Friday, January 28, 2011

Sports "the grimmisphe; black note sage: 001.101706"

the grimmisphe; black note saga: 001.101706
Deathsmile Records

Sports have always seemed a bit tongue in cheek to me. Their name, knock off Darkthrone logo and this search for the "Black Note" thing; it all seems to add up to parody. I think that must be designed to disarm the listener though. A manipulation to make you think these guys are total jokers so when they do decide to do what they do it hits you that much harder. The thing is that their sound is crushing. Harsh and piercing feedback over beautiful stuttered chords that evolve into heavy, twisted waves of feedback and super down tuned guitars. They don't linger on a note or chords for long periods of time. They work in constantly moving parts between the three players. Ultimately very grim and heavy. Highly recommended. It really does seem like Sports are searching for something musically. Maybe they really do have an idea about how to find the "Black Note"; and although I am not sure what it is but i am pretty sure it's dorky.

Putrid Brew "from the valley"

Putrid Brew
from the valley
Mind Melt Enterprises

Pretty straight forward hardcore from this Canadian band. Their myspace page defines them as black metal but there is nothing even remotely black metal about this band. They may be straight edge, they may all be vegan, they may all wear basketball jerseys but they are not black metal. There is nothing wrong with not being black metal, depending on the band that could be considered a pretty good thing, but if you are labeling yourself that to be either funny or hip then you are failing. Musically this reminds me a lot the first Integrity 7" or maybe even their Harder They Fall demo cassette. Metallic and sounding very, very 1990. When they are playing real fast it's not bad. Intense and pissed, but when the break downs start to pepper the songs it loses something. Those "mosh parts" suffer greatly from that early 90's funky hardcore breakdown thing that has not aged very well. I think there is some identity issues with this band that could use some sorting out. Some parts are too metal while others are just too 90's throwback. These guys are obviously pretty good players but i think they are just missing some intensity and originality. My biggest complaint is the recording though. I think honestly there is an issue with the production. Vocals are way too loud and need something; compression, distortion or maybe some reverb. Just something to thicken them up. The guitars are way too quiet and the drums sound super flat. I would like to see where these guys go next. I think there is some potential but it was kinda hard to find it in this cassette.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Sequences/Isolated Existence "graminaea/poaceae"

Sequences/Isolated Existence
self released

I was a little blow away with this release. I was shocked I had not heard of either of these artists until now as this work is so professional and has such great focus that they must have both been producing sounds for quite some time. Sequences (who i think i responsible for the release as well) starts the a side with some just crushingly melancholy soundscapes. Ambient, subtle and dark; I could almost compare it to Andrew Chaulk meets Oakeater but it's much more morose than either. Almost barely there at times. It sounds like weeping eternity. I could listen to this forever. The b side holds Isolated Existence. The name is very appropriate for this singular, haunting sound. It's very similar aurally to Sequences but replace the sadness with anxiety. A constant high tone that wavers and falters but never falls down. Reminds me of John Carpenter's soundtrack work for The Thing but a bit more up to date. Isolated Existence causes the pit of your stomach to blacken slightly and may actually hurt your soul a little. The packaging is very clean and professional. Nice minimal design and oddly there is also a small plastic bag full of grass. Or what appears to be grass I am not 100% sure. I am tempted to smoke it but I think those days are behind me. I have picked a few releases in my days that were packaged with drugs but I think the addition of the fauna is this is purely artistic. I think all you need to enjoy this music is the understanding that you will die and it won't really matter. Unfortunately, there are only 100 copies of this excellent release. They do offer a digital download (although it appears to only be the Sequences track) to anyone who buys one so i assume the audio will travel around a bit but until this sees the light of day as vinyl I think the world will be left wanting.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Stuart Chalmers "god of decay"

Stuart Chalmers
god of decay

I am so glad that aural and the visual are totally cohesive in this release. Visually you get minimal text on the cassette, no label information and an almost completely melted norelco case. Once you extract the cassette from it's almost case you get some almost completely destroyed sounds. It starts out minimal and very glitchy. Silence is torn apart by sudden bursts of distortion and pulses of delayed blips. This becomes pure hostile noise that keeps building with dirty, horrible crashing. There comes a point where this whole first piece is going to be completely made of textures, but then just when you need it, you get some needed contrast in the form of some piercing synths above the fray. The second side takes a much different approach but achieves much of the same results. You really should hear this for yourself; I don't want to give anymore away. I have not heard of Stuart Chalmers but he seems to really have a masterful control of his pedal board. He has a style, a vision and some serious discipline. Obviously someone who knows what he is doing.

Emeralds & Dilloway "under pressure"

Emeralds & Dilloway
under pressure
Hanson Records

By now you have all heard at least one Emeralds record and you should consider yourself healthier for it. I am a big fan of Emeralds. The comparisons to Tangerine Dream and Klaus Schultz are always a little apparent but it goes way beyond that. They build an emotional connection to the listener that I think those other artists never sought and often never gained. Emerald's music always seems to be developing while you listen to it. With the addition of Aaron Dilloway on this cassette you really get the feeling that you are hearing something brand new evolve in your ears. My only real complaint is that it is not long enough. Layers of Dilloway's loops and Emeralds synth explorations are fantastic but there are pretty long dead spaces at the end of each side. I am really only complaining because i feel like they could have filled those couple minutes with something great. In reality this cassette is twice as long as your average Hanson release. So i guess i have nothing to complain about. Fuck it. It's a great release.

Josh Hydeman "bloodletting"

Josh Hydeman
Slave Records

The second excellent release from Slave Records. This is from Portland's Josh Hydeman and it's a very impressive cassette. I feel like sometimes people release something on cassette because they feel like the audio is good but not cd or vinyl worthy. Like they are showing off a sketchbook as opposed to a finished painting. To be honest I think that is fine. I love sketches, ideas, experiments. It's kinda what this music is all about but this release goes far beyond that. These are focused finished pieces of beautiful drone, heavily textured with synth sine waves and swells. There is a sound that really captures Portland in this cassette. Maybe I listen to a lot of stuff from Portland but I think there is something here that resonates from that city. Like a signature. I hope this gets released again. There is only 66 copies and I don't know if any are left at this point. Good luck.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Sigulda "sickness and health"

sickness and health
Side of the Sun Recordings

For a noise artist there are a hell of a lot of dynamics. Rhythmic and pulsing waves of fuzzed out synth destruction degrades into a HNW before moving into piercing and perfectly controlled feedback. Both tracks on this cassette are recorded live and I think that really comes through. Not aurally as the audio is fantastic but the performance really shows off the control of the artist. I was pretty impressed with this one. I must pick up more stuff from Sigulda. Nice simple layout. Well worth your time.

Krister Bergman "order of the 36"

Krister Bergman
order of the 36
Lighten Up Sounds

This is pretty fucking punishing. Waves of harsh, splintering noise over the top of a pulsing rhythmic grinding. Sudden interruptions of synth waves amongst the maelstrom. This whole cassette causes almost primal anxiety in the listener and it's fucking fantastic. My favorite part of this whole thing is how the whole thing clips throughout. I think if it had been my record I would have controlled that with some compression or even getting it mastered but this thing doesn't give a shit. You know how sometimes a club that doesn't usually do noise puts on a show and you get to spend the whole night watching the poor sound guy shit himself as the speakers and power amps are pushed to the extreme? This is the stuff of sounds guy nightmares. Heavy, brutal and literally destructive. Nice layout again from Lighten Up Sounds. I am going to keep my eye on this label. I like the way they work.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Dysmal Abyss "born to be born again"

Dysmal Abyss
born to be born again
Lighten Up Sounds

So when I first put this in I was not into it. I wasn't into the playing, the audio quality or even the sounds. I thought it sounded a bit amateur. It sat in my pile for a few more days until i was ready to listen to the whole thing for a real review. So when I revisited this I was surprised if not a bit confused. It was definitely the same band but I found it way more enjoyable. I had to double check and make sure it was the same cassette. All of a sudden it stopped sounding amateur and sounded beautifully raw. I started to really hear the players working off each other. the audio sounds like it was recorded on a four track in a small old basement but it has so much dirt, grime and ultimately soul to it. The playing is loose but concise. I was pretty pleased. To be honest I did find out that throughout the six tracks there were some rough patches. A few moments where the cacophony became… well… just noise. Not always in a good way. With that said I think that there is a mountain of potential for these players and this cassette is well worth checking out. The packaging is very nice; right up my alley really. Handmade and it looks it but it's got screened covers and a small booklet included inside. This is from an edition of 100 copies and the label should still have a few laying around. If you are feel like really committing you should pick up the 12" lathe cut version of this cassette from the label. Limited to 30 copies and totally affordable.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Dried Up Corpse "Death March"

Dried Up Corpse
death march
Prairie Fire Tapes

Brutal. Of course. First track sounds like the largest dump truck in the world is full of everyone's bones and slowly is dumping them out into the center of an abandoned city square. The second track starts out with what sounds like dive bombers crashing into that city before it falls into a full on HNW then tapers off into the some fucked scraping sounds. Death March actually has quite a bit of dynamics. Simple, grim artwork lends itself well to this release. An edition of only 35 copies is a bummer for some so I was very appreciative to receive one. Prairie FIre is label to watch.

Amort "s/t"

Orobas Records

Heavy guitars and vocals from this Seattle recluse. I am completely enthralled with this work as it skirts the line between drone and crust in a way that is usually reserved for Corrupted. Moments of dark electronics and grim samples about god, evil and death break up the moments of furious death growls and very confident guitars both clean and distorted. The recording is great; the guitars sound super thick and dirty and the vocals are genuinely scary. Limited to 100 numbered copies and probably all gone but I would hit up discogs or ebay and see if you can still grab one. Very much worth it.

Quick lame update.

So in the midst of switching computers about 36 reviews and photos got lost. Forever. It's not a big deal because I have so many new releases to review from new labels and those will start showing up this week but it's a bummer because I had a lot of work ready to go. My New Year's resolution is to back up my shit.