Crown Larks - Blood Dancer (Spacelung / Landbreathing, Already Dead, 2015)

Crown Larks are a Chicago sextet that create some of the densest, tightest psych, free-jazz jams, that, when broke open, unspool into some the most glorious strains of forever-ascending squalor I've heard all year. Blood Dancer, at 7 tracks feels massive. It is a record that I've only been able to take in single settings a handful at times. Taken in small chunks it easy to appreciate the lumbering, meaty rhythm sections that weave in and out of deft Kraut-inspired bass lines that gradually take an exit off the autobahn into the grimiest of Chicago neighborhoods where all hell breaks loose under the weight of three brass instruments soloing above that locked-in bass line and some of the best out drumming that is able to trade flashiness for brass-tacks before selling it all in an eight-armed pummeling as the track looses its moorings and leaves the city, the planet and all known multiverses behind.  It is really inspiring to see a band deliver on the promise of some of the finest prog-influenced, noise-bred bands like $keletons, Clipd Beaks and ZS that gained traction in the late aughts and are now being delivered in massive ways by newcomers like Jobs and Crown Larks. Plus, I heard they might play at something, somewhere, that totally rules. But you didn't hear that from me....  

P.S. When I googled, then google imaged "what is a six-piece band called?" I came across this photo, which totally unrelated to the review, is absolutely incredible. Please view.


Andrew Tuttle - Slowcation (A Guide to Saints, 2015)

As part of Andrew Tuttle's slowcation through the States from his native Brisbane, Australia, he made a stop in Denver during 2014's Goldrush Music Festival. I was thrilled to make the acquaintence of someone whose work I've admired while he recorded under the moniker Anonymeye as well as his work with A Guide to Saints and Room 40. Tuttle was gregarious and seemed equally thrilled to be at Goldrush, sitting through every set, making acquaintances with individuals he has had equal admiration through musically and kindling IRL relationships that exist because of the internet.Tuttle's output on his latest solo output was written and recorded mostly during this trip and is written for Tuttle's native banjo and manipulation of electronics. Tuttle's banjo technique has been written on extensively. Wringing minimalist lines played at hyperspeed make the steel strings of leather gut sound percussive, much like the ramping up of trance-inducing tribal ceremonial drums. The electronic compositions on Slowcation, a different animal in themselves, focus in on soaring, droning overtones while pitched micro-melodies run riot just at the threshold of our brain's ability to pay attention to several sounds at once. The album's most illuminating track "Post-Meridiem Construction", a collaboration between Tuttle and Matmos's M.C. Schmidt, finds both artists in conversation between Schmidt's beautifully augmented synth lines and Tuttle's elegiac banjo. The result is a fascinating electro-acoustic narrative of two men fully in control of their craft. That follows the course for much of this album, deeply-felt, emotionally resonant synth and banjo passages held at perfect tension with Tuttle's highly experimental, intellectually curious synth explorations that produce something that fires on all synapses on the musical pleasure scale for much of our readers.


Hidden Persuaders - Elegies and Curses (A Giant Fern, 2015)

It is fitting that the Hidden Persuaders' name also shares the title of a book detailing how corporate psychologists play on our fears and desires to sell us stuff we don't really want/need. At the tail-end of late-era capitalism our fears and desires aren't ours anymore, rather, part of a collected subconscious no longer manipulated by symbology and totems that chart our developmental progress but manufactured by the book/movie representations to sell products that help us achieve/eliminate said desire/fear. I've felt a lot of things while listening to music. There have been very few that approach genuine fear. Elegies and Curses gets close. Glacially slow Black Metal played over and between excellent sound art/collage that has punctuated Hidden Persuaders' earlier releases. The space between plodding bass riffs and the next distortion-filled riff are filled to their breaking point with menacing drones, black syrup synths, stabs of contact mic static and the undeniable sound of a fist through glass...perfectly synchronized to fall on the downbeat. Elegies and Curses is a masterfully heavy, downright disorienting release that skirts the outer edges of metal and plays it back through a filter that is somehow even more scary and fucked up than the trumped up tropes that it has come to embody. Highly recommended.


Our Love Will Destroy the World - Carnivourous Rainbows (Ba Da Bing Records, 2015)

"NZ noise royalty" was the descriptor from Ba Da Bing for Campbell Kneale's latest release under the moniker Our Love Will Destroy the World. Honestly, nothing could be closer to the truth. To break that down, New Zealand has a storied history of releasing skewed versions of pop and noise to the world at large, a cursory glance at Flying Nun's back catalog or, you know, the Dead C reveal a crowded list of notable weirdos. Royalty, although having nothing to do with meritocracy (which the sole factor behind Kneale's repute), gestures towards being an ambassador to other countries, representing the best of your home. Kneale certainly has done that. On Carnivorous Rainbows, Kneale's glorious knob-twisting, guitar-mangling, tone-wrangling is on full, glorious display here. Not leaving a single space available for quiet reflection, songs on Carnivorous Rainbows are filled to the brim with the tail-end or mid-thought gestation of million great ideas. Building, tribal percussion on "FUZZ LEGION MAJESTY" is joined by upper-register tonal fluctuations that squawk like tropical birds spooked by an ancient tribal ritual. Bleeding-out guitar attacks smear across the sky like bloodthirsty, chemtrail rainbows given, not as a promise, but as a warning that we are held at the capricious whim of an old god who would rather wipe us all out than course correct. Percussion shows up a lot of this record, sometimes as the backbone on tracks - see "FUZZ LEGION MAJESTY" - or explored in auxiliary roles, flitting in and out of the polyrhythmic (but not tempo-less) "MINIATURE BAMBI SUPERLAND". On the epic closer "HADES IRON HORIZON", fully-developed guitar drones and - what sounds like a bagpipe played on a KORG MS020 - lap gently like a congealing, molten sea while lone piano notes succumb and eventually suffer and die with the rest of us, completely submerged and burning in a sea of endless bliss...Our Love will Destroy the World.


Ken Camden - Dream Memory (Kranky, 2015)

In an album that blurs the line between guitar, synthesizer and voice, Dream Memory pulls together sounds that have their origin wholly outside of this world, or, at least, explores their organic origin beyond all recognition. To start with voice, Dream Memory has quite a bit of it. However, once you get past the album opener "Adenosine" you begin to lose track of it. That is because that track -whose wholly unique vocal sampling Camden pulls from Angel Olsen and Emily Elhaj - stitches together samples of the human voice  transcribed to tonal variation and then plucked out, on what I imagine, is a synthesizer keyboard or a fretboard on a guitar interfacing with a synthsizer...this whole thing gets very confusing. But to track the subjective, lived experience of this record is pretty straight forward. The analog warmness of this track is stretched throughout the entire album, illuminating an album that, on its onset, shines with a cold metallic hue. This couldn't be any further from the truth. There is nothing robotic about this album although in its tonal range we find hints and remnants of sci-fi experiments in sound from old 50's classics played in black and white late into the evening. It pulls and coaxes voices from a variety of sources (human and otherwise) that hit a tonal sweet-spot that is above species consideration, or instrumental origin. It exists, somewhere in the haze between intellectual scrutiny and the subjective feeling of light and warmth that it brings. 

Ryan H.

Tuesday, July 28th, 2015 | Add New Comment (0)

Rob Mazurek – Vortice of the Faun 

Rob Mazurek just made a cassette filled to max capacity with 80 minutes of screaming, whirring, squelching, swarming electronic sounds filtered through the mind and deft fingers of a legendary coronetist and collaborator with just about every notable musician who we care about here at the Tome. 2004, when the last (and Mazurek’s first) solo electronic album came out on Editions Megos, seems like ages ago for me, mostly because this type of shape-shifting, ambient texture-weaving in and out of hundreds of electro-acoustic samples wouldn’t have registered in my newly-out-of-high-school listening experience as worth noting or music at all. But now, more than 10 years later, practically hugging the speakers, I am sinking deep into the sounds of a radio slowly drowning, reading its last rites before succumbing to a watery, static grave. As a member of the Chicago Underground Duo, Exploding Star Orchestra and the Sao Paulo Underground, Mazurek has subversively utilized electronic music as frontier-pushing element to further the experimental and improvisational nature of jazz and free music. Untethered from any live acoustic instrumentation, it is fascinating to hear how Mazurek channels and decides where sounds and textures go on a highly composed tape that sounds like it could shatter into a million pieces of improvised squalor at any moment. Instead, Vortice of the Faun spends equal time in harsh chaos as much as softened droning passages that are easy on the ears and psyche. It is a tape worth wasting an entire afternoon in.


Mike Majkowski – Neighbouring Objects

Not since Simon James Phillip’s brilliant 2014 record Chair, have I heard someone use natural resonance to create stunningly huge, harmonious tones out of an acoustic instrument just by the power of mechanical motion. Pulling tension-filled passages with fluid motions across the thick, taught strings of a double bass, Majkowski creates ghostly auditory doubles that sound as if they are coming through the walls or from the bottom of an abandoned pool. Notes hang in the air, drone and hum layers deep in the dark recesses that live in both sides of the tape that make themselves known only in their absence, in the rare moments when Majkowski's steady hand isn't culling and coaxing sonorous lines from deep within the wooden body of the instrument, natural resonance carry it out and acoustics from the room absorb and release the collected sounds into tiny fractals beneath the ruddy, bowed lines. Deliberately plucked piano, some accordion and percussion find their way into these recordings creating and sustaining a needed dynamic and resolve for an album constantly building tension to ever-moving breaking point. Fantastic record.


SSBT - 247 Main

247 Main is a totally out, 3 saxophone, electro-acoustic attack on the senses. SSBT, hailing from Austin Texas, have roots in experimental music that run deeeeeep. Parham Daghighi, Chris Cogburn and Steve Jansen all come from disparate traditions (Jansen played in a touring version of Sissy Spacek and is in a sick band called War Boner) but each find communicate in a crystal-clear channel of ESP. Totally improvised, Side A of 247 Main focuses on the more outre elements of free jazz, each member finding ample room for each player to find a middle and gravitate towards it. Saxophones co-mingle with electric guitars tuned to a tape machine in the middle of a seance to percussion ricocheting like bullets from a henchman with lousy aim in some sort of steel refining factory. Side B explores deeply felt electro-acoustic explorations into noise and ambient textures scraping and pulling themselves through fields of jagged teeth. Nothing gets too harsh for sake of listenability and the pacing of Side B is astounding. Long pulls and breakdowns into sustained tones sound meticulously curated and planned with reams of paper, rather than a single glance and a collective feeling it is time to turn down. Fans of Sult and out-rock duo Rivener should take note.

Thursday, July 16th, 2015 | Add New Comment (0)

For this podcast I sit down post-show and talk to Stephen Molyneux and Frank Baugh (Sparkling Wide Pressure) about Frank's Wild (Goth) Years, being big in France and the joys of meeting people IRL you've cultivated relationships with online.

Tuesday, July 14th, 2015 | Add New Comment (0)

Kill West - Smoke Beach (Dismal Niche)

Day-uuummmmnnnn. Argentinaian psych-rockers have the dense, pulse-light emitting drug haze of a summer record on lock. Buried under a pall of reverb so thick you need a gas mask to get through Side A, Smoke Beach is one of those petal stuck on motorik groove, windows down, black leather tassles flowing #projectbadass tapes that get stuck in your tape player because outside of native climate - stopped at red lights, hands drumming on the steering wheel to each fill - it will whither and then evaporate into the thick steam it has been emitting from your console for the past 30 minutes because each track is a burner. A small sample of some of the amazing music coming out of South America as of late that has found a good home on one of our favorite labels, Dismal Niche.


The Funs/Sad Horse - Weirdos (Manic Static)

Picked this tape up from The Funs / Sad Horse show (complete with beer koozie) with Ampline in Cincinnati. Looking at the size of pedal boards of each respective duo tells you a little bit of what to expect from each side of the split. The Funs Jesse Rose Crane's pedal board was a neat, pristine box of blinking potential which she uses to cloak wistful pop songs under a pall of soft-water noise that is corralled from all-lights on to a melodic lead guitar line or is used to seriously fuck shit up as all out war against your defenseless inner ear. Sad Horse's rig is austere and essentialist as their spiky, flailing art-punk on their side. I think EV used a fuzz pedal...once. Likewise their songs on this split are stripped down to the brass-tacks. Emotion and dynamic are dictated by speed, tempo and how long a drive it was to (blank) city. Crucial art-punk jams from Chicago and Portland, respectively.


Dustin Lovelis - Dimensions (Yellow K / Porch Party Records)

Time-warp harmonies that draw from equal parts late 60's tempered psych and brittle satisfaction of Flying Nun New Zealand pop. Dimensions finds the multi-instrumentalist behind an array of crunchy, reverb heavy guitars, lock-step drums and swirling synthesizers that play in harmony with Lovelis's sweet, sun-baked harmonies. It's hard not to listen to these songs without cracking a smile. Summer will end, time will gnaw you into a Doom-influence-Drone stretch soon enough, but while we have the light and the heat and tape players in our parents' cars lets roll the windows down and let the confused, bittersweet young man petition the gods of an almost-Aquarius age with an offering of their psych-pop put through a mortal lens, like fire was our attempt to steal lightning. 

Friday, July 3rd, 2015 | Add New Comment (0)

Heligator Records is a non-profit record net-label created by Ryan H. to help continously fund the Malindza Refugee Camp Library  in Swaziland, Africa. This is our 21st release.

This piece of living, breathing drone and voice comes to us from Kiev, Ukraine based Creation VI. A longform piece that moves from lush sustained tones to augmented woodwinds, harmonica, field recordings from the Black Sea and those haunting, exploratory vocals that search endlessly for transcendence between pitches of operatic highs and monastic lows. Taken from a live set Creation VI performed in Moscow, this track is an ideal opportunity to blissfully explore some inner-space before hectic workdays or post-weekend recovery. All proceeds from the sale of this track will go to help sustaining the Malindza Camp Library, which, I am happy to report is on the up-and-up. Just got a proposal to put in lights so students can study after dark. Your proceeds make this happen.

Thanks for listening. Donate if you can. Enjoy the positive vibes even if you can't.


Wednesday, July 1st, 2015 | Add New Comment (0)

Back when music blogs actually seemed to have some clout in predicting and in some cases driving musical trends, I had a go-to that I read on a daily basis that informed my music listening more than anything to this date. It was there that I read about Basinski, Natural Snow Buildings, Jasper, TX alongside reviews of more mainstream releases on major-ish indie labels. That blog was Forest Gospel run by husband-wife duo Nick and Erin Potter. As luck would have it we both lived in Salt Lake City and quickly became very close friends. Six years later Nick and Erin are still incredibly dear to my wife and I and in this podcast I sit down with Nick and begrudgingly (on Nick's part) parse out his influence on my writing and desire to start a blog, qualities of experimental music that are attractive to both of us as listeners, our shared religious histories and discovering music in the early 00's.

Nick and Erin still post about art and music on Forest Gospel: 

Nick's Tumblr page with illustrations and comics:

The Potters' Etsy page where they sell their screenprinted show and movie posters:

Tuesday, June 30th, 2015 | Add New Comment (0)

Micromelancolié – Low Cakes (BDTA, 2015)

Micromelancolie has just released one of 2015’s most unexptectedly great albums. Last time we checked in with the Polish auteur was with the release of Ensemble Faux Pas  on A Giant Fern. That album full of surging, staticy drones and stabs of harsh noise did nothing to indicate Low Cakes’ pastiche of hip-hop samples, off beats and melodic drones. Every track on Low Cakes is a cloistered universe of sounds and actors moving with their own internal logic. In many ways the left-field samples of snippets of conversations, demo-reel intros and screwed-low soundcloud gems feel and sound similar to cLOUDEAD’s combination of combining outtakes and the unintentional beauty that comes in the discovery of tones massaged into spaces between percussion that always hit just a split-second off, but thrown open to the internet and filtered through a Polish musician’s particularly obscure lens. Drones elide into heavy, aleatoric beat-fueled madness between synth arpeggios that could be the entire melodic lynchpin in other tracks, but are relegated to background status here, sharing face time with other auxiliary sounds and melodies or are stopped dead in its track by vocal sample that completely takes control of the track’s trajectory, taking the track to a grinding, unwinding halt before rebuilding it around a rapped interlude or vocal sample pitch-shifted to an uncomfortable timbre. This is the Jamie xx album for Polish noise fans.


D.F.W K.B.D & J.G – A Chance Happening 27/08/14 in Brasserie Beubian (Shaking Box, 2015)

For those of you who book experimental shows know that the expectation for attendance can be low even if you live in a city where experimental shows usually kill. I’ve been there, filled with trepidation that those 35 people who clicked "yes" on facebook would actually show up to a Tuesday night drone show at some dive bar in the formerly-industrial part of town. For those of you who actually attend said shows: thank you. From the bottom of my heart. What should have been a particularly incredible show in Calgary with Devin Friesen A.K.A Bitter Fictions (2014 Tome favorite) and James Goddard (Skin Tone), instead turned into one of those worst-nightmare situations. Only one non-musician showed up. That brave soul was none other than Kyle Bobby Dunn (who you may remember as having the BEST RECORD OF 2014). This poorly attended show turned into an impromptu jam-session that was recorded for posterity sake. The result is something truly staggering. Between banter with the bartender about Hitler’s favorite composer and other small talk are massive, cathedral-sized improvised compositions played into the void of an empty bar. Dunn, who was not planning on playing that night, contributes by the means of a piano located next to the performing area. Plucking out singular notes and coaxing cavernous sounds from the maw of the open mouth of the piano, Dunn’s piano weaves itself in and out of Friesen’s massive-sounding guitar and tape compositions and Godards subtle crafting of electronic tones and minimal – almost incidental – percussion. If these three played a show in Cincinnati, I promise I wouldn’t be the only non-musician to attend. So…think about it.


Drowse – Soon Asleep (Apneicvoid, 2015)

In the mental health field we refer to the effects of anti-psychotic or serotonin reuptake inhibitors in terms of management. The idea is that medication dampens the acuity of symptoms without eliminating the root cause. The dampening of the acuity of the symptoms often has unintended consequences – like the dampening of the acuity of every other emotion. Kyle Bates’ solo output under Drowse, so far, has put out two powerful treatises on the individual effects of prescription drugs – putting an aural soundtrack to the woozy, disorienting effects of purposely altering your brain chemistry. Soon Asleep is a massively more superior record to his initial debut EP Songs to Sleep On in every way. Hazy, atmospheric guitars melt into far-off and receding synthesizers in horizonless fog. But with mastering abstraction also comes a newfound compositional clarity. Underneath the thick pall of perfectly balanced overblownness of major chord riffage under metric tonnage of reverb and crystalline synthesizers echoing from some lower rung of heaven comes Bates’ voice, corralling and guiding the billowing storm cloud into blissful shoegaze-pop narratives of dissociation and dislocation that come from ripping apart and reforming one’s brain chemistry. Not only is this compositionally light-years ahead, but the way in which Bates’ is able find tones through deft guitar-synth interplay that ache and bleed around the edges while holding a golden beam of light in its core is the equivalent of meditative breathing exercises for machines. One of the most personal and arresting albums to date, Soon Asleep comes from the depths of human despair but ultimately serves to be one of 2015’s most cathartic and immediate releases.


Orlando Scarpa Neto – Transporte Publico (Self-Released, 2015)

Orlando Scarpa Neto is a Brazilian musician who has found a way to translate one’s daily commute on public transport into five compositions with guitar and electronics that find purchase not only as a travelogue for the weary commuter but as a guitar record that is versatile and sturdy enough to fill many different roles. Neto’s compositions range from stark, solo guitar playing serrated arpeggios chopped into accelerating ascension, or laid bare beneath light touches of reverb and surging, pulsing electronics that fill in corners of repeating guitar lines with static dread. Other times Neto’s guitar lines are sharply defined ascending lines cutting streaks through the sky like powerlines on a cloudless day. Neto composed these tracks using his daily commute into Rio De Janeiro as inspiration. Even without this exposition, these tracks retain a sense of travel in their ascending guitar lines that gather speed on each pass through Neto’s subtle use of accumulating manipulation of single lines of music. These tracks have a destination in mind and it is straight into your subconscious.

Wednesday, June 10th, 2015 | Add New Comment (0)

We at Tome-Central are happy to announce that our coverage of music has expanded beyond the traditional blogosphere and into the realm of podcasting. I, Ryan H., have started a podcast where I interview experimental musicians of all stripes. Most of them are Cincinnati-centric, however, I've been able to pull in some touring acts to sit down with me and talk about what went wrong in their lives to cause them to become experimental musicians. JK. I am interested in exploring where experimental music and personal identity intersect, "origin stories" of people who I find fascinating as well as the closeness that comes from a face-to-face conversation on meaningful topics. So far I've interviewed: Alex Cobb (Students of Decay), Keith Rankin (Giant Claw), Evan Lautzenheiser (Keiki/Live God), Robert Inhuman, Yoni Wolf (Why?), Ma Turner and Jon Lorenz and John Rich from Public Housing.  I will try to post one of these a week or every other week. This, like the Tome, is a total labor of love. I wouldn't be opposed, in fact I would be eternally grateful, if you find these podcasts worth your time, to throw me a few bucks for the effort in order to pay for the Soundcloud hosting. You can send via paypal to:

All of these are on I-Tunes as well - just search for Tome to the Weather Machine

For this interview I sit down with Ofir Klemperer - Israeli-born, Dutch-trained composer and Sunight contributor who has mastered the fickle Korg MS020. In the interview we discuss growing up in Israel, his experience in a conservatory and the pure magic of collective improvisation. I hope you dig these. Feel free to reach out to me and tell me what you think.

Monday, May 25th, 2015 | Add New Comment (0)

AH! KOSMOS- Bastards (Denovali)

For her first proper release on Denovali, Istanbul-based producer/conjurer Basak Gunak creates dark, lyrical compositions that wrap acoustic and electronic instrumentation around Gunak's throaty baritone voice that ranges from a powerful croon to whispered spoken word passages the way the rings on trees tell a story of inward fortification and outward (perhaps painful) expansion. When we cut deep into the heart of these tracks, passing layers of electronic programmed percussion, lines of distorted guitars, dense near-eastern drumming, samples of snippets of everyday life re-contextualized and stacked in jittery, paranoid strands of audio we get into something that sustains these disparate elements and holds them in useful tension. What "it" is held very close to the chest. An overwhelming sense of hope with its corners darkened by paranoia and fear. A sustaining force that begins with Gunak's innate sense of melody - building ascending synth and guitar lines and slowly layering her vocal melodies until they become one in the mix - and then grows outwards, incorporating sounds from outside her window, musical ideas borrowed/lent from collaborators until the center holds but the peripheries are stretched thin and always searching for that next hit of inspiration. Bastards has my vote for one of the most rewarding discoveries of an already packed 2015.

Purchase from Denovali


Demian Castellanos - The Kyvu Tapes Vol.1 (1990-1998) (Hands in the Dark)

After listening to these collections of home recordings by Demian Castellanos - founder of The Oscillation - one gets the sense that there are hundreds of tapes that could be released that are just as filled to the brim with incredibly moving, forward-thinking guitar compositions that sound completely at home with 2015's bumper crop of spiritually-minded guitarists using their instrument to reach a higher plane. In fact, these compositions are what I imagine are on a 24-hour loop in the brain of someone like Castellanos - as if someone stuck a stereo cable in and pushed record. What we have is a constant under-drones pulsing and oscillating, panning from ear to ear as Castellanos's heavily processed guitars either stack layers and layers of unsourced sound until all sound ever created exists between the peaks and valleys of a thousand oscillations or pieces the veil in Peter Walker influenced ragas or clarion-clear guitar solos that begin by floating on the same frequency but then begin to steer the composition into unexplored sonic terrain. Perhaps the most celebrated example of this is on "Lizard Raga" (one of the two "official" ragas on the tape) where Castellanos casts his eliding, sinewy guitar lines into a sea of oscillating drones and comes back with sounds and ingenious moves on the guitar that lie just outside of consciousness - like catching an weird deep-water sea creature in a relatively shallow river bed. Castellanos can also build upon structural and less-abstract material with similar effect. "Photon Waterfall" builds upon a minimalist ascending guitar line that accrues meaning each pass through the loop pedal. We somehow get the idea that Flying Saucer Attack was one of the few acts that dwelled on hazy, warm looped guitar passages when we reference acts from the 90's as direct influences on some of the directions that ambient guitar-based music has taken. Kyvu Tapes draws a straight line between  Castellanos' drone-based compositions and today's musicians coaxing guitar tones into the realm of the ethereal.

Purchase from Hands in the Dark


China - Towards the Sun (Self-Released)

Raphi Gottesman's Signed, Noisemaker is one of those tapes that has never really left my player. In it, the multi-instrumentalist shows a sincere and humble knack for crafting melody and mood in compositions that are complete in every way. Gottesman, with China - a proper band-band EP with Michael Tapscott (Odawas) and Jason Quever (Papercuts - who donates some gorgeous strings here) - create perfectly sunbaked, Laurel Canyon country-tinged, free-floating deep-cut LP rock of the late sixties filtered through the modern day exodus out of San Francisco, a move directly tied to the 60's exodus into the city's loving embrace. This is music for hitching up the wagon and ho'ing out west into the land of displacement - the sun always on the back of our pioneers as they flee the bright, cultural wasteland of tech-industry wealth - not the diseased-gum gnaw of Midwest poverty and squaresville Dads. These are songs for the diaspora, and they are beautiful - the same kind of feeling of stumbling across a dusty LP of long-haired dudes and hearing some of the most transcendent melodies and harmonizing this side of Garcia. Fans of recent troubadours The Lowered, Midlake and Howe Gelb should find ample purchase in these five songs.

Purchase from Bandcamp


Metatag - Surrender (Hel Audio)

All we have are our mistakes. Genetic aberrations unlock hidden potential to adapt and evolve. What wipes out large swathes of the population allows a small minority to develop resistance and flourish. But machines aren't supposed to make mistakes, right? That's why we built them. External brains that are capable of specificity unencumbered by consciousness that we could never even aspire to. But somewhere, knocking around in the hardware, are misfirings, loose connections and random events that create mistakes or half-formed, mutant children of a perfect system. Clocking in at 2-minutes shy of an hour, Metatag's second full-length on Hel Audio, does not shy away from displaying these weaknesses and flaws. The decayed tones of a dying synthesizer, the glitch of audio data spat through spools of wiring are written into these songs, creating moments of unintentional beauty and useful aberration. The Norwegian duo's commitment to creating 22 stand-alone, cloistered units of music is impressive. By rarely, if ever, changing tempo or melody once locked into a 2-3 minute groove allow Metatag to explore the rich underbelly of machine-created music, delving into tones that dissolve or sputter into productive decay while allowing the steady minimal synth lines to remain in the driver's seat. Surrender, at times veers into dark drone-based compositions instead of riding the arpeggio sine wave for an hour. The darkly cinematic quality of each track suggests a dystopian future that has been ruled by Vangelis's pulsing synthscapes in his Blade Runner soundtrack. Any attempt to not notice that influence is impossible, but Metatag manage to create something even colder and perhaps even a bit more futuristic. The seedy future-ghetto, Chinatown replaced by clean, symmetrical lines and curved angles: more Kubrik's vision of the distant future in A.I. than dystopian battledome made of recycled sports equipment. Perfect tunes for nighttime bike riding through the city.

Purchase from Hel Audio

Monday, May 18th, 2015 | Add New Comment (0)

Family Underground - No Host. No Guest 

Danish drone duo make improvised guitar music that would sound breezy if not under the harsh light of distortion, fuzz and steerage of passages straight into dark, forlorn places we were warned not to go. With that said, the twisting passages of seriously spooked guitar work float on a never-ending cusp of a great idea that shatters on impact into a thousand strung together fragments of its once ideal self. This spectral shattering creates shards of fuzz-laden naked guitar improvisation, a brilliant Krauty approximation of Hookworms on a dangerous level of sedatives and bluesy sky-ripping lines that ascend in archangel triumph out of a shimmering sea of angular guitar tones and overdubbed piano lines. The price of entrance is relatively high, but the rewards come frequently and intensely. Try not air-guitaring along to "The Original Freezecult" and all associated passages of transcendent guitar communalism and secret language sharing. Constant breakdown. Constant renewal. 

Eye - The Future Will Be Repeated

The Future Will Be Repeated is a whiplash call-and-response record of some of the greatest New Zealand noisemakers around today. Recorded live, these tracks capture the dynamism of this supergroup of sorts. Equal parts sea of contemplative interplay between guitars, percussion and electronics involved in an animalistic courtship ritual that explores sweet, understated tones that pulse, scrape and fill in politely for each other when the chance to explore gaps in the composition arise and fuck-all displays of power and violence (but not powerviolence) on tracks like "Owls at Noon" that recalls the glory daze of other NZ and Ba Da Bing stalwarts Dead C. Frantic, but never unhinged, drumming races to an epic climax with a sea of distortion and fuzz while a single line of lead guitar distortion stays just above the fray like a nervous surfer trying to outrun the a wave much bigger than he intended to ride. That kind of works for this record. A sound this huge was never intended to be contained by compressing bits of data. Other, quieter tracks work quite well for the walk home, but something like "Owls at Noon" will always keep us watching our backs, realizing we are caught in something a bit too big for casual listening. "Skeleton Key", the aptly named sum of this records parts, serves to bring us back home. Equal parts contemplative improvisation with the ongoing maw of the cavernous potential to decimate always kept just at bay.

Peter Kolovos - The Wolf Should Ever Be Lone

Another, "you had to be there" albums of live recordings of a guitar player with almost superhuman dexterity, stamina and timing. Kolovos knows that exact moment of when to let a violent, shuddering, quivering line of deconstructed rummage sale of misfit tones bleed into rumbling seas of amplifier-destroying distortion that soothe the psyche in ways you never thought possible after watching/hearing a guitar take such abuse with welcome and full-disclosure on its telling. Or when to throttle back and lay golden, naked tones minister to the infirm. Kolovos reaches climaxes on "Seattle" and "Portland" that rarely change in tone but rely on the ancient hand-around-the-neck strangulation and mandible strength that led our ancestors out of caves and into the lone and dreary wilderness in search of prey, along with the schizophrenic crack-ups and piercing, blinding light and sound that came with revelation from on high from older, angrier gods.


Tuesday, April 7th, 2015 | Add New Comment (0)