Friday, March 5, 2021

Richard Barbieri / Tim Bowness - Flame (1994)


Artful, nocturnal melancholy featuring the vocal stylings of Tim Bowness, who as far as I know hasn't stopped being sad since at least the early 90s. If you had told a 16-year-old me that I'd end up liking the same kind of sleekly produced, middle-aged sad sack music that my dad forced me to listen to in the car on the way to school, I probably would've quoted "Life Sentence" at you and skulked away to smoke cigarettes with my faux-hippie girlfriend and assure myself that I would never, ever be like my dad -- who, it turns out, was right all along.

Track listing:
1. A Night in Heaven
2. Song of Love and Everything Part I and II
3. Brightest Blue
4. Flame
5. Trash Talk
6. Time Flown
7. Torch Dance
8. Feel

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Thursday, March 4, 2021

Pieter Nooten & Michael Brook - Sleeps with the Fishes (1987)

Previously on OPIUM HUM:

Excellent one-off collaboration between Pieter Nooten (of Clan of Xymox) and ambient composer/guitarist Michael Brook. Drifting synths, mournful strings, murmured singing, heartbreaking songs. Very 4AD.

Track listing:
1. Several Times I
2. Searching
3. The Choice
4. After the Call
5. Finally II
6. Instrumental
7. Suddenly II
8. Suddenly I
9. Clouds
10. Finally I
11. Several Times II
12. Equal Ways
13. These Waves
14. Time
15. Several Times III

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Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Fetisch Park - Alluvial (1997)

Driving, techno/industrial-leaning electronic abstractions partially built around the singing of Thai prostitutes, recorded by the band while staying at a hotel in Bangkok. In the hands of a lesser artist, this could have been a disastrous exercise in exoticization à la Enigma, but Fetisch Park imbues these recordings with genuine, even frightening power, making for a work of art that's utterly fascinating -- both conceptually and sonically.

Track listing:
1. Malaysia Hotel
2. Blow
3. Gradation d'humour
4. Reiz
5. Off Line
6. Pongh
7. Ball-Room
8. Cargo
9. Kadse
10. Suktion

If you like this, try:

Tuesday, March 2, 2021

Light - Turning (1996)

Ambient, shoegaze-informed space rock. Echoing, shimmering clouds of guitars, droning feedback, minimal drums, and distorted vocals. Definitely FFO Flying Saucer Attack.

Track listing:
1. Trailer
2. Tale of White Passage
3. Nature Man
4. Bird
5. Passing
6. Unknown Song
7. Mind Crossing
8. End of the River

Similar listening:

Monday, March 1, 2021

The Consumers - All My Friends Are Dead (1995)

18 minutes of killer raw garage punk. All My Friends Are Dead was supposedly recorded in 1977 -- the author of this article claims to have seen the receipts -- and if that's the case, this was some seriously ahead of its time, proto-hardcore shit. Any doubt that I have is completely unfounded and surely just a testament to how great this record is.

Track listing:
1. Teen Love Song
2. Anti, Anti, Anti
3. Consumers
4. Concerned Citizen
5. Your Problem
6. Ballad to the Son of Sam
7. My Type
8. Dream Hits
9. Get Out
10. Media Ogre
11. Punk Church

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Saturday, February 27, 2021

dälek - Absence (2004)

Previously on OPIUM HUM:

My favorite dälek record, and definitely in my hip-hop top 10. Impenetrably dense, shoegaze-like walls of noise, monstrous beats, and bleak, extremely pissed-off flows. One of the only rap records that's made me do the invisible pineapple. 

Track listing:
1. Distorted Prose
2. Asylum (Permanent Underclass)
3. Culture for Dollars
4. Absence
5. A Beast Caged
6. Koner
7. In Midst of Struggle
8. Eyes to Form Shadows
9. Ever Somber
10. Opiate the Masses

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

The New Birth - Comin' from All Ends (1974)

Soul/funk perfection from the great New Birth, a band formed via the fusion of multiple instrumental and vocal groups. Equal parts party-starters, baby-makers, and reflective space-out sessions.

Track listing:
1. End to End
2. Take This Train to Freedom
3. I Wash My Hands of the Whole Damn Deal
4. Lady Love
5. Pretty Music
6. Patiently
7. Echoes of My Mind
8. Do It Again
9. Comin' from All Ends
10. Epilog

If you like this, listen to:

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Abbey Lincoln - Abbey Is Blue (1959)

One of my absolute favorite vocal jazz records. Slow-burning, ethereal sounds for the late-night hours, addressing heartache and racial injustice in powerful, sorrowful terms.

Track listing:
1. Afro-Blue
2. Lonely House
3. Let Up
4. Thursday's Child
5. Brother, Where Are You?
6. Laugh, Clown, Laugh
7. Come Sunday
8. Softly, as a Morning Sunrise
9. Lost in the Stars
10. Long as You're Living

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Monday, February 22, 2021

Pablo's Eye - Pablo's Eye (1989)

First album by this under-appreciated project, a musical collective centered on Brussels-based artist Axel Libeert. Glistening guitars, sharp synths, Marie Mandi's understated, expressive vocals (which often remind me of 90s Joni Mitchell), a bit of viola, and very little percussion of which to speak. Not particularly representative of the group's definitive sound, but a great record nonetheless.

Track listing:
1. The Lord's My Shepherd
2. Mysteries Due To...
3. Winter
4. Burning Passion
5. Possession
6. Helen's Nose
7. A Duel
8. The Salmon Sings
9. Lullabye

If you like this, check out:

Thursday, February 18, 2021

Sink - Ark of Contempt and Anger (2016)

Previously on OPIUM HUM:
Sink - The Process (2008)

In which Sink leave behind blackened drone-doom for a strange, unsettling concoction of avant-garde, neofolk-infused darkwave and vintage Goblin-esque psychedelia. It's starting to look like this might be Sink's last record, and if so, it's a fucking bummer that we'll never get to know where they might've gone from here.

Track listing:
1. Hunger
2. Pilgrimage
3. Dream Map
4. Consolation
5. Crystal Ship
6. Enchant
7. Terminal
8. World Asthma
9. So We'll Go No More A-Roving

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Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Masabumi Kikuchi - Poo-Sun (1970)

First solo outing by Japanese jazz pianist Masabumi Kikuchi. Mesmerizing pieces that generally feature two pianists (both usually on electric), two drummers, a saxophonist, and a bassist. You're welcome.

Track listing:
1. Dancing Mist
2. Thanatos
3. E.J.
4. Yellow Carcass in the Blue
5. Puzzle Ring
6. My Companion

Similar listening:

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Elm - Bxogonoas (2008)

Ritualistic drone from Jon Porras, who is probably known best as a member of Barn Owl (along with Evan Caminiti.) Dark and psychedelic, with acoustic instrumentation and an organic approach that points towards the more abstract realms of psych folk.

Track listing:
1. Dawn Unveils the Golden Thread
2. Offerings
3. Arboreal Lace
4. Blackened Horizon
5. Trails Lined with Turquoise and Silk
6. Guaquy
7. Warm and Still the Ground Keeps Our Frozen Hands
8. The Desert Speaks at Sundown
9. Lift Our Eyes to the Swelling Tides

If you like this, listen to:

Sunday, February 14, 2021

Escape the Day - Ghostless (2005)

Get the party started with some crushingly sad German slowcore/post-rock. Simple guitar and piano figures and barely-there, whispery vocals, and the occasional cathartic crescendo. Ghostless is devastating on its own terms, and even more so given that one of the project's two main members, Chrisoph Florian Rehse, committed suicide before it could be released.

Track listing:
1. Hallways
2. Ghostless
3. Days
4. The Hour Undone
5. If I Told You
6. Still
7. This Wave's Length

Thursday, February 11, 2021

Charalambides - Market Square (1995)


Heavily sedated drone/psych/folk. Consists almost entirely of warped, at times out-of-tune guitars and lonely, drifting vocals. Seemingly largely improvised. The sound of nodding off. (Not making any assumptions about the musicians involved, just a description of the sounds they made.)

Track listing:
 -Disc One-
1. Think About
2. Those Who Walk
3. We Live Like Pigs
4. Namaste / Lightning Walk / Hours / And So Danced the River
5. Bankrupt
 -Disc Two-
1. House with Three Sides
2. Silvatica
3. Saratoga Reel
4. Indianola
5. Magnolia at Last
6. Someday You'll Get Yours

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Tuesday, February 9, 2021

Bann - Æschatologia (2009)

Epic, symphonic German black metal with strong doom overtones. A beautiful, keyboard-heavy ode to medieval times (the era, not the dinner theater chain) colored by whispery-rasps that sound more like Golem than any other vocalist I've heard.

Track listing:
1. Der Geiger
2. Schwarze Bulle
3. Narrenschyff
4. Carmina Necrologia
5. Fraß der Flammen: I Póli
6. Die letzten Dinge (Æschatolog)

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