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.
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Album Review

Nova Scotian Arms – Cult Spectrum (Digitalis, 2012)

Nova Scotian ArmsGathering/Composition (Digitalis)

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Grant Evan’s (aka half of Quiet Evenings and esteemed Hooker Vision pusher) full length vinyl debut is proving right off the bat that 2012 ain’t nothing to fuck with, Cult Spectrum is a harrowing and ethereal record. A swath of drones, all beautifully haunted with fully resonating smothered pianos, slowly leaking tires, chirps & moans of diving apparitions, elegiac bliss echoing from distant battlefields, drugged factories chugging along without human intervention, sounds warped just enough to make you question your sanity. Long stretches of soft pink static, all wrapped in a spectral harmony, a stunner for sure. 100% awesomeness that, if there’s any truth in this world, will be remembered when the year end lists start popping up mid year.

Album Review

Emuul – The Drawing Of The Line (Digitalis, 2011)

EmuulBig Clouds (Digitalis)

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Seriously one of the best synthed drone records this year. Full of amazing euphoric sounds from one of the most underrated dudes in the house. Sequenced dreams and meditative bliss, almost lethal in its beauty. Tracks that bleed melancholia, a Disintegration Loop in reverse, or rather a Disintegration Loop that doesn’t disintegrate. Blurred & blown out drones that breathe heavy, swaying in the breeze, scorched at the edges. The optimistic moments immediately proceeding heartache, heavy gray clouds ready to weep at any moment. Looped for an eternity, dynamics thrown out the window, everything zen. 5 increasingly longer segments, culminating in a 20+ minute piece of unadulterated electronic perfection.

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

Mind Over Mirrors – The Voice Rolling (Digitalis, 2011)

Mind Over MirrorsRound, Around

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There are some instruments that I instantly go weak for. And then when there are records made with only one of those instruments, I tend to lose. my. SHIT. Nathan Bell’s echoey banjo pluckin @2640, for example, or the one off OrganOrganOrganOrgan. Awesome stuff. Now here comes The Voice Rolling, an all harmonium record that, even better, is the craziest harmonium record ever.

Mind Over Mirrors (solo project of Jaime Fennelly of Peeesseye, Acid Birds, etc) takes a harmonium and fucks it up with all sorts of pedals & FX, making it droooooone in the most beautiful way possible. You think harmoniums are naturally good-lookin? Just wait and see what Fennelly does with ‘em. Stretched out gauze floating through pink/grey bliss, endless layers of reed textured harmonies, all of the fantastic things about harmoniums but given a new life through Fennelly.

On “You Ain’t Reeling” he pounds out a Zomes like techno loop with a chopped up beat that could get your Blade Runner dance mix up and running, the nearly 12 minute long “Point Hammond” takes a toasted feedback sound and psychs it up into a mournful slow burner, like some lost guitar in a vast sea of golden mist, stuck in a static wasteland dirge, rummaging through bottled up gloom, “Coaling” is a deep thunder rumble, rupturing black smoke and tearing holes in the sunny sky, “Round, Around” is a peppy pop tune, panning and waving a subdued rager, glistening in the pulsing wash, but all of this is is just child’s play when compared to the real action on the expansive “Barely Spun” which again takes a loopy beat driven approach, a warped Giffoni-esque acid synth jam on ecstasy steroids, building into a heavenly grit so monolithic it’ll blind you to the fact that you just creamed your pants.

The amount of pleasure I get from listening to The Voice Rolling is almost incalculable. Fucking free reeds, man. They just do it. They make the drone that is the ESSENTIAL drone. And when they’re put in the masterful hands of someone like Fennelly who can make them do whatever the hell he wants, the result is a record that’s pure fucking bliss. Best of all, it’s getting the vinyl treatment very soon thanks to Digitalis.

Album Review

Twells & Christensen – Coasts (Digitalis, 2010)

Twells & ChristensenBurning Bridges Together

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The names Twells & Christensen might not really perk your ears up unless you know your shit. But this is John Twells, aka Xela, and Matt Christensen of Zelienople. YEAH. I know, right? Plus, it was spit out in one weekend & made entirely with vintage equipment. +5 novelty points. Bet you’re excited now.

These two dudes are like a match made in heaven. Coasts is a mystical drone affair that travels the globe dazzling virgin ears with its beauty. There’s just two tracks and together they break 45 minutes, nice long pieces that suck you in and wrap you in semi-blown out textural sun drones. Twells’ signature angelic vocals make the rounds, comforting you while some haunting undertones seep through. Mostly serene with a vague urgency, a sense of calm before the flight.

The B side is a way more evil, starting out with buzzing pulses of growling space demons that amp up into a wall of threatening feedback. Christensen takes the vocal reigns, although if Digitalis didn’t mention it, I probably wouldn’t have known it wasn’t Twells. But this is a bad motherfucker of a track. Hardened dark space, dying stars collapsing into wormholes, anti-matter coalescing and igniting rampant wildfires, beauty in chaos, harmony in static, black creates & destroys. This is a journey into the celestial wastelands where the only thing left is magnificence.

Coasts is fucking spectacular. Truly some of the best drone work this year. I could listen to these guys make music forever. Twells & Christensen should drop the “collaboration” title and just make it a regular thing. Put out records like a normal band, make everyone happy, maybe become Drone Gods in the process?