Saturday, May 31, 2014

Eloy - Colours (1980)

Colours is where Eloy took a step away from the glacial, Floyd-esque space rock that they'd perfected on Silent Cries & Mighty Echoes toward a more streamlined and, one might say, "accessible" sound. It's still fully nerdy, synth-fueled prog rock with lyrics about fantastical creatures and worlds, but it's all pretty uptempo, and there are no 15-minute epics. I think it's one of their best, but not everyone agrees with me.

Track listing:
1. Horizons
2. Illuminations
3. Giant
4. Impressions
5. Child Migration
6. Gallery
7. Silhouette
8. Sunset

Carried by cosmic winds

Friday, May 30, 2014

Arto Lindsay - Noon Chill (1998)

Here's the album that introduced me to the singular musical vision of no-wave ex-pat Arto Lindsay. Noon Chill is the sound of laid-back, booze-soaked tropicalia being filtered through dark trip-hop and fronted by what sounds like the singer for Slint. Way more cohesive and easily enjoyed than that description might suggest. I got a kitten the other day, and I'm fighting against his lil paws to write this, so I'm done.

Track listing:
1. Noon Chill
2. Whirlwind
3. Simply Are
4. Blue Eye Shadow
5. Mulata Fuzarqueira
6. Ridiculously Deep
7. Anything
8. Gods Are Weak
9. Take My Place
10. Daily Life
11. Light Moves Away
12. Why Compare
13. Reentry

My mind is going

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Zoe Keating - One Cello x 16: Natoma (2005)

Cellist Zoe Keating's debut solo album. As you might have surmised from the title, this album consists entirely of layer up on layer of cello. Keating treats her instrument as a melodic, rhythmic, percussive, and atmospheric tool, and, far from the restrained, sparse sounds one might expect from an all-cello album, Natoma is driving, inspired, and powerful.

Track listing:
1. Legions (War)
2. Fern
3. Tetrishead
4. Sun Will Set
5. We Insist
6. Legions (Reverie)
7. Frozen Angels
8. Legions (Aftermath)

Hello night

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Ice Cube - Death Certificate (1991)

Ice Cube sold out so fucking hard, it's nearly impossible to write about him without bringing it up. See? I just did. But it def wouldn't have been so shocking to see him wearing this life vest

if he hadn't gone SO hard early on. Like, it's not the same as Coolio having a show on Nickelodeon, or whatever happened with that clown. This is the man who did the first verse on "Fuck tha Police" -- shit, he might have even come up with "fuck the police." This is a man who once rapped exclusively about black poverty, guns, killing cops, sexually degrading women, and how much he hated white people. AND he managed to go multi-platinum in the process. So in case you're young enough to have called Ice Cube "the guy from Are We There Yet?" (or, you just never listened to Ice Cube) here's his second solo album. You're welcome.

Track listing:
1. The Funeral
2. The Wrong Nigga to Fuck Wit
3. My Summer Vacation
4. Steady Mobbin'
5. Robin Lench (interlude)
6. Givin' Up the Nappy Dugout
7. Look Who's Burnin'
8. A Bird in the Hand
9. Man's Best Friend
10. Alive on Arrival
11. Death
12. The Birth
13. I Wanna Kill Sam
14. Horny Lil' Devil
15. Black Korea
16. True to the Game
17. Color Blind
18. Doing Dumb Shit
19. Us
20. No Vaseline
21. How to Survive in South Central

Don't let me catch Daryl Gates in traffic
I gotta have it, to peel his cap backwards
I hope he wear a vest too, and his best blue
Goin' up against the Zulu
Break his spine like a jellyfish
Kick his ass til I'm smellin' shit
Off wit the head, off wit the head I say
And watch the devil start kickin'
Run around like a chicken, Grand Dragon finger lickin'
Yo, turn him over wit a spatula
Now we got Kentucky Fried Cracker

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Magazine - Secondhand Daylight (1979)

Sophomore LP from UK post-punk/new wave outfit Magazine. Formed by Howard Devoto, who had recently left his post fronting the Buzzcocks, Magazine retains his former band's sense of melody and hooks, but encompasses far more experimental arrangements and darker subject matter. Effectively straddling the line between post-punk and new wave, Secondhand Daylight's synth-saturated, downcast but upbeat sound is, at times, reminiscent of a punk-er take on Low-era Bowie. And that should be all you need to know.

Track listing:
1. Feed the Enemy
2. Rhythm of Cruelty
3. Cut-Out Shapes
4. Talk to the Body
5. I Wanted Your Heart
6. The Thin Air
7. Back to Nature
8. Believe That I Understand
9. Permafrost
10. Give Me Everything (bonus)
11. I Love You, You Big Dummy (bonus)
12. Rhythm of Cruelty (Single Version) (bonus)
13. TV Baby (bonus)

You've got me dying of thirst in the meantime

Saturday, May 24, 2014

UGK - Too Hard to Swallow (1992)

Debut full-length from Texas rap legends UGK. Laid back beats and easy, stoned, Southern-style flow to match. I shouldn't have to tell you, but just in case you're really, really dumb: there's a lot of violence on this album, and a lot of misogyny. But... they're just so damn chilled out about it all, and the beats are super tight. And make sure your anus is prepared for "Feel Like I'm the One Who's Doin' Dope" -- that song is fucking crazy.

Track listing:
1. Somethin' Good (Extended Version)
2. Use Me Up
3. Pocket Full of Stones
4. Short Texas
5. Cocaine in the Back of the Ride
6. It's Too Hard to Swallow
7. Cramping My Style
8. Feel Like I'm the One Who's Doin' Dope
9. I'm So Bad
10. Trill Ass Nigga
11. 976-Bun B
12. Something Good (Pimp C's Remix)

I could smell crack burnin' in the fuckin' air
I looked down, I didn't have on no underwear
Looked in my other hand and it was full of nut
I looked around, I'm butt-naked on the cut

Friday, May 23, 2014

Earth and Fire - Atlantis (1973)

Totally sweet 70s prog/psych. A fantastical, acid-tinged performance from lead singer Jerney Kaagman, harmonized leads, far out instrumental sections, dramatic organ-led marches, melancholic comedowns, lyrics about how beautiful nature is -- pretty much all that was good about late 60s/early 70s psychedelic music. People like to say that Earth and Fire blew their load too early on Atlantis - it's frontloaded with an awesome, epic title track whose sheer length kinda dwarfs the rest of the songs - but the whole record is rad. So if you don't like this, I am sorry that you haven't had the opportunity to take more drugs in your life.

Track listing:
1. Atlantis
2. Maybe Tomorrow, Maybe Tonight
3. Interlude
4. Fanfare
5. Theme from Atlantis
6. Love, Please Close the Door

Under a cloudy sky
In the center of the city
The seven temples rose up amazing high
Reflecting superiority in a famous past

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Robert Rich & Lisa Moskow - Yearning (1995)

Peaceful, meditative sounds from ambient/New Age composer Robert Rich and sarod player Lisa Moskow. Rich's gauzy synth textures, ethereal flutes, and gently clanging percussion provide a weightless, enveloping backdrop for Moskow's evocative, spacious melodies. The perfect accompaniment to laying in bed, hydrating, and reminding myself to stop taking whiskey shots at the end of the night.

Track listing:
1. Bija
2. Suspension
3. Nada
4. Kali
5. A Thousand Tears
6. The Mirror

Black skies

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Esoteric - The Pernicious Enigma (1997)

A dense, terrifying record. Maybe the greatest modern doom metal record? A murky ocean of dissonant guitars, cavernous drums, screeching feedback, and warped synthesizer, through which cut disturbing movie samples and otherworldly guttural growls. The Pernicious Enigma kinda makes me feel like it's a wrap on the genre; like, who the fuck is going to make a better doom metal record than this?

Track listing:
-Disc One-
1. Creation (Through Destruction)
2. Dominion of Slaves
3. Allegiance
4. NOXBC9701040
-Disc Two-
1. Sinistrous
2. At War with Peace
3. A Worthless Dream
4. Stygian Narcosis
5. Passing Through Water

Have I not laughed when it did come?
Devoured the pain
Now it is mine
To wield, to bestow
The fuel of my acumen

Monday, May 19, 2014

Jonn Serrie - And the Stars Go with You (1987)

If you liked floating around in space with Michael Stearns, here's an opportunity to get back out there, this time with American composer Jonn Serrie. Synth washes and arpeggios, gently pulsing drums, and numerous instances of twinkly-dinklies.

Track listing:
1. Gentle, the Night
2. Fantasy Passages
3. And the Stars Go with You
4. The Far River
5. Stratos

Pan galactic

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Lard - The Last Temptation of Reid (1990)

No one seemed to give a shit when I posted Pure Chewing Satisfaction a while back, but I'm gonna keep at it. Lard is Ministry as fronted by the ever sarcastic and satirical Jello Biafra -- a combination that works way better than you might think -- and both of their LPs are classics of thrash-y, politically-inclined industrial metal. At times, The Last Temptation gets a little too wacky for its one good, but the metal bits are killer.

Track listing:
1. Forkboy
2. Pineapple Face
3. Mate Spawn & Die
4. Drug Raid at 4 A.M.
5. Can God Fill Teeth?
6. Bozo Skeleton
7. Sylvestre Matuschka
8. They're Coming to Take Me Away
9. I Am Your Clock

Hair by mail
Tit jobs for teens
Go broke appearing rich
Searching for rosebud in the fire
Pop stars fingers in the fans
The therapist you wish you had
Crucifix or lubricant
Government by fad

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Manes - Under Ein Blodraud Maane (1999)

Symphonic black metal at its finest. Dark, dramatic, and deranged. Cheesy keyboard abounds. From what I understand, Manes got really weird after this, their first full-length, so if you like it, delve into the rest of their discography at your own risk.

Track listing:
1. Min Trone Star Til Evig Tid
2. Maanes Natt
3. Uten Liv Ligger Landet Ode
4. De Morke Makters Dyp
5. Under Ein Blodraud Maane
6. Til Kongens Grau De Dode Vandrer

We found nothing

Friday, May 16, 2014

Michael Stearns - Encounter (A Journey in the Key of Space) (1988)

Previously on OPIUM HUM:
Michael Stearns - Floating Whispers (1987)

Take a synth-tastic trip to another dimension with ambient/new age master Michael Stearns. Encounter is, seemingly, a concept album about interdimensional space travel, and for music that's composed entirely of synthesizers, it paints a pretty vivid picture.

Track listing:
1. Encounter: Awaiting the Other
2. Craft: Dimensional Release
3. The Beacon: Those Who Have Gone Before
4. On the Way: Space Caravan
5. Dimensional Shift: Across the Threshold
6. Within: Choir of the Ascending Spirit
7. Distant Thunder: Solitary Witness
8. Alien Shore: Starlight Bay
9. Procession: Sacred Ceremony
10. Star Dreams: Peace Eternal

As the earth kissed the moon

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Modern English - Mesh and Lace (1981)

Why didn't someone tell me that Modern English is so good?? I mean, I've always loved "I Melt with You" (and anyone who claims otherwise is lying) but I had no idea they were so legit. Released from the hallowed halls of early 80's 4AD, then re-released in '92 with over half an hour of additional, album-worthy material, their debut Mesh and Lace is a first-rate piece of dense, driving, atmospheric, noisy, anxious post-punk that is approximately 400x better than I expected it to be. It's totally self-serious, a bit pretentious, and smacks of goth-y melodrama, but to me, these are not problems.

Track listing:
1. Gathering Dust
2. 16 Days
3. Just a Thought
4. Move in Light
5. Grief
6. The Token Man
7. A Viable Commercial
8. Black Houses
9. Dance of Devotion
10. Smiles and Laughter
11. Mesh and Lace
12. Tranquility
13. Home
14. Swans on Glass
15. Incident

The pressure's on, no time to lose

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Six Organs of Admittance - RTZ (2009)

RTZ is a collection of early Six Organs of Admittance (aka multi-instrumentalist Ben Chasney)'s 4-track recordings, culled from various splits, EPs, and the like. Seven songs, and just under two hours of music. Deftly picked acoustic guitars, swirling atmospherics, soaring electric solos, Chasney's haunted vocals, and too many other instruments and sounds for me to bother listing. Arguably Six Organs' most challenging and intensely psychedelic release.

Track listing:
1. Resurrection
2. Warm Earth, Which I've Been Told
3. You Can Always See the Sun
4. Punish the Chasms with Wings
5. Redefinition of Being
6. Creation Aspect Earth
7. Creation Aspect Fire

Distance between here and never

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Maxayn - Maxayn (1972)

Debut LP from funk/soul group Maxayn (they took their name from lead singer, Maxayn Lewis.) Includes cover versions of "You Can't Always Get What You Want" and "Gimme Shelter". So, so good.

Track listing:
1. Trying for Days
2. Song
3. You Can't Always Get What You Want
4. Jam for Jack
5. Gimme Shelter
6. Let Me Be Your Friend
7. Doing Nothing, Nothing Doing
8. Beloved

It was hard for us then
And it's hard for us now

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Fennesz / Sakamoto - Cendre (2007)

A gorgeous collaboration between experimental electronic noisemaker/guitarist Christian Fennesz and pianist Ryuichi Sakamoto, in which Fennesz's highly textural sounds provide the perfect backdrop for Sakamoto's sparse, stately melodies. Equal parts longing, melancholy, anxiety, and tranquility.

Track listing:
1. Oto
2. Aware
3. Haru
4. Trace
5. Kuni
6. Mono
7. Kokoro
8. Cendre
9. Amorph
10. Glow
11. Abyss

Lost in the humming air

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Burning Spear - Studio One (1973)

Great first LP from reggae legend Burning Spear. Booming bass, tinny percussion, a thick instrumental mix, reverb-y vocals, and not too much Jah talk, which, I think we all can agree, can get old pretty quick.

Track listing:
1. Ethiopians Live It Out
2. We Are Free
3. Fire Down Below
4. Creation
5. Don't Mess with Jill
6. Down by the Riverside
7. Door Peep Shall Not Enter
8. Pick Up the Pieces
9. Get Ready
10. Journey
11. Then a Come
12. He Prayed

Brain food

Friday, May 9, 2014

Clotted Symmetric Sexual Organ - Are You Excrements? (2000)

Clotted Symmetric Sexual Organ (or C.S.S.O.) are from Japan, as you'd probably guess when, about two minutes into the album, guttural vocals creep in under the wah-wah guitar-driven psych rock party, then all of a sudden, it's straight-up grindcore. It's kinda jarring and wacky, but not self-consciously so -- it feels as though the band doesn't think it's that big of a jump. The rest of the record follows a similar template, adding an ample amount of harsh noise. Dynamic, innovative, and consistently entertaining, Are You Excrements? is one of very few records that both indie rock nerds and grind freaks might be able to agree on.

Track listing:
1. Cosmic Super Strong Ordure
2. Living Dead A-Go-Go
3. Worst
4. Diversion of Former Customary Trite Composition
5. Mental Rape 1 & 2
6. Are You Excrements?

I hope you die in a hotel fire

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Lyrinx - Nihilistic Purity (2007)

Muddy, blown-out, extremely effective depressive black metal. Rarely are releases so appropriately and literally named. Put on Nihilistic Purity the next time you peel off all of your skin and replace it with mud and leaves.

Track listing:
1. Tides of Self Destruction
2. Nihilistic Purity
3. Another Life Ready to End
4. Deconstruction of the Will to Live
5. Exit - The Pain of Existence

This is the only way
Can you feel the burden?
There is no other way

If you like this, try:
Cendres - Ungeziefer (2007)
Endless Dismal Moan - Endless Dismal Moan (2004)
Strid - Strid (2007)
Trist - Sebevražední andělé (2007)

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Morbid Saint - Spectrum of Death (1988)

Spectrum of Death, Morbid Saint's only official full-length, may be the greatest thrash metal album of all time. It's a blown-out, raw, raging riff factory, with insane, incomprehensible solos, vicious, raspy, reverb-soaked vocals, and not a single weak spot. Goddamn, this album kills every time. Mandatory metal listening.

Track listing:
1. Lock Up Your Children
2. Burned at the Stake
3. Assassin
4. Damien
5. Crying for Death
6. Spectrum of Death
7. Scars
8. Beyond the Gates of Hell

Kill the white rabbit before it kills you

Monday, May 5, 2014

KTL - 2 (2007)

KTL is a duo consisting of Stephen O'Malley and Peter Rihberg. Their music is a droning, screaming cacophony that is often truly unnerving to behold.

Track listing:
1. Game
2. Theme
3. Abattoir
4. Snow 2

A corpse on the forest floor

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Bowery Electric - Lushlife (2000)

Perfect, nocturnal trip-hop. Drum loops, gauzy synths and guitars, smoky female vocals.

Track listing:
1. Floating World
2. Lushlife
3. Shook Ones
4. Psalms of Survival
5. Soul City
6. Freedom Fighter
7. Saved
8. Deep Blue
9. After Landing
10. Passages

On a bed on top of the sheets
In a room that smells like the sea
You will take your body like a saw to me
Living here at the end of the world

Friday, May 2, 2014

Low - Murderer EP (2003)

This one's real special to me, kids. Slowcore titans Low released this miniature masterpiece between the unfairly derided Trust and the more fairly derided The Great Destroyer. This, combined with the fact that it was a somewhat limited run 10", led to it getting largely overlooked. VERY unfortunate, as it contains some of their finest compositions.

The version of "Silver Rider" on here is, in my opinion, vastly superior to the Great Destroyer version -- instead of shouting its prettiness at you, the song glides along in a stately, widescreen haze of keyboard, patient, buoyant floor tom, and angelic vocals.

The real showstopper, though, is the dramatic, chill-inducing title track, in which vocalist Alan Sparhawk, clearly working through some crisis of faith, speaks directly with God, accusing Him of hiding murderous tendencies, and finally, offering his services as a divine killer for hire. This EP has helped get me through some pretty rough times -- really -- and I hope that, should it be needed, it might do the same for you sometime.

Track listing:
1. Murderer
2. Silver Rider
3. From Your Place on Sunset

One more thing before I go
One more thing I ask you, Lord
You may need a murderer
Someone to do your dirty work

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Ralph Towner - Solstice (1974)

More ECM excellence, this time from a four-piece group of ECM heavyweights -- saxophonist Jan Garbarek, keyboardist Eberhard Weber, drummer Jon Christensen, and guitarist/bandleader Ralph Towner. While much of Towner's work is placid and sparse, with Solstice, the full-band sound lends a welcome sense of dissonance and unrest to his compositions, leading to one of his most diverse, dynamic, and memorable outings.

Track listing:
1. Oceanus
2. Visitation
3. Drifting Petals
4. Nimbus
5. Winter Solstice
6. Piscean Dreams
7. Red and Black
8. Sand

Distant hills