Sunday, November 25, 2012

Beatrik - Requiem of December (Avantgarde Music, 2005)

I don't really hear much about the underground metal scene in Italy. I don't even know if there is much going on. So, I was surprised to discover an Italian band comprised of equal parts depressive black metal and funeral doom. Really impressive material here. Plodding DSBM guitar a la Xasthur or Nortt is contrasted by classic dark organ sounds, and simple doom drums with an occasional blast beat. There is even a bit of nature worship thrown in there under the Varg-like gurgling vocals. The recording is fairly clean and well done.

Sounds like cutting your arms while the church bells ring...

Get it HERE

Saturday, November 24, 2012

LAND - Night Within (Important, 2012)

The band describe this work as, "approaching an apocalyptic noir narrative," and Night Within, despite its slate visual appeal which recalls the grey paintings of Gerhard Richter, thematically points towards a world occupied by the early postmodern detective stories of Paul Auster and the urban neon dislocation of Taxi Driver with its existential protagonist roaming the city alone late at night."
Heavy words for heavy music. The atmosphere of this record makes me think "jazz for a dark alley". There is a definite lurking menace here, a modern take on noir soundtrack. Reminiscent of the doom jazz artists like Bohren and der Club of Gore and Mount Fuji Doom Jazz Orchestra, LAND wisely forego the Angelo Badalamenti elements. They know how to create tension and build to a near crescendo. This is really intense music with a casual delivery, much like the calm and cool demeanor of a film noir character. My first thought was Alain Delon in a 60's Melville film set in a cold Scandinavian climate. 
The two composers are UK musicians Daniel Lea And Matthew Waters. These two assembled quite a cast for this faux soundtrack. Guests include David Sylvian (Japan), Daniel O'Sullivan (Ulver, Guapo, Miasma, Aethenor), Alexander Tucker (everywhere with everyone) and an ensemble of woodwinds, brass, guitar, keys, bass and drums. The album was sculpted in Reykjavik by Ben Frost.
This one will certainly sneak into my End of Year list. 

Read full review of Night Within - LAND on ©

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Annalium Desparatio, Third Wave Part 1 (Mixtape, 2012)

Last winter, I handmade a cassette boxset for five friends of mine. The four cassettes contained a chronological history of black metal. First, second, and third wave. Here, I've mixed the first part of the third wave. Eventually, I'll mix the remainder and post those as well. Enjoy the Darkness...

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Discoverer - Tunnels (Digitalis, 2012)

Kansas City's Brandon Knocke makes a combination of analog revival music and psychedelic hip hop. There's a little Emeralds and a little Tycho in his sound but he makes the hybrid his own. Everything sounds really original. Tasteful clean slow moving drum machine is placed over blissful synth sounds. And he doesn't overdo it. There's no over the top trippy reverb on the melodies, nothing's buried. All the sounds are fairly upfront.

This is a nice take on the current trend of instrumental hip hop made in some guy's bedroom. Very listenable material that I don't find cliche. No ironic nostalgia or parody here.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Emeralds - Just to Feel Anything (Editions Mego, 2012)

Emeralds is its own thing, a sound you can pinpoint immediately. This Cleveland trio of John Elliot, Mark McGuire, and Steve Hauschildt "re-pioneered" the arpeggiated synthesizer concept. They inspired thousands of kids to go out and find their own thrift store analog junk, making synths and keyboards more popular than the guitar. But what's equally impressive is the signature electric guitar sound of Mark McGuire, which, I feel, is the best part of this new record.

Whereas prior Emeralds outings worshiped and emulated pioneers of experimental electronic music, this one seems to be their take on late 80's / early 90's action film scores. Boomkat called it arena rock but I feel as though its an unconscious homage to the more upbeat Harold Faltermayer and Michael Kamen (Top Gun, Lethal Weapon, respectively). Yep, upon first listen, its Friday night at the movies. Further in, you recognize some of the other influences, Tangerine Dream and 80's Pink Floyd.  But, here's the thing that's so great about this band: After a few minutes, you forget about this tribute idea, you get sucked in and realize that its actually original material, solid in its own right. All three of these players are brilliant and creative musicians having fun but composing subtly innovative pieces. Many people are attempting these ideas these days, but no one can touch Emeralds.

Read full review of Just To Feel Anything (Vinyl Edition) - EMERALDS on ©

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Andy Stott - Luxury Problems (Modern Love, 2012)

The techno world has been intertwining with the drone world for some time now. Artists that made a name for themselves with the former, now make the latter, and vice versa. For years, Andy Stott made lovely dub techno / house tracks in that 90's Basic Channel / Chain Reaction vein. The international repute only began last year after the release of a couple EP's (We Stay Together and Pass Me By), which he released on Modern Love, a great label with the likes of Demdike Stare and Vatican Shadow. What he did on these releases was shocking. Stott began experimenting with all the traditional elements, slowing the rhythms to 100 bpm, and twisting each aspect of the melodies underneath crippling bass rumbles. Thus, he began making "bass music".

The EP's were experiments that led up the the newest album, which is a culmination of all those ideas, and a masterfully executed one. The opening track is simply the angelic vocals of Stott's former piano teacher, Allison Skidmore. They are effected and layered and set the stage for the entire recording. Throughout Luxury Problems, these vocals are pitted against low frequency bass rumbles, tasteful kicks and snares, and  synth elements so subtle, it would take you several listens to even notice.

The haunting, melancholy, and pensive environments Stott creates are brilliant. Finally, someone has taken this genre to a new level, a place I didn't think it could go, a proper evolution. And he's from Manchester... Go figure.

Read full review of Luxury Problems (Second Edition - Emerald Vinyl) - ANDY STOTT on ©

Monday, November 5, 2012

Parallelogram #003 - % split w/ Galapagoose (Cassette, 2012)

% (pronounced "Owner/Operator) is Southeastern U.S. sound artist Michael Felix. His side begins with field recordings from the forest in West Virginia. Its a sort of ode to nature via broken beats and synth. This is a lovely five part narrative that combines bouncey instrumental hip hop with lush, blissed out melodies.

Galapagoose is Melbourne, Australia resident Trent Gill. His side is comparable to Felix', in that it has a similarly bright and slinky beat vibe, and incorporates subtle and quiet spoken word.

As far as I'm concerned, this is the future of hip hop. These are the most captivating beats I've heard in quite sometime.

Purchase HERE

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Quiet Evenings / Former Selves - S/T (Split Cassette on Constellation Tatsu, 2012)

With all of their recordings, Quiet Evenings creates a feeling that is easy for me to identify with. They present winding narratives of warm and familiar ambient music made from synth, guitar, and vocal drones. This release is a good one for a newcomer, as their side, Riverbend, is a fifteen minute journey into their repertoire of earthy and enchanting drone with hints of classic space music.

The Former Selves side, Future Nostalgia, chooses a different path with a classical structure. Here we have a comparable ambient aesthetic but the composition is presented in three movements. It begins with soft and ghostly synth melodies, shifts gears to a more somber note punctuated by a four on the floor kick drum moving at a snail's pace, and resolving (in a sense), with wintry, introspective minor tones and a keyboard melody that is sure to send you into a state of melancholic contemplation.

This is a wonderful half hour of music. And remember, cassette runs are extremely limited. Get one before its gone.

Stream / Download / Purchase HERE