Archive for January, 2011

Album Review

Sun Splitter – II (Land Of Decay, 2011)


Sun SplitterEarth Burner

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There’s been a bit too many pleasantries lately as I ran through those Peasant Magik tapes, so it’s time to switch gears and drop this bomb of a tape on Land Of Decay. Sun Splitter put out this album a while ago on a super limited CD-R. Obviously it’s long gone, but the finest folks at Land Of Decay did what anyone in their right mind would do when they heard II, decided it needed to see the light of day again.

Just like their Locrian brethren, Sun Splitter are a metal hydra, many different heads all connected to one beast. They play some insanely heavy black doom psych that just fucking SLAYS. This shit is extreme in every way. The blackest, the bleakeast, the sludgiest, the riffiest. SO MANY RIFFS. Monster riffs pounding your bones, pure fucking evil riffs coming straight from the depths of the underworld. Blast beats that only feel at home when they’re destroying mountains. The hounds of hell growling filthy vocals while the song lurches and stumbles. It’s 100% monster, baked in the black sun of Satan’s desert and given the power to demolish everything in its path with aural chaos. Once it gets in a groove and that killer solo sets in, you’re fucking done for.

Everything about II is the fucking BEST. It’s got a blackened doom heart pumping dusty buzzing sun psych. Sun Splitter somehow manage to sway back and forth between a dozen genres & sub-genres in one song, all while keeping it cohesive, singleminded, and brutal as fuck. I don’t think there’s any medium capable of handling the onslaught of devastation they bring, but a limited tape is as good as anything else I suppose. Just make sure if Sun Splitter ever makes it out of Chicago, you make it your #1 priority to have your face melted at one of their shows.

Album Review

Jüppala Kääpiö – Tomentum Totem (Peasant Magik, 2010)


Jüppala KääpiöZephyr

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Note: I got a massive batch of 15 tapes from Peasant Magik. I debated on either giving a few of them the regular full blown review treatment or doing the burst shot quick & dirty reviews to get through as many as possible. I chose the latter. So this is one in a slew of short portraits of some of the newest Peasant Magik releases.
 
Excessive umlauts aside, husband/wife duo Jüppala Kääpiö are super awesome, bringing the freaky folk drone thing to crazy new heights. 2 tracks are home recorded and 1 is a live piece from a 2010 show in Switzerland, it’s amazing how many layers just two people can make. Transcendental psych drones weave & tumble, creating fluttering tapestries conjured out of instruments I’ve probably never heard of from countries I can’t pronounce. Forest chimes jangle over scratchy strings and sun dappled streams flow through magic shaman villages where the chanting mantras & rituals run wild. Lots of folky elements but not too earthy for my tastes. Plenty of pleasing harmonies to keep your euphoria going strong.

Album Review

Pet Milk – Pet Milk (Peasant Magik, 2010)


Pet MilkCherry Outline

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Note: I got a massive batch of 15 tapes from Peasant Magik. I debated on either giving a few of them the regular full blown review treatment or doing the burst shot quick & dirty reviews to get through as many as possible. I chose the latter. So this is one in a slew of short portraits of some of the newest Peasant Magik releases.
 
As soon as this tape starts up, you’re lost in the fuzz. ROCKIN fuzz. It’s full of high-energy bite-sized punkgaze with obscured boy/girl vocals and even more obscured pop riffs. There’s epic melodies and a slight cosmic feeling that sounds a lot like if Hum made a shoegaze record. I’m sure if Hum did that it would be 100 times better than everything else in the world (including Pet Milk) but this is still a cool enough imagination primer. Either way though, Pet Milk is definitely going for that old school C86 vibe in a truly awesome way. Also, they cover MBV’s “Paint A Rainbow” and they do a pretty decent job.

Album Review

Pink Priest – And I Watched The Ivy Cover Your House (Peasant Magik, 2010)


Pink PriestSide A

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Note: I got a massive batch of 15 tapes from Peasant Magik. I debated on either giving a few of them the regular full blown review treatment or doing the burst shot quick & dirty reviews to get through as many as possible. I chose the latter. So this is one in a slew of short portraits of some of the newest Peasant Magik releases.
 
This is celestial drone from the high heavens. Cotton delicacies floating amid mountaintops, puffs of clouds drip enlightenment, this is what goes through monks’ minds as they meditate on pure universal peace. It’s the kind of New Age waterfall ambience that you hope a thousand hopes is what’s on that hideous 25 cent thrift store tape. Quiet yet wholly immersive, ripples form underneath euphoric synths soaring through galaxies evolved into stardust. Put this on and sleep forever with dreams of absolute bliss.

Album Review

Padna – The Delaware Water Gap EP (Peasant Magik, 2010)


PadnaElbow

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Note: I got a massive batch of 15 tapes from Peasant Magik. I debated on either giving a few of them the regular full blown review treatment or doing the burst shot quick & dirty reviews to get through as many as possible. I chose the latter. So this is one in a slew of short portraits of some of the newest Peasant Magik releases.
 
Padna is Nat Hawkins, also a maker as Christian Science Minotaur and the dude who runs Little Fury Things. Love this guy ’cause I see his name and think of pandas. :) Seriously beautiful processed smoothly glitched drone, especially the side long “Delaware Intro.” Moves slowly, stretches and wraps over itself like taffy. The meat of the tape is mostly blissy stars sparkling in the daytime sky, trickling water running down sheets of satin and rumble synths chugging on the midnight train. Some vocals peek in halfway through the B side and seem way out of place at first but sound damn good after you get settled. He even slides into a plucked guitar & harmonica groove that sounds like a slightly folkier Windy & Carl. It’s not quite perfection, but it’s what perfection looks like in a sunny summer field.

Album Review

White Dwarf Spiral – Counting Stars (Peasant Magik, 2010)


White Dwarf Spiral999

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Note: I got a massive batch of 15 tapes from Peasant Magik. I debated on either giving a few of them the regular full blown review treatment or doing the burst shot quick & dirty reviews to get through as many as possible. I chose the latter. So this is one in a slew of short portraits of some of the newest Peasant Magik releases.
 
White Dwarf Spiral is Antonio Gallucci joined by a “mysterious cast of international noisers.” This should’ve been the soundtrack to Predator. Distant lush space psych jungle drones n beats filled with piercing paranoia & clanging chaos. Faded drums pound & resonate while sweaty gorillas fell trees. The tension rises and falls, the jungle turns inside out, and buzzing insects sting your neck. It’s a planet that harbors sounds vaguely familiar but altogether alien. I can totally imagine “999” playing just after that scene where they all converge after the Predator kills Blain and they empty their ammo in the forest, hitting nothing but leaves. Totally awesome creepy as fuck pulsing noise, with album art by Justin Wright aka Expo ’70. You can’t go wrong.

Song Review

Fancy Mike – Ramachandran


Fancy MikeRamachandran

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Fancy Mike makes some killer electronic hip hop with amazingly catchy beats. “Ramachandran” is the first track off his new album, Madison Square Gardner on King Deluxe. It starts out slow and droney but amps up pretty quick with glitchy semi-vocals, deeeep sub wobble, and gritty almost chiptune style synths. Sweet bubbly melodies locked in an arpeggiated groove. Pure bliss. Not so much of a dance jam, more like the track you’ll be blastin on your headphones on the way to the party.

Album Review

Gerritt Wittmer – Vessel (Misanthropic Agenda, 2010)


Gerritt WittmerSide A (excerpt)

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Gerritt Wittmer is that crazy motherfucker who I saw play with Paul Knowles at the Black Pus / Sissy Spacek show. He also runs the incredible Misanthropic Agenda label. He’s made some insano harsh noise records and his performance with Knowles was intense to say the least, but his new album Vessel is an exercise in restraint & tension, with LOTS of silence.

I’ve read that the only sounds contained on this record are from Wittmer’s mouth. Digitally altered occasionally, but still everything is supposedly sourced from his voice & breathing. The A side starts out with some bumbling around, like you’re carrying a mic while looking through a dark attic for a flashlight. Then, nothing. Wait, no, there’s someone here. Hiding in the corner. Definitely, some creepy murderer is doing his best to control his breathing and it’s not working. You can totally hear him. WTF. Why is there someone hiding in your attic? FUCK. It’s pitch black, you can’t see a goddamn thing, and you have no way to defend yourself. So you do what’s only right & natural. You start making creepy mouth noises back at him.

Duck squawk? Duck squawk. Constipated straining? Constipated straining. Silent cat yowls? Silent cat yowls. This guy becomes your mirror. Everything you do, right back at you. Then you start goin CRAZY together. A fucking choir of anti-harmonic dying frogs, ghosts with porcupines in their throats, demonic tea kettles, rewound mouse farts. If anybody walked in on you right now they’d shit their pants in terror and call an exorcist.

The B side is a bit more subdued, but also a bit shorter. No cacophony, no release & eruption from silent tension. It’s ALL tension. Waiting, uncertainty, disgusting sloppy slurps and punctured dog lungs. The long voids of nothing seem interminable, the only clue that time is passing is the vinyl crackle. If you focus all of your attention, the abyss becomes an actual thing, an entity all its own. Pulsing, breathing, but still motionless.

Wittmer is doing some crazy shit on Vessel. I’m not sure if he’s experimenting, or if he’s using this cathartically, or just further refining his obviously fine/performance sound art. Whatever he’s doing, it works. It feels like you’re holding your breathe the entire length the record. Muscle ache is an immediate & inevitable byproduct of listening to it. Maybe pop some pain killers beforehand.

Album Review

Dan Crall – Non Formula Equinox (self released, 2010)


Dan Crall – The Incredible Blue

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Wow. I don’t even know where to start with this one. The fact that it’s fucking AWESOME? Or maybe that it’s ridiculously non-musical? Or that Dan Crall is just a regular dude, without a “band website” or anything like that. He runs a pedicab business. That’s his website. No Myspace, no Bandcamp. He’s got a little Last.FM bio and an outdated photo album on the Install site. That’s it. He’s just a totally normal fucking dude. He just happens to make crazy ass field recording records like Non Formula Equinox.

This is primarily made up of field recordings, with little droney aspects & straight up music peppered throughout. I love this because it’s how I imagine I would make field recordings. 90% of what Crall records are sounds you hear every day (or would if you lived in Oregon). Squeaky tools, leaky hoses, kids screaming at carnivals, hammering & hollering, roaring fires, galloping horses, radio splatter, carousels, factory machines, barn house husbandry, and lots of people. Dusty voices talking about everything from the spiritual & physical cleansing of sweat lodges to depressing monologues about the economy & loneliness. Some of the sounds are warped, twisted, & beaten into an unrecognizable pulp, but a lot of them remain unaltered. No digital processing, just straight up sounds the way they’d be heard in the wild, taken totally out of context and jumbled up in Crall’s brilliant sequencing. They may be entirely non-musical elsewhere, but compiled & put on a platter for you on Equinox, you’re able to hear the world the way Dan Crall does.

There is music on this record though, just not a hell of a lot of it, and most of it is hidden among the field recordings. Some didgeridoo weirdness, rewound mandolin, deep resonant cellos, murky underwater drones. These are the starting off points for those having a difficult time getting into this record. You can focus on the more familiar musical facets, while experiencing the surrounding bizarreness and easing yourself into the stripped down sounds like on “The Ballad Of Eugene Boyd.”

I don’t think I’ve ever heard a record that took advantage of all available 80 minutes. Non Formula Equinox is 1 hour and 18 minutes, which is one long fucking record when it doesn’t have much music on it. It’s definitely not the easiest thing to listen to, but it’s SO goddamn rewarding when you actually get through it and have the epiphany. The realization that all of the source material is primarily background noise in the real world. If you put this record on and don’t give it 100% of your attention, your brain will automatically block it out just like it does with the rest of the shit you hear all day long. Just because it’s made of the everyday ambient audio, doesn’t mean you should treat it as such. You need to try extra hard with this one.

The real enjoyment of this record comes from following Crall on his journey & exploration of the isolated Western United States. You’ll hear strange stories and even stranger sounds, mostly bleak & dreary, but totally fucking fascinating. And if you get bored (and shame on you if you do), you can play the guessing game, what the sources of the sounds are, which of them are pure, which have been altered, are there any instruments playing right now? How much layering did he do or is this all actually happening simultaneously? However you listen to it, though, just make sure you actually listen. Fucking CHECK THIS OUT. You’ll be a better person for it.

Album Review

Ophibre – St. Asphalt (Patron Saint Of Army Ants) (Kendra Steiner Editions, 2010)


OphibreSt. Asphalt (Patron Saint Of Army Ants) (excerpt)

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Ophibre is never one to fuck around. He means business, always taking his drone to the next level. Never content to sit in one place for too long, he spits out records like St. Asphalt here, a brutal assault rife with hidden bliss, right alongside minimal space hiss & bubbles like on his last full length, Phase Plane Cake Decorator. This little limited Kendra Steiner Edition 3″ CD-R is a stout 19 minutes of everything I love about this guy.

The whole thing is an impenetrable wall of harsh grit. It goes from start to finish without so much as an “Oh you can chill out for a sec while you catch you breath (pussy).” Everything is swirling in an infinitely layered dense cluster, static brushing up against sharp electronic shards, underworld grumbling & thunderous howling, wind whipping through black holes, glacial stars throbbing and threatening to implode, twisters of sand & glass tearing through your ear canals.

It’s an insane amount of sounds. Each one on their own would be totally unbearable but throw them in an Ophibre blender and you end up with an unbelievably beautiful dronescape. But it’s not like there are beautiful melodies or soothing synths melting underneath. I have no idea how he did it. Either he just made a ridiculously fucking accessible noise record or I’m becoming immune to & dulled by constant noise.

St. Asphalt is endlessly listenable, noise for the noise haters, bliss for the bliss lovers. The most pleasing & enjoyable stream of coarse chaos I’ve heard in a long while. Wholly worthwhile for pretty much everyone.

Album Review

Szymon Kaliski – Out Of Forgetting (Audiomoves, 2010)


Szymon KaliskiOr Delicate

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Goddamn, I wish I heard Out Of Forgetting last year. Not just for my Top 10 list or anything, I just mean it’s been out since July and it’s a fucking tragedy that a half year has gone by while this drone magnifique sat on the sidelines waiting to be devoured by me. That is 6 months of my life wasted.

Szymon Kaliski is an incredible soundcrafter from Poland. I normally shy away from the name dropping comparison thing, but Kaliski totally deserves this one. He takes pieces from all the greats, lots of vintage Jeckian crackle, subtle glitches like Hecker, some Basinski melancholy, and Deupree style processed minimalism, all while not sounding too much like any one of them.

The textures & tones on this record are unbelievably deep, frozen blue drones stacked with fluttering glitched piano like flurries in the drift, the most delicate static slowly sifting through ice cracks, smooth white sheets of bliss warped with warmth, dusty resonance topped in timeless grit. The sounds are pure, they’re beautiful, and everything about them is a subtle affirmation of what contemporary drone is all about. This is what the rest should be striving for.

Out Of Forgetting is only a half hour long, but that means it’s not bloated with excess or 20 minute meditation exercises. Kaliski didn’t overdo it, but he also didn’t wimp out and drop an EP, he trimmed out the fat and made every second count, resulting in a record of precisely the proper length. If he never released another album, he would still make it into my all time list of top droners. Forgetting is unwaveringly unforgettable (sorry) and absolutely stunning.

AGB HQ

My wife & I decided to switch our bedroom with our studio/office. The new office has wayyy better natural light and it’s a bit bigger, and since we spend more time in the office than the bedroom, it only made sense. So this is what the new AGB headquarters looks like.

I got an Expedit bookshelf from Ikea for my records. It was a cinch to put together, is nice & rugged, and extremely useful. It can be mixed up easily with the other sized Expedits, good for when my collection exceeds its limits. Also, my turntable sits right on top. Couldn’t love this thing any more. It’s absolutely perfect for records.

I’ve talked about my DIY CD shelves before, but I might as well mention them again. They’re as simple as it gets. Five 7 foot boards cut in half with a bunch of L-brackets screwed on, both for hanging on the wall and some mini ones of the sides acting as bookends. I’m starting to run out of room, but that last shelf is overcrowded with double & quadruple cassette cases, so I might just need a better place for those.


Speaking of cassettes, that’s the last thing I don’t have stored properly. They’re stacked in the crate on top of the records, with no rhyme or reason, no alphabetizing or anything. I haven’t quite figured out how to keep them organized. Feel free to leave a comment about what you do with yours.

The only thing that’s missing from all of this is the art & posters. Most notably, two Christmas gifts from Elise: a custom made letterpressed “AGB” poster by Repeat Press and a clock made out of an old record cut out in the shape of a bunny by Pavel Sidorenko.

I know you don’t all blog & have hardcore blogging stations but I’m curious to see how everyone else stores their music. What kind of shelves do you use? Is it all alphabetized? Are you obsessive and have it stored autobiographically? Do you just say “Fuck it” and throw everything in a crate? Or have you gone 100% digital and you don’t you even physically own any music. Actually, if that’s the case, it might be better if you didn’t tell me.

Haiku Review

Bunrage – Bun Palette (self released, 2010)


BunrageDancing Alone In The Mines

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Bun Palette (download)
/buzzy warm synth beats/
/midnight bedroom dance party/
/cloak for glimmer highs/

Album Review

Radere – A Season In Decline (Full Spectrum, 2010)


RadereA Season In Decline (excerpt)

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Radere, aka Carl Ritger, is a pretty awesome droner (and active Soundclouder). He’s put only put out a handful of records, 2 of which are on Full Spectrum. His debut, A Process In The Weather Of The Heart released in early 2010, was outstandingly beautiful & minimal. Now, in the same year, he drops another intensely killer record on FS, this time taking things to the more extreme side of drone, getting downright rowdy.

A Season In Decline is a single 40+ minute track that’s unbelievably tender. It starts out with some snow crunching underfoot and lots of hiss, setting the mood for the wintery soundscape. The footsteps fade and are replaced by a subtle resonant guitar, floating around with the remnant flurries. Chilly & delicate, there’s hints of more organic recordings, all over a foundation of the hushed wind of nighttime snowfall.

Not one to blow his load all at once, Radere takes his time getting to the massive static beast on the latter half of the record. He waltzes through some moonlit forests, admiring the naked tree branches weighing down with snow, content in introspective meditation. But FUCK, the chaos that unfolds afterwards, it’s like the whole time he was preparing to battle a demon snow dragon. 20 minutes of unnerving whirlwinds, clanging icicles, psych drenched howls from the underworld, walls of solid shoegazing bliss, heavenly textures glimmering in sheets of ice, the sun breaking through the brutal cold, all wrapped in a blanket of dense static warmth. Clearly, the battle is won. The snow dragon is defeated by the power of pure beauty.

The wonder of this piece is how smoothly it transforms from a sweet & lonely silent night into a wall of euphoric destruction. Of course it’s easy to tell the difference between the first 20 seconds and the last when you listen to them side by side, but over the course of the album, the change is so discrete. Definitely a winter wizard at work here. Radere may be somewhat of a newcomer, but damn if he doesn’t have the chops to take this shit to the next level.

Video

HotKid – Yours & Mine

HotKid sound like a combo of two of my favorite defunct bands, DFA79 & Sleater-Kinney, so clearly they fucking ROCK. The video for “Yours & Mine” is a crazy spazz dance off with a bazillion cuts & epileptic neon lightning, people of young & old showing off their best moves. It’s damn near impossible to not instantly jump up on your seat and party hard as soon as it kicks in. Plus, they’re Canadian.

via yvynyl