Saturday, January 31, 2015

Nona Hendryx - SkinDiver (1989)

An alluring, lush album of artfully crafted, R&B-flavored, downtempo pop. From what I understand, SkinDiver is a relatively experimental outlier in Hendryx's otherwise radio-friendly discography, and the only other one I've heard, Female Trouble, is certainly enjoyable, but also seems to confirm this. SO explore her other records at your own risk.

Track listing:
1. Off the Coast of Love
2. Women Who Fly
3. No Emotion
4. Love Is Kind
5. Tears
6. Skin Diver
7. 6th Sense
8. Through the Wire
9. Interior Voices
10. New Desire

There's a man, unaware
He calls it happiness

If you like this, check out:
Eg & Alice - 24 Years of Hunger (1991)

Friday, January 30, 2015

Epheles - Les Anges de la Dernière Scène (1999)

Atmospheric, lo-fi French black metal. Cold guitars, drum machines, cheesy keyboards, and banshee vox. Though their albums are all good to great, this demo is arguably Epheles' finest hour. Maybe their grandiose vision actually benefits from a rawer approach; maybe they were simply writing more memorable material at the time. Whatever it is, Les Anges de la Dernière Scène feels like a classic.

Track listing:
1. My Darkest Empress
2. L'ombre du Passé
3. Divines Lamentations
4. Les Chants de la Peine
5. Les Anges de la Dernière Scène

Those divine laments covering our souls with blood

Neil Ardley - Kaleidoscope of Rainbows (1976)

Funky, synth-y jazz fusion for what sounds like a pretty huge band; at times, the sound verges on that of a tripped-out symphonic orchestra. Kaleidoscope of Rainbows is highly dynamic, with extended sections of blissed-out tranquility that land decidedly on the more accessible, melodic side of fusion, making it, much like the comparably cinematic Sketches of Spain, a potentially great gateway record for those nerds not yet sold on jazz.

Track listing:
1. Prologue/Rainbow One
2. Rainbow Two
3. Rainbow Three
4. Rainbow Four
5. Rainbow Five
6. Rainbow Six
7. Rainbow Seven/Outro

Glittering circles

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Tågefolket - Lad asketid begynde (2004)

Tågefolket was/is a solo project of Danish musician Jakob Zagrobelny (aka Ynleborgaz), better known as the mastermind behind both Angantyr and Make a Change... Kill Yourself. Both of the songs on this project's only official release, Lad asketid begynde, start as unabashed Transilvanian Hunger worship, only to venture into folkier territories midway through. It seems that ol' Ynleborgaz might have realized that Angantyr pretty much makes this project redundant, as he has yet to release a follow-up to this two-song EP.

Track listing:
1. Lad asketid begynde, del I
2. Lad asketid begynde, del 2

Nightmares and terrifying images

Andy Zwerling - Spiders in the Night (1971)

A woozily beautiful album of odd, often dark, psychedelic folk rock from the virtually unknown Andy Zwerling. Spiders in the Night has a pleasant, laid-back sound that belies some of the more unsettling lyrical concerns. Fans of Bill Fay will find a lot to love here.

Track listing:
1. Knife Man
2. Slicing
3. Turtle Vs. the Green Ants
4. It's in the Morning
5. Spiders in the Night
6. Sifting Around in a Haze
7. Word to This Song
8. Orange Skylight
9. Branches
10. Downwaters/Crosswaters

Black widow spiders climbing up the wall

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Mother Destruction / Sixth Comm - Seething (1990)

A witchy, nature-loving mindfuck courtesy of that fascinating melding of hippie and industrial culture that took place in the late 80s and early 90s. Programmed tribal drumming, droning keyboards, dance beats, and dramatic, ritualistic vocals -- each tracks seems to be some sort of aural spell, curse, or invocation -- make for a highly uneasy listen. Quite curious as to what my normal-y roommate is making of this one.

Track listing:
1. Mithras
2. Birth of the Seven
3. Hella
4. Cenaz
5. Carnelian
6. Serpent Dance

To burn

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

United Waters - Your First Ever River (2011)

Your First Ever River simulates the experience of listening to a record while on opioids and submerged in a warm bath. Everything sounds warped, slowed-down, distant, arrhythmic, and drugged-out, but, all things considered, it's surprisingly accessible.

Track listing:
1. My Geology I-IV
2. Spires I
3. Platetectonics
4. Spires II
5. No End to Eyes
6. Statuary
7. Different Heavens


Monday, January 26, 2015

Univers Zero - Ceux du Dehors (1981)

Third album from this dark, challenging Belgian prog outfit. Dissonant, asymmetrical melodies, odd time signatures, and an overall sense of menacing, barely contained chaos.

Track listing:
1. Dense
2. La Corne du Bois des Pendus
3. Bonjour Chez Vous
4. Combat
5. La Musique D'erich Zann
6. La Tete du Corbeau
7. Triomphe des Mouches

Those from the outside

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Lisa Gerrard - The Mirror Pool (1995)

Previously on OPIUM HUM:
Lisa Gerrard & Patrick Cassidy - Immortal Memory (2004)

Lisa Gerrard (of Dead Can Dance)'s bold, awe-inspiring debut solo album, released one year before DCD's disbandment. Against a lush, orchestral backdrop, Gerrard's voice soars and trembles, evoking the unknowable sorrow of the universe as only she can. Convincingly sounds like the kind of an album a Greek goddess might have recorded.

Track listing:
1. Violina (The Last Embrace)
2. Là-Bas (Song of the Drowned)
3. Persian Love Song (The Silver Gun)
4. Sanvean (I Am Your Shadow)
5. The Rite
6. Ajhon
7. Glorafin
8. Majhnavean's Music Box
9. Largo
10. Werd
11. Laurelei
12. Celon
13. Venteles
14. Swans
15. Nilleshna
16. Gloradin

Shadow magnet

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Cirith Gorgor - Unveiling the Essence (2001)

Raging melodic black metal, straight outta the Netherlands. If someone asks you what black metal sounds like, play this as loudly as possible while you slit his or her throat as an offering to Our Dark Lord.

Track listing:
1. Conquering the Shadowworld
2. Unveiling the Essence
3. Bellum Germanicum
4. Northern Spell of Warcraft
5. Into a Nightly Silence
6. A Twilight Serenade
7. The Stormrulers
8. Visions of a Distant Past

Grinning invincible, darkness impenetrable

Edgar Froese - Aqua (1974)

Very sad to hear about the passing of Edgar Froese. In honor of this influential, phenomenally talented artist, let's take a dive into the deep, haunting waters of his solo debut. Mr. Froese, thank you for a lifetime's worth of synth-based bliss.

Track listing:
1. Aqua
2. Panorphelia
3. NGC 891
4. Upland


Algaion - Oimai Algaion (1995)

Here's some more sexy late-night black metal, by way of Sweden. With a drum machine and an overly long symphonic intro to boot, Oimai Algaion overcomes the sterility of its production through sheer emotive force.

Track listing:
1. Venenum Hominitatis (Intro)
2. Natrices Educati
3. Heosphoros
4. In Aede Dolorium
5. On the Reach of Zaphonia
6. Kratos
7. The Last Delusion

See what is to come

Friday, January 23, 2015

Giorgio Moroder - Einzelgänger (1975)

Previously on OPIUM HUM:
Giorgio Moroder - E=MC² (1979)

Quite a different beast from the euphoric, dance-friendly sounds he'd be innovating just two years later, Einzelgänger finds Moroder exploring alien, (kraut)rocky landscapes with just some synthesizers and heavily processed vocals to protect him.

Track listing:
1. Einzelgänger
2. Aus
3. Warum
4. Percussiv
5. Good Old Germany
6. Basslich
7. Untergang
8. Liebes-Arie
9. Einzelgänger

Me Giorgio

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Underdark - I Am Above All (2006)

Raging Ukranian black metal. I Am Above All is pretty generic -- glacial, tremolo-picked riffs, unremarkable vocals, nearly constant blasting with some midtempo bits for variety -- but it's a good, solid mix of evil majesty and ass-kicking brutality, and the production's claustrophobic and dirty, so who fucking cares? Not this guy.

Generally speaking, I don't listen to black metal in the morning, and I'd like my stupid blog to reflect that, so I'm making this a bonus nighttime post for all the other nocturnal black metal nerds.

Track listing:
1. Basements of Consciousness
2. Apotheosis of Insignificance
3. Break Out
4. Leaving
5. Depth of Idea
6. I Am Above All
7. I Have Become the Wind
8. Hor Min Sang

He is no longer a bird

Nest - Trail of the Unwary (2007)

Ethereal Finnish neofolk. Lush keyboards and cavernous percussion create a dark, atmospheric backdrop for the shimmering sound of the kantele, a traditional Finnish stringed instrument on which Nest's songs, I gather, are written. Vocals rarely appear, and are limited to throaty whispers.

Track listing:
1. Moonbow
2. Claw and Fang
3. Kontio
4. Hunt
5. The Mire
6. The Turning of the Tides
7. Across the Waters

Intent on dealing death

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

The Tears - Here Come the Tears (2005)

The Tears were Brett Anderson and Bernard Butler, the main creative forces behind Suede's landmark first two records, and this record represents what is likely to be the closest we'll get to a reunion of that original lineup. I refuse to contribute any more speculation to the internet ether regarding the strained relationship between these two musicians. I will simply say that Here Come the Tears is a phenomenal record of glittering, glam rock-infused Britpop that, much like those first two Suede records, hovers directly above the thin line between opulence and glamour.

Track listing:
1. Refugees
2. Autograph
3. Co-Star
4. Imperfection
5. The Ghost of You
6. Two Creatures
7. Lovers
8. Fallen Idol
9. Brave New Century
10. Beautiful Pain
11. The Asylum
12. Apollo 13
13. A Love as Strong as Death

When you appear
I'll stick to your teeth

Monday, January 19, 2015

Vesania - God the Lux (2005)

Polish Symphonic black metal. God the Lux has a precise, punishing sound that, when backed by the ambience of keyboard choirs and the like, reads almost as industrial. Could do without the 20+ minutes of silence before the last track -- due to a derpy desire to make the album 60 minutes and 66 seconds, which apparently no one told them is actually 61 minutes and 6 seconds -- and their promo pics, for that matter.

Track listing:
1. Rest in Pain
2. Posthuman Kind
3. Lumen Clamosum
4. God the Lux
5. Synchroscheme
6. Phosphorror
7. Lumen Funestum
8. The Mystery
9. Fireclipse
10. Lumen Coruscum
11. Legions Are Me
12. Inlustra Nigror

Spaces drowning in nothingness

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Air Formation - Nothing to Wish For (Nothing to Lose) (2010)

Starry-eyed shoegaze of the more concrete, song-based, Catherine Wheel/Ride variety, albeit with bigger, more syrupy, modern production. Air Formation's swansong, Nothing to Wish For (Nothing to Lose) is one of those records that seems to speak to every mood a person might find oneself in.

Track listing:
1. Three Years Pass
2. Stars & Knives
3. Low December Sun
4. Alone at Last
5. Don't Wait 'Til Dawn
6. Meltdown
7. Until Today
8. Like I Hold You
9. Cut Through the Night
10. Outro
11. Distant Silhouettes


Saturday, January 17, 2015

Árstíðir lífsins - Jǫtunheima dolgferð (2010)

Árstíðir lífsins make some of the best pagan black metal this side of Helrunar, with whom they share a couple of members. Powerful, epic odes to (one imagines) the natural world. Clean and growled vocals, some viola, cello, and piano, and a grand, sorrowful sound.

Track listing:
1. Ísa brots blómin milli hnignunar marnars barna
2. Morgunn í grárri vindhjálmars þoku við berufjörð
3. Velkomin í lífið, ávarpar maðr sjálfan sig
4. Haka kleifir berja ok brjóta við enda langrar ferðar sinnar
5. Lifðu með öðrum, með þínum eigin
6. Eigi hefr á augu, unnskíðs komit síðan
7. Margt breytist fyrir orð völvanna
8. Við fundum nýtt heimili, langt burtu í vestrinu
9. Þat er stormr ok bláköld vatnssmíðin litar regna borg

I can see you

Friday, January 16, 2015

Eleven Tigers - Clouds Are Mountains (2010)

Bass-heavy, stuttering beats under the cover of drifting, textural synths/keyboards/other (really, I have no idea how music and sounds like this are created) and, intermittently, heavily processed vocals and samples. An alluringly spaced-out album, mixed as a single, nonstop experience, that rewards close, repeated listening.

Track listing:
1. Open Mirror
2. Made Of
3. Songs for You
4. Couldn't
5. Thesis
6. Frozen Wheel
7. Stood Up
8. Flux
9. Atomic Turnip
10. Sparkles
11. With a Little Patience
12. Forever
13. Stableface
14. There Will Be Time


Thursday, January 15, 2015

Damien Jurado - Ghost of David (2000)

A sparse, often harrowing album of homespun indie folk. Songs like "Medication", whose distraught narrator asks God to take his troubled brother's life, and "Tonight I Will Retire", an aural suicide note, are sure to bring down even the best of moods. The album takes a strange, experimental turn about halfway through before returning to the more traditional singer-songwriter approach at the end; after however many years of listening, I still can't decide whether or not I think it was a good move.

Track listing:
1. Medication
2. Desert
3. Johnny Go Riding
4. Great Today
5. Tonight I Will Retire
6. Ghost of David
7. Parking Lot
8. Rearview
9. Paxil
10. Walk with Me
11. December
12. Rosewood Casket
13. Ghost in the Snow

Two in the morning, the phone disconnected
Her man knows I'm calling, it's what I expected
A note on my backdoor saying, "Baby not tonight."
So I sit with my brother who is nursing a cut wrist
He's mumbling "Forgive me."
And "Don't let them take me away."

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Grivf - Yggdrasil (2007)

Desolate, neofolk-fueled, Danish Pagan funeral doom. Simple, mournful acoustic guitar melodies give way to crushing waves of distorted guitars, harshly growled vocals, and, on occasion, extremely minimal percussion consisting seemingly of a single, massive floor tom. This lack of percussion makes Yggdrasil feel even less propulsive than your typical funeral doom; the songs seem to hang there, suspended in some void deep within the earth.

Track listing:
1. Helfarer
2. Ash
3. Mimirs Visdom
4. De Gamles Ord
5. Naar Alt Fryser Ind

Everything freezes

If you dig this, check out Kauan. Their first two records also work with a Pagan, neofolk-y doom metal aesthetic, but with a more melodic approach that makes for much easier listening.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Negură Bunget - Om (2006)

The Holy Grail of Romanian black metal. Epic in scope and delivery, with a dynamic, seemingly limitless pool of sounds and musical ideas, Om gives the impression of having been channeled into our world via Negură Bunget from some unknowable, beautiful, sorrowful realm. I have, while higher than I am now, suggested that Om might be the #1 greatest black metal album, period, and though I don't really believe that, it certainly deserves consideration among the pantheon of greats. Like, it's definitely in the top 50.

Track listing:
1. Ceasuri Rele
2. fiesarul De Lumini
3. Primul Om
4. Conoas Terea Tãcutã
5. Inarborat
6. Dedesuptul
7. Norilor
8. De Piatrã
9. Cel Din Urmã Vis
10. Hora Soarelui
11. Al Doilea Om

The second human

Monday, January 12, 2015

Auburn Lull - Alone I Admire (1999)

Shimmering guitars, brushed drums, hypnotic basslines, and barely-there vocals, all positively drenched in reverb. Alone I Admire is one of my very favorite records of its kind, as it creates an instantly familiar atmosphere while defying easy categorization. It's too formless to be dream pop, too weightless to be shoegaze, and too massive to be slowcore. While I was on a particularly unpleasant tour in '07, this was my go-to "drown out the sounds of punk parties and fall asleep drunk" record.

Track listing:
1. Stockard Drive
2. Desert
3. Old Mission
4. Blur My Thoughts Again
5. Early Evening Reverie
6. The Last Beat
7. Tidal
8. Between Trains
9. Finland Station
10. Untitled

November's long shadows

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Darsombra - Climax Community (2012)

Mystical drones from Baltimore, a.k.a. The City that Reads, a.k.a. The Greatest City in America. Darsombra make, for the most part, lush, major-key, guitar-based drone that's not unlike early Growing and, as I learned this past summer, makes for the perfect soundtrack to driving through beautiful but unfamiliar wooded lands. Those of you who found OPIUM HUM via my crust band's Facebook (I know there are a few of you!) might be interested to learn that the dude who makes this music is Brian Daniloski, (ex) vocalist for Meatjack.

Track listing:
1. Roaming the Periphery
2. Green
3. Thunder Thighs
4. [Untitled Bonus Track]

Freedom towards death

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Spitehowling - Born to Die for Evil (2002)

A gem of epic, lo-fi black metal from the vast, frigid, empty expanse of Russia. Out-of-tune guitars, goblin-like rasps, programmed drums, some actually audible basslines, and some choice ESL lyrics.

Track listing:
1. Intro
2. Last Catastrophe of Humanity
3. Until I Die
4. Napalm Dance
5. Centuries of Silence
6. Steel and Flesh
7. Bleeding Mind

It's so shame to be a human

Friday, January 9, 2015

Tír na nÓg - Tír na nÓg (1971)

Great first LP from this Irish folk rock duo. Delicately picked acoustic guitars and gentle harmonized vocals, with hints of psychedelia dancing in the periphery. Lyrical concerns include seagulls, flowers, fairies, elves, cows, and milk.

Track listing:
1. Time Is Like a Promise
2. Mariner Blues
3. Daisy Lady
4. Tír na nÓg
5. Aberdeen Angus
6. Looking Up
7. Boat Song
8. Our Love Will Not Decay
9. Hey Friend
10. Dance of Years
11. Live a Day
12. Piccadilly
13. Dante

When you're looking up
I see the sun's reflection in your dark blue eyes

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Kitaro - Oasis (1979)

Synth-y new age bliss. Managed to pick myself up a nice case of acute bronchitis in Minneapolis, and am now attempting to simulate happiness using music and codeine cough syrup. Good night, sweet blogosphere.

Track listing:
1. Morning Prayer (Asa No Inori, Rising Sun)
2. Moro-Rism
3. New Wave (Aratanaru Tabiji)
4. Cosmic Energy (Uchu Enerugii)
5. Eternal Spring (Inochi No Izumi, Aqua)
6. Moonlight
7. Shimmering Horizon (Hikari To Kage)
8. Fragrance of Nature (Shizen No Kaori)
9. Innocent People (Mujaki)
10. Oasis

Dawn of the astral

Monday, January 5, 2015

Heldon - Electronic Guerilla (1974)

Previously on OPIUM HUM:
Richard Pinhas - Rhizosphere (1977)

Debut album from this stellar French electro-prog outfit. Warm, fuzzy synthesizers, oscillations, and grainy, lush guitars. I've been stuck in a Minneapolis airport for the past 10 hours -- it's -9 degrees out BTW -- and this is helping me to stave off total physical and mental collapse.

Track listing:
1. Zind
2. Back to Heldon
3. Northernland Lady
4. Ouais, Marchais, Mieux Qu'en 68 (Ex : Le Voyageur)
5. Circulus Vitiosus
6. Ballade Pour Puig Antich, Révolutionnaire Assassiné En Espagne

Cries of the electronic baby

Friday, January 2, 2015

Trauma - Imperfect Like a God (2003)

Impeccably performed and produced Polish death metal. Precise, punishing riffs and drumming, with some tech-y, almost prog-y flourishes and atmospheric elements -- a clean guitar over a blast beat here, a dissonant, reverb-soaked lead there -- that, like a nice rug, really tie the room together.

Track listing:
1. Blade Under Your Throat
2. The Hidden Seed
3. The Madness Here
4. Beyond the Perception
5. Imperfect Like a God
6. Make Me Blind
7. Spiritual Disorder
8. Perplexity of Truths
9. Outrage to Fools

Planes like missiles in the name of God