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 NoƩ [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.