Everyone Is Dirty: My Neon’s Dead (OIM Records, 2017)

September 28, 2017 at 7:32 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Everyone Is Dirty: My Neon’s Dead

This one caught my attention because the first song I heard (“My Neon’s Dead”) sounded a lot like the Throwing Muses, which made me jump for joy. This Oakland-based group does utilize a lot of classic ’90s alternative elements (crunchy guitars, loud/soft dynamics, bitter lyrics/vocals), but the inclusion of violin and pedal steel takes their sound somewhere else. In addition to the Hersh-tastic title track, there’s the moody prog-pop mini-symphony “3D Light”, which has harmony vocals, elegant violin, and a rising tempo near the end. A few strange interludes such as “Alien Birth Scene” serve as breathing points between songs such as the angsty power-pop of “Mermaid”. Then there’s the even more ambitious and lengthy “Window Eye” which brings the album to a dramatic close. This album was recorded after singer/violinist Sivan Lioncub spent months in a hospital after her liver failed, and she describes it as the “soundtrack to my toxic morphine haze.” It’s uneasy and acerbic, but not quite all-out scathing, and it gets a bit trippy at times. Worth checking out, and it just appeared on Bandcamp today.


Do Pas O: Join the Fucking Drum Circle tape (Hausu Mountain, 2017)

September 24, 2017 at 6:01 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Do Pas O: Join the Fucking Drum Circle tape

Peter Negroponte of Guerilla Toss debuts his solo project with this tape of richly textured rhythmic workouts on Hausu Mountain. Drums are the center of this, and everything is locked into a steady rhythm (there’s no erratic left turns or impossible time signatures), but there’s so much more built on top of it. Stacks and stacks of lush keyboards, snaky guitars, jumping basslines, and much more. My favorite is the shoegaze trip “The Perfect Sandwich”, which seems like it’s fading away at one point before whizzing back. Some of the more exotic drum rhythms and synth layers sound like Muslimgauze, but a lot more cheerful and optimistic sounding. Also, for an album that includes a 10 minute track called “Drums Space”, this feels remarkably concise and focused. Final track “Hype Train to Hell” seems to aurally convey the all-inclusive message of the album’s title best. It has a really friendly aura and clapping rhythm, but it’s not all about drums. There’s harmony with guitars and bass and everything.

Talibam!: Endgame Of The Anthropocene + Hard Vibe (w/ Matt Nelson + Ron Stabinsky) (ESP-Disk’, 2017)

September 24, 2017 at 2:57 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Talibam!: Endgame Of The Anthropocene

Talibam! return to ESP-Disk’ with two entirely different albums which sound totally different from anything else they’ve done. Endgame Of The Anthropocene is an ambitious concept album about the battle for control of Antarctica in 2048 after the rest of the planet has become uninhabitable for reasons relating to global warming, overpopulation, exhausted resources, etc. Sounds like the type of dystopian story concept which isn’t too far from what could actually happen. Musically, the album was created from an arsenal of synths, with Kevin Shea’s master-blaster drumming being the only non-electronic instrument (and even then, the drums sound pretty robotic or processed). The synths do sometimes emulate horns or new wave guitars, and it still has a live band feel, but it’s also a dense studio creation. It gets a bit messy, but it always sounds captivating and exciting. Opener “Antarctica shall be used for peaceful purposes only” (Article 1) is a 12-minute careening, triumphant odyssey, equal parts electro-funk and prog. “Obsequious Resources Duly Exploited De Novo” is another highlight, starting out with sporadic drums, then getting into some sort of prog-footwork cityscape. “Cost-Effective Drilling Enabled by Pioneering Technologies and Warmer Climates in the Southern Ocean” is a little more industrial and clanky, ending with some righteous delay and ring mods. “RISE OF THE DEFENDERS OF ANTARCTICA” is a surging jumble of triumphant horns, slipshod drums, and rapidly blinking computer bleeps. The album is a fun, somewhat chaotic sci-fi epic with an alarming message behind it.

Talibam! + Matt Nelson + Ron Stabinsky: Hard Vibe

On a much different plane, Hard Vibe (with Matt Nelson and Ron Stabinsky) is an extended jam combining gospel organ, hard bop sax soloing, and hypnotic, hard-driving rhythm. Everyone’s playing at a high energy level, and it sounds fluid and intense. Near the end of the first side, there’s some bizarre, transforming effects on the saxophone, and then it ends abruptly, but it picks right back up on the second side, continuing with the same groove. Halfway through, though, it switches up and gets into a more electrified, possessed trance, and then it rockets into a more abstract synth-funk mode. And once again, the band ends right on time. Of course, it’s entirely likely that they could’ve been playing for 7 hours straight and this was just edited with proper beginnings and endings to fit on vinyl. Regardless, this is some serious cosmic energy.

Sax & Violence: Ambient Doom Jazz (Atonuv, 2017)

September 24, 2017 at 1:31 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Sax & Violence: Ambient Doom Jazz

Hard-to-define Detroit duo doing hypnotic synth-based music with, yes, sax and violin. The release is titled Ambient Doom Jazz, but this doesn’t quite sound like other acts calling themselves doomjazz (which, to be honest, I’m not really sure what that is exactly). “Slushwave” is a midtempo electronic trawl, but “Empty Balloon” is more upbeat and tricky, with lots of strange violin manipulations and bubbly synths. Also, while the tracks are all exactly 5 minutes long, this song is really only 2 minutes and the last 3 are silent. Maybe it’s on purpose since the title is “Empty Balloon”, like it’s supposed to signify that it’s deflated after that point. “Time Bas” is just a really good convergence of rising, wailing tones and explorative beats. The CD-R we got at WCBN also contains 4 additional tracks from older releases, and they’re all under 5 minutes. Some of the drum machines sound a bit more rudimentary (but pushed to the limit) and the sax sounds a bit more romantic, and somehow maybe sort of klezmer-ish, especially on “How Strong Is Thy Magic Tone?”. “Industrial Science Fiction Lounge” is maybe the closest this get to sounding doomy, but even then it’s more ominous, with rumbling tones and fluttering sax. Some really excellent sound world creation here, and I’m sure they’re just as magical live.

Chris Pottinger: Stagnant Secretion LP (Tasty Soil, 2017)

September 22, 2017 at 10:37 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Chris Pottinger: Stagnant Secretion LP

No longer using the name Cotton Museum, Chris Pottinger is still making nauseous, swaying synth creations, along with illustrations of ghoulish, vein-covered monsters to match. Stagnant Secretion is his latest, featuring 6 compositions for Buchla modular synthesizer along with echo and delay units. This one has a little bit more of a tense horror soundtrack vibe to it, and it’s definitely not as noisy has some of his other albums. His sound has always been too different and original to really categorize as “noise” anyway, but the same can be said about lots of artists associated with the noise scene. On the second side, “Parasite Lure” is particularly brain-warping, going into some Forbidden Planet-type modulations and abstractions. Another perfect-for-Halloween record from Mr. Pottinger, and not to be missed.

Selector Catalogue: The Storm (Reject Records, 2017)

September 16, 2017 at 10:06 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Selector Catalogue: The Storm

Has it really been 3 years since the last Reject Records release, and 4 since the last Selector Catalogue album? Then again, how many people are really paying attention? Jonah continues bringing the best in splintered 300BPM confusecore, combining a sense of extreme glee with a logic to beat-shredding that him and few others (such as Watabou) can fully grasp. This one’s free and it’s all winners. Highlights include the Garfield-sampling yukfest “What’s a Record Player?”, the chiptune + turntable scratch-core of “Summer Cruise”, an extended mix of the classic “Normal Sux”, and a special song created for one of the unforgettable Code Name Dracula events.

Kill Alters: No Self Helps (Hausu Mountain, 2017)

September 16, 2017 at 9:40 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Kill Alters: No Self Helps

This pink plastic tape with a smooshed Miss Piggy face on the cover features a bunch of fast, noisy drum-heavy electro-junk jams with soaring, screeching, acrobatic, commanding vocals from Bonnie Baxter. Hisham Bharoocha is in this group, so there’s certainly an element of Soft Circle/certain eras of Black Dice in this, but also some Foot Village drum power, some quasi-dance-punk (he was also in Pixeltan), some riot grrrl, and a bunch more overloaded machinery, but not enough so that obscures the rhythms. Also, there’s a ton of interludes of kids singing along to a cheap keyboard demo. This, plus the strange therapy session skit at the end, make this seem like an audio document of a bunch of hyperactive kids killing time during summer vacation, but the proper songs are studio-recorded and pack a multitude of ideas and concentrated energy into their chrome-plated shells.

Black Sandwich: Suddenly Wednesday tape (FPE, 2017)

September 16, 2017 at 4:54 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Black Sandwich: Suddenly Wednesday tape

Super anxious lo-fi synth-punk with a pop core, vaguely reminding me of Jon Barba or Gerty Farish, but those are only top-of-the-head comparisons. There’s somewhat deceiving moments of pure poppiness such as “New U”, and there’s also cathartic screeds like the “It only hurts when I breathe in / It only hurts when I breathe out” part during “Butt Nugget”. Also, the final track “For I Am Satan” is described as being about suffering a mental breakdown after an abortion, and right before it, “Driven By the Hive” is about being abandoned by one’s father. And in the middle is a sweet, heartbreaking sorta-darkwave love song called “Branches”. This all sounds awkward, amateur, and emotionally confused, and I love it. Tape and digital available from Bandcamp.

The Miami Dolphins: Water Your Waiting For (FPE, 2017)

September 16, 2017 at 4:18 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

The Miami Dolphins: Water Your Waiting For

The second album from the Minneapolis-based Miami Dolphins has a similar sort of cartoonish, angular no wave sound as their previous EP and album, but the lyrics seem a bit more overtly political this time. There’s several songs which seem to enthusiastically chirp “kill them all!”, with “Protect The Children And Drain Your Boat” saying “Nobody wants to go to war / Doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do it”. Disbelief and paranoia color a lot of the tracks, particularly “Fluoride” and “It Goes On”, and “Speak Up” spits back numerous lines of toxic, misogynist downtalking. Elizabeth Bambery’s vocals continue to swing from a nervous shout to more delicate, ethereal moments, but they’re always energetic and spirited. There’s also moments where she and the other band members seem to get stuck in one thought, such as the “Can you heand me the ketchup, my hamburger’s a little dry?” bit during “Protect the Children…” The music is a similar sort of trapeze act going from various points of frenzied, noise-rock chaos, with a few short, strange interludes thrown in, such as the circus-like intro and the jaw’s harp piece “Miami Oh Yeah”.

Giant Claw: Soft Channel (Orange Milk, 2017)

September 16, 2017 at 3:34 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Giant Claw: Soft Channel

Giant Claw is the solo project of Keith Rankin, co-founder of Orange Milk Records and one of the underground’s most prolific producer of trippy album art, along with Robert Beatty. Giant Claw’s work has varied from mutant prog-rock to MIDI-juke to vaporwave, and this continues in the direction of recent releases like Dark Web and Deep Thoughts. Lots of splashes and smashes of color and voices and instruments against a blank canvas. Brief bursts of glitched, tweaked-out classical instruments, melted R&B vocals, deconstruction. Non-linearity. It starts, it stutters, it smudges and skitters and crashes, and offers moments of light and half-thoughts, and a few notes of a majestic aria, then it stops. Very scrambled and hectic, but it also has a sort of poise to it. If there’s one moment that seems like a sort of calm respite, it’s “006”, but its clipped bass string plucks keep getting sidetracked by buzzes and percussive scrambles. Once again, another total mindfreak from the Claw.

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