v/a: Modus Vivendi: A Benefit Compilation for Chris Phinney (NO PART OF IT, 2021)

February 22, 2021 at 10:33 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

v/a: Modus Vivendi: A Benefit Compilation for Chris Phinney

The second benefit album NO PART OF IT has released in the past few months, the proceeds of Modus Vivendi go to longtime experimental musician and home taper Chris Phinney (Harsh Reality Music, Mental Anguish), who was left wheelchair-bound after an auto accident in late 2019 (see the Bandcamp link for more details). The collection features material recorded over the course of several decades by artists Phinney has worked before, as well as newer noise/experimental artists continuing in the spirit of the ’80s tape underground. Content Nullity (now known as Mollusk King) begins the set with a bracing, powerful piece called “Grief”, which has a familiar cinematic loop doused in distortion and surrounded by swarming tones that seem like brief snatches of voices calling out, then layered thousands of times. Far from being just a noise comp, the album features haunted drift-rock from Theatre of Ice and the more detached, atmospheric Plastic Crimewave as well as a 2002 demo by Gitane Demone, formerly of Christian Death. Ethereal wave pioneers Attrition also make an appearance, in addition to other dark and heavenly sounds by Temple Ov Saturn. Chicago industrial/gospel/performance art legends ONO provide the clanky, hair-raising highlight “Miss Rita/Popeye’s Sister”, and even more frightening are mid-album scare-the-crap-outs by Dieter Müh and risaripa. Tape scene veteran PBK contributes a furnace-blasting track of his own as well as a piece from the Minóy archives. Aaron Dilloway’s typically amazing piece possibly spins chicken clucks into head-warping tape loops. An edit of a collaboration between Phinney and label founder Arvo Zylo is one of the more aggressive noise pieces here, but also feels stark and chilling in a way. An excerpt of Gas Mask Horse’s Halloween 2019 performance on freeform station WZRD properly brings the heebie-jeebies with howling wolves, ominous bubbling, and bursts of rusty noise, as well as distorted cackling. Finally, it all ends with a brief bit of slide whistle whimsy by the inimitable Little Fyodor.

Hotel Neon: Moments (sound in silence, 2020)

February 21, 2021 at 1:03 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Hotel Neon: Moments

Remotely recorded ambient pieces which still manage to feel like intimate snapshots of, well, moments. All tracks are titled after specific dates, and they all seem like they’re capturing a sunrise or a high tide or something else just as fleeting. The pieces with later dates are fittingly colder, but hardly Arctic. It’s still semi-warm, and it all has an autumnal glow to it. Fuzzy distortion, soothing waves, perhaps some pipe organ and just a general sense of serenity.

Show #570 – 2/20/21

February 20, 2021 at 1:58 am | Posted in The Answer Is In The Beat | Leave a comment

Please DONATE to WCBN!
2-20-21
His Name Is Alive ~ Keep The Moon On Time
USA/Mexico ~ Chorizo
Xiu Xiu feat. Liz Harris ~ A Bottle of Rum
Blanche Blanche Blanche ~ Blocked and Reported
Nonconnah ~ Changed in Autumn’s Feral Depths
Shygirl ~ TASTY (LSDXOXO Remix)
Suzi Analogue ~ FaceUp
Kode9 ~ The Jackpot
Govlink ~ Razorwire
Bicep ~ Saku
Acetantina ~ Dream Deluxe
All Energy Must Continue Upward ~ Child Of Forever
Altern 8 ~ Hard Crew (Reinst8 Mix)
KMD ~ Humrush (instrumental)
Bibio ~ Lightspout Hollow

Ambassador Hazy: Glacial Erratics (self-released, 2020)

February 19, 2021 at 8:14 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Ambassador Hazy: Glacial Erratics

Slacker-ish lo-fi psych pop from Sterling DeWeese, formerly of several bands I’ve never heard of (Heavy Hands, Dirty Rainbow, Terrapin Gun, etc). Has sort of a Bevis Frond thing going on but without the guitar heroics. Mostly sounds like one guy doing everything, with a few friends helping out on some tracks, and the simplicity works to its advantage, as on the brief but catchy “Don’t Have a Plan”. “Easy Alibi” has some nice fuzz guitar and organ and big slappy drums. “Passing Into a Grey Area” feels like a brief part of a much longer psych jam. “Moth to the Flame” has more heavy, almost funky drums, sort of suggesting Can but not quite as superhuman. :Never to Late” starts with a vinyl spinback and pairs drum machines with live drums. “Up and Down” is a decent bummed out drifter singalong tune. “Ain’t the Same No More” has more drum machines and bottom-of-a-well echo. “Oz the Great and Powerful” is a bit weirder and more mystical, and sounds like something from a funky ’70s psych soundtrack, but with vocals referencing The Wizard of Oz. “The World’s a Mess” has a synth intro and outro, and is a scratchy fuzz-rock nugget with lyrics such as “The world’s a mess and I need a friend”.

v/a: Roots, Space, Vision Vol. 1 (Rec Room, 2020)

February 18, 2021 at 8:29 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

v/a: Roots, Space, Vision Vol. 1

I don’t have too much to say about this compilation other than that it’s free and there’s a ton of great artists on it, so it’s a must download. Berlin label, events series, and Noods Radio presenter Rec Room formed in 2013 and this is their first release, and it’s just a fantastic collection of forward-thinking club music. Ray Kandinski and Jana Rush appear early on with some gorgeous hybrid footwork, and in between them is an introspective but commanding IDM/techno track from excellent newcomer Xyla. CalvoMusic lets you know that Baltimore club music is still going strong in the 2020s, even as its Jersey and Philly cousins have gotten a bit more attention during the last decade or so. Cape Town’s Cajoux stuns with the Afrobass burner “TPC”, and BADSISTA’s track is as grand as always. DJ Lycox goes hardest of all with the stomping, chant-infused “UNIQUE”, and UR’s Mark Flash closes it out with the sublime “ONE WAY TICKET TO MARS”, yet again reminding me how much I miss clubbing in Detroit.

Crypticz: Between Dust & Time (Western Lore, 2020)

February 18, 2021 at 7:48 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Crypticz: Between Dust & Time

Like Krust’s albums, the first full-length by Crypticz elevates drum’n’bass to near-symphonic ambitions. Opener “Broadcast Feeling” lasts for a very tense, patient 12 minutes, only dropping breakbeats when necessary and featuring passages bathed in crackling static. Amy Kisnorbo contributes free-floating vocals on “Ocean Blue”, a fitting track title for a producer who creates these vast pieces that you can just soak in rather than dance to. “Lakutala (Version)” sits still and cave-like until a haunting flute and dub bassline emerge, then a hard “Funky Drummer” breakbeat plunks in and everything slowly rotates. “The Guided” is a chalice-bearing dub meditation, and “Journey Through the Rings of Saturn” propels through the milky way — its surging bass and galloping bongos seem to be building up to a locked-in d’n’b rhythm, but its sights are set far beyond that. “Nightshifter’s Groove” does drop some breakbeats in eventually, but it’s mostly carried by bongos and chasmic dub effects. “Lakutala” proper lands at the diced breakbeats that much of the album only hinted at, and it goes off, while still taking necessary time to pause and reflect. Some of the deepest, most ambitious drum’n’bass I’ve heard in a while.

Polytherian: Role Play LP (Gold Robot, 2020)

February 18, 2021 at 6:10 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Polytherian: Role Play LP

Dylan Tidyman-Jones used to make laid back dream pop as FRONDS, but now he’s going by the name Polytherian. It’s generally in the same boat, though, kind of delicate but groovable. “Role Play” is quite elegant, the drifty guitar melody just keeps repeating and it gets to you (in a sad and beautiful way). “Intention” is slightly more lonesome ’50s-tinged. “Nightmares” is a short interlude, then “Casting Call” has minimalist organs, a tricky time signature, pulsating beats, and some trippy echoing synths. It has no lyrics and fades out when it sounds like it’s going to take off and do something more interesting. The first couple tracks on the second side flirt with Brazilian rhythms, with some touches of synth distortion and a weird but friendly vibe. “Fan Fiction” is kind of like a spacier, bubblier version of Woods. “Hymn” is quietly ambitious, shifting tempos a few times while shimmering dreamily. The album seems light and inconsequential at first but it does seep into your brain if you give it a chance.

Lewsberg: In This House LP (12XU, 2020)

February 17, 2021 at 6:20 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Lewsberg: In This House LP

Rotterdam quartet Lewsberg play a stripped down, straightforward but intellectual form of garage rock which seems to be influenced entirely by the Velvet Underground. The songs themselves aren’t quite as memorable, but the musicianship and especially Arie von Vliet’s deadpan vocals are spot on. The album even starts off with a Waldo Jeffers-type story, “Left Turn”, although this one wraps up in 2 minutes. “Cold Light of Day” and “From Never to Once” are easy highlights of the first side, and between them sit a calmer observation about drinking at lunch (or not drinking at lunch) and a somewhat meandering instrumental. “The Door” is slower and seems unassuming at first, but then erupts into the most unhinged, noisy guitar soloing on the record. “Through the Garden” has startling lyrics about suicide and dirty deeds, yet the music is comparatively upbeat, bounding along straight and narrow without tipping over. After a brief noise interlude and the hushed murmur of “Jacob’s Ladder”, “Standard Procedures” is another winding story, with a greater sense of mystery than most of the other songs. Halfway through, it switches down from a taut, steady rhythm to a delicate, minimal instrumental, decaying the album to a close.

Soft Shoulder: Not The New One LP (Gilgongo, 2020)

February 16, 2021 at 6:41 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Soft Shoulder: Not The New One LP

This album collects tracks recorded between 2015 and 2019 by various formations of the Phoenix-based group, essentially a vehicle for songwriter/shouter/musician James Fella. Contributors include Paul Arambula and members of No Babies, Filthy Grin, and other groups. It might not be a proper album recorded by a steady lineup, but it could pass for one, as Fella has a pretty consistent vision for his brand of Swell Maps/The Fall-esque noisy post-punk; the detours and freakouts all seem like part of the plan. Some tracks featured shorted-out electronics, and “Nowhere with Arambula” is skronky rat’s-nest free jazz. “Discard If Expired” starts out like a song but then gets constantly unwound, backed up, slipped out, and filed down, then returns to the ragged rhythm as if nothing happened. “R&S Holdings”, dedicated to featured bandmates Ricky Martyr and Sean Nieves, is a manic, heavy jam filled with vocals blown out and scattered by effects. After some more heat-damaged garage rock, “11 By 17” is another short swarm of improv jazz noise, then “Berlin’s Saat L’Lite” overlays a driving, kind of peppy rhythm with dissonant scraping and police radio transmissions. The extraneous noises go away, but then even stranger voices gargle and beatbox over the music.

Tim Reaper: Teletext EP (Lobster Theremin, 2021)

February 15, 2021 at 3:48 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Tim Reaper: Teletext EP

Last month, Tim Reaper simultaneously released a Special Request remix EP and a new 12″ on Lobster Theremin, and while they’re both excellent, the record of originals is the one I’m most excited about. Longtime resident DJ at Blog to the Oldskool, he’s displayed an encyclopedic knowledge of jungle, particularly the atmospheric darkside stuff from the mid-’90s, and he’s been astoundingly skilled at producing music mirroring that style. “Anytime” does the always fulfilling trick of building up a blissful, sun-soaked atmosphere and torpedoing it with vicious Amen breaks. “Who Run It” is more of a breakbeat rave track with stomping beats, a few shocks of hardcore fury, 2 Unlimited samples, and a few more calming passages. “Teletext” is the killer, with firebombing psychedelic breaks and eerie synths which my ears are easily tricked into thinking are angelic choral voices. “Give It 2 Me” is more early ’90s hardcore that teeters on the throes of ecstasy but also glimpses into a portal of darkness for a few moments (watch for that ghoulish laughter).

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