Music Reviews

BIGCAT – “Atlas”- [self released]

kittywompus   4/26/2023   A Library, Cassette

From Oakland artist Bigcat is this 2022 ambient electronic release. While not far removed in style from Bigcat’s other works, this album has a more noticeable tribal rhythm influence woven through it in songs like Lyman Alpha Forest and Dry Grass. Chock-full of pulsating beats, soothing loops, and the occasional addition of static fuzz enveloping the vocal elements of tracks Voodoo Sisters and Karya II adds a blissful warmth to the album. While trilling highs, vibrating field recordings, and warbles keep you ever so slightly on your toes while delving into this hypnotic and lucent synthscape. -KittyWompus

Bloodywood – “Rakshak” – [Self Released]

karma   4/25/2023   CD, International

Debut album from New Delhi based folk metal group. Lyrics are in English, Hindi, and Punjabi – mostly about fighting the oppressive powers that be and overcoming adversity. There are equal parts acoustic guitar, electric guitar, bansuri flute, and rap. Very powerful, high energy metal that does fusion right. Hard to pick a favorite track, but it may have to be the bhangra-inspired Machi Bhasad or any of the flute-forward tracks.


Nucleus – “Entity” – Dark Descent Records

atavist   4/25/2023   A Library, CD

Nuclear detonations hollow out the asteroid’s core and spin up the artificial gravity. Death metal from Chicago’s Nucleus takes to the final frontier to rain ruin upon humankind from the cold void beyond, in their second full-length release from 2019. Lyrics describe some sort of galactic war against an all-consuming entity devouring worlds until it can be corralled and imprisoned in a manufactured timespace rift. Perhaps. It is death metal, so we can permit the lyrics to gurgle through the proceedings like billowing smoke, and focus on the overall brutality of the gathered host. It is not stratospherically technical in the vein of Archspire or Nile, which one might expect for a far-futured lyrical subject. Instead, the sound here attempts to convey the upwelling of dread and relentless hopelessness of world extinction against an ageless, tireless, and remorseless master. Off-kilter clean guitar picking in places, sudden time signature changes, smattering of keys, and a healthy layer of grime cut through the decent recording. Songs are constantly mutating from one vile form to another. The album is made up of essentially two halves, each four songs long, and within each half, tracks are designed to run together. So as a result most tracks have somewhat abrupt beginnings and endings. Set controls for the pit of extinction.

Door to The Cosmos [coll] – [On The Corner Records]

aarbor   4/25/2023   A Library, CD

Door to the Cosmos is a delicious compilation showcasing the artists of London’s On the Corner label. The artists are from all over the world: Tenesha the Wordsmith (Oakland), Sunken Cages (NY) from North America; Ariwo, Dengue Dengue Dengue (aka DNGDNGDNG), Jose Marquez and Quixosis from South America; Black Classical (aka BKCLX), Clive from Accounts, Don Korto, Edrix Puzzle, JD Twitch, Petwo Evans, Planet Battagon, Rebecca Vasmant, Tamar Collocutor, Uffe from Europe and Azu Tiwaline, Babani Soundsystem, Batida, and Guedra Guedra from Africa. Future sounds referencing the source, be it Detroit, UK bass culture, New Orleans or the Niger delta. The title riffs off of Sun Ra’s infamous chant ‘dare to knock at the door to the cosmos’. Sun Ra’s sound and narrative bending inspires kicking at the rules and pushing at the infinite, the ecstatic and the unknown through music by knocking at the door to the cosmos. Outstanding! AArbor

George, Camilla – “Ibio-Ibio” – [!K7 Records]

aarbor   4/25/2023   12-inch, International

Camilla George is a Tomorrow’s Warriors graduate, an alto saxophone player, bandleader and composer who is making big waves in the New London Jazz scene. This is her latest release from 2022. She wrote all the music and co-produced this album. Camilla was born in Eket, Nigeria. She is proud to be from the Ibibio people who are considered the most ancient of all the ethnic groups in Nigeria. This album tells the story of the creation of the ibibio and the legend of Abasi the supreme ruler/God of the universe and his wife Atai – goddess of mediation. It’s a celebration of roots, creation and community. The sound is afrobeat, hip hop and jazz. The musicians are mostly from Tomorrow’s Warriors. AArbor

Wagner Ödegård – “Om Kosmos Och De Tolv Järtekn” – [Altare Productions]

whngr   4/20/2023   12-inch, A Library

Ancient Scandinavian pop ditties from the hollow hearth of an uncommon and brilliant sonic mage with few if any rivals.

I refuse to dissect the sounds on this LP as it would only cheapen the material, but I will say that it is genuine, dark, arcane, visceral, cerebral, and above all unique. The very personal treatise of a man on a journey to the center of himself, without regard to the whims or judgement of those that would deign to think of him as a peer. This is the doctrine of his spirit. His truth, without pretense.

Ödegård’s lyrics are written and vocalized in several historic languages including classic ancient Swedish, Proto-Germanic, Gothic, and young ancient Swedish with easy translation into English being difficult to impossible though he has stated that lyrical content is very important to him and that he is “… damn proud of them” utilizing friends and (I can only presume rather bookish) contacts to verify the grammar is correct though he often employs “strange syntax” to further his singular vision and reinforce his appreciation of his Scandinavian heritage.

Wagner Ödegård aka. Kumulonimbus began pushing air amidst the “third wave” with black metal luminary, Tomhet but more recently has worked primarily alone with his solo projects, Wulkanaz,  Wagner Ödegård, Jærtecken, Dughpa and others. Fiercely prolific with a broad range of instrumentation, modes, and tones but always raw, preferring to record to tape and eschewing modern digital technology; always cultivating his diverse and compelling sound and will often employ synthesizer to haunting effect and perverse hooks that lock into ones mind like the talons of a fearsome snowy owl. 

Mora, Sweden – 2020

Why Bother? – “Lacerated Nights” – [Feel It Records]

whngr   4/20/2023   12-inch, A Library

Fun Synth Punk

Downstrokes, synth, conventional drums, more synth, rock and reverb.

It is worth saying that the word “fun” for this miserable volunteer probably isn’t nearly as much of an endorsement as it is for you (and most of humanity), I want power, I want effect, I want to be grabbed by the lapels and have you sonically spit in my mouth. I want to be tested and transmuted by what I hear. I don’t want to have “fun”. Even though I’m never looking for it, it does, on occasion, happen… and apparently I have yet to lose entirely that tiny scrap of innocence, that small shred of vitality… let us call it youthful exuberance that when I find myself kinda shaking my ass a little, air drumming, and thinking about that girl I once saw with the short, dyed black hair and the crimson lips who danced to the music without a lick of self-consciousness, as if no one in the world were watching, as if the boys weren’t falling for her like bombs every time she smiled… which was nearly perpetual. This album for me is “fun” in the best possible way, irreverent to the extreme (trigger warning for track B5 “Stalker’s Stare” [sexual predation]) and often morbid, drenched in reverb and clearly dosed (A6 “Clouds”). An escape from the horrors of reality without pretending that they don’t exist. However, these guys are about as subtle like a sledge hammer and as acute as a magic eight-ball. I tend to prefer my humor, especially in music, to be as dry tinder and razor sharp; and these songs are dripping wet… in every possible sense. You’re gonna have to wring out your panties folks, maybe wash off your unit… ’cause this one is a fucking blast. 


Mason, IA – 2022

Blade Runner 2049 [coll] – [Epic]

whngr   4/20/2023   12-inch, Soundtrack

Transcendent Cinematic Synthesizer (with a pinch of colorectal cancer)

An epic soundtrack that overshadows a film that needn’t have been made. What a disappointing end to a glorious intellectual property. One might call it… a travesty. Stunning in visual design and execution but devoid of the original film’s spirit and engaging storyline. The sound however was unbelievable. Absolutely beyond arresting, the swells and the timber, the power and ability to be evocative… just off the charts. It’s almost too much, and in a theatre with the full arsenal of professional acoustic implements, especially the subwoofers, fuck me, that was one of the best arual experiences I have had in the cinema. Lucky for me ’cause it won’t play again on a system of that quality in my (likely apocalyptic) near future but you’ll get a taste of it in Master studio (when everything is working), our monitors are pretty fucking good. Just peg the volume and drink in the bass on this one boys… you’ll get your fix. 

Lilting, pensive, dark, ethereal, futuristic, the full gamut of emotions are here, fear, hope, longing, regret, if it can happen in a world at the end of civilization, it is present in this soundtrack. It bears mentioning that these two wizards of the synthesizer do their absolute damndest to fill the impossibly magnificent boots worn by Vangelis on the original hauntingly beautiful soundtrack, even including a near reprisal on the track “Tears In the Rain” (D2), but to Zimmer and Wallfisch’s credit, Vangelis did have the incredible majesty of a genuine Science Fiction masterwork behind them. At least I thought it was… ’til I saw this load of codswallop. 

And on that note… the closing track, and the only reason this LP is filed under Collections and not where it belongs, in the Z’s is due to the utter abomination that is pinched off at the end of this album, the track “Almost Human” by, Nobody Givesatoss is such a wretched pile of highly commercial film industry pap that I have seriously considered taking a bit of 100 grit silicon carbide to the closing 3/4 inches of side D (though I have kept it on my hard drive to remember what I truly loathe) and if I hear you playing that piece of shit on my source… we are gonna have words. 

Hans Zimmer appears to be one of the current golden boys of the most bloated of Hollywood’s film industry franchise molesters and got his start on the 80’s television series, Moonlighting. Schoenfisch is a London-born composer who has also supped at the teat of Hollywood in recent years and though I have seen few of the other films they have scored, either individually or the other one they worked on together (maybe I should check it out), they are capable of making totally devastating sounds together. Hopefully they won’t be hired for Full Metal Jacket II: Afghanistan Now.

Hollywood – 2017

Infinexhuma – “Denown” – [Aberrant Recordings]

Rock Dove   4/19/2023   A Library, CD

New release from a mysterious artist. Six tracks of serious and dark ambience with an undeniable progression at the track and album level. I’m skeptical of the prologue text and its provenance, offered “with no reason to lie,” but it got my attention. The early tracks were abstruse, moving between subterranean zones with drones varying in wateriness and reverb quite subtle for this noob. The third track introduced (in)human elements of guttural despair that were a welcome addition to the overall vibe. The experience peaked around 4 and 5 offered a compelling uprising before a transition to brutal comeuppance, loss, deracination. The last track was a bit on the nose in answering for the foregoing ordeal. The bandcamp track notes were helpful and complemented a subsequent listen.

Cruz, Nicola – “fabric presents NIcola Cruz” – [Fabric Records]

humana   4/15/2023   12-inch, A Library

Imagine yourself walking into a South American night club–you can feel the energetic beats vibrating under the floor as you approach, and the driving electronic dance music mixed by none other than Ecuadorian DJ Nicola Cruz. Cruz is a multi-instrumentalist musician, composer, producer–but during this double-LP you meet him as DJ playing a couple of his own tracks in the mix with other Latin American artists. Your heart rate will increase in the best way possible.

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