Monday, March 25, 2019

The Magnetic Fields - The Wayward Bus (1992)

Second album of dreamy, lo-fi indie rock from The Magnetic Fields, and their last with Susan Anway handling lead vocals. At its core, early Magnetic Fields' songs had a similarly simple, girl-group-pop-style approach as, say, the Jesus and Mary Chain, but instead of piling on distortion and acid-addled feedback, it's synths, strings, and heartbreak. I absolutely love all of their early records, but this one's probably my favorite.

Track listing:
1. When You Were My Baby
2. The Saddest Story Ever Told
3. Lovers from the Moon
4. Candy
5. Tokyo A Go-Go
6. Summer Lies
7. Old Orchard Beach
8. Jeremy
9. Dancing in Your Eyes
10. Suddenly There Is a Tidal Wave

They say we're too young
I think we're too old

You should also listen to:
The Ocean Blue -
Cerulean (1991)
The Stratford 4 -
The Revolt Against Tired Noises (2001)

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Swarm of the Lotus - When White Becomes Black (2004)

Extremely heavy Baltimore metalcore/sludge. Dissonant, apocalyptic riffs and shrieking, paranoid vocals. My old band did a brief tour with Swarm of the Lotus and Magrudergrind (and at least one other band whose name I forget) the year that this came out, and it was kinda just OK, as at the time SOTL was the only band on the bill that anyone gave a shit about. But their vocalist/guitarist did give me a picture disc 7" on the last day despite our having never spoken so that was pretty cool.

Track listing:
1. Cherry Chocolate Salamander
2. Committed to Ash
3. Strength of Inner Eyes
4. Volatile
5. From Embers
6. Seeing Truth
7. Serpent Within
8. An Ocean of Fire
9. Episode Infinity
10. Burn Autumn Burn
11. Stained Glass Oubliette

Not a speck of life

You should also listen to:
Breach -
Venom (1999)
Majority Rule -
Interviews with David Frost (2001)

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

The Secret Stars - Genealogies (1998)

Swansong from this experimental lo-fi indie rock duo. I first discovered The Secret Stars through the album Ten Small Paces by Ida, which contains not only a cover of "Shoe-In", but a song called "Les Étoiles Secrètes" that's about falling in love while listening to The Secret Stars and talking about how great they are.

Based on Ida's precious, uniformly pretty sound, I remember expecting more of the same -- maybe rougher around the edges. But surprise, surprise: while their sound is in fact rooted in sweetly sad, lo-fi slowcore, there's a strong presence of experimental tape-loop noise, as well as diversions into sloppy, raucous indie rock. There's even a Crass shout-out.

Track listing:
1. Haphazard Joy
2. Shoe-In
3. Melt
4. N29, It's Alright
5. Can U Feel It?
6. The Four Senses
8. Sister, Brother
9. Trance Hall Storm
10. 5,000,000,000
11. Some Sinatra
12. The Mode-E
13. The Vitamin-V
14. We Have Been Schooled By...
15. Release Form
16. Back in the Car

Home is here, anyway
Or wherever I say

You should also hear:
Lullaby for the Working Class -
I Never Even Asked for Light (1997)
Damien Jurado -
Ghost of David (2000)

Friday, March 15, 2019

Bosse - Echoes of the Forgotten (2008)

Deeply mournful instrumental neofolk. Uneasy drones hover over stark acoustic guitar figures. Winter was already getting me down, then I had a major fuck-up come to fruition last week, so expect sporadic, morose posting, if any.

Six tracks, titled "I" through "VI"

And everybody's leaving
Everybody's kneeling
When all that's left to want is
One good reason
One good reason
For this to be left to doubt

You'd probably also like:
Six Organs of Admittance -
For Octavio Paz (2004)
Footpaths -
Footpaths (2012)

Sunday, March 10, 2019

The Hope Blister - ...Smile's OK (1998)

Downcast ambient dream pop from a band assembled by (4AD cofounder) Ivo Watts-Russell. The core sound is very much a continuation of This Mortal Coil, but without the ever-shifting lineup -- whereas This Mortal Coil was a project, The Hope Blister was a band. And every song is a cover, including versions of songs by Slowdive, John Cale, Brian Eno, David Sylvian, and more.

Track listing:
1. Dagger
2. Only Human
3. The Outer Skin
4. Sweet Unknown
5. Let the Happiness In
6. Is Jesus Your Pal?
7. Spider and I
8. Hanky Panky Nohow

I thought I heard you whisper
It happens all the time

You should also listen to:
black tape for a blue girl -
Mesmerized by the Sirens (1987)
Lisa Germano -
Lullaby for Liquid Pig (2002)

Saturday, March 9, 2019

Ablaze in Hatred - Deceptive Awareness (2006)

Atmospheric, melodic Finnish doom/death. Clean and distorted guitars mix with ethereal keyboards to form a beautifully crushing wall of sound, out from which creep beastly growls and mournful, majestic leads. Ablaze in Hatred certainly didn't invent this sound -- bands like Swallow the Sun and Shape of Despair are clear predecessors -- but they're a worthy addition to the pantheon.

Track listing:
1. Lost (The Overture)
2. When the Blackened Candles Shine
3. Howls Unknown
4. Constant Stillness
5. Ongoing Fall
6. To Breathe and to Suffocate
7. Closure of Life

How I love to drown in this serene dream
The dream of those who deserve to die

More like this:
Remembrance -
Fall, Obsidian Night (2010)
The Fall of Every Season -
Amends (2013)

Friday, March 8, 2019

Echostar - Sola (2003)

Bowery Electric - Bowery Electric (1995)
Bowery Electric - Beat (1996)
Bowery Electric - Lushlife (2000)

First and only solo record by Martha Schwendener of Bowery Electric. Icy, fully electronic, vocal-driven trip-hop, with none of the shoegaze influence that colored Lushlife.

Track listing:
1. Outside
2. Can't Say Why
3. Night Light
4. Near Lightning
5. Easy Life
6. Tedesco
7. Run
8. Kung Pao
9. Higher
10. Antiparos
11. Holding
12. Presidio

Star light
Fire light
Who survives the night?

You'd probably also like:
Laika -
Sounds of the Satellites (1997)
Guitar -
Sunkissed (2002)

Thursday, March 7, 2019

Forgotten Tomb - Love's Burial Ground (2004)

Italian black/doom metal. One of my favorite records of its kind. The vocalist actually achieves the kind of desperate, on-the-brink feel that so many DSBM vocalist reach for but come up short, and even when the band slows it down, which is often, they're playing like their instruments are responsible for all that's wrong with the world. Also, riffs.

Track listing:
1. Malus Vivendi Pt. I (Intro)
2. Kill Life
3. Alone
4. House of Nostalgia
5. Malus Vivendi Pt. II (Intermezzo)
6. Love's Burial Ground
7. Slave to Negativity
8. Forgotten Tomb MMIII
9. Malus Vivendi Pt. III (Outro)

I'm just waiting to piss on your desecrated tomb

You might also like:
Vrolok -
Void (The Divine Abortion) (2007)
I Shalt Become -
Poison (2010)

M - The Official Secrets Act (1980)

English new wave/synthpop from English musician Robin Scott. Fun, bouncy, whimsical-sounding songs with angry, politically-charged concerns. A great soundtrack for the relentless shitscape that is my life right now (jk it's not that bad I just have no days off ever.)

Track listing:
1. Transmission
2. Join the Party
3. Working for the Corporation
4. Your Country Needs You
5. Mayday
6. Relax
7. Maniac
8. Keep It to Yourself
9. Abracadabra
10. Official Secrets

Working, working, working, working

You'd probably also like:
Visage -
Visage (1980)
Telex -
Neurovision (1980)

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Drakonhail - L'Ombre du Néant (2004)

A murky, narcotized expanse of French depressive black metal. Muddy guitars with virtually no high-end, extremely minimal, fill-free drum patterns, and grim, rasping vocals. Amorphous, hypnotic, and slow as Satanic molasses.

Track listing:
1. Vielle forêt
2. Naissance
3. La démarche de l'ombre
4. ... Vers l'extérieur
5. Eternité

Acceptance of my decay

Similar listening:
Striborg -
Trepidation (2005)
Velvet Cacoon -
Northsuite (2005)

Taana Gardner - Taana Gardner (1979)

Sultry, hella-groovy disco. Gardner's a gifted, emotive vocalist, and her higher-register voice occasionally suggests what it might sound like if Kate Bush made a disco record. If the opening groove on "When You Touch Me" hasn't been sampled for a rap song, folks are seriously dropping the ball.

Track listing:
1. When You Touch Me
2. We Got to Work It Out
3. Just Be a Friend
4. Paradise Express
5. Work That Body

Ain't nothing above it
Oh, how I love it

Also listen to:
THP #2: Tender Is the Night (1978)
Musique -
Musique II (1979)

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Vucub Cane - Sacrificial Hatred Rituals (2012)

Putrid, noise-fucked US raw black metal in the dissonant, obscenely lo-fi LLN tradition. Sacrificial Hatred Rituals collects everything the project has put out thus far, which amounts to four demos and a comp track, and is possibly the most lo-fi, incomprehensible mess I've ever posted on here. Is "The Gate of Nanna" the most covered black metal song of all time?

Track listing:
1. The Sacred Triangle
2. Voices of the Mourning
3. On the Wings of the Sphynx
4. Evocation
5. Descend the Flesh
6. Transformation of Holy Water
7. Hail to Thee Who Overthrows Mankind
8. Becoming One of the Ancients
9. Worship
10. Eternal Hatred of the Human Race
11. The Gate of Nanna [Beherit cover]
12. ... March
13. Forest/War

The dream descends to the region of the moon

More like this:
Osculum Infame -
Sadomatic, Impure Artgoat (1994)
Mons Veneris -
To Rape the Nazarene +
Abismo a Céu Aberto (2006)

Res - How I Do (2001)

A true gem of artful but pop-oriented neosoul with tinges of reggae. How I Do is front-to-back tight, but I feel like I have to specifically mention "They-Say Vision", a minor hit that's one of my all-time favorite pop songs.

Track listing:
1. Golden Boys
2. They-Say Vision
3. 700 Mile Situation
4. Ice King
5. Sittin' Back
6. How I Do
7. If There Ain't Nothing
8. The Hustler
9. I've Known the Garden
10. Let Love
11. Tsunami

I wanna try that pill that people take
That makes them believe all the things that people say

You might also enjoy:
Eg and Alice -
24 Years of Hunger (1991)
Milosh -
III (2008)

Monday, March 4, 2019

Abigor - Fractal Possession (2007)

Previously on OPIUM HUM:
Abigor - Verwüstung / Invoke the Dark Age (1994)

Well, shit. I was gonna share one of my favorite black metal records to celebrate the arrival of my 666th follower, but now that I'm getting around to it, I've already racked up another two (2!) followers. I really can't keep up with my own massive, ever-growing popularity. Now I know how Kurt Cobain felt.

My skyrocketing fame aside, here's this fucking crazy album by the great Abigor, a band responsible for some of the best black metal in existence. Abigor's first record following the return of founding member Thomas Tannenberger, Fractal Possession continues the high-tech, outer space aesthetic that began on the band's previous record, but IMO it's an improvement by every possible measure. An abundance of studio trickery -- the EQ decay in "Injection Satan" is a great example -- and the sheer precision of performance makes it feel almost like industrial metal, but really, this album's completely in its own lane.

Track listing:
1. Warning
2. Project: Shadow
3. Cold Void Choir
4. Lair of Infinite Desperation
5. 3D Blasphemy
6. The Fire Syndrome
7. Injection Satan
8. Liberty Rises a Diagonal Flame
9. Vapourized Tears
10. Heaven Unveiled

Oh, grand machine of desperation
Deliver thy sermon

You'd probably also enjoy:
V.E.G.A. -
Cocaine (2002)
Dark Tribe - In Jeraspunta -
Die Rückkehr der tollwütigen Bestie

Sunken - The Crackling of Embers (2013)

Danish atmospheric black metal. Somewhat raw but full sound, intense approach, enchanting effect. They released The Crackling of Embers in early 2013 under the moniker Arescet, then changed their name to Sunken and re-released it later that same year, and that's the form I found it in, so here we are.

Track listing:
1. The Crackling of Embers
2. Extinguished

In the cold embrace of the waves

Similar sounds:
Dusk -
Örök Halálban (2009)
Kringa -
Total Mental Desecration (2013)

Sunday, March 3, 2019

Off Minor - The Heat Death of the Universe (2002)

Classic screamo. The Heat Death of the Universe has it all: jerky, off-kilter time signatures, angular guitar dissonance, lots of hoarse, pained shrieks, and long song titles. Some of the more thoughtfully composed clean guitar work I've heard on a screamo record, and it's a good thing, too, because those parts constitute about half of the album. [EDIT: The two-period ellipsis that originally ended this post was a typo. I would never, and how dare you think that I would.]

Track listing:
1. The Heat Death of the Universe
2. This Is a Hostage Situation
3. It's a Beauty
4. Punch for Punch
5. The Transient
6. Staring Down the Barrel of Limited Options
7. Spartan
8. Monday Morning Quarterbacks
9. Off Minor

Ghosts of shadows passing on city streets

For more like this, try:
Love Lost But Not Forgotten -
Love Lost But Not Forgotten (2000)
pg.99 -
Document #5 (2000)

Saturday, March 2, 2019

Burnt Friedman & Jaki Liebezeit - Secret Rhythms (2002)

Ridiculously tasty, downtempo, dub-tinged future jazz from Bernd Friedmann (aka Nonplace Urban Field) and Jaki Liebezeit (R.I.P.), best known as drummer for the almighty Can. How music can be so chill yet so stimulating, I'll never know.

Track listing:
1. Rhein Rauf
2. Rechter Winkel
3. Royal Roost
4. Secret Rhythms
5. Rastafahndung
6. Gulli Vereisen
7. Wirklich
8. Obscured by 5
9. Obscured by 5 (Nonplace Rmx)
10. Obscured by 5 (Extended)

Before I die, I'm gonna

You'd probably also enjoy:
Nicky Skopelitis -
Ekstasis (1993)
Jimi Tenor -
Sähkömies (1994)