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Music Reviews

Poison Sea – “Poison Sea” – [Casual Acid Tea]

Thurston Hunger   4/4/2018   A Library, Cassette


Distant piano with tape hiss and low-key ominous
vibes. Drone as an emotion, dread always hits me
harder than its less subtle cousin “doom.” This
cassette perhaps was acid washed in some toxic
effluvia from our dying oceans. Recently watching
the Twin Peaks revival and the film version of
“Annihilation” I found this music fits in with that
kind of visual weather. Overcast guitar, shades of
Steven R. Smith appearing in the shimmer-y clouds.
While there are organic elements of piano and spaceship
or something at one point) it’s mostly floatational
banks of keys. Honestly by the last track, “Beneath
the Haze” I sense a thin layer of optimism. Lying at
the bottom of the Poison Sea are Kurt Mangum from
Flying Hair along with Anthony Piromalli, they form
a pretty seamless pairing. Set sail for this one.

-Thurston Hunger

Scathing – “Untitled” – [Oxen]

lexi glass   3/20/2018   A Library, Cassette

Scathing is the harsh noise project of Austin-based artist Kenny Brieger (also in Architeuthis Dux); this 2018 cassette is his second release under this name. Two ten minute breakneck cut up pieces. Side A is total implosion, I trace its source possibly to a mutilated rock song. Voices singing, feedback from microphones or guitars, even remnants of song structure, with a bridge of tense holding pattern rhythm that transitions between the two halves of the piece. Side B is total explosion, high and piercing, barreling with barely a breath until the final second. Another punishing release from Oxen.

Return to Dungeon Synth [coll] – [Danvers State Recordings]

lexi glass   3/6/2018   A Library, Cassette

I get how you might not be totally jazzed to return to dungeon synth, but it’d be a shame if you passed on the deliciously warped sounds on this split cassette. We last heard from Romain Perrot working under his most well known alias Vomir, among the most infamous HNW projects going. Here, he appears as Free as Dead, working with a completely different palette of sounds: a possessed organ, the notes twisting and distorted into beautiful, demonic hymns. If you love the Solo Organ stuff we’ve been playing consistently for the past two years, give this creepier version a spin. On Side B, we have six tracks from Bride, a side project of T.O.M.B., that attempt to capture electronic voice phenomena, or the sounds of spirits affecting electronic signals. Textured field recordings, unintelligible voices, ringing bells, dark piano melodies, and synth drones wind and warble through ancient speakers. Beautiful nightmares.

Theologian – “Forced Utopia” – [Danvers State Recordings]

lexi glass   2/27/2018   A Library, Cassette

Lee “Leech” Bartow made his name in the 1990s with the power electronics project Navicon Torture Technologies. In 2010, he began releasing less extreme but no less dark works as Theologian. This new cassette from Danvers State Recordings (the label run by The Vomit Arsonist) is described as “apocalyptic industrial for the end times,” which might as well be now. The A side begins with the slow building ice storm of “In the End Times” (T1), the industrial rhythms of “The Sisters” (T2), the unexpected dance beats from a miserable club in hell on T3, the suspense of “Spent Fuel Rods” (T4). The second side is where this work really stuns, beginning with the standout title track (T5) (with a grim chorus that returns in T8), the tragic vocals of T6, the annihilating ambience of T7. The four tracks on each side merge seamlessly into one another – play on continuous to track them all together into a long piece. So much more than just a spooky dark ambient soundtrack, this excellent release evokes scenes of genuine drama, beauty, and horror.

Blood of Chhinnamastika – “Blood of Chhinnamastika” – [Pet Goat Records, The]

lexi glass   2/27/2018   A Library, Cassette

Botched Facelift gets a makeover in this debut cassette from Blood of Chhinnamastika, and it’s just as horrifying as you’d imagine. Local noisician Dario Puga’s new project is named for the fierce Hindu goddess of sex and destruction, who severs her own head to nourish her followers with the blood that springs forth from the stump. The A side is a single track that moves between dense layers of pulses to sparser passages where warped vocals cut into stuttering bursts of static, to somewhat nauseating effect. “See No Hope” (T2) sustains the intensity with tortured screams and mangled electronics, while the final track “Unreality Tortures” (T3) is over eleven minutes of uninterrupted searing sandblast. Drink up!

HMS – “Tetrad” – [Astral Spirits]

Phil Phactor   2/14/2018   A Library, Cassette


Yes, it’s another genre-defying release from the folks at Astral Spirits. Climb aboard the HMS Tetrad! You’ll find delicate drumwork, disembodied violin, and other things too, but mostly there is just the deep, dark vastness of the sea. These tense and drony soundscapes bring to mind a darker, fuzzed-out version of The Necks, and that’s high praise as far as I’m concerned. Retriever (T2) is the highlight.

Nadek, Josef – “Bluatig Hart” – [Fall Into Void Recs]

lexi glass   2/7/2018   A Library, Cassette

On this 2014 cassette EP, noise artist Josef Nadek draws inspiration from the ancient folklore of his native Austria. “Wâldgeischta” lures us into the forests, with field recordings of birds singing as dark ambient echoes settle in the trees (T1). This moves into the mysterious, minimal rhythms of “Nimma dâ” (T2) that blossoms into full-on seething noise on “‘s wilde Gfâhr” (T3). The dust settles on the final ambient track “D’ Bluatig’n,” (T4) electronic groans and growls from the spirits as they disappear back into the woods.

Head Dress – “Devil’s Triangle” – [Castle Bravo]

lexi glass   1/31/2018   A Library, Cassette

Analog transmissions from Head Dress, the project of Ted Butler from Los Angeles (he’s also behind the underground cassette podcast Norelco Mori). This 2017 cassette comes to us from the newish experimental tape label Castle Bravo out of Lafayette, IN.

Three modular synth works with a focus on rhythm and drone. Sonar pings from a black box on the ocean floor, repeating pulses like a code beamed from a distant source. Ringing drones that flow into beats from alternate dimensions mutating into minimal almost-techno by the end of “Blake’s Ridge” (T3). Disappear into the Devil’s Triangle.

Forrest Friends – “40 Winks of Dyer” – [Cryptic Carousel Records]

abacus   12/6/2017   A Library, Cassette

cuddly duo of freak folks out of Seattle on an assortment of broken instruments and looping droning and buzzing electronics; extended noise mantras unfold into underwater exotica grooves, squishy rhythms and tribal play toy pandemonium warbled echoes of social ineptitude take form in feral whelps, growls and howls; some cluttered garage hang out ayahuasca hazing

Anguish of Enlightenment, The [coll] – [Self-release]

abacus   12/6/2017   A Library, Cassette

black metal split from the Seattle area: Drakul unleashes relentless death infected blasts of grime and decrepitude; obsessions include the occult, psychopathology and necrophilia so you know its tasty. Sermons On a Moonless Night is like a depressive vampire porno, distant fog laden blood rituals with garbled goblin vocals, hog growls, and digital blastbeats for your amphetamine fueled late night suicidal meme quests

La Tene – “Tardive/Issime” – [Three:Four Records]

mickeyslim   12/6/2017   A Library, Cassette

Poly-melodic, hypnotic eastern string jams. Waves of riffs from the rhythmic hurdy-gurdy of Alexis Degrenier; floating seafoam background humming of the electronic Indian harmonium of D’Incise; both tied to the subtle, leading percussion of Cyril Bondi.

Space-out,
wisps of electronic strings,
bring on the wave.

Tiny Vipers – “02.20.2010” – [Dead Accents]

abacus   12/5/2017   A Library, Cassette

sparse guitar folk narratives from Seattle’s Jesy Fortino; recordings from an era ago, recorded at the Josephine; gentle yet haunting plunges into the weight of a heavy spirit; her voice is rustic yet somber, a real heartbreaker, evocative; live performance so the songs track together, just play them all and weep.

Unsustainable Social Condition – “Your Strife Means Nothing to Me” – [New Forces]

lexi glass   12/5/2017   A Library, Cassette

2016 cassette release from the noisecore project of Matt Purse (Fenian, Remainderless, founder of LA’s Oxen, on fire rn now if you ask me), joined here by drummers Ted Byrnes (LAFMS) and Charlie Mumma (Sissy Spacek, in Wood and Metal with Byrnes). Explosive torrents of shattered glass. Searing shards ripping voices to ribbons. Rapid-fire drumming plows through the second half of T1 and utterly destroys T2. Left me bruised, bloodied, and blown away.

Amokian, Igor/ J3M5 / Daze of Futures Passed – “Concerts of The Unknown II” – [Group Theory Recordings]

lexi glass   11/7/2017   A Library, Cassette

Cassette collaboration from LA circuit benders Igor Amokian, J3M5 (James Allen, the founder of the label Group Theory Recordings that released this tape in 2017), and Daze of Futures Passed (Mickey Partlow). Both sides were recorded during a live performance from Dec. 2015 at the Superchief Gallery in DTLA. The trio’s collection of custom-built electronics spawns heavy blackness, rolling thunder, sci-fi squiggling, disfigured piano, pounding rhythms, sonic monsters, all rumbling through a space that sounds like a cavernous empty warehouse, or maybe a haunted Toys-R-Us after closing time. Side A confronts the insanity head-on, while Side B is like listening through a pair of those neon foam earplugs, or from the stockroom during a smoke break. Press play for bizarre bentertainment.

Sea Moss – “Bread Bored” – [Crash Symbols]

lexi glass   10/23/2017   A Library, Cassette

Debut cassette from the DIY-electro-noise punk duo of Noa Ver and Zach D’Agostino, released on Crash Symbols. Sea Moss recently came down from Portland to play some California shows, including a set at this year’s Norcal Noisefest that I luckily made it to Sacramento in time to catch. D’Agostino’s drumming (a welcome change of pace from all the static and drones at the Noisefest) can be energetic and wild (T6, T8), angle into a groove (T1, T3, T10), or pour on the sludge (T5), and filtered through DIY devices, the rhythms take on an 8-bit dimension. Ver brings her vicious walkie-talkie vox and teeming tidepool of homemade electronics (spotlighted in T2 and T7), reminiscent at times of Quintron’s swamp tech sound. Weird waveforms that will leave you anything but bored.

Post Mortem Klinik – “Human / Filth” – [Distorted Press]

lexi glass   9/26/2017   A Library, Cassette

Post Mortem Klinik is one of the many projects of formerly Virginia-based, now local musician Chad Davis. His work spans a variety of genres: doom (Hour of 13), psych (U.S. Christmas), death industrial (Subklinik), black metal (Set, Anu), komische (Romannis Mötte), and more. P-M-K seems to be closely related, in name and in concept, to his 20+ year old Subklinik project, but under this newer alias, Davis forgoes the quieter, dark ambient elements of previous work for the extremes of electronic noise. This 2015 cassette EP from Distorted Press holds six tracks, each a heaving mass of degraded sound, like the collective filth of all humanity as it is flushed from our millions of disgusting hovels, coursing through rusted pipes, spilling into rivers, pouring into the oceans. Voices and screams surface and disappear, pulled under by the current of raw sewage. Squalid sounds for a society circling the drain.

Infinite Plastic Internal – “Skyline Session” – [S/R]

Naysayer   7/30/2017   A Library, Cassette

Mark Pino’s solo project Infinite Plastic Internal continues on the journey of modern day mantra with “Skyline Session”. Six instrumental tracks of percussion and drone, filled with many moments of silence and pause, this time. Sometimes the sound is what sounds like the hiss of a tape recorder. Other times, Pino’s drumming takes over guiding the listener through an array of rhythms and beats. Exceptional, as always.

Compile – “Ten Wolves End” – [Private Archive]

lexi glass   7/30/2017   A Library, Cassette

This release from NYC’s Compile, one of our first adds from the Boston cassette label Private Archive, holds two sidelong sound collages (supposedly two separate tracks, but I can’t hear the division). “Drone’s on Fire/Ten Wolves End” (A) is a collaboration with Article Collection (C. Latina of the group Private Archive and label co-owner). Chopped and screwed voices – possibly ripped from Youtube videos with views in the single digits or surveillance camera footage – describe survival on the streets and the pathetic daily life of a vlogger broadcasting for the first (and probably last) time. Underneath the samples are synth sketches, heavy bass pulses, tumbling metal, high pitched ringing, hovering drones. The piece degenerates into a finale that is both hilarious and terrifying. In “Compile/Did you really have fun tonight?” (B), recordings of domestic disturbances and an informational video about violent behavior steep in a nauseating brew of chants, drones, metallic echoes, and squirming synthwork. The cameras are everywhere, pointed at you, and the images captured are an infinitely scrolling reminder: there’s nothing in there.

FCCs ON BOTH SIDES

Au:Tone:Al – “S/t” – [Cloister Recordings]

Max Level   7/18/2017   A Library, Cassette

Intriguing trips into the hidden dark ambient recesses of your mind. Two side-long tracks on this cassette, each in the range of 17 minutes long, recorded live at the Luggage Store Gallery in 2010. Joining forces here are Andre Custodio (Say Bok Gwai, Nihil Communication), Dave Ed (Neurosis), and Kevin Gan Yuen (Sutekh Hexen) on Moogs and other synthstuff, along with guitar/amp/noise. Long, extended tones, sometimes meditative, sometimes more outward-reaching, wash over the listener. Reminds me of a subterranean journey through outer space, even though that’s not actually possible… I don’t think.

Long Distance Poison – “Twin Lights Twin Lights” – [Prison Tatt Records]

lexi glass   6/20/2017   A Library, Cassette

Nathan Cearley and Erica Bradbury have been composing analog synth works as Long Distance Poison since 2010. Most of the releases from this Brooklyn duo are on cassette (though the only one we have so far is a 12″ single) including this 2015 tape from Prison Tatt.

Each side of Twin Lights Twin Lights holds a sidelong track. “Mosa” (T1) immediately swells into a vicious surge of sound. At the center of the piece are heavy, earth-shaking pulses, but as it unfolds, subtler details begin to emerge. There’s tones twisting outwards, insectoid flourishes, bizarre melodies that hiss, crawl, breathe. The piece includes hydrophone recordings of the East River. “Infra Viam (Live At Death By Audio, 9/19/12)” (T2, Cearley and Bradbury are joined by Casey Block on a Micromoog), a live track from the now shuttered NYC studio/venue, feels like the afterimage of the first side: we hear settling dust clouds, smoldering remains, piano-like notes blurred beyond recognition, glowing embers, droning echoes, absence. Recommended if you enjoyed getting lost in the void of Zaimph’s latest work.