Soft Shoulder: Formerly On Fluorescent Paper LP (Gilgongo, 2021)

July 10, 2021 at 2:10 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Soft Shoulder: Formerly On Fluorescent Paper LP

Soft Shoulder’s actual new one is one of their most tightly wound efforts, zipping through over a dozen songs filled with cryptic, bullhorned lyrics and mangled guitar riffs. Some tracks like “200 Notes to Self” are kind of a glorious plod, and others are shambling dance-punk slammers that could fall apart at any moment but are disciplined enough not to. “Dense Critique” is more of an industrial piledriver with a scuzzed-out drum machine. A few tracks have some squeaky horn bleating through them, and the catchiest moments seem to be the ones that end in a flash before you’re able to let them sink in. It kind of hits a sweet spot between mild irritation and a compulsion to replay it several times and dig deeper.

Show #590 – 7/10/21

July 10, 2021 at 1:51 am | Posted in The Answer Is In The Beat | Leave a comment

L’Rain ~ Suck Teeth
Ripatti ~ girl is hip
x.nte ~ rollout70s
Nanoray ~ Tempest
Drumskull ~ Phase Velocity
Gaspard Augé ~ Belladone
badsista ~ ZL CLUB MUSIC pt. II
Moiré ~ Ghana
Fumaça Preta ~ Vocé Enlouqueceu
Booker Stardrum ~ Bend
Luiz Bonfá & Antônio Carlos Jobim ~ O Nosso Amor (Long Version)
Beverly Glenn-Copeland ~ Sunset Village

Nubdug Ensemble: Volume One: The Machines of Zero (self-released, 2020)

July 8, 2021 at 7:49 pm | Posted in Reviews | 1 Comment

Nubdug Ensemble: Volume One: The Machines of Zero

Vacuum Tree Head co-founder Jason Berry started Nubdug Ensemble following the split of his long-running former band. This is the project’s first release, and it’s a whirlwind avant-jazz-pop romp which says all it needs to say in under 20 minutes and peaces out. Opener “Espejo” is a dazzling psych-groove gem with harpsichord-like synths, some spy film suspense, and understated vocals that guide the ship in the right direction. Then “Bronze Puppet” is screwball jazz with cartoon sound effects sploshing in the mix along with the viciously fuzzy bass, knotty horns, and slashing violin. “Pimento Boots” continues the cartoonish fun, this time with sassy, absurdist vocals from Lucy Foley. “Spicy Mango” is a brief faux-tropical detour. “Logjammin'” is surprisingly abstract and minimalist, considering its title, but “Trapelo 445” brings us back to smooth yet fun side of avant-prog, with plenty of astral synth effects as icing. “Alea Iacta Est” is a jazzy, slightly raga-tinged number that inspires open-armed, moonlit dancing. Finally, “Act II From Nancy Luna” is a sort of angular twist that verges on breaking into a full-fledged song but constantly holds back.

Rian Treanor: Obstacle Scattering EP (Planet Mu, 2021)

July 7, 2021 at 6:53 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Rian Treanor: Obstacle Scattering EP

Rian Treanor continues piling up rhythms like Jenga pieces until they come close to toppling over but somehow don’t on his newest EP. “Obstacle 1” is a high-speed footwork rhythm that gets stuck in mid-air several times and manages to work itself out without breaking a sweat. “Obstacle 2” is far more destructive, and actually does end up sounding like someone poured kerosene all over Aphex Twin’s gear. “Obstacle 3” is much friendlier and shinier, and even with its slightly zipped-up pace and angular beat patterns, it’s still consistent enough to dance to. “Obstacle 4”, is gnomes attempting to topple a lamp post over with enlarged aluminum bats while shooting firecrackers, and it would be unnecessarily cruel to try and subject a packed club to it. I would be laughing my ass off, though.

Joy on Fire: Another Adventure in Red (Procrastination Records, 2021)

July 6, 2021 at 7:30 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Joy on Fire: Another Adventure in Red

New Jersey-based Joy on Fire play energized, exploratory pieces which might scan as jazz or progressive rock, but also draw from punk and new wave. 12-minute opener “Another Adventure In Red” starts out with melodies that might recall John Coltrane and Joe Jackson, then it flows into a long, drawn-out spacey section. (There’s a radio edit at the end of the disc, if you just want to cut to the catchy part). The band introduce dulcimer on the fluttery, atmospheric “After”, keeping it for 2 brief interludes. “3rd Grade Fire” is the longest track, at almost 15 minutes, but it feels rawer and more garage-y than the rest of the album, even if it’s closer to jammy jazz-rock than garage rock. “Night Sticks” is the other vocal-driven song (other than “After”), and another venture into jazzy yet gritty progressive rock.

Prolaps: Ultra Cycle Pt. 2: Estival Growth (Hausu Mountain, 2021)

July 5, 2021 at 10:21 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Prolaps: Ultra Cycle Pt. 2: Estival Growth

The second of four quarterly Prolaps releases this year is basically the second part of an 8-hour marathon rave. The first hour of this tape is a constant barrage of kick drums and breaks battering over each other, with possessed voices beaming in from another k-hole on tracks like “The Endless Lizard”. There’s shorter tracks and others that pass 10 minutes, but they all rush together and cycle through different patterns at will. The tempo drops a little for “Bottom Out”, but the electro beats plus smashing Amens are still relentless. Later it flows into a more alien space, with a bit more of an energy field surrounding the rhythms, more open atmosphere. It goes through periods of getting more cluttered and ravey and then more detached, then piling the breaks back on like dumping a barrel full of live crabs in a tank. The closing “Saviorself” is a staggering crawl through a radioactive wasteland that you had no clue you were in for when you entered the dance two hours earlier.

Thugwidow: Post Modern EP (Sneaker Social Club, 2021)

July 3, 2021 at 10:05 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Thugwidow: Post Modern

Prolific modern junglist’s newest EP on Sneaker Social Club has a renegade spirit as well as a heart. The tracks all have crisp, heavy breaks as well as elastic bass which divebombs and performs almost acrobatic feats. “Invisible Shell of Energy” is a standout, with more atmospheric pads, a slower tempo, and an intro sample about unity. The track itself isn’t exactly melancholy but it has more of a reflective vibe, soaking in the all-together-as-one vibe rather than shouting in ecstasy. “The Sacrifice” is harder, rougher ragga-tinged jungle with crushing breaks and bass that absolutely plummets to the depths. “The Voices Beneath the Earth” is more breakbeat hardcore, but it also feels like it’s reaching downward and summoning something deep under the crust.

Show #589 – 7/3/21

July 3, 2021 at 1:58 am | Posted in The Answer Is In The Beat | Leave a comment

Dubstar ~ Stars
Pet Shop Boys ~ One Thing Leads To Another
Opposite Day ~ Starry Eyes
Sapphire Slows ~ Fade Out (Afterhours remix)
Os Novos Baianos ~ Um Bilhete Pra Didi
Susana Baca ~ El Mayoral
Spellling ~ Boys at School
Dave Holland Quartet ~ See-Saw
SAULT ~ Alcohol
Speed Dealer Moms ~ April One 4
Poseidon Neptune ~ Saht Nam
Stereolab ~ Fried Monkey Eggs (Vocal)
Hildegard ~ Jour 4
His Name Is Alive ~ Sleep 6teen

Ben Miller: Ben Miller’s Room (Living Records, 2020)

June 30, 2021 at 7:25 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Ben Miller: Ben Miller’s Room

Last year, avant-rock legend Ben Miller (Destroy All Monsters, Sproton Layer) recorded a monthly podcast series, with each episode being around 10 minutes of stream-of-consciousness prose, narration, foley, sound design, and music, mostly excerpted from recordings of Miller’s various projects in the past. Basically, they seem like brief one-man radio plays. Miller introduces many of them by informally welcoming you into his room, then he proceeds to talk your ear off about mysteries and mysterious people, ending many of them with a reminder of when the next episode was scheduled to premiere. The first part is about a government worker named Cody, and after hearing four pieces about him, I can’t quite tell if I’m closer to understanding who he is, but maybe that’s not the point. Miller’s enthusiasm for storytelling is what drives these mini-dramas, and his homemade way of processing voices and adding sound effects (typing keyboards, squealing modems) adds lots of charm and keeps the pieces busy and constantly moving. The title to the second part, Mystery of the Useless Clues, tips you off that its contents are filled with lots of dead ends and non-sequiturs, but there’s some intriguing descriptions of bar scenes accompanied by passages of dusky jazz pieces on part 1. The second part incorporates music a bit more into the narrative, from Miller’s own lopsided singing to bebop playing on the radio. From there, it just keeps getting trippier and more mysterious. Finally, On the Brink, a saga about a character named Hoss, might have the most hallucinatory, Firesign-ish sound design — Miller even goes “whew, that was topsy-turvy” at the end of part 2. At the end of part 4, Miller says “One day, Hoss remembered something… but that was another story”, which feels like the jump off for even more escapades.

Show #588 – 6/26/21

June 26, 2021 at 1:53 am | Posted in The Answer Is In The Beat | Leave a comment

Little Snake ~ hang in there..
RXK Nephew ~ Early Age Death
Jana Rush ~ Mynd Fuc
Casper Mcfadden ~ ppp… parasites.eve
Prolaps ~ Static Barrier
Sonny Rollins featuring Jim Hall ~ The Bridge
Ground-Zero ~ Null & Void: TV-Q Missile
Aaron Dilloway ~ Possession Audition Tape
Manslaughter 777 ~ What Is Joke To You Is Dead To Me
Craig Padilla & Marvin Allen ~ The Revelation

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