Absolutely ridiculous doom specked with some death & black metal featuring a few Kayo Dot folks, this is some of the weirdest doom you’ll ever hear, ominous & fucking devastating, with a violin & trumpets, and scary as fuck. Lyrics are taken straight from the five parts of Donald Justice’s poem The Man Closing Up, which you can read here.
I’m admittedly a little late to the Magik Markers game (which is shameful since they’re a localish band), I’ve only been jamming them for a few years, but got hooked real quick, and am always jonesin for more (the Arbitrary Signs page helps with that), so when I heard Elisa Ambrogio, singer/guitarist for MM, was dropping her solo debut, I got pretty fuckin psyched and was hoping for more MM-tinged garagey goodness that was maybe a bit more stripped down, and that’s exactly what I got on The Immoralist, and while there’s a couple songs that sound like the could’ve come from an actual MM record, for the most part it’s like a bedroom pop daydream of MM, with Ambrogio taking charge of everything, cleaning up the fuzzed out rock a bit and showing off her soft side, layered vocals harmonizing with herself, going for the deep 60s psych pop where you can be a total fuckin weirdo and it doesn’t seem out of place in the slightest, throwing down melancholic piano ballads alongside catchy Top 40 celebrations, this is both a joyful summer slam and awkward bittersweet downer, where Ambrogio travels merrily down memory lane, and closes the record with the lyric “Nothing new would live if nothing died,” which in one short phrase encompasses the whole feeling of The Immoralist, gettin high on those shitty feelings and not letting life’s despair bog you down, and that’s basically what I strive for, so Ambrogio fucking nails it with this one and it’s just as good as, if not better than, the best MM records, just in a different way, something I’m pretty sure everyone should be and wants to be spinning basically non-stop.
I fucking love this record. Everything about it. Rivulets, aka Nathan Amundson (backed here by a very capable bunch), has been steadily releasing incredible records that somehow still fly under the radar, even if they’re on high profile labels like Important (We’re Fucked from 2011 was just outstanding). I think this might be the one to break Rivulets out of the glass ceiling, though, even though it’s on a German label (but available stateside on the cheap), because it would be a goddamn travesty if anything this good came & went largely unnoticed.
This isn’t normally my thing, the singer-songwriter Americana country-ish thing a la Will Oldham, Bill Callahan, or Jason Molina (who gets his own tribute here with “Ride On, Molina”), but this is slower, sadder, weirder, and injects some psych & folk into the mix, but even then, on paper, I’d be like ok cool but I’m not going out of my way to hear it or anything. For some reason, though, I see strong similarities to drone king Kyle Bobby Dunn, two pained romantics making slow-sad-core, one going the drone route, the other down Americana lane, so regardless of your taste in music, this is 100% worth seeking out.
I Remember Everything starts out with “Reinforced / Delicate” whose lyrics are “And it’s reinforced, and it’s delicate. I’m not delicate. Are you ready now?” (which are the only lyrics in the whole song), so it sounds like you stumbled into the middle of a jam session, I mean who starts a record with “…and?” And the the songs are structurally straightforward, no tricks or whistles, they’re minimal, repetitive, & hypnotic, sometimes the song is essentially a repeated chorus (see “Reinforced / Delicate”), sometimes (not always) short and like a brilliant one-off idea with only a vague beginning and end, the full band equivalent of notes on a napkin, and all of this works so goddamn well. Where Rivulets truly shines, though, is mood & sound. This is some sad fuckin stuff, not like Giles Corey levels of depression, but definitely bummed out (lyrics like “My favorite drug is sleep”) and a little bit pissed (“Isn’t it time you found your own place to ruin?”), it’s dark but not too dark, and the sound is really what gets me, it sounds like Amundson is at the bottom of a canyon with his rich voice and rusty guitar echoing down the cliff sides, sounding simultaneously huge and intimate, and it deeply resonates with me, not so much metaphorically (although that too), but physically, like the chords, tones, and drones are tuned to the frequency of my body, everything in this just feels and sounds so right to me, I just can’t get enough of it, the resonance is too strong, and it all adds up to a perfect fucking record.
The subtle tour de force Foie Gras, one of my favorite ladies in the drone game who recently released that stellar Held record, offers the perfect balance between light & heavy in this Q&A, talking about death by wolves alongside quoting Rihanna.
What is the best way to die?
While avenging someone’s death, spontaneously combusting or wolves.
How do you think you’ll die?
I’ll live until the world explodes.
I’m not dying unless everyone is coming with me.
Though my family is convinced that I’ll die by picking a fight with the wrong person.
What makes you happy?
Golden Retrievers, the Flenser, jogging, terrible puns, nice clothes, nice people.
How can you die happy?
I haven’t quite figured that out yet.
I guess by wearing something nice and knowing one’s passing won’t ruin someone else’s life.
How close have you come to death?
I am death.
What does kindness mean to you?
An open heart and an open mind.
Keeping one’s cool… without expecting a reward.
Where do you find love?
In a hopeless place… at least that’s what Rihanna tells me.
When were you most afraid?
When I was a child. I quickly grew out of that though.
How do you listen to music?
In motion. Only when I’m in motion. I can’t sit still long enough to enjoy an album (except for Earth II by Earth or literally anything by Chubby Wolf/Celer). I have to be doing something with my hands or walking or exercising etc.
So much amazing new stuff this week. Rivulets, Gazelle Twin, Dreamcrusher, Francis Bebey, Andy Stott, Skullflower…
Background music: Aphex Twin – XMAS_EVET10 (Thanaton3 Mix) (from Syro)
00:00:00 Talk break
00:01:07 Rivulets – Reinforced / Delicate (from I Remember Everything)
00:05:21 Xylouris White – Psarandonis Syrto (from Goats)
00:09:53 Francis Bebey – Bissau (from Psychedelic Sanza 1982-1984)
00:13:28 Vashti Bunyan – Holy Smoke (from Heartleap)
00:18:11 Giulio Aldinucci – Fieno (from Aer)
00:26:55 Robin Guthrie & Harold Budd – Curious (from White Bird In A Blizzard)
00:30:10 Talk break
00:32:25 Cut Hands – Damballah 58 (from Festival Of The Dead)
00:39:03 Fudgers – RIP KITTEN (from Baby Aunt Scandal)
00:40:45 Gazelle Twin – Good Death (from Unflesh)
00:44:04 Pharmakon – Intent Or Instinct (from Bestial Burden)
00:52:33 Dreamcrusher – Hypernova Bloodbatch (from Suicide Deluxe)
01:01:08 Talk break
01:02:35 Andy Stott – Violence (from Faith In Strangers)
01:09:09 Black Rain – Xibalba Road Metamorph (from Dark Pool)
01:14:35 Fripp & Eno – Softy Gun Poison (from Live In Paris 28.05.1975)
01:27:03 Mike & Cara Gangloff – Cherry River Line (from Black Ribbon Of Death, Silver Thread Of Life)
01:32:03 Talk break
01:33:41 Sophia Loizou – Archaea (from Chrysalis)
01:38:33 Mondo Lava – Jubilee (from Parrot Head Cartridge)
01:44:19 Skullflower – Dakshinikalika (from Draconis)
01:59:12 Talk break
A whole record of wolves howling, barking, talking, and growling, this is perfect October OOPs material. The A side has wolf sounds mixed with some educational narration courtesy of Robert Redford talking about wolves and shit, then the B side is completely uninterrupted wolf field recordings.
Before the folks in Book Of Sand were doing that avant black metal thing, they were doing this avant doom thing as Light. They put out three releases, and A Million Dead Beneath The Ice was the first, it came packaged in white folded paper with a bit of menstrual blood smeared on it, and the music was just fucking ridiculous, menacing faux organ, wall of static distortion, glacial hollow percussion, and tortured howling from the depths of hell, this is a slow droning slab of noisy old school doom with a tinge of Americana thrown in on the last song, absolutely horrific stuff, it’s perfect.
October OOPs: The Mausoleums – Blackened Fawns Cleanse The Earth With Fire (Chinese Workers Labor Union, 2008)
This is some serious Twilight Zone shit, a bizarre amalgamation of jangly 60s garage pop and the rawest most blown out lo-fi black metal. The Mausoleums is Andrew Allen of Avian Bones and head of the Chaos Of The Stars label (who put out an Ak’chamel tape last year!) and he’s been slowly releasing these amazingly fucked up records for the past 7 years, but this one is my favorite, and long gone on the CWLU label, so do some wacky time traveling and try to imagine a world where this is what topped Billboard some 50 years ago.
Xexyz (J.R. Preston of Tjolgtjar) has one release to his name, and it’s an NESBM record chiefly inspired by the classic game Rygar. “What’s NESBM,” you ask? Well that would stand for Nintendo Entertainment System Black Metal, aka 8-bit black metal, and it’s not nearly as ridiculous as you’d think it would be. This is some premium shit. Raw, lo-fi black metal with yowling Gilbert Gottfried vocals that could stand well enough on its own without the added chiptune awesomeness. Most of the songs are completely original that sample NES games, but a couple pieces are more like covers, like “Metroid,” which is just the best fucking song, you never would’ve guessed that the Metroid music would make a great foundation for black metal. Highly original and super fucking weird. You’ll love it.
So this one isn’t scary but I think the BDSM thing is wholly appropriate for the October OOPs series. Despite the “factual living record” claim on the cover, this is clearly a recreation of some “sexy” sounds, including moaning, crying, whipping, and slapping, and it’s fake enough that it’s way more hilarious than it is sexy. There’s almost no music, but the rhythm of the whips and stuff are somewhat musical, which makes for a truly bizarre listen. This is a fantastic mood setter. Great (and fuckin weird) stuff.
This is the 52nd episode of AGB Radio on BFF.fm so I celebrated by playing some of my favorite songs from previous episodes. I only took one song from each episode (I think…) but I couldn’t do a song from every episode because that’s 52 songs and I only have a 2 hour time slot so this is the cream of the crop.
Background music: Ninos Du Brasil – Novos Mistérios (from Novos Mistérios)
00:00:00 Talk break
00:01:08 Factory Floor – Turn It Up (from Factory Floor)
00:07:21 Emptyset – Order (from Recur)
00:13:45 bvdub & Loscil – Thanatos (from Erebus)
00:22:19 Raum – Blood Moon (from Event Of Your Leaving)
00:28:09 Talk break
00:29:04 Julianna Barwick – Look Into Your Own Mind (from Nepenthe)
00:33:33 Magik Markers – American Sphinx Face (from Surrender To The Fantasy)
00:40:17 Wizard Of – Skeleton II (from Face/Skeleton)
00:48:04 Blackhoods – Doomhound (from Sunk)
00:54:49 FKA Twigs – Two Weeks (from LP1)
00:58:53 Talk break
00:59:51 Tara Jane O’Neil – Bellow Below As Above (from Where Shine New Lights)
01:03:03 Ignatz & Harris Newman – I Will Bring You Buzzard Meat (from Bring You Buzzard Meat)
01:09:42 Ak’chamel, The Giver Of Illness – Head Of Acantun, Talking Stone (from Fucking With Spirits)
01:17:52 Planning For Burial – Where You Rest Your Head At Night (from Desideratum)
01:26:03 Drowse – Needing (from Songs To Sleep On)
01:29:06 Talk break
01:30:22 Peder Mannerfelt – Affricate Consonants (from Lines Describing Circles)
01:34:30 Ben Frost – Venter (from A U R O R A)
01:41:03 Emma Ruth Rundle – Savage Saint (from Some Heavy Ocean)
01:45:21 Ben Chasny – Black Sand (from Black Sand/Wedding Song single)
01:50:18 Marisa Anderson – Mojave (from Mercury)
01:52:12 Dama/Libra – The Chant (from Claw)
01:58:46 Talk break
A truly crazy record containing interviews of people from all walks of life talking about their bizarre passions. There’s Anton LeVey talking about Satanism, why it’s got a bad rap and how it’s more about life than death, Wiccan Louise Huebner sharing the secrets of witchcraft, Dr. Thelma Ross going off about ESP, Rosemary Brown channeling dead composers, Stanton Friedman going deep into UFO theories, and lots more. Then there’s a couple songs by Black Widow, a British occult heavy metal band that never made it as far as Black Sabbath because they were a bit too out there.
There’s a big bound booklet inside the gatefold of this that’s too cumbersome to scan, so definitely pick up a copy of this if you ever found one, it’s well worth your money. Also, that artwork by Wilfried Satty is just fucking outstanding. Why wouldn’t you want to own this?
I’ve decided to use the month of October to share a bunch of spooky scary creepy crawly records. I’ve got tons. Some of them are maybe a bit subjective (like this one) and some of them I’ve posted before (also like this one) but I think it’ll be nice nice to collect them all under the October OOPs tag while also offering some new-to-AGB records.
Loons are fucking awesome because they sound like terrifyingly beautiful ghosts. If you’ve ever sat out by a lake in the middle of nowhere late at night, you know just how creepy loons can sound. This record does a great job capturing that. The first side includes some narration describing what’s going on, but the B side is untainted by humans, just loons doing their creepy fuckin thing alongside thunderstorms and coyote howls, so this is perfect Halloween material. Dig in.
Also, the back of the jacket has an “Important Note” that warns you not to play this record “near waters occupied by breeding pairs” because horny loons apparently can’t handle any competition.
The most recent release on Black Plagve (a sub-label of Malignant) looks like it might be Isolator’s true debut, but both of the two dudes involved (Justin Stubbs and The Nothing) have years of experience making extreme sounds, and holy fuck does it show, this is a magnificent terror of hellish drone fueled by pure hatred & misanthropy (in case you couldn’t tell by the title), walls of dense static undulating with decay, unpenetrable slabs of death industrial chaos with the bombastic percussion traded for endless scraping feedback and haunted harmonics, vocals that range from unholy priests, to tortured howls, to grotesque chants, these are the sounds you’d hear months after a Hellmouth broke open and the horror died down to a constant dull roar, a 22nd century warzone close enough to perpetually fear for your life but far enough away so the shrieks of the dying are merely muffled background noise, but spend enough time with this and you’ll unearth some bittersweet angelic tones, a soft sad beauty lurking beneath the caustic devastation, this is absolutely fucking massive and nightmarish but undeniably a drone record, bleak as fuck and way more harsh than most of the other drone I review, but drone nonetheless, and it’s fucking fantastic.
Got a major migraine before this episode started so I kept it pretty low key. Side note: The Field is my go-to migraine music for commuting (which sadly happens all too often) because it’s soft enough to not harsh my head but is hard enough to cut through the subway & train noise. It’s pretty perfect.
Background music: Peter Broderick – Side A (from Ten Duets)
00:00:00 Talk break
00:00:37 Andrew Weathers – We’ll Meet Beyond The Grave (from One Day We’ll Find The Valley)
00:12:23 Tashi Wada – March 2007 (from Duets)
00:17:57 Etta Baker – Bully Of The Town (from Instrumental Music Of The southern Appalachians)
00:20:50 Tape – Repose (from Casino)
00:27:04 Talk break
00:28:13 Steve Gunn & Mike Gangoff – Out Canning Factory Road (from Melodies For A Savage Fix)
00:33:25 bvdub – Everything Between You And Me (from A History Of Distance)
00:53:16 Popol Vuh – They Danced, They Laughed, As Of Old (from Agape-Agape Love-Love)
00:58:00 Talk break
00:58:50 Machinefabriek – Stillness #4 (Yalour Islands, Antarctica) (from Stillness Soundtracks)
01:10:31 John Fahey – Poor Boy (from The Dance Of Death & Other Plantation Favorites)
01:13:46 Mary Lattimore & Jeff Zeigler – Welsh Corgis In The Snow (from Slant Of Light)
01:21:04 Bitchin’ Bajas – Orgone (from Bitchin’ Bajas)
01:29:31 Talk break
01:30:33 Hakobune – Hidden Away (from Seamless And Here)
01:43:53 John Davis – Carrie Belle (from Southern Journey 1: Georgia Sea Islands, Volume 1)
01:46:06 Robert Wilkins – I’ll Go With Her (from I Woke Up One Morning In May)
01:48:55 The Field – Looping State Of Mind (from Looping State Of Mind)
01:59:19 Talk break