Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Year End List

2014 was awesome for music. But every year is awesome. If you think music was bad one year, you didn't look hard enough. It's also stupid to think that some music is "better" than others - how can anything art-oriented be objectively "better" than something else? It's all subjective and most of it is just timing anyway. Here are some things that I enjoyed this year. I'm not including locals here but I'll write in some great ones later.

Favorite albums of 2014 I heard in 2014

1. Total Control - Typical System
2. Ty Segall - Manipulator
3. Sir Deja Doog - Love Coffin
4. Angel Olsen - Burn Your Fire For No Witness
5. Amen Dunes - Love
6. Tanner Garza - Regret
7. Blood and Sun - White Storms Fall
8. Institute - Demo/Giddy Boys 7"/Salt EP (it's my blog so I can do what I want and I'm considering these three recordings an LP)
9. Ultimate Painting - Ultimate Painting
10. Body of Light - Limits of Reason CS
11. Grouper - Ruins
12. Raspberry Bulbs - Privacy
13. Glow God - House of Distractions
14. Wand - Ganglion Reef
15. Martial Canterel - Gyors, Lassu
16. Camera - Remember I Was Carbon Dioxide
17. Marissa Nadler - July
18. Thee Oh Sees - Drop
19. Goat - Commune
20. Transfix - Transfix

Favorite Live Shows of 2014

1. The Haxan Cloak @ The Church on York (5.15.14)
2. Ty Segall @ The Echo & Thalia Hall (8.28-31.14 & 9.23.14) I saw Ty 4 nights in a row in L.A. and it was so great that I saw him again in Chicago.
3. Circuit Des Yeux @ Experimental Sound Studio (8.16.14)
4. Thou & The Body Collab Set @ The Empty Bottle (7.17.14) They did an awesome cover of Nine Inch Nails' "Terrible Lie" that blew my mind.
5. Ryley Walker Band @ Bohemian National Cemetery (12.6.14)
6. Pedestrian Deposit @ Club Rectum (5.2.14)
7. Neutral Milk Hotel @ The Riviera (2.6.14 & 2.7.14) Went twice
7. Scout Pare-Phillips @ Club Rectum (8.2.14)
8. Broken Prayer @ Not Normal Showcase (6.7.14)
9. Institute @ Void House/The Township (5.27.14 & 5.28.14)
10. Destruction Unit @ Void House/The Township (5.27.14 & 5.28.14)
11. Rectal Hygienics @ Club Rectum (10.24.14)
12. Sargeist @ Beat Kitchen (7.6.14)
13. Blood & Sun @ Club Rectum (8.2.14)
14. Koufar @ Club Rectum (10.24.14)
15. King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard @ The Subterranean (10.18.14)
16. Michael Chapman @ Permanent Records (9.18.14)
17. Limp Wrist @ Fed Up Fest (7.26.14)
18. RedRedRed @ the Empty Bottle (7.25.14)
19. Void Meditation Cult @ Cathedral of the Black Goat (7.12.14)
20. Nazoranai @ The Empty Bottle (5.20.14)
21. Sexdrome @ 13 Torches for a Burn (5.17.14)
22. White Hills @ Schubas (5.6.14)
23. Deterge @ Township (3.2.14)

Probably missing some stuff, but what the hell. They're just lists and absolutely just for fun.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Release of the Day: The Nevermores - Lock Your Door

If there's one thing I like it's a record with good liner notes and Lock Your Door has those in spades. The back cover of the record features an excellent story of the spoooooky Bloomington, Indiana 90s garage rock band from the stirrings of the band as Modock into the organ-drenched incarnation featured on the Lock Your Door LP. As the story goes, the band were a relentless, theatrical affair with costumes and a farfisa organ that played local shows for a year before eventually recording the whole of their repertoire in 1991 and leaving it basically untouched until now.

And thank god it has now been touched. Cause this is some rollicking rock n' roll meets Casper the friendly ghost all-grown-up-and-ready-to-boogie-oogie-oogie This record of fourteen bangers runs the gamut from a somewhat-custom-cover of the Ramones ballad "I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend" to the garage-gospel of a song like "Hot Rod Dissertation." This is the combination that makes a record like The Oblivians' Plays Nine Songs With Mr. Quintron so successful. And it's because the songs can become either more soulful or scary, as the quintessential American connotations of an organ are of the macabre or of Baptist church, in some absolutely bizarre irony.

The Nevermores capitalize on this, bringing in inspirations of Edgar Allan Poe (duh) and other stories of the weird. And here we are twenty-three years after the songs were recorded and they still sound great. So get to it! There's still four days till Christmas - pick this one up for your precocious, sinister young one!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Release of the Day: Lumerians - Transmissions from Telos vol. 3

Lumerians have a new record called Transmissions from Telos vol. 3. What's Telos? I actually think I know, and it's because I've always been a bit of a Greek logic/philosophy nerd. There's a haunting Greek word "Telos" that means the "end" or the "goal" or the "purpose" - this is where "Teleology" comes from, which is the study of purpose - why do objects or forms have purposes or intentions and what purposes exist? It's a pretty haunting question that hasn't been answered since Aristotle was alive, and probably never will be.

The reason I'm so sure that this is what Lumerians are signifying is that they continually run on the themes of consciousness, reality, space, and change throughout their work. Their tape The Weaning and the Dreaming, for instance, features the two songs "Consciousness Without An Object" and "An Object Without Consciousness." It's heavy stuff and these phrases are paramount examples and questions in teleology. Consciousness, especially considering whether or not it exists, plays a massive role in teleological meditations throughout Aristotle's Ethics and in Plato's Phaedra.

So this is a band that finds meaning (teleology in action, my boys!) in searching for purposes to search for, if you catch my drift. It's perfect for droning, abstract psychedelic music that puts the listener in a thoughtful headspace. The backbone is a psych groove that tends to rest on a bassline and a soft drum pattern, but synthesizers and guitars are what allow the music to journey, crackling surprisingly here and there throughout the four pieces on the record. A melodious synth may shift into a spaced-out cloud of electronics.

The record is as good as anything the band has released before, and if you're in the market for a pensive psychedelic mood, this should be the soundtrack for you.

Full album stream below

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Interview with Luke Younger of Helm

Helm is the solo drone project of Luke Younger, a prolific English musician who is also in the hardcore band The Lowest Form. Luke has been in noise projects before like Birds of Delay, but Helm is his first as a solo artist. He just played a lot of dates stateside during a rollicking tour with the boys in Iceage and impressed more than a few noiseheads, though he had been in the U.S. before as recently as May for 13 Torches for a Burn and before that to record at Heaven Street.

He's released a pretty impressive amount of material for the eight or so years Helm has been active, including a tape as a part of Ascetic House's January Program recently. In addition to Helm, and the Lowest Form, Luke runs Alter, which has featured releases from Richard Youngs, Damien Dubrovnik, and Age Coin. As Luke states in the interview, he has been able to concentrate on music at a full-time capacity, which is a blessing and a curse for him, and a definite blessing for us music fans. The dude never really stops putting out great content, whether he's on a recording or not. It's an inspiring example of success at a time when major labels and record companies are quick to chastise people for downloads and dwindling CD sales. Yeah, it's a terrible time to be a faceless fuck behind the curtain of a major company, but it's an excellent time to be a genuine artist who releases music and sometimes makes an acceptable wage doing it.

I can't wait to see what Luke keeps doing and from the following interview, it seems like we may soon have a new Helm LP on our hands. What a great time to be a music fan!

Jordan Reyes: You've been in a lot of projects/bands from hardcore like The Lowest Form to the drone of Birds of Delay and Helm, and a lot of these are still active! How do you find the time to do everything?

Luke Younger: It just sort of happens - it did start getting difficult earlier this year as the demand for both Helm and The Lowest Form to play live has become a lot greater. As a result of this I quit my job and now have all the time in world which is fantastic. Helm has always been something I can pick up and put down whenever I feel like it, but is now becoming my life's work to an extent so is consuming more of my time and general headspace. The Lowest Form is a band with three other people who also have very busy lives with a lot going on, so the activity of the group is very much dependent on when we can get together to do things.

JR: Your bands/projects embrace a lot of variety like in sonic expectation or even history, but do you find overlap or similarities?

LY: Not really, the two things feel very separate to me. Each of these projects operates in their own little pocket of space within my life and become active depending on my mood and headspace usually. The down side of this however is that there are times where obligation can get in the way, where I'm not in the mood for playing blistering hardcore and times where I am not in the mood for fucking around with patch cables, microphones and electronics - yet needs must. 

JR: Big, loaded, overblown question, but one that I'm interested in. What do you think makes a piece of music "good?"

LY: I have no idea. How you or I would define something as "good" is probably as different as Cilla Black, George W Bush or Dave next door would. It's too subjective to be worth discussing in my opinion.

JR: Do you think there's such a thing as originality?

LY: At this point in time I don't know and to be honest I'm not sure it really matters. I'm more interested in work that feels unique, singular and with a vision that's seen through to the end without compromise or any unnecessary outside interference. I'd say that holds more value than wether something is 'original' or not.

JR: Do you think that pastiche or imitation is something to avoid?

LY: I wouldn't actively go out of my way to pursue it. Put it that way.

JR: Let's talk about Helm. You've had releases from the project since 2006 or so. How has the project changed?

LY: In essence little has changed with regards to my recording process. I still record using similar techniques, in the same studio I always have done with the same engineer. However; the volume of releases has become smaller, the amount of time spent on each record has become longer, the audience has become a lot broader. I never used to play live either so it's gone from my bedroom and my friends studio to the stage.

JR: How has your equipment changed since beginning the project?

LY: It hasn't really, I still just use the same old shit just different variations of it. My live set up changes sporadically, but that's about it - I don't actually use any of that stuff to create the sounds / music.

JR: Do you have any set ritual before entering the headspace of making a Helm record?

LY: No. I generally feel like I'm always in a creative headspace, thinking about things that can relate to my work in someway. I'm usually always working on something as well and the records normally come out of that process fairly organically and easily. 

JR: I often associate drone with spiritual themes - I often meditate to drone specifically. Do you think there's an element of spirituality to your music?

LY: Personally speaking no, but that's mainly because I don't identify with being a particularly spiritual person. That's not to say it couldn't be perceived as such though, I do enjoy making music that retains a certain level of ambiguity to it for this reason. Many different people are able to listen and get something completely different from it, which is endlessly fascinating to hear about from my perspective.

JR: Are you working on more music for any specific moniker at the moment?

LY: No. At the moment I'm trying to finish the new Helm album which is about 75% complete. Aside from that I am listening to a lot of music that I missed out on whilst I was on tour - highlights of which being recent albums by Dirty Beaches, Oren Ambarchi, M Geddes Gengras. Also the Morrissey discography has kept me busy and a few things I discovered and grew to like whilst on tour with Iceage. Never thought I'd be a fan of the Pogues at age 30, but there you go.

JR: Any plans to come back stateside any time soon?

LY: No plans to play, but who knows what will happen?

JR: Anything else you'd like to say?

LY: Thank you very much.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Release of the Day: Boulders - Rock And Roll Will Never Die

Boulders, featuring Tommy Conte (of the Ukiah Drag, Cottaging, Cult Ritual) and Cameron Worden, was a project from Tampa Bay in a time before Merchandise became a household name, though the two band members have since split to Providence and Chicago respectively. Now, at the end of 2014, the band's first slab of wax rears its feral head.

Rock And Roll Will Never Die is an exercise in spontaneity. The record was recorded at Heinrich's Workshop in 2011 with minimal editing: there are no overdubs, or second takes, which makes it a rarity in the musical climate of today. Obviously, there's a sense of immediacy, but that doesn't do it justice: the record is urgent, woven with the importance of an exorcism or a cleansing. It needed to be recorded - something at balance was at risk of toppling to one side.

Boulders combine a lot of elements. The vocals actually remind me of Prurient or similar american power electronics, but the instrumental music is in the vein of psychedelic no-wave. A few chords and a plodding early Joy Division/Warsaw beat and the band blasts off. And it sounds like there are more than two people playing, which says something about how hard the band is playing their instruments. The careening, gritting-its-teeth guitar line atop an unrelenting drum beat makes for an intimidating sound, but also a rewarding one.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Interview with Rik Garret

I found Rik Garrett's artwork by happenstance. My friend posted something about the art exhibit in New York with William Mortensen and Rik Garrett's work, which was being showcased at the time. It hit something near my core. The pictures that I saw were from his Earth Magic series, which demonstrated women witches as both singular entities and a group in a forest. The photographs seem from another world, activating the feeling of timelessness uncanny: when and where were these photographs taken? Have I been there? Am I allowed to be there?

There's a feeling of purposeful intrusion, which is intentional, as Rik later states. These pictures conjure up the question of whether or not the viewer is taking voyeurism too far. The answer, of course, from a meta-viewpoint is no, the models in these pictures wanted to have their picture taken, but without context clues, we run into a far more interesting quandary. Who and what are these women? Could they hurt me?

Rik and I met up in Wicker Park to discuss his new book, available in one of the above links, but Rik has been making involved pieces of artwork for years, from his alchemical series of journal-ish books to his series on symbiosis. His enduring curiosity with the clandestine informs much of his work, but beyond this idea of hidden knowledge is an eye for placement and aesthetic, which makes his work not only thematically worthy but appealing or maybe alluring is the better word.

It's an enlightening interview that I'm honored to publish.

Jordan Reyes (leafing through Rik’s book): What do these symbols on the pages mean?

Rik Garrett: It’s a language that I invented that is related to the series. It works on different levels. it’s a symbolic witchcraft language, but also esoteric. It came about while I was working on these photographs, thinking “Okay, if there’s this society of witches that is outcast from society, like a tribe, they would have a written language.” It’s become something more elaborate. I’m still working on it. It may actually be leading into a new project.

JR: So can you read these?

RG: They can be read in a few different ways. They can be read phonetically, although it’s not linear, so there’s room for interpretation. To give away some of the mystery (points to symbols on page) these are kind of literal interpretations of the photograph. For example, this symbol has parts that mean “branches,” “body,” and other things. It gets involved.

JR: So it’s a different spoken language too?

RG: Yeah.

JR: So what would this one sound like?

RG: Well, here’s the trick. Spoken, I still have to check by notes because (laughs) I’m the only one who knows this! So there’s no one to practice with. I’m still brushing up and learning how to pronounce this. There are 56 symbols.

JR: So each glyph is made up on different symbols?

RG: Yeah, so there are probably eight or ten symbols in that glyph. The whole idea is that it’s organic but non-linear.

JR: That’s really cool. I’ve always loved code-breaking. I suppose that’s somewhat related to, and I don’t necessarily want to say “coven,” but the “other-ness” of a group of women.

RG: A lot of the early books made for condemning women for witchcraft were made to describe what witches were, what power they had, what they were about.

JR: Like a DSM for witchcraft?

RG: That’s exactly what it was. It works that way on different levels: it can condemn things in a way. And those early books were full of religious or moral tones. They could tell you about the issues, but these women were portrayed as being apart from society and being of their own or of nature. It made sense to push that and say “yes, they’re embracing this. It’s apart from society and that’s not a bad thing.” So adding layers of code plays to that. And there’s a long history of code-making in the occult with symbols and sigils. A symbol might come up that means “the moon” or a demon that someone is trying to conjure.

JR: There are pictures here where women are alone or in communion. What do you think affects the grouping of a witch?

RG: After working on this series for a while, it seemed important to have multiple witches in a picture. The idea is if you walked into the woods and came upon this scene, it wouldn’t be inviting. It’s somewhat forbidden. But if you come across multiple figures, you’re really not supposed to be there. It’s just a further representation of this society apart from us.

JR: When you talk about a witch, it seems to be specifically woman. Is there a male version?

RG: A lot of the early books that I mentioned will start off saying that there are male witches, but then the entire rest of the book is all about woman. Like the Malleus Maleficarum brings up male witches briefly, but then it goes on to say why women are afflicted by witchcraft and why it was inherently a feminine thing. I’ve always had interest in thinking that there was this feminine thing that I didn’t have access to. I get a feeling that people on both sides of this had something similar. The men writing that book had a similar feeling, but it was expressed negatively.

JR: Is it a longing?

RG: I think so. I think that the people who wrote that book were operating from a place of fear, but I romanticize it, and there’s a history of that too. So it gets tricky, and there’s a fine line, because when you make something bigger than it really is, you may lose something in translation. I personally like the idea that I don’t have access to it.

JR: I think it’s kind of nice. Secrets can be nice. It’s nice not knowing things. I really like deep sea creatures and I like not knowing about it. It’s uncanny. It activates the sublime in my subconscious because it’s kind of terrifying, but it also invites curiosity.

RG: That’s a really good analogy. I can’t think of anything scarier than the deep sea, but it’s fascinating. Every year they release x amount of new animals in the deep sea and they’re all terrifying. Like the Coelacanth that they thought was extinct, but they found in a fish market or something. I’m terrified, but I’m fascinated by it.

JR: Pressure, darkness.

RG: And then just the types of life forms on this planet that can exist that make no sense to our minds.

JR: I always wonder if there’s like life within the cracks of the earth, or like living in some lava that we can’t see because we can’t go into lava. I like to think about the hidden, clandestine society of animals. Anyway, back to witches, there are different ideas of witches in the world, like the Baba Yaga in Russia. Is there a certain lineage or tradition of witch that you’re incorporating in your work?

RG: It’s definitely a Western witch, more European, and therefore American. The idea of witchcraft in all cultures is fascinating, but for some reason the idea of European witchcraft that caused mass hysteria and whether there’s anything to that has been very interesting to me. I wonder if people from other places or other societies would even see witchcraft in this series of photos. They might not. It’s not explicit.

JR: Where does the title “Earth Magic” come into play?

RG: I’d worked with some other bodies of work that had titles in different languages - it added a layer of secrecy that way. I wanted this title to be straightforward and accessible because there are other things to be inaccessible, like the symbols. And there are a ton of books out there called “Earth Magic,” but that was intentional for me. I think that was pretty much it: I didn’t need to add other layers of secrecy.

JR: I was looking through your website and saw you were working on “vintage alchemical books.” What are those?

RG: I started that project ten years ago. I was using a 4” x 5” polaroid film where you got a print and a negative, so you could go in a dark room and make prints with those. So I had a stack of these prints and I wanted to make an album, but that turned into a book, and then it turned into an elaborate book, and eventually these hidden journal entries paired with some audio recordings. So I started with this black book I was working on at night. Then I thought about making a white book and a red book, which triggered me to think about the line of alchemical work. If you’re working on turning led into gold, or whatever material, as you heat it and keep heating it, it turns black, white, and red. I related this to the alchemist him or herself growing - there’s a spiritual growth there too. 

RG: So I ran with it. They became very involved. I made each page by hand, maybe using a photograph or cutting something out of a canvas and painting it, or doing something.

JR: Is it autobiographical?

RG: It is, but that’s also related to my love of coded language. Most of them are completely unreadable. The first book I pretty much destroyed the text in one way. It’s a cathartic in a way. There’s a green book too, which was the fastest one I made. It only took a month or so and was very much about catharsis and exorcising some things I needed to erase from my life. So I wrote text and then used tape to rip the text off the page, and then I burnt the text into ash, reconstituted the ash, and then painted that back over the first pages with a different message. It was very much about moving forward in that way.

RG: I was doing that, and began to think that alchemy is sort of the masculine bent of Western esotercism, and I wanted to concentrate on the feminine aspect for “Earth Magic.”

JR: So is “Earth Magic” in response to that?

RG: In a way, yes. When you’re working on something, some ideas just spark other ideas and things shoot off into their own trajectory.

RG: I always think I’m having some brilliant new idea, and I realize that I had done something similar a while before. That’s what I thought when I was making the language in Earth Magic and then I remembered that I had been playing with hidden text forever in one way or another. So it’s not all that different.

JR: You said you’re married. What does your wife think of Earth Magic and the feminine witchcraft aspect?

RG: She’s in the book! She’s always been a part of my projects. We met when I began working on the black alchemical book. She’s always in my projects in one way or another.

JR: I was curious who the models were, and one of them is your wife!

RG: The models are mainly people I know. People who have an idea of what I’m talking about and understand it and maybe have a bit of a feral, earthy, wild side to explore.

JR: Does it need a knowledge of witchcraft?

RG: I realized that sometimes it’s better if it’s not a particular interest. I’ve seen that sometimes if it is, people may want to insert too many signifiers of a contemporary witchcraft.

JR: Preconceived notions?

RG: Yeah, and I try to keep it timeless and somewhat ambiguous. You couldn’t say when these pictures were taken or what kind of witchcraft is being represented.

JR: When I saw this, my friend Erik had seen William Mortensen’s stuff in New York, and he posted about your art, and it really resonated with me. It did hit something archetypal or primal.

RG: That’s good. That’s what I hope for. I don’t want to be cocky enough to say that I’ve done that, but that’s good to hear!

JR: So the visual aspect of the book and photographs. How do you know what you’re going for and how do you know if you succeed?

RG: Editing was hard. There were a lot more photographs, but it was also a lot more involved than digital photographs. I was getting negatives and then would have to develop them, so there was more process behind it.

RG: I was getting probably five to ten photographs per photo shoot.

RG: I usually have more of a feel than a definite idea. For this series, a lot was informed by the setting. We would show up to the woods and they would influence what happened that day. The earth feeds into the photographs. I would also work with the people of course, telling them what I was thinking. As I got more photographs, I would start trying to get a little more variety, and kind of plan as I went. The whole thing is a conversation.

JR: What are some of your favorite movies?

RG: When I was in High School I think I watched Blue Velvet every day. I grew up in a weird suburb on the West Coast. Something resonated with me in that mysterious duality of a town. I think that fascination carried over to some of the things I’m working on.

RG: Lately, I’ve been watching some old silent movies. So I have an interest in Film Noir and German expressionism and moody, atmospheric things.

JR: What made you want to do photography and visual art?

RG: I was always working on some art-related project since I was young. It’s the generic response, but it’s true. My mother always wanted to do photography when I was young, and she ended up opening a photography studio. Her darkroom was next to my bedroom, and was a big inspiration.

JR: Was that mysterious?

RG: Oh yeah. That definitely related photography to the feminine. But, yeah, the darkroom was very mysterious.

JR: In a film, when you see a darkroom, you get this sense of dread and it’s usually because in a film noir or film noir influenced movie, there’s always photography accoutrements but there’s also a dude dead in a bathtub!

RG: So when I was 14 or so, I had to take a class about photography to prove that I could use the darkroom. Eventually I kind of took over.

JR: Last question. What are you working on now?

RG: Several things. There are a couple of projects that pick up where Earth Magic leaves off. There’s one that’s specifically related to the witch’s sabbath, so it’s related to the Earth Magic series, but instead of making negatives, they’re one-of-a-kind phosphate positives. And then they’re treated in an esoteric manner. Since they’re a clear positive, they have to have something black put behind them. So I made a black enamel that has tinctures of witchcraft in it with stuff like belladonna. So that’s painted on the back kind of like a magic mirror with the idea that it’s something to gaze into and also be a reflection.

RG: So that’s one thing and then there’s a series of photographs where the prints themselves are made with human menstrual blood. It’s my adapting of an old process in a new way. But that’s my interest in feminine mystery.

RG: Secretly I’ve been working on a series involving mixed media and collage that relates in some ways to Earth Magic. I’m not ready to show this or a few others yet.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Releases of the Day: Gábor Lázárr's "Ils. 6" & Stine Janvind Motland's "In Labour"

Gábor Lázár's Ils. 6
I heard these album yesterday completely randomly. My friend Nick Zettel posted Jeremy Bible's "Top 10 & Beyond" and I gave it a read and was completely overwhelmed. His #1 record of the year Ils. 6 by Gábor Lázár was an exercise in the vein of "Variations on a Theme," where an artist picks a theme and puts different spins on it: like an artist would choose one note and play it with different instruments or at different lengths. Ils. 6 does this with electronica notes and rhythms. I think of it as a sort of sampling that you might hear on a mixing board when a DJ will repeatedly hit one sample button over and over again to get the effect of a stuttering entry point: the full sample rarely plays out, which is good and bad. It leaves mystery and provides an affect of rhythm.

Gábor Lázár does this with rhythm. Technically there's a pitch because everything has a pitch, but the pitch over a period of time loses its meaning, like when you say a word over and over again - eventually the phonetics are there alone and the meaning has seeped away into the ether. It's a stop-and-go meditation and an absolutely delight of a thinkpiece.

Stine Janvind Motland's In Labour
Bible's second album of the year In Labour by Stine Janvind Motland is one of the most bizarre listens I've ever experienced. It's a combination of site-specific background noise and human-made mouth sounds. These sounds could be sucking, or wailing, or slurping, or plucking. It runs the gamut and sounds like a nightmare. It's surreal, but brings up things that perhaps we've thought before. I'm at this concert but did I leave the teapot on? I can hear it crying in the distance. And where the hell are my pants?

The first song is totally disturbing. Something about a wet sound makes me uncomfortable and I can't be alone. The wet signifies the inside of a person or a thing and it's this physical internalization projected onto an external backdrop that makes for a rewarding, albeit uncanny listen.

Below are samples of each.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Release of the Day: Fang - Landshark!

"And I'll just sit and grin/The money will roll right in." So goes the chorus of Fang's best known song "The Money Will Roll Right In," the first song on Fang's second release from 1983, a 45 rpm 12" called Landshark. The song itself has been covered many times, but most notably when Nirvana covered it at their famous set at Reading in 1992. The other thing that Fang is known for is an incident of some significance from 1989: Sammy McBride, the lead singer, strangled his girlfriend to death and was served six years in prison. On his release in 1995, McBride renamed himself Sammytown like some phoenix of nomenclature. But that's more trivia than essential information.

Fang emerged from Berkeley, California in the early 1980s as a punk/hardcore band, though apparently with some protogrunge leanings if we check the hindsight mirror. There's actually a great comp from the era and locale that was put out by Alternative Tentacles with help from Maximum Rock n' Roll called Not So Quiet On The Western Front if you want to dig a little deeper.

It's a totally sinister record. Sammytown's lyrics are filthy, bringing out the junk and dope from behind the walls and forcing it into view. Like a toddler who learned to use the bathroom and needs to show you the results. There's violence, drugs, and all-around bad vibes, but it's a document of a damaged mind if nothing else. I mean the guy's vocals from the first song just sound like he's been slamming dope in his veins all dang day before he recorded. It ain't pretty, but it ain't a lie either, and the quality of the songwriting is really high, pun somewhat intended.

It just got reissued and is totally affordable and is absolutely EEEEESSENTIAL for your collection!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Release of the Day: King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard - I'm In Your Mind Fuzz

Let's talk about the criticisms I've seen on this album and there are two main ones. One is that the band sometimes sounds like krautrock pastiche and the other one is that there are too many people in the band. Here's the thing. Have you ever seen Tremors with Kevin Bacon? Yeah, the movie rocks. The slogan is "There's nothing new under the sun, but under the ground..." turns out the slogan is talking about these detached carnivorous uncircumcised penises and not music at all, so why bring it up?

Well, there's a big problem in music writing nowadays and it's about the need to push boundaries. There's totally an irony about a music writer saying that shit too because the chances are that the music writer is doing his or her writing in a totally pastiched way - establish ethos with some personal experience, or a quick biography (yeah, sure I know what I'm talking about, so what the fuck are YOU talking about? I'm not defensive at all!) followed by glancing descriptions, some tough dichotomy between parts (maybe something with the music industry), some more generalizations, and then a sweeping look at genre and possibly a play on the album title or the overarching style of music. Hey, music writers! WE'RE NOT PUSHING BOUNDARIES EITHER SO QUIT CALLING THE KETTLE BLACK!

Sorry, had to get that out of my system.

King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard's Im in Your Mind Fuzz is a group of songs that relate to each other in theme and motorik madness, which isn't to say that all the songs are motorik, but my favorite ones sure are. The first twelve minutes or so is a suite of songs related to the all-permeating mind fuzz. Who is in which mind fuzz? Who knows, sportsfans. But man, it's a ripper heading straight into the maelstrom that is the rad time express.

The record is out on Castle Face and is a blast and a half of psychedelic garage mayhem and certainly has quickly become one of my most-listened-to records of 2014.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Release of the Day: Alberich - NATO Uniformen

Alberich's NATO-Uniformen was originally released as a set of eight cassettes in an edition of 50 on Hospital Productions. It's findable online, but those cassette sets are few and far between and expensive to boot if you manage to find one. A set has sold for $300 on Discogs. Lucky for those of us who slept on the original set, Hospital has reissued it as a somewhat abridged 2 x LP in two editions: 250 white vinyl and 450 black vinyl. While there were 30 songs in the original set, this 2 x LP contains 19. In my opinion, it's a bit of a tour de force, and an expansive overview of much of what falls into the Industrial genre.

Obviously, Alberich is most widely described as a power electronics project, but NATO-Uniformen is more varied. That's not to say that there isn't straight power electronics here with rhythmic crunch, feedback, and distorted vocals, because there is. It's just that Kris Lapke also likes to throw in surprises, like a strangely danceable drumbeat at one point or a piece that might be more in the vein of dark ambient. This variety stops the album from becoming monotonous, which is the easiest pitfall for an industrial record.

If you're in Chicago, I know that Reckless gets stuff from Hospital, but other than that, I think you're best bet is to order online, and I'm not sure how you can get the white vinyl in the states. I know Heaven Street got the black vinyl and if Sean didn't get the white ones, then I don't know who did. I had to order my copy from Europe actually, but I'm collector scum so that's what I get.

Below is a full album stream.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Release of the Day: Anenzephalia - Task Force Terrorist

If you read yesterday's release of the day, then you've already been acquainted with Tesco's Archaic Documents sublabel/imprint: it's their label that reissues harder to find releases, which may have been  originally put out as CD-Rs or tapes, as beautifully repackaged vinyl records. So far they've really put out some heavy hitters with Genocide Organ, Grey Wolves, Prurient, SK1005, and Anenzephalia.

Anenzephalia began as the solo project of Brigant Moloch and is sometimes referred to as a Genocide Organ side project. It's somewhat confusing: not only does Wilhelm Herich of G.O. often perform in Anenzephalia sets, but Moloch joined G.O. in the late 90s after Roland Freisler left, and of course they're both German power electronics groups. Anenzephalia has put out records on Tesco since their 1991 seven-inch record Lyse. Their first couple of records, such as Lyse or Fragments of Demise are pretty impossible to find for under a hundred dollars, but probably can be found somewhere on the internet, albeit with much worse sonic quality.

Task Force Terrorist is a compilation of live tracks from their early days around the time Fragments of Demise came out, but before Ephemeral Dawn. What had previously been released on CD as Live Festival Karlsruhe 8.10.93 appears in stellar vinyl treatment with a couple bonus tracks from an earlier set in Munich of 1992 tossed into the mix. I don't feel the need to go into how wonderful of a job Tesco has done in the packaging of this record: it's simple, but noteworthy. Tesco's addition of the hand-numbered insert is elegant with a touch of the personal, perfect to look at when you're about to have an angry German dude yell at you for a while.

In my opinion, Anenzephalia already stands out for their cinematic structure. When I listen to an Anenzephalia record, I feel like I'm being guided through something, but not in some bullshit new age way. It's more like a bootcamp than some feel good journey. I mean, just think about it: Moloch would be one hell of a drill sergeant. If he says "Jump," chances are pretty good that I'm going to jump. His vocals are commanding and powerful without being overdone. And he knows how to weave them into his work to make something more similar to a song than the typical noise piece.

So yeah, still reading? Tesco knocked this fucker out of the park. The Live Festival Karlsruhe 8.10.93 is streaming on Spotify so listen to that if you're not certain, but I'll just be honest - the stream does not do the music justice. This is definitely a record you'll want in your collection.

I couldn't find a full track from the record so here are some excerpts from the new Task Force Terrorist reissue to get a better idea.

Release of the Day: Prurient - Despiritualized EP

It's hard to keep up with Dominick Fernow. The dude has released an ungodly amount of music under both his Vatican Shadow and Prurient monikers, not to mention Ash Pool, Rainforest Spiritual Enslavement, Machinegun Warfare, and...well, you get the point. It's as impressive as it is overwhelming. Many of these releases have come out of his own Hospital Productions label, though it's an equally daunting trying to figure out exactly what has been released and who the hell did the releasing. And it's a total gambit as to whether his next release will come out in an edition of ten or one thousand.

Dom also has a bit of a maniacal, obsessive following: people will pay a LOT of money for some of his more obscure releases. Fortunately, a lot of his recordings is streaming more or less for free, and a lot of his output is very good. But for those of us who revere the physical and visual aspect of an artist's recording, finding an original cassette or lathe cut of his may be difficult or expensive.

Luckily, Tesco has recently started putting out/reissuing harder to find/acquire releases on their Archaic Documents sublabel starting last year. So far it's been knocking things way out of the park for industrial and noise lovers with some heavy hitters like Genocide Organ's KwaZulu-NaTal, a document of a live show from 1994 released as an LP, and Anenzephalia's Funkspiele, originally released as a CDr but redone as a vinyl LP in October 2013.

The newest batch of Archaic Documents is an LP of live Anenzephalia recordings and also a 10" vinyl reissue of Prurient's Despiritualized. Tomorrow's release of the day is going to be the Anenzephalia record, but today we're going to focus on Despiritualized.

Despiritualized originally came out in an edition of 110 on Hospital as a double cassette in October of 2011, and has been out of print pretty much since then. Some of it is on YouTube, but the whole EP is also streaming on Spotify, as is a lot of Dom's output. The 10" release that Tesco just did, however, is really something special. I mean, it just looks fucking great. Heavy stock packaging to ensure a healthy life on the shelf, and a properly weighted vinyl pressing to make for a full-sounding listen.

The music itself hinges somewhere between noise, power electronics, and dark ambient music. There's less of a crunch here than on an earlier record like History of Aids, but it doesn't share any of the techno-influence that a record like Through the Window has. There are moments of harshness cast throughout the record and a vocal performance that wavers between a militant roar and an elegiac coo is dotted here and there, though the mood of the record is the obvious star.

Definitely worth picking up and should be done soon, as these things never stay in stock for long.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Release of the Day: Espectrostatic - Escape From Witchtropolis

Alex Cuervo of The Hex Dispensers has a synth-spun side project called Espectrostatic and he just released his second album Escape From Witchtropolis. The name "Espectrostatic" is pretty perfect as a description. "Espectro" is Portuguese for "specter" and "static" is English for "static." You put the two together and have some ghost-riddled electronic jams. That's not to say that the music is straight up Goblin worship, either. Alex draws from the trans-global lineage of psychedelic music in addition to simple horror icons.

For instance, the title track relies on a motorik rhythm while a playfully sinister synthline dances on top. Part of it sounds like it could have been on a Neu! record, but only if Neu! were running from some ghouls as they were cranking out some kosmische shamanry. But not every track can be pinned down to the same influences. Like, let's take a gander at the first track, which is more or less the calm before the storm: "Removing the Bandages" is a piece dedicated to mood, and while electronic instrumentation is apparent, unfamiliar wafts of stringed accompaniment find their way in. I think I hear a cello and a violin, though to be fair, I don't have the best ear for figuring out arrangements, so there may be more.

So what does that mean for the record? Well, first off, it means that the record excels at making a hell of a lot of diverse sounds. It also means that it is absurdly fun to listen to. It really does sound like it could be the soundtrack to a great horror flick. And, to be perfectly clear, there is not even one dud on the record. All eleven tracks are evocative, strange pieces that blossom with repeated listens. It's a must-listen-to for anyone even remotely interested in the weird, the psychedelic, or the electronic.