Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Ryan Teague - Block Boundaries (Village Green, 2014)

I am absolutely in love with this record. I was going to write about it but I accidentally read Boomkat's review and realized it perfectly encapsulated all my thoughts regarding it:

"‘Block Boundaries’ is the new album from minimalist composer Ryan Teague, building on his previous releases for Type, Sonic Pieces, and current label Village Green. Inspired by the theme of Psychogeography, the record fuses acoustic instrumentation with electronic and processed material, taking the listener on a hallucinogenic Ballardian journey through from the thrumming urban activity of New York, Amsterdam and London. Brooding opener "Site & Situation" sets the tone with hypnotic guitar and mallet chimes, emotive cello swells and surging bass synth, 'Last Known Position' comes on like a lost Tangerine Dream jam session, spiraling arpeggios and oscillating pulses, while 'Liminal Space' introduces driving percussion around mesmeric synth pulses and a shimmering piano progression. Closer 'End Of The Line ' brings the journey to an end in an introspective mood - a wavering synth figure cut against wistful drone washes that fade into the distance. 'Block Boundaries' is a masterful achievement of melody, form and texture that rewards more with every captivated listen and will assuredly secure Ryan Teague's place alongside his acclaimed contemporaries such as Nils Frahm, Jon Hopkins, Emeralds and Hauschka."

Yeah, I don't know if you're a fan of J.G. Ballard's work but, for my money, ya just can't beat a "Ballardian" journey through anywhere.

Block Boundaries from Leona Kadijević on Vimeo.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Psychonaut 4 - Have a Nice Trip (CS, Depressive Illusions, 2012)

The music of Psychonaut 4 has just about everything black metal could possibly offer: midtempo rhythms, classic blasts, downtempo shoegaze infusion and tremelo riffs. Graf, the vocalist, even comes equipped with onstage self-mutilation and bloodletting (assuring DSBM authenticity), and has an interesting hybrid of all three waves of black metal lineage. As the band hails from the nation of Georgia, there is even an accordion track steeped in traditional Russian folk music. This is a raw feeling album that has a studio quality. I think it's a nice package.

Since the cassette was released on a very underground Ukrainian label, good luck finding it. In the meantime, enjoy the streams below:

My Favorite 50 Albums of 2014

Each year I write a Top 25 list and sometimes it's difficult to compile that many albums I'm actually excited about. This year, the only problem was that there were so many albums I was ecstatic about, I had to do a list of my Top 50. It was a great and very refreshing 52 Tuesdays. I'll also add that it might just be my most diverse list ever. So without further adieu...

50. Call Super - Suzi Ecto (Five Easy Pieces)

49. Xosar - Immured (Valcrond Video)

48. Karen Gwyer - New Roof (No Pain in Pop)

47. Tinariwen - Emmar (ANTI-)

46. Perc - The Power and the Glory (Perc Trax)

45. Oake - Auferstehung (Downwards)

44. Kemper Norton - Loor (Front and Follow)

43. Klara Lewis - Ett (Editions Mego)

42. D'Angelo & The Vanguard - Black Messiah (RCA)

41. Theo Parrish - American Intelligence (Sound Signature)

40. Dalhous - The Will to be Well (Blackest Ever Black)

39. Russell Haswell - 37 Minute Workout (Diagonal)

38. Merkabah - Moloch (Instant Classic)

37. Lawrence English - Wilderness of Mirrors (Room 40)

36. Shinichi Atobe - Butterfly Effect (Demdike Stare)

35. The Soft Pink Truth - Why Do the Heathen Rage (Thrill Jockey)

34. The Body - I Shall Die Here (RVNG Intl)

33. Kangding Ray - Solens Arc (Raster Noton)

32. Cut Hands - Festival of the Dead (Blackest Ever Black)

CUT HANDS from URSSS on Vimeo.

31. Akkord - HTH020 (Houndstooth)

30. Positive Centre - In Silent Series (Our Circula Sound)

29. A Winged Victory for the Sullen (Kranky)

28. Puce Mary - Persona (Posh Isolation)

27. Neneh Cherry - Blank Project (Smalltown Supersound)

26. Caribou - Our Love (MERGE)

25. Actress - Ghettoville (Werkdiscs / Ninja Tune)

24. Leyland Kirby Presents V/VM - The Death of a Rave: Partial Flashback (History Always Favors         the Winners)

23. Pharmakon - Bestial Burden (Sacred Bones)

22. Lussuria - Industrial Illuminato (Hospital Productions)

21. Jessie Ware - Tough Love (Island Records)

20. Martial Cantarel - Gyors, Lassu (Dais)

19. Lee Gamble - Koch (Pan)

18. Bohren & Der Club of Gore - Piano Nights (PIAS)

17. Einsturzende Neubauten - Lament (BMG)

16. Shabazz Palaces - Lesse Majesty (Sub Pop)

15. Cooly G - Wait 'Til Night (Hyperdub)

14. Woods of Desolation - As the Stars (Northern Silence Productions)

13. Kerridge - A Fallen Empire (Downwards)

12. Kall - S/T (Self-released)

11. Kassem Mosse - Workshop 19 (Workshop)

10. The Inward Circles AKA Richard Skelton - Nimrod Is Lost In Orion And Osyris In The         Doggestarre (Self-released)

09. Wrekmeister Harmonies - Then It All Came Down (Thrill Jockey)

08. Fennesz - Becs (Editions Mego)

07. Ben Frost - AURORA (Bedroom Community)

06. Dean Blunt - Black Metal (Rough Trade)

05. Death Blues - Ensemble (Rhythmplex)

04. Black Rain - Dark Pool (Blackest Ever Black)

03. Andy Stott - Faith in Strangers (Modern Love)

02. Ekoplekz - Unfidelity (Planet Mu)

01. Mica Levi - Under the Skin OST (Rough Trade)

This lady is blowing my mind lately. Not only is this the most wonderfully creepy soundtrack I've heard in ages, but her cassette that just came out on Demdike Stare's label is absolutely brilliant. She seems to be blowing up and I wish her all the success.


Label of the year:

Blackest Ever Black

Concert of the year:

Tim Hecker at Big Ears March 28

Thank you for reading. I would greatly appreciate any feedback you have to offer.


Oh and my song of the year is this...

Monday, October 13, 2014

R.I.P. Mark Bell

I'm really sad to announce that Mark Bell has passed away due to complications from surgery. An electronic pioneer with his work as one half of LFO, his genre bending of house with techno was ahead of the game, and he was one of my favorite album producers of the 90's. Bjork has kept him aboard since he produced her "Homogenic" album. He will be soreley missed.

And...well, Fucking LFO, y'all!!!

Friday, October 3, 2014

R.I.P. Stephen Samuel Gordon AKA The Spaceape

Unfortunately, many of you reading my blog may not be familiar with this name. However, his monolithic voice has appeared on many tracks from the London based Hyperdub label, a massively relevant voice in modern electronic music.

His spoken word appears on what I believe to be one of the most important releases of modern times, Burial's debut album in 2006. That eponymous track, like the rest of the album, does not age. It is timeless. It gets stuck in my head on a regular basis. This news is absolutely crushing. And just before the release of a new ep of his work with Kode9, just released this week.

This from Hyperdub's Facebook page:

We are devastated to announce that on Thursday 2nd October, Stephen Samuel Gordon aka The Spaceape, vocalist, poet and live performer, passed away peacefully after a 5 year struggle with a rare form of cancer. He leaves behind his wife Luciana and 6 year old daughter, Cleo. His first release was the 1st release on Hyperdub, 'Sine of the Dub' in 2004 with Kode9, with whom he also released 2 albums, Memories of the Future (2006) and Black Sun (2011). In 2012 he also self-released the Xorcism EP, appeared on the track 'Spaceape' on Burial's debut album in 2006, and also collaborated with The Bug, Martyn, Jerry Dammers, Redshape, Dub Gabriel, the Echologist and more. Last Monday he released his new EP with Kode9, 'Killing Season' including the video 'Devil is a Liar' which was filmed in July 2014. Our sincere condolences go out to his family and friends, and all who have been touched by his writings and performances. His Hyperdub family will always miss him.

Take a listen to this mind melting track. Eight years old and it still sounds like the future.

And this is the video from the upcoming release.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

John Coltrane - Offering: Live at Temple University,1966 (Resonance, 2014)

Today is my Holy Day, my only holy day. Sept. 23, 1926, my hero, John Coltrane,was born, and there is no better gift to the world than a never before released live concert. This show was unearthed in 2005 and sees its first proper christening today by (Resonance Records).

Recorded just months before his death, This Philly show saw Trane pushing all limits. His health was declining and he knew the end was nigh. Mind you, this is a year or so after McCoy Tyner told someone that Trane was playing so hard that blood was spewing from his mouth. At one point, he removes the sax and begins chanting, and changing vocalization by beating his chest. This was at the point where he felt he had pushed the instrument to its furthest extent, and the only maneuver beyond was to cut out the middle man and push from the depths of his diaphragm.

As far out as he gets here, with Alice Coltrane, Rashied Ali, Pharoah Sanders and a crew of Philly based percussionists, he returns to finish with his rendition of "My Favorite Things", a fan favorite. The drastic departure from the extremes to finish with this was FOR his fans. He never forgot that his spiritual quest could never have launched and finished without those people that loved him.

Trane's body was dying, and the end was soon. He didn't succeed or fail, because,as he would have told you, there is no beginning or end, just the journey.

Recorded November 11, 1966
Mitten Hall, Temple University
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Featured Artists: John Coltrane – soprano & tenor saxophones, flute & vocals

Pharoah Sanders – tenor saxophone & piccolo

Alice Coltrane – piano Sonny Johnson – bass

Rashied Ali – drums

Additional musicians include: Steve Knoblauch, Arnold Joyner – alto saxophone Umar Ali, Algie DeWitt, Robert Kenyatta – percussion

Resonance Records, which is a 501 (c)(3) non-profit foundation, will contribute a portion from every sale to the John Coltrane Home (, an organization devoted to the preservation of Coltrane’s former home in Dix Hills, New York.


Disc One
01. Naima (16:28)
02. Crescent (26:11)

Disc Two
03. Leo (21:29)
04. Offering (4:19)
05. My Favorite Things (23:18)

Side A
Naima (16:28)

Side B
Crescent (26:11)

Side C
Leo (21:29)

Side D Offering (4:19) My Favorite Things (23:18)

Monday, September 22, 2014

Nils Frahm - Screws (Erased Tapes, 2012)

I'm welcoming autumn with this wonderfully melancholy piano album from a very gifted composer. In fact, I've listened to it a dozen times today.

 Just before it was released, Nils Frahm had broken his thumb. In the despair and fear that naturally came from such an incident, he set off to record a piece each night, before bed. Over the course of nine nights, with nine fingers, and a single microphone, he overcame the seemingly monumental setback, resulting in an improvisational opus of extraordinary beauty. These sparse and intimate portraits, spanning a mere twenty-eight minutes, are powerful, combining the spirit of Satie with some of the best new age piano recordings in the modern compositional canon.

Though he initially released the recording as a free download, not thinking it was worth much at all, he couldn't have been more wrong. I'm deeply moved by this half hour of troubled and beautiful sketches. I hope you will be too.

Below, I've also included some of his other work, so as to showcase his versatility. Be sure to watch the last video, "All Melody" to appreciate his electronic sensibility as well. Enjoy.

New Album Coming from One of My Favorite Artists on My Favorite Record Label.

As you may know, I have a Modern Love addiction. The Manchester label has been running my life for the past few years, and I've just come to accept it. Their somewhat commercially successful artist is Andy Stott. His last album, "Luxury Problems" was my favorite album of 2012.

The new album (Nov. 17) is to be a similar outing in aesthetic, but will include some vocal pop structure more traditional than on the last record. The press release states: “straddles analogue club music and vocal pop songs, somewhere between Ron Hardy, Prefab Sprout, Dome, Actress, Cocteau Twins and Arthur Russell.”

I'm enjoying the sample track. See what you think:

Thursday, September 18, 2014

R.I.P. Kenny Wheeler (1930-2014)

The great Canadian jazz trumpeter has passed away. His work in the 90's moved me heavily, particularly with the album "Angel Song", a masterfully melancholy outing released by ECM. He was joined by Bill Frisell, Lee Konitz and Dave Holland, a lineup that, for my money, couldn't be beat. I cherish this as one of my all time favorites. With the sadness of his passing, no music could be more appropriate.

Survival Unit III: Game Theory (Not Two, 2013)

"Joe McPhee: Not selling out since 1967". This was something I jokingly said to a friend a few years ago. Luckily, it still stands. McPhee is 74 years old and continues to shine. He is one of the oldest American jazz icons. You many know him from his work with a multitude of musicians: Pauline Oliveros' "Deep Listening Band", Peter Brotzmann, William Parker, Ken Vandermark, Evan Parker, Mats Gustafson, Jeb Bishop, The Thing, etc. He is a good example of the effect American jazz has had on Europe. Due to his success there, he's never had to sign to a major American label.

With the latest project, he continues to explore. This time, in a phenomenal trio that includes Michael Zerang on drums, and Fred Lonberg-Holm on electronics. "Game Theory" is four tracks of predominantly reserved and controlled experiments. Though intense and busy, it still comes across as meditative, i.e., minimal on the "Brotzmann Bursts". These three know each other extremely well and they definitely push the limits of control. Forward thinking music doesn't get any better than this.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Demdike Stare - The Weight of Culture (Self-released, 2013) CS

One of the finest architects of modern experimental music, the duo of Miles Whittaker and Sean Canty, offers a sampling of crate digging tastes and its even far better than you'd expect.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Call Super - Depicta / Acephale II (Houndstooth, 2014)

JR Seaton is back with a couple of serious burners. Side A is a finely honed kick in the ribs of a groove, one that is getting straight to the dancefloor with no bullshit. Side B is a bit spacey and organic but it's not wasting too much time fucking around either. I'm really feeling both.

"Call Super comes back to Fabric X Rob Booth's Houndstooth label with two melancholic, uniquely textured techno drivers. 'Depicta' turns out a tuffened 4/4 groove rent with finely layered harmonics and bristling with atomised electronic structures bound to sound amazing on a big rig. 'Acephale II' is a shade deeper, riding clipped, muffled kicks and fizzing percussion into blue, atmospheric synth zones recalling '90s classics from The Connection Machine or early PAS and The Black Dog." -Boomkat

Saturday, July 12, 2014

R.I.P. Charlie Haden

Where do I begin? I don't know. Maybe "The Shape of Jazz to Come"? How do you even talk about such an amazing person? What's there to say about someone who actually "shaped jazz to come"?

As I age, many of my icons are passing away, and even though he was 76, it still hurts. This is a monumental loss. Just take a look at his discography. Read it slowly, take it all in. It will make your head spin.

This is one of the most gigantic figures in the history of music. He will be greatly missed.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

An Autumn for Crippled Children - Try Not To Destroy Everything You Love (Aeternitas Tenebrarum Musicae Fundamentum, 2013)

I'm currently digging this band from The Netherlands. Yes, their name is too long (it's taken from a song title by the 90's UK black metal band Ebonylake) . Yes, it's dramatic, and so is the album title. Yes, I love it anyway.

Essentially, its shoegazey black metal / black gaze / whatever stupid name people end up giving especially atmospheric metal. Most of you hatefully refer to it as hipster metal but, hey, don't forget that some folks still refer to your precious WIITR with the same animosity.

Regardless, this is beautiful and blissful darkness. Enjoy.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Merryl / Flex 1000 - Split CS (New Body, 2014)

Merryl's (Asheville) side begins with a deep warbling that deconstructs / constructs / reconstructs into some sort of slow viscous pulse. The scab is scratched off to reveal a narcotic four on the floor beat . For lucid ketamine dreaming on the dance floor.

Flex 1000's (Baltimore) side starts off with chaotic loops and noisy stabs that gives way to a rough punkish techno beat reminiscent of some of the intense late 90's Belgian dance scene with a hint of Empire's digital hardcore. There are vocals in there somewhere, buried in this beautiful muck. The second piece is a creepy low end slow burner. A synth loop base with horrifically inane vocals with a sudden shift, resulting in a bright Conrad Schnitzleresque high frequency finale.

This release is from the relatively new tape label called New Body out of Boone, NC.
New Body tapes can be ordered HERE

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Swans - To Be Kind (Young God, 2014)

A few days ago, I finally sat down and listened to this two hour long epic. I had been skeptical. I thought there was no way they had the stamina to keep it up. I hadn't listened because I didn't want to be disappointed.

I was wrong... so wrong. This album is, once again, perfect. This incarnation of Swans over the past three albums is the greatest rock collective of all time. The utmost at conveying in musical terms, the beauty and brutality of human existence.

I wanted to write a review but after reading Adam Kivel's review for Consequence of Sound, I changed my mind. I can't touch his. He absolutely nailed it. I strongly urge you to read his thoughts HERE.

Here is Gaspar Noe's film "Enter the Void" with the complete "To Be Kind" album as the score:

Swans - To Be Kind [2014] + Enter The Void - Gaspar Noé [2009] (EXP EDT) from Raphael Mandra on Vimeo.

Jackie McLean On Mars

             John Coltrane with Jackie Mclean, Van Gelder Studio, Hackensack, NJ 1957. By Esmond Edwards

This is a very inspiring documentary on one of my favorite Jazz musicians. Good tunes and really positive dialog from a master of his craft. If you're unfamiliar, check out my review of one of the best records ever made, right HERE.

Jackie McLean on Mars from Ken Levis on Vimeo.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

King Tubby Presents: Niney the Observer - Dubbing with the Observer (Attack, 1975 / Greensleeves, 2014)

If you're like me, every time there is an Osbourne Rudduck reissue, your reaction is "yeah yeah yada yada, more of the same". Well, give this one a shot. It's a nice mix of all the nuances that make his work so important. There are many moods and tempos represented here.

Originally released on the Attack label in England in 1975, and reissued by Greensleeves a few months back, this stand-alone dub album features heavy and stark one-drop rhythms as well as some bouncy Bunny Lee. Most of the tracks are from songs by Dennis Brown. This is a fun one. Atonal dissonance in parts, some really uptempo joints and even a killer tom-based funk jam. It's quite refreshing. This is definitely going to be a staple of my summer repertoire.

BASS: Fully Fullwood, Flabba Holt,Familyman Barrett
DRUMS: Santa Davis, Carlton Barrett
GUITAR: Chinna Smith, Tony Smith, Bingy Bunny
KEYBOARDS: Keith Sterling, Gladdy Anderson
HORNS: Bobby Ellis, Tommy McCook, Vin Gordon
PERCUSSION: Skully Production for Niney The Observer - Dubbing With The Observer
RECORDED AT: Dynamic, Channel One, Federal, Randys, Joe Gibbs, Harry J
MIXED BY: King Tubby

Saturday, May 10, 2014

HTRK - Psychic 9-5 Club (Ghostly International, 2014)

So I'm a longtime fan of this band. I adore them. I can't praise them enough except to say that their new record exceeds my expectations. The aesthetic hasn't changed much but the drum programming and overall recording techniques have drastically improved. This is a seductive, sensual, and gnarly record of bass, synth, guitar and beats, mixed with equal parts heartache and longing. I absolutely love it.

You can read my review of a previous album as well as my in depth description of them HERE  and stream a playlist of this record here:

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Murmur - S/T (Season of Mist, 2014)

Chicago metal band Murmur has returned with an eponymous sophomore effort that is nothing less than brilliant. To be honest, it took me off guard. The diversity of styles is overwhelming, the playing is loose yet polished, and the theme shows a great deal of growth and maturity.

This could be a tricky one for those of you that find the avant garde aesthetic a bit much to handle. The record begins with a wash of ambient free improvisation, launches into a traditional blast beat, then cycles through experimental waves of progressive (yes, King Crimson), 80's, tribal polyrhythms, acoustic, noise, jazz, and post-rock. They even break down a 70's hard rock ballad. Vocals are blackened, occasionally clean melodic harmonies, and some atonal rants, although the bulk of the album is instrumental.

What strikes me is that even though packing all of this into the same recording sounds as if it would be too busy and math rock'ish, it is not. Murmur's delivery still feels casual and uncomplicated. Most notably, this may be the most interesting metal drummer I've heard in years. At times, due to his style, it's easy to forget this is a metal record at all.

I must admit, I've never been much on prog, yet my heightened sensitivity levels came through unscathed.
This feels more like a lush and fantastic voyage through a faraway--Wait... I think the prog elements just drugged me.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Kuedo - Severant (Planet Mu, 2011)

I really don't know how I missed this one until today. When it came out in 2011, I was obsessing over Daniel Lopatin's research into obscure 80's new age and computer music videos on his Sunset Corps Youtube Channel. His own sample based music, Oneohtrix Point Never, is currently my favorite art project. The nostalgia and sensory overload of my own childhood memories are tapped into each time I listen to his material. It causes a flood of near synesthesia. One that I welcome whole-heartedly.

Kuedo, which naturally makes me think of Kodo, has a similar aesthetic but is driving and is an IDM of sorts. Its as if Vangelis is making experimental trap, synth house and future garage. In fact, Kuedo even samples from the Bladerunner soundtrack. There is nothing special or innovative here, but if you grew up in the 80's, were a fan of any new age at the time, and are into contemporary UK dance music, I guarantee you'll dig this.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

R.I.P. Robert Ashley

I have a vivid memory of Dec. 26, 2000. It was a slow day at the record store so I decided to dig through a bin of $3 used cd's. The three I ended up taking home were life altering: Jim O'rourke's 'Bad Timing', Morton Feldman's 'Rothko Chapel' and Robert Ashley's 'Superior Seven/Tract'. The latter two I picked simply with a gut feeling due to the covers. I didn't expect that I would go home and listen to new favorite composers.

Robert Ashley was an American experimental composer. He reinvented opera and theatre by fusing electronics into the work. He was also a pioneer in audio synthesizer technology itself. He leaves behind quite a legacy with eleven operas and numerous films. Fans of modern minimal composition take note, especially you youngins' who dig Oneohtrix Point Never. You'll find that Daniel Lopatin is a big fan.

I urge you to investigate this vast and wonderful body of work. My favorites are below:

Friday, February 28, 2014

GNOD - Chaudeland (Rocket Recordings,2011)

One of the most relevant groups of the past decade, the collective GNOD was formed in Manchester around 2006. The rotating cast makes predominantly live music, recording in single takes with raw production techniques. A meaningful improvisational aspect is rarely successful these days, and is a large part of their appeal. They are extremely prolific, releasing many singles, albums, cdr's and splits.

Given the need to label a project, I'd have to put them in the Krautrock category. However, this label is very limiting due to their experimental creative apparatus. The two volumes of Chaudeland in particular, run a gamut of styles. Dark and sludgy, metallic and driving kraut rhythms give way to acid-drenched neo-folk with the ramblings of a guru / madman / asthete. The essential process of meditation follows soon afterward, with a real introspection reminiscent of a Jodorowsky presentation. Droning through to the other side , GNOD is a serious and believable operation. Nothing feels like trickery.

I'm growing more and more irritated with all the upstarts being labeled psychedelic these days. I think such misnomer is growing tiresome to many. You want a contemporary band that takes you places? Here ya go. If music is still capable of expanding your mind, this crew is your best bet.

I'm going to go ahead and say, shamelessly, that if you are attending Austin Psych Fest 2014, DO NOT MISS the most relevant band there this year.

Below are youtube clips of the full Chaudeland sessions:

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

R.I.P. Bob Casale of DEVO.

Bob Casale, an original member of Devo has passed away of heart failure at the age of 61. Words can't express what a surprise and loss this is. They were contemplating more shows soon. His work has left an indelible mark on most people I know and much of the world. So sad.

R.I.P. Wayne Smith

Recently I've been obsessed with Reggae that was produced at the beginning of the digital age. Enamored with those Casio beats, I've been researching many different riddims. In 1984, while working with King Jammy, Wayne Smith stumbled across a pattern in a Casio MT-40 home keyboard. In their capable hands, the pattern became 'Under Mi Sleng Teng', and wasa huge hit across Jamaican soundsystems, thus launching the digital dancehall revolution.

Today, Wayne Smith has passed away. His manipulation of the artistic 'accident' will not be forgotten. I can't get enough of it. This late 80's sound just continues to blow my mind. For the unfamiliar, I've cited some examples below:

Here's a latter version of the riddim by Cocoa Tea that happens to be my favorite:

And a killer 45 / 12" dj mix of digital riddims recently performed by Raime:

Sunday, February 16, 2014

We Like Cats - Proper Eats (Marriage, 2010)

Winter got you down? Need a little pick me up? Maybe some dub music for cats will soothe you. Yes, a record of dub entirely dedicated to and about cats. The most ridiculous part of this is the artists who made it. It's the brainchild of the Kranky Records hazy blazey dance droner Adam Forkner (White Rainbow, All things pizza-related), alongside the lovely Honey Owens (Valet) and Eva Salens (Inca Ore).

I'm not gonna lie...its not good. Generic tape delay, misplaced samples of air horns, random samples of some guy saying "rastafari", and off kilter edits... ok, yeah, its just bad, but guaranteed to make you laugh. With lyrics like "I like cats that can slam dunk" and song titles like "Ruff-a-lution Dub", it's no doubt tongue in cheek. Plus, it bombed.

I applaud you if you can make it through the whole recording. This is not purrfect dub but I enjoy the fact that they got high enough to sit around and jam on this. Then they thought it was an even better idea to let others hear it. Wow.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Random Access Memory

Little did I know, one of my favorite shows in 1985 would have a direct effect on my strange tastes in music. I didn't actually remember this scene but I'm sure it was floating around somewhere in the back of my brain. This is pure nerd happiness. Relish in the nostalgia with me. 

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Actress - Ghettoville (Werk Discs, 2014)

"The machines have turned to stone, data reads like an obituary to its user." This was the press release accompanying this latest and supposedly final album from the brilliant mind of Darren Cunningham. And from the reaction of most fans and critics, the end has come none too soon.

 'Ghettoville' is a bit of a departure from the fun yet avant garde outings of 'Splazsh' and 'R.I.P.' His self-described 'R&B Concrete' as well as his heady lo-fi house jams have been replaced with stark, bleak, and utterly dystopian codes. Some nearly beatless, these intentionally numb melodies are held together by the thread of a drum. This is a laudanum funk, with its soul buried lazily beneath minimal breaks and lackadaisical samples. The dancefloor is still represented. Several four on the floor tracks are present. But this time they feel like a specter. The dust and sweat have long since settled, the dj standing in the booth reminiscing that final night. Ultimately, this just feels like something that would have been cozier over at Modern Love.At first listen, I wondered if Cunningham had a love child with Leyland Kirby and it was just still on the downlow.

 I'm opposed to the critics on this one. Here we have a good final document. Cunningham warned us that Actress was dead. Its possible that after being hailed as a golden child for eight years, Actress has been dead longer than we thought. Though, it didn't seem like it when I saw him perform last year. He killed it, enthusiastically stunning everyone in the crowd. The oh so exhausted one could have fooled me. He seemed to be having the time of his life. Then again, his moniker is / was 'Actress'.


Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Justine & Juliette - Kiss of the Whip (Arbeit Group, 1988)

I just stumbled across this today. I had never heard of it but I'm pretty sure I'm not going to rest until I find this cassette. American sexy female S&M  industrial duo from 1988. Mostly fast pulsing low end bass explorations contrasted with high pitched Lydia Lunch'ish spoken word. Minimal but rhythmic and sublime in a subtle synth punk way. Sick, sick, sick. Must have. Wow, just wow. In the interim we can all make do with the youtube tracks below. You're welcome.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Najand - Complicated Antithesis (Metal Throne, 2011)

Najand (or Nazhand) is a one man Iranian depressive black metal act. As is typical of the genre, he's prolific, with a couple dozen albums under his belt since 2005, when he was only sixteen. I've been digging this particular album because I enjoy the way the vocals are recorded. Nothing else really stands out. I must admit, I'm intrigued that he is so young, and Iranian. Novelty or not, its is a solid spin.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Wes Tirey - Home Recordings (Orange Milk, 2014)

Asheville, NC guitarist Wes Tirey runs quite a gamut: A consummate singer / songwriter of charming country melancholia, a player who is proficient with the acoustic Fahey Americana, and one who is sometimes just downright experimental.

This cassette release for Orange Milk is a collection of home recordings from his residences in  Dayton, OH and Black Mountain, NC between 2009 and 2011. Its an intriguing mixture of improvisations and compositions ranging from morose to joyful, invoking anything from spiritual oppression to intimate longing. Regardless of the intent, Tirey's subterfuge is effective. You'll feel it in your bones.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Anton Zap - Water (Apollo Records, 2013)

This compilation showcases the Moscow deep house producer's meditative leanings from the bulk of the past decade. It begins with an ambient breaks number, then closes in on the dancefloor with a more accessible house mood. Things shift gears completely with a beatless drone piece, then stun with a new one that is essentially a downtempo 80's funk jam. This one makes me want to add a second 'P' to the end of his last name. Rounding out the album with some cosmic exploration, we get the closest three tracks to his classic sound.

Essentially this is a collection of singles from other compilations on Ethereal Sound, Soul People and Underground Quality. Its always nice to see the other side of an artist, and this one works for me.

Here is a good example of his standard dj mix:

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Bohren & Der Club of Gore - Piano Nights (Ipecac, 2014)

One of my favorite bands of all time has returned with their eighth album. Have they changed the formula? Have they reinvented the wheel? Have they altered course for new destinations in uncharted regions? No on all counts. Nothing is different. Their concoction of ambient doom and jazz meets lounge need not change. The adagio / requiem is a perfectly haunting and romantic melancholy to soothe the thinker's soul. With sax, keys, bass and drums so flawlessly executed and painstakingly slow, the patience required to play this music seems an other worldly talent. These German masters win me over yet again. Timeless.

Listen to the full album here or on Spotify below:

Monday, February 3, 2014

Osamu Kitajima - Benzaiten (Antilles, 1976)

This album is a highly unlikely hybrid. Traditional Japanese instrumentation (flute, biwa, and percussion) fuses with prog rock and western funk (electric wah gutar, clavichord, and thumping basslines). The result is improbably amazing. As far as I'm concerned, everything works perfectly. The album is as tense as it is light-hearted, with a solid narrative. Slow grooves and popping jams glued together by ancient sounding vocals. There are over the top moments but you'll find them as forgivable as I do.

Thanks to Rob for the heads up.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

R.I.P. Mighty King Hannibal

The funk legend of Norton Records, James T. Shaw aka Mighty Hannibal aka King Hannibal has passed away at 74. He had a couple of particularly powerful songs that were important to me:

One was "The Truth Shall Make You Free", a song to drug addicts preaching that Jesus could help them get off smack. This is ridiculous but the song slays me every time I hear it. It is by far the best 45 in my entire record collection, and possibly the best gospel funk track of all.

Then there is "Hymn No. 5", a banned from the airwaves Vietnam protest song. I've included the long version so you can delve deep into the heaviness and despair of it all.

Sleep well, King.

Pink Priest - Seafoam (Self-released, 2014)

Pink Priest is William Cody Watson, a drone / ambient / experimental musician from Arkansas. I pushed Cody's last Bathetic Records release on HERE a couple years ago.

According to his Bandcamp, this will be the last solo record for the foreseeable future. Although, I'd like to hear more from him, he's gone out with a lovely record that falls under one of my favorite sub-genres, pastoral drone. On this outing, he seems to conjure classic early ambient masters. If Editions EG were still around, Seafoam would find a home right next to Apollo:Atmospheres. This is deep meditative drone. Cures what ails ya.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

HARDWARE - Simon Boswell / VA / O.S.T. (Varese Sarabande, 1989)

Hardware is a 1990 British-American post-apocalyptic science fiction horror film directed by Richard Stanley and starring Dylan McDermott. Inspired by a short story in 2000 AD (Judge Dredd comic), the film depicts the rampage of a self-repairing robot in a post-apocalyptic slum...And its not very good. However, it is a cult classic with a killer soundtrack.

Simon Boswell's original pieces are exceptionally creepy and dystopian, walking that fine line between sci-fi and horror. There are also classic songs from PiL, Ministry, and Motorhead. Besides, the music, its a fun flick with the voice of Iggy Pop as "Angry Bob" the psycho radio dj, as well as Lemmy as a taxi driver. Its a cyberpunk gem, with the exception of the killer robot that is unstoppable... until he takes a shower.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

R.I.P. Pete Seeger, this is you hanging out with Johnny Cash.

We lost an icon today. I chose the Johnny Cash video for obvious reasons. Theyyyyyyy

Friday, January 24, 2014

Cave Evil - KVVL Radio Mixtape (Rotten Shape, 2013)

I was never a RPG guy. Tried my hand at a couple one summer back in '92 but I just wasn't nerdy in that particularly way. What I am nerdy about to this day, is anything dark ambient or black metal. If you like either / both of these, boy oh boy, do I have a treat for you.

A really creative subgenre is black metal presented as if it were being made in the middle ages (Wolfmangler, Dead Raven Choir, etc.). The music presented here is the soundtrack to some ridiculous "Necro-Demonic Dungeon Brawl Boardcame", and it contains a sort of black subgenre, mixed with some sound effects and ritual electronic blackness.

Even if you scoff at RPG's, try the tunes. Fun stuff. The ninety minute mixtape features tracks from Night of Ultraviolence, Wizard333, Swordsect, Abandoned Places, Manifester, Cex, MarderIII, Muroc, Hatred, Crypt Enforcer, Whispers of Dead Gods, Tres Quatro, Mammal, OoznDmrr, Indignant Senility, and Khand. Uh huh, laugh until you listen.

Thanks to Justin Farrar for the heads up on this one. Listen on the completely over the top radio station website HERE

Or at Bandcamp:

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Young Echo - Nexus (Ramp, 2013)

This is another record I regret slipping past me in 2013. The Bristol collective Young Echo is comprised of several artists with stellar output in the past couple years. Vessel's 'Order of Noise' made my best of 2012, Zhou makes meditative drone, Khan is a respected dubstep producer and the other members, El Kid, Jabu, Neek, Manomars and Ishan Sound have managed to make names for themselves.

Its no coincidence that this album has the Wild Bunch scenario, given that these kids obvious work in that Tricky / Massive Attack tradition. The general aesthetic is the blunted downtempo of their metropolitan mentors. However, Young Echo is deconstructivist. The dancefloor is broken. Beats are fodder for cutups. The hip hop and bass are buried beneath drones, spoken work, ethereal female vocals and frequencies on par with a Raster Noton album. The ghosts of Nurse with Wound and Boyd Rice are here, remixing for some cerebral nonexistent club, a place where sci-fi 2-step co-mingles with dub and introspective pop.

Elements collide, float together, fall apart and fade away, but ultimately, and surprisingly, cohesion is victorious.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Wire:On the Box 1979 (Pink Flag Archive Series, 2004)

It was a decade ago I wandered into my local record store, saw this CD/DVD release, and immediately proceeded to checkout. I knew it was going to be crucial. What I didn't know was that it would soon be my favorite live concert video of all time. I've not strayed from that opinion in all these years. Wire, in that era, was something that could neither be matched, nor improved upon. I'm still in awe of the creativity displayed with guitar, bass, drums and vocals. They are the kings of angular art house snob music, both for the proles and those at university. If you've not seen it, I urge you to do so now. Masters at work.

I've included a great review by Craig Grannell from the 2004 release:

"The gig happened between Chairs Missing and 154, and finds Wire in typically abrasive mood. In front of a polite, but nonplussed German television audience, Wire race through a set of proto-154 numbers and some older tracks, devoid of Mike Thorne's sometimes heavy-handed production. It's testament to the band's creativity and unique vision that the gig still stands up well today and doesn't sound terribly dated, despite it being over two decades old.

 Amusingly, the band's on-stage persona seems to be little different from today: Newman a proto-Kraktwerk robot (albeit wearing a tie in those days), barking lyrics, wrestling with his guitar, then twisting like a marionette, dancing in staccato; Lewis flinging his bass around with merry abandon, with eyes that suggest if anyone wants to start anything, he's all-too ready; Gotobed, the metronome—eyes closed, keeping the beat; and Gilbert, at the back of the stage, carefully and purposely adding counterpoint to the Newman guitar. Although a little bass-heavy, the remixed soundtrack pleases, as does the video, which while having some artefacts and colour distortion, is perhaps as good as you'd expect from a 20-year-old television show. Unfortunately, someone saw fit to ignore one of the main bonuses of DVD: the gig has no track markers whatsoever. We presume that Wire's argument will be something like the gig is a whole entity—a complete performance—and should be watched as such, in one sitting. However, part of the magic of DVD is the viewer having the ability to skip to where they want to. Also, track markers to specific tracks would have made sense, seeing as the DVD retains the original broadcast's rather erratic titling.

 Two extras, both desirable, come with this package. The first is an amusing interview conducted with the band after the gig. Wire are their usual obstructive selves, making life difficult for the interviewer and providing succinct, sometimes abstract answers. The video quality of the interview is notably inferior to the gig, but this matters little: the soundtrack is fine, and Gotobed fans will be interested to note that he offers a few well-chosen words part-way through. The other extra is a CD of the entire gig soundtrack—a nice touch, enabling you to listen to the audio wherever you want, rather than being glued to your TV set. Thankfully, the track marker issue doesn't extend to the CD, which enables you to skip tracks as you'd expect. Overall, this is a promising start to the archive series. We hope the lack of track markets will be addressed on future releases, such as the forthcoming Send DVD, but the CD is a welcome bonus, and the gig itself still manages to excite after all these years."

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Corrupted - El Mundo Frio (HG Fact, 2005)

Corrupted are quite possibly the most patient band in the world. They are the epitome of doom: near infinite intros, slowly plodding downtuned riffs, ambient space, growling vocals, and minimal delivery. Amidst all this, they even somehow succeed in incorporating a harp, proving to be as equally delicate and lush as they are heavy. Many of their albums are single tracks that pass the hour mark, reinforcing the unending bleakness of content.

The veteran Japanese act offers some of the most beautifully dystopian sounds I've ever heard. In keeping with the depressing aesthetic, in its twenty year existence, the band has never given an interview and does not do photos. Although they tour the west, they dismiss general interest in mass appeal. One esoteric factor is the use of Spanish as the choice of language for lyrics. Its a fascinating niche they've carved for themselves, and the abundance of fan posted live footage on youtube shows that it is working very well.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Happy David Lynch Day!

This man is a monumental figure in my life. I'm consistently amazed by his artistic output. His films, paintings, animation and even musical compositions have all been enormous influences. Everyone is familiar with his film and television but I'm not sure most are aware the the music in Blue Velvet and Twin Peaks primarily composed by the great Angelo Badalamenti is actually a collaborative effort.

Badalamenti is brilliant but Lynch is quite the musician as well, the mischievous jazz setting for Twin Peaks being his concept. Unbeknownst to the dynamic duo, their tunes would spawn one of my personal favorite subgenres, doom jazz, a form of music that combines the slow tempos, and sense of despair of doom metal with jazz style and sensibility. The music usually conveys an aura of pessimistic introspection, punctuated by dark ambient influences. Championed mostly by Bohren and Der Club of Gore, its also practiced by Mount Fuji Doom Jazz Corporation, Kilimanjaro Darkjazz Ensemble, Dale Cooper Quartet and the Dictaphones, and many more.

Celebrate the legend's birthday by listening to these great scores below:

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Neil Young with The Ducks - Shows from the Summer of 1977

For a few weeks during the summer of 1977 in Santa Cruz, California, a rock group formed by singer/ songwriter Jeff Blackburn played some shows. The band also consisted of Bob Mosely (Moby Grape), Johnny Craviotto (sessions drummer for Ry Cooder, Arlo Guthrie and Buffy St. Marie), and some guy named Neil Young. They played songs about trucks, girls and bars. Here's a compilation of board recordings from these shows. A little summer music for your winter:

Black Marble - A Different Arrangement (Hardly Art, 2012)

Here's a group that's been winter therapy for me lately. Black Marble is a 'minimal wave' revival act from Brooklyn. They play post-punk style synth meets early Human League experiments. For the Brits: Tiny Mixtapes described it as "looking out at Manchester from your bedroom in Sheffield". Melancholy vibes with a French coldwave delivery sans suicide. There's a lot of positivity here if you sift through the Roland fog.

This is a fun record. Classic drum beats. Driving punchy bass lines. Fast tempos. Dance alone reading J.G. Ballard with a spot of Earl Grey. 1982. Minimal mascara.

Vaadat Charigim - The World is Well Lost (Burger, 2013 - CS)

Maybe its too soon for this here at The Nomadic Subject as we're really just getting into the thick of winter but I didn't want to forget this one. Vaadat Charigim is a great new shoegaze band with a cassette out on Burger Records (the vinyl was just issued somewhere as well). Its a classic shimmering dream pop sound (heavy on the Ride, light on the MbV), with that hopeful vibe that usually hits me in early spring. This combined with a bit of dark new wave a la 1985 The Chameleons / Echo gives them that 'cruising with the top down' feeling.

So, you're wondering what distinguishes them from the million plus shoegaze revival bands, right? Well, its the fact that these guys are Israeli, and the low baritoned vocalist does not try to hide the accent. Its thick and lovely. If you're not familiar, it sounds like a French accent with Spanish, Arabic, Russian and Yiddish. As far as the voice as instrument, this one wins. Perfect package here. Great music when you need a little pick me up.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Music for Solaris: Two Versions (Artemyev (1972) / Martinez (2002)

I can feel the nerd purists seething already. My death warrant is being signed, right? Well, though this is not a popular sentiment, I love both these scores. I even think Soderbergh's remake of the original film has its good qualities. In case it wasn't obvious, you're hearing this from not only a Tarkovsky junkie, but a Lem junkie as well. Don't me misled, Tarkovsky took liberties with his adaptation of the novel just like Soderbergh did. Sometimes these things are necessary. Deal.

Artemyev's original score is simply bleak. There are scraping sounds reminiscent of live electrical wires, extended pipe organ deliveries and heavy tape edits. Its raw, stark and perfectly appropriate for the incredibly slow pace and visual aesthetic. This is a fine example of a thinking feller's soundtrack. No frills.

Martinez, however, had a tough job. This version of the film had a more traditional Hollywood, a film noir setting. Not only did he have to be more blatant with musical concepts but the consistent presence of melody was necessary to keep the ADD audience's attention. His string and synth pulsing-based style worked perfectly. It does blur a bit with Clint Mansell's work, but there's nothing wrong with that. Gorgeous melodies and great rhythmic scene development here.

Both these have been reissued on vinyl. Grip them soon. Check out both soundtracks below.