Sunday, March 30, 2014

Constance Demby - Sunborne (1980)

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

I've been sick as a dog since late Thursday night. Here are the gentle, cosmic sounds that I'm listening to while awaiting the sweet release of death.

Track listing:
1. The Dawning
2. Darkness of Space
3. Lift Thine Eyes
4. Sunborne
5. One with the Light


Thursday, March 27, 2014

Smohalla - Résilience (2011)

Unorthodox, industrial-tinged French black metal. Smohalla's sound is chaotic and cerebral -- a densely layered cacophony of guitars, multi-faceted keyboards, and vocals that range from low growls to high-pitched shrieks to reverb-y clean singing. Same school of black metal as their fellow countrymen Blut Aus Nord, but their sound is their own. It's a diverse set of highly intricate songs, and though you may immediately find Résilience to be rewarding, it will probably take you a few listens to really get your head around it.

Track listing:
1. Quasar
2. Au Sol les Toges Vides
3. Le Repos du Lézard
4. Oracle Rouge
5. Marche Silencieuse
6. L'Homme et la Brume
7. Aux Mille Dieux
8. Nos Sages Divisent

Astral cynicism

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

GWAR - Hell-O (1988)

Orgies. Ultraviolence. Drugs. Bestiality. Necrophilia. Punk rock. Intergalactic space travel. All that is good, and all revolving around the brilliant mind and commanding voice of the mighty Dave Brockie, aka Oderus Urungus. This band made my confusing early adolescent world, and the just as confusing adult world, make a little more sense. Fly now, be free!

Sun goes down, bodies on the ground
Swollen with pus, I shall further expound
As the vultures swirl, the batons twirl
We've come for your entrails.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Painkiller - Execution Ground (1994)

The final studio album from the brilliant Painkiller, a trio composed of John Zorn, Bill Laswell, and Mick Harris (of Napalm Death and Scorn). Execution Ground's first disc represents an excellent melding of the freeform jazz-grind that those familiar with their early material might expect, and murky, dissonant dub. The second disc drifts further into the aether with ambient, soundscape-y reinterpretations of two songs from the first. Shrieking saxophone, disjointed drums, inhuman howls, pulsing bass, and samples -- all given a delay- and reverb-heavy dub treatment. Awe-inspiring psychedelic music. This version includes a third disc - a live recording from a show in Osaka - that's more musically in line with their first two records.

Track listing:
-Disc One-
1. Parish of Tama (Ossuary Dub)
2. Morning of Balachaturdasi
3. Pashupatinath
-Disc Two-
1. Pashupatinath Ambient
2. Parish of Tama Ambient
-Disc Three-
1. Gandhamadana
2. Vaidurya
3. Satapitaka
4. Bodkyithangga
5. Black Bile
6. Yellow Bile
7. Blue Bile
8. Crimson Bile
9. Ivory Bile

Guts of a virgin

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Life - Life (1973)

Some heavy, downtempo Swedish prog/psych rock. The bluesy psych numbers are balanced by some maudlin, piano-driven, almost Trafalgar-esque songs ("Nobody Was There to Love Me", "Every Man", "Once Upon a Time") and a few really well done instrumental shorts. Good stuff. This reissue presents the album in punchy, remastered form, and tacks on three bonus tracks.

Track listing:
1. Quo Vadis
2. Nobody Was There to Love Me
3. Many Years Ago
4. Experience of Love
5. She Walks Across the Room
6. Sailing in the Sunshine
7. Quo Vadis II
8. Living Is Loving
9. Every Man
10. Experience of Life
11. One of Us
12. Yes, I Am
13. Once Upon a Time
14. Quo Vadis II
15. Jag Fardas (Man's Journey) (bonus)
16. To the Country (bonus)
17. Tro På Vår Värld (Believe in Our World) (bonus)

I touched the sky
And it was smiling at me
As I walked through the door to eternity

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Lychgate - Lychgate (2013)

Speaking of Lunar Aurora, here's guitarist/vocalist/founding member Aran's current project. Atmospheric, dissonant, dynamic, and punishing, this self-titled LP is a remarkably cohesive, innovative, and all-in-all, very strong debut. The band also includes members of Esoteric, Omega Centauri, and The One.

Track listing:
1. The Inception
2. Resentment
3. Against the Paradoxical Guild
4. In Self Ruin
5. Sceptre to Control the World
6. Intermezzo
7. Triumphalism
8. Dust of a Gun Barrel
9. When Scorn Can Scourge No More

We vomit upon the rudder of imposed destiny

Friday, March 21, 2014

Ralph Towner - Diary (1973)

First fully solo album from American guitarist Ralph Towner. Tranquil but buoyant compositions for piano, twelve-string and classical guitar, performed entirely by Towner alone. I've heard almost all of his albums, and this is probably my favorite.

Track listing:
1. Dark Spirit
2. Entry in a Diary
3. Images Unseen
4. Icarus
5. Mon Enfant
6. Ogden Road
7. Erg
8. The Silence of a Candle

Sipping the past

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Заводь - Ягна (2011) + Крізь коло і п'ять кутів (2013)

Заводь confuse the shit out of me, starting with the fact that I have no idea how to even begin pronouncing their name. Furthermore, because all of their lyrics are Ukrainian, I have no idea what their politics are, and, when considering Ukrainian black metal, you're more often than not going to run into some racism. So on one end, they have referred to themselves as "blackened crust punk" (RE: crusty album cover), and distance themselves from their Ukrainian black metal peers, calling them "clowns" and alluding to the idea that they are opposed to their political ideologies. On the other end, as of 2011, a member of (prominent sketchy Ukrainian BM band) Astrofaes is their drummer. AND, said member was also in Ungern, who are straight-up, unabashedly racist. Can anyone shed some light on this matter?

Regardless, this is really great raw, folk-ish, punk-ish black metal, very much along the same lines of the almighty Horna. Заводь are fully committed to their sound, and there is absolutely no deviation -- no intros, no acoustic interludes, no post- elements -- just pure, black fury.

Track listing:
1. Проклятие
2. Шабаш
3. За Тобой
4. Колопола
5. Гори, Гори, Гори
6. Пусть
7. Голоса
8. Лучше Умереть
9. Утро
-Крізь коло і п'ять кутів-
1. Палаючий...
2. В будинку зоряних вітрів
3. Білі вогні Хаунебу
4. Хрест
5. Содом
6. Єдине, що сповнює шлунок
7. Блуд
8. Вузли із шнурів і щілин
9. Сповна нажерся вже я іменем твоїм
10. Герої ГОА
11. Свято Вогню

I have your name

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Lunar Aurora - Zyklus (2004)

Previously on OPIUM HUM:
Lunar Aurora - Of Stargates and Bloodstained Celestial Spheres (1999)

Masterful German black metal. Highly repetitive, dense and atmospheric, yet brutal, raw, and nearly devoid of melody. Zyklus might be Lunar Aurora's least accessible outing; it's also one of their strongest.

Track listing:
1. Der Morgen
2. Der Tag
3. Der Abend
4. Die Nacht


Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Julee Cruise - Floating into the Night (1989) + The Voice of Love (1993)

Two essential albums of ambient, lounge-y vocal jazz. Angelic, reverb-drenched vocals drift over sparse drums, lush synths, and jazzy horns. Written by David Lynch and Angelo Badalamenti, music from these albums was featured in the show Twin Peaks (the show's opening theme is an instrumental version of "Falling") as well as in the movie, Twin Peaks: Firewalk with Me, and as one might expect, it's quite beautiful and melodramatic, but subtle and not-so-subtle instances of harmonic dissonance make it as skin-crawling as it is soothing. I cannot recommend these albums enough, ESPECIALLY if you're a fan of Twin Peaks/David Lynch who has somehow slept on them.

Track listing:
-Floating into the Night-
1. Floating
2. Falling
3. I Remember
4. Rockin' Back Inside My Heart
5. Mysteries of Love
6. Into the Night
7. I Float Alone
8. The Nightingale
9. The Swan
10. The World Spins
-The Voice of Love-
1. This Is Our Night
2. Space for Love
3. Movin' In on You
4. Friends for Life
5. Up in Flames
6. Kool Kat Walk
7. Until the End of the World
8. She Would Die for Love
9. In My Other World
10. Questions in a World of Blue
11. The Voice of Love

Was it me?
Was it you?

Monday, March 17, 2014

Sugar - Beaster EP (1993)

A perfect, thirty-minute EP from Sugar, Bob Mould's only non-solo post-Hüsker Dü project. Six tracks of thick, hooky, overdriven power pop bliss.

Track listing:
1. Come Around
2. Tilted
3. Judas Cradle
4. JC Auto
5. Feeling Better
6. Walking Away

What you're thinking through the silence

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Airs - Adore (2013)

Some downcast, heavy SF shoegaze for your Sunday. There's a rawness and anger bordering on hardcore/metal at work on Adore -- some screaming here, some double kick there, and is that a blastbeat? -- but, at its heart, this might actually be an emo record that got buried in distortion, feedback, and reverb.

Track listing:
1. Adore
2. Blue
3. Still for a Moment
4. Missing
5. Adrift
6. Sundials
7. Morgan and Frankie
8. What You Were

Heaven with you

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Peter & the Test Tube Babies - The Mating Sounds of South American Frogs (1983)

Welp, apparently, Peter & the Test Tube Babies are WAY better than I remember. This record is, anyway. I listened to them a bit in high school, saw them once in DC, and I could've sworn they were a bunch of boneheads. What's with all these minor key leads? Are those acoustic guitars? Who's that lady singing backups? And where are the lyrics about being "the boys" who are "out to fight" or whatever? Anyway, as muscular yet melancholic as Mating Sounds is, I'm guessing that it's doing some ghostwriting for a few of the hip throwback punk bands in my lovely city, and furthermore, I'm willing to bet that there are people who think that it's one of the best punk records of all time. EDIT: Yup, Razorcake does.

Track listing:
1. September Part 1
2. Guest List
3. One Night Stand
4. Let's Burn
5. The Jinx
6. Blown Out Again
7. Wimpeez
8. Eastern Bank Holiday '83
9. No Invitation
10. Pissed Punks (Go For It)
11. Never Made It
12. September Part 2

We'll burn everything in sight
We'll even set you alight
We live for the fire and flames

Friday, March 14, 2014

Fudge Tunnel - Hate Songs in E Minor (1991)

Groovy, noisy, sludgy aural hatred from Fudge Tunnel. Unfortunate moniker, great band. Cut your skin, eat fecal matter, pound vodka, and make sweet, sweet love.

Track listing:
1. Hate Song
2. Bed Crumbs
3. Spanish Fly
4. Kitchen Belt
5. Hate Song (Version)
6. Boston Baby
7. Gut Rot
8. Soap and Water
9. Tweezers
10. Sunshine of Your Love
11. Cat Scratch Fever

Good kicking

If you like this, give these a spin:
Today Is the Day - Today Is the Day (1996)
16 - Blaze of Incompetence (1997)
Acid Bath - Paegan Terrorism Tactics (1996)

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Skin Chamber - Wound (1991) + Trial (1993)

Ladies and gentleman, Skin! Mother! Fucking! Chaaaaamberrrrrr! Holy shit. They're like a more grueling, unpleasant version of Godflesh, or a more doom metal-oriented version of early Swans, and anyone who likes either of the aforementioned bands, or slow, heavy, difficult music in general, absolutely needs to hear both of these records. Skin Chamber is easily one of the raddest bands that the once-great Illogical Contraption blog (their podcasts are rad, but the blog has been more or less nonexistent since 2011 or something) brought to my attention, and because those links are long dead, I feel that it's practically my duty to re-post them. Spread the pain.

Track listing:
1. Carved in Skin (Apt. 213)
2. Slice of God
3. Sucked Inside
4. Skin Me
5. Mind Grinder
6. In the Sewer of Dreams
7. Burning Power
8. The Nails of Faith
9. Fat Hacker
10. Horde
11. Swollen Underground
12. Swallowing Scrap Metal (Pt. 2)
13. Healing Time
1. On a Drunk
2. Throb
3. Bleached Bones
4. Torturous World
5. Sloven
6. Glisten
7. Slowcrime
8. Trial
9. Swallowing Scrap Metal (Pt. 5)


Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Flying Saucer Attack - Flying Saucer Attack (1993)

Still pretty busy over here at HQ. Here's Flying Saucer Attack's first album. Blissful, fuzzy, lo-fi, psychedelic shoegaze.

Track listing:
1. My Dreaming Hill
2. A Silent Tide
3. Moonset
4. Make Me Dream
5. Wish
6. Popol Vuh 2
7. The Drowners
8. Still
9. Popol Vuh 1
10. The Season Is Ours

New land

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Mickey Newbury - A Long Road Home (2002)

Tearjerking country from sadly departed country great Mickey Newbury. A Long Road Home is the last album that Newbury completed before his death in September of 2002, and his preoccupation with mortality and half-bitter, misty-eyed retrospection certainly gives the listener the impression that he knew that it might be his final musical statement. His gentle picking and quavering voice are given a lush backdrop of violin, cello, synthesizer, banjo, mandolin, piano, and ethereal backing vocals. While all of the songs are strong, the real gems here are the over 10-minute-long first and penultimate tracks, each of which is an incredible showcase of weatherbeaten, downcast, big-hearted, bittersweet songwriting.

Track listing:
1. In '59
2. I Don't Love You
3. The Last Question (In the Dead of the Night)
4. Here Comes the Rain, Baby
5. One More Song of Hearts and Flowers
6. A Moment with Heather
7. Where Are You Darlin' Tonight
8. So Sad
9. Maybe
10. A Long Road Home
11. 116 Westfield Street

Hoist the sails, Bud, to hell with the breeze
Prayed for a wind that will bend every tree
And a storm that will bring every man to his knee
Here's to the howlin' sea
Here's to tomorrow, and here's to today
Here's to whatever I never could say
Here's to the piper, the bastard's been paid

Friday, March 7, 2014

Catharsis - Samsara (1997)

Sure, Catharsis was heavily involved with Crimethinc., one of the most notorious havens for white foolishness in the history of the anarchist punk scene (itself a notorious haven for white foolishness). Sure, their vocalist treated their shows as platforms for extended, semi-coherent political rants that bothered and bored everyone. And sure, when other bands were playing, he was known to, in at least one instance, stand at the front with his back to the band, arms crossed, glaring at the audience. Sure.

But none of that takes away from the fact that Catharsis' music -- metallic hardcore with hints of emoviolence, sludge, and psychedelia -- is some of the best to ever come out of the American crust/hardcore underground. Their first LP of two, Samsara is a concept record based entirely on anti-Christian philosophy, and I listened to it probably about 100 times between the ages of 16 and 17.

Because I'm so great, I'm including the awesome, nearly ten-minute "Arsonist's Prayer", which was released as one side of a split EP with Newborn, about whom I know nothing. You're welcome, baby, you know I treat you right.

Track listing:
1. Invocation: One Minute Closer to the Hour of Your Death
2. Exterminating Angel
3. Bow Down
4. Choose Your Heaven
5. Every Man for Himself and God Against Them All
6. Sacred and Profane (The Carnal Prayer Mat)
7. ...In Solitary
8. Pariah
9. Choose Your Heaven
10. The Evolution of Dying
11. I Corinthians 1:18-29

Tu trembles, mon couer? Tu tremlerais davantage, si tu savais oü je te méne.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Ambush - Lach! (1994)

German experimental crust. I use the term "crust" loosely, as this is some truly bizarre, druggy heaviness that, in my opinion, has more in common with Melvins than it does with Amebix. The vocals and questionable musicianship say "crust," but the extended walls of droning feedback, noisy delivery, thunderous percussion, hypnotic sludgy-ness, and understanding of subtlety say otherwise. Anyway, who cares, Lach! is dope, and anyone who likes heavy music should shit their pants over "Violeure" - sounds like the vocalist for Contropotere fronting Bullhead-era Melvins.

Track listing:
1. Zebaoth
2. Dumped Back in a Cell in Isolation, Always in Agony
3. Kevorkian's Suicide Machine
4. Rats
5. Violeure
6. Masterpiece
7. Illusions
8. Spallok
9. Birdly
10. Sheep
11. Over the Battlefield
12. Funny Farm in My Body
13. The Pack

Sites of pain

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Abigor - Verwüstung / Invoke The Dark Age (1994)

God-tier, early Austrian black metal. Epic, brutal, weird, melodic, ugly, perfect, essential. Verwüstung / Invoke The Dark Age is Abigor's first album, and though they've released a whole bunch of phenomenal albums since this one, no one would look at you funny if you called it their best.

Track listing:
1. Universe of Black Divine
2. Kingdom of Darkness
3. Beneath a Steel Sky
4. Eye to Eye at Armageddon
5. In Sin
6. My Soft Vision in Blood
7. Weeping Midwinter Tears
8. Diabolic Unity
9. A Spell of Dark and Evil

I face the eternal winter

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Lightnin' Hopkins - Lightnin' Strikes (1962)

Hands-down, my favorite blues album. There are a couple of (awesome) full band tracks, but it's mostly just the man and his guitar, wailing his pain into the night sky. It's stripped down, the recording's blown out, and ample use of reverb gives the whole affair a haunted, nocturnal feel. So good it hurts.

Track listing:
1. Got Me a Louisiana Woman
2. Want to Come Home
3. Please Don't Quit Me
4. Devil Is Watching You
5. Rolling and Rolling
6. War Is Starting Again
7. Walkin' Round in Circles
8. Mary Lou
9. Heavy Snow
10. Coon Is Hard to Catch

There ain't nothin' that the Devil can't do

Monday, March 3, 2014

Lisa Gerrard & Patrick Cassidy - Immortal Memory (2004)

A breathtakingly gorgeous collaboration between Lisa Gerrard of Dead Can Dance and Irish composer Patrick Cassidy. Cassidy's dramatic, stately, symphonic arrangements prove a sublime foil for Gerrard's indescribably powerful, sorrowful voice, and the resulting album is possibly the most satisfying of her many post-DCD efforts. Highly recommended.

Track listing:
1. The Song of Amergin
2. Marantha
3. Amergin's Invocation
4. Elegy
5. Sailing to Byzantium
6. Abwoom (Our Father)
7. Immortal Memory
8. Paradise Lost
9. I Asked for Love
10. Psallit In Aure Dei


Sunday, March 2, 2014

Profanatica - The Enemy of Virtue (2006)

Started as a side-project for members of Incantation, Profanatica was one of America's first black metal bands. They broke up in '92, then reformed sometime in the mid aughts. The Enemy of Virtue compiles pretty much all of their pre-breakup releases, plus some unreleased studio and live material. Filthy, lo-fi blasphemy. Profanatica are one of those bands that never say anything openly racist (on record, anyway), but have a way of unnecessarily pointing out that Jesus was a Jew that makes me uncomfortable. Because I'm lazy, you can find the track listing here.

Lungs of hell, burn the heavens