Saturday, February 28, 2015

Arizmenda - Within the Vacuum of Infinity... (2009)

Haunting, atmospheric US black metal -- specifically, from California's Black Twilight Circle. A reverb-drenched flurry of dissonant guitars, unrelenting drums, and distant howls. The essence of black metal, burnt down to its purest, most unknowable form.

Track listing:
1. Those Beaten Paths of Confusion
2. Beyond the Shadows of Emptiness and Nothingness
3. Poison Yourself... with Thought
4. The Agents of Transformation
5. Drowning in the Pain of Consciousness
6. Deny the Disease of Life

Tear you out from within

If you like this, I suspect you'll like:
Cendres - Ungeziefer (2007)

Elf Power - The Winter Is Coming (2000)

Easily my favorite record from this under-appreciated branch of the Elephant 6 collective. There's a bit of all types of psychedelia -- Eastern-influenced musical mantras ("Wings of Light"), acoustic pop ("The Winter Is Coming", "The Sun Is Forever"), heavy quasi-doom ("The Albatross"), dark alt rock ("The Skeleton"), fuzzed-out, homespun bliss ("People Underneath"), and whatever one might call the sweeping, urgent album opener, "Embrace the Crimson Tide" -- so if you don't like the sound of one track, you can be sure that the next one will be completely different.

Track listing:
1. Embrace the Crimson Tide
2. Skeleton
3. The Great Society
4. The Winter Is Coming
5. Wings of Light
6. The Sun Is Forever
7. People Underneath
8. Green Sea Days
9. The Naughty Villain
10. Leopard's Teeth
11. Birds in the Backyard
12. 10,000 Telescopes
13. The Albatross

There's no path for you to follow
Drift your way right through tomorrow
There's no need to run
No need to hide

Friday, February 27, 2015

Dusk - Örök Halálban (2009)

Epic, hypnotic Hungarian black metal. Endless tremolo picking, simplistic, nearly fill-free drumming, a touch of keyboards, high-pitched, Burzum-y screams, bare-bones production. Three songs, just under 40 minutes of dark majesty.

Track listing:
1. Egy Megszakadt Holt Lélek
2. Örök Halálban
3. A Pokol Kapuja

Eternal deathwish

Sam Rivers - Crystals (1974)

Previously on OPIUM HUM:
Sam Rivers - Contours (1965)

An all-out brilliant album of cacophonous free jazz and driving, discordant avant-garde jazz, with just a touch of Rivers' hard bop roots. In a career full of formidable highs, Crystals is arguably his greatest achievement.

Track listing:
1. Exultation
2. Tranquility
3. Postlude
4. Bursts
5. Orb
6. Earth Song

I'll never smile again

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Carved Cross - Futile Reflections of a Failed Existence (2013)

Cult Australian depressive black metal. Draining, droning songs that slowly march towards the inevitable end through extremely murky and blown-out sound. I like how it's not just Reflections of a Failed Existence. Nah son, the reflections themselves are futile. Most people -- probably you, as it seems that my most popular posts deal with ECM or new age -- will find nothing remotely appealing about this.

Track listing:
1. False Satisfaction Springs from Empty Achievement
2. Days of Death
3. Twilight Hours Offer Little Solace
4. Futile Reflections of a Failed Existence

My goats are all corpses

Plaguewielder - Demo (2005) + Diablero - Demo Tracks (2007)

Plaguewielder and Diablero are two of many other killer Baltimore crust/metal bands that were/are huge local draws, but never managed to attract much of a following outside of their immediate area. Between two of my bands, I probably played upwards of 10 shows with Plaguewielder, and they destroyed every single time. After Plaguewielder, some of them (not sure how many, I don't know them that well and the internet provides very little info) formed Diablero, who thus far have released a single 7" -- not sure if they're still together. Both bands made/make crusty black metal -- or blackened crust -- with Plaguewielder erring on the sludgier, Dystopia-y side of things. I almost feel like I'm giving away secrets by discussing these bands on my stupid blog, but fuck it, more people should know this stuff.

Track listing:
1. By the Rise of the Sun
2. Imprisoned
3. From Beyond the Horizon
4. Parasite
5. Undertow
6. Release
7. Don't Answer the Phone
8. Tracks
9. Disbelieve...
5 tracks. CDr with no track names provided.

Ghosts in the vacants

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Ian Carr's Nucleus - Out of the Long Dark (1978)

Keeping this funky jazz ball rolling. Just discovered an unfinished draft of a post about this album from way back in April of 2013, meaning that this was supposed to be one of the very first things posted on here. It's probably a good thing that it got buried, though, as I have way more readers now. Furthermore, you wouldn't have had the joy of reading the incredible but true story of the forgotten blog post!

Track listing:
1. Gone with the Weed
2. Lady Bountiful
3. Solar Wind
4. Selina
5. Out of the Long Dark (Conception)
6. Sassy (American Girl)
7. Simply This (The Human Condition)
8. Black Ballad (Ecce Domina)
9. For Liam

Things pass

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Herbie Hancock - Thrust (1974)

Previously on OPIUM HUM:
Herbie Hancock - Sextant (1973)

Thrust is Herbie Hancock at his funkiest, and in a discography chock full of winners, it might just be my personal favorite. Also, one of my all-time favorite album covers.

Track listing:
1. Palm Grease
2. Actual Proof
3. Butterfly
4. Spank-A-Lee

You'll know when you get here

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Bill Frisell - Rambler (1984)

A dynamic, varied collection. From the fuzzed out, unresolved melodies of album opener "Tone", to bizarre quasi-march "Music I Heard", to the scatterbrained slo-mo of "Wizard of Odds", Rambler remains consistently engaged and engaging, and ultimately serves as a striking, early snapshot of the budding brilliance of Brill Frisell.

Track listing:
1. Tone
2. Music I Heard
3. Rambler
4. When We Go
5. Resistor
6. Strange Meeting
7. Wizard of Odds

Fields of alfalfa

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Nihil Nocturne - Necrohell (2003)

German black metal. Due to its consisting of the results of two obviously different recording sessions, Necrohell feels more like two EPs than a single album. The production on the first four songs is rough but full, while the latter half's is pretty cult. Musically, though, it's all quite similar: cold, cerebral black metal with subtle use of keyboards and clean guitars, and a good mix of tempos and song structures. I kinda wanted to post their newest album, 2008's Entheogen, as it seems to have gotten more of a bad rep despite being fucking awesome, but in the end, Necrohell's still my favorite.

Track listing:
1. Wasteland of the Damned
2. Black Oath of Sacrifice
3. Born in Blasphemy
4. Compact Nothingness Supreme
5. Terror Satan Hate Modul
6. Evil from the Woods
7. The Paradise of Vaalghul
8. Horror Vacui
9. Necrotower

Neon inhalation
Black blood synthesis
Aeon invocation
Hybrid resurrection domain

Child Actor - Promise EP (2013)

Hazy, R&B-ish electropop. Music to fall in love to, then make sweet, sweet love by. Free/pay as you will via bandcamp.

Track listing:
1. Everything Falling Star
2. Ordinary World
3. Promise
4. Mirror

Here it comes again

Friday, February 20, 2015

Morbosidad - Morbosidad (2000)

While "Demons Sexually Assaulting Religious Figures" has long been a popular movement in metal album art, the woman on the cover of Morbosidad doesn't appear to be anyone particularly pious, and judging by her body language and facial expression, this a consensual, and mutually enjoyable sexual encounter. This serves to humanize the demon, and gives the piece a more relatable, even wholesome, if voyeuristic feel.

Morbosidad are a spot-on Blasphemy worship band from sunny California. Dirty black/death with a sloppy, grind-y approach.

Track listing:
1. Bestial Y Morboso
2. Esclavos De Hipocrecia
3. Putos
4. Pacto Satanico (Parte II
5. Putos (Parte II)
6. Castraction Bestial
7. Cruxifica Tu Existencia
8. Tetrico
9. Cagada De Christo


If you like this, you'll probably like:
Knelt Rote - Trespass (2012)

Combative Alignment - Everlasting Sun (2003)

Combative Alignment is a one-man German dark ambient project. Cavernous soundscapes filled with monolithic drones, pitchshifted voices, and distant, reverberating percussion.

Track listing:
1. No Words
2. Everlasting Sun
3. Ceremonial Harm
4. Lost Between the Two Worlds
5. Beware False Prophets

They disemboweled him

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Afric Simone - Boogie Baby (1978)

It's been pretty dreary recently 'round these parts recently, so let's open the blinds and let some sun in, eh? Boogie Baby is a charming, irresistibly upbeat collection of so-called "ethno-disco" (disco infused with elements of African music) and it could make a dead man smile.

Track listing:
1. Coffee, Tea, or Me
2. Cadeau-Cadeau
3. Maria Madalena
4. Julie
5. Tūmbi Mama
6. Casanova Africano
7. Boogie Baby
8. Help Me Picasso
9. Sympathy
10. Hipi Tūmbi Saza
11. Jambo-Jambo

Darling, do you want a coffee?
Do you want a tea?
Or you want a me?

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Blue Sky Black Death & Nacho Picasso - Exalted (2012)

Second of four full-length collaborations, three of which are available for free on bandcamp, between producer Blue Sky Black Death and rapper Nacho Picasso, both Seattle artists. BSBD specializes in hazy, synth-heavy beats, while a faded-sounding Nacho raps almost exclusively about sex and drugs (what else is there?) with a subtle but crucial feel for pathos, like when he casually drops lines like, "I'd like to thank my momma for my negligence," and "You don't like it, kill yourself like my dad's mistress."

Track listing:
1. Bloody Murder
2. Swap 'Em Out
3. Haile Selassie
4. Mob Ties
5. Tom Hanks
6. Kickin Out Windows
7. 4th of July (ft. Jeremy Cross)
8. The Gods Don't Favor You
9. Surf Nazis Must Die
10. Scooby Snacks
11. Public Enemy
12. Villains in My Circle
13. Joey Gallo

Tattoos, black eyes
We raisin' hell so you better get baptized

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Harry Pepl, Harry Joos, Jon Christensen - Cracked Mirrors (1988)

By request, here's a nice lil' slice of ECM goodness, featuring Austrian guitarist Harry Pepl, German horn player Harry Joos, and the label's de facto house drummer Jon Christensen. Cracked Mirrors is a bit on the whimsical side, with some great moments of deft, improvisational playing, but there are some more typically icy ECM moments as well.

Track listing:
1. Wolkenbilder 1
2. Reflections in a Cracked Mirror
3. Schikaneder Delight
4. Die Alte Mar und das Mann
5. More Far Out Than East
6. Purple Light
7. Tintenfisch Inki

Like that of sky

Monday, February 16, 2015

David Sylvian & Holger Szukay - Plight & Premonition (1988) + Flux & Mutability (1989)

Previously on OPIUM HUM:
David Sylvian - Blemish (2003)

Two gorgeous, ambient collaborations between David Sylvian, formerly of Japan and one of my all-time favorite musicians, and Holger Szukay, formerly of Can. Plight & Premonition is pure, haunting ambient, while Flux & Mutability has some percussion and a sense of gentle, queazy euphoria that wouldn't sound out of place on an 80s ECM record.

Track listing:
-Plight & Premonition-
1. Plight (The Spiraling of Winter Ghosts)
2. Premonition (Giant Empty Iron Vessel)
-Flux & Mutability-
1. Flux (A Big Bright Beautiful World)
2. Mutability (A New Beginning Is in the Offing)

Every color you are

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Heresi - Psalm I (2005) + Psalm II: Infusco Ignis (2006)

Swedish black metal. Deceptively intricate, tremolo-picked melodies dominate the faster sections, while the midtempo parts have a sinister groove that will sound familiar to fans of Celeste or fellow Swedish countrymen Craft.

Track listing:
-Psalm I-
1. Civitate Dei - Ondskans Hov
2. Deus Absconditus
3. Efter Själens Stympning
-Psalm II-
1. Liothe
2. Bevingad och försedd med horn
3. Dionysesinitiationen
4. Proaíresis
5. Infusco ignis

Do you live your life in God's filth?

Ian McCulloch - Candleland (1989)

Ian McCulloch of Echo and the Bunnymen's first solo record, Candleland is more or less perfect. To me, it's what the self-titled Echo record should have been. It has the same shimmering production and new wave-y, radio-friendly leanings, but with stronger songwriting and less obtrusive keyboards. Fans of The Cure/New Order/etc., this will scratch your itch.

Track listing:
1. The Flickering Wall
2. The White Hotel
3. Proud to Fall
4. The Cape
5. Candleland
6. Horse's Head
7. Faith and Healing
8. I Know You Well
9. In Bloom
10. Start Again

I heard the footsteps in the street
I saw the lights on the flickering wall
I moved my lips but I couldn't speak
Choked on the wonder of it all

Black Funeral - Ordog (2006)

Previously on OPIUM HUM:
Black Funeral - Az-I-Dahak (2004) + Waters of Weeping (2007)

They've got a bunch of great records, and to me, Ordog represents a serious artistic peak. The clanging drums, synthetic guitars, distorted vocals, and generally harsh, ritualistic atmosphere were all part of the aural canvas of their previous record, the excellent Az-I-Dahak, but with Ordog, they stepped up the cacophony and the sensory overload, and created what could have been a watershed moment if only everyone except for me hadn't hated it so much.

Track listing:
1. Harbinger of Pestilence
2. Hymn to Ahriman
3. Ordog
4. Mummu Chaos
5. Of Ravening Wolves
6. The Chain
7. Deathless and Eternal
8. Abyssic Doctrine
9. Unclean Spirit
10. Ode to Pazuzu
11. Lilitu

Moon thirst

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Franco Leprino - Integrati... Disintegrati (1977)

An evocative mix of lush synths and expertly picked acoustic guitars. Then the baby starts crying.

Track listing:
1. Lato A
2. Lato B

Baby vampire made me

Friday, February 13, 2015

Nehëmah - Light of a Dead Star (2002)

Previously on OPIUM HUM:
Nehëmah - Requiem Tenebrae (2004)

Perfect black metal. So cold. So true. So French. Why the fuck did they stop putting out records?? Why, God?!?!?

Track listing:
1. The Witch Burns...
2. Light of a Dead Star
3. Across the Landscape
4. In October Nightshades
5. Nehëmah in Vulva Infernum
6. I Will Sleep with the Dragon
7. Misty Swamps
8. ... In the Heart of the Flames

Drawn in darkness

Scorn - Vae Solis (1992)

Crushing industrial metal featuring Mick Harris and Nic Bullen of Napalm Death. A droning, noise rock-ish approach, with heavily processed/pitchshifted vox.

Track listing:
1. Spasm
2. Suck and Eat You
3. Hit
4. Walls of My Heart
5. Lick Forever Dog
6. Thoughts of Escape
7. Deep In - Eaten Over and Over
8. On Ice
9. Heavy Blood
10. Scum After Death (Dub)
11. Fleshpile (Edit)
12. Orgy of Holiness
13. Still Life

The sky is loaded

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Lyrinx - Ending the Circle of Life EP (2009)

Previously on OPIUM HUM:
Lyrinx - Nihilistic Purity (2007)

Two songs and just under 35 minutes of torturous, depressive UK black metal. Ending the Circle of Life isn't Lyrinx's most essential release -- that would be the Nihilistic Purity EP -- but it's great, provided that you like music that reminds you of complete emotional desolation and suicide.

Track listing:
1. No Failure in Suicide
2. Isolation

Summoning the dead

Here's some more DBM so you can compile a nice playlist for your next party:
Veil - Dolor (2005)
Inferi - Shores of Sorrow (2006)
Pyha - Haunted House (2009)
Vardan - Lifeless Shadow (2013)

Paul Motian Band - Psalm (1981)

Free-form ambient pieces and jagged melodic themes over dissonant grooves. Just the way I like my ECM. Although -- and maybe it's my current stressed out and morose state of mind -- the happy-go-lucky "Mandeville" can go sit on an erupting volcano.

Track listing:
1. Psalm
2. White Magic
3. Boomerang
4. Fantasm
5. Mandeville
6. Second Hand
7. Etude
8. Yahllah


Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Lauren Bousfield - Avalon Vales (2013)

Frantic, distorted, warped, yet melodic, electronic beauty from an LA-based artist. I just went through a difficult time involving the untimely death of a family member, hence my short absence. Think I'm coming out the other side, though, and I really want to feel as though I'm returning to normalcy, so here, look, I'm not bothering to give this truly exceptional artist or album a proper writeup -- just like I normally would!

Track listing:
1. Fire Sale
2. Riverrun Humbling Allegory
3. Avalon Sliding Down the Cliff
4. Archangel Glycon
5. No More Worlds Like This, No More Days Like That
6. Ascending Hands
7. Cracknight
8. Pulling Down Palm Trees
9. Valed
10. Lipstick Smeared Over the Amaretto
11. Cascading Retail Spaces
12. Empty Relationships
13. Audkyrie
14. Somerset Blather On and On
15. Automatic Warlock RFID Stratford Upon Avon
16. Heavening
17. Our Trauma

A tiny streak of daylight

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Prins Thomas - Prins Thomas II (2012)

Right off the bat: this is not a crappy, slacker-core indie rock album, as that highly questionable album art might have you believing. No, Prins Thomas makes pulsing, krautrock-laced space disco. There's not much to speak of in terms of song structure, as each track seems content to playfully roll around collecting percussion, basslines, and melodic elements. Kinda like a musical Katamari Damacy.

Track listing:
1. Symfonisk Utviklingshemming
2. Flau Pappadans 1
3. Bobletekno
4. Bom Bom
5. Bobletekno (Permiks)
6. Tjukkas Pa Karussel
7. Flau Pappadans 2

No dancing

Friday, February 6, 2015

Riverside - Anno Domini High Definition (2009)

Far and away my favorite record by these Polish proggers. There are still plenty of noodle-y riffs, tricky time signatures, and the like, but with Anno Domini High Definition, they found a darker, heavier sound and worked with more poignant lyrical themes, and the result is their most cohesive, streamlined, and consistent full-length.

Track listing:
1. Hyperactive
2. Driven to Destruction
3. Egoist Hedonist
4. Left Out
5. Hybrid Times

Forget yourself in the final dance
You already know the steps

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

These Immortal Souls - I'm Never Gonna Die Again (1992)

Ex-members of the Birthday Party and Crime & the City Solution making strung out, emotionally draining, blues-fueled post-punk. Surprise, surprise. Also unsurprising is that I'm Never Gonna Die Again is a killer record, and if you dig early Bad Seeds and are sleeping on this record, you're cheating yourself. And, as my girl loves to say, don't cheat yourself -- treat yourself.

Track listing:
1. The King of Kalifornia
2. Shamed
3. Black Milk
4. Hyperspace
5. So the Story Goes
6. Insomnicide
7. All the Money's Gone
8. Crowned
9. Bad
10. My One-Eyed Daughter (Live in Las Vegas)
11. Up on the Roof

I will destroy you

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

tooth ache. - Flash and Yearn (2013)

Warped, downtempo electronic for the nighttime hours. Sole member Alexandria Hall's distant, reverb-obscured voice floats over simple, heavy-hitting beats and textural keyboards. Some very welcome Arthur Russell influence on "Not Even the Moon", too.

Track listing:
1. Horizon
2. Wild Horses
3. Work
4. Not Even the Moon
5. Tilt
6. Body Heat
7. Guilt
8. Eurydice
9. Matador
10. Sediment

I jump over

Monday, February 2, 2015

Steps Ahead - Steps Ahead (1983)

Some breezy, propulsive, funky fusion for your Monday morning. I'm a sucker for jazz vibraphone -- possibly the most chilled-out sound known to man -- and it's all over this mother.

Track listing:
1. Pools
2. Islands
3. Loxodrome
4. Both Sides of the Coin
5. Skyward Bound
6. Northern Cross
7. Trio (An Improvisation)


Sunday, February 1, 2015

Terje Rypdal - After the Rain (1976)

Previously on OPIUM HUM:
Terje Rypdal - Bleak House (1968)
Terje Rypdal, Miroslav Vitous, and Jack DeJohnette - S/T (1979)
Terje Rypdal, Miroslav Vitous, and Jack DeJohnette - To Be Continued
Ketil Bjørnstad, David Darling, Terje Rypdal, & Jon Christensen - The Sea (1995) + The Sea II (1998)

Atmospheric jazz fusion from this Norwegian guitarist/ECM great. Though many of Rypdal's records, such as What Comes After and Odyssey (released in '74 and '75, respectively) qualify as some of ECM's most raucous, prog-y releases, After the Rain, a fully solo effort, is a low-key, almost folky affair. His big, distinctive leads are still present, but here they soar over acoustic guitars, piano, synthesizers, and the like, while drums and percussion (do bells count as percussion?) are completely absent. Probably my favorite of his solo albums.

Track listing:
1. Autumn Breeze
2. Air
3. Now and Then
4. Wind
5. After the Rain
6. Kjare Maren
7. Little Bell
8. Vintage Year
9. Multer
10. Like a Child, Like a Song

Whenever I seem to be far away