This, more than anything, is to let you know this exists. I've really dug into this compilation of ambient artists from Macedonia with what started as native curiosity. What exactly does ambient music from Macedonia sound like? I've been burned before by pretty bad Eastern European electronic music when I listened to three hours of the stuff on the Underground Alliance series for another publication I write for. I'm really happy to say that this stuff is legit. Silber Records must have some pretty strong sway in the Balkans, because a lot of this would not sound out of place on Silber's fine repertoire of great drone records. Really engaging ambient music that runs a broad gamut. From wandering synth and field recordings by Dimitar Dodovski, to a sprawling 15 minute aleatoric piano piece with huge clouds of gathering static and ominous guitar crackle by fydhws, billowy projections of soft guitar-based droning by Amplidyne Effect, plus plenty of pulsing, Nu-New Age crystalline synth by Sherafedin Kurt. Sound_00 and Airless Project hold down the dark-ambient side of things bringing some much needed noise and darker synth tones into this otherwise all-lights-on affair. Without the sticker shock of this being imported from Macedonia, I would be just as wholly impressed and grateful to have something to take with me as I study.
Drowse -Songs to Sleep On (Television Records, 2014)
During my time working in the mental health field (somehow my credentials say QMHS - Qualified Mental Health Specialist - really means nothing) I've seen a lot of people - clients, patients, friends - take a deepening plunge into mental illness. On the other end sometimes comes resurgence, death and more often than not a knowing sort of acceptance that this call of the void will always be a part of their life. Kyle Bates, on his first solo EP (Kyle plays in a pretty awesome band called Sloths), Kyle filters a couple years worth of suicide attempts, breakups, lithium prescription, depression and psychosis in a 15 minute EP that somehow covers an incredible amount of breadth. These dark, churning, chopped drone-based songs narrate and translate the loosening of associations, feelings of helplessness and hopelessness that come with a slide into depression. But more than anything, this is a statement of placid acceptance. The light counterbalances the dark. Angelic guitar tones in the upper register are a ceilingless response to the darkness churning beneath, adjacent drum patterns mimic the human heart beating with a will to live. This is a pretty heavy but ultimately life-affirming piece of music to briefly contemplate that void while waiting for a bus or some domestic chore. A PDF comic narrates the process. I wish all my clients had making shoegazey, drone-pop songs coping skills.
Botanist - VI: Flora (The Flenser, 2014)
Just listen to the first movement of this record. A triumphant one-two punch of drums, hammered dulcimer, shimmering guitars and synths before delving into black metal driven blast-beats, incredibly moving and glacially-paced guitar riffing with spectral spools of synths arcing gracefully towards the light over distorted, screamed vocals low in the mix. All this under the one-minute mark on 2014's most forward thinking, avant-garde and straight up accessible metal album. No surprise it is on The Flenser, which has been shattering expectations of heavy music and releasing some truly catholic and large-tent versions of what heavy music can do/be. This is Botanist's sixth album in the series narrating the eventual demise of the world and a miserable botanist alone with his plants imagining a utopian post-apocalypse in which the natural world will take back what is theirs. While indicators of black metal are found throughout this record, Flora takes a decidedly expanded sound palate to explore the world of the fecundity and balance of plant life through the use of a 12-string bass and harmonium, worlds away from the stereotypical vision of black metal as a one-man show of tremolo picked guitar and blast beats. Flora is a measured balance between darkness and light, these two aspects often battling it out in the same song or precise musical movement. One of the best albums of the year.
Hey Mother Death - Highway (Snake Power, 2014)
Highway is anchored by a snaking, ever-gliding bass lines, dubby rhythm sections, ever-ascending synth and guitar lines that give way to squalls of no-wave guitar chatter that the sultry, slinky, bilingual spoken word of Laurence Strelka effortlessly floats over. That voice has the seductive powers to guide motorists to their death like some roadside siren. The duo of Strelka and Denma Pelsinger reside in both Paris and Halifax, Nova Scotia and have created a hypnotic, sexy, downright unstable mix of rythm that is motorik and laser-focused on one hand and unpredictable and esoteric on the other. The two collide in tracks like "The Hills" which an incessant bass line is interrupted by exploding, shrapnel-laden distorted percussion or on the album's most dub-heavy track "Bad Sex" which draws as much on funk and early hip-hop communiqués out of dub's jet-engine suck of every sound surrounding it. With the minimal set-up and easy to describe musical output, Highway covers an amazing amount of ground and is endlessly listenable. Suitable for late nights for lovers in some sort of liminal Blue Velvet/Twin Peaks style club. All crushed velvet everything.
Mamaleek - He Never Said a Mumblin Word (The Flenser, 2014)
An expansive, bleak album skirting transgressive black metal, lo-fidelity electronics and middle-eastern motifs that make this an ultimately spiritual affair. Spiritual in cleansing, self-flagellating, radical guilt siiiiinnnnk into redemptive despair and holy anger. "He Never Said a Mumblin Word", the eponymous leading track is a marvelous pairing of heavy, slow riffing, plodding drums, angelic choirs bathed in pure celestial light being played in some adjacent higher heaven while the Mamaleek brothers (a mysterious San Francisco duo) scream and cry out in petition or protest. Guttural vocals from heaven's sub-basement. The guitars, however, are wrapped in a sheen of muslin feedback and fuzz, while drumming never quite reaches blast-beat frenzy, instead is programmed to the pitch of a cartridge of compressed air being punctured at frightening regularity. Landscapes of clanging, avante-terror, rainbow bridges of light offering passageway into the briefly glimpsed celestial tones only to fall to ribbons at your feet. Shards of light bouncing off the stoney, terrestrial plane you are doomed or blessed to spend eternity on. Breathtaking polarities in this relatively short album. The Flenser can do no wrong.
Matt Nida - Explorer (Hel Audio, 2014)
Taking a leap out of the incredibly fertile Provo/Orem, UT experimental-electronic kinship of musicians, London's Matt Nida creates a wonderful pastiche of sci-fi soundtracks (think John Carpenter's Dark Star), Fabric/Warp sonic territory of forward-thinking techno and dance all under the strict guidance of vintage analog synth and hardware. The way these tracks unfold over the course of the tape, big, bright beats, punchy, clean snares and ascending/descending arpeggios running all over the keys. This type of sci-fi homage has been road tested in many DJ residency at clubs across UK when it takes unnoticeable twists and turns into danceable grooves. Hot love in outer space. Hel Audio has been one of my favorite labels to arise in the last few years. Love the aesthetic of each tape, logo and obsession with laser-guided melodies of experimental electronic music.
No Lands - Negative Space (New Amsterdam, 2014)
No Lands is the moniker and main artistic outlet for Michael Hammond, an intriguing Brooklyn artist who effortlessly melds forward-thinking pop maximalism with fearlessly broad strokes of severely fucking around with tone and pitch in a normative pop template. Except, this isn't a normative pop template, but rather a map of a pop song. You can trace a line between verse, chorus, bridge, etc...And these are executed brilliantly. Big, bright, hooky choruses that swell and diminish only to be picked up again with greater ferocity. But in between these poles is a street view of the city Hammond is occupying, pitches dovetail into extremely high and low frequencies, making this one of the most thrilling headphone experiences of this year. These same explorations in frequencies are often applied to Hammond's heavily processed vocals, filtering them through some sort of strange wind tunnel directly into your brain. These are strung between elegant, crystalline guitar lines and subtle, Faith-era Cure bass lines. Bright, shining synth lines ring out in shimmering spools of incandescence. Bright chemtrails of fluorescent light in beautifully timed intervals. All of this leads to a logical end, but in the twists and turns, the angled and impossible architecture, a new skin is laid across old frames of barren cities. A glowing warmth radiates through sewers and canopy-lit glow behind skyscraper glass. An inner glow that lights everything from within. That's what guides these songs. Drop a pin. You'll find your way there.
Memorials of Distinction - V/A How to Organize your Life and Get Rid of Clutter (Memorials of Distinction, 2014)
I've been listening to this tape obsessively since I got it last week. Memorials of Distinction is a newly minted label out of Brighton, UK. This compilation serves as an entry point into what (I hope) will be a long and fruitful career of putting out weirdo, lo-fi jams for the masses. How to Organize Your Life and Get Rid of Clutter starts with an interesting premise. Stitching a handful of bands onto a comp. recorded over a corporate motivational training tape by a dude named Ab Jackson. I've been giving the name "Ab" a disproportionate amount of thought since I got this tape. What is that short for? Abe, which is short for Abraham? Alvin Brian Jackson? Who knows. The self-help tape is a humorous (practical!) piece of ephemera back to a time when computer information was saved on floppy disks (which you should always color code for improved organization). Across this sage advice is a cross-section of beautiful lo-fi compositions from around the world from UK, Sweden, Mexico and the U.S. Notable standouts include the lilting, raw, straight-into-laptop mic of Porridge Radio, swirling, soft-psych of Smiling Disease and Mad Kid Library Trap, the clomping idiot beats of Estamos Fritos and the field-recording/post-punk miasma of Satanic Ritual Abuse are bright standouts. Shambling indie-rock/hip-hop of Mewlips hits a bit too close to home, often sounding dangerously close to Yoni Wolf's impressionistic talk-rap drawl. This is a pretty grand start to a tape label whom I am hopeful will be a vibrant source for continued warped tapes and further guidance on how to organize my cluttered desk/mind.
Campo-Formio has been one of my favorite finds of 2014. It isn't so often that unsolicited e-mails lead to rich and fertile relationships with artists. But so it is with this Puerto Rican surf, punk, prog threesome eternally riffing on some sweet, golden mean between the three. Then there's this video. A perfect approximation of straight-toVHS classics where guys in open collar shirts scream at each other on over-sized cell phones and wait endlessly for boats coming in with drugs or guns. In this case it's guns. And Campo-Formio and havin' none o fit. Until they get what's coming to them. It's not pretty. Enjoy at maximum, ear-bleeding levels.
Videodrone brought to you by Ryan H.
Let's take a look at what is happening in and behind the scenes on Spires in the Sunset Rise's newest tape on Perfect Wave, because this is an album that demands and deserves this sort context giving. First, Mirror Cave is an extension of the musical partnership between between Kathleen Baird and Taralie Peterson whose paired down membership did nothing to pair down the incredibly expansive doom-folk of 2012 album Ancient Patience Wills it Again. This musical kineticism and intuitive partnership are responsible for boldly steering Mirror Cave's knotty compositions into unexpected places. Unexpected is the operative word to describe this album. It is bold and bombastic. It shakes out STITSR's typically melodic and drama-filled compositions into some compelling, declarative, foaming-at-the-mouth explorations into a strange liminal place between literature and music.
Mirror Cave, according to Perfect Wave's press sheet (and to be quoted in every blog as exposition) is a "conceptual album in 8 movements based on Italo Calvino's short story 'Sword of the Sun' interspersed with excerpts from Shinkichi Takahashi's 'After Images: Zen Poems'. In a face-off with the ego, Palomar (Kathleen Baird) observes, reacts, contemplates, struggles and finally transcends how the “sword” of the sun’s reflection on the ocean always appears to stop exactly at his very own eye. Taralie Peterson represents some other dimension of reality—”the sensation that you are here but could not be here in a world that could not be but is.” This tape is accompanied by a beautiful 28 piece booklet designed by Providence-based artist Erik Ruin.
In these 8 movements Baird and Peterson cover a lot of ground. Baird's voice (often multi-tracked and pitch-shifted) dips and dives through spoken word passages, often delivering them in a lilting, sing-song approach or with a quivering, dread-filled baritone that ranges from blank-eyed deadpan to freak-the-fuck-out evocative. Behind these strung together passages of poetry is a swirling tarpit of Peterson's clawing, stalking, firecly bowed cello whose tenor and voicing is often neck-in-neck with Peterson's frentic delivery. Much of Mirror Cave's compositions are augmented by the use of a bevy of electronic/pedal-based manipulation and instrumentation. Electronics bubble and boil, squeak and wash and break over speakers like waves. Baird's flute is often modified to take her eastern-influenced melodies into aural space somewhere between the reedy, earthy sound of the instrument and internet dial-up sounds in a Kanye West auto-tune solo. Peterson shreds in the tune of 50 electric guitars.
I wonder why more literature isn't given this treatment? The inherently surreal images by Calvino and Takahashi are illuminated, given some kind of compositional structure and are augmented and unleashed making them even more vivid and lived-in. For those who do not wish to be led or guided, who want to batter down albums with their own intention and expectation, will find this album tedious. For those who approach Mirror Cave as they would as a piece of literature, this album is an all-encompassing, audio-visual experience into some pretty expansive space. A place where is little room for ego. A puppet-like state of suspended animation. A "dead man's float" in a sea of troubled instrumentation.
Did I mention that booklet? This thing is beautiful.
This has happened to us all, right? Gone back to our childhood homes only to find the apparations of ourselves and past (passed) lovers still inhabiting it years after it has been abandoned. Right? In a world created somewhere between that infini-ride bassline, shockCHATTER of that electric guitar and Laurence Strelka's bloodless spoken word delivery, these things happen. Because in that otherworldly state that this Nova Scotian duo create, the living and the dead exist on the same astral plane. Super stoked on their full-length Highway just released on Snake Power Records. Giving you the link to their digital release because half of all digital sales go to Amnesty International. What, are they tryna get all Heligator Records on us? Seriously though, this is a band to watch.
It is here. The full line up of the Goldrush 2014 Music Festival in Denver, CO is upon us. And it is something. Check out the full list below. New additions are in bold with accompanying pictures. These include Wolf Eyes! Eric Copeland! Guerilla Toss! Howling Hex and so many more Make sure you check out Goldrush's Official Site for more information and to buy tickets. On behalf of the whole Tome family...Hope to see you there!
Wolf Eyes (Detroit, MI)
Eric Copeland (Brooklyn, NY)
Mount Eerie (Anacortes, WA)
clipping. (Los Angeles, CA)
Guerilla Toss (Boston, MA)
DVA (Parbudice Pardubicky Kraj, Czech Republic)
Thug Entrancer (Denver, CO)
Good Willsmith (Chicago, IL)
Kevin Greenspon (Los Angeles, CA)
Reighnbeau (Albuquerque, NM)
The Howling Hex (Denver, CO)
Sparkling Wide Pressure (Mufreesboro, TN)
Stag Hare (Salt Lake City, UT)
Trabajo (Brooklyn, NY)
RUMTUM (Denver, CO)
Mezzanine Swimmers (Brooklyn NY)
Fingers of the Sun (Denver, CO)
Braeyden Jae (Salt Lake City, UT)
Homebody (Denver, CO)
Church Fire (Denver, CO)
Aja Vision (Oakland, CA)
Sister Grotto (Denver, CO)
Champion (Denver, CO)
Docile Rottweiler (Denver, CO)
CP208 (Denver, CO)
Horse Latitudes (Denver, CO)
The Seeker and the Healer was recorded on piano, bowed guitar, harmonium and a custom-built 49-string drone harp. I can't even google image that to show you what it looks like. The harp, built by cory Allen especially for this recording, has the ability to create some cloud-scraping, forever-exhaling drones that are forever reeling themselves in larger and larger co-centric loops to create a cosmic spiral that will eventually form into a wheelchair-accessible path to our father in the sky. These are sounds to follow into those black nights when the only visible is 20 feet ahead of you in waning lights from dying bulbs. Students of Decay have released another record that pretty much flawless and peerless in drone-based acoustic music.
The Seeker and The Healer are split into two sections. One seeking, the other healing. "The Seeker" opens with some plaintiff minimal piano lines with mile-wide canyons between notes. Bowed guitars and swelling drones gather rather ominously like crows on a telephone wire. They swoop in and out, making their presence felt and then fading out. Strings become more present and that harmonium/harp drone start spreading like a thick fog across the track. The additive, slow-build dynamic of this track is more than worth the price of admittance and has the same kind of restrained beauty and gravitational pull that A Winged Victory for the Sullen state so eloquently. This is another testament to the rich sonority that two people, in a room, improvising under a set of pre-stated rules with a handful of instruments surrounding them, can create.
About halfway through the track a resonating, metallic beating signals a turn into even more ominous country. Clouds begin to thicken and darken. By 15 minutes in everything is on: squealing, droning, scraping. A quick retreat back to sustained tones and we fade out again.
"The Healer" is a meditative whale song. Thick, sustained tones create a muggy, cloistered atmosphere before a piercing, clarion drone pierces the veil and dangles the rope for our escape. At first the light is blinding, but our eyes adjust and we realize that the light has always been this golden, we just took it for granted all those years. A brief stay in the well can make us feel that the sun never ever shined. That light is a healer.
The Seeker and the Healer would be a contender for most beautiful piece of music this year on its own. The fact that it is on the heels of several equally gorgeous releases on Students of Decay really makes me think we can make it as a species. We shouldn't be so lucky.
My Dad just got back from a business trip in Columbus. He said that the Ohio river was recently on fire (think about it...a river was on fire). God bless that nasty Ohio river, its polluted waters and virtually everything that comes out of Ohio (Devo, The Indians, etc), including this skeewompus POWER trio who may or may not take their name from that one movie with all those Italians in it.
Big Table No People plays (at first) like a cassette with a stuck reel, caterwauling and reeling like a tinny, drunken yee-haw who's commandeered your iTunes and insists on fucking with all your equilibrium settings. 16 bombastic minutes sputtering with tempo changes, serrated riffs and the ever present thrum of an art-punk bassline. Take "Logjam," a corybantic freak session that crests with Kevin Hall's frenetic insistence that "this is hell, this is hell, this is hell!." or "Generation Loss," who's buzzing, seething salvo only offers the respite of a sinewy low-end teeter-totter once it's jammed its meaty esotercism right between your peepers. Shit, take the album's grandest statement, the humorously named "Not Transcendental, Just Stupid," all weirdo gee-tar noodling, tempo changes, nonsensical shouting and freak-beating, and bore it into your brain.
Music to bum out the squares and the critics. Think post-rock minus the pretension, screamo minus the...you know...screamo, and think of Ohio's storied freakpunk tradition. Catch these cretins in a basement pronto! They're peddling these wares across this great nation of ours in August!
8/3/14 Chicago @Situations
8/4/14 Milwaukee @TBA
8/5/14 Minneapolis @Fuck Mountain
8/7/14 St. Louis @FOAM
8/9/14 Nashville @Springwater
Salt Lake City based guitar-wrangler, Braeyden Jae, has graciously donated this slow-build track to the goodship Heligator. "Switches" looms like a storm cloud in its third trimester, pregnant with expectation and static. When the storm comes it doesn't arrive with monsoon force, but rather, that cooling, giving rain that cuts the humidity in half and waters your garden for you. It breaks like that.
Beautiful washes of soft distortion worn smooth like river rocks.
As always all donations go directly to the Malindza Refugee Camp Library which has gone under some major renovations and expansions! All of this due to your generous contributions. Check out all the latest happenings at the Library at:
Braeyden is also one of the featured artists to perform at the Goldrush Music Festival happening 09.13 / 09.14 at Larimer Lounge and the Meadowlark in Denver, CO.
GOLDRUSH Music Festival is upon us.
We can hardly believe we’ve made it to where we are now, but we are sure glad that we’re here and that we’ve brought our friends along with us yet again to share in this annual autumnal event. That of course means of bands, artists, sponsors, labels, writers, bloggers, and projectionists — all just for starters. As such, GOLDRUSH is now more than ever much more than simply a music festival. In its championing of the experimental community above all, GOLDRUSH has itself become a community. In its presentation of the progressive arts, GOLDRUSH has itself become a work of progressive art. GOLDRUSH is a collage, a combination, a pastiche blend of artistic mediums,styles, looks, sounds, feels, feelings, colors, shapes, sizes, moods, and music, pulling as much beauty from as many different corners of the map we can and pasting it all together into an interactive, living experience.
For our fourth edition, we’ve pulled out all the stops. GOLDRUSH 2014 represents our most ambitious project to date from a line-up standpoint alone. Match the unique and daring blend of music we’ll be presenting with our first ever record fair, a cassette compilation for the history books, an exhibition of local artists, experimental film projections and Denver’s definitive music journal in the form of our yearly ‘zine, and you’ve got something truly special. And we sure hope you’ll join us.
As in years past, GOLDRUSH could not be possible without the support of our amazing network of sponsors — record shops, ice cream parlors, cassette labels, music blogs, book stores and more have all shown their support this crucial effort, and we invite and welcome friends from all facets of our community to join in that effort. We are currently securing sponsors of all levels for GOLDRUSH 2014. Our mission remains to connect not only our community to one another, but to the world around us through progressive music. If this appeals to you or your business' ideals, and you'd like to be a part of this pioneering Denver music festival, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
We are announcing the artists performing at Goldrush in waves. With no further ado here is the first wave of artists....Heaps more to come:
mount eerie (anacortes, WA)
clipping. (Los angeles, ca)
thug entrancer (denver, co)
Good willsmith (chicago, il)
kevin greenspon (los angeles, ca)
stag hare (salt lake city, ut)
trabajo (brooklyn, ny)
rumtum (denver, co)
braeyden jae (salt lake city, ut)
homebody (denver, co)
sister grotto (denver, co)
champion (denver, co)
cp 208 (denver, co)
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