Music Reviews

Merciless Savagery – “Demo 2020” – [Nuclear War Now! Productions]

whngr   11/3/2022   12-inch, A Library

Ugly tirades of brutality from this wicked female USBM two-piece with morose synth bookends on both sides. 

Raw Black Metal in the vein of the old school (Bathory, Witchcraft [Fin], and Sodom) with both sides unleashing the same viscera dumping material, with the exception the closing track of side A “Imperator’s Sceptre” which is not present on the B side (but will still evacuate your organs), which is comprised of recordings from rehearsal that sound equally as polished, effective, and vicious as the A side. Though this LP lacks attention to recording quality it excels in the delivery of tight as fuck, carnal ferocity from both members, like a decapitated head of man held aloft in triumph, rivulets of blood coursing down the heathen arms of the victorious, eyes ablaze in fury.

Merciless Savagery is C.C. Bone Crusher (drums) and Hellbitch Kommando (guitar, vox) who was also responsible for much of the artwork for the band. I am particularly fond of the cover art for the original digital release which shown below and on Encyclopedia Metallum.

Houston, TX – 2022

Fri Som En Fagel / Filthy Christians [coll] – [Armageddon]

whngr   11/3/2022   7-inch, A Library

Swedish Hardcore punks negotiate ferocity, blast beats, the disenfranchisement of youth, and a spray of cynical humor with alacrity and aplomb.

Fri Som En Fågel… translates to “Free as a Bird” which is surely an allusion to the avian imagery that G-anx would employ in their cover art and the stark, slightly sinister, and dichotomistic aspects of this 7″ is part of what drew me in to this release. The ferocity, innovation, and humor is why I shall return. 

G-Anx were a fucking great four-piece of long-hair punks with grindcore leanings from Jönköping and Huskvarna that packed it up in ’92. Raw and visceral, this is the real deal for this miserable volunteer.

Filthy Christians were a five-piece crossover project from Falun with a predilection for denim that also had a couple long-hairs in their group. Check out “Vaktmästar Jazz (Olle P)” (“Janitor Jazz [Olle P]” [B3]) for the album’s oddity which features  a couple of catchy jangly guitar interludes reminiscent of pop from the 60’s or the very short “Skate And Die” (B6), a nihilist ode to my preferred rolling toy of doom, destruction, and delight. Of special note is the track “Another Metal Band” (B5) which relates (via the thorough liner notes evocative of the era) a tale of a Hardcore band that rejects their roots to explore the often absurd Satanic fantasy realms of Death Metal… which is exactly what Filthy Christians would do not long after this release. What a bunch of fucking clowns… I love it!

Sweden – 1988 

Suzi Moon – “Animal” – [Pirates Press Records]

Terra Incognita   11/2/2022   12-inch, A Library

The Los Angeles punk scene has been Suzi Moon’s creative playground for some twenty years, and this album reflects that. Suzi Moon’s Animal is straight-up L.A. punk rock, with the sheen of cover up, the smell of perfume, and the glitz of sequined leopard print. It is familiar and catchy, high-energy rock ‘n’ roll.

Suzi Moon, aka Suzi Homewrecker, who relocated to Washington D.C., has played in the all-girl punk bands Civet (guitar, vocals) and L.A. Machina (bass) and fronted the power trio Turbulent Hearts (vocals, guitar). When the pandemic hit, she decided to funnel her energy into a solo project. Animal is the second of two EPs, followed by a more recent full LP, she has since released as Suzi Moon (released by Pirates Press Records in April 2022).

On this album Suzi Moon sings and plays guitar, with Drew Champion on lead guitar, Patti Bo on bass, and Sean Peterson on drums. Each of the three tracks has a different feel, and Suzi Moon adjusts her vocal style to the material. The first two tracks (“Sonic Attraction” and “Animal”) have variation and drive, with rockin’ guitar riffs flavored with feedback and melodic leads contrasted against low-end floor tom action and bass. The vocals are infused with sultriness and edged with a subtle Joan Jett gruffness. The title track, “Animal,” showcases Suzi Moon’s ferocity, playfulness, and versatility. It is perhaps the least commercial sounding of the songs and also the only one with FCCs. “Gold Record Autograph” is straightforward pop punk with clean, sugar-coated vocals and harmonized backup vocals.

Personally, I’d like to hear more of that rawness that Suzi Moon unleashes live on stage, but she tends toward the controlled, well-produced, warm, power-pop sound. This neon yellow 12” EP provides a decent picture of the band’s fluorescence and potential.

Helm “Axis” [Dais]

atavist   11/1/2022   A Library

Glitchy electronics and sampled acoustic sounds, twittering, quivering. Lots of smoky gauzy echoing sounds adrift in the mist, offset by start/stop drumbeats. Dreamy, atmospheric passages, as in track 3, “Crash”. Half-drowsy, half-anxious loops. Clangy percussive elements appear, borderline industrial, but never overwhelm the mix, maintaining the uneasy sleep. The last two tracks are a bit longer and ratchet the uneasiness, just so. Helm is Luke Younger, who grew up in East London listening to pirate radio, recording sounds of all kinds with a basic tape recorder, and gravitating towards electronic music. He’s been fairly prolific since ~2008, and this is the fifth Helm addition to the library.

LEMAT – “Ensemble of Organic Amazement Vol 1 and 2” – [Half Shell Records]

sam   10/31/2022   A Library, CD

LEMAT is a loose collection of artists wandering around the world as the whim strikes.  As they traipsed through Mexico, Germany and the US, they recorded the tracks found on this album.  Originally released as two EPs, both releases are collected on this CD.

15 artists are listed as contributing to the project, but the core seems to be drums, one or two guitars, and “vocals”, with other instruments contributing on an occasional basis on certain tracks.  Described as a “multi-ensemble project of psychedelic rock, freak folk and experimental music”, LEMAT tries to be several things at various times.

Swirly poppy chords with a torrent of various vowels at various pitches would be the best description I could come up with.

Track 9, “Rednaw”, is basically Track 1, “Wander”, backwards.

Messer Chups – “Visiting The Skeleton In The Closet” – [Guitaracula Records]

carsonstreet   10/31/2022   A Library, CD

Messer Chups is a surf rock band from Saint Petersburg, Russia. They have also been described as an experiment band. The group was formed in 1998 by composer and guitarist Oleg Fomchenkov. Visiting the Skeleton in the Closet was released March 15, 2022. Surf twang, spooky themes and just plain great surf music. Some vocals but mostly instrumental.

Sula Bassana – “Nostalgia” – [Sulatron Records]

carsonstreet   10/31/2022   A Library, CD

In the 20th year of Sula Bassana’s career he has released Nostalgia. Nostalgia is songs composed and recorded from 2013 to 2018 but finished during the last few years. The last overdubs and vocals recorded in 2019 to 2021. After some more electronic orientated albums, this one is more in the style of the rock orientated albums like Dreamer, The Night, Dark Days or Live At Roadburn 2014. The first two tracks include vocals which is rare on Sula Bassana albums. The title track features Mellotron, pure fuzz and has a jazzy side. All psych all the time.

Wo Fat – “The Singularity” – [Ripple Music]

carsonstreet   10/31/2022   A Library, CD

Texas-sized psychedelic blues doom. They describe their music as “swampadelic visionquest of overdriven, fuzz-laden riffage and jazz-minded jam explorations”. Wo Fat has gained a reputation as one of the premier US Stoner Metal bands. Starting with The Gathering Dark in 2006, they have stayed true to the deep, dark blues that wails from within. During the last few years, Wo Fat have made appearances a number of iconic festivals in Europe and the US, including Roadburn Festival, Freak Valley Festival, Psycho California Festival, Sylak Open Air Festival, Desertfest Berlin, Desertfest London, Maryland Doomfest and Stoned Meadow of Doom. In summary – heavy and fuzzy.

Tex and Foley – “Slythoar and Pierre” – [TacoRatSATX]

karma   10/26/2022   12-inch, A Library

Just in time for spooky season, a journey through a haunted house! Foley draws from his experience in radio drama and immersive theatre (Sleep No More) to create this immersive album. This is a blursed combination of Five Nights at Freddy’s and A Prairie Home Companion. Fun for anyone who misses the good old days of radio drama!

Parashi – “Vinegar Baths” – [Carbon Records]

karma   10/26/2022   A Library, CD

Parashi is Mike Griffin. He has performed in a few bands, including Sky Furrows, whose self-titled album enjoyed recent glory on the KFJC hit list (Foreign Cities is my anthem). Vinegar Baths is based on improvisations with the 6-string bass and tape manipulation – the (unintelligible but powerful) vocals and guitar were added later. Unlike the lyrically dense and frenetic Sky Furrows, this album is a subdued soundscape that transports you to an open field somewhere in upstate New York. My favorite track is “Winding Song,” where Griffin lets his guitar technique and skilled vocals lead.

XEREX – “XEREX Meets Dracula” – [No Part of It]

puplaif   10/26/2022   A Library, CD

Who is Xerex? They’re described as “an anonymous musical project by brothers Karl & Jan from rural Jesse Germany. They’re conjoined twins who also happened to have been grown in a petri dish as elderly mathematicians in 1972.” This album is their first “invisible story” in the spirit of choose-your-own-adventure-style novels. Here is the adventure I chose: 

It all starts with a bidding welcome from Dracula. From there, I enter the cathedral to the sound of the echoing pipe organ. Church bells begin to ring, summoning others to join the trance inducing ambiance. Tracks fade with a breath of silence between them. Along the way I encounter electronic whirrs, insect like chirps, and what sounds like a small boat’s motor sputtering as it churns towards port. The adventure is at times pulsating, in other moments it meanders. I let it wash over me like a warm embrace. 

Dorji, Tashi & Ibarra, Susie – “Master of Time” – [Astral Spirits]

Max Level   10/25/2022   12-inch, A Library

Two intensely focused side-long duo pieces recorded live at an art museum at Skidmore College in 2019. Tashi Dorji plays electric guitar in a constantly interesting percussive (as opposed to melodic) style, using various unorthodox techniques. Drummer/percussionist/bandleader Susie Ibarra is in top form, sometimes adding colorful percussive accents to the guitar sounds, at other times taking the lead and giving Dorji a solid rhythmic bed to explore. Wonderful musical dialogs going on here. These two were meant to play together.

Plus Instruments – “Februari – April 81′” – [Domani Sounds]

Thurston Hunger   10/25/2022   12-inch, A Library

Truus de Groot is Plus Instruments, still to this day and she was back in 1981 when this was issued by the
Kremlin (label). Rising today from the Netherlands on a Domani (!!) reissue. Superb art-damaged keyboard kookie cuts, it’s mostly a one-woman project, but a Sonic elder back in his Youth helps out here and there, you can hear Lee Ranaldo’s staccato vox on “Between the Wars” adding Ace Frehley rock riffs, while de Groot’s synth bubbles up over a frisky drum beat. He’s also rant-grunting on the track after that, with an old rap beat and recorded beneath a NYC manhole cover. But the album excels with Truus at the mic, is the first song a take on the “Profumo” affair? For me it is. Is “Rush Hour” an instro-homage to Neu? For me it is. “Things” has toy piano over dingey synthy beats, moments later that sweetness dissolves into the sweaty panic of “Freundschaft.” “Cannot” comes with no safe word, great whacks and bursts of sound as TdG wails her words on top. There are some songs about war on this, but I declare Truus the victor. Indeed she’s still waging weird work to this day. Like this album, aging very well!
-Thurston Hunger

PS Looks like she’s long since transplanted from Eindhoven to San Diego, it would be nice to have her come up the freakway to perform live on air soon. Stir in some Bosko too!

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.

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