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During a four year break from MCing, MF Grimm became a respected author of the Eisner-nominated, Glyph Award winning autobiographical graphic novel Sentences: The Life of MF Grimm, and in 2010 he released his 8th studio album in the same vein: You Only Live Twice-The AudioGraphic Novel which includes a 16-page comic book crafted by cartoonist Jim Mahfood (of Kevin Smith’s Clerks fame). Grimm gave birth to his rhyming discog by shouting “Shit ain’t never gonna change, FUCK IT!” on the Kool G Rap classic Take ‘Em To War, then put on the masks with MF Doom and King Ghidorah when he joined up with the alcoholic metal-faced one’s Monster Island Czars, so I guess you could say this graphic novel form of hip-hop would be his third incarnation and his most positive message/attitude-wise to date (funny how becoming an award winning author lets you brush off the thug angst and cruise thru your midlife crisis). Problem is, I think a lot of his original fan base is still bumping Take ‘Em To War and haven’t gotten over it. I mean, I haven’t anyway. But when that hardrock stance leads to you shot in the spine and trapped in wheelchair for the rest of your life, I’m sure a change towards positivity and understanding would be the only move. So I’m a dick for taking that shot; I just really love that G Rap track, b. The wide blend of production on Twice from Twiz the Beat Pro is hit or miss, often not gloomy enough for a guy named Grimm. Return To Eden and the title track go, hell the whole first plate goes, though I lost interest on the second, and the first track is my favorite where he invents a sparse new NY rap style, name drops “blessings from the Elohim” and says “thank you for giving me rap in its purest form to save ‘em all.” Maybe even M the G.
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.
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.
If you don’t love this album for the amazing sour powerful
The first west coast death metal guru we sought evil wisdom from was Erik of Epidemic. His Shaolin Temple was the convenience store where he worked which was adjacent to the Tressider Student Union video arcade on the Stanford Univ. campus and where we’d loiter hoping to get a chance to play Tempest against John Elway or overhear Erik bestowing upon some older head what was lame/cool in the middle of the periodic table. I can picture our guru having two words for Olympia’s Bone Sickness: “Autopsy minus the Exodus parts.” But guru, if I may, it’s not just sans doom riffs. BS strips away over-abundant intricacies and excessive production value (like maybe no post-prod whatsoever) and seriously cuts the fat when it comes to song/riff length (all 7 songs clock in under 20 mins). Not because they can’t (this is one tight quartet for sure) but because that’s all this desperate modern life will allow or deserves. This stripping also provides a self-sufficiency to the onslaught giving it that living hard with what you got in the stash thing. Like Epidemic and Autopsy this is fully west coast lineage. No contrived sludgeness or multifarious crust here: ripping pace, velociraptor-minded death metal through and through, but a lot of the time being hella good at one thing is the sick way to go. The eye-catching cover drawn by Hand of Beaver is perfect for contemplating decomposition for the rest of the month. Plays at 45. Mann the General.
2012 split between Long Beach’s Black Scorpio Underground and Werewolf Jerusalem (a pseudonym of Houston noise vet Richard Ramirez) comprising two sidelong pieces:
As Cinder foretold, this is 2 sides of ambient drone. Kevin Doria’s side project is Total Life, and Side A features his work. While it is ambient, Side B (Deceh) is even more quiet, although it seems to evolve more, as they add a harmonic magnification of a shruti box, Hammond organ, upright double bass, and modular synthesizer to the mix. Good alone or mixed.
Alex Zhang Hungtai is Dirty Beaches. The first LP of this release indeed does represent his drifting, from where he was born in Taiwan, to where he resided in Montreal, and other places in the world. This vocal and instrumental disc is original music from Hungtai, and he is joined by electronic musician Bernardino Femminielli and guitarist Shub Roy. After a breakup, Hungtai relocated to Berlin where he recorded the second LP, aptly named “Love Is the Devil.” This LP is all instrumental. Both discs are low-fi and make you proud that Hungtai could leave his kitchen job to pursue music full-time.
Very limited (only a few 100 – as a 2013 Record Store Day release by the discriminating Permanent Records) re-issue of a Chilean psych rock band’s debut (limited lathe cut and cd from 2011) that mixes elements of kraut rock, indian instrumentation and latin sensibilities all steeped in the various era’s 60”s 70′s and 80′s technology and stylistic influences to create an incredible hybrid sound that is sure to make you salivate for more. A nice variation in terms of track lengths and vibes. Some head off into Pop territories such as the catchy South Sun and others wander off into that crazy hybrid mentioned previously ala the opener, Latinarabi. And then there’s Die – the synths sound like Accordions. I’d actually like to hear a Brian Jonestown cover of this one. Wish You Know spirals off into fuzz garage territory (and that’s just the A side). The B side heats it up with 3 more gems like the tribute to the Madchester Sounding Space So Near and the meandering krauty-jammer Flashbacker (the title track) clocking in at a whopping 12:45. Finally, Mystic River (9:16) wraps it all up with a bow and a desire to yet again flip the record for another historical psychedelic tryp throughout the minds of these Chilean geniuses. I’m ready for some more of this appropriately titled disc and I’m sure you will be as well.
Vertonen’s (aka Blake Edwards) newest work is a wonderful, beautiful, chilling concept album of grand proportions.
“Music From Saharan Cellphones Vol. 2″ is exactly what it says. A continuation of the very interesting project from Sahelsounds which started with volume one, these are songs from the Sahel region of Africa. We are talking Sahara: Mali, parts of Egypt, northern Niger and Morocco. Due to a number of struggles (political, institutional, economic and technological as well as geographic) people from this area have decided to use cellphones as a music device, sharing or buying mp3′s of music from all over his part of the world. It is traditional and it is not. Music starts out with classic Malian sounds and then the auto- tuned vocalist begins singing. People are rapping in Tamashek. A child sings over the melody of an Alpha Blondy song about what animal to buy. There is Moroccan Rai sung by a female Cheba. There is Hip Hop from Mali and Niger. There is a song which is an ode to small buttocks. It’s all here and it rocks. The rhythmic, hypnotic beats, the elegant guitar playing, the high pitched vocalization all sets a mood for party time. It’s also a bit sad because most of this stuff is lost when the next thing comes along…. or when another political insurgency comes in to stop the evils of cellphone music. This is almost a museum piece. But do not treat it as such. Enjoy.
Noise rock from Seattle.. these guys recently toured with Iron lung and they totally have that Steve Albini sort of sound except without Steve Albini… that right there should tell you what you’re getting into..Crunchy and gritty.. The riffage here is pummeling, teetering on hardcore punk with headbanger sensibilities. Super-distorto wall of fuzz all over this one sided record, keeping things nice and cacophonous,but always with dynamic which swings into straight noisy freak-out and then merges back together for some well to do jams. Sometimes things even get kinda quite for a short moment- particularly at the end of the record (look at the grooves!). These guys have a very tight sort of looseness happening here, with a heaviness to please anybody with a sweet tooth for dissonance + RnR. Programming note: discogs tells me there are five tracks here.. good luck figuring out where one ends and the next begins.. you can hear the tracks change if you keep your ears perked, but I suggest letting it spin. The whole thing runs about 19 minutes. Killer. -Surfer Rosa
If you want to read the lyrics to these short songs, they are printed on the album sleeve. I found them fascinating, covering topics such as how a girl looks like a Cylon (A1), military fanaticism (B2), and broken air conditioners (B3). In fact, while I was trying to intuit the artist’s background from his lyrics, I guessed that he had some military background, or at least a great concern for military topics. Matheny’s voice is easy to decipher, which is good for this type of folk singing, and his acoustic guitar provides a nice, usually upbeat accompaniment. Sometimes there is a sort of tape hiss sound that reminds you of differing forms of communication. In all, this is a satisfying listen.
This is a 1998 collaboration between Alec Empire and Techno Animal. There are some pretty typical and expected elements here from a DHR release – a very noisy and industrial sounding album with experimental tones. Elements of hardcore, breakcore and noise from a post-Atari Teenage Riot Empire; plenty of hard breaks and distortion, but it’s a far slower bpm than what one would expect from DHR. The tracks here are in the 70-90 bpm range, creating an apocalyptic industrial soundscape of spaced out, distorted hip hop and downtempo. This is most likely suitable only for the headstrong fans of harsh noise and breakcore – not for the weak or timid, you will find no shelter in these beats.
Tan Ru was a techno moniker used by Eon, aka Ian David Loveday in the late 90s and early millennium. He had gained popularity as a “rave” producer in the early 90s, having been one of the bridging artists between early techno and breakbeat. This 1997 EP is techno, breakbeat and 2 step. “Bam Bu” is the outstanding track here, a slow 2step roller. “Sit On” on side A is a four-to-the-floor techno track, which to me is a very concise example of 90′s warehouse techno.
2008 release from Japanese electronic artists NHK. This is a somewhat harsher album than what we are used to from the typically abstract duo, with fast techno beats and gritty samples. Dabbling in industrial, glitch and darkcore, heavy digital bass, this is faster than your typical techno tracks, with “Entire Set 2″ crossing over from techno into hardcore. This album is perhaps not very user friendly, but rich and rewarding.
This Austin project (cuh-TIN-ear-pock) is named for a national park in far-Northern Canada, and this 2013 release is their first since 2009. The aesthetic is pretty uniform: insistent beats (808 or real drums) surrounded by noise (synth and probably guitar). A4 provides a minute or so of relative calm, and B2 is also comparatively muted, but otherwise this is a love letter to feedback and gain. Rhythms tend toward the industrial but a more ‘rock’ structure is present in the drums and bass of A5 (a ‘cover’ of George Brigman’s ‘DMT’) and B1. Doom metal chords appear near the middle of B3. These are all basically instrumentals, but there are distorted voices at various points on A1, A3, A6, B1 and B2. I’m not really sure what the aim of all this is, but if you enjoy hearing people torture musical instruments you’ll probably find something to like.
Cacophonous, desert dwelling, patchouli smelling sounds of Teeth Mountain. A salivating singing saw, a distorted crying cello, carnivorous computers and four drummers playing floor toms and a communal cymbal. This evokes some hippie chant circles, with straw hat masks and loose psychedelics for sure (artwork is on spot). Hypnotizing sounds drone out of the strings and saws, as the egg shakers and drums play to their own tune. Stonerdelia. Instrumental tribal trances. Beware, you might cause a rain storm of awesome in master.
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