Music Reviews

Papir – “7”

carsonstreet   9/5/2022   12-inch, A Library

Papir might be the ultimate expression of the Danish creative soul: distinctively modern, deceptively minimalistic, and stylish yet understated. Papir follow their own road map, creating music with little interest in playing to the masses or catering to a specific genre. The band’s output has varied from epic psychedelic guitar meltdowns à la Earthless to sweeping, reverb-drenched soundscapes…  Many aspects of Papir’s music seem to have much in common with the sea – be it a willful association by the Copenhagen-based trio or not. Their output moves in waves, sometimes fierce and blustery, sometimes gentle and calming, but always performed with unforced, organic talent.

Jo Rad Silver – “Social Moment” – [Akka & Beep Beep]

karma   8/24/2022   12-inch, A Library

Jo(nah) Rad(uns) Silver(stein) is a DJ from Detroit. His description of his music on bandcamp has more dashes than a Western Union in the 20s. Some of these descriptors border on incredulity or are satirical (I don’t hear much Klezmer in this album, let alone ambient Klezmer), but this is definitely left-field house. Jo Rad Silver is based out of the Motor City and has the industrial, teutonic feel of Detroit techno. The tracks are electronic without the kitsch seen in many other techno and vaporware tracks. Silver isn’t afraid to show all sides of techno. Silver aims to take you on a journey through this album. Though gradual increasing complexity in the tracks and the creative yet subtle use of minor keys, he talks about how, after isolation, the moment to be social is now. Or whenever you want.

Kingdom of Not – “Music from the Heaven on top of Heaven” – [Self-release]

Mister S   8/20/2022   12-inch, A Library


12″ Vinyl

Released April 2022

For a moment, suspend disbelief, and imagine you are in a room with a number of the following characters:

Tiny Tim / “Weird Al” Yankovic / Ann Magnussen and Kramer of Bongwater / Spinal Tap / Tim Burton / David Lynch / David Byrne / Devo’s Mark Mothersbaugh / Flaming Lip’s Wayne Coyne / Camper van Beethoven / Carl Stalling / Damon Albarn. 

This album may be the result of such a composition of individuals and performance enhancing substances… or not. Musically satirical, lyrically clever. With delivery full of puns and fun! Poppy-silly-demented get your goof-on and kook out rhythms. 


Faceless Entity – “In Via Ad Nusquam” – [Altare Productions]

whngr   8/18/2022   12-inch, A Library

Low fidelity atmospheric Black Metal dirges from the Netherlands.

 Cold, grim, cvlt. Murky. Wailing, bellowing, shrieking. Forlorn caterwauling float above the primarily low to mid tempo marches that conjure imagery of forests cloaked in impenetrable shadow, spectral figures lurking in the periphery, and hollow stares from legions of cursed skeletal remains. Bookended by sullen guitar intro/outro tracks to chill the marrow on wicked nights lit by ghoulish lunar crescents enshrouded in ominous fog.

Little is known about this mysterious three-piece (perhaps now a duo) though there was a tour with Dödsrit and Lamp of Murmuur that included this year’s Roadburn Festival in April of 2022.

Somewhere in Holland – 2017

Radiophonic Workshop, The – “Possum” – [Room 13]

whngr   8/18/2022   12-inch, Soundtrack

Beautiful and melancholy score to a surreal film that employs sound as an intrinsic element of plot development, has more suspense stuffed in its creepy leather bag than story that is able to be followed, and a direct link to an important pioneer of electronic sound production, one Delia Derbyshire.

Both minimal and lush, meandering and terse, conventional and nonconventional instrumentation, there are several aspects of this soundtrack that exist in stark contrast but all of them contribute to an experience that is eerie and unsettling, perhaps most notably is the incredible variation in volume. Long quiet passages that pulls the listener/viewer in, so hauntingly austere that one might soften their breath to catch the delicate nuance before a subsonic rumble begins, synthesizers swell briefly and culminate in a piercing stab of feedback or (if you’re lucky) a brief snippet of reversed (possibly antique) analog tape potentially soaked in fox blood. Keep your eye on VU and finger on the fader. It’s going to get hairy for dj’s with sensitive proclivities. Or just let ‘er rip, but know this, if it sounds good and is just peaking into the red… it is very likely about to clip severely, with malice aforethought, potentially harming your unsuspecting fragile (especially in headphones ) tympanic membranes. Our listeners will be fine, but you my dear, are perched precariously on the precipice of aural trauma. Proceed with caution. For the record, this is even more true for the film whose protagonist mumbles quietly just below coherency… unless he is whimpering in pain which sadly, is not represented on this bizarre double LP.

What is represented are sounds donated from the Delia Derbyshire Archive to The Radiophonic Workshop for manipulation and inclusion on the soundtrack of this extremely strange and slightly challenging film. Derbyshire is best known for her work with The BBC Radiophonic Workshop on Dr. Who and more specifically credited with the creation of  (though she did not compose) the highly recognizable and light-years ahead of its time theme song. Which is, perhaps intentionally, though to a lesser degree, true for Possum; playing either A1 – “Verse 1 And Main Title” or D9 “Opening Titles (Early Mix)” will result in a simple yet hauntingly familiar sounding theme akin to Goblin or Fabio Frizzi.

Also of note is the unnerving insert containing a nursery rhyme from the film that was, for this miserable volunteer, perhaps more disturbing than the film itself. Imaginations being what they are…

Golem Mechanique – “Nona, Decima et Morta” – [Ideologic Organ]

puplaif   8/17/2022   12-inch, A Library

Golem Mecanique is Karen Jebane, a French songstress, composer, and sound artist. Through her music she aspires to transcend herself and listeners to another time space. She takes a minimalist approach to her compositions, incorporating her voice, drone box, a pedal or two, and in the case of this album, organ. Marion Cousin makes a special appearance, contributing vocals and harmonium. 

The album title features the names of the Three Fates, the mythological goddesses who determine human destiny, lifespan, and allotment of suffering. The lyrics appear on the back album cover, and suggest the full on embodiment of the fates through these two, side-long pieces. This sacred music puts listeners in direct communication with these faded goddesses who lurk, waiting to lure you into a state of meditative half sleep. 

At first impression it’s a bit eerie, but if you allow yourself to let go and immerse your senses, there’s an unexpected comfort to be found in the drone’s womb-like pulse and the soft, elongated vocalizations. 

pressed on clear, crushed blackberry vinyl.

american “Violate and Control” [Sentient Ruin Laboratories]

atavist   8/16/2022   12-inch, A Library

american are a duo out of Virginia who prefer not to capitalize their name. In this 2017 release, their mix of vocals, stripped-down guitar, and industrial-adjacent precision recalls recent efforts to take vestiges of the black metal format and stray well outside those bounds. This is territory that has been explored in recent years by projects like Loss of Self, Botanist, and Liturgy, among others. The track “Bedsheet Ossuary” is an early standout. Climbing, yearning, but ultimately bleak, like cresting a slag heap only to find a plain of ruin stretching to the horizon. They’re willing to go shoegazy (“Forever a Wicked Form”) and dabble in pure noise (“Submission Psalm”). They can also lay down a riff and drive the fuck out of it (“Amorous and Subdued”) before spiraling into dissolution. “Ischemia- The Longing Agony” features a 911 call of a child reporting the suicide of her brother. They even throw a Godfleshy doom-tempo track in for good measure (“Defecting Ways”). I hear a bit of Unsane in “I Am Thine Enemy”. Save room for the staggering, reeling defeat of “Paradise Again”. One LP, several ways to ingest your gloom. 

Smith, Steven R. – “Spring”

carsonstreet   8/10/2022   12-inch, A Library

Steven R. Smith is the man behind projects like Hala Strana, Ulaan Khol, Ulaan Passerine and Ulaan Markhor, but also makes music under his own name. Active since the mid-90s, Smith has recorded a staggering amount of work, and every release is as good as the next. Joining Smith on Spring is Gareth Davis, the Amsterdam-based bass clarinetist and occasional collaborator of Machinefabriek, Merzbow and Elliot Sharp. The restrained interplay between Smith (on guitar, piano, percussion etc.) and Davis create a warmth and intimacy. Relaxed drone like ambience. Recorded at Worstward Studios, Los Angeles, December 2019 – May 2020.

Diverse – “Jus Biz” – [Chocolate Industries]

Mister S   8/7/2022   12-inch, Hip Hop

12″ Vinyl

2004 Release

Produced by Madlib

DJ Norman Rockwell Side A

DJ Sapien Side B

Great beats and samples in the Madlib tradition. Vocal tracks contain FCC’s, DJ’s beware. Favorite track is Beyond, Beyond from the b-side. 2nd favorite is also on th b-side, the instrumental track from Beyond, Beyond. Dig it!

Ruin Lust – “Ruin Lust” – [Psychic Violence]

whngr   8/3/2022   12-inch, A Library

N.Y.C. Death Metal

Furious gnashing teeth, tar paced passages, and catastrophic detonations of primal focused vigor. Deep wells of suffering and ability from members of Yellow Eyes, Morhoraam Atta, Vanum, Mróz, et alia. Bellows, gallows, wails, and snails’… pace… progression. Some pinch harmonics on track B1, “Skin Hunger” that doesn’t enthuse this volunteer but the composition is varied and interesting enough that I am willing to allow it… this time. And though I tend to prefer the onslaught/optimal carnage passages to the glacially paced doom element, I do appreciate the contrast. I can get behind a slower-than-everyone-else and faster-than-everyone-else ethos on a single 13 minute side-long track… that also culminates in a glorious atmospheric locked-groove. 

All FCC’s, if they do indeed exist, are entirely unintelligible.

New York – 2013

Executioner’s Mask – “Winterlong” – [Profound Lore]

kittywompus   8/3/2022   12-inch, A Library

FCCs: Tracks 1, 2, 7

A 2022 release out of a band based in Philadelphia, this moody and psychedelic tale of grief and self-destruction is sure to delight shoegaze punks and goths alike. Hypnotic and swelling synth back up noisy guitar to create a hopeless bed for the bemoaning vocals of lament and sorrow, though overall this album is surprisingly upbeat in terms of tempo and beats that underline throughout.

I recommend Sick in Heaven (track 4), a sinister but almost dancey track one could easily shuffle in a dark basement to.

Boris – “W” – [Sacred Bones Records]

Mister S   8/3/2022   12-inch, A Library

Immersive. ASMR for Boris fans. A tonal tantric experience for all. Trademark distortion and delay guitar effects to create soundscapes from the ecstatic to that of thundering de-tuned dystopian dirge. Rhythmically diverse. Acoustic and electronic percussion used to contextualize each track. Each will pull the listener into its orbit.

Boris formed in 1992 and eventually arrived at the band’s current lineup of Takeshi, Wata, and Atsuo in 1996. 

Recently, the group ramped up during the pandemic and released the most extreme album of their long and widely celebrated career, NO. Boris self-released the album, desiring to get it out as quickly as possible but intentionally called the final track on the album “Interlude” while planning its follow-up. Its successor came with W. NO and W weave together to form NOW, a duo of releases that respond to one another. 

Released January 2022

Pay It All Back Volume 7 [coll] – [On-U Sound]

Mister S   8/3/2022   12-inch, Reggae

18 track showcase of Adrian Sherwood’s productions featuring unique mixes, deep cuts, and unreleased tracks from Roots Manuva, Lee “Scratch” Perry, Coldcut, Gary Lucas (Captain Beefheart’s Magic Band), Mark Stewart, Horace Andy and more. The 7th installment in the legendary On-U sampler series that first emerged in 1984. In the classic tradition of the series the tracks are stitched together with a number of special pirate radio style segue-ways, making for a unique journey through the modern world of On-U Sound! Double LP includes a fully illustrated and annotated On-U catalogue. Physical format is presented in a gorgeous color-printed kraft board sleeve.

Released March 29, 2019

Naked Raygun – “Over The Overlords” – [Wax Trax]

Thee Opinataur   7/31/2022   12-inch, A Library

Age has not tempered these Chicago punks as the album showcases that distinct mix of raw Windy City underground, with lyrics addressing numerous social ills with a sense of humor that flippantly belies a greater significance. While it’s melodic punk in genre, there are subtle post-punk tones that make the music more atmospheric and tonal rather than building everything over a catchy chorus. It’s punk, but it’s also complex and thoughtful, which means it takes a little longer to seep into the listener’s consciousness, and it also seeps in a little deeper, leaving a lasting impression, because of this. 

Released in 2021, this is the band’s first album release over 30 years. Formed in 1980, disbanded in 1989, they reformed in 2006 and have been active since. – Thee Opinataur

#pop-punk/ #punk/ #post-punk /#melodic punk 

Stelzer / Murray – “Commit” – [Helen Scarsdale Agency]

cinder   7/27/2022   12-inch, A Library

Duo project from Howard Stelzer & Brendan Murray. Fogged out, icy drones created by their subconscious. Murky, ominous, haunting and mysterious. Track 2 has a bit of The Black Lodge feel, with whipping shadows and ghostly words. Effected sounds, drenched in pedal delights. Hypnotizing dream states.

Mystic Charm “Shadows Of The Unknown” [Nuclear War Now! Productions]

atavist   7/26/2022   12-inch, A Library

Slow- to mid-tempo doom with deathy elements, a pummeling march laden with a bit of atmosphere. There’s nothing extra. Riffs are laid down purposefully like chiseled stones to raise a rough-hewn tower from which the evil in this world can more clearly be seen. Earlier this year Nuclear War Now! Productions released this double LP, consisting of material recorded in 1994, 2001, and 2017. It takes its name and album cover artwork from the band’s only full-length release from 1994. In the middle of Side C, with the track “Hell Did Freeze Over”, the 2017 EP “Hell Did Freeze Over” begins. The “Hell Did Freeze Over” stuff was originally recorded in 2001, but the remaining band members working on it were dissatisfied with the result, so they brought back the original vocalist, Rini Lipman, in 2017 and completed it properly… A circuitous route for this double LP, to be sure. I suspect the effort was made because this group from the Netherlands, as sporadic as their output was over the years, were on to something. The vocals of Lipman in particular are exceptionally evil and paved the way for those who dared to follow. Where the 1994 tracks are raw and spare, the 2001/2017 tracks demonstrate additional refinement. Lipman’s vocals are maybe a bit more evil, and a different drummer ups the technical mastery. The tracks named after the releases are intro tracks, but otherwise you can drop in anywhere for a consistent execution of no-frills death-doom. FCCs tracks D1 and D3.

Tlaotlon – “Squirt Image Flex” – [Trensmat Records]

cinder   7/21/2022   12-inch, A Library

Chaotic yet rhythmically cohesive. Layered sounds, pulsing, throbbing and churning through loopy electronics and sandy beats. Each texture glides through their own world, yet all come together in tendriled form. Vapor waved but with a side of coke. Enchanted vortex of swirls and twirls.

Chaz Emphatic – “Base Layer Blues” – [Last Stab Records]

puplaif   7/20/2022   12-inch, A Library

Self-described moody, reflective, instrumental hip hop. Chaz Emphatic has been making music since 1992 as part of the underground rap collective, San Francisco Street Music (SFSM). In addition to SFSM and his solo work, he’s also involved in other collaborative projects on the Last Stab Records label such as Mummy Club. He’s very transparent about the equipment he uses (it’s listed on the back of the album and online) and he’s got a number of videos out there demonstrating his favorite tools for making beats. On Base Layer Blues, Chaz Emphatic draws samples from 90s hip hop, jazz fusion, and beyond, sculpting them into his own unique, beat-driven creations. There’s definitely sonic variety here, while the album as a whole hovers on the chiller side of vibrations. The tracks are mostly instrumental, featuring melodic guitars, saxophone, and keys paired with drum machine beats and periodic vocal blips.

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