I couldn’t just do a Halloween special on AGB Radio (tonight from 7-9 EST on BFF.fm!), I had to make a creep filled mix especially for you guys. However you party, this will be the perfect score for your Halloween.
Dark Cloud Rising
1. Mississippi Fred McDowell – Dark Cloud Rising
2. Black Sabbath – Black Sabbath
3. Wilt – She Walks The Night
4. The Sensational Whirlwinds – (Make Old) Satan Leave Me Alone
5. Have A Nice Life – The Parhelic Circle
6. Wreck & Reference – Abhorrence
7. Angelo Badalamenti & David Lynch – Owl Cave
8. Florida-Alabama Progressive Seven-Shape-Note Singing Convention – God’s Gonna Set The World On Fire
9. Bohren & Der Club Of Gore – Maximum Black
10. The Angelic Process – Welcome To Oblivion
11. John Carpenter – The Fog
12. Lonnie Johnson – Lonesome Ghost Blues
13. Jasper TX – Black Sleep Part IV
14. Robert Johnson – Hellhound On My Trail
15. Avgrunden – The Gate Of A Hundred Sorrows
16. Rev. I. B. Ware – I Wouldn’t Mind Dying
17. Empire Auriga – Waiting For The Fall
18. The Pod – Collecting Dust
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.
Another incredible album from my favoritest fucking guy. What Happens When We Stop is a cross country album, started in North Carolina with Weathers’ buds, elaborated on the road headed out west, and finished up with his pals in California. This one’s just as wonderful as the last, Guilford County Songs, but still not quite as masterful as the debut, We’re Not Cautious. There’s a notable lack of prominent banjo, and I fucking love the banjo, but a big focus on the guitar, more so than before, which is awesome because the guitar work just gets better with each release. Everything is just as warm and incomparably serene as ever, old American folk perfectly melded with contemporary drone & neo-classical, subtle electronics peaking through the twinkling piano, harmoniums humming beneath hypnotic acoustic strumming, but Weathers’ voice has changed a bit, a lower tone and letting his drawl shine through, a little disorienting at first, but it still works beautifully, and honestly, the guitar, just so fucking sweet with those drones, I could listen to Weathers pick away all day with the strings & brass & reeds & everything else droning in the backseat, it’s the most heavenly sound you can get. This dude is unstoppably awesome and I will devour everything he throws at us. You should probably join me in my devouring and pick this up, it comes with a sexy photo book with the work of Aaron Canipe, so you’re definitely getting your money’s worth.
Solo project of K. Arthur Miller, making some somber tunes out of drone, folk, and doom. Exceptional stuff, using all weapons at his disposal, quietly screaming Godspeed guitars, layered, processed, & rewound, delicate picking inside on a rainy day, lush washes of bliss, hushed echoes in haunted halls, a few moments of doomed & distorted crunch, all wrapped up in a dark, melancholic shroud, bright enough not to push you over the edge but gloomy in all the right ways, a melodramatic dance through fog with Death waiting for you on the other side, beautiful & depressing, the best kind of drone. Free if you want it to be so there’s no reason to pass over this, and seeing as this is his first proper full length, you might want to keep an eye on him.
Night Worship is an awesomely monstrous doom drone project with a revolving cast anchored by Ryan P. Jobes. Three tracks on Asterism (the last clocking in at 30 minutes and taking up the whole B side), Jobes is joined by Andrew Weathers (more guitar droning), Scott Siler (subtle percussion), and Carolyn Waiter (ethereal woodwinds), together they make the unholiest fucking drone that dives deep into reverb worship and sonic meditations, blackened distortion crumbling out of amps, chaotic incantations on the brink of conjuring the purest of evils, honoring both sides of the volume spectrum, breaking souls with blistering intertwined feedback and whispering the secrets of shamans through silent prayers, obvious Sunn O))) comparisons but never quite as monolithic, instead going for a more crusted pagan sound, but just as black, just as demonic, and fucking brilliant. Amazing work, breathing fresh doom into the world via an hour long tape on the new label Vestige Recordings, who you should clearly keep an eye on.
This is the best fucking thing right here. Banjos & fiddles, ballads & stories, all from one West Virginian family. Alan Jabbour & Carl Fleischhauer just went to the Hammons family’s home, asked all the right questions, and pointed the mic in all the right directions. Truly excellent display of old American traditions. The highlight is Maggie’s songs, and luckily she’s featured pretty prominently, because her voice is otherworldy. She’s also nearly incomprehensible with the thickest West Virginian accent you could imagine. I’m definitely a sucker for this kind of thing but this collection is on another level.
The 2xLP box came with a huge booklet that has tons of photos & liner notes, and the Library Of Congress has published it as an updated PDF, which saved me the trouble of scanning the whole booklet. Also, while this is out of print via Rounder (who reissued it on CD in 1998 along with another Hammons collection of their own), I think it’s possible you can obtain a physical copy on demand from LoC on either CD-R or tape (like the Folkways stuff). The site seems dated, they say some of their titles might not be available on demand, and you have to mail a letter or call them to find out. So, jumping through all those hoops is definitely worthwhile for this album but I thought I’d give you a headstart. Enjoy.
The fine folks at Workin’ Nights flattered me by asking me to make a mix for their site. I obliged with some old & new folk & blues about death & dying. It includes Giles Corey, Nimrod Workman, Michael Hurley, Mount Eerie, and Robert Johnson. I think you’ll like it.
Unbelievably awesome new record from Ross Gentry, taking what I love from Andrew Weathers’ folk drone and spinning his own tale with it. Super organic, lush, and insanely fucking gorgeous, weaving banjos & organs with digital minimalism, spots of rhythmic bells and resonant pianos come and go while everything is bathed in a soft glow, too clean & clear to feel nostalgic but still brings to mind my summer family camping trips as a kid, slow & meandering with a purpose, not lazy, just not rushed, all the time in the world to conjure intimate stories and doing it with ease. A stellar fucking drone record from one of this year’s more exceptional labels. Limited to 312, hand numbered, and totally worth every penny.
This is what I’ve been working on the past few weeks. Digitizing these ancient dusty records, scanning the jackets, and photographing the liner notes, for this hulking mass of worldly beauty collected Alan Lomax.
The Columbia World Library Of Folk & Primitive Music series goes well into the double digits (some details here), but these are the 7 best. My favorite place ever The Record Exchange gave me first dibs on this sweet bunch, so naturally I grabbed the ones from French Africa, Indonesia (New Guinea, Bali, Borneo, etc), Venezuela, British East Africa, India, Bulgaria, and Japan (also includes The Ryukyus, Formosa, And Korea).
There’s so much to dive in to, each record has insane diversity just in itself, and these are literally all over the map. 100% awesome, no filler. Lots of surprises & treasures. The music will speak for itself, but I have a lot of technical stuff I’d like to share as well.
The vinyl isn’t always in the best shape. Considering their age, they’re immaculate, but there’s still over half a century’s worth of grit caked in the grooves. I did my damnedest to clean ‘em and ended up only having one spot that wouldn’t play through. The second piece on the third band on side B of the Bulgaria record couldn’t play without skipping in the same spot every time, so I axed it. Everything else is intact. I didn’t do any digital cleanup for pops n clicks so these V0 mp3s sound as close to my vinyl as you’re gonna get.
The ID3 tags are a little weird but that’s because the records are a little weird. Each side has a few tracks/bands, and each track has between 1-10 pieces. I opted to keep the original format, so each mp3 represents one band (except that Bulgaria piece mentioned above, had to split that in two), and is tagged as “1: Song 1 / 2: Song 2″ and “1: Artist 1 / 2: Artist 2.” Also, the artists are spottily mentioned in the liner notes, so frequently just the name of the recording location is used in the “Artist” field.
But lucky you, I included legible photographs of allll the liner notes. Each record is a gatefold with attached booklets containing lots of photos and details on every song recorded, so my ID3 tags are just a pitiful attempt at capturing that data. The photographs aren’t prefect because I wasn’t sure how many people actually cared about them. So I slacked a bit on the quality, but like I said, they’re all legible.
I hope you enjoy these records as much as I do. They’re a bit of a shining gem in my collection and I’m really excited to share them with you. Globetrotting via records is the best way to go.
More amazing stuff involving Chatur Lal (posted his stunning The Drums Of India not that long ago), although instead of flexing his tabla muscles, this time he’s joining Ustad Ali Akbar Khan’s hypnotic sarod. Two side long ragas, each with a brief intro by Yehudi Menuhin who goes over the scale & rhythm of the following songs. Both start out slow, Khan’s solo sarod meandering, finding its way to solid ground, and when Lal comes in with his tabla, it’s the most natural and smooth transition, and Shirish Gor’s tamboura follows suit, everything growing like the morning sun nourishing the land with its warmth & energy, so calming, fantastic in every way. Perfect to throw on when you get home from work and need to clear the headspace.
Utterly amazing African music by a Troupe formed in France. Senghor was a law student in Paris when he told his father he was going to stop studying to be an actor, which led to him being disowned. He ended up meeting another African student in Paris and they decided to bring the native dances & songs of Africa to Paris. Strange way to go about it but clearly it was at least semi-successful as I now hold their creations in my hands. Very traditional stuff here but African rhythms and vocals are some of my faves, so this is worth its weight in gold.
Not totally sure if this is from 1957. There are at least 3 or 4 versions of this, it was originally recoded in 1952, Esoteric changed its name to Counterpoint in ’57 (I think), and this release has both Counterpoint & Esoteric names/logos, so it seems like a decent justification to me.
UPDATE: A lot of the songs from this record are available elsewhere either digitally or on vinyl. I would highly recommend checking out Georgia Sea Island Singers’ Join The Band on Mississippi Records (MRP-003) for a new pressing with some of these songs. This Southern Journey record is still unavailable as is, so I’ll leave it here for now. See Nathan’s (from Cultural Equality) comment for more details.
This is one of my favorite Lomax collections. Stripped down blues, only two tracks that have any instruments (Hobart Smith on banjo, and a couple dudes playing drums & fife), the rest are pure vocals, hand clapping, and foot stomping. It’s raw and powerful, especially Bessie Jones’ take on “O Death.” There’s some wonderful chatter in between a couple of the songs, like when Peter Davis talks about how he learned “Row The Boat, Child” from his old blind grandfather who would sing it while making rowing motions in his armchair.
One of the really interesting things, and maybe if there’s a Moby expert out there you can help me out on this, is a lot of the songs on this record sound like the vocals used in Moby’s Play. I don’t think he actually sampled from this but it sounds like he heard this record and was like, “I need to recreate this.” Granted, I haven’t listened to Play in 5 or 10 years, but I have some of those tracks ingrained in my memory, and Georgia Sea Islands lines up almost perfectly. Weird.
Either way, this album is incredible, and isn’t already up in the Lomax Archive, so have at it. And be on the lookout for more Lomax collections here in the future, I got about 6 or 7 more that are from other countries and also aren’t in the Archive, so get excited.
This has been on heavy rotation these past few weeks. I picked it up just before my surgery and have been listening to it ever since. It’s absolutely amazing. Not just drums though, it also has Ram Narayan playing the sarangi and some singing by Lal. But drumming is definitely the focus and Lal is a fucking master tabla player. Every finger is a drum stick, making rapid fire taps flow with ease. I never even knew drumming like this was possible. It sounds like nothing I’ve ever heard before and with Lal’s near unintelligibly fast vocals, this is just the best fucking thing ever. Only three tracks, one side long piece on the A side, then two 10+ minute tracks on the other. This has already earned a special pedestal in my collection.