Music Reviews

Pas Musique – “Phoenix, The” – [Alrealon Musique]

Ms. Conduct   12/7/2022   12-inch, A Library

Experimental electronic music from veteran Brooklyn-based outfit Pas Musique, The Phoenix delivers seven rhythmically-driven tracks that make use of various layering techniques, a meandering beat-driven propulsion, discordant departures in equilibria, and various vocal samplings which evoke scientific novelties of yesteryear.  Together these elements combine to construct an elevating tunnel-trance that flirts with the evocations of scientific-transcendence.  Many times, the album feels like a close cousin to The Silver Apples, Electric Orange, Can and other krautwork relatives.

Pinkcourtesyphone – “Shouting At Nuance” – [Helen Scarsdale Agency]

cinder   12/2/2022   12-inch, A Library

Los Angeles based minimalist, Richard Chartier. Slow, murking lurky droned out passages that raise your neck hairs as if a ghost is whispering dear nothings in your ear. ‘Hauntological compositions’ as he describes. Low tones and dream like states. Washes of ambience. What your mind might start to hear as you drift in a self deprivation chamber. It’s not scary or menacing, but reflective and gloomy. Lost in space. 

Akusmi – “Fleeting Future” – [Tonal Union]

Thurston Hunger   11/30/2022   12-inch, A Library

J’accuse Akusmi as Pascal Bideau behind Big Ben with the candleabra. But the album has a whirlwind of world winds, Pascal plays a bunch of diverse instruments and enlists Berliner Ruth Velten to help share sax duties. Add in some trombone from Florian Juncker, and a dash of drums from Daniel Brandt, and the album feels like a larger group, in part due to the multi-work of Bideau. There are clues of Philip Glass on the minimalist beach here, maybe recorded in part in Indonesia, thought I tasted a bit of Brazil, German precision on the arpeggios. All instro, with piano and other percolating percussion. This LP slightly reminds me of Club Foot Orchestra meets Bang On A Can with Arnold Dreyblatt cracking the baton/whip. “Neo Tokyo” builds a cartoon cityscape before your eyes, really all tracks have that bustling urge. Hyper clean recording, this Future feels uplifting.
-Thurston Hunger

Sunfear – “Octopus” – [Dark Entries]

Thurston Hunger   11/30/2022   12-inch, A Library

I was digging out behind the back of One Eyed Jacks looking for Laura Palmer’s real diary when I found this pristine 12″ record buried beneath the clumps of mud and whiskey-soaked weeds. Turns out “Sunfear” is Eylul Deniz, and this is one sweet soulache of bedroom fi beauty. Drenched in reverb and multitrack mystery, enjoy a girl and her best friend, her guitar. When things move smoothly, Slowdive vibes arise. When things are pretty but broken, Julee Cruise’s profile emerges on a full moon. This is a Dark Entries entree, but not one plucked from long ago, Deniz is a current poet/artist/singer/songwriter out of Istanbul. She may have a doppelganger DJ bumping beats in Berlin’s Boiler Room, I think I saw her there or maybe that was Maddie Ferguon? Anyways this album is slow-core supreme. I was almost shocked when a drum-machine stuck its tentacles into the title track. The leadoff instro dips your ears into the waters, which return later with vox punched in between waves. The lead track is called “Dokun” which apparently translates as “Touch” in Turkish and while that as a tactile found sound swirl, the
low-fi slow pop here is ethereal.
-Thurston Hunger

Flowertown – “Half Yesterday” – [Mt.St.Mtn.]

Thurston Hunger   11/30/2022   12-inch, A Library

SF duo, Karina Gill and Mike Ramos are Flowertown. If you dug their previous eponymous lp, (or Gill’s other project Cindy) this follows suit. The masks are off, the gloves still on, the guitar with sleep in its eyes. On some tracks the tambourine heart machine serves as pacemaker for gentle drums. The songs use two or four chords to keep the female/male vox aloft like Zoloft. Lofi bedframe bedroom blooms – tunes that might make your old Tascam recorder weep tears of joy if it were not sent to the local chop shop to be cannibalized into an e-bike that drove itself off the cliffs into the Sutro Baths. To be fair, at times the sun breaks into the Fog City Flowertown neighborhood, like on the title track and for “Beachwalkers” but the sonic weather overall is overcast. Note clear vinyl, if you want to look through these indie rock waltzes as life spins past.
-Thurston Hunger

Exaltation “Under Blind Reasoning” [Sentient Ruin Laboratories]

atavist   11/29/2022   12-inch, A Library

Grim death from New Zealand. Driving, staccato structures offset by open, ringing riffs. Blooded talons and wings black as night. Anguished cries of suffering and guttural bellows of disgust. The sound, expertly engineered, is rich and layered. Check the excellent bass tone, accentuated by drum hits, at the start of “Ascension” to get a sense of the massive foundation this monstrosity is built upon. Overall, “Ascension” is an early favorite. In most tracks you can hear some less conventional riff construction amidst the all-out barrages; “Blaspheme Mortality” provides a good example. Plenty of tone to entomb oneself in. The album closes with “Divider of Redemption”, and the two guitars ring together during the breakdowns like a baleful wail. Prepare yourself for the cold earth.

Bio Ritmo – “La Verdad” – [Electric Cowbell Records]

aarbor   11/28/2022   12-inch, International

An upbeat, dancey 2011 release by Bio Ritmo, a salsa band based in Richmond, Virginia formed in 1991. The name Bio Ritmo is a Spanglish word play on the term Biorhythm – the rhythm of life. Their salsa mixes Afro-Caribbean song patterns, the Cuban son montuno tradition, Puerto Rican street beats, and jazz. This 10-piece band has been around for more than 20 years and their playing is tight. All tracks delightful and worth airing, especially while dancing like there’s no one watching! AArbor

Culto al Qondor – “Tannhauser Tor” – [Worst Bassist Records]

carsonstreet   11/28/2022   12-inch, A Library

In early 2003, four friends from Lima, Peru, formed Qondor to jam some tunes under a heavy influence of bands like Ash Ra Tempel, Neu! and Hawkwind. They never took it too seriously, but then a couple of local labels asked them to be part of some compilations. And with that came the opportunity to play live. They then they split to focus on their main bands (La Ira de Dios and Serpentina Satelite, two of the more popular and celebrated psych bands from Lima). In January 2017 Necio Records asked them for a reunion show at a festival (Undercaos Festival) in Lima. This time as a trio with a name change to Culto al Qondor. They started to jam again and the chemistry was still there, so they decided to record for real this time. On September 2nd they set up everything at the bass player’s bar and recorded the album. It’s raw, it’s cosmic and it’s dark… as Space.Culto al Qondor is Dolmo on guitars and delays, Aldo Castillejos on drums and loops (both from Serpentina Satelite) and Chino Burga on bass and drones (La Ira de Dios and 3AM). Peru has a long tradition in psychedelic music (since the 60’s) and this is a clear example of the Peruvian psychedelic sound of the new millenium. More delay, more rock! Drone on!!!

Cindy – “1:2” – [Beautamous Loaf International]

carsonstreet   11/28/2022   12-inch, A Library

Cindy is a band built around the singing and guitar playing of Karina Gill. She became a musician only recently, having sat on the sidelines while ex-partners and friends made music. Gill describes a chance encounter with an abandoned Squire Strat left in the basement by a previous tenant, “mummified in electrical tape with the remnants of a burrito on the head stock”, that led her to begin carefully strumming her way through simple chords and making her own songs.
1:2 is Cindy’s third LP. Quietly devastating 1:2. features Jesse Jackson on bass, Simon Phillips on drums and Aaron Diko on keyboards as they weave a perfectly thin web behind Gill’s slow velvety strums and murmured melodies. “Sometimes you say you’re feeling small/You plan all day for your own funeral”, she intones in Party Store. I’d call it dream-pop with a slightly dark edge.

Villain, Carmen – “Only Love From Now On” – [Smalltown Supersound]

karma   11/27/2022   12-inch, A Library

Carmen Villian is a Norwegian-Mexican artist. Her work is a combination of field recordings, electronic music, and instrumentals. Her inspirations include Brian Eno, and her music has a similar feeling of enveloping ambience. My favorite track is “Gestures” (the first one), a soothing collaboration with jazz trumpeter Arne Henriksen. All of the tracks in the album feature soft field recordings and sparse instrumentation. The somehow spare yet dense music engenders positivity. With all the discontent in the world, there should only be love from now on.

Trouble Seekers, The – “The Trouble Seekers” – [Ruined Records]

Brian Damage   11/20/2022   12-inch, A Library

The Trouble Seekers is a brand-new collaboration between Kevin McGovern (The Prostitutes) and Hillary Burton (The Pandoras), and it’s every bit as raucous and noisy as a rock ‘n roll record should be.

If your sketchy second cousins (you remember them, right? the chain-smokers from Ohio who drive a beat-up Buick Wildcat and will eventually end up featured on America’s Most Wanted?) show up uninvited and unannounced at Thanksgiving dinner with a half-empty handle of Gilbey’s to offer, claim that they have a band, and proceed to dig a battered C90 out of the back seat to prove it – The Trouble Seekers is that record.

Heavy doses of early rock ‘n roll, first-wave synth punk, and post-punk noise combine to make a relentless sonic assault. There are no slow songs here. There are no slow moments here. The beatings begin within a few seconds of the opening song, “Cool Liar” and don’t let up in the ensuing 37 minutes. The real surprise is that these are actual songs with structure, melody, and hooks. There are two touchstones buried in here to allow you to gasp for breath: covers of Cheap Trick‘s “He’s A Whore” and Madonna‘s “Borderline,” both of which make convenient points of entry for the uninitiated.

This is a pop record buried in a barrel of rattlesnakes and razor blades.

HIGHLY recommended.

Connors, Loren, and Carter, Daniel – “The Departing of a Dream Vol. VII” – [Family Vineyard]

Brian Damage   11/18/2022   12-inch, Jazz

A dark, atmospheric release from two of those New York avante-garde cats, Loren Connors (guitar) and Daniel Carter (horns, reeds).

It’s two 15-minute soundscapes; the soundtrack to being trapped in a huge, dark cave. There is music out there, somewhere. You can hear it, but you can’t precisely locate it. Is it meant to reassure, or menace?

It’s either the soundtrack to a dream, or a nightmare.

Osbourne, Johnny, and the Sensations – “Come Back Darling” – [Sunspot Records, Ltd.]

Brian Damage   11/18/2022   12-inch, Reggae

I’m surprised that this classic 1969 Reggae outing from Johnny Osbourne and the Sensations wasn’t already in our library, but I am delighted to be able to add it now.

Legendary producer Winston Riley had previously worked with Osbourne’s teenage band, the Wild Cats, then signed Johnny and the band (now named The Sensations) for his new ‘Techniques’ label. Riley and Osbourne contributed a half-dozen tunes each to the record, and brought in some smoking session musicians such as Johnny Organ to fill out the Sensations’ sound.

This has the classic Treasure Isle Studios tape-saturated sound of the era; the songs, regardless of lyrical content, wrap around you like a warm hug. Simply stated, it’s one of the definitive records of the ’69-’71 era.

Highly recommended.

Jenkins, Cassandra – “Ramble (Morning & Night, 2021), The” – [Ba Da Bing!]

cinder   11/17/2022   12-inch, A Library

Cassandra expands on a track from her release ‘An Overview On Phenomenal Nature’ and creates two side-long ambient pieces, full of wonder and magic. She’s a sax player, so there’s gentleness that flows in and out from the brass. Twittering birds, that when wearing headphones really makes you feel like they’re right next to you, goosebumps! Trickling piano. Field recordings from Central Park (nyc) and the woods in upstate NY. Side B is more tranquility, this time in the comfort of crickets.

Tutti, Cosey Fanni – “Delia Derbyshire: The Myths and The Legendary Tapes” – [Conspiracy International]

cinder   11/17/2022   12-inch, A Library

Delia Derbyshire: The Myths & The Legendary Tapes is a ‘conceptual and atmospheric journey into the legacy and character of electronic music composer/sound pioneer Delia Derbyshire’. The film was written and directed by Caroline Catz, who also stars in the film. Soundtrack from the great Cosey Fanni Tutti (Throbbing Gristle, Chris & Cosey). Music is performed by Cosey, as well as Delia’s own creations which were constructed from samples chosen from Delia’s posthumously discovered “Attic Tapes”. It’s pure science fiction bliss. Synths and tape manipulations and knobs and twiddles. She was the composer of the excellent Dr. Who theme, and did extensive work with the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, and those intergalactic sounds follow through on this. More exploratory than song in nature, you might accidentally dial an alien spaceship while playing this on the airwaves.

Meat Wave – “Malign Hex” – [Swami]

whngr   11/16/2022   12-inch, A Library

Seething dark post-punk

Mid to up-tempo rock and roll with a proliferation of very catchy downstroked riffs and a pessimistic if not confrontational stance. I hear Hot Snakes, The Fall, perhaps a slightly darker Franz Ferdinand or a more aggressive, less apathetic The Strokes. A full sounding three-piece with huge hooks.Engaging and energetic with some gentler passages (B2 “Waveless”) that add contrast and depth as well as the near title track “Malign” (B5) which is a beautiful down-tempo and subtle ear-worm that works nicely for us though “Jim’s Teeth” (B4) is perhaps the strongest offering lyrically, compositionally, and in delivery. A tight and focused album, Malign Hex gains favor and builds resonance from repeated listens.

Three-piece from Michigan, Chris Sutter (guitar, vocals), Joe Gac (bass), and Ryan Wizniak (drums).

Chicago – 2022

Off! – “Free LSD” – [Fat Possum Records]

whngr   11/16/2022   12-inch, A Library

Angry hippy loses control of his hardcore punk band (and perhaps his sanity) while continuing a life-long insurrection against oppressive capatilist war-mongering regimes and on this first release in eight years, extraterrestrials… and it fucking works. 

A strong pivot from this new release from OFF! that while employing several new elements, themes, and instrumentation while retaining a hardcore punk ethos and structure. Sounds a little like Circle Jerks colluding with a swollen, up-tempo Godspeed You Black Emperor with trem-picked heavily effect laden guitar in short form psychedelic fueled declarations against quietude. 

OFF! is Keith Morris/vox (Black Flag, Circle Jerks, Flag), Dimitri Coats/guitar & electronics (ex-Burning Brides), Autry Fulbright II/bass(…And You Will Know Us By The Trail of Dead), drummer Justin Brown (Thundercat, Herbie Hancock), John Wahl-saxophone (Claw Hammer). Long-time punk rock art icon, Raymond Pettibon contributes the art as per usual but in a shocking twist, employs a spray of soft color; a thumbing of the nose at well heeled conventions that mirror and complement the songs on this recording that explores metal, psychedelia, and jazz in, and around, the hardcore punk template. The packaging is just as far afield from what was called “hardcore punk” at one time, eschewing DIY ethos and aesthetic to embrace rock and roll excess and deserves a little attention, what is going on with the strange tactile printing on the interior of the gatefold? Does it glow? What happens if you lick it? Will the alien robot take over your mind? How much did this gatefold cost to print?! And lastly, the liner notes are printed on perforated white blotter paper that actually gave us a physical rush when we pulled it out, reminding us of our former days when we might have explored synaptic distortion with a lysergic irrigation of the cerebellum as we fell deep… into our developing degenerate punk rock minds. I like it though, unconventional and acerbic with a salient theme that is carried throughout the LP. The language of the genre continues to evolve, absorbing new vocabulary and phrasing while being inextricably tied to one of the last surviving roots of 20th century Southern California hardcore punk.

Los Angeles – October 2022

Rider / Horse – “Feed ‘Em Salt” – [Ever / Never]

whngr   11/16/2022   12-inch, A Library

Woozy Post Gloom

Driving-droning rock that disturbs the equilibrium with meandering, slightly off-kilter lap steel, ethereal electronics, rock n’ roll drums, insistent bass lines, and mildly rabid, often reverberating death rock vocals from this two-piece from upstate New York. Rider/Horse deliver a fairly unique and often dissonant sound that includes many disparate layers with relatively traditional structure and drumming but almost every other aspect sounds alien and mildly uncomfortable. Strange but not alarming, “Feed ‘Em Salt” is the second full length from the duo of:

Cory Plump, guitar/vox (Spray Paint, Protomartyr) and Chris Turco, drums (Assembly Of Devices, Geezer) out of:

Kingston, NY – 2022

Religious War – “Reigning Chaos – Discography” – [Puke N Vomit Records]

beastofbourbon   11/15/2022   12-inch, A Library

Religious War was a hardcore punk band from Portland, OR that formed in 1996 and disbanded in 2003. This compilation released in 2022 features the two 7” EPs and 12” vinyl records they released during their time. The songs are heavy, fast and brutal with a metal tinge in the classic Anarcho-punk “D-Beat” style made famous by iconic UK punk band Discharge. The cover art and anarchist lyrical content that strike against government, societal ills, and war show this influence as well. It’s an ideal soundtrack for our time. 

Tracks 1-8 ‘Cracked System’ 12″ -2003

Tracks 9-11 ‘s/t’ EP – 1998

Tracks 12-14 ‘Asylum’ EP – 2001

Beast of Bourbon

Antilles Mechant Bateau [coll] – [Born Bad Records]

aarbor   11/15/2022   12-inch, International

Afro-Caribbean roots music from the 1960s in the French West Indies. Mechant Bateau means bad or wicked boat – this refers to the slave ships that brought so many people from Africa to the West Indies.

Gwo Ka is a drum made of old salting or wine barrels which is at the center of this music and has been revived by recent generations to pay tribute to their ancestors’ suffering. The “ka” once creolized, was a powerful symbol of resistance since the colonial era. Blues and Ka represent the same battle – centuries of oppression. Jazz gives it an emancipating energy and sense of humor from established formats. It borrows from the “latin” rhythms of neighboring islands, and includes beguines with percussion-spiced tempos. There are also laid-back – but dark – ballads all sung in Creole (the French of the African descendants). This compilation takes us back to the early days of a movement of rebirth synonymous with recognition of heritage. It is the sound of identity for the descendants of the African slaves. Recognition of their identity and heritage in which all the musics from the Black Atlantic diaspora naturally intertwine. Reminding us that an original culture emerged from the holds of these ‘wicked boats’. AArbor

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