Album Review

Ben Vida – Slipping Control (Shelter Press, 2014)

ben vida - slipping control album cover
Ben VidaPart 8 (Shelter Press)

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Shelter Press doin a fuckin number on 2014, this new Ben Vida record just adding to the awesomeness, and while anything by Mr. Vida should be on your radar regardless, Slipping Control gets extra points for including Tyondai Braxton and Sara Magenheimer on vocals. What started out as the book Tztztztzt Î Í Í…, which was “composed to act as a score, a sound piece and as raw data for electronic control source” turned into this record of brainwarping levels of insanity, full blown electronic scatter glitch that ping pongs in your skull like misfiring neural synapses, laser sharp and reverbed wire snap, and then Ty & Sara come in with their wordless stuttering, either solo or with electronic accompaniment, and it’s just fucking brilliant, with fleeting rhythms that pull you in for sweet moments of focused repetition before being twisted, layered, and chopped into its alien bio-mechanics, these are sounds that come from an intentional randomness that transforms the way you hear the world around you, the hums and scratches in your life being re-imagined and given new life. This is, unsurprisingly, supremely excellent work from Vida. Wholly worth your time.

Album Review

SSLEEPERHOLD – Ruleth (Holodeck, 2013)

ssleeperhold - ruleth album cover
SSLEEPERHOLDBeatsslave (Holodeck)

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This bad boy was sold out for a bit, even though it only came out a few months ago. But Holodeck knows their shit and repressed this asap, so I figured now’s the time for yall to hear about if you missed out on the first go-round. SSLEEPERHOLD, aka José Cota of Medio Mutante, puts together a sexxy synthy dance fest that has the catchiest hooks outside of pop. This is all over the place style wise, like a New Age cloud rap darkwave that could just as easily come from a John Hughes movie as it could from John Carpenter, slow & grimy, tender & bangin, making for beastly times on the dance floor as well as solo transcendental mind explorations. Ruleth gets all the points for originality in this synth saturated scene. Can’t wait to see where he goes with this. Excellent fucking stuff. And the repress was only another 300 copies, so don’t wallow for too long on it.

Haiku Review

WANDA GROUP – CLEANERS (VLEKD, 2012)


WANDA GROUPB MUSEUM (VLEKD)

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Download CLEANERS
/minimalist murk/
/drugged dystopia party/
/visions of sleep beats/

Concert Review

GRKZGL, A Snake In The Garden, Planning For Burial, Retribution Body, Kunskapslådan at Starlab

 

Hosted by Existence Establishment.

 

GRKZGL

 

A Snake In The Garden

 

Planning For Burial

 

Retribution Body

 

Kunskapslådan

Album Review

Padme – Wisdom From The Stars (SicSic, 2012)


PadmeCreated In Their Image (SicSic)

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This dude is a bit mysterious. Sisto Rossi, from Germany, put out a lot of underground stuff maybe? Now he’s moved to the US and this might be his last tape? I don’t know. It’s not that important. Wisdom From The Stars is though. This is some grand shit. Looong stretched out synth jams that are pure. evil. Old school horror score style but planted firmly in the sci-fi genre. Deep dark drones sprawling out into the unknown, haunted spaceships, cockpits gone haywire, red machine eyes giving you the staredown, distant pulsars making tiny waves on your pulsar-meters, minimal slabs of synth, bubbling & chirping synths, all manner of sci-fi terror drone rolled into one brilliant hour-long tape of desolation. Sadly already sold out at the label, so check yer distros and knab the digital if all else fails.

Album Review

Max Bondi – Convolution (Tartaruga, 2012)


Max BondiMonopoles (Tartaruga)

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Max Bondi, the dude who also runs Tartaruga, has crafted a totally fucking incredible record here. Masterful in ways that are beyond me. Convolution is a drone/analog synth (maybe? no liner notes so I’m just goin with my gut) record, and if that’s an automatic deterrent for whatever reason, please take half a minute and look beyond that. Each discrete track is a fucking winner but this works much more beautifully as a whole, smoothly shifting gears from minimal drone to bubbly synths (with one exception, track 3, that breaks off the minimalist path for some relatively abrasive sequencing, giving you a taste of things to come). It’s like the sounds of a spelunker’s dreams, the deepest gemstoned caves, the air thick and stagnant, only moving from your breath’s disruption, gorgeous when it subtly shimmers, dank dungeons of hopes & terrors, scared stiff, heavy relief, and the halfway point, “Monopoles,” acts as a bridge to the yin/yang, making way for more dynamics, more standing room, synths locked in arhythmic sequences, the drones still present but more varied & buried, an overwhelming display of underground magic that turns into a frenzied dash for the exit. A record this fucking good only comes around once in a long while, and when it’s packaged as beautifully as this (screenprinted thick gatefold card, hand sewn, with a fold-out double-sided screenprinted insert), you should do everything in your power to make sure you don’t miss it.

Album Review

Nop – No Thing (self released, 2012)


NopQueenlord (self released)

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This record is insane. Some guy from Roxbury (aka Boston) making twisted bedroom jams of a hundred different genres. Every song is another sound, tropical drone, gritty technoise, dubby witch house, skittery ambience, spastic jungle DnB, chilled catchy AnCo pop, lo-fi chiptuney party starters, everything under the DIY sun. And it’s super sample heavy, almost every track has some clips from films and interviews and stuff. Definitely demo style, but not demo quality. This is fucking killer, it’s just all over the place. It makes for one chaotic mindfuck of a record and clearly that’s something to be proud of. Plus, IT’S FREE. Go download this shit before he changes his mind.

Album Review

MicroD – Prime (self released, 2011)


MicroDPrime Part IV (self released)

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I’ve sort of stopped paying attention to straight up 8 bit music lately. No fault of its own, I just have gotten a little disinterested. It needs an extra hook or something for me to give it a chance. Not a gimmick, just a theme or a variation on the sound. MicroD’s got that shit taken care of. His chiptunes are 100% Game Boy goodness but to spice things up he gave himself some constraints, working with prime numbers. Math + chiptunes = fuck yes I’m listening. He’s got “Prime” parts I-IV and he composed each one in a different prime time signature, starting with 3/4 and working up to 11/4 time. The artwork is based around primes (location of orange) and some of the tracks have prime beats per minute. Dude knows his primes. Plus there’s a song called “Fist.bmp.” Brilliant! Add all that fun up with the catchy as fuck super solid 8 bit housewarmers and you’ve struck gold. The real kicker is you can grab Prime in all it’s digital sexiness for free (if you want) or you can cop the limited analog for a mere $5. The power is yours!

Haiku Review

Zbeen – K-Frame (Ripples, 2012)


Zbeen (Gianluca Favaron & Ennio Mazzon) – Sentrert Dot (Ripples)

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Download K-Frame

/tinnitus wave tones/
/electronic consciousness/
/travel by glitch ticks/

Album Review

Dog Hallucination – Bob Hallucination (Intangible Cat, 2011)


Dog HallucinationUntitled 2 (Intangible Cat)

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A tightly compacted 3″ where Dog Hallucination (Doggy P. Lips & D. Petri) is joined by Bob from Headless Ballerinas Underwater. Weirdness abound on this one, the guitars getting fucked up & beatified by Bob with some added field recordings thrown into the mix. Gentle looping guitars, droning into the ether alongside ruptured electronics gurgling everywhere, phasers set to “caress,” celestial warmth feeding the fire, all infused with a solid rhythm, a noisy techno-drone that does more to invoke lucid dreams than it does the urge to party. But this is still totally partyable (at least a couple of the tracks are). And totally awesome. Here’s hoping Bob joins in the Hallucinations more often.

Album Review

Twink – Itsy Bits & Bubbles (Twink Tones, 2012)


TwinkTumble Bunny (Twink Tones)

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It might be hard to break the barrier on this one. A band named Twink with a record called Itsy Bits & Bubbles and album art like that? Everything about this screams that it’s for kids. And here’s the kicker, it’s primarily made with toy instruments. Now, before you get all Judge Judgmental on me, let me remind you that Self’s Gizmodgery was made with toys (“Trunk Fulla Amps” anyone?) and then there’s the fact that Twink really knows what the fuck he’s doing. This is high quality toy pop with quirks, charm, and hooks galore. It’s like if Amiina and The Books had a kid who grew up to worship Dan Deacon and was best friends with a sedated Foxdye. Toy instruments are just the beginning, Twink will open up any toy that has a fuck-withable circuit and make it do his bidding, 8 bit rainbows looping in danceable harmony, and wobbly dubstep leaking into the strangest places. Plus, there’s an “Axel F” cover and he’s from Lowell! If this shit doesn’t put a little joy in your heart, maybe it’s time to give up because you’re just too far gone.

Album Review

Sculpture – Toad Blinker (Dekorder, 2011)


SculptureElk Cloner (Dekorder)

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A music/animation duo with a “psychophonotropic picture disc LP.” Basically, two dudes whose live show is better than their records so they compensate by making zoetropic LPs. Super fucking cool zoetropic LPs. These guys sound like a collab between an ADHD Boards Of Canada and a noisier Andrew Douglas Rothbard on LSD. Some crazy shit in here. It’s a techno glitch madhouse with ’50s avant garde electronics & sci-fi sounds, ’60s psych, and ’70s film score snippets. Truly the wackiest wonkiest beats around, dubby trip hop going toe to toe with breakcore, max chill groovin with acid freakouts, sequenced synth loops and glittery robotronics strolling through the common, all manner of awesome thrown into a blender, soundtracking the only kind of club I’d ever want to go to. Digital music that most certainly belongs on the turntable. See the zoetrope in action and while you’re at it check out the brand new video for “Elk Cloner.”

Concert Review

Mark Fell, Ricardo Donoso at Middlesex Lounge

Twin Stars: husband/wife visuals team (Linda Aubry & Michael T. Bullock)

Ricardo Donoso: playing new material from Progress Chance (which if you don’t remember I’M IN LOVE WITH), potentially one of the best sets of the year, first song in he fucking melted the speakers, literally. He only got to play about a song and a half before one of the speakers couldn’t handle the Donoso Dream and sounded like it wanted to die. Since the speaker couldn’t get its shit together, Ricardo cut the set short by about, oh, 95%. MEGA-EST BUMMER :(

Mark Fell: techno glitch destruction, absolutely insane, owning the whole fucking room, breakdancing crew formed a circle and went to town, showing off their hottest while Fell teased them with second long rhythms, a suited up Justin Timberlake lookin motherfucker tweaked out and danced sexy seizure style, people walking into the club dressed to the nines ready to get their mid-week freak on giving each other the most ghastly looks when hearing what kind of non-danceable awesomeness Fell was spewing, definitely the coolest show Non-Event & Basstown have graced Boston with this year
 

Twin Stars

 
Ricardo Donoso

 
Mark Fell

Album Review

Ricardo Donoso – Progress Chance (Digitalis, 2011)


Ricardo DonosoThe Deck Of An Ancient Ship (Digitalis)

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Fucking BRILLIANT. Donoso’s previous works have sounded nothing like this. This is new. And not just for Donoso. New for life. Like a freaky hybrid of Gas, Goblin, and OPN. It’s an IDM trance. Or an anti minimal techno. He’s taken his experience with raves in Brazil and stripped them down. No beats, no drums, just the in between moments. With minimal techno, you get mostly beats and a few skitterings of whatever. Progress Chance is just the skitterings. The motorik is gone. You’re left with a mostly foreboding/slightly uplifting beam of dusky arpeggiated synths, beautiful in their simplicity, blissful in their ambience. This is mind music. You can space the fuck out and let your brain imagine soaring through Jupiter’s red eye or you can dance to the naught-beats while you brain fills in the blanks. It might not sound all that original on paper, but this is some straight up one-of-a-kind shit. Donoso gets the trophy for coolest synth record of the year.

Album Review

David Lackner / John Swana – Struttin’ Around (Galtta, 2010)


David LackerIm Wunderschönen Monat Mai

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I’m not a really a jazz guy, so when the new Galtta tape label sent me the first batch of four releases, I was a little hesitant. But every once in a while something special comes along and shows me what’s up, like some of the Galtta tapes. Some of them were more straight jazz than the rest, but GALTTA-001, the split with David Lackner and John Swana was definitely weird enough for me to dig into and share with all yous.

David Lackner’s side is packed with some wicked electronics, which gives it an automatic +10 in my book. It’s super cool, not too ambitious or gaudy, and definitely made for couch melting. It does a killer job of keeping it nice & spacey, with radar echoes, arpeggiated bloops, lo-fi static buzzing, glitchy ambience, and robot love songs, conjuring sexy retro sci-fi chicks with white go-go boots & mod hair. There’s also plenty of traditional horns, saxophones, drums, etc, but pulling in some surprises too. One of the tracks, “Study In Clutter” is so out there, with boy-girl Sesame Street vocals and a very solid almost tribal beat with lots of handclaps, flutes, and some numbers station samples. Yeah, I’ve heard that done to death but it really works well here. Lackner’s tracks are pretty fucking rad and totally not your usual jazz fare. Wacky sounds abound on this side, giving me a reason to make a minimal ’60s existential sci-fi throwback because Lackner would be so goddamn perfect for the score.

John Swana is normally a trumpet dude, but his side of Struttin’ Around is completely lacking. Instead there’s classic synthy Moogy electronics, definitely making me think of some of the first jazz synths like old Francis Bebey or something. Swana’s style is similarly spacey to Lackner’s, but a bit darker, maybe more ambient and New Agey. He does a lot of exploring, weeding through exotic alien jungles in the dark without worrying about deadly creatures lurking, stumbling upon a mythical nightclub, lit only by the glow of fluorescent insects, where the celebrities lounge in smokey decadence and John Swana is the house band. Totally pretentious, obviously, but still utterly desirable. Swana kills it every night with splayed electronics boards & the occasional piano/drum/whatever backup, crafting an intelligent weave of loopy melodies, dim crackle, magic sex, and blorpy atmospheres. Chill party CITY.

I doubt Swana’s tunes always sound like this, and maybe Lackner also does some other more traditional shit, but the pairing of their sounds on this split is fucking grand. They just work so well together. And when you mix spacey electronics with jazz, I’m pretty much hooked. Galtta nailed it with their first release. Can’t wait to see where they go from here. Major cool points: stream the whole tape on Bandcamp (or grab one of 200 limited copies for a mere $4).