Lothars, The – “Oscillate My Metallic Sonatas” – [Wobbly Music]

abacus   5/23/2012   A Library, CD

2nd full length album from these trailblazing trippers the Lothars. While their first album featured 3 theremins and guitar, here we have 4 theremins, all with specific roles (bass/ lead/ambient/other) along with some percussion and sampling and the guitarist doubles on violin for a couple tracks. While this sounds like the makings of some cheesy novelty exploitation, it actually comes at you like a mesmerizing tapestry looming over the horizon, with otherworldly and subterranean excursions alike. ??The first “Sonata” especially sets the tone, like dark clouds rising out of the East with raga-esque scents abounding. There’s humor here too, evident in the tracks Banjolin, which sounds like its called, and Bleep-Bloop, a bumbling techno attempt (not to mention the album cover spoof of an old Benny Goodman record). Things get spooky too, with the third “Sonata” echoing an operetta drifting out of the Phantom’s shadowy caverns, and especially the epic 19 min doom-tastic drone that rises out of the murky depths like a swamp monster to close the album. All taken from two days of recording, these haunting lullabies arise from somewhere between 50s sci-fi/horror films and acid-infused psychedelia. Drop one and fly away!

Kuti, Fela – “Yellow Fever / Na Poi” – [Wrasse Records]

abacus   5/22/2012   CD, International

Two bumpin LPs slapped together from the king of Afrobeat, Fela Kuti and his Africa 70. These were both recorded in 1976 at a time when Fela was gaining immense popularity throughout Africa as he was simultaneously being persecuted by the Nigerian government for his anti-government sentiments and revolutionary pan-Africanism, not to mention declaring his house and property an independent state: The Kalakuta Reepublic. Contrary to this, though, these tracks are not overtly political, Yellow Fever the only one to touch on the subject. We then have two versions of Na Poi, possibly a response to James Brown’s “Sex Machine” with similar subject matter though he reminds us that “this is no sex machine, this is music machine.” The final track is the most straightforward (though not necessarily the best) with grooves that hit hard and don’t linger. That one is also sung in a mix of English and Yoruba, adding a nice element. New booty-shakin material from this legend to add to our thirsty Fela library right in time for Mayhem… Enjoy!

U.X.X. – “instrumentals” – [Self Released]

abacus   5/16/2012   A Library, Cassette

Collaboration between local noise artists (members of Riqis, Al Qaeda, Sutekh Hexen) Psychedelic mixture of organic and synthetic sounds with sax, synth, voice and computer beats augmenting the scene. Track 1 starts as a wavering synth drone that moves between an empty warehouse and a quivering tone before a rumbling takes over and the bottom heavy, broken hip hop beats take over. Feedback oscillations abound in the thunder only to be broken by a sudden broken glass as a glitched, factory beat sets in and we’re absorbed in a bouquet of noise. Voices echo from nowhere, augmenting the ethereal feel until suddenly prayer bells signal a move to an oceanside gathering of tribal dragonflies and a peaceful drone fighting an incessant feedback. Track 2 drops immediately into some deep hip hop instrumentals amidst a background of screeching and bass reverberations all warped like its encapsulated in a bubble. A fog washes over and we’re dropped into an ice cavern deep inside a mountain where every sound is amplified in the endless reverb. There, with all our senses deprived of stimuli except the freezing cold echoes we sink into a dreamworld, launching out to the edges of the universe. There we meet a series of chopped up beats that culminate in a fury of noise and then cut out very suddenly. Self-released tape produced for Amnesia’s last noise show 5/15/12. Amazing live!

Ex, Terrie / Nilssen-love, Paal – “Hurgu!” – [Self Released]

abacus   5/9/2012   CD, Jazz

Right off the bat, the slightest hint of a note or strike and both players explode in a fury of gritty guitar scrapes and a flurry of swirling drum fills, each telepathically punctuating every tiny glimpse of music that passes by almost imperceptibly in this vortex of constant flux. No sound is safe as they grasp it so suddenly and without hesitation in its entirety. Nilssen-Love’s virtuosity on the drums is mind-blowingly unreal coupled with Terrie Ex’s capacity to unlock every sonic facet of the guitar, and then some. This all finds itself locked, however, in a scene of deconstructed grunge-jazz so wild it’ll bite your hand off if you try to touch it. They drift freely between abstract sound exploration and primal free-rock jams as if there were no tangible divide between the two, falling into cartoonish wobbles right out of teeth gnashing violence and then jumping into a complex polyrhythmic groove for a split second before exploding again. For those of you looking for direction, the pieces do tend to get more abstract and spaced out as the album progresses. Enjoy…!

Dilloway, Aaron – “Modern Jester” – [Hanson Records]

abacus   5/9/2012   A Library, CD

Using recorded voices and sounds, fuzzed out primitive synthscapes and an amalgamation of tape loops this trickster tears down all preconceived borders of noise and sound, letting loose an overwhelming freedom through confusion and destruction. This prolific noiseician from the group Wolf Eyes released this double LP (we got the promo CD) on his own Hanson Records label, throwing a mirror up for the world to see the primordial delusions that gave birth to noise, stripped to the bare bones. With Tremors we’re introduced to the protagonist, an inflatable clown caricature cooing and cackling that resurfaces throughout the album, who is suddenly cut off by Eight Cut Scars??with its assaulting, repetitive yet extravagant and magisterial loops that circle round and round like a waltz stuck on the same twirl or the Electric Light Parade circling a cul-de-sac. The album continues with all sorts of delinquent antics fumbling in a drunken haze;??Body Chaos??is a three part symphony of a circus of wanton destruction where the entire zoo of animals is set loose in a swirling inferno. Shatter all Organized Activities??comes at us like a militant declaration of war, with chainsaw sounds and long cords of chain dragging down grated staircases. We get ceaseless hauntings of ghoulish elephants and fuzzy memories of rabid dogs along with slowed down hip-hop grooves played backwards and broken cuckoo clock chiming, all with the recurrent appearances of the cackling clown emerging from our subconscious, demonstrating as any jester would, his capacity to critique within the perpetual amusement.

Phog Masheen – “23 Duets” – [Love Earth Music]

abacus   4/25/2012   A Library, CD

Phog Masheen is a sound/video collective creeping out of the wastelands of the Los Angeles area like the other Love Earth derelicts they associate with. They use lots of homemade/common objects for aerophones and primitive percussion processed through all sorts of electronics, with some extended techniques like using dry ice. Really scuzzy, distorted feedback sounds all chopped and glitched and spliced together to produce really heavy, driving, bouncy BEATS! Everything from brutal breakbeat destruction to trance-y club beats for drunken raves in rusted out factories where everyone just drives their hogs around, spinning donuts on the dance floor. We even got some hip-hop beats sent to us from the year 2120 as a soundtrack for Mad Max style drag racing. Strings and drumsets samples, processed trumpet whale call dubs and metallic scrapes and clangs amidst a sea of white noise static. but BEATS! bump that shit…

Hobo Sonn – “Wary The Mind” – [Amen Absen]

abacus   4/24/2012   12-inch, A Library

Second full length from Brighton’s Ian Murphy aka Hobo Sonn. Two side-long experimental noise/drone pieces that flow dynamically across a variety of musical influences and textures. Composed and performed on an array of electronics, effects, piano and field recordings. The seemingly disparate piano parts blend seamlessly, offering a unique musical layer to the otherwise sparse landscapes. Side A begins with processed feedback and silent drones set against an oceanside scene that dips into a cosmic vacuum where we can still barely pick up radio signals from lightyears away. The openness draws every minute detail into startling focus, especially with the orchestral climax and subsequent vaporization towards the end. Side B picks up again with a glistening piano intro sailing through gliding through glassy waters until chimes signal a sudden landing upon a post-apocalyptic wasteland set within the Eurasian steppes. We hear ancient echoes of tribal ragas that again disappear with birds and chimes. Only 330 copies of this (first 120 got bonus CDR…not us? BOO) so play it!

Idea Fire Company – “Music From The Impossible Salon” – [Kye]

abacus   4/17/2012   12-inch, A Library

Narcoleptic ballroom dancing to music box serenades brought to us by this doped up duo. Repetitive piano swirls immersed in a sea of opiate sounds appear at first to be dusty old home recordings of small children trying to teach themselves the instruments, or just making sounds. Soon though, the simple mistakes mask as melodic manipulations and the repetition sinks into such a hypnotic trance that the redundancy evolves into meditative mantras. On the opening tracks the rusty trombone sounds never quite materialize but adopt a sense of aimless purpose that gives the mantras extra meaning. On other tracks, the synth and radio sounds give an otherworldly effect, like a dream where everything is just as it should be, except that every time you wake up, you still can’t read the time on the clock radio. Some tracks get a little more experimental as the melody drips away and we’re left incapacitated by the copious narcotics. Other tracks are purely repetitive and unnerving, like an infinite ellipses, and might work better for music bed, catatonic wall staring or pissing off listeners. This sounds like it was sent to us from an ether-crazed Victorian Vaude-villain from so far in the future, its a hundred years past already.

Orcutt, Bill – “A King Or Something” – [Palilalia]

abacus   4/17/2012   7-inch, A Library

More solo guitar confessionals from ex-Harry Pussy guitarist Bill Orcutt. Here we get more layers to his cracked, cantankerous deconstruction of broken blues phrasings, so gut-wrenchingly personal, it can only be described as spiritual. Side A seems all in all a little atypical, beginning in a shimmering haze, with a rickety lullaby accompanied by his wistful wails and then on Crossroads we’re hit with an unaccompanied vocal track of a nonsense tongue twister, compulsively repeated for almost 2 mins. Side A closes with a rendition of Michael Jackson’s (see cover) Man in the Mirror, done in powerful blues stomp fashion, wrapping up a somewhat more optimistic face. On Side B we sink briefly back into more sorrowful, dejected territory, tangentially contemplating every facet of regretful memories before closing with another blues ballad, this time with a little more twang, like a persistent desert wanderer. There are only 200 copies of this limited release from his Euro tour last year, so we can thank Bill himself for the donation.

Pumice – “Puny” – [Soft Abuse]

abacus   4/11/2012   A Library, CD

With the awkward start of the album it seems as if Stefan Neville isn’t quite sure which direction he’s going or how he’s going to get there. Herein lies the genius of Pumice’s special brand of broke-down psychedelic noise pop; his lack of concreteness is pursued with such intimacy and intentionality that the dilapidated melodious undertakings delivered in ear blistering lo-fi fashion creep and linger so harmoniously in their ugly beauty. Sitting so very precariously on the edge of convention, these delicate tunes are so infectious you’ll find yourself humming them for days to come. I imagine some simple folk-pop driving alone through the woods, getting hopelessly lost, hitting some potholes and breaking down in a fit of exhaustive noise. Instrumental tracks (4, 6, 9) demonstrate his patient, meditative musical stylings: Trophy lives up to its name, offering a long, regal interlude on Scottish organ, while Covered in Spiders demonstrates his capacity for making purely pretty sounds. The final track marches on before mysteriously disappearing into the Scottish organ drone, suggesting that even after his four year hiatus, there’s more Pumice to come.

Chacon, Raven – “At The Point Where The Rivers Crossed, We Drew Our Knives” – [Anarchymoon Recordings]

abacus   4/10/2012   12-inch, A Library

Three ominous drones from New Mexico based composer/sound artist Raven Chacon. All pieces are minimal and slow to build but deliver a subtle tension that weaves and grows and invades your psyche. Side A is a solo piece performed by the man himself with resonating snare, vinyl string guitar and and bone whistle. A storm brewing, spinning the rusty weather vane on the steel roof of a long-abandoned shack in the middle of a dry, desert wasteland. Side B contains two pieces: Textural experimentation on solo violin that sounds like the last dying breaths of a wheezing animal, and one commissioned for the University of Mary Washington Wind Ensemble; droning doom with sparse melodic insertions that overlap seamlessly in the dense fog.

Dental Work – “Fruit of Lebanon” – [Love Earth Music]

abacus   4/10/2012   A Library, CD

Love Earth Music sent us this tweaked release from Placenta Recordings. Dental Work is Jay Paul Watson of Minnesota somewheres who also runs the Placenta label and these tracks were recorded at the Danger Garden in Traverse City 6/19/11. The steady hum of medical machinery surrounds you as you slip into a saturated slumber with reverberations echoing in your head from incessant boring and drilling into your cavity infested canines (Track 1). Too sedated to notice the blood gurgling and bone fragments splintering, you drift into dreamland as they excavate your mouthhole and tear shit apart (track 2).

Sunn O))) – “Monoliths & Dimensions” – [Southern Lord Recordings]

abacus   4/4/2012   A Library, CD

Another mushrooming project from Stephen O’Malley and Greg Anderson with some extensive collaborations from folks from Mayhem’s Attila Csihar, Oren Ambarchi and Earth’s Dylan Carlson to Eyvind Kang, Julian Priester and Daniel Menche. Here the dealers of darkness combine with chamber ensemble and female/male choirs all under the arrangements of Kang to delve into the most blasphemous of all musical forms: harmony and melody. If you’re afraid that means this is the Sunn O))) pop album, you’re probably right; however if you felt that their previous material needed a wider variety of dynamics and textures, then this album is definitely for you! You still get the bellowing bass doom we’re all familiar with (trks 1,3) complete with tectonic incantations from Csihar, but we also see here classical forays with female choir recitations (2) and flowery horn arrangements (3,4). They use the track lengths to erode away each piece, the strings and synth like a fungi feeding off the decrepit reverberations and blossoming into entirely new entities, where horns shine heavenly light on what was once a fiery void feeding new life blood into the once rotted host.

Ewen/Smith/Walter – “Ewen/Smith/Walter” – [Ug Explode]

abacus   4/4/2012   A Library, CD

Free improv with teeth and claws from this ferocious trio. Complete disregard for all rhythm and tone in favor of a deconstruction of time and timbre. Cat scratching with jittering hypothermia hunting drunk hyenas on acid-drenched serengetis. Rusted seesaw toys atop jilted trashheaps. Unpredictable stop-start telepathy capable of exploding from a meow to a roar in an instant and then disappear again into the thicket. Imperceptible quakes in a cluttered kitchen on a rainy day and mad clown cackling on a crooked, broke-down merry-go-round. The nervous chatter of drums rumble within the seething, scatterbrained textures of guitar and bass/electronics. Like an incessant itch just below the skin, or a persistent nagging towards something long forgotten, these nonsense voices in your head won’t leave you sane.

Jandek – “Indianapolis Saturday” – [Corwood Industries]

abacus   4/4/2012   A Library, CD

More timeless free improv wanderings from prolific loner, Jandek; over 130 mins for your listening torture! Actually, it seems at first that years of above surface exposure have relegated him to more musical leanings, until the baffling, delirious lyricism of his distinctly oblique brand of country blues emerges to remind us that he’s still Jandek. He’s joined here by a small ensemble that offer a very dynamic atmosphere with some groovy jazz infections complements of a smooth bassist and spot-on drummer (who also drifts into jandekian drawls when needed) and skittish embellishments to Jandek’s jagged harmonies from a viola who peers cautiously from the din. There is a flute/xylophone player that seems to set himself apart from the rest of the group, jamming over and off of them, sometimes awkwardly (especially when quoting Christmas and jazz tunes in track 1). The female vocalist here offers an interesting juxtaposition sometimes mirroring Jandek’s styles, other times belting out a folksy, Americana bounce or bursting into slam poetry beats. Overall offers a new angle on Jandek’s signature staggering schizophrenic hazy noir daydream.

Luftwaffe – “Solipsistica Nihilisti” – [Punch Records]

abacus   3/28/2012   12-inch, A Library

10″ follow up to their recent full length CD from this American martial/industrial noise outfit with members from Ostara, Valence and Gnomonclast. This is great for fans of Boyd Rice, Death in June and Aleister Crowley which leads to somewhat questionable political leanings with sinister themes like dictatorship, war, mass executions and general human evil. Lyrics can be a little straightforward but definitely reflect blatant misanthropy. Supporting the thematic material is a diabolical musical underbelly of decrepit bass rumblings and serrated gritty noise with some instrumental appearances, all punctuated by driving, repetitive military beats. Dubbed vocal samples creep out from the terror recounting fascist speeches and a subjugated populace. Tracks 4, 8 and 10 offer a brief respite from the march to oblivion with more folk/ambient sounds. Album ends with an apocalyptic ballad set to swirls of synth complete with samples of crying women. Happy night terrors!

Sister Iodine + Masaya Nakahara – “Meth: Live In Tokyo” – [Premier Sang]

abacus   2/28/2012   12-inch, A Library

Joyful euphoria for those that take to sonic terror and brutal destruction like heroin, or meth for that matter… Don’t be mistaken, this isn’t just a monotone blanket of noise, rather unpredictable chaos at every corner that might get you foaming at the mouth. Only 300 copies exist of this live recording of primal improv from this French trio dating back to the early 90s and Violent Onsen Geisha frontman Masaya Nakahara. Brain scalding eruptions of psychotic savagery. This probably kills brain cells…. I love it!

Timmy’s Organism – “Squeeze The Giant” – [Sacred Bones Records]

abacus   2/28/2012   7-inch, A Library

Creeping out of the Detroit wasteland, broken robot junk rock from Timmy’s Organism, the perversely personal alter-ego of Human Eye frontman Timmy Vulgar. Timmy sings and plays guitar, synths and primitive noise effects (with guests on bass, drums on No Hassle and??Body of Love)??in a stripped down, decrepit garage rock format. Tree Thirsty Earthquake??and??Toes in the Grass slow things down a bit for a demented, nonsensical love ballad and spaced out dream waltz but other than that, riffage, howling and noise. 5 song EP full of melting guitar wah excrement, synth delay noodling and crooning gibberish… Another treat from Sacred Bones!

Batsumi – “Batsumi” – [Matsuli Music]

abacus   2/28/2012   CD, Jazz

Sowetan group started in 1972 by blind guitarist Johnny Mothopeng (son of imprisoned rebel leader), brother Lancelot Mothopengon keys and Zulu Bidi on bass. This is a reissue of the groups first full length 1974 LP and hits us like a message in a bottle, reminding us that we still don’t understand. Defiantly creative township jazz infected with a soulful psychedelia rich in reverb with mesmerizing loops compliments of bass, organ and guitar over which we hear echoing sonorities of sax and flute and entrancing chants all with a peppering of traditional percussion, bongos and modern drumset. Song titles harken to times past, bringing an ethnographic focus to their modern sound. This comes from a time and place when self-expression was considered radical and Steve Biko had calls for a radical reorientation of black culture towards political and mental liberation.

Butler, Ken – “Voices of Anxious Objects” – [Tzadik]

abacus   2/28/2012   A Library, CD

Ken Butler studied viola as a child but went on to study visual arts in France and Portland, though constantly maintaining an interest in music. He fused his interests in music and visual art becoming a renowned inventor of eccentric hybridized instruments using everyday objects like snow-shovels, bike wheels and golf clubs and turning them into instruments. What we have here is a perplexing but approachable array of melodies conjoining rock structures with eastern stylings in a jazz atmosphere dominated by international beats and spattered with all sorts of unheard sounds. Broken playhouse jabbering set within playfully waddling rhythms featuring invented and traditional instruments alike, with a handful of guests including Matt Darriau from Paradox Trio. As Butler describes, it speaks to the transformed identities of material objects as we move from a mechanical to an electrical era of information overload. What arises is a living corpse of juxtaposed and deconstructed items.

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