Sunday, December 19, 2010

Stephen O'Malley "petite geante"

Stephen O'Malley
petite geante

It seems these days that Steve gets a lot of flak just for existing. I guess backlashes are normal when someone reaches some pretty high levels of success but i don't feel it's very warranted. Between what he has done aurally with KTL, SUNN 0))), Aethenor and Gravetemple and visually with his graphic design, I think he deserves his success. I am sure not every piece of work he has ever done or will do will be amazing but so far he has a pretty excellent record. This particular release was part of some art installation in Norway I guess. That already sets off the pretentious alarms but this piece is great. Restrained and elegant guitar, synth and effects create a wonderful audio landscape. It doesn't really grab you so much as wash over you. Definitely designed to be accompaniment to something else. I recommend trying to find a copy if you can. They have been sold out at the label but i have seen a few copies for cheap here and there. Edition of 350 copies with fantastic artwork by savage pencil on the wonderful Tapeworm label.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Sutekh Hexen "constellation"

Sutekh Hexen
Fragment Factory

Fuck yes! This is killer. Really beautiful and harsh. Super heavy distorted HNW accompanied by some gorgeous sounding vocals. Super black. I usually get bummed out when I get a C10, as I like a little more chaos than that, but this is perfect. It hits hard and is done. Thank whatever God made this unholy black offering possible. Probably that ancient babylonian serpent god that Alan Moore worships. It's fucking great. Sutekh Hexen is my new favorite thing. Limited to 50 copies with excellent artwork. This is going to be huge.

Moloch "feast of tentacles"

Feast of Tentacles

Eh. Not bad. Not great. My friend told me "they sound like hardcore kids trying to be Eyehategod". He was dead on. They don't quite get what they are emulating and they can't quite shake the hardcore approach to songs. You can't just tune down, slow down and becoming drug addicted jerks and suddenly be Eyehategod. Only Cavity was ever able to do that. I have no idea if these guys are jerks. They are probably totally killer dudes and probably still don't do any real drugs but I can't tell. All I have to go on is this release. It's not bad. I want to reiterate that. It has a ton of potential but i think they need to to really reevaluate their approach to song writing. The tape is made up of a few demo tracks, a 10" and a comp song. Nothing new but not a bad sampling.

Near the end I was wondering why the hell they were using that sample of Rod Serling talking about concentration camps like i have heard on a record recently. I couldn't quite place it but i knew it like the back of my hand. Then it hit me. The sample is a cover or part of a cover. Then they go into a super slowed down version of Rorschach's "Lightning Strikes Twice". And it's totally awesome.
The layout is pretty cool. Simple and a bit uninspired but it looks nice. There is a tiny booklet of pictures of suicides insides. That's nice.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Dead Letters Spell Out Dead Words "no words"

Dead Letters Spell Out Dead Words
no words
Land of Decay

Dead Letters Spell Out Dead Words was brand new to me when I heard this cassette. Turns out the project is not new and the tape has been out for awhile as well. I gotta say that it's pretty damn good. Beautiful and building drones swirl and merge in a large empty room. Structured compositions with a more than just your typical melancholy feel really effect you on a deeply troubled level. I was surprised as I was expecting something a bit more grim from Land of Decay; home to Chicago doom-bringers, Locrian. If you read up on the human being behind DLSODW, Thomas Ekelund, you will read some pretty over the top stuff about his being crazy and needing to make this kind of music to keep him from eating kids or something but, to be honest, i hear it. An almost palpable amount of desperation and fear is present throughout this release. The descriptions you may read on his facebook page may sound as if David Tibet wrote them while doing a David Tibet impression but i would totally give this a listen. It's pretty spectacular, I just hope you aren't allergic to hyperbole.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Helena Espvall & Marcia Bassett "lapidary"

Helena Espvall & Marcia Bassett
Heavy Blossom

This tape sounds like lullabies for glaciers. Super delicate and dense, consisting of Helena Espvall (Ghost, Espers) playing cello and Marcia Bassett (Zaimph, Zaika...) playing guitar. The music sounds so far away and private you feel like you may have wandered into the halls of an old church, searching for the source of this haunting music but never finding them. Long sweeping drones carry the guitar's accents a long way. I recommend this quite a bit. I only wish the audio was a bit more clear. I want to be able to sit on the floor of the Chapel and drift away with the music.

Hell "II"

Logos Absorb

I first thought that Hell may win for the lamest name in doom metal. I was prepared to be totally unimpressed with their music. I thought the layout was kinda sad and the song titles kinda silly. I was totally against this. That is probably why i think it rules so hard now that i have heard it. This is really fucking great. Super heavy and unique doom. Epic song compositions that move in totally unexpected ways. Really inspiring guitar playing and excellent drumming. The vocals are crushing and a few minutes into the first track i heard a scream that all but destroyed my earliest memory of how rad i thought the first scream on "Angel of Death" was when I was in junior high. This is a complicated set of songs. Really well played and pretty intimidating. Hell has totally won a fan. I am excited to see what they are doing next. I guess a west coast tour and a 12" of their first cassette which i missed. I don't know if these tapes are still around but you should track them down on myspace. Hell yeah.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Wolf Eyes "i'm a problem one & two"

Wolf Eyes
i'm a problem one
American Tapes

Hmmm. I am kinda a sucker for anything these guys do. I appreciate how much these guys try to move the air with a constant flow of releases. Of course not unlike spaghetti flung at a wall not all of it sticks. I'm a problem one is first an foremost very difficult to remove from it's slipcase. They obviously folded to cardboard around the cassette and then added the sticker. Tight. It took the fibers of the paper actually expanding to remove the cassette. I have listened to it quite a few times now and i think my biggest problem with the audio is that all the sound is almost totally in the right speaker. You hear cool horns and synths and some tape effects but almost all of it appears in one ear. I know some people dig this kind of thing and find the inaccessibility of what is already inaccessible charming, but i do not. I know Wolf Eyes to play some of the most effective noise in the whole of noisedom but this is pretty weak. Limited to 30 copies and covered in a wonderful collage.

Wolf Eyes
i'm a problem two
American Tapes

Since this was a companion to the above I figured I should do them at the same time. I did want to review them separately though. Unlike i'm a problem one, the sounds on this are pretty great. Since a lot of the sounds take place in the left speaker I am assuming you are to play them at the same time but i am unable to do that. Again with the inaccessibility thing. It's almost like you need to be a hoarder of boom boxes to enjoy these two releases. Let's find out. I will import both of these into my computer, combine them and get back to you right.... .... Hmmm. well, I have to admit that they do sound better together. I think that is more due to sound coming out of both speakers though. I don't find a lot of cohesion between these two tracks. The spaghetti analogy is coming to mind again. I would recommend if you have these that you should give this a try though. You may enjoy it more than I did. Still limited to 30 and still looking beautiful.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Sixes "demo"

self released

Um. I thought I was going to hear some excellent HNW from our favorite Oakland lunatic. I thought it was interesting that I had never heard of this tape so i popped it in and hit play...
So, turns out that this is a different Sixes. This is a hardcore band that sounds like End on End or maybe even Undertow or early Unbroken. Not what I was expecting. I think if I had heard this in 1992 I would have been pretty stoked but I just don't dig this nowadays. It seems contrived and a little patronizing. Lines like "why don't you think?!" just seem ironic. They seem to have the best intentions but it's just hard to get past what seems like "make believe". Dressing all hardcore and playing 90's HXC now is the same thing as dressing like you are the missing member of The Rolling Stones and playing 60's rock. I mean go nuts, have a great time but you do realize you are living in your costumes right? I know to a lot of my friends this is still the shit but to me this is like finding a time capsule full of my old report cards and pictures of me with a full head of hair; a bit of a bummer.

Dispirit "rehearsal at Oboroten"

rehearsal at Oboroten
self released

Yes. Awesome black metal from ex-Weakling. Arguably, Weakling was the best American black metal band and the most influential. Wolves in the Throne Room would still be awful if it wasn't for Weakling's influence on their sound and song writing. The songs on this cassette are epic. So long and intricate and all played live at a rehearsal. It's insane. Played basically flawlessly in the way all rock records used to be recorded before the days of pro tools and punching in every alternate picking flub (although, this may have had "punch ins" or have been recorded on pro tools at their rehearsal but i have decided to believe otherwise). It's impressive as far as it's playing and song writing is concerned. For those of us that know Weakling's "Dead as Dreams" as the masterpiece it is, this demo is an excellent preview of things to come. I hope.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

House of Low Culture "hollywood squalls"

House of Low Culture
hollywood squalls
Hydrahead Records

Aaron Turner has put his name on many albums over the years. From Isis to Lotus Eaters, Mamiffer to House of Low Culture. House of Low Culture (or HOLC) is essentially Aaron's solo work (though not exclusively) and is arguably the most interesting and varied. Some earlier releases focused on electronic influences and noise while some of the later ones moved into drone and abstract soundscapes. Although HOLC has released few things, they are all insights into Aaron as an artist and what moves him. This cassette captures HOLC live. I have had the pleasure of seeing him perform a couple times live and it was always inspiring. What i saw was very disciplined and minimal, and focused on almost the least you can do with a guitar and still get an emotional resonance with your audience. The live performance on this cassette is a bit different from what I had experienced. "Hollywood Squall" begins by making use of looping ebows on guitars that very slowly build and build. Delays and loops alter the guitars into what becomes an almost palpable amount of anxiety. Once the swirling guitars start to sound as if they cannot build anymore, vocals come in and destroy everything. The intensity never seems to let up and you can constantly hear deep and harsh vocals amongst the maelstrom. Suddenly everything drops but some deranged breaths. It's pretty fucked up and that's just the first piece. The second track, "Hollywood Lull" takes you in a whole other direction but you are going to have to hear it for yourself. I am not sure if this is still available but i bet this will find it's way to be released again in another format (I suggest Peter King lathe cuts with a similar layout, but that is just me). Limited to 50 copies with random found "j cards" and a photocopied obi strip full of info. Let's hope Aaron and Hydrahead keep up with the cassettes.

Damion Romero "missing link"

Damion Romero
missing link
Hanson Records

I obviously listen to a lot of Hanson releases. I find they are usually a safe bet and totally worth your money and time. This release is no exception. Damion Romero makes you feel something. Something dead, bleak and full of doom. This is like the H.P. Lovecraft of music. You feel almost cold when you put this on, as if something is leaning just over your shoulder and hoping you will turn and look it in it's eyes so it can consume just a little bit of your soul. It feels like the sounds coming out of your tape deck may conjure something that you cannot handle. It feels dangerous. This cassette could easily be endless and I would be pleased. I love this level of darkness. The cover artwork is perfect.

At Jennie Richie/Plethora split

At Jennie Richie/Plethora
Readymade Tapes

At Jennie Richie is such a strange enigma. Supposedly French but somehow also from Ballard, Wa (where i am from). No one truly knows where they are from and if you go see them live chances are someone with no knowledge of them will just play a cassette tape through a PA and they will be nowhere near the venue. It's off putting to say the least but the output is fantastic. Almost everything with the name At Jennie Richie is great. This track is no exception. Faraway drones with uncomfortably close static makes a beautiful landscape. The Plethora track starts with clanging and moaning that is pretty fucked. It sounds like someone is dreaming about turning inside out. Pretty fucking great. I am sure it's limited but i have no idea how small the edition is. Good luck.

Update: I have heard from Happiness (one half of At Jennie Richie) and I now know the lineage of both Happiness and Forever. I will say that one half is French and on half is Californian. So there you are. Apparently this cassette was from an edition of 15. Which is nuts for something so good. Check out some cdr releases and see if these tracks reappear. They are quite good.

Anakrid "ceaselessly out of a cloudless sky"

ceaselessly out of a cloudless sky
Black Horizons

I am sure you are well aware of Anakrid or at least you should be. This cassette seems almost like it could be outtakes from their brilliant "Rapture of the Deep" lp. Beautiful and swelling drones mixed with absolute junk chaos. Side A is a distant and alien wave of delays and vocal effects. Extremely beautiful at times and hauntingly creepy at others. It sounds like horns and hammers. Sibe B starts with what sounds like gremlins deconstructing a warehouse full of musical instruments and building materials. Very creepy actually. As usual, the layout for this cassette is fantastic. James Livingston, who runs Black Horizons, is a very talented and creative designer. His whole catalog of releases could be framed and shown as art in themselves. Lucky for us his packagings are full of such killer music.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Skin Graft/Dim Dusk Moving Gloom

Skin Graft/Dim Dusk Moving Gloom

This starts out incredible. Right away, on Dim Dusk Moving Gloom's side, you are hit by fast paced textures that slowly reveal some gorgeous synth sounds. It sounds like the mormon tabernacle choir is being torn apart by hundreds of little imps. Gorgeous. This is the stuff of HNW dreams. Very beautiful and dark at the same time. This is noise you could fuck to. The A side just keeps swelling and building. Miniature explosions, howls and synths piercing until it finally turns completely into a piece of harsh destruction. Dim Dusk Moving Gloom does an excellent job creating a mood and then totally fucking it up. Destroyed choirs sing their praises.
With Skin Graft you immediately you get a harsh, grinding synth tone. Like Emaciator's style of "Grim Synth" (trying to make that stick) but something all their own. Just at the point that the looping patterns start to make you kinda sick to the stomach it starts pummeling you with some brutal jabs of feedback. This sounds likes bleeding to death in a locust swarm. It's grim and it's fucking mother's milk to me. I have played this about ten times since i received it and I plan on wearing this one out. Rainbow Bridge has done it again. I really recommend this label. They also sent a long a few cdrs which i don't generally review but i will tell you that by the half dozen things i have heard from this Baltimore label, you can't really go wrong with anything.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Al Qaeda/Dried Up Corpse "1309"

Al Qaeda/Dried Up Corpse

I hadn't heard of this label until i picked up this release. They skirt the line between hand made and professional in a way that makes me completely envious. Double sided full color covers designed by the great Kevin Yuen and spraypainted cassettes with gold stamps marking the sides. It's strange that they have flown beneath the radar with me and this is their fortieth release. I blame myself and the saturation of noise labels on the internet. The sounds on both sides are excellent. Al Qaeda's track "fucked", starts with an almost meditative feel. Slow chimes and distant sorrowful vocals along with a comforting yet still crushing wave of distortion. It has a feel of a transmission received from a dying spacecraft. One of my favorite recent works by Scott Miller and company. Dried Up Corpse's track, also titled "fucked", is completely unrelenting wall of pure audio hell. It sounds as if it was going on a long time before you hit play and will continue for a long time afterwards. Stan Reed (Blue Sabbath Black Cheer, Broken Penis Orchestra, Nurse with Wound) constantly delivers a full on assault every time I hear him and it never disappoints. Highly recommended.

Dead Congregation "graves of the archangels"

Dead Congregation
graves of the archangels
Nuclear Winter Records

fuck. this is death metal. i actually know very little about death metal unless it happened in the years 1993-1995. i do know i like this. excellent nonsensical lyrics like "I deflower the immaculate whore" (?) and "Prolific entities vegetating–longing for the revival of our father Satan." awesome. just awesome. some serious constant double bass and heavy riffs peppered with just enough pinch harmonics. you will not regret listening to this.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Jason Schuler + Husk Records

Jason Schuler
Husk Records

Really interesting compositions on both sides of this cassette by Jason Schuler. This is my first exposure to him apart from his other project, Cadaver in Drag, but I am definitely intrigued by what I hear. Horror movie soundtracks and really controlled bits of chaos come to mind when I heard the first side. It has a very bedroom/low fi noise kinda sound throughout. No over the top cathedral halls of reverb on the creepy stuff and no sudden, in-your-face-dry-HNW as you tend to heard these days. This seems very personal. The second track is based in a lot of guitar work. It starts out pretty noisy and heavy and then starts to degrade in a very interesting way but then as it gets near the end it falls apart a little. There is some production issues that I wish had not surfaced and the meandering playing can be nice but with the amount of restraint that was shown on the first track I kinda expected a little more at the end of this tape. All in all it was a good release from a very strong label. Husk is one to keep your eyes on. Simple and tasteful 3 panel full color jcard. Limited to 50. Nice work.

On a side note i have to encourage you to check out Husk's blog right now. I don't review vinyl normally and i don't own this so i can't tell you what it sounds like, but i love the looks of these 7 Josh Lay/Teeth Collection lp + cdrs. I am a big fan of both projects so I am sure the audio is killer but i had to spread the word about these. Too fuckin cool.

Ash Pool "for which he plies the trash"

Ash Pool
for which he plies the trash
Hospital Productions

Hmmm. I am torn. Half of me loves this and half of me really hates this. Ash Pool play very competent and interesting black metal songs. They also pepper some of these songs with riffs that sound stolen straight from Flogging Molly. That stuff sticks out like a sore thumb among all the heavy excellent playing on this record. I don't mean to exaggerate because it isn't all over it but not unlike cat shit on your hand even a tiny bit sorta ruins your day. The playing is great, the production is fucking perfect for the sound they are going for. Overdriven guitars totally fuzzed out but with enough tonal dynamics to set each guitar apart from the other. You can even hear some killer bass lines along with the great drumming. I have no complaints about the vocals mostly except for some really unimpressive "real" singing. When they really sing it sounds like Godsmack junior vocals. When they scream though it puts even Cattle Decapitation to shame. The layout is fantastic and the large percentage of these songs are really great. It's kind of a shame because if they just did a little editing this could be an essential black metal record but even after listening to every really good track, i still can't get the stink off my hand.

Mark McGuire "misunderstandings"

Mark McGuire
Deception Island

Ever since Emeralds' "Does It Look Like I'm Here?" came out I have been obsessed with everyone involved. Now that the world has seen them open for the often mediocre Caribou and everyone under the sun is hyping their record, i feared that the output was going to slow or that cool little releases like these may dry up but that hasn't happened. I was very stoked to put this cassette into my deck and was totally not disappointed by what was heard. Really beautiful synthesized electric guitar made into beautiful loops and swells. Long intricate drones, strange sounds of gurgling water and what sounds a church's old pipe organ are all made with Mark's guitar work. Really impressive. The label is no slouch either. The best approach to design i have seen for poly cases since the Daniel Johnston cassettes. I am very pleased. Limited to 300 copies and going quick.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Sunn 0))) "Grimmrobes Live 101008"

Sunn 0)))
Grimmrobes Live 101008
Southern Lord

This is how Sunn 0))) needs to be heard. Two live tracks of Sunn 0))) as just Greg Andreson and Steve O'Malley. This is them without any organs, vocals, bass or Boris. it's pure HEAVY. No one else does this as well as these two ex-Seattlites do. Especially this cassette as it goes beyond their most obvious influence, Earth 2, and yet still dominates it's contemporaries like Black Boned Angel or Tecumseh. This cassette gets you 1.5 hours of live drone brutality. It's so worth owning. Huge 3 panel j card and it also comes with a download card so you can listen to it in itunes like you know you shouldn't. i am pretty sure these are still available although limited. Let's hope Southern Lord continues with cassettes.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Scyphozoa & Hellvetika

Scyphozoa & Hellvetika
Self Released

This split cassette from two Seattle acts was a happy surprise. Scyphozoa's side begins with some pretty harsh grinding sounds and then starts to evolve into a very spaced out half hour long noise adventure. Lots of crazy almost jungle sounds made from filters, delays, octaves and phase shifters. reminds me of some late 90's noise acts. There may be a little Taint or Bastard Noise's early work in there. My only complaint is that it does seem to wander a bit at the beginning. I felt like it took them a few minutes to really get their footing in where this duo was going. There is also a few moments where i can tell what pedals are being used. You can hear a line 6 delay do it's ray gun sounds a few times. That bugs some people but i don't mind it. the Hellvetika side starts with some interesting distant samples from "There Will Be Blood" educating you in the ways of religion. Small pops and cracks suddenly become rhythms, little tones fade in and out. It's a pretty impressive start. from that point it builds into something much harsher. Reminds me a little of Tribes of Neurot. I like this. The artwork on the cover is great and the design is very nice. I am sure it's limited but in all the credits, it doesn't mention how many.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

The Nevari Butchers "arms and everything else"

The Nevari Butchers
arms and everything else
Hanson Records

When I first popped this in I immediately didn't like it. I am not sure what i was looking for but I was not into the sounds. I put it back in my pile of things to listen to and figured I would get back to it. Then I did get back to it. I don't know what changed, Maybe a lower expectation or maybe just a different mindset but I am much more into this all of a sudden. I was prepared to give it a bad review but I just can't. Fucked drones along with sounds of scraping, banging and breaking make this a totally unnerving listen. Very dark and along with the cover art and the name of the album I think it creates a very creepy narrative. I do however find it a little on the long side. I think it could have been broken up into two separate releases. Either way I am glad i gave this a second chance.

Diver Down "demo"

Diver Down
demo cs
self released

I had been in a mood the other day before i was given this cassette. I was feeling nostalgic for 90's noise pop. i put on all my Lync 7"s in one afternoon and that seemed to help but then this cassette made everything even better. The noisy drums and harsh guitar driven pop across the five tracks on this cassette sound a lot like Lync, Guided By Voices, or maybe Helium. Songs that are short and sweet but have just enough disorder and chaos to keep them from being saccrine. the guitarist and singer, damon, can also be a little quirky lyrically. Particularly the song about the drummer and only other member of this duo, Shannen. The recording is super raw, like mic in the middle of the room raw, but it sounds just perfect. the drums sounds great as do the guitars and the playing of both is spot on. The layout is simple red on white and the tapes have been hand etched with the logo. It's a excellent demo from an excellent Seattle duo. I don't know if this is limited but i bet you can get one from them through their myspace page.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Thou "baton rouge, you have much to answer for"

baton rouge, you have much to answer for
Robotic Empire

holy shit. this is fantastic. super heavy, super thick and totally amazing sounding. you can really tell they gave a shit in releasing this. i have no idea if this is coming out in any other formats but this is a real ep. so often bands will release a cassette to keep some sort of "cred" going but it ends up being some throw away demos or noise from a band that has no business making noise. this feels real. two heavy and interesting originals on the a side and an instrumental laden with samples and really heavy guitars followed by a Nirvana cover with a killer guitar solo using a phase shifter in a excellent way. the way this sounds is also another reason why having James Plotkin master your releases will never make you regret the affordable price. you just have to hear it. it sounds amazing. the packaging is a double sided screenprinted three panel j card and it looks fantastic. the artwork is great, the music is great. i used to not really dig thou but after the last couple things i have heard i am completely sold. great work.

Great Slave Lake "tayside mental health"

Great Slave Lake
tayside mental health
Scotch Tapes

very strange sounds meet your ears when you first put this on. it's hard to get a handle on this one. i really enjoy the sounds and the rhythms that appear out of the ether of this cassette but i wish the tape was actually a bit longer. i don't really feel like you get a good connection to what they were going for. the second side is the stronger of the two sides but it has the shortest track as well. the production has a nice detached distance throughout it and i really enjoy the strange collage cover art.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Emaciator "possessive"

Hanson Records

Grim synths. Is that a thing? If so, that describes this perfectly. A constant grinding sound that is totally unrelenting. I love this. The discipline is obvious throughout this release. It keeps moving and twisting so slowly that you keep waiting for something huge to happen but what you get is a feeling of emptiness when this c15 runs out. This is not music for those with short attention spans. This may be the best thing Hanson has put out ever. Emaciator may be my new favorite thing. Excellent artwork and design as usual.

Circuit Wound "they thrive in complacency"

Circuit Wound
they thrive in complacency
Fragment Factory

Holy shit. This is harsh. I didn't know what I expected butIi didn't expect to be hit the way this hits you. I actually feel bad reviewing this because you should discover it the same way I did but fuck it. Sounds a little like Massonna or Merzbow but with more audio dynamics. Swirling chorus tinged walls of destruction. A brutal intro that slowly moves into a hypnotic siren. The second starts out creepy, minimal and live. Similar to At Jennie Richie meets Nurse With Wound. Then everything just explodes. some hilarious crowd noise at the end. My baby daughter started laughing when someone yells "FUCK YEAH!" super loud. It's great. Very recommended and limited to only 50 copies. This label is putting out some pretty interesting things so far and this is no exception. Simple jcard and black cassettes. No frills, no fuss, just fucked.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

At Jennie Richie "cathedral of erotic misery"

At Jennie Richie
cathedral of erotic misery
Scum Bag Tapes

i really like the work of Happiness & Forever. At Jennie Richie constantly has awesome output (and their name is also an awesome Henry Darger reference). although some of their releases can vary Cathedral of Erotic Misery has the type of sounds that i first encountered from them. subtle. quiet. like a giant underwater monster slowly traveling under arctic ice sheets. there is so much tension in these sounds that i can actually feel it. this is why i listen to tapes.
communicating with AJR is difficult unless you speak or write french. they are a mystery and we like to keep it that way. the artwork of cathedral of erotic misery is very strange but reminds me of gary panter meets nick blicko, so that rules. not sure how many were made but it can't be many. if you have yet to hear At Jennie Richie i would recommend checking out the cd on Debacle Records that reissues a handful of their hard to find cassettes. if you have any to trade me get in touch. seriously.

Daniel Menche "Raw Fall"

Daniel Menche
Raw Fall

Hmmm. i kinda hate this. it is two field recordings of waterfalls in Oregon by Daniel Menche. my issue with it is not that i don't like field recordings, because i usually do, or that it's sorta pretentious, because it is. my issue with this is that the recordings of the waterfalls themselves sound completely disappointing. boring, dull and weak. waterfalls are usually a place where life really congregates. it's that sound in the forest when no one is around that you know is still burly. the sounds on this are totally flat and lifeless. it could purely be tape hiss turned up loud or maybe this is just a prank that i don't understand. i was very disappointed by this release from an artist and label that usually do excellent work. if you are a huge fan of Daniel Menche and need to complete your collection, go nuts and seek this out. otherwise take a hike into a forest and prepare for something much more brutal.

Locrian "Falling Towers/After the Torch Light"

falling towers/after the torch light
Black Horizons

when i first heard Locrian i didn't really give them a chance. i think i heard them at a time when i was getting inundated with a ton of acts working in a similar territory. scary, noisy soundtrack style drone or something like that. i got the Drenched Lands cd and listened to it once, and although i enjoyed it, i put it back in my pile and didn't pick it up again for awhile. then i saw them on a youtube video and i instantly felt a strong connection. watching them perform gave me a new perspective on their sound that i had not had before and i was hooked. they did work within that scary, noisy soundtrack style drone but they meant it. really meant it. this wasn't just trying to be tough and dark it WAS tough and dark. and since then i have really enjoyed everything i have heard from these chicago boys. this cassette is not much of a departure from their recent releases but it has a very interesting structure. there is almost a bit of traditional song structure in there and their movements seems to come and go much quicker. some of the movements are very dark while others are almost beautiful. apparently this is their first release as a three piece and the audio also flips for the b side. beautiful artwork on a seven paneled j card and limited to 200 copies. with their ever growing popularity this is destined to sell out quickly.

This is the video i saw.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Dried Up Corpse "nothing from nothing"

Dried Up Corpse
nothing from nothing
Fragment Factory

i am pretty sure all SUNN 0))) records have a little saying on the back that says "maximum volume yields maximum results". this can also be applied to any and all of Stan Reed's projects. as a member of the elusive Blue Sabbath Black Cheer and on his own he constantly delivers brutal, destructive and unintentionally subtle audio destruction. Dried Up Corpse is pretty much a constant HNW, although with proper volume and a focused ear you can hear millions of unique sounds. still incredibly brutal though. it almost sounds like Stan somehow put a contact mic on the nose cone of a space shuttle, reentering Earth's atmosphere. this cassette is just plain intense. the label, Fragment Factory, releases some real quality work (i would recommend picking up the Drowner cdr as well). i look forward to reviewing more of their releases soon. limited to 50 copies. At press time there was 2 left. good luck.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

The Slaves "ocean on ocean"

The Slaves
ocean on ocean
Slave Records

Essentially a perfect album. I was floored by them live and I am totally floored by this cassette. Ethereal, and lush. Like a heavier My Bloody Valentine without the drums and Kevin Shields... or something. With that comparison it would be easy to imagine this could have a polished studio sound but thankfully there is nothing of that. You hear them take breaths, you hear line noise, hiss, even a clunky change or two. It all goes to making this one of the more impressive releases I have received in some time. I could probably gush on for hours about this strangely accessible this shoe gazer drone type stuff is but I will resist. I will say that this cassette is something that you will not regret purchasing. also it is limited to 100 copies and will probably be gone sooner than later but you can always wander over to Debacle Records and pick up the cd version of this album. This should never go out of print.

Stephen O'Malley "cocon & oiseau de nuit"

Stephen O'Malley
cocon & oiseau de nuit
Editions Mego

i received this in the mail with a note hoping that i would enjoy this "neolithic attempt". i do. it's fucking awe inspiring. this is expansive, vast and i guess, "neolithic". this is the kind of music that ancient people would mistake for the voices of gods. if you have recently given up psychedelics, i would recommend playing this loud through headphones in a dark room as an acceptable replacement experience. all hyperbole aside, this is an excellent piece of dark and hypnotic drone. although it may seem that Stephen goes right to where he started with Sunn 0))) on this one, there is a different type of focus here. it moves slower. more glacial and gigantic somehow. i have heard this cassette is part of a trilogy but this could very well be the last word in "drone metal". an edition of 250 copies and packaged with a booklet of artwork that perfectly goes with the music. you'll see. jump on this.

So here we go.

i have an obsession with cassettes. they were the first format i ever listened to music on. from Run DMC to TSOL, tapes were all i had. when cds came out i remember a friend of mine scoffed at my cd player stating "none of the bands we like will ever put out a cd". i feared he was going to be correct but of course we know how that went. like many people i gladly got rid of all my cassettes and traded them in for cds and vinyl (always had those around thanks to the support of a rad step dad). over fifteen years ago i saw Merzbow and Massonna play live in Seattle. i became hooked to all things noise and that meant exposure to cassettes again. i gladly returned to the fold and i appreciated how they had almost become fetish items. tapes wrapped in wire, covered in spray paint or turned into unplayable scupltures. i liked the act of playing a tape. the obsessive compulsive in me wouldn't allow me to stop a tape halfway, so i had to listen to both sides. forcing myself to be exposed to the whole artist's vision and saying "fuck you" to the short attention spans that cds and later mp3s had given us. they can also be so fragile that just playing them can destroy them. it's kinda awesome. i am doing this blog to share my thoughts about some very new and very old cassettes that i think are worth mentioning. please take a moment to read a review or two. check out a link. enjoy my obsession.