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.