Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Thou - The Archer and the Owle (Sweat Lode Guru, 2012)

One of the best cassette purchases I've ever made. This is refined doom / sludge / dirge / metal. Absolutely gorgeous material here. In the spirit of Mournful Congreation and Warning. Modern doom not quite as depressing as Loss or Ocean, but definitely comparable. I say that only because the the Nirvana cover softens everything up. They treat "Something in the Way" with patience Kurt Cobain would've been proud of.

You can stream the album HERE

Download the album HERE

Thanks to Chad Layton.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Dirty Three - Toward the Low Sun (Drag City, 2012)

The reviews I've read about this record so far really puzzle me. This is the ninth record by this act and apparently folks want to hear the same thing they've heard from the other eight albums. To the untrained ear, their entire discography could sound the same, all being avant garde western-tinged wanking with the "pulling of the heart strings" twist. Ahh yes, let's be greedy, let's ask for even more! Let's long for them to be pigeon-holed a decade after their inception. Well, I say Fuck that. These guys have been around, playing live in various projects for thirty years and then some. Let them grow! They've evolved in a really gorgeous way and the critics are stifling them for no good reason. Yes, I'm ranting. I'm sorry. I suppose it also pushes my buttons that much of the negative criticism over this record is due to the free improvisation it presents. These veterans are actually pushing boundaries. Maybe not boundaries as you see them, but imagine playing with the same couple guys for fifteen years and trying to break out of your mold.

At its inception, its blistering. Jim White finally takes the reigns and leads the band into uncharted territory with his brilliant sense of nuanced percussion. In fact, for the first five tracks, he seems like a pied piper, orchestrating a deconstruction of everything that was Dirty Three. Whatever you thought is no more. Its like manna from heaven, as far as I'm concerned. There's a nonlinear presentation here. Its almost as if everything we're hearing is raw and unedited. I can't help but imagine the feeling of freedom that this process must have given them. And just when it gets a bit too intense, "Rain Song" brings us back around to the gospel truth that is the spine of this band's career, gorgeous in its depression, conflicted in its narrative, and hopeful in its intended resolve.

Toward the end of the album, the element of orchestration slips in, no doubt due to Ellis' film scoring with Nick Cave in the past few years, but I feel that the group only benefits from this environment.

Everything about this record feels new and I'm once again excited about this act. They're one of my favorite bands ever, and this is incredibly refreshing.

I don't know much, but I know this.... Never ever doubt a Bad Seed...

Download HERE and / or listen on Spotify

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Charles Gayle Trio - Streets (Northern Spy, 2012)

If you're current with your jazz at all, you know this man is not just another number. In fact, he is possibly the most important sax player and multi-instrumentalist alive. Charles Gayle has spent his life in dedication to the free jazz tradition in the vein of Shepp, Sanders, Ayler and Trane. The "Streets the Clown" personnae is based on his many years as a homeless street musician himself. In fact, he dons this guise and continues to play on the street to this day.

Gayle is a master, and this latest release is surprisingly accessible yet blazing as always. The bassist, Larry Roland and the longtime drummer, Michael TA Thompson hold it down as well as contribute equally to a powerful, blistering, elegant album.  The trio manages to manufacture free jazz that retains a vivid narrative structure. Linear yet non-linear, all the compositions here will resonate with the elitist tastes as well as the casual pallette.

I'm sad to say there is no vinyl for this. pay for download HERE and/ or listen on Spotify.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Outer Space - II (Blast First, 2012)

Not all modular synths are created equal. Just because there are thousands of 20 year olds in their bedrooms treating Edgar Froese arpeggios like Jimi Hendrix licks, doesn't mean they can create masterful recordings with the mini-moog they just traded for their electric guitar. This is why people like John Elliot (Emeralds) still matter so much. The torch itself was passed to Elliot. Its his game now, and he knows how to play it. If you sit around listening to a lot of retro synth material, you can tell when you're hearing his tracks.

Outer Space is Elliot alongside Andrew Veres (who does a lot of audio engineering work, mixing and mastering for Spectrum Spools), Adam Miller, Phillip J. Whiteside, Jeff Hatfield and Drew McDowall (of COIL fame). This does feel like a group effort. There are vast influences being represented here.

Whereas the first record felt very tense, this one has more er...umm... space? Side A begins in an intense fashion. Very thick pulses thud and punch their way through a wall of wind. This gives way to a release, in the form of a comfortable sprawl of rhythm and melody. Overall, its hopeful and lovely. Side B is quite a different story. In the beginning it sounds like an exercise in musique concrete, but quickly develops into a heavy and quite overwhelming narrative of darkness and doubt, fear and anxiety. Everything feels ominous for quite a while. This side long piece clicks and cuts, gurgles and churns its way through the depths of synth experimentation that, at its most exotic, reminds me of Conrad Schnitzler. Elliot himself stated that this side is a tribute to Ilhan Mimaroglu and Tod Dockstader.

This is a fantastic piece for those that are fans of the darker deeper side of synth history, its roots and possibilities are both represented here. Definitely give this one a go.

Read full review of Outer Space II - OUTER SPACE (JOHN ELLIOTT) on ©

Monday, August 20, 2012

Pharaoh Overlord - #3 (Riot Season, 2005)

Well this one's a doozy, sort of a Chicken Soup for the Zen Buddhist / Krautrock & Psych Fan's soul. That doesn't include you? Hmm... weird. Anyhow, its just about perfect for my ears. Members of the monstrously cool Finnish band, Circle, Pharaoh Overlord operates off the Plane of Consistency, in a Non-place, and in Non-Duality.

"Test Flight", "Blackout" and "Laivaus 17" are motorik psych funk kraut blues numbers, driving exercises in repetition that create a definitively trance-like state of mind. "Autobahn" takes us into the muck with nasty noisy drone made from gnarly feedback (emulating the more cosmic side of Can), "Octagon" brings us back down to earth with a funky side snare beat that pounds out an electric guitar jam you might like if you dig White Hills. But, the piece de resistance here is the closing track, "Journey", a fine tribute to classic Neu and the earliest Kraftwerk material.

Drive your car to Pharaoh Overlord. Its a journey between two places. Who needs a beginning and an end?

Download it Here and listen on Spotify.

Miracle of Love (Bathetic Records, 2012)

Asheville, NC experimental / pop / drone label Bathetic Records has just released a compilation of recent and upcoming tracks from artists like High Aura'dVillagesMerryl and William Cody Watson. Its a really nice cross section of a diverse and engaging record label.

Listen on Spotify and download on Itunes

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Zelienople - The World is a House on Fire (Type, 2012)

Everyone's favorite Chicago drone poppers / pill poppers are back with another glorious outing. I've had this on repeat for two months. Its really the kind of record you can listen three times consecutively before you realize its happened.

This album is less doom and gloom than the last. Here they stick with a freeform shoegaze vibe, mixed with a  ghostly americana aesthetic. Think Slowdive's "Pygmalion" meets Labradford's "Mi Media Naranja". In fact, this is a perfect hybrid of those two records, which incidentally are two of my favorite records.

Listen / Buy the LP HERE

Monday, August 13, 2012

Vestibule - The Kid's Lamentations via The Judge's Conflagrations (Mixtape, 2012)

So I hadn't made a mixtape in a while and decided to make a soundtrack to "An Evening Redness in the West". If ya know, then ya know. If ya don't, sorry. Enjoy these contemplative dirges of western sounds. Nobody beats the McC.  Peace and scalping...

Download it Here