Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmess

Q: What do Santa and Toadliquor have in common?


Thursday, December 18, 2008

Compact reviews

My box of digitized goodies from the Small Doses distro sale I mentioned in my last post arrived today. Figured I'd post my thoughts as I make my way through the stack.

20.SV - Apocalyptic Desert - Digging this. Crossover noise release with rhythms, melody, and progressive composition. "Industrialized Post Apocalyptic Bio-Nuclear Radiative Frequencies Recorded In Tripoli - El Mina, Lebanon By Xardas." Comes in a slipcase featuring terrible Photoshopped artwork. Looks like a shitty promo, honestly. On Autumn Wind Productions. Oh, and I guess 15 minutes of this is all my shitty CD player will allow me, as it's started skipping.

EVP - Postmortem Canticles of Necromancy
- This wants to be a 70s horror/thriller film score I think. But it's not creepy enough. Too much cheese for my tastes as well. Someone put a lot of work into this, but I can't get into it on first listen. Sharp DVD-style packaging. Also on AWP.

Alkerdeel - Luizig
- Mostly slow "kvlt" black metal from Belgium (although not too kvlt to have a Myspace address printed on the sleeve, haha). Their site lists doom and psych influences as well as BM, and they do come through on the recording. This stuff is ok, not great. At War With False Noise re-release of an uber-limited cassette. Beautiful gray-on-black cardstock print job.

Behemothaur - Darkcrystal
- Is it noise? Black metal? Free doom? Noise rock? All of the above, assembled in no particular order. Kiwi band featuring the CJA dude. Might take another listen to grow on me; I feel like the band is not sure exactly what effect they're going for, especially given the linear narrative of the accompanying booklet. Which is sharp as hell in the standard 200mg A4 style. Apparently an edition of 100. Neither release I've heard on this label has blown me away, but they get props for distinctive packaging.

Gargotheron - Black Metal Supreme - Another 200mg release. US black metal. Not into it. Fast/manic stuff featuring a drummer with some real chops but very rough around the edges. If this band is young, as I sense they are, they could go on to awesome things. But this doesn't do it for me. Edition of 100 in sharp packaging and a theme of being maimed in the desert by desert creatures or something.

Marzuraan - Five Years Worth of Fuck All - The Marzuraan LP is so good that I'm expecting great things from this collection. Things were going fine until my CD player got its panties in a bunch and started skipping double dutch. Anyway, this band is great. At War With False Noise put this out.

Not getting reviewed tonight: Ondo "Low" CD-r and Detritivore demo cassette. Tune in next time...

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Lazy Saturday

Hanging out with the cat before band practice. Here's what's been playing around here recently:

Spektr - Mescalyne 10" (drum machine bm from France, cool mix of blasts, ambience, and funky parts)
Mamaleek - Fever Dream LP (drum machine bm/psych/jazz weirdness from California...some of this sounds like a noise record, and some of it you could lindy hop to)
v/a No State = No Sound one-sided LP (new Am Tapes offering of manipulated/processed "silence" in the studio...noisier than you might think...includes Iron Lung and No Fucker alongside a slew of noise bros)
Exit Hippies / Aostrapos - split LP (didn't give this a close listen when I got it last year or earlier this year...just threw it on a minute ago...Aostrapos side sounds cool at 33 or 45!)
Tovahaunted - one-sided LP (Tovah vs. Pocahaunted, Tovah wins...way abstracted take on Phaunted)
Illusion of Safety - More Geography and Violence LP (first heard this long-running project on the RRRecords "Testament" comp I picked up a few months ago, then Aquarius had a brand new CD-r that I grabbed that was way worth it...this is their first vinyl output from '88, great soundscape/collage work with contemporary news fragments worked good, I need more IoS stuff!)
E. Lunde / Hands To - split LP (got this from the same dude as the above LP...Lunde is also on the "Testament" comp...good but not great, too much pretentious spoken word content (like on the comp)...Hands To side is dronier and betterer)
Ox - Aftermath LP (Earth worship, unimpressive)
Xasthur - Nocturnal Poisoning 2xLP

A few news items while I'm at it (which is what this blog is supposed to be for anyway):

The initial release from Mark McCoy's quasi-bm project Ancestors has been pressed on vinyl after an initial cassette run. This came out a few weeks ago, limited to 300, who knows if it's still around. Youth Attack is apparently doing an even more limited test press version that has not yet been released. A 7" of new material is due out in the near future.

Have A Nice Life's sprawling bedroom shoegaze double CD Deathconsciousness is going to get a vinyl release next year, according to the band's label Enemies List. I will be keeping a close eye on this label next year; these guys seem attracted to the unorthodox.

New Pig Heart Transplant 7" out on Deer Healer, 400 copies.

Big label/distro sale on at Small Doses, lots of good prices.

Looks like aRCHIVE got some more copies of the Acid Eater LP in stock. Japanese garage rock blown out Disclose style with Masonna on vocals. 300 copies.

There's a new Dead C LP out that I haven't heard. Ditto for Dolores, the new Bohren record. Ghosts of the new Lifelover record are floating around the internet, but I have yet to get ahold of one.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Sadly, from here on out it will only be Ex-Yellow Swans

So I picked up a copy (unfortunately not one of the color copies) of the Ex-Cocaine/Yellow Swans split LP. I, like John, deeply lament the decided separation of the Yellow Swans duo, and this release is one more reason to feel that way.

But first, let's spend some time with Ex-Cocaine.

I will have to admit that I had never heard of this group before. This says less about their relevance and more about my ignorance. But upon giving their side a spin, I was pleasantly surprised to hear, not what I had prejudged to be some sort of noisy, angular nowave inspired group, but instead, slightly abstract gently rolling psych.

Made up of yet another duo, Mike Casler and Bryan Ramirez are described as,"Two heavy mellow bros on congas and fuzz [who] amble through underwater psych murmurs delivering freak tales and out of control throwdowns," on their Last.FM page, and whatever that may mean, I could not agree more.

Black Cat Lament, the first song of two by EC on this record, spills in with gentle percussion rolls and swaying guitar riffs. It simply takes this basic idea and swirls around with it for a while. Accepting whatever comes after the jumping off point and let it take the music wherever, I think what I like best about this track is how a-rhythmic it is. There is never quite one single tempo, and synchronization takes a back seat to exploration. Normally this would throw most listeners off, but the way they approach this song, and the gentle mood they create makes it all fit right into place.

Everything pulls together in the second song, Sexy Music. A solid yet simple track of just barely atypical psych. I should point out that unlike many of their contemporaries, Ex-Cocaine don't really apply that many effects or lo-fi aesthetics, to this recording at least. Just a little delay here and there, and beyond that it's pretty straight forward. Which I think in the fringes of music where we are now, is something that not many groups could do and still maintain a following. What makes this track for me is the vocals. They have a slightly haunted quality, and though according to the liner notes they are only sung by Brian Ramirez, they have an odd choral sound that I feel pulls the song to where it should be. Once again, simple guitar and percussion, doing what would normally be a very traditional style, but tweeking it, organically, to move it to a place not only of originality, but also hypnotic appeal. I look forward to adding more Ex-Cocaine to my collection.

The flipside is, of course, one long and haunting track by the much lauded, (and rightfully so), sadly now defunct, Yellow Swans. Creeping in with a fuzzy undertow interrupted here and there with melancholic tones, Comedy Hypnosis is one of the final examples of what made this group great. Minimal at first, the track doesn't so much build, as grow. The tones lead to slight guitar, and muted notes of feedback at regular intervals. Somewhere in the distance murky vocals, not even attempting to come through the mix, add another layer to the composition. It's the type of music that, when you see it explained in words, sounds very underwhelming, but when you hear the simplicity, subtlety, and complexity of the sound you simply get swept away. Finally the lower registers drop off as the rippling walls of static white noise raise up like smooth concrete enveloping everything around it. The pressures hiss, pop, and crackle. The vocals begin to take on the sound of metal twisting in the wind. And as soon as the distortion, which is never grating, peaks, all the complex layers begin slipping away one by one until we are left nearly at the very place we started. The great part about the end of this piece is that the sound dies, and yet, after a beat, the final echo pops up again, and then another beat, and quieter again, and then again, always a little longer, and quieter to an almost imperceptible degree. And it doesn't die away until there is no vinyl left.

This is, in my opinion, a solid record on both sides. From the quiet and simple to the broody and complex. You can check out the myspace profiles of both Ex-Cocaine and Yellow Swans to find out more about the bands, and hear some samples of their work. You can also go to the Not Not Fun webstore to purchase a copy, with, PS, great album artwork, which I believe is still available.