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Bethlehem were once one of the most influential German Black Metal groups, although their style incorporated Doom, Death, and Groove into what they called ‘Dark Metal,’ the extreme genre that never was. Their second album, from 1996, is “dedicated to all suicide victims,” and its title is Latin for ‘Thou Shalt Kill Thyself,’ or something like that. The band was formed in response to numerous suicides among its members’ friends, including that of bassist Jurgen Bartsch’s pregnant girlfriend.
Yes, this was an influence on the development of the Depressive-Suicidal sound but it’s heavy in a way a lot of that music is not. Bone dry guitars cutting perfectly cold and desolate riffs, skeletal drums, ghostly keyboards (sometimes!), deathrock basslines, and the most amazing, batshit-crazy sounding Black Metal screams of all time. Session man Rainer Landferman gasps, shrieks, chokes, sputters, growls and rants through these songs like he’s hearing the music at low volume through one headphone to make room for the voices in his head dictating the words. It’s all in German, but I can make out references to stone chains, blood, death, snakes, darkness and “animalistic blasphemy.” Apparently the lyrics are pretty hard to follow even if you do speak the language. Pass the thorazine.
T.5 appears on the soundtrack to Harmony Korine’s film ‘Gummo,’ for which the band also contributed one original song.
Blight is the first solo album from drummer René Aquarius, of the Dutch free jazz duo Dead Neanderthals, and it’s another excellent addition to our collection of releases from Milwaukee’s Utech Records. The only instruments played on these eight pieces are drums and cymbals, but Aquarius uses closely placed microphones, reverb, and an equalizer to create a varied collection of dark, unusual sounds. We hear low drones, deep rumblings, metal meeting metal, metal catching light, a dying heartbeat, the long lingering after-echoes of a cymbal crash. Even through the effects and other technical tricks, the tactile feel of Aquarius’ playing remains, giving the tracks a rich quality that I usually associate with expertly recorded jazz albums. From this material, Aquarius crafts a quiet, slowly shifting air of mystery. The original concept and skillful execution make this an intriguing listen for those of us (all of us?) that are into dark ambient sounds.
Label-leader and dEN-master Stefano Ferrian assembled
3rd album of modern wind from the Akropolis Reed Quintet. Diverse set of chamber works.
The Austrian label Hau Ruck! is the Tesco imprint of Der Blutharsch’s Albin Julius. On this 2002 release, HR! presents ritual-psychotic post-Industrial soundscapes from the solo project of Russian Yuri Sakevic, active since 1996. This CD is actually a retitled reissue of 1999′s ‘Gotterdammerung’ album on Russia’s Black Dead Rabbit Productions. ‘Lucis Ferrato’ means ‘Iron-Clad Light,’ I think.
Most pieces build layers upon layers of singing/chanting/wailing into swarming Greek Choruses of lamentation. At first I assumed the voices were sampled but I think most of the vocal parts are actually original recordings of Sakevic himself, who seems to be a pretty skilled singer. Sometimes the voices are clearly differentiated, and sometimes they blur together into organic drones. T1 seems to have lyrics, but they are extremely distorted. The pieces also draw on Lustmordian electronics, gongs, bells, chimes and various mystery sounds, often giving the recordings an alchemist’s-chamber atmosphere highly reminiscent of 1980s Ain Soph, the early LPs of Diamanda Galas, and Ligeti’s ‘Requiem.’ Imagine snowfall by the darkened cloisters of an ancient satanic monastery high in the mountains. Near the end of the album the energy level rises with T.6′s Toroidh march and Hitler sample and T7′s concluding outburst. Very bizarre, very unsettling sounds.
Los Angeles based Tikiyaki 5-0 is a combo of 4 musicians (bass, guitars, keyboards and drums) from the much larger Tikiyaki Orchestra. This EP features originals plus covers of Arthur Lyman’s “Taboo”, Les Baxter’s “Enchanted Sea” and “Song of Delilah”, and the surf classic “Shockwave”. Extremely good players and fine arrangements give us this wonderful intersection of Tiki and surf.
Gyorgy Ligeti (pronounced jurj LIH-geh-tee) lived from 1923 to 2006. His early life was in Hungary where his creativity was restricted by first Hitler and then Stalin. In 1956 he fled to Vienna and also spent time in Cologne. In 1972, he was a composer in residence at Stanford University. His music is heard in soundtracks of Stanley Kubrick’s films such as 2001. Considered one of the leading avant garde twentieth century classical composers, his work embraced 12-tone and electronic music, especially music made with conventional instruments made to sound like electronic sources. This 5-CD set is a treasure chest of various styles and includes a book where the composer discusses each piece. Many pieces are very spare, very high frequency notes played by strings give a signature sound not unlike a swarm of cicadas. Other pieces are lush and lyrical. Some vocals are playful, all are very original. Most is not all that accessible, so don’t expect comfortable soundtrack material.
PGM: Very great dynamic range, from almost silent to very loud.
Austrian Neoclassical Darkwave shamelessly mining the trickling veins of Dead Can Dance and Arcana. It is beautiful, though.
‘Die Verbannten Kinder Evas’ is German for ‘The Banished Children Of Eve.’ The group originally began as a side-project of both members of the Neoclassical Black Metal project Summoning. By 2006, on this most recent album, DBKE was mainly the project of Richard Lederer (AKA Protector), the other Summoning guy having departed. All music was composed by Lederer and performed by him on keyboards.
DBKE has been fronted by a variety of lady singers, most recently by comely Greek Christina Kroustali (AKA Lady of Carnage), whose fine soprano is either improved or damaged by heavy reverb. Lederer sings the male parts, so to speak. It’s all very archaic, almost religious-sounding chanty stuff. Nearly all of the lyrics are from the repertoire of John Dowland. You might ask yourself why they bothered re-setting the words of one of the Renaissance’s greatest balladeers, but apparently Dowland’s lyrics were not his own in the first place, being often drawn from popular poetry of the Elizabethan era.
If you enjoy the sophisticated melodic sweep of Summoning but don’t like the metal aspect, this is the release for you.
The story of this double CD is as happy and heartwarming as the music on each CD. Disc 1 was recorded in a West African studio, and Disc 2 has the more homey and true experience of guitarist and singer Zopoula’s magic, recorded live in and around his home in Burkina Faso. Jonathan and Heather Dueck visited Western Africa and had the great fortune to meet Hermas Zopoula, who acted as guide and friend to them during their stay. It was almost by accident that they discovered he was a musician as well as an incredible person. Some of his songs have heartbreaking lyrics, but the upbeat nature of his music attests to his faith and big heart. Enjoy.
This is a gorgeous aural experience brought to you by electronic and visual artist Mike Metlay. I happened to listen to this on a drive to Henry Coe State Park, and it was the perfect soundtrack for my ride. The colors in the track titles seemed to be in sync with the landscape passing outside my window. By the time “fade to green” was piping through the speakers, there were lovely springtime green hills to go along with the Earth mama feeling of the music. Birdsong was a nice addition to the track. Track 3 has some vocalizations that blend in well with the electronics, and there is some sampling thrown in on some tracks, though it is minimal. The entire CD builds from spare outings to the final, epic track that has layers of beauty. Even in the spaces, there is so much going on. Fading never sounded so good.
Vakoka means “something precious given from the ancestors”. Madagascar is an island off of the SE coast of Africa settled 1500 years ago by Polynesians. Wood flutes, violin, accordion, snaredrum, call and response, hand drums. Diverse ensembles give contrasting sounds from track-to-track, deeper tracks reward. Mississippi Records’ “Fanajana” & “Fanafody” Madagascar comps provide contrast.
From Bristol, UK. Psych. Doom. This came out in 2013. Sounds like echoing screaming vocals and heavy sounds. Lots of feels and vibrations. Track five is poppy punk upbeat. Six could not be slower. Lots of varying sounds.
2002 Norcal Noise Festival compilation. Noisefest happens in Sacramento and it celebrated its 20th anniversary last year. Each convocation has attracted as performers both ‘stars’ of the noise scene and people of whom nobody ain’t never done heard. As for the audience, well there’s the other bands of course, and also an assortment of odiferous and shambolic weirdos, some drunk, some ‘high on life…’ Don’t touch ‘em or you might bring home a new friend, if you know what I mean. Recording quality is good and many different forms of experimental music are represented, although most tracks are electronics-based.
1. “If opera’s not your thing you can head to the Norcal Noisfest in Sacramento this weekend. The festival showcases 32 experimental bands playing non-tradition instruments with unusual technique. Don’t be surprised if power tools, metal tubes and tweaking electronic effects are part of the lineup. If you don’t hear the festival, chances are you won’t be hearing NOISE on any radio station.”
You might like this even if opera is your thing.
So Beast is Katarina Poklepovic and Michele Quadri. I know nothing about their backgrounds except their names. Together they create some fairly fresh music. Her vocals are angry and punk-sounding, and his balance hers with equanimity. The music includes some samples, electronics, and extreme delicate, nostalgic piano on track 13. Tracks 8-11 are really cool and blend together if you let them.There’s a lot on this disc to please whatever mood you’re in.
Hypnopazuzu is a newish project by legendary David Tibet and Youth (Martin Glover, bassist of Killing Joke and other projects and producer). Supposedly this project was in the works for years, at least on a conversational level. Youth and Tibet are highly intimidating men so it is interesting on how to approach this big work. Musically, it is lush, rich and full, with stunning orchestrations combining strings and moog, synthesizers, guitar and percussion. All pieces are slow but never dull. Always moving, flowing, changing from quiet to full sound, contrasting and playing with Tibet’s vocals. Tibet has a unique, distinguishable voice, known immediately by those who are familiar with his work. His singing style is reminiscent of ancient church choral work, sometimes chant-like, always captivating. The songs are about… the hell if I know. Even reading the lyrics lost me. Which isn’t bad, they are just deep. Tibet is influenced by or follows and studies esoteric Christianity as well as sects of Tibetan Buddhism, ancient literary texts, gods and Gods both light and dark, magick and themes of apocalypse. Mix that up with older children’s tales, experimental sexuality, and selections from Gilgamesh and you have an idea of the range of topics being sung. Intimidating but heartfelt and sincere. This CD is a stunner and would work on almost every show at the station. Don’t be intimidated.
Black metal split with two two-man bands that share one drummer (Nemesis Infernum), and that guy really likes drums. Drums are very prominent throughout.
Velonnic Sin seem like they might put a little bit more thought into their songwriting, but that’s just speculation. Velonnic Sin is pretty at times, but those times are surrounded by more traditional metal riffs and growl-screaming.
Sin Origin is more driven and has eviler vocals, but the long song durations feel unnecessary at times. The insert under the tray describes them as “corpse-painted Darkthrone worship with ultra-long Black Metal conciertos[sic]“.
This 2010 CD is the most recent proper album from Anti-Free-Speech Action’s favourite gay, vegetarian, British-working-class, pro-Israel neo-Nazi.
Douglas P. is a legendary figure and voice in the post-punk scene, and as a matter of fact, KFJC co-presented his last show in San Francisco, where a small and rather pathetic congregation of picketers made known their displeasure with the artist’s consistent use of Third Reich imagery, as well, I’d imagine, as his refusal to disavow his own curious brand of New Right/Post-Left (but hardly Hitlerian) politics. His outlook and uniforms are an uncomfortable combo to be sure, but I wonder if that’s the point… Gee whiz…
Another point: there is and shall be no band in the world like Death in June; furthermore, Death in June has never been a political band per se. The artist’s interrogation of modernity’s numerous betrayals (on the personal and international scale) certainly lends itself to political analysis (e.g. t.1), but ‘Peaceful Snow’ is essentially distilled from the thoughts and feelings of a poetically-inclined gay man facing old age on his horizon and with a lifetime of refusal to compromise at his back. Although there is some bile here, in many ways it is the most tender album he has ever done, summoning the inevitable spectre of his old group, Current 93 (‘Soft Black Stars,’ anyone?) in its sober treatment of lost connections and truths long tried by the passage of time; you could say there’s some Leonard Cohen in there too, actually, whose body of work is an apter point of reference for Di6′s than one might think.
The songs are all enriched and expanded by Douglas’ newest collaborator, Neofolk neophyte Miro Snejdr (he has a Death in June tattoo), who transcribed them from guitar to intricate and fragile piano passages, somehow evoking both Burt Bacharach and Ozymandias.
I was a fool not to have checked this out sooner, because it was easily the best Death in June album since ‘Operation Hummingbird.’
French composer Wilson Trouve and Alameda’s Time Released Sound bring us 11 tracks of ambient piano, field recordings, guitar, and synthesizer swells, all processed and encased in layers of shellac. Romantic and pastoral impulses dominate. The piano work is tonally related to minimalism, but uncharacteristically, it brings a romantic sentiment to the proceedings
2 CD’s, 2 long slow-moving tunes, 63 & 53 mins from Australia’s The Necks. CDs mix together nicely. Repetitive piano and sidewinding bass phrases, some electroacoustic and film sample sounds. Drum machines. 88 BPM. Made me want to go out at night and repossess some vehicles. 6 minutes in, “Can I get a beer?” You’ll need one. 15 minutes, a guy gets roughed up. 37 minutes in, this lady gets thrown out a window. Ambulances wail, the crime scene photographers do their job. Let’s go on a stakeout.
Brooklyn’s Grant Cutler recorded musicians improvising to delayed recordings of themselves, building odd warm drones. The compositional process is guided by the dumb logic of delay, and the results are anything but. Klangfarbenmelodie colors, shifting terrain, structures constructing and desconstructing simultaneously. 8 short tunes 3-7 minutes each. We have another Cutler 12″ in the library.
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