Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Ear-Conditioned Slump

Quick word on the recent hiatus review-wise. Closed out the school year with a crawl to the finish and now off to Europe for three weeks but I have a ton of stuff waiting for the return from the likes of old standbys such as Stunned, Holy Cheever, Existential Cloth, Anarchymoon, 905 Tapes and even the first Holy Cheever vinyl (no review necessary (though one will surely come). just go grip it...) Hang tight for more but just putting in a good word. Sorry for the deeeeeeelaaaaaaaay...

Monday, May 3, 2010

Mortuus Auris & The Black Hand - Freiheit ist immer Freiheit der Andersdenkenden (Stunned Records CS)

Latest batch from Stunned is, as always with that glorious operation, sold out completely. Seems they've got a healthy enough following by now that they've been eeking the production runs up ever so slightly, which is great news always for the world. This batch is amazing as always, so it's no surprise either, though a sad day did arrive in the form of the label's last CD-R edition (an incredible disc by Sparkling Wide Pressure). The CD is dead and the tape is back? What is this world coming to?! (Something good)...

Anyhoo, speaking of strange operations, Mortuus Auris whips one out here in a big way. A full hour long offering, the album starts with a blast of screwed screams and chopped noises before tapering out into blooping oscillations and wooden rotary blades tapping ping-pong balls rapidly against a mare's back. Apparently the whole thing incorporates patterns found in spider webs, fishing nets and tantric sex as it's organizing principle, which might explain the sensuous quality of each little snippet that's together here. There's a warmth to it all, but also a hollow shell, an empty space outlined by defining principles. Geometric it may be, but it exudes a more organic loose feel than that, despite it all appearing fairly closely composed and restrained. Hold it together with a silk thread and maybe you'll achieve enlightenment. In a strictly post-industrialist, pre-arachnid way of course.

Always seemed to me like people just took their releases on Stunned more seriously than usual. These things are always well conceived, always carefully concocted, always well recorded, etc. etc. Each little world on this label has got to be met head on, and whether you like it or not you've gotta give props for that kind of commitment. This work isn't drone, but it's got elements of it. It doesn't read as composition either, but that's there. And it's not noise at all, but it's playing it's part here too. More like a soundtrack to some tropical noir film, two worlds clashing up against one another and finding a new space. Good stuff, and lovingly treated as it always is. Sleeper status on it, so have a zonk.

Simeon Abbott + Chris Dadge - A Menu Isn't a Meal (Bug Incision Records CD-R)

On the Riggs tip I just mentioned, it's great to see established dudes taking new blood under the wings and giving them some exposure. Riggs certainly deserves it, and so does Chris Dadge, Bug Incision head honcho and percussion maestro deluxe. Fresh off a trip playing with dudes like Eugene Chadbourne (a personal favorite...) Mats Gustafsson, Dadge met up with electric guitarist Simeon Abbott for these two jams, and he sounds stronger than ever. Maybe it's that special Chadbourne punch, but me thinks it's just Dadge doing what Dadge do best, collaborating in super loose improv sessions that dangle ideas around like fireflies over a pond.

First track moves through some wild territory real quick. The percussion is always drawn out and glommed up, like splashing a bag of nickels on a diamond back skull and letting it rust over for a few millennia before picking it up with a contact mic. Abbott's jangling guitar cycles around itself with a hollow reverberation that's often prettier than your usual extended technique go-to's, chiming along like some undersea buoy signal. WIld stuff that convulses out once in a while before settling into a groove, nodding it's head down for a snooze before waking with a snap just as soon as the REM sets in. And hwen it wakes it wakes, fritzing about like a Carl Stalling score played on a kitchen sink next to the refrigerator box. Maniacally quick discussions that change topics speedy as a binge drinking flea frat. But more fun than that. Come to think of it, what could be less fun than that?!

Second track opens with some Atari style electronic mulch which, by the way, they've been incorporating in various forms throughout the proceedings. Sounds like a straight up Speak & Spell glitched over, and while that usually leaves me cold as ice and willing to sacrifice, this time around Dadge jumps on board for a duet with the thing, laying all his spoons out in disarray for some real illogical motivational speaking. Orator: Spell CAREEN. Kid: Z-O-N-K-E-D L-O-G-I-C. Or something like that. Sometimes you get straight up moments of hoe-down hijinks, but mostly it's sans hoe-down and pro high-jinx, Dick Dale gone awry. Killer sets both, and grabable where grabables are had.

Gino Robair / Christopher Riggs - Punishment Allows the Evolution of Cooperation (Holy Cheever Church Records CS)

Riggs dropped his latest batch yesterday, which got me thinking about this little number again. I've been spinning it on near repeat for nigh a month now, but as so often happens with these kinds of tapes it gets stuck in my deck and without a review. Well here's a review, damn it.

Gino Robair is, I believe, the drummer for Schnuffler, whose tape on Holy Cheever got the review treatment a ways back. Beyond that though, dude's played with the likes of Anthony Braxton and Tom Waits, so right off the bat you know he's a heavy hitter. So this one really fits the bill as a meeting of the minds, cross pollination, generation Q merger of sorts, Riggs repping the new style hard while Robair brings a taste of class and history to the proceedings. Not that it matters at all of course once it gets down to the sounds... whole thing begins like some malnourished farmyard get down, chain link fence and corn huskers rattling away over the rooster caws. Really strange stuff that opens up into a slinky of textural gratings and percussive mishaps. Incredible how on the same tip these two are right from the jump off... not a single move sounds out of place. Robair even pulls of some Tietchens bloops and plops on his kit while Riggs saws gentle nocturnes into your cranium from behind. Restless stuff that sounds as process oriented as it does improvisational. Where are we in the continuum?!!

Halfway between the AMM types and Mimaroglu, that's where. Skittered acoustic textures that sound like circuitry gone wild in a basement gamelan setup while some throat singing yak herder thaws out his skins and sings a little tune. Just as gone as it is there, just as rich as it is bare. So great to see Robair and guys like Morris trading jabs with the younger crowd, as it signifies the life of what is too often considered a dying breed of improv. The whole beauty of it, it seems to me, is that there's an infinite variety of combinations due to the internal logic of the best's playing. So just mash em up and see where it goes. Thick bass dub over string cries? You got it. Droned out hyperbolic Himalayan artifacts? Sure. These tapes are going to be classics by the time Riggs is done with it, so if you're not on the bandwagon you best get there now. Get your kids through college easy... hell, if you're nice to him I bet he'll even sign it for you: To Johnny. Scriiiiiiiittttttttzzzzzzzzccccccchhhh. Best Wishes, Chris. Now there's an artifact...

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Gii / Cruudeuces - S/T (Ghetto Naturalist Series CS)

Whoa whoa whoa. A lot of stuff to cover from the front here (Bug Incision, Holy Cheever, Stunned, Anarchymoon, etc. etc.) but I had to start with this little guy from local yokel Nathaniel Brennan's spanking new (well, officially anyway...) label Ghetto Naturalist Series. Brennan's been at it a long time under the Cruudeuces moniker, always releasing killer little oddities from the backside of his brain but now he's taken on new screwballs too in the name of dispersal of his twisted aesthetic. This one finds the label kingpin matching minds with Gii, who is Joe Hydoski who is, well, who knows actually?! Perfect introduction to the label of course.

First side kicks off with the Hydoski mystery man himself, , whose "Meth Rage Wore Off, Maybe Not" is a totally glommed and bombed bit of funky distorto crunch that lurches around in true crud fashion. Couldn't be a more perfect name for a label that houses something like this. Dirty stuff that grinds and splices its way through itself, barely holding on by a thread as it wraps around and in on itself. Hangover cure galore before "Lost Extremities" cuts the hands off the first track and torches them back onto some broken tree legs. Skin meets bark, heart meets trunk, synth meets scuzz, buzz meets hush. Real nowhere goings here, weird buzz beamed episodes of bugged out melodrama. Melodic though, real pretty and twangy. Almost like Duane Eddy's gone and jammed over some Small Cruel Party or Yeast Culture track but with a real direction forward. Undulate restless vibes, undulate. Blown to bits too, for the too-drowned-to-function crowd. Holler.

Brennan's side offers up two tracks as well, untitled both and straight from some illogical foreign terrain. Lung fish meet Saturn squish stuff that's rudderless enough to warrant some real zoned vibes, but with a thoughtful (as always) treatment of mood and feel. Explorations of the strange atmospheres created by strange atmospheres, where mind meets ribcage. Brennan's sense of shape and internal logic has expanded so much over a pretty short period here, and the rate that he's moving at is outrageously exciting. Tea kettle whistles and a thick drone line delayed to nowhere are all the man needs for his tactile traipsing about. Then the clarinet comes in and it's like a whole Heath Moerland thing, only still and dark and without the elastic gyrations of Sick Llama's stuff. Just straight weirdo haven't-a-clue pops and fizzes here. Beautiful stuff in the vein of other beautiful stuff (you fill in the blank). Grab it at label headquarters: limited to 30, and you gotta catch em all!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Torture Corpse - Stop the Mind (Stunned Records CS)

Latest Stunned batch came in recently, which is always good news in my book. And it's a fat batch at that, filled to the brim with slow burners and stunners alike including a disc by Sparkling Wide Pressure that represents the last CD-R to be released by the label. Don't know whether that means they're growing up into real deal CDs and vinyl or sticking with the tape rundown, but changes are afoot it seems. Changes are afoot.

This one comes by way of Torture Corpse aka Robert Kroos, whose grim moniker pretty much sums up his approach. The album's title track gets the ball rolling with a suitably foreboding speech wose pulsing death march beat takes over and leads the thing down a pathway to the vents themselves. Twists and turns of steam and earth merge together, crushing one another and forming new elements in the process. Gnarly go that peters off and in and blows off steam. A real reverberated voyage that feels like a guided tour given on the sickest IMAX ride of your life. "Voyage to the Core of Earth's Crust: Demonic Fires Aligned," narrated by Sigourney Fuckin' Weaver. Love the part where the theater seats rumble and sway as you move through rubble and magma alike. Super heated vibes to be had here for sure, strips itself back, writhes itself forward, zones itself out.

Flip side offers a few more takes on this sound, with "Rock 'N' Rally" opening with a quick quote about the Nuremberg Rallies as rock concert before diffusing into a haze of salt and silt. Washes of texture amount to few phrases but plenty of phases, left to right and back to night. As gloomy as this stuff is--and it is gloomy--it maintains such a high level of sonic richness that it never feels overbearing or destructive. And it ain't really just drone either. More in the dark maximal ambient vein, but hardly so pretentious as such a title might infer either. "Full Responsibility" re-soups the thing with nice ebbs of shattered tone and moans from beneath. Bubbles of bromide that move somewhere between the space echo hollows of Robert Beatty and the field recorded worlds of Douglas Quinn. Lovely. Any safety zones found though are quickly ripped apart on the closing "Manjushri," whose warbling guffaws of blather move as gently as a hammer in a house of glass. The continued entry of vocal speeches is alarming and while I usually find this sort of thing pretentious and a bit of an over working, the careful placement and generally grizzly atmosphere lets it come and go with little detriment to the overall feel. A fine one from the Stunned camp, packaged fantastically as always.

Monday, April 12, 2010

The Uphill Gardeners - S/T (olFactory Records / Kill Shaman 12")

Managed to leave a bunch of reviewables in my girlfriend's car this weekend, including some Stunned / Holy Cheever / ECR / Bug Incision etc. so I've finally got a moment to dig back intot he final I've been sent along the way. This one comes courtesy of mid-90s No-Wave outfit Uphill Gardeners, a trio consisting of Jarrett Silberman, Nigel Lundemo and Bobb Bruno. All these dudes have gone on to big things, but this EP shows how on top of it they've been all along. Killer stuff fully deserving of issue (finally) here.

What we've got is a series of tracks that weren't used for their sole full length CD, but if these are the outtakes they sure don't read as such. Guitar, bass and drums as mobile as you get, full instrumental togetherness. Artsy to be sure, but with enough cajones to get the ball rolling wonderfully. Starting off with the excellently titled "Boner Music," the group displays right off the bat it's penchant for switching modes mid-go, crashing along before turning on a dime into some strange country twine balls that read far more like a Butthole Surfers track than a Mars one. Great mix of those two worlds though. "Goldenrod Sunrise" pulls off the same action, creaming its Gun Club style guitar lines with super nowhere glad-to-be-gone pummeling before "I've Got to Stop Getting Pregnant" slows it down a tad, rollicking in darker and dirtier waters as a two-note bass line and steady drum thud guides the guitar shreds and bellows atop. Electronics and synth are apparently involved here too, but it's tough to define them against the guitar (hell, maybe it's not guitar, who knows?). Slow and steady wins the mace till "Sounds" culls their inner AMM meets Ash Ra Tempel. A weirdo one to initiate flippage to be sure.

Flip side features only two monster tracks, "He is Master" being the first and representing a real rubber band band brawl. Brush it off quick, this one buzzes like bees before changing chords on a pin top and moving into discordant stunners and bummers. Real inner workings stuff that relies solely on its self made logic to guide the way. Slow burn ravaging with hums and strums and crumbs abounding. Gonzo for sure before drums come in and move it into nearly Zappa-esque absurdities that skitter outward with a humor and resilience you can't quite land your thumb down on. Perfect pulse offered from Lundemo on this one. "Diet Experiment" closes it all out with some rib cage bending bass twirps while Silberman's Arto impression pieces itself together atop some skitters and shimmies. Real lovely sounding to my ear, anti-rock with a firm grip on how to navigate such territory with cohesion, balance, and an ear for subtle frames of referential outlooks. Glad to grab, killer killer material. Seek it from the labels and see if they've got em.

Ättestupa - 1867 (DNT Records 12")

Another one from the vaults, this time hearkening from the DNT camp a ways back via Sweden. A little out of left field for the DNT label, this EP is by a mystery unit that in some way features (recently reviewed here) Sewer Election's Dan Johansson. Apparently titled after a year of brutal starvation in Sweden, this offering is a soundtrack of sorts, produced to ultra dismal effect in homage to staggering suffering and desperation.

Thing kicks off in brutal fashion on "Missväxt," whose clashing drum lines and guitar meld with deeply drowned vocals for a graveside call to arms. Total thrashing punk/goth/motorik material here that grinds on before dwindling out to wheezes and windz that blubber on long enough to drown it out. The following "Halshuggarnatten" goes heavy on the crud lurch with a nice funereal organ line mingling over top. Sounds like a morgue service next to a construction site, and the dichotomy is too good to ignore. Like kids playing hopscotch at the cemetery using headstones for humdingers while ghastly vocals dig dirges in the draperies. Real killer sound that's super dismal and down and out, the organ line just right above it all while the vocals are backstage screaming through an aquarium full of cyanide.

Flip side features the lone "Storsvagåret," which starts out nice and meddling as chairs are dragged over linoleum tiling and the hum of stench looms outward slow and steady. Really reads like a playground full of poltergeists taking over in the name of decay. Super steady slow mo degradation here. Industrial meets circuit twisting meets grind meets slime. Rusty as hell and going nowhere fast before it opens up with a hunkered down, face to the floor organ and drum line that wiggles itself free from the mulch. Sick, head banging and dilapidated stuff, ultra mechanic in its stuttered organics. Heavy ride all around, mastered by Yellow Swans own Pete Swanson and well worth the price of admission. Dig the stripped back presentation here too, with the typed up Swedish liners (I'm assuming) detailing the event in all its ugliness. Grab it before it turns to ash.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Various Artists - Serge Modular Users 2009 (Resipiscent CD)

This one's been waiting in the wings I good while, but it's turn has come. Was psyched when I got this disc, and not only cause the Serge is one of my favorite knob-twiddlers around (Richard Teitelbaum had one over at the Bard labs for us to tamper with) but because this is a hell of way to organize a disc. For all the synth-mayhem going around these days, it makes perfect sense to pick one and track it right proper under the hand of slew of fists. Haven't heard of half these guys either, which only adds to the allure.

Spanning fifteen tracks and a FULL disc's worth of sound, this thing is as packed with Serge sounds as you could hope, demonstrating over and over the endless array of possibilities from this thing as well as it's diverse potential depending on who's manning the controls. Thing starts off with Jan-Hinnerk Helms cordially welcoming you via a Serge created voice, friendly as all hell with its sing-song greeting before things dip into circuit mania on M/N/M/L's "Breath," which takes some oscillations and splays them into party cracklers and simmering timber. Super into CRAY (Ross Healy's project) and its "STRK," which bounces around like rubber bands shot through laser beams. Super kinetic and spasmodic for the frenzied fans. John Duval uses it to dip into some early 8-s basement synth material on "Distress Call," which reverberates like a sinking mine sending info to spy subs before self-detonating. Benge's "1972 Serge Modular" (apparently an excerpt from "Twenty Systems") is super minimal and glitchy, little cracks and runs writhing over one another with insect rhythm pulses. Quite grooving really, like some 70s cicada orgy scene soundtrack.

Could keep running straight through really, there're so many zones it's impossible to summarize; kkonkkrete's "Untitled I" lays out under the sun for a tad, charring over in dronesville while cebec culls a veritable techtonic Mutranium disaster on "Transformer Substation." Love the Hans Grusel sound too on "Quarantimes," which is as zoned and burned out as they come. Just rhythms and crashes and march band kitchen sink stuff. Killer. Electronic Waste Product's "Picket Fences" reads like a mid-60s Mimaroglu experiment while Carlos Giffoni's "All the Mistakes I made During the Caribbean Winter" blasts a whole straight through the walls with drenches of sewage before the roaches come crawling out 8-bit style. Maniacal as hell. And of course the rest of them are great too, but I'll let you dig it up for yourself. Hell of an instrument and far removed from any hypnagogic nostalgia sound--far cooler and more electronically motivated. The new sounds played on the old instruments, which were the new sounds then too. Go figure. Killer and likely still available.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Towering Heroic Dudes - Bad Old Daze (Obsolete Units CD-R)

Good news in from Foxy Digitalis:

Call it what you will, but Towering Heroic Dudes has managed to create quite a stirring little piece with this, the follow up to their invincibly titled “My Morning Jackoff” off on Abandon Ship. And with a title like that, who could argue? This release, on stellar label Obsolete Units, features three separate live sets, each about 20 minutes long, featuring the combined degradation of members Neil Vendrick, Nate Rulli, Paul Haney, Andrew Posey and Mick Merszaros. And while the group members might make this appear to be some mid 80s English mod-revival group, the sonic results speak to something quite oppositional to that sort of assumption.

The first set, performed at the legendary Cake Shop on 11/4/08, finds some discombobulated zones and shifts them around to make even less sense. Thick clatter and drone and feedback ring around one another with garbled glee and not a magic bus in sight. The clan sure knows how to raise a ruckus, allowing everything to build and create its own patterns in the grain. To this end, the members are merely physically allowing the billows to happen, erupting outward in torrential shards. Must have been a hell of a show... The following number occurred at Tommy’s Tavern about four months later, and this two grows viciously, albeit in a far steadier, more deadened fashion. No sudden blasts here, just dirt infused simmering till the frog turns to putty. The unit seems to have properly internalized a lot of the L.A.F.M.S. catalogue (namely Airway and Le Forte Four) and reconstructed it to suit their own expansive needs. The last track, recorded at Lil Lounge on 9/17/08, is a buried battering of fuzz and crumble, hushed and mushed and steadily crushed into some phased bandwidths of lowly radio samples and synth statements and hiss scuzz hiss aesthetics. It’s all washed out real nice, so the last 30 second track can blast you straight to Deliriumton. Nice stuff, lots of energy and movement and destroyed right proper as a document.