Archive for February, 2012

Album Review

Keroaän – Daunting In Its Variousness: First In A Suite Of An Indeterminate Number Of Pieces (Copy For Your Records, 2011)


KeroaänUntitled (excerpt) (Copy For Your Records)

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Wow. Just… fucking wow. This is awesome. Reed Evan Rosenberg and Ian M. Fraser have created a musical AI by “implementing XENAKIS’S Dynamic Stochastic Synthesis.” That means this shit wrote itself. A computer composed this. And this is INSANE. Crazy computer noise that borders on unlistenable, except for the fact that it’s totally fucking listenable. Sounds of all sorts in here, helium struggling to escape from balloons, metal coins scraping against hard plastic, hail storms & train wrecks, avalanches & atomic bombs, DIY prop plane motor whir, NES consoles aflame, ancient computer hardware disintegrating before your eyes, even a brief techno interlude. Absolute aural destruction. Daunting In Its Variousness is a goddamn workout and a half. 100% intense & 200% amazing. And apparently the live show is just as nuts, “lasers, strobe lighting, and fog synched to both audible and structural qualities of the music as an infinitely morphing chorus of digital voices croon, cry, scream and everything in between.” FUCK these dudes need to send their genius computer on tour and hit up Boston stat.

Album Review

Haute-Cimes – Khmaer Krahom (self released, 2012)


Haute-CimesPertt (self released)

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A caustic debut by this new French dude, and he’s giving it away for free. Grab it first, read later. This is some awesome fucked noise, like Yellow Swans on a murdering spree or Gnaw Their Tongues doing power electronics. Scary brutal static, nauseous paranoia, fucking intense blow outs of grit & grime, clear and distorted vocals, dappled with moments of respite, beauty, chirping birds, none lasting too long before being jerked back into the terror. Film samples get thrown around, sometimes recognizable & enjoyable, like a clip from My Neighbor Totoro, others are a bit more horrifying, like the one of a girl screaming for her life while a maniac laughs. Some uniquely killer shit, no reason to pass over this. Digitally free, or pay some cash and get a tape.

Album Review

Clint Heidorn – Atwater (Ashes Ashes, 2011)


Clint Heidorn2 (Ashes Ashes)

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A new dude self releasing his first album on vinyl with killer packaging, you should already be paying attention. Heidorn is making some stellar tunes on Atwater, channelling a sparser Dirty Three or a dustier & less gloomy Jakob Battick. Truly awesome stuff here. I see it getting labeled a lot as black folk and even black ambient, and I guess, for lack of a better word, I might as well. But this isn’t black. It’s hardly even dark. Somber? Certainly. But this doesn’t conjure any woodland specters or rain the plague down on your soul. It’s an earthy minimalism, guitars, strings, reeds, and a slew of noisemakers echoing in the trees, sprawling out over the leaves on the forest floor. Chill as fuck and absolutely amazing. But I just can’t see the whole haunted spin on this. And as rad as it is using “tree bones” to adorn your hand tinted record jackets, I’m not a big fan of the upside cross imagery. Especially here, where it seems to be pleading its case instead of representing the sound. But clearly Heidorn created Atwater with dark intentions, so I’m not hating. I’m just not on board with the theme. I see Atwater in my own way, and it’s super fucking cool.

Goodbye Parts & Labor


Parts & LaborNo Nostalgia

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I don’t enjoy doing these eulogic write-ups, and for the most part I don’t have to. There aren’t many bands fit the criteria of a) me loving them enough, b) them fitting the aural aesthetic of AGB, and c) them breaking up. The only other band I’ve officially said goodbye to was Big Bear (RIP). Now I add their partners in maximum volumage Parts & Labor to the mantle of memories.

Parts & Labor technically aren’t “broken up.” They’re on “extended hiatus.” I’m personally not making any distinctions between the two because if I think “extended hiatus” means there’s any chance of them recording & playing shows again, I’ll probably pass out from holding my breath and just have my dreams dashed regardless. So this is it. The nail in the coffin.
 

 
The first time I saw Parts & Labor was at the Brahloween CMJ showcase in ’06 where BJ Warshaw performed the whole set dressed as Batman and Chris Weingarten destroyed the drums for about 2.5 songs while wearing a white sheet before tearing it off and finishing the set mortally (Dan Friel went as a party pooper?). This was the first of innumerable P&L shows, each one making me 10 times more euphoric and giving me 20 times more neck injuries than the last. Honestly, there is no other band who I enjoy seeing live more than Parts & Labor. And the fact that they’re pals with Big Bear made me lose my shit on a regular basis seeing them play together all the time. And that show with both of them plus Neptune at the Middle East Upstairs? Fucking legendary lineup, I tell ya. I count myself lucky that I didn’t live in New York or I may have just ODed on P&L shows.
 

 
Some scoff at noise pop. Maybe it’s the term. Too oxy-moronic? Whatever. Parts & Labor fucking perfected it. If you want soaring hooks, sing along choruses, and epic climaxes paired with the grittiest electronic filth, scuzzy buzzing bass reverb, and crumbling avalanche drums, Parts & Labor are the goddamn gurus. They have made music that wholly encompasses my happy zone. Every time I hear them I instantly become a better person. And it takes every ounce of energy to not turn into an explosive dancing madman that air drums the shit out of everything.
 

 
They did a lot in the 10 years they’ve been around, and as tragic as it is that they’re vanishing, they made their mark and certainly didn’t go unappreciated. They found a major-indie label to love them (Jagjaguwar, along with Brah), got tons of praise from the mega-blogs, and even had an album filled with every sound that their fans submitted (Receivers). Some bands go 10 years and don’t make it half that far. Parts & Labor are motherfucking rockstars.
 

 
BJ and Dan plan on continuing their solo stuff (as Shooting Spires and Dan Friel, respectively). Joe might, too, I’m not sure. Both solo things are great and all, and perhaps each slightly more than half as good as Parts & Labor as a whole, but still incomparable. In their wake, they leave us a single song leftover from the Receivers sessions, called “No Nostalgia.” Fuck that. Gonna reminisce of the glory days when they played the no-stage Crane Room at Tufts a foot in front of me and the first time I heard “A Great Divide.” They were the gnarliest mood enhancer I’ve ever experienced, I just hope the magic lives on “extendedly” every time I play their records. Gonna miss you guys so. fucking. hard.
 

 
Their final show, on their 10th anniversary (more or less), is a week from today at 285 Kent in Brooklyn with Oneida, Neptune, and Noveller. I’ll be the dude rocking his heart out through the tears. It’s not sold out yet. See y’all there.

Album Review

Pataphor – Probably Not (MRSA, 2012)


PataphorPublic Transit (MRSA)

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A Boston newcomer, by way of Milwaukee, Pataphor (aka Shannon Smith) has made some awesomely inaccessible noise on Probably Not. 3 tracks each around 10 minutes or so, the middle one a slight respite from its two rattling bookends. It starts with an interrupting “Special News Bulletin” morse code thing, attention grabbing tension, building/crumbling into a public school fire alarm, standing right in front of it, no chance of walking by and unplugging your ears, repeated indefinitely, which is definitely a theme here. Nothing is too dynamic, she finds a group of tones and just works & tweaks until you’re left with an erupted eardrum. The second track starts by dropping all the harshness and upping the creep factor, the sounds of a haunted swamp, gurgling on its own, ghastly moans drifting through the fog, peepers & cicadas making a tinny racket, but not even the swamps are safe because by the end of this it builds into another static shriek of noise. The final track is for the most masochistic. Solid square waves of sustained tinnitus, it’s amazing what she can do with just a few sounds, terribly piercing, an impenetrable sheet of high wire feedback, with just enough alterations along the way to make it fucking incredible and not making you want to jump through a 10th story window. This is some creatively despicable noise, and fuckin killer. It’s the first release on her own MRSA label, and you can pay whatever you want for a digital copy.

Album Review

C. Spencer Yeh – 1975 (Intransitive, 2011)


C. Spencer YehTwo Guitars (Intransitive)

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A “proper” solo album from C. Spencer Yeh… finally? 1975 is being billed as a debut of Yeh’s, but regardless of what solo-type stuff he’s released in the past, this is a departure from his usual Burning Star Core sound. This is, um, weirder. And way more minimal. The track titles are either hyper-descriptive or giving just enough info to make your mouth water depending on your point of view. I’m in the latter. “Voice”, “Drone,” “Two Guitars,” that’s about as much as you’re gonna get from Yeh. But he’s being pretty straightforward about it. No mysteries as to what’s involved, just infinite mysteries as to what the fuck is going on.

The first half is alternating back-to-back “Drone” & “Voice” pieces, the drone ones being perhaps most similar to BXC material, just way more stripped down. Sustained piercing tones, just hanging in the air. “Voice” is some of the most engaging stuff on here, with Yeh’s vocals chopped up into discrete millisecond notes, patched together in a mind-bending glitch with almost no pattern or rhythm. But the best pieces on here are the couple of “Two Guitars” tracks. Absolutely amazing. Taking the stretched out tones from the “Drone” songs and adding a few more layers of rumble & grit but still keeping it totally bare, not one sound more than is necessary. The end of the record looks back to early avant garde electronics, the lo-fi scattered experiments that paved the way for today’s accessible niceties. Yeh burns through the weirdness like it’s his job, pounding away on echoing pianos and retro sci-fi effects. Unbelievably cool.

I haven’t heard a record like this in a while, and definitely not from anyone contemporary. Yeh is pushing for an old new drone noise, ignoring his bliss-obsessed colleagues and making something that requires more attention and contemplation. You need to try a little bit more with this one. And godDAMN it’s worth it.

Album Review

MicroD – Prime (self released, 2011)


MicroDPrime Part IV (self released)

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I’ve sort of stopped paying attention to straight up 8 bit music lately. No fault of its own, I just have gotten a little disinterested. It needs an extra hook or something for me to give it a chance. Not a gimmick, just a theme or a variation on the sound. MicroD’s got that shit taken care of. His chiptunes are 100% Game Boy goodness but to spice things up he gave himself some constraints, working with prime numbers. Math + chiptunes = fuck yes I’m listening. He’s got “Prime” parts I-IV and he composed each one in a different prime time signature, starting with 3/4 and working up to 11/4 time. The artwork is based around primes (location of orange) and some of the tracks have prime beats per minute. Dude knows his primes. Plus there’s a song called “Fist.bmp.” Brilliant! Add all that fun up with the catchy as fuck super solid 8 bit housewarmers and you’ve struck gold. The real kicker is you can grab Prime in all it’s digital sexiness for free (if you want) or you can cop the limited analog for a mere $5. The power is yours!

Out of Print

Auscultation Of The Heart (London, 1966)

Download Auscultation Of The Heart

A record for medical students to hear normal vs “pathological” hearts. Lots of super awesome science speak about hearts & their defects. Lots of rhythmic hearts beating in a muffled stutter. If you enjoyed that dog heart sounds record I posted, clearly this is for you (and vice versa). A friend, the proprietor of the exceptionally rad music/tech blog Zed Equals Zee, scored this for me. She clearly knows my interests well.

Album Review

Flossin – White Anaconda And The Rainbow Boa (Overlap, 2011)


FlossinThe Launch (Overlap)

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There are three well known facts. 1: Zach Hill is awesome. 2: Christopher Willits is awesome. 3: Matmos is awesome. Flossin is those guys (along with Nate Boyce and Carson McWhirter (the bass player for The Advantage)). Sadly, it’s also known that super groups don’t always amount to the sum of their parts. Flossin is not that kind of super group. Originally, it was Willits, Hill, and the almighty Kid 606, but that was just for the first record, Lead Singer. It was pretty great. But then the Kid left and Matmos took his place (along with those two other dudes who everyone for some reason seems to ignore is part of Flossin?) for the second album, Serpents, from 2009. I haven’t heard that one. I’ve heard this one, though. White anaconda And The Rainbow Boa.

WOW. How has this not received any fanfare? You guys, it’s Christopher Willits, Zach Hill, and MATMOS. The blogs should be all over this. Not just because of who’s involved but that should at least be your entry point into this mess. And this is a mess. They spent two days improvising in the studio and the result was White Anaconda, a glitchy free jazz noise fest. Willits and Matmos (and those two other dudes) fuck around with their electronics & guitar processings, whining & clicking, droning & exploding, melting their sounds into one indistinguishable whole because honestly, who knows who’s doing what on this, while Hill destroys his drums in the way only he can. Yes, normally he’s a beast on the kit, but in Flossin he goes the spastic Eli Keszler route and takes his already inhuman skills to the next level.

Flossin is a furious monster of chaos, a reigning maelstrom of glitch, that is the least jazz-like jam session I’ve ever heard and somehow makes all of this flurrying actually soothing & relaxing. For all of it’s precise notes & isolated tones, it blurs into a smooth pink bliss, something that’s surprisingly transcendant, a soft wash of zen over your mind, ambient glitch pushed so far to the limits of glitch it collapses in on itself and becomes ambient again. 100% top notch. This is what should be expected of supergroups. White Anaconda is fucking it.

Album Review

Good Weather For An Airstrike – Underneath The Stars (Hibernate, 2012)


Good Weather For An AirstrikeCast Aside (The Briefest Of Pauses) (Hibernate)

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This dude, Tom Honey from the UK, has a vision. And it’s one I am fucking psyched about. He drones in ways that I want everyone to drone. His music is as serene as heaven itself. Overwhelmingly understated minimal drones, like Windy & Carl at their most subdued, or Eluvium on codeine, just steady innocuous loops that blow your mind with their subtleties. It’s the sound of air, sitting motionless above freshly greened treetops in the spring, almost completely unmoving, save for the warmth of the sun stirring the currents a bit. This is quiet purity, perfection on top of perfection. Don’t let the outside world ruin this for you. It’s meant for you, and you alone. Immerse yourself in it and you will be a better person.

Haiku Review

Zbeen – K-Frame (Ripples, 2012)


Zbeen (Gianluca Favaron & Ennio Mazzon) – Sentrert Dot (Ripples)

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Download K-Frame

/tinnitus wave tones/
/electronic consciousness/
/travel by glitch ticks/

Album Review

Christina Vantzou – Nº. 1 DVD & Remixes (self released, 2012)


 
Everyone should remember Christina Vantzou’s gorgeous Nº. 1 on Kranky last year. And if for some reason you passed over it, let me be the last to tell you that it’s fantastic. She’s one half of The Dead Texan, the other half of whom is Adam Wiltzie, one of the dudes from Stars Of The Lid. Nº. 1 is the Kranky release that got overshadowed by A Winged Victory For The Sullen, another Wiltzie duo, this time with Dustin O’Halloran. But all of this is just precursor, and only for those of you who are unaware, which I hope is few and far between.

So in addition to but separate from the Nº. 1 release on Kranky, Vantzou put out on her own a film accompaniment to the album and a slew of remixes of tracks from Nº. 1. The contributors to the remix project are an insanely awesome bunch: Koen Holtkamp, Loscil, Ben Vida, Dustin O’Halloran, White Rainbow, Robert Lippok, Ernest Gibson III, Montgomery Knott, Isan, and there’s even a new Dead Texan track at the end. All of their takes on Vantzou’s subtleties are just as grand and wonderful as Nº. 1.

And the movie is stunning (trailer is below). It’s 47 minutes, running parallel to the record, although it’s broken up into chapters that don’t necessarily coincide with songs. There’s a golden beauty to it, with lots of found footage manipulated to meet Vantzou’s high standards of quality, taking everything from large crowds to intimate portraits, expansive mountain ranges to solitary swaying trees, and adding a layer of flickering patina to make it all shine. There’s an especially peaceful segment of planes flying through the clouds, as shot from another nearby plane. Truly stunning.

The movie is only available physically through Vantzou’s site and it comes with the remixes. Or you could just knab the remixes digitally and forgo the exceptional video experience. Your choice. But I will judge you if you ignore the movie.

Album Review

Aidan Baker – The Spectrum Of Distraction (Robotic Empire, 2012)


Aidan BakerReturn To The Cave Of Time (Robotic Empire)

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Aidan Baker, who is undeniably the most epically prolific dude of our generation, has somehow even outdone himself on this new one. 97 tracks, with something like 18 drummers from bands like Locrian, Swans, The Jesus Lizard, Slowdive, Jesu, Batillus, and Neptune, 2 CDs worth of music, all meant for random play, making each time you throw it on more or less a new experience. Baker solicited drum tracks from masters the world over and ended up with 6 hours of drums (which I think you have access to if you drop some cash on this?) and then boiled it down to about 2 hours of finely chopped tracks that he laid guitars & bass lines over.

Most songs are pretty damn short (less than a minute) but there’s some fully formed songs on here too, some spiking up to 7 minutes. The sound of Distraction is all over the fuckin place, there’s skittery free jazz, furious black metal, white hot psych grooves, gritty black ambient, lullaby drones, and, most importantly, massive Nadja-esque metalgaze. This is every side imaginable of Baker, and he shines at every moment.

The whole “distraction” thing is a valid theme, very topical, etc, but I think the best part of this is the complete opposite of everything else that Aidan Baker has created, aka chaotic as fuck. So much of his work requires your full attention, you need to put it on and do nothing but listen to it. This is something I’ll put on so that it won’t keep my attention. This is supremely awesome, it showcases all of his mad skillz from every direction making it a record for the background of everything. Fucking brilliant. Dude still remains the best ever.

Album Review

Dog Hallucination – Bob Hallucination (Intangible Cat, 2011)


Dog HallucinationUntitled 2 (Intangible Cat)

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A tightly compacted 3″ where Dog Hallucination (Doggy P. Lips & D. Petri) is joined by Bob from Headless Ballerinas Underwater. Weirdness abound on this one, the guitars getting fucked up & beatified by Bob with some added field recordings thrown into the mix. Gentle looping guitars, droning into the ether alongside ruptured electronics gurgling everywhere, phasers set to “caress,” celestial warmth feeding the fire, all infused with a solid rhythm, a noisy techno-drone that does more to invoke lucid dreams than it does the urge to party. But this is still totally partyable (at least a couple of the tracks are). And totally awesome. Here’s hoping Bob joins in the Hallucinations more often.

Video

Watson – Adsidua

A new Watson album titled Interstices just dropped on basic_sounds today, making it the netlabel’s first full length release! And supplementing the album’s release is this super stylin video for the first track “Adsidua.” Nice glitchy ambient techno stuff, full of organic water sounds and solid beats, and the video matches it perfectly, digital geometry laid over & interacting with the analog atmosphere. Excellent eye candy and a free full length’s worth of killer tunes. Quite a way to kick off the best month of the year (the month in which yours truly arrived on the scene).