Music Reviews

Pierson, Dax & Horton, Robert – “Pablo Feldman Sun Riley” – [Self Release]

Ms. Conduct   10/23/2022   A Library, CD

This re-release ushers in a season’s worth of plastic suns by Oakland-based composer Dax Pierson with contributions from experimentalist Robert Horton. This music is diurnal: A tribute to atonalist and minimalist classical composers with plenty of influence from the ancestors of experimentalist jazz and avant-garde lineages (a la Steve Reich & family). Drone and phase-shifting animates the elementals lending an earth-bound shamanic field to the compositions. Patterns, electronic pulses and consonant harmony stretch out like refracted beams of crystalline light. This album is solar slow but sunny all-the-same. For immersion in winter and third-eye animations.

Million Brazilians – “Strange Oasis” – [Nonlocal Research]

Ms. Conduct   10/23/2022   A Library, CD

At-once lushly sincere with tribal mysticism and playfully intoxicated with its own comic book-colored exoticism, this release from Nonlocal Research evades unity and easy characterization but travels through the imagined terrains of the pre-colonial Americas to navigate magical topographies with a videogame joystick. Atmospheric, damp, geologic, and aviary, this album probes into various corners of earhole ritualism. 

Napalm Death – “Apex Predator / Easy Meat” – [Century Media]

whngr   10/19/2022   12-inch, A Library

Sonus Hominis Caedes

Fucking sonic devastation at a fairly brisk pace. I jest, these guys have been taking the concept of rapidity to new realms for decades. However, this four-piece continues to push boundaries in interesting and thoughtful ways that the bands that were spawned as a direct result of their output have not. As evidenced by the foreboding opening/title track that begins with a glorious bellowing harkening to a corruption of Gregorian chant before degrading into a cacophonous, militant guttural remonstrance, prior to the carnage beginning in earnest. I am quite partial to “Hierarchies” (B4), which explores a similar backing vocal to the title track with thundering toms and nearly lilting guitar while lyrically referencing the spilling of innocent blood. A theme that they have plumbed ad nauseum, but do so with creativity, grace, dignity, and intensity, as evidenced by the rending of flesh and carnal imagery that has long been a staple in the N.D. stable.

Napalm Death are the progenitors of Grind Core, creating a sound in the eighties that has been emulated and adulated for over three decades by the crustiest, most primal outcasts of our species. An outfit that celebrates violent sounds while espousing a message highly critical the dominant paradigm and a culture built on violence. These men have nothing but derision for man’s tendency for war, consumption, greed, and malice. Emerging from the Anarcho/Peace Punk soil they sprouted from lo these many years ago, there has always been a message of hope, a desire for positive change, the righting of wrongs, and potentially atonement for transgressions against the downtrodden and unwashed masses. Though I gave up long ago on humanity, it seems that they have not. Napalm Death is still pushing their narrative with devastating poise and an eagerness to explore the many nuances of brutality while staying true to… perhaps continuing to define, the genre they created. 

Birmingham, UK –  2015

Heilung – “Drif” – [Season of Mist]

whngr   10/19/2022   12-inch, A Library

Rural Norse Spiritualism

Primal bone laden percussion, archaic harmonic vocal interpretations, with minimal modern electronic accompaniment, bird song, call and response, medieval ambiance, war beats, spoken word, and an assortment of hypnotic elements adjacent to the ancient lives of Nordic peoples.

These Scandinavians would liken themselves to modern shamanic practitioners and their activities regarded as rituals, with strong leanings toward theater which is explored thoroughly in their live performances. Clad in arcane costumes adorned with antler, fur, feather, and prehistoric symbology, surrounded by skulls, leather, and an array of traditional instruments. These sons and daughters of the Vikings seem keenly aware of the world’s tendency to equate their heritage and their ancestors as having a savage propensity for violence, which is by all accounts true, however Heilung would like us to to consider the much more peaceful, healing magic of the ones that stayed home from the campaigns of yore. Acting as emissaries to distant lands, touting the benefits of brotherhood, unity, and a deep rooted appreciation of prehistoric pagan society. However, they also seem to be aware that some of their fan base might have a tendency to take the celebration of Northern heritage a bit too far. So they are very clear in myriad sources that, though they absolutely look the part, they are not at all compelled by the power of the white race to the exclusion of, or the superiority over, other slightly or much browner peoples. One might wonder however, if their most ardent followers accept and align themselves with these ethos, as it is easy to imagine that behind closed doors, the lines might become a little blurry. But this is of little matter, racial bias and opinions being what they are. 

Although Heilung, does, at times, veer a bit too far into PBS fundraising territory for this miserable volunteer, it is hard to deny that there is something interesting happening on these recordings. Drif, the fourth studio release, is primal and profoundly connected to nature and the earth, the seasons, the spirits, and the heart. It builds upon something that resonates deeply with the modern Northman who longs for those ancient times that were far more in balance with their environment than the vast majority of us today. The cultures represented on this release were an integral part of the world as opposed to a consumer upon it… which is notable as Heilung appears to have become almost a brand in itself and is the first that I have witnessed to present a collection of tableware for purchase  on bandcamp and their website which are currently sold out, not the case for the massive assortment of clothing and jewelry available on their website which for my taste does detract somewhat from the apparent message on this beautifully packaged, if slightly flimsy, double LP.

Heilung was created by Kai Uwe Faust, a German artist who specializes in Old Norse Tattoos and Danish producer Christopher Juul in 2014 and after Juul’s partner, Maria Franz (of  progressive rock/pop project Euzen) contributed vocals to their debut album, “Ofnir” in 2015, she would become the third core member of the group. As they progressed they would acquire a veritable army supporting members for their relatively expensive and apparently powerful, live performances.

Denmark – 2022

Parasite 2 [coll] – [Rural Isolation Project]

whngr   10/19/2022   A Library, CD

More devastating noise walls from East Texas label R.I.P. Cringe and wither in your corner fleshling. You are likely not made of the kind of stuff with the ability to absorb this double helping of protuberance.

No Visitors is one Matt Turner of Quttinirpaaq, Shit and Shine, among others from Austin, Texas.

Takeshita is one Tim Burkland of Possum Pussy, Pillow Humper, and Pizza Burrito among others and runs the Imploding Sounds label out of Seattle, Washington.

Austin, TX – 2022

Map 71 – “Void Axis” – [Fourth Dimension Records]

whngr   10/19/2022   A Library, CD

Strange Angular Synthesizer

… and arhythmic minimal scrapyard percussion with dispassionate spoken female vox in the vein of first wave industrial projects, SPK, Suicide, Throbbing Gristle.

Brooding dystopian poems provide structure for the discordant instruments and as drums crash and electronics pulse around her, she weaves on her syllabic skien, an atmospheric tapestry with unsound psychedelic evanescence acting as warp and chimeric disassociation the weft. Echoes abound on these relatively short tracks that while not having a traditional structure will revisit themes, sounds, and words that, as repetition does, tends to beat its way into one’s subconscious and will begin to mirror catchiness in a kind of perversion of pop.
Andy Pyne (Keller, Aeolipile, Raised By Wolves. Shrag, et al,) plays the instruments and beats the trash while 

Lisa Jayne (Wylde) unspools subliminal poetry and wields the scissors (she creates Map 71’s cover art in construction paper collage). She also performed on The Blue Tapes House Band’s, “Chase Me Before the Plague”, excellent nightmare fuel which I highly recommend.

Brighton, UK – 2018

Cold Beat – “War Garden” – [Like Ltd]

humana   10/19/2022   12-inch, A Library

These very peppy electro-pop songs feature Hannah Lew’s pretty vocals. The beats on here are energizing, especially on Side A. The vocals get hazier on Side B and I remember what shoegaze is, and that I love it. This album is likely to lift your spirits as it did mine.

Tinkerman Project – “Tinkerman Project” – [Fuk The Record Co.]

Mister S   10/19/2022   A Library, CD

Songs of love and woe. Home bedroom production? Influneces by Ween? Doo Rag? Goofy, wack, irreverent, found recordings, commercial breaks, spoken-word. Funky electronic lo-fi gaming grooves. 60’s psych-folk rock. Blues jams. Lots on offer to sprinkle upon any playlist.

Track 13 for Jack Tar and the Blues Collective.

FCC’s if you listen close… “ass”… Track 12 

“F-bomb” Track 16 …. 

*Get the full story and decoder ring @


Orquesta De La Luz – “Salsa Caliente Del Japon” – [CBS Records]

kittywompus   10/19/2022   A Library

From Japanese salsa band “Orquesta De La Luz” formed in 1984, their first album “De La Luz” on BMG Victor Records in Japan, released in 1990 in the United States under the name “Salsa Caliente Del Japón” features four original songs (tracks 1, 2, 3, 5) and covers from spanish music hard hitters Juan Carlos Calderon, Dominican composer Mario Diaz, and Puerto RIcan composer Johnny Ortiz. Included in the covers is “There’s nothing better than Love” from none other than Luther Vandross (this is notably the only English song on this album). Following a tradition of Latin American music in Japan dating back from the Taishō Democracy, surviving the second World War, and continued to this day in acts such as Mumbia y Sus Candelosos and Amy Akaoká, “Salsa Caliente del Japon” is a novel but technically excellent salsa album sure to delight any salsa/cumbia enthusiast.

Tagaq, Tanya – “Tongues” – [Six Shooter Records]

kittywompus   10/19/2022   A Library

2022 release

Tanya Tagaq is a Canadian Inuk throat singer, songwriter, novelist, and visual artist from Cambridge Bay, Nunavut, Canada known for developing her own solo form of Inuit throat singing, called katajjaq that is typically performed by two women. Following a year delay due to the Covid-19 pandemic, her 2022 album, “Tongues” was inspired by Split Tooth, Tagaq’s award winning mythobiography’s poetic passages. and was produced by New York poet Saul Williams (a multimedia talent in his own right) and mixed by Gonjasufi (American vocalist, producer, disc jockey, and yogi Sumach Ecks) who reworked a “grimier” sound into the album. Haunting, powerful, and stark, covering themes addressing the subjugation of Canada’s indigenous peoples, Tagaq describes Tongues as her “Most explicit and specific…speak[ing] not to horrors and crisis…but directly of these things.”. Piercing lyrics about cultural genocide (such as the loss of indigenous languages, the subject of the album’s title track) and Tagaq’s personal call to rage and healing from the resulting generational trauma are amplified by an industrial, electronic exoskeleton and spotlighted by Tangaq’s own raspy, ominous and at times non-lyrical vocals.

Bates, Steve – “All The Things That Happen” – [Constellation Records]

carsonstreet   10/19/2022   A Library, CD

Steve Bates is a musician and sound/video installation artist from Canada. All The Things That Happen is a gritty, iridescent, ambient billow rendering panoramas from a mix of lo-fi Casio SK-1 sampled textures and organ recordings made in Chile. All The Things That Happen is Bates’ sixth solo album since 2006. Free-jazzed cosmic synth noise. Andrew says of this album: “This was supposed to be an ambient record; quiet, minimal and sad. These tracks all started off that way but I kept reaching for more texture and noise. Somehow the noisier the record got, the less sad it was also.” This is still a very ambient album with lots of drone like qualities.

Swinging Palms, The – “The Swinging Palms” – [Hi-Tide]

carsonstreet   10/19/2022   7-inch, A Library

Direct from the shores of the Hudson River, the Swingin’ Palms blend the most rousing aspects of vintage Hawaiian, Exotica, Go Go and Surf music. Led by Graham Tichy on Hawaiian steel guitar and Don Young on electro-Spanish guitar, the Swingin’ Palms present a mix of original music, Hapa Haole rarities, and forgotten gems reconceived in a style that’s both authentic and fresh. For years, “beachnik” music audiences as well as major music journalists, have bemoaned the shortage of new, original, top-quality Polynesian-esque music. Step back Santo and Johnny, The Swinging Palms have arrived! Graham Tichy – Steel Guitar 
Donald Young – Guitar & Ukulele 
Ian Carlton – Upright Bass 
Pete Vumbaco – Drum Kit  

Hula Girls, The – “The Hula Girls” – [Hi-Tide]

carsonstreet   10/19/2022   7-inch, A Library

The Hula Girls have been busy preaching their self-described ‘hulabilly’ sounds all over Southern California. It’s the upright bass of Christian Kessler, the drumming of Doug Sanborn, the Gretsch guitar twanging of Spike Marble, and the steel guitar of Shorty Poole! They’ve played along side such modern rockabilly and surf legends as The Stray Cats’ Lee Rocker and Slim Jim Phantom, Dick Dale, The Ventures, Duane Eddie, The Knitters, Dave Alvin, Southern Culture on the Skids, Los Straitjackets and Hot Rod Lincoln. It’s up-tempo tiki and surf themed music, all filtered through the late 1950’s and early 60’s rockabilly and rock n’ roll sound.

Aeon Station – “Observatory” – [Sub Pop Records]

humana   10/18/2022   A Library, CD

Kevin Whelan has written and performed some pretty great songs on this album, which starts out rather melancholy but picks up starting with “Fade.” Pianos, vocals, guitars, drums, gentle to rocking melodies that soothe or ignite your spirit. Family members join Whelan in this worthy project of observing life and time with an infinite lens.

BSBLOrk – “10 yEars aLive” – [Public Eyesore]

karma   10/14/2022   A Library, CD

The Brasilia Laptop Orchestra (BSBLOrk, for short). is an experimental music collective based in the capital city of Brazil. This collective produces acousmatic, often-improvised music that serves as a social commentary. Issues tackled include – human-quantum connection and something called the holofractal theory (track 1), philosophy of fiction (track 2), climate change and The Great Filter (track 8), the pandemic (track 9), and nuclear war (track 11). The collective has performed all over Brazil, and some of these tracks are based on live shows (e.g. track 6). The tracks are very electronic. Very acousmatic. Very avant-garde. Very KFJC.

JJJJJerome Ellis – “Clearing, The” – [NNA]

humana   10/14/2022   12-inch, A Library

Ellis explores his dysfluency (to others known as stutter) with an amazingly fluent and poetic two-album setting of his clear vocalizations set to music he creates and plays on instruments as a background to his story: tenor sax, flute, hammered dulcimer, piano, synths, drums, bass programming, and electronics. His voice tells us he is black, he speaks with a stutter, and is a musician who creations inspect the intersectionality of these identifiers. There is a space within his vocalizations that is like a clearing in which he escapes time and identifies with his blackness. “The Bookseller, Parts I and II” offer fascinating examples of how Ellis interacts through his speech. “Stepney” contains an interview about his other-abled speech and compares to as a slow-motion shattering of glass.” His brother Kelvin raps on “Brush Fire Smoke.” This is a stunning work of spoken word and music. Play it and open that window in time so you can really listen.

Everything But The Girl – “Walking Wounded” – [Atlantic]

humana   10/13/2022   A Library, CD

This comes to us from 1996, a treasure since this British pop duo hasn’t appeared live since 2000. “Walking Wounded” features Tracey Thorn’s hearty voice and Ben Watt’s beats, synths, abstract sounds, acoustic guitars, and vocals. Together they create catchy love songs that indicate how well they work together. There are two remixes at the end, but the standout tracks for me are “The Heart Remains a Child” (4) and “Flipside” (6). I love their music, and feel lucky we scored this CD.

Scathing – “Scathing” – [Rural Isolation Project]

whngr   10/13/2022   A Library, CD

Writhe In Pieces

Blood trickles from the ear canal, painting one’s neck with the sanguine elixir of life in a reduction of reason, ridicule of relevance, and a reflection of righteous indignation. These are the sounds of destruction, creative in their breadth and ability to harm both the assailant and the assailed. Abrupt, abstract, and aberrant sounds that culminate in a long (19:23) track with slightly less aggressive passages layered between sonic scorched earth. Recorded and mixed 2018-19 and released on cassette by Idiopathic Records in 2019.

Scathing is one Kenny Brieger originally from Alice, Texas now located in Austin. Brieger is one half of the experimental/noise/drone duo Architeuthis Dux along with Tony Duran.

Texas – 2022

Knudsen, Wednesday – “Soft Focus: Volumes One and Two” – [Feeding Tube Records]

humana   10/12/2022   A Library, CD

Knudsen creates all the sounds on this album (except for harp on the first track), and mesmerizing sounds they are: flutes, electronics, pianos, synths, chimes, and voice. Her voice is so rich that words are not needed, only the sounds, and only the first couple of tracks have voice weaving in and out of the other sonic layers. “Sunshine” brings to mind the dust motes you’d see in a shaft of sunlight, and the last track is an epic drone with piano embroidery. Any of these songs provide a chance to destress and put a true soft focus on your world-weary experiences.

Chills, The – “scatterbrain” – [Fire Records]

Mister S   10/12/2022   12-inch, A Library

Another fine record from New Zealand’s singer/songwriter Martin Phillips with former titles Brave Worlds, Submarine Bells and the collection Heavenly Pop hits to name a few.

A quirky mix of jangly pop-folk sounds flavored with melancholia that continue to feed my obsession with music from New Zealand.  

I originally discovered The Chills/Martin Phillips in my obsessive collection of bands from the Flying Nun label, now on Fire Records.

This is the third line-up of The Chills first formed in 1980 which Martin Phillips has continuously been the chief protagonist.

Released 2021

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