Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Oliver Cheatham - The Boss (1982)

Seven tracks of funky, infectious disco grooves and synthetic soul, complete with an album cover that serves as a conspicuous marker of cocaine's massive popularity throughout the late 70s/early 80s. Happy New Year.

Track listing:
1. Everybody Wants to Be the Boss
2. Lady
3. I Gave Myself to You
4. Make Up Your Mind
5. I Want Your Love, I Need Your Love
6. Boogie Stomp
7. Don't Take Your Love Away

Sugar doodydoodydoo

Monday, December 30, 2013

Melvins - Eggnog (1991)

Here's a 'lil late Christmas present courtesy of arguably the greatest experimental sludge band of all time. Released between the classic Bullhead and Lysol LPs, the Eggnog EP starts with three tracks of PRIME, Bullhead-style tracks (i.e. idiosyncratic, buttrock-infused sludge), before heading into darker, droning territory with the mammoth "Charmicarmicat: Bastards". Needless to say, it's a must-have for any fan of weird, heavy music. Plus, because it's a beautiful time for giving, I'm including "Instant Larry", a should-be classic tune that ended up on the (pretty fucking awesome, as I recall) soundtrack to the first Tales from the Crypt movie.

Track listing:
1. Wispy: I Don't Know But I Don't Feel So Good
2. Antitoxidote: Pigs Don't Let It
3. Hog Leg: Like Stee, Moanin' Ludlow
4. Charmicarmicat: Bastards
5. Instant Larry [OPIUM HUM bonus]

We can go to church and you're naked
Over the foul of the air and fire
Of course, people said, "They're drunk!"
And this, my friend, is my prayer for you

Friday, December 27, 2013

Adrian Belew - Lone Rhino (1982)

Absolutely essential art rock record from Adrian Belew, who, in addition to his main gig as King Crimson frontman since the early 80s, has worked as a touring and studio musician with heavyweights like David Bowie, Talking Heads, Frank Zappa, and Nine Inch Nails. His first solo album, Lone Rhino is catchy, whimsical, dark, weird, touching, and brilliant.

Track listing:
1. Big Electric Cat
2. The Momur
3. Stop It
4. The Man in the Moon
5. Naive Guitar
6. Hot Sun
7. The Lone Rhinoceros
8. Swingline
9. Adidas in Heat
10. Animal Grace
11. The Final Rhino

Me with my feet in the sea
You with your face in the clouds

Monday, December 23, 2013

Jeremy Enigk - Return of the Frog Queen (1996)

Following the first breakup of Sunny Day Real Estate, frontman Jeremy Enigk went into the studio with an acoustic guitar and a full orchestra (plus, from the sound of it, a case of whiskey), and recorded this woozy masterpiece. The songs are complex, the instrumental arrangements ornate and psychedelic, and Enigk's already surreal lyrics, which may or may not be addressing his then newfound love for Jesus, are further abstracted as he slurs and shouts his way through every song.

Track listing:
1. Abegail Anne
2. Return of the Frog Queen
3. Lewis Hollow
4. Lizard
5. Carnival
6. Call Me Steam
7. Explain
8. Shade and the Black Hat
9. Fallen Heart

Rise and shine to the smell of flowers

Sunday, December 22, 2013

In Which DEAR_SPIRIT Discusses Sixteen of His Favorite Albums of 2013

Boy oh boy 2013 sure was a great year for musiZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ. Sorry, I must have dozed off, because these intros always feel pointless and boring. BUT before I start, I do want to point out that I purposely omitted certain albums that I imagine will be making appearances on hundreds of other year-end lists. This is not because I am a hater, but because the last thing the internet needs is another random bro talking about how great he thinks Yeezus is, or, even worse, another random nerdy music-bro 'admitting' that he 'unironically loves' Justin Timberlake -- no shit, everyone does, because he's fucking great. This policy also applies to albums by Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds, David Bowie, MBV, the National, Daft Punk, the Flaming Lips, and a few others. Also, I'm not listing them in any particular order, because it would feel arbitrary and awkward. OK let's go.


Wardruna - Runaljod - Yggdrasil

Phenomenal atmospheric neofolk featuring two ex-members of Gorgoroth, including Gaahl (of "........ Satan" fame.) A simultaneously raging, hopeful, and sorrowful sound powered by thunderous, driving percussion; rich, densely layered, harmonized vocals; and a wide spectrum of traditional Norwegian folk instruments.

Voices - From the Human Forest Create a Fugue of Imaginary Rain

Highly advanced, pretty much flawless progressive black metal from three ex-members of the now-defunct Akercocke plus one. Extremely ugly riffs and hoarse howls run into moments of queasy beauty, as when clean female vocals appear soaring above sickly guitars and a double kick drum mantra during "Sexual Isolation", and the acoustic guitar and piano pattern that turns into the relentless, blasting blur of "Endless".

Rome - Hate Us and See If We Mind

Technically an EP, but clocking in at about 46 minutes, Hate Us and See If We Mind is Rome's most challenging, experimental outing yet. The first two tracks, which account for the lion's share of those 46 minutes, are harsh, distorted industrial soundscapes. The third and fourth tracks find Reuter returning to the swooning, fatalistic neofolk he's become known for; both songs rank among his best.
Inc. - no world

Of the many Sade-referencing, sex-inspiring Art&B albums that came out this year, no world is probably my favorite. Smooth, semi-adult-contempo melodies complimented and sharpened by modern electro flourishes and dark, abstract lyrics (Ex: "If every life deserves to die / In the dirt but covered in white / But the dirt don't apologize / Like her legs when they're open wide.")
Abyssal - Novit Enim Dominus Qui Sunt Eius

Punishingly dissonant, sludgy death/black metal. A thick, enveloping, tar-like atmosphere that seamlessly combines the warped chords of French-style black metal with the gore-soaked, ritualistic grime of New Wave of Incantation Worship Super Nice Guy Death Metal.
Klaus Schulze - Shadowlands

Schulze, a legend in the world of electronic music, has been regularly recording and releasing albums as a solo artist for over forty years now. A double album, Shadowlands is a spacious landscape of pulsing synths, reverb-soaked violin, and otherworldly vocals -- provided, as has been the case with last few Schulze albums, by the incomparable Lisa Gerrard.
Lydia Lunch - Retrovirus

Retrovirus is a live retrospective of the career of one of no wave and goth rock's most influential figures. Recorded at the Knitting Factory in late 2012, Lunch's feral vocals, and muscular, punishing performances from an incredible backing band breathes new, hostile life into classics like "Mechanical Flattery" and "Afraid of Your Company", arguably resulting in the most compelling versions of every song on the setlist.
Agents of Abhorrence - Relief

Raging Australian grindcore. About 98% of this subgenre is incredibly boring and generic (we don't even need one Phobia, let alone five hundred Phobia clones) but Agents of Abhorence are a different breed. The drumming is tight and hard-hitting, the riffage is fucking prime (no bass), vocalist Jacob Winkler sounds ready and willing to rip your throat out, and the production - beefy, crisp but blown out - is ridiculous.
Youth Code - Youth Code

LA duo Youth Code bring late 80s/early 90s style electro-industrial into the present. Driving electro beats, practically toneless synths, waves of harsh noise, angry/demonic vocals, unsettling samples, and zero embarrassing stabs at modernization. Pure.
Hacride - Back to Where You've Never Been

Forward-thinking, dynamic prog metal from France. While there are surely echoes of Meshuggah and some of their more melodic disciples, Back to Where You've Been sounds, to these ears, totally fresh and compelling. Fluid, delayed clean guitars and hazy keyboards give way to uber-heavy sludge metal, then tech-y, polyrhythmic, yet somehow catchy nu-djent with Eastern melodic elements. The best djent-related release of the year IMO.
James Ferraro - NYC, Hell 3:00 AM

Desolate, drugged out electro/R&B. Dubiously in-tune, barely sung vocals, chopped up samples, detuned keyboards, guitar feedback, sparse beats. A desperate, uneasy album that burns away all traces of glamour and machismo found in the late-night, drug-fueled debauchery of artists like the Weeknd, revealing a toxic, wholly hopeless core.
Gigan - Multi-Dimensional Fractal Sorcery and Super Science

Atmospheric, nerdy, brutal technical death metal. Somewhat in the same vein as multi-instrumentalist/assumed musical mastermind Eric Hersemann's old band, Hate Eternal, but more dissonant, and yet, fun, maybe? Less self-serious? Sometimes it sounds to me like what might have happened if Pg. 99 had tried to play death metal, but that's probably more of a random thought than an accurate description of their sound. Anyway, they've released three albums now, this is easily my favorite, and I honestly do not understand why IMNs aren't all over Gigan's nuts.
Dawn Richard - Goldenheart

Goldenheart, Dawn Richard's sprawling first solo LP, is a full realization of the promise she showed first on 2011's Last Train to Paris, a shockingly awesome record helmed by none other than the insufferable Diddy himself, then on two excellent solo EPs. Richard's musical vision of artfully-minded, earnest, futuristic pop/R&B thrives in this long-play format -- the songs are mixed to run into one another, creating a suite-like quality that allows the subtle tension that permeates her music to ebb and flow.
Bombino - Nomad

Second proper album (and third overall) of churning, sun-baked desert rock from this Tuareg badass. Nomad was produced by The Black Keys' Dan Auerbach, whose influence makes for a grittier, at times keyboard-driven sound that feels like a totally organic progression from his last outing. For those unfamiliar with Bombino, it's worth noting that his life story is just as compelling as his music; read about it here.

Paysage d'Hiver - Das Tor

After a six year absence, the Swiss master of grand, highly atmospheric lo-fi black metal returns with what's easily his most satisfying release since 2001's Winterkälte. Anyone familiar with this project knows what to expect: stretches of ambience marked by the sound of howling wind and weightless keyboards that abruptly give way to harshly beautiful, densely layered blizzards of tremolo-picked guitars, blasting drums, and high-pitched shrieks that are buried deep in the mix. An excellent continuation of one of black metal's all-time greatest projects.
Pity Sex - Feast of Love

Gorgeous, shoegaze-y indie rock that will send nostalgic dinosaurs like myself rushing for our record shelves, where we'll relive a time when bands like St. Johnny and Pavement seemed like they could barely be bothered to stand up while they were playing. It's lazy, bedroom-friendly rock that, in spite of the band's name, is actually quite conducive to sexy-times. And, in the end, isn't that what rock and roll is for: making us all want to fuck like animals?

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Pinkshinyultrablast - Happy Songs for Happy Zombies (2009)

Four songs of upbeat, blown out shoegaze euphoria from this Russian quartet. They're named after this Astrobrite album, and it's hard to imagine anyone who enjoys that record, or shoegaze in general for that matter, not loving this lil EP. Happy Songs for Happy Zombies is still their only release -- I really hope to hear more from these guys/gals soon!

Track listing:
1. Blaster
2. Deerland
3. Honeybee
4. Ode to Godzilla


Thursday, December 19, 2013

Albireon - I Passi Di Liù (2008)

Melancholic neofolk as performed, seemingly, by a family of ghosts. Distant voices, echoing guitars, mournful vibes.

Track listing:
1. Liu' Dorme
2. Naufraghi
3. Gli Equiseti
4. Deriva
5. Cendra
6. Cerbastri
7. Marea
8. Falistre
9. Nymphalidae
10. Gennaio


Monday, December 16, 2013

Havohej - Black Perversion (1994), Man and Jinn (2000), Tungkat Blood Wand (2007), Purple Cloak (2012)

Four EPs spanning the career of US solo black metal project Havohej, aka Paul Ledney of Profanatica/Incantation/Revenant/others. Havohej is known best for his 1993 debut LP, raw black metal classic Dethrone the Son of God, and the rest of his discography, aside from one other full-length released in 2009, consists of a handful of EPs released over the course of the past two decades, so a lot of people don't know how fucking strange and druggy it is. The music of Havohej can barely be classified as black metal; it's definitely 'blackened,' but aside from hoarse vocals and the occasional blastbeat, these harsh, rumbling, atonal, lo-fi sonicscapes have just as much, maybe even more in common with Throbbing Gristle then, say, Darkthrone. Black noise worship at its finest.

Track listing:
-Black Perversion-
1. Black Perversion
2. Unholy Sodomy
3. Mary Goddess of Shit
-Man and Jinn-
1. Intro
2. Man and Jinn
3. Leave Me in Hell [Venom cover]
4. Goat Perversion [Impaled Nazarene cover]
-Tungkat Blood Wand-
1. Through the Gates of Amu
2. Tungkat Blood Wand
3. Spirit Voice
-Purple Cloak-
1. Purple Cloak
2. Untitled I
3. Untitled II

Vomit drips from the walls of heaven
Black art of desecration

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Harm's Way - Imprisoned (2007) + Harm's Way (2008)

Previously: Harm's Way - Isolation

Because Harm's Way are among the best and more prominent contemporary hardcore acts, and because it's a scene that attracts a certain breed of success-hating elitist, there are surely people out there, arms permanently crossed across their chests, who insist that the Imprisoned 7", their rawest, most grind-y release, is the only good thing that Harm's Way ever put out, and that they "lost" them with the self-titled. So, one might consider this post a snob's guide to the rise and fall of Harm's Way.

Track listing:
1. Virgin of Nuremberg
2. Pure Hatred
3. Militant Mondays
4. Total Annihilation
5. In My World
6. Outro
7. Imprisoned
-Harm's Way-
1. Delusion
2. Repression

Everyone makes me sick

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Front Line Assembly - Total Terror Parts I + II (1993)

Just got turned on to a couple of great contemporary industrial bands - Youth Code and Prostate - whose sounds are highly referential to the kind of mid 80s/early 90s electro-industrial that I love so much. As I don't like to give way brand-new records by current bands, especially ones that are readily available for legal download, I'm opting to post records from one of the original powerhouses of the style, Canada's own Front Line Assembly. Total Terror Part I is a remixed reissue of their first demo (minus one song, plus three others); Part II is a collection of unreleased material from the same era. All driving beats, staccato digital basslines, airy synths, dialogue samples, cavernous SFX, and ghoulish vocals. Together, these collections represent the totality of FLA's pre-label recordings, and an essential part of the electro-industrial story.

Track listing:
-Part I-
1. Total Terror
2. A Decade
3. Rebels in Afghanistan
4. Developing Suicide
5. Black Fluid
6. Falling There
7. All You Do
8. Seeing Is Believing
9. Empty Walls
10. Enemy Number One
11. On the Cross
12. Freedom
13. Distorted Vision
14. Cleanser
-Part II-
1. Assassination
2. Intensive Care Unit
3. Immobilized
4. They're Going to Kill Us
5. Stimulant Combat
6. Hatred by Society
7. Intruder
8. Face Puller
9. A.E.C. Krunch
10. Cro-Magnon
11. Guilty
12. Attack Decay
13. The Bonening


Thursday, December 12, 2013

VI - De Praestigiis Daemonum (2008)

French black metal. If you're a fan of the gnarled, dissonant sounds of Deathspell Omega, Aosoth (with whom they share two members), and the like, you should hear this. Free, or name your own price, via bandcamp.

Track listing:
1. Et maintenant je lui appartiens...
2. Je me dresse devant le trône...
3. Si le sommeil de ma raison...
4. Il n'y a pas de repos...

Another link, in case you somehow missed the last one.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Robert Rich - Calling Down the Sky (2004)

Droning, hypnotic musical landscapes from influential ambient/new age composer Robert Rich. A rich, enveloping cloud of shimmering, liquid guitars, warm synths, and lulling field recordings. Just finished my last class of the year, time to take drugs and let my brain get stupid.

Track listing:
1. Erasing Traces
2. Overhead
3. Vertigo
4. Supplication
5. Borealis
6. Lost Landmarks
7. Adrift
8. Recognition

Nesting ground

Monday, December 9, 2013

Misery - Next Time (1995)

While a lot of the crust/anarcho punk that I dug in high school has, over time, revealed itself to be laughably unlistenable, I'll always back this 7", one of the first vinyl purchases I ever made. The title track, a eulogy to a deceased friend, is IMO one of the greatest crust recordings of all time, and could serve as the perfect primer for the genre; it's dirty, driving, passionate, raw, and heavy -- everything crust should be. The other two tracks can't quite keep up, but they're damn good, especially the dirge-like "Midnight".

Track listing:
1. Next Time
2. Full
3. Midnight

We'll see truth through our demise

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Vinterriket - Eiszwielicht / Firntann (2010)

Vinterriket is a one-man project from Germany whose discography is composed of about 85% icy, minimalistic, synth-based ambient music, and 15% atmospheric black metal. The two EPs that are compiled on this release fit neatly into the former category; Eiszwielicht is all drifting synths, while Firtann mixes it up a bit with some programmed drums and whispered vocals.

The fact that this style of music ever caught on with the black metal crowd is a testimony to the power of one's chosen aesthetic. I say this because, aside from a few grainy black and white pics of trees, Vinterriket is practically indistinguishable from the new age-y sounds of, say, Steve Roach or Michael Stearns. Of course, it's also a testimony to the long-reaching influence of everyone's favorite delusional, homicidal racist, Burzum, who pioneered the art of black metal dudes plinking around on keyboards back in the early 90s.

Track listing:
1. Eistränen
2. Eisleere
3. Forstestrübe
4. Schneehain

Twilight of ice

Friday, December 6, 2013

Drowning the Light - Oceans of Eternity (2011)

Analogue, orthodox black metal mastery from this Australian solo entity. There was a time when he'd put out around three albums per year, but as of this writing, Oceans of Eternity remains his newest full-length. It's everything that true black metal should be - sorrowful, majestic, demonic, atmospheric, and lo-fi.

Track listing:
1. As the Shadows at Dusk Reach Our Enemies' Throats
2. Oceans of Eternity
3. The Cataclysmic Cycle of Renewal
4. Oppression and Tyranny
5. The Key Still Not Found
6. The Lunatic Tide
7. Drifting Away in a Sea of Sorrow (Part II)
8. The Poison Kiss
9. The Runes Are Thrown and the Bones Are Spread (A Hymn to the Apocalypse)

Mushroom clouds grace the sky
Heralding a new and sunless dawn

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Eberhard Weber - Pendulum (1993)

Compared to much of Eberhard Weber's output, such as the dazzling, semi-symphonic The Colours of Chloë, Pendulum is a pretty monochromatic, understated affair. Consisting entirely of layers of Weber's dynamic, versatile double bass playing, it's a subtle, contemplative, singular record that, despite its strictly limited instrumental pallet, explores a variety of emotional landscapes, and ranks as one of the best ECM records of the 90s.

Track listing:
1. Bird Out of Cage
2. Notes After an Evening
3. Delirium
4. Children's Song No. 1
5. Street Scenes
6. Silent for a While
7. Pendulum
8. Unfinished Self-Portrait
9. Closing Scene

Eyes that can see in the dark

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Endless Dismal Moan - Endless Dismal Moan (2004)

Sickly, unsettling sounds from this Japanese solo project. I think of Endless Dismal Moan as the Japanese Xasthur -- dissonant, blown out guitars, ghoulish rasps, and drum machine that lends the whole thing a homemade, highly personal sound. Also, the drums are often programmed at insanely fast tempos, because if you're gonna have a drum machine, why subject it to human constraints? Sadly, the highly disturbing quality of the music is compounded by the fact that Chaos 9, the creator of this project, committed suicide by gunshot in 2008.

Track listing:
1. Spell
2. Obsession
3. From Omnious
4. Calamitous Box
5. Goddess of Death
6. Vampire
7. Gloom
8. Endless Dismal Moan 2
9. Talking Mind (EDM 3)
10. Abyss
11. Chaos Intro
12. Kitigai
13. Bloody Chaos
14. Endless Dismal Moan
15. Calamity
16. Death Odor
17. Outro


Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Luna - The Days of Our Nights (1999)

Luna was formed by guitarist/singer Dean Wareham following the breakup of the much-loved Galaxie 500. Their sound is quite laid back, almost lounge-y at times, marked by crystalline guitar tones and Wareham's nasally, earnest but restrained delivery. The Days of Our Nights is the first Luna album I ever heard, and it's still my favorite - that's how it goes, right? I honestly think it's their best, though. Perfect music for getting stoned and fooling around with your boy/girl/other friend.

Track listing:
1. Dear Diary
2. Hello, Little One
3. The Old Fashioned Way
4. Four Thousand Days
5. Seven Steps to Satan
6. Superfreaky Memories
7. Math Whiz
8. Words Without Wrinkles
9. The Rustler
10. US Out of My Pants!
11. The Slow Song
12. Sweet Child O' Mine

I was only joking

Monday, December 2, 2013

Al Gromer Khan - Utopia (1993) + Attar (1996)

Al Gromer Khan is an accomplished German sitar player who got his start with Popol Vuh, for whom he played sitar on a few albums in the mid and late seventies. Since then, he has operated mostly as a solo ambient/new age composer. Minimalistic and soothing, Utopia finds Khan pretty much entirely forgoing his beloved sitar in favor of chilly, spacious synthesizers, making it an odd potential introduction to his discography. Attar continues along much the same lines, while adding a good deal more sitar and some sparse vocals for a more organic touch. Both albums have this alluring, haunting quality that really sticks with me, and it's difficult to track down either one for less than $40, so... enjoy.

Track listing:
1. Utopia
2. Denia
3. Numa
4. Cherry Blossom
5. Mikado
1. The Wind at Jabal Musa
2. I Am Not That Rose
3. Aires de Cadiz
4. The Allah Cup
5. Le Parfum Khus
6. Eros and Denial


Sunday, December 1, 2013

Huata - Atavist of Mann (2011)

French occult stoner-doom. Huata loves psychedelics, black magic rituals involving naked ladies, and perhaps most of all, Electric Wizard. Deranged riffs, strung out vocals, drone sections, creepy organs, and a thick, dirty recording to seal the deal.

Track listing:
1. Lords of the Flame
2. Operation Mistletoe
3. Thee Imperial Wizard
4. Testi Sum Capri
5. Templars of the Black Sun
6. Fall of the 4th

Oceans shall be reclaimed