Saturday, February 26, 2011

Knelt Rote "insignificance" LP

Knelt Rote
Parasitic Records/Forest Records

Jesus fucking christ. Best band in the Pacific Northwest right now is Knelt Rote. Equal parts harsh noise and grindcore that is delivered like locusts in your brain. I am so pleased to own this record. Three epic tracks that constantly evolve in ways that make other bands kinda feel like assholes. Super heavy vocals, really tight drums and excellent playing from both guitar and bass. It's almost perfect. The noise fits perfectly with the music and is done with total mastery. Gordon from Oscillating Innards does the noise and sings so you know that part is going to be good. Rumor has it that he is going to start playing guitar as well as singing and handling noise. I worry that live it may hold back how intense they are if Gordon is anchored to an instrument; Gordon brings absolute violence as a front man. Although with this band's high taste level I think they are going to create something brilliant again. Get this record.

Dried up Corpse "Lonely Death" 3"cdr

Dried Up Corpse
lonely death
Gnarled Forest Recordings

This is nineteen minutes spent in a windstorm of knives and the only breakthroughout is some terrifying pitchshifted vocals. I think they are vocals. It's hard to tell because it's very intense throughout. My mom used to cry when she would hear the music i listened to when I was a kid; The Accused, Slayer, Black Flag… She actually destroyed a bunch of my tapes in a Christian moment of righteous rage. I think if she had heard stuff like this I would have been sent to an institution. That other music made her weep, Dried Up Corpse makes Christ weep.

Nervous Corps "exclusion=isolation" 3"cdr

Nervous Corps
Gnarled Forest Recordings

This is William from Blue Sabbath Black Cheer's latest endeavor and it's pretty fucking brutal. Thick heavy HNW that does not ever relent. This is not music and should not be considered as such. This is a "fuck you" to music and you need to endure this. Super thick walls of crashing noise. You almost feel it pressing down on you as you listen. My baby daughter is listening to this with me and I worry a little about her. She dances to the sound of the washing machine and the blender more than the Wiggles or Yo Gabba Gabba. I may have broken her.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Arvo Zylo "saint street"

Arvo Zylo
saint street
No Part of It

Harsh noise instantly pummels you on this release over it's ten tracks. It's a bit on the long side but the note I received with it informed me that it is made up of two separate full lengths. Lots of interesting dynamics throughout both sides of this cassette. Not totally a HNW but punishing enough to make you need to take a break between side one and two. Subtle moments of melody desperately try to break through the noise like someone trapped under ice. Quiet dark at times but it avoids the whole blackened noise thing and just barrels straight ahead in the way some of the later Birchville Cat Motel releases did. I think this may have benefitted from being broken up into two releases but it's pretty damn good.

Happy Noose "s/t"

Happy Noose
self released

Pretty awesome punk rock from this Olympia, Wa trio. I guess this cassette holds a couple songs from their demo and some up coming tracks from an LP. Tight, upbeat and played with enthusiasm. Kinda reminds me of Sub Society meets Lync. Definitely worth checking out if that sounds like it's your thing. Packaging is simple and perfect. Xeroxed covers that are poorly hand cut really adds to the release. Nice work.

Cock of Corpse "victims of circumcision"

Cock of Corpse
victims of circumcision
Tape Rape

Wow. This is noise. This is wake your baby up from her nap and hope to god that hearing this won't fuck her up forever noise. Starts with a distorted guitar playing what sounds like a throw away AC/DC riff and then collapses into piercingly sharp feedback and harsh noise. Not much in the way of low frequencies. Just painful jabbing noise. You still hear some strange guitar throughout but it seems to be playing a duet with old bed springs and explosions. I believe Lasse Marhaug is half of this Cock of Corpse duo and you can hear it. Masterful understanding of sound manipulation and an ability to really fuck you up with it. I was apprehensive at first when I received this but I am pretty stoked to hear this in one sitting.

Oakeater "intrusion"


Absolutely creepy. It swells and builds like an anxiety attack. I have been floored by every recording Oakeater has released and this cassette was one of my first exposures. It clearly comes from a very dark place and parts of it has stuck with me for a long time. I only wish I could get a chance to see them live someday. The packaging is simple and beautiful. Screen printed covers and plain black tapes with the catalog number scratched into it's surface. Limited to 100 copies with their first live performance as well. Crucial. That's the perfect word to end with.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Blue Sabbath Black Cheer & Irr. App. (Ext.) LP

Blue Sabbath Black Cheer & Irr. App. (Ext.)
Gnarled Forest Recordings

This is fucking brutal. Grim and abusively violent. Horrifying soundscapes that produce overwhelming and brooding feelings of anxiety. Harsh bursts of noise take on the sound of earth being upended. Breaking sticks, water and sub harmonic vocals somehow recall a terrible nightmare of being consumed alive. Rising waves of buildings being destroyed and lives crashing to an end are stripped bare by the least musical use of a guitar I have heard in a long time. It's fucking glorious. I am very impressed and cannot recommend this enough. I have not heard the first recorded collaboration of BSBC & Irr. App. (Ext.) but I did get a chance to see them perform live. It was a dark and fear inducing swirl of hate and longing but this record somehow digs deeper and becomes much more destructive. From a soon to be sold out edition of 500 and comes with a huge fold out poster of the cover art. A strange collage of anatomy etchings that start to feel as if they could be a map for the Hell that is this record. Never stop playing this.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Mazakon Tactics "adorable atrocities"

Mazakon Tactics
adorable atrocities
No Visible Scars

This is nuts. Right off the bat you get twisted and erratic harsh noise. Not a wall but a cacophony of stabbing and scraping noise. Then right as you are getting your mind around this someone with a very fucked up voice starts screaming at you. Dark and blackened howls that totally carry this release. Often times you get what sounds like a mix between vomiting and dying from the singer. It's pretty grim and it's right in your face all the time. Really excellent work on this release. Limited to 50 copies and packaged in a 7" bag. Find it.

Over "s/t"

No Visible Scars

I kinda want to give this a 3 rather than a 2 but i am torn. When I first put this on I was instantly into it. A super dark and lonely drone that seemed to fill the whole room with dread. I was getting ready to start taking notes but then all of a sudden some samples came it. A man was recalling his childhood in short bursts of edited samples. Talking about being a kid, going to Toys r us, jacking off and molesting. Maybe it's my age or even my exposure to a lot of this stuff in the 90's (I don't want to admit how many times I listened to Buyer's Market by Peter Sotos as if it were music) but I think this doesn't really effect me anymore other than making me a bit bored. The music on this release is excellent and right up my alley; super bleak and dark. When you add the samples over the top I get the feeling you want to force me to feel deep dark emotional torment and it becomes a bit contrived. Turns out the samples are not taken from another source. These are the artist's own confessions. That does make this a bit more interesting but sonically I still have the same issues. I think if I listened to one side of the tape and it was just the music and the other side was just the samples it would have been way more effective. That's the other thing. This tape is one sided. It's not exactly a deal breaker but you really need to go ahead and repeat the program on side B. Packaged in a 7" bag with a pretty grim photo on the cover though. Limited to 25 copies.

Nordvargr "the walls closing in"

the walls are closing in
Small Doses

This is an epic piece of work. Almost overwhelming in it's scale. Three long tracks of punishing noise brutality. This is definitely a departure from Nordvargr's Pyrrhula full length which had a lot of dynamics and more subdued synths mixed with quiet samples of chanting and wind. This is straight up audio oppression. It's actually a little long for me. Almost an hour of intense rumbling and crushing that make your whole house shake. Don't get me wrong, it's pretty awesome but I was hoping for a bit more dynamics from this project. It's like one of those 100 ounce steaks you can order at steakhouses to try to get your name on a wall. It's too much of a good thing. Packaged in an interesting die cut fold over thing from stumptown printing. Small Doses consistently releases excellent looking and sounding releases and this is no exception. You may just want to attack it in separate sittings.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Fuck it. I am doing vinyl and 3" cdrs now as well.

For weeks now I have been turning down vinyl and cds for review. It's been kinda weird but i had wanted this blog to be focused entirely on cassettes. Dead Formats was my love letter to what i considered to be a dying format. So often people either download a record from a blogspot or pop a cd into their laptop, import it and shelve it. I wanted the spotlight to be on something that you needed to interact with. Something that, although you could import into a computer, took a little doing. I have decided that both vinyl and 3" cdrs really fall into that category. I can't put a 3" cdr into my laptop, nor do I have one of those lame USB turntables to import my records. I need to actually put one on each time I want to listen to either format. I will still be focusing mainly on cassettes. Those get top billing here. If you would like me to review a lathe, 3" cdr of something on vinyl feel free to send it along and I will give my two cents but I prefer cassettes. First up for vinyl will be the Irr. App. Ext./Blue Sabbath Black Cheer collaborative 12". This is going to be an important record and people need to know about it. I should have that review up this week. Stay tuned.

Also I think I am going to start all my non review posts with "fuck it" for now on.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Numb Erone/Nervous Corps split cs

Numb Erone / Nervous Corps
Gnarled Forest Recordings

Two severe examples of HNW 0r Harsh Noise Wall. Numb Erone is Pummeling while Nervous Corps is piercing. It all cuts right through you. This level of harsh noise is a bit much for some people but I think this is glorious. This release is right up there with Circuit Wound or any of the recent Dried Up Corpse releases. Just brutal. Simple artwork with hand stamped cassettes. From an edition of 25 copies. Go get this.

John Macedo "Pastel Blue and Clinical White"

John Macedo
pastel blue and clinical white
the Black Plume

The simple design for this release is striking. This is one of those ones where it can only look this good as a cassette. The vinyl could be done in the same way and look good but this is just a perfect thing to hold. Minimal and stark. The titles of the pieces are also a description of the packaging. The definition of cohesive. I want to give this a great review on that alone but there is the sounds to address. Luckily those are also fantastic. Simple analog synth improvisations done with the same amount of restraint as the aesthetic part of this release. Obviously someone with a great ear and some mastery of his equipment. My only tiny issue with this is that they give you a download code on a sticker that is right on the cassette and it kinda breaks up the nice design a little. They should have just slapped that sticker on the inside of the j card and kept the tape stark (I flipped the tape in the photo so the B side is facing out). Still real good.

Fuck it. Ratings are back...

So yeah, I have been thinking and agonizing over this. I am bringing the ratings back but i am doing a 1-5 scoring system. So just like Netflix you get:

5 - Really fucking good. Exceptional and exceeded expectations. Kill a man to own this.

4 - Great! Very pleased with this one. Excellent release. Seek it out.

3 - Totally solid. A complaint here or there but generally good and worth picking up.

2 - Not my thing. Fell a bit shy of the mark. Needs work. More cons than pros.

1 - Not good. Pissed at it's existence. Dogshit.

Or something like that. You get the idea. I wouldn't apply all those descriptions to a release that gets a 4 or 5 or whatever but you get the sentiment. Now I gotta go score everything. I will also bring back the tags to make it easier to sort releases by their scores.

I also limited the amount of posts per page at 25. That should help load things quicker and now that there are over 50 reviews on here you would have to go back to older posts anyhow.

thanks for the feedback!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Aural Antithesis "no concept"

Aural Antithesis
no concept
self released

First of all, this kind of packaging is what I first fell in love with when it came to this renaissance of cassette tapes. Found and damaged and not caring about how "pro" it may look. Recycled paper wrapped around a Maxwell brand cassette with printed inserts and a sticker and then the case just jammed around the whole package so those little pegs puncture the paper. Awesome. This aesthetic first struck me as a wonderful way to "judge a book by it's cover". It's fucked and therefore the music will be fucked. The two sides of this cassette show two different sides to AA. The first is a mellow and layered soundscape of synths and various textures. Really beautiful and reminds me a bit of the early Emeralds releases on Hanson Records. The second side is way more aggressive and twisted. Heavy noise brutality. You will not regret picking this up. There is only 20 copies though and I am not sure how to get one of these besides having it handed to you at a show last night. You could try this.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Guilty C./Maaaa split

Guilty Connector / Maaaa split
Triangle Records/XVP/Chaosynod

Holy shit. I am writing this right after I finished this for the first time and I am floored. I wasn't expecting this. Two very short tracks of intense noise and cacophony. Guilty C. is from Japan and sounds like being trapped in a giant Katamari of trash and death. Non stop horrendous noise that just wraps around your head and starts to crush it slowly. Maaaa hails from Poland and Russia and they have created a track that causes a ton of anxiety from the use of dogs barking alone. Frequencies and scraping sound accompany a giant choir made up of rabid animals. This sounds the way much of the Eastern Block looks. It's all very dark and horrid and I love it. Limited to 100 copies and obviously almost gone.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Horseback "forbidden planet"

forbidden planet
Brave Mysteries

I actually missed out on this one. I just want to talk about how good this thing is and also how I am going to have to steal it from my friend who loaned it to me. Very different from the Invisible Mountain LP that has become so popular; this is more of an array of psychedelic transmissions crashing into each other. Dense and full of interesting textures and beautiful guitar swells and feedback and broken up by some eery twisted screams throughout. Definitely leaning more towards noise or even harsh drone I find myself really overtaken by the sounds on this cassette. No drums at all, just waves of constant crashing destruction and construction. I could listen to this all day, bummer I have to give it back.

Oskoreien "s/t"

Seventh Seal Records

This is probably one of the better tapes I have received in awhile. Really beautiful and dark black metal from California. With it's neofolk moments and it's intensely mournful chord progressions I would say this stands up there with the latest Agalloch record but with a hint of Godspeed You Black Emperor in it's crushingly sad guitar crescendos. Really excellent stuff here. I have said it before but I love when someone takes the format of cassette serious and releases some really excellent work. Oskoreien is the work of Jay M. Valena and it appears that he did everything on this record. He is obviously one of those guys that drives you crazy with his ability to play every instrument and do it really well. He can even sing. When he decides to really sing instead of his brutal scream it's not even a little annoying. I am sure this will end up getting picked up by Southern Lord soon and be released on vinyl but for the time being I would really recommend grabbing this. There is a deluxe version of the cassette that comes with a tshirt, a photo print and a download along with the cassette. Go get it. Seriously.

No more ratings.

So I took away the "scores" for each review. I talked with another friend who does a lot of music writing and we both discussed the problems with these number systems. When doing a system that goes from 1-10 with the options of .5 in there as well, you have a 20 point spread for every release. I love a lot of what I review and I was giving a lot of 8.5, 9.0 and 10.0 to many releases and while they were all very good, I think I was scoring on my enthusiasm level for the release as opposed to the artistic acheivements of some releases. Is a cassette that i give a 10 to really as good as Reign in Blood? Is a 9.5 as good or better than Merzbow's "Pulse Demon"? Probably not. While I love that Thou cassette and listen to it often, can I really say that it is better than Slint's "Spiderland"? Probably not. While my writing is not the best music journalism you have ever read I think you get a pretty good idea of how I feel about each release without a number coloring the entire review. Let me know how you feel about this. I may need to come up with some sort of scoring for these cassettes but in the meantime please enjoy. I will be posting a bunch of reviews this week but i have to warn you, they are probably all 10s.

Dead Weight "the Age of I"

Dead Weight
the age of i
MInd Melt Enterprises

More straight up hardcore from Mind Melt here. Again not really something I really listen to much anymore unless I am feeling nostalgic. I have becomel very ignorant about hardcore in general these days. It seems like such a throwback to a time that never existed for many of the people involved. I remember missing out on seeing Inside Out and Youth of Today for one reason or another way back when but these newer bands see to be made up of people that weren't even born then. It makes me feel old and a bit confused really. Dead Weight play what sounds like tough guy hardcore. Cro-mags and MMA probably have similar influences here. The recording on this one is pretty good as it sounds legit. If you told me this was from 1990 I would probably believe you. Musically I wish that it were a bit more aggressive. I think everyone playing hardcore these days needs to pick up the End On End 7" and listen to that thing back to back with Cro-Mags "age of quarrel" and then grab a guitar and write the craziest shit ever. Maybe avoid using wah wah pedals, which this cassette has.