This isn’t a year end top list or anything. This is just a huge post with short comments on a fuckton of records (23 and unranked, but Sea Of Bones gets top billing) that I’ve been jamming and haven’t had a chance to write up. I also wanted to do this because at least a couple of these will be on my Top Drone list and I wanted to say something about them before the list comes out. Scope the goods after the jump.
Archive for the ‘Album Reviews’ Category
Fabrica is on one hell of a streak this year, with killer releases from Aeronaut and Rambutan that’ve already blown my mind, and now this new LP from Culver (aka Lee Stokoe) that’s out of this fucking world. Two side long pieces of dark drone minimalism peaking at critical mass, sentient feedback that couldn’t be any heavier, humungous slabs of bone pulverizing vibrations, crank this thing on Satan’s stereo and your soul will evacuate your body seeking sanctuary in the fiery pits of hell, this is serious crater making thrum, the sound of stars colliding and the infinitely dense black hole that ensues, the roar of a monolith mixed with the mind bending bleakness found in the endless stretch of wastelands, static & near motionless crumbling of pure black minimalism, the sound of all that’s left after the universe reversed back into the Big Crunch, total void, absolute nothing, and motherfucking perfection incarnate.
This new Olan Mill is one gorgeous fucking record. Five smooth tracks of lush pastoral beauty, blooming with otherworldly sweetness and as tender as can be. The drone comes in all forms, from resonant angelic choirs and sweeping cinematic strings, to buried sustained tones and delicate piano keys, all layered in a harmonic perfection that wrings your heart dry, empties your tear ducts, and bathes you in a sunlight you never knew existed. There’s a deep sadness, so painful that the only shred of optimism to be found is in knowing that you’re still alive to feel it. Hiraeth is a record of such heavenly warmth and bittersweet bliss, I guarantee it alone will sustain you through the upcoming winter. Vinyl & CD available, with different artwork for each (fyi that’s the LP artwork up there).
Holy cow now this is a fucking record. Secret Pyramid, aka Amir Abbey, has brought us a stunning display of soft drone perfection, the stuff dreams are made of. This really is the embodiment of softness, no hard edges or jagged angles to be found, the stark sphere of a billiard ball obscured behind a gauzy veil, taking clips of melodies and stretching them out, looped on themselves and buried under a thick Basinskian blanket, piano notes floating out from the black green of an ocean cave, finding their way to the top and caught in the subtle surface shimmer, everything washed in a comforting melancholic static and hanging in the delicate balance between sleep & consciousness, a magically golden midnight haze that opens up half-forgotten memories both tender & somber. Super special stuff from a new-to-me dude courtesy of the ever-trustworthy Students Of Decay.
Mother. Fucking. Drone. This is the real shit. Long form synth transcendence that’ll push your fucking skull straight through the fabric of space/time. Two sidelong pieces, absolutely humongous slabs of gritty bliss, heaving & waving layers filling in the wrinkles of your brain, a monotonous minimalism that I would bind to my goddamn bones and take with me wherever I went if I could, drones clipping in the red and glistening from the bottom of a well, boring down on every atom in your body until the negative space is non-existent and you’re lifted up to the next level of reality. So so fucking good, and yours for only $6.50 courtesy of the baddest dudes at Umor Rex.
This dude is pure fucking magic. Steve Fors’ debut as Aeronaut last year, Coronal Mass was outstanding, and his time spent in The Golden Sores has sadly continued without much fanfare. But man, Your Space Transmissions Listening Kit is all out soaring static bliss, telling the story (from the perspective of a 7 year old) of an astronaut lost in the blackness of space (perfectly timed with Cuarón’s upcoming Gravity). Four 15 minute tracks that dance with death, pushed to the edge of asphyxiating on bittersweet euphoria, staring straight into the heart of a star and filling your ears with the sound of golden perfection, moments lasting forever stuck in the vacuum of nothing, isolated dread, swirling stardust, abyss meditation, and harmonic beauty, unsure if you’re in heaven or hell, just overwhelmed by every sight & sound. Only 100 CDs of this beast were made but every one of them includes a pair of 3D glasses and some sweet anaglyph images.
I first heard about Argentina’s finest Federico Durand through his superb collaboration with Nicholas Szczepanik under the guise of Every Hidden Color. This
debut LP of Durand’s (translated to The Language Of The Fireflies) takes that pristine sound from Luz and amplifies it to a level of pure magic. This is a record of subtle complex sounds, finding wonder in the smallest audio spaces and turning a regular peaceful morning into a world of bright white bliss. Intimate field recordings of wildlife chatter and drifting chimes are in perfect company amidst minimal tonal shimmer, delicate softness, humble piano twinkling, and emotional dreams. This is a damn near perfect drone record, kicking introverted euphoria into uncharted territory. As is all things with Desire Path, El Idioma is limited, so don’t sleep on this.
The second part (of a two parter, this is it. ICYMI: part 1) of what I’ve been blasting the fuck out of for the past few months. Here lie the black, doomed, & loud as hell records that are front to back awesome.
Hope Drone – Hope Drone (OSCL)
100% killer post black metal out of Australia, blistering & furious with raspy roaring vocals and a grim outlook set to annihilate you that’s not very often seen in the Cascadian stuff, it’s low on the shimmer (though it’s there a bit) and heavy on the heavy.
Sadhaka – Terma (Pest / Sick Man Getting Sick)
Super fucking awesome USBM band that sadly only got their record released overseas. This is some insane post everything shit, a little post metalcore here, a little post black metal there, but monstrous through & through, thick atmospheres, major dark riffs that are admittedly a bit catchy, but when this thing explodes, it’s so beastly, vocals sounding like they’re being echoed out of a bottomless abyss and spot on heart attack beats. Been playing this one almost nonstop since I found it.
Quttinirpaaq – No Visitors (Rural Isolation Project)
Hands down the weirdest record in this list, these guys have churned out some gruesome industrial sludge that sounds like it was scraped from the bottom of an evaporated acid bath and splattered up against bass heavy grooves & rusted iron drum beats, gritty & heavy as fuck with a Bachelor’s degree in bombastic noise punk and a minor in scorched psych, something a freakish cult would dance to as they burn you alive in your fevered hallucinations.
Old Witch – Come Mourning Come (self released)
Holy fuck this is one huge goddamn record, the most perfect blending of doom, black metal, & drone I’ve heard in a long time, monstrous drums & earth rattling guitars that will tear the fucking world apart as we all fall into the pits of hell, and definitely a Carpenter/horror score vibe with backing synths that turn this into a brutally tense nightmare. Hands down of of my favorites this year.
Surachai – Embraced (self released)
This one came out of nowhere and it fuckin rules, just one dude who enlisted a bunch of pals to flesh things out and give this a truly overwhelming sound, Embraced is some next level shit, complex wall of sound black metal that’s super fuckin precise, tight tremolo shredding on top of a controlled chaos of percussion a la Zach Hill or Greg Fox, this is nonstop amazing.
Peste Noire – Peste Noire (La Mesnie Herlequin)
Forget all those shoegazey French black metal bands, Peste Noire is the Frenchest black metal there is and they’re the fucking best. Their newest record eschews a lot of the black metal norms and takes on a heavy dose of punk & cabaret styles, both of which I normally hate, but for some reason the accordion, xylophone, classical acoustic guitar, spit in your face vocals, and all the other non-BM sounds on here get folded in with the blast beats & buzzing guitars and end up making the craziest, noisiest, coolest fucking (mostly) black metal record.
When Woods Make Graves – Whispers From The Black Lake (self released)
Solo British dude who’s pretty prolific, cites my favorite classics (Burzum, Paysage D’Hiver, Weakling, etc) as influences, and makes his shit free* for the taking, there’s no reason not to love him already. But his records are incredible and his most recent one is no different, with 6 tracks (4 of which break the 14 minute mark) churning out guitar squalls & murky atmospheres, overwhelming in every way, he’s just as good at making lengthy devastating epics as he is switching out his guitar for some synths and laying down massive bleak drones.
Hivelords – Cavern Apothecary (Anthropic)
Some fearsome shit right here, these Philly dudes spill fresh blood in the blackened doom arena, frenzied blast beats & killer fucking riffs b/w a slow plodding death march & clean majestic vocals, at once black, heavy, doomed, & pure fucking evil, these guys have a path to the Dark Throne laid out right in front of them.
Charnel House – Black Blood (Sygil)
A record unlike any other, this is some sort of beautifully dark atmospheric black metal, but not the kind you’re thinking of, this is a record straight out of a haunted house, eerie guitars & bass jamming a fucked up atmosphere while some ghost lady seduces you to the Underworld, lurching drums that rise up from the basement to burst out in flaming blast beats. I don’t know what depths this came from but I both hope I never find it and am pissed I’m not there already.
Cultes Des Ghouls – Henbane (Hells Headbangers)
A truly twisted black metal record, equal parts thrashy, heavy, and fucked, this is grizzly necro show with dual vocals that howl & groan, debased buzzing riffs, start & stop drums, crazy samples, a candlelit graveyard stomp, the kind of shit that Satan himself rocks to.
Just because I stopped writing for a bit doesn’t mean I stopped listening. Actually felt like I did way more listening than usual, or maybe it was just more quality listening without the review cloud storming up in my brain. Either way, here’s a quick rundown of some chill records I’ve been jamming these past few months. Part 2 will be the louder noisier scarier stuff.
Danny Paul Grody – Between Two Worlds (Three Lobed)
Omfg this is one of my favorites from this year, Grody (of the forever missed Tarentel) goes way beyond the experimental guitar soli stuff and turns solo guitarscapes into a lush & serene ocean spanning this life and every other, delicate drone, subtle piano, & obscured vocals breathing bliss into every moment of this record. For a guitar record, it goes places you never dreamed of.
Alessandro Cortini – Forse Volume 1 (Important)
This has been getting tonnnns of spins over here. Cortini is from Nine Inch Nails and How To Destroy Angels, which automatically (shamefully) made me not care about this. But for some reason I listened to a sound sample and was instantly sold. This is some incredible minimal/maximal single-Buchla-synth drone stuff that’s got the occasional rhythm and is fucking out of this world awesome. Sadly you missed your chance with the 2xLP, it’s sold out. Luckily, Volumes 2 & 3 are forthcoming before the year’s end. This is gonna be a trilogy to write home about let me tell you.
Earn – Hell On Earth (Bathetic)
Why this guy isn’t at the top of the drone chain yet I don’t know. But lets hope Hell On Earth puts him there. I can hardly imagine a more beautifully dark record than this, channeling soft woozy bliss into a black mourning shroud, this is the ghostly stuff you see out of the corner of your eye on a sun-drenched foggy morning, supremely perfect, definitely one of the best drone records you’ll come across this year.
Henry Plotnick – Fields (Holy Mountain)
It’s hard to not call every embarrassingly talented kid that hasn’t even hit high school a genius, but here we have 11 year old Plotnick’s debut 2xLP of melodic loops in the vain of the early minimal masters and goddamn this guy is fuckin going places. Regardless of his age, Fields is a fucking triumph of transcendental zoning. Fingers crossed he keeps recording.
The Archivist – The Wooden Laser (self released)
I was maybe a bit biased from the get-go due to this guy’s name but objectively speaking this record is the fucking best. The Wooden Laser is a barely there minimalism, crank this fucker up and you can still hear you pet’s heartbeat 3 rooms over. An ambiance formed around dusty tapes and whispered electronics, you can give 100% of your ears to this and it’ll show you all the crevices in the fabric of reality.
Sarah Davachi – The Untuning Of The Sky (Full Spectrum)
A debut of this caliber shouldn’t be going as unnoticed as it is, Davachi has cuddled up next to a variety of electronics (ARP, Buchla, Serge, Mellotron) and coaxed tender long-form minimal drone dreams out of them, deeply saturated in warmth & finessed to a level of tonal perfection I don’t think many people ever achieve.
D. Burke Mahoney – LORAN-C (self released)
An homage to the 1350 foot transmitter LORAN-C in Greeland that collapsed in 1964, this is a beautiful drone record that’s overwhelmingly minimal, the kind of sounds you hear emerge from a silent room that has various quiet machines powered up, the sound of a room breathing, exceptional, precise, & absolutely perfect. Also, it’s free.
Lustmord – The Word As Power (Blackest Ever Black)
I was never too into Lustmord but when I heard this was a drone record based on various guest artists’ vocals (Jarboe! Soriah!), I had to check it out. Blew my expectations right out of the water. I love some quality black magic ritual drone like Phurpa and Zurvan and this fits right in, expansive & evocative detailed drones resonating through empty caverns, so fucking excellent.
Marisa Anderson – Mercury (Mississippi)
How I’ve yet to hear of Anderson before this record is a baffling travesty. She picks & strums her way on electric, acoustic, and lap-steel guitars playing 100% awesome experimental Americana, twanging & echoing under wide open skies and doing an assortment of styles, bluesy drags, lazy folk, dusty Appalachian ragas, and tying it all together with an old fashioned tenderness. Love this so much.
Big Blood – Radio Valkyrie 1905-1917 (Feeding Tube)
Insanely fantastic record from this Maine psych folk duo, only their second full length and somehow they’ve already honed a hazy dark sound that puts everything else to shame. Songs fit for midnight forest rituals and ghost stories by the fire, a seriously warped ethereal vibe that’s unshakeable after the first track’s vapors seep into your pores.
Molly Drake – Molly Drake (Squirrel Thing)
Unearthed recordings from the 50s by Nick Drake’s mom!! This woman has an undeniably charming & enchanting voice, singing sweet somber tunes & floating effortlessly on her piano, this is a record that’ll transport you to the drawing room you never got to hang in.
Agarttha – A Water Which Does Not Wet Hands (King Of The Monsters)
Agarttha is one Francesca Marongiu (of Architeuthis Rex) conjuring a doomy folk, or folksy doom, or some manner of subdued occult magik that pours out of your speakers like a fog, offering elements of psych & pop that are as inexplicable as they are welcome. One weird fuckin record, covers you in a thick layer of moss that you’ll never wash off.
Julianna Barwick – Nepenthe (Dead Oceans)
Been enthralled with Barwick ever since I saw her open for Eluvium years ago and her new record takes her layered vocal bliss to uncharted heights, sometimes venturing into pop territory, but pure fucking heaven through & through. Hands down one of the most beautiful records and completely deserving of all the praise that’s been heaped upon it lately.
Fantastic stuff from Canadian Lindsay Dobbin, this is the quietest weirdest lo-fi folk you’ll ever hear. Dobbin has cobbled together a record that sounds like it was recorded on a wax cylinder, buried for a century or two at the bottom of a well, and excavated when the current land owners found out the well was haunted. Straightforward sounds, a piano, a guitar, her ethereal childlike voice, and all the life of the Yukon wilderness, howling wolves, the cold wind, bird calls, occasionally warped & twisted into a drugged dream but always caked in a murky tape hiss, soft & simple, a record deeply in touch with the self, connected to every fiber of the world, but still seeking an obscured transcendent understanding. Truly incredible work. The sadly sold out tape was wrapped in birch bark and moose sinew, so maybe if all of you ask nicely she’ll re-release it. If not, trust me that the digital version will certainly suffice.
Stephan Mathieu is at the top of his game with The Falling Rocket, this is some seriously pensive & brooding minimalism that runs the gamut of the emotion rainbow without tossing you around rollercoaster style, with mostly just a Farfisa organ, Hohner Electronium, and radio at his disposal, Mathieu concentrates on a dense & lightweight essence, the sound of civilized silence carved out in the blankness of your mind, surrounded by inaudible hiss & hum, a delicate static washing out all impurities leaving nothing but a harrowing & blissful drone, overwhelming in its magnificence, a massive wall of black hole euphoria that you can just barely make out, Mathieu displaying his mastery of the bipolar balance of dark & light, this is drone in its finest form, truly incredible work from a dude whose discography is already overflowing with brilliance. The digital version is out now via Mathieu’s own Schwebung and the 2xLP is forthcoming on Dekorder.
Killer droner Postdrome (aka Charlie Floyd) hits hard with this new full length, taking you to dark & gorgeous places, this is some impeccable shit with smoothed out angel choir bliss, hushed sonar reverb, scratchy digital glitch, deep resonant thrum, and blastin rowdy as fuck feedback sounding like the earth is crumbling under your feet as you stand on top of a cliffside, tidal waves crashing below, minimally layered tones that ebb & flow with human emotion, delicately textured with the utmost precision, a heavenly euphoric weave of sonic perfection that is the essence of bittersweet. Huge sounds, mini sounds, a veritable buffet of all the finest drones money can buy, this is beauty incarnate. Floyd has given us his best, and his best is the fucking BEST.
For a variety of terrible reasons, I have a hard time writing about records that didn’t get submitted to me for review. That means I come across tons of incredible shit that I don’t make time for on AGB. A lot of the records in this mid-year roundup fall into that category. Regardless of how I found out about them, all of these are 100% awesome and I’ve been playing the fuck out of each and every one of them.
Also, I have a totally bullshit & ever-shifting line that I try not to cross when writing about records that wobbles between how popular the album/band/label is and how much I love the record. This list is made up of stuff I probably would’ve reviewed if I had the time, but there’s a lot I’ve been jamming hard that was “too big” in my eyes for AGB, lots of high profile metal like Deafheaven, Altar Of Plagues, Inter Arma, The Body, etc, and then there’s stuff like William Tyler’s super bitchin Impossible Truth, which, if it didn’t come out on Merge, I most likely would’ve written it up, but then there’s some that regardless of how much press they get, I can’t help but praise the shit out of them. So those are my half-assed rules and what went through my head when making this list.
There’s a few records on here that might make it onto my year end drone list, so if you’re the gamblin type, start up a pool with your pals and maybe you can strike it rich.
Since this is a pretty big list (28 and unranked) I’ve put everything after the jump so it doesn’t clog up the front page. Here’s hoping you find some in here that you haven’t heard of yet.
Read the rest of this entry »
The very first vinyl from the always excellent Rambutan (aka Eric Hardiman) who’s put out a string of killer releases (my favorite being The Temple Of Echo), and this one’s a fucking doozy, armed with mostly his guitar & synths/electronics, Hardiman bakes up some tripped out cough syrup fever dreams on Inverted Summer, a whole slew of humid suffocating drones that send you straight for the nearest black hole, sexy tantric shit going down in a sweaty Catskills lodge, angry industrial Tesla coil walls of darkness, your third eye blinded with squiggle vision, boiling dubbed out psych coating your brain in a dripping thick layer of goop, a welcome dose of breezy bliss for the introverts that drowns all desire to feel the sun, Hardiman made a true fucking winner here, and only 300 of these badboys were pressed, so hop to it.
A short but devastating debut EP from these new Boston dudes, checking in at a little under 14 minutes, with two songs of mega-doom, monolithic & heavy as fuck, a chunky, lumbering beast dredging up graves, the real action coming in on the 9+ minute “Dasein” where the noise gets pumped up and shit gets slowed down to a funereal dirge of growling fury, huge walls of horror sounding like these dudes summoned open the mouth of hell and recorded the unholy descent as they got swallowed up, then it breaks into a sludgy stomper once they hit fire bottom, the rock of pure fucking death, gruesome & grim metal that’ll bring out the brutal bastard in everyone, this is the best kind of debut, a tease of the excellence to come with killer artwork by Bryan Proteau of Natvres Mortes Illvstration, don’t miss out on this, these guys are definitely goin places.