Lake Mary is not an island. Nor a lake. Lake Mary is a billowing white canopy in which friends crouch beneath and play their instruments for a season. Some come and go. Anchoring Lake Mary as a home to return to after some spring-time roaming. Others stay for a time. Make themselves cozy, and pick and play and drone and zone for a few revolutions under radical hospitality and pro-active selflessness.

Visit is a peek into the Lake Mary universe of friends old and new. Lake Mary is led by Chaz Prymek, a huge-spirited musician who used to vagabond across the states by any/all means necessary but always found his way back to his home cradled in the Salt Lake Valley. Recently, Chaz has put down some pretty deep roots in Denver, CO (well, Evergreen to be exact) and has expanded his once solo-project into an ever-expanding benevolent empire of communally-minded musicians who fly no flag, disregard invisible borders, but who are patriots nonetheless.

Visit is comprised of past and current Lake Mary members, contributors, friends and well-wishers. These are ten exclusive tracks from Tome favs like Silver Antlers, Nathan Wheeler as well as contributions by members of one of Denver's most successful indie exports Paper Bird. Chaz and co. graciously donated these tracks to Heligator as part of our mission to continuously fund a library at the Malindza Refugee Camp in Mpaka, Swaziland. All proceeds go towards that end. Your financial support goes towards purchasing supplies and necessities for the library as well as providing a stipend for the volunteer refugee librarians. Thanks.

More info on the Malindza Refugee Camp Library can be found at: http://www.malindzarefugeecamplibrary.blogspot.com/

Plus, while we are at it, here is a video I made in collaboration with Chaz about seven years ago for "Significant Human Losses" - Ryan H. 

Friday, March 28th, 2014 | Add New Comment (0)

 

 

Last summer I got a pretty great package in the mail from a small tape label operating out of Jim Thorpe, PA. These were some gloriously bizarre tapes coming out of the outer Fracklands of East-Central PA. Vwyrd Wurd continues its angled, awkward lope towards transcendence with this latest batch of four wondrous slabs of magnetic tape. I give you the Vwyrd Wurd Tape Haul II: The Rewurding. I can honestly say this is one of my favorite small-run tape labels churning out music. Enjoy!

Wondertaker - S/T

First release on this journey through the murkiness of PA's densly forested netherlands is Wondertaker's self-titled swath of deep psychedelia that is equal parts ritualized droning of neo-psych East Coasters Bardo Pond or Espers with early 00's The Smell's perchance for dancibly rhythmic but completely unhinged cacophony. Michelle Osztrosits possesses a deep, mahogany-timbred voice that can coo and invite while reciting some of the more melodic lines of "Aging Backwards" or "Pretty Ones" that recall the strength and narrative structure of artists like Clara Engel or Carla Bozulich, or completely tear apart a stereo system when folded into pummeling white-sea swell of a composition like in the last few minutes of album closer "Thoughts". Wondertaker has the ability to sprout easily hummable melodic song-songs out of thin air and then drag you through the rich loam of excavated noise where fidelity and a high, staticy noise floor are used as another instrument in the swirling miasma of noise-laden passages. 

Nocht the Only Ghouls - Wolvfen

Nocht the Only Ghouls' 2012 self-titled release held the Tome (with a lot of other blogs) under hypnosis with their deeply-felt neo-folk approximations of a less sinister Death in June album filtered through Eastern PA's rolling, wooded hills obscured by clouds. Wolvfen is a welcome return by Earnest Knuckle, the leading Ghoul in these closed ranks. Wolvfen is a record dampened by that kind of mist that just seems to cling to your body without any idea of direction led by gravity. It just hangs there, suspended and weightless. NTOG's organ drones do this. These drones aren't an omnipresent element of the atmosphere. It is the atmosphere. Within this atmosphere micro-bursts of obscured saxophone, contemplative guitar, banjo, pianos and the human voice are plucked in and out the environment at large before succumbing back to their natural elements. Nocht the Only Ghouls has created two works of endearing quality and beauty here. Works that are bleak and endless as a 24-hour night but contain a faint, beating heart of un-busheled light that gives out just enough to see rounded edges and muted colors. One of the best releases of the year.

Falcony - Erode the Person

Falcony, Adj:  describing the way a dread filled guitar passage circles and swoops with the precision and terror of a bird of prey.

In the tautological sense, Falcony is waaaay falcony. The falconest, solo-guitar, distortion-bred release of the year. Falcony isn't simply Sun O))) volume swells and sludge-tempo riffage, Falcony plays in the same sort of distorted-blues lens of a noisier Marisa Anderson or Ava Mendoza built around a few Funeral Doom dirges. Side B, "Barren Earth" deals in some very pretty telestial tones and shimmering drones.  It takes a lot brawn to massage these massive swells of noise into 20 to 16 minutes chunks of charred half notes floating detached from a smoldering pyre. And when I mean brawn I am talking Joe Preston girth. One of the best solo-guitar works I have heard all year. Definitely the one with the falcony turned up to 11.

Near Earth / Broken Key - '93 EP / Cold Open

I can't really put my finger on why I love the Near Earth side of this split so much. It could be because it reminds me heavily of my favorite post-Christie Front Drive Coldwave band Antarctica who put out a super ambitious 2xLP album and then faded into obscurity. They had a similar approach to low-key, downtuned mixture of live instrumentation and electronic programming/synths-a-buzzin'. There are a bunch of undiscovered antecedents on Absolutely Kosher like the Swords Project or Summer at Shatter Creek that Near Earth would fall nicely between if I were to make a mixtape of my favorite psych-influenced downtempo indie bands from the early-mid' 00's. The guitar work on this record takes a lot of ques from that hazy, endless noodling headtrip of the Second Summer of Love Stone Roses/Happy Mondays explosion. These two points alone put this side of the cassette in a very special place in my heart. Rounding up the B-Side is the sample-based electronic music of long-time vw acolyte Broken Key. The Cold Open side of the split covers quite a bit of musical ground, from chiptune freak outs, to dub-heavy trip-hop, gloomcast post-industrial, grimy noise to absurdist, sample-heavy cuts reminiscent of some of the old-school vinyl sampling of Stones Throw Records. Near Earth / Broken Key is a hair-raising inclusion to the Vwyrd Wurd family of left-field influences and anachronistic geography.

Wednesday, March 19th, 2014 | Add New Comment (0)

These are two tapes that have been getting major spins in my slowly dying walkman. Both are the newest offerings from Tome friends Prison Art Records outta NYC and Provo, UT based label Hel-Audio and are about as different as those respective cities. Onward.

prison art tapes - "scrapings"

It isn't very often that a compilation record becomes one of my favorite releases of the year. But, here we are. Scrapings is a fantastic collection of songs collected by some of our favorite Prison Art bands in partnership with Dijon-based French label Capri (for all my due diligence I can't substantiate that claim...but we'll go with it). Some familiar PA friends Each Other, Mean Wind, The Miami, Dillon James Rego and The Spookfish make their mark here with some choice cuts. Newcomers (to us) such as Sam Kogon, SEENMR, Telepathy News and Brandon Hurtado make incredibly compelling welcome statements. The compilation is a nice, mid-range swath of stuff Prison Art is well known for. The poles range from quiet, meditative drones of Brandon Hurtado, Ylang Ylang and monte, the tape finds a nice mean in straight-forward, shambling indie rock of Each Other, Mean Wind and Shopping Spree (with quite a bit of swirling synth interplay), and arriving at the incredibly cathartic spazz-core of SSWAMPZZ. The outliers messing up our normal distribution (I am currently taking a stats class) are the skeletal, haunting folk-drone of The Miami and the bizarro casio-led Middle Eastern Pop of El Hanaan who plays music reminiscent of the kind played at ear-bleeding levels at Pakistani owned shops when I lived in Swaziland. This may be tape that kills my Walkman. What a great way to die.

metatag - transmission

*Originially published in SLUG Magazine*

Metatag’s tape cover bears a strong resemblance to Joy Division’s classic Unknown Pleasures if it were isolated and magnified a couple hundred times. Much like that image of a pulsar CP 1919 radio wave, Metatag plays under a microscope. Often restricted to a handful of repeating melodies undulating and ringing out, full of the most shimmering and warmest digital sounds created sans computer, Transmission also breaks wide open at times with a free-exchange between typical folk instrumentation (guitar, harpsichord) and the siren call of a deep soulful drone. The who of this 60 + min tape is the mysterious Norwegian Θ who put out an equally unpronounceable album last year of dark-ambient soundscapes. This ever-ascending marble staircase of crystalline synths scratches all the itches that tape couldn’t. An album full of John Carpenter melody and repetition without any of the creeping darkness; this is beautiful stuff.

Ryan H. 

Wednesday, March 5th, 2014 | Add New Comment (0)

heligator 008: the furr - "coffin syrup"

Driving with a suspended license in your mom’s Astrovan, windows down with the tape player at ear-bleeding level.

The Furr are there.

The muted thud of drums and pulsing bass line rattling asbestos from the ceiling rafters and seeping out of an unfinished, unheated basement.

The Furr are there.

Your older sister in a black Die Kruezen t-shirt shoplifting CD’s from Mediaplay.

The Furr is her.

You, alone, in your Dodge Dart, at a red light, air drumming and soloing like a maniac under the stare of a semi-disgusted sorority girl in her shiny black escalade.
You make eye contact.
Roll the window down.
And crank it.

You are the Furr. We are the Furr. The Furr is everywhere. The Furr is everyone.

The rockist of all rockist tendencies seethe from this Morgantown, WV foursome who, in the vein of The Breeders, Dinosaur Jr. or Sonic Youth, make gut-punching guitar solos, ace melodies and gritty, direct-to-tape distortion crucial and inestimable contributions in the realm of basement arena-rock.

Download below:

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heligator 009: sparkling wide pressure - live at trumpeter's palace ep

Looking back through my e-mail exchange with Sparkling Wide Pressure I have to shudder a bit at the sheer amount of exclamation marks I ended every sentence with. "Wow!! Thanks!!! This is great!!!!". Every sentence had a two exclamation mark minimum. Needless to say Heligator is pretty excited to be releasing something from the Murfreesboro, Tennessee musician Frank Baugh.

Live at Trumpeter's Palace was recorded live with a few overdubs thrown in later. The result are two tracks of something akin to watching live surgery. After careful diagnoses the rest is as much as carrying out a careful plan as it is responding to changing variables, improvising your way out of unexpected jams and keeping the patient alive while not killing them like so many spinning plates. I wouldn't really know. I'm not a doctor. But what I do know is that listening to these tracks is watching/hearing a master work. It is a peek into the brain and heart of musician who's approach to creating music isn't a linear, additive process but a continual conversation between the self and the infinite possibilities of the analog/digital cave of wonders.

At the end, these tracks come down to decision. Un-field tested, un-focused grouped, un-AR'd, perhaps even un-thought until their inception. The result is an EP full of intentional beauty that surprise and thrill on every new listen.

Download below: 

Remember, every cent you spend on a Heligator release goes to help keep the Malindza Refugee Camp Libary up and running. There has been some recent financial struggles at the camp but your donations have kept the library up and running and put some food in the bellies of the volunteer librarians. Please check out the blog at: http://www.malindzarefugeecamplibrary.blogspot.com/ to see where your donations have gone.

Ryan H. 

Friday, February 28th, 2014 | Add New Comment (0)

Hi, hello! Crawf here. It's me, Crawf. Remember me? HEY!

All right, so I've been out of the TOME game for a little while, and it's been eating me up inside! Sometimes life for a volunteer music geek gets a little crazy. I work a day job, I edit for another website, write regularly for yet another, and also I do a dumb little thing on the side sometimes called "Live life." But that's never been an excuse for me before, and I refuse to use it completely as one now. I've just .. I don't know where I've been, but I want to be back. Ryan H. is my best buddy in the entire world, and I'm eternally grateful that he still agrees to have me contribute my thoughts on music to this website when I can. And or course that means I want to and will continue to do just that! So watch for more from your humble Crawf in the very near future. I will be here and would love to see you. Tome forever. Forever Tome.

But before I get back into submissions, doing reviews, popping V-dronz, etc., I have a little unfinished business... Back in September of 2013, the TOME was instrumental in helping to organize and execute Denver's third annual Goldrush Music Festival. Aside from the fact that we got to design basically what we considered to be the best festival happening in Colorado over the course of the entire year, it also gave us a nice chance to do a little writing on some music. You see, the festival simply is not possible without the support of our many, many sponsors, which take the form of local businesses, a couple of national ones, and a bevy of underground tape/CD-r/vinyl-only record labels from around the world. In exchange for their generous contributions to the festival, all of our sponsors were featured in this year's program, and the labels were each given an exclusive page with a brief bio and a review of a new release. I thought it was important that I take a moment to thank everyone yet again for being a part of this year's Goldrush, and to share our work on this project with our readers. All of these small businesses are a huge part of the festival, and I think that this project really brought people and musicians together in a unique way.

So here it is below... the Goldrush 2014 Companion Zine, written and edited by Tome to the Weather Machine. The 'zine includes some intro and outro thoughts by yours truly, brief write-ups on all of the bands/artists who performed at this year's festival, and then of course the label features of which myself, Ryan H., Joey, and Pete were all contributors. The 'zine has another fine feature, and that is the gorgeous look - the artwork and layout - that went into its design and construction. To that, we owe a deep debt of gratitude to one Dylan McConnell of Tiny Little Hammers. The final product of the program arrived as a 36-page booklet + cover, printed on Classic Crest stocks, hand-assembled and sewn binding (provided by my really terrific, talented, and wonderful friend Miranda Harp). We don't mind saying that they look great, and it's a project that we will forever be forever-proud.

It should go without mentioning, by the way, that there is some seriously kick-ass music discussed in the pages that follow. Please scroll through and enjoy the reviews, or feel free to download a PDF copy for yourself by clicking here. I should also note that there are more of these left! If you'd like a hard copy mailed to you, you can place an order for either a zine, a companion tape (which was printed/provided by our friends at National Audio Company for the festival, and was named one of 2013's best cassette releases by Impose Magazine), or both via our friends at Planted Tapes (which is... me). Here are those buy links in case you're feeling frisky:

• Goldrush Festival Companion Cassette, $7.00 postage paid in the US & Canada:

 

• Bundle with the Festival 'Zine, $15.00 postage paid in the US & Canada:

• Zine only, $10 postage paid in the US & Canada:

No pressure to buy, but know that each and every purchase will go towards making 2014's edition of the festival even better!

...and... that's it! Please enjoy.

Crawf

Inside Front Cover

Title page

Artwork

Schedule of Events

Foreword

Sponsors' page

Artist bios pt. 1

Artist bios pt. 1

Artist bios pt. 3

Artist bios pt. 4

Artwork

Already Dead Tapes / Nesey Gallons, When I Was an Ice Skater CS  by Ryan H.

Bathetic Records / Lee Noble, Ruiner LP by Ryan H.

Constellation Tatsu / White Poppy, Drifter's Gold CS by Crawf

Cosmic Winnetou / Flaming Creatures, Nacht Fressen CS by Pete

Crash Symbols / Log Across the Washer, Pancakes CS by Crawf

Debacle Records / Biosexual, The Window Wants the Bedroom LP by Joey

Center spread, artwork

Experimedia / Jeremy Bible, Collisions Digial only by Ryan H.

Field Hymns / Mattress, Fuck the Future CS by Pete

Fire Talk / Baby Birds Don't Drink Milk, Think Tone LP by Pete

Galtta Media / David Lackner, In the Well of Eternal Living and Dying LP by Crawf

Geographic North / Clipd Beaks, You Can't Hide Your Love Forever 7-inch by Ryan H.

Golden Cloud Tapes / Bitchin Bajas, Krausened CS by Joey

Goldtimers / Seabat, Scattered Disc LP by Joey

Greenup Industries / Loud & Sad, Unknown Species LP by Crawf

Jehu & Chinama / Circuit Rider, Unit Holds CS by Pete

Laser Palace / Jedediah Logsdon, Magic Cap CS by Joey

Orange Milk / Cream Juice, Man Feelings CS by Joey

Patient Sounds / M. Sage/Sun Pack Split CS

Prison Art Tapes / Various Artists, Prison Art Compilation CS

SicSic Tapes / Bird People/Hering und Seine Sieben Sachen, Drone Harvest Tour Tape CS by Crawf

Artwork

Afterword

About the Contributors

Inside back cover

Back cover

Monday, February 10th, 2014 | Add New Comment (0)
Saints of Grace

We are more than thrilled to add the work of Dylan Golden Aycock to growing body of artists donating their music to Heligator Records. As you may or may not know, Heligator Records is Tome founder Ryan Hall's digital-only singles label established to raise money in order to support and maintain a library at the Malindza Refugee Camp in Mpaka, Swaziland. All money donated to Heligator goes to help the library out.

A few notes on Dylan Golden Aycock. Dylan is the founder/proprietor of the Tulsa, OK based record label Scissor Tail Editions and is responsible for some of the more beautiful music to come out of the American (and Intl.) West including a Lake Mary/Padang Food Tigers split 7", Bruce Langhorne reissue and newest Robin Allender album.

Dylan performs these sonorous acoustic guitar under his given name as well as under the moniker Talk West and The Doldrums and the projects Angel Food and Mohwak Park with fellow OK resident and legend Brad Rose.

Aycock's composition for Heligator is a remarkable piece of music. A laid-back finger-picked composition straddling the line between American West balladry and neo-classical explorations of droning, sustained tones. The result is something distinctly...American. Something distinctly expansive and unhedged. Like the long corridors connecting town to town on long drives through Oklahoma, the beauty of this composition is found somewhere in those middle passages between distinct notes where the reverb hangs heavy in the air and just floats for a while: all suspended and golden

Download here:

Not very often does your excellent taste extend beyond yourself. Here, it does. Every cent spent on this track goes to the Malindza Refugee Camp Library in Mpaka, Swaziland. Your donation ensures the continued maintenance of the library, a small stipend for the refugee volunteer librarians and keeping a beacon of hope and literacy alive and functioning for hundreds of displaced refugees from all over Africa. To learn more about where your donation goes please visit:

Malindza Refugee Camp Library Blog

Monday, January 27th, 2014 | Add New Comment (0)

I know you are sick of reading year-end, best-of pieces. The Tome has been missing the curve since 2009. But still, I have about 20 hours left in 2013 and with that time I am going to share with you some of the music that I responded to over the past year. It is the concept of "response" that I want to frame my discussion of music in 2013. What can I say that hasn't been said in tremendous articles and think-pieces such as Benjamin Pearson's run-down on the destruction of art in "2013:On Being Offended", Marc Masters and Gavin Havin Currin's always incredible features on Pitchfork's "The Out Door" or NPR's suprisngly brilliant piece on emo's  recent resurgence in "A Rational Conversation: Is Emo Back?". The implosion and explosion of genres, commercialization and cultural appropriation have been fodder for these types of blogs for as long as I have been reading them. 2013, however, was the year that I stopped thinking about these. I stopped thinking about them, not because I don't think they are interesting, or because they aren't important, but because with all the changes that came into my life in 2013, I needed music in a way that I haven't felt since I was a teenager.

2013 was a big year. My wife and I left our adopted family and friends in Swaziland where we lived for two years as Peace Corps Volunteers, drove across the country visiting friends, moved to Cincinnati and started grad school. In that time I found myself working four part-time jobs as a full-time student, starting a non-profit record label, contributing to the amazing Goldrush Music Festival  and companion zine with my main man Crawf and trying to digest as much music as the Tome throws my way. All of this while trying to grapple with the insanity of adjusting from my rich and meaningful life in Sub-Saharan Africa to the everything-on nerve cluster of America. With all of this change I needed to feel that somehow I was connected to something bigger than myself and universally felt. I needed something that I connected with on more than an aesthetic level. I needed the long, billowy drones of Earn and Secret Pyramid to come down from a hectic day of working with individuals in the throes of mental illness and poverty. I needed the throat-tightening convulsions of Cousins and Modern Life is War on a bike ride to a job where my main duty consisted of not letting a house of 14 adolescent boys with severe behavior issues kill each other (or me).  These 20 albums aren't necessarily the most challenging list of albums from a blog that spends most of its time covering experimental music and some of the furthest outposts of indie rock. Rather, these are the records I found myself returning to with some sort of reflexive muscle memory. The sounds below became part of my biological response to stress, pain, love and moments of overwhelming beauty. Hope you enjoy. 

Ryan H.

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Earn 

Hell on earth  (Bathetic)

Quite possibly no finer music flying under the whitened drone flag this year. Not quite hell on earth, not quite heaven either. But rather, that floating in between place sometimes called limbo, sometimes called that place we all go when we sleep. Matthew Sullivan creates whole cityscapes out of dense, grey fog.

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Cousins 

Bathhouse (Bridgetown)

It is impossible to listen to this post-punk/shoegaze/post-hardcore behemoth of a record without a lump planted firmly in your throat or at least doing a few surreptitious fist pumps on your way to school/work in the morning. Really incredible first “proper” album before Cousins' premature demise. But we have this swirling, reverb-drenched, sucker punch to the temple as a testament to the most powerful rock album of the year.

 

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Simon James Phillips

Chair  (Room 40)

We had the chance to premiere Simon James Phillips video for “Set Ikon Set Remit” which was a high watermark for the Tome this year. The rest of the album is a truly breathtaking and overwhelming series of solo piano pieces. Using only the natural sustain (read: no pedals) of the piano and Gruenwald Church in Berlin where this was recorded, Chair sounds almost impossible in the context of its minimalist approach to making massive sounds.

 

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Lee noble

Ruiner  (bathetic)

Out of all the Lee Noble affairs I’ve become familiar with this year, Ruiner is by far the most cohesive statement I’ve heard by this prolific L.A musician. In terms of number of total plays in 2013, Ruiner wins by a long shot. I can’t get over how much stuff Noble can fit onto a tiny strip of magnetic tape. Often, at the core of the work,  is some simple post-punk bass line or sputtering casio keyboard beat, but swirling around it are a thousand warped or muted voices clamoring for the closest attention you can offer.      

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Shotshell wads

S/t (vwyrd  wyrd)

The fact that this band of misfits playing slovenly brilliantly no-fi bar rock hails from the same burned over area of post-industrial nowheresville PA that my wife is from makes me love this band even more. The fact that she (meaning my wife) fled when she was 18 to Seattle, while these dudes stuck around banging out early Modest Mouse influenced indie rock tunes into consumer grade digital recorders gives me a real soft spot for this band. Not to mention that this is a collection of the greatest pop songs recorded this year.

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signor benedick the moor

El Negro  (self released)

Is that a French Horn? In Signor Benedick The Moor/Christian A. McLaurin’s world/bedroom where this was recorded in,  french horns, ruffled shirts, Shakespearean lit. theory exist side-by-side with silly putty stretched synths, dented car hood hard beats and confessional/fantastic raps that ooze with a penchant for self-loathing and self-awareness that belies McLaurin’s age (21). All of this on a record that moves between jocular flexing, self-pitying pop-punk, and stage-diving headfirst into the strangling sea of introspection and hardcore exegesis of Renaissance lit. 

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mike shiflet

The Choir, the Army (under the spire)

“The Choir, The Army” is a cohesive shift from the spectral, to the structured, to the unraveled and peeling. Mike Shiflet is more of a sculptor than a musician. It takes some muscle and sweat to massage contact-mic stabs of harsh noise back into flat-line static and vice-versa. This record is incredibly dynamic, moving from beauty to dissonance to dissonance and then back to something supremely beautiful.

 

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Akron/family 

Sub Verses  (Dead OCeans)

Sub Verses is hands down AKFAM’s heaviest and most intense album of their career. Bone crushing riffs, three-part harmonies and heavy influence from Northern Africa’s “Desert Blues” made this a statement of grandeur and dread. Plus, the closing track “Samurai” is one of the most beautiful things I have ever heard and gave unto us this.

 

 

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Secret pyramid

Movements of Night  (students of decay)

Amir Abbey’s guitar-based drone is a massive obelisk of sound. Something that blocks out any/all other noises until you think that this is the only music that can exist in the world/the only music that has ever existed in the world. Pulling off the headphones after being submersed in the language that machines sing to each other in and stumbling back into the world of organic sounds is pretty disorienting. Besides Hell on Earth, this is hands down the best drone album out this year.

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modern life is war

fever hunting (Deathwish)

Of all the glorious and not so glorious reformations of the past year of seminal punk bands, Modern Life is War made the case for making hardcore sound vital for a crowd that isn’t getting any younger. MLIW’s last album was in 2007, but in that time there was a hiatus, a reformation of the original line up and a resurrection with the best hardcore album of the year. Modern Life is War has seamlessly melded some serious, grimy dischord with the most earnest and melodic elements of their classic albums.

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circuit des yeux 

overdue (Ba Da Bing)

A totally inspiring, life-affirming record by a musician who is a natural heir to Patti Smith and Nico. Recorded in her apartment with CAVE’s Cooper Crain (see below), Overdue sounds like it has been living inside its own world for a long, long time now. The lynchpin of this album is Haley Fohr’s soul-stirring baritone floating or growling over ace guitar work and symphony of synths. Overdue is an album you have to take in at one sitting.

 

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cave

threace (Drag City)

 Late-in-the-game 2013 album by the indomitable Chicago Kraut masters. Sweaty, locked in grooves with distinct latin influences on both the rhythm and guitar work. Equal parts 70’s exploitation flick funk with Windy City post-rock brawn. Threace (peace x3) is Shaft’s Harlem meets Fitzcarraldo’s Peru.

 

 

Sweaty Fingers

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nesey gallons

when  i was an  ice skater (already dead tapes)

When I was an Ice Skater sounds like it was recorded in your bedroom. There is a sense of intimacy and quivering vulnerability radiating from Gallons' barely-above-a-whisper voice. Other times, Gallons' competent command of composition and orchestration make this album a big, defiant statement of owning instability and sadness, embodying it in song and then transcending it. Incredible album from this Elephant 6 member.

.......

Dead c/rangda 

dead c/rangda split 12" (ba da bing)

Each side on this split kills. I love Dead C's dip back into more structured (albeit just as visceral) song-songs.On that side "EUSA Kills" is hands down the best punk song of this year. Dead C had a pretty great year. Armed Courage almost made the cut as well. What more can be said of Rangda than, incredibly, the sum of Rangda is more than its parts. And those parts...sheesh. Sir Richard Bishop, Chris Corsano and Ben Chasney. Nuff' said. 

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celestino

Kindling  (A Guide to saints)

Another pitch-perfect drone record. When I say pitch I mean that tractor-beam pitch that creates a mind-meld between human being and speaker. These elongated tones aren't transmitted through frequencies, they are laid directly into the deep crevices of your brain until they multiply and colonize never to leave by writ of eviction or vapid pop song. These guys are claiming squatters rights and there is nothing you can do to get them out.

 

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crash of rhinos

knots (top shelf)

With all the attention paid to and think-pieces written about emo's resurrection, no other band made me feel the way I do when I listen to bands like Braid, Cursive or Hot Water Music than Crash of Rhinos. I feel like a lot of 2013 was reconciling musical pasts and presents for me, nothing embodied that more than Knots. I can own the fact that I love and still respond emotionally to second wave emo. Try not to victroriously put your fist in the air during "could've been a waste of your time/IT WASN'T A WASTE OF MINE!!"

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speedy ortiz

Major Arcana (carpark)

I discovered this album and the last two Swearin' albums in the context that this catchy, whip-smart, incredibly well-written, guitar-based indie rock should be discovered: on a road trip across statelines with friends.  Except now that I am almost 30 it was in a mini-van with two kids in the back seat. 

 

 

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richard youngs

summer through my mind (ba da bing)

I've often been put off by Richard Youngs by the sheer length of his discography and the general "difficulty" of a lot of stuff in there. Richard Youngs's latest and mostly accessible Americana album is a touching collection of songs that don't give up much more than their simplicity. I love Youngs's approximations of Robert Pollard-isms on "Binary Stars Over Venice" and his laid back strummers in the vein of the title track "Summer Through My Mind" and "The Future is So Different Today".

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AUN

alpha/heaven (denovali)

I would have loved to see this album get more exposure than it received this year. Near perfect ambient album with striking washes of white noise and baptized electronics pulling melodies from vast, untouched spools of noise yet to take form. There are also those vertebrate tracks with surging bass lines and atmospheric vocals that steer this album into dark ambient/post-rock areas post-space station destruction blackness of outer space.

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small black

limits of desire (jagjaguwar)

This album is as crisp, and smells as fresh as a new shirt from the Gap or some place like that sells us images of youthful liberation through fashion. This album is probably playing in that store right now. Regardless, this a perfect pop record full of sweet ennui and crystalline synths, driving post-punk bass lines and the lockstep pitter-patter of the drum machine. Nothing sounded so lush and so sad at the same time. One of the few albums I could have on repeat 24/7 during almost any activity. 

Tuesday, December 31st, 2013 | Add New Comment (0)

Welcome back to 7-inch city, Crawf's unofficial/official column at ye olde TOME about some of these 7-inch waxen wonders that have been circling 'round the turntable via ye olde mail service. These little gems beg for coverage yet often avoid the lengthier reviews afforded to full-length releases... because...? Well, I don't exactly know, and shit, I am at but only the beginning of my adventure for this edition, so who knows where these little discs might lead my prose? Fact is, I'm not even through the first half of the first release I'm planning to write about as I scramble my way through yet another awkward post intro, and my head is already spinning and my fingers are flying across my macbook here, so let's just see where this thing goes... it'll get wild so hang tight. We good?

xxx

Trabajo

Gamelan  to  the  Love  God ( self - released )

First up is a doozy... and where to begin? Trabajo is a duo from Brooklyn that calls itself "experimental world music," but I'll be honest, it's tough figuring these guys from anywhere even near planet Earth. There are instruments on this release from Earth's past and present, sure — sampled drums and gamelan to be specific — but those things have been abducted, hijacked from their histories, and travelled off and away to a far, far dimension where they now serve other, darker purposes. Refigured into stop-and-go non-forms that nonetheless revolve around hypnotic repetition, and complete with wailing, seasick vocals drones amidst the madness, this is music that will not hesitate to turn the pupils ever-so-slowly inwards. But as the groove spins around and the ritualistic garbs Trabajo sports begin to flash their colors in a feathery display, some downright funky beats sneak their way in to completely throw you off your ass and straight onto the dance floor. Where, how, and why all of this happens seems like a job for some kind of archeologist, as the record does have the air of something ancient about it. But since we don't have one of those at our disposal, let's just be content to sit here with our puzzling artifact, crosseyed and wondering why in the hell our feet are moving. And if those voices are telling us something demonic or to do something evil... well, I just don't quite know what to say about that. Sometimes the cure is worse than the sickness... better to ride out the spell, don't you think?

xxx

Mavo

Mavo  7-inch  ( Fixture )

If you thought Montreal's Fixture Records had been keeping relatively quiet this year, it's only because I've done a bad job of reporting on how amazing the label's been doing, in spite of the fact that they themselves did a fine work keeping me on the up-and-up. So to bring everyone up to speed a bit, this imprint has in fact dealt out three phenomenal, substantial recordings I had the pleasure of enjoying in 2013, including The Homeshake, Chevalier Avant Garde, as well as the debut long-player from Freelove Fenner (who you'll remember charted on my year-end list for 2012). But we're not here to talk about all those folks... no. we're here to talk about another charmer, and that is the trio known as Mavo — the band you always wanted to be in but never were. The band who wrote all the songs you wish you wrote, but never did. Yes, that group of glasses-wearing geeks who you always poked fun at, but were actually way cooler than you and you knew it (editor's note: I have no idea if any of them actually wear glasses). Mavo's incessantly cheerful jangle and uncommonly feisty energy seems to come out of nowhere, the trio pulling something incredibly exciting out of drab stuff like the single chord drone-pop you'll find in the hilariously-titled first track "Mock My Accent" (which must have to do with the Japanese-born singer's delightful delivery) or the super simple 4-5-1 chord progression you'll find in the second, "Horrible Brit Pop Haircut" (which... must have to do with his hair?). But then that guitar starts to shriek like it does, and that heartbeat thump in the low tom gets faster and faster, and a little louder... little by little, and they have you, hook reel and sinker, and you're sunk. It's leather jacket rock and roll in the vein of The Modern Lovers with some of The Feelies insatiable pep to keep it all afloat. Hot-red, red-hot teenage love and exhuberance disguised in a beige veil of badass apathy.

xxx

John Bellows

"Traveller's  Shoes"   b/w  "Second  Nature"  feat.  Lee  Relvas  ( SELF - RELEASED )

A troublemaker called John Bellows sent in a box earlier this year with an LP and this here 7-inch record. And with the LP at least, which he called Fast Hits, that troublemaker blew me straight away with its straight-up ass-kickery. And yes, I know I'm supposed to be a writer and come up with better ways to describe things, but Fast Hits is the kind of record that leaves your senses dulled, brain numb, and neck muscles too sore to even think about doing anything else but just give in and listen to it again (thus beginning a vicious cycle of self-inflicted pain that is nearly impossible to stop). So this lap steel-laden, countrified little number, being that it is a completely different ball-game, came as something of a surprise (bet it a sulky, sappy-sad sucker sort of surprise). But ultimately, this is actually the perfect come-down from Fast Hits' dizzying delerium: A whisky soaked set of country balladry with which one might drift away into a sweaty slumber. In fact, a tune like "Traveller's Shoes" could even be Bellows' ode to his post-tour self, maybe reflecting on finishing his last show in a blaze of fury and realizing that, "beyond all yr riches / you will see for yourself / you're a man just like everyone else." ...uhh, not that he's rich or anything. Still, it's the kind of tune that reads like a wake-up call of sorts. The B-side offers a something of a glimmer of hope in the fact that it appears to be a lovely little love tune; a duet that picks up the tempo while showing off the vocal talents of Miss Lee Relvas, who's blue-eyed charm finds a nice balance to Bellows' doofy earnestness.

Tuesday, December 10th, 2013 | Add New Comment (0)

Stay in one place if you want to. But disconnection will come. The way that dogs kick their legs when they dream. We are never carried that far. Just slightly beyond the physical realm. Where buildings are still buildings. Sidewalks are still crushed shells. We walk. But everything has a faint glimmer. Sounds start from beyond the ether and get closer like waking from under sedation. Sustained tones that begin as taught ropes and later spool around your feet in slack piles of twine.

Dura, Mattson Ogg's solo guitar project, is an ode to the waking fever dream. Something that never quite pulls us under but isn't something we can ever wake up from. Is this real life? Well kid, that depends on your definition of real. Dura (soundcloud.com/durajustdura) has put out records of his tremendous, billowy, worlds-within-worlds guitar slay-age on labels like Copenhagen, Denmark based Metaphysical Circuits and St. Petersburg, Russia-based Pocket Fields.

Download "Conduits" below:

We are really happy to have Dura join Heligator's roster of artists lending their support to the success and maintenance of the Malindza Refugee Camp Library in Mpaka, Swaziland, Africa. (www.malindzarefugeecamplibrary.blogspot.com)

All donations go to help the maintenance of the library as well as the refugee volunteers who run it. Your dollar goes a long way here. Your support goes to spreading literacy and education to refugees from Somalia, Rwanda, Burundi and the DRC, you are also supporting experimental musicians who have gladly donated their time and talents to this cause.

Ryan H.

Monday, December 9th, 2013 | Add New Comment (0)

These many names are shifting identities serving one collective ideal. To feel a connection with fellow performers, listeners, travelers deeper and more radical than improvisation. The twisting, turning twinning of bows and bass are a balm to any fractured psyche. In a way, Kurva Choir's music mirrors what we are trying to do here at Heligator Records. By purchasing and reveling in this healing music you are not only making your inner world a safer more vibrant place to live, you are also funding a library at a refugee camp in Mpaka, Swaziland, allowing refugees whose lives have been fractured by genocide, xenophobia and political instability to explore the beauty and truth found in literature.

As always, a win-win.

Kurva Choir is comprised of C.J. Boyd on bass and voice, Molly McDermott on cello and voice, and Dominique Hamilton on viola and voice. C.J. releases solo music on Joyful Noise Recordings and has collaborated with musicians as diverse as Chris Schlarb, Helena Espvall, Andrew Weathers, and Eliot Lipp. Molly also plays in the folk duo Evan and Molly (along with Evan Phillips of The Whipsaws). The group grew out of the open-ended improvisational project Kirtan Choir (formerly The C.J. Boyd Sextet), which included such come-and-go members as Nat Baldwin, Jessica Pavone, Larkin Grimm, Valerie Kuehne, as well as members of Ra Ra Riot, Paper Bird, Balmorhea, and The Ascent of Everest.

Heligator is super pumped to add this amazing group to our ever-growing roster of super talented musicians who don't mind donating their music to do some good in the world.

For updates on where your dollars go check out: http://www.malindzarefugeecamplibrary.blogspot.com/

Peace.

Ryan H.

Tuesday, December 3rd, 2013 | Add New Comment (0)