Music Reviews

SANDBENDERS – Rock ‘n Roll

aarbor   12/18/2019   A Library

Bodo Eisel and Martin Maischein are the Sandbenders. This record from 1998 is their only release on Craft Records. Even though it’s called Rock ‘n Roll this is not guitars and drums, it’s keyboards and beats. AArbor


aarbor   12/18/2019   A Library

Indonesian music and culture was influenced by the people who invaded them: Mongolians, Hindus, Buddhists (7th and 12th centuries), Moslems (13th century) and Christians (in the 16th Century). The indonesian people include many cultural and linguistic groups – from the relatively primtive Dayks in Central Borneo and the Temiar people of Malay to the more sophisticated Javanese and Balinese. Many Western people are familiar with the shadow puppet plays and Gamelan orchestra music. This limited edition remastered release of recordings done in 1949 offers a listeners additional Indonesian musics: dance music, children’s music, shaman songs, even opera – as well as other instruments. AArbor


aarbor   12/18/2019   A Library

Hideaki Ishi is DJ Krush who dropped out of school, joined a gang and then the Yakuza. call these tracks “downtempo”. He says that the movie Wild Style inspired him to become a DJ. He is considered one of the pioneers of Japanese hip hop and considers his music to be “underground” rather than “mainstream” hip hop. Here he is heard with others: Coldcut, Jazzanova, Kodo, DJ Shadow and remixing others. FCC on Side C track 1. Some standout tracks: A1 and 3, B1 and D1. AArbor

Bellor, Jennifer – Reflections At Dusk [Innova/American Composers]

aarbor   12/18/2019   A Library, CD

Jennifer Bellor is a 36 yo composer (PhD from Eastman) who teaches music composition and theory at the U of Nevada – Las Vegas. This is her latest release and I was prepared not to like it, but I did. I liked her use of instruments: melodic percussion vs. non-melodic percussion, a variety of saxophone sounds, she really must like twilight, sunset, dusk because she understands the magic of that time of day. Be sure to check this out. – AArbor  

WHERE THE MOUNTAINS MEET THE SKY: Folk Music of Ladakh [coll.]

aarbor   12/18/2019   A Library

Ladakh is a part of Kashmir high in the Western Himalayas, in India. In the past its strategic location at the crossroads of important trade routes that connected the Silk Road to India, made it important. In the 1960’s China closed the borders with Tibet and Central Asia, so international trade has dwindled, except for tourism. Morup Namgyal worked at Ladakh’s only radio station and recorded a vast archive of Ladakhi folksongs, over 1000 recordings. Tragically the collection burned to the ground in 2002 along with the radio station. Morup set about recreating the archive. 5 of the songs on this album, recorded in 1992, are among the handful of tracks to have been spared by the fire. Sublime Frequencies has assisted in the preservation of the Ladakhi heritage by making this music available around the world. Play this record and help to keep Ladakhi folk musical traditions alive! The tracks are beautifully recorded and I especially liked the instrumentals, vocal tracks are tuneful and listenable. AArbor

SOFTBALLET- Forms: Remix For Ordinary People

aarbor   12/18/2019   A Library

Softballet is Ryoichi Endo, Ken Morioka and Maki Fujii from Japan. They formed the band in 1986 and disbanded in 1995. This remix album is remixers remixing mixers. It’s from 1995 and features major producers e.g. Black Dog remixing Plaid [2]. I liked every track, they’re all intriguing. The sound is relatively gentle even on track [4] which grows into something sonically bigger and more powerful, but still gentle. Carl Craig is the remixer on track [5]. His sound is recognizable and contrasts well with the echoey English vocals. Autechre remixed track [6] which is called Jail of Freedom. AArbor

HUBER, ALOIS – Weekender

aarbor   12/18/2019   A Library

Weekender is from 1999 when Alois Huber was a part of the Sabotage Communications/Craft Records posse in Vienna. Huber is a key player in the Vienna avantgarde electronica music scene. He and Franz Pomassl founded the Laton label in 1990. He has been described as “Austria’s grand master of deep minimal ambient electronica…” I would call these tracks energetic “downtempo”. AArbor

Drums Over Afghanistan – [Tempo]

aarbor   12/18/2019   10-inch, International

This record is from the era before Ethnomusicology turned recording of ethnic and folk musics into cultural documentation and preservation. There is an element of that here, except the liner notes are anything but scholarly. They describe the journey of the recording expedition to Afghanistan. The red vinyl is wonderful but hardly scholarly. The drumming is wonderful be sure to work it into your set. – AArbor  

Unholy – ‘From The Shadows’ – [Peaceville Records]

Lord Gravestench   12/14/2019   12-inch, A Library

When the Finnish death/doom metal quartet Unholy (est. 1990) originally released 1993’s ‘From The Shadows’ on Austria’s Lethal Records, it was either their first or second album, depending on whether you consider the previous year’s ‘Trip to Depressive Autumn’ a demo. Peaceville’s great-sounding 2017 reissue on double 12″ was the first vinyl pressing of this trendsetting record. 

Unholy must have been easy to lump in as part of the the funeral doom movement emerging from their fatherland in the early 90s, but really they were always doing their own fucked-up thing. The vibe is kind of stoner on this record, with lots of slow, sludgy, atonal riffs. Psychedelic keyboard work on some tracks takes the concept of organ doom in a far more psychotic direction than other Finn-doomers like Skepticism. Passionate and disgusting death grunts are dominant but there are some moments of surprising variation in the singing, including 1980s-style belting on a few tracks (e.g. A2). Occasionally the sombre doom tempo explodes into amazing death metal parts. A love of traditional metal harmonics is also in evidence, making the death and doom flavours equally strong. Autopsy, Goatlord, early Cathedral, and Candlemass all seem equally important as influences. The somewhat disparate components of Unholy’s sound balance into a pretty perfect whole, one in which any doom metal afficionado will be happily buried.

Over a decade later, another influential Finnish doom project paid tribute to Unholy’s impact when Reverend Bizarre, in the lyrics to their cult classic track ‘Goddess of Doom,’ included this band among a famous lyrical catalog of their influences— definitely check out every band mentioned in that song btw, it offers a great index of other groups to explore if this record appeals to you…

…But enough talk; time to pay your tithe to the Suomi metal godz!

Encoffinized – ‘Chambers of Deprivation’ – [Maggot Stomp]

Lord Gravestench   12/14/2019   A Library, Cassette

Encoffinized from Huntington Beach (not to be confused with Encoffination from San Diego) play lean, mean death metal. When KFJC added their debut demo last year I knew this band were something special, and they have totally delivered with their first full-length album (if you consider 22 minutes to be album-length).

These short, punchy deathgrind songs are propelled by fluid riffing, purring double-bass fills, faster-than-the-ear blasts, and zombie death gurgles declaiming morbid poems. The songwriting is not a reinvention of the medium but, I mean, it’s DEATH METAL… you don’t always want distinctive songwriting– sometimes you want Immolation and Nihilist worship, which Encoffinized accomplish here in spades, and without recourse to cliche as the riffs feel familiar BUT never derivative. I dare you not to nod your head along to the groovy bits or thrash around frantically to the chunky assault of the on-point drummer when the time comes for our boys to grind. Production-wise, this tape sounds like it was recorded in a mausoleum, in a good way.

When there’s no more room in Hell the dead will walk the Earth.

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