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Stoney, psychey shoegaze from Guadalajara, Mexico. Lose yourself in the repetition of the first few tracks; let it hypnotize you into a hypersensitive reality, vision fading in and out.
It kind of mellows with a short track, “Perverted By It’s Time,” which sounds like a wedding and a funeral, somehow. “These Days” is the last hour before sunset, when “This Plain City” brings the psych back with a toe-tapper, but the last few calm you back down into a lulled sleep. The final and bonus track, “Uncomfortable Knot” is a high energy psych blaze that leaves you wanting to listen to the whole thing again.
Get lost… space out…
Birds You Once Knew have done an interesting thing on their new project “Synth Miniatures”: in approximately 30 minutes they have made a history of synthesizer/dance/electronic, music from the late 1970′s to today. Donkey Disk, the label putting out this cassette, states it’s a tribute to roland (as in Roland synthesizer) and sequential circuits. It definitely is. The first track sounds reminiscent of Kraftwerk with those poppy, somewhat happy beats. Very consistent. Very smooth. With each sequential track we move through the different ways the synthesizer and partner tools were used to make music. Does that sound a bit like Depeche Mode? Was that some techno and electro clash? Oh oh, here comes the IDM. Now do not, in any way, take this as a negative. It is positive plus. These cuts are so fun, so enjoyable and very well executed. I have listened to this many times, just dancing around the house smiling at the references and styles. I dare you to play it straight through, it’s really that well done. Have fun with it. Thumbs up for Birds You Once Knew.
Concrete Island is Scott Moore and Dave Coen who make real industrial music. On the new and interesting to watch out for Sleep Genius label out of San Francisco, Concrete Island have created four tracks that seem to use recordings of machinery, field recordings of maybe trains or trucks, not sure, but definitely heavy equipment. They let it play through, layering some of the sounds into beautiful complex rhythms. This is industrial music like in the beginning of the genre. The pieces put a smile on my face as it brought me back to recordings of Throbbing Gristle, or reminded me of soundtracks made for dadaist and surrealist films of the early twentieth century. It also reminded me of just happening upon a big piece of machinery running, or a train passing, or a factory working and my stopping to listen to the lilting and subtle changes of the sounds created. It might be harsh or dark and oppressive to some, and the track titles suggest those feelings. I find this soothing and calming in a twisted industrial way. Just pop it in the tape deck and let it play through.
Very nice instrumental surf release (a bit of Tiki, too – try track 12) from this Los Angeles 3-piece, with all songs written by guitarist Bill McGlynn. Good natured and bouncy, with some nice twists such as bagpipe on track 6 and interesting harmonies and lush tones not always heard in surf. Rockin’ SoCal fun!
Jeff Keen (1923-2012) is a visual and sonic artists/experimentalist from London famed for creating strange films with stranger sound tracks. There don’t seem to be many collections of his sonic work outside of this compilation. The sounds here were collected from tapes found in Keen’s house, home made recordings created with a mic, tape recorder, atari computer, ZX Spectrum computer, a Binson echo unit and home made instruments. These are experimentations in voice and audio manipulation. Keen takes his spoken work type poetry, cuts it up, loops, layers and stutters. The noise part of this is accounted for by all sorts of analog manipulations and contorted computer sounds. Some of these tracks contain old radio samples, sounds like being stuck between stations, others will make you feel like you are being possessed by a broken, old school gaming system. -Surfer Rosa
Pre-apocalyptic paranoid delusions of dystopic demise from Oakland’s Jsun McCarty (Nerfbau, Styrofoam Sanchez). Not the noise one might expect, but still plenty of cybernetic sensory overload amidst the meticulously constructed beat skeletons creeping along. Crunchy, crumbling bass and invasive robotic bleeps compete within the sparse industrial rhythms of this two-dimensional lazer rave party. Snarling schizophrenic free-association reflections on vigilance and freedom, media saturation, religious ambiguity and insidious trends of international totalitarianism guide us through this hypnagogic navigation of our political atmosphere. More aesthetically structured than the Ratskin release and project currently known as dilatedears. Later tracks instrumental, FCC 6.
Ethereal drones on the lovely side using electric guitars, organ, samples, bells, percussion and a motorized cymbal. The A side brings the drones with a light groove, shimmering sounds that crack and pop. Shifts into a warbley, manipulated organ drone about half way through (you can see exactly where on the grooves) Heavenly sounds of a cathedral floating in the clouds. B side feels a bit like a raga.. meditative hums, and soft, slowed down, echoey vocals moaning a mantra which turns a little weird once the machine sounds and scraping samples kick in. Plugs me straight into a lucid dream.. -Surfer Rosa
Transfer’s theme is transitions and transportation. Moor’s lush speaking voice in rhythmic French combines with off-kilter guitar that is sometimes twangy, sometimes rocking. Beats come and go. Recorded words from events and movies are used to good effect. Topics include Princess Diana and Grace Kelly, transit stops, plane crashes, and suspected murderers from Agatha Christy novels. Very cool sounds, engaging, I liked this a lot.
San Francisco based Radio Free Clear Light (RFCL) does evenings of “invocational” improvised sound. This album mixes strings, vocals that are sometimes disturbing moans, noisemakers and electronics to make electroacoustic tracks that flow together. Some tracks (such as 7) have beats or at least a hint of beats. Intriguing, moody, introspective.
2013 double-cassette from two men who are serious about making a ruckus: Chicago’s Jason Soliday and Cleveland’s Wyatt Howland (aka Skin Graft). In addition to their solo endeavors, both are members of far too many experimental groups to list here. This is extreme electronic harsh noise; pain for many, pleasure for some. It’s pretty darn brutal. We get one ten-minute track from each (tape one) and then the titular piece, a collaboration comprising two 20-minute parts (tape two). Howland’s track (t.1) is a purring thrum that builds into a chaotic wall of sound. Soliday’s (t.2) is more frenzied, and glitchier, but no less satisfying. Their lovechild (t.s 3+4) seems to bear Howland’s mark in its tendency to drone (sadistically), and Soliday’s in the varied clusters of cacophonous weather through which it passes. Far from static, this music takes you on a journey; it’s an upsetting, kind of hopeless journey– but at least it’ll get you out of the house, you know? T.4 gets a little percussive at its start, and I think there are some distorted vocals on that one too. All four pieces are great, really masterful. My poor ears.
This is MEDUSA, not to be confused with the other 15 or so groups worldwide named Medusa. This is the first of the three U.S. Medusa’s and Numero Group has made us proud to have them. First: the fold out album cover is BLACK VELVET with blood red and gold metallic colors. There’s a pentagram and devil goat head and mysterious symbols and claws with fire and….. Oh man this is great. It’s gonna be so satanic.
2013 debut LP of Detroit trio serves up Goth with psychedelic tendencies. A mixture of real drums and slick drum machines, jangly guitars, low-mixed synths, a few JAMC noise bursts. There are times when this sounds a lot like early Sisters of Mercy (there are quite a few such times) but there’s nothing wrong with having good taste… It’s not all complete 80s-worship either, it’s got a modern crispness, and some of the best tracks are the ones that get a little weird– e.g. the garbled voice samples scattered throughout a1 (my favorite track), or the blown out electronic cymbals on b3. Other experiments are less conclusive: Joy Division jam with Hawkwind on A2; A3 brings a death-country vibe that reminded me of Nick Cave or (barf) King Dude; B1 is (functionally) an instrumental but gets the best bassline; and B2 is a somewhat specious ‘lost love’ song that redeems itself by doing some interesting things with feedback in its second half. As you may suspect, things can get campy, as in “oh dear, it is the year/the year when tides of fear/swallow the shores of love.” Indeed much of the ‘pain’ is a little hard to believe, but Ritual Howls could have very hard lives for all I know. Either way the singer does spite a lot better than he does bereavement, sometimes taking on an operatic Patrick Leagas (a4, b4) and even (almost) pulling off Peter Murphy on b5. A lot of these newer goth-influenced bands have it a little mixed up; they imitate too well and so there’s no development on their influences. I liked a few of these songs a lot, however, especially the first and last. This band shows promise and hopefully they’ll come into their own as they continue to take drugs.
Formed in 1988 in Ioannina, Greece, Varathron (named for an old Greek word meaning something like ‘chasm’) released what they claim was the first Greek Black Metal demo one year later, when Rotting Christ (a band with which they shared members) were still playing grindcore. In assembling their own Hellenic Black Metal style, Varathron drew on a diverse selection of 80s Black/Death that included Master’s Hammer, Immolation, Beherit, Bathory, Hellhammer, Nihilist and Impiety, but were by no means afraid to let their Judas Priest, Pentagram and Mercyful Fate hang out too. The resulting sound was a fusion of Death, Doom, Black, Thrash and Classic Heavy Metal not quite like anything else I’ve heard: the band called it ‘Ultra Black Occult Demonic Death Metal.’ Extreme Death-Thrash dirt and frenzy rub up against old-school Doom grooves, progressive guitar harmonies, versatile tempo changes and the occasional wash of relatively tasteful synth (on A3, B1, C2, C3, D3). The vocals? Inhuman growls from the tongueless dead. The lyrics? H.P. Lovecraft. The riffs? Ingenious. Do I love Varathron more than I do my closest friends? You bet. This 2012 2LP compilation (Dedicated to ‘Dead’ of Mayhem, who prior to his suicide was pen-pals with Varathron’s vocalist) collects the early releases: 1989′s seminal first demo ‘Procreation of the Unaltered Evil’ (A1-A2): the second demo, 1990′s ‘Genesis of Apocryphal Desire’ (A3-B3); the debut 7″, ‘One Step Beyond Dreams,’ from 1991 (B4-B5); the Varathron side of 1992′s celebrated split with compatriots Necromantia (C1-C4); and bonus studio tracks from 1989 (D1), 1993 (D2) and 1995 (D3). B3, C1 and C4 are electronic intro/outros. The rest is so very evil. Check out the booklet, too, for hysterically incoherent zine interviews c. 1990.
Formed back in 1993, in Finland. This release is from 1998-1999. Re-mastered tape recordings, unreleased studio stuff, and some live tracks at the end. Dark, power electronics, industrial noise. Pressure, intense, screamed unintelligible lyrics mixed with moody spoken words. Burning walls of sound, with growling underbellies. ‘Crushing, heavily repeating loops with near random metal junk noise and feedback on the top, with furious effected vocals and spoken word samples.’ Blasting and harsh sounds.
One sided flexi-disc! Actuary have the first track and build up an intensity of ambient turned angry. It slowly burns up, then climaxes with a gentle fade. Juhyo bring deep sonic noise guts, that rotate and poke. Churning like seismic ocean waves, then give you a final blast at the end. Both short, noisy excursions. Actuary from Los Angeles, Juhyo from Minneapolis.
11th album from this Finnish psych folk band that started back in 2001, with about 10 to 20 rotating members. Hypnotic, rhythmic instrumental jams. Guitars, a little funky at times in the background. Rolling soft drums. Crystal electronics. Gorgeous blending of modern and futurist sounds. Psycha-futura? Easily accessible, great to open the front door and bask in some sunshine with.
Liberez “Sane Men Surround”
I come to herald San Fransister Kristina Esfandiar as King Woman.
aka LA based Neil Reinalda. Its a quirky little cassette release filled with abstract and random electronic sounds. Experimental noize to glitch to techno tracks, its all over the place but in the best way possible. You can dance or you can just trip out on it. Enjoy!
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