Rabbit Ears: Should Be Fine 7″ EP (self-released, 2019)

January 28, 2020 at 7:23 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Rabbit Ears: Should Be Fine 7″ EP

Detroit trio Rabbit Ears play instrumental rock which is sort of in the nexus of surf, garage, and spy themes, but not beholden to one particular style. They could be part of a soundtrack to a suspenseful movie, but they also work perfectly well as stand-alone songs. They play around with time signatures here and there, particularly on the first two songs, but it’s never unnecessarily complicated. The B-sides continues in the rough surf-ish mode, with “Shadow Creep” having some bluesy guitar riffs and “Rabito” sporting the record’s only vocals (it’s just a shouted exclamation of the song’s title). Pleasant stuff all around.

The Moonset Production Company: s/t (self-released, 2019)

January 25, 2020 at 3:18 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

The Moonset Production Company: s/t

This one was handed to the radio station by the artist, but there’s barely any information about it online. The few pages that turn up when searching the project name also turn up the name Othercast, perhaps that’s the name of the artist, or label? Anyway, all that really matters is that this an incredible assemblage of lost transmissions, ghostly voices, and rave flashback beats. A lot of it brings to mind the Ghost Box aesthetic, but “Tonight’s Program” is more overtly techno-influenced, with old-time radio announcements popping up like speech bubbles over breakbeats and exuberant synths. The sounds dissolve into memories and scrambled signals during the interludes, but they’re summoned back to life with the more beat-driven tracks. A Balearic guitar riff emerges near the end of “One Moment Please”, then the more abstract “sky circuitry” sounds like a brief dip into Nurse With Wound’s nightmarish universe. “We Apologize for the Continued Interruptions” has more crunch to it, particularly due to the slowed-down jungle breaks, but the rest of the album doesn’t quite get as heavy. This is an absurdly good album that just seemed to materialize out of nowhere, I can’t imagine this one’s going to stay obscure for long. Lovers of all things hauntological will be instantly in love with this one. Also, the CD version contains a short unlisted bonus track that isn’t on the Bandcamp download.

Special Request: Zero Fucks (self-released, 2019)

January 25, 2020 at 2:37 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Special Request: Zero Fucks

Paul Woolford released no less than 4 Special Request albums last year, with the back-to-basics hardcore of Vortex receiving the most applause and club play. He’s saved the hardest (and best) of them all for last, and Zero Fucks is indeed the most IDGAF thing he’s released. While all his other albums were released by Houndstooth, this one was a Bandcamp freebie, and it’s easy to hear why — there’s bootleg edits of Jay-Z and Travis Scott songs here, which might’ve prevented their release through an official label. Brief soundbytes from Francis Bacon and David Lynch are included, attempting to explain the chaotic nature. The highlights are absolutely vicious “Spectral Frequency” winds frazzled breakbeats up for a long stretch, until it all breaks through and slams out, taking no prisoners. Others like “10 Missed Calls for the Reload” and the deceptively soft (at first) “Quiet Storm” follow the time-honored formula of deadly jungle tracks laced with tender R&B samples. “Elysian Fields” has probably the biggest contrast between sweet, chiming melodies and bash-your-skull breaks. And in case “10 Missed Calls” weren’t enough, “Timelapse/20 Missed Calls” is an extended VIP which pushes it further down the long, dark tunnel. Closer to a mixtape than a standard album, Zero Fucks nevertheless finds Woolford firing on all cylinders.

df0​:​BAD: Absolete (Cock Rock Disco, 2019)

January 24, 2020 at 11:55 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

df0:BAD: Absolete

Revisiting breakcore’s early Amiga and tracker days, this is a set of vicious breaks and sinister chiptune melodies using vintage equipment twisted to its limits. Bitcrunched, mangled breakbeats and chase-scene game music butt heads, resembling a soundclash between Abelcain and Bit Shifter. Chipbreak that’s out for blood but maintains a sense of cartoonish glee. “Ataripr0n” is a bit more happy-go-lucky, but the likes of “Fevered” and “Amiga Blood Circus” are more fiendish and head-battering, while “Better Find Out” is a gabber-rave knockout. All of this is extraordinarily fun and refreshing. Free download from Jason Forrest’s Cock Rock Disco, which still functions as a netlabel and occasionally releases incredible things on Bandcamp, such as this.

Wolff Parkinson White: Favours (Colonel Beats Records, 2020)

January 23, 2020 at 9:01 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Wolff Parkinson White: Favours

Jochen Rueckert is a jazz drummer, but he doesn’t lay a finger on his drum sticks when he makes electronic music as Wolff Parkinson White (a project named after a heart disease he’s lived with). Instead, he programs hyper-complex rhythms and harmonics with rapidly changing time signatures, often involving quarter-tone scales. On his Bandcamp, he recommends Venetian Snares’ Huge Chrome Cylinder Box Unfolding as well as releases by Vytear and Binray, and this greatly points to his direction — highly intense breakcore and IDM that doesn’t actually use breakbeats, and has no signifiers of rave or club culture. Yet as precise, angular, and sometimes menacing as these tracks are, they’re not gigantic, deeply layered slabs of sound. They’re like a vast, intricate network of wires buzzing at light speed, but there’s plenty of space left between them. On this album, he partially fills that space with a variety of guest vocalists, perhaps most surprisingly including Norah Jones (although she once played in a band with DJ /rupture, so she has at least one other connection to the experimental electronic world). For the most part, the vocals drift smoothly over the electronics — they usually don’t try to imitate the convoluted rhythms. There are moments when Rueckert scatters and dices the vocals, though, particularly “What’s True” and “We Are All Dispersed”. I’ve always appreciated when breakcore/glitch artists manage to incorporate more “musical” or pop-influenced elements and vocals into their work and actually manage to make it work instead of sounding gimmicky. Venetian Snares has done it a few times, maybe you could count Squarepusher’s “My Red Hot Car” (if that doesn’t push the edge of irony), the one album by About approaches that territory… otherwise, good examples are few and far between. Of course Björk has been singing over unconventional rhythms for ages, so that also seems like a precedent for this direction. Anyway, I think it’s pretty obvious that I really appreciate this album. Breakcore and IDM have always been close to my heart, and I love the nerdishly complex side of the genres as much as the more melodic side, so it’s fascinating to hear an accomplished jazz musician approach this realm and make something as human as it is hardcore.

Danger Room: Rick Owens Prank (Funny!!1) (Safa Collective, 2019)

January 22, 2020 at 10:34 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Danger Room: Rick Owens Prank (Funny!!1)

Closely related to Ann Arbor art-rockers Satan Face, Danger Room is a basement-dwelling noise act deconstructing rock and jazz forms. Released on Christmas, this tape starts out with some hissing and buzzing before someone starts mangling a guitar, and then an oscillator, or tape deck. Some overdriven guitar effects piledrive everything into the ground for a moment, and a lengthy track called “Reverse Cuomo” is filled with demonic screaming, seemingly in direct tribute to Masonna. It would be hair-raising if the piercing feedback and tape manipulations didn’t throw it all into the realm of the absurd and hilarious. HWAHHHHHH!!!!! The second side is taken up by “Jazz (we don’t got)”, which has wailing reeds snaking through hissing synth eruptions. It gets noisy and chaotic, but not in the same ripping-your-brain-from-its-stem way as the first side. There’s measured stretches, and more primal screaming, and more piled-on freak-outs. It also takes a long time to finally die off.

Ross Goldstein: Timoka (Birdwatcher Records, 2020)

January 22, 2020 at 10:02 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Ross Goldstein: Timoka

Ross Goldstein (of Devin Gary & Ross, with Gary Panter) released more of a psych-pop album on Northern Spy a few years ago, but this is something totally different. Using a Mellotron only, he’s recorded an instrumental suite which could easily be arranged for a full orchestra and used as a soundtrack to a particularly haunting movie. It’s not all “Strawberry Fields Forever” flute warbling; there’s lots of slow-moving, suspenseful strings, ominous pizzicato notes, and dramatically paced timpani and cymbal rolls. A few moments like “Lunar Day” sound like brief bits of orchestral pop stretched out into longer thoughts, but then there’s darker mood pieces and cues like “Pink Broom” and the more ambitious, creaking “Bas-Relief”. It all maintains a distinctly low budget feel, but for one artist using such a limited palette, it has an impressively wide scope.

Jessica Ekomane: Multivocal LP (Important Records, 2019)

January 20, 2020 at 11:58 am | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Jessica Ekomane: Multivocal LP

I haven’t yet witnessed one of Jessica Ekomane’s quadraphonic performances, but turning this LP way up gives me a sense of how transportive they must be. It seems simple on the surface — steady pulse in each speaker being generated with a millisecond’s difference in tempo, gradually interlocking and falling out of sync and forming strange, complex bent polyrhythms — but it just scrambles my brain to hear it all play out. So much seems to going on, all of these rays of sound are darting out and rapidly circling and returning at the same time, but when they’re close to being in sync it all just feels like it’s actually really simple and direct. I feel like I could just bounce around this head-vortex forever.

Thyme Lines: Geodesists tape (Constellation Tatsu, 2019)

January 20, 2020 at 11:32 am | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Thyme Lines: Geodesists tape

This tape consists of crystalline synths along with several types of flute, readily bringing to mind Emerald Web but with more of a concentrated, made-for-VHS-documentary feel. Most of the tracks are brief, momentary scenes with Pascal Nyiri adding curled tufts of flute-smoke to Sébastien Durand’s translucent, brightly colored synth vistas. Some of it sounds very improvised and unplanned, like “Earth Call for LFO & Flute”. In fact, very little of it really sounds premeditated. It all flows naturally, but at the same time it couldn’t have just sprung from nowhere, there’s some definite personality to it.

Thomas Dimuzio: Sutro Transmissions LP (Resipiscent Records, 2020)

January 19, 2020 at 8:16 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Thomas Dimuzio: Sutro Transmissions LP

Longtime experimental musician and mastering engineer Thomas Dimuzio has been working with Buchla modular synths for some time now, and this is his first LP created entirely using the setup, edited down from two live improvisations recorded on Haight Street in San Francisco, near where the synthesizer was invented. The first side (recorded in 2018) begins with a scrambled burst of FM radio transmissions and algorithmic processes, eventually all concentrated into a drone-ray. Right when it all seems tranquil, a cosmic bubble bursts and a loud electronic interruption occurs; it’s always startling every time I listen, even when I know it’s coming. The second side, recorded three years earlier, starts out with another soup of voices, shredded tones, and scrambled frequencies, seeming to rise up in tension without settling into a proper rhythm. Still, there’s some recurring voices and tones that emerge from the sonic gumbo, including a man saying “Don’t worry” and a particularly longing vocal manipulation. It all feels like it’s whirling around in the ether, but at the same time it’s all being deliberately stirred around by some invisible force. The audio particles hold together, but infrequent infusions of static still occur, with remnants of voices allowed final chances to be heard before completely disintegrating.

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