I have to confess I haven’t been keeping up to date with Opal Tapes. I know all their releases are up on Bandcamp, but who has time for that? So the only Opal Tapes release I’ve bought so far is this Shapednoise LP, and I don’t think I could’ve picked a better starting point. This record is just unbelievably massive. It just keeps grinding and crushing you. “Witness Of A Heart Attack Death” sounds less like dance music and more like an electronic rhythmic beating. Harsh and painful. “Between Hallucinations And High Poetry” dilates your pupils even further. The title track comes close to an industrial/EBM melody, but frays and circuit-bends it, until it’s completely splintered. “Information on the Individual Sensoriality” has an intense, bassy didgeridoo-like drone and ends in stuttering glitch and a fading sheet of static. “Survival Of The Dead” also has a didgeridoo-like drone, but more chopped noisy rhythm, which sounds more abstract at first but seems to straighten itself up a bit. Sort of. Vaguely. And it gets more intense and skipping at the end. “Black Cells” starts with a distorted drone loop which, again, also sounds vaguely like a didgeridoo, then gets another percussive loop added on top, and a layer of screeching noise piles on until it abruptly ends.
I missed out on Catholic, the 2009 CD release of a previously unissued Patrick Cowley & Jorge Socarras new wave album, but I kept reading about it and wanted to hear it. But that album’s release lead to this, a 2LP issue of some of Patrick Cowley’s soundtracks for gay porn films. The shrinkwrap of this record has a sticker warning of explicit material inside, and I can’t un-see what I can see, so I’m being careful not to open the gatefold. Regardless, all of the music here is truly brilliant. There’s some of the hi-NRG disco sound Cowley was known for, but there’s lots more ambient, Krautrock and kosmische synth stuff on here. And some exaggerated synth-funk, like the title track. And plenty of strange proto-techno. And the distorted tribal electronic beats of “Pagan Rhythms”. The second disc focuses on longer, more exploratory cuts, starting with the slow didgeridoo-trance of “Journey Home”. “Out Of Body” is exactly the type of spacey, beatless mood-piece you might expect from the title. “Primordial Landscape” is another astral projection which slowly shifts to a different vista. The deep bass arpeggiations of “Tides Of Man” end the album. The first disc of this album might appeal more to fans of obscure disco, but the second one would definitely be an eye-opener to any Berlin School enthusiasts who might not be as keen on proper dance music.
More self-consciously ’90s-jacking house from 100% Silk. The title track on here comes in two mixes bookending the record, the first being the “Cheese Mix”. Lots of “aw yeah!” samples, familiar deep house/garage organ sounds, and very synthetic string and horn pads. Doesn’t get quite as into Deee-Lite/C&C Music Factory territory as Sir Stephen, it’s truer to the oldschool Chicago house. The “Dirty Dub” of the song replaces the “aw yeah!” with a tiny bit of sinister/nervous laughter. Otherwise on the record, lots of pleasant night-drive smooth house.
Bernard Parmegiani: De Natura Sonorum (INA-GRM, 1976/reissued Recollection GRM, 2013) + L’Œil Écoute / Dedans-Dehors (Recollection GRM, 2012)December 8, 2013 at 8:04 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment
Leave it to an artist’s death to get me to finally listen to his records, after having bought them months ago and never getting around to listening to them. And leave it to Discogs for reminding me that this 2LP pressing is supposed to be played at 45 RPM, after I think I already played it at 33 on my radio show. Playing it at 45 only makes it even more intense and mindblowing. Lots of split-second sounds whirring past you at any given moment, but there’s a strange stillness and ambience behind it all. And then there’s all these clattering drums and electric static on the second side. The second disc further twists electronic and natural sounds into confounding audio shapes. Stupendous sound quality, and it includes the 2 bonus movements that were included on the CD reissue that weren’t on the original vinyl. Also previously released on Recollection GRM was a disc featuring L’Œil Écoute (1970) and Dedans-Dehors (1977). L’Œil Écoute translates to The Eye Is Listening, and these pieces focus on visual sounds: trains, birds, water, forests, precipitation, crackling fire, etc. Some of them are simulated, and some are appropriated sounds. Actually, I think the labels on my copy of reversed, because it looks like L’Œil Écoute starts with train sounds and then insects, and I’m hearing that on the other side of the record. But it’s confusing because the side that I thought was L’Œil Écoute starts with mechanized train-like rhythms, and there’s plenty of other moments that seem to simulate nature sounds, so I can’t tell what’s being manipulated or synthesized and what isn’t. Regardless, more truly stunning, visionary audio work.
Brokecore came back to life this year after a lengthy hiatus, and now there’s a bunch of new tape, CDr and digital releases, and plenty of other releases on other labels by founder Evil Robot Ted. Ejecta is a 2012 Bandcamp release available as a self-releases CDr and on cassette from My Shit Eats Tapes. The tracks consist of splintered, fragmented breaks and noise, with scarred ambience shining through. The track “Suburban Black Metal” kind of sums it up for me, it has kind of a walking-around-the-mall-while-being-extremely-fucked-up feel to it. The 6-minute title track is more of a straightforward shredding-noise thing, without beats. The CDr version has live versions of some of the tracks, and the version of “Suburban Black Metal” actually sounds more cleaned up than the remixed version that appears earlier in the disc, while “Dreamt Waster” is a lot rawer and meaner. Waster is longer and less frenetic, it takes more time to build and there’s less breaks and noise. It’s more downtempo and dubbed out, less suburban mall and more rural dystopia. It’s almost like a chopped-n-screwed version of breakcore/noise. Feels like hanging around a junkyard in the dead of winter. The last track is blistering noise, though.
Recorded in an abandoned warehouse, this is a self-released CDR from a South London-based duo who seem to have a freeform, post-industrial junk-art collage aesthetic. Musically, they remind me of a less harsh Wolf Eyes with Robert Smith singing (or maybe even Scott Walker at times, but that’s more of a stretch). Lo-fi synth feedback, droning rhythms, somewhat overstated vocals. The songs are very disjointed, never coming close to proper song structure, but retaining a lo-fi indie-punk edge, while droning out and using elements of industrial noise. Which is why it’s so disconcerting how the vocals are so grand and bellowing, you usually expect some sort of lifeless zombie snarl accompanying something like this. “Sleep (Version 2)” has the straightest rhythm and guitar chords, coming closest to a regular song. “Panopticon” strikes a similar balance of straightforward rhythm, guitar chords and feedback noise. Shorter tracks have more of a fragmentary, stream-of-consciousness feel, especially with the lyrics. Available at Bandcamp.
3:06 AM Aube ~ Move From Drop ~ Ricochetentrance ~ Lunar
3:09 AM Aube ~ And More ~ Rewriting The Book ~ Elsie + Jack
3:20 AM Ezra Buchla ~ A Cruel Man ~ At The Door ~ Care Of Editions
3:25 AM Scott Cazan ~ Bodies ~ Swallow ~ Care Of Editions
3:42 AM [# / Tau] – Boris Hegenbart ~ Folded ~ First / Dew ~ Care Of Editions
3:45 AM Craig Johnson ~ several tracks from side A ~ untitled tape ~ self-released
3:53 AM Foom ~ Tieu ~ Surface Noise And Imperfections ~ No Fidelity Audio
3:57 AM People Like Us ~ Break Me, Break My Horse ~ Don’t Think Right, It’s All Twice ~ Cutting Hedge
4:03 AM Thought Broadcast ~ Fortune Teller ~ Thought Broadcast ~ Olde English Spelling Bee
4:05 AM Regional Curse ~ Natural Living ~ Natural Living ~ Night People
4:13 AM Prostitutes ~ Lot Of Scars ~ Crushed Interior ~ Digitalis
4:18 AM Patrick Cowley ~ Mocking Bird Dream ~ School Daze ~ Dark Entries
4:22 AM LA Vampires with Maria Minerva ~ Trying 2 Be Honest With Myself ~ The Integration LP ~ Not Not Fun
4:25 AM Policy ~ Ghost In The Groove ~ Postscript ~ 100% Silk
4:38 AM Knaebot ~ Blue Meets Grey ~ Secondary Addax 3″ CDR ~ Bad Sekta
4:44 AM Jonas Reinhardt & Abyss Of Fathomless Light ~ White Kingdom Of The Five Year Plan ~ Rusting Ciphers Of A Forgotten Sky ~ VCO
5:03 AM Foetus ~ Pratheism ~ Soak ~ Ectopic Ents
5:09 AM JG Thirlwell ~ Urchin ~ The Blue Eyes OST ~ Ectopic Ents
5:12 AM Laserbeams Of Boredom ~ Blown Blurs ~ Mind Arrays ~ self-released
5:17 AM Circuit Breaker ~ Exitexerx ~ Cairn ~ self-released
5:19 AM Freelove Fenner ~ Shepherdess ~ Do Not Affect A Breezy Manner ~ Fixture Records
5:21 AM The Low Frequency In Stereo ~ Cybernautic ~ Pop Obskura ~ Long Branch Records
5:25 AM Hydropark ~ side B track 1 ~ untitled second tape ~ Life Like
5:34 AM Secret Pyramid ~ A Descent ~ Movements Of Night ~ Students Of Decay
5:40 AM Evil Robot Ted ~ Suburban Black Metal (Live) ~ Ejecta 3″ CDR ~ self-released
5:42 AM Jim Guthrie ~ Lone Star ~ Sword & Sworcery: The Ballad Of The Space Babies ~ self-released
5:44 AM Rites Wild ~ Minimal Where ~ Ways Of Being ~ Not Not Fun
5:48 AM Unicorn Hard-On ~ Wet Pet ~ Weird Universe ~ Spectrum Spools
5:56 AM Huerco S. ~ Quivira ~ Colonial Patterns ~ Software
Haven’t heard any of this group’s previous recordings, but they’ve been around for over a decade and Norwegian avant-rock powerhouse Rune Grammofon released their last one. On first listen, the presence of Krautrock rhythms, analog synths and female vocal harmonies immediately brings to mind Stereolab, and this band’s name doesn’t help defer those comparisons. Even with such an easy reference point, this is still very enjoyable indie-pop, and it definitely seems more informed by vintage electronics than most young bands trying to sound retro. “Cybernautic” has a lovely, catchy chorus and some vaguely Raymond Scott-esque synths (it puts “Cindy Electronium” in my head, and that is a good thing). “Black Receiver” is full of spiraling psychedelic feedback, and “Satellites In Sight” ends with ecstatic horns and keyboards. “Ionic Nerve Grip” is a bizarre spoken word track, with a ranting narrator who reminds me of Einar Orn of the Sugarcubes.
I’ll never forget when I first started doing at WRSU when I was in college, and we got the first CD by The Mae Shi. It consisted of 4 brief spazzy punk songs, and then a 50 minute noise jam. We used to play around with that for sound collage fodder a lot, or just play the entire thing when we felt lazy and didn’t want to actually DJ. Since then, Ezra Buchla has had an extensive resume, also playing in Gowns with EMA and contributing to her solo album, and working with Chelsea Wolfe and Whitman, among others. This solo LP is a stunning work, starting with “A Cruel Man”, consisting of droning, minimalist John Cale-like strings, and eerie hushed vocals. “His Thirsts” starts with some solid, clear tones, then adds on shifting sheets of vacuum-like noise layers, and stirs them into oblivion. “Hail Nothing” is similar to the opening track, with strings and vocals, but is more melodic and structured. It’s an astonishingly beautiful lament of despair and bleakness, definitely exactly the type of beautiful, depressing music you want to spend the entire dark, lonely winter crying along to. On the reverse is sidelong string opus “Black Box”, which starts with low, brooding drone, building into wavering, chattering textures, and later blossoming into a wide array of emotions, by turns enormously beautiful and deeply mournful or even scared. It’s the type of piece where you put it on barely noticing that it’s playing, not really expecting anything, and then after a while it just hits you with astonishing beauty and expressiveness. Wow.
On side A, harsh screeching metal, harsh screeching strings. Nervous rattling/tapping, vibrations, and some shattering wave tones. On side B, contact and condenser mics, field recordings, and room tones. Starts out sounding like a supermarket checkout line with a deafening sinewave tone and thudding, trudging rumble which nobody seems to notice or react to. It gets quiet for a bit, but then comes back with more voices (which seem slightly, eerily pitched down), and vibrating tones and some ethereal music. This ends without warning, and a few minutes later you’re facing buzzing, feedback and ring modulated noise, along with bass vibrations nervously being pushed out. The shuttering, splintering (but not overtly harsh) noise continues relentlessly for a while, until it sort of disintegrates into tone clusters.