Music Reviews

Crystal Shipsss – “Crystal Shipsss EP” – [Three Ring Records]

humana   9/5/2013   A Library, Cassette

As promised by 6, this is a treat to listen to, as it is fun making out the lyrics that stand out in often dark contrast with the upbeat tempo of the music behind them, especially on the last track. Jacob Faurholt’s voice is rather wistful as he sings about subjects such as “I hope we’ll learn to cope as chill, just as children are” (1); “Cause I can’t take it, seeing those lovely bones, crushing like a skull beneath the ties of all we’ve learned” (2); “I hope I get home before it gets dark” (3); “I hope, I hope, I hope” (4); “Feel like a cat jumping from the third floor, not landing on my broken legs; there’s a time of day when you want to open the presents before the Christmas bell rings” (5). The guitars are hazy and garagey, the drums add a pop element, and the voice, as I said, is the finest instrument. This is like a Christmas present that surprises you with its cool messages wrapped inside misleadingly cheerful paper.

Black Scorpio Underground, The – “S/T” – [Worthless Recordings]

abacus   9/4/2013   A Library, Cassette

Dismal abysmal drone of the deep industrial vein from THEE SLUGLORD, a mysterious entity lurking in dark corners of the LA wastelands (Long Beach specifically). Bleeding thick rivulets of sinister doom and nefarious torment, these two 9+ minute pieces will creep into your nightmares and haunt your psyche. Not as harsh and punishing as some other works, delving deeper into his subconscious with tortured shrieking and misanthropic vocal samples lingering distant through thick smoke. The assaults will sneak up on you, though, flooding from unsuspecting alleyways, only to slink back to unsettling ambience. Play it loud and inherit the hate and desperation of our degraded human race

TALsounds / Greyghost [coll] – [Hausu Mountain]

cinder   8/30/2013   A Library, Cassette

Two 20ish minute tracks from two solo artists. TALsounds is Natalie Chami. She brings super dreamy, whimsical, airy looping and twisting ambience. Synths and voice roll over each other like grape vines. Dewey, misty and pretty. Greyghost is Brian Griffith. Radio frequencies shifting and fading. A plucked guitar loops and lapses in time. Thoughtful memories and mind racing meditations. Very soothing and relaxing cassette. Great for laying in a meadow on a warm summer afternoon.

Noxagt – “Kill Yr. Ego, Oslo 13.08.03” – [Drid Machine]

abacus   8/27/2013   A Library, Cassette

Live performance from the noxious Nords, the lords of LOUD, ear-rupturing Noxagt. They’re joined by local legend Billy Anderson, record producer, recording engineer and musician who has worked with hundreds of bands like Eyehategod, Fantomas, Mr Bungle and many many many others. Definitely no turning down here, this shit is brutally overdriven and face-smashing as their concerts should be. The first track is just some banter from Billy while they wait for Lauritzen to get to his drums (some good Metallica references though). The rest is incessantly pounding noise rock with Billy screaming some deep throaty vocals that just sing ego death. They never let up, except for a briefly beautiful folksy viola solo from Erga to start off Blast From The Past, fitting indeed (and some Hey Mickeys thrown in for good measure). Instrumentals on 4 and 6 make you maybe miss Billy’s sweet voice, but they’re just too fucking good. Bring that volume up and let it all just crumble down. Everything breaks.

Tubman, Ron / Sugarm [coll] – [Hausu Mountain]

surferrosa   8/23/2013   A Library, Cassette

Vol. 3 of the Mugen Series – a cassette collection featuring live, single take performances of spacious and psyched pieces by eight artists in total. This volume presents three pieces by two artists taking a jaunt through acoustic-electric fields. Ron Tubman draws a floating, phased out dream-land hovering over an island of TV static. Finger picked guitar wanderings meditate over an ocean of synthy squaggles and gritty ripples. Sugarm builds a soundscape of shifting tones and wobbling oscillations. Minimal and feeding back, riddled with tip toe alterations.. delicate noise tilting in and out of pricklier phases. -Surfer Rosa


Shingles / Millrod, Josh [coll] – [Hausu Mountain]

humana   8/18/2013   A Library, Cassette

The first two songs on this cassette are lovely, with 1 starting out quiet but then gathering a drone presence and ascending into an epic loveliness that you can imagine filling the space between stars. 2 is another very pretty soundscape, soothing and inspiring at the same time. These are both from Shingles, aka Jesse DeRosa. 3 is a longer, more edgy piece where the trumpet makes itself known in a pronounced way. Josh Millrod is the musician here, and the trumpet has “Stradivarius” in its title.

Domus Mactibilus – “Rehearsal 2013” – [Brotherhood of Light]

cinder   8/9/2013   A Library, Cassette

A part of some such of Brotherhood Of Light. Three tracks of varying lengths. Super lo-fi experimental noisiness. It’s so distorted that it’s hard to sometimes really get what’s going on. Sounds like possible guitars, some feedback here and there, really high levels, and some electronics? Fuzzed, crunchy and munchy. There’s some rhythm that’s taking place, but it’s like you forgot your earplugs while standing next to the stack of speakers, with the engineer that doesn’t know how to adjust levels. I like it, sort of a mystery.

Birds You Once Knew – “Synth Miniatures” – [Donkey Disk]

Naysayer   6/19/2013   A Library, Cassette

Birds You Once Knew have done an interesting thing on their new project “Synth Miniatures”: in approximately 30 minutes they have made a history of synthesizer/dance/electronic, music from the late 1970’s to today. Donkey Disk, the label putting out this cassette, states it’s a tribute to roland (as in Roland synthesizer) and sequential circuits. It definitely is. The first track sounds reminiscent of Kraftwerk with those poppy, somewhat happy beats. Very consistent. Very smooth. With each sequential track we move through the different ways the synthesizer and partner tools were used to make music. Does that sound a bit like Depeche Mode? Was that some techno and electro clash? Oh oh, here comes the IDM. Now do not, in any way, take this as a negative. It is positive plus. These cuts are so fun, so enjoyable and very well executed. I have listened to this many times, just dancing around the house smiling at the references and styles. I dare you to play it straight through, it’s really that well done. Have fun with it. Thumbs up for Birds You Once Knew.

Concrete Island – “Conrete Island” – [Sleep Genius]

Naysayer   6/19/2013   A Library, Cassette

Concrete Island is Scott Moore and Dave Coen who make real industrial music. On the new and interesting to watch out for Sleep Genius label out of San Francisco, Concrete Island have created four tracks that seem to use recordings of machinery, field recordings of maybe trains or trucks, not sure, but definitely heavy equipment. They let it play through, layering some of the sounds into beautiful complex rhythms. This is industrial music like in the beginning of the genre. The pieces put a smile on my face as it brought me back to recordings of Throbbing Gristle, or reminded me of soundtracks made for dadaist and surrealist films of the early twentieth century. It also reminded me of just happening upon a big piece of machinery running, or a train passing, or a factory working and my stopping to listen to the lilting and subtle changes of the sounds created. It might be harsh or dark and oppressive to some, and the track titles suggest those feelings. I find this soothing and calming in a twisted industrial way. Just pop it in the tape deck and let it play through.

King Woman – “Degrida / Sick Bed” – [Sleep Genius]

Thurston Hunger   6/12/2013   A Library, Cassette

I come to herald San Fransister Kristina Esfandiar as King Woman.
Her voice brims with absinthe and pillows you into a state of
surrender. The first cut, “Degrida” (as in degradation) has
a familiar acoustic guitar skipping in the graveyard before
her voice opens up like a hollow tree, or an endless open
grave. You fall in, synth trails behind. Even as her voice
pushes up into the octaves for a sort of sleep yodel, you
fall deeper. “Sick Bed” slows the pace with a rocking chair
of distortion guitar as accompaniment. But again the focus
is Esfandiar (moonlighting from her Whirr project) and her
voice, dipped in delay, cloaked in reverb and occasionally
multi-tracked. Too beautiful for me to belabor the cassingle
format, and striking hued in blue sound to contrast with
the red cover and actual cassette. Here’s hoping these
two tracks are just a soiree, and a full coronation awaits.
-Thurston Hunger

Phork – “Entertainment” – [NNA]

Belladonna   6/12/2013   A Library, Cassette

aka LA based Neil Reinalda. Its a quirky little cassette release filled with abstract and random electronic sounds. Experimental noize to glitch to techno tracks, its all over the place but in the best way possible. You can dance or you can just trip out on it. Enjoy!

Battery Davis [coll] – [Teen Action]

surferrosa   6/11/2013   A Library, Cassette

Teen Action Records, based in Sf, delivers a handful of local noisters and dronesters. Kicks off with Copy Lake, a stoney Dr.Jekyll jam turned Mr.Hyde noise-out..speckles of space gun synth sounds and distorto alien abduction. Ringing and wobbling hippo-hypnoses from Seven Lies.. dub with sharp teeth through a shroud of haze. Weird Habit breeds Loopy loops and sample slop for a slow plod electro repetitious whistle.. halfway through, part two brings a bloated voice with broken speech and unaligned beats. Side B starts with Coagulator summoning the uber-drone oscillator..breaking into helicopter pulsations. Abyss of Fathomless Light comes with relentless stutters of an analog synth.. haunted and manipulated..Italian horror flick turned into tribal insane asylum war dance party. Closing things with Styrofoam Sanchez, channeling messages from Hell via Satan’s minions. Body function electronics with a gurgle garble schizo doom gloom death plod. Dig in. -Surfer Rosa

Rajkowski, Miroslaw – “Reference One” – [Nd]

abacus   6/5/2013   A Library, Cassette

Polish tripper turned Eastern monk active in the 80s and 90s. He is a master of overtone singing, having practiced since 1985 when he was at Wroclaw University (where he now teaches). Meditative droning vocal experimentation with a focus on far Eastern styles of voice, but with Western classical influence and some more impovisational extended techniques. Tracks 1 and 4 incorporate his homemade Tambura to space out along with while track 2 features him on voice alone. Track 5 is set amidst raw, lo-fi field recordings of a local park, making for a much more immersive experience. Tracks 3 and 6 are snippets from radio interviews in Polish that serve well as mixing fodder or to just play alone and confuse listeners. A valuable historical document of an interesting lesser known character.

Parashi – “Book of Nothing, The” – [Cave Recordings]

surferrosa   5/15/2013   A Library, Cassette

Sinister sound-scapes composed of (and this is my guess) analog electronics and tape manipulation of instrument based noise and human vocal sounds. This is certainly not harsh, but I wouldn’t call it pleasant..eerie in its nature, full of oscillations and open space. The music here is minimal in a way, but certainly not static, that is, these pieces move (even the longer ones) adding layers, tones and sound sources as each track progresses. Behold the beautiful hiss of magnetic tape..with all of its cracks and pop, sounds like wood burning in a fire. A constant ring will fool you into a hypochondriac’s tinnitus…hear the moans of mechanical whales singing to each other.. along with layered and processed sounds of human mummbles and yells on track 2, particularly towards the end. Tangled, desolate yet somehow heavenly… cracked and buzzing.. like the natural noise of an urban habitat which you struggle to place your finger on.. an ever present symphony of tones which you cannot escape. -Surfer Rosa

Business Etiquette – “S/t” – [Hardscrabble Amateurs]

abacus   4/10/2013   A Library, Cassette

Monastic machinations and metallic meditations from this mysterious project on small Oakland label. 6 mantras range from industrial hums and clicks to misty mountaintop drones. Cataclysmic reverence and peaceful apocalypse. Like the omnipresent whirr and buzz of our post-modern lives. Om

Antwon – “End of Earth” – [Ormolycka]

mann   4/10/2013   Cassette, Hip Hop

End of Earth is the first non-self-released full-length by Antwon, a local rapper from Sunnyvale, CA (even though all the blog write-ups say San Jose) who raps over post-punk progressive 80s worship pop party beats with a demented edge that side-step the concurrent “based” and “trap” genres of the area to truly represent the “Sick Sad World” party scene in Oakland that Antwon has been a fixture at for the last half-decade. The best example of his style is the track, Living Every Dream, which opens sampling Tom’s Diner on 10 rpm, think Suzanne Vega on quaaludes, and then bounces into a rhythm track more akin to Neneh Cherry or Snap (We Got The Power) than a rapper whose flow is that of multi-girlfriend-playerisms and heavy sexual content ala a west coast Notorious B.I.G. with a background in DIY hardcore (in 2009 before he started rapping professionally, Antwon was in the south Philly band Black Leather, and on his latest release In Dark Denim [which I’m hoping we also add] he has a track produced by B L A C K I E who hardcore folks like to refer to as the original Death Grips, so that’s the demented edge part I was talking about). Most of his lyrical content sounds like he spent his formative years watching the only two VHS tapes he had: Untamed Heart starring Chirstian Slater and Marissa Tomei and a fuzzy Anabolic interracial porn stolen from a dad, any dad. But, I cleaned up the whole album so have at it party people. Mann The General.

Stelzer, Howard – “Impossible Astronaut, The” – [NNA]

cinder   4/5/2013   A Library, Cassette

Two tracks from a cassette release. Howard Stelzer, from Mass., is a cassette nerd. He’s been creating and exploring his own tape music sounds for years, and has his own label, Intransitivere Recordings. These two tracks and pulsing, flailing, rumbling electronics, in a constant rotating cycle. Hissing and spitting, all while trapped in a glass cube. Noisy, yet controlled. More low-end rolls, and mid-tone mechanical gears than high-end whistles. Track 2 is more of a dark vibe, with skittering sounds, field recording style. Creaks and cracks, like a rat rustling around an old attic.

Stillsuit – “Stillsuit” – [Self Released]

surferrosa   2/26/2013   A Library, Cassette

Angry ladies out of Oakland, Ca making some killer noise rock with punk sensibilities. These chicks got some lungs on them. This is like a conversation where everyone (instruments and people too) is yelling or ranting. Lo-Fi, explosive and energetic…musical in the most non-musical of ways. Uncomfortable, abrasive pairings of sound keeping things just filthy enough while always falling into a rhythm you can bounce to in between spastic outbursts of sonic chaos. Howling feedback, lopsided riffage and relentless interplay. Noise moving backwards on #8. Nifty electronics on #9. These are the sounds of not giving a fuck. Makes me wanna elbow somebody. -Surfer Rosa

Conscious Summary – “Hurtful Lover” – [Self Release]

incognito   2/13/2013   A Library, Cassette

Lofi noise, feedback loops, digital bleeps and glitches on the first side of this self-released cassette EP. It sounds as if it may have been recorded live or on the fly, with what seems like a lot of manual modulation on tracks one and two. The second half begins a bit slower, a bit more detached and ambient, but returns to the style of the first half with modulated pitched frequencies, low-end digital tearing and oscillation. I’m not entirely sure this is available to the public, since it was given to Surfer Rosa at a show on a tastefully unmarked cassette, but fans of our noisier shows will certainly hear this in the coming weeks.

Pistol Disko – “2004-2011” – [Ormolycka]

Dianthus   2/9/2013   A Library, Cassette

Expect the unexpected when listening to this clever collection from the Swedish duo Pistol Disko. Carefully measured sequences of black racket, electronica, looping, psychedelia and goth can be found all throughout this hypnotic cassette. Experimentally rich and succulent inspiration are on tracks like “Pool” which elevates your mood and your cerebellum. Or transfer yourself back to some sweaty, chunked out synths on “IndieRave” or the shadowed “Grave Rave” and be prepared to dance. This will not ease your anticipation for what is to be heard on this fuzzed out , pulsing, spinning soundscape of metallic Oz. Noisy but mesmerizing, Pistol Disko will leave you lusting for more.


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