It’s strangely appropriate that I discovered this album the week that Tod Dockstader died. This album reminds me a lot of his noisy, apocalyptic electro-acoustic music. It’s constantly shifting and unpredictable, and takes it time gliding only to make some unexpected turns. The two artists actually recorded this album in concert with a wall placed between them and speakers placed in a straight line towards the audience. Given the circumstance, this stereo mix of that concert sounds incredibly cohesive, not to mention sonically rich. The static and glitch elements and random voices are all integrated really well. A truly gripping recording.
Kouhei Matsunaga works under several aliases (mostly variations/combinations of the names NHK and Koyxen), but NHK proper is actually a duo project, and this is their first full-length album. It continues Matsunaga’s explorations of abstract dub, hip-hop and electronic rhythms, as well as harsh noise. The tracks here typically have a minimal, repetitive beat laced with harsh feedback, being pushed far into the red and embracing clipping and distortion (especially at sudden moments). Many of the tracks have constant tempos, but on “Ch.4″ it’s slow and spaced out, so when beats sporadically arrive they feel like attacks. The skipping dub rhythm of “Ch.6″ is less abrasive, but still coated in static. “Ch.8″ goes down a long tunnel of a simple repetitive click which changes tempo a few times and harshly jabs noise bursts into the speakers. “Ch.10″ has the most coherent hip-hop-influnced rhythm here, recalling Matsunaga’s work on labels such as Wordsound. The album offers a fresh perspective on combining minimal rhythms and noise, in even different ways than previous work by the artist.
Second solo album from Lumisokea’s Koenraad Ecker, following an LP on Digitalis last year. Cold electro-acoustic drone with metallic rustling and scraping and bass tones. Builds tension and suspense but never really releases it. The closest it gets is the swarming strings and electronic birdsong of “There Are No Eyes Here”, and the harsh cutups and ominous beats of “Nazif”. “Parasites” develops a shuddering, convulsing beat, providing one of the more rhythmic moments in the album, which otherwise has a dark, sickly metallic drift.
Stage Hands is the newest project of Brandon Locher of The Meets, and this duo (including drummer Gerald Mattis) seems much more focused than the group improvisations of The Meets. Locher has collaborated with Ghostly International for visual work, and this definitely brings to mind Ghostly acts such as Midwest Product and Shigeto which combine live and electronic drums, synths, and other instruments to create something rhythmic and danceable but still clearly composed and played by humans. The first 4 songs on this short album have standard song lengths and are fluid, melodic and spontaneous yet controlled. They also seem to progressively increase in tempo, with “Adaptive Lines” and “Regardless” being more dancey. “#unabomber” has more of a smoothed out tempo, stretches out past 8 minutes and features vocals reminiscent of Baths. The album’s final, untitled track is barely a minute long, but is a very intriguing taste of what’s hopefully yet to come from this project.
Newest tape from prolific lo-fi songwriter Graham Repulski, who used to be in a fantastic band called Von Hayes. I’m biased because I know the guy (we saw the Flaming Lips together 13 years ago) but I think he’s far and away one of the best people doing lo-fi indie-pop stuff these days. Basically, he sounds exactly like classic-era Guided By Voices, but with a bit more experimentation and weirdness. There’s spontaneous backwards effects, and maybe a Casio or some cheap drum machine. No song length is too short (5 of these 11 songs are under a minute), and there’s never too much distortion or tape hiss. More importantly, there’s amazing songs on here, such as the blistering noise-pop anthem “Rubes”, and fast riffy stomper “Cartoon Meltdown” (which ends with a long backwards guitar section). The longest track is called “Ponderous Little Number”, and it’s the least poppy track here, 3 minutes of tape hiss noise and occasional guitar notes ending with the words “I’m floating away”. “Funeral Games” has the most full-band crunch of any of these songs. “Flux Rebate” ends the tape with nearly 2 minutes of radio static. The tape is available on his Bandcamp page, along with tons of older albums, many of which are available as free downloads.
Kim Fowley live at the Hamtramck Blowout in 2012 with some local musicians, produced by Matthew Smith of Outrageous Cherry. Basically it’s Kim doing his thing with younger musicians improvising behind him and trying to keep up. Not all that different in concept than a newer Lee Scratch Perry LP. Fowley often instructs the musicians on which directions to go in, when to sing along, and things like that. The most striking moment is the album’s final song, “Death”, which Fowley introduces by saying that he was asked what is next project was… and his response was that death is his next project. And so the band breaks into a cheery song where Fowley seems excited about dying soon. And of course, a month after this album was released, he died. It seems shocking at first, but after I listen to it a couple times, it makes me feel like I can only hope I have a similar non-morbid attitude toward death when I get to be his age. I just need to make sure that I live a life that’s worth being proud and cheerful about until then. As in, not doing all the sleazy things this guy did. R.I.P.
In contrast to his phenomenal, explosive album last year with Black Cube SP, this is a more stripped-down, meditative Mazurek. This piece is entitled “Waxing Crescent”; there is also a “Waning Crescent” available on cassette. This is minimalist drone, with droning organ, softly pulsing electric bass notes, and a single cornet note being played for relaxed, extended lengths. There’s also some gentle talking and clatter in the background, as if people are having breakfast in the background. The second side (the one with a white label) is similar but with a lower note played on the cornet, so it has a slightly darker, less relaxing feel, but a few more bass guitar notes enter the orbit. Towards the end he breaks through and plays a much more expressive, melodic solo, which elevates the piece a bit from its purely meditative state.
R.I.P. Tod Dockstader
3:03 AM Morton Subotnick ~ Part 2 ~ Silver Apples Of The Moon ~ Karlrecords
3:17 AM Tod Dockstader ~ Luna Park ~ Luna Park/Traveling Music/Apocalypse ~ Owl Records
3:29 AM Tod Dockstader ~ Water Music ~ Drone/Two Fragments From Apocalypse/Water Music ~ Owl Records
3:47 AM Tod Dockstader ~ Apocalypse ~ Luna Park/Traveling Music/Apocalypse ~ Owl Records
4:08 AM Tod Dockstader ~ Second Song ~ Quatermass ~ Starkland
4:21 AM Tod Dockstader ~ Four Telemetry Tapes No. 1 ~ Apocalypse ~ Starkland
4:24 AM Tod Dockstader ~ Om ~ Aerial #1 ~ Sub Rosa
4:30 AM Tod Dockstader ~ Babbel ~ Aerial #2 ~ Sub Rosa
4:36 AM Tod Dockstader ~ Dada ~ Aerial #1 ~ Sub Rosa
4:40 AM Tod Dockstader ~ Bottom ~ Aerial #2 ~ Sub Rosa
4:44 AM Koenraad Ecker ~ Shadow Puppets ~ Sleepwalkers In A Cold Circus ~ Line
4:51 AM Light Sensitive ~ Two Palms Filled W/ Glass ~ Enemy Smile ~ Personal Archives
5:00 AM Bernard Szajner ~ Thol Onsia ~ Some Deaths Take Forever ~ Boutique
5:04 AM Charles Cohen ~ Group Motion Performance ~ A Retrospective ~ Morphine Records
5:17 AM NHK ~ Ch.8 ~ Program ~ Line
5:25 AM Autechre ~ Ccec ~ EP7 ~ Warp
5:32 AM Achim Wollscheid & Bernhard Schreiner ~ Calibrated Contingency ~ Calibrated Contingency ~ Baskaru
5:49 AM Matana Roberts ~ This Land Is Yours ~ Coin Coin Chapter Three: River Run Thee ~ Constellation
5:53 AM Else Marie Pade ~ Himmelrummet ~ Electronic Works 1958-1995 ~ Important
10:01 PM JTC ~ My Zel
10:07 PM Sam Prekop ~ Weathervane
10:07 PM Inventions ~ Peregrine (The Field Remix)
10:14 PM Unkwon ~ If We Could Just (Dub)
10:19 PM Osborne ~ Daylight (Pyjama Mix By Isolee)
10:23 PM TNT ~ Mahogany
10:28 PM Anthony Naples ~ Abrazo
10:31 PM Leon Vynehall ~ It’s Just (House Of Dupree)
10:38 PM The Mole ~ Lockdown Party (DJ Sprinkles Crossfaderama)
10:47 PM Aphex Twin ~ Gerald Remix
10:51 PM Afrikan Sciences ~ Alibi II
10:54 PM Dave DK ~ Halma
10:58 PM Window ~ See See (Matrixxman Remix)
11:02 PM Caldera ~ Morning Traveller
11:10 PM Audion ~ I Gave You Away
11:19 PM Bodycode ~ Arigato
11:25 PM Kate Simko ~ Gamelan
11:29 PM Rennie Foster ~ Just Begun
11:34 PM Cosby ~ Sortida
11:38 PM Erosion Flow ~ Aiir
11:42 PM Jaga Jazzist ~ Tocatta (Illum Sphere Remix)
11:45 PM Lusine ~ Inside/Out
11:49 PM Geoff White ~ Peach Preserves
11:52 PM µ-ziq ~ Unsure
11:54 PM Broker/Dealer ~ Soft Sell (Thomas Fehlmann Remix)
Bureau B seems to be on a quest to reissue every obscure Krautrock record ever recorded, and if I had the money I’d buy all of them. This album was one I immediately knew I had to own once I heard the preview clips. It had actually been reissued a few years ago by Medical Records, but both pressings of that reissue are long gone, so now Bureau B is reissuing it with the original artwork. This project was a solo effort of Dorothea Raukes of German band Streetmark, who I’ve never heard of, but this is a fantastic album of cosmic new wave which covers a lot of ground in its 6 tracks. There’s catchy arpeggio-heavy tracks with drum machines and vocoders and rich synth melodies (with vocoder anthem “Auf Engelsflügeln” being a highlight), but then there’s extended space odysseys which tread closer to vision-seeking Tangerine Dream territory (most notably 10-minute closer “Der Grosse Atem”). Hopefully the Streetmark catalog will be reissued, but this is worth investigating, if you missed it when Medical reissued it, which I did.