Album Review

In The Meantime Part 1: Good Dreams

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 album cover
Danny Paul GrodyBetween 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.
 
 
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Alessandro CortiniForse 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.
 
 
Hell On Earth Bathetic copy
EarnHell 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.
 
 
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Henry PlotnickFields (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 album cover
The ArchivistThe 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 album cover
Sarah DavachiThe 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 album cover
D. Burke MahoneyLORAN-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 album cover
LustmordThe 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 album cover
Marisa AndersonMercury (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 album cover
Big BloodRadio 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 album cover
Molly DrakeMolly 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 album cover
AgartthaA 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.
 
 
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Julianna BarwickNepenthe (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.
 
 

Album Review

Halfway Through 2013: Look At All These Killer Fucking Records I Missed

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 »

Album Review

Kwaidan – Make All The Hell Of Dark Metal Bright (Bathetic, 2013)

Kwaidan - make all the hell of dark metal bright album cover
KwaidanThree Empty Rooms Of Light And Space: Ostension (Bathetic)

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Kwaidan is quite the trio, with Land Of Decay bro Neil Jendon, Locrian dude André Foisy, and Mike Weis from Zelienople, brought together to make a glorious racket. After kicking things off with a killer self titled tape on Accidental Guest last year, these dudes are back with a proper full length on Bathetic conjuring a magnificent dark drone that blends noise, doom, and Americana to make an unbelievably fucking awesome sound, mystical & transformative, synths & guitars sweeping through a pre-cathartic explosion with slowly plodding drums, a sprawling loose atmosphere that’s tight as fuck, dudes working together so seamlessly, breathing occult jams that praise the permanent solar eclipse, clear black haze settled in a field, fireflies mingling with ash in the dusk, a doom that sheds its metal crust and is perfectly at home in the company of dusty acoustics & buzzing static, a homeless midnight wanderer that couldn’t sound any fucking better, and with the most perfect album title, these guys hit it out of the fucking park.

Album Review

Villages – Theories Of Ageing (Bathetic, 2012)


VillagesNesting Grounds (Bathetic)

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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.

Album Review

High Aura’d – Sanguine Futures (Bathetic, 2012)


High Aura’dThe Northern Sky Ablaze (Bathetic)

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It seems like maybe this is High Aura’d’s (thee John Kolodij) big one. He recruited the mighty Greg Kelley for his trumpet powers, got Simon Fowler to create a masterpiece for the artwork, had John Twells (Type, Xela, etc) produce & mix it, and dipped it in lead with James Plotkin’s mastering. Not to mention that this is his first slab of vinyl, and it’s on Bathetic, and it’s already been praised to the high heavens by everyone including the fucking Boston Globe. But today is its official release, and I can pretty much guarantee Sanguine Futures will end up somewhere on my year end drone list, so this is my authorized stamp of approval that this record is the fucking BEST.

It seems like with each release Kolodij’s gotten darker & darker, which is A+ in my book, and this one is by far the blackest he’s gone. With the exception of a singular jaw dropping moment of euphoria (and trust me, it’s a special fucking moment), this is mostly all ominous rumble, running the line of doom and black ambient. He’s been pretty metaphoric with the water theme in the past, but this is overt and unmistakable, starting the album off with watery samples. This whole thing is like a foggy midnight journey through the middle of the ocean, with distant muffled canons fighting off some ancient sea beast, mythical & literal sirens wailing, calling with sweetness & alarm, chimes and clatter rattling in the still darkness, the crazy dude on top of the mast playing his song of mourning, the much saner dude in the hull with his heartache piano, everything sad and black, but not quite devoid of hope. Seriously pushing all of my drone buttons right now, ranking in the very top of records this year and likely for years to come. This is Kolodij at the top of his fucking game. Dude is already unstoppable and this is only his first vinyl. If you haven’t been keeping an eye on him yet, now’s the fucking time.