Monday, September 18, 2023

Today, Tomorrow, Forever - Today, Tomorrow, Forever (1979)

One of many records that I snagged out of crates that were headed for oblivion (a.k.a. the storage warehouse) at my old job. The A side is funkier, weirder, and arguably more interesting than the B side, which is still good but falls into a comparatively standard disco groove. It's not gonna change your life, but it's a super fun record, and the synth break in "Astro Boogie" alone is worth the price of admission.

Track listing:
1. It's a Groove (Keep On Dancin')
2. Astro Boogie
3. Mad House
4. Blipped (All Over Myself)
5. Taking Me Higher
6. I'm for You
7. It's Your Love
8. Get On Down

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Saturday, September 16, 2023

Crestfallen - Streaks of Terror (2002)


Screamo/skramz from a then-thriving Delmarva scene. It's not exactly a lost classic, but my high school screamo band played a show with them, Charm City Suicides, and Dead Blue Sky on March 10, 2001 (I'm looking at the flier) and their vocalist did that thing where he was writhing around on the ground screaming without a mic, and I loved that shit back in the day, so I fucked with them heavily from that point on.

Track listing:
1. Nine to Five RSVP
2. Beyond Recognition
3. Never Say Never!
4. Scouring for Any Signs of Life
5. Seen and Not Heard
6. Pecking Order
7. Biting Your Tongue Off
8. Disappearing Act
9. Eternal Nightmare [Vio-Lence cover]

Same scene:

Tuesday, September 12, 2023

Morwan - Svitaye, Palaye (2023)

Ukrainian one-man post-punk. Driving, urgent songs with a sorrowful, almost neofolk-esque undercurrent and a vast, echoing atmosphere. From Bandcamp: "The main theme of the album is the war. There are no specific stories or descriptions of the events of the war. It's more of an abstract and emotional thing. First impressions, moods or emotions experienced during certain events. Pain of loss, sadness, fear, hatred, anger, and aggression are all part of Svitaye, Palaye."

(Free/name your price download from Bandcamp.)

Track listing:
1. Журба
2. Сяєш
3. Полетіли
4. Грім
5. Тополі
6. Відчуваєш
7. Земля палає

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Sunday, September 3, 2023

DEAR_SPIRIT Tells You About 5 New Black Metal Records He Likes

Longtime readers will know that, aside from a few notable exceptions, I don't really tell y'all a lot about myself. Sure, if one were inclined to delve deep into the OPIUM HUM stacks, one could ascertain or infer a great deal about me through asides and offhand remarks, but overall, as personal as it can feel, I think this blog's pretty light on actual self-disclosure.

Therefore, y'all would have no way of knowing that the past year of my life has been a time of unprecedented personal growth. I feel like a very different person from the one that started this blog, and this version of me aspires to be a force for good and a source of light, and to reject the pitfalls of nihilism, misanthropy, and hopelessness.

Thankfully, none of this has impacted my abiding love for black metal and all the hatefulness and misery therein. In fact, over the past few months, I've been listening to more of it than I have in years. This is at least in part due to this year's crop of black metal records having provided a particularly plentiful bounty thus far -- from raw Darkthrone worship to dissonant death-infused chaos to strange and exciting new directions for the genre. These five records are ones that I absolutely love and that I haven't seen or heard a lot of hype around.

Jesum Christum - Svag Total

Raw, atmospheric solo project from a man who calls himself Adam CCSquele, a.k.a. drummer of the great Slægt. Epic, mournful guitar work and near-constant blasting complimented by some inspired instrumentation choices, such as the choral vocals and woodwinds that haunt the peripherals of "Drænet på uvist tid" -- easily one of my favorite pieces of black metal art in the past however-many years.

Uzlaga - The Sunken Seer

Down-tuned, heavy-as-fuck, ocean-themed black metal from this English solo project. Anthemic one-two beats, three-chord riffs, and vicious, reverb-drenched vocals, with a huge, densely layered sound, rounded out by a handful of industrial-tinged ambient interludes.

Denevér - A vérivók krónikái

Damn, another solo project. I swear I wasn't planning for this list to be all solo projects, I guess it's just a great year for BMSPs -- an acronym that really should already exist. Anyway, this one's Hungarian and vampire-themed, but it's not raw, spoopy vampiric black metal -- the icy, almost thrash-y riffing,  hyperspeed blasts, and overall ass-kicking delivery place it much closer to Battles in the North than Transilvanian Hunger. Plus some totally sick shred solos.

Madre - Embryo

French/Italian atmospheric industrial black metal. A thick, droning haze of tremolo-picked guitars, space-y synths, programmed hammer-blasts, harsh noise, and bestial howls from the void.

Schavot - Kronieken Uit de Nevel

Schavot has the sound of mid-late 90s second-wave black metal down to a T. From the melodic-yet-evil guitars, to the lupine vocals, to the subtle layers of ethereal keys, to the punchy but atmospheric mixing -- it's all there. They even got a Lady of the Lake to do some oohs and ahhs and a Pinhead soundalike to do spoken word. Absolutely nailed it.

Saturday, September 2, 2023

Pivot - Make Me Love You (2005)


Bright, buoyant post-rock from an Australian band that has since removed the vowels from its name. Among the more inventive post-rock records of the mid-aights, Make Me Love You infuses its sound with elements of electronic music/IDM -- synths, dusty turntable samples, glitchy breakbeats, Oval-esque rhythmic skipping -- in ways that make it feel both ahead of its time and completely organic. And no, as much as it would actually make sense, "La Mer" is not a NIN cover.

Track listing:
1. Make Me Love You
2. Artificial Horizon
3. Incidental Backcloth
4. Montecore
5. La Mer
6. Pivot Voltron
7. I May Be Gone for Some Time
8. Kirsten Dunst
9. Helps None but Hurts None

If you like this, listen to:

Wednesday, August 30, 2023

Badgerlore - We Are All Hopeful Farmers, We Are All Scared Rabbits (2007)


Got a request for more Badgerlore, so here's their final full-length. At this point, the former duo had ballooned to a six-member quasi-supergroup encompassing the original two plus Liz Harris of Grouper, Tom Carter of Charalambides, and more. All things considered, We Are All Hopeful Farmers... really isn't all that different from the Badgerlore that had come before -- skeletal guitar figures, shimmering drones, and a spectral vocal here and there -- but it does feel like the most fully realized version of the project's vision.

Track listing:
1. Furbearer
2. Goodnight, Sweet Rabbits
3. The Crops That You Tend
4. Whichever
5. We Are All Hopeful Farmers
6. Mountain Wine
7. Snowballs for Reuven
8. Grow Your Hair
9. Duet
10. When I Look at Your Face, I See Timothy

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Sunday, August 27, 2023

Ralph Towner - Blue Sun (1983)



Still can't prioritize this blog at the moment, but I wanted to quickly drop some Sunday listening on you. Like Towner's Diary, Blue Sun is a completely solo endeavor, which means that he wrote and performed every piece of it -- guitars, piano, cornet, synthesizers, some light percussion. Very easy on the ears kinda stuff.

Track listing:
1. Blue Sun
2. The Prince and the Sage
3. C.T. Kangaroo
4. Mevlana Etude
5. Wedding of the Streams
6. Shadow Fountain
7. Rumours of Rain

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Saturday, August 12, 2023

Steve Kuhn - Steve Kuhn (1971)

Previously on OPIUM HUM:
Steve Kun - Trance (1975)
Karin Krog, Steve Kuhn, Steve Swallow, & Jon Christensen - We Could Be Flying (1975)

By request, here's pianist/keyboardist Steve Kuhn's 1971 self-titled solo outing. Simmering, lightly funky vocal-jazz fleshed out by a super solid band (Ron Carter, Billy Cobham, Airto Moreira), lovely string arrangements, and understated vocals by Kuhn himself. It's played mostly straight, but Kuhn throws down the weirdo gauntlet with "Pearlie's Swine", which blazes through over four minutes of clattering instrumental jazz-funk before he comes in with lines like "Ham / How I love to eat ham / Vultures don't give a damn" and "Meat / Monkeys eat with their feet."

Track listing:
1. Pearlie's Swine
2. Silver
3. Time to Go
4. The Heat of the Moment
5. The Baby
6. Hold Out Your Hand
7. The Meaning of Love

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Tuesday, August 8, 2023

Mastery - Valis (2015)

Previously on OPIUM HUM:

Easily some of the most relentlessly chaotic black metal in existence. An impenetrable mass that achieves transcendence through sheer, writhing, breakneck cacophony. As inaccessible as Valis is, I honestly feel like it might be a good gateway for people who like experimental music but not black metal, as, despite consisting largely of the most basic components of the genre -- tremolo picked guitars, distorted screams, blasting drums -- its disorienting overall impact is just as akin to that of harsh noise or experimental psych.

Track listing:
1. V.A.L.I.S.V.E.S.S.E.L.
2. A.S.H.V.E.S.S.E.L.
3. L.O.R.E.S.E.E.K.E.R.
4. I.L.K.S.E.E.K.E.R.
5. S.T.A.R.S.E.E.K.E.R.

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Friday, August 4, 2023

Philip Samartzis - Mort aux Vaches (2003)


I'm back from a long trip that was just a little too emotionally and physically demanding to call a "vacation." Looking for a job and studying for the CPA exam are gonna be occupying much of my free time in the coming weeks and months, so expect even more sporadic posting. But in the here and now, enjoy these engrossing experimental sound pieces by Australian composer Philip Samartzis. Describing them would sorta take away from the fun of hearing their sound pallets expand and explode, so I'm not going to.

Track listing:
1. Variable Resistance
2. Deconstructed Windmills
3. Soft and Loud

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Wednesday, July 19, 2023

Aquila - Observations on the Loss of Culture (1996)

Techno/trance/abstract electronic with a dark, heady vibe from Australian producer Matthew Thomas. Great headphone listening. 

Track listing:
1. Culture
2. Museum
3. Identity
4. Knowledge
5. The Impossibility of Isolation
6. Ritual
7. Progress

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Monday, July 10, 2023

Oren Ambarchi - Stacte.2 (1999)

Two untitled early guitar/looping experiments from the great Oren Ambarchi. I first heard Ambarchi years ago via his collaborations with Stephen O'Malley/Sunn O))) -- Burial Chamber Trio, Gravetemple, Pentemple, Shade Themes from Kairos -- but only recently started listening to his solo stuff. Five albums in, I've yet to hear anything that's less than excellent, and Stacte.2 was where I started, so that's where we're starting. Its joyful, minimal, textural sounds are all guitar-sourced and I'm guessing are the results of tape looping, as according to the album notes: "All sounds = guitar – no editing no processing no computer no". I still don't understand how those aren't synths but what do I know.

If you like this, you should listen to:

Friday, July 7, 2023

Müller • Sugimoto - I Am Happy If You Are Happy (2000)

Low-key, free-form improvisations by the duo of German experimental sound artist Günter Müller and Japanese guitarist Taku Sugimoto. Tentative, ghostly guitar figures against backdrops of gently crackling white noise, alien oscillations, and subterranean pulses.

Track listing:
1. Frozen Memories
2. Snow Pocket
3. Rest and Smile
4. Bright White
5. Cumulus
6. Pitch the Clock

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Monday, July 3, 2023

Kenny Wheeler • David Friedman • Jasper van 't Hof - Greenhouse Fables (1992)

Previously on OPIUM HUM:
John Taylor, Norma Winston, & Kenny Wheeler - Azimuth (1977)

That album cover really is awful, huh? I suppose the actual art itself isn't so bad, but those fonts, and the overall composition? It looks like a self-help book about how bipolar depression can effect your marriage or something.

Which is a shame, because the music is positively gorgeous ambient jazz.  Wheeler's trumpet/flugelhorn, Friedman's vibraphone, and van 't Hof's piano make for beautiful, contemplative bedfellows, effortlessly combining and dispersing, allowing for a sense of dynamic and movement even as the volume rarely goes beyond a gentle murmur.

Track listing:
1. Zambon
2. Everybody's Song but My Own
3. Truvib
4. Greenhouse Fables
5. Farm
6. Salina Street

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Wednesday, June 28, 2023

Yume Bitsu - Yume Bitsu (1999)

Jammy space/post-rock from good ole Portland, OR. Gathering clouds of droning distortion; chiming, almost krautrock-like cleans; keyboards/samples/tape loops (I'm not really sure at times); the occasional murmur-y vocal; and the strange sense of floating in mid-air yet feeling hopelessly weighed down.

Track listing:
1. Team Yume
2. I Wait for You
3. Surface I
4. Truth
5. Surface II
6. The Frigid, Frigid Body of Dr. T.J. Eckleberg

If you like this, listen to: