Archive for January, 2012

Album Review

Twink – Itsy Bits & Bubbles (Twink Tones, 2012)


TwinkTumble Bunny (Twink Tones)

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.


 
It might be hard to break the barrier on this one. A band named Twink with a record called Itsy Bits & Bubbles and album art like that? Everything about this screams that it’s for kids. And here’s the kicker, it’s primarily made with toy instruments. Now, before you get all Judge Judgmental on me, let me remind you that Self’s Gizmodgery was made with toys (“Trunk Fulla Amps” anyone?) and then there’s the fact that Twink really knows what the fuck he’s doing. This is high quality toy pop with quirks, charm, and hooks galore. It’s like if Amiina and The Books had a kid who grew up to worship Dan Deacon and was best friends with a sedated Foxdye. Toy instruments are just the beginning, Twink will open up any toy that has a fuck-withable circuit and make it do his bidding, 8 bit rainbows looping in danceable harmony, and wobbly dubstep leaking into the strangest places. Plus, there’s an “Axel F” cover and he’s from Lowell! If this shit doesn’t put a little joy in your heart, maybe it’s time to give up because you’re just too far gone.

Concert Review

Cleared, Koen Holtkamp, Mind Over Mirrors At O’Brien’s

Mind Over Mirrors: set up in front of the stage facing the stage, old wooden harmonium draped with electronics, processed to the high heavens, gritty & beautiful, impossibly lush, a giant space drill boring through a star, shards of gold radiating everywhere, I wanted to bow before him and worship every moment of sound

Koen Holtkamp: somber rapid eye movement, supreme squiggle dreams, guitar and analog synth breaking through the atmosphere of transcendence, soaring among clouds of blissful regret

Cleared (Michael Vallera & Steven Hess): guitar/drums/electronics duo, walking the line of peace & disgust, would be nice at home on Enemies List, sludgy gloom pop back to back with black ambient industrial drones, creaks and crackles, pounding new wave stutters, grand upon grand

Update: Mind Over Mirrors & Koen Holtkamp sets already streaming over at Spectral Rehab’s Soundcloud.
 

Mind Over Mirrors

 
Koen Holtkamp

 
Cleared

Haiku Review

Sujo – Terran (Inam, 2011)


SujoCeptian (Inam)

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.


 
Download Terran
/fog thick blackened bliss/
/grey dawn turns to wall of noise/
/faint spectral crackle/

Album Review

Grasshopper – Miles In The Sky (House Of Alchemy, 2011)


GrashopperWith Diamonds (House Of Alchemy)

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.


 
House Of Alchemy has been super kind to us here, they reissued this super limited tour-only tape from 2009 and the world is a better place for it. Grashopper is a trumpets/electronics duo making some crazy fucked noise drones on the free jazz spectrum. There’s two side long pieces last a little over 10 minutes each, the first leaning heavy on the drone, with searing static and shrill tones that sounds like their trumpets are in flames. Surface of the sun type stuff, or rather, Icarus style, too cose, definitely, but only close enough to melt your face instead of total incineration. The B side is a bit more frantic, it starts out with an old sample of a guy grashopper telling a little girl what his music sounds like in various moods, “And when I’m sad, it’s like this…” and then Grashopper comes in with some pulsing high end grit, heading into some spacey shit, waves & rays shaking their fist, trumpets dancing in the cosmos. Totally fucking cool, and although The House has graced us with another round, it shan’t last long. Only 100 copies of this bad boy and it’s been out since sometime last year. You do the math.

Album Review

Rivulets – We’re Fucked (Important, 2011)


RivuletsSheep Among Wolves (Important)

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.


 
I’m writing about We’re Fucked because it’s not normally the kind of thing I write about AND it’s not the usual Important fare. Rivulets is usually Nathan Amundson’s solo project but on this one he’s expanded to a three piece (drums and another guitar, maybe?). This is some somber stuff, with songs about how Amundson is angry, or in love, or both, or something else, I’m not entirely sure as lyrics have never been my forté. That’s the feeling I get from this, though. Way dark and almost definitely not happy. Mostly a quiet, intimate sound, just Amundson singing in his earthy falsetto with his guitar, acoustic or electric depending on his mood, both sparse and rich, occasionally building to loud foot stomping, chest thumping moments of emotional fury. It’s truly amazing stuff that seemed to be ignored by the circles I find myself in, perhaps just because it’s got more traditional sounding song structures and stuff? Fuck that. We’re Fucked deserves your attention, regardless of where you think your musical interests lie.

Album Review

Radere – I’ll Make You Quiet (Futuresequence, 2012)


Radere…So I Left (Futuresequence)

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.


 
The debut single artist release on Futuresequence’s new label, who’s already showed the world it’s exceptionally capable with the two massive SEQUENCE compilations. And I couldn’t think of a better way to start things off than with a Radere (Carl Ritger / False Reactions) full length, who hasn’t put out anything longer than an EP since 2010, which is basically like forever. I’ll Make You Quiet is literally Riger at the fucking top of his game. Breaking away from single track albums, this is 5 shorter but still pretty damn long tracks of intense drones, cold and icy but blissful as hell, venturing into harmonic choir territories that conjure some of Xela’s more heavenly moments. The clouded snowy mountains in the artwork are a perfect image for this, Ritger’s newish Rocky Mountain home has taken his foggy mist drones of the shore and given them a craggy and more intimidating sound. Long stretches of pouring static, bone chilled with a touch of winter sun warmth, buried field recordings, bitter sadness & majestic heartache, shimmering ice & swelling euphoria, and incredibly lush. This is fucking it. If you ever needed a reason to check out Radere, now’s the goddamn time. He’s already peaked and he’s got a ways to go. This sexy slice just dropped TODAY and you need to make it your number one priority to grab it.

Album Review

Alex Cobb / Aquarelle Split (Low Point, 2011)


Alex CobbThe Body Is The Mirror (Low Point)

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.


 
Alex Cobb (aka Taiga Remains, aka Students Of Decay head) and Aquarelle (aka Ryan Potts, aka Rest & Noise dude, aka creator of the magnificent Sung In Broken Symmetry) have teamed up for a tragically overlooked split from last year. It’s a bit on the short side but every moment is sheer beauty, with slow tones and resonant drones, smooth Stars Of The Lid stylings, delicate clicks & plucks of electronics & guitars, and devastatingly gorgeous golden glimmering static. It starts out with two of Cobb’s tracks, one a short hushed minimal piece, the second more aligned with Aquarelle and sounds like it could even be a collaboration between the two, with Cobb’s processed guitar blending into a quiet pink noise. Pay attention because this is how real splits are made. Aquarelle’s side long piece is much like the work on his last record, incredibly euphoric and overwhelmingly dynamic. Like an evening at the beach watching the sun set as the surf & salty air take turns dazzling your senses. It seems like he’s got a little formula worked out for his sound, with walls of bliss exploding when you least expect it, but it’s like the golden ratio, it’s perfect, don’t fuck with it. Just enjoy it while it lasts.

Haiku Review

Griefhound / Cane Swords Split (Rubber City Noise, 2011)


GriefhoundNecessary To God (Rubber City Noise)

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Download Griefhound / Cane Swords Split

/approaching disgust/
/cave trolls versus space wizards/
/degenerate beats/

Album Review

From The Mouth Of The Sun – Woven Tide (Experimedia, 2012)


From The Mouth Of The SunColor Loss (Experimedia)

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.


 
Aaron Martin & Dag Rosenqvist (Jasper, TX) joining forces as From The Mouth Of The Sun, creating a refined beauty, not sounding like the radiant beast above us, but rather some further introverted giant. Unbelievably amazing, Martin & Rosenqvist an absolute perfect pair, masters of both acoustic & electronic, making strings & pianos melt, altogether clean, untouched, manipulated, processed, seamlessly perfect. Songs as tender as can be, with a serene sullenness in the Jasper crackle and Martin’s neo-layering. Not glowing or massive but still emotionally dense and overwhelming in its splendor, balancing the light of hope and the dark nightmares of reality. Woven Tide is so tragically good, it would almost be offensive if either of these guys decided to collaborate with anyone else. A true gem.

Album Review

Bunny’s A Swine – All Day, Alright (TinyRadars, 2011)


Bunny’s A SwineSong Ten (TinyRadars)

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.


 
A trio from western Mass that, because of how shitty I am at writing about “regular” music, pretty much did my job for me. Self described “awk-pop slops-rock.” I kinda can’t believe they summed up their whole sound with just those two hyphened phrases. So why am I still writing about a band I’m not even going to bother trying to describe? Because they’re just that awesome. You know this genre is outside of my blinders, so the fact that I’m making an effort to make sure you know about them should tell you something. These guys are the shit. They nail the garage pop/alt country thing down to a T without the whole lo-fi scuzz people rely on nowadays. They’ve got killer hooks and momentary explosions of frenzy, but the heart of the beast is in their boy/girl vocals. The dude is a madman, squawking and moaning like he’s being tortured, flopping all over the place, and the girl is sweet as can be, beautiful and smooth. Instead of creating deluxe seamless harmonies, they’re balancing out both ends of the spectrum. It’s all about contrast and it works fucking perfectly. They sound incredible together. You’d be doing yourself a great disservice by skipping over them. Also, part disclaimer/part brag, my pal Justin Durand is the one that did the artwork up there. Seriously one of the most talented guys I know.

Album Review

Nova Scotian Arms – Cult Spectrum (Digitalis, 2012)


Nova Scotian ArmsGathering/Composition (Digitalis)

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.


 
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

Tate Eskew – Modality (Functional Equivalent, 2011)


Tate EskewLost Connection (Functional Equivalent)

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.


 
Not having heard Tate Eskew before, this short EP seems like the perfect intro to him. Each of the songs are way different from each other, making me think this is almost a sampler of all forms of Eskew drones. The first is a little raga snippet, then there’s a psych style guitar feedback mini epic with distant hard hitting mechanical drums, “Lost Connection” stretches out the opening of an ambient techno track into a 4 minute sprawler, there’s an unsettling dissonant cosmic-scape, and the final song is a quiet starlit walk on the beach. All sorts of sounds, some more fleshed out than others, but each of them exceedingly well done and highly enjoyable. Eskew already has a new full length out since Modality was released called Semiotics, so I’d definitely recommend checking that out as well.

Album Review

Crystal Crypt – II (Native Parts, 2011)


Crystal CryptSide A (The Beyond / II / Worlds Apart / Damaged) (Native Parts)

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.


 
This is a side project of Johannes Brander, the dude behind Native Parts Recordings and the band Skogar. Pretty much consistently awesome in everything he does. This tape is a little bit of a sidestep from Skogar, venturing into the sounds of horror soundtracks and evil realms. Part Goblin synth snippets, part crumbling fuckery, lots of weirdness, and all manner of dark & dank. Like a cult of savages from the deep, who care not for fidelity nor beauty, but have occasional moments of tenderness, the sheets of guitar feedback seamlessly making way for light drones and vocals. Very cool shit right here, definitely hoping these 20 minutes are only a taste of more to come.

Album Review

Fiends In Human Shape – We Will Burn The Very Heavens (Tigerelectron, 2011)


Fiends In Human ShapeDeath Won’t Hide You (Tigerelectron)

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.


 
A new synth/drums duo from Boston tearing it up with a sweet blend of genres from all recent decades. They’ve got ’80s dark pop and ’90s post rock, the ’00s ambient pop (or whatever the hell The Postal Service got tagged as) and the as-yet-defined je ne sais quoi of the twenty-teens. They’re kinda all over the place, but it works, sounding like the soundtrack to a more macabre Tron along with some low key R&B ballads mixed in. As a debut EP, this definitely has enough goodness on it to keep them on your radar until a full length drops.

Album Review

Ous Mal / Bedroom Bear Split (Full Of Nothing, 2011)


Ous MalMetsien Hämy (Full Of Nothing)

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.


 

Finland’s now defunct Ous Mal makes one of his last outings on a split with Russia’s Bedroom Bear. Ous Mal’s side is absolutely killer, a cracked bliss that will surely be missed. Some songs have a way about them similar to the recent surge of instrumental hip hop jams except the beats here hit as soft as your grandma’s punches. The rest are a warped & blurry bedroom pop, droned in the best way with zero sense of urgency, moth eaten and full of holes like it’s been tucked away in the attic for half a century.

Bedroom Bear takes a slightly more dramatic approach to the bedroom pop, permeated with a low-key psych sound, waves of the bizarre melting into dream-like drifts of noise, all while still being chill as fuck and totally blissful. One track is like a nap on the beach with waves lapping at the shore and the creatures of the coast singing about how awesome life is. Doesn’t get much better than that.

A truly great split, limited as expected, and on the increasingly awesome Russian label Full Of Nothing. Wholly worth your while.