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Cranioclast – “Iconclastar” – [Musica Maxima Magnetica]

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Conceptual dark ambient from 1992 courtesy of two German dudes. Ominous rumblings, croaking frogs, gently wailing guitars,the occasional whispered female vocal: about as scary as that haunted house you and your friends made in 7th grade. Tracks run into each other and are divided strangely, so play on continous and dip in wherever. For fans of Barn Owl, Fennesz, Tim Hecker.

  • Reviewed by Phil Phactor on July 19, 2017 at 7:11 pm
  • Filed as A Library,CD
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  • Roscoe Mitchell and the Sound and Space Ensembles

    Roscoe_Mitchell_and_the_Sound_and_Space_Ensembles

    This 1984 offering from Roscoe Mitchell and friends presents a mix of approaches, spread over a half-dozen tracks ranging from 2-12 minutes in length. In opener “Words,” vocals and a pair of saxophones tiptoe around one another in alternating bouts of drawn out, held notes and quick choppy phrases. “You Wastin’ My Time” features a much larger ensemble busting out an off-kilter, ass-shaking groove with Sugar Hill-esque rap–notable for the percussion, and lots of spirited sax and bass work. Short-form improv “Views A, B, and C” is laid back like a plastic bag caught in the wind. “View D” has almost no percussion, but squeaky everything– these dudes take turns doing insane runs, but make it sound so easy. “Lifeline Lyon Seven” is an upbeat, more traditional cut held down with ride, snare and bass; Mitchell delivers a hazy, extended solo out front. It also includes a frenetic solo by Mike Mossman (trumpet) and some true wackiness from Spencer Banfield (guitar).

  • Reviewed by milo on July 16, 2017 at 1:10 pm
  • Filed as CD,Jazz
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  • Pacific 231 – “1983-86 Compendium” – [Functional Organisation]

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    Shirtless Frenchman Pierre Jolivet first used the name Pacific 231 (after the Arthur Honegger composition, I suppose) in the early 80s. He has since brought forth a huge number of Industrial releases under this name, with his longest period of creative inactivity being something like 1999-2006. Like some of the other early bands to follow Throbbing Gristle and SPK into the abyss (for instance Nocturnal Emissions, Esplendor Geometrico, Controlled Bleeding and The Grey Wolves) Jolivet continued quietly (or loudly) doing his thing in the Industrial underground years after any mainstream interest in the genre had faded. Guerilla warfare.

    48 hours’ worth of archival reel-to-reel material from the 3-year period mentioned above was recently digitized, and from that the 2 best hours were chosen for this 2014 2CD release. Disc 1 is studio and disc 2 is live stuff. Some or all of the material– unclear how much– is previously unreleased.

    Samples, modulated electric guitar, synthesizers, distorted voice, feedback hum, death rhythms. The compositions suggest carefully controlled improvisation. He really puts his cheap drum machine through its paces. These selections are not necessarily all hard on the ear (most are) but all have an underlying menace. Over the span of these sometimes-lengthy tracks Jolivet seems to form an eerie symbiosis with his various looping, squealing, sputtering inputs. There are a few musical moments scattered throughout, and some very abstract (e.g. 2.1), while a lot of it falls between noise and structure. T.s 1.1 + 1.4 excerpt multiple consecutive pieces.

    This is real Industrial: machine music for ritual hypnosis, kamikaze conditioning sessions as fresh-sounding in 2017 as when they were recorded. Breath-taking.

  • Reviewed by Lord Gravestench on July 12, 2017 at 3:07 am
  • Filed as A Library,CD
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  • Carroll, Doug & Nunn, Tom – “Twine #20″ – [Self Released]

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    Tom Nunn and Doug Carroll are improvisers who have been working and performing in the Bay Area for decades. In the early 00s, the duo met weekly to make and record improvised sound art and released the results on homemade CDRs under the name Twine. This CDR, recorded in February of 2002, is the 20th volume of this project. Nunn builds his own original instruments (he has made over 200), including a series called electroacoustic percussion boards, wooden boards fitted with sound generating objects (nails, wooden sticks, strings) and amplified with pickups. We hear several of these inventions, such as the Octatonic T-Rodimba, in this work. Doug Carroll is a cellist and composer. Here, he plays a Zeta electronic cello using non-traditional techniques.

    The CDR opens with a long, curious piece. Nunn’s playing is like listening to an crazy Rube Goldberg machine: I imagine twine being drawn through pulleys, marbles rolling around chutes and down wooden ramps, rows of dominoes falling, scrambled tones like a cartoon computer crunching numbers. Carroll’s playing moves through this maze of sound with plucking, bowing, and guitar-like strumming. The electronic treatments give the cello a coarse, lo-fi edge, and adds woozy slides between the notes. On the second track, Nunn introduces some questionably traditional percussion – a driving, deeper beat accompanied by an melodic, bell-like rhythm, as Carroll’s cello growls. The remaining three tracks combine Nunn’s sound effects of T1 and the rhythms of T2, and we hear the two improvisors exploring this wholly original world of sound.

  • Reviewed by lexi glass on July 11, 2017 at 9:00 pm
  • Filed as A Library,CD
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  • Stalling, Carl – “Carl Stalling Project (Music From Warner Bros. Cartoons, The” – [Warner Bros.]

    Carl Stalling composed the scores for Warner Brothers Cartoons from 1936 to 1958. He is one of three composers credited with the invention of the click track. He had the 50 piece Warner Brother Orchestra at his disposal and was encouraged to use the Warner Brothers back catalog in his compositions. He developed the surrealist “Looney Tunes” style of rapid-fire musical quotations, puns, and sound effects.

  • Reviewed by Hemroid The Leader on July 5, 2017 at 6:11 pm
  • Filed as CD,Soundtrack
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  • Erinys – “Manhattan / Dwelling” – [Tesco Organisation]

    erinys

    Erinys (read your Aeschylus!) was the Dark Ambient project of an American named Gerald Stevens, who also ran an extensive Industrial music review website in the early 2000s. This is one of his only two releases. It was only issued once, in 1998, in this hand-numbered Tesco edition of 800. This is copy number 153.

    ‘Manhattan/Dwelling’ uses heavily processed field recordings made in 1996 throughout Manhattan (t.s 1-7, 13) and in Long Island at the site of Stevens’ former home (t.s 8-12). The artist’s sure-handed electroacoustic manipulations of these textures produce a varied and endlessly fascinating work, from celestial harmonies to violent jackhammering to sewer atmospherics. It has a haunted, melancholy sound and I get the sense of a juxtaposed nostalgia for the high Imperial days of ‘old’ New York (as the faded Berenice Abbott photographs in the artwork may suggest). Anyone who’s spent time in the Apple will recognize the distinctive frequencies of the subway system (t.s 1, 3, 7). Other sounds present in relatively bare form include restaurant chatter (t.5), ghostly voices (t.8), nature sounds (t.9) and children playing (t.12). The distant strains of Celtic march music on the Stockhausenesque pot o’ gold at the end of this rainbow (t.13) were recorded at the 1996 St. Patrick’s Day parade.

    This CD is excellent. So textural, so emotionally rich, so intelligently executed. Some of it is extremely pretty and some of it very harsh indeed. Goes well with Nurse With Wound, Lustmord, Schloss Tegal, NON, The Haters, Troum or, for that matter, any of the snobs on the ‘OHM+‘ compilation.

  • Reviewed by Lord Gravestench on July 4, 2017 at 8:43 pm
  • Filed as A Library,CD
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  • Wake, The – “Masked” – [Cleopatra Records]

    youbitch

    This is not the UK Pop band, but the Ohio Goth Rock group formed in 1986! This 1993 CD was their debut album, released on the loved-and-hated Cleopatra Records of Los Angeles. I’m going to level with you: this band is a (pre-’Floodland’) Sisters of Mercy clone. Soundalikes like this are probably the reason that Sister Superior Andrew Eldritch spent so much of his career slagging off Cleopatra and disavowing the Goth appellation.

    Semi-plagiarism apart, there’s some great energy here. And it is Goth ROCK, with barely a Wave in sight despite the angular tunes. The macho, guitar-reliant sound is borne along by really beefy workmanship from the two guitarists and bassist; I think I heard keys on maybe one song. The sultry operatic male vocals are perfectly pretentious, summoning Peter Murphy as well as Uncle Andy. The use of real drums also helps make this a little harder than a lot of its influences. Sometimes it hints at a more listenable version of The Cult. T.4 may be a dig at the suicidal excesses of certain early-90s rock personalities, and I want to believe that T.7 is a love song to Twin Peaks’ Sherilyn Fenn. The last track’s a little weird.

    Histrionic gloom meets solid post-punk songwriting acumen; see also Holy Orange, The March Violets, Fields of the Nephilim…

  • Reviewed by Lord Gravestench on July 2, 2017 at 6:24 pm
  • Filed as A Library,CD
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  • Cartilage – “Dialect of The Dead” – [Self Released]

    dialect

    Debut album from San Francisco’s Gore-Grinding Death Metallers. Their set in KFJC’s pit last month was the strongest of its kind in quite a while, and they are extremely fucking chill people, which prejudices me somewhat in their favour. There are some connections here to other S.F. bands– Viral, Hemotoxin, etc., as well as Transylvanian Tapes (who released the cassette version of this). Rude’s David Rodriguez solos on t.s 6+8.

    Cartilage recorded this at Brainoil’s Earhammer Studios as a three-piece band but they’ve added two members since, enriching an already ripping live sound. Guitarist Teresa Wallace steals the show with her perfectly syncopated splatter grooves and Carcass-esque melodic tweak-outs. It’s rare for a death metal guitarist to communicate such a sense of (violent) glee. Her brother Mark’s hyperactive vocal lines speed-gargle black comedy vignettes inevitably ending in human evisceration (none of the lyrics can be made out, of course). Drummer Adam Houman (also of ION) adds a little bit of prog precision to the chaos. In the tradition of Bay Area groups like Exhumed and Impaled, Cartilage don’t take their subject matter seriously, but they are dead serious about their playing. Swell.

  • Reviewed by Lord Gravestench on June 28, 2017 at 3:02 pm
  • Filed as A Library,CD
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  • Kelley, Greg – “Trumpet” – [Meniscus Records]

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    Solo trumpet. Non- musical approach. Gaseous outbursts from the release valve. Mouthpiece makeouts, valve thumping, brassy breathing, soft frantic knocking. Auto mechanic’s friend. Every once in a while it will startle you. Some tracks very quiet. Can you hear that noise?

  • Reviewed by Hemroid The Leader on June 27, 2017 at 10:45 pm
  • Filed as A Library,CD
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  • Vitriol – “I-VII” – [Neurot Recordings]

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    This 2001 CD from Neurot Recordings is the sole release from Vitriol, the solo project of Ben (G.C.) Green, the bassist from Godflesh.

    Vitriol is an archaic term for sulfuric acid, (the word derives from the Latin vitriolum, “of glass”, as crystals of metal sulfates resemble colored glass). The substance was central in alchemical practice for its transformative powers, its importance reflected in the alchemist’s motto “Visita Interiora Terrae Rectificando Invenies Occultum Lapidem” – “Visit the interior of the earth, and purifying it, you will find the hidden stone.” Green pursued this message, and this album is an account of his personal inward search. Recorded from 1995-1996, these tracks were made during a year long retreat to the mountains of Wales, where Green lived and worked in solitude. “Visita” (T1) opens with beautiful drones looping in reverse. Many of the tracks focus on abstract, textured noise, with additional elements like heavy distortion (T2), bell-like drones (T4), rushes of water and driving pulses (T5). There’s the sounds of the paranoia that sets in during extended periods of isolation: deep voices rising up from the mountains (T3), imagined footsteps echoing in an empty house (T6). The album ends on a (somewhat surprising) peaceful note, with beautiful reverberating guitars (T7).

  • Reviewed by lexi glass on June 27, 2017 at 9:39 pm
  • Filed as A Library,CD
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  • Tolimieri, Quentin – “Prepared Piano” – [Creative Sources Recording]

    tolimieri

    This one pretty much writes itself. Eight self-describing pieces for prepared piano from NYC composer/improviser and CalArts grad Quentin Tolimieri. The piano is stuffed with various objects, then bowed (T1), plucked (T3), and hammered. Chaotic and bangy at times, smooth and melodic at others. The works each have a unique structure and pace which doesn’t dawdle and stays relatively busy, expect for the sparse one (T5). Best just to let everything flow over you, and not get too caught up in the notes. All tracks are under 6 minutes, except for the long one (T4).

  • Reviewed by Louie Caliente on June 27, 2017 at 7:42 pm
  • Filed as A Library,CD
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  • Dodsmaskin – “Fullstendig Brent” – [Malignant Records]

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    This is the physical debut of the Norwegian duo whose name translates as ‘Death Machine.’ They call their music ‘noise-oriented drone’ and Malignant calls it Scandinavian Death Industrial. Both these descriptions are accurate.

    ‘Fullstendig Brent’ (‘Competely Burnt’) is a concept album about the worst of the Norwegian witch trials. In December of 1617, the men of Vardo, in the far-Northern part of Norway, were deep-sea fishing en masse when a sudden storm appeared, drowning most of them. The blame for this and other local disasters was eventually laid at the feet of local women, who were accused of witchcraft. In 1621, Mari Jorgensdatter confessed that she had flown with a friend to the summit of Lydhorn mountain the previous Winter, where, alongside various neighbours magically disguised as animals, they had drunkenly celebrated Satan’s Christmas Party. She also claimed that many women in the area had been copulating with demons while their husbands were out at sea, and that other witches from the area had caused the storm of ’17.

    Her confession was of course extracted under torture, and it implicated many others. From Vardo, the craze seems to have spread to surrounding parishes, with about 150 executions (Sami men as well as Norwegian women) taking place in Northern Norway by 1663. Many victims were publicly burnt alive. According to Wikipedia, the state shared some of the blame (Denmark-Norway had issued new anti-witchcraft laws in 1620), but much of the blood was on the hands of Lutheran clergy who taught rural Northern Norwegians to fear their folk traditions, alleging that evil blew down into Christian Europe from the North (how Black Metal is that?). Dodsmaskin seem to make no bones about assigning blame on Christianity, their liner notes quoting Martin Luther as having said “Devil’s whores shall burn” in 1537. Luther has many misattributions, and I could not find the source of this one, but there’s little question that the founder of Protestantism did indeed believe in witches and call for their execution.

    Dense synthesis, ranging from ethereal chords to glasses-shattering noise, is tied together with loop-driven rhythms and augmented with programmatic samples (weeping or screaming women, crackling flames etc.) and found sounds. This album is a beautiful, extensively-worked-over piece of sound design, but it’s also a genuinely unsettling simulation of a particular type of madness, despite having no vocals or anything else to give overt context. Somber and wrathful electronics recommended for devotees of Mz.412 (Dodsmaskin have actually collaborated with Nordvargr), Asmorod, Megaptera or T.O.M.B.

  • Reviewed by Lord Gravestench on June 27, 2017 at 2:37 pm
  • Filed as A Library,CD
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  • Galbraith, Kole – “Alptraum” – [Self-released]

    From Washington. Poem about birds and soft dark nights.
    One 30 minute track sounds like humming. Drone. Ambient. High frequency. Guitar flickers and crackles and tones. Becomes more chaotic as it goes on.
    – BJT

  • Reviewed by billiejoe on June 21, 2017 at 5:19 pm
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  • Subotnick, Morton – “Music For The Double Life of Amphibians” – [Wergo]

    LA experimentalist. Long moody tracks from different times and recordings. Sounds like abstract stringed instruments. Some quiet moments. Mostly you can really zone out on this rollercoaster.
    – BJT

  • Reviewed by billiejoe on June 21, 2017 at 5:18 pm
  • Filed as A Library,CD
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  • Ikeda, Ryoji – “0 Degrees C” – [Touch]

    Japanese sound scientist. Sounds like glitchy upload download fast forward symphony radar bloops chimes skipping static no signal. Short to medium tracks. Blends well so would recommend continuous play.
    – BJT

  • Reviewed by billiejoe on June 21, 2017 at 5:15 pm
  • Filed as A Library,CD
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  • Uthana-Eise – “G.d.g.r” – [Halbwelt Organisation]

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    Halbwelt (‘HalfWorld’) Organisation is a now-shuttered German label with only 8 releases to its name. This was the sixth, from 2005. Testoterone-poisoned harsh Death Industrial from a man who possibly goes by the name ‘Husen.’ He has no identity, no country, no race, and probably no girlfriend, but he wants extreme population reduction and he wants it now. Anyone who’s shopped at the Los Altos Whole Foods can hardly blame him.

    Fascistic drum machines stomp-stomp-stomping along in time with mangled buzzing synths constitute a self-conscious imitation of automated death: slaughterhouses, concentration camps, abortion clinics. Sterile Mengelian vocals delivered through a loudspeaker instruct you to poke and to prod your most uncomfortable impulses with the scalpel. OK, so it’s not the most original pallet ever (Genocide Organ? Brighter Death Now? Thorofon? Folkstorm?) but that’s not to call it totally formulaic. Its crunch-march repetition (perhaps with elements of Powernoise) is great for numbing oneself into a state of disregard for outdated conceits like humanism, conscience and moral relativism. Kill!

  • Reviewed by Lord Gravestench on June 21, 2017 at 3:35 pm
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  • Ordeal – “Traumende” – [Eibon Records]

    ordeal

    Project of Gabriele Santamaria of Italian death droners I Burn, with some assistance from the other guy in I Burn.

    Unlike I Burn, Ordeal plays ultra-dark Shoegaze with Industrial and Neoclassical undertones. Shimmering LSD therapy guitars via Lycia, Slowdive or ‘Disintegration’-era Cure, dense keyboards, programmed downtempo beats, meticulously arranged. Spare vocals appear in the form of over-the-top, piercing operatics (female) and meaningful whispers (male). The cryptic lyrics deal in some lushly decadent religious mysticism, where it’s not quite clear what is meant but a clear mood does emerge all the same, a hopelessness redolent of kinky sex and grand cathedrals. The Qliphothic atmosphere of this 1997 release perhaps overlaps with Gabriele’s post-Industrial peers in Ain Soph, Skrol, and Sanctum, to name a few. The name of the album might mean something like ‘Dream’s End’ in German.

    Slightly over half the tracks (1, 3, 4, 7, 9, 10+12) are instrumental. Some of the shorter instrumentals are more experimental and could be I Burn outtakes.

    Definitely gloomy, but also beautiful, like a fallen angel. “Visions of Hell, they are hope.”

  • Reviewed by Lord Gravestench on June 19, 2017 at 11:49 pm
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  • Baraki – “Colony Laspberry” – [Worm Interface]

    Baraki: a Pashtun tribe, a village in Afghanistan, a village in Poland or Iran, a commune in Algeria, a Belgian insult for a slob.
    This Baraki, wherever the name comes from, is an accomplished musician out of Kyoto. “Colony Laspberry” is his master class in many styles of electronic dance music, so well done that on a continuous listen, one wonders if this is many groups/projects instead of just one. It’s just one: Baraki.
    Each track is a unique sound: “rock “n job” starts off like classic Japanese electronica pop from the 80′s/90′s. From there it takes off. We get IDM, drill ‘n bass, environmental ambient, rave pounding beats, freak out spinning electronic bouncy mumble, squelch. All the sounds are here. Wow wow wow. Head spinning yes please.

  • Reviewed by Naysayer on June 14, 2017 at 12:03 am
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  • Bren’t Lewiis Ensemble – “Cavoli Riscaldati” – [BUFMS]

    lewiis

    A cavalcade of odd sounds, the origins of which are difficult to discern. Are these machines? Organic things? Electronic glitchery? Tape manipulation? Samples of who knows what? Probably all of the above. The first track starts with weirdly percussive monotone vocals and then moves into snippets of dialog about being sick and not wanting to live and bum trips and such. Then you’re in for a treat: two marathons (34 minutes and 25 minutes) of layered sounds that twist and turn and evolve and go all kinds of places and just work really well. The final track is 17 seconds long and totally unnecessary. Inscrutable material overall.

  • Reviewed by Max Level on June 13, 2017 at 9:39 pm
  • Filed as A Library,CD
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  • Samartzis, Philip – “Mort Aux Vaches” – [Staalplaat]

    samartzis

    Philip Samartzis is an Australian sound artist, composer, and professor in Sculpture, Sound and Spatial Practice at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology. He and Andrew Curtis formed the group Gum in the late 80s to explore broken, looped, and layered vinyl. Samartzis’s solo work focuses digital processing of acoustic and found sounds to construct abstract sound environments.

    This 2003 release — part of Staalplaat’s Mort Aux Vaches series — contains three pieces that mix synthesized and natural sounds in unsettling and often jarring ways.

    Variable Resistance (T1) begins with disorienting binaural clicks, slowly tweaked. The sounds come into focus, crisp and precise, but only briefly. Before long some comforting and reverb kicks in, and more natural noises appear. Echoey drips, gasps, and rasps, like wandering through dark wet steam tunnels with a faulty flashlight. Ends with the sounds of a rough pummeling and wailing, as the track skips and glitches to a halt. The CD is not broken.

    Deconstructed Windmills (T2) is calmer, starting with a long high-pictched buzz, giving way to sterile pulses and tones, like hospital equipment. This is replaced with ominous thuds, algorithmic blips and bloops. Brief interludes of glitchy static puncture the overwhelmingly vast drones.

    Soft and Loud (T3) draws the most on acoustic sounds and recordings. The first movement alternates between crunching, bending, scraping, screaming metal, and utter silence. Organic sounds like gurgling water and crinkling fire mix with synthetic sine wave drones. Low vibrations like bad fluorescent lights. Broken voices. Drum ratatatat. Some moments are actually musical, with rich harmonies and quick repetitive glimpse of a melodies, but there’s always something off — the instruments are not what they seem, almost a mirage.

  • Reviewed by Louie Caliente on June 13, 2017 at 8:51 pm
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