Fadensonnen: Mirror/Creeper 1-sided LP (Fadensonnen Records, 2022)

November 27, 2022 at 2:57 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Fadensonnen: Mirror/Creeper 1-sided LP

This Illinois noise-rock group’s newest vinyl release is a 20-minute slab of bleary, half-conscious confusion, with a stylophone. Starting with the drunken whirl of “Dekadence Ballet”, we’re flung into waves of lurching bass grooves and indecipherable vocals. The title track has a refreshing blanket of noise, and “Flophouse Waltz” is closer to mutated classic rock “Strollin'” is a haunted garage band trying to keep it together, and it has the same “what speed is this supposed to be playing?” feel as records by all those bands people were calling “shitgaze” 13 years ago.

TISM: Collected Versus (Seeland/Genre B. Goode, 2022)

November 25, 2022 at 6:12 pm | Posted in Reviews | 2 Comments

TISM: Collected Versus

The newest release from Negativland’s Seeland label is a double CD anthology of a long-running Australian band called TISM (This Is Serious Mum). Going into this, I was expecting them to be some sort of mega-obscure experimental outfit that had loads of cassettes and maybe an actual record or two. Turns out this band was actually quite popular in their home country, even scoring a Top 10 gold-selling album in the ’90s. Musically, it’s very peppy, hook-filled dance-rock with bitterly funny lyrics that make fun of absolutely everything. Much of their music is filled with hyper-specific references to local culture that won’t make sense to anyone who isn’t Australian (or even from outside of Melbourne), but it’s easy to amused just by the absurdity of it all. Much like groups such as Sparks, Ween, and Captain Ahab, this is very much a band you have to get, but if you get it, they’re brilliant at what they do. The first disc of this compilation contains all their singles in chronological order. “40 Years – Then Death” appears early on, and it seems like a much more serious reflection on the brevity of life than their other songs. Besides that, though, it’s loaded with songs about subjects like Led Zeppelin’s drug provider, Martin Scorcese, wanting to quit the band and start a family, and Fred Durst as the messiah. The sound evolves from new wave to thrashy breakbeat techno, and I think they were at their best when they embraced techno-pop in the ’90s. I guess Chumbawamba is a good comparison, except TISM never had a moment of universal ubiquity. The more sample-driven tracks are definitely on the same wavelength as the Justified Ancients of Mu Mu (aka the KLF), and I’ve never listened to Half Man Half Biscuit, but they seem to have a similar sense of humor in regards to song titles. Also, I know I’ve heard someone, most likely Negativland, sample the unforgettable intro to “(He’ll Never Be An) Ol’ Man River”, which goes “I’m on the drug that killed River Phoenix!” And “Garbage” is an amazing song against classic rock and the endless recycling of nostalgia. The second disc tells much more of the TISM story, with another 80 minutes of fan favorites. This includes a long rant against Jim Morrison, a cheerful sounding pop song about clubbing seals, several songs and rants about how life is shit, and a rant against rave culture from an aging rocker (though I’m not sure why Elastica is mentioned, they were clearly a rock band. But I guess to a middle-aged grizzled dude who loves pub rock, they would’ve sounded close enough to dance music). Finally, the band throws themselves into the landfill with the rocket-powered rave-up “TISM Are Shit”. A fun discovery for the rest of the world; their Wikipedia page is worth a perusal as well.

Pulse Emitter: Dusk (Hausu Mountain, 2022)

November 21, 2022 at 6:52 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Pulse Emitter: Dusk

Pulse Emitter’s second Hausu Mountain full-length is up there with the best of Steve Roach in terms of synthesizer music which evokes lush natural landscapes. Electronic music rarely feels as aquamarine as “Cloudside Dwellings”, a rippling, tunneling seaside expedition. More curious, fantasy-like new age pieces follow, with “The Road to Thrax” having more of a mysterious, haunted portal feel, but there’s also touches of playfulness to this music, even when it seems to drift down a forbidden path. “Fireflies” is pure magical forest music, and “Snow Diamonds” is essentially holiday season music for synth freaks. “Darkening Forest” is an accurate name for something that grows a bit more ominous, but “Mulch” feels like waking up and realizing you’re stuck in a blizzard, with a few sporadic gusts of wind blowing snow this way or that.

Good Willsmith: Is The Food Your Family Eats Slowly tape (Hausu Mountain, 2012/2022)

November 16, 2022 at 6:08 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Good Willsmith: Is The Food Your Family Eats Slowly tape

Hausu Mountain is celebrating their tenth anniversary with reissues of a few of the well over 100 releases they’ve put out. Is The Food Your Family Eats Slowly was the label’s first cassette, and the very first release by the label’s flagship trio, Good Willsmith, which features two of HausMo’s founders, Doug Kaplan and Maxwell Allison, plus Natalie Chami. Like all of the band’s gigs and releases, this is an improv session constructed with loops, synths, and found sounds. Later Good Willsmith releases are more playful, more jammy, more rhythmic, more Krautrocky, but this is more of a glowing raga-influenced electronic drone. It’s divided into six tracks, but it’s really just one continuous piece. Vocal cries ebb and flow, synths sparkle and flicker, and guitar waves crest, breaking from the more meditative state with fritzy electronics and imitation whale calls near the beginning of the second side. The guitars sharpen and rise up as the vocal cries return, and then more lopsided guitar strumming and fuzz helps put the entire session to bed. Emerging from the noise/drone scene but with a new age sense of levitation, Good Willsmith’s debut opened a new portal in the universe of improv and experimental music.

Oscar Peterson: On a Clear Day – The Oscar Peterson Trio Live in Zurich, 1971 (Mack Avenue, 2022)

November 14, 2022 at 9:21 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Oscar Peterson: On a Clear Day – The Oscar Peterson Trio Live in Zurich, 1971

Following up on the release of a 1987 live date in Helsinki last year, Mack Avenue has unearthed another vintage Oscar Peterson set, this time recorded in Zurich over 50 years ago. Heavy on standards, this is a highly energetic set with Peterson joined by bassist Niels-Henning ├śrsted Pedersen and drummer Louis Hayes. Launching with a ripping drum solo, the first song (“The Lamp Is Low”) is speedy, revved-up post-bop, and “Younger Than Springtime” is less frantic but still busy and alive. From there, things straighten out and calm down a little, but not entirely. “On a Clear Day” sounds more like “Mack the Knife” than “Mack the Knife”, which has some off-the-wall piano soloing before the recognizable tune kicks in. And even when it does, Peterson just runs across the field with it. “On the Trail” similarly does a light-speed dash during its final minutes, yet it sounds perfectly controlled rather than free-form anarchy. The sound quality is a little rough, and there’s weird voices constantly audible underneath the playing (possibly the musicians themselves), but it definitely preserves the intimacy and spontaneity of the gig.

Candi Nook: How I Invented Sound And Redesigned The Human Ear 2xCD (Spleencoffin, 2022)

October 30, 2022 at 6:17 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Candi Nook: How I Invented Sound And Redesigned The Human Ear 2xCD

U.K. artist Candi Nook released a handful of cassettes and CD-Rs from 1998 to 2005, and she was in a group called the Shite Girls. That’s more or less everything I know about the artist based on this collection and Discogs, but the audio contained on these discs is a treasure trove of amazing oddities, revealing its composer to be a curious and creative noisemaker. The tracks from the earliest releases are definitely in the noise realm, but it’s the type of noise that incorporates silly voices and rhythmic loop samples as well as harsh feedback. Around 2002, her work gets way more synth-heavy, from not-quite-techno to music for a makeshift space station. “Dreamfeed” is a massive mood shift, a haunted nightmare world consisting almost entirely of eerie, reversed voices and other sorts of squeaks or chirps. Candi Nook is the type of artist who will name a lovely ambient piece “Stinkdrone”, as a previously unreleased track attests. A bit more conceptual is “It Flies”, a bizarre collage of ticking clocks, computerized voices, and operatic wailing. “onward” and “TOOTHACHE” are variations on the same theme, with a clock-chiming synth melody and a playfully menacing attitude. “Maybee” is a twitchy technoid track with calming accordion-like droning. “Saskatchewan” is sort of close to what I guess people call “comfy synth” now (I’m guessing, I’ve never listened to it), and “Teaspoon” is a fun caper with cartoon sound effects and whimsical melodies. There’s a lot of humorous tracks on here but Candi Nook’s music gets deep when it needs to. Well worth exploring.

Argiflex: Summer Is a Relative Term Vol. 3 (self-released, 2022)

October 29, 2022 at 5:46 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Argiflex: Summer Is a Relative Term Vol. 3

The third volume of Argiflex’s Summer Is a Relative Term series is another mesmerizing set of hardware-based club music. Not as heavy on smashed-up Amen breaks as some of her other releases (aside from the tear-out breakcore of “Global Summit Island”), this still has plenty of hard-edged distorted kicks and acid synths, as well as lighter, steel drum-like tones. The breaks are definitely there, though, and they keep the tracks sharp and on their toes. Easily one of the most club-friendly Argiflex releases, this is loaded with secret weapons for adventurous DJs.

Jordan Reyes: Everything Is Always (American Dreams, 2022)

October 27, 2022 at 6:25 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Jordan Reyes: Everything Is Always

Jordan Reyes’ latest solo work is a meditation on tragedy and existential dread, seamlessly threading together disparate genres including doom metal, modern composition/drone, and the darkest fringes of country. The opening track “The Void” centers around the line “I can see my body in the void”, and the multi-layered string-fuzz drone “Would I Were a Moth” opens with the question “Could I become the wind?” travis of the band ONO delivers a series of spoken verses on “Translineation”, tying folklore together with science fiction. “Kraken” does something similar in a different manner, setting deep, commanding narration to mesmerizing synth sequences and doom metal drone. “Maybe I’m the Dust” progresses from gentle acoustic guitars and plaintive singing to dark incantations and an overwhelming mass of guitar noise. Lastly is the album’s comforting title track, repeating the title phrase until it ascends with the help of strings and horns.

Dev/Null: Microjunglizm Remixes (Evar Records, 2022)

October 26, 2022 at 6:57 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Dev/Null: Microjunglizm Remixes

After Dev/Null proved that it’s possible to make killer jungle tekno with a handheld, calculator-like device, several vastly different artists tear his tracks apart and do exciting new things with them. Of course there’s a Tim Reaper and Dwarde mix, which is top shelf, but it’s remarkable to hear hybrids from non-jungle producers, like DJ Marfox’s high-speed kuduro breaks and the stuttering, elastic beat contortions from Shanghai’s GOOOOOSE. DJ Swisha cools us down with more of a dubby atmospheric cut, and False Witness goes for dark, trancey techno with a hint of darkside breaks. Easy recommendation, just like the originals.

Collin Sherman: Organism Made Luminous (Ex-Tol Recordings, 2022)

October 20, 2022 at 6:46 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Collin Sherman: Organism Made Luminous

Continuing his strong discography of multi-tracked solo recordings, Collin Sherman delves deeply into modular synths and other electronics on his 14th effort. Opener “Failed Deontological Promise” has the longest list of gear in the liner notes, but the following “Across Three Fields” is a bit more ear-catching, with a nice balance of sparkling analog synths, vibraphones, saxophones, and flicking drums pulling it all along. “Hegemonic Virtues” has a fat, distorted Moog sound and way-out sax, calling out to Sun Ra’s side of the galaxy. “Dialectic Rejected” has a bit of a cyber-Western flavor, with desert guitar melodies and a rattling electronic textures which act like the spurs of the steady drum beat. The longest track, “Says Flowers”, puts away the synths but still conjures up unearthly sounds from a bowed Telecaster and an alto sax. “Late Edition” is one of the more synth-heavy tracks, and its beats were made by loading typewriter sounds in electronic drum software, creating organic-sounding IDM. “Space Mission of the Immortals” is a dazzling mix of glowing circuits and freewheeling sax melodies. Sherman has used a lot of these instruments in his previous work, but this album is a unique evolution of his sort of solo space jazz.

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