Music Reviews

Leya – “Flood Dream” – [NNA]

humana   8/1/2020   A Library, CD

Lugubrious music perfect for midnight hauntings from ghosts who mean no harm. Marilu Donovan’s harp and Adam Markiewicz’s violin and vocals combine in unsettling fashion to create a somber atmosphere that will echo long after the last musical note has sounded.

Brooks, Jeffrey – "Passion, The" – [Innovation Records]

humana   8/1/2020   A Library, CD

Minneapolis composer Brooks offers us three tracks featuring Bang on a Can All-Stars and Contemporaneous (both of which are New York City-based ensembles). Each of these works, one considerably longer than the one preceding it, is lively, jaunty, cutting-edge, intense, and adrenaline spiking in the same way you would imagine the sounds of New York City to be. Sonic dissonance that resolves into a creative amalgamate as individual as the listeners taking it in. It will inspire passion, just as the title of the third track promises.

Mr. Elevator – "Goodbye, Blue Sky" – [Castle Face Records]

humana   8/1/2020   A Library, CD

Hazy vocals float up through pleasant synth fogs and transport you to a simpler time where mellow pop vibes suffuse your consciousness and relax you. It’s easy to see Donovan’s influence on Tomas Dolas (Mr. Elevator) and his music. There are some slower songs on here, and they’re fine, but try “Alone Together” and “Anywhere” first.

Foon, Rebecca – "Waxing Moon" – [Constellation Records]

humana   8/1/2020   A Library, CD

There is a simple beauty to these songs composed and performed by Canadian cellist Foon. She is as adept at creating the mellow soundscapes of tracks such as “Ocean Song” and “Pour” with her piano, voice and drones as she is with her signature cello (heard to great effect in “Ocean Song”). We have releases by Esmerine, one of her finer collaborations, in our library, and this is an excellent addition as well.

Human Guilt – “Coordinates” – [No Rent Records]

lexi glass   7/29/2020   A Library, Cassette

This cassette is Ashley V. Bennett’s first work as Human Guilt (her previous work as Nadia can be found in our library). Each track in Coordinates surveys one of three geographic locations. At the first (T1), restless static intensifies into convulsive noise and distorted cries, a rush of sounds that finally converge into a single, sharp tone. The second site (T2) recalls the churn of machines, a storm of metallic clashes and vicious screams. The final coordinate (T3) orients inward: an empty roar, distant buzzes and beeps, wavering drones. 2020 release from Philadelphia’s No Rent Records.

PEACE ORCHESTRA – “Shining Repolished Versions” – [G-Stone Recordings]

aarbor   7/29/2020   A Library

Peace Orchestra is Peter Kruder (of Kruder and Dorfmeister) – I think he gave me this record before it was released in 2000. Shining is the only vocal track on the original Peace Orchestra release. It is remixed here by Rainer Truby (energetic with drums), Ian Simmonds, Uptight and The Moerth (spacey vocals). Is that Peter Kruder on the cover? I think so. I liked all the tracks at 45 AArbor


aarbor   7/29/2020   A Library

Recorded in Lagos, Nigeria and paying homage to the Yoruba Gods: Yemoja, Obatala, Ogun, Sango and others. This recording makes it clear that Yoruba and West African music has been a huge influence on much Western Hemisphere music such as: African American music: gospel, rap, New Orleans Jazz, soul, Afro Latin soul: boogaloo, mambo, Cuban Santeria, Brazilian Candomble even voodoo music from Haiti. The drums here are amazing as is the playing. Be sure to include this in your set. AArbor

Whetzel, James – Matilda Beats

aarbor   7/29/2020   A Library

The Whetzels just had a new daughter in June, whom I’ve nicknamed “Waltzing Matilda, Child of COVID”. As he did for his son Charlie, Whetzel composed songs in her honor and this is the result. The music sounds deceptively childlike but is in fact more complex than it sounds. Whetzel plays many layers of instruments: palm wine guitar, drums, flutes, mbira, and even a trombone – he admitted to me when he made a cameo appearance on my show. AArbor AArbor

Skin Crime – “Ghosts I Have Been” – [Hospital Productions]

whngr   7/24/2020   A Library, CD

Crunchy crackling, skittering swells, humming, pulsing, peels of feedback and drone with rumbles, shimmers, thumps, and carefully controlled chaos manipulated for meditative sojourns through inner space. It’s atmospheric, it’s noise, it’s brooding and pensive but it isn’t harsh, more S9K than #6 but basically sounds exactly like KFJC. A little spooky, a bit hypnotic, with some worry and some irritation but the scope of these relatively sparse sounds is varied and no sound stays around for very long, no vibration is left alone. Much like I often prefer to be. Nice and alone. A bonus half tear for the literary cover art which appears to be a modern rendering but seems to venerate antiquity. 

Skin Crime is Patrick O’Neil (and sometimes cohorts) who runs Self Abuse (New Hampshire), and sub-labels: Murder Series, Solipsism, and Terminal Ward. While represented in the library on a few collections including the RRRecords 500 compilation (Locked Groove #356), it is curious that we don’t have quite a few more recordings as they have released at least forty-two (42) to date.

Fetters / Esperik Glare [coll] – [Black Horizons]

whngr   7/23/2020   A Library, Cassette

Split cassette from 2018 on Black Horizons.
Fetters (Morro Bay, CA) is a  two piece that performs dark ambient industrial, dreamy electronic beats with a sparse, misanthropic, and hopeless message of despair (for the world). 
Esperik Glare is Charlie Martineau of Gillette, WY now residing in Eugene, Or who’s contribution to this cassette is more abstract and devoid of rhythm but retains a similar dark and gothic feel to the Fetters’ side when not twisting the noisy knobs, delivering the drone, or speaking the barely discernible spoken word. 

Deformity – “Deformity” – [Toxic State]

whngr   7/22/2020   7-inch, A Library

Blistering cacophonous rock with gnashing teeth and dissonant peels of echoing rage. Project by Joe Nelson and Shiva Addanki of New York City who would go on to form Kaleidoscope. Churning out nine releases from 2010 to 2016 most of which would be on single sided cassettes this being one of only two 7 inches released. Toxic State = surreal and oblique hardcore punk.

Mommy – “Songs About Children” – [Toxic State]

whngr   7/19/2020   12-inch, A Library

The debut LP from New York City’s Mommy is a bitter and personal foray into metal-health failure by a three-piece that could be considered “hardcore punk” but is a little too weird for such easy classification. Not to imply that this is at all complex, this is base, instinctual, and of the viscera. Featuring red-lined bass, trash(ed) kit pummeling, and the rants and ruminations of vocalist Mike Caiazzo (Dollhouse). Driving the listener through a horrible tunnel of despair and tragic reflections on mental illness and the casualties incurred by our broken psychiatric institutions. Heavily distorted bass guitar (and drums) reflect the sickness of the narrative. Lo-fi and fugly sounds from the lords of lunacy at Toxic State.

Zyfilis – “E.P. One” – [Adult Crash]

whngr   7/18/2020   7-inch, A Library

Furious driving hardcore punk from Sweden/Denmark (Malmö/Copenhagen). Reverb soaked fem vocs, slashing guitar solos, noodling note-intensive bass lines, thumping hammers. Screams, growls, howls and rage. Taking a page from mid 80’s HXC but with an interesting Scandinavian and technically proficient slant while retaining the raw and vital energy of the pissed-off, disenfranchised youth at the end of civilization.

Nandas – “Nandas” – [Toxic State]

whngr   7/17/2020   7-inch, A Library

Haunting hardcore, hurting nerd-corps, heaving nard cure. Little is to be gleaned from the web around NYC’s Nandas, however as they are associated with Toxic State the usual adjectives may be applied: Raw, garage, punk. Breathy female vocals front a raucous, blown out, note-intensive bass, grinding, buried overdriven guitar, riffs, one-two one-two, feedback, meandering, wistful, and disturbed. This is not your grandfather’s Hardcore… but your grandma might dig it. Is she into “catsss”?

AZYMUTH – “Misturada 3” – [Far Out Recordings]

aarbor   7/15/2020   A Library

From 1999, this is a collection of remixes of Azymuth’s Woodland Warrior. Remixers include: Jazzanova, 4 Hero (downtempo), Flytronix (drum ‘n bass), London Elektricity, Electric Soul (Funky) and others. The remixes are in many styles ranging from broken beat to house. AArbor

BHANGRA BEATZ – (Eleven Slammin’ Bhangra Tracks!)[coll.] – [Naxos World]

aarbor   7/15/2020   A Library

An excellent collection of Bhangra tracks from DJs in the UK. Bhangra is the traditional folk music and dance from Punjab, the part of Northern India next to the Pakistani border. In the hands of DJs in the UK and elsewhere it has transformed into popular club and dance music. Often popular Bollywood songs are mixed into club dance hits using the rhythmic vibe of reggae, rap, and R&B. The dhol a 2 headed drum, is the rhythmic center of Bhangra, which came to Britain along with Indian emigres since the 1950s.  Bhangra apparently has made Indian youth outside of India more aware of their culture and heritage.


SQUARE ONE – “Jump Start” – [Freerange]

aarbor   7/15/2020   A Library

Square One is Mark Wadsworth from Manchester (in the UK). This is his first solo outing from 2001. The track Jump Start has a (continental) European deep house sound with syncopated Rhodes and bubbly synths.  New World has broken beats, jazzy flute and a housey sound. The Jimpster remix of Jump Start is also worthy. AArbor

Rita, The – “Living Dead Girl” – [Amethyst Sunset]

lexi glass   7/15/2020   A Library, CD

2020 CD reissue of a 1998 self-released cassette from The Rita, the long-running Vancouver harsh noise project of Sam McKinlay. Two dense, dynamic 15 minute tracks follow the reanimation of a lifeless corpse: female form rising from the earth, malevolent life force circulating beneath layers of shredded flesh, a lifetime of suppressed screams erupting from lungs filled with mud. From Ohio experimental label Amethyst Sunset.

Wood, Hank and The Hammer Heads – “Hank Wood and The Hammer Heads” – [Toxic State]

whngr   7/12/2020   12-inch, A Library

Nihilistic garage/punk rock n’ roll outta NYC. Scene builders, heart breakers, and soul stealers since the early tweny-teens. Strut, stomp, long organ pulls, up-strokes, down-strokes, “ungh”, all the way up, dirty lust with abandon, builds, bends, breakdowns, and hooks to the heart. These guys grew up in New York City playing in bands with a close-knit group of friends who would put enough english on tried-and-true form to garner some considerable attention and produce some fucking excellent releases primarily off’a Toxic State. And they seem get around, playing in Murderer, Dawn of Humans, Cheena, Fur Helmet, She Could Be King, anna buncha others.
However, despite how great this album is, it makes me hurt. It reminds me of when I still wanted to take a big bite out of the world. Getting wasted and being in love with falling in love. Daydreaming about the things I could do to, and with, the object of my desire, pining for a romantic maelstrom with my partner-in-crime and ruling the world with our passion. I want to say, to hell with my highly erratic brain chemistry and the misery that I can dispense liberally to those I am closest to despite my best intentions. I miss living for tonight and destroying tomorrow with the chaos that would explode after last call… but I can’t anymore. That ship has fucking sailed. I’m done. My destiny is to wither into dust… alone, hopeless, and hopelessly alone. But I’ll be doing it listening to this, feeling the pulse of their youth, trying feed off their vitality like a fucking pathetic vampire.

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