Music Reviews

Pierre, Alain – “O Sidarta” – [Finders Keepers Records]

whngr   5/14/2021   12-inch, Soundtrack

Abstract exploration of synthesizer with some rhythm and vocal elements sprinkled with sound effects and field recordings, the soundtrack to a strange Belgian arthouse short.

Bubbling, pulsing, and sweeping analog synthesizers are the meat of this long player with brief sojourns into Bongoland, Bassville, Bird-callington and myriad other oddities that were very probably informed by a considerable amount of illicit substances.

Ô Sidarta is a Belgian short film by Michel Jakar scored by Alain Pierre that explores the work of French illustrator Phillipe Druillet. Employing oblique and strange footage of the artist in and around his studio circa 1974, including stills of his bizarre science fiction comic book panels of arcane alien landscapes and figures with some minimal animation elements. This last aspect was the primary reason I was compelled to purchase this album, sensing promise in period psychedelia and analog synthesizer, though disappointingly the animation was not a rendering of the artist’s work per say, but of relatively simple scenes of movement through celestial bodies and other psychedelic ephemera. For this miserable volunteer the most compelling aspect of the film was the footage of Druillet working on the image that would be used as the cover for this beautifully packaged LP… that and the killer mustache of the artist in his natural environs.   Two sidelong tracks, so take it easy for a bit and let your mind wander into a mysterious and remote part of your consciousness. Explore the realm that is within you. An entire universe of spacescapes and subterranean echo chambers of the self. Float, fade, stain… just make sure you’re back in time for the legal ID at the top of the hour.   

Ekin Fil – "Coda" – [Helen Scarsdale Agency]

abacus   5/7/2021   12-inch, A Library

fragile hypnagogic meanderings from Turkey’s Ekin Fil. her presence here is distant yet deeply ominous, the nebulous wafts of voice, piano and guitar are reminiscent of other somber drone pop artists of the past 10 years like Grouper, Inca Ore, or Ensemble Economique. nocturnal premonitions, foggy introspection, cinematic noir and melancholy.

Specimens – "Sculptures" – [First Terrace Records]

abacus   5/7/2021   12-inch, A Library

drifting between ambient industrial and classical renaissance drone, alternating tracks between warmth and frigidity. Alex Ives from the UK presents this scrapbook of dreamy vignettes, intentionally crafted in contrasts to challenge the listener. pieces are partly achieved through utilising samples of Sudanese wrestling & Tuvan Throat Singing, a variety of sound sources and processing are utilized.

Sunk Heaven – "Where All Sides Collapse" – [Hot Releases]

abacus   5/7/2021   12-inch, A Library

outsider pop noise decay from Brooklyn’s Austin Sley Julian. grooves that grind and bubble simultaneously, intermingling with spacey soundscapes and often dreamy vocals. some collab work from a certain Ras Yoyo on one track and Kassie Carlson (G-Toss) on another. this release alternates between dystopic nightmare and bedroom pop daydream. drift, but not too deep.

Karuan – "Karuan" – [Sunshine Enterprises]

aarbor   5/5/2021   12-inch, A Library

Karuan is Karwan Marouf born in Vienna to Kurdish parents. At the age of six he started to record his singing on tape. In 1995 he started to work on his own solo projects which were largely inspired by folk music.These projects were band-oriented. When Karuan started to arrange his songs on a computer his music became more electronic.This recording is from 2001. His Kurdish heritage isn’t as audible here as it is in some of his other tracks. Do you hear more Vienna? or more Kurd? AArbor

Craven Faults – “Enclosures” – [The Leaf Label Ltd.]

whngr   4/30/2021   12-inch, A Library

Long-form Modular Synth Commutation

Strange, dreary, and dreamy journeys through an analog landscape of decrepit, abandoned industrial districts.
Grabbed this ultra-chiller LP from the Slim Bin ’cause I liked the cover art but found myself struggling to review it. It was too innocuous, too tame, too repetitive, and too uplifting… but my feelings started to change after reading an interview with the creator who maintains a highly secretive identity known only as Craven Faults (not secretive about their process however, as an exhaustive litany can be found online behind the thoughts and creation of their compositions), an entity whose obsession with modular synth wavers on religious fanaticism. An absolute boffin with an incredible devotion to their massive instrument that blinks soullessly(?) in the Yorkshire textile mill where they build, and seek to perfect their apparently massive electronic apparatus (sans keyboards) in order to materialize an idea built with sound. Mote by mote, brick by brick, layer by layer… and then to deconstruct it until we arrive once again at its source. 

Yorkshire, 2020

Siege Column – “Darkside Legions” – [Nuclear War Now! Productions]

whngr   4/30/2021   12-inch, A Library

Insane barrage of War Metal/Thrash from this knuckle bleeding two-piece. 

Trem bar abuseGuttural assault is relentless

Chaos, Bombast, Crushing

Guitar smolders

Threshold for pain is high

Great song titles that appear, to this miserable volunteer, to be chapters in a heretical Dungeons & Dragons campaign. Grab your purple D20’s you fucking nerds and make your saving throw against Paralyzation, Poison, and Death Magic.
New Jersey, 2020

Outlandish – "Walou (Rishi Rich Remix)" – [Outcaste Records]

aarbor   4/28/2021   12-inch, International

Outlandish is a Danish Hip-hop trio, established 1997. The three members come from various ethnic backgrounds, each bringing elements of his musical culture to the music to the trio, Isam Bachiri from Morocco, Lenny Martinez from Honduras and Cuba, and Waqas Qadri from Pakistan. Rishi Rich, the remixer is from England and produces R&B fused with Bhangra. AArbor

Conte, Nicola – "La Coda Del Diavolo/Missione a Bombay" – [Schema Records]

aarbor   4/28/2021   12-inch, A Library

Remixes of 2 tracks on Nicola Conte’s first album JET SOUNDS : La Coda Del Diavolo (the Devil’s Tail) by the Karminsky Esperience, and Missione a Bombay (Mission to Bombay) by Ursula 1000. The Karminsky Experience is James Munns and Martin Dingle (from England). Ursula 1000 is New York’s Alex Gimeno. Missione a Bombay fits beautifully into an Asian Underground set. AArbor

Balanco – "Theme From Cocktail Nova / Mrs. Beat" – [Schema Records]

aarbor   4/28/2021   12-inch, A Library

Balanco at the time of this recording in 2001 was the duo of Davide Penta and Mariella Carbonara. They produced 2 full length recordings: Bossa & Balanco and More. These two songs originally appeared on the More album and are reworks by Nicola Conte and Le Hammond Inferno. Discogs describes them as Soul Jazz/Latin Jazz. Nicola Conte is an Italian producer, DJ, Jazz guitarist, composer and arranger. Marcus Liesenfeld and Holger Beier (of Berlin) are Le Hammond Inferno their work was at first described as “futurist kitsch” by 2001 was taken much more seriously following some very successful releases. AArbor

Alsarah and The Nubatones – "Silt Remixes" – [Wonderwheel]

aarbor   4/28/2021   12-inch, A Library

Alsarah and the Nubatones are based in Brooklyn. They are an East-African, retro-pop group was born out of conversations about Nubian “songs of return,“ modern migration patterns, and the cultural exchanges between Sudan and Egypt. The ensemble features singer, songwriter and bandleader Alsarah, tabla player Rami El Aasser, oud player Haig Manouki, and bass player Mawuena Kodjovi. Alsarah & The Nubatones have proven that soul crosses all cultures, languages, and people. The remixes here are by Boddi Satva (Armani Kombot-Naguemon from the Central African Republic now based in Brussels), Zeb a/k/a the Spy from Cairo, and Wonderwheel label boss Nicodemus. AArbor

Sshe Retina Stimulants – “Kusa’i” – [Influencing Machine]

whngr   4/23/2021   12-inch, A Library

Walls of harsh ambience from Paola Bandera of Milan, Italy. Released originally in 1994 on cassette by G.R.O.S.S.

Peels of feedback beneath swells of white noise spacy and uncomfortable pedal tweaking

knob fingering

modules modulating

Abstract and unsettling but not quite face melting. An early release for Bandera that represents an interesting meeting of East and West Noise circles. G.R.O.S.S. was run by Nakajima Akifumi (Aube) until his passing in 2013 and is memorialized on the reverse of this rather galling LP.

Badmarsh & Shri – "Bollywood EP, The" – [Outcaste Records]

aarbor   4/21/2021   12-inch, International

Badmarsh and Shri are an electronic/trip hop duo from London. Badmarsh is Yemen-born DJ Mohammed Akber Ali and Shri is Mumbai-born Indian bassist, Shrikanth Sriram. They actively recorded on the Outcaste label from 1997 until 2001 during the heyday of the Asian Underground music scene. This EP from 2001 contains 2 drum ‘n bass remixes of their popular track Signs – a cover of a Tenor Saw song “Lots of Sign”. Calibre is Dominick Martin, a multi genre electronic musician from Belfast in Northern Ireland, now living and working in Cologne, Germany. AArbor

Guaxe – “Guaxe” – [Overseas Artist Recordings]

SlartiBartfast   4/20/2021   12-inch, A Library

Brilliant psychedelic rock/folk rock that is utterly unique to the duo behind this debut from Guaxe. The musical brainchild of Dino Almeida of Boogarians’ fame and Pedro Bonifrate from the Supercordas, their collaboration has given rise to a unique sound. Filled with dreamy melodies that take you to another world. Guaxe explores the possibilities and realities of musical expression with this folk acoustic, electric warped out musical release. Guaxe’s 2019 debut LP slips into a delayed and echoed sound scape that celebrates the many musical genres that offer an escape route from the monotony of daily life. 

Kretek – "Car Samba" – [Downsall Plastics]

aarbor   4/14/2021   12-inch, A Library

Kretek is a pair of Belgian musicians Olivier Abbeloos and Maxime Lenssens. Olivier is a DJ with several aliases, who has played with a bunch of musical outfits. Maxime is a drummer who can be heard playing in a variety of bands and in the European jazz scene. He also has taught in African and Asia. As Kretek this is the 2nd of 3 releases they produced on Downsall Plastics, this one is from 1998. The 3 tracks have very prominent driving drums, with Drum Fire, the longest being the most aggressive. Despite Samba in the title – these are not dancey tracks although they are well worth a play. AArbor

Como Mamas, The – "Get an Understanding" – [Daptone Records]

aarbor   4/14/2021   12-inch, Soul

In 1959 Alan Lomax visited Como, Mississippi and recorded some “porch sessions” with Miles Pratcher and his friends. In 2005 3 guys returned to Como on a trip to the South to film a documentary about local musicians. They discovered the angelic voices of Miles Pratcher’s granddaughters Della Daniels and Angela Taylor who with their friend Ester Mae Smith became The Como Mamas. This live recording was made on June 4, 2005 at their church. The stories of these 3 women are classic: poverty, hunger, clothing from flour sacks, ruined dreams… their singing helps them deal with the trials in their lives. They sing like angels. AArbor

Gravkvade – “Grav|Aska” – [Avantgarde Music]

whngr   4/13/2021   12-inch, A Library

In the village of Uddevalla, Västra Götaland lies a terrible beast. Veiled in darkness, misery seeps from its horrible maw, declaiming the brilliance of mercy and espousing the merit of suffering. No quarter will be asked… nor given.   The black metal of one Ezra Nattkaos (Nihilistic Pain) is cold, unrelenting, and isolated. Dreary atmospheric interludes cling to the tracks like frost on the skeletal limbs of ancient forests forgotten by man. 

Released in 2018, with chilling shrieks provided by Domedag (Svältvinter, Vomitrot, On the Altar).

The mirthless tale of Grav|Aska is bleak and sorrowful. An empty landscape where despair reigns evermore in a twilight realm of bottomless woe. 

Russom, Gavilan Rayna – Secret Passage – [W.25th]

cinder   4/9/2021   12-inch, A Library

Gavilan grew up in Providence, Rhode Island in the 70s and 80s. This release is recorded in remembrance of East Side Rail Tunnel, which ran for one mile underneath the city, and the people she spent time with there (the names included on each track). It’s synth heavy, in the experimental, explorative way. Woven throbs, haunting undertones, tape hiss, pulsing swells and echoed swirls. The tunnel had a bend in it, creating total darkness if you were to get to the middle of it, which often resulted in hallucinations as you lost sense of any surroundings. The acoustics also played a big part of her liking – “long natural delays and harmonic reinforcing reverberances.” Unfortunately, the tunnel has been inaccessible since the 90s, the result of urban development and gentrification….booo.

fun facts!:

Is the synth player from LCD Soundsystem

Played/jammed a lot in the earlier years with Brian Chippendale of Lightning Bolt (track 4 is for him)

Came out as transgender in 2017

Did a few releases with Delia Gonzalez on DFA

Pierson, Dax – Nerve Bumps (A Queer Divine Dissatisfaction) – [Dark Entries]

cinder   4/7/2021   12-inch, A Library

Underground Oaklander, Dax Pierson’s debut solo release. He lives life as a quadriplegic, but that doesn’t stop him at all at slaying the electronic sounds! The vibes here are like a mash of gurgled up computer processed bloops and bleeps, with vigorous rhythms, semi cinematic flairs, shards of trap style beats, and tough edges. A bit of Pantha Du Prince meets Autechre… last track turns the notch down a bit and voids out. Cover art by Pierson’s partner, artist Chuck Nanney, and the back is a photo of his wheelchair.    

*’Dax’s guiding mantra throughout this journey has been a quote from choreographer Martha Graham: “No artist is pleased… There is only a queer divine dissatisfaction, a blessed unrest that keeps us marching and makes us more alive than the others.”’

Ah-mer-ah-su – "Star" – [Dero Arcade]

aarbor   4/7/2021   12-inch, A Library

Ah-Mer-ah-su is a (Black) Transgender Woman from Oakland. This is her debut release from 2018. It’s 13 tracks: 3 spoken word and 10 music. The spoken word tracks are 3 different (trans? pre-trans?) people talking about how they feel about who they are and how life has treated them. The album showcases Ah-Mer-Ah-Su’s imagination, audaciousness, and her personal journey to self-acceptance. She says: “I think the true issue is that trans people are often dehumanized, and our experiences are Othered. People in power choose not to disseminate [our] message to wider audiences, because they don’t see themselves in transgender creatives. They believe that music from LGBTQ artists are specifically for LGBTQ people. Once people realize that they can identify with someone else’s experience, regardless of their differences, we will have more diversity in the music industry.”

The spoken word tracks are very authentic. The music is a bit heavy-handed, not subtle at all. The record itself is beautiful raspberry colored vinyl. AArbor FCC on track A1

Here’s a Billboard interview with Ah-Mer-Ah-Su: https://www.billboard.com/articles/news/pride/8468535/ah-mer-ah-su-interview-star-album/

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