Music Reviews

Frightening Lights, The – “Frightening Lights, The” – [Bruit Direct Disques]

Thurston Hunger   6/18/2016   12-inch, A Library

Why wasn’t I informed earlier that Eartha Kitt was
reincarnated? That’s not quite fair to Elizabeth Downey,
the Australian mastermind and mistress vocalist guiding
these darkling Lights, she does sing a nice minxy mix of
demure dizziness and seductive strength. Mic’d up so
devotedly, you can sometimes hear when her lips press
together. Her voice is accentuated by the typically stark
accompaniment, Downey on acoustic guitar, peeling
chords off like petals from a flower augmented by
Dan Hawkins, on a host of instruments most notably a
breathy and sometimes shimmering organ. Never any
percussion, and these ballads move like tumbleweeds on
a slow breezy day. Whatever they scratch, her voice is
the salve. The last track “Pretty Things” drops the most
bombast, all others drift in and out, feeling like
a woman singing alongside her OD’d partner. Is it
a lullaby to bring back to life, or a farewell
funereal folk hymn? Each side starts with a powerful
number, and the tracks following feel like they were
cleft from those lead-off and deepest cuts. From the
band SIR without love? A mesmerizing release here, do
not miss. -Thurston Hunger

Lotions and Creams [coll] – [Ghoul House Records]

Louie Caliente   6/18/2016   A Library, Cassette

2014 West Coast Tour compilation cassette from these three heavy indie post-whatever bands.

Trumans Water: Odd-ball “squiggle-core” with a fast and fervent pace. Dissonant yet intricate guitar work. Definitely noise rock, but more rock than noise. Covers of MC5 (track 4) and Kinks (track 16) are simple and straight-forward, but still maintain a unique sound.

Octagrape: The most melodic of the bunch. Sing-songy hazy-dazy distortion-soaked rock with a SoCal beach feel. “Medicinal Glop” breaks the mold with a long psychedelic pop-punk meltdown.

Permanent Makeup: Florida post punk. Paranoid ranting lyrics. Aggressive and angular guitar riffs coupled with rumbling bass lines. Occasional improvisational breakdown.

Coral Remains – “Zero Tour Demo” – [Ratskin Records]

Louie Caliente   6/18/2016   A Library, Cassette

Coral Remains (formerly Styrofoam Sanchez) is an Oakland-based post-industrial wretched noise waste receptacle that “personifies the trash island in the pacific gyre”.

Electrostatic blasts, jagged crunchy beats, and growling demonic incantations. Looping low-end thuds that self-destruct before your very ears. Apocalyptic visions of our doomed species and ruined planet. Vile misanthropy at its finest.

Hertz, Jack – “End of Time Is One Second From Now, The” – [Aural Films]

abacus   6/15/2016   A Library, CD

overlapping hemispheres of orchestral music and celestial noise, interdimensional soundscapes blending machines, instruments and found objects enveloped by electronic dark matter with light trails of processed field recordings and effects. sound artist from San Francisco I believe apparently inspired by the mystery of life and molding these “techno-organic impressions”. horror sci-fi soundtracks full of spaceships haunted by alien specters. creepy, nefarious visions

Honey – “Love Is Hard” – [Wharf Cat Records]

Hemroid The Leader   6/15/2016   A Library, CD

Loud, greasy slice of New York maximum rocknroll on a semitranslucent drippy paper plate. Brooklyn trio Cory Feierman, William Schmiechen (Amen Dunes), and Dan Wise (Psychic Ills) I-iv-V garage psych. Toppings include MC5, Stooges, Coachwhips.

Bichkraft – “Shadoof” – [Wharf Cat Records]

Kai Sync   6/15/2016   A Library, CD


Kiev’s underground rock band Bichkraft delivers quite a punch with their second album. This was recorded at their new studio in a formerly debris-strewn building amongst broken classical vinyls, discarded winter coats and Soviet-era refrigerators. This chaos of old and new is indeed the style of this release, there’s something old and borrowed (Sonic Youth, Dinosaur Jr, early shoegaze), as well as something new and blue, pushing more aggressive indie rock into realms populated by noise pop and hybrid guitar techno. This album is indeed how to dangerously advent into spaces full of wonderful fragments, dissonance and atmospheric fun, not giving a funk about borders or genres. Yay!

Bionaut, The – “Lubricate Your Living-room” – [Matador Records]

Kai Sync   6/15/2016   A Library, CD


Bionaut is one of the multitudes of monikers names that Jorg Burger has used for music releases. This eighteen track compilation release of of his material between 1993 and 1997 mostly consist of downbeat techno with shades of ambience sprinkled between the multitudes of relaxed beats. The collection has its moments, such as the kinky Electric Campfire (in A Neo-Arckerman Style), Lush Life Electronica (tasteful electronic dub), Memphis SciFi (early day Planet Mu like electronic bursts) but also has nodding tracks with less interesting sonic content, rather done that-been there music. The dilemma is to find the gems amongst all the passing-by material. Electronic music favors the brave. Fortunately there’s Gas available for more intriguing Burger/Voigt explorations.

Foussat, Jean-Marc & Les Autres – “Alternative Oblique” – [Improvising Beings]

mouthbreather   6/15/2016   A Library, CD

frenchie Foussat’s (foosa) compilation of electronic, free-jazz nonsense in four delectable discs. all weird and wild, though a few tracks border on sanity.

CD1 is a collection of pieces with various movements. can be played continuous, as most songs track together.

CD2 starts off with a psychedelic spin, devolving to free jazz feels, into an aloof kraut rock vibe ala Faust (track 9).

CD3 four ~20 minute noise tracks good for mixing some chaos into your set. glitchy whirrs and whistles/ modem’s sexy nightmare/ fever dream chant/ falling endlessly into the chasm.

CD4 long, live recordings of oddball sounds structures fabricated with horns, drums, synth, stringed things. free jazz.

Houser, Jim – “untitled” – [Free News Projects]

mouthbreather   6/14/2016   10-inch, A Library

philly multi-media artist (painting, collage, sculpture, music, installation) instrumental layering loops/ lazily longing. beats and treats of a sweet variety, next to noodling stringed thangs. all tracks worth a listen and addition to your set to slow things down.

feels like a long interlude, waiting for something/ on a street corner, daylight, buzzed and smoking a cig, waiting, waiting.

Drawing Virtual Gardens – “Six Weeks Were to Long to Wait” – [Time Released Sound]

abacus   6/14/2016   A Library, CD

american born multi-instrumentalist David Gutman residing in brussels produces an exquisite palette of lost, listless drones; a dusty mirage of electroacoustic serenity blending field recordings, synths, guitar, piano, glockenspiel, etc into a violet haze over orange dusk. soothing yet somber these pieces are perfect for hot summer evenings, though may be better suited for the august-september months

Death Unit – “Only Death Is Certain” – [Hospital Productions]

Louie Caliente   6/12/2016   12-inch, A Library

Death Unit is Chris Corsano, Carlos Giffoni, Brian Sullivan (Mouthus) and Trevor Tremaine (Hair Police). Released by the venerable Hospital Productions and limited to only 325 copies.

Beautifully nasty improv jazz-noise with dueling drum kits, blasting guitar fuzz and screeching electronics. Blood-stained, rumbling and pummelling.

“Smut” starts off with low resonating electronic rumbles, like getting a buzz-cut from a lawn-mower. Before long the drum explosions start to land, with increasing frequency and fervor, driving the piece with broken rhythms and cymbal punches. Last to the party are the high pitched screeches and static blasts, squealing and squiggling in all directions.

“AIDS Death 666” is coated (maybe internationally?) in crinkly popping surface noise. The song starts slow, with just the static over faint guitar musings and occasional drum fills and electronic bursts. The feedback slowly builds and the squealing buzzes become more focused and impatient, demanding your full attention. Soon the drums coalesce and the real destruction begins, coming in punishing forceful waves and only stopping once complete demolition is achieved.

Hive Mind – “Beneath Triangle and Crescent” – [Chondritic Sound]

Louie Caliente   6/12/2016   12-inch, A Library

Dark crushing drone and looping industrial synths from Greh Holger. Originally released on cassette 2008 by Fag Tapes Records, now available from Holger’s own Chrondritic Sounds.

Heavy electronics with only the faintest traces of rhythm. Opiate-influenced. Gritty and grinding, yet fuzzy.

Sticker indicates “playable at any speed”, but it doesn’t sound that different at 45, maybe slightly warmer and just a tad less bleak.

Dying/ Less Life [coll] – [Endless Disaster]

Louie Caliente   6/12/2016   12-inch, A Library

Split LP from Dying (Philly) and Less Life (New Jersey). Limited edition of 300 on white vinyl.

Dying: Aggressive hardcore with hints of garage and a kind of doomy feel. Indescernable vocals about isolation and suicide. Life is hard, man.

Less Life: Short rough & tumbly songs, most under 2 minutes. Fast paced and angular, with a few math-rock riffs. Final track is longer, slower, and a bit screamo.

Chessa, Luciano – “Petrolio” – [stradivarius]

abacus   6/8/2016   A Library, CD

composer, sound artist, musicologist: Luciano Chessa is a highly prolific figure in the avant-garde / modern classical / experimental sound world grossly underrepresented in our library for the fact that he has been active for decades and is based out of the Bay Area. anyways, what we have here is a collection of compositions ranging from 1987 to 2013 covering a huge expanse of compositional styles and formats:

-the first piece (1-4) a percussion-piano duet reinterpreting Pier Paolo Pasolini’s final unfinished novel, an examination of gender politics and identity psychology.
-the second piece (5-8) a selection of free compositions commissioned by the Bologna Conservatory where he studied in the 90s set to vocals performed by Chessa himself and controversially incorporating his popular music influences resulting in a more playful, almost catchy delivery.
-the third piece (9-11) a string quartet commissioned by and dedicated to a couple for their wedding tells the story of Italy’s most prominent post-WWII luthier.
-track 12 is a piece for solo guitar/voice, based on a poem about Amadou Diallo, a Guinean immigrant murdered by NYC police officers in 1999. this piece, he explains, carries a nihilistic tone resulting in a “painful overdose of silence.”
-the fifth piece (13-15) is a series of “salon dances”, piano compositions for four hands that involve intersections of actionism outlined thoroughly in the liner notes”
-the final two pieces are a repurposing of earlier compositions for solo violin requiring the performer to wear two green “jingle-bells” bracelets.

the compositions contained here are serene, cerebral, provoking, challenging, surprising, playful… a wonderful sampling of Chessa influential compositional styles and a wonderful introduction to his work.

Null, KK – “Noiser, The” – [Monotype]

Kai Sync   6/8/2016   A Library, CD


Now this is Intelligent Noise Music (INM), a mixture of noise and contemporary music mixed with tablas, field recordings of birds, post-punk, off-the-chart beats, poetry and much more. Each track was a surprise. KK Null is a Japanese contemporary noise sculptor and his playfulness with sounds shine through everywhere. Here he is joined with the collaborator The Noiser (Formanex member) with more machine madness and voices. These productions came from improvisational sets from shows and studio setups. The tracks are creatively named Track 1, Track 2 and so forth. Consider this album an approachable entry point to the expanding world of contemporary noisiness.

Section 12 – “Decline” – [Self Produced]

Kai Sync   6/8/2016   A Library, CD


Section 12 is a Boston-based band; this is their eight album. Stylistically they are going for the retro dark wave rock with influences from Joy Division and early day Cabaret Voltaire. As such this is a noble approach but songwriting-wise the pop-coefficient is turned up too high with some tracks resulting in some tracks having eerie echoes of serious emo music with too much verse melody polishing. If the pop-level is tuned down then the seriousness has its shining moment. Also, the dramatic vocal presentation of the singer makes you wonder if this is seriousness or an internal joke. It’s a thin line between satire and art. This is dark half-goth music, synth-wave and some traces of industrial, sad core. Enough labeling. Nevertheless, applauds for some of the tracks being outside the beaten track of Indie music.

Bren’t Lewiis Ensemble – “Armless Marvel, The” – [BUFMS]

Louie Caliente   6/8/2016   A Library, CD

Free improv noise from these Butte County Free Music Society weirdos.

The first three tracks are confusing collages of looped synth feedback, jagged guitar fuzz, clanging percussion, skittery static, and echoing found sounds.

Track 4 is a campfire ballad of sorts, telling of the tale of a woman with no arms through tweaked vocals over a bed of psychedelic guitar warbles and animalistic snorts and hairball-expulsions.

Track 5 sounds like an underwater raga on acid.