Sunday, December 16, 2012

Best 25 Albums of 2012

It was an exciting year ripe with fantastic worldwide creative musical endeavors. This was the first time in a few years I had great difficulty narrowing the list down to 25 albums. Chris and Cozey edited and finalized Sleazy's final work in a touching manner, GY!BE returned, Michael Gira proved once again that he is literally a fine wine, and every other UK producer had me going wild, and believing again. So without further ado...

25. Shackleton - The Drawbar Organ / Music for the Quiet Hour (Woe to the Septic Heart)

24. Vessel - Order of Noise (TriAngle Records)

23. Cut Hands - Black Mamba (Blackest Ever Black)

22. Emeralds - Just To Feel Anything (Editions Mego)

21. Richard Skelton - Verse of Birds (Corbel Stone Press)

20. Wymond Miles - Under a Pale Moon (Sacred Bones)

19. Daniel Bachman - Seven Pines (Tompkins Square)

18. Krallice - Years Past Matter (Self-released)

17. Rangda - Formerly Extinct (Drag City)

16. Cumulus - Nothing Matters (Headway Recordings)

15. Silent Servant - Negative Fascination (Hospital Productions)

14. Trop Tard - Ils Etaient 9 Dans L'Obscurite (Sacred Bones, vinyl re-issue of a 1988 recording)

13. Robert Aiki Aubrey Lowe - Timon Irnok Manta (TYPE)

12. Villages - Theories of Ageing (Bathetic)

11. Actress - R.I.P (Honest Jon's)

10. FRKWYS Vol. 9: Sun Araw, M. Geddes Gengras meet the Congos - Icon Give Thank (RVNG)

09. Goat - S/T (Red Rocket)

08. Godspeed You! Black Emperor - Alelujah! Don't Bend! Ascend! (Constellation)

07. Vatican Shadow - Ghosts of Chechnya (Hospital Productions)

06. X-TG aka Throbbing Gristle - Desert Shore / The Final Report (Industrial Records, Ltd.)

05. Carter Tutti Void - Transverse (Mute)

04. Holy Other - Held (TriAngle)

03. Swans - The Seer (Young God)

02. Raime - Quarter Turns Over a Living Line (Blackest Ever Black)

01. Andy Stott - Luxury Problems (Modern Love)

So the Mancunians have it again. Maybe its coincidental, or maybe I left my heart in Manchester. I'll be posting a best of 2012 dj mix over at my Mixcloud page in the next couple days. Check it out.

Thanks for your support everyone. This is a lot of work and it means a lot that you all visit this site often.

Much Love!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

New Release on my Record Label. Villages - Music for Savage Flowers (Headway Recordings, 2012)

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Beatrik - Requiem of December (Avantgarde Music, 2005)

I don't really hear much about the underground metal scene in Italy. I don't even know if there is much going on. So, I was surprised to discover an Italian band comprised of equal parts depressive black metal and funeral doom. Really impressive material here. Plodding DSBM guitar a la Xasthur or Nortt is contrasted by classic dark organ sounds, and simple doom drums with an occasional blast beat. There is even a bit of nature worship thrown in there under the Varg-like gurgling vocals. The recording is fairly clean and well done.

Sounds like cutting your arms while the church bells ring...

Get it HERE

Saturday, November 24, 2012

LAND - Night Within (Important, 2012)

The band describe this work as, "approaching an apocalyptic noir narrative," and Night Within, despite its slate visual appeal which recalls the grey paintings of Gerhard Richter, thematically points towards a world occupied by the early postmodern detective stories of Paul Auster and the urban neon dislocation of Taxi Driver with its existential protagonist roaming the city alone late at night."
Heavy words for heavy music. The atmosphere of this record makes me think "jazz for a dark alley". There is a definite lurking menace here, a modern take on noir soundtrack. Reminiscent of the doom jazz artists like Bohren and der Club of Gore and Mount Fuji Doom Jazz Orchestra, LAND wisely forego the Angelo Badalamenti elements. They know how to create tension and build to a near crescendo. This is really intense music with a casual delivery, much like the calm and cool demeanor of a film noir character. My first thought was Alain Delon in a 60's Melville film set in a cold Scandinavian climate. 
The two composers are UK musicians Daniel Lea And Matthew Waters. These two assembled quite a cast for this faux soundtrack. Guests include David Sylvian (Japan), Daniel O'Sullivan (Ulver, Guapo, Miasma, Aethenor), Alexander Tucker (everywhere with everyone) and an ensemble of woodwinds, brass, guitar, keys, bass and drums. The album was sculpted in Reykjavik by Ben Frost.
This one will certainly sneak into my End of Year list. 

Read full review of Night Within - LAND on ©

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Annalium Desparatio, Third Wave Part 1 (Mixtape, 2012)

Last winter, I handmade a cassette boxset for five friends of mine. The four cassettes contained a chronological history of black metal. First, second, and third wave. Here, I've mixed the first part of the third wave. Eventually, I'll mix the remainder and post those as well. Enjoy the Darkness...

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Discoverer - Tunnels (Digitalis, 2012)

Kansas City's Brandon Knocke makes a combination of analog revival music and psychedelic hip hop. There's a little Emeralds and a little Tycho in his sound but he makes the hybrid his own. Everything sounds really original. Tasteful clean slow moving drum machine is placed over blissful synth sounds. And he doesn't overdo it. There's no over the top trippy reverb on the melodies, nothing's buried. All the sounds are fairly upfront.

This is a nice take on the current trend of instrumental hip hop made in some guy's bedroom. Very listenable material that I don't find cliche. No ironic nostalgia or parody here.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Emeralds - Just to Feel Anything (Editions Mego, 2012)

Emeralds is its own thing, a sound you can pinpoint immediately. This Cleveland trio of John Elliot, Mark McGuire, and Steve Hauschildt "re-pioneered" the arpeggiated synthesizer concept. They inspired thousands of kids to go out and find their own thrift store analog junk, making synths and keyboards more popular than the guitar. But what's equally impressive is the signature electric guitar sound of Mark McGuire, which, I feel, is the best part of this new record.

Whereas prior Emeralds outings worshiped and emulated pioneers of experimental electronic music, this one seems to be their take on late 80's / early 90's action film scores. Boomkat called it arena rock but I feel as though its an unconscious homage to the more upbeat Harold Faltermayer and Michael Kamen (Top Gun, Lethal Weapon, respectively). Yep, upon first listen, its Friday night at the movies. Further in, you recognize some of the other influences, Tangerine Dream and 80's Pink Floyd.  But, here's the thing that's so great about this band: After a few minutes, you forget about this tribute idea, you get sucked in and realize that its actually original material, solid in its own right. All three of these players are brilliant and creative musicians having fun but composing subtly innovative pieces. Many people are attempting these ideas these days, but no one can touch Emeralds.

Read full review of Just To Feel Anything (Vinyl Edition) - EMERALDS on ©

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Andy Stott - Luxury Problems (Modern Love, 2012)

The techno world has been intertwining with the drone world for some time now. Artists that made a name for themselves with the former, now make the latter, and vice versa. For years, Andy Stott made lovely dub techno / house tracks in that 90's Basic Channel / Chain Reaction vein. The international repute only began last year after the release of a couple EP's (We Stay Together and Pass Me By), which he released on Modern Love, a great label with the likes of Demdike Stare and Vatican Shadow. What he did on these releases was shocking. Stott began experimenting with all the traditional elements, slowing the rhythms to 100 bpm, and twisting each aspect of the melodies underneath crippling bass rumbles. Thus, he began making "bass music".

The EP's were experiments that led up the the newest album, which is a culmination of all those ideas, and a masterfully executed one. The opening track is simply the angelic vocals of Stott's former piano teacher, Allison Skidmore. They are effected and layered and set the stage for the entire recording. Throughout Luxury Problems, these vocals are pitted against low frequency bass rumbles, tasteful kicks and snares, and  synth elements so subtle, it would take you several listens to even notice.

The haunting, melancholy, and pensive environments Stott creates are brilliant. Finally, someone has taken this genre to a new level, a place I didn't think it could go, a proper evolution. And he's from Manchester... Go figure.

Read full review of Luxury Problems (Second Edition - Emerald Vinyl) - ANDY STOTT on ©

Monday, November 5, 2012

Parallelogram #003 - % split w/ Galapagoose (Cassette, 2012)

% (pronounced "Owner/Operator) is Southeastern U.S. sound artist Michael Felix. His side begins with field recordings from the forest in West Virginia. Its a sort of ode to nature via broken beats and synth. This is a lovely five part narrative that combines bouncey instrumental hip hop with lush, blissed out melodies.

Galapagoose is Melbourne, Australia resident Trent Gill. His side is comparable to Felix', in that it has a similarly bright and slinky beat vibe, and incorporates subtle and quiet spoken word.

As far as I'm concerned, this is the future of hip hop. These are the most captivating beats I've heard in quite sometime.

Purchase HERE

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Quiet Evenings / Former Selves - S/T (Split Cassette on Constellation Tatsu, 2012)

With all of their recordings, Quiet Evenings creates a feeling that is easy for me to identify with. They present winding narratives of warm and familiar ambient music made from synth, guitar, and vocal drones. This release is a good one for a newcomer, as their side, Riverbend, is a fifteen minute journey into their repertoire of earthy and enchanting drone with hints of classic space music.

The Former Selves side, Future Nostalgia, chooses a different path with a classical structure. Here we have a comparable ambient aesthetic but the composition is presented in three movements. It begins with soft and ghostly synth melodies, shifts gears to a more somber note punctuated by a four on the floor kick drum moving at a snail's pace, and resolving (in a sense), with wintry, introspective minor tones and a keyboard melody that is sure to send you into a state of melancholic contemplation.

This is a wonderful half hour of music. And remember, cassette runs are extremely limited. Get one before its gone.

Stream / Download / Purchase HERE

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Systems - Ghost Medicine (Self-released, 2011)

Systems' sound is difficult to peg. One could easily tag them with a dozen different sub-genres when discussing elements and influences. At the very least, they are a technically proficient experimental metal band. Traditionally, the elements combined on this album would be considered disparate. The magic lies in the way these guys manage to intertwine everything, giving it a natural fluidity, and managing to keep the listener's attention throughout.

This is a North Carolina band that emanates the sounds of French post-metal from the last decade, a la Overmars or some incarnation of the infamous Neige (Alcest, Amesoeurs, etc.). Equally present are the tried and true sounds of Neurot, thrash, hardcore, and death metal. The music is all rounded out with a hybrid of black metal growling vocals and baritone singing.

Nothing is contrived here. Nothing is innocuous. Ghost Medicine is a masterfully executed narrative of melancholy, beauty and brutality, an original album with brilliant production.

Buy the LP / digital album HERE

And if you're in Asheville, NC October 30, see them perform live at The Get Down alongside Black Skies, Hull and Mortals.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

F.J. McMahon - Spirit of the Golden Juice (Private Press, 1969)

Last week I stumbled across this gem. Since I'm always looking for a particular softer side of psych / folk / country / pop vibe (particularly of the outsider vibe) , I'm quite excited about this man's music.

McMahon returned from a tour in Vietnam with something to say. He recorded this, his only output, a masterpiece for some reason swept under the rug. What's presented here is a mesmerizing voice singing plaintive, melancholy and romantic lyrics. He plays somber minor key guitar tracks, accompanied by bass and a delicate yet strong drum kit.

This is an extremely underrated, one off album that should no longer be slept on. Fans of Tim Hardin, Jim Schoenfield, Scott Walker, and Rodriguez would be wise to snag this.

Oh, and in case you're wondering, "The Golden Juice" is the name of a bourbon.

Get it HERE

And order the LP re-issue over at Sacred Bones HERE

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Fat Boys - S/T (Sutra, 1984)

Its been a Fat Boys kind of week. I walked into the record store and there was a vinyl copy of Crushin'. The next day a friend was wearing a Fat Boys T-shirt, and later another friend posted on Facebook that he was watching "Disorderlies", the classic Fat Boys movie from 1987. This really got me nostalgiac. One of my first tapes was "Fat Boys". I remember taking my walkman to school in 5th grade and letting friends listen to it. It made me feel cool. I also had a tv-dubbed copy of Disorderlies that was watched so many times, it wore out. 

Prince Markie Dee and Kool Rock Ski rapped and Buff Love aka Human Beat Box provided the beats. Alongside Doug E. Fresh, Buff was a pioneer of beatboxing. This is an old school classic, referenced by many later acts like Boogie Down Productions, Jeru tha Damaja and Jay-Z.

They were originally called The Disco 3 when they won a talent show at Radio City Music Hall. Word spread that they ate constantly. Recognizing that they were overweight, their producer Kurtis Blow suggested they embrace it and change their name to Fat Boys. When the debut record was released, it sold 200,000 copies and became the most requested radio jam in NYC. 

Unfortunately, the 450 lb. Buff passed away in 1995 of a heart attack. And, even sadder is that last year the remaining two members played the annual gathering of the Juggalos. Regardless, this is a cool album.

Here's a song about them getting thrown in jail for stealing pizza.

Get it HERE

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Ornette Coleman - Chappaqua OST (1965)

How the hell Conrad Rooks (or whoever was in charge of this decision) opted for the Ravi Shankar version of the film score is forever beyond me. I could be in the dark about some particular permutation, but listening to them side by side, I go with this one all day.

Honestly, the churned out dopey cliche vibe of the Shankar score is weak as the companion music to the film, and weak as an offering for the master musician that was Ravi shankar. I'm sorry, but Shankar just rubbed one out.

I saw this film because I randomly picked it up at the neighborhood video rental store when I was nineteen. There was a bargain bin of vhs and I liked the the cover. I had yet to do hard drugs, I was just discovering jazz and  the only education I'd had with experimental film was David Lynch. Watching this film was my first true "countercultural" experience. And eighteen years later, the film still trumps all else.

The premise is that a man is institutionalized due to alcohol addiction. As he goes through DT withdrawls,  the camera portrays what he is hallucinating. There are a multitude of visually striking moments presented, but the one that always pops into my head is a scene in a club where Ornette is skronking away on the sax and standing next to him is the little man from the tv show Fantasy Island. If you're my age or older, you know what I'm talking about, if not, look it up. Either way, its a truly harrowing scene and I can't really explain why. Other notable appearances include William S. Burroughs (this caused me to begin reading his books when I was too young to get it), Allen Ginsberg, and Swami Satchidinanda.

This is an immensely disturbing film in that it is violent, schizophrenic and psychedelic in the true sense of the word. For whatever reason, this film is hard to find. Unfortunately, I've lost my copy, and this really upsets me. Regardless, this is not a film blog. Point being, you need not be a jazz head to appreciate the excruciating hard work that Ornette put into this score that was never used. We're talking about an hour and twenty minutes of textbook Ornette free jazz, just a bit off ballads, and even a venture into his own twisted brand of cool jazz that you won't find outside of this record. And these are the same players as the "Golden Circle" sessions, just to give you heads a backdrop. Such a heavy band...

Whether you like jazz and hard drugs or not, find this film and listen to this (not)soundtrack. And for fuck's sake, somebody leave a comment. Thanks everybody.

Get it HERE

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Goat - World Music (Rocket Recordings, 2012)

Goat resides in a city called Korpolombolo in the north  of Sweden. Legend has it that a witch doctor just happened to be passing through asking for directions, thus causing the locals to inadvertently beging practicing voodoo. This went on for centuries, until the Christians, in their typical fashion, came through and burned all the locals at the stake. Go figure.

Maybe this is a big whopper, maybe not. Still makes for a good preface to a band that just made one of the best records of 2012. Its rare that I want to put a new record on repeat. With this one, its been happening each day without hesitation.

Much of the backbone here is noticeably Swedish psych rock. There's an obvious lineage of sound a la Qoph, Dungen, Witchcraft, etc. Goat only uses this as a canvas. Front and center are tributes to Ethiopiques,   Nigerian Rock from the 70's, and even Indian / Packistani pop and traditional. Some tracks are heavy and somber, some disco / afrobeat, some folk.

When I read the term Afro-Kraut used to describe them, I was quite turned on. This is possibly the best sub-genre you could toss at my brain. Keep your ears on this one, and look for Rocket Recordings to finally show up in the spotlight. They've been releasing incredible underground psych for years and their time is coming.

Get it HERE 

Friday, September 14, 2012

Asei Kobayashi & Mickey Yoshino - Hausu OST (Nippon Columbia, 1977)

I think the Criterion Collection synopsis describes this film best in one sentence, "An episode of Scooby Doo directed by Mario Brava." So, with that in mind, you can imagine how strange the soundtrack must be. Its not your typical horror music at all. Then again, when do the Japanese do anything typical? Its actually light on the spooky and heavy on the slap bass. Yep, aliens came to earth and made a score based on funky slap rhythm section, flute, piano, and synth. To be honest, some of the tracks have borderline porn sounds, and I prefer to  disregard the piece that sounds as though Steely Dan were scoring Saturday morning cartoons. Although, this is supposed to be trippy, so whatever. Truly bizarre music, especially when paired with watching the film.

Get it HERE

Electric Flag - The Trip OST (1967)

Welcome to another bizarre journey starring Dennis Hopper and Peter Fonda, written by Jack Nicholson and directed by Roger Corman. This one is scored by The Electric Flag, a short-lived but top notch band consisting of Mike Bloomfield, Buddy Miles, Harvey Brooks, Barry Goldberg and Nick Gravenites.

To be honest, out of context, this one may not do much for you. Its not the wildest trip but its still a good one. This band was more blues rock in its skill set, and this is not the type of psychedelic music that's hip these days. That being said, I still recommend it. Dig.

Get it HERE

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Radian - Tg11 (Rhiz / Editions Mego, 2000)

This is an incredible band that I hadn't thought abut in years. Radian is an Austrian trio of musicians who play acoustic and electronic instruments. The magic about them is that they play their acoustic instruments so precisely, you'd think this were just another electronic act. Lots of low end bass guitar feedback and buzzing is layered with mechanistic drum kit playing and high frequency synth melodies akin to the Raster Noton family of minimalism. Lots of analog glitches, clicks and cuts, and pastiche. And oh so much quiet, so much that it will remind you of Supersilent. Soul for the soulless machine. Lovely stuff for the funk challenged geeks out there.

Read full review of Tg11 - RADIAN on ©

Hopscotch Festival, Raleigh, NC, 2012

Downtown Raleigh, North Carolina, the financial district, not where one would expect to find avant garde, experimental, punk, psych or metal music. Well, this weekend was different. In the midst of debutante balls, rich girls drunkenly trying to retain their balance while in stilettos, and the machismo of jocks / douchebags galore, was the third year of a fantastic music festival.  

My first experience on Thursday night was to be one of the best shows I'd see all weekend. Jon Mueller's Death Blues was a percussion led trip into primal esoterica. His brooding ritualistic rhythms pounded out a motorik blues you'd expect from a former Table of the Elements artist. Two guitars were laid on tabletops and hammered with sticks, tapping out only the darkest minor melodies. The addition of two female vocalists added to the penitent sackcloth and ashes aesthetic laid down by the low end of the dirgey upright bass. Comparable only to recent Swans in its ferocity, this band pulls no punches.

Ordinarily, I would've been disappointed by anything that had to follow an act like that but not when its a master guitar player like Bill Orcutt. The no wave noisenik from Harry Pussy played a gorgeous solo set at the local unitarian church. A half hour of twisted classical /  blues / americana emanated from this restless improviser. 

After that lovely set, I made my way over to see Liars. This proved to be a disappointment, as they were put in a giant auditorium. Boomiest show I've ever heard. It basically sounded as though I were listening to the entire thing while in the bathroom at a stadium. I'm not really sure if the set was good or not. I stayed for a cut from Drums not Dead, and left when it shifted into what felt like a cliche Brooklyn hipster dance party. 

Sadly departing, I hiked over to check out Thee Oh Sees as my closer of the evening. To my surprise, this psychedelic garage punk rock band was actually as tight live as they sound on their records. With punchy, high energy jangly pop, this band lays down nasty, addictive hooks and knows how to entertain a crowd.

Friday started with a bang. Three Lobed records hosted a showcase beginning at noon. Although I was jacked on coffee by the time the first act started, I doubt I would've really needed it. A blistering onslaught of skronking free jazz noise was a wakeup call even to those that had expected it. The brilliant trio of Alan Bishop on bass, Bill Orcutt on electric guitar and Chris Corsano on drums roared through the crowd for a few pieces, resolving in a fucked up blues number reminiscent of Scratch Acid. Just as fast as it began, it was over. In true lunatic style, Alan bishop threw condoms into the crowd stating, "Here's some expired condoms. Go fuck yourselves."

Here's two thirds of the trio from a week before:

The high energy was contrasted by the following act, yet no one minded. Chuck Johnson played a somber and lovely 12 string set that enchanted the entire crowd. His style is comparable to anyone from Steffen Basho-Junghans to Jack Rose. Impeccable and truly moving.


The utter highlight of my weekend was David Daniell's slot. What was supposed to be a solo set ended up with Daniell asking Chris Corsano and Oren Ambarchi to join him on stage. I really can't even describe how great this was. Heavy guitar drone from Daniell, with all sorts of classic Ambarchi organ-like tone and melody generation building into a wall that Corsano tore down with his sweeping washes of subtle drumming. Absolutely gorgeous.  Overheard quite a few folks saying it was the best set they'd ever seen live.

Though a couple decades younger than Chuck Johnson, William Tyler had no trouble lending his guitar stylings to the crowd. His very individual style of looping and storytelling definitely did the trick.

This is another version of my favorite piece he played.

After all of this, the festival hadn't even started for Friday yet. The great thing about Hopscotch is all the free day parties all over downtown. I took a few hours off before heading to the main stage at City Plaza for a very old, tired and boring set from Jesus and Mary Chain. Maybe they don't care anymore, or maybe they were just playing an accessible set for a mainstream festival crowd, either way it was not for me. The set list comprised latter day pop ditties that felt stagnant and sterile, devoid of any feedback or noise. All I wanted was Psychocandy, and I eventually got a piece. Yep, you guessed it, a lifeless rendition of "Just Like Honey", no doubt due to its appearance on the "Lost in Translation" soundtrack. 

Glad to get the hell out of that reunion nightmare, I caught a bit of the immensely talented Cul de Sac guitarist, Glenn Jones. Not only did his meditative playing relax me, but I got another dose of Chris Corsano, as he asked the young drummer to join him for his closing number. Keep your eyes peeled for any youtube clips of this one. It was sheer bliss. Here's a clip of Glenn solo for the unfamiliar:

I headed to the next venue, excited to see one of the many current Sacred Bones sensations, Pop. 1280. A wild, claustrophobic forty minutes ensued, as these post-punks offered up heaping servings of The Birthday Party, Chrome and Sonic Youth style no wave and synth punk. This was my second time seeing them and it was just as solid a set. 

This is a clip from the actual show that night, with my PBR obstructing some of the view:

Closing out Friday night was a driving minimal set from UK heavy psych band White Hills. Great show from a trio that sounded more like a sextet. It was intense and no frills, Hawkwind meets krautrock, just as it should have been.


Saturday evening's violent thunderstorm ended just in time for another lovely synth and guitar ambient drone
set from the duo Quiet Evenings. This couple that owns the wonderful Georgia tape label Hooker Vision, also makes music under their solo names, Grant Evans, as well as Motion Sickness of Time Travel (Rachel Evans).

The other Sacred Bones act was next on my agenda. Amen Dunes' last record really spoke to me. I honestly didn't expect his somber and haunting pop to translate well live, but it certainly did, even in a stripped down context. Great vocal style, intriguing guitar, and a very tasteful drummer.

I unfortunately missed most of the Charlotte, NC band Young and in the Way, but the brief amount I witnessed was astounding. This blackened crust band is well worth a listen. 

The welcome surprise of the entire weekend was San Franscisco occult experimental band Sutekh Hexen. Black metal meets drone in the most interesting way I've ever heard. Long quiet ambient interludes gave way to painfully loud walls of noisy yet controlled metal drone. Pummeling even without a drummer, this act really impressed me.


And last but not least, closing out the whole weekend was Sunn O))). Over two hours of detuned guitars at an appalingly low bass frequency was complimented once again by the great Hungarian black metal vocalist, Atilla Csihar. I appreciated this show so much more than usual because O'malley and Anderson walked off stage and we were treated to half an hour of Atilla's incredible vocals amidst only Moog synth tones, before another round of the standard routine. Say what you may about this band, but there's no better physiological concert experience. Truly Unforgettable. 

Here's an example, but never forget that watching videos of Sunn O))) does not do them justice. You must hear them live or listen on a stereo with proper bass response:

Overall, an amazing weekend. I would've seen more but the lineup was so good that I had to choose between one of three acts I wanted to see in almost every time slot. This was my second year of attending Hopscotch and I was once again impressed with the organization of everything. These guys do it right. I highly recommend attending in the future. Very affordable and intimate in almost every venue.  



Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Thou - The Archer and the Owle (Sweat Lode Guru, 2012)

One of the best cassette purchases I've ever made. This is refined doom / sludge / dirge / metal. Absolutely gorgeous material here. In the spirit of Mournful Congreation and Warning. Modern doom not quite as depressing as Loss or Ocean, but definitely comparable. I say that only because the the Nirvana cover softens everything up. They treat "Something in the Way" with patience Kurt Cobain would've been proud of.

You can stream the album HERE

Download the album HERE

Thanks to Chad Layton.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Dirty Three - Toward the Low Sun (Drag City, 2012)

The reviews I've read about this record so far really puzzle me. This is the ninth record by this act and apparently folks want to hear the same thing they've heard from the other eight albums. To the untrained ear, their entire discography could sound the same, all being avant garde western-tinged wanking with the "pulling of the heart strings" twist. Ahh yes, let's be greedy, let's ask for even more! Let's long for them to be pigeon-holed a decade after their inception. Well, I say Fuck that. These guys have been around, playing live in various projects for thirty years and then some. Let them grow! They've evolved in a really gorgeous way and the critics are stifling them for no good reason. Yes, I'm ranting. I'm sorry. I suppose it also pushes my buttons that much of the negative criticism over this record is due to the free improvisation it presents. These veterans are actually pushing boundaries. Maybe not boundaries as you see them, but imagine playing with the same couple guys for fifteen years and trying to break out of your mold.

At its inception, its blistering. Jim White finally takes the reigns and leads the band into uncharted territory with his brilliant sense of nuanced percussion. In fact, for the first five tracks, he seems like a pied piper, orchestrating a deconstruction of everything that was Dirty Three. Whatever you thought is no more. Its like manna from heaven, as far as I'm concerned. There's a nonlinear presentation here. Its almost as if everything we're hearing is raw and unedited. I can't help but imagine the feeling of freedom that this process must have given them. And just when it gets a bit too intense, "Rain Song" brings us back around to the gospel truth that is the spine of this band's career, gorgeous in its depression, conflicted in its narrative, and hopeful in its intended resolve.

Toward the end of the album, the element of orchestration slips in, no doubt due to Ellis' film scoring with Nick Cave in the past few years, but I feel that the group only benefits from this environment.

Everything about this record feels new and I'm once again excited about this act. They're one of my favorite bands ever, and this is incredibly refreshing.

I don't know much, but I know this.... Never ever doubt a Bad Seed...

Download HERE and / or listen on Spotify

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Charles Gayle Trio - Streets (Northern Spy, 2012)

If you're current with your jazz at all, you know this man is not just another number. In fact, he is possibly the most important sax player and multi-instrumentalist alive. Charles Gayle has spent his life in dedication to the free jazz tradition in the vein of Shepp, Sanders, Ayler and Trane. The "Streets the Clown" personnae is based on his many years as a homeless street musician himself. In fact, he dons this guise and continues to play on the street to this day.

Gayle is a master, and this latest release is surprisingly accessible yet blazing as always. The bassist, Larry Roland and the longtime drummer, Michael TA Thompson hold it down as well as contribute equally to a powerful, blistering, elegant album.  The trio manages to manufacture free jazz that retains a vivid narrative structure. Linear yet non-linear, all the compositions here will resonate with the elitist tastes as well as the casual pallette.

I'm sad to say there is no vinyl for this. pay for download HERE and/ or listen on Spotify.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Outer Space - II (Blast First, 2012)

Not all modular synths are created equal. Just because there are thousands of 20 year olds in their bedrooms treating Edgar Froese arpeggios like Jimi Hendrix licks, doesn't mean they can create masterful recordings with the mini-moog they just traded for their electric guitar. This is why people like John Elliot (Emeralds) still matter so much. The torch itself was passed to Elliot. Its his game now, and he knows how to play it. If you sit around listening to a lot of retro synth material, you can tell when you're hearing his tracks.

Outer Space is Elliot alongside Andrew Veres (who does a lot of audio engineering work, mixing and mastering for Spectrum Spools), Adam Miller, Phillip J. Whiteside, Jeff Hatfield and Drew McDowall (of COIL fame). This does feel like a group effort. There are vast influences being represented here.

Whereas the first record felt very tense, this one has more er...umm... space? Side A begins in an intense fashion. Very thick pulses thud and punch their way through a wall of wind. This gives way to a release, in the form of a comfortable sprawl of rhythm and melody. Overall, its hopeful and lovely. Side B is quite a different story. In the beginning it sounds like an exercise in musique concrete, but quickly develops into a heavy and quite overwhelming narrative of darkness and doubt, fear and anxiety. Everything feels ominous for quite a while. This side long piece clicks and cuts, gurgles and churns its way through the depths of synth experimentation that, at its most exotic, reminds me of Conrad Schnitzler. Elliot himself stated that this side is a tribute to Ilhan Mimaroglu and Tod Dockstader.

This is a fantastic piece for those that are fans of the darker deeper side of synth history, its roots and possibilities are both represented here. Definitely give this one a go.

Read full review of Outer Space II - OUTER SPACE (JOHN ELLIOTT) on ©

Monday, August 20, 2012

Pharaoh Overlord - #3 (Riot Season, 2005)

Well this one's a doozy, sort of a Chicken Soup for the Zen Buddhist / Krautrock & Psych Fan's soul. That doesn't include you? Hmm... weird. Anyhow, its just about perfect for my ears. Members of the monstrously cool Finnish band, Circle, Pharaoh Overlord operates off the Plane of Consistency, in a Non-place, and in Non-Duality.

"Test Flight", "Blackout" and "Laivaus 17" are motorik psych funk kraut blues numbers, driving exercises in repetition that create a definitively trance-like state of mind. "Autobahn" takes us into the muck with nasty noisy drone made from gnarly feedback (emulating the more cosmic side of Can), "Octagon" brings us back down to earth with a funky side snare beat that pounds out an electric guitar jam you might like if you dig White Hills. But, the piece de resistance here is the closing track, "Journey", a fine tribute to classic Neu and the earliest Kraftwerk material.

Drive your car to Pharaoh Overlord. Its a journey between two places. Who needs a beginning and an end?

Download it Here and listen on Spotify.