Saturday, December 27, 2014

Black Wreath - A Pyre of Lost Dreams (2009)

If you, like me, think that Of the Wand and the Moon's The Lone Descent set a new, as of yet unmatched standard for neofolk, you'll probably be pretty stoked to hear that Kim Larsen, that project's mastermind, has a funeral doom band. Yup. A Pyre of Lost Dreams is the band's only release so far, and it is mesmerizing, achingly beautiful, and crushingly heavy, even in the sections lead by clean guitars. Larsen's neofolk tendencies pop up here and there -- most noticeably, in the strings that creep in during the latter half of "The Black Holes of Your Mind" -- but the real ace in the hole is Larsen's gift for composition and melody, which allow these songs to unfold slowly and carefully, but with a sense of clarity and direction.

Track listing:
1. The Black Holes of Your Mind
2. Nocturnal Dominion
3. Solitude Rising (Missing All Exits)
4. Nidstong

Behold the nightsky of a thousand stars
Falling to earth in dark procession,
Infinite solitude rising in all its splendor

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Harold Budd - The Serpent (In Quicksilver) / Abandoned Cities (1989)

Previously on OPIUM HUM:
Harold Budd - Lovely Thunder (1986)
Cocteau Twins & Harold Budd - The Moon and Melodies (1986)
Harold Budd - The White Arcades (1988)
Robin Guthrie & Harold Budd - After the Night Falls (2007)

Issued in 1989, this record collects two of Budd's early albums: The Serpent (In Quicksilver),  originally recorded in '81 (on a 4-track, no less) and Abandoned Cities, which consists of two long pieces composed in '84 for an art installation. The Serpent is very much in line with the piano-driven, synth-saturated ambient music for which he'd eventually become known, while Abandoned Cities offers an enticing glimpse at a darker, more experimental approach at which he proved quite proficient.

Track listing:
1. Afar
2. Wanderer
3. Rub with Ashes
4. Children on the Hill
5. Widows Charm
6. The Serpent (In Quicksilver)
7. Dark Star
8. Abandoned Cities

Totems of the red-sleeved warrior

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Lambert & Nuttycombe - At Home (1970)

Contemplative acoustic folk rock from an exceptionally talented duo who somehow never quite made it. At Home is a beautifully sparse, appropriately homemade-sounding record, consisting entirely of the two men's guitars and voices, and songs that are alternately breezy, melancholy, playful, wistful, and peaceful.

Track listing:
1. Morning
2. Time
3. Bird Song
4. My Own Beat
5. Something on My Mind
6. Mouse
7. Ode to Drugan
8. Putting Myself Together Again
9. Mr. Bojangles
10. Country Song
11. Heaven Knows (Where I've Been)
12. Clover

Make a dive towards what you want
Fill your throat with laughter
If it's sorrow that you want
Save the laugh for after

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Amon Düül - Psychedelic Underground (1968)

Well, I'm on winter break, and my girl's out of town, so you know what that means: it's 5:16 AM and I'm about to get higher while the pounding, trance-inducing drums, ramshackle guitar grooves, and unintelligible vocals of Amon Düül's debut melt my brain into a pile of warm, multi-colored goo.

Track listing:
1. Ein Wunderhubsches Madchen Traumt Von Sandosa
2. Kaskados Minnelied
3. Mama Duul Und Ihre Sauerkrautband Spielt Auf
4. Im Garten Sandosa
5. Der Garten Sandosa Im Morgentau
6. Bitterlings Verwandlung

Toxicological whispering

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Roy Harper - HQ (1975)

Roy Harper has put out many, many great albums, of which HQ is one of the very best. Although previous records such as Stormcock (another full-fledged masterpiece) had explored innovative, prog-like strong structures, HQ is the closest he'd come to full-on prog rock, a move Harper emphasizes with the roaring guitar solo that closes out multi-suite album opener, "The Game, Pts. 1-5". The rest of the album maintains a sharp sonic cohesion while covering an impressive amount of stylistic ground. There's spaced-out boogie rock, throwback 50s rock, Zeppelin-esque drama, and lysergic acoustic folk, all bolstered by Harper's reliably evocative, heady lyrics.

Track listing:
1. The Game, Pts. 1-5
2. The Spirit Lives
3. Grown Ups Are Just Silly Children
4. Referendum (Legend)
5. Forget Me Not
6. Hallucinating Light
7. When an Old Cricketeer Leaves the Crease

The minds of the tortured perpetuated patron saints of crime

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Mistress of the Dead - I Know Her Face from the Tombstone (2006)

Mistress of the Dead is a one-man funeral doom project from the Czech Republic. If you're familiar with the subgenre, you know exactly what to expect -- extremely slow tempos, sparse drumming, drawn-out guitar chords, clean guitar leads, ghostly keyboards, and guttural growls -- as MOTD adheres strictly to the guidelines set years ago by Skepticism and Thergothon. But c'mon, when it comes to metal, innovation is overrated. Everyone knows that 99% of the best metal bands work well within the established limits of a chosen subgenre (Incantation didn't invent death metal, y'all.) And MOTD's stubborn refusal to innovate is precisely what makes I Know Her Face from the Tombstone so great: it's the ugly, desolated face of funeral doom, completely unadorned.

If you dig this, you should go to the Lost Soul blog, where you can score the entire MOTD discography.

Track listing:
1. I Know Her Face from the Tombstone
2. Embracing Silent Death
3. Only Ashes and Remembrance
4. Tragical Smell of Grave Flowers (... Is Weeping for Your Death)

In the emptiness
Rushing collapsed surreality
Falling through

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Necromantia - Scarlet Evil Witching Black (1995)

Killer Greek black metal. To me, Scarlet Evil Witching Black feels a bit more connected to traditional heavy metal than most black metal; it's all about the riffs, the recording has a raw but warm quality, and, at certain points, it's almost... fun. If you're wondering how it sounds so fuckin' gnarly, it's because instead of rhythm guitars, Necromantia goes with a dual 8-string bass attack, using guitars only for solos and embellishments. Also, in addition to some symphonic elements (read: keyboard strings/choir/piano/etc., and one extended sample from "Ride of the Valkyries") Necromantia incorporated a saxophone solo into a black metal recording ("The Arcane Light of Hecate") almost fifteen years before Nachtmystium. In conclusion: if you claim to like black metal, this record will be on the exam.

Track listing:
1. Devilskin
2. Black Mirror
3. Pretender to the Throne (Opus I: The Usurpers's Spawn)
4. The Arcane Light of Hecate
5. Scarlet Witching Dreams
6. The Serpent and the Pentagram
7. Pretender to the Throne (Opus II: Battle at the Netherworld)
8. Spiritdance

We embrace thy shining light tonight

Monday, December 15, 2014

Tones on Tail - Pop (1984)

First and only album from this Daniel Ash (Bauhaus) side-project. Shades-on cool and pitch-black, but with a sense of musical adventurousness and diversity that keeps things interesting and, dare I say it, fun. And if you can think of a more goth song title than "The Never Never (Is Forever)", I'd like to hear it.

Track listing:
1. Lions
2. War
3. Happiness
4. The Never Never (Is Forever)
5. Performance
6. Slender Fungus
7. Movement of Fear
8. Real Life
9. Rain

A flash of white light
a thrilling hope, some pure surprise
but it's always smashed in two

Sunday, December 14, 2014

The Fall of Every Season - Amends (2013)

The Fall of Every Season is a one-man, Norwegian melodic doom project that is responsible for some of the most engaging sounds I've heard from this often tired-sounding subgenre in quite a while. Where so many bands seem to plod along through a dismal, gray rain, The Fall of Every Season grow wings and soar over snow-capped mountains and across fitful oceans. Fans of (early) Katatonia, Rapture, October Tide, Forest of Shadows: you will probably love this. And if you're saying to yourself, "I am so fucking over post-y doom," let me assure you, I am too.

Track listing:
1. Sole Passenger
2. The Mammoth
3. A Portrayal
4. Aurelia
5. Come, Waves

In a land of plundering ghouls, its promises solely held me onto the crooked branches of life

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Constance Demby - Skies Above Skies (1978)

Previously on OPIUM HUM:
Constance Demby - Sunborne (1980)
Constance Demby - Sacred Space Music (1982)

Constance Demby's early works are among the most stately, transcendent music to come out of the New Age movement. Maybe it's her classical training, maybe it's her powerful but restrained vocals, maybe it's her instrument of choice -- hammered dulcimer -- but it feels as though these records actually reached the heavenly heights that so many of her peers merely invoked. Demby's debut album, Skies Above Skies, is, of course, built around her virtuosic hammered dulcimer-playing, and a bit of synthesizer, but features a stronger emphasis on her vocals than would be heard on her next few records.

Track listing:
1. Om Mani Padme Hum
2. Endless
3. Peace of God
4. El Mie
5. St. Francis Prayer
6. Sant Ji
7. God Is

Hidden light shining in every creature

Friday, December 12, 2014

Collin Walcott - Cloud Dance (1976)

Sitarist Collin Walcott's (also of Oregon fame) first solo album. Yes, he studied under Ravi Shankar. What's really interesting about this record is how, instead of creating some kind of whitewashed version of Indian music, the sitar and tabla are often simply folded into the pillowy, gently propulsive sounds of ECM jazz.

Track listing:
1. Margheritte
2. Prancing
3. Night Glider
4. Scimitar
5. Vadana
6. Eastern Song
7. Padma
8. Cloud Dance

Get to the moon lake

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Bark Psychosis - Hex (1994)

One of the very first post-rock records, Hex is also unquestionably one of the genre's finest moments. It's low-key, beautiful, and textural, but with a palpable sense of darkness and mystery, as well as a compositional intensity and unpredictability -- all slow-burn, no easy payoffs -- that would allude many of their followers. These same bands could also have learned from Bark Psychosis (and Talk Talk, of course) that "post-rock" and "instrumental" are not intrinsically linked, as these songs are really enhanced by vocalist/guitarist/organist/sample guy/etc. Graham Sutton's half-whispered intonations.

Track listing:
1. The Loom
2. A Street Scene
3. Absent Friend
4. Big Shot
5. Fingerspit
6. Eyes and Smiles
7. Pendulum Man

Burning the city

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Fleshcrawl - Impurity (1994)

Previously on OPIUM HUM:
Fleshcrawl - Descend into the Absurd (1994)

Impurity is Fleshcrawl's second and IMO best album. The doom leanings that permeated their first album are significantly dialed back, and the production's way punchier, making for a nastier, burlier beast. It's nothing particularly groundbreaking, but it's damn near perfect 90s death metal. Also, there is a Demigod cover.

Track listing:
1. From the Dead to the Living
2. Withering Life
3. Reincarnation
4. Subordinated
5. Disfigured
6. After Obliteration
7. Stiffen Souls
8. Center of Hate
9. Inevitable End
10. Incineration

Rotting beneath
Down on earth
So cold

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Royal Trux - Twin Infinitives (1990)

Previously on OPIUM HUM:
Royal Trux - Untitled (1993)

Alright, enough fucking around: here's the most difficult, drug-addled, borderline unlistenable hipster noisefuck I can think of. Nothing before or after Twin Infinitives, including within Royal Trux's discography, has ever sounded like this record. Dense and virtually devoid of melody or rhythm, it's rock and roll torn apart and haphazardly slapped back together using laser SFX, broken amps, and LSD, with two NYC ghosts droning an endless stream of incomprehensible words over everything.

Track listing:
1. Solid Gold Tooth / Ice Cream / Jet Pet / RTX-USA / Kool Down Wheels
2. Chances Are the Comets in Our Future / Yin Jim Versus the Comet Creature / Osiris
3. (Edge of the) Ape of Oven
4. Florida Avenue Theme / Lick My Boots / Glitterbust / Funky Son / Ratcreeps / NY Avenue Bridge

Nothing but

Monday, December 8, 2014

Beyond Mortal Dreams - From Hell (2008)

I know, I say this kinda thing all the time, but Australia's Beyond Mortals Dreams really should be more popular. From Hell, their only full-length thus far, is an absolutely crushing piece of death metal in the vein of Morbid Angel, with beastly vocals, beefy riffs, a crypt-bound guitar tone, and just a touch of doom that brings to mind Dead Congregation... and it's self-released! Reasons for their relative lack of popularity may include their name (sounds like they want to get a slot opening for Theatre of Tragedy) and their imagery (that fire demon is not scaring anyone) cause it's definitely not their music.

Track listing:
1. From Hell
2. Where the Unbelievers Burn
3. Destined for Annihilation
4. Desolation Hymn
5. The Earth Belongs to Hell
6. In Agony Everafter
7. We Ascend

The lord demon of vermin feasts
Sucking souls from corporeality

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Lisa Germano - Happiness (1994)

Her second studio album, Happiness was a watershed moment for Germano. Surpassing by far her debut in every way, it's where her idiosyncratic musical vision first truly congealed -- lushly layered arrangements and a sardonic sense of humor applied to fuzzy, melancholy, alt-rock- and folk-laced dream pop.

Note: Happiness was originally released in 1993, then was reissued the next year by 4AD with reworked mixes and track order. And as much as I like to root for OGs, in this case, the reissue version is superior, so that's what you're getting here.

Track listing:
1. Bad Attitude
2. Destroy the Flower
3. Puppet
4. Everyone's Victim
5. Energy
6. Cowboy
7. Happiness
8. The Earth
9. Around the World
10. Sycophant
11. Miamo-Tutti
12. The Dresses Song
13. The Darkest Night of All

You wish it was sunny
But it's not, ha-ha-ha

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Roy Ayers - Coffy OST (1973)

Previously on OPIUM HUM:
Roy Ayers Ubiquity - He's Coming (1971)

This record should be considered one of the great blaxploitation soundtracks, as well as some of Ayers' finest work. It plays out like a series of evocative vignettes, tending towards in-the-pocket grooves that lend themselves well to Ayers' virtuosic improvisations. Some songs are as funky as anything he has recorded, but there's also plenty of spaced-out jazz-funk, as well as some great vocal-driven numbers.

Track listing:
1. Coffy Is the Color
2. Priscilla's Theme
3. King George
4. Aragon
5. Coffy Sauna
6. King's Last Ride
7. Coffy Baby
8. Brawling Broads
9. Escape
10. Shining Symbol
11. Exotic Dance
12. Making Love
13. Vittroni's Theme - King Is Dead
14. End of Sugarman

Sweet as a chocolate bar

Friday, December 5, 2014

Sortsind - Sår (1999)

Previously on OPIUM HUM:
Sortsind - More Days (2001)

First of two masterful albums of harsh, lo-fi, depressive black metal from this underrated Danish trio. Sortsind sound genuinely unhinged in a way that few other bands manage -- I can't shake the feeling that all of their songs were performed with slit wrists. If you jock Xasthur but haven't heard Sortsind, you are fucking up, my friend.

Track listing:
1. Vandrer Blandt Dødninge
2. Blot
3. Drømme Om Evig Nat
4. Blandt Grå Monumenter
5. Sår
6. Sorte Tårer
7. Jeg Er Kulden
8. Vandrer Du I Natten Mørk
9. Skumring

Dreams of eternal night

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Hot Snakes - Automatic Midnight (2000)

Circa 2014, a lot of post-hardcore from the 90s/early 200s sounds pretty weak to my ears, but not Hot Snakes, man, this shit still kills. They sound kinda like a more melodic Drive Like Jehu (two members of whom formed Hot Snakes after DLJ broke up) stripped of the prog-ish tendencies, leaving behind a beefy, driving, surprisingly catchy core.

Track listing:
1. If Credit's What Matters I'll Take Credit
2. Automatic Midnight
3. No Hands
4. Salton City
5. 10th Planet
6. Light Up the Stars
7. Our Work Fills the Pews
8. Past Lives
9. Mystery Boy
10. Apartment O
11. Let It Come
12. [Hidden Track]

My memory serves me right
History does no disservice to the bottom line

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

The Abyssinians - Satta Massaganna (1976)

Every time I write about reggae, I feel obligated to mention that I don't know much about it as a music genre, scene, cultural force, or otherwise. This means that all of the records that I hear surely are barely scratching the surface, and it's probable that, for those in the know, posting Satta Massaganna is a bit like posting Souvlaki or In the Nightside Eclipse. However, it's also entirely possible, even likely, that most of my MASSIVE readership know as little about reggae as I. So I'm going with it. After all, I read on Wikipedia that it's a "classic roots reggae album."

Track listing:
1. Declaration of Rights
2. The Good Lord
3. Forward Unto Zion
4. Know Jah Today
5. Abendigo
6. Y Mas Gan
7. Black Man's Strain
8. Satta Massaganna
9. I and I
10. African Race
11. Leggo Beast
12. Peculiar Number
13. Reason Time
14. There Is No End

There is a land far, far away
Where there's no night, there's only day

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Arcana - Arc of the Testimony (1997)

Second and final album from this short-lived jazz fusion group, who, despite including contributions from Pharoah Sanders, Buckethead, and others, by the time of this recording had been trimmed down to just two official members: Bill Laswell and Tony Williams. Arc of the Testimony is composed of heady, atmospheric fusion, with a few pieces of drifting, nervous, ECM-esque ambience ("Gone Tomorrow", "Calling Out the Blue Light") and is rounded out by a thick, bass-heavy sound -- awesome, nerdy stuff. It also has the honor of representing the last recorded output from the great Tony Williams, who died of a heart attack midway through the album's recording sessions.

Track listing:
1. Gone Tomorrow
2. Illuminator
3. Into the Circle
4. Returning
5. Calling Out the Blue Light
6. Circles of Hell
7. Wheeless on a Dark River
8. The Earth Below

Beyond games

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Cathedral - Supernatural Birth Machine (1996)

Meanwhile, Cathedral's hanging out, playing half-speed buttrock riffs, sounding like Macho Man Randy Savage switched out (some of) his cocaine for psychedelics, put his rap project on hold and started a killer psychedelic cheese-doom band. After practice, they hop in their spaceship, where they smoke a few joints with a bunch of re-animated skeletons and Satanic robots while flying to Saturn, where they're all gonna drop acid, bone sexy aliens while watching Planet Earth explode, and release flawless album after flawless album, all while not giving a single fuck that surprisingly few people notice that they're one of the best metal bands ever.

P.S. I'm headed to Acapulco this afternoon, where I will live the good life 'til Sunday. See you suckers sometime next week.

Track listing:
1. Cybertron 71 / Eternal Countdown (Intro)
2. Urko's Conquest
3. Stained Glass Horizon
4. Cyclops Revolution
5. Birth Machine 2000
6. Nightmare Castle
7. Fireball Demon
8. Phaser Quest
9. Suicide Asteroid
10. Dragon Ryder 13
11. Magnetic Hole

Earth children arise
Transformation for final flight
Justice in our hands

Monday, November 24, 2014

Terje Rypdal, Miroslav Vitous & Jack DeJohnette - To Be Continued (1981)

Previously on OPIUM HUM:
Terje Rypdal, Miroslav Vitous & Jack DeJohnette - S/T (1978)

Second of two collaborative efforts between guitarist Terje Rypdal, bassist Miroslav Vitous, and drummer Jack DeJohnette. Atmospheric, dynamic, free-form compositions that might work as an easy primer on 'the ECM sound.'

Track listing:
1. Maya
2. Mountain the the Clouds
3. Morning Lake
4. To Be Continued
5. This Morning
6. Topplue, Votter, & Skjerf
7. Uncomposed Appendix


Sunday, November 23, 2014

Iconoclast Contra - Combat Is the Voice of the Heathen (2010)

Ugly blackened death metal from fucking Salt Lake City. I found Iconoclast Contra through their connection to Black Seas of Infinity -- he's their dummer -- but their guitarist and vocalist were both in Ibex Throne, who I have never heard (oops) but are apparently a band that people care about. Anyway, if you like bands like Profanatica, or Ibex Throne, probably, you should give this a spin.

Track listing:
1. Murder Division
2. Wolf Sect: Profane
3. Passage Rites to Cerberus
4. Combat Is the Voice of the Heathen
5. Force-Fucked with Artillery Fire
6. Torture Assassin
7. Warheads Towards the Holy Land
8. War 'Til Death

Humanity is worthless

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Big Moe - City of Syrup (2000)

SO fucking gangsta. Big Moe has a smooth, half-sung delivery that, along with the often upbeat-sounding instrumentals, injects the hedonism of the lyrics with a welcome dose of levity. Since he's a Screwed Up Click affiliate, there are SUC/Houston all-stars all over the place, including DJ Screw, Big Hawk, Z-RO, Yungstar, and a million others. And in my book, he gets a thousand bonus points for paraphrasing my favorite Zapp song (actually, one my favorite songs, period) on the title track.

Track listing:
1. Momma M.O.E. (Skit)
2. Barre Baby (feat. Ronnetta Spencer)
3. Get Back (feat. Lil' O & Big Hawk)
4. Maan! (feat. E.S.G. & Big Pokey)
5. We Da Shit (feat. E.S.G. & Z-RO)
6. I'll Do It (feat. Lil' O & Dirty $)
7. Drank (Skit)
8. City of Syrup (feat. DJ Screw, Z-RO, & Tyte Eyez)
9. Choppaz (feat. D-Gotti, Noke D, & D-Wreck
10. I Wonder (feat. Enjoli & Tyte Eyez)
11. Payin' Dues (feat. Z-RO)
12. X (Time) 4 Change (feat. D-Wreck, Al-D, Will-Lean, Noke D, & Ronnie Spencer)
13. Po' It Up (feat. Z-RO & Big Hawk)
14. Ra-Ra (Skit)
15. Ridin' Candy (feat. Noke D, C-Nile, & D-Gotti)
16. Whatcha Want? (feat. D-Wreck, D-Gotti, & Tyte Eyez)
17. Freestyle (Skit)
18. Freestyle (June 27) (feat. D-Mo, Kici, Yungstar, Big Pokey, & Haircut Joe)
19. Leanin' (feat. DJ Screw, Mike D, & Michael Wilson)

Rollin' in my candy red car
Sippin' a big daddy cup of barre

Friday, November 21, 2014

Dwight Twilley Band - Sincerely (1976)

Sincerely is the kind of perfect, would-be classic power pop record that makes you realize just how arbitrary success in the music business is. Like, I think that in some weird, imaginary world, every record that I post on here would be a hit, but Sincerely could have been a huge hit in this world. Listen to this and tell me I'm wrong.

So, much like their spiritual comrades, Big Star, the Dwight Twilley Band mixed 70s dad rock sounds with a kinda fey, pop-oriented approach and ended up generating a series of positively perfect power pop gems while toiling in virtual obscurity; unlike Big Star, though, DTB --and their namesake, who continues to record and release records to this day -- have stayed there. I only found them because their song "Looking for the Magic" is prominently featured in the movie You're Next. Having finally heard it, though, I genuinely believe that Dwight Twilley should be at least indie-famous by now, and I implore you: give this one a spin.

For more info, here's an article that I found; apparently, I'm not the only one who's made the Big Star comparison, nor the only one to think that Twilley should be a star.

Track listing:
1. I'm On Fire
2. Could Be Love
3. Feeling in the Dark
4. You Were So Warm
5. I'm Losing You
6. Sincerely
7. TV
8. Release Me
9. Three Persons
10. Baby Let's Cruise
11. England
12. Just Like the Sun
13. Did You See What Happened [bonus]
14. Look Like an Angel [bonus]
15. Miserable Lady [bonus]
16. Rock Yourself, Son [bonus]

I don't wanna sit and watch it all roll by

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Chris & Cosey - Technø Primitiv (1985)

Two former members of Throbbing Gristle making dark, synth-based 80s dance music. Drenched in reverb, Cosey (Fanni Tutti)'s vocals sound hauntingly disconnected over the duo's pulsing, atmospheric instrumentals.

Track listing:
1. Hazey Daze
2. Misunderstandings
3. Morning
4. Haunted Heroes
5. Stolen Kisses
6. Shivers
7. He's an Arabian
8. Last Exit
9. Do or Die
10. Technø Primitiv
11. Silent Cry
12. Sweet Surprise

I hope you will be by my side

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

McCoy Tyner - Expansions (1968)

One of the very best out of many stellar releases from this jazz pianist great, Expansions splits the difference between relatively straightforward hard bop grooves and frantic, atonal avant-garde jazz. I can't even imagine coming close to making music that's this advanced.

Track listing:
1. Vision
2. Song of Happiness
3. Smitty's Place
4. Peresina
5. I Thought I'd Let You Know

The high priest

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

The Apples in Stereo - Science Faire (1996)

The Apples in Stereo are, as far as I know, the only band from the Elephant 6 collective who still actively record and put out albums. Science Faire compiles a bunch of singles and EPs from before the release of their first (and IMO still best) proper LP, Fun Trick Noisemaker. Personally, I prefer this fuzzier, messier, more lo-fi material to the exuberant, polished power pop they ended up making. I dig that shit, too, though.

Track listing:
1. Tidal Wave
2. Motorcar
3. Turncoat Indian
4. Haley
5. Not the Same
6. Stop Along the Way
7. Running in Circles
8. Hypnotic Suggestion
9. Touch the Water
10. Glowworm
11. To Love the Vibration of the Bulb
12. Time for Bed / I Know You'll Do Well
13. Rocket Pad

Silvery light of a dream

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Jaco Pastorius - Jaco Pastorius (1976)

Here's virtuoso bassist Jaco Pastorius' classic solo debut. There's a good deal of variation -- low-key, spaced out improvisations, full-band funk, melancholic vignettes -- so it's stays consistently interesting, and the material is 100% excellent.

Track listing:
1. Donna Lee
2. Come On, Come Over
3. Continuum
4. Kuru/Speak Like a Child
5. Portrait of Tracy
6. Opus Pocus
7. Okonkole Y Trompa
8. (Used to Be A) Cha-Cha
9. Forgotten Love
10. (Used to Be A) Cha-Cha (Alternate Take) [bonus]
11. 6-4 Jam [bonus]


Friday, November 14, 2014

Black Sabbath - Dehumanizer (1992)

I do not understand why I check Metalsucks on a semi-daily basis. The writers are generally not very funny or inventive in their approach to writing about music, and unlike Pitchfork, which I check for hipster drama and new music (I put little to no stock in their overwrought opinions, of course), Metalsucks doesn't actually cover a lot of music that I give a shit about. Maybe I read it for the little bit of good music that it does bring to my attention, and maybe it's a hate-read.

But the fact remains that I do visit the site, and this is why I am aware that today they (correctly) named Black Sabbath as the greatest metal band of all time. In the writeup, Grim Kim -- the only writer for the site that consistently covers awesome, new bands -- re-affirmed the popular notion that while their later stuff "had its moments", Sabbath peaked with their first four records. Though I'd add records #s 5 and 6 to that assertion, I agree in spirit.

After those first six records, this is the Sabbath record that I return to most frequently -- no, not Heaven and Hell. It marks Dio's temporary return to the fold, and its sound can be likened to a polished synthesis of all of the best eras of the band. Of course, it's not as amazing as that might sound, but it's pretty fucking great, you know?

[Edit: Check out the undeniable similarities between the above record cover and that of Arckanum's Fran Marder, which I posted yesterday. This was not intentional.]

Track listing:
1. Computer God
2. After All (The Dead)
3. TV Crimes
4. Letters from Earth
5. Master of Insanity
6. Time Machine
7. Sins of the Father
8. Too Late
9. I
10. Buried Alive

Are we all haunted by
The ghost - imagination
It just can't be
I've seen them there
Howling at the moon

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Arckanum - Fran Marder (1995)

Pure black metal, no surprises. I guess the clean vox are slightly unorthodox, but not really. The album plays out exactly the way you might expect: creepy keyboard intro gives way to tremolo picking, double bass, and vicious vocals that more or less continue for the duration of the record, interrupted only by the sound of wind through trees, thunder, trickling brooks, and the occasional owl hoot. A friend of mine came over the other evening with the intention of learning the ways of true black metal, and this is one of the records that I had intended to put on before the evening devolved into drunkenly watching gangsta rap videos on Youtube.

Track listing:
1. Hvila Pa Tronan Min
2. Þe Alder Hærskande Væsende Natur
3. Svinna
4. Kununger Af Þæn Diupeste Natur
5. Gava Fran Trulen
6. Fran Marder
7. Bærghet
8. Trulmælder
9. Kolin Væruld

Desolation in purest shape
Neither melodies nor cries
Resound in this cold silence

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Jane Siberry - The Walking (1987)

The Walking is a truly strange record. Not only is the music itself a virtual labyrinth of knotty verses, muttering asides, new-age-y sap, lyrical surrealism, and big, extended pop hooks, there's a real cognitive dissonance to hearing such progressive, avant-garde music employing pillowy, keyboard-saturated, radio-ready 80's production. No one seemed to care much for it when it first came out -- this was reflected in Siberry's choice to severely rein in her progressive tendencies from here on out, cementing The Walking as an outlier in her discography -- but it's always been my favorite of hers. Most of you will probably not like this, but just a few of you might love it. And it's my goddamn birthday.

Track listing:
1. The White Tent the Raft
2. Red High Heels
3. Goodbye
4. Ingrid and the Footman
5. Lena Is a White Table
6. The Walking (And Constantly)
7. The Lobby
8. The Bird in the Gravel

Well, maybe she should go to school
No, no
She's a table

Monday, November 10, 2014

Martin Rev - Clouds of Glory (1985)

Previously on OPIUM HUM:
Suicide - A Way of Life (1988)

Martin Rev was one half of bizarro-world greats Suicide. Clouds of Glory, his second solo album, consists of endlessly repeated melodic mantras, shrill sustained tones, and chaotic SFX, all (I believe) courtesy of synthesizer(s). It's like someone took an unreleased Suicide record, removed the vocal tracks, and replaced them with synth oscillations, chirps, drones, and explosions.

Track listing:
1. Rodeo
2. Clouds of Glory
3. Metatron
4. Whisper
5. Rocking Horse
6. Parade
7. Island

It's doomsday, doomsday

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Japan - Adolescent Sex (1978)

Japan's first album combines the strut of glam and the nervous energy of post-punk, then runs it through a smooth sheen of new wave and funk. Apparently the band disowned this record, but I'm definitely not alone in thinking it's their best.

EDIT: Re-upping the link in 2020, I feel like I have to mention that I no longer think this is their best record. I still love it, but this versus Tin Drum? Gimme a break.

Track listing:
1. Transmission
2. The Unconventional
3. Wish You Were Black
4. Performance
5. Lovers on Main Street
6. Don't Rain on My Parade
7. Suburban Love
8. Adolescent Sex
9. Communist China
10. Television

Your mouth is open wide but your body's too soft

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Love Lost But Not Forgotten - Love Lost But Not Forgotten (2000)

Been on a bit of a nostalgia trip of late. It started with The Rentals putting out a new album, which led me to revisiting their older stuff, which led me to Matthew Sweet, then Tripping Daisy, then Hagfish (lol), and somehow I ended up at this savage, angsty as fuck album. Though I don't feel as though my entire world is crashing down around me nearly as often as I did back in high school, Love Lost But Not Forgotten makes for a handy simulation.

When I first randomly downloaded "Loathing" (off of Napster, bonus nostalgia!) I could not believe my ears. The over-the-top, high-pitched shrieking, the breakneck time signature changes, the almost smooth clean guitar breakdowns, the fact that the screeching continued over top of said smooth breakdowns -- it was complete insanity. I quickly tracked down the rest of the record and listened to it four million times.  Still ranks as one of my all-time favorite screamo (note: old definition) records.

Track listing:
1. Intro
2. Means to No End
3. Loathing
4. Save Me from the Outside World
5. Believe
6. Supine
7. Push Past
8. Cutting Away
9. Drown
10. Unfound
11. Swallow
12. Untitled

Headless, sleeping soundly

Friday, November 7, 2014

Luke Vibert - Lover's Acid (2005)

Playful acid techno that's sure to remind some of you of Richard James circa the Analord series (there's even a song called "Analord" on here, fancy that.) I'm pretty damn twisted as I right this, and this shit sounds the way my head feels.

Track listing:
1. Funky Acid Stuff
2. Cash 'n' Carry Acid
3. Homewerk
4. Gwithian
5. Prick Tat
6. Analord
7. Lover's Acid
8. Acid2000
9. Come on Chaos
10. Orch Garage
11. Dirty Fucker
12. Flyover

Pillowy clouds of mashed potatoes

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Perry Leopold - Christian Lucifer (1973)

A truly great psych folk obscurity. Lush, sprawling, heavy-lidded acoustic jams featuring cello, flutes, keyboard, hand drums, spiritually-oriented lyrical concerns, and a darker, more cerebral tone than that hippy-dippy album art suggests.

Track listing:
1. Sunday Afternoon in the Garden of Delights
2. The Windwill
3. The Starewell
4. Serpentine Lane
5. The Annunciation
6. The Journey
7. Vespers

All the clergy is weeping

Monday, November 3, 2014

Blitz - Second Empire Justice (1983)

In which an upper-echelon Oi band follows up its instant classic debut LP with a dark, atmospheric sophomore effort that's entirely devoid of anthems about "the boys" handing out beatdowns, thereby alienating most of its violent, bald-scalped fan base while failing to garner much outside attention. Second Empire Justice, it would seem, is a terrible Oi record.

The twist: it's a great post-punk record. It undoubtedly sounds like the work of a completely different band, but a really fucking great one. Big, moody leads? Check. Ghostly vocals? Big check -- dude sounds like Ian Curtis on a few songs. A beefy, locked-in rhythm section, complete with gated reverb on the snare? Check. I missed the boat on this one for years because my punk elders told me to steer clear, but as it turns out, adult me is going to listen to this way more than Voice of a Generation.

For poops and chortles, watch the video for "New Age", which isn't on this album, and kind of serves as a bridge between their immediate past and future.

Track listing:
1. Flowers and Fire
2. Underground
3. Acolyte
4. Into the Daylight
5. Telecommunication
6. White Man
7. For You
8. Skin
9. HKM Grey

We will move together
Even though it won't last

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Demigod - Slumber of Sullen Eyes (1992)

Slumber of Sullen Eyes is an absolute beast of a debut. In fact, I'd say it's straight-up one of the best death metal debuts of all time: the type that casts a formidable shadow across the rest of a band's discography (see also: Onward to Golgotha, Dawn of PossessionSlowly We Rot). Demigod tried to avoid this by waiting a full decade before releasing their second album, but it didn't work.

Hey, want to know what it sounds like?? OK. It's mostly mid-paced, with some obvious doom influences, the odd keyboard flourish, and a dark, dirty atmosphere that will make fans of Incantation (those that aren't already familiar, of course) pop long-overdue metal boners.

Track listing:
1. Apocryphal (Intro)
2. As I Behold I Despise
3. Deadsoul
4. The Forlorn
5. Tears of God
6. Slumber of Sullen Eyes
7. Embrace the Darkness / Blood of the Perished
8. Fear Obscures from Within
9. Transmigration Beyond Eternities
10. Towards the Shrouded Infinity
11. Perpetual Ascent
12. Darkened [bonus]

Dismal dreams of lives forgotten in the visions of my slumber
They lie silent in chasms

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Dust - Hard Attack (1972)

Totally sweet 70s rock (proto-metal?) from a lesser known American band. Catchy riffs, wailing leads, and appealingly clean, higher-register vocals that work as an effective counterpoint to Dust's harder moments. Though this is front-to-back killer, I have to single out "Thusly Spoken", whose laid-back, ballad-like feel (complete with string section) make it a strangely beautiful outlier that's all the more strange for the fact that it's about armageddon.

Track listing:
1. Pull Away / So Many Times
2. Walk in the Soft Rain
3. Thusly Spoken
4. Learning to Die
5. All in All
6. I Been Thinkin'
7. Ivory
8. How Many Horses
9. Suicide / Entrance

Angry angels cried
Satan yearning casts a spell on us
Cherubim with wings that cannot fly
Dancing demons fill the sky

Friday, October 31, 2014

Mercyful Fate - Return of the Vampire (1992)

Unless you're either young or not at all into metal, it's safe to say that you love Mercyful Fate's first two albums, Melissa and Don't Break the Oath. If not, you've got problems, son. For the rest of us, here's Return of the Vampire, which collects a bunch of demo recordings, revealing a rawer, unpolished, but still totally awesome version of the band that we know and love. Happy Halloween, nerds!

Track listing:
1. Burning the Cross
2. Curse of the Pharaohs
3. Return of the Vampire
4. On a Night of Full Moon
5. A Corpse Without Soul
6. Death Kiss
7. Leave My Soul Alone
8. M.D.A.
9. You Asked for It

There’s only one way you can stop him
You gotta trace the vampire to his liar, oh yeah
And then you gotta drive the stake
Right through the heart of the living dead, oh yeah

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Oneiroid Psychosis - Stillbirth (1995)

Previously on OPIUM HUM:
Oneiroid Psychosis - DREAMS (With Pollutions When Virile) (2002)

In the OPIUM HUM household, no Halloween is complete without the traditional listening to of Oneiroid Psychosis' entire catalogue. It's a tradition because I am a total sucker for their sound -- straight-faced, electro-industrial-tinged darkwave with horror movie keyboards and self-consciously creepy vocals and lyrics -- but as I mentioned last year, it doesn't feel socially acceptable to listen to them at any other time of year. I go back and forth on what my favorite album of their is, but as of press time, I'm going with Stillbirth, their first and least cheesy record.

Track listing:
1. Succubi
2. Prurience
3. Fleshmachine
4. Bloodlust
5. Menarche
6. Hypnagogic Existence
7. Psychopathia Sexualis
8. Mind's I
9. Motionless
10. Broken Eyes
11. (Untitled)

Swallowing blood
Running red
Spits down the neck
Spreads on the bed

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Khlyst - Chaos Is My Name (2006)

Khlyst was a one-off project formed by James Plotkin of Khanate (duh) and Runhild Gammelsæter, vocalist for the great, short-lived Thorr's Hammer. Musically, it's difficult to pin down with a simple description -- as I am wont to do -- but can be largely summed up by its first two tracks: the deranged burst of cacophonous guitars and vicious, banshee-like shrieks that opens the album, and the eight minutes of cavernous, ghostly dark ambient that follows.

The song names are all Roman numerals, I-VIII, so no need to list 'em out.

A voice means you get cut
Don't you talk
Don't you move

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

"You wanna go for breakfast later?"

School's been keeping me pretty busy of late, y'all. I'll be back to regular posting tomorrow, but in my absence please enjoy this, the most brutal murder scene in Halloween II.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Fabio Frizzi - L'Aldila (The Beyond) OST (1981)

Previously on OPIUM HUM:
Walter Rizzati - Quella Villa Accanto Al Cimitero (The House by the Cemetery) OST (1981)

Though Zombie might be Fulci's most popular movie -- you can't really top the zombie versus shark underwater fight scene -- The Beyond is his masterpiece. It's brutal, frightening, and mysterious, like any quality Italian horror flick should be, and Fabio Frizzi (who also did the music for Fulci's City of the Living Dead) delivers a perfectly creepy soundtrack.

Track listing:
1. Verso L'Ignoto
2. Voci Dal Nulla
3. Suono Aperto
4. Sequenza Coro E Orchestra
5. Oltre La Soglia
6. Voci Dal Nulla
7. Suono Aperto
8. Voci Dal Nulla
9. Giro Di Blues
10. Verso L'ignoto
11. Sequenza Ritmica E Terna

Who else is here?

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Helium - Pirate Prude EP (1994)

First EP from this phenomenal band. It's Helium's slowest, moodiest, sludgiest record, and a beautiful showcase for the ramshackle, effortlessly brilliant guitar work that defined and continues to define Mary Timony's music (and in a more general sense, much of the best 90s indie rock.) It's not really all that spooky/scary/disturbing, so it doesn't exactly fit the whole Halloween theme I have going on here, but it's of my all-time favorite EPs -- one of the first vinyl purchases I ever made -- and there's an ample amount of vampire talk, so I'm calling it good.

Track listing:
1. Baby Vampire Made Me
2. Wanna Be a Vampire Too, Baby
3. XXX
4. OOO
5. I'll Get You, I Mean It
6. Love $$$
7. (Untitled Hidden Track)

Evil watch me
Watch over me
Give me eyes like yours
So I can see like you
I want evil eyes so I can spy

Friday, October 24, 2014

Sistrenatus - Sensitive Disturbance (2012)

Dark ambient with elements of harsh noise. Tense, dissonant sounds punctuated by pounding percussion, heavy drone, and fragmented explosions of jagged aural terror. The 'musical' equivalent of getting chased down, stabbed to death, and left for dead in the moss of a pitch-black forest.

Track listing:
1. Disrepair
2. Frequency Contamination
3. Rusted Earth
4. Echoes from the Past
5. Slow-Wave
6. Lost Transmission
7. Forgotten...

The face at the window


If you like this, you'll probably enjoy other genuinely frightening albums like:
Funerary Call - Nightside Emanations (2012)
The Rita & Wilt - Werewolf in the Black Space (2008)
Enemite - Wuyuan (The Necrolatry) (2008)

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Fade to Black - Corridors of Gender (1984)

A too short but still killer five song EP of first-rate goth rock. Some great synth and organ work, male-female vox, blah blah blah cool shit. They do it right. Every Halloween, I make a mix for driving around to whatever ghoulish events I might attend -- from haunted cover band shows to gory house parties to terrifying barhopping -- and "Soundtrack" has been the lead-off track for the past three years. So... I dunno, that's my story.

Track listing:
1. Black Box
2. Forward from Hell
3. Towers Open Fire
4. Soundtrack
5. Cinema Blue

I'll burn for you 'til the end of time

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Nurse with Wound - Ostranenie 1913 (1983)

Two long, disturbing tracks of feedback, dialogue samples, tape manipulation, music boxes, spoken word, clanging percussion, and generally unsettling sounds. One of my very favorite of NWW's many, many releases.

Track listing:
1. Ostranenie
2. Dada

I cannot feel you as the dogs are laughing and I am blind

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Ennio Morricone - La Corta Notte Delle Bambole Di Vetro OST (1971)

La Corta Notte Delle Bambole Di Vetro ranks among Morricone's more disturbing scores. I recommend putting this on in the background the next time you have company, and watching their faces as moans of orgasmic pleasure and/or terror and a cacophony of pounding, dissonant, symphonic anxiety fill the air, convincing your guests that you are, in fact, a serial killer.

Track listing:
1. Valzer
2. Emmetrentatre
3. Notte E Bambole
4. Brividi Di Archi
5. Oppressione
6. Depressione
7. Oppressione Di Mostri
8. Incoscientemente
9. Incubi Solitari
10. Bambole Di Vetro
11. Il Bisturi
12. Irrealtà E Follia
13. Sospiri Di Morte
14. Valzer

Horrible discovery