Hot & Cold: Border Area LP (Moniker, 2012)

September 22, 2013 at 11:35 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Hot & Cold: Border Area LP

Hot & Cold: Border Area LP

Lo-fi post-punk duo based in Beijing, utilizing drum machine, bass guitar, vocals, and noise feedback. Kind of droney and repetitive, resembling a really stripped down, guitarless Spacemen 3 in some ways (particularly the spacey vocals on opener “Out Of The Grey”). A lot of the songs have minimal vocals, usually in the beginning of the song, and then focus on noisy electronic solos. “Uighur Pop” has a punchier drum machine sound and is punctuated by horrifying sheets of screamed vocals. “Sister Told Me” is like “Sister Ray” with a cruddy drum machine and organ instead of guitars. A few tracks, like “Red Leather Set”, have a bit of a swing to the beat. I just realized that this also sort of reminds me of The Rebel (B.R. Wallers of Country Teasers’ solo project). Just really cold and minimal and deadpan, but still in a post-punk lo-fi sort of way, not a dark, goth one.

Zwerm: Underwater Princess Waltz (New World Records, 2013)

September 22, 2013 at 10:32 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Zwerm: Underwater Princess Waltz

Zwerm: Underwater Princess Waltz

This is an album of pieces whose musical scores are contained on a single page, performed by a Dutch/Belgian guitar group called Zwerm. While that would make it seem like a lot of these pieces would be short, some of them are exercises in minimalism, similar to Terry Riley’s “In C”. Joel Ford’s “Gauss Cannon”, which opens the disc, is a good example of this, containing guitar parts which repeat, intertwine and phase, and accelerate and end up frenetic and chaotic with drums. The two Alvin Curran pieces that follow are both short, lovely, entrancing, ethereal waltzes, played gently on guitars, featuring what almost sounds like a singing saw in the background, but it’s still a guitar. The score to Nick and Leo Didkovsky’s “Mayhem” isn’t a musical one, but a drawing of a cartoonishly violent scene involving skeletons, dragons, a wizard, and lots of weapons, and the instruction to play it is to focus on one detail or line of action and attempt to musically translate it for 60 seconds, so three of the pieces on this album are skronky minute-long noise-rock pieces derived from that (with “The Arrow” surprisingly featuring banjo as lead instrument, and “The Blade” being the most METAL). Christian Wolff’s “Burdocks, Part VII” is scored with a cryptic Anthony Braxton-esque diagram, with prose instructing the players to play notes in certain orders, and the recording involves sinewaves, old radio recordings, percussion, sax, guitar feedback, and other sounds. Larry Polansky’s “tween (k-tood #2)” is another repeating, minimalist piece, which was written for piano, but is played here on guitar instead. Clinton McCallum’s “round round down” was written for Zwerm, and is a mind-melting spiralling staircase of electric guitar notes and feedback. “The Red And White Cows” begins with a spoken math problem involving different colored cows, then goes into a bluesy piece with steel string guitars, bullhorned vocals, stranges sounds and samples, and odd changes and sequences. Earle Brown’s “December 1952” is another piece with a graphic score that’s open to interpretation, so in this recording of it, we get a lovely 8 minutes of towering, spacey guitar feedback. Karl H. Berger’s “Time Goes By” has a slowcore rhythm with organ and vocals repeating the phrase “quite some times goes by” twice, subtracting the first word of that phrase and repeating it twice, and so on, and then repeating the entire sequence over and over, with slight musical variations as well, and eventually improvisations are added into the music (particularly with the percussion and guitar solos), as well as a looping system further pushing things into the vortex, stretching this one-page piece to almost 15 minutes.

The Stranger: Watching Dead Empires In Decay (Modern Love, 2013)

September 22, 2013 at 9:43 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

The Stranger: Watching Dead Empires In Decay

The Stranger: Watching Dead Empires In Decay

Leyland Kirby is a true hero of mine, from his pig-masked days as noise-pop terrorist V/Vm, running the pioneering V/Vm Test Records label, to his Lynchian recordings as The Caretaker, to his dark ambient works under his own name, and everything in between. The Stranger is one of his longest-running aliases (having released a limited CDr on Phthalo back in 1997), but this is only the third release under that alias. This (as far as I know) is Kirby’s first release on Modern Love, and he’s such a perfect fit on that label, considering how much of a debt artists like Demdike Stare owe to him. This is a suitably dim-lit album of dark, sometimes-rhythmic atmospherics, with clanging bells and soft beats anchoring the way on tracks like “So Pale It Shone In The Night”. “Spiral Of Decline” is the closest the album comes to a straight 4/4 beat, but you’d be hard-pressed to call it “techno”. “We Scarcely See Sunlight” has slowly tolling metallic percussion and sickly-sounding bowed instruments moaning away in the background. “Providence Or Fate” has darkly pounding drums and crackly synth-strings for a kind of poignant cinematic feel, albeit a film that’s decaying and distorted. “Where Are Our Monsters Now, Where Are Our Friends?” has a slow, mutated drum machine beat and curdled synth melodies, which sounds a bit like a cousin of V/Vm’s infamous butchering of Chris De Burgh’s “Lady In Red”. If you’re familiar with that V/Vm track, this will be a delightful flashback to that period of Kirby’s musical career, but it’s still something new and fresh and forward-looking (however wearily so). The album ends appropriately with the eerie drift of “About To Enter A Strange New Period”, which seems like a fitting proclamation for what could be a bold new era for Leyland Kirby’s always-captivating music.

Chevalier Avant Garde: Resurrection Machine (Fixture Records, 2013)

September 22, 2013 at 8:44 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Chevalier Avant Garde: Resurrection Machine

Chevalier Avant Garde: Resurrection Machine

For some reason, I was expecting this to be more coldwave/minimal-synth, and while it is some sort of dark, chilling electronic pop, the melodies remind me a bit more of early Magnetic Fields, but obviously without as sharp lyrics. The vocals are shadowy and androgynous, and there’s enough guitars to make this feel closer to indie/pop than electronic music. Lots of short, mysterious ambient interludes, which feel like weird transitional scenes (with “Return” and “Nothing Between” being odd detours into early house music). “It Was Me” starts out really obscured and ominous, but ends up with a murky 4/4 beat and plastic synths, and breaks a couple times for a piano part that sounds like that “Walking In Memphis” song. “It Makes Me Crawl” is suitably creepy and low-to-the-ground. As dark and gloomy as this album seems, there is some optimism in here, with the lyrics of “Killing Fields” admitting that “you are the comfort of my soul”, before drowning in dripping water-like synths.

Blouse: Imperium (Captured Tracks, 2013)

September 22, 2013 at 7:20 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Blouse: Imperium

Blouse: Imperium

Second album from Portland dream-pop group. This album was a deliberate attempt to move away from the more synth-pop leaning sound of their debut; there’s no electronic instruments and some acoustic ones, including cello on a few tracks. But it still has an effects-heavy dream-pop sound and reverb-covered female vocals. Sort of like The Lost Patrol but not as much of a late-night noir feeling, and more uptempo (especially on “Eyesite” and “Arrested”). The vocals also remind me of the late Trish Keenan of Broadcast, especially on “In A Glass”. Lyrics can be pretty basic but affecting (“trust me, I’m the one who loves you”, “I’ll love you for a thousand years”). A solid, worthwhile follow-up effort.

Show #208 – 9/21/13

September 21, 2013 at 3:22 pm | Posted in The Answer Is In The Beat | Leave a comment

R.I.P. WAW PIEROGI of XEX

3:03 AM The Stranger ~ So Pale It Shone In The Night ~ Watching Dead Empires In Decay ~ Modern Love
3:08 AM Steve Hauschildt ~ Coming Into View ~ S/H ~ Editions Mego
3:18 AM Donato Dozzy ~ Vaporware 04 ~ Donato Dozzy Plays Bee Mask ~ Spectrum Spools
3:24 AM High Wolf ~ An Empire Upon An Empire ~ Kairos: Chronos ~ Not Not Fun
3:28 AM Mind Over Mirrors ~ The Fence ~ When The Rest Are Up At Four ~ Immune
3:38 AM White Poppy ~ Wear Me Away ~ White Poppy ~ Not Not Fun
3:41 AM Blouse ~ Arrested ~ Imperium ~ Captured Tracks
3:45 AM Crystal Stilts ~ Future Folklore ~ Nature Noir ~ Sacred Bones
3:48 AM Chelsea Wolfe ~ Destruction Makes The World Burn Brighter ~ Pain Is Beauty ~ Sargent House
3:50 AM Chevalier Avant Garde ~ Rose Rider ~ Resurrection Machine ~ Fixture Records
3:53 AM Mum ~ When Girls Collide ~ Smilewound ~ Morr Music
4:01 AM Belle and Sebastian ~ I’m A Cuckoo (by the Avalanches) ~ The Third Eye Centre ~ Matador
4:04 AM Alex Belhaj’s Crescent City Quartet ~ Viper Mad ~ Sugar Blues ~ self-released
4:11 AM Matt Mitchell ~ Singe ~ Fiction ~ Pi Recordings
4:14 AM Zwerm ~ Her Waltzing With Her ~ Underwater Princess Waltz: A Collection Of One-Page Pieces ~ New World Records
4:17 AM Kevin Kastning & Mark Wingfield ~ Illustratio Triocha I ~ Dark Sonatas ~ Greydisc
4:20 AM Lonnie Holley ~ Grandma Wanted Me To Be Like The Bee ~ 9/7/13 Paradise Of Bachelors Day Show, Raleigh, NC ~ mp3
4:25 AM Anna Von Hausswolff ~ No Body ~ Ceremony ~ Other Music
4:35 AM Xex ~ Vietnam Vet ~ Change ~ Dark Entries
4:39 AM Xex ~ Rome On $5 A Day ~ Group: Xex ~ Dark Entries
4:43 AM Dark Day ~ Hands In The Dark ~ Hands In The Dark ~ Dark Entries
4:45 AM Algebra Suicide ~ Walking Through Sleep ~ Feminine Squared ~ Dark Entries
4:48 AM Nagamatzu ~ Radio Song ~ Shatter Days ~ Dark Entries
4:52 AM Eleven Pond ~ Land Of Yellow ~ Assemblage ~ Dark Entries
4:56 AM German Army ~ Discrete Elements ~ Endless Phonics ~ Monofonus Press
5:02 AM Soft Location ~ Bangalore ~ Fools ~ self-released
5:06 AM Disclosure ~ Help Me Lose My Mind ~ Settle ~ Interscope
5:10 AM Jessy Lanza ~ Against The Wall ~ Pull My Hair Back ~ Hyperdub
5:13 AM Polysick ~ Barry Talks ~ 12″ ~ 100% Silk
5:18 AM Xander Harris ~ Tristitia ~ The New Dark Age Of Love ~ Not Not Fun
5:22 AM Henry & Hazel Slaughter ~ A6 ~ Endless Power Cycle ~ Fedora Corpse
5:26 AM Qixoni ~ Penk ~ Penk 3″ cdr ~ Brokecore
5:36 AM Shapednoise ~ Survival Of The Dead ~ Until Human Voices Wake Us ~ Opal Tapes
5:41 AM Jonas Reinhardt ~ Semazen Selam ~ Mask Of The Maker ~ Not Not Fun
5:47 AM Coyote Clean Up ~ 2 Hot 2 Wait ~ 2 Hot 2 Wait ~ 100% Silk
5:53 AM Russian Tsarlag ~ Plastic Door ~ Gagged In Boonsville ~ Not Not Fun
5:58 AM Olekranon ~ Transfixed ~ Danaus ~ Inam Records

Local Music Show 9/18/13

September 21, 2013 at 2:54 pm | Posted in Local Music Show | Leave a comment

9:02 PM His Name Is Alive ~ Summer Of E.S.P. ~ Universal Frequencies ~ 4AD
9:04 PM Soft Location ~ Tempted ~ Fools ~ self-released
9:08 PM Shells ~ Warm Dub ~ In A Cloud ~ Life Like
9:11 PM Clay Rendering ~ Vengeance Candle ~ 12″ ~ Hospital Productions
9:16 PM Henry & Hazel Slaughter ~ B7 ~ Endless Power Cycle ~ Fedora Corpse
9:21 PM Portable Island ~ I’m A Lightning Tower (Feel My Power) ~ My Face Is A Video Game ~ self-released
9:27 PM Kiln ~ Afer ~ Kiln ~ Roomtone
9:41 PM Kosik ~ Dust ~ Removable Pieces ~ Kikapu
9:45 PM Potter-Belmar Labs ~ track 10 ~ Twa Corbies ~ self-released
9:48 PM Powerpiece ~ track 4 ~ Ceramic Phallus Fetish ~ Eupholus
9:54 PM Mammal ~ Anti Cloud ~ Double Nature ~ Scratch And Sniff Entertainment
9:58 PM Scissor Now! ~ Bail Out ~ Not Now, But Right Now! ~ Arbco
10:01 PM The Walking Beat ~ LIVE! ~ Local Music Show ~ WCBN
10:33 PM Minus9 ~ Bedwetter ~ Drown ~ Flying Blood
10:34 PM Secret Twins ~ Poor Replacements ~ Ill Fit ~ Quack! Media
10:37 PM Shigeto ~ Ritual Howl ~ No Better Time Than Now ~ Ghostly International
10:41 PM Tadd Mullinix ~ Commun Changement ~ Winking Makes A Face ~ Ghostly International
10:47 PM Persona ~ Crumblebum ~ Maximal ~ Vinyl Commuications
10:51 PM Selector Catalogue ~ Hack The Planet ~ ????????????? ~ Backwards Records NW
10:56 PM Warren Defever’s Control Panel ~ My Emerald Side ~ Music Inspired By Abraham Lincoln’s Civil War ~ Isonauta Records

Robert Hampson: Répercussions (Editions Mego, 2012)

September 14, 2013 at 8:16 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Robert Hampson: Répercussions

Robert Hampson: Répercussions

This album is released both in a stereo CD version and a 5.1 surround DVD-Audio version, but I tried playing the DVD in my laptop and it didn’t make any sound, so I don’t know what the difference between the two mixes is. Anyway, this is an electro-acoustic work by an artist best known for being part of Main, Loop and Godflesh, and it utilizes treated and manipulated piano and percussion instruments. Just listening on my laptop speakers, there’s plenty of shifting and fractalizing between the speakers, which sounds pretty interesting, but I can see why you’d need to have the 5.1 mix played on surround speakers, particularly as part of an installation of some sort. As it is, there’s some pretty interesting mutating textures, but like the previous Robert Hampson release I got a review promo of, I feel like there’s something missing just by listening to it, it feels like there’s supposed to be a visual/multimedia element that isn’t represented just by listening to the disc. Of the three tracks, the shortest, “Antarctica Ends Here” (dedicated to John Cale and named after his song “Antarctica Starts Here”) seems to be the warmest and most inviting, with clear piano notes and resounding violin-like drones.

Liz Christine: Sweet Mellow Cat (flau, 2012)

September 14, 2013 at 7:46 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Liz Christine: Sweet Mellow Cat

Liz Christine: Sweet Mellow Cat

Dream-like collage utilizing piano loops, found sounds, nature sounds, dialogue, music box-like melodies, and lots of animal sounds, particularly dogs, frogs and cats. The cats don’t particularly sound that mellow, actually, they sound kind of irritated sometimes. There’s not a whole lot of logic to this album, it’s very fluid and random and structureless, and that is fine by me. Not a whole lot in the way of beats or rhythm, except the bluesy slide guitar and slowly shifting electronic beats on “Dinah”. A few tracks have eerie dialogue samples saying “I love you”, or talking about loving something. Tracks like “Or Ten Pills AT Three O’Clock” and “C Caterina”, with glitched/warped easy listening samples/loops, definitely remind me of People Like Us, but without referencing obvious songs or melodies, as PLU often does. There seems to be an unnerving layer of hiss and static during the later songs on this album. And the disc ends very suddenly with a slap and a shout, much like something sharp occurring in a dream can quickly snap you awake.

Mind Over Mirrors: When The Rest Are Up At Four (Immune, 2013)

September 14, 2013 at 4:52 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Mind Over Mirrors: When The Rest Are Up At Four

Mind Over Mirrors: When The Rest Are Up At Four

Jaime Fennelly of Peeesseye started releasing solo synth/harmonium-drone as Mind Over Mirrors a few years ago, and is already up to his fourth LP, in addition to a tape on Digitalis Limited and a 7″. This is his first album on the Immune label out of Chicago, and it is tremendous. Really lovely Berlin School-style synth patterns, but nice layers of guitar fuzz and slightly warped organ textures. After the first 3 songs, the album gets a bit dirgelike with “Innumerable Step” (featuring fellow Digitalis alumni Scott Tuma), picks the momentum up a little bit with “Bark & Barge”, then plunges fathoms below with the 18-minute drone “Heights & The Deeper”.

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