5.31.2007

Boris & Merzbow - Walrus/Groon (Hydra Head 12")


Eventually there's gonna be a day where I don't buy any more Boris records, but evidently that day is not now. Maybe it'll be the next one, a 2xLP split with Doomriders. Unless, of course, one manages to come out before that one. Which was kinda the case with this 12". It was announced at least a year and a half ago, maybe more. Or it just seems that way. Either way Hydra Head did a real bang up job with the vinyl (in all sorts of various colors and limited editions and probably packaged with Boris/Merzbow t-shirts, hoodies, jackets, slipmats, mousepads, shoes, eye glasses, chastity belts, etc). Woe to the Boris diehard who's gotta own em all. This was originally a tour-only thing, but you know how those stories wind up ending...magically there were just enough left over to sell through mailorder, so you don't have to trade your "White1" promotional pillowcase on the Southern Lord forums just to get one! Hurray! Which is cool because it's a nice looking thing that everyone should take to bed at least once - slick green gatefold sleeve with trippy Fangs Anal Satan artwork on the inside and the record is a delicious white/green splatter platter.
So what's the deal? Dos huevos - "Walrus" is a song that used to be called "I Am the Walrus" before Boris decided it needed a good shortening, while "Groon" happens to be the name of the last track on King Crimson's atrocious "Earthbound" record. You might think with the 12" format that these were stretched to the gills, but it ain't so - about 15 minutes of total sound to be found here. Well that's cool, the fatter the grooves the better. "Walrus" is scarily similar to what you'd expect Boris and Merzbow covering "I Am the Walrus" to sound like. Sure it keeps the faith and notches up the lurch quite a bit more and Merzbow adds scatty, tumbling laptop spackle all over the side like a Japanese Jackson Pollock, but it's certainly not a ways off from the original - Takeshi has Lennon's slightly dazed, lethargic delivery down pat, and even tops him with a more epic delivery of the title lyric...I gotta express some disappointment that "goo goo ga'joob" was not retained, as I feel it's quite crucial to the spirit. Although I can't gripe about that too much when half of the original lyrics are cut out and rearranged anyway, with Wata stepping up to deliver "expert texpert choking smokers/don't you think the joker laughs at you?" in a monotone eerily similar to Jennifer Charles. Merzbow rounds the whole thing up with a little electronic obliteration that's really neither here nor there in the end.
If "Walrus" was a by-the-book rendition of the original, "Groon" is the exact opposite - nary a trace of the original funk/prog/jazz jam can be heard in Boris' version, with the exception being maybe Atsuo's lead-limbed drumming. Much in the way that the "04092001" LP was Merzbow accompanying existing Boris songs, "Groon" sounds like a group improvisation with Masami dredging up mega-sludgy distortion, and low-end rumble. At times you can only really pick up Atsuo and Masami, I have no idea if the other two are even playing anything. It also reminds me a lot of the "noise drone" version of Boris' "Vein" album, for what it's worth. It's nice enough but when I think of all the other King Crimson songs these cats could've been reproducing, I ache. Among others, "Thela Hun Ginjeet" is just begging to be destroyed with some serious heavy metal thunder, although maybe I'm the only one around who sees that as possibly being a good idea. I heard there was supposed to be a new King Crimson in 2007, good news because 2003's "The Power to Believe" ranks up there with the best and helps erase the memory of some of the 80's/90's atrocities they were responsible for. If it ever comes around I'll totally talk about it here, in fact I think I'll put the money I was gonna spend on Boris record #35443 towards it! No disrespect intended. As for this, yeah it's nice and all, but nothing you need to own...I mean you may as well just download "Walrus" and be done with it, although you don't need me to tell you how much better it sounds on vinyl. Still, it's not worth breaking your back/bank to add to your collection either.
"Well, first of all, I couldn't even see his face. I couldn't see his face. He was holding a gun in his hand. Umm... I was thinking...This is a dangerous place..This is a dangerous place.."

MP3:
Walrus (excerpt)
Groon (excerpt)

5.30.2007

Der TPK - Harmful Emotions (Siltbreeze LP)


Teenage Panzerkorps on vinyl on Siltbreeze, it's a match made in heaven and a dream come true all at once. I was late getting hooked on these guys and missed out on practically everything they ever did, which ain't much. But "Nations Are Insane" kept me tapped in while I waited for this one to drop, and that was more than enough gristle to chew. That one came out on Pink Skulls, the punk/metal imprint started up by Jewelled Antler mason Glenn Donaldson, who also plays in the band (acronymized to Der TPK, at least for now) as Edmund Xavier, alongside Bunker Wolf, Catholic Pat, and Boy True. All I know is that apparently Bunker Wolf is a 40-year old German punk rock dude, the others are mysteries to me. The way I like it, youngblood.
Like the rest of their touches, "Harmful Emotions" dabbles largely in supremely scuzzy, lo-fi, broken-as-hell punk rock, with each track swimming in its own mire of shoddy production, stumbling instrumentation, quasi-accidental amp feedback and reverb, and generally any sound that's holy and true to all ugly/beautiful forms of rock n' roll that're liable to get polished out by some poindexter with a red hankerchief in the back pocket of his too-tight jeans come mixing time. I didn't do much research because I didn't want to kill the dream, but I'm being led to believe that these songs (16 in all! Most under 2 minutes!) are all largely improvised and nailed to the tape in one take, because that's sure what it sounds like. Warts and all, and all, and all that. What's most intriguing to me about "Harmful Emotions" is that it ain't 100% balls to the wall, not at all in fact. Many of the songers are slower, dirtier waltzes that seem just as interested in referencing acts like the Fall (oh god are the Fall ever all over this one) and the Homosexuals and This Heat and the Sun City Girls. And maybe even the Monks, if they came around in the 80's! "Thy Depth!", "True Corpse", and "Creepy Books" demonstrate this side of the group best, whereas "Theme Control", "Nameless Disease", "Blood Math" and "True Corpse" all dial up 80's punk rock/DIY ethos as authentically as you're ever gonna hear it in two thousand and seven. Heck I can even hear the echoes of Faust amidst all the wreckage and debris here, and I swear it's not just the German connection that's springing em to mind. Well okay, maybe it is. Thee Bunker Wolf's vocals are at times up-front, and at times so low you can barely tell if you're actually hearing em. The drums are often a sludgy battering. The guitar riffs are usually falling over themselves. The organ swirls in and out of rattly focus. What more can I say? Basically all the best moves of any session that includes beer and a microphone in the middle of a sweaty living room...and it transports you there on a puke-stained magic carpet so buckle up.
All told I'm thinking you might think this LP was straight idol worship, and maybe it is in a way for the guys playing it, but that doesn't stop it from being really very quite positively excellent in its own right. It's more like a deconstruction/rebuilding type thing than anything else, and when it's this haggard and this serrated and this curmudgeonly, it's pretty tough to say no...and I haven't even had a drink yet. Was just reading Neil Campbell as Invisible Jukeboxee and whoever the Jukeboxer was made mention of the A-Band "Artex/A Lot" LP, limited to 500 and now down there in the annals a bonafide deal-maker...flip this sleeve over and there the scrawl sticks me - 440/500. Now I'm not trying to suggest that this record will lead an equally celebrated fate, but I am trying to suggest that you don't want to be in a position where you were the nearly man to this record too, do you? Pick a box. Its contents will help you on your way.

MP3:
Nameless Diseases
True Corpse
Thy Depth!

5.29.2007

Petri Rainer - Trubaduurimusiikkia / Armas Huutamo - Vastapainovoima (Lahna Records CDs)


I like a lot of things, and I like a lot of Finnish things especially, so Sami Maaranen knows the route straight to my heart with his young-ish Lahna Records label. Despite having been around for a couple years, the label is just five releases old, with the Petri Rainer EP being the newest addition to the catalogue. Armas Huutamo is catalogue number three and it came out two years ago! Kind of a reprieve from the habitual deluge of CD-R noise shlock these days, so I like em more already. And another good reason to like em is that they don't dabble in shlock - these two discs are quality recordings with respectable packaging jobs to match.
So I didn't know this Petri Rainer from a hole in the ground, and if you don't either you can sorta tell the fruits by the roots (or something) just by the cover art. There's some kind of mutant singing aloud with a guitar. On the record, there's some kind of mutant singing aloud with a guitar. For 10 minutes. That's right. EP in every sense of the acronym - five songs, 10 minutes. Beautiful! Nothing I hate more than when a feller doesn't know when to quit and drags his already-subpar album out to an agonizing 40-50+ minutes, so when it doubt make it short as far as I'm concerned. But 10 minutes? Shit yeah, this is like George Costanza leaving on high note and heaven knows we all wanted more from him. But then after I listened to "Trubaduurimusiikkia" ("troubadour music", I'll assume), I was wondering if I ever really want Petri Rainer making a record longer than this one already is. The Lahna Records website calls Rainer "Apocalyptic folkmusic, classical guitaring and maniacal pathos, troubadour music with a pinch of black metal" and they're really not too far off, even if the black metal in question is more along the lines of Dead Raven Choir's folk noir hymns (not that that's a bad thing, just don't get too exciting hoping for blastbeats and corpsepaint). Rainer strangles and forces chords out of his nylon-stringed guitar that might create an atmosphere comparable to DRC, but it's pretty hard to stay focused on his guitar playing once he starts singing. The lyrics are spat out at a mile-per-minute ratio, raving in a high-strung, jerky, emotional fashion about things I can't even begin to comprehend outside of running them through Babelfish and I'm far too lazy for that. I found myself struggling to recall my rudimentary knowledge of avant-garde Finnish music to draw an apt comparison, but nothing really fit and I didn't want to force it, so I'll stick to the Japanese names that flew at me after the 10 minutes had passed - Kan Mikami and early Keiji Haino with a twist of Yamatsuka Eye. Basically the kind of unflappable sound that some people wouldn't take a minute of, although I thought it was pretty boss myself. You can download almost half of the EP below and see if you're man enough for the Petri Challenge (get it? Like "Pepsi Challenge", you know?).

I originally wasn't planning on talking about this Armas Huutamo CD since it came out in 2005 and I try to keep things fairly recent here, but I wasn't planning on the above EP being so short either. And besides, they're too great not to mention whenever I have the opportunity. I first came across them last year thanks to a 7" on the excellent Lal Lal Lal label last year that collected a few tracks from a frenzied 1998 teenage improv punk session. I was expecting more of the same from "Vastapainovoima" (gosh these are some long record titles), and I sorta got it. Then I didn't. Then I did. See, the first track "Viekaa Minut" opens with a whimsical, adult contemp/latter-day-R.E.M. treatment that threw me for my first loop, only to leap headfirst into balls to the wall three-chord punk rock stomp, beginning with what I can only hope is the Finnish equivalent of "one, two, three, four!" (or, if there's a God, "one, two, fuck you!"). From there they veer back and forth between punk rock and snarling, poppish rock accompanied by garbled, computerized voices...and back again. So it goes. And it only gets weirder from there. "Nuoren Wertherin Karsimykset" is a noise rock/oi slammer in the vein of the Jesus Lizard, and "Sonni" is an up-tempo 90's punk rock chomp (at under two minutes), but that's pretty much where the similarities to the Armas Huutamo of old end. The trio bring down a thick, tribal ritual on "Huuda" that I can compare to a Finnish act of yore, namely the awesome Sikiöt. And then they switch it up entirely on the next track, "Kiertorata", with a brash funk/disco pulse that I wouldn't have been shocked to hear on an LCD Soundsystem album. The hissed "swastika" in the lyrics mixed with a George W. Bush soundbyte (who does a great job keeping time to the beat) is about as subtle as a sledgehammer to the penis, but I don't think subtly is in the game plan for the whole album...so who gives a hoot. The band even flirt with full-blown metal on "(Periaatteessa) Tytto" and "Seisova Vesi", the former with a psychedelic tint to it and the latter a grimy if over-the-top thrash/power anthem. But it's the longest pieces that are the most baffling - the 10-minute hardcore/jazz/surf attack of "Uniaika" and the 8-minute "Kevytta Ilmaa" ping-ponging back and forth between lounge and male/female-voiced folk-pop. After the closing jazz funk slink of "Polkka Vasten Paalua" (nary a polka in sight!), it's pretty tempting to draw comparisons with Mr. Bungle circa "Disco Volante", but that's really only in spirit. At least they're not cribbing the notes directly like most of the Bungle-worshipping "weird" American rock bands I've heard. Armas Huutamo add way too much of their own brand of insanity to "Vastapainovoima" to warrant a longer look for sure, although parts of me can't help but miss the mindless fury of their teenage years, but that's because small things amuse small minds and I fit the bill all right. If you're bored with what's currently playing around your head lately and want to take a chance on a couple of real out-there platters, you've got my recommendations right here. Lahna Records also has a couple of spring releases to look forward to with morbid curiosity - Rapped Youth ("Cypress Hill of the Northern Taiga"!) and 7" from an as-yet unnamed duo boasting "tunes from the reverse sides and edges of romanticism", so stay peeled for those while you're at it.

MP3:
Petri Rainer - Sillä Me Kaikki Uppoamme Pulputtaen
Petri Rainer - Mitä Muuta Samaanit Olivat Kuin Oman Aikansa Kylähulluja?

Armas Huutamo - Viekää Minut
Armas Huutamo - Nuoren Wertherin Kärsimykset
Armas Huutamo - Huuda
MP3s courtesy Lahna Records

5.28.2007

Jorge Castro - Pastoral / Cornucopia - Death of the Sun / Astro/Cornucopia - Drop Out Bones/Shock Therapy (Sonora CD-Rs)


Cornucopia are the go-to noise duo from Puerto Rico, having released works on labels such as Hospital Productions, Gameboy Records, Chondritic Sound, and most recently Heavy Tapes, not to mention their own Sonora label, from whence these three CD-Rs were birthed. As Cornucopia, Claudio Chea and Jorge Castro have been flying under my own radar for quite some time, as I've never really taken the time to get to know em better...until now, when Jorge took it upon himself to correct that for me, and for which I am indebted to him. The Castro solo disc and the Cornucopia compilation are both fairly recent releases, while the collaboration with Astro is from 2006 but was too badass to exclude.
According to Castro (sounds like the name of a sitcom), "Pastoral" comes from a lifelong interest in grindcore and death metal. Well that's hip by me, but it's evidenced nowhere on the 10-minute title track that opens the album. Which isn't a bad thing. It's a lovely, weightless drone consisting of organic, painted tones and gently looped mechanical swathes. It's the kind of lushness (lushosity?) that recalls the glorious "Osmose" record by Ariel Kalma so you know it's money, Eddie. On the next track, however, those metal influences start cropping up in a big way, because "Detrito" is a layered piece of snarled guitar riffs set to a dubby test-pattern backdrop, and it slowly blossoms into a fully-fleshed out definite near-metal threat not at all unlike what you might expect from Skullflower or even Stephen O'Malley and Peter Rehberg's KTL project. It's tough to slice, no fooling, and it merges the now-popular noise/guitar metal notion together like few others I've heard.
The final track "Horizonte", on the other hand, is a formless drift even more washed out than the first track...more like Tim Hecker's body of work condensed down into an ice cube and polished down to a sheen. With a belt sander. Castro hits a real nice mix of just about everything here (or everything you would want to hear from one guy, one guitar and some pedals), but track number two is definitely number one with a bullet in my heart.

Jorge is rejoined by partner in crime Claudio Chea on "Death of the Sun" which presents an a-chronological look at some of their earlier work (1999 to 2003 plus one from 2005), and like "Pastoral", it demonstrates a devotion to diversity in sound, albeit with more of a noise bent. 1999's "Mantraofabrokenman" opens with a harsh beat that teases a full-on "Merzbeat"-type rhythm but it's quickly obliterated by a flurry of computer-generated blasts and white-knuckled knob fiddling. "Bromuros Antisepticos" from 2002 is a lengthy piece using super sparse tinny jingles and acid rain fallout - you know the opening two minutes of Jean Claude Vannier's "L'enfant Assassin des Mouches"? Right, except pulled out over 15 minutes into a scraping, harrowing drawl. "Luz", from the same year, is similar to Castro's "Horizonte" in that they're both glacial, high-frequency droning mammoths, but "Luz" evolves in quite a striking manner, subtly revealing additional hidden skins and ending up more like Maryanne Amacher or Eliane Radigue by the end. 2005's "Mensaje No Existente Re_cia" works in the same slow-thunked vein, replacing the harsh tones with cement-scope deep sinking drones and occasional furnace blasts like the whole thing was recorded in a dank boiler room somewhere. There's even a couple of brief, hyperblasts like "Monumento a la Nada" and "Diezmo" that show these dudes know when's the time to run a blitz just as well as they know how to play the zone...d out. Kinda like what I said about "Pastoral", really - beautiful and ugly and diverse enough to please anybody. Living up to the Cornucopia moniker rather admirably, then. Apparently somewhere in here is a collaboration with Sickness, although I wasn't listening for it and as such totally missed out on it. These kinds of things should be written explicitly somewhere in the case of daft punks like myself!

"Drop Out Bones/Shock Therapy" might look like a split for all intents and purposes, but it's actually a sort of collaboration in that Astro created "Drop Out Bones" out of Cornucopia sounds (plus his own synth additions), while Cornucopia sourced "Shock Therapy" from, you guessed it, Astro sounds. "Drop Out Bones" (what a great title) is one of the best Astros I've ever heard post-C.C.C.C., and certainly a terrific display of the drawn-out cosmic benders he's come to call his own. The first long while is devoted to a thick blowing drone (remixed Cornucopia tunes, no doubt) and gizmo chirping (Astro's synth, no doubt) that comes off sounding like a weird mash-up of Supersilent and Merzbow and Pan Sonic's "V" collaboration...later it sets into an oscillating psychedelic vaccuum not too far removed from Astro's tag team efforts with Damion Romero - certainly one of those turn off/tune out asteroid belts that'll knock you dizzy for the entire length of its playing time (about a half-hour)...and it's also further evidence as to why Hiroshi Hasegawa is one noisician I'm consistently looking forward to hearing new things from.
Cornucopia's track on the other hand pushes out a series of frigid-aired static akin to a cold front descending on Tusken Raiders, or possibly the aural equivalent of living in an iron lung although I can't personally confirm that. Cold footsteps on ceramic tiles constantly interrupted by bolts of radio static also lend this one a severe hospital-ward vibe like a trip out of/through Silent Hill. Not too much to say because it's simple and effective, inasmuch as its intense and in the pocket, and more than worthy of sharing silver (green, in the case of this CD-R) with the almighty Astro. Or maybe Astro's worthy of sharing it with the almighty Cornucopia. Why can't we all just get along, anyways?
If this all sounds like your bag and it probably should, you can score most of these jammers from the Sonora website or the Archive distro, not to mention ErstDist and Mimaroglu and other attuned e-head shops. Of course, you're also probably a lot quicker on the draw than I am and you got em all by now and know the whole Cornucopia deal like your ABCs, in which case I'm kinda surprised you're still reading. Go ahead, rub it in.

MP3:
Jorge Castro - Pastoral (excerpt)
Jorge Castro - Detrito (excerpt)

Cornucopia - Mantraofabrokenman (excerpt)
Cornucopia - Bromuros Antisepticos (excerpt)
Cornucopia - Luz (excerpt)

Astro - Drop Out Bones (excerpt)
Cornucopia - Shock Therapy (excerpt)
MP3s courtesy Sonora

5.24.2007

Ashtray Navigations - Throw Up in the Sky/With Fine Clinking Magnets (Qbico LP)


You probably remember where you were when you heard the names of the four latest Qbico records hit the streets. It was heavy times. Ashtray Navigations, Astral Social Club, Vibracathedral Orchestra and Michael Flower. Are you kidding? Four U.K.-spawned demolishers. If you're anything like me, you promptly started to fret about which/how many to buy because Qbico records don't really come dirt cheap. I was actually gonna skip em all but I knew I'd regret it later, so I bit the bullet and scored the Ashtray Navigations LP because I know Phil Todd's brew and I know it always hits the spot - not to say the others don't, mind. And heck, they're only about $22 per, which isn't so bad if you think about it. Who needs to eat when you've got records to play, man? Besides, you can feast on the eye candy this album will provide - great, mind-blasting artwork via Phil Todd himself and white/sky blue splatter wax, certainly apropos when taking the title and the music into consideration.
I'm not even sure if anybody else is playing on this record or if it's Todd multitracking, but it's got his acid-stained visions all over the place regardless. Both sidelongs work with an idée fixe - building off of and decorating glorious foundations of sound. "Throw Up in the Sky" is the more "traditional" AxNx piece, if you want to put it that way (it reminds me a lot of what was heard on his fantastic 2006 outing "Four More Raga Moods"). It's a beauty of a slow-moving sheen that starts out with quiet roaring electronics and tinny snare hits that eventually congeal into a heavenly, soupy gloss. Amidst said cascading backdrop is a whole pollution of syrupy synth calls lifted from the same whooshing vein that Acid Mothers Temple are usually so keen to hit on. The loping percussion ushers along Todd's swirling guitar rag, but the track is never in any hurry to get anywhere - all the sounds wind up splayed out in the sun and are allowed to melt freely into one another until either they evaporate or day creeps into night. Todd's mastery of everything even remotely in tune with psychedelia is here in its spangled, sprawlin' glory though he never shoots even so much as a backwards glance - Ashtray Navigations are pushing on into the 41st century and bucking "revivalism" so hard I got saddle sores. It may well be down to an exact science at this point in the game (15 years on!) and I'll still be first in line to guzzle whatever swill's in the beakers.
"With Fine Clinking Magnets" hoists itself up on a grainy, space-vaccuum type drone, with Todd's guitar adding assorted some gasps, some yawns, and plenty of strung-out liquid tonality echoing and reverberating until the next strings are plucked and coerced. The mechanical underbelly lends a disorienting urban feel to an otherwise heavily stoned session of front-porch guitar ramble...even more so when Todd's guitar adopts a sound somewhere close to a banjo stuck with a wah pedal to lay out a supreme bluegrass/psych shred. Or maybe it's Robert Fripp with a Mellotron letting loose on a concrète backing track sniff. All'n'all it's denser and not as gorgeous as the other side (with an ending that's much more "noise" than anything I've heard from the band in recent daze) but it still manages to be a sweet ride and as worthy of your precious time as anything else on the planet.
I may never know if I made the Right Choice when it came down to selecting a fruit from the Qbico branch, but I tell you, those other records have got the bar set sky-high if they're gonna try and top Phil Todd's contribution. I know this one (and probably the three others) are sold out at Qbico by now but there's a few other stores in town that boast copies, so maybe you should try the usual hangouts before you get too discouraged, huh? If you've heard the others (or all of em), lemme know yer thoughts in the comments section a jump or two down below.

MP3:
Throw Up in the Sky (excerpt)
With Fine Clinking Magnets (excerpt)

5.23.2007

x.0.4. - Cataracts (Ecstatic Peace! LP)


Bill Nace has been destroying guitars for so long outside of my record collection that I thought it high time to rectify that situation. Unfortunately I slept on his "Solo Gtr" tape that got mega praise last year but no way I was gonna miss out on the vinyl debut from the x.0.4. trio to which he belongs, alongside John Truscinski and Jake Meginsky (formerly a duo of just Nace and Truscinski, see a CD-R on Audiobot for further knowledge). Nace I caught once upon a time playing in Thurston Moore's Dream Aktion Unit at the Victo fest so I was already somewhat acquainted with his hooded sonic battery, but Truscinski and Meginsky are pretty new names to my eyes. Well it turns out that Truscinski can be heard hittin' skins on a brand new GHQ CD-R for the Arbitrary Signs label, while Meginsky is a student of and research assistant to a one mister thee Milford Graves...say no more. Together, the two make more racket under the name Slaughterhouse Percussion although that name doesn't ring any bells for me either, maybe it does for you? If so you can clue me in after class. And you know Nace from earlier work with Chris Corsano in Vampire Belt, Dylan Nyoukis and Karen Constance in Ceylon Mange, and Thurston Moore himself in Northampton Woods.
"Cataracts" is steeped in two side-long sessions, recorded in Vermont of last year, and it does a fine job of inverting the kind of assault you'd expect from a guitar/percussion/percussion trio. The first side mainly features rolling percussion not at all unlike cement cyllinders cascading down a paved incline, while whistle and creak and drainpipe guitar marrow tumble and oscillate note over strangled note in a twinkling free-anything display. As the end of the first side nears, a full-on restrained guitar squabble/feedback fencing comes into view on the horizon that sounds like the chilled beginnings of a Prurient LP I can't put my finger on, or maybe it isn't even Prurient at all. The same brand of microtonal flickering groan occupies the other side, except with way more super sparse, dragged-string and cymbal beltsanding not at all unlike the Graveyards line-up when C. Spencer Yeh steps in. In fact, if you like the crawling sounds of Graveyards, it's hard to picture you not getting a kick out of x.0.4.'s crystal sharp improvised skewer...even if they're not always on the same radar.
It's hard to pin x.0.4. down anywhere which is why I like em so much - I'm picking up loads full-Americana-band dementoid sensibilities in the trio's approach but also patches of desolate-Americana-basement loner mentality, hitting chords somewhere from Smegma and the L.A.F.M.S. troupe down to Boyd Rice and GX Jupitter-Larsen. Good on Ecstatic Peace! for making this edition bountiful and cost-friendly too; no excuse for you now, buddy.

MP3:
Untitled (side A) (extract)
Untitled (side B) (extract)

5.22.2007

Medroxy Progesterone Acetate - Supplications (Black Horizons CS)


Another beautifully packaged tape of unknown sounds from the great Black Horizons label, this one from a unit called Medroxy Progesterone Acetate, who originally released "Supplications" themselves in a collectors' edition of five (!). This reissue could boast the toppest notchest packaging from BH to date - "color cover on black shimmer cardstock, with an insert containing texts / collage, on silver paper, clear labels. Hi-bias chrome tapes in an edition of 56" (hey, it's 51 more than the last run this tape had). Medroxy Progesterone Acetate is the nom de plume of Waterloo, Iowa's Darren Bauler, who used to play in a "tape-junk combo" called BFP, whatever that may stand for. When that dissolved in 1999, MPA began, and has since released a few documents on his own and other labels, including a collaboration with the Number None as Damp and Damned on Sloow Tapes. He's got a record coming soon on Musicyourmindwillloveyou called "We're a Monotonous Band" and another called "Play Something Slow" on Paha Porvari, so there's much to look forward to. Don't know how they'll match up to the standards set by his previous releases - early editions claimed to come with baby teeth and "fetish items" while some long-gone CD-Rs were 100 tracks in length. Gad-fucking-zooks.
Bauler puts a staggering amount of equipment and instruments to work in his recordings, some standard and most not-so-standard, including various mystifying things with names like the Sleep Generator and the Abbadon Device...sounds more like machinery for torture. And I guess in a way you could say it is! Nyuk nyuk. But seriously. I'm guessing a vast amount of Bauler's noise-makers were drawn upon to complete "Supplications", because the sonics are diverse enough that there's scarcely any repetition at all throughout the whole c78, and when there are, you know it's for effect and not for lack of originality. On the first side, Bauler splits between two kinds of blackened ambient sprawl - on "The Mars Hill Halfway House Talent Show" and "They Will Never Find My Body", there's far more ominous notes to be found. Scrambly electronic vibrations like circuits blowing and a dubby, bass-heavy background give way to buried vocal extracts and dizzying static creating a worrisome, paranoic atmosphere on the former while the latter threatens with mechanical tooth grinding, brightly burning feedback spears and phantom moans emitted from the mouth of the beast/Zardoz floating head style, minus the camp and the red tights and the Sean Connery. Whenever someone uses the term "that sinking feeling", it's this right here they're referring to. The other two tracks on this side are still creeped, but more in the hovering stasis/cosmic noise kind of way, almost an aural representation of the shimmery black cover the tape comes wrapped up in. In fact, "Vons Serin, Hidden in Soil", hits its stride in between floaty strobing and gorgeous washes of lighthouse/seaside ambience, that sounds like what you might hear form the control deck of an alien spacecraft while your organs are being given a once-over on the examining table in a chance meeting. Don't you hear from a lot of UFO-abductees that they felt a sense of calm and fearlessness when they had E.T.'s playing doctor with the vitals? Right, well that's this track, to a tee.
El flippo is dedicated to three longer tunes, and unfortunately the first few minutes of the opening "The Hudson Working (They See You With Three Eyes)" come out rather warped by way of a somewhat-mangled tape, but I must say it adds a great air of zippy distortion to the already-skewed synth droning...although it causes my tape player to shut off intermittently which I must say is no fun for anyone. So I missed a chunk of the build up, but the power that sinks in once everything rolls smoothly again still ain't impacted any less - this is a space-sucked black hole drone that'll compress those innards we talked about a paragraph ago if you get too close. It settles into a near-aquatic longform assault, combining said spacehum and the kind of electronic spatter and gargle that doesn't sound planets removed from my own tape difficulties I experienced near the beginning. "Little Pieces" works up a dust-eating drone akin to a streetcleaner passing beside you on the street, or in your bed, and an almost-rhythmic squelch like a deformed, spacey, pseudo beat. Whatever gizmo Bauler uses to generate that vaccuuming drone, it's amazing how much music the ear can pick out of it, because on the surface it sounds like a pretty static layer of dense electro-soak, until you start listening a little deeper. The closing "Melusine Shoreline" is an assortment of various plundered sounds seemingly laid out at random against a milky-white backdrop of gush, but slowly they congeal into patterns of off-kilter effects and snippets, replete with fucked-with conversation clips as if you weren't already nervous enough. It's real nice, if a little over-long.
On the whole I'm not quite sure what to make of this Medroxy Progesterone Acetate thing, but I can take one thing to my grave and that's knowing he put out at least one great tape that I heard in my life, and I'll have to keep my eyes peeled for the follow-ups because I can smell great things coming from behind the closed door to this cat's downstairs basement. What's great about "Supplications" is the balance in strikes between composition and improvisation, as well as noise and tranquility - too many noise acts these days try to bludgeon you into being intimidated and don't bother to (or don't know how to) put in the effort to craft something truly unique that'll stay inside your head long after it comes out of your stereo. Darren Bauler's got all that down pat already, so there's no place to go from here but up. Or down, depending on how you look at it. If you have yet to cop one of Black Horizons' beautiful editions, no finer place to start than with "Supplications", and not only because it's the only one that has yet to sell out (I think). Early tops of '07 for sure, if I'm allowed to include reissues as such.

MP3:
The Mars Hill Halfway House Talent Show
MP3 courtesy Medroxy Progesterone Acetate

5.18.2007

Sutcliffe Jugend - This is the Truth (Ground Fault Recordings/Hospital Productions CD)


Almost a full-on 80's resurrection here. Broken Flag box, Pure CD, and now a new release from one of the pioneers of the 80's U.K. power electronics schmozz, Sutcliffe Jugend (reverting back to the full name after a short-lived stint as SJ). This is the first record Kevin Tomkins and Paul Taylor have released under the name in eight years, the last being 1999's "The Victim as Beauty" on Death Factory. Now presumably a full-time unit again, the duo have been terrorizing lands from Amer'ka to Japan in recent days - I was fortunate enough to be caught in their line of fire during last year's No Fun Fest, which I had to skip this year. I don't remember much of their set, but then again I don't remember much of anyone's set - alls I know is it was blasting, and since I had hardly heard a note of their music prior to that show, I figured I should probably be getting around to rectifying that. To date I've only tracked down and purchase cassette number one of their insane 10xCS (and later 10xLP) "We Spit On Their Graves" set. Don't ask me why I have just the one, it was on eBay and it was reasonably priced. If you want to sell me the remaining nine tapes, I'm all ears. But till those come along I thought I'd tide myself over with this one, also available on 2xLP featuring two extra tracks and an alternate mix of the title track. I picked up the CD version because I needed to cut costs when I was putting together a particularly hefty Fusetron order. You know how these things are.
When listening to Sutcliffe Jugend, it's nigh impossible not to draw comparisons with the band Kevin Tomkins got his start in (or at least gained prolificacy in) - Whitehouse. Both units feature terse, shouted instructions/slogans/belittlements in an English accent against a backdrop of either tense, creeped electronic slither or ear-exploding amplifier destruction via guitar and/or synthesizer. But where Whitehouse tend to veer into the ridiculous with tongue-in-cheek, Sutcliffe Jugend play it as straight and unflinchingly as humanly possible. Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn't. The looming industrial churn on the title track has just about all of its potential atmosphere cancelled out by Tomkins' listless recital of humdrum lyrics like "I love you/I hate you/And this is the truth/and this is the lie" that were passé before the band even formed in '82, and the same could be said for "Pigboy". It sounds like the duo are putting all their effort into creating a psychologically harrowing exercise in tension, but c'mon: "Pigboy/you fat fuck/you fat fuck!/everything about you disgusts me/everything you are I'm not/everything I am you're not/fuck you pigboy/squeal"? Like I said before with Whitehouse, I can relish the over-the-top-ness of almost any lyric you throw at me, but surely you can forgive me for not being intimidated, much less impressed, by gems like those? Fortunately, it's not all a wash. Album opener "Born Again" works the slow gnaw to cold sweat effect and jumps from muttered recitals/piercing concrète drones to screeching noise hell in a tenth of a second, while "What If" is a marvellous juxtaposition of sinister synth/pedal scowl and overdriven vocals/feedback. Elsewhere, "Restraint" mirrors a slow descent into dementia with Tomkins' shriek getting increasingly hysteric to the tune of hulking guitar, keyboard and amplifier noise that sounds akin to what getting your hair cut by a helicopter's propeller might, and "Your Weakness" is an almost rock-ist take on SJ's violent noise muscle, before being pushed into the red with endless walls of feedback scream and brutally harsh electronic shred. The 8-minute trek through the swampy "Obsession" does absolutely nothing to prepare you for what awaits on the other side - "Blind Ignorance" is attacks with such sharpness and aggression from second number one that I thought I was, in fact, going to go blind. I won't tell you any more about it except it'll put hair on your chest like nothing else ever could while simultaneously committing genocide on all the sperm that ever lived inside you. Talk about going out on a high note. I could've been killed back there!
The Ground Fault/Hospital joint announcement for "This is the Truth" trumpets it as being "quite possibly stands as one of the most original and perfectly balanced noise compositions of the last 10 years." I would take issue with the latter part of the sentence particularly - "Truth" has its moments, and when it's good, it's great, but it's also guilty of being spotty and uneven. Which, if I were some kind of mouth-breathing doof, would say is a microcosm of the band's entire existence, but that's a crutch I'm not even gonna lean on. Ain't that the truth.

MP3:
What If
Restraint

5.17.2007

1 Years of Outer Space Gamelan, or 50,000+ Page Views Can't Be Wrong...Can They?


Especially since a good 75% of those page views are just me.
It was actually yesterday that this blog turned 1, but I only realized it today. Indeed, on May 16, 2006, I posted an embryonic review of Merzbow's "Turmeric" that I never went back and re-touched. 221 posts later (equalling roughly 250 reviews - that's it?!) I still haven't gotten tired of writing, though I'm sure some of you have gotten tired of reading. Nevertheless, a heartfelt thank you to anybody who reads this, or posts comments, or writes emails, or sends in things to be written about, or puts a link to it on their blog, or tells someone else about it. My updating schedule has been pretty spotty lately but regular daily posts should resume next week for good...I hope. Anyway I'll be back to post something tomorrow, but I'll have you know Monday is a holiday in Canadaland so I'll also be enjoying the long weekend. Sit tight till then, and again, thanks.
I can't explain the album cover I used up there for this post. It just felt right.

5.16.2007

Psalm Alarm - Blk Paintings Vol. 1 / Poor School - Voor Niets in Zijn (Cut Hands CD-Rs)


I've given up on trying to catch up with Joris and his Cut Hands label, because he's spitting out CD-Rs faster than I can count em. These two are probably way old hat by now, he's got new drool (his words) already available for purchase by Jazzfinger, Women in Tragedy, Orphax, and many others...with still more on the way in the near future. Cheeez, talk about making up for lost time. You'll have to excuse me and my antiquity here. Both these discs have roots in the Wolf Eyes organization, even if they're none of the members are directly involved - Psalm Alam is John Olson's Graveyards colleagues Ben Hall and Hans Buetow with Zach Wallace on bass, while Poor School is a newish group featuring Bryan Ramirez who used to play in Universal Indians with Olson and Aaron Dilloway. How's that for six degrees of separation? Okay, it's really more like one degree, but you get the gist of my fist. Psalm Alarm comes sealed in a spraypainted envelope-style sleeve (sealed!) with insert, while Poor School is housed in a slimline DVD-style case with glossy oversize insert. Both are limited to under 100 copies and the former is already sold out at source.
I wasn't too sure how a cello/bass/percussion Graveyards formation was going to work, especially since the saxophone is sometimes the clarion call that keeps the whole thing afloat, at least to me. Don't get me wrong, Hall and Buetow are absolutely capable musicians in their own right, but I was already envisioning deeply silenced, microtonal morse codes more onkyo than anything else. And not that there's a problem with that either, I just thought it'd be easy to peg. I was quite wrong. Oh sure for the early goings of the record are spent feeling things out and establishing a creeped base of eerie dissonance and vibration, but it heads off in a very appealing direction very quickly. Hall's percussion hits are sparse enough to jolt and rattle your teeth every time they're smacked out and Buetow engages in the kind of fantastical cello play that seems to channel John Cale's "Sun Blindness Music" and spray it back out as solemn ritualism. Zach Wallace's contributions on the other hand are quite a bit more understated, to the point where it sounds like this could even be a Buetow/Hall duo set, until the second track where his low-slung string rolling loll and bounce around the collective skull of the group. When it's Buetow and Hall's turn to play supporting cast, they fill the role to a tee, churning up black bile horror movie soundtrack tension and thick, foreboding smog. By the end of "Blk Paintings", the trio somehow turn their individual scrapings into a lush, full sound that gets downright orchestral before giving way to Hall's shredding cymbals against a woozy, warm sunset backdrop courtesy Wallace and Buetow. These Graveyards cats seem to get better and better with every New Thing, regardless of the current formation. Now I see they've even got a new CD-R out under the Ex-Graveyards name, no idea what the difference is yet but I'll have to track it down and find out. One thing that bamboozles me is that I believe Graveyards released a tape last year called "Psalm Alarm" - so I guess these guys took their own prior title for a name, and released an album called "Blk Paintings Vol. 1". But, hold on, I just discovered that Graveyards have released "Blk Paintings Vol. 2" on Double Fantasy. Can I get a FAQ or something here?
Like Psalm Alarm, this Poor School record also has "roots" in "jazz", with Bryan Ramirez on guitar and Nathan Hoyme on saxophone and John Niekrasz on drums, but the outcome is so fucked and skewed that jazz winds up being little more than a backwards glance. If you know Ramirez from his work in Universal Indians and now in Ex-Cocaine, you know he likes to keep it grimy, and "Voor Niets in Zijn" is no exception. The recording is taken from beautifically muddled 2006 session and features two tracks totalling about half an hour between them, but it really goes by like *that* (imagine me snapping my fingers here). On the first cut, the trio lurch into stomping rhythms driven by Ramirez's tattered guitar licks and Niekrasz's stuttering drum rolls. Hoyme shadows the affair with various brass-screamed underlyings until the trio explodes into a scribbled mess of jazz/noise/free howl in which everybody seems to play as loud and as painful as possible. Rad. But part two is the real gravy - Hoyme rules this one with soulful blowing that's more Brotzmann-on-Ayler than Ayler himself (you could say Brotzmann's beer breath is all over this one), and Ramirez/Niekrasz do well to build up an incredible, exhilerating steel structure around Hoyme's efforts. It builds into a perfect meditation on head-nodding, testicle-clenching pure rock anticipation, before exploding slowly like human blood filling up a blue ocean. The three are so perfectly in sync on this number, you'd figure it's all stemming from the same multi-headed behemoth. Maybe it is. You ever played Maniac Mansion 2: Day of the Tentacle? You know at the end of the game when Bernard, Laverne and Hoagie "share" the same body? Fuckin' a, man. Hard to even nail these guys down anywhere close to the jazz spectrum when they get so guttural and frayed, I guess I could slot em alongside NYC's Tenor Rising, Drums Expanding with more muscle, but at other points I'm hitting on anything from the Brainbombs to Harry Pussy to Last Exit to Electric Wizard to Fushitsusha to Borbetomagus to Thurston Moore's Dream Aktion Units to...hey speaking of Thurston Moore, his Ecstatic Peace! label is supposed to be a doing a proper LP issue of an early Poor School LP, "The Holy Master". Sign me up for the intramurals, lunchlady.
If Cut Hands keep throwing out the heavy hitters like these, I'm almost going to have to buy some stock in the company. If yous ain't got these yet, it's time to diversify your portfolio. The Psalm Alarm might still be available from some stores out there in Internetland but the Poor School is still in stock at Joris' warehouse and should not be missed under any circumstances.

MP3:
Psalm Alarm - Untitled (track 1) (excerpt)
Psalm Alarm - Untitled (track 2) (excerpt)

Poor School - Untitled (track 1) (excerpt)
Poor School - Untitled (track 2) (excerpt)

5.14.2007

Pure - Fetor (Freak Animal CD)


Yeah! Fuckin' Pure, man! Crucial 80's document most people (self included) never knew existed, much less that they'd one day get a chance to hear it! Pure was, of course, Matthew Bower's pre-everything project that would one day become Total, thus predating Skullflower and Sunroof! and, of course, Hototogisu. If the knowledge of my surroundings is as astute as I hope it is, the only Pure tracks available for anyone to hear are on the Broken Flag compilation LP "Statement", which is of course horrifically out of print but can be found on peer-to-peer programs if you look hard enough. But really, where's the fun in that? But now you don't have to worry about paying through the nose on eBay or listening to lousy vinyl rips on your computer, because gloryoski, Finland's Freak Animal has done the world an enormous service by making "Fetor" available once again. This was originally released as a cassette on Mark Durgan (Putrefier)'s Birthbiter label, no idea what year though, and has been in the vaults ever since. The Freak Animal reissue is woefully limited (a scant 300 pieces!) so try not to make the same mistake you weren't around to make in '82 or whenever. Interesting note - the Birthbiter tape had the cover and even the song titles credit to Birthbiter, whereas the Freak Animal reissue has, presumably, "restored" titles and album art. And as if just putting the tape back into the public's maw wasn't enough, there's also a bonus track: a live cut from '88 featuring Bower along with Ramleh/Skullflower cohort Stefan Jaworzyn. Legend tells this was supposed to be a Ramleh performance, but Gary Mundy no-showed so the two went it alone performing "similar material of Pure tape". Hell yeah, dude.
So what's the story, morning glory? Well I'll tell you. If I'd known that this material was so face-destroying, I don't think I would've been able to keep my pants on for the 20+ years that this was stewing away in somebody's basement somewhere. I mean yes, I'm a big fan of most things Matt Bower puts his hand to, you don't need to be a private dick to sleuth that one out. But "Fetor" is just, Jesus Christ. It's a total jolt. It's your dog running away from home. It's your grandmother slapping you in the face. It's that video clip of the professional vaulter running up to the horse, missing the springboard, and launching himself stomach-first into the butt-end of the horse. And the convulsions that followed. It's all the hyperbole I ever laid down in these non-pages rolled into one disgusting, quivering ball of matter. It's astonishing to hear Bower's deconstruction of all forms of rock in such a thoroughly advanced mode at such an early stage in the game. Two fine examples: the opening "Transformer" is something akin to a fusion of power electronics and punk rock-cum-black metal with Bower marrying shards of his now-vintage guitar squall with a near-blast beating drum attack, and "Nigredo" spits out a venomous, churning riff over which Bower lays snarls and drum machine/taped goop. Sounds like nothing I ever heard before it and only a few things after it - the Dead C's one for sure, and Birchville Cat Motel's "Our Love Will Destroy the World" is a surprisingly close reference point. Other, more formless behemoths include the hulking "Volcano", quadrupling up guitar noise and stirred via Bower's ecstatic wails; "Bardo" which boasts a sick, juddering guitar/percussion burning; and "Null"'s lurking, spacious sound explorations like dark wings cloaking entire cities in shadows. "Untitled" is perhaps the most composed of all, a heartbeat drum pattern backing up Bower's own relatively-restrained (in the context of the record, at least) cosmic strikes. If you chose to pin it so, this track alone could be the catalyst for some of his most recent work as heard in Hototogisu with Marcia Bassett.
After all this, the 20-minute bonus track with Jaworzyn might sound like a bit of a disappointment to some, with considerably less activity despite doubling group membership. Nevertheless, it's still a choice meandering, with one guitar sending out harrowing gamma drones (probably Stefan) and the other replying with hotly-charged feedbacking shrieks (probably Matthew). I'm also guessing it's Jarworzyn contributing at first barked commandments and later chanting that borders on the ethnomusicology that reminds of Whitehouse's faux-world music collections. Their set ends with slow-dissolving guitar fade and breathless shouts...oh to have been at the Birmingham City Tavern on that day.
If I can be real for a second, this whole CD is the absolute balls. Talk about a huge puzzle piece falling into place with a thud - you don't know spit about Bower and Broken Flag and Shock and 80's U.K. power electronics in general until you wrap a fist around "Fetor". And now with this and the Vinyl on Demand Broken Flag box, the picture's starting to get a bit less muddied in 2007. How glorious it is indeed! Hats perpetually skyward to Freak Animal for doing this baby all different kinds of justice. In case I even needed to say it: highest possible recommendation. Gettit!

MP3:
Nigredo
Null

5.11.2007

Troniks/PACrec Round-Up


I can't tell if being sent all these CDs means Troniks' Phil Blankenship likes me or hates me, but I'm grateful whatever the case may be. And I figured it was going to be as good a time as any to plow through them with my computer dead recently and nothing better to do (overheating was the problem, I've got it fixed thank you...at least for now). I gotta tell you, by about the fifth or sixth CD I was feeling like Alex DeLarge watching concentration camp footage in A Clockwork Orange, but I think it was in the good way. Anyway it's not like I heard them all back-to-back-to-back-to-etc., so it wasn't as rough as I'm making it seem. Although it was no picnic neither!
I missed 16-Bitch Pile Up at No Fun last year, but lived vicariously through seeing them on the Fun From None DVD, and those were just about the only notes I've ever heard them pluck in my existence so I didn't really know what to expect from "Bury Me Deep", although I was immediately wooed by the terrific teen horror novel mock-up album art, down to the faux mailorder card that comes inside (you can explore the art in greater detail here). Sonically, it was all quite a bit more subdued than I would've expected. In fact, it's quite a ways mature, I dare say. The first few tracks feature low-rolling, watery drone rumbles and spaced out, sinister wanderings, all occasionally punctuated with buried (no pun intended) chops of church bells ringing, dogs barking, people talking, and the like. It all floats along quite swimmingly/ominously with varying degrees of interest, until it suddenly explodes out of nowhere into a maelstorm of processed screaming and howling and white-knuckled ear-blistering electronics that could easily send a lesser human into shock and death. That one, harsh track fades into a sped-up recording of Barry Manilow's "This One's For You" (no shit) and ends with a bit of coffin-lid juddering ambience. After contemplating this curious turn of events for a bit, I came up with the theory that most of the album is the slow build-up of an imaginary film (as it often does sound like a B-grade horror movie soundtrack), the screaming represents the climatic murder scene, then the credits roll while "This One's For You" plays, and the final stomach-gnawing track is Carrie's hand shooting out of her grave. Am I close? Don't care, it's pretty great regardless of its back story.
New transmissions from Yasutoshi Yoshida's Government Alpha are always welcome, for at least the first twenty minutes of hearing them. Then I realize that they sound a good deal like the last Government Alpha I heard, and I wonder if I really need another one. I do like a lot of what Yoshida does, but I also have a finite amount of patience, too. That said, "Venomous Cumulus Cloud" is more of the good stuff you've come to expect from the project - monstrous, deafening blasterpieces swathed with Yoshida's colourful knob-twisting and wrenching. On these six pieces, he uses guitats, effects, synths, and anything else you can fathom to generate harsh psychedelic hyperprisms, towering over just about anything else in the genre...obvious reference points include Maso Yamazaki's dormant Masonna and Hiroshi Hasegawa's C.C.C.C., or perhaps a combination of the two. Personally, it's enjoyable for a while, but after a certain period stuff just starts feeling recycled. Or maybe I just don't have the right mindset to enjoy it. Or whatever. You could probably get away with buying one Government Alpha release every few years (or more) and not miss much, but on that same note at least I can't fault Yoshida for his rigid consistency. If you're a superfan, you'll find more of the same to sink your chompers into here. And if you're looking for a place to start with Alpha, "Venomous" is as good a place as any. But just don't hold out for any monumental shocks, all right? Hey, at least the picture on the front is mega-engrossing...

And while we're on the subject of rigid consistency, dig this CD from Total Slitting of Throats, a (one-off?) unit featuring the talents of the Cherry Point (aka Troniks' Phil Blankenship), Mania, the Rita, Sewer Election, and Treriksroset. This self-titled CD boasts one 66-minute long track which may or may not be titled "An HNW Audible Manifesto", and was originally released as a limited CD-R on the Rita's Militant Walls label in 2005. It says "assembled by Sam McKinlay for Miltant Walls" so I dunno if that means it was he who mixed all the sounds of these artists together, but whoever did the job did good on creating a unified scope for the record. Basically the goal here was to create the "definitive WALL document for the dedicated purist". If you're not familiar with the walling process in noise, it's the technique whereby the listener is attacked by a constant, uninterrupted wall (get it?) of noise, as bleak and as colourless as inhumanly possible. The Rita, in particular, seems to be on a life-long quest to create the perfect wall, and I think he and his cohorts have succeeded here. At least, I can't imagine anything that could possible top this. Think roaring, infernal electronics sawed down into a blissful/terrifying stretch that seems to last for a lifetime and never gives you so much as the chance to gulp for air. The CD itself has "powerful minimalist deconstruction of the harsh noise object" printed upon it and it's certainly a minimal approach, though maybe not in the most conventional sense of the term. Call it minimalism for maximalists, then. If you're already a big walling game hunter, Total Slitting of Throats really have created the definitive document and it's worth owning for that reason alone. And if this is indeed your bag, you'll be in heavenly death for an hour's time. Anybody else might wonder why they're torturing themselves for the same length of time, but fuck them, right? I'll admit, I was somewhere in the middle, and had to split the album into two in order to digest it all (the breaking of a wall-listening commandment, I'm sure), but that's more a compliment to its obliviating power than anything else. Possibly the best indication of what you can find on TSoT's album is from this screenshot I took of GoldWave's visual representation of the track when I imported it to chop out an MP3 excerpt. Need I say more?

...And speaking of Sweden's Sewer Election, "Sex/Death" is a reissue of Dan Johansson's two-tape set that was originally released on his own Harsh Head Rituals label last year. I hear his name a lot these days (or, at least, the adopted moniker for his noise releases) I spose now's as good a time as any to get acquainted. There's three untitled tracks in about an hour's time here, and the two bookending cuts are tremendously powerful system shocks, heavy on the low-end flail and stirring up all different kinds of circuit-bending theatrics, feedback, and sonic fissures. There's nothing not to like about em but I don't find that there's a whole lot setting them apart from other current harsh noise product. I did, however, greatly the second track, which plays dense layers of staticky electronics compounded by a dreamy air of concrete throught-processes - at times it sounds like a crashing silver waterfall, at others it sounds like it could be a segment from one of Hermann Nitsch's aktionist bloodspills. Any way you slice it, it's a beautifully organic pulse, combining elements of drone, power electronics, musique concrete and even soundtrack music. Even though it only represents a fourth of the total running time, it's practically worth the price of admission alone. Book it!

Lasse Marhaug's latest (or, maybe not anymore, given the speed at which he works) called "The Great Silence" is also three tracks in about an hour, featuring scrambled, high-tension noise whirr that's far more aggressive than what you'd come to expect from his work in Jazzkammer with John Hegre or in collaborations with Maja Ratkje. "Back to Nature" is a balance of blindingly harsh, busted electronics frenzy and ear-hollowing longform tones. It almost sounds like Marhaug's playing is so in-the-red that the tape it was recording to is disintegrating with every passing second, adding even more damage to already-corroded sounds being splayed out. "The New Sound" ups the ante even further, essentially a half-hour take on sweaty, hellish noise and feedback that'll test your patience and endurance as much as anything else in the genre. It's pulled off with all the mastery of an experienced alchemist, with Marhaug maintaining continous control over the beefy layers of torrid sound that he's constantly generating. The title track packs spikey waves of devastation into its brief running time (well at 8 minutes, it's brief compared to the other two), as if Marhaug's making a final, desperate attempt to fully deafen/astonish whoever's listening. I, for one, was fully numb at that point and resembled something of a zombie with my head still attached via a strand of skin on my neck. "The Great Silence"? As if!

And last but not least is a collaboration between Jazzkammer and Howard Stelzer, "Tomorrow No One Will Be Safe". This was recorded on the trio's 2004 U.S. tour, and you get a track from three possible configurations: Jazzkammer, Howard Stelzer, and Jazzkammer and Howard Stelzer together. Makes sense, right? Jazzkammer's "Requiem for Officer Robby Barker" is a pretty impressive and pretty AMM-infected trawl, at least to mine ears. The duo start out slow and sparse, hanging together gentle electronic sparkle, chopped tapes, occasional guitar strum gleaning, and a toy piano that could even double for Keith Rowe's shortwave radio if you squint hard enough. Pretty soon they've formed a thick, sinewy static layer and the aural threat becomes dead serious as the track builds towards its blistering, jackhammer-esque finale. More "Metal Machine Music" than "Metal Music Machine" as it stands, and still it rules rather heavily. Stelzer's twenty minute allocation is titled "Last Night at BLD" (fitting, as the track was recorded at the BLD Warehouse in Columbus, Ohio) is an intriguing sampling of the improvised tape manipulation he's come to be known world-round for. I can only guess at Stelzer's methods, but he succeeds in pulling out stretched, deformed drones to form the basis of his piece and tops them with helpings of scratches, hiccups, fidgets, whirrs, squelchs, and whatever else is spat out by the array of cassettes used in his performances. The whole thing is rather compelling but I was most drawn to the concluding tape hiss/drone/silence that I wouldn't mind at all hearing in a non-live setting. So maybe I should get on that whole seeking and purchasing thing right about now. On the collaborative track, "Tomorrow No One Will Be Safe", Hegre and Marhaug hang back quite a bit and allow Stelzer to open up most of the track with various found sounds, field recordings, and other such riff raff from his tapes. Aside from a drum machine and a dose of feedback near the beginning of the track, it's quite difficult to pinpoint where their hands are in all this. No matter, the result works to a tee and the hot, soupy ambience breathed out is more than welcome after however many ours of bone-crushing noise. Highly recommended!
Phew, I think I need to take a week off before I can fully recover from the experience of analyzing these six CDs. I say this every time I review Troniks records, but Phil Blankenship must have an iron will, not to mention a day planner filled through 2013 to keep putting out all these albums. As for me and my Alex DeLarge-like treatment...well, I was cured all right.

MP3:
16-Bitch Pile Up - Something Poked Up

Government Alpha - Informal Funeral

Total Slitting of Throats - An HNW Audible Manifesto (excerpt)

Sewer Election - Untitled (track 3) (excerpt)

Lasse Marhaug - The New Sound (excerpt)

Jazzkammer & Howard Stelzer - Tomorrow No One Will Be Safe (excerpt)

5.07.2007

Flower/Corsano Duo - The Radiant Mirror (Textile Records LP)


About time I got a grip on this one, one which seemed to elude me for so long for whatever reason. Mick Flower: Vibracathedral Orchestra and Sunburned Hand of the Man contributor. Chris Corsano: needs an introduction like he needs a hole in the head. Together, live, tonight, sold out! I heard this LP painted as an East versus West showdown, and while that may be true in theory, doesn't Corsano live in the U.K. now anyway? And besides, didn't these cats cross paths at least once before on the Qbico Bruxelles Festival 2LP when the VCO joined choir with the Flaherty/Corsano Duo? And surely they've even been a part of the same Sunburned configuration at some point in the past. Well all that may be true, but hearing them go tete-a-tete with no other meddlers afoot is a treat all the same, and I guess this is looking to be something of a regular unit with this record, a 7" on No-Fi, and past/present?/future dates together.
Three pieces span "The Radiant Mirror", and they're all element-repping: "Earth" and "Wind" split the A-side and "Fire" takes up all of the flip. I'll let you guess what hat Corsano's wearing for this set but I'll tell you that Mick Flower plays a Japan banjo or a shaahi baaja if you prefer, which I'm told is a kind of a dulcimer/string instrument but I'll have to go on hearsay alone because I've never seen one. Sonically speaking, it's like a thicker, messier sitar, or even something like a tambura crossed with an electric guitar when Flower puts his weight behind it, which he does so admirably on "Earth". Flower's banjo continually pushes tangled string haze aggression out into the wide open space where Corsano is quick to meet the vibrations half way and beat them back with lightning-quick rolls, dips, and jogs, sounding forever like a drummer playing like he's late for a bus (by far my favorite description of his frantic, frenetic style). I read some complaints about Corsano being mixed for too quietly in contrast to Flower's admittedly heady banjo work, but personally I like it right where it is with Corsano sounding like he's trying to battle his way through gobs of electrified raag spit. And I feel that I should state, as a disclaimer, that it was mixed by the performers themselves, so it's not like anyone's being slighted here no sir. Flower, for his part, posits wildly free supernovae all over the track with simple successive wrist flicks. On "Wind", the duo scrape close to various Theater of Eternal Music sessions, with Flower subbing for Cale's viola and Corsano mimicking MacLise's stoned tabla strikes. Clearly the more meditative of the three tracks/elements, it fades the side out with gently insistent, near-tribal rhythm and brain-clogging billows and dense string resonation.
"Fire" isn't the raging behemoth the title might lead you to believe, but it's no sleeping Suzie either. Flower's banjo sounds more like early morning rockets blasted from outside your bedroom window, and Corsano is quick to join in his ascent. Before you know it, the two are grappling one another in a heaven-bound tornado, knotting their limbs and instruments together until their respective scalps are sun-scorched. Later, Corsano breaks down into choppy, slicing movements that still somehow come out as fluid as all else before just about pulling back altogether, leaving Flower alone to shed white-hot sparks and sawdust all over the cutting room floor until Corsano slogs his way back into audibility and mops up the mess.
Lord knows these two like to move around a lot, but you wouldn't hear a peep out of me if these two decided to stagnate a while and just keep churning out records like this one. Sadly, the heartbreak here is that Textile founder Benoit Sonnette won't be able to hear any more fruits from their collaboration, as he passed away this January from cancer. Then again, considering the level at which these two go at it, if he keeps his ear to the floor wherever he is and listens close enough, he just may.

MP3:
Earth (excerpt)
Wind (excerpt)
Fire (excerpt)

5.04.2007

Fossils - Fly by Night / Edgar Wappenhalter/Dolphins of East Belgium - Split (Bread and Animals CSs)


Only recently found out about the shapeshifting/name-changing Bread and Animals label outta Belgium recently, so it was up to me to order some tapes and get caught up. I think they may have been known/may still go by Cauliflower Dreams, but I didn't have any stuff with that brand on it either. I chose to talk about the two weirder entries here but the other two I got along the way (Fricara Pacchu and Uton) are great and worthy of their place in the sun for sure. I think if I spent anymore non-ink on Fricara Pacchu I'd pretty much be his/it's unofficial P.R. agent, so I let that one slide. And everyone knows by now how great Uton are, so that went without saying too. In addition to these heads, BaA have also been responsible for releases (mostly tapes) from groups and folks like Frozen Corpse, 6majik9, Orphan Fairytale, Tomutonttu, Death Chants, Ben Reynolds, and Christina Carter among many many others. Geographics aside, they seem to be pretty kindred spirits with the always fun Sloow Tapes, what with the artists they deal with and the incredible attention to aesthetics. Sure even your grandma is spraypainting her Bing Crosby tapes these days, but Bread and Animals go way over the top with wraparound sleeves, painted cases, hand-drawn art, baggies, paper napkins, you name it. Someday these'll be in a museum somewhere, even if it's only me running the museum, and even if by "museum" I mean "my basement". But shit won't they look good.
This Fossils is a pretty active unit out of Canada but I don't think I've ever heard em. It's okay though, I've now got this and their recent Cut Hands CD-R release to learn me up, and they sound like pretty interesting cats. At least, on "Fly by Night". Dude, I think there's another Canadian band who rock an album called "Fly by Night" and to be honest, I was kinda hoping for a cover/deconstruction, or at least a shot at that goofy fucking owl that's on the cover, but no such luck. Anyway all the action here takes place on one side which is kinda nicde, and it's also some fortyish minutes long which is real nice too. These guys start things out pretty touch-and-go, for a while almost sounding like space aliens plunked down in front of strange new machinery and have to poke around for a while just to find what's up. Which is cool, it gives way to some pretty neat, trashy electro twinkling, like diamonds and emeralds splintering in the sky. I'm hearing a decidedly Scandinavian bent here, like along the lines of Buffle or Avarus, or anybody else who dedicates themselves to early morning post-stoned jamming...later they lock down into a more intense snarl and they actually beat out pretty startling tidals of static and noise. Startling because I got to the point where I wasn't expecting them to consistently live up to (or proceed with) the flashes of aggression they showed early on, but colour me wrongo. By the time it all ends it's well frantic and somebody's regurgitating a microphone, but it still sounds rightly gnarled and free and not nearly as paradisical as the snap on the sleeve would lead you to believe, but I've come to terms with that.

This other one was a real curve, if not a knuckler, because I know nothing about anything involved and could barely read the wrap-around hand-rendered insert so I had to go in cold turkey. Only afterwards did I do a bit of reading, and discovered that this Edgar Wappenhalter fella is part of the Belgium Funeral Folk collective and his "solo thing is both based on loose structures and improvisation, and lo-fi song writing", according to their website. I do believe he also plays in Silvester Anfang, but when I Google him, I'm told to try "Edgar Wippschalter" instead. Sheesh. Whoever the internet thinks he is, his side of this split is an absolute smash from beginning to end (30 minutes maybe?) with his droning, smokey ragas smelling like musty Sandy Bull bootlegs, particularly when Sandy plays along to tapes because Wappenhalter's got a tabla thing going here that's just totally in tune. There's a couple of other magnificently minimal solo guitar think-overs and even some nice tunes with dazed, murky (female?) vocals. Elsewhere he peppers a dark acoustic number strangely reminiscent of "Stairway to Heaven" with tightly-wound electronic squeaks, drags out a ghostly bummer of a folk song that sounds like it was sourced from twelfth-generation recordings, and contemporary-sounding death chant-ed loner mantras. Talk about your all kinds of fucked sides, this is super that, but the songs (in the loosest sense of the term) are great too, so I'll highly recommend digging up some of Edgar's work and experiencing it for yourself, while I try and track down some more of his work. Dolphins of East Belgium, on the other hand, are a duo featuring members (un)known from releases under the names Wietske Van Gils and Pulsating in the Eye of Vision. I also know that Lieven, who runs the Bread and Animals label, is in on this too. What you get is another splended side, this one featuring individual-sized portions of gentle looped drones, generated via synthesizers and keyboards and tape players and the like. At first I was in Kathmandu with Angus MacLise but as the tracks came and went I was even picking up more Spacemen 3 feels, don't ask. Another reference point immediately jumping out was Jefre Cantu-Ledesma's Twonicorn tape, but I was too busy being lifted off to dreamland to really pull out the critical blender and get to work. No matter how you splice it, this is chock full o' really wafted pools of warm and fuzzy sonics, just perfect for me because I needed a bath anyway.
I was under the impression that Sloow Tapes and Lal Lal Lal had cornered off the overseas mostly-tape labels after my heart markets, but Bread and Animals make a whopper of a case here with these (and other) treats. So far I've got four to pore over and that would really do me for the rest of my life if I let it, but I'm sure I'll be back for more as I see from their website they're about to drop a new batch of whatsits any day now. It's all gold indeed.

5.03.2007

Neuntöter Der Plage - Last Wish b/w Acid Reign / Taliban/Paranoid Time - Air Lice (SNSE LP / 10")


As advertised, the final two documents from the recent SNSE bundle. If you can't make your way through the forest of forward slashes I set up in the title there and need a refresher, the first is an LP by Ryan Opperman's Neuntöter Der Plage project while the latter is a 10" split between Taliban (Miles Haney and Joel Rakowski) and Paranoid Time (aka SNSE boss Pat Yankee). Both are limited to 300 copies or thereabouts and both come in sleeves with pasted-on covers and inserts; the NDP one is sleek and black and evil while the split is more of a DIY 80's hardcore job. Both look and play like the walrus' whiskers though, which is good news.
This Neuntöter Der Plage is, as I said, Ryan Opperman's beast, and you might know his name from associations with projects like Xombie, Redrot, Post Mortem Junkie, Klinikal Skum, and the Skeletone label. You might, but I don't. "Last Wish b/w Acid Reign" is Plage's vinyl debut, after various cassettes and CD-Rs that I haven't had the good fortune of running into. If you weren't of the knowing type (like me) and you just plucked this LP off the wall at Joe Schmoe's Record Emporium (okay let's be fair: Aquarius or Amoeba), you might think it was some long-lost now-reissued Broken Flag or United Dairies document that totally slipped by everybody when it first came out of the 80's power electronics heyday...and sonically speaking, you wouldn't be lightyears away either. At least, in terms of the dark, menacing drones that pierce both lengthy pieces. But these are works for electronics and vocals, and it's the vocals that give this baby away as being a product of the new millenium, or at least the near-turn thereof. Opperman delivers these two rather intense manifestos over both sides, in a guttural throat that's somewhere amongst the pipes of those from Stalaggh, Abruptum, hell even William Bennett's stern tone is somewhat detectable here. At it's lowest form you could tag this record as a black metal/dark ambient cross over, but it's really a lot more than the sum of its parts. Which is pretty impressive given the general simplicity of the approach. Perhaps a better indication of the intimidation at work here can be drawn from an excerpt of what's being recited on "Last Wish" (lyrics are included): "a dark that gently blisters your skin/it can only be felt with all of your senses/choking body and mind/this cold night/tell me your last wish.../is it not to cease to exist?". Fucking yeah man, I get chills down my spine just typing it and you better believe I was Han Solo frozen in carbonite at the beginning of Empire when I was hearing it.
The Taliban, or Taleban, (Pashto: طالبان, "students," literally seekers of knowledge) are a Sunni puritanical Muslim and Pashtun movement that ruled most of Afghanistan from - wait, that's not it at all. Ha ha! This Taliban is the "free noise" duo of Miles Haney and Joel Rakowski, and their product has been seen on labels like American Tapes, Gods of Tundra, Fag Tapes and Haney's own Tapeworm Tapes. On their side of this 10", they put forth the kind of noisy junk skree I can't even pin down, but it's got scads of brightly-embellished tabletop rabble to spit up inky darts of holy hot-wired sound and various busted plugged-ins galore. What's real nice about this one is that it comes at you in waves, little sound lines crashing off your face only to recede just as quickly...like dry heaving your way through bat country. At least it doesn't play it all stagnant like some of those other types, I like a little spice in my love life. Meanwhile, Pat Yankee's Paranoid Time plays two untitled tracks of mad scramble circuit bending and what could be totally garbled vocal whoops, gasps, and meltdowns, maybe I should've saved the dry heaving thing for right abooouuut here. Sounds like vox and synths and maybe even a laptop juggernauting these sounds out, but they're being totally mauled by whatever the whole setup is feeding into, quite ouroborosly indeed. I wouldn't call it the most blazingly memorable side ever played but maybe that's cause it just finished blasting it's way out the memory portion of my brain - you'll definitely dig it if you're usually up for this kind of glurge. Don't take my word for it - I'll have you know this was Bull Tongue best of oh-six number 39. Say no more? Well I won't, but I'm pretty tired by now. These clips can do the rest of the talking. That's right, keep scrolling...not too far now.

MP3:
Neuntöter Der Plage - Last Wish (excerpt)
Neuntöter Der Plage - Acid Reign (excerpt)

Taliban - Untitled (excerpt)
Paranoid Time - Untitled (excerpt)
MP3s courtesy SNSE

5.02.2007

Burial Hex - Burial Hex (SNSE LP)


Can't say that I haven't been spoiled lately: three new SNSE waxes came in for my listening pleasure. Unfortunately I only had enough time to spend with one, so I picked this Burial Hex LP. The other two (Taliban/Paranoid Time 10" and Neuntöter Der Plage 12") will come in due time, I assure you. This one caught my eye because I had it lodged in my memory that Burial Hex was the pseudonym for somebody hip, and indeed it turns out that it's the "death industrial-informed" project of one Clay Ruby, he of Zodiac Mountain, Skulls of Heaven, Totem and various other endeavours I'm sure. I couldn't really reconcile the image of Ruby with the imagery of this record - sure you can feast your eyes on the way bleak cover, but what you can't see is the grim insert depicting a skull (mask) in the woods, and Old English font spelling out things like "OPPRESSIVE NECRO ELECTRONICS" and song titles like "Night Stalking the Unsilent Boneyard" and "Blood, Hair, Spit, and Semen". Is this the same longhair that was wiling out stoned blues jams like "Born Free" and "No Matter How High or How Hard" not more than a moon ago? I love it, dude. Gimmickry? No...shapeshifting! Who among us doesn't have the old liberal hophead/conservative black metal cellar-dweller conundrum constantly raging inside of us? I think Brand New even wrote a song about it, in case you needed any more validation.
I gotta say I wasn't expecting much from a record that could be viewed as what our friends overseas refer to as a pisstake, but no way man, this record brings it and brings it hard, and if it's a pisstake then I'll happily concede the joke's on me. But shit, how could it be? The first side is a fuckin' ruler and I'm not talking about the kind you measure various personal appendages with, holy smokes. There's three songs per side and the first three are the heavyiest and bestest - amazing slabs of black-cloud electronic tempest, as bleak as the aforementioned cover, and totally threatening to digest you whole at every wrong turn. Think muddled atmosphere, miscellaneous junk noise curmudgeon, and field recordings that are really the cherry on top or the spikes on the mace that give it all a real real nightmarish feel...case in point? The chorus of crows that occupy much of "A Murder of Dead Crows". It was just one of those choice moments in sound where everything happens the way you never expected it to and it sounds jaw-droppingly perfect. The last track on the side comes mighty close to topping it though - "The Storm of Ancient Nightcrawler" (X-Men?) seems to feature Ruby's buried, hell-driven screams and seriously affected/effected moans, like the Xasthur/Double Leopards mashup you've been gunning for since day one. Elsewhere my faulty radar detects anything from Cold Meat-style butchery to Navicon Torture Technologies to later Burzum to Prurient at his most subdued to Dead Raven Choir to... Whatever yr blender mix-up of choice is, it's still three tracks of awesome/awesomely desolate, dense, formless, ritualistic, bloodletting.
The three cuts on the second side are all quite a bit more minimalist and, I dare say, conventional dark/black ambient. Not sure at all what's going on in "The Great Undertaking" but it kinda sounds like coffee being brewed (coffee being brewed in the forest! Of course), although "Feasting the Nightsoil Communion" takes up the majority of the time here and it's a pretty filthy serving of looped black bile electronics and subtle percussive digs a la Wolf Eyes' on "River Slaughter". There isn't anything as immediately striking as what you'll find on the reverse so maybe that's why me and my short attention span weren't grasping it ASAP but it's really a dandy of an excursion, just nothing much to write home about s'all.
As if that wasn't enough, the entire record was recorded "while undertaking the rites of the Burial Hex during the feasts of Samhain" - how can you not be at least a little curious? And for 12 bucks, you could hardly do better, so don the robes and enter the Blood Shed already (gettit?)! Limited to a paltry 308, and this is the kind of record I'm so into I just want to buy extra copies to hand out to people I know - so don't blame me if you miss, Miss.

MP3:
Night Stalking the Silent Boneyard (excerpt)
A Murder of Dead Crows (excerpt)
A Storm of Ancient Nightcrawler (excerpt)
The Great Undertaking (excerpt)
Blood, Hair, Spit, and Semen (excerpt)
Feasting the Nightsoil Communion (excerpt)
MP3s courtesy SNSE

5.01.2007

Blues Control - Puff (Woodsist LP)


Call it the internet version of peer pressure, and I'm an easily swayed kind of guy. Especially when I have a tenner burning a hole in my pocket. But really, nobody's said a bad word about the Blues Control Sound just yet, and in fact some real sophistos have chimed in with starry eyes about "Puff", so I figured, why not me? Plus, it's on choice brand du jour Woodsist, which you may know/may come to know as the vinyl imprint of another choice brand, Fuck It Tapes. In addition to this Blues Control, they've got vinyl sides out from Night Wounds, Raccoo-oo-oon, and Wooden Wand, so make some shelf space then would you? Or should I say...WOOD you? Ahahaha moving on.
Okay so this Blues Control, it's a duo of Lea Cho and Russ Waterhouse, the former on keyboards and the latter on guitar and electronics/tapes. I don't really know much about them or who else they played with and that's the way I'm wanting to keep it. The first side of "Puff" boasts two tunes. One indeed called "Puff" and another called "Always On Time", though it's tricky to pick out any sort of division between the two. Nevertheless, both tracks pull out magnificent crescendos from either effects boxes or Cho's keyboard out of smokey, stoned ramblings until fully-formed strong structures and skins are suddenly shed before your very eyes spectacles, in a way that'll having you throwing your head back like Kanye in the "Gold Digger" video (what was that move anyway? Never liked it) trying to figure out how this incredible - and most certainly - blues-based rhythm sparked up outta nowhere. "Always On Time" in particular has a real good elasticity to it, further stretching itself out of shape until the guitar and piano and brains melt themselves out of being. I know that, personally, it had my mind roaming. For example, was the Pink Panther supposed to be gay, or just a slippery cat who happened to be pink and somewhat effeminate? Who knows man.
The flip moves through three acts: "Behind the Skies", "End Zone" and "Call Collect". It all just bleeds into one gloriously zonked out dismantlepiece if you let it, which I just might thank you. Dig the twin harmonica/nasty crunching guitar riffing that kicks it all off. I don't want to call it shredding or anything because it isn't by definition, but holy man it shreds in the sickest of stoner rock-cut ways. All that with a thunderic rumble churning down low that sinks your stomach like a nostril full of rotten meat. And then all that gets bogged down into a celestial, near-ambient treatise, sublime all the way through - I don't want to say it's ethereal but holy man it's ethereal like a grade school crush is, no foolin'. One of the meanest, wah-est six-string blusters takes you out into the goopiest of nod-outs as heard in any later days, the kind that turns your muscles into jelly and nails the back of your head to the floor. I thought at first it was a locked groove whihc would've really lined my loins but it's close enough and the rest of the side is so slamming that I'm just tickled pink anyway. Tickled pink like a, uh, panther, so what does that say about me? It says I liked the record, doesn't it? Yeah, that's the ticket. I'll just go on the record as saying I wasn't writing out Valentines to Messrs Cho and Waterhouse from the first second of the needle drop, but it just got better and better and before you know, the needle ran out and I had just gotten off the phone with the guy who arranges to have marriage proposals spelled out in banners to be flown across the sky. Which is all to say it's one of those long-lasting sucks that'll keep changing flavors with every go-round; stay tuned for the chewy center coming up in twenty days time on Holy Mountain, in the form of a self-titled CD. Could hit just in time to be the soundtrack to summer heat waves and sweaty sleeping bags.

MP3:
Behind the Skies