Music Reviews

Dark Canyon – “Dark Canyon” – [Nudie Records]

Thurston Hunger   5/10/2023   12-inch, A Library

Once Upon a Time in the Midwest. Dark Canyon comes riding out of the long cinematic shadows of Chicago. We get The Good, the Bad and the Very-Well-Produced in this devoted homage from Mike Novak to guitar-inflected Westerns a la Morricone and Leone. For the imaginary soundtrack flair, there is a lot of tumbleweed acoustic guitar work, along with that sort of clean/dirty distorted/reverb electric guitar on top. Gleaming trumpets recorded atop mesas shine high, subtle and steady drum work here and there, a flute wanders in like a child through a gun fight. the Grosby choir soars whenever they appear, a jaw harp slithers in, a mellotron circles the wagon. The instros oscillate between lonely fugitive fugues and heroic crescendos. A couple of pieces feature vocals, “Through The Badlands” and “Old Blood Runs Thick” and “Pray for Rain” along with the familiar cover “A Taste of Honey” to close. Does the album have whistling on it? You bet, not just the last track but do not miss the towering “Bullets” as well. The album clearly is a labor of love, including the packaging with a gatefold full of the bandidas and bandidos who worked with Novak on this lp. In a way Novak here reminded me of Adrian Younge, modern studio sorcerers able to polish up every cranny and crag of sound that hearkens back while shining now. Dark Canyons in vinyl grooves well worth exploring. I’ll be curious to see if Novak pines for his own gold or becomes in demand by other audio pioneers.

-Thurston Hunger

Earth Room – “Earth Room” – [Related States]

Thurston Hunger   5/10/2023   12-inch, A Library

Brooklyn trio led by Robbie Lee on woodwinds, creating improv instros that feel like electro-organic music. Electronic effect and synthesizers swaddle tracks, at times a drone-esque chill but definitely active. I think the fact that the drummer+ John Thayer engineered the recording was key. I dig how he pushes songs thru transitions (embrace the “Empty Way/Full Way”) Thayer adds a lot of electronics and even some fender rhodes to the albums more shimmering moments. Ezra Feinberg completes the trio on various strings including electric ukulele. All of side A, but especially the opening “Bridge of Waves” feels like the perfect early dawn greeting. The “Sound on Sound” is Lee tracking multi-rivers of bass clarinet. Side B starts with the most jazz-inflected playing but paired with a sorta John Carpenter foreboding vibe. “Owl Light” vibrates with both wind-blown squalls & sweeping synth ambience. In all, a sense of relaxed concentration.

-Thurston Hunger

López, Brandon – “vilevilevilevilevilevilevilevile” – [Tao Forms]

Preston Peace   5/8/2023   CD, Jazz

This young man from North Jersey viciously attacks his double bass on these solo performances. His technique varies between sawing, plucking, and even drumming on the instrument’s wooden body (“Piri”). Agitated hummed vocals accompany “LikeTheEdgeOfAMachete” and “RealBadVibes”, the former reminiscent of William Parker’s “Sonic Animation” with more force and anguish. Some of the textures López coaxes from his strings resemble tormented wind instruments more than a bass. At other times, creaking doors, idling engines, and other nonmusical sources come to mind. On the final track, “The Real Bad Vibe”, it sounds as though his bass might disintegrate under the strain at any moment. A sinister, anxious feeling underlines the entire experience, as though some deep-seated wrong were being suddenly uncovered.

Bad Groupy – “The Last Piece of Graphite” – [Zeromoon]

karma   5/2/2023   A Library, CD

This album is a collaboration between Hamburg-based Kris Kuldkepp and DC-based Jeff Surak. Both are deep in their respective experimental/noise music communities. The album starts out with the short, upbeat ‘Elevator Talk.’ You can almost dance to it. The remaining three tracks slow down and become much longer, sounds are found. Fun and interesting collaboration and fusion of different experimental styles.

Theodor – “Theodor” – [Broc Recordz]

aarbor   5/2/2023   12-inch, A Library

THEODOR is a gently psychedelic sweet soul band formed by 4 guys with diverse musical backgrounds.

Whilst on a road trip to Italy Rob Herz (drums) and Lui Hill (vocals and percussion) were listening to tapes of contemporary soul music. They decided to record an album channeling a moody and relaxed soundscape. After their trip they invited their friends Max Schneider (vocals and keyboards) and Greg Pignede (bass) to join them. They wrote and recorded during the pandemic. THEODOR could be the soundtrack for a hot and humid summer day with “a magic dash in your twelve o’clock tea”. The melodic bass lines are playful and the soulful acoustic drums build the container for the warm and dreamy keys: farfisa organs, fender rhodes and 80’s synths. The lush instrumentals are complemented by the very different (yet complementary) voices of Max and Lui. The band is named after a 24 year old cat who hung around while they were recording. Not heavy, just fun. AArbor

Unknown to Known – “Live at the Library Lounge” – [Self Release]

aarbor   5/2/2023   CD, Jazz

Unknown to Known is a quartet with Idris Rahman and Tamar Osborn on woodwinds, Jihad Darwish oscillating between the sitar, double bass and electric bass, and Yusuf Ahmed on the drums and various hybrid percussion instruments. The nature of this band’s instrumentation means that performances can be entirely acoustic or amplified. This was a conscious decision made at conception. This is a live improvised performance amongst the books of The Standard’s Library Lounge in London; spanning order and chaos, science and religion, myths and symbols. AArbor

Myka 9 – “Teleported 3” – [Known Shadows]

karma   5/2/2023   CD, Hip Hop

Myka 9 is an underground hip-hop artist based in LA, part of the Freestyle Fellowship collective, active since the 80s. His innovative flow has been compared to what Miles Davis did to jazz. His lyrics, which are thought-provoking, deep, and require multiple listens, have been compared to De La Soul. This is the third of a four-part series based on a sci-fi horror comic. The instrumentation is done by the talented Bay Area-based Freematik, who has collaborated with Myka 9 on many projects in the past. The instrumentation and lyrics transport you into their world, and show the gift both of them have for transcribing their worldview into introspective song. This is thoughtful hip-hop that proves how rap is one of the purest forms of poetry set to music.

My favorite tracks are Chronix, Cold, and Sensei.

Clavicvla – “Degeneracy of The 5th Density” – [Sentient Ruin Laboratories]

whngr   4/26/2023   12-inch, A Library

Dark-Ambient Death Mantras

Disembodied voices of the damned (and the possessed) screech through deep blackened drones. Eight tracks from the sole, and apparently, spiritually active mind of one, Ittiel. In interviews he has stated that Clavicvla should be listened to loud in a dark room to allow the penetrating effect of sound to elevate the consciousness and references both Buddhist and acosmistic (the denial of the reality of the universe and the belief that everything is an illusion; recognizing only the “infinite unmanifest Absolute [sic] as real”) philosophies. A sharply honed ideology exists (if anything truly does) behind intensely deliberate but minimal soundscapes that feel like an embrace of The Void, nihilism and of death.

Ittiel has a background in black metal (explore the more traditional instrumentation on his album, “Arsonist Prophets”) and dwells somewhere in:

Italy – 2022

Rival Prostitute – “Acid Bird” – [Rural Isolation Project]

whngr   4/26/2023   A Library, CD

Monstrous Mysterious Noise-Wall

One giant slab of ugly feelings. Sounds like the death throe of a server room and what Albert Fish would do with a string quartet if it were made up with 6 year old children (both genders!) as they all are buried beneath an avalanche of Fiat 500’s… for an hour and nine minutes. Or maybe it’s like watching Tetsuo Iron Man on brown acid after seeing Motörhead without ear protection. Perhaps the perfect harsh noise album, it even has skulls on the cover. Mind yourself Tina, this is one angry beast. Unless you need a smoke break, and then you’ll have just enough time to get yourself to and from the inimical backveld of Lot 6… just scrape the butts out of your combat boots before returning to building 6200, you filthy degenerate.

No data is available.

No FCC’s

No remorse.


Eteraz – “Villain” – [Iron Lung Records]

whngr   4/26/2023   12-inch, A Library

Militant, Iranian, female-fronted, epiglottal plosive, D-beat/HXC in Farsi from the PNW.

Terrifyingly aggressive delivery from the entire cadre but the intensely confrontational vokills of front-woman Elika will steal the soul. Chainsaw guitars, laser-eyed ogre fueled bass, and machine gun drums on an unnecessarily well recorded album from Iron Lung. Many songs track or have miniscule pauses betwixt. “Innocent” bystanders may be strafed with a potentially (definitely) inflammatory anti-American/capitalist/hegemonic and (possibly) anti-Caucasian messages, though the lyrics are written in Persian one may acquire hints of the vitriolic content from the album (and track) title(s) as well as the incendiary cover-art. Danger abounds on this violence-positive EP.

NO discernable FCC’s and NO FUCKING MERCY!

Oly/WA – 2022

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