Music Reviews


whngr   5/31/2023   A Library, Cassette

Two 31 minute tracks of highly repetitive minimalism that evoke a natal heartbeat, a clothes dryer with a sneaker in it, or perhaps war drums. In headphones, after about eight minutes, a feeling of disorientation may result, at thirteen minutes one may feel a distortion in equilibrium, and at twenty-seven minutes a disconnection with the ego as the lizard brain begins to take over. This cassette might be therapeutic for some or potentially tortuous to others; a relaxing ceremony or an incitement to spree killing depending on the listener’s consciousness/conscience or lack thereof.

A mysterious cassette with no origin or background though it does contain a phone number that this miserable volunteer is moderately afraid to dial. What kind of mad man is behind this recording? With a hand-typed jacket and non-existent url? There is something satisfying about the lack of information however; a true oddity that harkens back to a less informed time when a strange cassette was just that. Full stop.

Mint.Beats – “LVLZ” – [Needle to the Groove]

MSTiZA   5/16/2023   Cassette, Hip Hop

Mint.Beats is a Bay Area based multi-instrumentalist and producer. Tracks carry a nostalgia of spring mornings and petrichor, misting you with small samples and manifesting simpler times. They briefly dazzle with twinkling keys and easy vibes. There are subverted references to boom bap, jazz, soundscapes, analog, noise, and vocal samples, pulled together with thoughtful production. The tracks piece together as short snippets to create a window to look out of in bedroom production. Tracks are brief, just enough to wet the palette. So tickle your taste and bite into a few tracks to get a greater feel for the subtleties.

FCC: 3

BIGCAT – “Atlas”- [self released]

kittywompus   4/26/2023   A Library, Cassette

From Oakland artist Bigcat is this 2022 ambient electronic release. While not far removed in style from Bigcat’s other works, this album has a more noticeable tribal rhythm influence woven through it in songs like Lyman Alpha Forest and Dry Grass. Chock-full of pulsating beats, soothing loops, and the occasional addition of static fuzz enveloping the vocal elements of tracks Voodoo Sisters and Karya II adds a blissful warmth to the album. While trilling highs, vibrating field recordings, and warbles keep you ever so slightly on your toes while delving into this hypnotic and lucent synthscape. -KittyWompus

Usputuspud – “Live In The Shit” – [Nafs, The]

cinder   3/24/2023   A Library, Cassette

Digging around I found out that this is a solo project from MJR (Michael J Rogers), who also has something called Wildlife. This is 2 “side longs” of 10 and 15 minutes each. Lo-fi hazy droned ambient noise waving and wafting. Quivering reverbs and rhythmical essences. A pounding beat and zip zappy muffled electronics give track 2 more attitude, while track 1 is more floating ambient.

Het Zweet – “Fase” [Self-release]

Albion Moonlight   3/10/2023   A Library, Cassette

Het Zweet (Sweat), is a one man outfit Marien Van Oers who was a native of Breda, Netherlands and was active from around 1983 to around 1988, playing his own particular brand of tribal industrial drone music.

This 2022 re-release of an 80’s cassette features 8 sound collages using self built instruments (shopping carts amplified with pickups, blown cardboard tubes and shouted vocals.)

For the millennial and younger crowd Van Oers shows what your grandparents were doing in the 80’s before Makerspaces were mandatory for subcultural creative expression. The tracks are low fi, trancelike and only mildly headache inducing (Gee, that must show my age).

The cassette features a beautiful 3 color hand screen printed on Gmund Heather tangerine 240 g/m paper cover.


Orasique – “Ixtlahuaca” – [Public Eyesore]

abacus   3/8/2023   A Library, Cassette

free improv quartet out of Mexico of multi-national origins, with artists from Catalonia, New Zealand, El Salvador, and Italy (reflecting the multicultural nature of the region of Mexico implied in the title). full on freeform frenzy, fiery but more of a low simmer; bubbles, pops and screams abound. a flurry of lysergic radiance and delusional unity, the psychic collaboration of sonic chaos sending each other off deep chasm into sharp corners and sparse contemplation, expertly dynamic shifting from one track to another. this is surly jazz, but in deeply troubled and confused form. regardless, the digestible track lengths leave no excuse to throw a cut in the mix. lacerate your brain with this psychotic sizzling skronk and sizzle.

Tomb Mold “The Bottomless Perdition” [Blood Harvest]

atavist   2/28/2023   A Library, Cassette

Debut 2016 demo release from this Toronto-based project. Sci-fi sounding intro in the opening track drops into a deliciously knuckle-dragging doom section before the all-out pummeling begins. This is fast, relentless stuff. “Valley of Defilement” has a hardcore feel based on its blistering speed. Fierce, hateful energy. Some great tone despite the lo-fi demo-quality recording, and the technical mastery is already there in the tight instrumentation. Massive death-metal vox and raw overdriven guitar sound, brief soaring leads that foreshadow more polished subsequent releases, like 2019’s “Planetary Clairvoyance”. Nothing extra, just tight fucking death metal. Super consistent, every track is killer. The last track takes us out with a slower, epic breakdown section, so hit that for a slightly different feel.

Desekryptor “Chasm of Rot” [Blood Harvest]

atavist   2/28/2023   A Library, Cassette

The air is thick with vile rumblings over Fort Wayne, Indiana. This represents Desekryptor’s first post-demo release, from 2017. Featuring the super-reverbed death vox we know and love, massive, thick guitar, and concussive drum attack. Sprinting through the darkened halls only to stumble and writhe in the fetid bog of moldering corpses. Medium-length tracks for the most part (3–5 minutes) enable you to drop in a bit of crushing filth into your set with relative ease. Descend the crypt, inhale these malevolent odors, and await the end.

Distruster – “World War Zero” – [Phage Tapes]

whngr   2/9/2023   A Library, Cassette

Touched Electronic Terror

A truly disturbing debut from local lone gunman, DISTRUSTER unfurls intensely dark industrial, hypno psychosis inducing, psychedelic satanic sex crime sample cult degenerate, autoerotic self-flagella-phyxation, pulsing, throbbing, beating, pounding, splitting, tearing, dying, resurrecting… in an inverted hellscape of perverse electronic derangement. 

Like the genuine mental patient I am, I had heard in high-school that if someone took LSD while viewing Eraserhead that they could be classified as legally insane. I knew this wasn’t true but still, the seed had been planted. Unfortunately, good acid and access to somebody’s (vhs) copy of one of my all-time most cherished directors would never coalesce simultaneously which, looking back was probably an uncommon bit of grace in my often ill-fated existence, and one that resulted in my still not having seen the film (as of February 2023), but here’s the thing… I genuinely suggest not listening to this while on hallucinogens. Aileen Warnous, PCP, Jim Morrison with Tourette’s, Ministry on 11 during 48 hour observation… and reel after reel of highly processed bites from the underbelly of film. There may be many more apt musical references that I’m afraid escape me as I am relatively ignorant of this genre… is this a genre? I genuinely have not heard anything quite like this.

Rumor has it that San Francisco based multidisciplinary artist MISTER DISTRUSTER is a slightly reclusive reprobate who has been known to prowl the city streets in the dead of night, probably armed, potentially lying in wait, and is the sole architect of all sound design, assembly, instrumentation, and the creator or primary conductor of visual design on this, his sole release. Further intel has unveiled, however, that there are several others in the chamber so… the less masochistic among us may want to take cover.

FCC on track one: “Coming Forth By Night” 

(There may be more, if I’m honest, but I basically lost my mind after listening to it in full, two times successively. If you hear something that should not be played outside of safe-harbor, try to scrawl it on the sleeve before you succumb. Or whisper it to me in your fever dream… and I’ll take care of the rest.)

SXF – 2022

Deadform – “Deadform” – [Brainsand]

whngr   1/26/2023   A Library, Cassette

Oakland It Hurts

Feels sick and hopeless with despair. Five sonnets scrawled in the illegible script of the forsaken psychiatrist who has given up on the oath of Hippocrates, wrote on the gutter stained prescription pad of a life filled with abuse, confusion, and loss. Moderately fierce, feverishly despondent, three-piece sludge merchants/doom-saints crust out with chugging and a few perverted nods to Iommi. Unsettling samples/ambience, furious kit abuse, and a bit of slightly cringe worthy guitar leads that are rough and pinchy but paradoxically enjoyable… with riffs and guttural bellows that stretch bestial tendrils into the primordial lizard brain. The endless search for heaviness continues by one of the absolute paragons of the dark crafts and cultivator of an unmistakably regional sound that effectively channels profound mental illness into a life devoted to suffering.  An arguably noble, if hellish, cause that has grabbed many of us by our foundations, executed by one…

Dino Sommese (Dystopia, Asunder, Noothgrush) drummer and vocalist of profound influence with bassist Brian Clouse (Stormcrow, Fema Coffin), and Judd Hawk (Laudanum) on guitar. 

When AIDS slid this into my box and I discovered Dino was up to something new I went straight to the internet to see if I could cop a feel off b-camp and was immediately enthused but when I went to dub the cassette it sounded pretty fucking murky. Sometimes that can be good… but I decided that I would purchase the FLACs for a bit of unit measurin’. Whose do you prefer #6’s dirty as fuck analog contribution or my super clean, soulless offering built with ones and zeros. They are both on the cd. Mark your preferrence, ya slag, and I’ll tally all two of your meek little votes, and award the winner with absolutely nothing… at the end of never.

Oakland CA – 2022

Black Cilice – “Banished From Time” – [Iron Bonehead Productions]

whngr   12/22/2022   A Library, Cassette

Cavernous screeches peel through the mists of an eternal nocturne.

Portugal’s misanthropic black anchorite low fidelity murk metal project returns to our library, this time on cassette. Five spectral black metal offerings with a thick mist of noise/drone. A total absence of life this recording feels like an extrasensory foray beyond the veil. Thin, dark, miserable; these are the sounds of the recluse who has dispensed with society.

Black Cilice is credited to the atirst “none” on Encyclopedia Metallum

Portugal – 2017

Living Sky, The – “Enter the Sky” – [Home & Garden Music]

carsonstreet   12/19/2022   A Library, Cassette

Jason Millard and Matthew Himes explore the outer regions of psychedelic rock, ambient and drones on Enter the Sky. If you ever wondered what Pink Floyd might have sounded like if Syd Barrett had not lost his marbles, these two veterans from the Minneapolis may have finally answered that question. There is folk lurking in the background hiding from the howling guitar as if Jorma Kaukonen has joined The Velvet Underground. Lo-fi fans will love this. Swirling guitar with feedback and echo. Garage psych at it’s best.

Artemeida – “Radio Lyric Irina” – [Alrealon Musique]

puplaif   11/16/2022   A Library, Cassette

Artemeida is the solo project of saxophonist, Irina Tanaeva, who is based in Moscow, Russia. She also performs with the band Moscow Noise Manufactory. She created this album during the COVID lockdown of 2020, while experiencing feelings of unease and confusion. She shares that her “goal was to make a dance mix with an experimental noise sound. Sound as a symbol of the unusual feeling of reality around.” Her expression of these feelings manifests across six tracks. Throughout the album she combines various electronic noises, almost imperceptible vocals, and  saxophone that weaves in and out of these compositions.

Track 1 starts and stops, like a commuter train whose destination is the cosmos. Track 2 has a pulsating rhythm and includes muffled spoken words. Track 3 is more beat driven, accompanied by echoing sax. Track 4 features a distorted vocal loop with haunting tones. The final track takes us back to the station with a marchlike beat. It took me a few listens to really absorb all the sounds happening here, but the more I listened, the more I fell into Artemeida’s trance. 

Thick Air – “Pillars of Creation” – [Not Not Fun]

cinder   11/10/2022   A Library, Cassette

Long form improvisations on a Yamaha PSS-270, slowly thrusting you into the cosmos. Pillars Of Creation takes its name from the iconic 1995 Hubble Space Telescope photo, definitely look that up to create the mindset for these sounds. Otherworldly synths float on top of large gas bubbles of bass. Meditative and serene. Drifting along the astral planes of sparkly space crystals. Solo project of Matt LaJoie who ‘cites intuition and accident as foundational to the Thick Air genesis, trusting the freefall process of creation and decay, motion and miasma.’ 

Surak, Jeff – “All Those Born Must Die” – [Helen Scarsdale Agency]

whngr   10/5/2022   A Library, Cassette

Dramatically varied abstractions of often quiet minimal soundscapes with impressive breadth in tone, feel, and volume. It is better, in my opinion, to just experience this album for oneself than for one to attempt to explain the sounds within, however, it is contemplative, cerebral, often quiet with just a bit startling contrast, and probably most compellingly, contains a couple incredibly unique percussive passages.
During a 2012 interview  with QwartzMusic Surak states when speaking of the Sonic Circuits festival that he directed from 2005-18, “This is Art, y’know, it’s beyond just regular entertainment. So therefore, it is harder to sell. Um… but it is possible, I think, to function commercially by making it easy for the audiences to experience this music.” (Is this music?) “So we try to make it open and as accessible as possible. Put on performances not just in underground venues, small clubs, basements, whatever… but also in big institutions, in large theaters and in places that are easy for people to get to, friendly, not intimidating… where people all dressed in black and look mean drink and smoke or whatever… No, it’s music that anyone can enjoy.” Woah mother-fucker! Stay in your lane, that is our job! We are the ones bringing “art” to the shut-ins and the pussies. We have been the ones working for decades to legitimize abstract, high concept musings of primarily straight white men, the Art school dropouts, knob twiddlers, and aurally productive acid casualties. We are their Champions! We are KF fucking JC! 

Surak appears to be as thoughtful and dedicated as he is prolific and also performs as Violet and 1348 and he seems to be kind of a glass half-full kind of a chap which honestly is a bit off-putting to this miserable volunteer, has lived in Russia where he was in several noise projects, most notably Sovmestnoye Predpriyatiye (Joint Venture), has collaborated with the likes of  Frans de Waard, and Michael Gendreau among others, and runs the Zeromoon label out of…

Washington D.C. – 2021

Nightfell “A Sanity Deranged” [Parasitic]

atavist   9/14/2022   A Library, Cassette

Massive layers of drums, bass, guitar, and vocals rendered by two Portland-based doomslingers in teeth-buzzing clarity by the evil wizard Greg Wilkinson. This is death metal shot through with sorrow and regret, to the extent that their slower passages, like the beginning of the track “To The Flame” moves into funeral doom territory, complete with a clean, lamenting choral element in the background. “Holiness Digested” is a short segue track before the epic title track is unleashed. Hear the darkness that has collapsed upon the self to torture that which would seek the light, only to find a prison of its own making, circling paths of infinity…

Greyhound – “Scorched Earth” – [self released]

whngr   9/1/2022   A Library, Cassette

A Hardcore Punk vignette etched in Power Violence and old-school metal.

An impassioned sonic treatise on survival in a system designed to crush the individual, the iconoclast, and the marginalized, with a bit of genre cross pollination and a furious delivery by their powerful and very present front person who espoused an unrelenting spite for the crumbling empire. Greyhound opened for Negative Approach a little while back and I was impressed by the intensity of the performance by Ry, who was the embodiment of ferocity before a ragtag group of misfits who clearly appreciate some of the musical arenas I had orbited in my youth. Kinda felt like the old days, sans emphasis on adhering to scene approved costumes. My assumption is these weirdos don’t give a fuck about your fashion sense, they play fast, hard, and mean with only a single song that might be considered vulgar by the…

FCC on Track 11 (B6) “Sorrow/Pain”: “… give a fuck…”

Though the use of prolonged guitar feedback might be dissonant or even distasteful to some; it is hardly obscene, nor will it incur fines, and sounds, to this miserable volunteer, like heavenly minstrels rejoicing in the divine light of pure, eternal, unconditional love.

*All proceeds (of the cassette) go to Self Help Hunger Program’s Temporary Housing Fund in Oakland*

Oakland – 2022

Montgomerie, Jo – “From Industry Home” – [Helen Scarsdale Agency]

cinder   8/19/2022   A Library, Cassette

Deliciously decayed sounds from Jo Montgomerie, of Manchester. She originally planned on being a concert pianist, but ended up falling into the world of sound design, foley work, and post-production. Utilizing objects around her home as well as connecting contact mics to her own body, she creates snaps, cracks, sizzles and delectable drones that waft through open steel warehouses and cold dark places. Industrial ambience, forlorn fevers. 

Forgiveness – “Forgiveness” – [Not Not Fun]

cinder   7/27/2022   A Library, Cassette

It’s a downtempo, trip hop excursion floating through magic hour pastel hazed clouds, straight from Moscow. Chilled, laid back beats in half time… the feeling after that first sip of Cabernet. Subtle, sublime, summer synthy splendiferous-ness.

Vic Bang – “Lira” – [Kit Records]

Max Level   7/25/2022   A Library, Cassette

Colorful, percussive, sample-based compositions by Victoria Barca aka Vic Bang, who is based in Buenos Aires. The tracks are crazy catchy and don’t sound much like anything I’ve heard before. The way the perky rhythms and ingenious sounds are assembled push my happy button bigtime. If this doesn’t put a wide smile on your face, I don’t know if we can be friends.

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