Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Random Emanations from the Bottomless Well

Some time back I received a sweet package from one Mikey Turner, lead milker in the Warmer Milks, a Lexington, Kentucky ensemble that it's been a great pleasure to watch mature, or should I say devolve, over the last few years. 'Course their debut LP Radish on Light (Troubleman) is a goddamned classic of detuned angst-grunge that bears the weight of a dying world on its shoulders, the resultant stress cracks making it that much more of a harrowing thing of beauty. Then came some lineup shakeups and--shock!--Shawn David McMillen is invited into the fold along with Paul Oldham (as in Will's brother) for the culmination of the mini-album, Let You Friends In on Sweden's revered Release the Bats. Two tracks here, each a side-long plunge into some mighty destroyed psychedelic head-space. Opener "The Ripple, Children/The Jaunting" is the knockout with warped tape-speed madness giving way to a massive cycling sludge mantra that kicks the mud off my boots and makes it dance around like some sort of irate earth spirit. Turner's screeching balls-out death vocals on this song are the shit, easily some of the most harrowing/ visceral/ hilarious exorcizing Ive heard in a good long while. Beautiful. "The Wanderer" on the other hand is a bit more aimless with its Beefheart-on-thorazine lurching rhythm that keeps threatening to pick up steam and kick ass like the first track but never really does. I'm not saying I'm disappointed in this one, more that the first track is a hard act to follow.

A Special Time is a 22 min CD-R that comes courtesy of Turner's own Paranormal Overtime label (which can be ordered from him via the Warmer Milks website). It's a home-recorded piece conjured by a duo version of Warmer Milks featuring Turner and McMillen. Composed as an imaginary soundtrack to the cult TV show "The Tomorrow People," some 30 years after the fact, A Special Time is a surrealist garage drone freakout with levels maxed and eyes glazed over, detailing the ongoing struggles between the Homo Superiors and the rest of the Saps. The piece itself wavers from Faust-ian industrial pulse to a primitive Spacemen 3/Velvets guitar rush that cuts out far too soon but still makes me giddy with goose-pimply satisfaction all the same, before devolving into stumbling percussive sprawl and some eerie-as-shit deep space emanations more expected from such a garage soundtrack expedition. My favorite part just might be when the whole morass fades to just Mikey singing naked over guitar, banjo and what sounds like a distant helicopter. Pink Floyd couldn't have done this shit any better. It's like a new Faust Tapes for all us metaphysical neo-apes.

Also of note in the same package, the stripped down synth dreams of Collap (Paranormal Overtime), which covers everything from minimal techno pulse to OMD worthy synth pop blissouts via the M/T solo W/M guise. Who knew? Very cool. And that brings us to the Lortab Sunsplash 90 min tape, also on POT, which is an epic of slow burning bass hum and lost in the dark psychedelia that's probably best heard in the wee morning hours when the things that go bump in the night start to sound as if they were composed by some preternatural force that permeates the living space with infinite curiosity. I think I'm in love.

And now we say hello to San Francisco's Rahdunes. Rahhhhdunnness...I dig the name. Live in a Cave in 07 is a smoking little CD-R for the UK's Darkest Rainbow that features a series of live actions captured throughout 07 (duh), and color me head-fucked, this is the bomb. After having experienced somewhat mellower/more minimal live excursions by this duo/trio in recent months, I was pleasantly surprised to hear the molten supernova explorations of the first two tracks, coming off like a more probing, genuinely psychedelic Dead C. Yum. Elsewhere there's percussion, distorted shrieks and an overall tendency towards power-lectronic rocking that I've never really heard in the Rahdunes' music before, but then I haven't heard much. There's a full length on Emperor Jones I've been meaning to pick up and a brand new picture disk on Italy's great Qbico label, which Aaron Coyes claims really is a genuine rock set. But then in the end I guess it's all rock, aint it? Deep space bass hum meets wall of distortion overload never sounded so tasty. I'll definitely be on the hunt for Rahdunes in more permanent formats.

Mr Coyes also slipped me a CD-R by his self described "fucked modern pop duo," Peaking Lights. Clearvoiant offers up 6 songs of damaged hiss and surprisingly accessible acid pop meets freeform clatter that should appeal to devout fans of early Flying Nun/Xpressway Records, early Eno and other damaged post Velvets head-trippers. More, please.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

I'm in the process of overcoming one of those pesky Springtime colds, but I think I'm on the mend. Hope so because Ettrick is playing a house-gig tonight that I'd really like to attend. At the same time though, everything sounds sort of muffled currently, and mucus is dripping down my face, over my lips and onto my belly.

Farewell Klaus Dinger, one of the greatest rock drummers of all time.

And then...

It's time once more for a little visit to the darkside. As many of you know I cannot escape a seemingly juvenile fixation with all things heavy, sludge and/or metal here in the Womb. Psych metal, punk metal, prog metal, doom metal, grim metal, black metal, funeral doooom metal, garage thrash kosmische metal, and of course the burgeoning subscene of shoegaze or ambient metal--whatever it may be. I only ask that my metal be a little angry, a tad dissonant, not too operatic, post-Sabbathian if possible and always lurching on all fours towards its ultimate demise.

Burning Witch Crippled Lucifer (Southern Lord 2CD reissue) - Hot damn. Here's an album for contemplating suicide while you smoke copious amounts of reefer. Hopefully you have better things to do with your time, but if you're feeling sort'a down and looking for something to provide that last push over the edge, give Crippled Lucifer a try. With bonus cuts from other singles and split releases around the time, this 2CD is the ultimate summation of Stephen O'Malley's early noise metal years and pretty much definitive in terms of bottomless chasms of sludge doom death. Most people will hate this. Khanate fans and the like will definitely dig it. Over half these songs are recorded by Steve Albini, so it's pretty much the heaviest album ever. And also a special mention to the incomparable vocal talents of Edgy 59, alternating between black metalesque seahag screech and a harrowing post-Ozzy howl. Somehow this feels like where much of what passed for grunge in the mid 90s should've gone but never dared. None but one.

Ahab The Call of the Wretched Sea (Napalm) - While we're swimming in these dark waters, let's remember that Burning Witch formed from the ashes (and I mean that literally) of Thorr's Hammer, a fantastic but short lived doom quartet that featured an even younger O'Malley and post Engine Kid/pre Sunno)))/Goatsnake Greg Anderson serving up some of the most techtonic doom sludge heard anywhere in the 90s. In retrospect Thorr's influence is pretty darn immeasurable seeing as Corrupted is about the only band around at the time that also traded in such glacial doom. When I listen to Germany's Ahab I can hear those Thorr's Hammer reverberations with trollish doom sludge bludgeon and almost death metal vocal growls. What's neat though, like more recent dare-to-be pretty metal acts such as Pelican and again Corrupted, Ahab is willing to temper its sludge-adelia with some fine moodier subtleties to make things seem less repetitive than they actually are and even more epic at the same time. Parts of this album almost feel like Bernard Herrmann scoring a doom metal soundtrack to an unrealized film version of Moby Dick. Yes, another metal band dares to reference Melville. For once the liteary allusions ring true.

Nadja Skin Turns to Glass (The End) - I returned from SXSW with a few Nadja albums, including a promo of this brand new release on The End. Toronto's Nadja is proof that two people with a drum machine, a guitar, bass, piano, voices, a shipload of effects and some genuine inspiration can forge some of the most enveloping sludge walls ever known to man. If there's one band that really spearheaded the development of super heavy drone metal it would have to be Godflesh, and like those innovators Nadja uses a drum machine and their rhythms have a vacuum-cleaner-on-high sort of aura. Unlike Godflesh, the percussion is much more simplistic much of the way, and every song tops the 14 min mark and often goes well beyond. Also this is often quite beautiful--like beholding dreamlike apocalypse scene with hearts beating loudly, eyes welling up with tears. This is doom for those of us who never got over our Slowdive fixation.