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Compilation of nine British bands, each of them sharing in the cost of CD production and distribution. The result is a variety of interesting sounds, ranging from straight-ahead punk to far-out psychedelic electronics.
Howl in the Typewriter: Playful experimental wanker-pop. Each track sounds different. Mellow psych/punk to drippy-droney and orchestral pieces. Final track samples Hanson.
UNIT: Melodic Brit-pop with a modern electronic feel. Slightly creepy.
Spam Javelin: Hardcore punk rock with aggressive guitar riffs and pounding bass.
Nil by Nose: Underwater bloops and dubby beats.
The Large Veiny Members: Retro synth-heavy electronic experimentation.
Catholic Overspill Blame dJohn: Bizarre mix of synth, acoustic guitar, and maracas.
seven eyes: Strange droney blips+buzzes played forwards and backwards.
Tirikilatops: Crunchy beats and melodic bloops. Gah-gah-Goo-goo vocals mixed with Japanese exercise soundtrack? Great!
After a 5-year hiatus, Dalek is back with another album of dark industrial hip-hop. Big walls of warm sound encompass angry quasi-political vocals. Heavy old-school beats and looped samples are soaked in fuzzy guitar feedback and soaring synths. Elements of drone, noise, ambient and shoegaze. Lyrics deal with themes of war, consumerism, and mass media. Check out the Chomsky sample on track 6.
Track 5 is instrumental. Track 1 is clean.
FCCs on 2, 3, 4, 6, 7.
2014 West Coast Tour compilation cassette from these three heavy indie post-whatever bands.
Trumans Water: Odd-ball “squiggle-core” with a fast and fervent pace. Dissonant yet intricate guitar work. Definitely noise rock, but more rock than noise. Covers of MC5 (track 4) and Kinks (track 16) are simple and straight-forward, but still maintain a unique sound.
Octagrape: The most melodic of the bunch. Sing-songy hazy-dazy distortion-soaked rock with a SoCal beach feel. “Medicinal Glop” breaks the mold with a long psychedelic pop-punk meltdown.
Permanent Makeup: Florida post punk. Paranoid ranting lyrics. Aggressive and angular guitar riffs coupled with rumbling bass lines. Occasional improvisational breakdown.
2-song cassette single from Philadelphia funster Graham Repulski.
Low-fi poppy beach rock for a sunny day. Melodic riffs, heavy on the fuzz.
Coral Remains (formerly Styrofoam Sanchez) is an Oakland-based post-industrial wretched noise waste receptacle that “personifies the trash island in the pacific gyre”.
Electrostatic blasts, jagged crunchy beats, and growling demonic incantations. Looping low-end thuds that self-destruct before your very ears. Apocalyptic visions of our doomed species and ruined planet. Vile misanthropy at its finest.
Death Unit is Chris Corsano, Carlos Giffoni, Brian Sullivan (Mouthus) and Trevor Tremaine (Hair Police). Released by the venerable Hospital Productions and limited to only 325 copies.
Beautifully nasty improv jazz-noise with dueling drum kits, blasting guitar fuzz and screeching electronics. Blood-stained, rumbling and pummelling.
“Smut” starts off with low resonating electronic rumbles, like getting a buzz-cut from a lawn-mower. Before long the drum explosions start to land, with increasing frequency and fervor, driving the piece with broken rhythms and cymbal punches. Last to the party are the high pitched screeches and static blasts, squealing and squiggling in all directions.
“AIDS Death 666″ is coated (maybe internationally?) in crinkly popping surface noise. The song starts slow, with just the static over faint guitar musings and occasional drum fills and electronic bursts. The feedback slowly builds and the squealing buzzes become more focused and impatient, demanding your full attention. Soon the drums coalesce and the real destruction begins, coming in punishing forceful waves and only stopping once complete demolition is achieved.
Heavy electronics with only the faintest traces of rhythm. Opiate-influenced. Gritty and grinding, yet fuzzy.
Sticker indicates “playable at any speed”, but it doesn’t sound that different at 45, maybe slightly warmer and just a tad less bleak.
Split LP from Dying (Philly) and Less Life (New Jersey). Limited edition of 300 on white vinyl.
Dying: Aggressive hardcore with hints of garage and a kind of doomy feel. Indescernable vocals about isolation and suicide. Life is hard, man.
Less Life: Short rough & tumbly songs, most under 2 minutes. Fast paced and angular, with a few math-rock riffs. Final track is longer, slower, and a bit screamo.
Free improv noise from these Butte County Free Music Society weirdos.
The first three tracks are confusing collages of looped synth feedback, jagged guitar fuzz, clanging percussion, skittery static, and echoing found sounds.
Track 4 is a campfire ballad of sorts, telling of the tale of a woman with no arms through tweaked vocals over a bed of psychedelic guitar warbles and animalistic snorts and hairball-expulsions.
Track 5 sounds like an underwater raga on acid.
Sleepwalkers in a Cold Circus is the second album from Belgian sound artist Koenraad Ecker. These nine electro-acoustic tracks are dark and gloomy, yet filled with wonder and curiosity.
Heavy bass frequencies with throbbing subharmonics flow like dreams under sharply-focused field recordings and processed electronic noises. The amplified micro-acoustics mix and mingle with the macro, both intimate and intense. Some of the sounds are easy to identify: bowed strings and ringing bells. Others seem familiar but are somehow hard to place. Matches being lit? Sonar pings? Thunder storms?
Gloomy, haunting, and beautiful soundscapes from Thomas Martin Ekelund. These three tracks go way beyond depressing, into full blown anguish accentuated with layers of hopelessness and despair. Slow throbbing electronic pulses, fuzzed out guitar drone, longing synth loops, and faint raspy echoing beats.
National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-8255
Atarixic Ataxia is a Violin + Electronics duo of Nicole Pizzato and Dominic Dufner. The tracks on Sea Shadows are multi-layered, usually starting with a simple theme and growing to a sonic blast as the layers multiply and the distortion builds.
The violin and electronics are a nice juxtaposition and are used quite differently in each track. Sometimes the violin is on top, soaring and screeching over a bed of throbbing rumbles. On other tracks, the relationship is inverted, with beeping, buzzing, and grinding noise taking place over looped rhythmic violin lines.
Track 2 was recorded live and is my personal favorite.
Raw punk hip-hop mix-tape from Mykki Blanco, aka Michael Quattlebaum. Heavy industrial beats and pounding synths. Distorted grinds and gritty samples. Think Death Grips with less anger and more bounce.
Excellent rapping by Mykki and a cast of friends, including Cakes da Killa, Cities Aviv, and Kathleen Hanna (of Bikini Kill and Le Tigre).
First and last tracks are instrumental. FCCs on almost all others.
Cold, industrial, haunting noise from Danish artist Frederikke Hoffmeier, aka Puce Mary. A slow, throbbing baseline permeates each track, while heavy machinery crashes and thuds around you. Synths shriek and drone, and alarm bells ring.
Listening to this album feels like being trapped in a sinking submarine, bumping and scraping past rocks. Waves of claustrophobia, panic, and hopelessness.
Four of the eight songs have lyrics, sometimes screamed and processed beyond recognition, other times spoken with a crisp chilling monotony.
uns is an early project of Z’EV. These 4 tracks were recorded live between 1980 and 1982 (3 of them in SF), and capture Z’EV’s experiments with “low-tech rhythms and rants”.
Z’EV is without is usual percussion, instead playing a heavily-distorted organ, tape-loops, and multiple skipping turntables. His stream-of-consciousness vocals, augmented via megaphone, range from muted mumblings to nightmarish visions of trauma and violence.
FCCs!!! on 1-1 (“shit”, “fuck”) and 2-2 (“shit”).
Synth-heavy repetitive beats and dissonant tweaked keyboard and guitar, like mixing robitussin and yacht-rock. All “vocals” are provided by a loud computer-synthesized voice with no sense of rhythm or intonation. “Lyrics” are taken verbatim from a diverse set of material, including a Cheech & Chong routine, the wikipedia article on “leap year”, a sex ed pamphlet, and Herbert Morrison’s live reporting of the Hindenburg crash.
Scorching-hot fuzzy tropical psychedelia blended with metal, surf, free-jazz, and haunted houses. Despite such disparate influences, the album is amazingly cohesive and just fucking rocks!
“Fumaca Preta” (foo-ma-sa pret-ta), which means “Black Smoke” in Portuguese, was started by Alex Figueira, a Portuguese-Venezuelan percussionist, and recorded with his friends in his home-made analog studio in Amsterdam. The South-American influence on this album is strong, sounding at times like Os Mutantes, but meaner, more acid-fried, and blood-stained.
Lyrics are all in Portuguese, but translated into English in the liner notes. They deal mostly with dark themes like murder and suicide, but with some humorous moments, like the very first lyric on the album, which translates to “Stick your selfie-stick in the infinite hole of your idiosyncrasy.”
It’s all really, really good. My personal favorite is Baldonero, a bizarre mix of latin dance rhythms, surf guitar, doomy riffs, and cookie-monster vocals like nothing I’ve heard before.
Leif Elggren is a Swedish artist, writer, performer, and composer. His latest album, “Das Baank”, deals with themes of economic corruption, repression, and violence.
While Elggren is most known for his spoken word pieces, the tracks on Das Baank have no words or lyrics at all. Instead, they present 8 distinct industrial soundscapes. The album includes gloomy and dramatic orchestral nightmares, gravely static noise bone-crushers, and extended guitar feedback drone blasts.
The liner notes feature long excerpts from the Wikipedia article on “usury”, the practice of making unethical or immoral monetary loans, as well as a stream-of-consciousness essay about suffering and authority and money and power and anxiety and life.
40-minute abstract and overwhelmingly silent piece composed by Manfred Werner and performed by Mattin and Anders Bryngelsson of Regler.
The entire score consists of the following quote from an essay by Walter Benjamin:
“through excessive fatigue i had thrown myself on my bed in my clothes in the brightly-lit room, and had at once, for a few seconds, fallen asleep”
The duo of Relger take this score very literally. In the first few minutes, they can be heard quietly setting up their equipment and getting comfortable. Stools squeak and instrument cases open and close. They stretch and cough. Then, they fall asleep. The rest of the piece consists of slow breathing, moist lips opening and closing, the occasional sigh, and the sound of the room.
The work blurred the boundaries between my listening environment and the recording itself. At multiple times I had to check my CD player to make sure it was still on. Did somebody’s hand just fall to their side (that would be exciting!), or was it my cat in the next room? What is that faint rumble? Is it just my neighbor’s AC unit? Or maybe an ungrounded wire in my stereo. I notice the sound of my own breath, and the saliva in my mouth, and it is deafening.
A 19-minute track from the “Cinema pour l’oreille” (cinema for the ears) series, dedicated to Italian avant-garde composer Luigi Nono and recorded in 1991 shortly after his death.
The piece is a slow-burn of musique concrete with a distinct cinematic feel. It starts very quietly with breathy wind instruments and barely-there bowed strings, like waves on a distant shore. The strings build at around the 4 minute mark into long drones, as orchestral voices fade in and out of existence. Later, whirling sounds almost like sirens. Harps zip, gongs crash, and manipulated tape sounds confuse and disorient the listener. Around 10 minutes in, the piece sounds like a jungle, full or cicadas, crickets, frogs and streams. The final minutes are full of suspense.
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