Ikonika: Aerotropolis (Hyperdub, 2013)

July 24, 2013 at 10:24 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

ikonika: Aerotropolis

ikonika: Aerotropolis

Second full length by British dubstep/house producer Ikonika (Sara Abdel-Hamid), returning to Hyperdub after a few singles on Planet Mu and Hum + Buzz. This album takes a lot of inspiration from ’80s dance music, particularly freestyle, but I also hear some Yello in there too. Of course, the production is of-the-moment (the bass definitely sounds current, it’s clearly filtered through the current UK post-dubstep/garage scene) but the melodies and some of the synth/drum sounds are pretty retro sounding. A little bit of an 8-bit sound in there too, as is typical of her sound. “Beach Mode (Keep It Simple)” is the first single and is the only track with vocals, and to be honest I prefer the instrumental. Opener “Mise En Place” is a beatless instrumental and “Practice Beats” is a short self-explanatory sketch. “Eternal Mode” is the clearest 4/4 dance workout, with bright synths and an Italo-ish bassline. “Completion V.3” is a dark, cosmic instrumental. “Manchego” totally has Yello drums, but modern bass synths. “Lights Are Forever” has a bit of a UK garage swing to it, bright starry-eyed synths, and works up to a straight 4/4 for a few moments at its climax. “Mega Church” is a collaboration with Optimum, and is more downtempo, with rattling hi-hats and somewhat trancey synths. “Cryo” is a dark stalker-y 4/4 stomper, and “Backhand Winners” has more dark bass synth and insistent, stuttering beats. “You Won’t Find It There” is a bit brighter, and has a tiny bit of a chopped-up vocal sample. “Zen Sizzle” ends everything with more heavy kicks and neon synths, but still kind of a lo-tech ’80s vibe to it.

The Woolen Men: Dog Years LP (Dog’s Table, 2013)

July 24, 2013 at 12:18 am | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

The Woolen Men: Dog Years LP

The Woolen Men: Dog Years LP

LP of previously cassette-only tracks from this Portland indie-pop group. LP jackets are hand-assembled and glued, with cut out construction paper. A bit of an ’80s college-rock/power-pop feel to some of the songs, particularly in how catchy they are, but filtered through ’90s lo-fi. “Land Of Laughs” has bashy drums and “whoa-oh-oh” chorus vocals. “Fig Leaf” sounds like it could be a synth-less lo-fi cover of a new wave song. “MRSA” almost strikes as sounding like a poppy Clash song, with a singalong chorus of “better not get to me”. OK, the song itself doesn’t really sound like The Clash, just the singer’s vocals in the verses. “Trap Door” has a pretty straightforward groove and a constant lyrical theme of trap doors opening, and a spoken bridge where the singer talks about falling and fracturing his wrists. “Girls On The Lake” is very lo-fi and GBV-esque, but more Tobin Sprout than Robert Pollard. “Dogs” starts with some ill-connected-cable electric guitar strumming, and has a slow, steady pace and chorus vocals saying “they are the dogs”. “Wick Is Sick” starts with electric piano and bass guitar, and has a really lo-fi interpretation of a Beatles type arrangement. “West Coast” starts with a noise keyboard freakout and is a furious, almost Fall-esque ranter which bashes on for 6 minutes, with plenty of messy keyboards and guitars covered in effects. “Today” is probably the most straightforward catchy pop number here, just 2 minutes of sugary sweet garage-pop, which couldn’t possibly come close to wearing out its welcome, even if you play it multiple times in a row. “Boomerang” is so muddy you can barely make any of it out; there’s a loud guitar in the right channel, some drums bashing in the right, some bass guitar, and vocals (and harmonies) that are not easy to discern. “Donkey Island” is another 2 minute catchy garage-pop number which sounds slightly wobbly and off-center. “Two Brothers” is a little cleaner, the vocals are a little more upfront and discernable, and the instruments seem separated a bit more and it’s not as noisy. Drums are slower and relaxed, chorus is “remember always be cruel”, and the song ends with a spoken vocal, “I’m getting on a plane, I’m coming to see you, keep the door open for me.” Available to stream and purchase on Bandcamp. Woodsist released their self-titled 2012 cassette on LP this year, and I have a download promo of it, but I still haven’t gotten around to listening to it yet.

Radiator Hospital: Can You Feel My Heart Beating? 7″ EP (PRTY NGG!, 2013)

July 23, 2013 at 11:35 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Radiator Hospital: Can You Feel My Heart Beating? 7" EP

Radiator Hospital: Can You Feel My Heart Beating? 7″ EP

Classic heart-on-sleeve noise-pop. High, thin, naive-sounding vocals, a little like the guy from the Gerbils, if anyone remembers them. Love/relationship/heartache type songs that cut to the bone. Opener “…You Call That A Kiss?” is short and fast, “Shut Up & Deal” is slower and longer, and has top-of-lungs higher pitched vocals at the end saying “do you still love him now”?, which are harmonized by vocals singing the same words. On side B, “Incept Date” is more of the same, and “City Lights” is a little ’50s-ish via Hunx/Shannon & The Clams. “Jose Chung’s “From Outer Space”” is probably the best song of the bunch; fast, short, rockin’ and sweet. I think it’s a male/female vocal duet, but they both have a similar voice. Name-your-price download from their Bandcamp, as is their entire discography.

His Name Is Alive megapost

July 21, 2013 at 10:46 pm | Posted in Reviews | 1 Comment

His Name Is Alive: Cliff Bells Vanilla DVD

His Name Is Alive: Cliff Bells Vanilla DVD

A few weeks ago, Warren Defever posted a few new ultra-limited His Name Is Alive releases for sale (and probably sold out immediately). I think they were leftover copies from a recent show in Arizona. If there were any recent shows in Michigan I didn’t hear about them. But I got these new releases so that’s all that matters. First up is a DVD called Cliff Bells Vanilla. It’s a live show in Detroit from November 2008, the same month I saw HNIA at the Brainwaves Festival in Cambridge, MA. This concert was also included as one of the discs in the Eclipse 10-CDr box set from 2010. I have to admit I was disappointed by that release, especially since it cost $200 and there’s no liner notes or tracklist or any information included with the discs, and only recently did I notice a tracklist posted on Discogs. I thought the music was OK, but a lot of it just sounded like rehearsals or something, not particularly exciting. I probably should revisit it though. This DVD is pretty typical of a HNIA show, it kind of shows off a range of their live performance styles: intimate chamber-folk ensemble (a cello player is onstage, although it’s hard to hear him most of the time), acid rock shredding (Warren plays the crap out of his Flying V until the strings break), garage rock (One Wolf from Wolfman Band joins the band for a cover of Destroy All Monsters’ “You’re Gonna Die”, howling and crawling around the stage and audience and breathing in peoples’ faces, and passing out tambourines and shakers, which always happens during HNIA shows), acoustic piano jazz, and more. They cover Patsy Cline’s “Walking After Midnight”, which they did in concert a lot around that era, as well as Big Star’s “Blue Moon” (always one of my favorite songs HNIA does), and of course old classics “Cornfield”, “This World Is Not My Home”, and “Are We Still Married”. The video constantly switches between color and grainy black-and-white, and always has a shaky handheld camera feel. The DVD also includes scans of the show’s program (which includes song lyrics with incorrect/altered song titles, and also the lyrics to “I’ll Send My Face To Your Funeral”, which they didn’t actually play), and show posters. Looked like an awesome show, and it seemed to be in a pretty intimate setting, everyone was seated at restaurant tables and there doesn’t seem to be too many people in the audience. Hopefully they’ll do another show like this soon because I need to see them again.

His Name Is Alive: Home Is

His Name Is Alive: Home Is

Also released in this batch was a CDr called Home Is, which is string interpretations of HNIA’s second album, Home is In Your Head. In 2004, HNIA released a limited 10-CDr box called Cloud Box, which included a disc called Mystery Spot, which was actually string quartet arrangements of 4 songs from the first HNIA album, Livonia. This disc was also released separately as Livonia Strings. The versions on that disc take the songs “If July”, “Caroline’s Supposed Demon”, “Fossil”, and “How Ghosts Affect Relationships”, and stretch them out to over 12 minutes of breathtaking beauty each (except “Ghosts” which is under 4 minutes). The arrangements draw out the melodies of the songs so that they slowly evolve and breathe, and just elevate them to something powerful and transcendent. Home Is does something different than Livonia Strings; it’s only performed by one musician (Jean Cook, who’s played strings with HNIA since Detrola, and is also a member of Ida and many other bands), and this disc contains 8 tracks, ranging from a minute and a half to six and a half minutes. The tracks seem to fluctuate between more straightforward versions of the HIIYH material, and more liberal interpretations, or pieces that sound more like they’re inspired by the original material than direct covers. The first 2 tracks, “Blood” and “Married”, both seem to be based on “Are We Still Married”, with “Blood” being a slower intro, conveying dread with plucked strings panned across the speakers. “Married” speeds things up to the original tempo of the song, and even features a hummed version of the vocal melody. It also adds a sly new melody that adds to the song’s feelings of uncertainty and vulnerability. The track “Home” on this CDr is presumably based on the album’s title track, which is a two minute bass guitar instrumental, which sounds shot down and hopeless. This track seems to follow a similar cadence, but it’s playing something different, it’s 2 minutes longer, and it seems to go into a more hopeful direction by the end, like it’s taking the feeling of the original and uplifting it, looking upwards. Trying to resolve the feelings of doubt. “Beautiful” seems to be a straightforward cover of “Beautiful And Pointless”; in fact, it’s even clearer than the original, perfectly transcribing Karin Oliver’s vocal melodies to strings. “Pointless”, in contrast, takes the mood of the song and meditates on it for a glacial 6 minutes. “Then Winter Ends” follows, seems to be even more of a continuation of that mood, making things cold and still. “Hope” seems to be more based on the vocal melody of “Save The Birds” than “Hope Called In Sick”, which is a minute-and-a-half instrumental which starts with slow clanging bells and is violently interrupted by scorching guitar and drums. This version of “Hope” features slow, ominous plucked strings and some more hummed vocals, and a few sudden bursts, but not as sharp in contrast as “Hope Called In Sick”. “Eyes” is a multi-tracked, hazy instrumental that only barely at the end resembles the vocal melody of either “Eyes” tracks that bookend side 1 of HIIYH (well, not including the brief intro version of “Are You Coming Down This Weekend?”). “Well” further clouds and obscures HIIYH‘s “The Well” (easily one of the album’s standout tracks), not even attempting to replicate Karin Oliver’s majestic vocal performance, but keeping to a more ambient mode. Of course, I could be totally wrong about which tracks Jean Cook is trying to interpret, and what she’s trying to do with them. Her version is definitely not as schizophrenic, but it manages to bring out different elements, both light and dark.

His Name Is Alive: Dragons Look Out Your Window

His Name Is Alive: Dragons Look Out Your Window

The other new HNIA CDr is an album called Dragons Look Out Your Window, an instrumental disc recorded last year in Detroit, with Warren Defever playing guitar, analog synth and harmonium, and Cassandra Verras (who I’m pretty sure was with the band last time I saw them perform in Detroit 2 years ago) on synth and violin. This disc sees Warren diving into analog kosmische synth-drone territory, and it is AWESOME. Couldn’t be happier to hear him go in this direction with his music. No track titles, but the first one’s 12 minutes, the last one’s 10, and the rest are mostly pretty short, but it’s all calm and pretty and cosmic and meditative. It has kind of a wobbly homemade circuitry feel; sometimes it sort of vibrates the way a vinyl record does if it’s on a weak surface and you put something down on it, except I’m playing this as an MP3 right now and it’s still vibrating like that. The second track has a snowy ambient guitar Windy & Carl sound, and definitely goes well with recent White Poppy. The next two tracks have kind of robotic motorik rhythms but without beats, and then track 5 suddenly features a Beach Boys type rhythm. There’s also a flute and string-synths, giving it somewhat of an early Kraftwerk feel. Track 9 has more lush, looping guitar ambient textures. The last track is probably the darkest and bleakest, sounding like it might have even been recorded backwards, with glacial movements suddenly flaring up every so often. Awesome stuff, seriously hoping there’s more HNIA like this coming in the future.

Show #200 – 7/20/13

July 21, 2013 at 3:55 pm | Posted in The Answer Is In The Beat | Leave a comment

mic break music = Hiram Navarrete: Negativo
3:01 AM Low ~ Lullaby (Demo) ~ A Lifetime Of Temporary Relief ~ Chairckickers’ Music
3:10 AM Swans ~ Right Wrong ~ Filth ~ Neutral
3:15 AM Suicide ~ Frankie Teardrop ~ Suicide ~ Red Star
3:25 AM Suicide ~ Be Bop Kid ~ Second Album ~ Ze/Antilles
3:28 AM The Haxan Cloak ~ The Drop ~ Excavation ~ Tri Angle
3:47 AM His Name Is Alive ~ track 1 ~ Dragons Look Out Your Window ~ self-released
3:59 AM Neu! ~ Seeland ~ Neu! 75 ~ Gronland
4:05 AM Saule ~ Paperfilm ~ An Anthology Of Noise & Electronic Music / Seventh And Last A-Chronology ~ Sub Rosa
4:16 AM PAS Musique ~ The Light Inside ~ Abandoned Bird Egg ~ Alrealon Musique
4:25 AM CFCF ~ Camera ~ Music For Objects ~ Paper Bag
4:35 AM Swans ~ The Sound ~ Swans Are Dead ~ Young God
4:47 AM Bran(…)Pos ~ Sawed Off At Plasticized Forest ~ Den Of Ordure And Iridescence ~ Resipiscent Records
4:55 AM White Poppy ~ In The Sun ~ Drifter’s Gold ~ Constellation Tatsu
5:03 AM Phillip Schulze ~ Cause Unfold Proceed II ~ Quartet Solo Series ~ Striking Mechanism
5:25 AM exclusiveOr ~ Intro/Outro ~ Archaea ~ Carrier Records
5:36 AM Taylor Deupree ~ Sundown ~ Faint ~ 12k
5:48 AM Nate Young ~ Only Fallen Heads ~ Blinding Confusion ~ NNA Tapes
5:54 AM Jon Hopkins ~ Abandon Window ~ Immunity ~ Domino

Floorplan: Paradise (M-Plant, 2013)

July 14, 2013 at 9:33 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Floorplan: Paradise

Floorplan: Paradise

Floorplan is an alias of Detroit techno veteran Robert Hood, who started the alias in 1996. This is the project’s first full length LP. It’s definitely stripped down and dancefloor-friendly (as the name suggests). Even though Hood is credited with inventing “minimal techno”, some of his work (particularly last year’s phenomenal Motor: Nighttime World 3) builds and progresses and is too melodic to just be categorized as minimal. This album is a little closer to what you might call “minimal” for his sound, as most tracks tend to feature a 4/4 beat, a few repeating samples or drum breaks, and a tiny snatch of melody, and they all hover around the 6 or 7 minute mark. And as the name Floorplan also suggests, this music is about getting straight down to the groove and making people dance, and it does that with flying colors. A lot of the tracks feature brief samples from soul and gospel records, used in a really lo-fi way as if they were sampled off cheap keyboards, like old Dance Mania records. “Let’s Ride” sounds like it samples a little girl saying “why do you tell?”, with a bit of choppy drums and minimal organ drone. “Baby Baby” has the titular phrase chopped and looped, along with a soul horn sample that appears throughout the track. “Change” is very typical of Hood’s minimal style, with a dubby chord and 4/4 beats looped and EQ’d without much change (even though the track is called “Change”). “Altered Ego” is another gradually building dubby minimal track, with chopped up Amen snares and a snakelike rattle sound. One of those tracks that just plain works. “Never Grow Old” has an old gospel sample taken off very crackly old vinyl, featuring a singer who basically shouts her lungs out while the crowd cheers and claps along. “Eclipse” stays minimal with only a few light synth washes over the beat. “Higher!” is also pretty minimal, with some echoing claps and gradual appearances from cymbal and drum sounds. “Confess” features a joyful piano sample and tough, pumping beats. “Chord Principle” has a spare sample of a girl laughing, and some classic Hood minimal organ chords. “Above The Clouds” ends the album with another dubby minimal groove.

Bran(…)Pos: Den Of Ordure And Iridescence LP (Resipiscent Records, 2013)

July 14, 2013 at 12:09 am | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Bran(...)Pos: Den Of Ordure And Iridescence

Bran(…)Pos: Den Of Ordure And Iridescence

Easily the most “no seriously, what is this?” record of the week. “Tin Tract Mine” starts off side A with some grotesque, choking, slurping vocal work, and after a minute and a half, some wavey stun-ray synths come in, followed by some more layers of shredding, flesh-melting synths, and more chopped up creepy voices. Around 5 minutes is when it all comes together to a wall of headfuck noise, but it’s not quite as dense and impenetrable as it might seem. Lots of layers and sounds messing with your head, but you still feel like you can trace everything. Around 7 minutes some pulse-beats come in, along with some high-pitched, rapid synth sounds dancing hard-panned between the speakers. The vocals start to get more tortured and zombie-like, and gets really crazy for the last minute and a half. “Sawed Off At Plasticized Forest” begins with some random stop-start electro-acoustics, as well as some uncomfortable bursts of deep strings, and some drill-like electronics. A rhythm seems to emerge and it sounds like the strings are sawing away in tune to it. Then it all goes quiet, and the strings slowly emerge from the black again. Another build with strings and squirmy electronics, and then the last minute is quiet again except for bare, lone strings. Side B is taken up by the epic “Lioness”, a truly impressive work featuring ghostly voices, bird caws, tympanis, horror soundtrack synth atmospheres, and so much more. It almost sounds like electric thumb pianos playing the melody, but maybe those are guitars or synths? It’s hard to tell. Can’t understate how epic those tympanis make this thing sound. Not to mention the whistly, bubbly synths, the cymbals in the background, the part when the synths sound like popcorn popping, the rhythm that comes in around the 10 minute mark… Wow, just wow.

Show #199 – 7/13/13

July 13, 2013 at 5:07 pm | Posted in The Answer Is In The Beat | Leave a comment

Hour 1
3:03 AM Bran(…)Pos ~ Lioness ~ Den Of Ordure And Iridescence ~ Resipiscent Records
3:20 AM The Haxan Cloak ~ Mara ~ Excavation ~ Tri Angle
3:26 AM David Lynch ~ Cold Wind Blowin’ ~ The Big Dream ~ Sacred Bones
3:30 AM You Me & Us ~ Sleep Swerves ~ Stay Inside ~ self-released
3:32 AM His Name Is Alive ~ Pointless ~ Home Is ~ self-released
3:38 AM Warren Defever ~ Bring Your Witch ~ mp3 ~ Soundcloud
Hour 2
4:00 AM Charles Dodge ~ Side One ~ Earth’s Magnetic Field ~ Nonesuch
4:04 AM Neu! ~ Neuschnee ~ Neu! 2 ~ Gronland
4:08 AM John Coltrane & Don Cherry ~ Focus On Sanity ~ The Avant-Garde ~ Atlantic
4:20 AM Rodion G.A. ~ Cantec Fulger ~ The Lost Tapes ~ Strut
4:24 AM Boredoms ~ ~ ~ Vision Creation Newsun ~ Birdman
4:31 AM Steve Roach ~ Arc Of Passion (excerpt) ~ Arc Of Passion ~ Projekt
4:41 AM Boy Froot ~ Repo$$e$$ion$ ~ Looters Mixtape ~ Bandcamp
4:43 AM EVOL ~ iDEAL Mixtape Eleven – Acid Megamix ~ mp3 ~ iDEAL
4:56 AM Laskfar Vortok ~ Incitatus ~ Caligula Lives ~ Immigrant Breast Nest
Hour 3
5:02 AM Embryoptic ~ Synapse IV ~ Living In A World Full Of Drones ~ Galatron Mining Corporation
5:08 AM Pursuit Grooves ~ Hard Beginnings ~ Tectonic Plates Volume 4 ~ Tectonic
5:15 AM RP Boo ~ Speakers R-4 (Sounds) ~ Legacy ~ Planet Mu
5:18 AM Techno-B ~ Seagasaurus ~ Techno-B Died Of Dysentery ~ Scolex Recordings
5:22 AM Floorplan ~ Altered Ego ~ Paradise ~ M-Plant
5:29 AM Charles Dodge ~ Side 2 ~ Earth’s Magnetic Field ~ Nonesuch
5:36 AM Jamka ~ Wild Rose Trees ~ An Anthology Of Noise & Electronic Music / Seventh And Last A-Chronology ~ Sub Rosa
5:41 AM Ashrae Fax ~ Ultravaca ~ Static Crash ~ Mexican Summer
5:46 AM Algebra Suicide ~ In Bed With Boys ~ Feminine Squared ~ Dark Entries
5:48 AM Aarktica ~ You Have Cured A Million Ghosts From Roaming In My Head ~ No Solace In Sleep ~ Silber
5:52 AM Shells ~ Beach ~ In A Cloud ~ Life Like
5:54 AM White Poppy ~ Who Are You ~ Drifter’s Gold ~ Constellation Tatsu

Lidless Eye: Escape The Split Screen 1-sided LP (Life Like, 2013)

July 7, 2013 at 11:55 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Lidless Eye: Escape The Split Screen

Lidless Eye: Escape The Split Screen

Lidless Eye is one of the many projects of Knox Mitchell, who runs Green Records & Tapes. Most of his releases are ultra-limited tapes and CDR’s that you can pretty much only get from the artist himself. I was really impressed with his live performances, so I’m glad Fred Thomas recorded and released a Lidless Eye vinyl, it sounds amazing. Sort of like Cotton Museum, this isn’t pierce-your-eardrums noise, it’s throbbing, lurching, queasy noise. Lots of whale-like high-pitched sounds and an electrified pulse. Very hypnotic. Still available from Life Like.

D33J: Tide Songs tape (Anticon, 2013)

July 7, 2013 at 10:48 pm | Posted in Reviews | Comments Off on D33J: Tide Songs tape (Anticon, 2013)

D33J: Tide Songs

D33J: Tide Songs

I saw this guy open for labelmate Baths, and he definitely stole the show. Really nice grimy hazy lo-fi techno that could fit in with 100% Silk type stuff. I think this tape is actually the official release of a digital EP from a couple years ago, so some of it sounds a little bit different than the type of stuff he played live. Opening track “Park” is like what I heard at the show, calm but gradually evolving house beats and mutating synths. “Young Wavy” is just a short interlude, but it’s closer to what you might expect from Anticon; blunted abstract hip-hop beats. True to the tape’s title, there’s plenty of wave sounds throughout the tape. “Reever’s Edge” has a more uptempo beat, seriously warped synths and a vocal sample of an argument ending with “believe it or not, you’re important to me.” There’s also a bit of a guitar melody and some chopped up vocal samples, including the one from the beginning. On side B, “Drowning Pools” has more guitar melody and glitched up synths along with a nice building beat. “Sleeping Out” ends the tape with another wistful, slightly glitchy hip-hop instrumental. A nice surprise, both the tape and the live set.

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