Thoabath is the solo project of Oakland’s A.C. Way (of several Bay Area groups, including Sutekh Hexen, Maleficia, Carrion and French Radio). Over the past five years, his work under this name has grown into a truly strange beast, a singular synthesis of death industrial rhythms, occult incantations, black metal, and blistering noise (see his 2018 cassette here). Created and recorded during the 2020 lockdown, his ninth release Drown magnifies these sounds over four massive tracks that together feel like a pure distillation of the inescapable dread that defined this miserable year. Anxious high pitched blasts, decayed noise, blaring emergency alarms, and howling voices all seethe within the dense rush of sound. In the third track, a lone synth figure meanders beneath the crushing storm, an image of isolation amid the chaos. Revisit this record to remember how it all felt, to sink to unthinkable depths, to struggle for a breath of air. Released on MK9’s label Neural Operations, with beautiful illustrations by local artist Bryan Proteau.
I don’t even know where to begin with this. If girls just want to have fun, these ones just want to as they watch the world burn. Afrirampo is Oni on guitar and Pikachu on drums, both of them providing screeching, yelping vocals. This is japanoisepunkpsychelectronic at its absolute finest. This will make you want to move. And whether that means dancing wildly, solo-moshing, head banging, taking shots and breaking bricks, or pillow fighting, you will inevitably find yourself at your wits end, beat and broken, asking for more.
Demi-Sepharic Surrealist Ambiance
Sullen soprano, worrying strings, pensive operatic choral harmonies, and quiet pensive passages. Part I being the slightly more varied, powerful, and sanguine while Part II is a brooding and potentially heretical longform operatic elegy allowing the listener to float in a tepid bath of ruminative despair amid beautiful swells of cello. However, these are not single faceted affairs, many moods and emotions are conveyed on both tracks and probably have deeply considered narrative though the language being used is not one that this miserable volunteer recognizes.
Curling plumes of censure smoke before a backdrop of scorched earth. Framed by angelic minstrels with blood dripping from their sullen eyes, the Christ-child loosely wrapped in soot colored swaddling clothes yawns lethargically, unmoved by the suffering of humanity.
Robert Moran is a prolific composer of opera, ballet, and accompaniments to theater. Based in Philadelphia, he has worked previously with many notable composers including P. Glass and has stated in interviews that he sometimes aims to offend, once writing an opera that contained a scene where Richard Wagner would be sodomized by a heaving pantheon of Hindu gods and even expressed glee in imagining his cohort’s discomfort and hesitancy in moving forward. Though not shying from controversy, he clearly takes his music very seriously, producing finely crafted compositions that seem to improve with repeated listens. “Buddha goes to Bayreuth” sounds full and complete however, it also pairs well with other minimalistic audio and is, dare I say, rife for superimposition.
Fractured Dada with Resonance.
Mid weight noise, subverted rock, confrontational tirade, drone, monkey screeches, feedback and malevolent psychedelia. Defies description but could potentially be an aural analog of the brown acid of upstate New York circa 1969.
While preparing this album for our MP3 database I found that I was having a hell of a time finding any delineation between tracks, listening repeatedly until I felt a lurch and madness began to creep through my mind in the shape of a fractal of oxidizing steel leaning in to the sky on a cold winter’s afternoon. Exploring the hive mind I discovered track lengths from multiple sources, none of which corresponded with my increasingly worrisome recording. I searched harder and decided the speed must have been wrong on my turntable so cutting corners I began to stretch the track lengths warping the sound but it still wasn’t quite matching up with Spitify. I decided to pan my recording all the way to the left and listen to it on brandcamp to see where they diverged but still they only seemed to be in sync momentarily before I became lost in the echoing swarm of voices and irregular percussion. I panned all the way to the right but the only thing I could truly discern was that I was no longer tethered to my faculties as I felt reality become diaphanous and I slipped further into my confusion. I began to hear something or someone breaking into our house or perhaps raccoons had penetrated the walls… I threw down the headphones. What was that sound? I descended the stairs while surrounded by an unfamiliar noise, lunacy, and an unremitting need to discover the source. I threw open the front door and was met by an impromptu storm; huge globs of water striking the earth and the awnings accompanied by moderate wind and the return to my senses. Back in my room I decided to take a new tack. What could the record tell me visually? I found that where I had intuited the end of the tracks and the beginning of the next were totally in line with a minor interruption in the grooves and that the track titles did not correspond with the streaming sites online; this album was not the same as the one online. Clarity and insight followed, I had something analog and different from what was readily available to the masses and it was a puzzle, one that had pushed me into the gaping maw of madness before being solved partly due to an atmospheric shift and a seemingly random coincidence of procyonic sounding reverberations and upon reflection; this was an appropriate introduction to Boy Dirt Car, one the group I’m sure, would appreciate.
Formed in Chicago in 1981 by Darren Brown and Eric Lunde. They were soon joined by Keith Brammer and Dan Kubinski of Die Kreuzen, building an avid and devoted following before crumbling in 1989. They were rebuilt sans E. Lunde in 2001.
Frantic, demented Death Metal from Seattle Washington.
Grinding gloom with sparse, uncomfortable, perverse mathematics.
Anger, hurt, toil, apathy.
Furious guitar, drums, and bass with guttural bellows and sparse noisy abstraction.
Numbness, intellect, drudgery, despair.
Not quite lo-fi with attack, vision, and a deranged masochistic bent.
“The miasma of the human hive in the city we live in. Rather than active human malice and cruelty, I think we’re more interested in the dull violence of tedium, the slow corrosive way that modern life saps your passion and vitality day by day and we let it happen.” -Z. Wise of Hissig
Fantastic, raw, energetic, Low-Fi, garage sounds from Trumans Water. Transport yourself to that underground, post-punk, improvisational sound emanating from a warehouse party of the early 90’s. A band appears and begins to test the limits of expression and noise. All distortion on instruments and mic’s at 11. Perfection! “Godspeed the Static” is Trumans Water’s first in a series of limited releases of the Godspeed series. The Godspeed limited releases are all live, in studio, improvisational sessions. “Godspeed the Static” is a noisy, fuzzy, gritty gem of an intro to the Godspeed recording series. From “Sweet Sister Gay” to “California Lies” This is a four track LP sure to let that pent up anxiety disappear into the fuzzy distortion of Trumans Water’s loud, noisy and impressive improvisational escape.
Tribal rhythms, fuzz guitar and psychedelic sounds? A band dressed in masks and tribal attire to bring this enchanting psychedelic sound to you? It must be Sweden’s own Goat. “Commune” is Goat’s second studio release out on Sub Pop Records from 2014 and remains a gem nearly a decade later. For those that know Goat, you can bask in the warmth and love of this sophomore release . For those of you who are unfamiliar with this fantastic Swedish psychedelic experience, sit back, relax, and let your noggin get carried away in the hypnotic rhythms and fuzz heavy guitar driven divineness that underlies the enchanting and energetic vocals of the two female lead singers. “Commune” is guaranteed to scratch that psychedelic itch in your ear and transport your mind to another world.
This being a collab between Silent Servant (John Juan Mendez) and Svreca (Enrique Mena). The first track opens like a foreshadowing into a nightmarish dream. A dark, guitar drone ala Sun O))). Then the struggle in your dreams begin. The next track brings a bass heavy techno beat, that runs repeatedly through your head as you run through the fog filled forests at midnight, escaping what lurks in the shadows. Side B has that foreboding drone feel again, as if you’ve been stopped cold in your tracks…something is whispering your name, pulling at your soul, but you can’t see it. The final track – you race like hell to find shelter and hope that your sweat drenched smell doesn’t attract the steaming behemoths that stalk.
A release from 2012 from Children Of The Apocalypse.
Dark ambient journeys through mystical, neofolked fantastical lairs.
Rustling sounds, crackling fires, deep water currents, cult like vibes, possible witchcraft, spiritual dives.Each track takes you on a quest, almost theater/radio story style with all the specific sound effects and foley.
female vocals/singing/casting spells on 3 tracks, the rest are instrumental.
Ulrich, Torben & Goldston, Lori – “Oakland Moments: Cello Voice Reuniting (rejoicing)” – [Obscure & Terrible]
Brand spankin’ new tape label out of Seattle, Obscure & Terrible. This is poet/musician/painter/tennis player Torben Ulrich (yes, the father of Metallica drummer, Lars), reciting his poetry to the cello of Lori Goldston. They’ve been playing together since 2005 with Angelina Baldoz and Jaison Scott in a project called Instead Of. This, however, is their first project as a duo. Goldston is “Classically trained and rigorously de-trained, possessor of a restless, semi-feral spirit” and her evocative cello playing is haunting, flittering, profound, and raw, which pairs perfectly to Ulrich’s sing-songy delivery of his exceptional poetry. In what I wish was a longer release, this cassette does not disappoint, and often feels sultry and seductive.
The pairing is genuine, and clearly comes from a place of mutual sonic understanding. Dig it…
Copy is Marius Libman from Portland, OR (who now lives in SF). This is his most recent musical release from 2016 on stylish silver vinyl. His style is playful and retro sounding with a very analog synth sound as if he’s trying to create 8 bit computer music. Each track is an instrumental gem. Some tracks are lusher sounding, others more glitchy – each one has its own unique personality. You can’t dance to it but it’s definitely worth a play! AArbor
MXLX is Mathew Loveridge, Bristol, England and “At Time Temple” is an explorations of the perversion of several genres including Black Metal, Ritual Psychedelia, Noise, Punk, Folk, Hymnal, and perhaps the inception of several other genres that fall between the cracks of extant categories. At times meditative and serene (Zone Away), elsewhere tortured and vehement (Disastrchasr), the composition and performances appear to provide a vehicle for personal expression above any other motive.
Layers of drone and squealing guitar, buried percussion, white noise modulation, emphatic wails, deep string bends, cacophonic scrambles of electronics and guitar, thunderous double-kick, quiet spaces of single picked acoustic guitar, lilting choral passages filled with lamentation yet devoid of meaning…
Pulling from a broad spectrum of influences and subverting them all, indeed,, there is an utter lack of convention in almost every aspect of this release, especially the spit in the eye of high-minded grandiloquence. He produces (heavily) as a byproduct of a diagnosis that he credits as a motivator.and states, “I happen to be autistic, The ridiculous pumping out of mediocre jams is sort of a by-product.” But this apparent self-depravation has a note of humility to it. The art and packaging of this release is raw and unrifined, mirroring aspects of the sounds contained within, especially a sense of immediacy, or urgency, of capturing a moment or a feeling before it slips away giving the album an ephemeral feel. Having excised this ghost he will move on to other compositions, other demons to slay. with no allusion to deeper meaning or value. He does it because he must. Internal incentive being the crux of his motivation while we, the listener, are an unnecessary mote, a passive witness to his expression.
“Loveridge’s vocals are typically obscured or non-verbal (see 2015’s I Aim To Understand Nothing). While he dismisses questions on his lyrics, claiming they are as obligatory and “completely unconsidered”…”-Alastair Shuttleworth, The Quietus 2020 https://thequietus.com/articles/28115-matthew-loveridge-mxlx-interview
Loveridge of Bristol, England whose mental health apparently provide the impetus for a staggering amount of output under several different monikers (Knife Library, Fairhorns, Speed the Plough, Gnar Hest, et al.) encompassing a vast amount of influences without derivation. Something wickedly pure amid a turgid ocean of clamoring whore-hounds.
Conniffe, Brian & Walsh, Suzanne & MacDiarmada, Diarmuid – “Landslide” – [Lumberton Trading Company]
Three musicians from Dublin, Ireland explore quiet space with enchanting ambiance on this release from Poland’s Lumberton Records, 2013.
Mellifluous, feminine vocals interwoven with shimmering chimes and bells, juxtaposed against strange nocturnal abstractions. Squeaking trapdoors? Frog chirps? Thumps, aerophone, and synthesizer swells create a slightly spooky backdrop for the delicate singing of Suzanne Walsh.
What are your musings fragile spirits, there in the shadows, eyes aglow against the inky blackness just beyond our reckoning? Might you be coaxed out, to dance with us around the fire? Or are you too shy, too reticent, and too many secrets held to mingle with humanity? Join us in our mourning song , to heal our wounded hearts opened by the loss of our fallen companions so that we might sleep deeply, come ere the dawn.
Landslide is dedicated to the memory of John Balance (Coil) and Peter Christopherson (Throbbing Gristle)
Perhaps the strangest piece of smoldering horse-shit genius I have had the fortune to review since joining the station. Dispose of the confines of genre, dispense with sensical tuning or established structural norms. Reason and logic have no place in the world of Robert London and Ferg Ferg. Vague allusions to the recognition and worship of a Christian god and what appears to be fairly traditional instrumentation, albeit with a considerable amount of reverb (and many likely synthesized), are the only thing I warrant you will find familiar. I’m pretty sure there is a drum kit and an electric bass and I imagine that these two marvels will simply mic the room and switch instruments when the whim takes them to improvise. Attempting to upend what music is fundamentally to remarkable effect. This is an album that utilizes an astonishing level of creativity while ignoring almost all other attributes of sound that one might find meritorious. This is outsider art to its core, with a hint of mental illness, and isolation, perhaps cloistered in the chapel band room… shades of Henry Darger though slightly less secular. Bongos, bass guitar, synthesizer perversion, mostly off pitch vocals, Jaw-harp/reverb-majoris, organ, some shuffling meters and distorted R&B elements, a considerable amount of panning and other effects in post, didgeridoo, in-the-red harmonica, harp, cabasa, muddy abstractions and other items one might find in a box in the back of a church’s band room, Ie: rain-sticks, shakers, tambourines and the like. Se Qui sounds to me like something that was recorded in the day, with the sun at its zenith, a brilliant white light streaming in through windows. Diurnal and disturbed. A unique, hand drawn pencil on photocopy paper and the sharpie enblazened cdr lends credibility to my theory of sequestration in a church… they probably employed those tiny pencils without erasers that are often found in the pews for marking your King James up or noting your donation or for whatever they were intended. To be honest I don’t know what they’re for but in some ways they are an excellent symbolic representation for this album; you can be creative with them, but probably shouldn’t, instead waiting until you have proper equipment and vision. Inspired by something deeper than the monotony of Sunday worship.If you have no idea where to begin (absolutely appropriate) might I suggest tracks 3 & 9, Ichabod and Puissant respectively? And be baptized in sound knowing that you’ll never be able to unhear these modern psalms.
This is the debut album from this trio from Reggio Emilia, Italy. Nazim Communal and Andrea Silvestri started as a improv duo in 2015. They’ve since evolved, getting a drummer and creating seven really distinct pieces that run the gamut from psychedelia to rock, noise to electronica. Ranging from 7-10 minute, these excursions take you from the driest desert to the darkest parts of our universe. Dusty keyboards, reverb walls, other-worldly grooves, and hidden samples. Tasty…
Abrasive noise rock with pounding machine beats, seething electronics, and semi-sneering talk-singing. I was not familiar with White Hills, but I have been reading other reviews that portray them as guitar-driven and psychedelic. This CD isn’t like that at all. I would describe it as urban-sounding, synthetic, and damaged. There are a few noise pieces that only last a minute or two, and sometimes just a few seconds. Dave W, one of the two constant members of this prolific, long-running project has said “I’m very conscious about making the records sound different from each other.” Quite so. If you know White Hills from their previous releases, this one may surprise you.
hyper hypnotic rave seizures from punk ethnomusicologist Julien Hairon lacing together soundscapes acquired from years of traveling throughout Asia, Africa, and Oceania (see link below) these tracks are the results of his artist residency in Tanzania, and are reflective of the local Singeli style (see other link below). Umeme opens with frantic polyrhythms reminiscent of much of the label’s catalog, blasted by startling stabs of alert tones over undulating attacks. Kelele is less aggressive but no less mesmerizing, with recordings shining through more overtly about halfway through. this label has been shredding dancefloor vibes internationally, hopefully we can keep up
Kinny whose name off stage is Caitlyn Simpson, released this full length on Tru Thoughts in 2009. She was born and raised in Canada and her family heritage is a mixture of Jamaican, Native Canadian Indian, French and Swedish. Trained as an opera singer her singing style and attitude is more jazzy soul. Here she partners with other label mates to create some tracks with a spunky attitude. “Forgetting to Remember” will always be my favorite but the other tracks are also very fine. AArbor
Bordeaux France, female fronted guitar driven five-piece hardcore punk.
Blazing, ripping, shredding, squealing onslaught of dystopian D-beat.
Havoc of detonation.
Conscision, derision, precision.
Emphatic and brief, Bombardment EP. is a terse, vital expression of an established genre with chops and vision that will get the coldest of hearts thumping.
Drone with minimalist accoutrement.
Understated, meditative vehicle with allusion to aural healing. Ambience for introspection. Sublimity slithers through this single sixty-four minute piece executed thoughtfully by an international quaternity. A measure of Buddhist teachings appear to inform this project with their first performance taking place at a five-hundred year old temple in Osaka. Perhaps an excellent accompaniment for ritual nature worship, drain your dour perspective in drone.
Jean Cook – Violin, Viola, Shruti box – Collabs with Jon Langford, William Parker, and Assif Tsahar
Hitoko Sakai – Harmonium, Shruti box – MSBR, Japanese Noise scene writer
Daniel Littleton – Harmonium, Bells, Kubing – IDA, Tara Jane Oneil collaborator
Warren Defever – Bells, Percussion, Gong – UFO FACTORY, His Name is Alive (4AD)
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