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Music Reviews

TV Ghost – “Mass Dream” – [In The Red Records]

humana   7/28/2011   A Library, CD

Elements of surf (10, 11), psych rock (1, 2), and just plain great intensity of bass, guitars, drums, and echoey vocals can be found on this peppy release. Some find the material dark, and maybe it is, but the building energy of the band infects the songs and makes them move with hope. Try 3 and 5 especially.

Wizard Prison – “Early Years 1972-2005, The” – [Gravelvoice]

humana   7/28/2011   A Library, CD

If wizards had prisons, they would be characterized by these cold, unwelcoming, stark, eerie, grating, and lonely sounds. These songs range from windswept atmospherics (2) to almost pleasant dripping blips and melodies (3) to a simmering cauldron of noise (5) that many will appreciate. You can sense the trademark of former Climax Golden Twins collaborators Scott Colburn and John Vallier.

Bedrooms and Knobsticks [coll] – [Pumf Records]

humana   7/28/2011   7-inch, A Library

Track 1 (“The Stout Rides Out”) is a headachy, low-fi instrumental haze from Ceramic Hobs, a Blackpool avant-punk band. Track 2 (“Close”) is more rock/garage, but still just weird, with vocals that sometimes sound like they’re on helium. It’s not surprising that the band’s name is Howl in the Typewriter, and they are also from Blackpool Explore your inner pools of blackness.

Rothenberg, David – “Why Birds Sing” – [Terra Nova Records]

cinder   7/28/2011   A Library, CD

Australia is home to the ornate gorgeous peacock-large bird called the lyrebird. David and his friend Michael Pestel went to a sanctuary down unda, and decided to record the birds along with their wind instruments. Namely the flute and clarinet. Some it seem like were recorded together live, with the bird almost as the improvising leader. Others have samples of the lyrebird, and other types of birds (warblers, thrush, kookaburra, starlings, etc) as well as some insects and frogs, connected in. The lyrebird sings only one song that takes him almost 6 years to master, and they are quite the shy bird when they sing. Beautiful, relaxing and uplifting. All it needs is some David Attenborough narrations, hehe.

Al Qaeda / NRYY [coll] – [Silent Novels]

cinder   7/28/2011   A Library, CD

A dark split release from Al Qaeda – San Francisco, and NRYY (noise re yacky) – Osaka, Japan. Al Qaeda’s track brings dark looming longing until about halfway where it switches the pace. A quick little skipping record treat, then it tosses you into a melancholy guitar space with regurgitating grumbles laid underneath. Somewhat fuzzed and static. NRYY has more of an electronic approach. Sounds like they had fun with the knobs, as many experimental electronic Japanese aritsts do. Pitching and warping some sharp sounds, over a looped Muslimgauze style beat. The ending of their first track is a magical frozen icicle treat. Their second track sounds like a soundtrack to a ’70s science fiction thriller. Warbling and bouncing of electronics for the first 10 minutes, then it blends into a nice beat before descending into the pit of noise. That track actually goes all over the place, my pick for best of the 3.

Shanley, Scott – “Scott Shanley” – [Self-release]

cinder   7/28/2011   A Library, CD

Atmospheric spaced out guitar and feedback one man jams. Lots of effects, both analog and digital it sounds like. Fuzzy and distorted. Whizzes, whirls zips over there and back. Crunchy drones on some, while others float into the void, full on suction air winds and all. A few have some drums or a tambourine. Super nice, super DIY.

Yek Koo – “Alone Together #3” – [Emerald Cocoon]

cinder   7/28/2011   7-inch, A Library

Helga Fassonaki is the woman behind Yek Koo. Two 4ish minute tracks. The first side contains swirling guitars washed together with a tribal style drum beat, with her ghostly spoken singing words layered on top. Very desert psychedelic feel to it. I can see some feathers and stones being worn. Side 2 is more of an experimental sounds type of track. Jangling instruments, banging sticks and quizzical echoed words. I wish these were 20 min side longs, they’re both great!

Thigpen, Benjamin – “Divide By Zero” – [Sub Rosa Us]

cinder   7/28/2011   A Library, CD

Like the cover of this album, the music is harsh, violent and extreme. Pure blasting noise. From his website: ‘His music is concerned with issues of energy, density, complexity, movement, simultaneity and violence, and he often works extensively with space as a primary compositional parameter.’ I love loud, ear draining, eyeball melting noise, but it has to still have a flow to it, which this does. It comes it short spurts, then mellows out into a cooldown of empty drone before gradually coming back with even more force. Great for those wanting to experiment with the dark side of sound, as this covers some ground for the “white walls” of electronics. Burning wires to electronic “birds” to burning pits of hell.

Kellies – “Kellies” – [Fire Records]

MSTiZA   7/27/2011   A Library, CD

it’s true. a band like this deserves such huge imagery. Dennis Bovell (Slits, madness, Fela Kuti) mixed this release for Fire Records and captured the element. you hear the Raincoats, ESG, Liliput, Unit 4, all the female driven goodies of eighties post punk deca stylee with dubbed out tracks and a cleaned up sound. Why wouldn’t you love these three South American ??girls who sing in SPanish, English, German, Japanese, Catalan, Portuguese, & French. They do everything right and make you want to love them even more in the process.


Ithi – “Persistence of Meaning, The” – [Utech Records]

Max Level   7/26/2011   A Library, CD

This duo project balances precariously on the threshold of some unholy pit of hellfire. One big push is all it would take for this evil thing to drag us over the edge and down into a nightmare of blistering flame, caustic smoke, torture, doom, and destruction. But Ithi keeps pulling back, maintaining a level of awful tension. The sound of Ithi is creepy, deep, dark, and disturbing, but always under control. We’re not going anywhere until they say it’s time to go. Track 6 is a tense, deliberate 19 minute march to the very edge. Do we jump or are we pushed?

Carter, Christina – “Alone Together #1” – [Emerald Cocoon]

victoria west   7/26/2011   7-inch, A Library

Christina Carter of the Charalambides doing the solo thing here bringing us two psychedelic experimental folk tracks on “Alone Together #1”. Each track is around 5 mins long and consist only of Carter’s melancholic vocals and whimscial bells. Both songs sound the same to me, however Tholos might be a bit less depressing. After a few listens I couldn’t help but to admire Carter’s gorgeous vocals. Play this by itself or add some instrumental hiphop, experimental jazz or doom metal, whatever your choice. Enjoy! Also more 7″ to come!

-victoria west*

Ligeti, Lukas – “Pattern Time” – [Innova/American Composers]

Max Level   7/25/2011   CD, Jazz

Ligeti is a marvelous, freewheeling drummer leading what appears to be a jazz band featuring piano, sax, and electric bass… but they throw us a curveball with a guy on balafon, the African equivalent of a xylophone or marimba, playing busy lines and generally messing with the rhythms and tonalities. What they’re going for here is a jazz thing, seemingly influenced as much by pattern-based composition (Steve Reich?) as it is by actual jazz. Check out the way the polyrhythmic patterns merge and diverge and then merge again; sometimes everyone seems to be playing on a different beat, but they pull it off. The playing is top notch, especially Ligeti’s drumming. An occasional prepared piano increases the unusualness factor. A 1999 session, released here for the first time I believe.

Plateaus – “Beach Coma” – [Art Fag Recordings]

humana   7/24/2011   7-inch, A Library

This debut 7″ from this Southern California garage/pop band is pure fun–in keeping with the bikini-clad babes pictured on the vinyl label. Side B is my favorite–too bad I can’t play it in the morning–but you gravediggers will have to do it for me!

Prurient – “Bermuda Drain” – [Hydra Head Records]

humana   7/24/2011   12-inch, A Library

Dominick Fernow has worked a miracle–with his spin on noise and metal, I am a convert. It doesn’t hurt that the song lyrics are printed out on the sleeve, or that he quotes Rilke. Most songs start out with him speaking (or whispering), and he sounds like our own #6, but then they degenerate into a yelling of the lyrics. “Palm Tree Corpse” and “Let’s Make a Slave” stand out, but it is all, as my young son says, awesome.

Azalia Snail – “Celestial Respect” – [Silber Records]

humana   7/24/2011   A Library, CD

For those of you who’ve read Go Ask Alice, you’ll understand when I say I wish the protagonist had been able to move past her LSD experiences in the way Azalia Snail has. Prolific Snail, named after the flowers in her parents’ yard, presents us with some somber psyche numbers featuring her multi-instrumental talents and moody vox. There are some horns on here from Taylor Wheedlin and Alex Lewis. Hear for yourself why she’s called the Space Folk Psych Queen.

Bronze – “One Night In Mexico” – [Enfant Terrible]

abacus   7/21/2011   7-inch, A Library

Bronze is a psychedelic lounge-rock band from San Francisco with musicians from Vanishing and Spector Protector. This is synth heavy and feedback laden with reverberating guitar rhythms, driving guitars, futuristic synth ambience and darkly playful lyrics. The title track is a more carefree ballad with repeating synth line and cool bass intervals. The “Hymn” is a more ominous, tension building acid-infused nightmare.


Twinkle Brothers, The – “Dub Massacre Part 3” – [Twinkle]

abacus   7/21/2011   12-inch, Reggae

More heady dub from Twinkle’s Dub Massacre series! Headed by Norman Grant, this features steadily exploratory drum machine beats and sampling, driving and melodic bass lines, soulful keys and rhythmic guitar chops. Twinkle hails from Falmouth, Jamaica and have been playing since the early 60’s, producing their own music since the 70’s.



Johannsson, Johann – “Miners’ Hymns, The” – [Fat Cat]

Belladonna   7/20/2011   12-inch, Soundtrack

From Icelandic composer J??hann J??hannsson. This is a collaborative score for “The Miners’ Hymns” a film about the ill-fated mining community in North East England. This was originally presented as a live performance at Durham Cathedral over two nights in July 2010 and this recording is the result of a collaboration between J??hann and American experimental filmmaker Bill Morrison. This is a dark and brooding soundscape with wonderful moments of organ, trumpet, french horn and cornets. Part modern classical, part film score and part minimal icelandic darkness, this is really amazing.

Mono No Aware – “Kika No Sekai” – [Hands]

Belladonna   7/20/2011   A Library, CD

A early release from German power noize artists Stefan B??hm (before he left to pursue other projects) and existing member Leif K??nzel. B??hm left in early 2002 so this is most likely his last release with Mono No Aware. This is harsh repetitive rhythm and noize. It’ll blow your mind and scare your dog and your neighbors. Its harsh, dark, German and requires ear protection. If you like Henrik Rylander and Empty Set, you will like this. Enjoy!!

Pouffe – “Malll” – [Self-release]

Dianthus   7/19/2011   A Library, CD

Living on 2 different islands in New Zealand, artists Matt Plunkett and Kraus do not have many opportunities to compose music together. Pouffe (pronounced “poof”) recorded this 12 -track adventure in the spare room of Kraus’ home writing songs and recording them onto a 1/4″ reel to reel machine – all in just 2 days. Fun, fresh and creatively vibrant, Pouffe tickles your ears with interesting sound adaptations that include low-fi guitar, clapping, tape-echo, organ, drums and unbalanced microphone techniques. Matt Plunkett bounces out lyrics that carries you into spaces of loneliness, humor and everyday life, all while at times ranting truthfully like a nasally-toned Jello Biafra. Kraus, who has formally played for other New Zealand bands such as The Maltese Falcons, The Futarians and The Murdering Monsters, summons currents of drumming and hawk screeching guitar as well as conceptualizing the birth of the songs by not editing them too much. Try the song “Industrial Zone” on and be prepared to have it stuck in your head all day. The track ” Emperor of Men” if you need your poetry cup filled from the writing of Emily Dickinson or just listen to the whole album for free! (yes…they will send you your own copy)Take a gander at Pouffe’s 2nd album”Malll” and try to describe their music to yourself.