Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Pat Metheny - Bright Size Life (1976)


Solo debut from jazz guitarist Pat Metheny. Recorded when he was just 21, Bright Size Life showcases Metheny's dexterous, crystalline guitar work, and a perfectly understated rhythm section composed of Jaco Pastorius (whose self-titled album I really should have posted by now [EDIT: I did]) and drummer Bob Moses.

Track listing:
1. Bright Size Life
2. Sirabhorn
3. Unity Village
4. Missouri Uncompromised
5. Midwestern Nights Dream
6. Unquity Road
7. Omaha Celebration
8. Round Trip / Broadway Blues

The silence of a candle

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Nehëmah - Requiem Tenebrae (2004)


Looks like it's time for another entry in my ongoing series, "All of My Favorite Black Metal is French." Compared with that of many of their fellow countrymen, Nehëmah's music is relatively traditional - icy riffing, choral keys, throaty rasps - but it's dynamic, emotionally compelling, and masterfully executed, especially on this, their third and (thus far) latest album. The whole record is phenomenal, but the sprawling, hauntingly sorrowful "Taken Away by the Torn Black Shroud" deserves consideration as one of black metal's finest compositions.

Track listing:
1. Creeping Chaos
2. The Great Old Ones
3. Dead But Dreaming in the Eternal Icy Wastes
4. The Elder Gods Awakening
5. In the Mists of Orion's Sword
6. Taken Away by the Torn Black Shroud
7. Conscience in Evil
8. Through the Dark Nebula

I will sleep with the dragon

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Islaja - Ulual Yyy (2007)


Abstract, psychedelic, woozily beautiful sounds from Finnish musician Merja Kokkonen. Songs slowly congeal from strange, fragmented guitars, saxophone, organs, cello, singing saw, and many other instruments, eventually revealing, at the heart of this low-key cacophony, a surprisingly tender, relatable emotional core.

Track listing:
1. Kutsukaa Sydant
2. Sydanten Ahmija
3. Pete P
4. Laulu Jo Menneesta
5. Pysahtyneet Planeetat
6. Muusimaa
7. Varjokuvastin
8. Muukalais-Silma
9. Suru Ei

Travel light

Friday, April 25, 2014

Abruptum - Vi Sonus Veris Nigrae Malitiaes (1997)


One long, unsettling, seemingly improvised blackened horrorscape. Thunderous drums, demonic growls, tortured screams, droning feedback. Vi Sonus Veris Nigrae Malitiaes came with a helpful reminder that Abruptum is "the audial essence of pure black evil," and a warning that they "do not take responsibility for any actions taken under the influence of this album."

Track listing:
1. Vi Sonus Veris Nigrae Malitiaes

Ancient chambers of inhuman sorrow

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Mineral - The Power of Failing (1995)


I just read that vaguely Christian emo favorites Mineral are doing a reunion (probably because they heard that Sunny Day Real Estate already did one -- get it?) so here's their awesome, ragged first full-length. Get ready to lock yourself in your bedroom, writing poetry, smoking cigarettes, and pining for that rad girl who likes pharmaceuticals and has a boyfriend who's in a band that sounds like Archers of Loaf -- just like we all did in high school.

Track listing:
1. Five, Eight, and Ten
2. Gloria
3. Slower
4. Dolorosa
5. 80-37
6. If I Could
7. July
8. Silver
9. Take the Picture Now
10. Parking Lot

Rejoice, my soul
How long will you fear

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Gaza - I Don't Care Where I Go When I Die (2006)


Chaotic, dark, dissonant, sludgy, restless, inventive hardcore. Reminds me of a time and place in which it wasn't out of the ordinary to see Pg. 99, Majority Rule, and Darkest Hour at the same show. I managed to sleep on Gaza until after they broke up because I suck, so in case you have done the same, here's their phenomenal first album.

Track listing:
1. Calf
2. I Don't Care Where I Go When I Die
3. Hospital Fat Bags
4. Gristle
5. Sire
6. Slutmaker
7. Hell Crown
8. Moth
9. Cult
10. Pork Finder
11. Untitled

I love you for the same reasons I could not shoot crippled horses

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Sabbat - The Dwelling (1996)


A low-budget epic of raw Japanese black/thrash. The Dwelling consists of one hour-long track that, against all odds, doesn't come across as just a bunch of songs strung together, and completely kicks ass throughout. Lots of meat and potatoes blackened thrash, killer riffs, and off-kilter ritualistic sections, complete with cheesy keyboards and ghostly, pseudo-operatic clean vox. All metalheads must hear this.

Track listing:
1. The Dwelling: The Melody of Death Mask

The forests create the black night,
The black nights create the darkness,
The darkness raises a red full moon,
The moon raises the ancient winds,
The ancient winds create the storms,
The storms create a grand silence,
The silence raises a golden shadow,
The shadow raises an eternal blood...
The birth of the unseen evil

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Throne of Ahaz - Nifelheim (1995)


Old school Swedish black metal. Blast beats, tremolo picking, raspy vocals, war-like mid-paced bits, wind SFX -- sounds like black metal. Nifelheim was recorded in 1993 - notably, the same year as the musically similar Under a Funeral Moon - but it didn't come out 'til '95, causing virtually every discussion of the album to included speculation that Throne of Ahaz would currently be considered a more historically significant band if Nifelheim's release had not been delayed. What really matters, though, is that Nifelheim kicks a lot of ass, and that you can't rightly say that you like black metal if you don't like this album.

Track listing:
1. Northern Thrones
2. An Arctic Star of Blackness
3. Where Ancient Lords Gather
4. The Dawn of War
5. Nifelheim
6. The Calling Blaze
7. A Winter Chant
8. The Kings that Were...

I saw them summon under the droning moon
I drowned in their eyes so black and cold

Christine Perfect - Christine Perfect (1974)


Shortly before joining Fleetwood Mac, Christine McVie, assuming the moniker Christine Perfect, recorded and released her first solo album. While its blues- and soul-tinged rock sound isn't terribly unique, the songs are all quite well written and performed, and regardless, McVie's melancholic, soulful vocals could elevate to greatness even the most tepid of songs. Highly recommended to any fans of Fleetwood Mac or 70s rock in general.

Track listing:
1. Crazy 'Bout You Baby
2. I'm on My Way
3. Let Me Go
4. Wait and See
5. Close to Me
6. I'd Rather Go Blind
7. When You Say
8. And That's Saying a Lot
9. No Road Is the Right Road
10. For You
11. I'm Too Far Gone [Bonus]
12. I Want You [Bonus]

I would rather go blind, boy
Than to see you walk away from me

Friday, April 18, 2014

Misery - Disease Ridden (2013) + Frozen (2013)


Dark, gnarly, tough hardcore from Grand Rapids, MI. Simple but extremely effective -- gruff vocals, blastbeats, sludgy breakdowns, and feedback. Two EPs, free (or name your price) via their bandcamp. Strangely, they're charging 7 bucks for their demo.

Track listing:
-Disease Ridden-
1. Paranoia
2. Pale and Gray
3. Night Terror
4. Disease Ridden
-Frozen-
1. Intro
2. Frozen
3. No Mercy
4. Blackout
5. Hellfrost
6. Nameless

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Loop - Heaven's End (1987)


Droning, kaleidoscopic, narcotized psych rock. Sounds like a whole bunch of psychedelics and a handful of downers. Fans of Spacemen 3 and Spiritualized: get in the fucking van.

Also, they have reformed and currently are on tour -- here are the dates, via their website.

Track listing:
1. Soundhead
2. Straight to Your Heart
3. Forever
4. Heaven's End
5. Too Real to Feel
6. Fix to Fall
7. Head On
8. Carry Me
9. Rocket USA (Mix 3)
10. Soundhead (Original Mix)
11. Head On (Original Mix)
12. Soundhead (Peel Session)
13. Straight to Your Heart (Peel Session)
14. Rocket USA (Peel Session)

Breathe into me

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Miles Davis - Get Up with It (1974)


A personal favorite of mine from Miles Davis' discography, Get Up with It is a double album of material recorded at various points from 1970 to '74. Even within the context of a career as challenging and game-changing as Davis', opening an album with the 32-minute, mind dissolving, slow burning "He Loved Him Madly" was a pretty confrontational move. Wah-wah guitars, hand percussion, dissonant organ-led freakouts, half-hour-long jams -- I can practically see weed smoke pouring out of my speakers. If you don't think that Miles Davis created some of the raddest sounds in the history of life on this planet, you're wrong.

Track listing:
-Disc One-
1. He Loved Him Madly
2. Maiysha
3. Honky Tonk
4. Rated X
-Disc Two-
1. Calypso Frelimo
2. Red China Blues
3. Mtume
4. Billy Preston

Voodoo

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Benoît Pioulard - Hymnal (2013)


Acoustic indie folk rock as filtered through grainy, electronic ambience. Everything that Benoît Pioulard (aka Seattle-based musician Thomas Meluch) has put out has been phenomenal, and this album is no exception.

Track listing:
1. Mercy
2. Hawkeye
3. Reliquary
4. Homily
5. Excave
6. Gospel
7. Florid
8. Margin
9. Censer
10. Litiya
11. Knell
12. Foxtail

Moth wings

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Summoning - Nightshade Forests (1997)


In case any of you are young or unfortunate enough to have slept on the epic, fantastical, Tolkien-obsessed sounds of Summoning, here's an early EP consisting of songs recorded during the same sessions that yielded their classic third album, Dol Guldur. Each of these four songs, driven by glacial guitars, semi-cheesy synths, rasping vocals, and tom-heavy drum machines, drives forward at a slow but determined pace, slowly forming enthralling, mysterious, oddly beautiful musical landscapes. Highly recommended for anyone who's nerdy enough to get down.

Track listing:
1. Mirkwood
2. Kortirion Among the Trees
3. Flesh and Blood
4. Habbanan Beneath the Stars

The echoes of his harp
have poisoned the air
The horizons of the earth
have drowned

Friday, April 11, 2014

Kataxu - Hunger of Elements (2005)


Great Polish symphonic black metal. Three sprawling, keyboard-driven songs and three keyboard interludes. I haven't really researched it, but a quick glance at Kataxu's page on the Metal Archives leaves little doubt as to whether this project is sketchy, so if that kind of thing bothers you, move along.

Track listing:
1. In My Dungeon
2. In Arms of the Astral World
3. Below the Tree of Life
4. Nightsky
5. The Manifesto of the Unity
6. The Breath of Atlantis

Here is my homage to the mountainous blossoms
The ancient earth remembers
Here is the rocky beginning
In the hands of the elements
The hidden word - "keys" - within the human psyche.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

The Shitlickers - The Shitlickers (1982)


Raw, blown-out, caveman-simple, Swedish d-beat. You haven't heard thought-provoking political commentary until you've heard the Shitlickers' seminal "The Leader (of the Fuckin' Assholes)". For those who find Discharge to be too cerebral.

Track listing:
1. Warsystem
2. Armed Revolution
3. Sprackta Snutskallar
4. The Leader (of the Fuckin' Assholes)
5. Silence
6. Desperate Scream from the Heat
7. The Night of the Holocaust
8. No System Works

Cracked cop skulls

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Majority Rule - Interviews with David Frost (2001)


Killer screamo/ hardcore power trio with psychedelic leanings (read: the guitarist had a delay pedal and switched to the clean channel sometimes,) Pretty sure I went to the record release show for this album in DC. Also pretty sure that Antiproduct played, but my friends and I had just realized how fucking terrible that band was, so we left early and listened to this on the drive back instead.

Track listing:
1. The Sin in Grey
2. At 3 A.M.
3. Burial Suit
4. Xoxo
5. Progress of Elimination
6. Endings
7. Kill the Cheat

Burned himself for you
Burned for your lies
From now on, it'll be different

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Therapy? - Babyteeth (1991) + Pleasure Death (1992)



Two mini-albums of dark, experimental noise rock from this longstanding project. Although they were most prominent throughout the mid-90s, I've always felt that Therapy? are at their best when they're at their noisiest and most inscrutable, so these, their first two releases, represent some of my favorite material of theirs.

Track listing:
-Babyteeth-
1. Meat Abstract
2. Skyward
3. Punishment Kiss
4. Animal Bones
5. Loser Cop
6. Innocent X
7. Dancin' with Manson
-Pleasure Death-
1. Skinning Pit
2. Fantasy Bag
3. Shitkicker
4. Prison Breaker
5. D.L.C.
6. Potato Junkie


God kicks with both feet

Monday, April 7, 2014

Freddie Hubbard - First Light (1971)


A masterpiece of cushiony, lush, ornate, spaced-out jazz fusion. Of the many, many great records Hubbard put out, First Light might be the most satisfying.  Virtually any and every music nerd needs to know about this album.

Track listing:
1. First Light
2. Uncle Albert / Admiral Halsey
3. Moment to Moment
4. Yesterday's Dreams
5. Lonely Town
6. Fantasy in D

True colors

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Glitterbug - Privilege (2010)


A sprawling double album of minimal, narcotized but propulsive ambient techno from this Cologne-based producer. Twenty abstract, repetitive compositions consisting of simple beats, pulsing synths, and atmospheric washes. I recommend headphones and a drug of your choice.

Track listing:
-Disc One-
1. Lionheart
2. Swirl
3. Blue Rifts
4. Wide and Near
5. Calcutta
6. After All
7. Blast
8. Confront
9. Pink Sparks (Cave Edit)
10. Vertical Extent
-Disc Two-
1. Waves
2. Float
3. Cornered
4. Slurred Thinking
5. Shake and Tumble
6. Parted
7. So Could We
8. Transitions
9. Over Water (Dub Edit)
10. Walk Me

We'll still be here tomorrow

Saturday, April 5, 2014

The Slow Death - The Slow Death (2008)


Previously on OPIUM HUM:
The Slow Death - II (2012)

First album from this phenomenal death/doom trio. Beauty and the beast vocals, strings pads, harmonized leads, and five very long songs. Lyrically, The Slow Death appears to be a concept album about a traveller who, upon returning home, mistakenly infects literally everyone in town with the Black Plague. Overall, it's about as good as this subgenre gets, so fans of My Dying Bride, early Theatre of Tragedy, Shape of Despair, etc. -- get on it.

Track listing:
1. The Prodigal Son
2. Sickness
3. The Slow Death
4. Grave
5. Dark Days

And all who live are soon to die
The doctors of black shroud and beaked face
Soldiers and servants, the sinners and chaste
The miasma lingers, the evil air
Permeates every alley, every house, every room

Friday, April 4, 2014

Robert Rich - A Troubled Resting Place (1996)


Previously on OPIUM HUM:
Robert Rich - Calling Down the Sky (2004)

Deep, haunting drones, formless percussion, and echoing samples. Although A Troubled Resting Place is a compilation album, you'd never know it, as the sound is highly consistent throughout. Don't let the "new age" tag fool you -- this is evocative, often unsettling music. Play this the next time you're alone in the desert at night and the moon is bleeding.

Track listing:
1. The Simorgh Sleeps on Velvet Tongues
2. Calling by Stormlight
3. Buoyant on Motionless Deluge
4. Bioelectric Plasma
5. Black Skies
6. Night Sky Replies

Temple of the invisible

Thursday, April 3, 2014

The Touchers - Pretty Baby (2005)


The Touchers were probably my favorite band for whom I ran sound during my short, drunk stint at the Sidebar in B-more. They played for something like two hours, drank a bunch, sang a lil' ditty about how important it is to stay hydrated while boozing (which I remember thinking was so great for some reason) and were all-around hilarious, smart, and everything you could want out of what, in the end, pretty much amounts to a Pixies- and cowpunk-influenced bar punk band. In the years since then, no one for whom I've played this record has seemed all that impressed, and in all likelihood, you'll have a similar experience. That's fine, maybe you 'had to be there'. Just make sure you hear "Ghost Dance".

Track listing:
1. Always Know Your Dealer
2. Servant of the Evil One
3. Apes in Hell
4. Ghetto
5. Pig Has Gone Away
6. Ugly Daughter
7. Pleasure of Friends
8. Vacant Lot
9. Number of the Beast
10. Left Hand Is Unclean
11. Dead Are Alone
12. Ghost Dance
13. Shaking Her Ass
14. Regret
15. Death Taxes
16. You Want It You Got It
17. Everybody Loves a Funeral
18. Angry Woman
19. Calling It Quits
20. Can't Go Back
21. Wake Down
22. Spirit of Poverty
23. Children Will Buy It
24. Middle of Nowhere
25. They're Coming for You
26. Untitled

They're brilliant and happy
They're laughing
They're used to seeing violence

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Lonnie Liston Smith & the Cosmic Echoes - Astral Traveling (1973)


Hazy, lush, mind-expanding jazz-funk from one of the greats.

Track listing:
1. Astral Traveling
2. Let Us Go into the House of the Lord
3. Rejuvenation
4. I Mani (Faith)
5. In Search of Truth
6. Aspirations
7. Astral Traveling (Alternate Take)
8. Rejuvenation (Alternate Take)
9. I Mani (Faith) (Alternate Take)
10. In Search of Truth (Alternate Take)

Reflections of a golden dream

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Magic Dirt - Friends in Danger (1996)


Female-fronted Australian grunge. Friends in Danger is Magic Dirt's first and, from what I've heard, still their best album. It's angsty and imperfect, but really, it couldn't be any other way, and for fans of 90s-style alt rock, it's a goddamn treasure. The album-opening title track alone makes it worth a spin. Love the thick, no high-end guitar tone, too - kinda like Siamese Dream but, obviously, not as layered.

Track listing:
1. Friends in Danger
2. Heavy Business
3. Pristine Christine
4. Bodysnatcher
5. Dylan's Lullaby
6. Sparrow
7. Shovel
8. Fear
9. Befriended Fallen Angel
10. I Was Cruel

At the start
I can do it
Everything