Brandon Locher (maven responsible for a shit-ton of great records and visual art on My Idea of Fun and most recently of the excellent Electronic-Jazz free-form collective The Meets) and Gerald Mattis have created a new group called Stage Hands which will release their debut record early next year. Until then they've teamed up with Joshua Rogers (Broken Machine Films) to create a video that could be footage from a prescient Commodore 64 who glimpsed our future and is now trying to warn us of some dire urban apocolypse. Remember that old cliche, "I buy punk on vinyl because it sounds warmer" (said with snooty, mansplaining affect)? I would say the same for VHS tapes, but only because it is true and I'm not an elitist iconoclast douchebag. It is weirdly comforting how that medium that can blur the edges and flatten the glare of a futuristic early-CG future-scape with scanning lines and analog fuzziness. I only watch Babylon 5 and Lawnmower Man on VHS because it looks warmer. Rogers' use of  several VHS players to run the source material and graphics is next level brilliant. So is this track. Can't wait to listen to it on vinyl, because it will sound warmer. And it's so cold in these streets.

Tuesday, December 16th, 2014 | Add New Comment (0)
The Silent March

The doom and gloom is thick in the air on Amir Abbey's follow-up to 2013's spectacular Movements of Night on Students of Decay. I grew up with a certain eschatology that put the end of the world at literally any second. You could be washing your car, mowing the lawn, copulating furiously, and the second you hear those trumpets sound - well, you know what time it is. If you are lucky enough to belong to a sect of a couple million (which in reality based on their stringent worthiness criteria - the number is much closer to like...my mom and a couple of other saint-like people) mostly in the western states, you were cool. The rest...burned like chaff in an all-consuming prairie fire. Thoughts of this totalizing end would keep me nervously eyeing our eastern windows and checking off each developmental milestone with a sense of relief.

When I was playing this record, probably too loud for 9AM, my wife asked, "are you listening to the end of the world?" In a lot of ways, this is how I imagined the world ending. A lot of sadness, a lot of fear, a lot of disappointment once you realized that you didn't make the cut. The trumpet call will likely be a marbleized guitar drone descending like a thick fog rather than the bright brass we were expecting. The A-Side to this record is that ending embodied. Thick, mawing drones that mimic human voices, or vice-versa. 

Side-B begins with plodding, cavernous percussion and the downstrokes of some heavy power chords before opening up and scaling back to reveal the bucolic single-note droning and buried vocals before the same gut-punch chord-and-percussion, one-two hit so hard until dissolving into cicada chirp and ends with piano notes being played into the void. In between these two movements are moments of unfettered doom-filtered drones tuned to the quiver of the poised sword of a destroying angel.

Now that I am fairly certain the end of the world will come at our own hands. A suicide analogous to turning on the car in an airtight garage. The Silent March still accumulates a massive sense of sadness for this inevitable end. Sink in.

The Silent March is a magnificent continuation of the golden mean that Movements of Night obtained between harshness and melodic. Many thanks to Students of Decay who re-released The Silent March on vinyl from it's original 2011 release on the Canadian label Nice-Up International

Friday, December 12th, 2014 | Add New Comment (0)

APF Ant-1 (Vwyrd Wurd, 2014)

From what I can gather (and it took me a minute) APF is the moniker of San Jose, Costa Rica noise-drone dude Árböl Pájarö Fuegö, who for the sake of diacritic marks I will refer to as APF from now on. I don't know what cosmic alignment brought APF and Vwyrd Wurd together, but somewhere, under some portentious astrological happening, these two found each other, and it is a match made in consumer electronics, bedroom noise-making heaven. APF's compositions move from lo-fi acoustic jams, to longform noise pieces with scraping, chiseling pulls of harsh noise, to understated drones that copulate freely creating ghostly mutant spawn of one another. APF often works in extreme frequencies such as the punishing "1953" and high-pitched pulls on "Monique". For much of the album, however, APF is able subdue and tame these proclivities and work with tones and frequencies that dance on that knife ridge of dissonance and equitable beauty. It is a fine line and APF walks it well, often many of the best returns being when that tension is most evident. Costa Rica/P.A connect.

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Mooninite Soda (Hel Audio, 2014)

In the post-IDM world of blurring the edges between organic and digital sounds is there better purchase than the soda can? The sharp crack of an opening can, the bubbling CO2 that rises from the sound of liquid being poured onto a glass cup with ice cubes. Brilliant right? Soda by SLC-based electronic musician Mooninite is not only a celebration of the endless sample-ability (which he uses to great ends) of Utah's substitute vice but the sheer world-conquering ubiquity of the drink. When I worked at the refugee camp in Swaziland, Coca-Cola often was easier to obtain than water. Mooninite is not only able to exploit the soundscape in a can potential of soda as a conceit, but create a record of downtempo beats that snap like brittle twigs, skittering drum machine breaks and bucolic, Balearic-inspired synth arpeggios and beats that pulse and bounce with tightly regimented precision all while fronting a casual playfulness. It is always exciting getting a package from Hel Audio. Soda is a step further in shaping Hel Audio's overall aesthetic and reputation for forward-thinking electronic music.

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D O R C E L S I U S Peter Prince et le Mont Analol (Vwyrd Wurd, 2014)

Last entry in Vwyrd Wurd's expanding, benevolent empire. Dorcelsius, a French duo splitting time between Riga and Paris create worlds inside of worlds full of driving, intense house beats that belie the dancefloor conotations for an intense, personal listen. Holy shit, this thing is on 10. Syrupy, sludgy synths reigning over the intense snap of snare drums in heat. Throwback to some formative Detroit/Chicago techno with a total absence of the cool, self-absorbed detachment that we Americans tend to associate with French electronic music. Rather, there is a fully-embodied, tactile engagement with the music as a function of the mind and the body. Knobs are turned, patches plugged in, chords on synths heavily pawed. There is so much human in this beating mechanical heart. Algorhythmic euphoria. Post-industrial messiness and skronk searing holes through the crystal city facade of Parisian nightclub music. This is super plugged in. Vwyrd Wurd never ceases to amaze.

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Braeyden Jae - Gutted (Spring Break Tapes! 2014)

I'll be damned if these weren't some pure-as-the-driven-snow, purified winter drones. No, quite literally, I will be damned. You see, I've put all of my trust and faith into music as surrogate deity. When corporeal, Republican-leaning God(s) cease to invoke wonder and majesty, I will always have the limitless and endlessly captivating channeled-but-uncreated pool of sound to pour devotion and worshipful reverence into. I'm not not saying Braeyden Jae is a prophet, but maybe an oracle? A clairvoyant? Someone able to crystallize and condense whatever mysterious force moves through the cord connecting bass guitar to amplifier. Whomever or whatever he is, Braeyden Jae has created his second in dense, heavy and emotionally resonant drone tapes this year. I am thrilled this one found its way into the hands of Spring Break Tapes! A label I have boundless appreciation for. On Gutted, Braeyden moves his way through two longform drone pieces that start from the ground floor of a low jet-engine's roar and moves to, when Braeyden really opens up the throttle, being inside of a volcano on some Celestial, near-heaven moon. Just try listening to that moment, about 5 1/2 minutes into "The Purpose of Purposeful Delay", when Braeyden just tears into this controlled and corralled wash of feedback, rending the veil a little bit to catch a glimpse of all possible futures and pasts of whatever note he is holding infinitely. One of 2014's most thrilling musical moments.

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There are things in Cincinnati. One of them is no shortage of incestuous pop-punk bands whose whole transcends the sum (melodic, relentlessly uptempo pop-punk) of its parts (members of equally incestuous punk bands). Sleeves is a young band in terms of membership and total time spent playing together, but as a group  represents some of the best of this bumper crop of the loud and fast (Vacation, Black Planet, Swim Team) flourishing in the Queen City. Sleeves is comprised of John Hoffman (Dead North) and Dylan McCartney whose post-punk band Mardou will one day save us all. On their debut tape, the duo (now rounded out as a trio with addition of bassist Alex Collins) play overdriven, hook-filled pop-punk loud, fast and with all the pent-up sexual frustration of a flagellating  zealot. Unplaced and channeled angst and ennui is voiced in the distinctive rough edges on the lines traded by Hoffman and McCartney's trading vocal lines. Remember how raw and tuneful those early Thermals records were? Sex is Stupid has that limbs-flailing intensity and youthful purpose writ large across the fat spine of an under 20-minute tape. I turned 30 today. This kind of stuff still makes me feel like I can move mountains.

Monday, December 8th, 2014 | Add New Comment (0)

Alex Boatman // Handsome Pants The Winner Squeaks By (Vwyrd Wurd, 2014)

I am out in the woods here. Sitting in a Central, PA dive under the glow of a flickering Yuengling sign and the drawl of imported fracking rig workers mixing with the post-Appalachian twang of townies coming up with some very trenchant critiques of Obama's tenure as president and totally not racist reasons as to why he should resign. In the corner are two scruffy looking musicians posted up and armed with guitars and the carcass of a case loaded with dozens of blinking pedals at their feet. Their music is an incredibly literate, bravely experimental blend of lo-fi tunesmanship of Guided by Voices speaking the language of deer season and frigid mornings that come waaay to early. It is a voice that never got out, but absorbed outside music through the internet and unbelievable vinyl hauls at local thrift shops. The PA barely makes it over the bar banter. But it is there. That sweet melodicism of a classic pop hook buried under the perennial fuzz and sea-sick lurch of self-taught musicians giving voice to the life of perennial outsiders brave enough to bring Belle and Sebastian and Townes Van Zandt into this atmosphere of booze and socioeconomic displacement. The banjo, guitar and twang is the country, the back-tracked looping, vocal sampling  and field recordings is the town. Both exist, idealized, in the mind of anyone trying to analyze this excellent collaboration between Central, PA weirdos Alex Boatman and Handsome Pants on the always impressive and befuddling Vywrd Wurd as well as trying to imagine the setting of seeing this kind of experimental rock live in a Central, PA bar.

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Dung Lung Wood Ear, More Deer (Dismal Niche, 2014)

Another woodsy, out of the way place where the love of friends and near-family pulls me every year. Columbia, Missouri is the home to a major collegiate institution, New HQ of Forest Gospel and the newly resurrected Potter Press (consequently our best buds in the world), a great record store called Hitt Records, boss film festival called True/False and one of the most fascinating tape/record labels to come out in the past few years. Dismal Niche is responsible for a slew of great releases including the rise of Nevada Greene whose tape Across our Wide Misery has been a staple listen for me. Witness this weirdo of all weirdo folk tapes to grace my tape-player this year. It is a beautiful thing, this unmastered straight brain-to-tape release of unrestrained jubilance. Dan Fister plays completely out folk-rock in the vein of Woods trapped in a cabin over winter, under the sway of a radical Swami with a touch of Stockholm Syndrome. This is the opposite of a bad-trip, though. Fister's raw voice rising above the clatter and clang of banjos, guitars and country-fried drumming just on the edge careening out of control. Dead Kennedys' surf politics getting its snout into folk-trance of MV & EE. Dung Lung's compositions ride the lightning between straight-up and acid-rattled. Lyrics sheets reveal ramblings coalesced into introspective trips into real-life relationships and solipsistic voyages into the subconscious. Real weird. Real worth it.

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Bitter Fictions Derelict Drift (Shaking Box Music, 2014)

I am a boll weevil for this kind of solo-guitar drone and long-form prettiness. I can't get enough of this granular, fortifying, droned-enough to be writing/reading music but astute and arresting enough to justify several close listens. From beautiful, to downcast ,to downright powerful/terrifying, Bitter Fictions hit every shade from gray to black. To wit, Devin Friesen's Cure inspired, reverb heavy, minor-chord riffing on "Just U" evoke enough forward momentum to accompany brisk walks under the solid gray sky under the hue of dirty marble. The album's centerpiece, a pulling, drifting, surge-channeling 15 + minute masterpiece was written for Friesen's opening slot for Merzbow earlier this year. The track's expansive palate recalls another Canadian guitar-wrangler, Secret Pyramid. Although across the frigid Canadian plains, Friesen has a special connection with Amir Abbey's solo-drone work. Both channel the guitar's ability to create emotional landscapes of affect and mood as flat and pulverized as the great Canadian breadbasket, harness feedback and squalor to poignant, walloping ends and a perfect ability to actually play the guitar, you know with chords and fingerpicking and all that formal, music lesson egghead stuff. This is one of the finer guitar records of 2014. A year that has not lacked in super-fine, granular guitar records.

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Poor Diet/Under Sixteens Split (Vwyrd Wurd, 2014)

A burrito held high as unifying symbol of youth culture. Eating cheaply and poorly to save money on instruments and recording equipment in unheated lofts above abandoned hardware stores. This is some pretty brilliant jangly guitar bangers in the vein of Burger Records and The Sonics (whom Poor Diet cover quite adeptly). Power chords and soaring lead guitars will always resonate deeply within the heart of every late twenty-something who regretfully did not spend his early twenties wasted and wringing out beautiful sounds from busted guitars in basement shows and short-lived all-ages venues. There is a poignant longing for garage rock dreams unfulfilled and stifled by a quick leap into the false security of a premature adult lifestyle. No longer determined to hide from hedonism, this type of beer-fueled guitar rock is a soundtrack to a prolonged adolescence I never had. I am content, in moments that fold into the righteous racket of Poor Diet and Under Sixteens, to live vicariously through the melodic hooks, broken-speaker lo-fidelity-out-of-necessity and melodicism that somehow gestures towards being heartbroken and totally stoked on life 'cuz we get to play tonight and I heard we might get a cut of the bar sales. "Vice Grip" may have one of the best hooks/lead guitar-mony of 2014. Perfect split from perfect post-punk garage rippers.

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Poi Teenage Dolomites (Dismal Niche, 2014)

I've had a lot of really fantastic Kraut-inspired synth minimalism delivered to my doorstep this year. Austin, TX and Provo, UT hold it down as hotbeds of motorik bass lines and swirling arpeggios playing ad nauseam into some neon-bathed night. Poi's latest tape for Dismal Niche is a new contender for Columbia, MO being another unlikely breeding ground for this kind of ponderous take on 70's Kraut and 80's drum machine worship. Near-perfect in its execution, Teenage Dolomites rarely lets up from its laser-like throttle on an hour long composition that doesn't race as much as it keeps a steady, two-hands-on-the-wheel ascent onto an Autobahn spectral highway. These are takeaways from an album that is built on reproducible bedrock but shrouds itself in an air of mystery. Trance-fits and intermittent zoned-out stares of millennials crashing on the shores of adulthood and/or making a do-or-die stab at serious art-making. I don't see why those two things don't have to be mutually exclusive. Case in point. Teenage Dolomites.

https://poimusic.bandcamp.com/releases

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Demonstration Synthesis DS5 (Vwyrd Wurd, 2014)

I am stoked for this collaborative venture of Montreal-based Demonstration Synthesis ( whose DS3 on Adhesive Sounds I sadly never got around to writing up) and Vwyrd Wurd. This time, on DS5, I'm no slouch. This perfect collection of kaleidoscopic turns and twists of evocative and emotive synthesizers is a lovely comedown after a hyped and hurried day. Call this the anti-kraut, this tape is composed of semi-improvised synth jams that float and at a pace completely unfazed by people's busy schedules or the pace of famous German highways. I love how this tape finds and taps into melodies seemingly out of midair as quietly surging arpeggios ripple with complete ease beneath. There are some piercing, clarion clear lines that cut deep and hang in the atmosphere for a few seconds after the tone has diminished. At other times, like on the incredible and incredibly short, "Juno III" Daniel Leznoff and company work a waltzing rhythm into their lovely synth lines like a figure slowly appearing out of thick fog. Much of the tape, however, is a study in patient, giving tones that bend and turn, forever leaning towards some golden mean of synthesized sound. 

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Arnvs Peitre (Vwyrd Wurd, 2014)

It is great to see Central, PA based label Vwyrd Wurd branch out from their very tightknit niche of weirdos making forward-thinking music in the heart of fracking country. Arnvs, Mexico City-based synth-slayer/beat-layer makes danceable ambient music that is heavy on the John Carpenter affected synth sounds and a 4-4 house beat, I guess you can say that Arnvs makes Haunted House music (get it?). Huge rave-ups and post-industrial breakdowns. "Voodo & Blood" sounds like an incredibly dark take on the melody from Schoolboy Q's Collard Greens. In just a short amount of time Vwyrd Wurd has gone from a geographically insular label to releasing tapes by artists encompassing all of North America. An impressive feat, as the output, especially this tape by Arnvs is particularly astounding.

Sunday, December 7th, 2014 | Add New Comment (0)
Vloed

This six pieces of beautiful long-form, mostly acoustic, guitar pieces from Belgian instrumentalist operating under the name Yadayn. What a find this was. An album full of emotionally devastating compositions that wring out the invisible guts from the hollow body of an acoustic guitar. Vloed is full of incredibly nimble fingerwork and flourishes of virtuosic brilliance, but the real meat of the record is in the ever-ascending arpeggios that run laps all over the fretboard. Elements of James Blackshaw's idiosyncratic take on modern classical guitar paired with the high-art ruddiness of Lake Mary and Aycock's instrumental Americana. Except has very little to do with the American West that we often associate with that plaintive, mournful expression of nylon strings and rambling passages, but has everything to do with a sort of wistfulness and settling that comes with moving out your twenties and spending more nights alone, slightly inebriated wondering if what your father was doing at your age this cold night in December.

To channel, what I am boldly assuming are similar conditions of the Western male, Yadayn has created a dense, long-playing album full of stirring passages in an intense, highly melodic fingerpicking style that find hidden nooks and crevices within the guitars ample body. On tracks like "Vloed", Yadayn utilizes heavily distorted strummed chords to create a passage of wrought angst to the tune of that metallic taste of blood in the back of your throat. All of this is obliterated as the calming, somnambulant picking reigns supreme again, flitting from jazz progressions back to folk-inspired arpeggios.

This album has been an incredibly lucky last minute 2014 find. These passages resonate deeply with me and give me some hope that universal emotions are diffuse enough to be picked up at any time in any place but palpable enough to be shared without words. I get you Yadayn. I know exactly what you mean. 

Friday, December 5th, 2014 | Add New Comment (0)
Djrona Trilogy (Angel Tech / Gazer / Pongdools)

2014 has been a big year for Stag Hare. With the help of some of you reading (hopefully) Stag Hare has released this massive 3xtape trilogy into the world via his new Djrona imprint, played a fantastic set at Goldrush Music Festival and, obviously the biggest thing yet (psych), released a single through Heligator Records. I am probably missing a bajillion other accomplishments/wins for Garrick Biggs this year, but those are the ones I am acquainted with. As for the first of the accomplishments, releasing a 3xtape trilogy under the Djrona flag, I have moved beyond casual acquaintance and am writing mash notes with stars and hearts for eyes. I've fallen pretty hard for the entire sequence as a whole and individually as stand alone tapes. 

Rest assured this isn't one long drone piece split between three tapes (although that wouldn't be bad either) Djrona is three distinct tapes with different emphasis but the same elemental make up. For those lucky enough to see Stag Hare at Goldrush it wouldn't be hyperbole to say we are catching Biggs at the top of his game here. 

Starting from the top, Angel Tech, released on Space Slave last year but reimagined for the Djrona trilogy, is Bigg's most beat-oriented offering. Witness the 12 + minute "Grays (Doom and Gloom Mantra)" in which Biggs starts with a racing synth arpeggio before a signature Stag Hare beat drops. A simple rhythmic pattern begins to pick up steam before cut and stuck in a intense house beat that holds the track in a suspended build-up to a crescendo in the form of some incredibly processed guitars that sound miraculously like Steve Winwood's synth tones on the Arc of a Diver album. Angel Tech builds sturdy foundations on beats, gorgeously crystalline guitar tones, synth arpeggios and heavily processed vocals . By itself the album stands alone as a culmination of Stag Hare's proclivities to cut a fine line between meditative, sacred-space and liminal dance floor that exists in both dreamtime and realtime. Realtime being whatever venue made holy by questing communiques.

Gazer (not the Cincinnati post-hardcore band of the same name) is the trilogies most subdued and drone-based offering and is built from the ground up from layers and layers of guitar sounds tuned to celestial hum of a spinning compass. While the barrier to any Stag Hare track is relatively low, these pillowy soft drones are the easiest to fall into when engagement with the outside world can wait. Guitars gracefully arc like radiating shards of spectral drift that hang suspended in mid-air. It is a wonderful, deep listening stretch if you have the time to hear these tapes in sequence. 

Stag Hare's last offering is Pongdools, and is possibly the most exciting indicator of where Biggs is taking his meditative drone-pop. Pongdools is Stag Hare's rock album. And it is about good as that sentence sounds. Anchoring the three tracks in a steady Kraut beat, Biggs strikes a balance between the ephemeral drift of Landing and the intensity and focus of NEU! Major chords played with rhythmic intensity as Biggs's breathy voice and ever-ascending synths and shimmering guitar work. The record is palpable and complete. Hopeful and wistful. Voices coming off the waves.

As everyone is polishing up their best of lists, I am still being reminded how great a year 2014 was for music.

Thursday, December 4th, 2014 | Add New Comment (0)

This is Sparklingwide Pressure's second release for Heligator Records.

Frank Baugh is Murfreesboro, TN's shining hope in intense, drone-based experimental music.

Baugh's latest EP for Heligator is all about the beats. For those of you familiar with SW's flowing, languid guitar and synth paired with stabs of sharp, atonal noise, framing something like this on beats may sound anachronistic. But it totally makes sense.

"Square" starts with pulsing, unrelenting tom-hit while pitch-shifted everything swirls over and beneath. "Blended Ghost House" pairs looping free-jazz woodwinds with a seriously deconstructed boom-bap before the track changes into an entirely new animal. "Triangle's" beats are gorgeous and lush, paired with a shoegazey haze of processed guitars, Baugh's sonic landscape strikes a chord to other Heligator alumni Landing.

Easily one of the strongest Heligator releases. Hope you love it as much as I do.

As always, all proceeds go to the library at the Malindza Refugee Camp.

Purchase and donate below.

Monday, December 1st, 2014 | Add New Comment (0)
Harasite

Lately, I've been listening to a lot of Todd Rundgren. Not really because I like Todd Rundgren (although some of his Utopia stuff is cool...maybe?) but more because I like the idea of Todd Rundgren. A kid from the Philly suburbs discovering drugs for the first time and with a shit-ton of gear cranking out song, after song, after song. Writing and recording sprawling 2xLPs and writing and recording songs in the time it takes me to get out of bed and pour a bowl of cereal. The One and Only Matt Miller probably has little in common with the Runt aesthetically, but the comparison I like to draw from is the singer-songwriter as cloistered, self-contained composer. In the gatefold of Rundgren's album when shit first started getting real, is Rundgren standing in his living room, facing all of his recording equipment, guitar slung low across his waist with his arms extended triumphantly. In what is either hubris of preemptive fame, or a sly wink and a nod to other home-recording enthusiasts it speaks to the fact that the output containing your greatest ideas, best lines, most carefully crafted compositions are transcribed into mediums that are probably only representative of about 15 % of what went into them. The true fans, the ones getting the real show, are usually your 8-track recorder, massive tube amps and miles of stereo wire who hear everything in its intended, pristine brilliance.

Approaching Miller's studiously lo-fi, kitchen-sink composition decisions it makes me wonder if we are truly getting out what went in. Casio keyboards are supposed to sound underwater when recorded directly onto decaying strips of magnetic tape. But I get the feeling when I listen to the carefully-constructed, building compositions replete with full drum-kits, armies of synths and bass licks on Harasite that Miller has more in common with Rundgren than I first thought. These are aspirational songs that often work against the aesthetic of lo-fi homerecordings as much as with it.

There are moments on this tape, however, that are as stop-you-dead-in-your tracks brilliant and affecting if they recorded in some ludicrously expensive studio than in a cold and drafty row house in a decaying Midwestern city. Harasite is bursting at the seams with them. Miller's songwriting can turn a phrase like no one's business. Witness "Scientists and Zionists" agreeing on constructing a "Manna from Heaven Machine", Miller's younger-self protagonist "liter-roll-roll-roll-ly" falling down the mountain that the "rednecks have their hill climb", watching TV snow all night until re-runs come on in the morning. These are easy returns on a record that often requires repeated listening for the full weight of a metaphor to truly dawn on you and crush you in its relevance to your life, right then, that second.

Tracks on Harasite range from Rundgren-esque mini-symphonies of full rock band set up and swirling synth lines that induce a woozy, golden-tinged sense of giddiness. But much of this album is tinged with that unnamed sense of sadness/adrenal rush that comes with remembering forgotten emotions. Tracks like the massive crescendo-ing "The Virgin Suicides"  makes me want to form a band immediately to recapture that ennui, rage and wonder that Miller can wring out of his distinctive voice that registers somewhere between downcast croak and soaring croon. Dude has pipes. Especially on "Boys, with the Blues, on red alert" where he sounds like Boz Scaggs. Which is amazing.

These are huge songs. Huge ideas full of small winks, nods and clever lines that slip past even the most astute listener on the first couple listens make this one of the most rewarding and fulfilling finds of 2014. Spend some time alone with this tape. No extended hubris on this.  You hear the most shiver-inducing lines, the building, echoing voice of Miller pouring his soul into this tape machine. There is no saluting the means of production or studio wizardry. It is all there, more or less, in plain sight. Bare bones and prickled hair.

Wednesday, November 26th, 2014 | Add New Comment (0)

New material and a killer new video from SLC-based VCR project, VCR5. Dying eclipse solar flare burning Thrashin' onto the back of your eyelids assuring that this 1986 consumerism as counter-culture masterpiece will be the last thing you see when you die. Post-IDM banger of several VCRS spilling their analog guts in unspooling piano lines and crisp, glitching beats. Fresh AF.

this Videodrone brought to you by Ryan H.

Monday, November 24th, 2014 | Add New Comment (0)
S.T.L.A

Imagine stumbling into Gordon Ashworth/Concern/Oscillating Innards material this late in the game. I am late both in 2014 and in life. The first time hearing Gordon's longing, fully-fleshed out drone-based music was last month when I saw Gordon and Work/Death play an incredibly moving set at Rake's End in Cincinnati, OH. What started as just another weekday noise show turned out to be an introduction to oeuvre of work that displays musicality rarely present in drone-based or drone-adjacent music.

S.T.L.A came out back in April after Ashworth's most notable project, Concern, shut its doors after a string of highly regarded records. Ashworth's latest project shares certain commonalities with the music put out under Concern's moniker but with Ashworth's inherent musical talent is pushed to the forefront. At times, these instrumental passages are bare-boned and naked, often, however, they are abstracted and manipulated, notes stretched into shivering, excited particles responding to electrical impulses or laid flat as an EKG meter carrying the ghost of tonality hovering somewhere above. This is especially true on a song like "Suite for Broken Sex" which starts with a lush piano piece before gradually being deconstructed piece-by-piece into the most elemental mechanical operations. Metal string vibration muffled by thick oak. Amps as receivers - interloping on someone's private cell phone call. 

"To Be the Man I want To Be" is a rich, long-playing melodic banjo piece flurrying desperately picked lines over a cicada hum of mechanical sounds, manipulated field recordings, ghostly double images of itself. Ashworth's work as an overnight taxi driver puts him in contact with some of the shadier elements of our society. Ashworth has done field recordings in hospital parking garages in the dead of night. Here he often draws in snippets of conversations with Portland's denizens of the night. The resulting ambient passages feel a bit spooked and always on edge. That works for Ashworth's compositions. He will often pair plaintive piano, banjo or guitar lines (in the album closer "Desperate and Indebted") with sounds that are always looking over their shoulders knowing they aren't alone. Darkness creeping under slits in the doorway.

The title of this album is an acronym for "See Through Life Alone". In the loss of a loved one or the loss of faith, readjustment is often a circular process. Momentary forgetting and crushing reminders. Ashworth's latest album can often move me into both modes. This isn't escapist music. But rather a mechanism to help you stay rooted into whatever mental space you've clawed for yourself amidst constant longing.

Purchase S.T.L.A on clear vinyl from Ordinal Records

Thursday, November 20th, 2014 | Add New Comment (0)