Twinsistermoon," When Stars Glide Through Solid" Reissue

Long awaited reissue of the debut release from Mehdi Amezianes Twinsistermoon project, originally released as a gorgeous handmade self released CDR in 2007, to many of Natural Snow Buildings and each of their solo project, this is the pick of all their releases, which is rather ironic being that its one of the smallest release runs in the discography of all the Natural Snow Buildings and related projects, it is infact the most limited release of all the Twinsistermoon releases. But due to the massive level of word of mouth about their releases on blogs and in the smaller press publications this release has become one of those holy grail releases. Unlessof course you have a small wedge of cash lying around doing nothing. So, finally, and with great pleasure, the much talked of reissue is finally here. The record opens with a real stunner, 'I Wish I Could Drown The World In Reverberation' is a trance inducing piece, with percussive tambourine, dreamy vocals, and shimmering strings, with a gorgeous organic rich feeling. It's followed by 'To Breath Underwater', a more pastoral folk song, akin to some late 60s/early 70s folk artists. The album as a whole focuses more on the song-based material which occasionally venture into the more far-out zone outs.

The vinyl reissue features an entire side worth of new material, all of which is exclusive to the vinyl edition and is packaged in a beautiful gatefold sleeve featuring stunning new artwork by Solange Gularte. Limited to 600 copies. 200 direct mailorder copies on regular weight coloured vinyl, 400 copies on heavyweight black virgin vinyl.

The CD reissue features an additional bonus track, which is exclusive to the CD edition and is packaged in a beautiful gatefold sleeve featuring stunning new artwork by Solange Gularte. Limited to 500 copies.

More information available at Blackest Rainbow.

6169 Hits

John Fahey, "Your Past Comes Back to Haunt You (The Fonotone Years 1958-1965)"

John Fahey: Your Past Comes Back to Haunt You (The Fonotone Years 1958-1965)

Your Past Comes Back to Haunt YouAs with all histories, context and an appreciation for the times are essential. In 1958, when the earliest of these recordings were made there were probably no more than a handful of reissues of pre-war country blues 78s available on record in the United States. The long-playing 33 1/3 record was, itself, only a recent invention. Today, with hundreds, perhaps thousands, of pre-war blues and hillbilly reissues available and in print, when it’s possible to walk into any halfway decent record store (to the extent record stores, halfway decent or otherwise, still exist) and find the complete recordings of Charley Patton or Blind Willie Johnson, it may be difficult to comprehend just how obscure and how otherworldly this music once was. — Glenn Jones, from the Introduction to Your Past Comes Back to Haunt You

DTD-21 : October 11, 2011
Edited by Glenn Jones 
88 page book with 5 CDs
115 tracks, most available on CD for the first time 
A co-production between Dust-to-Digital and Revenant

6803 Hits

"I Listen to the Wind That Obliterates My Traces: Music in Vernacular Photographs 1880-1955"

I Listen to the Wind That Obliterates My Traces: Music in Vernacular Photographs 1880-1955

I Listen to the Wind That Obliterates My Traces... i listen to the wind that obliterates my traces brings together a collection of early photographs related to music, a group of 78rpm recordings, and short excerpts from various literary sources that are contemporary with the sound and images. It is a somewhat intuitive gathering, culled from artist Steve Roden’s collection of thousands of vernacular photographs related to music, sound, and listening. The subjects range from the PT Barnum-esque Professor McRea - “Ontario’s Musical Wonder” (pictured with his complex sculptural one man band contraption) - to anonymous African-American guitar players and images of early phonographs. The images range from professional portraits to ethereal, accidental, double exposures - and include a range of photographic print processes, such as tintypes, ambrotypes, cdvs, cabinet cards, real photo postcards, albumen prints, and turn-of-the-century snapshots. 

The two CDs display a variety of recordings, including one-off amateur recordings, regular commercial releases, and early sound effects records. there is no narrative structure to the book, but the collision of literary quotes (Hamsun, Lagarkvist, Wordsworth, Nabakov, etc.). Recordings and images conspire towards a consistent mood that is anchored by the book’s title, which binds such disparate things as an early recording of an American cowboy ballad, a poem by a Swedish Nobel laureate, a recording of crickets created artificially, and an image of an itinerant anonymous woman sitting in a field, playing a guitar. The book also contains an essay by Roden.

5698 Hits

HTRK, "Rhinestones"

cover imageThis latest release from the long-running duo of Jonnine Standish and Nigel Yang is quite a bombshell, as Rhinestones was "inspired by a recent infatuation with 'eerie and gothic country music.'" To my ears, HTRK drawing inspiration from classic country heartache is already a winning formula right out of the gate, yet Rhinestones is even better than I might have hoped, as the Melbourne-based pair have spiced that new direction up further by filtering it through a "narcotic, nocturnal lens" in order to "map enigmatic badlands of strung out beauty" (count me in!). In less poetic terms, that means that Rhinestones is full of acoustic guitars, heartbreak, and half-sultry/half-ghostly vocal melodies and that every single one of these nine songs attain some degree of greatness. While yet another excellent HTRK album is hardly unexpected territory, I was nevertheless legitimately floored by how masterfully Standish and Yang executed this new vision, as Rhinestones is a beautifully stark, sensual, and effortlessly psychedelic tour de force that somehow also fitfully evokes great '80s pop in the vein of Pat Benatar. That is quite an impressive feat. This album will deservedly be all over "best of 2021" lists next month.

Heavy Machinery/N&J Blueberries

This album is an extremely impressive example of how an absolutely gorgeous album can result from a very stark and simple palette, as Rhinestones is basically just an acoustic guitar, an occasional drum machine click, Standish's breathily sensuous voice, some great songs, and plenty of unerring instincts. While the whole album is wonderful, it starts to become something transcendent at the end of the second piece. "Valentina" initially sounds like a lovesick folkie got the hypnagogic David Lynch/Julee Cruise treatment, but it ends in unexpectedly heavy fashion, as the final line "can you remove it from my finger?" locks into a haunting spiral of looping repetition. That cool surprise then happily seques into a three-song run of absolutely killer songs. On "Sunlight Feels like Bee Stings," what initially sounds like a sadness-soaked breakup song quickly blossoms into something darkly sexual and swirling with understatedly beautiful ripples of echoing psych guitar. The following "Siren Song," on the other hand, only lasts a mere 49 seconds, yet every single one of those seconds rules, as Yang unleashes a phantasmagoric reverie of hollow, wobbly chords and string scrapes augmented with little more than murmured vocals and a slow rhythm of finger snaps.

"Fast Friend" is another quiet masterpiece of psych guitar, approximating a sultry, bleary Pat Benatar cover with a slinky drum machine pulse and host of painterly hallucinatory touches. Some artists make great psychedelia with cool layering and inspired juxtapositions, but Yang is the sort that can make just a single note or chord sound amazing and I am very much into it. The rest of the album is rounded out by a classic HTRK-style single "Real Headfuck" and a few seemingly lesser pieces that are ultimately elevated by great outros. Yang and Standish are truly in peak form on this album, as the vocals seductively dance over a simmering array of cool backdrops and every last hand clap or string scrape is executed with flawless timing and maximum impact. If there is any caveat with Rhinestones at all, it is only that it might feel a bit too melancholy for some, but I found these songs to be a lot like the old joke about New England weather: if a song seems unmemorable or oppressively sad at first, odds are quite strong that something cool and unexpected is about to dramatically change that trajectory for the better. This is a hell of an album.

Samples can be found here.

1942 Hits

Felicity Mangan "Bell Metal Reeds"

cover imageThis is my first encounter with the unique fare of Berlin's One Instrument Records, but I have probably stumbled upon Felicity Mangan's work before, as she released an EP of animal-sourced sound art on Longform Editions back in 2019 and she is also half of the duo Native Instrument.  While it may sound like a stretch to call the multi-directional "quasi-bioacoustic sound piece" of her Longform EP Stereo'frog'ic "normal," it is nevertheless fair to say that frogs and homemade speakers are considerably closer to Mangan's comfort zone than a harmonica album (which is good, as I generally loathe harmonicas). And yet here we are: Bell Metal Reeds is an entirely harmonica-sourced album (Mangan picked one up at a flea market in Hamburg right before the pandemic). In most cases, learning that someone recorded a solo harmonica album over lockdown would—at best—elicit a wince, heavy sigh, or torrent of expletives from me, yet Mangan has somehow managed to wield the instrument so unconventionally and so beautifully that my mind has been properly blown. This is an incredible album, at times recalling everything from classic Kranky fare a la Windy & Carl to Neu! to Chris Watson.

One Instrument

Happily, there is very little on this album that is recognizably sourced from a flea market harmonica, which is a good thing in my book. The even better thing is how transcendently Mangan was able to repurpose her Hohner Echo Harp's sounds and the impressive variety of compositions that resulted. The opening "Echo Harp 1" kicks off the album in especially sublime fashion, as the first half unfolds as sensuous, wobbly drone swells enhanced with flutters of dreampop shimmer that lazily swoop around the drones like an iridescent bat. It almost sounds like Mangan deconstructed drone music and somehow wound up with something languorously sensual instead. Curiously, Mangan opted to shift gears midway through the piece, so the final minutes are more akin to texturally confused drone metal than sexy harmonica ambient. I am bit disappointed by that transformation, as the first half was brilliant, but there is an eerie bent note in the final section that I like, so all is forgiven. "Echo Harp 2" is another big surprise, as it initially resembles an ancient war procession shrouded in a flickering psychedelic haze. Gradually, however, a throbbing drone slowly rolls out of the enchanted fog to launch a final act that resembles a stretched, smeared, and deconstructed motorik rhythm enhanced by the eerie whistle of a passing ghost train. While the first two pieces start off as near-masterpieces and end as merely very good, "Echo Harp 3" manages to sustain its perfection all the way to the finish line, resembling a wonderfully sensuous and spacey instrumental in the Windy & Carl vein (albeit a bit synthier-sounding than that comparison suggests). The album winds to a close with yet another surprise stylistic detour, as "Echo Harp 4" begins life as a pulsing mass of psych drone, but evolves into a compellingly polyrhythmic twist on a jangly drone rock band with an unusual effects palette. That adds up to four surprising, inventive, and beautifully crafted songs in a row, so I guess I am now a raging Felicity Mangan fan. If she can work this kind of magic with the insane constraint of exclusively using a flea market harmonica, her potential must be damn near limitless.

Samples can be found here.

1739 Hits

Natural Snow Buildings, "Chants of Niflheim"

Natural Snow Buildings released a "surprise" album made specifically for Record Store Day.  Details are below.

Natural Snow Buildings - Chants Of Niflheim image

 

Brand new full length CD album from Natural Snow Buildings, made especially for Record Store Day. Following on from January 2011′s “Waves of the Random Sea”, this is the most recent recording from the duo of Mehdi and Solange, recorded over the first three months of 2011.

Epicly dark and brooding folk blurred with psychedelic and ritualistic overtones, this album sounds as good as any other Natural Snow Buildings / Twinsistermoon / Isengrind release, retaining the sound that only this duo can conjure up.

Opener “Chants of Niflheim Part 1″ is a dark reflection upon the concept of its title, followed by “Templars Ritual”, a psychedelic meandering 17 minutes of ritual head nodding zone outs. “Chants Of Niflheim Part 2″ builds ethereal levitation to new forms, from dark to light, blurring heavy riffs with almost vocal instrument sounds to create a mist of unknown. Album closer, “H. Scudder”, opens with Mehdi’s softly sung lyrics layered with percussion and string, heading straight into a deep ritualistic swirling drone section.

“Chants of Niflheim” again concretes Natural Snow Buildings as an essential contemporary duo, crossing the lines of folk drone experimentalism, traditional folk craftsmanship and post rock aesthetic. Again, another essential disc from this French duo.

Limited to 500 copies in full colour 4 panel card sleeves.

Tracks Are :

 

  • Chants Of Niflheim Part I
  • Templars Ritual
  • Chants Of Niflheim Part II
  • H. Scudder

 

Released on Blackest Rainbow Records, but not available through them.

 

7781 Hits

Rob Young's "Electric Eden"

 

The US edition of Electric Eden was published on Tuesday 10 May (Faber via Farrar, Straus & Giroux). Revised, updated and corrected!


In this groundbreaking survey of more than a century of music making in the British Isles, Rob Young investigates how the idea of folk has been handed down and transformed by successive generations – song collectors, composers, Marxist revivalists, folk-rockers, psychedelic voyagers, free festival-goers, experimental pop stars and electronic innovators. In a sweeping panorama of Albion’s soundscape that takes in the pioneer spirit of Cecil Sharp; the pastoral classicism of Ralph Vaughan Williams and Peter Warlock; the industrial folk revival of Ewan MacColl and  A. L. Lloyd; the folk-rock of Fairport Convention, Sandy Denny, Nick Drake, Shirley Collins, John Martyn and Pentangle; the bucolic psychedelia of The Incredible String Band, The Beatles and Pink Floyd; the acid folk of Comus, Forest, Mr Fox and Trees; The Wicker Man and occult folklore; the early Glastonbury and Stonehenge festivals; and the visionary pop of Kate Bush, Julian Cope and Talk Talk, Electric Eden maps out a native British musical voice that reflects the complex relationships between town and country, progress and nostalgia, radicalism and conservatism.


A wild combination of pagan echoes, spiritual quest, imaginative time-travel, pastoral innocence and electrified creativity, Electric Eden will be treasured by anyone interested in the tangled story of Britain’s folk music and Arcadian dreams.


‘Like its subject, this wonderful and informative book is full of surprises; a deep poetic sense runs alongside adroit analysis, absorbing narrative detail and lucid, singular overview. Young has charted a territory that is sodden with mystery and tunnelled under with ceaselessly interconnecting themes and ideas – it is as much a state of consciousness that his book describes, connecting sun-lit myths of ‘merrie England’ to a bewitchingly autumnal study of English music’s profound relationship with time and the land.’

Michael Bracewell


Electric Eden maps the secret aquifer beneath the flourishing landscape of British musical creativity over the last century: the country’s heathen heritage of folklore andfancy, ritual and magic, tall tales and stubborn superstitions. Roving from time immemorial to modern antiquarians like Julian Cope, via the pioneering folk song collectors of the early 20th Century, the psychedelic minstrels of the late 1960s, and 70s mavericks like John Martyn and Kate Bush, Rob Young has crafted a vivid and penetrating study of this old, weird Albion. Electric Eden is a stunning achievement.’ Simon Reynolds

 

 

8301 Hits

"The Ballad of Genesis and Lady Jaye"

Genesis Breyer P-Orridge has been a key figure of the underground music scene for over 30 years. A cult artist in prepunk and post-punk groups Throbbing Gristle (1975 to 1981) and Psychic TV (1981 to present), he is considered to be the father of industrial music and a pioneer of acid house and techno. Not content with breaking new ground in music, Genesis has also used his position at the limits of society to challenge the very fundamentals of biology.

Transformation is, indeed, central to his life. He became a she to resemble his beloved Lady Jaye, now deceased. With peroxide hair, full lips and gold teeth, Genesis does not go unnoticed. A unique life, modeled on his other, Lady Jaye, who remains an integral part of himself. Without subscribing to any movement but living life as the ultimate experiment, he has made his body a work of art.

A kaleidoscopic collection of moving surfaces, composed of interviews (Orlan, Peaches, Peter Christopherson), role plays, concerts and his day to day life, comes together to paint a multi-faceted profile of this pioneer of industrial music and in doing so, exposes the abundant yet inherently elusive nature of his creativity.

http://marielosier.net/the-ballad-of-genesis-and-lady-jaye/

 

 

6732 Hits

"Boyd Rice: Iconoclast" DVD

Boyd Rice may well be the only person alive who's been on a first name basis with both Charlie Manson and Marilyn Manson. His career has spanned more than three decades, during which time he has remained at the epicenter of underground culture and controversy. Rice first came to prominence in the 70's as one of the founders of the genre known as Industrial Music, and soon gained a reputation for live shows that were deemed the most abrasive, minimalist and loudest concerts ever staged (his shows regularly clocked in at 130 decibels, whereas a jet plane taking off was a mere 113 decibels). As early as 1980, he was already hailed as The Godfather of Noise Music.

Since then, Rice has extended his creative pursuits to numerous fields, even lecturing at The Massachusettes Institute of Technology, despite being a high-school dropout. "My life", says Rice, "is a testament to the idea that you can achieve whatever the hell you want if you posess a modicum of creativity, and a certain amount of naivete concerning what is and isn't possible in this world. I've had one man shows of my paintings in New York, but I'm not a painter. I've authored several books, but I'm not a writer. I've made a living as a recording artist for the last 30 years, but I can't read a note of music or play an instrument. I've somehow managed to make a career out of doing a great number of things I'm in no way qualified to do".

Larry Wessel's documentary, ICONOCLAST is a 4 hour long tour de force, 6 years in the making; an in depth expose of Boyd Rice's life, career, and personal obsessions. No mere documentary, ICONOCLAST is more of a roller coaster ride through the fevered mindscape of one of the most controversial and unique artists of the modern age.

trailer here.

http://www.iconoclastmovie.com/

http://www.wesselmania.net/

 

 

12677 Hits

"Seasons They Change: The Story of Acid and Psychedelic Folk"

‘Seasons They Change’: a book by Jeanette Leech featuring C93 and many others

Seasons They Change by Jeanette LeechA wonderful, imaginative, insightful and comprehensive book written by my friend Jeanette Leech has just been published. It is highly recommended by me! I asked Jeanette to write something for the Coptic Cat website, which follows:

 

David has offered me the opportunity to introduce my book, Seasons They Change: The Story of Acid and Psychedelic Folk. It’s a long narrative of the innovations in folk music from the 1960s to the present day, covering the artists often called ‘acid folk’, as well as the wider story of experimental attitudes to folk music over the decades.

 

I interviewed over a hundred artists for the book including David Tibet/Current 93, and many with whom David has collaborated – Shirley Collins, Clodagh Simmonds, Bill Fay and Simon Finn. Other artists covered include Comus, Vashti Bunyan, Espers, Pearls Before Swine, Dredd Foole, Stone Breath, Devendra Banhart, The Tower Recordings, Incredible String Band, Alasdair Roberts, Donovan, Holy Modal Rounders, C.O.B., Pat Kilroy, Mark Fry, Josephine Foster, Islaja, Tim Buckley, The Sun Also Rises, Joanna Newsom, Fern Knight, Marissa Nadler, Simon Finn, Tyrannosaurus Rex, Perry Leopold, Sonja Kristina, Trader Horne, Bread Love & Dreams, Linda Perhacs, Trees, Sharron Kraus, The Owl Service, Mellow Candle, Will Oldham, Circulus, Jane Weaver, Vetiver, Forest, Susan Christie, Dr Strangely Strange, Lau Nau, Spires That In The Sunset Rise… and many, many, many more.

 

The book can be bought from major booksellers across the UK and US, online retailers, Rough Trade and other record shops, and can always be ordered from your local independent bookstore.

 

And below is the official press release by the publishers:

 

In the late 60s and early 70s the inherent weirdness of folk met switched-on psychedelic rock and gave birth to new, strange forms of acoustic-based avant garde music. Artists on both sides of the Atlantic, including The Incredible String Band, Vashti Bunyan, Pearls Before Swine and Comus, combined sweet melancholy and modal melody with shape-shifting experimentation to create sounds of unsettling oddness that sometimes go under the name acid or psych folk. A few of these artists – notably the String Band, who actually made it to Woodstock – achieved mainstream success, while others remained resolutely entrenched underground. But by the mid-70s even the bigger artists found sales dwindling, and this peculiar hybrid musical genre fell profoundly out of favour. For 30 years it languished in obscurity, apparently beyond the reaches of cultural reassessment, until, in the mid-2000s a new generation of artists collectively tagged ‘New Weird America’ and spearheaded by Devendra Banhart, Espers and Joanna Newsom rediscovered acid and psych folk, revered it and from it, created something new.

Thanks partly to this new movement, many original acid and psych folk artists have re-emerged, and original copies of rare albums command high prices. Meanwhile, both Britain and America are home to intensely innovative artists continuing the tradition of delving simultaneously into contemporary and traditional styles to create something unique.

Seasons They Change tells the story of the birth, death and resurrection of acid and psych folk. It explores the careers of the original wave of artists and their contemporary equivalents, finding connections between both periods, and uncovering a previously hidden narrative of musical adventure.

Author

Jeanette Leech is a writer, researcher, DJ and music historian. She writes regularlyfor Shindig! magazine, and as part of the B-Music collective she has DJ’d throughout the UK, including at the female acid folk events known as ‘Bearded Ladies’ and the Green Man Festival. She writes extensively in the health and social care fields. Seasons They Change is her first book about music.

11436 Hits

Natural Snow Buildings, "Waves of the Random Sea"

The new Natural Snow Buildings double-album Waves of the Random Sea may now be pre-ordered from Blackest Rainbow.

"Stunning new record from Natural Snow Buildings, the collaborative project between Mehdi Ameziane and Solange Gularte, the minds behind Twinsistermoon and Isengrind respectively. This new epic from the French duo is their first physical release since 2009's well received Shadow Kingdom, also issued by us here at Blackest Rainbow, and it follows on from 2010's download only The Centauri Agent and both Twinsistermoon and Isengrind full length LPs. So 2010 has been a relatively quiet year for Natural Snow Buildings in comparison to 2008 and 2009. Mehdi and Solange have been working on 'Waves of the Random Sea' for us for quite sometime, both in terms of art and audio, and it really has come together beautifully. Solange has created a truly stunning series of artworks that spread across the 4 panels of the gatefold sleeve, and the music is a gorgeous tapestry of dreamy drone blurred with their enchanting ethereal folk balladry. This release continues to show how important every aspect of a Natural Snow Buildings release means to them, I was blown away by the standard of the music and artwork. Pressed on heavyweight virgin vinyl, and housed in a beautiful gatefold sleeve featuring artwork by Solange. The vinyl edition features an extra track not on the CD and all tracks in their entirety."

10427 Hits

"As Loud As Possible: The Noise Culture Magazine" debuts


CONTENTS :

Runzelstirn & Gurgelstock

'Artuad, Aktionkunst, Abreaction and Eb.er' : texts by Alice Kemp, accompanied by new drawings from Rudolf Eb.er, and a detailed 'Aktiongraphy'.

The Broken Flag Story

An extensive indepth interview with Gary Mundy, covering the career of Ramleh, the complete output of his legendary Broken Flag record label, and also featuring new interviews with the artists responsible for those releases, including: Maurizio Bianchi, Unkommuniti, Mauthausen Orchestra, Satori, Controlled Bleeding, Irritant, JFK, Mauro Teho Teardo ( M.T.T.), Con-Dom Sigillum S, Agog, Giancarlo Toniutti, Vortex Campaign, Le Syndicat, Krang and many more, plus unseen artwork and photographs.

No Fun

Festival curator Carlos Giffoni talk about the New York festival's past, present and future, and covers his work with the No Fun Productions label.

The Politics of HNW

The Rita's Sam McKinlay talks about the obsessive nature of the harsh-head. Includes a list of Sam's essential Wall Noise picks spanning the past two decades. An excellent introduction to wall-riding.

30 Years of The Haters

G.X. Jupitter - Larsen provides a personal history, as well as a delineation of his ideas, methods, and tricks accrued over three decades. The inside story from the man who has made entropy his life's work.

Putrefier

An interview with Mark Durgan, covering his twenty years in the UK's wilderness, from Birthbiter's heyday to the present-day. Includes reminiscences from Andy Bolus about their infamous duo project, Olympic Shit Man !

Sewer Election

Sweden's loudest, Dan Johansson talks about his music, ideas, art and running a tape label. Interview by Mikko Aspa of Grunt.

Zone Nord

An album -by- album look at the discography of this retired French noise legend, including brief commentary from Mr Zone Nord himself, Jean-Luc Angles.

Apraxia

An interview with Patrick Barber, the man behind the label. Covers the output of this legendary label who released Blowhole, Prick Decay, Small Cruel Party and others in the early 90's.

Cheapmachines

An interview with London sound-sculpter and all-'round sonic chameleon Phil Julian.

Climax Denial

An interview with this Milwaukee-based Power Electronics lecher, including an album-by-album analysis.

Alien Brains, Storm Bugs and Anti-Messthetics

A study of the non-careers of two early eighties UK outfits that were very much connected. Includes input from some of the key players, plus lots of vintage artwork.

Interchange

A look at this influential UK fanzine from the mid-80s, plus an interview with its creator, John Smith.

Tunnel Canary

G. X. Jupitter - Larsen tells us about his first memories in Vancouver of this volatile bunch.

IDES

An overview of the primary output of this American tape label, and an interview with its owner, Nicole Chambers.

Classic Albums

A regular feature dedicated to both indepth analysis and memories of overlooked but not forgotten gems from yesteryear. Issue #1 features articles on The Lemon Kittens ( We Buy A Hammer For Daddy ), XX Committee ( Network ) and RJF ( Greater Success In Apprehensions & Convictions ). A collection of thoughts and interviews, including an exclusive interview with ex- XX front-man, Scott Foust.

Opinion Columns

A regular feature from a rotating pool of participatory players with the music they ponder. Includes John Olson ( Wolf Eyes ), Andy Ortmann ( Panicsville ), Mikko Aspa ( Grunt ),  Steve Underwood ( Harbinger Sound ), Hicham Chadly ( Nashazphone ), Jonas Kellagher ( Segerhuva ), C. Spencer Yeh ( Burning Star Core ) and Mark Wharton ( Idwal Fisher ) amongst others. Covering artists including Masonna, Vomir, and The Black Phelgm, and ranging from Bizarre Uproar all the way to Christian bluegrass music !

Extensive Reviews Section

Covering output from Ahlzagailzeguh, Angel of Decay, Astro,  Bizarre Uproar, Blod, BT.HN, C.C.C.C, Cloama,  Craniopagus, Jason Crumer, D.D.A.A, Dieter Muh, Thomas Dimuzio, Emaciator, Fckn' Bstrds, Dino Felipe, FFH, Fire in the Head, Carlos Giffoni, Griefer, Haemorrhaging Fetus, Hair Police, Hair Stylistics, Halthan, Russell Haswell, Haters, Hum of the Druid, Idea Fire Company, Illusion of Safety, Irgun Z'wai Leumi, IRM, Jazkamer, Jazzfinger, G.X. Jupitter - Larsen, K2, Zbigniew Karkowski, KILT, Koeff, Graham Lambkin, Lazy Magnet, Mammal, Mania, Daniel Menche, Menstruation Sisters, MNEM, M.O, Mutant Ape, Nerve Net Noise, The New Blockaders, Nihilist Assault Group, nmperign, Oscillating Innards, Prurient, Putrefier, Raglani, Richard Ramirez, Redglaer, The Rita, RJF, Damion Romero, Romance, Secret Abuse, Shift, Sissy Spacek, Spine Scavenger, Sharpwaist, Sickness, Skeletons Out, Howard Stelzer, Sudden Infant, Das Synthetische Mischgewebe, Third Door From The Left, Asmus Tietchens, Treriksroset, Tunnel Canary,  Whorebutcher, John Weise, Wilt, Wolf Eyes, XX Committee, C. Spencer Yeh, Jason Zeh and many more.

Back Cover artwork by Richard Rupenus ( The New Blockaders ).




44173 Hits

Ossian Brown's "Haunted Air"

HAUNTED AIR
Ossian Brown's first book “Haunted Air” is published by Jonathan Cape in the UK on the 28th October. Focussing on Ossian's phantasmagorical collection of early Hallowe'en photography, America c. 1875 - 1955, his unique and extraordinary book comes with an introduction by David Lynch and an afterword by Geoff Cox. “Haunted Air” is available for pre-order from the Random House website.

“The roots of Hallowe’en lie in the ancient pre-Christian Celtic festival of Samhain, a feast to mark the death of the old year and the birth of the new. It was believed that on this night the veil separating the worlds of the living and the dead grew thin and ruptured, allowing spirits to pass through and walk unseen but not unheard amongst men. The advent of Christianity saw the pagan festival subsumed in All Souls’ Day, when across Europe the dead were mourned and venerated. Children and the poor, often masked or in outlandish costume, wandered the night begging ‘soul cakes’ in exchange for prayers, and fires burned to keep malevolent phantoms at bay.

From Europe, the haunted tradition would quickly take root and flourish in the fertile soil of the New World. Feeding hungrily on fresh lore, consuming half-remembered tales of its own shadowy origins and rituals, Hallowee’en was reborn in America. The pumpkin supplanted the carved turnip; costumes grew ever stranger, and celebrants both rural and urban seized gleefully on the festival’s intoxicating, lawless spirit. For one wild night, the dead stared into the faces of the living and the living, ghoulishly masked and clad in tattered backwoods baroque, stared back.”

The photographs in Haunted Air provide an extraordinary glimpse into the traditions of this macabre festival from ages past, and form an important document of photographic history. These are the pictures of the dead: family portraits, mementoes of the treasured, now unrecognisable, other. Torn from album pages, sold piecemeal for pennies and scattered, abandoned to melancholy chance and the hands of strangers.”

10573 Hits

Diane Cluck, "Oh Vanille/Ova Nil" reissue LP

Diane Cluck - Oh Vanille / Ova Nil
180g audiophile vinyl

Diane's first release on 12" vinyl November 2010 ( reissue )

Oh Vanille / Ova Nil has been reissued on 180g audiophile vinyl, pressed by 3 Syllables Records in Cardiff, Wales. The album has been mastered by the legendary Ray Staff at Air Studios in London and includes two unreleased bonus tracks.

The record is packaged in double weight card stock with embossed titles and a full color, double weight inner sleeve with song lyrics.

The records are in stock and are now shipping.

1. all i bring you is love
2. half a million miles from home
3. telepathic desert
4. easy to be around
5. the turnaround road
6. sandy ree
7. bones and born again
8. petite roses
9. held together (let go if you will)
10. yr million sweetnesses
11. wild deer at dawn
12. EZ demo*
13. gedifra*

*previously unreleased


 

Oh Vanille / ova nil  180g audiophile vinyl cover

13066 Hits

Natural Snow Buildings: Between the Real and the Shadow

A few years ago, when I lived in Boston, a WZBC DJ nearly made my head explode with his inspired decision to play a full 45-minute side of Natural Snow Buildings' crushing drone epic Slayer of the King of Hell in the middle of the day.  The band sounded like absolutely nothing that I had ever heard before and I immediately resolved to find out absolutely everything I could about them and track down all of their albums.  Both endeavors wound up being much more difficult than I had anticipated.

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24718 Hits

Baligh Hamdi, "Instrumental Modal Pop of 1970s Egypt"

cover imageThis latest collection continues Sublime Frequencies' impressive hot streak of releases this year, as Hisham Mayet has curated a selection of elusive instrumental pieces from "a towering figure in Arabic cultural history." Unsurprisingly, I have not knowingly encountered Hamdi's work before, as SF is always way ahead of the curve in digging up revelatory artists unfamiliar to most western ears, but Mayet and the songs he selected make a convincing case that Hamdi was indeed behind "some of the hippest music coming out of the Middle East from the late 1960s and throughout the 1970s." It was rare for Hamdi's work to surface under his own name, however, as most of his success and influence came from composing for a host of famous Arabic singers or scoring films, plays, and television. This collection, however, focuses on a very specific era of Hamdi's career in which Mayet believes the composer and his Diamond Orchestra perfected a modernized "international music" that elegantly combined "Eastern tinged jazz, theremin draped orchestral noir, and mid-east and eastern psychedelic exotica." Naturally, most of the original albums are exasperatingly elusive and expensive, but the rarity of these songs is secondary to their quality. This scratches roughly the same itch as other classic SF "pop" compilations like Bollywood Steel Guitar and Shadow Music of Thailand.

Sublime Frequencies

While Hamdi is technically the star of the show here, he is actually only one of two legends on these recordings, as Sublime Frequencies favorite Omar Khorshid was one of the many luminaries recruited for Hamdi's Diamond Orchestra. Naturally, there are plenty of cool guitar parts as a result, but no one member of the Diamond Orchestra stands out as particularly virtuosic or essential. Instead, the beauty of these pieces primarily lies in their deft blurring of modern and traditional styles, their inventive arrangements, and the tightness and fluidity of the ensemble. The opening "Ghada" provides an especially impressive example of Hamdi's "modal pop" vision, achieving a delightfully propulsive and swinging blend of surf guitar twang, Bollywood dance party, and bittersweetly soulful Arabic melodies. Obviously, getting all of those elements to fit seamlessly together in the first place was the most revolutionary part of Hamdi's vision, but the execution is also rather dazzling in a general sense, as melodies are constantly traded between instruments while the band nimbly navigates exacting rhythmic variations without breaking a sweat.

For the most part, "Ghada" is very representative of everything that follows, so if that one does not connect, the rest of the album will probably hold no further appeal. Similarly, anyone who loves "Ghada" will likely be thrilled to find eighteen more bangers in a similar vein awaiting them. Within that rich vein lie some delightful variations, however, such as the swooningly romantic strings of "Mawal," which approximates the soundtrack to a imagined Bond film where he teams up with sexy Egyptian dancer/double agent. Elsewhere, "Chaka Chico" initially sounds like the theme for a Spaghetti western ghost story due to its theremin melody, but fluidly shifts tones until it sounds like a love story set in an Middle Eastern cabaret. The closing "Love Story" is another surprise, as Hamdi and his ensemble gamely spice up Francis Lai's famous melody with Arabic instrumentation and inventive fluorishes until it resembles an Egyptian mariachi band crashing an Italian wedding. Beyond that, I was also delighted by the pieces where the orchestra abandon rock rhythms in favor of more Arabic-inspired percussion, as they do on "Gazairia." Just about everything here is great (and fun) though, as Instrumental Modal Pop of 1970s Egypt sounds like some of the coolest and most forward-thinking musicians around teamed up to unknowingly make a flawless and hook-filled surf/exotica/Bollywood masterpiece. I can certainly understand how Hamdi came to be so revered in the Arab world if he brought this level of heat to even his non-hits.

Samples can be found here.

2648 Hits

Saint Abdullah, "To Live A La West"

cover imageI am a bit late to the party with this project from "NYC-based, Iranian-Canadian brothers" Mohammed and Mehdi Mehrabani-Yeganeh, as they have been steadily releasing oft-killer music since 2017. This is their first album for Important, however, and it makes for a perplexingly unrepresentative introduction to their work, taking their more industrial tendencies in an unconventionally jazz-inspired direction with mixed results. That said, the brothers make a conscious point of attempting to "present new ideas" with each fresh release, so a truly representative album may never exist. Instead, each album is a snapshot of their thoughts and inspirations at one particular stage of their evolution. Similarly, the brothers are unswervingly devoted to making their music personal by rooting it in their own stories. Conceptually, that makes To Live A La West the Saint Abdullah album inspired by the time the brothers were allowed to attend a dance after their sixth grade graduation. The album is quite a bit harder to define stylistically, however. While the brothers cite Jon Hassell's Fourth World aesthetic as one major source of inspiration, I cannot think of any artists who explore similarly eclectic territory to this album’s curious mixture of free jazz and industrial-tinged experimentation mingled with shades of electronic pop and Iranian music. To my ears, this album could not be much further from the sights and sounds of a middle school dance (even filtered through psychedelic sensibility), but the best moments achieve a kind of strange beauty akin to Carter Tutti Void teaming with up some Egyptian jazz guys to record a very strange and unconventional film soundtrack. The other moments are considerably harder to explain, as they resemble industrial jazz vamps made by an AI whose primary influence is '80s arcade game sounds.

Important Records

This is one of those albums that starts out extremely strong, then gradually unravels and yields diminishing returns as it unfolds. If To Live A La West began and ended with "A Lot Of Kings," however, it would be damn near perfect. The duo are joined by trumpet player Aquiles Navarro and someone named Kol for a wonderfully simmering and smoky reverie of industrial-damaged and static-strafed jazz noir. The first hints that something has begun to go awry appear as early as the second piece, however, as it sounds like someone is throttling a modular synthesizer over an erratic, subdued, and ramshackle drum machine beat. It still ends up being a strong piece, as it is achieves a kind of jabbering, go-for-broke catharsis of squiggling electronic bloops, but I definitely felt that lack of a solid melodic component. The brothers next hit the mark again with the stomping, mechanized juggernaut of "Like A Great Starving Beast," as guest John Butcher enlivens the proceedings with a fiery sax solo. From that point onward, however, the brothers are on their own and they definitely chose a mystifying sound palette. Historically, Saint Abdullah are at their best when they aim for something akin to an Iranian Esplendor Geométrico with a strong taste for dub and sample collage, but they largely repress those tendencies on To Live A La West. In more concrete terms, that means that this album has plenty of cool grooves and foundational motifs, but they are almost always pushed to the background to focus on trilling sprays of blooping and bleeping melodies that elude any familiar scales or patterns. While the mechanized dance menace of "Furthermost" is a notable exception, the rest of the album lies somewhere between "chromatic free jazz shredding on a keytar," "someone loudly playing theremin over a '90s Aphex Twin album," "a Herbie Hancock album jarringly interrupting an S&M show," and "a modular synth player trying to mimic bird songs." Strange choices one and all and rendered even stranger by the existence of companion cassette of the same name on Cassauna. I am not sure why the brothers chose to release two similarly uneven albums in the same vein rather than a single solid one or why they did not enlist more collaborators for their ambitious jazz foray, but I do not feel they put their best foot forward here. In any case, Saint Abdullah is a great project and "A Lot of Kings" is a great song, but this is probably not the best place to start for the curious.

Samples can be found here.

1965 Hits

Centrum, "För Meditation"

cover imageI probably do not follow the contemporary psych-rock scene as closely as I should, so this 2019 side project from Sweden's Hills managed to elude me for a couple of years. On one level, the leap from Hills to Centrum is not exactly a dramatic one, as För Meditation arguably resembles a Hills album with the electronic guitars and jammier tendencies excised. On a deeper level, however, the spell that Centrum casts is very different from that of most modern psych bands, as För Meditation feels like a lost classic from the late '60s/early '70s nexus where hallucinogens, Pandit Pran Nath, and eastern religion collectively transformed the more adventurous fringes of rock forever. In more practical terms, that means that För Meditation is full of droning, chanting, and raga-damaged psychedelia great enough to earn Centrum a place in my personal pantheon of Swedish psych/free music titans like Parson Sound and Träd, Gras och Stenar. They clearly also learned a trick or two from more recent bands too though, as they do an impressive job of sidestepping the genre's more indulgent tendencies and beautifully channel the killer ride cymbal grooves of classic Om (albeit opting more for hypnotic repetition than muscular intensity and virtuosic flourishes).

Rocket Recordings

The album's description begins with a quote from David Lynch about transcendental meditation and its tenet that "true happiness lies within," but Centrum seem to enthusiastically embraced the Zen ideal of ego death as well, as the band's enigmatic line-up is given only as "members of Hills and Weary Nous." That anonymity admittedly makes sense here, as the focus is not on individual performances so much as it is on the band members seamlessly converging in perfect harmony for a series of great droning grooves. Or, as the label puts it, "beguiling tapestries of drone-based hypnosis, mantric vocal chants and ritualistic folk along with field recordings" (the latter made by the band in India). The opening "Vid Floden" is a representative introduction to that aesthetic, as a slow, heady groove of pulsing Shruti box swells, muscular bass riffage, hazy chanted vocals, and a cool flute hook unfolds for ten straight minutes with minimal evolution. There are some subtle effects and a decent amount of guitar soloing (both clean and distorted), but the magic primarily lies in how the various musicians interact and embellish the groove without ever breaking the spell with indulgent missteps. Instead, elements like the smoldering guitar solo in the following "Sjön" serve more of a textural and dynamic purpose than a cathartic or melodic one. That said, that solo does inject a soulful intensity that plays a significant role in making "Sjön" one of the album's strongest pieces. Of course, the warbling wah-wah improvisations and heavy ride cymbal beat play crucial roles as well (especially once the tambourine kicks in).

The remaining two pieces are unsurprisingly devoted to variations on the same themes. The brief "Stjärnor" is the closest thing to a single, as it distills the Centrum vision to a tight five minutes and enhances it with a melodic violin theme, but it also breaks the hypnotic spell a bit with a very prominent wah-wah solo in its final moments. The closing "Som En Spegel," on the other hand, heads in the opposite direction and stretches out for twelve epic minutes with little threat of derailing. Initially, it feels a bit too fast and too muscular to quite hit the raga/drone comfort zone, but it gradually blossoms into a masterful slow burn with the addition of tambourine, serpentine flute melodies, and a very cool finale of dub-inspired percussion flourishes. Aside from the mixed success of "Stjärnor," För Meditation is a damn near perfect album in my book. While it is not terribly hard to find other psych-rock bands who look to the east for inspiration, very few are able to match the natural chemistry and sublime execution that Centrum bring to the form.

Samples can be found here.

1539 Hits

Fossil Aerosol Mining Project, "Zombi Traditions (37 Years)"

cover imageThis enigmatic Illinois collective has never been particularly keen on revealing much about themselves, but they do have something of an origin story in which the project was birthed when they fatefully discovered a section of a film trailer in an abandoned drive-in theater back in 1983. While I do not believe they ever specified which film they found, all signs point to a George Romero or Lucio Fulci film, as "sounds from films about fake corpses constitute some of the earliest material used by Fossil Aerosol Mining Project." In fact, the project nearly always sounds like a hallucinatory collage of badly distressed VHS tapes of Dawn of the Dead, but the project has also released several explicitly zombie-indebted releases over the course of their long and macabre career, some of which were eventually compiled on 2014's digital-only Zombi Traditions. As befits the subject material, those already remixed, remastered, and revised pieces have been cannibalized once more for this definitive edition. As the previous incarnations of these songs have been purged from existence, I cannot say how well these latest versions stack up against the earlier ones, but I can say that this is easily one of the best Fossil Aerosol Mining Project albums that I have heard. To my ears, this album is the embodiment of everything I love about this project, as it perfectly captures the imagined ambiance of a late '70s/early '80s mall where the only remaining signs of life are strains of kitschy muzak and cheery announcements of incredible bargains eerily reverberating around the ransacked, rubble-strewn, and desolate halls until the electricity eventually fails.

Self-Released

Given this project’s mystery-shrouded nature, I cannot say for certain what their working methods were back in 1983 or if they have evolved at all over the ensuing four decades, but it definitely seems like the collective has an extremely purist approach to how they use their material. It seems fair to say that one of the project’s self-imposed constraints is that all of the sounds they use must be scavenged, so the difference between a middling album and great one lies in how well the fundamentally non-musical material lends itself to musicality (and how ingenious the collective can be when the material does not). In practical terms, that means that the essence of Zombi Tradition's aesthetic is murky ambiance conjured from hiss, garbled samples, and industrial hum, but that foundation is often enhanced with enigmatic vocal fragments, snatches of ads, and bits of repurposed muzak.

When they hit the mark, the results can be wonderfully creepy, immersive, and hallucinatory in a very unique and distinctive way. In the case of this album, those moments mostly tend to be the longest pieces. For example, the seething slow burn of "Damaged Years Ago" steadily swells to a haunted crescendo of inhuman-sounding backwards voices and a promise of "all the most popular brands." Elsewhere, "Italian Resurrection" evokes the swaying industrial ambiance of a massive engine slowly churning in an enigmatic miasma of footsteps, tape hiss, and eerie vocal fragments ("help me") that bubble up from the depths. Later, "The Shopping Mall Has Long Since Flooded" sounds like a broken radio playing flickering, unintelligible, and creepily reverberant emergency dispatches to a long-abandoned and partially submerged food court. A couple of the shorter pieces are excellent too though. I especially love the hiss-ravaged muzak phantasmagoria of "1983," which has the creepy, sad, and playful feel of some recent Aaron Dilloway albums. That said, the whole album casts a wonderfully unbroken spell and the execution is unusually strong for FAMP (presumably because the material has been reworked so many times). Given the grisly and oft-schlocky source material being repurposed, I was pleasantly surprised by the bleak beauty and subtly morbid humor of these pieces, as they never err into oppressive darkness or easy kitsch (even when a cheery voice is encouraging me to "visit often"). To my ears, this is one of the true jewels of the Fossil Aerosol Mining Project discography (if not the project’s culminating achievement).

Samples can be found here.

1746 Hits

Perila, "7‚Äã.‚Äã37‚Äã/‚Äã2‚Äã.‚Äã11"

cover imageThis latest release from Aleksandra Zakharenko is a "selection of soundscapes created by throughout various stages of last year" described as "subliminal moments, suspended fragments, caught between time zones." While that description could admittedly fit quite a lot of Perila's music, 7‚Äã.‚Äã37‚Äã/‚Äã2‚Äã.‚Äã11 has a far more intimate and informal feel than this year's previous release on Smalltown Supersound (How Much Time It Is Between You And Me?). That uncluttered, sketch-like approach suits Zakharenko quite well, as it brings out a bit more distinctive character than her more layered and produced work. Given that Perila is one of the more consistently intriguing artists in the ambient-adjacent abstract electronic milieu, there is plenty to like (or love) about that more produced side too, but I found this more stark and simple side easier to connect with on a deeper level, as these six songs distill Zakharenko's vision to its most pure form without sacrificing any of the beauty.

Vaagner

The opening "long dizzying air through a balcony door" sounds exactly like I would expect Perila to sound when filtered through the beautifully murky melancholia of Vaagner's house aesthetic (or at least curated with that aesthetic in mind). It is one of the more minimal pieces on the album as well, as it is essentially a spoken-word piece over a little more than a ghostly hum that rises and falls like a slow exhalation. The words are compellingly poetic and vaguely confessional, as it Zakharenko seems to be haltingly recounting fragmented and enigmatic memories from a past spring burned deep into her psyche. It strikes quite a mesmerizing balance of eerie and sensuous and is easily as strong as anything I have previously heard from Perila. In fact, I would have been thrilled if it was followed by five more pieces in the exact same vein, but only a fool would expect that, as Zakharenko's music has long featured a strong element of unpredictability. In keeping with that theme, the following "amorphous absorption" sounds like deconstructed dub techno sourced from dripping stalactites and chopped, hallucinatory voices, while the blearily melodic reverie "haven't left home 4 4 days" evokes the melancholy of a rain-soaked and cloud-darkened afternoon. A similarly drizzly atmosphere returns for the two pieces that close the album, but "this story doesn't make any sense" detours into a gently seething and bubbling experiment in disjointed, deconstructed, and unconventional percussion that feels like it is fading in and out of focus. It is an enjoyable piece, but the two pieces that follow even more impressive. I especially enjoyed “Crash Sedative,” which feels like a stoned and stumbling twist on classic Bill Evans-style jazz piano. "1 room" delves into a similarly noir-ish jazz vein, but feels too haunted and texture-focused to exist outside an especially creepy David Lynch film.

Nearly everything on the album is both good and distinctively "Perila," however, which makes this modest release an unexpectedly satisfying and absorbing album. On a related note, Vaagnar has also issued a considerably shorter sister EP (Memories of Log) that compiles strays from one of Zakharenko's stronger collaborators with Ulla. I expect anyone who likes 7‚Äã.‚Äã37‚Äã/‚Äã2‚Äã.‚Äã11 will enjoy that one too, as I certainly did (particularly Ulla's sublime closer "falling water lullaby").

Samples can be found here.

1757 Hits