Public Practice: Distance Is A Mirror EP (Wharf Cat, 2018)

November 1, 2018 at 9:04 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Public Practice: Distance Is A Mirror EP

WALL fell down before the release of their debut album, but Sam York has new returned with a new band also featuring members of Beverly. Public Practice’s debut EP is made up of four songs recalling post-punk groups like the Bush Tetras, with steady, even danceable rhythms and sharp lyrics. “Fate/Glory” starts out with some twisted guitar action, and the already alert rhythm picks up with a spike of energy towards the end. The more punkish “Bad Girl(s)” finds York confronting radical feminists, refusing to appear a certain way or hate all men. “Foundation” is more downtown post-disco-influenced, with half-spoken lyrics which artfully describe the demise of a relationship. “Into The Ring” pushes and pulls between forceful spoken words and sing-song duets, with confident lyrics alluding to bullfighting.


Beast: Ens (Thrill Jockey, 2018)

October 28, 2018 at 6:18 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Beast: Ens

Koen Holtkamp’s Beast moniker makes its debut on Thrill Jockey with this gently riveting release. Much more rhythmic than some of his other work, these compositions sometimes feature drum machines backing his lightly swarming guitars and cosmic synth arpeggios. It’s super melodic and sounds bright and hopeful. “Color Feel” includes a diving-bomb whistle descending throughout a sea of pianos, and it ends up being more uplifting than unnerving. “Staren” is a bit more audacious, with deep drums booming underneath a complex arrangement of cycling strings (plucked and bowed) and synths. The album ends with the majestic sunlight waves of “For Otto”.

Rocket 808: Digital Billboards 7″ (12XU, 2018)

October 27, 2018 at 6:56 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Rocket 808: Digital Billboards 7″

Garage rock veteran John Schooley presents an entirely successful fusion of distorted rock’n’roll guitars and vintage drum machines. “Digital Bilboards” is somewhere in between 20 Jazz Funk Greats and either “Human Fly” or “Planet Claire”, but instrumental, and with heavier layers of swooping, tremolo-doused surf guitars. The B-side is a cover of Elvis’ “Mystery Train” which sounds halfway between Suicide and Digital Leather. I’m totally up for more of this.

ATM: The Inglewood Tapes Vol. 2 LP (Radical Documents, 2018)

October 27, 2018 at 6:36 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

ATM: The Inglewood Tapes Vol. 2 LP

Jokey drum machine punks ATM don’t divert too much from the sound of their first record on Vol. 2, but this one just happens to be a lot better. They still love singing and shouting in funny voices and fake accents, but they’re not as annoying this time around. The songs themselves are more creative, and honestly a lot more fun. After the trippy slow-and-loose disco of “No Time” comes the zippy “Rave Nature”, filled with distorted, echo-covered “Wooooooo!”s. “Sad Onion” and “Caliente” are both sung in overly zealous Spanish, while “Asco” alternates between Spanish lyrics and a fake British accent over a pleasant drum machine skip. Starry instrumental “MDMA Bliss” lives up to its title. “Poetry” is the album’s sophomoric low point, but it’s only a minute or so. “Slow Skronk” has a steady, minimal rhythm and barely controlled bursts of guitar feedback and trumpet. Everything here still sounds like it was recorded in a bedroom in one take, but the best of these songs just make more of a lasting impression than anything on Vol. 1.

EQ Why & Diamond Soul: Spring Steeze (Bedlam Tapes, 2018)

October 7, 2018 at 3:28 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

EQ Why & Diamond Soul: Spring Steeze

Truly avant-garde footwork with torn-apart samples, glitching, static, scrambling, rhythmic turntable scratching, and of course the insisting, throbbing juke rhythms. Some of the most anarchic, rulebook-destroying footwork I’ve heard in a long time. So noisy and art-damaged and just plain hardcore. This should be way longer than 16 minutes, but it’s just pure concentrated power as it is. Name-your-price DL and limited cassette available from the label’s Bandcamp.

Swartz Et: A Living Thing (Utter East, 2018)

September 26, 2018 at 8:06 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Swartz Et: A Living Thing

Detroit musician Steve Swartz normally plays guitar in bands like Au Revoir Borealis and For Wishes, but here he’s recorded a series of extended, immersive modular synthesizer pieces. The name Swartz Et recognizes that even though these are technically solo recordings, there’s clearly another force at play, and the album’s title nods to the generative nature of the synth. Without being blasted at a high volume, there’s a pretty dense amount of textures to these tracks, and they all take their time to evolve and grow. This is a supremely relaxing album, I’ve been putting it on to calm down or get ready to sleep a lot lately. And yet it’s not a fluffy dreamtime album. There’s a gritty crackle beneath much of it, and the slowly all-consuming “Embers” is closer to the corroded noise drone of Tim Hecker. An absolutely wonderful, marvelous release. Listen right now over at Bandcamp!

Phal:Angst: Phase IV (Bloodshed666, 2018)

September 21, 2018 at 6:01 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Phal:Angst: Phase IV

Austrian group Phal:Angst are somewhere in between industrial and post-rock, constructing 10-minute epics filled with gritty guitars, creeping tempos, and cinematic overtones. The film dialogue samples strewn throughout tracks like opener “On the Run” bring to mind older Godspeed You! Black Emperor, but this group generally sticks to evenly paced electronic tempos rather than lengthy crescendos. They also alternate the samples with original vocals, which are sinister and sometimes menacing, but not overly aggressive. The music itself similarly never gets into aggro overdrive; rather, it maintains a consistent mood while evolving through different atmospheric elements, incorporating instruments such as harp and metallophone along with the guitars and electronics. “Despair II” is somewhat appropriately the most emotionally devastating track, as well as the longest. This feeling of hopelessness and pointlessness is further expanded upon with “They Won’t Have to Burn the Books When Noone Reads Them Anyway”. The album ends with 2 significantly shorter remixes, the first from Will Brooks (Dälek), and the second from Justin Broadrick. Both keep within the mood of the originals, but Broadrick’s mix adds a bit more bass pressure.

Deadbeat Beat: Tree, Grass & Stone 7″ (Crystal Palace, 2018)

September 21, 2018 at 4:57 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Deadbeat Beat: Tree, Grass & Stone 7″

The latest single from Detroit rough riders Deadbeat Beat alludes to Swedish psych legends Träd, Gräs Och Stenar. As natural-sounding as its title, the song is a steady, upbeat trip, starting out with a bit of a sunshine chorus and verse before dissolving into spacey synth effects. In the spirit of numerous James Brown and P-Funk singles, the jam continues on the second side, rematerializing and fading in on a shredding astral-exploration guitar solo. Equal parts pop and psych, the record makes equal room for hooks and blissful zone-outs. Digitally available on Bandcamp.

The Burrell Connection: Hyper/Orbit 12″ EP (Craigie Knowes, 2018)

September 15, 2018 at 2:35 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

The Burrell Connection: Hyper/Orbit 12″ EP

The newest Burrell Connection EP starts out with crunchy broken beats, “Clear” sweeps, and an acid line snaking through everything on “Hyper 14.255”. Then “Hyper 480” starts out riding the line between atmospheric jungle and techno before some impossibly heavy breaks smash in. It all ends way too soon. “Orbit 458” is a slower, bleaker atmospheric breakbeat track with the “fuckin’ voodoo magic man” sample as made famous by Hyper On Experience’s “Lords Of the Null Lines”. “Orbit .512” is a much more hypnotic midtempo shaker with a sly acid line sparking up throughout. It somehow feels caught between dubby disco, gqom, and some sort of shamanic trance. A very well rounded, often marvelous set of tracks.

Mamuthones: Fear On The Corner (Rocket Recordings, 2018)

September 11, 2018 at 11:04 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Mamuthones: Fear On The Corner

Nearly a decade ago, I reviewed a Mamuthones album for Foxy Digitalis (R.I.P.) which was sort of a droney dark ambient work filled with clattering metal and creepy voices. I lost track of the group after that, but sometime in between then and now, the Italian group started making colorful psychedelic rock, informed by both Krautrock and Afrobeat, and they signed to Rocket Recordings. Rhythm is the focus here, and there’s pounding drums as well as marimba and other percussive instruments adding some additional flavors. There’s some noise bursts and plenty of flanged guitar effects, but the group largely don’t drown out the rhythm. “Show Me” is probably the most overtly Krautrock-sounding song, but “Alone” is a straight-up disco-punk jam. The album ends with “Here We Are”, a trance-inducing 10-minute procession which is roughly as frightening as the album’s cover art.

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