Monday, September 30, 2013

Rainer Brüninghaus - Continuum (1983)

Second full-length by German pianist Rainer Brüninghaus, whose debut I posted a while back. Airy, nearly weightless arrangements for piano, synthesizer, trumpet, flugelhorn, and drums. ECM fans: it does not get much more quintessentially 1980s ECM than this.

Track listing:
1. Strahlenspur
2. Stille
3. Continuum
4. Raga Rag
5. Schattenfrei
6. Innerfern


Sunday, September 29, 2013

Ketil Bjørnstad, David Darling, Terje Rypdal, & Jon Christensen - The Sea (1995) + The Sea II (1998)

Two albums of haunting, dynamic pieces for piano, guitar, cello, and percussion. Bjørnstad's fragile, stately piano themes serve as a base over which Rypdal's guitar soars and Darling's cello weeps, as Christensen (aka the drummer on almost every major ECM release) maintains a nervous tension throughout.

Track listing:
-The Sea-
Twelve tracks, Roman numerals I through XII
-The Sea II-
1. Laila
2. Outward Bound
3. Brand
4. The Mother
5. Song for a Planet
6. Consequences
7. Agnes
8. Mime
9. December
10. South


Saturday, September 28, 2013

Sam Rosenthal - Before the Buildings Fell (1986)

Sam Rosenthal is the founder of Black Tape for a Blue Girl, a band whose brilliant, gothic, ethereal sorrow sometimes is compromised by dubiously enjoyable excursions into "sexy," quasi-Eastern themes. Before the Buildings Fell, an excellent instrumental solo album recorded in his college dorm room, is built on arpeggiating synths and the same type of drifting, narcotized sounds that he'd explore more fully with the formation of BTFABG less than a year after the album's release.

If you like this, check out:
Richard Pinhas - Rhizosphere
Software - Chip-Meditation + Electronic-Universe I

Track listing:
1. Kathryn
2. Diversion
3. Resolution
4. The Room
5. Jane
6. Leading to the Edge
7. Before the Buildings Fell
8. Fragments of Benediction
9. The Amber Girl

Again, to drift

Friday, September 27, 2013

Ygg - Ygg (2011)

Stellar Ukrainian black metal trio featuring both members of Ulvegr, whose album I posted a few days ago, plus vocalist Vrolok. On their self-titled debut, the name of the game is patient, almost meditative repetition of simplistic but well-written, tremolo-picked riffs, accompanied by midrange howls and agonized, high-pitched shrieks, machine-like double kick abuse, and a little drymba. While this description might not make Ygg sound terribly original, the overall effect is truly mesmerizing, and I highly, highly recommended this album to any fan of Ukrainian black metal.

And this is the part of the post where I tell you that Ygg are, unfortunately, a bunch of racists/xenophobes/etc, and that those readers who abstain from listening to music produced by musicians with boneheaded, poisonous ideologies should steer clear.

Track listing:
1. ...Знаю, висел я в ветвях на ветру... (Intro)
2. YGG
3. Урд, Верданди, Скульд
4. Гимн природы
5. Кровь
6. Ритуал
7. ...Стеная, их поднял и с дерева рухнул...

Ликуя победе, обрету я дар
Иль погружусь в вечный кошмар.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Melankoli - Wind (2012)

Ambient black metal from Moscow. Melankoli is a solo project, and Wind is his first full-length. Hypnotic compositions full of post-y guitar leads, shimmery keyboards, pseudo-classical pianos, and a depressive sound that says, "I hang out in the solitude of the woodland frost ALL THE TIME!!!"

Track listing:
1. Wind
2. Embrace of Winter
3. Coma
4. Through the Shining Stars
5. Aura de Mort

Lying away
Sail to the end

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

David Darling - Journal October (1979)

Darkly gorgeous debut album by American cellist David Darling. Arguably his finest collection, Journal October is a fully solo endeavor, most of which consists of lush, layered cellos, with some sparse percussive and vocal elements finding their ways onto a few tracks. While the album certainly contains many moments of pure, contented beauty, each track is permeated with a sense of restlessness and sorrow - the persistent chugging in "Slow Return"; the drawn-out, dissonant chords in "Clouds" - that grants Journal October greater emotional and sonic complexity than one might expect from an artist whose last album won the Grammy for Best New Age Album.

Track listing:
1. Slow Return
2. Bells and Gongs
3. Far Away Lights
4. Solo Cello
5. Minor Blue
6. Clouds
7. Solo Cello
8. Solo Cello and Voice
9. Journal October, Stuttgart

No place nowhere

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

The Dismemberment Plan - The Dismemberment Plan Is Terrified (1997)

Last month I posted Imperial Teen's first album, saying that it was "the first indie rock record that I ever fell in love with." The Dismemberment Plan Is Terrified is possibly the second. Up until this point, my favorite bands had been, in chronological order, Aerosmith, Guns 'n Roses, NIN, and Marilyn Manson. So when I heard DP's chaotic zaniness shrieking out of my sister's car stereo, it blew my fifteen year old mind. [Note: I just fixed a typo, wherein I had omitted the word "mind" in the previous sentence, resulting in: " blew my fifteen year old." How embarrassing.] Their mix of tricky time signatures, dissonant guitars, and zany vocals and lyrics made for the most defiantly un-mainstream sound I'd ever encountered, and it pointed my musical tastes in a direction that I've more or less maintained ever since. Listening to it now, many - myself included - might say that it hasn't aged that well, but who cares, I'm feeling nostalgic.

Track listing:
1. Tonight We Mean It
2. That's When the Party Started
3. The Ice of Boston
4. Academy Award
5. Bra
6. Do the Standing Still
7. This Is the Life
8. One Too Many Blows to the Head
9. It's So You
10. Manipulate Me
11. Respect Is Due

Pop open a third bottle of bubbly. Yeah, and I take that bottle of champagne, go into the kitchen, stand in front of the kitchen window, and I take all my clothes off, take that bottle of champagne and I pour it on my head, feel it cascade through my hair and across my chest and the phone rings. And it's my mother. And she says, "HI HONEY HOW'S BOSTON?" And I stand there, all alone on New Year's Eve, buck naked, drenched in champagne, looking at a bunch of strangers... uh, looking at them looking at me looking at them, and I say, "OH FINE MOM, HOW'S WASHINGTON?"

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Ulvegr - Аrctogaia (2012)

Excellent sophomore full-length from this Ukrainian black metal duo, whose members have played with Nokturnal Mortum and Khors, among others. Ulvegr's icy tremolo picked riffing instantly reminded me of Hate Forest. The vocals are competent if unremarkable, varying from a low-ish growl to a high-pitched shriek. To me, the most interesting element at play here is the presence of a number of wailing, semi-wanky guitar solos, the likes of which one does not normally hear in black metal.

Unfortunately, all evidence seems to suggest that the members of Ulvegr are racist. I'm not sure whether or not they consider this specific project NSBM or whatever. For my thoughts on this kind of thing, see my post about Walknut.

Track listing:
1. В Пене Кровавой
2. Кровавым Орлом К Чужим Берегам
3. Сметь И Дерзать
4. Из Тени Вранокрылой Тайны
5. Льдов Первородных Тени Сквозь Космос
6. Арктогея

In a bloody froth

Friday, September 20, 2013

Roger - The Saga Continues (1984)

Second solo album from electrofunk pioneer Roger. During his time with Zapp and as a solo artist, Roger created some of the most irresistibly fun, sample-friendly dance music you'll ever hear. For whatever reason (certainly not its content, as this shit is DOPE) this album doesn't get the same kinda love as The Many Facets of Roger.

Track listing:
1. In the Mix
2. Play Your Guitar, Brother Roger
3. The Break Song
4. I Keep Trying
5. Midnight Hour
6. Bucket of Blood
7. T.C. Song
8. Girl, Cut It Out

I'm gonna wait 'til the stars come out
So I can see that twinkle in your eye

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Milosh - III (2008)

Michael Milosh is one half of deservedly-hyped minimalist R&B duo Rhye. Until yesterday, when I learned that he has a new album prepped for release (it's called Jetlag -- here's the trailer), I was completely unaware of his solo career, which so far has produced three full-lengths and an EP. III is his third album (duh) and it's an enticing, polished hybrid of trip-hop, hazy electro-indie, and artful R&B to which I anticipate listening about fifteen times over the course of the next week.

Here's his bandcamp. Get more of his super chill music, and give him your money.

Track listing:
1. Awful Game
2. Another Day
3. Gentle Samui
4. Remember the Good Things
5. Warm Waters
6. Hold My Breath
7. Wrapped Around My Ways
8. Leaving Samui
9. The World

Shed some blood

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Brian Eno - Nerve Net (1992)

To me, Brian Eno's solo discography can be a bit frustrating. I recognize his mastery of ambient music, and love most of his ambient material, but sometimes I wish that he'd return to the more 'song-oriented' approach that he used, to excellent ends, on his first three albums (and Before and After Science.)

While, aside from Wrong Way Up, I'll probably never get my wish, Nerve Net comes kinda close, in that it features programmed percussion, almost danceable rhythms, and even some vocals. It's also easily the darkest-sounding album he's released, as a number of tracks are spent in an uneasy, Twin Peaks-like world of dissonant, keyboard-based lounge jazz. It's not Here Come the Warm Jets - not that it's trying to be - but it's an interesting listen.

Track listing:
1. Fractal Zoom
2. Wire Shock
3. What Actually Happened?
4. Pierre in Mist
5. My Squelchy Life
6. Juju Space Jazz
7. The Roil, The Choke
8. Ali Click
9. Distributed Being
10. Web
11. Web (Lascaux Mix)
12. Decentre

He raised the stake and broke the soil
And phrased the stroke that takes the oil
And stoked, erased and foiled the lake
And smoked and boiled the grazing snake

Monday, September 16, 2013

Lethian Dreams - Season of Raven Words (2012)

Some of the prettiest doom metal I've ever heard. Lethian Dreams are a French duo who have, according to Metal Archives, officially declared that from this album forth, they will no longer use 'harsh' vocals. Their second album, Season of Raven Words consists entirely of melodic, keyboard-laced doom, with angelic female vocals hovering overhead. Also, the songs are, refreshingly, relatively short-- only one passes the seven-minute mark. Def worth a listen for fans of Shape of Despair, newer Forest of Shadows, Sailors with Wax Wings, and Hagar-era Van Halen.

Track listing:
1. Dawn
2. Wandering
3. See
4. Raven
5. White Gold
6. Invisible
7. Satyrs
8. Roads

See, lingering as the twilight wanes,
Lover with lover wandering

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Deutsch Nepal - Deflagration of Hell (1991)

Masterful debut release from this Swedish solo industrial project. Monolithic, percussion-heavy compositions crafted from heavy, hypnotic tribal rhythms, ominous high and low frequency drones, unsettling samples, manipulated guitars, synthesizers, and more. An ever-expanding mass of anxiety and tension without resolution.

Track listing:
1. Deflagration of Hell
2. Excursioner Angel
3. The Hierophants of Light
4. Energy - Not Orgasm
5. Glimpses of War (Parts I & II)
6. Holistix - Links Between God and Human

You shall hear nothing, you shall see nothing, you shall think nothing, you shall be nothing.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Gary Numan - Living Ornaments '79 and '80 (1981)

I will never fully understand how Gary Numan, with a string of dystopian, synth-driven art rock albums, became a certified pop megastar in the late '70s and the early '80s. I get that cocaine was very popular. And I get that using synthesizers to make pop music was still very cutting edge, making Numan somewhat of a musical visionary. Still... this shit is bizarre. His biggest hit was, as was the case with pretty much all of his early songs, an ode to emotional detachment and paranoia stemming from a semi-romantic obsession with technology, his live shows involved him careening around the stage in a futuristic wheelchair and singing about something called a "rape machine," and he resembled a Berlin trilogy-era Bowie minus the charisma and looks. Yet, for a couple of years, Gary Numan was an unstoppable commercial force.

Living Ornaments '79 and '80 compiles two live albums, and can be considered a live document of Numan's most artistically and commercially fruitful era. Recorded at two separate London concerts - the first, three days after the release of The Pleasure Principle; the second, less than two weeks after Telekon's release - Living Ornaments features prime cuts from the first four Numan/Tubeway Army full-lengths, impeccably performed and recorded. For the uninitiated, the studio albums are certainly more essential, but there's still a lot to love here.

Track listing:
1. Airlane
2. Cars
3. We Are So Fragile
4. Films
5. Something's in the House
6. My Shadow in Vain
7. Conversation
8. The Dream Police
9. Metal
1. This Wreckage
2. I Die: You Die
3. M.E.
4. Everyday I Die
5. Down in the Park
6. Remind Me to Smile
7. The Joy Circuit
8. Tracks
9. Are 'Friends' Electric?
10. We Are Glass

We are not lovers
We are not romantics
We are here to serve you
A different face but the words never change

Friday, September 13, 2013

Implodes - Black Earth (2011)

Heavy, narcotized, shoegazey 'drone rock' from Chicago. I get the feeling that Implodes don't consider themselves a shoegaze band, and that's fine, because they're not, exactly. But to my ears, from its thick, ever-present guitar haze to its ethereal, reverb-drenched vocals that drift like transmissions from the heart of some black, fathomless void, Black Earth is the sound of shoegaze getting shot full of barbiturates, dragged through dirt and leaves, and tossed into an abandoned lake at 3 AM.

In other news, I am high.

In further other news, Implodes' new album, Recurring Dream, is out now, and it's really good. You should buy it right now.

Track listing:
1. Open the Door
2. Marker
3. White Window
4. Screech Owl
5. Ox Blood
6. Meadowsland
7. Wendy
8. Experiential Report
9. Song for Fucking Damon II (Trap Door)
10. Down Time
11. Hands on the Rail

Bottom of a well

Thursday, September 12, 2013

The Residents - Stars & Hank Forever: The American Composers Series, Vol. II (1986)

The Residents turn songs by country music legend Hank Williams and The March King John Philip Sousa into Residents songs, meaning that they're played mainly on synthesizers and sung by someone who sounds like he's probably committed a murder or two. Just as disturbing and excellent as it sounds. Their churning, elusive, ghostly take on Williams' "Jambalaya" is particularly mesmerizing.

Track listing:
1. Hey Good Lookin'
2. Six More Miles (To the Graveyard)
3. Kawa-Liga
4. Ramblin' Man
5. Jambalaya
6. Sousapart
7. Kawa-Liga (Praire Mix) (bonus)

Son of a gun, we'll have big fun
On the bayou

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

The Flaming Hands - The Flaming Hands (1984)

First and only full-length from this Australian new wave band. Vocalist Julie Mostyn turns in a commanding performance over the band's dated keyboard grooves. Sounds like they couldn't decide whether they wanted to be The Divinyls or Siouxsie and the Banshees, and ended up in an awesome, low-rent middle ground. My favorite track, "Wild Boy," should have been played over the opening credits of one the Nightmare on Elm Street movies.

Track listing:
1. Real World
2. Break Down and Cry
3. Out of Our Hands
4. Wild Boy
5. New Day
6. Cast My Love
7. Tunnels and Trains
8. The Edge
9. Cross My Heart

You have to pay

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Black Marble - A Different Arrangement (2012)

Debut full-length from this Brooklyn coldwave duo. Synthesizer-based post-punk tunes with new wave-y pop tendencies. Vocalist Chris Stewart sounds as if he's delivering his detached performance from the other end of a mile-long tunnel. The sonic template for each song is virtually identical -- prominent bass lines, drum machine, simple but effective synth melodies, the aforementioned ghostly vocals -- really, it's just a question of whether they use a major or minor key. But it's an indelible sound, and the songwriting is topnotch. Can't wait to see where they go from here!

Track listing:
1. Cruel Summer
2. MSQ No-Extra
3. A Great Design
4. A Different Arrangement
5. Limitations
6. UK
7. Static
8. Pretender
9. Last
10. Safe Minds
11. Unrelated


Monday, September 9, 2013

Arcana Coelestia - Le Mirage de l'Idéal (2009)

Arcana Coelestia are a three-piece funeral doom outfit from Italy. They share members with, among others, Locus Mortis, a weird and awesome black metal band, and Urna, whose blackened sound has edged progressively closer to that of Arcana Coelestia. Both are definitely worth looking into.

While I really enjoyed Arcane Coelestia's first album, Le Mirage de l'Idéal improves on it in every conceivable way, and easily makes the shortlist of my all-time favorite doom metal records. The sound is just so impossibly huge and dense -- it sounds like there are like fifteen guitars, clean and distorted, all playing something different, at all times. Thickening this ominous cloud of sounds are guttural growls, midrange howls, male and female clean vocals, reverb-drenched drums, chiming pianos, and cavernous drones. Beautiful, ugly, heavy, emotionally gripping, and absolutely breathtaking.

Track listing:
1. Duskfall
2. Requiem (For the Fathomless Void of Redemption)
3. Le Mirage de l'Idéal
4. Tragedy & Delirium I - The Tragedy
5. Tragedy & Delirium II - The Delirium
6. ...Thus Fade in Nocturnal Deluge

Soon I’ll be memory for you to shed
My deliverance leaves no shadows behind, only dirty sand
While this needle pierces me gently
Soon I’ll betray you, escaping from the flesh
My salvation floats within your eyes

Sunday, September 8, 2013

The Gerbils - The Battle of Electricity (2001)

Second and last album from this gang of Elephant 6 weirdos. Gonna be honest: I've always felt that "Are You Underwater", the wondrous, anthemic album opener, writes a check that the rest of The Battle of Electricity can't quite cash. It's a great record, but "Are You Underwater" is such a huge, gloriously uplifting song (think: an early 2000s indie rock interpretation of "Tonight, Tonight") that the ragged, nerdy, lo-fi pop songs that follow feel a bit deflated by comparison.

BUT! This is probably more an issue of sequencing than deteriorating song quality, as The Battle of Electricity slowly reveals itself as a worthy addition to the E6 Hall of Fame. The early-album sag is counteracted by a trio of fuzzed out gems ("Meteoroid from the Sun Strikes a Dead Weirdo", "Song of Love", and "The White Sky") that provide a much-needed visceral release and counterpoint to the album's less immediate first and last acts.

Track listing:
1. Are You Underwater
2. (i)
3. The Air We Share
4. Lucky Girl
5. (ii)
6. Fail to Mention
7. (iii)
8. Meteoroid from the Sun Hits a Dead Weirdo
9. (iv)
10. A Song of Love
11. (v)
12. The White Sky
13. (vi)
14. (vii)
15. Snorkel
16. The Battle of Electricity
17. Share Again
18. (viii)

Why do we like each other between our time submerged?
Or will we bother holding hands and treading water?

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Van Der Graaf Generator - H to He, Who Am the Only One (1970)

Van Der Graaf Generator are a British prog rock band who, from 1970 to 1977, quietly compiled one of the most airtight discographies in all of prog. H to He Who is their third full-length, and is as good an entry point as any. Sprawling, mind-melting compositions colored by flute, saxophones, synths, organ, and vocalist/primary songwriter Peter Hammill's dramatic lyrics and fatalistic delivery. "The Emperor in His War Room" features an excellent, very Fripp-y guitar solo from Mr. Robert Fripp.

Track listing:
1. Killer
2. House with No Door
3. The Emperor in His War Room
4. Lost
5. Pioneers Over C

Standing in the space that holds the silent lace of night away from you
You think that you can hold the searing, molten gold between your fingers

Friday, September 6, 2013

Indesinence - Neptunian (2006)

Siiiiick doom/death from the UK. This release compiles the Neptunian EP (tracks 1 and 2) with an earlier demo. As if Indesinence wouldn't be really fucking great on their own merits, they went and made it official by recording a spot-on Cocteau Twins cover. Infinite respect.

This very special post is dedicated to my son, Hell Mouth Yawns. He's growing up to be so big and strong!!

Track listing:
1. Neptunian
2. Garlands
3. Sempiternal Vortex
4. Catalepsy
5. Aura

Chaplets see me drugged
I could die in a rosary

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Automatic Man - Automatic Man (1976)

Debut LP of phenomenal, spaced-out but somewhat radio-friendly (keeping in mind that it came out the same year as "More Than a Feeling") prog from this short-lived outfit. Tricky, often funk- and jazz-inflected chords, harmonized backup vox, space-age synths, and an impeccably clear, warm analogue sound. Def a lil' bit of ELO circa Out of the Blue influence on here, especially on their one and only semi-hit single, "My Pearl." Overall, though, Automatic Man was a bit more concerned with enhancing trips than writing hits.

Track listing:
1. Atlantis Rising Fanfare
2. Comin' Through
3. My Pearl
4. One 'n One
5. Newspapers
6. Geni-Geni
7. Right Back Down
8. There's a Way
9. I.T.D. (Interstella Tracking Devices)
10. Automatic Man
11. Atlantis Rising Theme/Turning of the Axis

Automatic man, he moves like a computer

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Chubby Checker - Chubby Checker (1971)

Chubby Checker's foray into psychedelia is often, perhaps correctly, considered more of a curio than a classic. However, it is consistently enjoyable, and it contains some absolutely killer tracks, such as the fuzzed-out "My Mind," the whimsical but heady "Stoned in the Bathroom," and the show-stopping, tortured, "He Died," a true lost classic of outsider Christian spirituality.

Track listing:
1. Goodbye Victoria
2. My Mind
3. Slow Lovin'
4. If the Sun Stopped Shining
5. Stoned in the Bathroom
6. Love Tunnel
7. How Does It Feel
8. He Died
9. No Need to Get So Heavy
10. Let's Go Down
11. Ballad of Jimi

The sun was burning down on you, mister
And you had thorns in your head
They nailed you to the cross
Oh, how you bled
I looked right up at you
And right now I can see, it must have been a lonely way to go

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Woods of Desolation - Toward the Depths (2008) [LINK REMOVED]

Jaw-dropping debut full-length from this criminally underrated Australian outfit (who, incidentally, also have a split with Drohtnung.) From the muted, reverb-drenched production and sparse, understated vocals to the hazy, hypnotic riffs and yearning leads, Toward the Depths is one of the most awe-inspiring, hauntingly beautiful depressive black metal records I've ever had the pleasure of hearing. For personal, departed friend-related reasons, this record is hitting me really, really hard right now, and I'm having trouble putting it into words, so I'm going to stop trying.

P.S. The "departed friend" bit refers to someone who passed a few years back. Since some of my readers are my real-life friends, this seems worth mentioning.

Track listing:
1. Towards the Depths
2. They Will Never Leave Their Tormentor
3. When the Frost Comes Falling Down...
4. Solitude (Part II)
5. A Time of Eternal Darkness
6. Woods of Desolation
7. Outro

Each time I close my eyes, they run at me
Eyes empty, screaming
In many ways I am responsible.
The adrenalin courses through my veins
as I drive deeper into the tortured souls of the innocent
Disbelief as their life is robbed of them.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Steve Roach - Stormwarning (1989)

Re: this post. I just realized that I've posted a bunch of records to which Steve Roach contributed, but none of his proper solo albums. So I'm nippin' that in the bud right now. Stormwarning falls on the more energetic side of Roach's discography (for further listening in this area, check out his first two records, and/or Empetus, courtesy of the Imaginary Radio Station.) It's technically a live album - three long compositions recorded at separate performances - but thankfully, there's no crowd noise to detract from the listening experience. I can't be the only one who hates that.

Track listing:
1. Day One: 5.10.85
2. Day Two: 1.17.87
3. Day Three: 10.2.91 (bonus)

Fever pulse

Sunday, September 1, 2013

The Delta Mirror - Machines that Listen (2008)

Charming, shoegaze-y, electro-indie something-something. Machines that Listen is a concept album throughout which each song takes place in a different room of a hospital. Gauzy electronic textures; monotone, chant-like vocal melodies; chiming pianos; reverb patches galore. Really 'tugs at the 'ol heartstrings.'

The Delta Mirror have a new album. It is called Better UnsungHere's their Facebook.

Track listing:
1. It Was Dark and I Welcome the Calm
2. And the Radio Played On
3. Going to Town
4. He Was Worse Than the Needle He Gave You
5. A Room for Waiting
6. Hold Me Down Just Don't Let Me Go
7. Malpractice
8. We Got It All
9. A Song About the End

I write empty songs
and the words don't bother me