Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Infidel - Ejaculating Chaos (2009)

Polish black metal destruction. 100% rippers with low growls and simplistic guitars that at times recall the dead-eyed brutality of Hate Forest.

Track listing:
1. Ejaculating Chaos
2. The Thousand Sins
3. Abnormal Stigmata
4. Kingdom Shall Return
5. Rising from the Infernal Abyss
6. Illumination
7. Unholy Blood Pt. I
8. Unholy Blood Pt. II

You'd also like:

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Giant - Song (2006)

US post-metal from a band who you might know better as Braveyoung. Song is the only full-length they recorded as Giant, and it's very much in line with the Isis-worship that was so prevalent in the American metal scene around this time, but unlike 99% of those bands, Giant had personality -- songs without obvious resolutions, some strings here, a hint of emo there -- and were actually really, really fucking good.

Track listing:
1. Stories
2. Calvin
3. The Red Opus
4. Life for the Vultures
5. The Shallow

More like this:

Saturday, December 26, 2020

Sloche - J'un Oeil (1975)

Québecois prog rock. Borderline scatterbrained songs full of synth, funky fusion, jazzy undercurrents, quasi-classical piano solos, and all manner of fun stuff. According to my records, at the time of writing, it has been exactly two years (!) since I posted a proper prog album. My apologies to my nerdiest readers.

Track listing:
1. C'pas la fin du Monde
2. Le Karême D'Eros
2. J'un Oeil
4. Algébrique
5. Potage Aux Herbes Douteuses

Also listen to:

Thursday, December 24, 2020

Nik Bärtsch's Ronin - Holon (2008)

Haunting, meditative jazz with strong overtones of minimalism. Sounds like fish flitting through dark waters by moonlight. Absolutely stunning.

Track listing:
1. Modul 42
2. Modul 41-17
3. Module 39-8
4. Module 46
5. Module 45
6. Module 44

You might also enjoy:

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

John Foxx + Harold Budd - Translucence + Drift Music (2003)


Harold Budd passed into the great unknown on December 10th, 2020. Yes, it was fucking COVID-19. As you can see from the mass of links above, he's one of my favorite artists, and I would be remiss to not mark the occasion. Here's his two-part collaboration with John Foxx who, aside from his work as a new wave/synthpop artist, is an accomplished ambient musician in his own right. Translucence is all gorgeous, impossibly tranquil piano pieces echoing through a shimmering ambient haze, then Drift Music zooms in on the haze. Godspeed, Mr. Budd, on your journey to the pavilion of dreams.

Track listing:
1. Subtext
2. Spoken Roses
3. Momentary Architecture
4. Adult
5. Long Light
6. A Change in the Weather
7. Here and Now
8. Almost Overlooked
9. Implicit
10. Raindust
11. Missing Person
12. You Again
 Drift Music
1. Sunlit Silhouette
2. The Other Room
3. Some Way Through All the Cities
4. Stepping Sideways
5. A Delicate Romance
6. Linger
7. Curtains Blowing
8. Weather Patterns
9. Coming into Focus
10. After All This Time
11. Someone Almost There
12. Resonant Frequency
13. Avenue of Trees
14. Underwater Flowers
15. Arriving

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Bobby Hutcherson - Now! (1969)

Dynamic, expressive, avant-garde post-bop and psych-leaning fusion by vibraphonist/jazz legend Bobby Hutcherson. Features the vocals and lyrics of Gene MacDaniels, as well as three female backup singers. Often, the presence of vocals on records of this nature has made for a divided reaction among jazz-heads, but Now! is just too good to deny.

Track listing:
1. Slow Change
2. Hello to the Wind
3. Now
4. The Creators
5. Black Heroes

If you like this, check out:

Monday, December 21, 2020

Bluttaufe - Schwarze Dornen (1996)

German raw black metal. Drum machine, reverb abuse, moderate-to-severely sloppy performances. What with the draining repetition and mid-paced tempos, here in the future, we'd probably call this DSBM, although they apparently called themselves "thrashing war metal", which they definitely were not.

Track listing:
1. Schwarze Dornen
2. Wenn Es Nacht Wird
3. Stirb Durch Mein Schwert
4. Ewig Brennende Flammen

Also check out:

Sunday, December 20, 2020

Nina Nastasia - The Blackened Air (2002)

Beautiful, idiosyncratic folk rock/chamber folk from the early-aughts sad bastard boom. The Blackened Air made an impact when it first came out -- the record store I used to work at had a bunch of used copies -- but I haven't heard it mentioned since way-back-when. I honestly hadn't even listened to it in like 15 years until the other day, when I put on an old-ass mix CD in my car and "Ocean" came on. Real good stuff, though. Recorded by Steve Albini.

Track listing:
1. Run, All of You...
2. I Go with Him
3. This Is What It Is
4. Oh My Stars
5. All for You
6. So Little
7. Desert Fly
8. Ugly Face
9. In the Graveyard
10. Ocean
11. Rosemary
12. The Same Day
13. Been So Long
14. The Very Next Day
15. Little Angel
16. That's All There Is

Also listen to:

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

HÆLOS - Full Circle (2016)

Speaking of best-of lists: here's an album that definitely would've been on mine if I'd made one (for non-black metal records) in 2016. There was a bit of a trip-hop revival that year, and imo HÆLOS was the best of the bunch. Earnest, downcast songs with dual male-female vocals and a sweeping, almost arena-ready sound. I have no concept of how popular this record was/is, but I do know that Full Circle has been in steady rotation 'round these parts since it came out, so I want to make sure that everyone who should hear it, does.

Track listing:
1. Intro/Spectrum
2. Pray
3. Dust
4. Full Circle
5. Earth Not Above
6. Oracle
7. Alone
8. Separate Lives
9. Sacred
10. Cloud Nine
11. Pale

Also listen to:

Friday, December 11, 2020

My 20 Favorite Records of 2020

Under normal circumstances, this is where I'd take the opportunity to point out that the year has sucked and the world is garbage and we're all gonna die. However, it's gonna take decades of work from the world's best minds -- scientists, political theorists, philosophers, and artists -- to BEGIN to understand what happened this year. Thus, I'm not even gonna try here, no matter how flippantly. What I do know is: 2020 turned me back into a complete sad-sack. I listened to Pink MoonTime Out of Mind, and From a Basement on the Hill a lot, and instead of listening to new records, I mostly just ate ice cream, drank tequila, and stared at the TV, pausing only to cry softly into my ice cream. So there'll be just one list this year, and you're looking at it. May it help to put your ennui on hold briefly.

Down Through

Dream pop/emo hybrid with a twist of early Red House Painters. Some of the richest guitar tones in recent memory. First time I listened to this was by myself, in a gentle rain, and that's probably the best way to hear it.

Terje Rypdal

Atmospheric, icy beauty courtesy of my favorite Norwegian jazz guitarist. Conspiracy is a welcome return to Rypdal's classic sound, and holds up next to the best of his catalogue.

Ignorance Exalted

Put on your mesh shorts, rip the sleeves off your shirt, and get ready to blast your bis, tris, and guacs, 'cause this shit is fucking heavy. Take Mortician, flip the blastbeat-to-breakdown ratio, and you get Ignorance Exalted.

Bruce Hornsby
Non-Secure Connection

People think it's a joke when I say I love Bruce Hornsby, but it's not. At all. This year, he continued the creative renaissance that began last year with Absolute Zero, leaning further into his abstract tendencies while steering them back towards generally more melodic ground. Whoever thought we'd live to see a Bruce Hornsby album with songs called "Shit's Crazy Out Here" and "Porn Hour"?

The Goners
Good Mourning

70s throwback, horror-themed hard psych in the vein of Uncle Acid, but punk-er. Dueling guitar solos, songs about death, evil, and murder, plus a Dead Moon cover. Total summer backyard beer-drinking tunes.


Asofy are still one of the most singular black metal (-adjacent) projects going. The generally extremely slow tempos suggest doom metal, and the vocals are all black metal, but there's very little in terms of 'heavy' riffing, and the overall feel is more anxious and expressive than the all-out depressive vibes that blackened doom generally brings.

Green / Blue
Green / Blue

An excellent addition to the Jay Reatard/Marked Men school of catchy but sharp-edged punk, that occasionally touches down in sludge-y, grunge-y territory. My homie who first played this for me would want me to mention that half of Green / Blue used to play in The Soviettes, who I still haven't heard.


I'm so glad that Boris wants to be heavy again, because they are so much better at this kinda thing. NO merges the full-tilt hardcore of (the hardcore version of) Vein with the shoegaze-y textures that they've explored over the past decade or so, and throws in some of the heaviest, most pissed-off sludge they've put together since Amplifier Worship.

Rose City Band

The lazily named Rose City Band is Ripley Johnson of Wooden Shjips and Moon Duo, and it essentially sounds like Moon Duo reimagined as an extremely chill country rock band. Listening to this in the sun with a few friends (safely distanced, of course) with the misters on was one of the few bright spots of my year.

Kate NV
Room for the Moon

Weird, disjointed art pop grooves built on staccato synths and a whole bunch of other elements. Had I made this list before the winter blues began to sink in, this record would surely have placed higher.

I'll Probably Be Asleep

A lush, wondrously constructed sound-world of downtempo, slacker-friendly dream pop. Truly, a wonder of production, and a low-key masterpiece of a debut.

Cloud Nothings
The Black Hole Understands

In which Cloud Nothings drop their harsher tendencies in favor of warm, homespun power-pop, resulting in their most compelling album since Attack on Memory.

Brigid Mae Power
Head Above the Water

Mae Power's previous record, The Two Worlds, was one of my favorite records of 2017, and Head Above the Water represents an undeniable step up. It retains the base sound of jazzy, melancholic folk rock, but leans hard into gorgeous, kaleidoscopic psychedelia.

Imperial Triumphant

Imperial Triumphant's most effective, seamless synthesis of black metal and dark/free jazz yet. They've entered fully uncharted territory, and it's absolutely thrilling to behold. 

Have We Met

My favorite Destroyer record since Kaputt. Creaky vocals intoning poetically awkward lyrics against a widescreen 80s instrumental backdrop. It's beautiful and sad, without taking itself completely seriously.


One of the best surprises of 2020, and pretty much a best-case scenario for a reunion album. It's a throwback to their classic sound but with spacious, modern production and the perfect amount of stylistic expansion -- it's both airier and heavier than their old stuff, and shows an awareness of post-metal while never really sounding anything like it.

Oranssi Pazuzu
Mestarin kynsi

The reigning kings of psychedelic black metal are still operating at an absolutely dizzying creative peak. Mestarin kynsi is maybe the furthest out they've ever ventured into their krautrock, prog, Italo-horror, and other non-metal tendencies, but it also feels like a refinement -- every song is meticulously composed and realized, and every payoff is exactly where it should be. It's a tall order, but it's probably my favorite Oranssi Pazuzu record.

Moses Sumney

A double album exploring the multitudes that make up one Mr. Moses Sumney, via a fusion of art pop/rock, experimental neosoul, and much more. Sumney is clearly operating at a genius level, so writing about his music legit makes me feel dumb, especially because it's impossible to even say what kind of music it really is. But if you like experimental yet accessible music and haven't heard it, you really should.

Andy Shauf
The Neon Skyline

My most listened-to album of the year. A voice like Paul Simon with a Canadian accent over simple but hooky folk rock, and a concept album about a relatively uneventful night out overshadowed by a not-so-long-lost love. Each song is a vignette set either in the present (at the bar) or in our narrator's memory, reliving the dissolution of a relationship. The whole thing gives me kind of an Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind vibe, and it's just so sweet and sad and human and easy to love.

Your Hero Is Not Dead

Heavenly sophisti-pop that reminds me of some of my all-time favorite artists -- Arthur Russell, John Martyn, The Blue Nile -- while retaining an undeniable sense of self. Deft, fluid guitar work; smooth, honey-sweet, understated vocals; and stripped-down, synth and drum machine bases. Alternately playful and downcast, knotty and beautiful, with a sense of constant exploration and questioning that ultimately lands on an answer in the album-closing title track. Your Hero Is Not Dead has already helped me through some of the darkest times of 2020, and I expect it to be a reliable companion for years to come.