More Random Emanations...
Earth The Bees Made Honey in the Lion's Skull (Southern Lord) CD - The sparse Hex sound gets a full band treatment with help from Bill Frisell and others across seven epics of minimal fuzz twang. There are some of the fine stop-start dynamics of Hex and Hybernaculum mixed in with the jazzy post rock of Slint and the Spaghetti Western soundtracks of Ennio Morricone. Haunted melodies grow from a steady harmonic drift to billowing plumes of drone-smoke across every one of these majestic horizons. Think of it as a cowboy's lament for some alien wasteland or a nod of resignation branded with an undying will to survive. One things for sure: Earth has never sounded more serene, more symphonic, more cosmically revenant than on this album. A genuine apocalyptic masterpiece for downtrodden space heads the world over (and well beyond), not to mention easily one of the year's best. The resurrection is complete. Outstanding packaging too.
Tatsuya Nakatani Primal Communication (H & H Productions) CD - Without a doubt one of my great pleasures in the last couple months was being able to see master free jazz percussionist Tatsuya Nakatani do his thing right on Main Street in downtown Dallas, performing solo and in a bigger band configuration with some local musicians, including the rhythm section of the very cool Yells at Eels. Solo Nakatani conjures some of the most awe inspiring acoustic percussion soundscapes I've ever wrapped my head around, and I've come across a few of thse guys in my day. Primal Communication (great title, that) starts with almost ten minutes of glorious bowed cymbal action before bass kicks and other more familiar thwacks start percolating through the live mix. What's astonishing is the way Nakatani's unorthodox but highly kinetic playing touches on so many different genres and styles: minimal drone/modern classical, early industrial, world music, free jazz and other genres not yet conceived. Live is the best way to experience this. Indeed, Primal Communication is all live with no overdubs, but as diverse as this hour long track is, what Nakatani does really should be seen as much as heard. Get a nice taste by clicking this button.
The Child Readers Music Heard Far Off (Soft Abuse) CD - Before now I only ever really heard The Child Readers on a 3" CD-R and a few compilations, but I've always been a big fan of the Knit Seperates and Loren Chasse's various Jewelled Antler projects (Blithe Suns, Of/Ov, Softwar, etc...) riding that line between atmospheric drone and off kilter acid-pop. Music Heard Far Off is a joyously cracked slice of deranged art-pop that earns comparisons to early Brian Eno, Alastair Galbraith, Bee Thousand era Guided By Voices and more, yet The Readers bring in their own bizarre infusion of tape noise, electronics and beats backed by some of the most direct broken melodies heard since Hood's Silent 88 or at least the last Maher Shalal Hash Baz record.
Ulaan Khol I (Soft Abuse) CD - Fantastic blurred guitar abstractions from Steven R. Smith offer the avid listener of psych guitar noise the oppurtunity to hear Smith create some of his most abbrasive/voluminous work since the Mirza days. Think of some long lost Fushitusha studio session lent the sad pallor of Smith's past solo recordings, turn everything up to 11 and simply bask in the shimmering glow.
Mouthus Saw a Halo (Load) CD - Saw a Halo could suggest some sort of spiritual concern on this recent Mouthus platter, but then if you know what these bastards sound like an image of a golden halo being sawwed in half by a massive corrugated blade might be closer to the mark. These six tracks are abrassive, hypnotic, live industrial soundtracks for a life of pain and transcendence in equal measure. I love how the acoustic plod of opener "Your Far Church" morphs into the clattery percussive backdrop of "Armies Between," with Nate Nelson clanking and smashing shit to bits in his percussive workshop -- equal parts robo-precision and vicious assault. Then comes the customary Mouthus morass of distorted jackhammers and feedback, all corroded like industrial waste and hallucinagenic smog, writhing and twisting heavy machinary captured in an industrial grating, thick gunk dripping through the cracks. Saw a Halo cuts through it all and grinds it down like an aural filter for that blackened lung of urban living.
Gowns Red State (Cardboard Records) CD - There's something scary and beautiful in the shivery builds the Gowns unleash on their Red State album. I likened them to an Appelachian Magik Markers before, which perhaps isn't all that fair cuz this is California trash, and it's pretty darn messed up in the way that you'd expect California trash to be. Not sure what's more enticing here, Erika Anderson's sultry vocals relaying images wrought with surrealism and druggy nostalgia, or how the trio builds from a smokey, confused clatter to monumental noisy jams via guitar/ violin/ drums, or the trance-inducing folk pop mindnumbers in between. Very human and earthy music, albeit run through a kind of narcotized suburban filter where the mundane somehow becomes profound and even mystical, simply because it's not experienced alone. Much beauty to be found in these nooks and crannies of the shattered Americam drean, Humpty Dumpty "leader of the free world."
A Pink Reason Cleaning the Mirror (Siltbreeze) LP - Raved about these fellas in my mega-SXSW round up. If the Gowns offer at least a glint of hope, A Pink Reason decided some time ago to throw in the towel. This six song opus is more subdued than the intense live set I witnessed. You get a plodding wall of fuzz and weary/wasted vocals in opener "Goodbye" (think early JAMC at half speed), a lost acid folk dirge in "Motherfucker" (beating Wooden Wand at his own game), and just when you're ready to give up entirely, they throw in an odd breakup lament that does everything but pull the trigger to the pistol that just miraculously appeared upside your head. "Only Up the Sleeve" is a banjo strewn stretch of heroin-laced campire song that touches on the broken-folk vibe of those early Tower Recordings albums. This isn't neccesarily bad. It's just sad. Ain't we all these days?
Renderizors Submarine (Last Visible Dog) CD - A dream melding of two of New Zealand's finest subterreneal noise purveyors (that is The Renderers and Sandoz Lab Technicians) yields what is expectedly one fucked up sonic murkfest. We're talking harrowing, distorted drone psych here. Describing this album properly seems like an exercise in futility. It's a dense mix, bubbling with all kinds of weird life swimming through the primordial ooze. It's a huge leap for the Renderers, a bold and uncompromising piece of work that pays off for the woefully devoted. It's hard to explain why this is so magnetic. It's the way the ensemble effortlessly kicks up to a gallop after a 10 min bottomless drone chasm like some black steed rising up from a valley of dust, meeting the red sun in full stride. This is a magnificent balancing act between bottomless despair and unwavering determination. Submarine is a record to be wrestled with. It's a record you listen to in your darkest hours when youre so far gone you dont know whether to laugh or cry (my suggestion is to do both at the same time). One seeking any kind of solace need not look here. That's what Chris Knox albums are for.
Vibracathedral Orchestra Wisdom Thunderbolt (VHF) CD - One of the many looming challenges for the discerning practitioner of modern experimental rock: Just how do we recreate those Krautrock classics of yore as something nonredundant and in the now today? Back in the day (that's roughly 15-20 years ago for the younguns) Loop and Stereolab knew how to do it -- the former with concise, lacerating post punk precision, the latter merging ethereal French pop maneuvers with the metronomic pulse of Neu! and Can. And then there's the Vibracathedral Orchestra, which in the meantime has burrowed itself into one of the most cosmically attuned niches in the post Kraut psychedelic substrate simply by sticking to what works best and piling it on thick.
When Mats G. interviewed VCO mastermind Neil Campbell (also of the equally vintage-inspired Astral Social Club) in our old zine The Broken Face, what struck me most was Campbell's strong desire to conjure modern dancefloor-ready psychedelia via the most primitive "live" means. If I remember correctly he was a Britney Spears fan at the time, and as far as I know probably still is. He's also a serious Krautrock head, conneissuer of early 80s minimal techno, '70s jazz fusion and a veteran of the UK's ever-evolving post psychedelic underground. My point with all this? Campbell wants to have a good time with his music, and he wants us to also share in that joy if possible, and of coure dance. Wisdom Thunderbolt suitably gets the mind and the ass grooving with its deep space electro-body-raga-drone. It's definitely one of the finer studio offerings I've heard from these masters of groove. Favorite bits: the cacophonous Kraut pulse of "A Natural Fact" (featuring Chris Corsano), the eruptive "Sway/Sage" which takes the opening seconds of a 'Stones classic and seems to freeze them in a lockgroove of microscopic repititioon.
Sunroof! Panzer Division Lou Reed (VHF) CD - As of late I think I prefer to get my brain kissed (and then raped) by Mathew Bower's Sunroof! incarnation over his more strident dispatches via Skullflower and The Hototogisu, and this here CD is as fine a justification as any. First track is a glitchy feedback whirlwind that makes me think of contact mics swirling around some massive wind tunnel before John Moloney's drums start to lend things some rhythm. Other places we get electronic firehoses dancing against the crimson sky like phospherescent snakes. All in all, one of the noisier and more fierce outings from this long-standing uk noise psych unit.
Nordvargr In Oceans Abandoned By Life I Drown... To Live Again As A Servant Of Darkness (Essence Music) CD - I have no idea who this is (actually it's a solo performer named Henrik Nordvargr Björkk) or from whence it came (Sweden), but I do know that Sunno))), Merzbow and Lustmord fans should have no problem exploring these two epic tracks of sonic woe. The incredibly bleak mix, use of samples and tapes, guitars and low-end distortion come together to reveal as masterful an example of ambient/noise/doom as any I've come across yet in all my grim travels. Battlecruiser and Black Boned Angels fans, take note. This is better.
Brainbombs Singles Part 2 (Polly Magoo Records) CD - Here's a band to obsess over as you creep your girlfriend out cuz she just doesn't get it at all. "Is this jazz?" she says. Is this jazz? This is psychedelic rape, scavenged remnents of blood soaked crime scenes set to a mind numbing wash of mongrel blues distortion and the sickening rhythmic throb that accompanies every young man's first self induced orgasm. Garage rock for hate meditation, sex punk for drinking, drugging, cruising the bad parts of town at 2 AM "just looking for something to do." Is this a sick joke? Do these people actually mean what they say in songs like "Stigma of the Ripper" (an ode to a serial rapist) and "Stinking Memory" (a wasted chronicle of incest and the resultant psychic damage). I tend to take it more as reportage, possible cathartic indulgence, vicarious sadism and some of the most hypnotic brain-fried racket ever laid to tape.
LSD March Nikutai No Tubomi (Beta-Lactam Ring) 2CD - Something else I'd really like a hard copy of is the awesome new LSD Pond 2CD recently dropped on Cd Archive (best label ever? Maybe), but it might a while before I can afford it the way this economy is going. In the meantime there's this smoking 2 CD which dropped on Beta-Lactam in late '07 and is probably already sold out at the source. Fans of the 'March might want to dig for it because CD 1 containes what just might be the ultimate LSD-March magnum brain melter in the title track, 40 mins of deep space fuzz exploration that never wears out its welcome and reduces me to a giggling/drooling puddle of semen and saliva every time I hear it. The second disc has yet to really grab me. It's more a series of duo recordings that sound like sketches and half-baked experiments and doesn't seem to add up to much. I hope this assessment will change at some point in the near future, but I have my doubts. That being said CD 1 makes this an essential package all the same.
Speaking of being disturbed, any fans of 300 and period cannibal porn might want to check out this uncensored video for the title track of Lair of the Minotaur's War Metal Battle Master. I'm not the biggest fan of these Chicago thrash fiends, but like its namesake this video is over the top and ridiculous and features hot naked vampire zombie babes doused in blood, feasting on the corpses of fallen. And as a friend recently noted, the zombie on the left looks like Miley Cyrus. It's very gory and rated NC-17.
A belated so long to Bo Diddley.
Terrastock 7 starts in just 8 days in Louisville, KY.