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SSAB Songs is Brian Degraw (who would go on to form Gang Gang Dance) and film director Harmony Korine (just after the release of julien donkey-boy). On this 1999 album, the duo’s sole release, they’re joined by Tim Dewitt, Josh Diamond (both in GGD, Diamond later did a stint in Jackie-O Motherfucker), Gabriel Anbruzzi (The Rapture) and someone named Grimey (as he likes to be called?). Before disbanding, SSAB Songs performed once, opening for the Red Krayola in New York in 2000.
This album is one 27-minute sound collage. I kind of wanted to hate it – that last paragraph cited way more 90s/00s hipster cultural references than I’d ever thought I’d write in a KFJC review. And parts are definitely annoying (crusty drum circle jams, banjo) and dated (lo-fi Daniel Johnston/freak-folk warbling). But the sounds shift so often, that it’s not long before it moves into something interesting, like atonal folky guitar strumming, recordings of ballads, opera, or orchestras, buzzing drones, blasts of noise, free jazzy rumblings that sound influenced by No Neck Blues Band or the aforementioned JOMF – strange, inspired moments that make the whole messy thing worth it.
Sutcliffe Jugend was founded in 1982 when Kevin Tomkins was still a member of Whitehouse. William Bennett may have abandoned noise music for the sequenced Afro-worship of Cut Hands, but this offshoot project is still going strong. When you want to compete with Whitehouse you need to be pretty extreme, and Tomkins certainly always has been. Does he really hate women as much as he claims to, or does his career amount to 30+ years of serial-killer-themed performance art? I dunno.
Over the years Tomkins (also a painter) and co-conspirator Paul Taylor have gradually let slip the ultra-formalism of Come Organisation synthesizer torment to dabble in various experimental electronic styles, although retaining the core of extreme hatred that keeps emotionally unwell fans returning time and again. This 2016 album is one of four releases from last year, and it is definitely more traditional than the duo’s other recent releases on Cold Spring (e.g. 2012′s extraordinary death ambient opus ‘Blue Rabbit’). Here a robust mixture of digital and analog electronic tweaks (with hinted beats on t.s 3+4) back Tomkins’ profane, confessional prose poetry, delivered with the frothing impotence of a straitjacketed mental patient. Some of the invective may in fact be leveled against the consumer of industrial music, i.e. you. Tomkins is a pretty great improvisational vocal stylist, too. Listen and you’ll see what I mean. FCCs on all tracks of course.
From Russia’s experimental Post-Materialization Music label comes this bizarre cassette of extremely lo-fi “ethnodub”. The album name “Taharrush Gamea” is Arabic for “group harassment”, and usually refers to mass sexual assault. Very little information about this album or the artist exist. Only 31 of these cassettes were produced, and the artist’s other albums have been released on recycled soviet-era reel-to-reel tape, and 3.5″ floppy disk.
The cassette is seemingly designed to make you wonder if your stereo is busted. It’s an hour of international pop music, played at the wrong speed through unreliable equipment, mixed with crunchy record scratches, cut-up tape loop squiggles, and spooky spoken-word. Broken electronics buzz and hum throughout, and the whole thing sounds like it was recorded underwater. Samples (actually entire songs) are appropriated from a variety of sources: Bollywood dance tunes, Eastern Orthodox chants, Thai power-pop, and (as the artist’s name implies) middle Eastern folk. The result is disorienting (to say the least), like a bad acid trip through the depths of the international library.
Finnish Black Metal from a lone hatemonger going by ‘War Torech,’ the only other official member of Satanic Warmaster, where he used to play guitar. Torturium has not released anything since this 2006 album. These songs employ similarly ceremonial repetition but are generally more anguished and off-kilter than SW’s, and a little more baroque than Finnish BM in general (this 2006 release is on a French label). He’s a good guitarist with the strong fingers of a classical player, and the dramatic flourishes are appreciated. Unobtrusive keys dis-grace some tracks. The voice is a highlight, cracked and disturbing. Despite some moments of ‘Black Metal Deja Vu,’ (Dimhymn?) the riffs are generally fresh and compelling, conveying melancholy and delirium. Synth intro commences track one.
This 2009 release featuring David Tibet was originally composed as the soundtrack to F.W. Murnau’s 1922 silent film Der Brennende Acker (“The Burning Soil”). Listening to the four long tracks is like being bound and blindfolded, thrust into the center of a mysterious occult ritual, anxiously awaiting your inevitable sacrifice.
A begins with ominous druid drones. Melancholy pianos tinkle and horns bellow. Inner-ear whispers, possessed growlings, and manic incantations from haunted souls. Swirling ceremonial typewriters crunch under stomping feet.
B continues with sacred scrolls crinkling, tearing, tossed piece-by-piece into the flames. Rhythmic percussion shakes, ecstatic shouts speaking in tongues — the spirit of Noddy? Tapes speed up and swirl down, distorting and disorienting. Echoing scrapes and squeaks, far-off ringing of bells.
C picks up where B left off, with shamanistic synths and droning gongs. An explosion of voices and tape malfunctions. Motherly murmurs comfort you, guiding you through the strange unknown.
D holds the rabid climax of the satanic ritual. Whispered incantations, choral moans, ringing chimes. Angered shouts accompanied by violin warbles, building to a dramatic crescendo of shrill piercing blasts. Chaotic interludes of department-store muzak, simultaneously mundane and sinister. The chaos breaks, giving way to a few short minutes of completely innocuous smooth jazz — the true sounds of the underworld? The piece ends with broken radio transmissions in foreign tongues, slowly fading to quiet deathly ambience.
Zaimph is the solo project of Marcia Bassett (also working with several bands including Double Leopards, GHQ, Hototoguisu, Un, all in our library). This release is her first studio LP, and we were lucky to get a copy when Bassett came to perform live in the Pit in February 2017.
“Between the Infinite and the Finite” holds three powerful pieces. In “Absence and Presence” (T1/A1) we hear the dueling sounds of within and without: a dark drone opens and deepens, pulling in everything in its reach – the recorded voices, melodies, echoes of the world. In “Equinox Reprise” (T2/A2) metallic clashes and dissonant vibrations, like a building threatening to collapse, are confronted by an assured piano figure (this one reminded me a bit of Black Spirituals). The final sidelong track, “Entropic Horror” (T3/B1) is a searing tone that moves into a repeating progression, frays at the edges, contracts, expands again, and finally dissipates – the shifts and sounds of pure free energy. An ambitious and impressive work.
Hammer jammin dulcimer dudes pay penance for past performances with Phish? Perhaps.
Idelsohn Society For Musical Preservation (or in this case, Reboot Stereophonic label) continues to amaze with its focused and in depth look at American Jewish music and its influence on others. This release, “God Is A Moog” is a full collection of “the electronic prayers of Gershon Kingsley”. Kingsley is best known for bringing us the electronic pop culture AM radio wonder “Popcorn” as well as co-writing, with Jean Jacques Perrey, “Baroque Hoedown”, the theme of Disneyland’s Main Street Electrical Parade. But like many intensely creative people, he is much more than the sum of his parts. The book included in the double CD package gives incredible depth and insight into Gershon, his influences, his knowledge, his expertise, his values, his politics and his drive. “God Is A Moog” is heavily driven by all of these things, but with a uniqueness of character that makes these pieces so entertaining. Mixing his love of Moog and his love of Jewish prayer and holiday ritual, Gershon creates a Moog modern take on prayer and worship.
As soon as I began listening to this CD, my spirit was saying yes. Trance, shoegaze, elements of rock and psych, and fascinating lyrics (which are kindly printed out for you on the liner notes) all combine to make this a truly enjoyable musical experience. Ingrid Luna Blue’s voice masterfully guides you through the shifting depths. Be sure to try out “Lost Garden Gnome Hotline” (3), “Aviatrix” (7), and “Purple Mushroom House” (9).
Murmer is the project of Patrick McGinley, a sound artist working in Estonia. On this 2016 release from Gruenrekorder, McGinley constructs four compositions using fragments of found sounds, including field recordings collected over nearly a decade, and improvisational music played with unusual instruments (mainly of the stringed variety: a Ukrainian bandura, a kora, various zithers) or objects that McGinley discovered on his travels, such as an old radio antenna played with a bow. “Song for Forgetting” (T1) is a quiet piece centered around the crystalline plucking of strings. “Another Song for Forgetting” (T2) weaves soft drones, vibrations like a teacup rattling in its saucer, and field recordings of falling water. “The Third Song for Forgetting” (T3) brings sounds of crashing waves, deeper tones from strings, round reverberations. “A Fourth Song for Forgetting” (my favorite) begins with the wandering plucking of strings and sounds of objects being placed, dropped, thrown, shattered; slowly, it all builds into a weird, wild confusion, with a fireworks display as the grand finale. Like the music, the album’s artwork is also crafted from materials at hand – the cover image is a leaf McGinley found in the woods, and enclosed in the sleeve are faded pages from notebooks from a abandoned mill near his home. Together, this thoughtful work reminds us of the surprising beauty that can be found in everyday experiences that would usually be forgotten.
There’s much more from Murmer in our library.
This reissue of the 1975 library album composed by French synthesizer master Fevre is still as perfectly fitting now as it was in the 70s for eliciting just the right feeling of “Suspense.” It’s simulataneously bouncey and off-kilter, calling to mind scenes that might go well in Dr. Who or some other quirky sci-fi drama. The pieces are short and evocative, and Naysayer says that Fevre’s work heavily influenced Peter Frampton. Go figure.
When Abigail played KFJC in September of 2015, Ares Kingdom and Gnosis rode into the pit on the coattails of the Japanese greats courtesy of the always generous NWN!. The largely unknown Gnosis surprised intoxicated netcast listeners with a tight set of diabolical Death Metal that managed to hold its own. For some reason it took a really long time to track down this LP.
These four blasphemers from Florida carve Death Metal with a Black edge out of obsidian riff poison, atypical melodic sensibility, and drumming just clumsy enough to sound interesting. I hear Dissection, Nihilist and Vader. Newer bands like Vasaeleth and Ignivomous are comparable to this also. The occult-themed lyrics, occasionally intelligible through the growl, are vaguely highbrow by the standards of Death Metal. I wouldn’t be surprised if the full album were intended as some sort of ritual. This promising debut sounds ridiculously fresh by the standards of the contemporary scene.
Thomas Ades (rhymes/w Jon Faddis) b. 1971, London. 45 Year old British composer. Recorded 95&97, released 98. 5 pieces over 24 tracks. Track singly, grouped by piece, continuous- all good.
1-8 Living Toys ’93- Chamber orchestra London Sinfonettia. Extended technique, performers slap their instruments from behind. Giant extinct bull- death of HAL- lifeless gongs- Juanito’s dream of a heroic life.
9-15 Arcadiana ’94- Endellion string quartet. 7 movements. Free. Track 12- Tango mortale. Recorded at Abbey Road Studios.
16-19 Sonata da Caccia ’93- Hunting Sonata – Oboe, horn, and Ades on harpsichord. Baroque sound turns modern in the final 2 movements.
20-23 The origin Of The Harp ’94- Chamber ensemble work for 10 players, commissioned by the Halle Orchestra. It premiered in 1994 at the Free Trade Hall in Manchester under the baton of the composer himself.
24 Gefriolsae Me ’90 (at 19 years old) – Haunting penitent chorus.
The German electronic music pioneer Conrad Schnitzler (early Tangerine Dream, Kluster, Eruption) collected huge amounts of sounds for live performances. After his death the idea appeared to re-construct new materials instead of plain remixes using these audio samples. This is the idea behind the Con-Struct series of releases. Her Schneider TM (indie artist Dirk Dresselhaus) takes this electronic music material and indeed reconstructs it in this 2016 release into various new ambient and intense electronica tracks with a surprising refreshment of the elderly electronic material. The spirit is there, but the sound is contemporary. It’s also trying to mimic the live spirit by on-the spot improvisations with the content. Very enjoyable and inspiring.
This is techno artist Ellen Allien’s 2011 ambient soundscape produced for a dance performance at Paris’ Pompidou Centre. It’s a single 45 minute continuous track. The opening has a guitar loop theme that repeats with female voices smootching in and out. And from this the themes are more variated with darker and milder ambience, even jazz sample montages. There are some beat related techno elements materializing after the half-way point of this musical piece, otherwise it’s an abstract melody collage with pieces coming in and out, honoring the Eno tradition of sound collages. This kind of avant space material could easily devour too much time but there’s an option to pick and choose references. Maybe the ultimate price is to listen and get lost in the music.
Florence Price is an early, lesser known 20th Century composer of classical music, whose style is often referred to as being in the nationalistic style. This recording, by The Women’s Philharmonic, shows off three of her works. At times sounding like Aaron Copland and Tchaikovsky, with hints of southern spirituals, these pieces offer a full symphonic range of sound and feeling. At times there are melodies that seem like they could be used as early soundtracks to cartoons, where the tunes do not flow quite so simplistically. Why she is an important addition to our collection is because Florence Price was the first African American woman to gain acclaim nationally for her music and to have it played in symphonic halls. At a time when racism and sexism held back and destroyed millions of people, acceptance and appreciation of her and her music was a profound action by a country divided. Listen and celebrate our elders.
“An explicit odyssey into Swedish agricultural sounds.” 1999 2CD compilation on Cold Meat Industry showcasing 24 Swedish projects on the Death Industrial, Power Electronics and Rhythmic Noise spectrum. Sweden is pissed.
1.1+1.2: NOD, real name Daniel Wihlstrand. Demonic copy machines and a poetic intro mixed low to blow out speakers. Great mood-setter for the rest of the tracks.
The whole thing was pre-mastered by Peter Andersson… but which one? Most tracks are worthwhile. It will always be a mystery to me why Sweden has such a large and excellent Industrial scene. Get whipped by the Vodka Belt.
Raymond Scott was an American composer, band-leader, and inventor of electronic instruments. Although he never composed directly for cartoons, his music is most famous for accompanying countless Looney Tunes shorts, as well as more modern cartoons like Ren & Stimpy, The Simpsons, and Animaniacs.
Scott experimented with electronic sounds throughout the 30s and 40s, establishing Manhattan Research Inc. in 1946 to design and manufacture electronic instruments, such as the “Keyboard theremin,” “Chromatic electronic drum generators,” and “Circle generators.” He also invented the first device capable of playing a sequence of tones.
This CD is the first of a two-volume compilation tribute to Scott’s electronic work. 28 bands offer up songs channeling (in one way or another) Scott’s music. The tracks range from blippity-bloopity recreations, to poppy songs built on samples of Scott’s music, to entirely new pieces inspired by Scott’s imagination and experimentation. All songs are short, clocking in at 2 minutes or less, and provide a wide variety of interesting sounds.
Haino, Keiji/ O’Rourke, Jim /Ambarchi, Oren – “I Wonder If You Noticed “I’m Sorry” Is Such a Lovely Sound” – [Black Truffle]
Recorded live in Tokyo during March 2014, this double-LP swings wildly and repeatedly from free-form explorations of rhythm and structure, to face-melting psych-rock jams. Accompanied by Ambarchi’s explosive drumming and O’Rourke’s thunderous bass, Keiji Haino shouts and screams emotional, poetic lyrics in both Japanese and English. Haino also brings a few interesting instruments with him, including a contrabass harmonica, and a traditional Turkish string instrument called a bulgari.
A starts with Ambarchi’s sparse and airy percussion. Slowly the bass rolls in, followed by Haino’s voice, powerful and guttural. The rhythmic strumming on the bulgari is trance-inducing. The musicians wander and explore until they spontaneously coalesce in an intense free-folk freakout, which disovles away and the cycle repeats.
B is dark and ominous. Haino passionately shouts and groans. Soon all is overtaken in a screeching wash of guitar fury. A series of psych-rock jams emerge from the chaos only to disintegrate under their own cosmic weight.?? Eventually this gives way to the strangely soothing humms and snores of an enormous contrabass harmonica.
C has a persistent yet evolving body-shaking drum groove, coupled with thumping bass lines, and pierced with scorching guitar tones. Probably the heaviest psych-rock of all the tracks, although it ventures in a weird acid-tinged direction about 2/3 of the way in before blasting everything down.
D begins with soaring guitar lines, then settles into a deep plodding relentless groove while Haino delivers some of his most forceful vocals yet. The final third of the side sees the return of the bulgari, while Haino mournfully wails.
Hermann Nitsch is an Austrian painter, composer, and performance artist. Among his most notable projects is the Orgien Mysterien Theater (“Theater of Orgies and Mysteries”). Staged from 1962 until the present, this is a series of over 100 performances, or “aktions” as Nitsch calls them, that dramatize mass human gatherings centered around violence. The performances, sometimes lasting for days at a time, display scenes of extreme brutality – crucifixions, disemboweled animals with their entrails splayed, buckets of blood poured over bodies or splattered on the ground – and extreme decadence, with flowing wine, lavish spreads of fruits and meats, and ecstatic music and dancing. Nitsch describes the aktionen as his attempt to capture both “the tragic aspect of suffering and instants of extreme ecstasy” that make up our lives. (See one here).
This LP is a remastered tape recording of 25 Aktion performed at Gallery Pakesch in Vienna in 1982 (a restaging, the original performance was in 1968). The recording opens with piercing whistles, leading into a wild chorus of dissonant horns (T1/A1, T2/A2, T3/B1). While listening, the first thing that came to my mind was the nonstop drone of a stadium-full of vuvuzelas during a football game (our own modern version of the violent spectacle?). Drumming, followed by human voices, join in; first, the sounds are lost in the fray, but later the chaos is organized into a chant (T2/A2). The final track is the aftermath of the ceremony, scored with solemn, droning organ chords (T4/B2). Naysayer suggests we create an aktion at the station – maybe for our next Listener Appreciation Party?
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