S Transporter: s/t EP (Portage Garage Sounds, 2019)

November 9, 2019 at 10:08 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

S Transporter: s/t EP

The four tracks on this EP were developed over the course of several years throughout several sessions in San Francisco and Detroit. Ryan Spencer and Izaak S initially recorded demos sometime around 2015, and after rediscovering them and playing them at Spencer and Shigeto’s Monday Is The New Monday weekly, they developed the tracks further. “S Transporter 1” is a mutant electro track which can hardly stop fidgeting, filled with vinyl swerves and count-offs. Anya Ghiorzi joins in for “S Transporter 2”, a sleazy robo-boogie joint with a vaguely goth air. “S Transporter” is a buoyant tropical island adventure underpinned by spoken narrations which are hard to make out unless you turn it up and concentrate, but you’ll probably be too busy dancing to worry about listening to the words. “S Transporter 4” is breezy and summery but far from simply laid back, with lots of simmering synths surrounding the swaying beats and guitars.

Pedestrian Deposit: Dyers’ Hands (Monorail Trespassing, 2019)

November 8, 2019 at 7:33 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Pedestrian Deposit: Dyers’ Hands

Los Angeles duo Pedestrian Deposit are absolutely unforgettable in concert, producing unremittingly harsh but controlled noise using electronics and self-built instruments constructed of junk metal and wood, including a violin made out of a branch. The few recordings of theirs that I’ve heard do an incredible job at transferring that energy and unpredictability to tape. Dyers’ Hands, like many of their releases, appears on their own Monorail Trespassing, and it’s astounding. “Crow Theory” opens with a minute of delicate plucking before leading into raucous, cut-up noise which thrashes and threatens to combust and burn the house down. “What Can’t Be Given”, however, is a tranquil sea of cello and tape drifting. “Auger” is a more Deathprod-like swarm of electronic drones and feedback, as well as swooping tones generated from something called a string brace. “What Can’t Be Taken” sporadically shifts between disorienting noise bursts and quiet, icy stillness, including sounds literally generated from ice as well as the clanging and scraping of junk metal. The 18-minute “Beneath the Salt” is a mini-symphony for more branch instruments (violin and string bass) as well as cello and electronics, flowing from soft rumbling to deadly noise attacks, ending with a solemn, stirring cello section. Gorgeous, powerful, perception-shaking work.

Spykes & Parashi: Braille License Plates for Sullen Nights 7″ (Radical Documents, 2019)

November 3, 2019 at 6:32 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Spykes & Parashi: Braille License Plates for Sullen Nights 7″

John Olsen of Wolf Eyes and Mike Griffin of Burnt Hills produced this 7″ of frigid, shivering electronics and braying, blasted reed-blowing. The press blurb says “the record speed is based on how many days you have not left the house”, but I find that it sounds just fine at 33. Side B is easily my favorite, it’s jazzier but also a thick, murky soup of multi-textural electronics, and it takes your brain to a much more active, swirling-and-sloshing place than side A. Both sides end in locked grooves, and all copies contain unique artwork.

XV: s/t LP (Life Like, 2019)

October 16, 2019 at 10:23 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

XV: s/t LP

Lo-fi trio XV (Claire Cirocco, Emily Roll, Shelley Salant) play short, direct, rudimentary songs which each focus on a limited amount of thoughts, hammer away at them, and then drop them and move on. It’s not aggressive enough to be punk, and it’s amped up enough so that the snare drum constantly vibrates, but it isn’t harsh enough to be noise-rock; it’s abstract, but it’s also very specific. It’s super in-the-moment and raw to the point of being nervous and uncomfortable. A lot of the songs seem like one hook or a few keys words bashed out and repeated several times, but closer listening reveals some more involved, hypnotic arrangements that might not register on first listen. The second side starts out with the nearly free jazz ruckus of “What Did You Do Today?”, which is so manic that one of the channels repeatedly cuts out. Echoed sax playing augments most of the remaining songs, including the patient, interlocking progression of “Feeling” as well as the more jubilant “Hair”, which features the memorable chant “I had a crush on both Aladdin and Jasmine!” The album ends with a brief, unlisted bonus track which is more jumbled and unhinged than the rest of the songs, and it might actually be the best track on the album. Limited to 100 copies, available now from Life Like.

Haunted/Comme à la Radio: split LP (Life Like, 2019)

October 16, 2019 at 9:50 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Haunted/Comme à la Radio: split LP

This split LP contains spoken word/sound poetry works by two of the members of minimal avant-rock trio XV. Claire Cirocco’s Comme à la Radio contributes the astounding Je Suis Née, a two-part suite previously released as a tape in 2016. It alternates between intimately recorded thoughts, sometimes with words repeated and re-dubbed multiple times for emphasis, and extremely harsh noise bursts which seem to obscure some sort of social gathering. It’s nearly impossible to tell what’s being said during the noisier bits, or how any of these thoughts connect to each other, but the way it’s presented is utterly fascinating. One of the most daring audio works I’ve heard in a long time. Field of Flowers by Haunted (Emily Roll) isn’t nearly as noisy, and the words are a lot clearer. They’re also very immediate, and often rapid, spanning specific thoughts about anxiety, sex, solitude, and related topics. For much of it, Emily’s voice is accompanied by a constant heavy downpour, as well as her own manipulated voice shuffling and glitching her previously spoken statements. At one point, she starts spewing out a stream of cliches and empty motivational phrases, like that one Algebra Suicide song. The ending section of the piece is a lot more slowly paced, reflecting on daffodils and disappearing into empty space. Really stunning and original work. Limited to 100 copies, available now via Life Like.

W00dy: My Diary (self-released, 2019)

October 13, 2019 at 3:42 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

W00dy: My Diary

Astounding new EP from an artist pushing breakcore/complex beat music forward. Based in Pittsburgh and associating with artists like Five Star Hotel and Machine Girl who have been covered extensively on this site, the producer’s tracks are a whirlwind of blown-out breaks, slivered vocal samples, and elevating tension. These tracks all seem to swirl and collect elements rather than jump from one section to the next, so they gradually get deeper and heavier. Incredible anxiety party music. Don’t miss out on this.

v/a: Om Unit Presents Cosmology – Dark Matter 3xLP (Cosmic Bridge, 2019)

October 13, 2019 at 3:16 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

v/a: Om Unit Presents Cosmology – Dark Matter 3xLP

The incomparable Om Unit presents a wide-ranging compendium of contemporary bass music. Tracks by artists like TMSV demonstrate that legit dubstep is still alive and well, which is a relief to me because I think the golden era of the genre is unbeatable and I’ve been revisiting a lot of it lately. There’s also a Proc Fiskal track which is a bit more dubby and less gonzo than the stuff he’s usually known for. J:Kenzo’s track seems to lurch towards drum’n’bass but it’s also a slow, smoked-out dub, and producers like Rude Operator and Vromm tip closer to d’n’b while remaining sort of grey area. The James Blake-sampling track by Margari’s Kid is a low-key stunner, the breaks sneak up on you at the end. Crypticz’ 12-minute epic “Chrysalis” takes a long time to develop, with Amy Kisnorbo’s weightless vocals providing a bit of guidance, and the breaks go a bit haywire without overpowering anything. Most of this album is suspenseful and restrained, providing space for meditation but moving forward as necessary.

Soundbwoy Killah: Halcyon Daze 2xLP (Sneaker Social Club, 2019)

October 13, 2019 at 2:22 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Soundbwoy Killah: Halcyon Daze 2xLP

This album starts out with a sample of a rave being busted by the police, and it continues in the mode of surprisingly subdued tracks rather than full-on peaktime bangers. There’s melancholy garage (“Wanna Hold U”), bassy ambient (“Tom Loves to Rave”), and rootsy dubstep (“Loiner Dub”), but it all seems somewhat hindered from club ecstasy. Even when the album reaches full-on jungle, with the track “Heartbeats”, it seems strangely hollowed out, with long stretches of stillness and cries from the void in between the thundering breaks. It kind of seems like an album for people nostalgic about going to raves, but too old to actually go to them without feeling exhausted after 2 hours. That is me entirely (last weekend I had to sit down an hour into LTJ Bukem’s set at Marble Bar in Detroit, even though it was absolutely amazing), so I feel like I get this album.

CDX: Lion Cuts tape (Doom Trip, 2019)

October 13, 2019 at 1:46 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

CDX: Lion Cuts tape

Tim Thornton makes frantic, circuit-bent improv electronics as Tiger Village, but his work as CDX is far more melodic and rhythmically structured. These songs have the classic sort of pretty/sad melodies and snappy electro beats of all the best IDM, with moments that are a little more dancefloor-friendly (opener “Friends”) or closer to palm tree racing video game soundtracks (the choppy yet chill “Tiger Breaks”). One track is co-credited to Tiger Village, but it sounds barely more unhinged than the others. “Five Short Arguments”, however, ends the album with a blast of scattered breaks and heavy bass, breaking out of the contemplative mood of most of the other tracks.

Inutili: New Sex Society (Aagoo, 2019)

September 26, 2019 at 8:36 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Inutili: New Sex Society

Italian group Inutili perform long-form psychedelic improvisations which often seem like they’re drifting far away from anything resembling a path forward, yet at the right moment they just all snap together and form this enormous superpower of heavy, monstrous rhythm and noise. This time out, they’re joined by saxophonist Luca Di Giammarco, who elevates their sound into a bit more of a spiritual realm. This is still improvised rock rather than free jazz, though, and the rhythms to tracks like “Rooms” still have a psychedelic swirl to them. “Seeds (Japanese)” is a bit more hypercharged, and the riffs and sax blurts continually bounce off of each other until it all builds up to an ecstatic frenzy, and then it sets its way onto the shining road ahead. The group never stick to the same tempo for too long, and it switches through multiple sections of various intensities. The four songs in the middle of the album are all under 10 minutes, and they mostly keep up the intense parts of the songs, with some lyrics making prominent appearances, so they seem like the band’s most focused songs. “Tiny Body” even manages to boil the band’s essence down to a minute and 43 seconds. By the end of the album, the group seem much closer to the Castle Face nexus of prog, garage punk, and psych rather than the endlessly rambling jammers they might’ve seemed like initially.

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