Aquarius records recents
MAMALEEK s/t (self released) cd-r 6.98
We complain a lot about the glut of cd-r releases. The whole, « even my Mom has a cd-r out » (and yes, her new limited 3″ cd-r will be out soon, ahem)Š The ease of recording and pressing up 50 copies, means that lots of stuff that maybe shouldn’t get released does. Not everything recorded deserves to be released, and not everything played even deserves to be recorded. A serious lack of quality control for sure. But with the bad comes the good, and in this case, the good is often VERY good, and thus it’s well worth slogging through all the shit, to get glimpses into some of the twisted creative musical minds, that otherwise might have toiled away in obscurity with no one but their housemate or mother (depending on the circumstances) hearing the amazing fucked up and far out sounds they’ve been creating.
It sometimes boggles our minds to think about the various songs and recordings, that due to lack of resource or technology, or even initiative, were lost forever, or were just never even recorded at all. We don’t have that problem so much anymore (see above), but what it does mean is that folks who might be too timid to start a band, or too isolated to find likeminded folks, still have ways to create, to attempt to realize the sounds they hear in their heads.
And some of our favorite records of the last few years have been just that, random home recorded cd-r’s produced not for cool points, or scene cred, but because the artists were driven to do so. The cd-r micro label is now a cottage industry, my Mom doesn’t just have a new cd-r out, she also has her own labelŠ but that is still where we find the most vibrant and ultra personal music being made.
Mamaleek is a one man band from right here in SF, this is his long in the works debut and it’s a killer, equal parts blissed out metalgaze, furious hyper grind, and buzzing ambient murk. In some ways, it’s almost the perfect aQ record, bits and pieces of all the stuff we can’t get enough of. But deftly assembled into something cohesive and pretty original. Nods to Jesu, Nadja, Xasthur, the Angelic Process, the usual suspects, but Mamaleek are definitely their own queer beast. The lo-fi recording adding to the murk and mystery, and of course the fuzzy blissy vibe.
The record opens with reverb drenched piano, lazy and laid back, all sepia toned and warm summer porch-ed, which makes the second track sound even more epic and massive. A crushing roiling slow motion riff, superdistorted and almost crumbling, the melodies in the distance soaring, the track shifts briefly into a blast of processed grind, before returning to its majestic trudge, sounding like Jesu, if Jesu still sounded like Godflesh. The track flips back and forth, slipping into a tinny, black ambient interlude halfway through, only to transform into a spacious almost math rock drift.
The rest of the record sort of slips easily between those two sounds, harsh washed out blackened bliss, often peppered with jagged sonic shards, and haunting drones, and murky ambience. The disc’s centerpiece is the nearly 20 minute long « Shout On, Children », beginning with some straight up bluegrass guitar pickin’, still muddy and lo-fi, some slippery slide and some fret buzz, but then, the programmed drums kick in, some gurgling demonic vocals, and then thick sheets of coruscating sunburnt guitar buzz, but that acoustic twang continues on right below the surface. But it never gets HEAVY, it just shifts between gradations of buzziness, murkiness and blur, some parts are wide open, a skeletal rhythm over smears of horn like synth and throbbing bass, other parts are gauzy, the guitar chopped into haunting pulses and layered over washed out whirs, and others incorporate operatic vocals and barely there shimmer, finally finishing off with a brief blast of ultra-lo-fi blackened metal.
The last four tracks lean toward metallic bliss, and pounding buzzing heaviness, the guitars thick and buzzy, the vocals a fierce growl, the drums simple and mechanical, everything whipped into pulsing waves of sound, occasionally coalescing into blasting blackness, but just as often, becoming unmoored, and drifting skyward the various riffs and beats spreading out like a sky full of black wraiths shot through with sunbeams.
Handmade packaging. Fold over cardstock sleeves, with paste on full color front and back images, and a printed insert on nice thick textured paper. LIMITED TO 100 COPIES!
MPEG Stream: « I Wish I Was Dead »
MPEG Stream: « Winter’ll Soon Be Over »
MARBLEBOG Wind Of Moors (Tour De Garde) cd 11.98
Finally available again, the gorgeous all ambient second album from Hungary’s Marblebog, who on other records (which we gushed about on past aQ lists) combined bits of ambient drone with their mournful black buzz, but for Wind Of Moors, they jettisoned all traces of metal completely, and in their place, crafted a gorgeous slow moving world of drifting melancholy ambience. Very krautrocky, and quite reminiscent of Klaus Schulze, Popol Vuh and the like, the opening track is soft and sun dappled, gentle muted bongos, beneath a constant low level raga like buzz, soft synth swells, shimmering streaks of ethereal whir, a gorgeous laid back sprawl of nearly new age mesmer.
The next track is even lighter and dreamier, chords smeared into shadows as they drift by, chords suspended in soft swirls of sound, the notes, floating weightless, a breathless whisper of a song.
The third track has a bit of muted propulsion, a gentle heartbeat like pulse, beneath some thick, but still soft, buzz, a gorgeous minor key melody played out in high end tones, draped over the droning blurred raga below, so completely entrancing and hypnotic. Slightly ominous, dark clouds drifting across a steel blue sky, but still, the vibe is more like a forest just before the storm, hauntingly calm but still slightly uneasy.
The final track is the darkest of the bunch, a creeping sonic fog, layered melodies, gauzy and shimmering, slowly drifting, casting dark shadows, filling the speakers with dead leaves and cold rain. A chilling, but mysteriously lovely bit of dreamlike sound.
MPEG Stream: « Waves Of Inner Seas »
MPEG Stream: « Gateless Gate Of Nothingness »
MILES DEVENS (IGNATZ) Atlantic Woman (Pacific City Sound Visions) cd-r 9.98
Elsewhere on this week’s list you’ll find the first release from the Monopoly Child Star Searchers, a Skaters side project that we have been digging like crazy, it’s also the first release on a new cd-r label run by Spencer from The Skaters called Pacific City Sound Visions, mostly to release his Monopoly Child Star Searchers cd-r’s, seeing as 4 of the first 5 releases are in fact his own records, but the 5th is by some mysterious entity called Miles Devens, which we later discovered was in fact another moniker for the fellow behind aQ faves Ignatz, which made perfect sense when we threw this one. And thus, this is essentially a new Ignataz record, two tracks of alien Appalachia and haunting ambient buzz.
Two tracks, each over twenty minutes long, but each, split into movements, separate songs woven together. The opener begins with haunting glimmering high end shimmer, soft sweet melodies, a sea of sparkle and upper register effulgence, strings buzzing, the track shifts into a sing songy little lullaby, all hushed vocals and tiny melodic curlicues, which are soon overtaken by some deep raga like buzz, a shimmering metallic whir laced with murmured melodies, a woozy warbly sprawl, which shifts again, and becomes a muted campfire hoedown, more hushed vocals, little flurries of acoustic twang, eventually giving way to a super distorted, lo-fi ballad, with mumbled vocals, angular guitar, and lots of gauzy reverb and delay.
The second track begins super spare, a lonely acoustic guitar, lots of room reverb, a slow hushed drift, dreamy and haunting. The second part is all frenzied guitar squiggle, like sped up Applachia, some drawled effected vocals, which gives way to a murky cloudy dreamy dronefolk drift, soft stately melodies, in a dense field of effects, vocals wrapped in reverb and allowed to float and flutter, the low end rolling off until the sound is like some alien shortwave broadcast, all twang and strum, but all treble, fading into a gorgeously murky swampy slow motion electronic drone outro.
MPEG Stream: « 1 »
MPEG Stream: « 2 »
MONADE Monstre Cosmic (Too Pure) cd 13.98
Oh, Latetitia Sadier you can sing in our ear anytime! Of course best known for her main groop, Stereolab, Sadier has also kept busy over the years with her project Monade, an outfit that leans much more toward the laid back elements of Stereolab. Monstre Cosmic finds Monade in top form, with rich and lush instrumentation, a range of tempos and of course Sadier’s trademark suave vocals, in French and sounding so damn irresistible! The color palette that Monade’s songs invoke are just as wide and dazzling as those of Stereolab with enough highs and lows to keep you on your toes but with just the right feeling of comfort to makes you want to just dive into these sounds and stay forever, and bask in their swirling melodies and groove filled charm. Like so much of her best work, we love how the songs unfold and reveal more of themselves with repeated listens. Monstre Cosmic sounds great on first listen but it’s when you begin to get hooked and are listening over and over again that you really begin to fall in love with this batch of musical goodness. Laid back without being lazy, driving and catchy without being too perky. It’s just the right ingredients mixed and made with total pop perfection. Highly recommended!
MPEG Stream: « Regarde »
MPEG Stream: « Tout En Tour Est Un »
MPEG Stream: « Lost Language »
MONOPOLY CHILD STAR SEARCHERS Gitchii Manitou (12 Step Retrance Program For Troubled Dream Warriors) (Pacific City Sound Visions) cd-r 9.98
The name Monopoly Child Star Searchers might not be all that familiar to you, but the man behind the music probably is, it’s Spencer from long time AQ faves the Skaters, with a brand new solo tape, under yet another new and obtuse monicker.
But as weird as the band name is, it probably won’t prepare you for what lurks inside. Sonically, it’s definitely reminiscent of the Skaters, but where the Skaters dabbled in murky tribal jams, and stumbling free folk rituals, the sound here is much more chaotic and playful, almost circusy at times, sounding like some cracked pop record rolled in tape his, and played back at the wrong speed, all bass and no treble, so even the high end sounds like a buzzy blur. Super hypnotic, a looped landscape of hiccupping stuttering melodies, dizzying and dense, while in the background, long drawn out tones drift in the background, synths or vocals, hard to tell, but they sound angelic and haunting. The tape is all variations on this strange looped alchemy, sometimes stripped down to just percussion, but even then it’s a mumbled barrage of thumps and skitters, all jumbled up into a chaotic little tangle of rhythms.
Not sure if you can tell from the above, but this just might be our the best thing we’ve heard from the Skaters camp EVER!
MPEG Stream: « 1 »
MPEG Stream: « 2 »
MPEG Stream: « 3 »
MOUNTAIN GOATS, THE Heretic Pride (4AD) cd 13.98
It’s been said before but we will say it again, there might not be a better story teller around then John Darnielle. He has this uncanny ability to bring you right into a moment, evoking some of the simples memories that hold in them the deepest impact. Over the years he’s transformed The Mountain Goats from an uber-lo-fi cassette only underground secret to a full fledged indie rock ensemble with lush production, soaring strings, moody keys, sold out live shows, etc, without losing one bit of integrity or passion along the way.
At the core of The Mountain Goats still remains a chilling honesty that gives each song an ability to give the listener goosebumps or bring grown men to tears, often both at the same time. Heretic Pride finds Darnielle and company in extra fine form. While the last couple outings were devastating and sorrowful and ultra personal, Heretic Pride is a little more upbeat and rocking with the gaze turning more outward, yet the songs are still filled with fire and immediacy. This is grabbing us right away on our first few listens and we’re sure this will turn into another Mountain Goats record that we end up spending lots quality time with. Highly recommended!
MPEG Stream: « San Bernardino »
MPEG Stream: « Heretic Pride »
MPEG Stream: « Marduk T-Shirt Men’s Room Incident »
NEMETH Film (Thrill Jockey) cd 14.98
Nemeth is the first solo outing from Stefan Nemeth who we know best for his work with Radian, one of the more compelling and stimulating electronic post rock outfits of the last several years. It makes perfect sense that he has also been hard at work scoring various films projects since he has such obvious skills for creating brooding sounds that sizzle with subtlety and mounting tension. Over the last several years Nemeth found himself creating soundscapes for experimental filmmakers and installation artists. He used those works as his source material in creating this debut solo work. This is by no means a laptop project, as Nemeth used lots of organic instrumentation like guitars, percussion and synthesizers along with his electronics and programming skills to create these chilling sounds. It’s pretty impossible to tell which sounds are real and which are electronically generated in this work and that’s what makes Nemeth’s music so spectacular. He treats all of the elements he uses with a fluidity that makes all the disparate sounds wash into each other. Film reminds us a bit of the more subdued and ominous elements of Pan Sonic, the hypnotic qualities of Circle, the ghostly decay of Thomas Brinkmann. All great company to be in, Nemeth has created a record that uses all its layers and textures with mindful perfection!
MPEG Stream: « Luukkaankangas »
MPEG Stream: « Field »
O’MALLEY, STEPHEN & ATTILA CSIHAR 6°F Skyquake (Editions Mego) cd 17.98
SUNNO))) freeks, heads up! This here is a super limited recording, of a piece used in an art show by Banks Violette. You might remember Violette from a dvd we carry featuring an installation he did Norwegian black metal outfit Thorns supplying the sounds.
We’d like to tell you more about what this piece is all about, but the description of the art, and the music, is in that insanely convoluted artspeak, so we’ll just try to go it alone.
Originally recorded in 2001, this piece features Stephen O’Malley (SUNNO))) et al) playing a Travis Bean guitar through a Fender Twin Reverb amplifier, and Hungarian vocalist Attila Csihar (Mayhem, Aborym, SUNNO))), Tormentor), this recording is a portion of the original lengthy recording and finds the two crafting some sort of blackened sinister liturgical ceremony.
O’Malley’s guitar is used mostly to make creaks and rumbles, piercing shards of feedback, crashing chordal fragments, but mostly it works as a tone generator, various bits of feedback allowed to stretch out and slowly shift, creating strange tonal variations and layered expanses of extreme sonics and minimal ambience.
Csihar contributes vocals, haunting and mesmerizing, delivered in a deep monk like chant. Lots of reverb and natural delay, the result sounds ancient, like some middle ages church ceremony. Those two elements O’Malley’s tones, and Csihar’s vocals combined, sound a bit like Ryoji Ikeda jamming along to vespers.
Not at all an easy listen, but definitely creepy and mysterious.
Cool oversized sleeve with photos of Violette’s art as well as band photos, and the lyrics printed in both English and Hungarian.
LIMITED TO 500 COPIES.
MPEG Stream: « 6ºF Skyquake »
RADAR BROTHERS Auditorium (Merge) cd 14.98
The vastly different music groups Dengue Fever and Radar Brothers share the bass playing excellence of Senon Williams. He must be a very busy man — both have awesome new albums out now! Don’t want to belabor the point too much, but the contrast is remarkable between the international technicolor frenzy of Dengue Fever and the Pink Floydian space-rock of Radar Brothers. One gets your heart pumpin’ and brings a flush to your cheeks. The other offers unwinding, soothing dreaminess (a possible point of comparison: an earthier Flaming Lips!). Both stir the listener to open channels and let go! Despite the implied audience and artist stage enclosure of title, the Radar Brothers’ fourth full length is for roaming open spaces and star-gazing while keeping an introspective mood. No walls in sight. Simply beautiful.
MPEG Stream: « When Cold Air Goes To Sleep »
MPEG Stream: « Hearts of Crows »
SIDDHI In The Wind (Akoustic Desease) cd-r 13.98
A few lists back, we got a great response to a disc we listed by Sicilian drone duo Comet III, their debut album Astral Voyager, a totally « kosmiche » trip in ye olde krautrock vein. One half of Comet III, their « space guitarist », has a new cd-r out recorded under the name Siddhi, released by the Italian micro-label Akoustic Desease, and we of course grabbed some asap (they’re limited to just 115 numbered copies). So we have a few to share with you and then that’s probably it!
Space guitarist indeed. This is way spacey, yet with a folky vibe. 5 songs, 45 psychedelic minutes. Drifting electronic drones, quiet and lovely. Rustling percussive rattle. Repetitive guitar ornament. Slow and stately. Mellow melancholic bliss. Forgive us the sentence fragments, it’s just that we’re trancing out within Siddhi’s cosmic, elemental embrace…
As we said, super limited. Packaged in colorful, stiff cardboard sleeves.
MPEG Stream: « Spirals »
MPEG Stream: « Waters »
SLOTH A Whole Other World Of Fun aka 13 Songs 13 Samples (At War With False Noise) cd 10.98
Some of you probably already know Sloth, a mysterious band of Midwestern sludgelords who in the past shared splits with folks like Corrupted, Grief, Upsidedown Cross, Floor, Noothgrush and Grief, and sonically, these guys were a pretty perfect fit amidst such illustrious company, but even back in the day, the sound of Sloth was a bit cracked, a bit demented, hints of some serious psychosis lurking beneath their lurching, downtuned exterior.
Surprisingly, this is their first full length EVER, but maybe not so surprisingly, given a whole cd to stretch out on, the weirdness factor is through the roof. This is most definitely not a proper sludge record, although there are some seriously sludge-y moments. There’s also lots of weirdo rock, a bit of classic sounding grunge, some Amrep style postpunk noise, some cracked pop, and some seriously what-the-fuck sonic action all over the place. It sounds a bit like a musical clusterfuck, and it sort of is, but in a good way, and all those disparate sounds sort of fitting together, like some musical Frankenstein’s monster. Not to mention, as the title suggests, the record is split into 13 songs and 13 samples, with each sample, some as short as 4 seconds getting their own track.
So yeah, even with such an amazing sludge pedigree, we’re not sure we would necessarily recommend this to those looking for something like Corrupted, Moss, Bunkur and the like. A Whole Other World Of Fun is more for folks who like their music, heavy, difficult, troublesome, confusional and very very very fucked up. Just have a listen to the sound samples and maybe it will start to make sense. Probably not though…
The record opens with some grungy redneck punk rock, somewhere between Scissorfight and Fucked Up, but with some killer riffing, some weird death metal grunts, and some awesome post rock-y breakdowns. The rest of the tracks are really all over the place, from creeping Slintish mathrock (complete with spoken word vocals) and a twisted howled banshee like chorus, to a super blown out space rock groove, with an ultra distorted riff, some bizarre vocals, and some haunting keyboards making it weirdly propulsive and a bit krauty, to a sea shanty forest folk sing along, to killer lo-fi buzzing indie rock, plodding primitive black metal and every stop in between. The only truly sludge-y track is « Pike Flower Shop », a lurching, stumbling ultradirge, but even then, it’s peppered with weird electric organs, raspy vocals, and fucked up production. There’s also a bit of a Ween vibe throughout the whole disc, that is if Ween were some sort of weirdo power violence band.
The record ends with a murky bass and drums plod, run through with buried in the mix group vocals, occasionally interrupted by a feral death metal howl, twice as loud as the rest of the music. Fucked up for sure, bizarre, but pretty damn cool. Which basically describes the whole record.
Way recommended, but only for folks with a twisted sense of humor and a taste for heavy, all-over-the-map weirdness.
MPEG Stream: « The Wooleybear Looked At You? »
MPEG Stream: « A Night At The Park »
MPEG Stream: « UFO Zombies »
MPEG Stream: « Lagoons »
SOTE Wake Up (Record Label) 12″ 11.98
It’s been a while since we’ve listed something from Sote, who had a few killer releases on Warp and aQ pal Drew’s Dielectric label. Since lately most of the electronic music we’ve been reviewing has been super murky and minimal, sort of Kompakt style techno, this 12″ is an awesome nod to the good old days, the days of Aphex Twin, Autechre, Boards Of Canada, Squarepusher and the like. But Sote doesn’t just ape those folks, he has his own sound, in fact he seems to have two distinct sounds, one is a sort of Middle Eastern ethno-electronica, but even then those sounds are all tangled up with what seems top be Sote’s other distinct sound, crunchy junglized beats, and thick buzzing basslines, and that’s what we get here. Three tracks from Sote’s old Warp Records days…
The A side is a total dancefloor destroyer. Thick grinding lowend sytnhs over crazy skittery breakbeats, a massive roiling wall of old school jungle, but infused with elements of dubstep and electroclash, it’s all a bit grime-y and fuzzy, the beats are wicked, the low end seriously devastating. Some moody skitter surfaces part way through, an interlude with pizzicato melodies and some almost ambience, but then the beat drops again, and the record runs out a furious and dense beatscape.
The flipside is a bit more spacious and laid back, with some wooshing string swells, and some new age-y synths, but even within this more subdued sound, there lurks some skittery drum tangle and some fierce spastic programming. It’s all good stuff for sure, but the A side is worth the price of admission on its own.
Thick, swirled, colored vinyl, house in gorgeous hand sewn fabric sleeves. All hand made, and so of course VERY VERY limited. Only 300 copies.
SOUL MERCHANTS 1985-1987 (Smooch) 2cd 15.98
When you think of leather trenchcoats, black eyeliner, big hair, Doc Maartens, graveyards, reverbed guitars, murky low end, simple propulsive basslines, deep baritone vocals, sideburns, goth and gloom, odds are you don’t probably think of Colorado. But every town in the eighties had its own little scene like that, a place for the misfits, the outcasts, kids who dug Sisters Of Mercy, Joy Division, the Mission UK, Jane’s Addiction, died their hair, pierced their noses and in general embraced the darker side.
Denver was no different. Except that underground music in Colorado, had a much tougher time making it OUT, to find sympathetic ears, especially pre-internet. One of the casualties was the the Soul Merchants, who perhaps more centrally located, or with access to hipper venues, could have been as popular as any of their much more successful peers. Once described as the Doors meets Sisters Of Mercy, the Soul Merchants sound to our ears at least, like they belonged in Los Angeles, playing clubs like the Scream, with bands like Kommunity FK, Tender Fury, Abecedarians, Tex And The Horseheads and of course Jane’s Addiction.
They had that lurching murky droniness, the weary deeeeep vocals, lots of reverb and delay, big booming eighties drums, killer serpentine basslines, but they also had some AMAZING songs, packed with killer hooks, and the fact that it all sounds so good, dense, heavy, lush, is even more remarkable considering most of these songs were recorded on a 4-track. And while it is distinctly doomy and way gothy, there’s also a lot of jangle going on, some parts sound like R.E.M., other parts like the Jacobites, there’s some Virgin Prunes, some sixties psychedelia, all woven into the Soul Merchants’ distinctive sound. The liner notes call the Soul Merchants « Denver’s premier purveyors of psychedelic doom », and while around here, psychedelic doom might have slightly different connotations, the music here is definitely dark and doomy and psychedelic. And so of course, recommended.
Packaged in a deluxe double digipak, booklet inside, liner notes and lots of vintage photos.
MPEG Stream: « Crown Of Glory «
MPEG Stream: « Joanna »
MPEG Stream: « It Hurts »
MPEG Stream: « Mary Had »
SUNKEN Eye Electric Organ, Brain Electric Nerve (PseudoArcana) cd-r 14.98
Yet another collection of haunting and gorgeous dronemusic from Antony Milton, who in addition recording as Sunken with Stefan Neville, plays in the Stumps, Mrtyu, The Nether Dawn and about a million others, PLUS he runs the PseudoArcana label, and we think he might even have a real job as well. Not sure how he does it, we’re just glad he does.
So as we mentioned above, Sunken is Milton and his pal Neville who also records as Pumice. In Sunken, the two mainly play organs, reed and Hammond, but the two also make sounds with intercoms, tapes, delay pedals, guitars and of course vocals. But the organs are what Sunken is all about, and the sound is awesomely fuzzy, simultaneously lo-fi and lush. The opening track is 30 minutes long and throughout organs whir and wheeze, the sounds they produce so rich and textured, so fuzzy and buzzy and imperfect, the tones crumbling and shifting, the chords wavering and warbly, long drawn out melodies, that sound sort of drunken or seasick, thick tangled layers of sounds, heaving and whirring and churning out long Niblockian drones, but not nearly as static. It almost sounds like obscure NZ outfit Wreck Small Speakers On Expensive Stereos covering the Dead C. A sort of droned out free rock, rendered in quavering organ tones and hissy fuzzy warble. Here and there, the tracks splinter apart briefly offering up some skittering electronic glitchery, some analog stutter and skip, before slipping right back into that woozy mesmer.
The second track is a bit more abrasive, what sounds like guitar is strummed into a field of blurred high end buzz and shimmer, but within, tones materialize, bits of percussive whatsits thump and creak, all manner of sonic detritus drifts by, always surrounded by a cloud of organ and guitar whir. And boy does this track remind us of Wreck Small Speakers, which in case we didn’t make it obvious already is most definitely a good thing.
The record finishes off with a little lullaby outro, some sweet swoonsome organ, over the top some distorted minor key guitar, the perfect warm and warbly finish…
MPEG Stream: « Sounding / Salt / Seacow »
SWIRNOFF, PRESTON Maariv (Last Visible Dog) cd 11.98
Wow, Preston Swirnoff has been one busy (and versatile) bee over the last several years. From his collaborative vinyl only releases on Eclipse with Ilya Monosov, to their blown out psych-rock band The Shining Path, his avant jazz outfit, The Seesaw Ensemble and his amazing dub project Habitat Sound System, a record we were blasting all last summer. Maariv is a collection of solo works composed and performed by Swirnoff from 2004-05 only now finally seeing its much deserved moment in the sun. Using 20th century minimalism, ritual drones and early tape and electronic sound experiments as his launching pad, he’s tapped into a mystical realm that can be both gorgeous and disturbing.
Each of the four pieces use a different set of instrumentation and various tape loops. The opener filled with rolling piano thunder and a delicious fog of electronics had some of our favorite AQ customers drooling as they heard it blasting from our speakers, as it recalls some of the most breathtaking work by Charlemagne Palestine. The next piece is probably the most intense and disturbing of the lot, as a room full of organs create a cacophony of sound which radiate with a scary and relentless passion. Then comes the most delicate and pretty track in the collection where Swirnoff uses a sequence that Ilya Monosov played on electric-guitar and uses a tape machine and speed control to create an otherworldly gamelan-like sound that would be right at home on a Colleen record. The album ends with a really nice nod to the kind of works that came out of the SF tape music center of the ’60s as four tape machines go back and forth between speeds and pitches to create a mesmerizing mood that we could listen to forever!
Whether tapping into the power of Gyorgy Ligeti or showing an amazing range that rivals Barton Smith, Preston has created a vivid work of electroacoustic music that will most surely stand the test of time! Highly recommended!
MPEG Stream: « Maariv 1 (For Piano & Electronics) »
MPEG Stream: « Maariv 4 (For Four Tape Machines) »
MPEG Stream: « Maariv 3 (For Electric Guitar) »
MPEG Stream: « Maariv 2 (For A Room Full Of Organs) »
TAD Busted Circuits And Ringing Ears (MVD Visual) cd 14.98
TAD!!! Fuck yeah! We’ve long championed grunge around here. Green River, Mother Love Bone, Afghan Whigs, Mudhoney, Rein Sanction, Nirvana, and most of the grunge obsessives here were members of the Sub Pop single of the month club, and cherish records by The Fluid, Blood Circus, Malfunkshun, Love Battery, Soundgarden, Screaming Trees, Cat Butt, The U-Men, Skin Yard, Gruntruck, Swallow, Green Magnet School, Les Thugs, Pond, Sprinkler and loads more, many of whom only released one or two 7″s. Grunge quickly became a bad word, as the mainstream caught on, and suddenly it was a movement, a style of dressing, a movie with Matt Dillon, but it never took away from how powerful the music was, a sloppy, glammy punky mix of garage rock, heavy metal and punk rock, with huge heapings of POP mixed in. And no one did it better, or heavier, than Tad.
Tad Doyle the man, fronted TAD the band, one of the coolest of the grunge crop. As heavy and intense as any of the other bands at the time, but with a surprising amount of musical complexity, not to mention killer hooks galore. Plus they were just such a cool and weird looking band. Outside of the Screaming Trees, you were not gonna see another HUGE long haired dude fronting a killer rock band. And they played up the whole scary mountain man, right down to the song titles (« Wood Goblins ») to the promo photos, that were almost always in the woods, and Tad almost always seemed to be brandishing a chainsaw.
When we discovered there was a documentary about Tad, we were so psyched. We also wondered how a whole movie about Tad would play out, since they weren’t a hugely Behind The Music worthy outfit, nobody died, nobody O.D.’d, minimal bad blood between ex-band members, they never got HUGELY popular, they sort of just plugged along. But thankfully the movie is super fun, and super watchable, due in no small part to the fact that Tad is super fucking charming. As is his bandmate Kurt Danielson. They talk about all the different records, their co-headlining tour in Europe with Nirvana, the 8-Way Santa record cover lawsuit, their first major label experience, resulting in being dropped midtour, and their second, with the same result, the « Jack Pepsi » lawsuit, lots of drinking, smoking pot, drugs, interviews with Mark Arm of Mudhoney, Krist Novoselic from Nirvana, Bruce and Jonathan who ran Sub Pop, but most importantly, so much rocking. Amazing live footage of Tad in action, the band were a powerhouse, and Tad’s between song banter was funny as shit, and it’s amazing to see Tad leaping into terrified crowds.
We even watched it with someone who wasn’t all that into Tad or grunge, and they thoroughly enjoyed it as well. Maybe not as much as us. For some reason Tad elicits all sorts of fanboy adoration in even the most jaded of rockers. Might be because they always seemed like underdogs, and they always seemed like cool guys too, but most importantly they just completely RULED. One of the grunge bands that almost all heavy music lovers seem to completely dig. This dvd had us going nuts relistening to all our Tad records, and even suddenly wanting to track down the last two major label records as well.
One of our favorite music dvds of the year for sure. And if that weren’t enough, it also includes all the Tad videos, which like Tad, the man AND the band, completely rule.
TENHORNEDBEAST / MARZURAAN split (Aurora Borealis) cd 15.98
Every once in a while, someone will release a record, and we can’t help but feel like it was made specifically for us. And for you. Some records just perfectly speak to the aQ aesthetic, as undefinable as that seems to be. This is another one of those cases. Someone thought it would be a perfect combination to match up UK one man ambient drone outfit Tenhornedbeast, with UK slow motion doomlords Marzuraan. And it is perfect. And a fantastic idea, but just because something is a great idea, doesn’t always mean someone thinks of it. And we’re not saying we had been thinking someone should get these two bands together specifically, we’re just glad they did, and we sort of wish we HAD thought of it. But that’s neither here nor there. The important thing is that it happened, and now we can all luxuriate in the deep dark heaviness both of these bands explore. And while the bands are indeed different, their aesthetics are not all that far removed. The both exist in some blackened nether region, haunting sonic realms, where heaviness can be expressed in both utter darkness and extreme force, sometimes both, and once in awhile neither.
Tenhornedbeast offer up a nearly 30 minute long sonic ritual, beginning as a bit of swirling black minimalism, but slowly building to a truly intense wall of doomdrone, the sound thick and textured, a churning cauldron of low end buzz and downtuned disembodied riffs, all brought to a boil and poured out in a viscous black torrent, left to flow like some subterranean river. But these deep drones are laced with melodies, and keening high end shards, allowed to shine forth occasionally, but often swallowed up before they can fill those caves with their unnatural light. The track continually changes shape, sound and timbre, various shades of grey and black, lightening and darkening as the landscape changes, a haunting journey through some lost world, where sound replaces sight, allowing us to navigate ever deeper.
Marzuraan counter with what must be one of their prettiest tracks ever. It’s still sludgey and doomy, but the notes ring out, the melodies almost soar, the sound fuzzy and glimmering, almost like these guys have caught the shoegaze bug as well. Washed out and blissy, super melodic and melancholy, but the coolest part is that the track seems to warble and waver, almost like someone is manually adjusting the tape speed, so the notes sound drunken and drugged, the track lurches and weaves drunkenly, only adding to the haunting and off kilter beauty. Part way through, the riffs get a little more riffy, and then the vocals come in, a moaning distant croon, and we’re most definitely in serious Jesu territory, but that weird speed shifting hitch, keeps it from sounding too pretty, or two blissy. But if these guys keep heading in this direction, they could definitely give Jesu, and Nadja and other metallic shoegazers a run for their money.
The packaging is super swank, a three panel gatefold, each of the front panels diecut with each band’s symbol, printed inside and out, housed in a thick plastic sleeve with a sticker affixed to the front.
MPEG Stream: TENHORNEDBEAST « Law Of The Needle »
MPEG Stream: MARZURAAN « Into Countless Battles »
THUJA s/t (Important) lp 16.98
A brand new vinyl only full length from aQ beloved ambient improvised free rock explorers Thuja. The core group is all present, Loren Chasse, Glenn Donaldson, Steven R. Smith and Rob Reger, joined for these sessions by Thuja satellite members: Greg Bianchini, Keith Evans, Bryan DeRoo and former aQ mailorder mistress Christine Boepple. Collected from various live performances, these tracks find Thuja setting up in various venues around the Bay Area, and transforming each location, at least briefly, into a forest glade, or a darkened wood, or a fog shrouded seashore, using traditional instruments as well as sticks and stones and other found objects to conjure up ghostlike soundscapes , each track, every performance, a slow burning sprawl of humid and humming minimalism.
Almost the entirety of the A side is taken up by an epic stretch of alchemical minimalism, a muted series of washed out melodies, of gentle scrapes and distant shimmers, various notes and chords expressed in long streaks, the guitar lines unfurling lazily, the band eventually coalesce into a glistening high end crescendo, suddenly reminding us of Sunroof! with their upper register ur-drone skree, but here that skree is more muted and muddied, a mournful keening, before the band elves back into a more minimal moonlit crawl. Disembodied slowed down riffs are draped over whispered whirs, while the band lurk in the shadows, letting tiny bits of light spill out, creating barely there sonic patterns, and dusty dreamlike song skeletons.
The B side is even more understated, each track a brief soundscape, exploring dark dusty corners, shuffling through a blanket of dead leaves, the band barely there at all. Almost like they set up their instruments and just stood there, letting the wind and the wildlife create the sounds. When the music does materialize, and take more solid form, the guitars weave themselves into delicate little tangles, drifting over deep resonant swells, all around sounds betray the environment, but become inexorable parts of the organic sound being created, snippets of conversation, voices, footsteps, alongside subtle bits of percussive thump, warbly distant melodies, a deep dark ambience, a gorgeously subtle sound that manages to be quietly propulsive even as it seems to hover motionless.
LIMITED TO 500 COPIES!!
UNO ACTU Hors Des Chemins De La Raison (Tour De Garde) cassette 5.00
Fuck, we love this band. We’ve only heard one tape from these Canadian electronic black ambient weirdos, but we immediately fell under their spell, and have been dying for new music ever since.
This is the latest tape of their damaged outsider alchemical sonic rituals, and if the first one was mysterious and strange, this one, is fucking baffling. All over the map, and completely wacked.
Opening with some fucked up creepy circusy synths, a buzzy tangle of haunting minor key video game forest drone. Then all of a sudden, they launch into a reverb drenched stumble, the drums blown out and spluttering, the guitar sawing away and emitting a cloud of noxious buzzing riffage, dual vocals, one a black metal rasp, the other a moaning whale call off in the distance. Freaky and super awesome. Those muted percussive thumps get more and more chaotic as the musical tension grows and grows, a lurching dirgey lo-fi doom damage workout. And it keeps getting better. And weirder. The next track is all folky, a strummed acoustic guitar, moaned vocals, all sorts of strange drifting FX, followed up by another acoustic crawl, creeping and slithery, the vocals growled beneath minor key piano plinking. Sheets of electric guitar buzz, insectoid electronic grizzle, huge echoey rumbling baritone moans, more mournful acoustic guitar…
Dense and washed out and fuzzy and murky and muddy and fucking genius. Fans of Dead Reptile Shrine, Circle Of Ouroborus, and other outsider metal outfits should be on all fours, cowering at the feet of Uno Actu, and offering up blood sacrifices as homage. We sure as hell are.
LIMITED TO 500 COPIES. Each tape hand numbered.
V/A Carolina Funk: First in Funk: 1968-77 (Jazzman) cd 15.98
We know, we know… at this point you’re probably as skeptical as we are of yet another compilation of ultra-rare, super heavy funk 45s from the dustiest corners of small-town USA, but believe us when we say that the crate diggers behind UK reissue label Jazzman have outdone themselves with this look at the undiscovered funk gems of North and South Carolina. You might recall how excited we here at aQ were about the Florida Funk compilation from last year and this installment is every bit as satisfying.
You’ll hear a wide range of styles represented on this collection, from straight up deep funk to tracks that touch on psych, jazz and smooth soul — 22 tracks in all of fuzzed out guitars, horn hits, break beats, flute solos, shouts, wails, and powerfully soulful vocals. However, where Jazzman really stands out from other reissue labels is in the meticulously assembled liner notes that accompany the record. You’ll learn not only about the songs and artists themselves, but also information about the different parts of the Carolinas from which they came. It’s a lovingly assembled package of songs, stories, background info, label scans and rare photographs on par with any of the reissue comps to come from Soul Jazz or Numero (and that’s saying something!).
We’ve been spinning this one a lot in the store as of late, and it’s been the perfect way to heat up these grey February days. So good!
MPEG Stream: SUNDIA « Stand Up And Be A Man »
MPEG Stream: MONGOOSE « King Cobra »
MPEG Stream: SHIRLEAN WILLIAMS & THE TEMPO’S BAND « Ease It To Me »
V/A Dr. Boogie Presents: Rarities From The Bob Hite Vaults (Sub Rosa) cd 15.98
Search on the keyword « boogie » on our website and you’ll get, uh, let’s see… 133 hits. This item being the latest, one that would go right to the top if we had the appropriate relevance algorithm at work. And there’s actually 19 boogie hits here (well, obscurities actually), rare tracks circa 1941 to 1958. What’s this compilation of American oldies music doing on the Belgian avantgarde label Sub Rosa?? And not, say, on Arhoolie or Bear Family? Well we’re not sure exactly, but it has something to do with this Dr. Boogie character, he’s a DJ from Belgium who has compiled this collection of boogie tracks, all of ’em from awesomely crackly old 78 rpm records that had been amassed over the years by boogie fanatic Bob « The Bear » Hite, better known as the lead singer of Woodstock-era hippie blues rock band Canned Heat (y’know, « Going Up The Country »), who passed away in 1981. Dunno if any of you folks are fans of Canned Heat, but regardless, it makes sense (and is pretty cool) that their vocalist had such a deep record collection devoted to old time rock n’ blues boogie woogie. Apparently back in the sixties, he used to host all-night listening parties in his Topanga Canyon pad, and the cuts collected here ought to give you an idea of what those sessions must have sounded like. Wild boogie fun!
How couldn’t it be, when it starts off with the excellently titled « Death Ray Boogie » by piano player Pete Johnson? And there’s no slack on the next track, Googie Rene’s « Wiggle Tail ». There’s a bunch more uptempo, jumpin’ numbers like that one (such as rock n’ roll pioneer Bill Haley’s « Birth Of The Boogie »), while other tracks here are more languidly bluesy (like guitarist Clarence’s Brown’s smokey « Taking My Chance »). It’s all pretty great old time good times. Other names here, some famous, some now more or less forgotten except by hardcore collectors: Earl King, Etta James, Elmore James, Clarence Brown, Johnny Otis, Otis Rush, Chuck Higgins, Eddie Hope, The Hot Shots, and some crazy cat called Mad Mel Sebastian!
Recommended… and we’re happy to hear that more volumes drawn from Hite’s historic collection are forthcoming.
MPEG Stream: GOOGIE RENE « Wiggle Tail »
MPEG Stream: ELMORE JAMES « Please Find My Baby »
MPEG Stream: CLARENCE BROWN « Taking My Chance »
V/A Garden Of Forking Paths (Important Records) cd 14.98
When this first arrived, we thought maybe Important Records had re-released Jefre Cantu Ledesma’s serpentine drone solo work of the same name that had come out on Spekk last year. But it seems there might just be more than one Jorge Luis Borges fan in the world, and one of them is James Blackshaw. Those of you who were lucky enough to see him perform live here in our store were witness to his magical powers of acoustic alchemy, and between pieces he quietly mentioned this new release that he had compiled. Bringing together avant-acoustic string pieces specifically recorded for this release by Dutch lute player Jozef Van Wissem (also his recent collaborator in Bretheren of The Free Spirit), Swedish cellist Helena Espvall, of Espers, Japanese koto virtuoso Chieko Mori, as well as Blackshaw himself. Beginning and ending with pieces by Cheiko Mori, we are taken through a twisting sojourn of cross-cultural touchstones and stylistic complexities. The range of classical lyricism and free improvisation highlights each individual’s unique contributions while also recognizing a vital connection to each other’s methods bringing the whole together. Excellent!
MPEG Stream: CHEIKO MORI « Spiral Wave »
MPEG Stream: JAMES BLACKSHAW « The Broken Hourglass »
MPEG Stream: HELENA ESPVALL « Home of Shadows and Whirlwinds »
V/A Tropicalia (Lilith) cd 21.00
Lilith is really on top of the Tropicalia reissues and this time we see back in stock the compilation / collaboration that served as the Brazilian movement’s defining manifesto while also highlighting the key musical players: Gil Gilberto, Caetano Veloso, Os Mutantes, Gal Costa and producer Rogerio Duprat (with contributions from Nara Leao, Tom Ze, and Vicente Celestino among others). We were surprised to find we didn’t review this ten years ago when we first discovered and raved about Os Mutantes and heard about the Tropicalia movement from the late sixties with all this amazing and creative art, poetry and music. Although it’s easy to be blinded by Os Mutantes’ genius, as they were definitely the most rocking and performative component of the movement, which was made up of mostly singer-songwriters that came from more traditional musical forms of Samba, Fado and Bossa Nova. So perhaps we were less floored musically with that aspect of this compilation at the time, or just didn’t appreciate enough the then-radical concept of mashing all these disparate forms of psychedelic rock, Afro-Caribbean rhythms and Brazilian popular styles together in a country that nationalized its traditional music to such a degree that even electric instruments were considered anathema. We are definitely appreciating it much more now. Especially after becoming more familiar with the solo work of each of the contributors, we’re more open this time around to the softer nuances of the song writing and performances. Panis et Circencis (Bread and Circuses) is both a celebration and a political critique, a collaboration of unity and vitality and most of all longevity.
MPEG Stream: OS MUTANTES « Panis et Circensis »
MPEG Stream: CAETANO VELOSO « Enquanto Seu Lobo Nao Vem »
MPEG Stream: GAL COSTA « Mamae Coragem »
VEEE DEEE s/t (At War With False Noise) 2×3″cd-r 10.98
Another blast of caustic freaked out psychedelic overload from this Japanese duo (well, they LIVE in Japan, they’re Canadian, or at least one of em is), and while they may not BE Japanese, they sure sound Japanese. Trafficking in a sound that definitely touches on modern Japanese psych, White Heaven, Fushitsusha (even though the duo despise Mr. Haino), and the like, these two spit out fierce fiery ultra thick blasts of snarling buzz and in-the-red psychrock chaos.
But since they’re a guitar and drums duo, their sound ends up going in all sorts of different directions. They don’t kick up a Lightning Bolt style skree here as much as weave thick buzzscapes, the guitar impossibly heavy, unfurling massive layered waves of blown out buzz, the drums beneath pounding and skittering, shuffling and blasting away. If anything they fall closer to bands like the Psychic Paramount, rhythmic and HEAVY as all get out.
The first disc is just that, a fucking furious wash of thick buzzing guitars and octopoidal drumming, pausing partway through for some mathy postrock skitter and meander, before the band rev it back up, working their way through some pounding chaos, eventually returning to that soaring epicness of the opening few minutes. Some seriously majestic buzz. Verging on shoegaze territory, which is not a bad thing at all. And stick around after the fade out as the band return for a brief burst of buzz that we wish had gone on for the length of the disc again.
The second disc begins with some serpentine riffing, and some random drum splatter, and some howled vocals, and sort of drifts aimlessly for a while, very sort of old school emo, the vocals sparring with the drums while the guitars percolate underneath, but about 4 minutes in, the guitar kicks it up and starts roaring, spitting out gorgeous super distorted slabs of sound, the drums growing equally intense, the two sparring back and forth building to a serious frenzied freakout, before starting the process all over again, another gradual build from minimal splatter to full bore crush. Definitely some Ruins and Lightning Bolt going on here, and the band do it well, taking elements of those two influences but tangling them all up and smashing them to pieces, and tossing the pieces into a woodchopper and spraying them out the other side into your headphones.
Packaged in super fancy cd sized double dvd style digipak, cardstock covers facing out, lyrics and liner notes facing in, visible through the clear case, pro printed 3″ cd-r’s.
MPEG Stream: « Ikebukuro Incinerator (excerpt) »
WRATH OF THE WEAK Just A Momentary Diversion On The Road To The Grave (Earth.Space Noise Research Laboratories) cassette 4.98
A two song blast of extreme noise drenched buzz to tide us over until the next Wrath Of The Weak full length (which we actually have in stock, we just haven’t gotten around to reviewing it yet). When it was first suggested we check out WOTW, we were told they were the BUZZIEST black metal band around, and damn if it wasn’t pretty much true. But if that first record was indeed the buzziest, not sure what this tape is all about. If anything it’s even more droney and dense, whatever riffs are happening are blurred and smeared and stretched into one massive roiling buzzscape. There might be drums in there, but if they are they are buried deep beneath the churning black mass of buzz above it. Very close listening reveals some distinct riffage, and even some melody, but back away and it’s like standing in a super collider, gloriously and ear splittingly, head spinningly, rib cage rattlingly LOUD. The second side is a bit more defined, but only in that the sound is a little murkier, a little more melancholy, a heaving dirge-y dismal minor key drone, that seems to shift druggily back and forth between two thick shimmering buzz drenched chords, creating a creepy, melancholy melody out of massive walls of crumbling fuzz and blasting black blur. Barely even black metal, but fucking awesome nonetheless.
Fantastic packaging, an all black tape, not even a little window in the middle. Spare black and white sleeve, white on the outside, black on the inside, minimal text, housed in a black and yellow transparent slipcover. Super striking. CRAZY LIMITED TOO. ONLY 100 COPIES. Out of print already, we got a bunch, but they won’t last long…
WRNLRD Cperadt (Small Sacrifice / Order Of The Cloven Eye) cd-r 8.98
The Midwest is beginning to feel like the new Norway. So is the South. Tons of fucked up grim blackness seems to be constantly seeping outward from the blackened heartland. We’re gonna have to come up with some new sobriquets for these apparent movements, MWBM is now a new, more region specific USBM, or maybe ECBM, for those in the South, but the sudden onslaught from middle and Eastern America is threatening to overtake the much lauded West Coast scene, which while still represented by the few elite metal warriors (Leviathan, Xasthur, etc.), hasn’t really produced the same number of outrageously creative black metal outfits lately. Much of could well have much to do with the places these guys call home. Black metal is all about isolation, looking inward, darkness and depression, and while those emotions and ideals are indeed universal, it sometimes seems more difficult to be miserable and suicidal and full of grim energy when you’re wandering through green trees beneath a sunshiney Spring California day.
But whatever. All you need to know for now, is that the strangely monickered Wrnlrd (thanks to aQ pal Will for the recommendation) is from Virginia, (hail VABM!) And offers up a dense twisted blown out frenzy of utter blackness.
And it’s hard to think of a better word to describe it than frenzied. The sound is so thick and gnarled, the riffs so distorted they seem to exist in a churning sonic morass, the guitars and vocals constantly on the verge of crumbling to pieces, the sound so blown out, the drums are barely audible, a flurry of beats buried way in the mix, but that drumless feel only adds to the organic sound of Wrnlrd, this epic heaving cloud of black swirling sonic mayhem, slowly and systematically engulfing everything in its path. But that’s not so say the riffs here aren’t amazing, they are, and the tracks are surprisingly catchy, and the overall sound is very textural, almost like someone like Christian Fennesz or Tim Hecker recorded it, and occasionally things slow down and the band lurches onto some staggering buzzy dirge, here and there the tracks spread out into near ambient drifts, the guitars ghostly and haunting, but it’s all about the gorgeous wall of sound this guy can produce, managing to sound utterly frosty and grim, but also epic and majestic, woozy, drone-y, druggy and utterly and terrifyingly black.
MPEG Stream: « 1590 »
MPEG Stream: « Mnemonomagia »
MPEG Stream: « Blood »
MPEG Stream: « Flower »
XELA The Illuminated (Digitalis) cassette 8.98
A super limited missive from Xela, aka John Twells, head honcho of the super kick ass Type label. But his work as Xela is much darker than his label might lead you to believe. His is a world of doom. Not old school heavy metal doom. But truly ominous darkened worlds of doom. His is not a doom of huge riffs and pounding drums, but instead, rumbling sinister drones, and haunting ambience. Crumbling black landscapes of mysterious buzz and whispered menace. The A side of this tape is like a field recording of a rickety old dock, jutting out into the choppy waters of the River Styx, old rust chains rattle, rusty lanterns clang against one another, the rotted wood groans and creaks, the wind howls, the choppy water laps at the pilings, black birds circle overhead, an old boat tied up to the dock rocking wildly in the water, straining against the frayed rope, while in the distance, an ominous buzz permeates the air like the stink of decaying flesh, and somewhere, below the surface of the water, or hidden behind the black clouds overhead, some unspeakable beast growls, his ominous rumble like thunder filling the sky.
The B side takes up where the first side left off, that same dock, being lashed by a fierce storm, but instead of rain and lightning, it’s decaying black buzz, and howled vocals, a stumbling, lurching doomy drone, recorded on an old tape, the sound dropping out, the speed shifting, slowing down and speeding up, as much a part of the sound as the obfuscated riffs, and the creeping mournful melodies. Fucking awesome.
Red cassettes with metallic gold sticker, in a cryptic printed black and white sleeve, photocopied insert. LIMITED TO 111 COPIES. Already out of print. We got the last batch so act fast.
ZARACH’BAAL’THARAGH Eternal Darkness (At War With False Noise) cd 10.98
Woah, this is some seriously filthy and hateful, damaged and demented, utterly raw black metal primitivism. A collection of long out of print demos from the tongue twistingly titled Zarach’Baal’Tharagh, a band/man the label refers to as « The French master of bedroom black metal », and who are we to argue.
Right off the bat, we should just say, that all of you who are into the weirdest of the weird, the damaged, retarded, stumbling, freaked out what-the-fuck black metal we can’t ever get enough of, a la Necrofrost, Furze, Dead Reptile Shrine, Striborg, then this is pretty much ESSENTIAL.
The sound will also definitely appeal to folks who dig the ultra personal grimnity of the French Black Legions, but Zarach’Baal’Tharagh takes that sound, and douses it with noise, lets riffs unravel, lets rhythms unwind, songs collapse, and then suddenly seem to fall back together, the drums blast and splatter, stumble and shuffle, the guitars roar and buzz, the vocals a paint peeling rasp, and then there are the leads, wild and dizzyingly off kilter, somewhere between actual shredding and completely random noodling, but all wound up into the buzzing swirl, it sounds perfect. A massively head spinning unhinged blackened assault.
The slow parts are gorgeous and creepy, the guitars wavery and warbly, the drums a stuttery tattoo, some tracks are killer stretches of FX drenched ambience, vocals reverbed and delayed into strange sonic echoes, everything including the blasts of black are muddy and murky and ultra lo-fi.
The record is separated into three parts, Primitive Era, Apocalypse, and maybe our favorite El Borak, the harshest and heaviest of the bunch, the guitar supercharged, the four parts of El Borak, laced with completely wacked Buttholes Surfers style leads, spidery and chaotic, the four parts together forming a totally mesmerizing chunk of looped sounding black buzz, with some AWESOME riffing, but the riff is locked into an endless black groove, over and over and over, the whole thing dragged into some completely other dimension by the damaged lead guitar. So fucking awesome. Some of us around here can’t help but think (even though technically this stuff is not ‘new’) that this could very well be a contender for black metal record of the year. At the very least, damaged demented outsider what-the-fuck black metal record of the year. Either way, totally recommended.
MPEG Stream: « In Your Grave »
MPEG Stream: « Demon Seed »
MPEG Stream: « El Borak »