Helgerson and Justin Meyers (of Devillock and indeed Tone Filth fame) operating out of Minnesota. As far as I can tell they've got another self-titled tape on Tone Filth and just released a CD this month on Students of Decay which I've heard nothing but fancy things about.
Upon playing "Two Tapes" (my first time alone with anything these guys have done) I was most impressed at how impossible it is to "seperate" what's being heard, by which I mean that Helgerson and Meyers' sounds congeal so well together that it's easy to mistake the two for a single solitary being. Maybe they are some kind of two-headed beast. Like Cerberus. Wait, that's three heads. Lemme check Wikipedia...aha, like Orthrus. ""Orthus has a phallic name that means 'Upright-erect' and is a herm-like figure; and as for his two heads, presumably one looked backward." Er, sorry dudes.
The first side kinda made me think of the Being Being tape of yesterday, which kinda reminded me of Changeling, who kinda reminded me of...you know what, let's not do this. What is was was a seductive bunch of weightless, airy, watery tones fully soaked in delicate statics played out for the first ten or so minutes...the other half devotes itself to lush, melting orbs of sound mixed in with copious amounts of near-silent contemplation. There's also some kind of metronomish clicking going on but that's probably just my stylus fucking up, pay no mind. Whatever the case may be these guys have put together a mega slumber piece in all the right ways, feel like I'm taking an afternoon nap on a cloud after a hard day of diamond mining. The glitchy static scrabble gets a bit more feverish and hazy...probably what goes through a person's head when they're chewing on downed telephone wires, not like I'd know or anything. Pretty much all I can tell you about the other side is that it's just as swimmingly delicious, more freeflight gloss on blackened wings adding up to a heavy, insidous drone...it's all I can tell you because I really did fall asleep for a brief while during the middle and any record that lulls me to sleep in such a manner is an immediate compliment, certainly not an indicator of my finding the record "boring" or any of that kind of balderdash. I was able to battle back into a semi-conscious state to hear the final few minutes but it was tough to pay attention while I was picking the gravel out of my eyeballs...strangely soothing, slow, punisher of a side. I was pickled tink.
If my investigations of the Twonicorn website prove accurate, they're already sold out of the LP and you can bet it won't be long before Tone Filth is too. It's cheap and way better than AmbienCR, plus you don't risk dying or anything like that. I approve! Find sounds below.

Side A (excerpt)
Side B (excerpt)
Courtesy Tone Filth


Bodyvehicle - Being Being (Black Horizons 2xCS)

Brand new mystery-cloaked outing from the great Black Horizons label who specialize in vinyl and cassettes, at least so far. It takes me so long to get around to the music I've got that I see they've put out another new tape in the meantime by Medroxy Progesterone Acetate but this Bodyvehicle double is still pretty new, circa January of this year I do believe. Anyway I'm told patience is a virtue but regardless, "Being Being" just looked so darn good up on the proverbial mantle that I couldn't bring myself to sully it with greasy fingerprints and the like. See both the tapes are housed inside a lovely black vinyl case (similar to the Double Leopards' "Gematria", to use a recent example) not to mention "color art on blue/gold shimmer vellum cover and color on transparent labels. Tracks listing is printed on blue shimmer paper, which is glued to the inside. Edition of 50 hand stamp #'ed copies on hi-bias chrome tapes" (from the Black Horizons' website). Slick. Way slick. Bodyvehicle are hard enough to get a handle on, all I really know is that they have tapes out on Tone Filth and Nightpass' A Static Rainbow, and that they're Russian. Guess that's all anybody needs to know anyway.
Overall it surprised me how much all four sides sounded like what the cover art looks like - crystallized sludge, baby. Tape number one is weighty shards of dark matter floating through a dense celestial spectrum, maybe against a backdrop of a comet-flecked canopy/sky blanket conjured up via electronic symbiosis (synthiosis?). Think stuff like Nurse with Wound or MZ.412 played at the same time as Ariel Kalma's fantastic "Osmose" record and you might be on the right railroad, maybe. The other side (indeed!) is possessed with a thicker ghostly aural haunt, gives you that goosebumpy feeling of spaceships flying low overhead, you know the one yeah? Talk about the potential for some serious 3am affectingness. There's this weird sort of heavily masked sax (or sax-emulating machinery) snaking through the last quarter, the kind of workover that hits way below the same surface that Sun Ra himself was scraping. If he was still alive - er, I mean, if they have tape players on Saturn - this might be his favorite new rekkid.
The other tape is quite a bit stranger and more difficult to describe...it starts off with a really odd side of extended mechanical glow and an eternal buzzing over top for all twenty or whatever minutes. I'm hearing weak signals emitted from somewhere deep in the Bermuda Triangle but that's all I got. I'd be curious to know how these sounds are coming about. All Black Horizons can say is that saxophone, guitar and drum machine are among "instruments audible". Hmmm...and the other side consists of two tracks (all given names but I won't spoil em for you), one being a gentle downpour of digital signals trying to keep time with what sounds a lot like FM3's Buddah Machine loops and the other is like drowning in a clock factory. Sonically similar to Changeling, another artist Black Horizons have done business with. And, speaking of BH, have done another quality job of providing totally enigmatic units with an outlet to allow their totally enigmatic sounds to be played. They have a bunch of good stuff coming up in the future too, so the ride ain't over just yet. Consider my hat tipped once more.


Caustic Castle - Untitled (804noise 3" CD-R) / Warhammer 48k - Knife Hits (Apop Records 3" CD-R) / Various Artists - Spire Ground (Not Not Fun 3" CDR)

I'll use this time today to get caught up on a stash of - you guessed it - 3" CD-Rs that found their way to me in recent days. I'm not sure how much I like the 3" CD format. The Twenty Minute Treat we call it down at the office (ha ha! "Office". Can you imagine?). It's okay I guess, serves as a taster for potentially greater things to come and sure is cheaper than doing a one-sided record. All three of these come in various sized and shaped packaging and none of em have a thing to do with the next. Darkness darkness, be my blanket.
I feel pretty guilty taking this long to talk about it because I must've had Caustic Castle's "Untitled" (apparently not self-titled?) sitting here for an age but hey, I prefer to age my music like a fine wine before I take a sip. Caustic Castle is the solo nom de plume de Kenneth Yates who also works in groups called Harm Stryker and the glorious(ly named) Insect with Tits. This'll be his debut and it comes in a zip disc casing with some pretty ravishing drawing of maps and geography and longitudes and latitudes and all that stuff. Kenneth also runs 804noise, dedicated to serving the perverse interests of those with perverse interests in and around the Richmond, VA area. Clocking in at 12 long minutes, "Untitled"'s three tracks are a decent, cheap way to clean your ears if you're plum out of Q-Tips. "Sharp Objects" sorta implodes into the air with a high-pitched whine before falling into the near-symphonic rhythm of what sounds like air drill blasts. "The People's Stoker" and "Knives and Daggers" both cover the glitchy, migraine-inducing terrain typically inhabited by folks like Yasunao Tone with a CD player or Kevin Drumm with a bad temper. I'm also kinda reminded of the New Blockaders, or even the Animal Disguise stalwarts like Mammal and Meerk Puffy. I could be reminded as well as the time I had long, sharp tacks shoved into my ears although that hasn't happened yet. Either way, "Untitled" just sounds like sharp things, man. Extreme Electronic Music: Acquire with Caution.
Seems to me like Warhammer 48k were kings for just one day, and might've had just one thing to say, and did with their smash hit LP "Uber Om" of years last...but I guess they're not done if the proof is in the pudding and "Knife Hits" is the pudding here. Apop Records released this as they did "Uber Om" and have drawn my ire not-so-recently by apparently refusing to send me a tape I ordered (the Moss one, know it?) and ignoring my emails about it like they didn't just pocket my thirty clams and expect me forget about this. So if you're an ambassador of Apop and you're reading this now, check your email and send me one. "Knife Hits" is part of Apop's Pasteur Series in which 3" discs come packaged in petri dishes which is a pretty boss way to house these, Loren Chasse did a pretty great one that I picked up last year or maybe the year befor (not on Apop). Aside from Warhammer, other artists who've been "Pasteurized" include Coalition For a Better Tomorrow, Crossbred, Roxanne Jean Polise, Twodeadsluts...Onegoodfuck, Insect Deli and Sword Heaven so you know there's heavy company. The melted wax standing in for penicillin in the dish is a nice touch but the circular inserts look like someone tried to cut the paper with a high-powered jigsaw. I digress. Five untitled tracks across 15 minutes and at least 13 of those are dedicated to Warhammer's hybrid brand of sludge metal, punk rock, krautrock, indie rock, prog rock, pumice rock, you name it. Any recording that begins with someone shouting "Keep it rollin', Rex!" has to be good and just makes me want to crack open a brew so I can partake in the good times but I'll stick to listening and writing like a nerd. First of the three actual songs on here blows up into a psych/thrash demonizer with some kinda Gongian (or Acid Mothers Temple-appropriated) gibberish speak. The second to last tune plays like an early Sonic Youth/Jesus Lizard/scuzz punk crossover before again detonating and sending shards of free psych metal riffage all over the floor which I can just imagine is filthy enough as it is. The closing piece is a totally nice, slithery jaunt; as gentle as it is curmudgeonly. I'd recommend "Uber Om" before this one (I haven't heard their other LP) but if you're on a budget, Warhammer 48k's fucked up avalanche is one worth gettin' buried in.
I guess I got this last 3" because I signed up for Not Not Fun's Bored Fortress 7" singles club (how could I not? Have you checked that artist list?) and they promised various treats thrown in along the way. I guess this is more of a sampler than anything since I can't find any info and there's no catalogue number but what the hell, I'll discuss it anyway. This one comes in a little plastic sleeve that's frustratingly difficult to pry the CD-R out of, and features some well-executed paper sleeve artistry. There's four bands featured on here, each with 4-6 minutes of air time to do their thing, and I have to assume these are snippets from other NNF releases but I don't really know since there's no titles/info. What I do know is that it features a couple of bands I hear a lot about but haven't gotten the chance to check out, so I'm pretty happy. Foot Foot is about the only group/artist on here not loving the drone and their female-fronted barefoot acoustic/cowbell/folk doodle isn't anything to hate but it doesn't knock my socks off either, maybe sounding like what I hope the Alicia Bay Laurel CD on EM Records will be but a bit more over the top. I could be very, very wrong. I usually am. Mythical Beast could be a two-human set-up but I really don't know, all I can pick out is a scraggly guitar current underlined with the moaning gloss of maybe a synthesizer and some holistic "ahhhhhwwww"ing. Taiga Remains is one of those groups I heard a lot about and Pocahaunted is the other. The former is all the sheen of the Mythical Beast track transformed into a glacial beckoning ala Terje Isungset and the latter is an ad nauseam quasi-loop with delicately plucked chords piling on top of chords made all the more lullabyish via someone/something emitting an almost distant siren-like croon, borderline intoxicating. Safe to say they both lived up to hopes and now I gotta track down more expanded editions. Blast.
All three of these three-inchers are diggable, all three are recommended, and all three are diverse enough to guarantee something for everyone. Although I don't quite know how you'd go about getting the "Spire Ground" compilation, guess that's a trade secret. Quality ruminations, all around.


Les Rallizes Denudes - Live 1972 (Over Level CD)

A couple labels have gotten into the Rallizes bootleg reissue gig lately but about the only one transmitting classic rotting LRD documents to CD and making them widely available at reasonable cost is France's Over Level, who seemingly strive to be as mysterious as the group they're documenting because I can't find any information about them whatsoever. All I know is that they were also responsible for the recent Rallizes double-disc "Le 12 Mars 1977 a Tachikawa" aka the legendary "'77 Live", a classic in the band's enormous discography. That album bore the catalogue number 001 and this is 002 so I guess they just got started rather recently. I don't even know when this reissue of "Live 1972" hit, I think it was last year but I can't be sure. Also of note to the aspiring/hardened Rallizes collector is the Univive label out of Japan who are reissuing Rallizes shows on DVD at obscene import prices and Echoes from the Earth who did the recent "Deeper Than the Night" LP boot, also priced to kill. So that leaves us with Over Level. The packaging for both of their discs has been pretty much the same - cover adorned with picture of Mizutani, album title, and nothing else. Not even a booklet - the cover here is just heavy cardstock with the same image printed on the back, text excluded. The back cover features a 200 foot tall Mizutani stalking the stage at an outdoor show while the band plays behind him, same text as the front cover. No release date/info anywhere. No titles; Japanese, French or otherwise. Not even any websites or "thanx" sections, if you can imagine. Talk about being committed to the cause. Talk about being committed.
"Live 1972" is an astonishingly lo-fi handheld tape recorder audience recording of a show that took place somewhere on this planet in the year 1972, kind of an underdocumented period in Rallizes history (or maybe it just seems that way). None of the tracks have any titles but I'm pretty sure they don't play any of their classics like "Enter the Mirror", "The Last One", "Otherwise Fallin' Love With", "Field of Artificial Flowers", etc. but it's pretty hard to tell at the same time because the group liked to use basslines from one song and improvise off them in another, not to mention bootleggers misnaming tracks and making it all the more convoluted...but personally I was unfamiliar with everything here. Track two probably comes closest to vintage late-70's Rallizes with a slow, bluesy bassline joined by Mizutani's anguished/yelped/whimsical vocals thrown atop and stretched for 12+ minutes. Track three is even gentler, a nearly-cheery rousal of heavenly, wide-open chords and vox with a mid-section absolutely gutted by a Lou Reed-style guitar assault. The first and fourth move with the kind of urgency the Sex Pistols and the Clash brought to the table a couple years later only even scuzzier and angular...if Les Rallizes were getting the kind of attention the Rolling Stones and the Beatles were getting, we might not have even needed punk rock. What's interesting about these particular tracks (and certain points of all the others) is that the group tend to push faster and louder than the recorder can handle and the track wounds up sounding like dub, reduced to a thick slush with only occasional fragments resembling anything close to what regular humans might call "song". The final two numbers are pretty short by Rallizes standards (5:21 and 4:43) but are at least of the same essence, building off another wild guitar solo and an incredible, brain-meltingly slow bass foundation that's almost as agonizing as it is joyful. Mizutani vocalizes a few lines but for the most part the two are instrumental as the band wheel off into the depths of hell with the noisy, psychedelic, heavy metal thunder the track turns into in the closing minutes of the set, that same insistant bassline serving as the only remaining life preserver by which to take hold.
If you're a stickler for quality recordings (and if you're a fan of Les Rallizes Denudes I don't see how you possibly can be) you're going to hate this record. At certain parts you can even hear the tape being flipped over, briefly interrupting the song and turning it into drowned-out haze for a second before picking up again. Not to mention the last track cuts off rather abruptly, leaving me wondering if there isn't more to this show or what, but I guess we'll never know. Call it part of the mystery. Here's hoping the recent spat of Rallizes-dedicated labels and websites and what have you will eventually lead to a re-emergence (in part or in whole) of the band. I think the last anyone heard from anybody who was in the band was when Mizutani played a couple of shows with Arthur Doyle and Sabu Toyozumi in 1997, the fruits of which were released on Italy's Qbico label (since deleted). Maybe someday we can get some official versions of these gigs and others, properly mastered and everything! I digress...we're at the mercy of the bootleggers for now but I can think of worse ways to live. For beginners the "Le 12 Mars 1977 a Tachikawa" is still too essential to pass up and probably my favorite Rallizes document of all-time but that changes from month to month anyway. There's not much choice either - those two are the only actual silver CDs on the market to my knowledge.


Redglaer - American Masonry (Anarchy Moon 10") / Roman Torment/Feed the Dragon - Split (Anarchy Moon LP)

As promised, the final two installations from this current chunk of waxes from Bob Bellerue's Anarchy Moon label. The first is a stab from the man himself under the Redglaer moniker and the other is a split between a couple of American noise groups, Roman Torment (Jeff Witscher and Evan Pacewicz) and Feed the Dragon (Bellerue along with Albert Ortega). Like the "Friday the 13th" double, the packaging on both of these is quite a treat. The 10" is in a cardboard cover with painted-on cover and glued-on back photo w/glossy insert while the 12" has front and back pastings of images varying in degrees of horror with another beauty insert. The former is limited to 330 copies, the latter to 300. You can see hot pix on the Anarchy Moon website if you so desire.
Never heard Redglaer (or any of Bellerue's work) before but I see I've been missing out like a sap. Apparently "American Masonry" was recorded in an enormous large warehouse in Tulsa with Bellerue using the structure's natural resonances to bolster whatever kind of damage he's applying. What you end up with is a great slab of computer- (?) generated/cement-slapped spectral waft, a dark grey cloud of fear and tension locked in a holding head somewhere above your head. Celestial and terrestrial. Organic and orgasmic. Slanted and en...nevermind. The flip is an angrier whack of synth- (??) induced squalor, careeneing back and forth from the right side of the brain to the left. Gently washes away only to roar back for a screaming finale. Excellently executed spaced, outer-reaching drone. No clue what Bellerue's implements are aside from the building and maybe it's better that way. Judge the results and not the methods, right? Well the results are quite tremendous. For the turntable-unable you can also get "American Masonry" on CD but I'm sure it won't sound this good.
Last I heard from the Roman Torment duo they were ripping it up on the Troniks CD "Skin Game" with a record due on Hospital Productions. Not sure if that ever surfaced but they're keeping up appearances here with a side-long blasterpiece dubbed "The Gift of Grief". Total non-stop in-the-red wall of high-wired electronics geared to explode synapses. Witscher and Pacewicz keep all hands/feet/whatevers to the metal for the full twentyish minutes and spew out a dizzying juggernaut of blindingly fast, brutal, and surely harsh flat-out fucking noise. Totally worth the possibility of getting evicted over. Buckle up or down as you see fit.
Feed the Dragon's side "Bromide Romance" is a mixed bag of junky electronics, UFO-transmitted soundwaves, buzzing matrices, robotic splurge and a whole lot else strewn methodically throughout the slow-evolving piece. Bit of a baffler and not too much to say but it's well done and engaging and that's all you need to know. If this helps, Anarchy Moon sez: "narcotic ritual. the history of desperate ages and the final moments of delivery into chaos / nothingness, scorpions erupting from cactii. who will be left to laugh about the death of civilization???". Did it help? I thought it would. I think the label website also offers some MP3 downloads so get on that huh?
Considering these and upcoming cuts (a couple of heavy noise 2x7"s, new Il Corral 2006 2xCD-R, Yellow Swans 12", etc) it looks like you can safely add Anarchy Moon to the ever-growing list of quality labels serving up slick and slimey doses of new noise. Good for music, no good for your wallet...you know how it is.


Dead Machines, Damion Romero & John Wiese - Friday the 13th (Anarchy Moon 2xLP)

When you play a gig on a friday that just happens to be the thirteenth day of the month, is there really any other option? You gotta release it, man. And you gotta get that nice old school horror feel to the cover to make it complete. Would you believe me if I told you that's exactly what happened here? It's the truth. John Wiese, Damion Romero and the Dead Machines played a show at today's "it" venue Il Corral on January 13th 2006, Anarchy Moon boss Bob Bellerue was on hand to record it, and the rest is noize hiztory. Pretty pretty packaging job on the sleeve too, 12"x40" screened semi-gatefold fully-scorchin' doodles all over. It hurts so good.
So let's break this down...Wiese, Romero, Dead Machines and four sides of vinyl, how they gonna fill that last side? You know it, collaborative battle royale. The three artists/four sides combo is crucially under-executed, glad to see it's coming around like last year's Double Leopards/Mouthus/Sunroof! dance and now this one. Wiese bats lead off and wow brother, not at all like I expected. He's known for laying it on heavy and low and low and heavy and I wasn't sure how well a live recording would translate to record but this is a beaut. A slow-moving trawl through smog-choked wastelands forcing you to wrestle through the haze, winding up at a run-down busted shack. The rusted iron gate swings open, sounds like it's coming from within your head, wind chimes all clanging ominously persuading you to turn back but you're drawn in...foot's set inside the house and it hits you like a Tyson right to the stomach - this is your house! But you died a hundred years ago!!!! It's a ride, no foolin'...probably even better here than it was live, something about hearing it under the covers in the privacy/confines of your own house, angering poltergeists and shaking spirits.
Dead Machines (it's some guy and his wife, I don't really know) start on eleven, like being belted with a billion theta waves. That assault falls off into a low mechanical rumble hit with spasmodic fuzzy coughing from what I assume to be the jreaded J-tar and then a lovely/horrific flute duo psych-out. Side ends with probably the harshest harsh noise of the set which isn't very harsh at all, Olson slops on surges of power strokes to the ambiance noire hamster-wheeled out by Tovah. Vicious and delicious.
Damion Romero's fully harnessed the machine-generated drone at this point in his career and that expertise is on full display here. He takes a while to get going, cobbling together low groaning and threatening, warbly crunches that sound almost guitar-like but I don't think that's a part of his set up...anyway all this results is a total brain-wasting drone like a grindhouse chainsaw symphony. Basically a fifteen minute long searing. I feel like I'm the bread inside the toaster, charred but not black. Go figure.
Which brings us to the trio (which is more like a quartet really) performance, a lot quieter than I would've expected with Wiese and Romero (and Tovah?) building a rocky foundation over which Olson exercises the sax chops as the noise behind him reaches a boil. To be perfectly frank Dead Machines with John Wiese and Damion Romero doesn't sound a whole lot different from Dead Machine without John Wiese and Damion Romero but the two do a good enough job filling in the necessary holes with buzzes and drones. Overall though they never really go anywhere as a unit and it kinda sounds like lip service, but these kinds of dream-team hook-ups do have a tendency of setting the bar to unrealistically (or unfairly) high levels so I'm not too...plussed.
Overall these sides are still quite good, can't bag on the fourth too much since it's more of a bonus than anything. And you may still love it yet. My only real complaint is that both my A-sides (Wiese and Romero) are pretty scratchy for the first few grooves, I dunno if that's across the board or what but it's a slight irritant. Bob was kind enough to send me a couple other recent Anarchy Moon jammers in the same mail crate so expect those soon enough. In the mean time these are limited to 515 copies so gauge your purchasing accordingly if need be.


Suishou No Fune - I Throw a Stone Into the Endless Depths (Sloow Tapes CS)

I can't afford to buy all the Sloow Tapes all the time (in a perfect world...) but there are some one just can't miss out on and a Suishou No Fune Sloow Tape is about twelve of those. If there's anything better than three Japanese longhairs getting in touch with their psychedelic side, it's when they're doing it on cassette...wrapped in a brain-blistering vintage Bart/Sloow fold-out extravaganza...with glossy (translated) lyric sheet included! It's the perfect stocking stuffer. Buy it now and save it for next Christmas, you'll truly touch someone's heart with it! If you ain't knowin', Suishou No Fune are a trio comprised of Pirako Kurenai (guitar/vocals), Kageo (guitar/vocals) and Jun Harada (drums). In the past they've been responsible for a bunch of CD-Rs a "real" self-titled CD and a disc on Holy Mountain by the name of "Where the Spirits Are", and now they've got a couple more on tap from well-to-do labels Blossoming Noise and Lotus Sound. Impressive and a real pain on the wallet. Like just about every Japanese psych group. Would you have it any other way? Naw.
"I Throw a Stone Into the Endless Depths" (don't we all?) is a c90 featuring three big shiny tunes - two on side A and the other on side B. As you can see, that's a whole lot of muzak. First tune is "I Descend into the Oasis of Your Eyes" (my eyes?) and is an awesome, incredibly drawn-out post-Rallizes, post-Fushitsusha guitar-driven psych cinerator. The lead guitar (not sure if it's Kurenai or Kageo) sounds like the burning cosmos itself splashed with gentle droplets of percussion. The singer (again, either Kurenai or Kageo) has the distant, languid Mizutani vocal delivery down to a virtual artform. The lyrics, though sung in Japanese, are a real treat when read in English. Sloppy and overdramatic and foolishly heart-rending - maybe I'm just a sucker. The remaining ten-ish minutes are devoted to "Endless Descent", a syrupy haven of bluesy glances like deteriorating Quicksilver Messenger Service bootlegs played at the wrong speed. It's a luminescent out-rock space crawl, haunted and charming.
Side two is "Everything Will Turn to Sand?" in all its thirty-plus minutes o' glory. The first little while sounds almost like Keiji Haino leading the Vibracathedral Orchestra with a heavy aura of guitar and effects congealing together to form a dizzying drone, soon to be pounded on by a flummoxing unrhythm via Harada. Kurenai or Kageo or both then start up with very Haino-esque pained yelping. The song starts to sound more and more like a free jazz grapple with the drumming resembling Ronald Shannon Jackson in Last Exit 'cept instead of locking horns with Sharrock's bludgeoning spikes it's wading against the thick atmospheric current churned out by the two guitarists. The track drifts off with a totally great Arkestral galaxy ride, delivering you and me directly unto La La Land where we build cloud castles in our underwear.
What else is there to say? If you're a fan of latter-day Japanese psych a la PSF's "Tokyo Flashback" compilations, bands like LSD-March, Miminokoto, Up-Tight, Yura Yura Teikoku, Kousokuya, Aural Fit and even Ghost, you basically need to own this. You could argue that your money would be better off put towards finally buying the first Fushitsusha double live on PSF or that Rallizes "Deeper Than the Night" LP on eBay, but in twenty years time this'll be one of those documents then. So it's yer roll of the dice bub. Personally I recommend this tape and I recommend it a lot. Still not sold out at source either, thought you'd better hurry. It's almost painfully ironic how faast Sloow Tapes sell out. Git!


Aemae - Maw (Isounderscore CD)

Good to be feeling better thanks, and thanks to anyone and everyone who well-wished during my, uh, painful convalescence? No it wasn't that bad, nothing that listening to music and writing about it on the internet can't cure! Really though. No idea how I came into contact with Aemae's new one but I'm pretty glad I did. Aemae is the nom de plume of San Francisco native Brandon Nickell and is the follow-up to 2005's "The Helical Word", also on Isounderscore. Information's kinda tough to come by or maybe I'm just a lunkhead...in fact, the packaging the disc comes in is pretty minimalist too, one of those single-sleeve white-on-white jobs where you spend half your time tilting it against the light to try and illuminate the text properly. But hey if the shoe fits. They don't all have to be ridiculous 32-panel stained glass fold outs. How would you store em if they did? Practical thinking, please!
Brandon Nickell's niche is that of a sound sculptor or, if you prefer, a modulation maestro (or how about harmony honcho?) whose set-up must include laptops, synthesizers, effects pedals, keyboards, reel to reels, microphones and anything else capable of capturing and regurgitating a note. I can't really tell you the specifics because Nickell does a good job of congealing everything into one big formless gob of computerized sound. I'd heard about the Nurse with Wound/Hafler Trio tilt to Aemae but that didn't exactly come through right away on the noisy mish-mash of opening track "PDE" - a whole slew of electronic buzzing, whirring, flushing and humming whizzes back and forth between the speakers like musique concrete gone breakcore, with sounds occasionally slapping together and pulling apart like robot zombies tearing into flesh. Robot zombies! Can't make that stuff up, I'll bet it's a field recording. "Confound Me" is a longer, more drawn-out piece that reassures the NWW references but is it just me or does the first half of it sound like that electric undercurrent running through Pink Floyd's "Welcome to the Machine"? Then the other half gets downright spectral touching on all kinds of white noise/EVP/Conet Project feels that just give me the willies. "Spectral Psychosis" sounds like a rescued Pandit Pran Nath voice/tambura recording corrupted by the digital era, "Bad Entity" weaves a dream-like drone through the use of dark electronic tones in Radiguian fashion and "The Bell Contour Memory" darts in and out of shadows with gasps and jolts like Einsturzende Neubauten or Ground Zero's jump-cutting. If it sounds a little impersonal well that's because it is, though I'm not so sure Nickell would have it any other way. I heard a lot of heavy praise for "The Helical Word" and I can see why; there's definitely a lot of thought and composition going into these pieces. You should already know by now if it sounds like your bag or not but I'd throw in a recommendation too. "The band is just fantastic that is really what I think"...wait, wrong song. Right album, wrong song.