Friday, December 27, 2013
I know I don't post enough about classical music on my blog but its not because I don't listen to it. My favorite pieces of music are all classical. The reason you don't read much about it here is because I don't understand it well enough to criticize or praise properly. I'm ignorant of most music that truly matters. My attempts at writing about jazz albums are poor enough as it is.
I've recently discovered this piece and am quite obsessed. I also found THIS wonderful essay on the work over at Mahlerfest.org. If you're a classical person, you'll enjoy the essay. If you're not that nerdy, just listen to the piece I've provided here.
If anyone has a version they prefer more than this, please respond. I listened to the few that are on youtube and am sharing the one that works for me.
Saturday, December 21, 2013
25. Jacco Gardner - Cabinet of Curiosities (Excelsior Recordings)
24. German Army - Burushaski (Belaten)
23. Steven R. Smith - Ending / Returning (Immune)
22. The Stranger - Watching Dead Cities Decay (Modern Love)
21. Darkside - Psychic (Matador)
20. Morphosis - Dismantle (Honest Jon's)
19. Tatsuya Nakatani & Shane Perlowin - Anatomy of a Moment (New Atlantis)
18. Burial - Truant / Rough Sleeper (Hyperdub)
17. Forest Swords - Engravings (TriAngle)
16. Demdike Stare - Test Pressings 1-4 (Modern Love)
15. The Thing - Boot! (The Thing Records)
14. Mind Over Mirrors - When the Rest are Up at Four (Immune)
13. Lonnie Holley - Just Before Music (Dust to Digital)
12. The Haxan Cloak - Excavation (Triangle)
11. Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds - Push the Sky Away (Bad Seeds Ltd.)
10. Boards of Canada - Tomorrow's Harvest (Warp)
9. Justin Walter - Lullabies and Nightmares (Kranky)
8. Pharmakon - Abandon (Sacred Bones)
7. Implodes - Recurring Dream (Kranky)
6. Oneohtrix Point Never - R Plus 7 (Warp)
5. Miles - Faint-hearted (Modern Love)
4. Wolf Eyes - No Answer: Lower Floors (De Stijl)
3. Deafheaven - Sunbather (Deathwish)
2. Cliff Martinez - Only God Forgives (Milan)
1. Huerco S. - Colonial Patterns (Software)
Friday, December 20, 2013
Each winter I seek out new records that fit that certain special mood. You know, dark and beautiful, foreboding yet hopeful, somber but bright. It looks like Camella Lobo's first release after going solo (Juan Mendez aka Silent Servant stepped down earlier in the year) is that record for me this season.
One characteristic my winner must have is that Faith / Pornography / 17 Seconds era Cure vibe. Well, the records starts off with just that. Sort of an 'All Cats are Grey' homage. From there it probably gets compared to Zola Jesus on the 'Stridulum' EP's most mellow and subtle cuts. One lovely aspect is how she uses her vocals as more of an instrument than an attempt to convey meaning. I prefer to think of this as an instrumental record because the music does stand alone. The slightly atonal guitar lines remind me of Blessure Grave, the bass is straight Simon Gallup, and the drum programming is just classic with a bit of tribal thrown in for good measure.
2013's good time goth platter.
Wednesday, December 18, 2013
Besides the fact that its incredibly good, I'm having trouble describing this cassette. LA act, German Army makes noisey coldwave synth pop? No, that's not enough, it also feels like ritual music from a space tribe. Maybe those supposed aliens that purportedly visited earth thousands of years ago? Of course, this sounds like you're watching the music on vhs. A retro-futuristic cyber dub? Maybe the aliens' ship crash landed at a resort in the South Pacific? Now, they're stuck for eternity, drinking on the beach like the Corona commercials, only their analog synthesizer brain implants allow them to record tape loops while inebriated. Yeah, that's it, and then, twenty years ago, David Lynch and Phillip K. Dick remix it and put it in a time capsule, only they don't bury it because all of this is happening simultaneously...in Manchester...in 1978...when Cabaret Voltaire smoked meth with Ray Bradbury while watching Donnie Darko on laserdisc. Bumbaclot.
Tuesday, December 17, 2013
This is one helluva couple of musicians. They're hardworking, ever touring, ever recording, and literally subsisting on music itself. How rare true musicians are these days. Well, here I offer up two fine specimens, with a duo recording that has sneaked into my favorite releases of 2013.
I've seen Nakatani and Perlowin play before. The frenetic improvisational energy that I was familiar with has been replaced with something far more enjoyable. This record is a string of compositions that somehow navigate a field of busy and dense percussion experiments underneath pastoral and meditative yet tense guitar lines. The result is predominantly somber and contemplative pieces, flowing effortlessly one to the next, shifting through a spectrum of emotions, creating a quite engaging narrative. This is a fine example of a new direction in modern music, unaffected by environment or expectations. Truly innovative material.
Monday, December 16, 2013
Buy this at Boomkat.
Sunday, December 15, 2013
In affiliation with LA's Beyond Fest, my latest favorite label, Death Waltz, who does vinyl re-issues of horror soundtracks, has issued an extremely limited amount of these scores on cassette:
A Field in England
Assault on Precinct 13
So, you'd better hurry if you're a tape nerd like me who wants these John Carpenter / Alan Howarth gems in a never before offered format.
Saturday, December 14, 2013
If you're an old techno head, you know Chain Reaction very well. In the 90's, Basic Channel duo (Moritz Von Oswald and Mark Ernestus) began a label to release as many dub techno club tracks as possible. Acts such as Monolake, Vladislav Delay and Porter Ricks became icons in the undeground. My favorite release was always Fluxion's 'Bipolar Defect' and now, thanks to TYPE, I finally have Fluxion's 1999 compilation 'Vibrant Forms' on vinyl. These are sprawling 4x4 cuts knee deep in a viscous and esoteric head trip. Beautiful epic minimal music for those who like to mentally cut a rug alone in their bedrooms.
Saturday, November 30, 2013
Wolf Eyes' Nate Young has released a solo album along the lines of his group's record earlier this year. The Harsh and punchy noise pioneers "grew up" on "No Answer:Lower Floors" in that they exchanged the need for song titles like "Stabbed in the Face" and blistering audio aggression for controlled yet frightening musicality. Hell, they even got a guitar player who actually knows how to play.
On "Blinding Confusion", Young takes this concept of control even further. His Sequential Circuits Pro One, synth lines, modules and percussion are incredibly subtle, even minimal. This is an eerily meandering journey through a 70's horror film sans camp factor plus musique concrete. The album is quite lush, creepy and intriguing in its simplicity.
I'm thoroughly enjoying this one on headphones in the dark.
Thursday, November 21, 2013
James Leyland Kirby is, without question, one of my most listened to artists of the past few years. His work as The Caretaker is akin to the static background music of my mind. Whereas that work invokes the ghosts of the Overlook Hotel ballroom, with its chopped and screwed 78's, his new work as The Stranger has a different cinematic feel.
This is like the bleakest scenes from Eraserhead. This is what it would sound like if Raime and Demdike Stare were proles working in a factory at night. The graveyard shift crew haggard and miserable, overworked and delirious. The ambience is their hallucinations, horrors fit for the dungeon they're in. The percussive elements are the proverbial whips to the back demanding the completion of this sixteen hour task. There is also a bit of Lustmord's "Metavoid" record, like plodding through a marsh knee deep in the muck, as in a nightmare when you have trouble walking. If you find beauty in masochistic doom and gloom, you'll love this one.
Friday, November 15, 2013
Someone wrote an article about my personal journey for truth in the decade that was my 20's. Ok, not really but its uncannily specific down to the fact that Coil and Coltrane are my two favorite musicians of all time. My personal affectations not withstanding, this is a wonderful piece. Enjoy.
Peter Bebergal celebrates the original synthesis of LSD with a thoughtful look at acid and transcendent magickal music. Read it HERE
Monday, November 11, 2013
"The Descent Of Man follows the creation, the evolution, and the eventual annihilation of mankind. Today, we find ourselves hoping to reverse the damage that we have done and struggling to sustain what little earth we have yet to rape repeatedly. We validate this existence with stories that justify our behavior and our role in the natural world. The promise of salvation in a land we have yet to see has clouded our judgment in a land that is right before our eyes. Industrialization, militarization, overpopulation, theism, specieism, and nihilism are regarded as evolution and progress. Our greed and ignorance have been celebrated and our past has been forgotten. We were meant to be a part of nature. We were not meant to conquer nature. We were given life and we have done everything in our power to bring death upon everything in our path, including ourselves. There will be horrifying consequences for what we have done.
For man has sown contempt, man shall reap a bitter end.
Let our bodies replenish this earth, for the true color of man has shown!"
Those are words from the band itself. Every once in a while a group of musicians reminds me that something actually matters. The Washington D.C. outfit Vestiges plays atmospheric blackened crust with a narrative that could double as the soundtrack to Derrick Jensen's book "Endgame".
Sit down with this one. No distractions. Just you and a record. Trust me. It will shake you to your core.
Download for free or donation HERE. You can also purchase the gorgeous gatefold vinyl there too.
Sunday, November 10, 2013
This year has seen the vinyl re-issue of a phenomenal and little known album. French musician Patrick Vian's "Bruits et temp Analogues" is improvisational jazz meeting synth rock for a journey into the unknown. Think early Tangerine Dream jamming with Soft Machine and Heldon, Conrad Schnitzler's bizarre noise experiments, and a deep prog groove, all held together by masterful percussion (Mino Cinelu of Gong, Miles Davis and Weather Report).
Vian plays Moog c2, ARP 2600, Moog sequencer and piano. Also joining him are Georges Granier on Rhodes and marimba, and Bernard Lavialle on electric guitar. This lineup emits deep droning psychedelic vibes, for an undeniable head trip. And incidentally, I can't stop looking at this album cover.
Here is a track by his other project as well:
Saturday, November 9, 2013
Earlier this year, Grant Evans, of Hooker Vision, unleashed a beast that wouldn't be conducive to his primary label. VAALD is his new venture, one that documents the lower depths of sound exploration.
Torn Birch, an anonymous project released as part of Evans' first batch of cassettes, is a mindbending listen. This is a narrative pastiche that surpasses music and noise, moving into pure emotion. Beginning in a vein reminiscent of the earliest Abruptum recordings, there are pangs of anguish in the vocals. Things later alternate between ambient, drone and noise, relaying a perfectly experimental bedroom black metal aesthetic. "Effigy" is a paradox of beauty and horror.
Sunday, November 3, 2013
UK mastermind Matthew Barnes is back. This time with a full length LP release. 2010's Dagger Paths EP was high on my year end list, and it looks like he'll make the finals again.
There are many misnomers or confusing tags we could lay on the man's music. I like to call it psychedelic r&b, pastoral folk, dub pastoral (as Tiny Mixtapes called it), or ghost box (for the true Brit nerds out there). Regardless, he is brilliant with loops and samples of his own very organic guitar, percussion, keys and voice. These are nostalgic and sensual droning pop structures that result in a futuristic sound that is his, and his alone. Forest Swords is occult, groovy, and introspective. Hip shaking music for the brain. Beauty and the bleak.
Listen to the full album:
Purchase the vinyl HERE
Sunday, October 27, 2013
I remember the day she played "Velvet Underground" for me on her cassette deck. She liked to play "Pale Blue Eyes" rewind it, and play it again. I remember she had the loveliest blue eyes. We were sixteen, playing pool in her parents basement. It was a cold day. I had an upset stomach. She was pretty and made me nervous. We should have been doing homework. I just wanted to kiss her. Hours later I finally put my arm around her. We were looking at a book about art history. She liked Modigliani. I kissed her. I asked her to flip the tape. I liked "Murder Mystery". She thought it was weird. I remember everything about that day. Thanks, Lou.
Thursday, October 24, 2013
Recently, Crash Symbols has become one of the best cassette labels in the business, and with this release, they've secured their place in my upper echelon of fine repertoires. Aria Rostami's "Decades / Peter" quickly struck a chord with me. The lush and dense walls of sound are punctuated with subtle IDM rhythms, calling to mind late 90's UK artists (particularly Arovane and Casino Versus Japan) experimenting with beautiful ambience and clusters of beats. There is a strong narrative here. One could easily assume it to be a soundtrack for an epic film. This recording is very lovely, provocative and mature, with sounds so crisp and clean I had to read the liner notes immediately. It was a pleasant surprise to see that Taylor Dupree mastered it. What a package! I'm playing this one on repeat.
Check it out and buy the cassette:
From Crash Symbols Bandcamp:
"Hailing from San Francisco, producer Aria Rostami's music draws from the rhythms of the Bay and the creative landscape formed by the area's interlocking communities and climates, though his influences are varied; IDM to classical to noise, as well as ideas from world music, both contemporary and traditional. Decades/Peter collects two related sets of recordings, two dynamic concepts that play off of one another, though Rostami's work is normally highly narrative based thanks to his cinematic and literary influences. Peter is an aural distallation of his relationship with a former collaborator, written in his memory, and meant to encompass both his and the composer's identity, as well as their intersection. Peter represents a more open ended collection of songs, particularly tinted by Rostami's childhood love of video games. Decades was made as its deliberate antithesis. According to him, whereas Peter 'croons with vocals and strings,' Decades 'grinds and falls apart in lush ambiance and static,' though the thread of Rostami's identity runs throughout. Together, they serve as a compelling introduction to the producer's burgeoning body of work and conceptual repertoire."
Wednesday, October 23, 2013
The chill in the mountain air signifies an annual return to the dark side. Tis the season for a cold, numb, masochistic aesthetic. I'll still be reviewing many genres, just don't be surprised to see mostly melancholy and blackness up in here til around late March.
Veil of Light is a solo project from Switzerland. This cassette reveals no surprises, and it doesn't reinvent the wheel. He worships Faith / Pornography era Cure, nods to 13th Chime, and throws in some Death in June albeit without the questionable lyrical content. VOL is definitely in the same revival camp as Blessure Grave, with its self-pity and self-hatred right up there with the best black metal subject matter. Similarly to The Soft Moon, what distinguishes this act for me is the guitar. This guy really knows how to play. Sometimes the musical skill in this genre is forgiven when the vibe is delivered so well. Not so here. Nothing is sacrificed.
Incidentally, the Belaten label is really cooking at the moment. Its run by ritual ambient / industrial artist Thomas Martin Ekelund. Check out his latest mix for Secret Thirteen:
Tuesday, October 22, 2013
I don't know about you but for the past few years I've felt lost in a sea of psych an kraut revival bands. Trying to dig through all of it has become rather tedious. There are hundreds of acts in this vein, emulating the past, trying to be trippy, trying to be different, trying to sound exactly like something from the 60's... My point is that they're merely trying, and entirely too hard. It exhausts me.
Well, here's a new one that's not trying. It just IS. Asheville's Nest Egg rises from the ashes of Soft Opening, a long running heavy psych / experimental group. The new venture sees them burning through mostly uptempo motorik jams, with a flawlessly executed repetitive groove. The aesthetic is minimal yet explosive. No one else is doing it like these fellows. I haven't been this excited about a rock outfit in a long time. This demo is captured on half inch tape because... they wouldn't have it any other way. Check out samples of the band below. If you're interested in gripping this sweet reel, email firstname.lastname@example.org
Check them out on tour NOW:
10/21 pilot light Knoxville
10/22 open. Book us
10/23 green lantern Lexington
10/24 Burlington Chicago
10/25 magnetic south Bloomington
10/26 cincy psych fest
10/27 the moth light asheville with cave
Come hang out.
Also check out their first LP:
Sunday, October 20, 2013
The Death Waltz label is quite possibly the coolest thing happening in the vinyl world. This UK label is reissuing horror and sci fi soundtracks on high quality wax with beautiful and elaborate custom artwork. John Carpenter's score for his B-movie masterpiece is still stunning thirty years later. Now we can hear it the way true analog geeks are supposed to. Last ye we received Vangelis' Bladerunner score on wax and now this? Be still my beating heart. DO grab this fast! Death Waltz only presses extremely limited quantities. Don't miss out.
Well, well, well... Look everyone, I'm back. Its been four months since my last post and I'm eternally sorry. I've been very busy for a while. Between promoting shows and working on my record label (plug plug Headway Recordings), I've not been able to sit around and wax nerdy a la musique.
So here's the way its going to work from now on: I won't be writing at length about albums. The point will be simply turning you on to albums. I feel that its important to share what I like, even if I don't have time to ramble on about why you should pay your rent late and buy that record now before its out of print.
A couple side notes... I'm very excited about my label's latest LP release:
Also, if you're in Asheville on Halloween, check out my vinyl event...
Posted by Christopher Ballard at 11:45 AM
Wednesday, June 12, 2013
Happenings of 1993:
Czechoslovakia ceases to exist when it splits into the Czech Republic and Slovakia.
Bill Clinton is sworn is as the 42nd President of the United States.
Six people are killed at the World Trade Center in New York City when a bomb in a van explodes in a parking garage.
The Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas is raided by agents of the Bureaus of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms. The raid was intended to arrest Branch Davidian leader David Koresh on firearm charges. In the botched raid 5 Davidians and 4 BATF agents die. It leads to a 51 day standoff.
President Clinton announces his "Don't ask, don't tell" policy about gays in the military.
Lorena Bobbitt cuts off the penis of her husband John Bobbitt in Manassas, Virginia.
Israeli Prime Minister Yitzak Rabin shakes hands with PLO leader Yasser Arafat in Washington, DC after signing a peace agreement.
I can't believe that was twenty years ago. A lot of pretty significant world events occurred. What did I care? It was the summer of my 18th year. I was finally hanging out with girls and I was completely obsessed with music. I spent Sunday nights hanging out watching MTV's '120 Minutes' as Lewis Largent rambled on, feeding my brain with all the useless information I am now known for caring too much about.
So without further ado, here is my soundtrack to that summer. First is a list of the songs (in no particular order), then a youtube playlist of all of them. Clean your house to this mix. I'm sure there will be a moment in which you'll stop, suddenly overwhelmed by a particular memory. Enjoy:
Bjork - Human Behavior
Tool - Prison Sex
Nirvana - Heart-shaped Box
The Posies - Dream All Day
Afghan Whigs - Gentlemen
Mazzy Star - Fade Into You
Smashing Pumpkins - Cherub Rock
Slowdive - When the Sun Hits
James - Laid
Morphine - Cure for Pain
Type O Negative - Summer Breeze
Cracker - Low
Digable Planets - Rebirth of Slick
Janet Jackson - That's the Way Love Goes
Wu Tang Clan - Method Man
Ice Cube - It Was a Good Day
Radiohead - Stop Whispering
Frank Black - Los Angeles
Catherine Wheel - Crank
Seefeel - Moodswing
Thursday, June 6, 2013
Franco Falsini first gained notoriety with his progressive rock / experimental outfit 'Sensations Fix' in the early 70's. They signed to Polydor in '74 with whom they released several albums. Falsini's work was out of print for many years until John Elliot reissued the album 'Naso Fredo' (Cold Nose). Of all this material, Falsini shines the most on his solo debut, the soundtrack to a scarcely seen film that warned of the dangers in cocaine abuse.
This is blissful and lovely music with minimal conflict or tension. If anything, it seems to me the coke warning might have the adverse effect, because if this is what coke sounds like, most people unfamiliar with the drug might be inspired to investigate it!
An album in three movements, the basic setup is simple: Frippish experimental guitars, undulating bass, and various subtly used synths, such as ems and minimoog. He presents a meditative narrative, a journey through astral layers of the 70's 'out there' aesthetic. Fans of acts like Ash Ra Tempel, Brainticket or Cosmic Jokers will dig its trippy and peaceful, yet flawlessly executed delivery.
Falsini has effected many genres of music around the world for nearly 40 years. The first time I heard of him was when investigating DJ Shadow's samples on his 'Private Press' record back in '02. Now this album has been reissued by John Elliot and Peter Rehberg at Spectrum Spools. Chill out with this one. Put your head between two speakers and mellow.
Read full review of Cold Nose - Franco Falsini on Boomkat.com ©
Monday, June 3, 2013
For the last several years, Jon Porras and Evan Caminiti have been very busy fellows. With four Barn Owl records between them, as well as a few respective solo records, its a wonder they've kept up the pace as they have. The two guitarists create sprawling landscapes of desert drone, with the last collective effort feeling as though they were possessed by the spirits of Morricone and Earth but through the hands of Eno.
With their fifth collaborative album, V, they've moved in a new direction. The guitars are still there but the duo finds itself exploring keyboards and synth tones. The mood is more melancholy and pensive than before. Its still desert wasteland but this trip is at night and the aesthetic calls to mind more of Steve Roach or Lustmord than it does Italo western scores. V also feels more experimental and less controlled with a bit of improvisation. Regardless of the shift, they're still able to create the reflective intimacy we've come to recognize them for. I'm looking forward to where this new direction takes them.
Read full review of V - BARN OWL on Boomkat.com ©
Posted by Christopher Ballard at 12:06 PM
Sunday, May 26, 2013
So there's this box set... 16 DVD's of amazing. Coil is my favorite modern music act. The closest to my heart. After Jhon Balance passed in 2004 and the band was obsolete, Sleazy released this incredible document. Its 14 DVD's of live shows anywhere from 1983 to 2004, culminating with 2 DVD's that contain the visual projections from these shows accompanied by the studio versions of many songs (a greatest hits, as it were). Most importantly, there is over 5 hours of music.
You can download these 2 DVD's for free and legally HERE or just stream them on youtube below. Enjoy. Sheer bliss...
Last note: Its fun to check out the ones for sale on DISCOGS. They sell for a mere $2069.68