Snake Hymns

After digesting the news this morning, Snake Hymns seemed like a natural choice to ruminate on those feelings that things probably aren't getting better. These are desolate soundscapes full of surging delayed guitars, forlorn and windswept washes of drone that drift like worried fire through an empty prairie and a sense of unease that sits on these tracks like a pregnant carrier jet. Full of decaying magnetic tape that sputter out and fall apart in the span of a song (the artifact killing the music), distant guitar lines seeping up from the basement and swooping, carrion saxophones, Snake Hymns also employs bright, technical acoustic guitar twinning on "Greek Lightning" that are reminiscent of Columbia, MO trio Nevada Greene. But left to its own devices, this is the kind of music that we face down in the light of bright, florescent introspection. It carries enough weight and enough space to tie you to this plane, and sheer and shimmering enough to provide a reflective surface to stare yourself down. Snake Hymns, however, after informing you that this is real life - that this is serious - has enough silver around its edges to offer a glimpse of an escape route. "Awake, Awake, Awake" is a response back. A simple three-note melody, a chord played on an organ and then some impossibly light and shimmering electronic guitar descending from on high with healing in its wings. This is music that should accompany every news segment on every channel. Enough to keep us from freaking out, pensive enough to inspire introspection and wearied, measured responses to the question, "will we ever stop tearing ourselves apart?". Phew. Monday mornings are rough. Snake Hymns make it bearable. I can honestly say this is one of the best things I've heard all year.

Ryan H.

Purchase here from Spring Break Tapes!

Monday, October 20th, 2014 | Add New Comment (0)

 

ØjeRum - There is a Flaw in My Iris

We will kick this off with my favorite tape in this bumper crop of fine music from around Europe as curated by Portugal's A Giant Fern. ØjeRum is a Danish composer of feather light compositions comprised of acoustic guitar and voice, usually accompanied by field recordings or auxiliary noise. What he can do with this limited palate is astounding. From the first down stroke ØjeRum creates space where feeling wistful and nostalgic and all sorts of ennui is appropriate and welcome. The space between those barely strummed guitar lines are mile-wide chasms to hurl all your insecurities about the future and in return get back memories of being brave. ØjeRum's voice, a deeply understated thing, often sounds like it was recorded in another room or right up close, whiskers scratching the mic. This immediacy and intimacy make this album so familiar sounding although it comes from multiple time zones away. Getting this tape in the mail is the equivalent of finding a t-shirt from your home town in a thrift store thousands of miles away. The usual questions come up, but you are just happy to see something familiar. Fans of Padang Food Tigers and Lake Mary will dig this.

Micromelancolié - Ensemble Faux Pas

Polish ambient-drone artist, Micromelancolié, creates sparse, three-dimensional recordings that pulse and crackle with expectant dread and tension. Side A of this tape is all waiting. Hands taped to a chair while the sky gathers black, sick looking clouds.Wind chimes that are intended to sound soothing pierce through a thick silence. Magnetism going haywire in an inky, green sky. These tones are patient. Splayed out across miles and miles of farm land. Listen to them loud enough and they transcend atmosphere, creating submerged and inherent melodies while thunder rumbles somewhere off the East Coast. A tropical storm waiting to be flattened by the plains. Side B, that storm hits sometime past midnight. Long, droning horns announce its arrival. It doesn't come in a harsh-noise onslaught, but rather a slow build of woodwind instruments, bells and distinctly ominous tones that pass over like the angel of death, leaving an uneasy sense of calm in its wake. A single bell chimes in a church we huddle in for safety. Ensemble Faux Pas is full of these fantastically eerie tones and sustained melodies that keep your ear always crooked towards the speaker in anticipation/dread.

The Hidden Persuaders - The Bone Forest

"Night's Black Agents", tho. Seriously. A distillation of Wolf Eyes short-blast harsh-noise with the melodic, ominous post-industrial tonality of Ben Frost. I realize I'm pulling out some big guns for comparison, but to me, nothing gets better than this. Noise that has distinct parts, plenty of slack space, ace sound-design that incorporates field recordings of everyday sounds being turned into terrifying trips to the abyss. The Bone Forest follows this lead for much of the tape. Andreas Brandal is able to successfully marry dark and noise-laden that burst and bloom into speaker destroying stabs of contact mic/black noise with melodic undercurrents that provide a placid noise-floor that is never completely enveloped by the face-stabbing shards of harshness. Tracks like "God Beast" are crackling, static-filled passages full of oscillating synthesizers and the strange hum that rattles through one's body after standing beneath power lines too long. The Bone Forest incorporates harsh-noise, industrial synthesizers and percussion, goth bass lines and long-form drones to create something wholly blackened and sinister but completely listenable.

Roadside Picnic & Charles Barabé - Worn Paths in Crown Dust

Lastly this brings us to this collaborative tape between Roadside Picnic and Charles Barabé. An hour-long descent into swirling, ambient passages, bugged out electronics, contact-mic scrapings, dripping, feeding field-recordings and long drone pulls that scrape and drag across dirty basement floors. A sweeping, all-encompassing, diving, droning, pitch-shifting push and pull between two artists sharing similar sonic space. Both sides of the tape cover an incredible amount of terrain, fucked electronic passages bleeding into ambient segues blending into power electronics down-tuned and slowed waaaaay down. It is safe to say, there are tones on this tape that have never been recorded before and will never be recorded again. Hours of tinkering meets on-the-fly improvisation that yields frighteningly astute results. This is a tape I've been trying to shake for a week or two now, but I always find myself stuck in the middle of some passage. Trying to find my way out of whatever hellish miasma/stuck between stations noise that beckoned me to dip my toe into. Now completely submerged I may never come up for air. Highly recommended.

Friday, October 17th, 2014 | Add New Comment (0)
Sun Tribes

Tome to the Weather Machine is proud to premiere a new video by Brisbane, Australia artist Benjamin Thompson who operates under the name Pale Earth. This halting, sea-sick track is filled with keyed-up Eastern vocal samples and deep, adjacent percussion that have the same audio depth of a door being slammed really hard in another part of a large, Victorian mansion. When these are folded in somewhat reliably into the glitching, VHS-on-pause scanning lines of the milieu of this track the entire thing takes on bodily, rhythmic lurch that slams your chest into the desk you are writing at. Keep your eyes trained to the screen of something that is either an appropriation of a direct-to-video Malaysian crime thriller or some startling found footage. The fist-fight around 2:00 looks waaaay too realistic, but then the dissolve (at that exact perfect moment) brings us back into artifice. It is impossible to tell. So much guilt and sadness in these faces. Spider-bite or gunshot? Bordello or convent? Do these distinctions matter?

You can purchase Pale Earth's new record over at A Guide to Saints.

Pale Earth - Sun Tribes from ROOM40 on Vimeo.

Videodrone brought to you by Ryan H.

Thursday, October 16th, 2014 | Add New Comment (0)
8

Halasan Bazar's brilliant 2012 cassette How to Be Ever Happy has finally been given the proper re-issue vinyl treatment on Moon Glyph. I say finally somewhat ironically, but re-listening to this treasure of an album is to shake with rage with the thought of people not listening and loving this record. Halasan Bazar creates perfectly hazy, dark psychedelia that simmers and shines a dull glow under a blanket of fragmented hiss. To remind everyone how good this band is, Halasan Bazar has teamed up with French band Tara King th., and in the snowbound village of Le Chambon-sur-Lignon, came together to create from scratch, a startling recreation of late-60's/early 70's baroque psychedlia that sounds impossibly faithful and forward thinking.

Halasan Bazar's music and songwriting has often been relentlessly inward and dark, wrapping despondency in shuffling, wistful tracks that often crack under the weight of their emotional weight. On 8, Fredrick Eckhoff can still pen some devastatingly bleak verses, but under the light chanteuse spell-craft of Beatrice Mourel Journel joining him as counterpart or foil to his morose deep, drawl, these lines are often given a new dimension of creepiness. Like looking into a mask with no light behind the eyes. In "Rot Inside" with its spaghetti western meets southern California drug-addled organ lines, Eckhoff and Journel trade some pretty desperate lines about complete emotional dependency. The sick wheeze of the organ track this despondency well, conjuring images sunchoked desert landscapes bad-trip motorcycle rides into the foreboding small towns. In "TK16 pt. II" Journel is able to contort her voice to mimic some unbidden spirit possessing a phonograph, while Eckhoff spills his guts to some departed lover. "Cover" and "Try their Best" are light-touch and sun-drenched, full of warped guitars, precise percussion interplay and, in "Try their Best" a barn-burning organ drone that probably stripped the wallpaper on whatever ancient farmhouse they recorded this in.

Extended into a sextet for this record, Halsan Bazar and Tara King th. find rooms full of slack sonic space to fill with equal parts longing and wonder. Next to their reissued record and their equally brilliant Space Junk on Crash Symbols, 8 is a record that extends their downcast psychedelia into unmediated realms of intricacy and baroque complexity and tunefulness. Hard to think of a better calling card for each band.

Tuesday, October 14th, 2014 | Add New Comment (0)
Ruleth

The word "sequence" can be tagged onto any of these linear, pulsing synth jams and stick. For those of us growing up on well-worn VHS copies of 80's and 90's dystopian science-fiction movies, these evocative, slightly warped drum machine and synth compositions signal a moment of heightened cinematic tension. Moments that signified a distinct break from reality, sounds divorced from real-world enough to remind us we are in a manufactured reality. I guess synthesizers did for 70's-90's what oscillators and theremins did from the 50's-60's. In "Ruleth" these moments of heightened tension within a slightly less-real world come in rapid succession. There are sped up tempos and staccato synth lines we associate with a chase sequence on tracks like "Ruleth", a track that ties these elements in with washes of harsh digital noise and disembodied vocals. Similar taggings can be applied to the first track on the B-Side of this record, "Ashes". Head-nodding canter beat with some heavily pawed syrupy-thick synth lines with the screed of breaking tapes washing like a cold, mercury-tinged wind across the track. Not sure if this is cannonized in the film lexicon, but "Ashes" holds all the unworldly dread of the "coming robot apocolypse sequence" of the Terminator 2 first-person shooter arcade game. This is a brutal, droning track with beats as brittle as the snap of skull under a tank. They come with machine gun frequency/intensity. Though never to let us wallow in darkness forever, que the "dream sequence" of tracks like "Dreamwaves" and "timeghosts. These are soft-focused and billowing with deep, melodic synth pulls and upper-register float. José Cota's expansive, cinematic palate - balancing intense darkness and stark, naked light of a sun rise through twisted metal of a burnt out city - makes a case for Holodeck Records as a location for uniformly awesome synth-based music to be played well past the apocolypse. Highly recommended.

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Ryan H. 

Wednesday, October 8th, 2014 | Add New Comment (0)
Shadow Days

Reading this in a humid July-hellscape will be useless. But if you don't live in Southern California or the Southern Hemisphere, right now, on October 6th, looking out at slightly drenched and overcast Midwestern university quad, this is perfect. All-points Northwest, this Minneapolis-via-Portland duo of Sarahs (Rose and Nienabar) create reverb-heavy, hushed folk jams comprised of twinned, breathy vocals and a downcast clip that keeps strummed minor chords and crystalline guitar lines shuffling across leaf-strewn campus lawns, passing dudes shivering in short-sleeves unwilling to cave into the inevitability and sweet melancholy of chillier weather. Shadow Days is full of these moments when voice and guitar meld into a choir of oneness of affect and intent. The feeling of disconnection and (often) disaffection that comes with interested, but aloof, observation is kicked into high gear when it exposed to this kind of sweet-sad songs played softly on acoustic guitars and strung out like Christmas lights through Nienabar's elegiac passages of swooning guitar parts full softened edges and slightly blurred, out of focus haziness. Songs like "Pennant" and "Blank Sky" are perfect, cyclical and languid, the sound of the mind preparing for darker days ahead like the last two passes a dog makes before sleeping. Ritualized sadness and reflection preceding a change in the season where everything dies for few months. Enjoy your sweaters.

Buy/Download below.

Monday, October 6th, 2014 | Add New Comment (0)
Data in the Details

Rounding third base of an obscenely prolific year, M. Sage latest cassette for Geographic North sounds like it took years upon years to layer and track sufficiently the insane amount of sound bleeding through this tape. This sounds like someone wandering for years trapped in a Tron-like data set with the tape machine always running, rather than just one of  M. Sage's 2014 releases and all of the incredible stuff he put out on Patient Sounds (Intl.) For all we know this could be that, and this is just a small rivulet of the constant stream of data rushing through the ether. Inherent here is a sense of movement. An ever-present stream of sound modulating and shifting as impressed upon by outside hands, but inerrant and insistent in its course. Based on Sage's use of field recordings, one needs to listen for Sage bringing the natural world into his intentionally abstract compositions. In these compositions, made up of glitched and cut pieces of digital data, elements of the non-digital world creep in. Layered underneath are field recordings. Birds chirping, computer fans winding down (maybe), sidewalks, dogs and real leaves. These are folded in with such precision that a few listens in and we can start to parse them out. I'm not sure Sage is one to make grand, bellicose statements so I wouldn't read too much into this. This isn't some college sophomore reading Gibson and complaining about the appropriation of our identities by technology on social media. What we get here is Sage massaging data to suit his needs. In love with the form and lost in the process. If Side A was made for the office, Side B was made for moving trucks. The "Mover Isuzu Dub Edit" of the B-Side is a dancey, dubby companion to Side A's heady maximalism. Two-stepping and gorgeous. All of it.

Purchase from Geographic North

Friday, October 3rd, 2014 | Add New Comment (0)
Head High

Sometimes, this all I want to listen to. Which is saying a lot because I usually have to take Boy Froot's releases in measured doses. From his early days as a teen noise-loop savant to his recent resurrection as a "satanic trap-lord" (his words, not mine), there is a certain abrasiveness that kept me at arms-length while still cerebrally connecting with what he was doing. Head High is a completely different affair. A mega-chilled beat tape centered on smooth jazz samples and the steady boom-bap of a drum machine. While much of Froot's rap work is juxtaposed by a similarly chilled ambiance, belying the very active deviance Froot is committing in his verses. There is none of that cognitive dissonance here. Just 15 minutes or so of smooovness. This tape is a welcome addendum to a fresh crop of Japanese beat-makers (Bugseed, ill.sugi) crafting excellent jazz-based beats in the key of their forefathers Nujabes or DJ Krush. Boy Froot's online persona would probably recommend you enjoy this with a cool, refreshing bottle of FIJI water. I recommend something a bit stronger.

Tuesday, September 30th, 2014 | Add New Comment (0)

As all gerund ending verbs, the "ing" indicates continuous happening. In print: eternal life. An ever present now. An infinite process. Landing, a part of our aural landscape for more than 15 years (releasing albums on K Records, Ba Da Bing! and Geographic North), are ever present in that flux. In this latest track, you hear a band who have been in a sonic relationship that outlast most marriages, yet still surveying new ground while staying rooted in the same krauty, spacey, expansive palate that brought them together as college students in the most un-college towns of college towns: Provo, UT (now all grown up and living in Connecticut).

You may notice a few things about this track. Live drums are back in a major way. That muscular bass line punching holes through the swirling reverb drywall with sewing machine precision. The way Aaron Snow's guitar just tears into the fabric of the track after the first verse with equal parts noise and shimmer.

Landing recorded this track exclusively for Heligator. Aside from being an incredible musical statement, Snow's lyrics get at the heart of what Heligator strives to do. "Why can't you see me/I'm not invisible" is really what the refugees at the Malindza Refugee Camp are trying to say.

Forced to leave their homes because of war, political instability, xenophobia (or all of the above) these refugees want people to know they exist. Not only that they exist, but they are surviving and, against all odds, thriving. They are building libraries, teaching each other and learning/connecting to the world that they feel has largely ignored them.

Your purchase of this track goes directly to the Malindza Refugee Camp library and librarians. Funds go to keeping the lights on, repairs and providing a small stipend for the refugee volunteer librarians. Rarely do you get so rewarded for your generosity. But...here we are.

Buy/Download here:

Please check out the Malindza Refugee Camp Blog for updates on happenings at the library: www.malindzarefugeecamplibrary.blogspot.com

Monday, September 29th, 2014 | Add New Comment (0)
Rituals

As a major part of my religious upbringing and as something I'm trying to cling to as life begins to loose (or lose) it's moorings and I find myself drifting more than sailing, rituals are an important part of my life. There is some serious inner work that is being done when outer work is performed with intention. A million neurons and channels aligning themselves or realigning themselves as we quiet the body and mind. David Shea, US Born, John Zorn affiliated, Melbourne, Australia working musician gets this. In Rituals, Shea's experience and interest in folding ritualistic music from a variety of traditions, namely Buddhist and Taoist chanting, droning and revelry-making, into his sprawling tracks never duplicate themselves or grow stale. Album opener, "Ritual 32" pairs placid keyboard before compressed Buddhist chanting, throat-singing drone and operatic vocals, before launching into the busy, deconstructed chamber music of "Emerald Garden". The album continues making surprising turns on each track, "Fragments of Hafiz" is a meditation on Middle Eastern Ragas and the closing track "Green Dragon Inn" seems to cram in a centuries worth of western musique concrete, deconstructed classical, experimental electronic music into a massive 15 minute track until it explodes into a fit of out drumming paired, diving and swooping guitars, paired with  sampled monastic vocal drones and Buddhist chanting. The result a cathartic caterwaul that ranks as one of the most thrilling moments in music in 2014. A ritualized, aural bathing in set-free vibrations that do some serious inner work even if you aren't cognizant of doing the outer.

Cop it at Room40.

Friday, September 26th, 2014 | Add New Comment (0)