Thursday, January 26, 2017

Merzbow—Aodron cd

Automation Records

There is a new Merzbow cd. Go buy it. I am now sure what to say really. I have loved everything in the 30+ years or so that M. Akita has done. I probably at one time owned almost 200 Merzbow cds, lps and 7”s and I listened to them all constantly. There were a few that were weaker than others but for those that don’t know my first noise show ever was in 1995 (I think) with Daniel Menche, Masonna and Merzbow before he went straight laptop and it was life changing in a way that I cannot express. I remember almost leaning into a friend for almost an hour while I was being pummeled by something I had never heard before. Masonna played for about 7 minutes and Merzbow for almost an hour and a half. They were a three piece at the time and it was incredible. I still think about it. Constantly. I was chasing that for a long time with Merzbow releases. I think a few really stood out for me: Mort Aux Vaches:Locomotive Breath, Pulse Demon, split with Bastard Noise, Spiral Honey and probably a handful of others—as you can tell the mid 90’s was my favorite era of Merzbow. Anyway this is another piece in that huge chain of recapturing what it felt like to be assaulted and cared for by pure beautiful noise. I recommend you add this piece.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Acre/Andorkappen—split cs

split cassette
Universal Consciousness

Nice. I haven’t heard Acre in years, since I played with him in PDX back when Nadja toured. I remember him being kind of a jerk to me but I did really enjoy his set. Regardless I didn’t give him much thought after that. Seems like maybe I missed out cause this is great. This piece is reserved yet still completely engaging. It doesn’t wallow in darkness completely but it still has a creepy undertone that clearly still hates me. I like it. 
The Andorkappen track is basically like a dance track for people who wish they were dead. It’s great and is also not at all a dance track… it’s hard to explain but you will know what I mean when you hear it. It kind of made me feel crazy. I am almost glad I didn’t hear this on headphones first or I would probably join the police force immediately afterwards and become an actual Maniac Cop.

I have always loved what UC does with their packaging. This is great except for one little thing. I think putting Acre huge across the top and then Andorkappen smaller below it on the cover was a mistake. i know these are two different projects but the typographic hierarchy implies that the band is Acre and the album is titled Andorkappen. I honestly think it should have just been the crazy overprinted black textures but whatever.. it’s still great.  

Ex-Breathers—Paste Tense cs

Paste Tense
Forknife Records

Okay. Let’s definitely talk about the music first because I have some comments about the layout of this. So musically this rules. This is right in line with so much that I love. This lives somewhere in the world of Craw (favorite band of all time), Hammerhead, Unsane, Scratch Acid, Birthday Party, Steelpole Bathtub, Fugazi, Guzzard, Chokebore… you get the idea. All the amazing noise rock that fucking ruled. The stuff that later gave you amazing shit like Ken Mode, Akimbo, Doomriders, Young Widows, Death Engine, etc. Anyhow, I really like this. It has just enough mathy changes to keep it interesting but it also completely rocks. Definitely if you are a fan of the Craw album, Bodies for Stromium 90 you will dig this. I think I even like this a little better than that Craw album… I will have to think on this though. That’s very high praise.

Now the layout. What happened here? It’s simple enough and that’s fine but why are the lyrics in 2pt type (see picture)? I know the answer to that is that you needed to fit them on the 3 panel j card but here’s the thing. You don’t have to do that. This type is aggressively tiny. It’s almost unreadable to anyone who doesn’t have a loupe. On top of that there is an entire second side to the J card that is totally blank. I get that cost is an issue when making cassettes, you don’t really make much on them and they don’t sell great but just don’t include the lyrics. It’s fine, put them online or something or just don’t worry about them. These are so small that they really might as well not be on there. I would say, as a rule, for now on, no one should use type that is smaller than 4pt ever and if it’s something you hope for a reader to indulge themselves in I would so no smaller than 6pt. I have a small laptop and when I design I often have to zoom in to see what I am working on. It gives me a false sense of legibility. I have been the perpetrator of this a few times myself and that is why I am passing this criticism down. That all said though, you absolutely need to find this record in whatever format it is available in. I am going to try to see if there is vinyl because this belongs in the library. 

Matt “MV” Valentine & Sun Hoods—split cs

Matt “MV” Valentine & Sun Hoods
split cassette
Crash Symbols

This is PSYCHEDELIC. Also, great. This has that element that I think all space-rock/psychedelic music has and that is the feeling of traveling. This feels more cinematic than even a score to a film because this tells the story itself. It’s not the support for the story. I guess if I could sum up Matt “MV” Valentine in some probably inappropriate comparisons I would say it’s a little like Devandra Banhardt if he wasn’t so into himself and had half of Eternal Tapestry and half of Hawkwind backing him up.
It does go on a bit long, like I feel like it’s an awesome trip across the stars but then when we hit the first gas station on venus Matt seems to just hang out in the snack aisle for a really long time. I mean, it’s awesome being on venus but… Sun Hoods definitely have this dark middle eastern classical vibe. The modern touch of it reminds me of Master Musicians of Bukkake a bit and that is a good thing. The darkness that is sitting below this is kinda chilling and I wish i could explore it more but it’s really solid. Great cassette all around. 

The artwork fits quite well once you hear the music. It doesn’t immediately make sense to me but then when I get into it the collage work is pretty great. The type is fine. Totally works. Nice job.

Stag Hare—Velvet and Bone cs

Stag Hare
Velvet and Bone
Inner Islands

photo stolen from discogs

This is unexpectedly gorgeous. Somewhere between some sort of synth dream pop and drone. Musically is expansive. It stretches across whole continents but somehow still feels intimate. Like the song is traveling for you. It’s really lovely. It has vocals on some tracks and they just sort of slowly pour out of the speakers filled with love, pain and beauty. It’s really sweet… I have a soft spot for this type of thing and can pretty much listen to it constantly. I probably will. 

It looks cool but I did not expect it to sound the way it did based on the cover and layout. It’s a nice juxtaposition. Nice work SH.

Distant Trains/Office Park—live cs

Distant Trains/Office Park
live cassette
Centipede Farm

photo stolen from discogs

I love live recordings when it comes to noise/drone/experimental music. You get to really hear someone’s taste level, how they play to the room and how well they keep their flow. It’s awesome. This is a great example. First of all it’s super blown out. Just fries your speakers. it sounds great and the music it’s self is pretty fucking solid. Good flow and good restraint. Excellent work from both acts. The layout is simple and kind of throwaway but I really like it. It’s hard to explain. Sometimes I see something like this and kinda roll my eyes but this just works… weird.
Distant Trains/BBJr
Sacrosanct Blues
Personal Archives

So, I guess I got this a long time ago and I am just getting to it now. i apologize for that. This is pretty great. I am sure it’s long gone but to everyone that missed this small run of 25 psychedelic space noise death circuit bent tapes you are in luck because Personal Archives has everything on bandcamp. Check it out. I found that out because there is basically no info anywhere on this cassette but a quick google search found my way to their page. In fact I had no idea that it was a split or what the bands were called. Kvlt. Still, it’s pretty fucking killer and totally holds up. 

Silt—Nineteen cs

Forknife Records

Huh. This is weird. Do you guys know the band Evergreen from California in the 1990s? They were what we called emo before a hot topic ever decided it was some genre with terrible screaming/singing, skinny jeans and dumb everything. Well, this sounds a lot like Evergreen to me and that is a great thing. Their split with Still Life and their 7” and lp are really important to me. they sort of have this same sort of totally honest delivery. Where things aren’t always perfectly in key or tune but the music just has this deep-felt honestly. I love this. It takes me right back to 1994 when my life was shitty but also so full of hope and beauty that I almost couldn’t take it. It was a wonderful time. This is a wonderful record. 

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Radiation Blackbody—a 7" and an LP

Radiation Blackbody
Maximum Entropy and the Nearly Black Object
Nerve Alter 

Radiation Blackbody
Falling to Death Through Time and Space
Ultraviolet Catastrophy

This band is incredible.
In every way.
It’s just bass and drum instrumental music.
There isn’t anything you’d add and nothing you’d take away.
The playing is phenomenal.
Complicated and fascinating. 
They are incredibly prolific.
The artwork and design is always amazing, with a Man is the Bastard type of consistency and discipline.
They are the best guys ever.
My copies came with an hand-written letter and tons of drawings. 
I love them.
Listen and you will too. 

Black Knife—s/t cd

Black Knife
Husk Records

Remember back when metal was actually scary? When the guys who worked with your big brother at the auto repair shop in Farmers, KY used to blast Motorhead, Pentagram and Judas Priest and you were legit scared of these guys? Well, that is what this is like. It’s dark and totally rocks but has this classic bit of late 70s metal angst that has been missing in our lives for many years. The vocals are the only thing that is a bit more brutal than and of the aforementioned bands and that’s a pretty good thing. I am fully behind this and you will be too. I think maybe I should just their band camp link here. It speaks for itself. 
The artwork and layout are perfect. It’s simple and unpretentious and works perfectly. It has kinda of made me fall in love with classic cds in jewel cases. Find this.

Oskoreien—All Too Human cs

All Too Human
Self Released

I borrowed this image. It's nicer than my photo.

This is going to be huge… well, If Jay Valena wants it to be. It’s totally a one man Black Metal project in every sense in everything from writing to preforming to releasing. Musically this doesn’t start out quite as brutal as the previous effort but it hits a much more poignant emotional note from the first moment. That theme is explored throughout the album in a more mid-tempo approach to the genre but not entirely. It becomes very much a expansive record than I think I was assuming and I believe that is kind of the point. Valena plays with expectations a bit on here and once you think you have his approach on this pegged he completely destroys it. One thing I really want to point out before I go on too long is that this record has some incredible musicianship on it. The drumming in incredible and is able to easily keep up with the fascinating stringed instrument interplay. The drums move from brutal blast beats to interesting yet reserved beats that are tastefully accented by some pretty killer fills. I imagine this album took a little while to finalize with all different instruments and just one man to play them all. The vocals are totally on point and super tragic sounding. Like dying alone. It’s great. The layout and artwork are pretty simple but I gotta hand it to him that he dealt with Trajan (the font) in a very professional way. It’s not the easiest font to kern or letter space correctly (those R’s can be a pain) but he did an excellent job. 

Don Haugen—Black Ashes/Beyond Time 7" lathe

Don Haugen
Black Ashes/Beyond Time
Human Monster

Don always has the best layouts. This is no exception. This 7” lathe has two beautiful and sparse synth drone pieces on a super clear disc. Musically it’s beautiful but I am really stunned but how simple and clean the artwork is and how well it works with the clear lathe. It’s a great piece. Limited to 22 copies, so, good luck…