Lawrence English – The Liquid Casket (Room40)
Lawrence English is one of the artists that continuously/impossibly tops himself with each new release and Wilderness Of Mirrors is just fucking jaw dropping. Way more dynamic and aggressive that his recent efforts, this is the drone that smothers all competitors, it’s dark and audacious, intense sounds coming from midnight forest jaunts, swirling static that cuts deep alongside delicate chimes and melodious humming, balancing perfectly the reassuring soft tenderness & sky high soaring bliss with nightmarish gravitas & densely melancholic cacophony, English unleashes a visceral chaos peppered with the sweetest fucking drone, delicate minimalism, and moments of sheer triumph, all mixed together this is full blown euphoria that is unrivaled, dude is at the top of his game on this record and his game can’t be fucked with. This is all time Top Ten stuff. Immerse yourself.
Ben Vida – Part 8 (Shelter Press)
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.
Wreck & Reference – Apollo Beneath The Whip (Flenser)
No one else is doing this right now. Fuck, no one else has ever done this. Wreck & Reference are forging new ground here and have been since their insane Black Cassette debut. They’re a duo of limitless despair treading among noise, black metal, punk, dark ambient, industrial, targeted cacophony, everything bizarre & grim, that sounds brilliantly original and crushes souls every minute along the way, this is heavy as fuck and horrifically sparse, blowing through a drum kit and electronics with heavy handed dexterity, both dudes taking turns at the mic with bloody screeching & beastly roaring vocals, singing of staring deep into the void of misery and knowing nothing is on the other side, this heaves and creeps like an endless nausea rising from your core and black blood coursing through your veins, all hell has broken loose and we’re left to rot in the bleak absurdity, if Want was any more devoid of hope it would likely be banned in several countries. You’d be doing yourself a great disservice by ignoring this band.
P.S. These guys are currently on tour with Deafheaven and Pallbearer and they fuckin rip it up on stage. Even if you don’t care about DH or PB, just go for these dudes and you won’t be disappointed.
Brinstaar – Lakshmi (Kotä)
Some killer weirdness coming out of Russia with this new Brinstaar record, abstracted wandering that births intimate ritualistic chimes & clatter, static glitch finding new ways to hypnotize, mega drones, pulsing bliss, plinky rhythms, and solar transcendence, adding some hidden & mysterious field recordings alongside the processed guitar and synth, this is fantastic work that Brinstaar says comes from looking for that “elusive moment of infinite bliss that keeps him alive and conscious.” Not sure what his moment is but it’s probably pretty similar to mine because this record fuckin rules. And it comes in the most future-tastic holographic jacket that has to be held in your hands to be fully appreciated. New to me label Kotä has instantly won me over with this one.
Dhow – Nhi (Inam)
The supremely talented and ridiculously prolific Ryan Huber, who works under guises like Sujo, Olekranon, and others, as well as running the Inam label, has put out yet another insane record, this time as Dhow (the second release under this name), and holy fuck he knocks it out of the park with this one, a little more shoegazey than his other monikers but Amara still goes to 11, getting loud & fuzzy, catchy riffs and big swells of feedback that sound like the world is ending, total apocalyptic vibes on here, crushing Angelic Process-esque sounds alongside heavenly blissed out drone clouds à la your favorite euphoric masters, soft, gauzy, and serene as fuck, like suffocating in a thick fog on top of a mountain, a mask of massive static to take you to the other side, the most explosive & bombastic fucking drone record I’ve heard that seriously just makes me wanna die. This dude knows no bounds. And if you don’t slack on this, you can get the super limited (to 40) CD-R on the cheap ($8!!) and it includes and even MORE limited (to 23!) sexy 7″ lathe with mono variations of the first two tracks on the CD. The artwork up there is for the digital version, which is slightly different than the CD-R & lathe.
Cleared – Remote Ocean Prayer (Immune)
Cleared is drummer Steven Hess (Locrian, Pan-American, etc) and multi-media artist Michael Vallera (aka COIN) and with only a few killer releases under their belt, Drown is looking to be their breakout record. So while this is essentially a guitar/drum duo, these dudes take that trope to a whole new level, making an almost-but-not-quite-metal noise/drone record that’s bookended with two amazing tracks that go way out into dream pop & shoegaze territory, something that walks the line between dark & heavy and light & drifty, with tons of feedback drone, static skitter, dark ambient shadows, cosmic expansion, shimmery guitars, and hypnotic percussion, it’s really just the fucking best, an absolutely stellar weird droney poppy record that’s hitting all the right spots for me right now, I honestly can’t get enough of this. Brought to you by the strangely underrated Immune, a seven year old slow burning label that’s doing everything right.
Wold – Throwing Star (Profound Lore)
OMFG I can’t even handle how fucking awesome this new Wold record is you guys, so incredibly psyched the Canadian duo has some new aural wreckage this year, these two honestly spit out the most disgusting horrific black noise ever and it’s painfully unique, caked in grit & filth, Postsocial scales back the metal (barely) heard on their previous records and drowns you in an acid bath of static distortion, they beefed up the noise and scrubbed out the metal but this is still the blackest & grimmest fucking thing you’ll hear all year, the massive walls of burnt feedback and tinny clanging percussion are absolutely fucking obliterating, this is so dense you can taste it & smell it, it becomes an all enveloping shroud of nihilistic, misanthropic chaos, and there’s an endless amount of detail lurking beneath the devastation, devious shredding & pulsing electronics that make this so much more than a harsh wall of noise, and while this has supreme, definite motives & messages behind it, I’m not really even looking at that part, for me this is a purely aesthetic experience of wicked perversions, the sonic bombardment that can come from only the most twisted of artists, taking you to unimaginable depths, and Wold always fucking delivers.
Mike Weis – Out Of The Flowers (Type)
Mike Weis, aka the drummer from Zelienople, drops his second solo LP and it’s a fuckin stunner. This was made after being diagnosed with cancer and is a sort of meditation on death, which becomes pretty apparent after giving this a spin because it’s dark as fuck and full of tantric percussion, a hypnotic droning beast that plumbs the depths of what we as humans know as life, it’s full of hallowed rituals opening new pathways in your head and begging for answers, propulsive and mystikal, taking you to uncharted interstellar domains with all manner of religious instruments, dwelling on subtle shifts in tones, screaming sirens, bombastic rhythms, searing static, delicate cymbals, organic field recordings, and a thousand hidden threads intertwined in a vast tapestry of morose beauty, this is a magnificent goddamn record, one that evokes a plethora of emotions and is easily one of the better things I’ve heard this year.
Jeremy Bible – co_7 (False)
All hail Jeremy Bible, this dude knows what’s fuckin up. Most of yall probably know he runs the flawless Experimedia label/distro, but he’s also got some insane music makin chops as well, and Collisions is easily my favorite work of his. This is a total head fucker, melding sharp musique concrète, abstract field recordings, glitchy rhythms, and bizarro noise into something wholly cohesive & unique, this takes all of your attention while twisting synapses and making new neural pathways in your brain, making you question every fucking moment. Is there anything actually happening right now or is it actually silent? Are those frogs or synths? Is this doing permanent damage to my ears? Did I just shit myself? There are truly incredible moments on this record that feel like you’re staring a starving pack of dire wolves right in the eyes, unsettling organic gurgling & chirping, panning & pointed blasts of almost danceable static shred, high end drone like the hum of a distant generator. You’re never at ease, even when the music is peaceful, because early on you discover there’s an ever present sense of danger. This is just the fucking best. It was originally a live recording from June 2013 at the RCN Cave in Akron, Ohio that was released digitally shortly thereafter, but it’s been expanded & remastered for CD and tape release on False so now you can hold & cherish this sexy beast. The artwork above is for the digital version, the tapes & CDs come in silver stamped black boxes with cotton & card inserts and they look super fuckin slick.
Ambarchi, O’Malley, & Dunn – Shade Themes From Kairos (Drag City)
No audio, I’m not allowed to post anything yet. A video will be released soon though so keep an eye out for it.
Three dudes who hardly need an introduction, Oren Ambarchi, Stephen O’Malley, and Randall Dunn, have come together for what was originally supposed to be the score to the short Belgian film Kairos but evolved way beyond that into this 2xLP of harrowing dark ambient, a subtly menacing record that merges the already outstanding collaborative work between O’Malley’s guitar and Ambarchi’s electronics with Dunn’s perfect percussion, Shade Themes From Kairos walks the dark side of life, showing us all manner of occult & macabre, smoke & magik, ruins & rituals, truly penetrating music that ebbs & flows with soft skittering, bombastic nightmares, effortless drifts, enchanting vocals, devastating feedback, sonorous drone, and unholy freakouts, sights never before seen are laid in front of you, monolithic & unyielding, the sound of kingdoms fallen and souls forgotten, this is incredible fucking stuff, a truly magnificent record. I know these guys are pretty prolific but this one is not to be missed. And look at the fucking artwork by Denis Kostromitin I mean come on.
Donato Epiro – Naja Nigricollis (Black Moss)
Donato’s been around for a while, letting loose on numerous labels limited tapes and CD-Rs of bizarre worldly sounds, generally (unfortunately) not making too big of a splash. Then along comes Black Moss, the label responsible for that Umberto picture disc to accompany your suicide and the insaaaaane Slowmantra tape, and they’re like “Dude! The world’s gotta wake up! Lets press this shit to wax and spread the love.” So they did. This is Epiro’s vinyl debut and it compiles tracks from two of his previous releases, Sounding The Sun & Supercontinent, both on the late great Stunned. Now I don’t normally post about reissue/compilation stuff here but this gets a pass because 1: I already mentioned this dude is way under-appreciated, 2: it was really easy to lose track of the onslaught of Stunned releases at the time, let alone going through the back-catalog now that they’re kaput, and most obviously 3: Fiume Nero fuckin kills. This is some dark jungle shit, vibin hard on sweaty rhythms, heat wave fuzz lines droning in the distance, ethno-industrial jams that feel like fever dream hallucinations, washed out black noise and beastly flutter, this is what you hear after solo trekking through the rainforest for weeks on end and you’re at the edge of your life, stumbling upon a tribe performing manic dance rituals, this record appropriates everything and comes out sounding fresh as fuck, Donato nails it. Only 300 copies and don’t let the reissue thing dissuade you. Fiume Nero is essential.
Chester Hawkins – Iodine (Intangible Arts)
DC noise vet Chester Hawkins has shed his long running previous project, Blue Sausage Infant, and starts fresh with his regular name. With the new/old name comes a newish sound, so if you’re a fan of the BSI stuff you’ll still most certainly dig this, the industrial creep & wonderfully bizarre factors are still plentiful, lots of oozing synth, nauseating wobble, and piercing squelches, but also deep grooves running throughout, a heavenly hypno-buzz that’s a bit transcendent, taking cues from psychedelic krautrock and cosmic jammers, a killer retro-futuristic vibe that’s just as perfect for a horror sci-fi score as it is for freaky party times, a dark & dangerous mind eraser record. Dude definitely leveled up with the name change. Excellent fucking work.
Aires – Orgânico II – Monolítico (Enough)
I’m usually pretty out of the loop with netlabel releases and the seemingly endless amount of stuff on archive.org, but this one snuck by & stuck out and goddamn we’re all the better for it. Aires is a dude out of Lisbon and this is his debut, or at least the debut as Aires. Truly magnificent work here, blending field recordings, shoegaze, and the almighty drone to send you soaring above the storm clouds and into the heart of the sun, this is a slow burning blissful beast, taking its time unraveling the many layers of din & clamor, light airy shimmer capped with dark melancholic tension, an imminent evil that never shows its face, heavy on the digital FX, panning, bursting, & scratching, tons of texture that eventually explodes on the last track, overwhelming with waves of euphoric static washing over, dense & absolutely fucking gorgeous, a heavy fabric billowing under mighty winds, pure emotions run rampant, and it’s over before you can catch your breath. Excellent fucking sounds on this record, definitely a dude to keep an eye on. And don’t forget, this is free and you can take your pick of where to download it.
K’an – The Tree In The Garden Of Limbs (self released)
One truly fucking astounding record from out of nowhere. This Roman dude takes digital drone to another level, already playing in the same court as Tim Hecker, this thing is bursting at the seams with organic life & deep emotion and it’s only his first goddamn record. Entire solar systems of detail blossom out of each song and as a whole, Anima is a universe teaming with a rare dark beauty. K’an gifts us with a gritty textured drone that sounds fresh & familiar all at once, taking an already glorious sound and infusing it with an original brilliance. Thick sheets of stuttering static cover everything, competing for your attention with bleak hypnotic drones, weaving a bittersweet tapestry peppered with glitchy smoke, ethereal distorted vocals, and buzzing heart ache, it heaves with hidden rhythms and builds to staggering & overwhelming epiphanies, leaving you drenched in a pool of your own blood, sweat, & tears. This is not a record to be fucking trifled with. Maximum awesomeness that’ll leave your jaw on the floor. I honestly can’t get enough of this. It’s easy to say now that my Top Drone list of 2013 is done and over with, but I 100% guarantee Anima would’ve been on the list had I heard it in time. And I forgot to mention, this is currently digital only and you can pay what you want for it right here.
Johan G. Winther – Eating Or Vomiting Its Tail (Beläten)
Holy fuck what an ungodly glorious racket this guy makes. This new tape on the excellently evil Beläten has two side long pieces of boiling caustic skree à la Yellow Swans, Millipede, JCL, and the like, but with a substantial amount of depth. It’s noisy as fuck, yeah, but there’s tons of layered intricacies, crumbling riffage and melodies and shit, a melancholic gloom pop amped up and set out to bake in the desert heat for weeks on end, the details barely buried, enough to get you hooked but you’ll still get bowled over by the endless waves of gritty black feedback. The blisters form almost instantly like you’ve just been dropped in the heart of a nuclear reactor meltdown, lethal radiation seeping into every pore, and blasting you with a wall of sonic carnage. Safe to say you’re lucky if you make it out alive, and if you do, I guarantee you’ll jump right in for round two.