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.