Friday, February 17, 2017

Seamstress—Concentric Memoir cs

Concentric Memoir
Skin Trade Recordings

Nice. This is someone after my own heart. The music is just wonderful on here. Beauty and anxiety. The two constants in my life. I am very much into this album. The layout, which I’m going to dive right into, fits the music perfectly. The music itself contains lots of layers and develops depth. There is actually some sampled reading on here and it works remarkably well. The layout is printed on layers of transparent vellum card stock which creates depth within the case. It’s a beautiful package. I think you should all start looking into Seamstress. 

Last—Appropriate Modes & Zones cs

Appropriate Modes & Zones
Skin Trade Recordings

Nice heavy fuzzed out drone. This reminds me a lot of some of the great Hanson Tapes I have. It’s aggressive in its unique lo-fi recording but there is still a substantial amount of low end in this. The buzzing is actually really assertive on this but I find it strangely comforting. Like a slow brain massage… Imagine a well produced Tecumseh demo with a bit more “speed”. Boy, this isn’t going to make sense unless you hear it…

The layout is nice and simple. i’d have liked to have the quote on the cover to be at least a point size larger (see Ex-Breathers review below) but it’s a solid layout with good imagery. Probably my least favorite of all the Skin Trade Recordings layouts so far but it is still good. Still better than most. 

Monogamy—Semi-floral 7"

Almost Halloween Time, Citizen of the World, Side Wound Worship

You want to know what is weird? This is really weird. Like super, crazy, space pants strange. I am sitting here trying to figure out how to describe this… Maybe like a dark bedroom pop, psychedelic-infused marriage of Jonathan Richman, Calvin Johnson and Ariel Pink with a sort of enthusiasm that makes you want to run into house parties and hug every single drunk teenager and tell them it’s going to be okay. They will be glad you did but they also think you are a weird old creep and that’s okay. Because I am… I mean…because you are. 

The cover is a little underwhelming but I am still transfixed by how they printed it. It sort of looks like it was screen printed using watercolors. The best part is that there is a little zine inside that has collages, band photos and the lyrics, which are also great. You can find this out there and if any of this sounds interesting I would say you should check it out. It’s killer and bizarre. 

Witches of Malibu—New Sounds in Afro Industrial Music vol. 1 cs

Witches of Malibu
New Sounds in Afro Industrial Music vol. 1
Skin Trade Recordings

This sounds as rad as that title is. That’s also the best way I could describe the sound… I don’t know. I think you should find this right away. Check out these song titles if you need more incentive:

Secret Drums/Road to Be
War Dance Song
War is Coming
Thunder Stone Drum
The Chain Horn

Any of these song titles make me want to listen to this. Thankfully I get to, all the time. 

Seamstress—Euphrates cs

Skin Trade Recordings

I was all set to say that this was too long. Dammit. It’s totally not. 

It’s also really good. 

This project and label are really impressing me. The sounds, the recordings, the packaging… It’s all making game want to make more of my own stuff… nuts. I gotta thank these people for lighting this fire in me again. This is great. Find it. You won’t regret it. 

Gokkun—Love Hits ’09 cs

Love Hits ’09

I hate when it takes me forever to review something good. Just knowing it was sitting in this giant pile being awesome and I was probably listening to Taylor Swift or something, pretending it was for my daughter’s enjoyment. Anyhow, this is rad pedal-hoping power electronics form someone who clearly knows their way around their equipment. It’s brutal and swirling but also has a focus that implies that this person really gives a shit about the noise you are about to hear. 

The tape it’s is really nice. The layout and type are handled wonderfully and I was surprised and delighted to see that my friend Foie had taken the pictures for this. That kind of made me like it all the more. Regardless this whole thing is a great release. Excellent. 

Blvck Ceiling—Void cs

Blvck Ceiling
I Had an Accident Records

I am not sure I am qualified to review this. I will say that I was definitely not expecting it but I have no idea what genre to call this. Sort of noisy electronic music, a little hip hop, a little straight up power electronics and a little bit trip hop… I don’t know but it’s pretty killer. I feel like those dudes on AntiCon have been dying to make a record like this for years and never quite got there. It’s impressive and massive. It never sits in the same groove for too long and wears a lot of different hats as far as genres are concerned. I don’t know but I am intrigued. 

The layout is super simple and works pretty well now that I have heard the music. It’s total juxtaposition. Sadly they did this nice job on the outside and left the inside blank which I feel was a mistake. With all the black and a title of a record called “Void” I think if they just had a nice black flood printed on the inside it would have been striking. Now it just sort of looks like the cassette was a throwaway. Sometimes blank white on the inside doesn’t bother me but on a record like this kinda needs a bit more care. 

Thursday, February 16, 2017

German Army—Kurgan Hearth cs

German Army
Kurgan Hearth

Fuck. German Army is back at it with another full length in my mailbox in less than 2 weeks. I figured they were done or even exhausted by the huge amount of stuff they released over the last few years but apparently that was not at all the case. This is another excellent record full of pure hypnotism. The loops act almost like that lock groove at the end of the record that you let go for days and days just to see if you loose your mind. Which you do. And it’s great. Their taste level is on full display with knowing how long a track should be and how deep they should dive into each loop and sample. This one has some almost world music moments and I am all about this. Good luck finding this tape. It’s from a Portugal label so it’s probably difficult to find in the states. So worth it though.

I'm sort of looking forward towards a mediocre GA album. I am probably starting to sound like their proud parent or mesmerized boyfriend...

The layout is great and the art fits perfectly with the music. Awesome. I don’t love the words of the band and album title being upside down on the spine but I don’t really care too much about that. Also I should note that I wasn’t totally sure if this was a split or if Kurgan Hearth was the album title due to the lack of typographical hierarchy but I pretty much knew what to expect with GA. Great album. 

Aidan Baker & Lärmschultz—Hetrotic ISMS Vol. 4 cs

Aidan Baker & Lärmschultz
Hetrotic ISMS Vol. 4
Landanimal Tapes

I know nothing of this label either but this is a fantastic release… kinda revitalizing in a way. I have always been a fan of Aidan Baker’s bands and his solo work so I was stoked to see this collaboration. I was definitely not disappointed in this one. Guitars, drums, synths make for a moving, swirling experience that kind of breathes a bit of new life into what can sometimes be a too self-referential genre. Drone I mean. The definition is kind of widening a bit and while this doesn’t completely turn it on it’s head it sort of pushes the boundaries. The sounds are small yet the note combinations are much more complicated than you might be used to. The rhythms are constant but they go from sounding like drums to just tones and back again seamlessly. It’s certainly something to get lost in.

The packaging is a simple j-card but the layout is exceptional. Great work. I am going to now look for volume 1–3. 

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Actuary/Seamstress —split cs

split cs
Skin Trade Recordings

So there is a whole new label you need to check out. Skin Trade Recordings. I just got a huge box of stuff from this group and it’s all killer. I will have a few new ones up over the coming days/weeks as I sit with them more but this is fantastic. The first one I dove into was this Acutary/Seamstress split. Now we all know that Actuary rules so I barely need to talk about this but it’s great. Harsh as fuck and spooky to boot. I haven’t met an Actuary track that hasn’t wigged me out a bit. I keep typing Actuary as ACtuary. It makes me think that they should do a tribute to Anal Cunt and call it A.C.tuary… Have they done this already? Is this like the time I thought i had invented Twitter a year after it had existed?
Seamstress is brand new to me. Maybe to you too but here is the scoop. At least on this first listen for me this is a bit of a crashing, piercing guitar-born noise (I think it’s guitar. The frequencies seem like it’s being created with a guitar). There is no note here though. Do not confuse this with music. This is better. It’s visceral and immediate and happening right now when you listen to it. It’s good. I like Seamstress. 

All of the Skin Trade releases look great. It is another label that is able to get really nice packaging without spending a ton of money. I love this. It’s so easy to make a release of 100 tapes look good but still print it at a Kinkos for $20. Good typography (there are a couple strange tracking/kerning choices on this but I kinda like it for some reason), decent art and a taste level to handle it all will carry you a long way. Kudos to STR (their name gets a bit long to type over an over. Although I could have typed it one more time in less time it would have taken to type my explanation of why I didn’t type the entire name out. Or of this explanation. Or this. Or this. Or this…)

Mascara—Budapest/Chicago cs

Centipede Farm Tapes

Right on. This is pretty rad bedroom industrial mixed with some drones. Sometimes it sort of just washed over me but most of the time there would be some strange rhythmic moment that would really capture my attention. Once my attention was captured the occasional vocal would then legit terrify me. There are some samples and I’m always a little meh about those but it works. It’s a killer piece from a group I don’t think I have ever heard of. 
The tape itself looks pretty good. I like the art but it’s very subtle. The type is kind of throwaway but it’s not bad at all. All in all it’s pretty good. 

The Volume Settings Folder—A Path left, A Step Right cs

The Volume Settings Folder
A Path left, A Step Right
Static Reason Recordings

Seriously. This is good. Field recordings mixed with thoughtful and creepy drones. This is a pretty great example of those two things combined well. Creepy may not be the best descriptor but I think the natural, real-world reverb that comes from the field recordings provides a sort of story to each track. You hear something is happening, has happened and now you are just getting a fragment from that happening… Good work. 

It looks fine. The type is handled fine and the art is fitting. I kinda wish there was something going on inside but honestly I constantly leave the inside of J cards blank so it would be pretty hypocritical wo call them out for this. It’s good. 

Pursed—No Plot cs

No Plot

So at first glance I assumed this was going to be some insane power electronics thing. It sort of has the creepy gray on black dark intensity of a HNW explosion but surprisingly it is not that at all. This is actually more in line with German Army or something of their ilk. Lots of noisy loops along sith sampled drums and a nice repetitive melody sort of moving the songs. It is still dark, certainly darker than German Army, but it also feels more upbeat than something that might present as this dark. I am clearly doing a poor job of describing this but I really dig this. I should also say that the layout and art are fantastic and the simple type treatment, while not perfect, is very effecting. This is really nice throughout. 

Tölva—Mánudaga cs


Lovely synth-scapes from Iceland’s Tölva. I had never hear do this but it’s pretty wonderful. It’s maybe the most positive sounding music I think I have ever enjoyed. It sort of moves slowly back and forth with a sense of optimism that I wasn’t expecting. Apparently these tracks were made with some fascinating synth contraption that was sadly stolen just before this album was to be recorded so they used bits and pieces that had been recorded to compile this. It sounds great and it’s really well thought out. I’d be curious to see this live, assuming that the synth machine thing has been rebuilt. IF you get a chance please let me know what you think. 

It looks pretty cool. Simple, clean, northern design that goes great with an Icelandic release. I dig it. Nice.

Caramel Ship—Marjoram cs

Caramel Ship
self released

I really wanted to like this. It looks pretty cool and has these killer illustrations on it. Plus it came with adorable stickers and a tiny comic. That said I am am just not into this twee sort of electro pop. I am sure to those that are into this genre this tape would be amazing because it sounds good and feels genuine but to me I think I need to listen to Buyer’s Market after this as a palate cleanser. Check out their bandcamp page and see what you think. Again, it’s well done and looks killer but…

Time—s/t cs

Illuminated Paths

Not really my thing. It sounds like a more synth-pop version of Sisters of Mercy with Kate Pierson singing a duet constantly… There really isn’t any song I can hear. It’s just kind of synth-salad with two people singing over the whole thing. Without much of a break. I’m not sure how serious this is supposed to be. 

It looks fine. The cover is nice but the logo is kinda of silly and the type throughout is pretty rough. It’s this script font with a bit of radiance put on it to make it look like it’s glowing. I think there could have been a lot more work throughout the whole release. 

Ice Orgy—III cs

Ice Orgy

Another gorgeous release from Ice Orgy. First of all the music is excellent. Basically the soundtrack to my current anxiety attack that I have been experiencing for the past 48 hours. I am not kidding. I am falling apart. Hooray! The first side is this building and rhythmic drone type piece that completely works on every level. The second side reminds me a bit of some of the more experimental Mt. Eerie stuff (I am totally, mostly thinking this because of what I am about to mention). It’s got drum machines and loops that degrade into a tense, yet beautiful drone.. You should hear this. I love this project. I respect how few releases they do but I do wish there was a higher output coming from them. Maybe now that they have relocated to Port Angeles, WA from Brooklyn, NY (definitely a step up, and I love Brooklyn) we will get more from this project. Maybe even a show or two. 

The packaging is wonderful. Linoblock carved elements along with letterpressed o-cards and j-cards. They said something in a note about how the printing wasn’t as nice as they wanted and I think for the paper chosen this is an excellent print job. The paper feels like French paper which has a shitload of sizing in it. That makes getting an impression without damaging your type pretty difficult. The ink layers seem good and the choices all work well for me. I say bravo! I also would like to take this moment to ask the French Paper Company to create a line of papers designed for letterpress. They have a 140lb paper they say is good for letterpress but it’s really not. It’s fine but I am hoping for the texture and feels of BFK Rives or Savoy Reich but with the colors selection of French. I know that is super difficult, almost impossible, but you should do it anyway. 

Shining Sex/She Walks Crooked—split cs

Shining Sex & She Walks Crooked
split cs
Petite Soles

I think i have made my opinions on the whole harsh noise meets devious sex/misogyny thing pretty clear. I get that it is a bit ironic and satirical but it is also a bit tired. Regardless though this is great. I think any quality HNW is pretty much peaches with me and both of these acts are really fucking good at it. I am glad to have heard this and I definitely recommend checking it out. 

The art and song titles fall into that whole “watch out! I make girls nervous with the juxtaposition of black and white photos that have boobs in them and the intensity of my sounds!” thing, but it looks nice. The photos are well printed and do a good job of being unsettling. The type is simple and well handled and you know how much of a big deal that is for me. Nice job printing heavy black on an interesting colored card stock instead of just plain white. For something so simple you can really see that this release had some thought and care put into it. Good label. Good quality. 

Lord Time—Mandatory Human Livestock Reduction cs

Lord Time
Mandatory Human Livestock Reduction
Universal Consciousness

I am a huge fan of Lord Time and I knew I would probably be pretty into this. Not surprisingly I was. This actually really kills more than I thought it might though. The sounds on this are just perfect and the music is getting even better than it had in the past. Just enough growl to compliment the piercing aspects of this noise-ladened bedroom black metal. It’s also moving towards a more heavier blackened-thrash I would say but what do I know? Regardless it rules and it has a picture of some pretty brutal kitty cats walking down the street. 

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

German Army—Te Ano cs

German Army
Te Ano
Opal Tapes

How excited was I to get a new German Army cassette in my mailbox the other day? Holy shit I have missed these. Most readers here will know that I gush over German Army a lot and I am probably not going to stop today. It was exactly what I needed. This is a full length album of 12 tracks that show exactly the kind of work German Army is known for (there is a couple tracks that I think had been on something before but I could be wrong. I feel like i recognize a couple here though). For those that aren’t familiar I will say that GA sort of pick up where Coil left off but also do something that is in no way a throwback. This exists entirely in its own world. Loops, samples, noise, texture and excellent taste dictate what you will hear on any GA release and I have yet to be disappointed. I doubt you will either. 

The design is clean and simple but with a small collection of images that when viewed together seem to give you the beginnings of a narrative that you are not privy to. Looks great. Sounds great. Is great. 

Murmur Ring/A Death Cinematic—split cs

Murmur Ring/A Death Cinematic
split cs
Gewih Ritual/Simple Box Construction

This thing is a masterpiece. I almost don’t know what to say exactly. First of all it’s beautiful. I’ll just start there. Transparent vellum, screen printing and die cutting make this understated cassette look utterly amazing. I think once you get one of these in your hands you will understand that. I have always loved Simple Box Construction’s work and this is no exception. Musically it is just beautiful. It’s like a memory of the first time you saw your mother played through the filter of your many years. There is a subtle tragedy to the whole thing but it’s beauty cannot denied. I am just so in love with this. I hope you will be too. 

Various Artists—WCCZ comp cs

WCCZ (West Coast Cum Zardinia compilation)
Tingo Tongo Tapes

So at first I thought this was one project and I was shocked at how diverse this was. Then I actually looked at the J card. I feel dumb but this is a huge compilation of amazing experimental west coast (just California and Oregon) projects of all types. You have some loft drone, some orchestral cacophonies, some straight up noise, some more snazzy instrumental weirdness in the vein of Lightning Bolt or early Black Dice… There is a lot of different approaches to the kind of shit that I just love. I have always loved comps because I feel like they really help in building and bridging scenes. I really hope that each of these projects have these on their merch tables and are spreading this around because we could use more of this. Especially on this coast where touring can be difficult with lots of long drives… You know what someone should do? Someone should get a booking collective on the west coast for stuff like this. Say you want to head from Bellingham to San Diego in a week. There should be a place you can email your info to and they will book you a show a day with minimal driving but instead of this being some disconnected booking agent this would be a group of people who actually do this stuff, are will to play as well when you hit Seattle, Chico, Bakersfield… wherever… and they don’t do it for money but to support all of us because when we are all supported as a group we are supported as individuals. Hmmm… I would be happy to do it in Seattle or at least help as much as possible. See! See how inspiring comps can be. 

I would say that as great as the outside of this tape looks the inside is basically illegible. That’s a bit of a bummer. Oh well. Still an excellent release! Thanks guys.

Here is a list of every act on this cassette:

Swump Thangs (CA), 13 Fires (Los Angeles, CA), Whereas (Los Angeles, CA), Existence Habit (Astoria, OR), Elegant Humanoid (Arcata, CA), Captain Captain (Arcata, CA), Divine Brick (Los Angeles, CA), Present (Los Angeles, CA), and Failings (Portland, OR)

Teeth Gnashers—Queer Tales cs

Teeth Gnashers
Queer Tales
Tingo Tongo Tapes

Huh… So this is kinda knucklehead blackened punk/hardcore that kinda works for me but I’m not sure why. I think the recording has a lot to do with it. It sounds like it was mashed together by setting up four or five boomboxes near all the amps and drums while a singer shouted, with an english accent, into another boombox. Then all the tapes were placed into a mixer, everything was turned up to 11 and then they put it on tapes for you. It has this sort of late 70’s metal vibe but there is something else happening here… something strange… and I just can’t stop listening… I think I actually love this… bizarre.

It looks like it sounds. Filthy and great. The skull on the cover is kinda funny but also spooky in that way that your best friend’s older brother was spooky when you stayed at his house in the 80’s. It’ pretty fucking legit. 

Monday, February 6, 2017

Rjyan Kidwell—Certainty/Identity cs

Rjyan Kidwell
Automation Records

This is fucking killer. Damn. Beautiful and intense electronic music that seems very much like it could be a score or soundtrack to the best movie of 2020. It’s so forward thinking and bold that I can’t imagine anyone not appreciating this. I am floored and humbled by the taste level of the person that put this together. It is never pretentious but is still is always somehow a few steps ahead of the listener. Really amazing work. I kinda want to try my hand at describing this but I think you will just have to hear it yourself. Check out the band camp page here and then immediately buy the tape. 

The tape itself is understated but still beautiful and thoughtfully done, even with absolutely not text at all. A better compliment for the album. This is living on my bookshelf forever.