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Music Reviews

Blue Circle – [coll] – [Dub Ditch Picnic]

SlartiBartfast   4/20/2021   A Library, CD

Blue Circle is a fantastic collection of late 80’s early 90’s garage punk, post punk, experimental cassette recordings from Austin,TX. The Blue Circle origin begins with the formation of SPASM Cassettes in 1984 after a trio of student/musicians were faced with a final exam challenge to write a paper on a rock band, or start one. Of course, they started one, a band called Elegant Doormats. That decision to forgo the final exam lead to a long history of an underground music scene that traded in cassette rips. What a flurry of underground sounds that followed. The best of that catalogue is brought to us here on this CD collection of cassette delights. Step back in time, and catapult yourself into the now with this re-release of cassette rips from the early 90’s era. For those willing to play for their final exam, no test required just play on. The experience is the point.

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

Nephew Lagoon – "Naked Fuse" – [Self Release]

aarbor   4/14/2021   A Library, CD

Nephew Lagoon is based in Michigan. This is their latest project [self-released 2021] which contains 5 extended pieces rather than the brief sketches of the previous releases. It’s kind of a dreamscape of disconnected thoughts loosely flowing in and out of each other, with synth explorations and Negativland-esque sound bytes and news clips. There are clear references to the COVID pandemic on track 5 weddow [and the lack of sufficcient health care, loneliness and isolation]. AArbor

Kjetil Brandsdal – Untitled – [Drid Machine Records]

Max Level   4/13/2021   7-inch, A Library

Wobbly layers of gently ambient Norwegian noise with an insistent beat. Evidently it is to be played at 45rpm (although it doesn’t actually say that on it anywhere) to give you a nice concise three-minute experience, but I like it better at 33rpm, which offers a more dragged-out and woozy perspective. This 2019 release is a one-sided 7″ on clear vinyl with green and pinkish dots silk-screened on the reverse for a cool see-through effect, and the cardboard sleeve is printed on the recycled cover of some unknown record album. I love offbeat art-damaged stuff like this.

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. 

Cedars of Lebanon, The – “Archive” – [Limited Warfare]

whngr   4/13/2021   A Library, CD

Dark, harrowing ambiance with Middle Eastern influence.

Where a haunting spell is left to bleed the saint and to propel the Imam through an atmosphere filled with exotic spice, myrrh, and the prayers of the pious to a remote and vacuous space where God is honored amid the oceans of sand and waves of heat. Nearby a concubine eats pomegranate and watches the Eagle-Owl in its ornate geometric cage made of gold and olive wood while she waits for the arrival of her Sultan. However, he won’t be coming. His thickening blood seeps into the elaborate robes he wore for the hunt, his body swaying back and forth inside the palanquin on the party’s return to the palace having been slain by a great marauding cheetah, or alfahd, that sprang from concealment in the dry, wispy grass before being killed herself in a chaotic eruption of musket fire. The Sultan’s soul will never again cross the threshold of his qasr, where the rusty gate swings morosely in the wind.

Sorrowful viola, dulcimer, lilting guitar, drone, bells, samples, abstractions, a myriad variety of percussion (could be anything), and echoes everywhere.

Cedars of Lebanon are, Anthony Couri ( Lake of Violet), Jamie Drier (on You, The Swan King), and Mike Ricketts (Dismiss, Larva, onYou, Planes Mistaken For Stars). Recorded June 18, 2001 in the Platte River tunnels of Colorado.

Blood Rhythms – “Universe Spills Out of a Spider’s Bowels, The” – [No Part of It]

whngr   4/13/2021   A Library, CD

Released in September of 2020, Arvo Zylo lays down some harsh heavy drone with meaty durations and song titles I look forward to back announcing.

Unnerving themes to nightmares. Slipping out from a synthetic cocoon woven with the itchy fibres of psychosis. Fissures, machines, terror.

Unfurl your dusty wings and fly like Icarus toward the brilliance of your imminent demise. The instrumentation is irrelevant. Close your eyes and die.

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/

Spectrometers, The – "Dead Soul Music" – [Decasian Records]

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

The Spectrometers is Fred Duverge. This is his first release from 2008. Curiously it is the only release on Decasian Records. Discogs describes the music as: leftfield, electro, experimental, minimal, industrial. Leftfield – which btw means unusual, quirky or weird – yes definitely, not like other artists. Experimental, minimal, industrial – yes. Electro? – occasionally. I liked the B side better – slightly more tonal. What do you think? AArbor

Kompakt Total 18 [coll] – [Kompakt Schallplatten]

aarbor   4/7/2021   A Library, CD

From 2018 another very fine compilation from Cologne, Germany’s Kompakt label (based in a record store of the same name and owned by Wolfgang Voigt, Michael Mayer and Jugen Paape). What I like about these compilations is that usually each artist gets only 1 track – so they’re picky about what’s included. There are artists who are already in our library (Gui Boratto, John Tejada, T. Raumschmiere, Terranova plus the label owners) and ones I wasn’t familiar with. Dig in and enjoy! AArbor

Controlled Death – “Requiem For The Boundless Flesh” – [Urashima]

whngr   4/6/2021   7-inch, A Library

Ambi-Idustrial Horror-Noise from Masonna


Not quite crushing noise in ten parts. Five seven inched singles with each side being at least five minutes of moderately uncomfortable beauty. Quiet enough to grab your attention and horrifying enough to keep it. 


Terrible vocals bend and twist through heavily distorted filters amidst an agitating and sometimes meditative backdrop of electronic abstractions. Echoes abound.

Controlled Death is one Masonna (Yamazaki Maso) of Osaka, Japan (originally Kyoto) who is part of the first wave of underground sound production and noise whose performances are notorious for their unpredictability. Connected with many diverse and bizarre projects including Christine 23, Space Machine, Bustmonsters, Flying Testicle (A collaboration of Masami Akita [Merzbow]), Acid Eater, and Angel’in Heavy Syrup, and manager of Jojo Hiroshige’s Alchemy Music Store until its recent closure.

One quick note on the housing for these lil’ demons, absolutely gorgeous laser etched black wooden box and an interior containing more black with gold foil accents limited to 308 copies.

Gates – “A Mask Hidden In Memory” – [Hypaethral]

whngr   4/6/2021   A Library, Cassette

Sleepy Creepy Un/Comfortable SpaceGuitar based ambience and feedback with minimalist electronics.

Bleak drones, hums and aural shapes coexist in subterranean echo chambers of unearthly horrors or a sonic sculpture of your anxieties suspended in alien space. Track 5 is a reinterpretation of The Passing State of Plurality by Aidan Baker and includes an outlying instrument, drums played gently and with swelling complexity behind slightly more glitchy drones.

pulses / waves / plunks / squeaks / drone / soft percussion

Gates is one Bryan W. Bray (Jugurtha and formerly Demonic Possessor) of Toronto, ON.

Wrnlrd – “Mask of Hate” – [Order of The Cloven Eye]

whngr   4/6/2021   A Library, CD

Fugly Bedroom Black-metal


Strange ambient tides of murk and gloom that allude to the Witches Sabbath layered between tirades of atonal, blaring guitars distorted into oblivion.


buried trash-can drums that lurch and lick at cymbals / plaintive wails, beastial growls, and screeches / rumbling abstraction / misery, despair, asymmetric dissonance / moribund sound collage 
Thin and hollow oddities dance before melancholy interludes before plunging once again into unfettered, blackened rage.


Lone gunman, Wrnlrd (who states in interviews, “can be pronounced any way you like”) of Arlington, VA is informed, influenced by, and once played American traditional music (probably still does) and has employed the instruments of this heritage including banjo and accordian in his compositions and recognizes parallels to Blind Lemon and Dock Boggs in USBM. Yup, works for me. However you get there man, but with the genuine ingenuity and sprawling variation on “Mask of Hate”, will make a misery aligned volunteer eager to hear more from this buried giant.

CARTHIEFSCHOOL – “CARTHIEFSCHOOL” – [Transduction Records]

SlartiBartfast   4/4/2021   A Library, CD

Post-punk, electric, loud rock and roll, psychedelic fusion from Sapporo Japan. This three piece comprised of Tomoya Murosaki (guitar, voc.), Genki Tsusaka (b.), and Yudai Takasago (dr) have given us a self-titled debut album filled with delicious fusional noise. With Tomoya’s vocals screeching at times, CARTHIEFSCHOOL provide a modern lesson in a melding pot of post punk, psyche, and that certain ingredient Japanese psyche bands always bring to push boundaries and delight unsuspecting ears. CARTHIEFSCHOOL do not hold back on the brashness or energy. This is some great, in your face Japanese rock-n-roll. I hope our ears are delighted by this trio long after this debut release. 

Fontän – “Polar Star EP” – [Höga Nord Rekords]

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

“Polar Star” is a delicious mix of rock melodies, electronic dreams, and ever evolving, rhythmic pulsations. Fontän, which is spear headed by the Swedish duo of Jesper Jarold and Johan Melin, provide one of the many musical road maps that blend modern electronica, prog, and traditional psychedelic music into a cocktail of head pleasing proportions. With a history influenced by a bit of Bo Hansson and Träd, Gräs o Stenar, as well as Johan’s Nationaleatern lineage, this 2016 Hoga Höga Rekord’s release is sure to keep your mind wandering while your heart and soul keep to the rhythm.  

A/LPACA – “Make It Better” – [Sulatron Records]

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

Hypnotic Krautrock, psychedelic, post punk/new wave dance beats from A/LPACA. Hailing from Montova, Italy, this 2021 release from A/LPACA takes you on a musical journey through an imaginary “beat club”. A place of liberation, fun, and communal congregation. “Make It Better” leads you through that journey into a world of refuge, of reflection, and becomes a musical diversion from the stinging realities of the modern world. A/LPACA began recording this release pre-pandemic and finished recording in July of 2020. They blend heavy beat driven rhythms with just enough electronic and guitar fuzz to keep your mind pleasantly searching for those new musical  horizons.

Saturnia – “Stranded In The Green” – [Sulatron Records]

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

Fantastic, pulsating, smoky, psychedelic music from Lisbon’s own Saturnia. This 2021 12” is Saturnia’s 8th full length release, and a first for Sulatron Records. “Stranded in the Green” is an album that takes you on a psychedelic musical trip between quiet surreal whispers to driving heavy rock rhythms framed by lyrical vocals that guide your mind’s journey. Formed in 1996, Saturnia is the creation of multi instrumentalist Luis Simões from Lisbon Portugal, and was initially intended to be a communal musical collective. Since then Luis has kept the Saturnia spirit alive and well and collaborated with such musicians as Daevid Allen of Gong, Nik Turner of Hawkwind, and Stefan Kolek of Color Haze. Sit back, relax and enjoy this superb musical trip from the outer layers of your consciousness to the inner depth’s of your mind’s eye. 

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