Friday, September 23, 2022

John Zorn - The Goddess: Music for the Ancient of Days (2010)


Related:
Painkiller - Execution Ground (1994)

The final installment of a trilogy of albums that found John Zorn at his most accessible by a very wide margin. (Actually, this man has about 4 thousand albums, of which I've heard maybe 20-25, so for all I know, he might have an album of vocal jazz standards sung by Norah Jones.) Ethereal but propulsive jazz fusion powered by a glimmering cloud of vibraphone, harp, piano, guitar, and more. Borders on easy listening at times. If, when you think John Zorn, you think chaotic jazz-grind or discordant avant-garde, this record might blow your mind a bit.

Track listing:
1. Enchantress
2. Ishtar
3. Heptameron
4. White Magick
5. Drawing Down the Moon
6. Beyond the Infinite
7. Ode to Delphi


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Wednesday, September 21, 2022

Eric Holm - Andøya (2014)


Massive, reverberating sounds from UK producer Eric Holm. Thunderous rhythms and static-ridden drones echoing through a vast, lightless expanse. From Holm's bandcamp: "Andoya [...] was made from contact mic recordings of pylons carrying communications cables that connected listening stations on an Arctic Norwegian island."

Track listing:
1. Måtinden
2. Stave
3. Åse
4. Kvastinden
5. Høyvika
6. Andøya


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Sunday, September 18, 2022

Adversam - Animadverte (1999)


Italian black metal. Choral keyboards and dramatic, symphonic-inspired songwriting in the classic In the Nightside Eclipse tradition.

Track listing:
1. Miasma Demou
2. Monument of a Legend
3. Awaiting
4. The Path
5. N.O.D.
6. Geisterfalle
7. Hypertemple
8. Lucifer, Crowned, Avenger and Conqueror


If you like this, listen to:

Thursday, September 15, 2022

School of Emotional Engineering - School of Emotional Engineering (2004)


The only album by this short-lived project, which mostly served as a live vehicle for experimental composer Ben Frost's solo material. An evocative, textural collision of classical minimalism, drone, and abstract post-rock. It's kinda fucked up that this is the first Ben Frost record I've posted.

Track listing:
1. To Be Continued...
2. ... Refrain
3. Falling for Sylvia
4. Of Angel Dust...
5. ... Refrain (Bloodline)
6. Redline
7. She Dreams in Car Crashes
8. Slicing the Skin Between My Toes


Also listen to:

Monday, September 12, 2022

The Resonars - Bright and Dark (1999)


Pitch-perfect Nuggets-style garage/psych pop worship, with a twist of Byrds worship. If my friend who hipped me to this had told me that it came out in 1969, I would have 100% believed him. They even have the severe stereo panning. Great cover of "I'll Keep It with Mine", too. This album and band are both completely new to me -- as I write this, I first heard it less than 24 hours ago -- so I can't really provide any context or information. But I very rarely rush to post something like this, so I obviously really like it.

Track listing:
1. The Golden Age
2. Bathyscope
3. Marina
4. Goodbye Melanie
5. Carrie Don't Care
6. Gina
7. Too Much Girl
8. Eden in Transition
9. I'll Keep It with Mine
10. If He's So Great
11. Under the Blazing Stars
12. Spider West


If you like this, listen to:

Saturday, September 10, 2022

Shara Nelson - What Silence Knows (1993)


Shara Nelson came up with Massive Attack, singing and/or cowriting almost half of Blue Lines, including "Safe from Harm" and "Unfinished Sympathy", their first two hits. Aside from one non-album track, that's where her involvement with The Wild Bunch ends, and I'm guessing it's because she started pursuing a solo career. What Silence Knows, her first solo record, is built on the same kind of danceable, soulful trip-hop that she made with Massive Attack, but skew more pop/R&B/soul. It's a great record, and I think it sold moderately well in England, but it didn't make much of an impression anywhere else, and seems to have largely fallen from pop cultural memory.

Track listing:
1. Nobody
2. Pain Revisited
3. One Goodbye in 10
4. Inside Out
5. Uptight
6. Down That Road
7. Chance
8. Thoughts of You
9. How Close
10. What Silence Knows


If you like this, listen to:

Friday, September 2, 2022

Arild Andersen - Sagn (1990)


Norwegian bassist/composer Arild Andersen's folk-jazz opus. Buoyed by an excellent band that includes the beautiful, dynamic vocals of Kirsten Bråten Berg and rock-leaning guitars of Frode Alnæs, Sagn succeeds where many others have failed: getting me to enjoy a fusion of jazz and Scandinavian folk.

Track listing:
1. Sagn
2. Gardsjenta
3. Eisemo
4. Toll
5. Draum
6. Laurdagskveld
7. Tjovane
8. Sorgmild
9. Svarm
10. Gamlestev
11. Reven
12. Nystev
13. Lussi
14. Rysen
15. Belare
16. Sagn


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Sunday, August 28, 2022

Nord - Nord (2001)


Epic, homespun Québécois solo black metal. Drum machine, sporadic vocals, and hypnotic, surprisingly pretty leads and progressions from a fuzzy analogue haze of guitars and crystalline keyboards.

[This is the 2006 reissue version, which features 2 bonus tracks inserted into the original track order, stretching the album to 70+ minutes, but they're good so fuck it.]

Track listing:
1. Introduction
2. L'Homme
3. L'arbre qui écoute
4. Comme le disait Figaro
5. L'Ame de la foret [bonus]
6. Sagesse Oubliée
7. La nature donne et reprend
8. Sombre Jour [bonus]
9. Interlude
10. Déception partie 1: Croisade
11. Déception partie 2: Hypocrisie
12. Déception partie 3: Purification
13. La marche vers l'inconnu...


Similar listening:

Friday, August 26, 2022

Somei Satoh - Mandala/Sumeru (1982)


Two of many brilliant pieces from Japanese composer Somei Satoh. First, a yawning void of reverberating electronic and vocal drone, then, an extended piece of minimalism via a small chamber orchestra.

Track listing:
1. Mandala
2. Sumeru


You should also listen to:

Tuesday, August 23, 2022

Nihil Nocturne - Wahnsinn.Tod.Verrat (2006)


Previously on OPIUM HUM:
Nihil Nocturne - Necrohell (2003)

OK I have returned. There is an absolute mountain of re-up requests in my inbox, and I'll be getting to those sometime in the next few days. In the meantime, here's some strange, druggy black metal from a great band who I've sadly given up on (according to Metal Archives, they're still active, but they haven't released anything new since 2010 and their Facebook hasn't posted since 2013. ) The kind of record that actually feels like an attempt on the artist's part to cast some kind of spell or curse. I will never understand why this band didn't get more love. If anyone has a higher quality rip, please let me know.

[EDIT: Thanks to commenter emperorofthevoid, the link is now in 320!]

Track listing:
1. Licht, Verzehre Mich!
2. Conjuring the Tyrant of Hell
3. Psychophant Relic
4. Gnosis und Nacht
5. Demon of the Threshold
6. Dysangelist Fir
7. Succumb, Host! (The Glory of Death, Bound to His Sigil and Sword)
8. Ch.a.oe - Kathedralimpuls


You should also check out:

Friday, August 12, 2022

Dissecting Table - Ultimate Psychological Description II (1993)


I'm been visiting with family back east, and won't be back to normal life for another week and a half, so posting will be slow-to-non-existent until then. That said: here's Dissecting Table. As I mentioned in my Zeni Geva post, I couldn't decide which Dissecting Table record to post and in the end, as with that post, I just went with my personal favorite. Ultimate Psychological Description II is a panic-stricken controlled cacophony of industrial noise, hectic percussion and synths, and distorted vocal ejaculations. Starting in the mid-aughts, Dissecting Table started releasing harsh noise albums at an absolutely insane rate, so there is a staggering number of DT albums that I have never heard; any tips on which of those are most worthy would be appreciated.



Track listing:
1. Hymn
2. Kill the God
3. Accomplishment
4. Execution
5. Dead Gods
6. I Get My Slogan
7. Control Matter
8. Untitled
9. Silent Violence
10. Camouflage


More laid-back tunes for sunshine, good times, and fine wine:

Friday, August 5, 2022

Zeni Geva - Desire for Agony (1993)


Got a request for some Dissecting Table, Zeni Geva, and Bastard Noise. The latter I don't really feel qualified to take on: I know Man Is the Bastard pretty well, and have heard (and even played a show with) Bastard Noise, but I really never took the dive on them, partially because I never knew where to start (hint, hint). Zeni Geva, though, is a very different story. Not only do I think they're one of the best bands to have ever graced this otherwise wretched thing we call human existence, but they've influenced my own music as much as any other band. Desire for Agony was the first record of theirs I ever heard, and it's still my favorite. If I ever finish working on this "my top 100 favorite albums" post I've been kicking around for 5 years or so now, you'll see this on it. Blunt, heavy noise rock with an undercurrent of Melvins-y sludge. I envy those of you who are about to hear this band for the first time, as there are bound to be at least a few of you. And here come the nerds to tell me why this is FAR from the best Zeni Geva record.

(A Dissecting Table post should be up soon as well; I'm having trouble picking an album.)

Track listing:
1. Stigma
2. Dead Sun Rising
3. Desire for Agony
4. Heathen Blood
5. Disgraceland
6. Whiteout
7. Love Bite
8. Autopsy Love
9. The Body


If you like this, you should hear:

Wednesday, August 3, 2022

Wanderer - Surrounded by These Firs (1995)


Related:

Lo-fi atmospheric black metal from this short-lived project featuring two future members of Shape of Despair, among many others. Grainy, hypnotic, mid-paced, keyboard-driven sounds for self-imposed isolation.

Track listing:
1. Wanderer
2. Surrounded by These Firs
3. Cold Steps Lead...


If you like this, listen to:

Monday, August 1, 2022

Gutter Instinct - The Insurrection (2015)


Got a case of the Mondays? Bummed that you spilled coffee all over yourself before you even got to work? Feeling helpless and overwhelmed by the sheer, unflinching inhumanity of capitalism? Well, Gutter Instinct are standing by, waiting to help you shake the cobwebs and up your productivity by giving you an utterly unrelenting Swedeath ass-kicking. Everything about this EP and band is fucking sick. Probably one of my favorite death metal groups currently in operation -- they've since added some blackened elements to great success -- and their new(-ish) EP continues their 100% batting average, so don't sleep on that, either.

Track listing:
1. War Command
2. Under the Scythe
3. The Invisible Hand
4. We Hate You


You should also hear:

Saturday, July 30, 2022

Steve Hillage - For to Next (1982)


Previously on OPIUM HUM:

Guitarist/psychedelic lifer Steve Hillage's skewed, hypnotic take on synth-y 80s pop rock, colored by his reliably sublime guitar work and spectral, Eno-esque vocals. I've always loved Hillage's first few records, but for some reason, I never really delved further into his discography until last week, when a friend kinda randomly sent this my way, and I immediately fell in love with it. Destined to be one my most listened-to records of the summer.

Track listing:
1. These Uncharted Lands
2. Kamikaze Eyes
3. Alone
4. Anthems for the Blind
5. Bright Future
6. Frame by Frame
7. Waiting
8. Glory


You should also hear:

Thursday, July 28, 2022

Baxter - Baxter (1998)


Baxter was positioned for crossover success. At the end of the 90s, conventional wisdom was that the future of music was "electronica", a catch-all genre that generally translated to drum-and-bass/jungle/techno/trip-hop with more conventional song structures and vocals. And that's pretty much exactly what Baxter was, minus the techno part. Plus, they had major label backing. But their name was nondescript, their vocalist didn't present herself the way that female musicians were/are expected to, and they didn't really write hooks, so no dice. I ended up finding Baxter/this CD via an add-on deal with the first purchase I ever made from our overlords at Amazon -- another debut album from an also-ran trip-hop artist -- so someone was obviously having trouble unloading copies.

Track listing:
1. Television
2. Fading
3. Love Again
4. I Can't See Why
5. Ballad of Behaviour
6. Political
7. Possible
8. All of My Pride
9. So Much I've Heard
10. Oh My Love


You might also enjoy:

Tuesday, July 26, 2022

Ballet Mécanique - The Icecold Waters of the Egocentric Calculation (1981)


A phenomenal LP of dark, abstract post-punk/art rock from a short-lived Danish outfit that served as the launching pad for the long-lived career of experimental musician Martin Hall. The last track on Side A and the first on side B neatly outline the stylistic breadth of this record: "Theory" is a short blast of moody death-punk, while "Ism" drifts about in an amorphous cloud of disjointed, quasi-tribal drumming, muted violin scrapes, and a choir of moans.

Track listing:
1. An Attempt of Interruption
2. Poem
3. Sweetened
4. Lied
5. Theory
6. Ism
7. Leathern
8. Threads
9. Veins


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Sunday, July 24, 2022

Wormwood - Starvation (2006)


Previously on OPIUM HUM:

Someone just requested that I re-up the link for Requiescat, and it made me want to revisit Wormwood's swan-song: Starvation. Here, they went more atmospheric, leaning into an epic, gothic horror-fueled sound that harkens both to Souls at Zero-era Neurosis and early death/doom bands like Paradise Lost and Anathema, while keeping that crusty base. The last time my old band Wake Up On Fire played with them, we had partied afterwards, and I woke up surrounded by my passed-out bandmates in their percussionist/vocalist's living room, where he had set up a digital scrolling marquee making fun of our guitarist for puking. RIP this band.

Track listing:
1. Passages of Lesser Light
2. Release from Expectation
3. Finite
4. As You Bind, So Are You Bound
5. The Towering Outdoors
6. Last Night I Dreamt That Somebody Loved Me
7. No True Altruism
8. Starvation
9. Gluttony


More from Seattle:

Friday, July 22, 2022

Barry Cleveland - Voluntary Dreaming (1990)


Previously on OPIUM HUM:
Barry Cleveland - Mythos (1984)
Barry Cleveland with Bob Stohl and Kate Epple - Stones of Precious Water (1986)

Insomnia strikes again. Wake up at 4 AM, give up on getting back to sleep a little after 5 as the first hint of daylight comes creeping in. Come downstairs, put headphones on, put this album on. Lush layers of keyboard, guitar (acoustic, electric, 12-string, pedal steel), cimbalom, and gently buoyant percussion fill my ears. My sweet older cat comes and sits next to me, purring. Good boy. My dumb younger cat comes tearing around the corner like a maniac because he has just knocked my copy of Desertshore off the shelf and it was terrifying for him. It also looks like he managed to close the curtains somehow? I'm gonna go make some coffee.

Track listing:
1. Voluntary Dreaming
2. Ritual Sticks
3. Visual Purple
4. The Inward Spiral
5. Cleopatra's Needle
6. Hawk Dreaming
7. The Angel & the Abyss


Also listen to:

Tuesday, July 19, 2022

The Paradise Motel - Left Over Life to Kill (1996)


Dark, dreamy Australian indie rock. Pretty, pristine vocals over glacial noir-Americana, complete with strummed acoustics, and bending, tremolo-saturated leads. Man, I'm loving my old time indie rock and roll over here. There's both an EP and a compilation version of Left Over Life to Kill, both of which have excellent songs that aren't included on the other; bafflingly, the comp only has two songs from the EP. I hemmed and hawed for days over which one to post before ultimately landing on the EP as it's the original, but will probably post a link for the comp version in the comments because they're both essential, and someone is definitely going to request it anyway.

Track listing:
1. German Girl
2. Ashes
3. Letter to a Stranger
4. North of God
5. Jack Star
6. Thumbelina
7. Serpent Intro


If you like this, you'd also like:

Saturday, July 16, 2022

Galgeras - Hellegast (2005)


Dutch lo-fi black metal. One of the first things that attracted me to black metal was that, in its rawest, most primal forms, there's a very real sense of chaos that you just don't get from other styles. Take Hellegast. There are entire songs where it's not entirely clear that guitar and drums are in tandem for any significant length of time. I think it's a drum machine, too (except maybe on the last track?) so it's as if the guitarist was recording his parts without being able to hear the drums properly, and just decided to go with it. But it's all so distorted and difficult to decipher, maybe everything's actually going exactly according to plan? Or are they just making it up as they go along? It's that kind of true chaos that, say, a grindcore record will just never deliver.

Track listing:
1. Barashakusha
2. I See All
3. Night Beckons
4. Zwarte Magie Handhaaft Karma

Thursday, July 14, 2022

Warm Ghost - Narrows (2011)


A great bit of swooning, 80s-leaning, downtempo synth pop from the chillwave era. Hadn't listened to this for years until this morning, and it holds up really, really well. For me, these throwback sounds are always so much better when they're incorporated into new-sounding music, instead of the full-on nostalgia cosplay that's taken over, pretty much across the board, in recent years. I blame Stranger Things.

Track listing:
1. G.T.W.S.
2. I Will Return
3. Once One
4. Myths on Rotting Ships
5. PLY7
6. Inside and Out
7. Mariana
8. Splay of Road
9. An Absolute Light


Same year, same wheelhouse:

Tuesday, July 12, 2022

Arthur Verocai - Arthur Verocai (1972)


A classic of hazy, jazzy Brazilian folk rock. If you're looking for laid-back tunes for a warm summer day, this is exactly it. However, I'd guess that a good chunk of my readers are already familiar with this little slice of heaven, considering that it really made the rounds back in the golden age of mp3 blogs and has been reissued multiple times over the past decade. I'm mostly posting this so that I can relive one of my favorite memories from my recent vacation in Mexico, which this record soundtracked: sunbathing and swimming nude while everyone else except my wife was running errands (we're not a "let's get nude together" kind of crew.) I set a timer for half an hour when they left, figuring they'd be gone at least half an hour, and I had literally JUST put my swimsuit back on when the front door opened.

Track listing:
1. Caboclo
2. Pelas Sombras
3. Sylvia
4. Presente Grego
5. Dedicado a Ela
6. Seriado
7. Na Boca do Sol
8. Velho Parente
9. O Mapa
10. Karina (Domingo no Grajaú)

More greatness from Brazil:

Saturday, July 9, 2022

Lamia Culta - Patre Satane (2009)


Ukrainian symphonic black metal. Add in elements of dark, medieval-ish folk, some epic clean vocals, and plenty of Satanic ritualism, and you're looking at a fucking killer, very slept-on album. The first Lamia Culta record, Patre Satane is also the only Lamia Culta record released as a band; from here on out, it became a one-woman project of vocalist/keyboardist Fosco Culto. That's the form under which Lamia Culta first appeared on my radar: her extremely powerful collaborations with Russian dark ambient project AFFECTVS, which I'm saving for my Spooktober postings.

Track listing:
1. Patre Satane
2. Meca
3. Люцифер
4. Левіафан
5. Veni
6. Я вертаюся вниз
7. Invocarum
8. Белый бред
9. Стань під моє крило
10. Морок
11. Причастя


Also listen to:

Wednesday, July 6, 2022

Tristeza - Dream Signals in Full Circles (2000)


I've been feeling nostalgic for early-aughts indie/post-rock, and after some revisiting, I'm happy to report that Dream Signals in Full Circles is still my favorite Tristeza record. This band has always operated on a much subtler tip than most of their instrumental post-rock peers, eschewing extended crescendos and firework payoffs in favor of lower-key, relatively laid-back sounds. As you might guess, this means that some of their stuff tends to fade into the background. On their second album, Dream Signals in Full Circles, they nailed it. True to the album's name, these pieces feel both dreamlike and circular, moving amorphously through ever-so-slightly shifting cycles -- aided by some cool, dub-influenced bass lines -- before drifting on to the next sequence without resolution.

Track listing:
1. Building Peaks
2. Respirá
3. City of the Future
4. Shift Drifty
5. Auroura Borealis
6. I Am a Cheetah
7. Chiaroscuro
8. Are We People
9. Opiate Slopes


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Monday, July 4, 2022

Her Space Holiday - The Astronauts Are Sleeping Vol. 1 (1999)


My wife and I have been living in the same house since September of 2009. The first time July 4th came around when we were living here, we had walked up the street to our friend's house, and when the two of us got back to our house, we couldn't help but notice the full-on, professional level (read: outrageously expensive) fireworks party happening in the elementary school parking lot directly across the street from our house. So we sat out on our elevated patio, drinking and watching the show 'til it petered out a little after midnight. I think our friend had given us some painkillers earlier. Great night.

The next year, we invited some folks over to BBQ, keeping our fingers crossed that the fireworks people would show up again. And they did, and it was fucking incredible again. So the NEXT year, we went all out, and threw probably the biggest banger of a party we've ever had here. Tons of people showed up, including the fireworks folks -- there were topless ladies setting off fireworks in the street, a dance floor on the patio, people partying on the roof and fucking in the basement, and just good, good vibes. One of the best nights.

This went on for the next few years, albeit never getting quite as wild as that one. Then one year, our dumb-dick neighbors had been shooting Roman candles directly at this big hedge that acted as a wall around the edge of the parking lot, and surprise, surprise: it caught fire. Within minutes, the whole goddamn thing was ablaze -- remember, we're talking about a hedge that encircles an entire elementary school parking lot -- and total pandemonium ensued. My wife was in Australia at the time, and she called me in a panic because someone at the party had posted a shaky, 10-second video on Facebook of a blazing inferno and someone shouting my name over and over (they were trying to get me to move my car out of harm's way.) Not a good night.

That was the last year the fireworks people showed up. It was also the last year before Donald Trump the Politician came looming into view, reminding anyone who needed reminding that whatever progress one may have thought that we as a country had made -- culturally, politically -- was an illusion, and that active regression was the name of the game. The next year, we went to our friend's house for a daytime BBQ, but no one really felt like partying. And that's where we've been since. The past few years, we've spent the 4th hunkered down with our cats, who honestly seem to handle all the noise pretty well. And every year, there's something terrible in the news that begs the question: What's to fucking celebrate? This year is obviously no different, and I don't have to tell you or provide links for you to know exactly what I'm talking about.

So, what does all of this have to do with a low-key, lo-fi-ish slowcore album, you ask? Probably not a lot, honestly. I initially thought of this record because the final track is based on recordings made in Her Space Holiday's backyard on July 4th, 1996 -- he apparently set up mics to record the neighborhood's fireworks, recorded some improvisations in real time, then recorded overdubs the next day. But listening to it now, it's making a lot more sense. The wistful guitar lines, the sweet, murmuring vocals, the analogue, dimly-lit atmosphere -- it's taking me back to that first year with my wife, sitting quietly, feeling warm and full of love, and watching the lights burst into massive, sparkling clouds that dissipated as soon as we laid eyes on them.

Track listing:
1. The Astronauts Are Sleeping (Enter)
2. Promised a Flight
3. Slide Guitars and Moving Cars
4. Our Favorite Day
5. Sweet Baby Jesus
6. Explosion Existence
7. The Astronauts Are Sleeping (Exit)
8. The Fourth of July


Similar vibes:

Sunday, July 3, 2022

Lloth - Dancing in the Dark Lakes of Evil (1997)


Cult Hellenic black metal. This demo is the only release by the original, all-female power trio incarnation of the band, before they renamed themselves Astarte. (Following vocalist/guitarist Tristessa's untimely passing in 2014, her husband reformed Lloth with an all-new lineup.) All in all, you're looking at four tracks of icy, lo-fi second-wave glory, and four ambient instrumentals -- one of which is the longest track on here -- that will have you dungeon synth nerds crying like an orc.

Track listing:
1. Intro
2. The Offering...
3. Empress of the Shadow Land
4. ... In the Weep of the Ocean
5. Mournfull
6. Satisfaction of the Dead
7. Reaching the Palace
8. Outro


More great demos:

Thursday, June 30, 2022

Marion Brown - Sweet Earth Flying (1974)


Sublime, meditative free jazz by saxophonist Marion Brown. Explorative, far-out sounds that are currently making my cat Peepers extremely nervous.

Track listing:
1. Sweet Earth Flying, Part 1
2. Sweet Earth Flying, Part 3
3. Sweet Earth Flying, Part 4: Prince Willie
4. Sweet Earth Flying, Part 5
5. Eleven Light City, Part 1
6. Eleven Light City, Part 2
7. Eleven Light City, Part 3
8. Eleven Light City, Part 4


If you like this, you should hear:

Monday, June 27, 2022

Maestus - Voir dire (2015)


Atmospheric funeral doom from sunny Portland, OR. At the start, a mix of ethereal female vocals, drifting keys, and death growls immediately brought to mind Shape of Despair circa Angels of Distress. Then the more sinister, death-doom-influenced riffs hit, followed by some quasi-operatic male vocals and blackened tremolo picking, and it became apparent that Maestus has forged their own depressive path through the misty Cascadian mountains. Free/name your price via bandcamp.

Track listing:
1. Shrouded by Peaks, Valleys Speak
2. Weeping Granite
3. Tears of Sky
4. Algid Lungs
5. I: Overcast Fields Ridden with Dew
6. II: Specie Æternitas
7. III: Water Sifting Though Iceladen Veins
8. IV: Per Æternitas 


Also listen to:

Saturday, June 25, 2022

Kill the Man Who Questions - Sugar Industry (1999)


Philly political hardcore. I first heard Kill the Man Who Questions through the great Punk Uprisings Vol. 2 comp, on which their song "Your Backlash Against a P.C. Hysteria Is a Fucking Joke" was a personal favorite. I tracked down Sugar Industry via mail order, and it became something of a formative record for me. One track in particular felt like a revelation to me: "You Say It's Your Birthday", a haunting, seething spoken-word piece about the brutal hypocrisy of the pro-life movement delivered over an uneasy, stuttering instrumental. Also, I put "Good Cop, Bad Cop" on a bunch of mixtapes. It's the kind of vaguely arty, anarcho-90s-hardcore that at this point is hopelessly unfashionable, but fuck off, I'm old.

Track listing:
1. Sugar Industry
2. A Study in Elitism
3. White Face
4. You Say It's Your Birthday
5. Where's the Alternative
6. I Apologize for My Hunger
7. Coatrack
8. And You Say You Own It
9. Senior Portrait
10. Census
11. Work Ethic
12. There Will Be No Amnesty
13. Because I'd Probably Fucking Wet Myself
14. Good Cop, Bad Cop
15. Preaching to the Converted

Squeezed out of a crotch, slapped twice on the ass, and cut from the womb. Nine months after conception, you'll start to learn that the political vigilance paid to your so-called rights is now lost as an abstract idea in a sea of hectic human shit. Those that rallied for your birth now offer their sincerest "who-gives-a-shit"s in all your post-natal endeavors. You may not learn the names of those that bravely fought for your rights as a fetus. Perhaps one day, forget the selfless men and women who through prayer, blockade, and clinic harassment you owe your life. So will they conveniently forget you when you're starving in government housing? No, better yet, jail? No, better still, abused by foster parents, totally unemployable with a $200 a day addiction? No, best yet, bleeding to death in a bathroom, clutching a coat-hanger while their war wages on.

Records that had a similar impact on me around the same time:

Friday, June 24, 2022

Atavist - Atavist (2006)


Crushing English drone-doom/sludge/post-metal. Strikes a great balance between the raw, abject misery of sludge and the melodic aspects of post-metal, including a few surprisingly effective major-key sections, like the one towards the end of "31:38" that's very reminiscent of the big payoff riff in Boris' Flood. Yes, those track titles are also the track lengths, so get comfy.

Track listing:
1. 31:38
2. 20:11
3. 14:12

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Tuesday, June 21, 2022

Gomorrha - Gomorrha (1969)


Here in PDX, it seems that summer might finally be hitting. So to mark the occasion, 'bout some hard-driving German psych-pop? After this record, Gomorrha decided that hard prog was where it was at, and re-recorded their debut with a more pronounced psych/blues sound and English lyrics, but I prefer this rawer, less self-conscious version.

Track listing
1. Lola
2. Totes Land
3. Flammenhände
4. Reise
5. Regenbogenschein
6. Gestern
7. Kreiseltanz
8. Sommer
9. Trauma


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Sunday, June 19, 2022

Jennifer Warnes - Jennifer (1972)


Third and easily best solo album by American singer/songwriter Jennifer Warnes, whose career trajectory is weird enough to briefly summarize here. She started out in the late 60s as a folk-rocker singing slightly overwrought covers. Sometimes in the early 70s, she caught the attention of some pretty cool people: her third album (this one) was produced by John Cale, and she joined up with Leonard Cohen, playing in his band and contributing to a bunch of his records over the course of the next five decades. Her ensuing solo records, on the other hand, while moderately commercially successful, were as middle-of-the-road as it gets. In the 80s, she briefly carved out a niche for herself singing the female part on massive hit duets written for movies. First, it was the dreadful "Up Where We Belong", then it was "(I've Had) The Time of My Life", both of which went to #1. Like I said, weird career. [EDIT: Thanks to a commenter, I now know that she also sings on Arthur Russell's "That's Us/Wild Combination", literally one of the best, most beautiful songs ever recorded.]

Anyway, the album. Her best solo record by a wide margin, it consists of the kind of folky pop-rock that dominated the charts in the early 70s, but there's stylistic range beneath the surface -- over the course of three tracks, she jumps from sunny country rock to an ethereal take on Donovan's "Sand and Foam" to a  smoldering, soulful rendition of Free's "Be My Friend" without missing a beat. This can probably partially be attributed to Cale's pitch-perfect production; Warnes' pristine vocals, which are far more subtle and expressive than on her previous efforts; and great songs, which include a Cale original ("Empty Bottles") and Warnes' own take on the now-iconic "These Days". It's not gonna change your life, but it's a really nice listen.

Track listing:
1. In the Morning
2. P.F. Sloan
3. Empty Bottles
4. Sand and Foam
5. Be My Friend
6. Needle and Thread
7. Last Song
8. All My Love's Laughter
9. These Days
10. Magdalene (My Regal Zonophone)


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Friday, June 17, 2022

Wedard - Ein Leben in der Ewigkeit (2006)


German depressive black metal. The sound is raw but big, the guitars are beautiful but slightly out of tune, the vocals sound like lost ghosts, the keyboards are eery and pretty -- everything in its right place. One of those bands who doesn't do anything particularly innovative with a style, but they just do it so well, it feels weirdly fresh.

Track listing:
1. Lifeless (Intro)
2. Der letze Tag
3. Am Ufer des See's
4. Ein Leben in der Ewigkeit
5. Mein letzter Traum
6. Einsam end Verlassen (Outro)


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Wednesday, June 15, 2022

Tipsy - Uh-Oh! (2000)


Second album by the great, inscrutable Tipsy. For those unfamiliar, Tipsy pairs electronic/IDM with mountains of samples from old easy listening, exotica, and lounge records. While Esquivel-fueled 'electronica' was fairly popular around the turn of the millennium, Tipsy's dense, manic, unrelentingly imaginative take on the microgenre was unparalleled. Their first record's the classic, if they have one, but Uh-Oh! is equally worthy imo.

Track listing:
1. Hard Petting
2. Papaya Freeway
3. Hey!
4. Sweet Cinnamon Punch
5. Neon Tetra
6. Wig Out
7. Reverse Cowgirl
8. Swallowtail
9. Moisture Seekers
10. Kitty Takes a Ride
11. Fur Teacup
12. Pink Mood
13. Bunny Kick
14. Suez Motel
15. XXXmas
16. Seaweed
17. Zombie's Mood
18. Eclipse of the Sun Virgin


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Sunday, June 12, 2022

Eclipse - Eclipse (1976)


Quebecois prog excellence. A heady journey through majestic, Floyd-ian space rock, synth-fueled prog-funk, angelic choirs, and driving, earthy psych. And that's just the A-side.

Track listing:
1. Vision intérieure
2. Le rêve de John W.
3. T'aime (voix)
4. Le dernière fois
5. Pleine lune
6. T'aime (moog)
7. Qu'attends to de moi
8. Jusqu'au premier ciel
9. Pensée pour Barbara

If you like this, listen to:

Thursday, June 9, 2022

Photophob - Your Majesty Machine (2004)


Debut full-length from Austrian producer Herwig Holzmann. Gauzy, emotive synths hovering over glitchy, jagged breakbeats. 

Track listing:
1. The Starlight Eater
2. Her Sexy Circuits
3. Floating Near Zero-Zero-Zero
4. While Venting
5. In the Hands of the Space Pirates
6. Two Beeps Means Yes
7. A Little Lesson in Robotic Love Part 1
8. Anger Reduction Control Center Unit
9. Nav Patrol
10. Brain at -273.14C
11. Nomad's Theme
12. Hired Hunter (Killbot)
13. A Little Lesson in Robotic Love Part 2


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Tuesday, June 7, 2022

Flesh Grinder - S.P.L.A.T.T.E.R. (1999)


Brazilian goregrind with overt death metal leanings, particularly in the lead guitars. Choice early Peter Jackson movie samples, killer riffage, and cool little touches like the slimy, echoing midsection in "Cutaneous Anaphilaxis" and the completely unexpected, surprisingly pretty acoustic interlude. Shit, now I gotta watch Bad Taste for the 50th time.

Track listing:
1. Intro (Stomachal Emanation)
2. Chronic Mucocutaneous Candidiasis
3. S.P.L.A.T.T.E.R.
4. Thecnics to Extract the Female Reproductive System thru Anal Canal
5. Cutaneous Anaphilaxis
6. Cavernous Sinus Thrombosis
7. Granulomatous Inflammation with Elliptical Macrophages
8. Acute Syndrome Resembling Infectious Monucleosis
9. The Amorphous (Nonfibrous)
10. Chronic and Recurrent Regurgitant Lung Disease
11. Adverse Effects Seen in Immunologically Compromised Hosts
12. The Adagio of Pathologist
13. Developing Malignant Cancerous Tissue in the 8th Inch of the Large Intestine


More blood, intestinal fluid, and horror movie samples:

Sunday, June 5, 2022

Rafael Toral - Sound Mind Sound Body (1994)


Great news: post-vacation depression is sinking in, so I'm back on my sadboi shit. Here's ambient composer Rafael Toral's first album. Spacious, drifting drones and abstract, glistening minimalism, almost entirely sourced from electric guitar.

Track listing:
1. A E R 4
2. Loopability I
3. A E R 7 E
4. Soft Energy I

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Friday, June 3, 2022

White Sea - This Frontier (2010)


Just got back from one of the best vacations of my life, and I'm not ready for regular life. This includes writing for this dumb blog, which tends to revolve around darker, sadder sounds that stand in stark contrast to the fun, crowd-pleasing types of tunes I've been playing for the past week-plus. So here's the debut EP from an artist who I first heard through her contributions to M83's Saturdays = Youth. Anyone who enjoyed that album's gated drums, big synths, and 80s-throwback vibe will find plenty to love here.

Track listing:
1. Mountaineer
2. Ladykiller
3. Overdrawn
4. Cannibal Love
5. Oljato

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Friday, May 27, 2022

The Gathering - How to Measure a Planet? (1998)


[I'm out of the US for the next week, won't be posting or responding to anything 'til I get back. In the meantime, here's another all-time favorite of mine.]

I've started and erased five different versions of this writeup. The first one was about first hearing The Gathering on a Century Media sampler that also introduced me to Emperor, Eyehategod, Trouble, Samael, and Moonspell; the second was about being temporarily immobilized while listening to How to Measure a Planet? as a severely stoned 17-year-old. Next I tried a different listening story, from a few years ago, when I listened to it while sitting on a log looking out onto Loch Raven reservoir, trying to feel my way through one of the bleakest points of my adult life. Then I tried to incorporate that story into a wider one about how I always feel drawn to How to Measure a Planet? during hard times. Finally, I talked about how The Gathering are clearly a big deal, but I don't know anyone IRL who gives a shit about them, and how I'm not sure if that means that they're big in Europe/elsewhere and not America or if I'm just hanging out with the wrong Americans. And while none of these attempts panned out, the fact that I actually took the time to write/rewrite/delete them -- as opposed to just shitting out a quick description or a tossed-off joke like I normally do -- speaks to how much I fucking love this album.

Track listing:
Disc One
1. Frail (You Might as Well Be Me)
2. Great Ocean Road
3. Rescue Me
4. My Electricity
5. Liberty Bell
6. Red Is a Slow Colour
7. The Big Sleep
8. Marooned
9. Travel
Disc Two
1. South American Ghost Ride
2. Illuminating
3. Locked Away
4. Probably Built in the Fifties
5. How to Measure a Planet?

All I want is to be where you are

Nothing else really sounds like this, but you could also listen to:

Saturday, May 21, 2022

Prinzhorn Dance School - Prinzhorn Dance School (2007)


[Pulled the last post for possible NS content. Thanks to commenter Ektah for the info. Probably should have listened to my gut.]

Here's some extremely minimal art punk with politics that I can get behind. It's hard to imagine more simplistic music than this. For instance, musically, most of "Do You Know Your Butcher" consists of a one-note bass riff and a kick drum, broken up here and there by a choked cymbal hit or a three-note guitar melody. From the accents to their spoken/shouted deliver to their political bent to the male-female dynamic, the vocals have always reminded me of early peace punk. It's a personal all-timer, but some might call it "annoying." I had just moved in with new roommates shortly after this came out, and I was listening to this record really loud, and just as "Crash, Crash, Crash" started, I heard my friend/roommate across the hall angrily yelling, "What the FUCK are you listening to?" 

Track listing:
1. Black Bunker
2. Do You Know Your Butcher
3. Worker
4. Don't Talk to Strangers
5. Hamworthy Sports and Leisure Center
6. You Are the Space Invader
7. Eat, Sleep
8. I Do Not Like Change
9. Lawyers Water Jug
10. Realer, Pretender
11. No Books
12. Up! Up! Up!
13. Crackerjack Docker
14. See M Dahlia
15. Crash, Crash, Crash
16. Space in Your Garden


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