Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Frazier Chorus - Wide Awake (1995)


Previously on OPIUM HUM:
Frazier Chorus - Sue (1989)

Third and final album from the quietly brilliant Frazier Chorus. On Wide Awake, they embraced a smooth, R&B-ish, 90s production style, with palm muted guitars, downtempo beats, muted horn lines, and other stuff that might make for good make-out music if you don't listen to the lyrics.

Track listing:
1. Wide Awake
2. If the Weather Was Up to Me
3. Bye-Bye Little Bird
4. Here We Are
5. Take Us Away
6. Driving
7. Lie, Mimic and Mime
8. Sound Asleep


If you like this, listen to:

Friday, May 13, 2022

Brightblack - Ala.Cali.Tucky (2003)


Previously on OPIUM HUM:
Brightblack Morning Light - Motion to Rejoin (2008)

Languid, smoked-out country rock that's as fitting for late nights as it is for Sunday morning comedowns. Country slowcore, if you will. If you're familiar with the two records they put out after adding "Morning Light" to the end of their name: it's kinda like that, except with more acoustic slide guitar, pedal steel, and two Oldham brothers (yes, one of them's Will) in tow.

Track listing:
1. New Mexico
2. True Bright Blossom
3. Own Time
4. Better Days
5. Old Letters
6. Wildshiney Stars
7. Red
8. Ocean Blue


If you like this, listen to:

Wednesday, May 11, 2022

Becrah - Βωμός μιας αλήθειας (2022)


Time for another installment of "Great New Black Metal Records That Are 'Name Your Price' on Bandcamp". This time, we're going to Greece, where an anonymous group of "individuals willing to express themselves through the black metal music genre" have made one hell of a debut. The perfect mix of raw, almost punk-ish aggression and artful dissonance. There's a sort-of manifesto on their bandcamp in which the band takes a number of stances that I love -- they're anti-NS, anti-centrist, and pro-D.I.Y -- and that's pretty hard to come by in the world of black metal, so fuck yeah, full support.

Track listing:
1. Πτώση (The Fall)
2. Νεκροπόλεις (Necropoleis)
3. Βωμός Μιας Αλήθειας (Altar of a Truth)
4. Το Νήμα Της Τρέλας (The Thread of Madness)
5. Νόμος Είναι Ο Θάνατος (Death Is the Law)
6. Χρησμός (Oracle)
7. Απαρχή (Commencement)


More fresh new black metal:

Saturday, May 7, 2022

Aeoliah - Inner Sanctum (1981)


First album by prolific new age composer/crystal healer/all-around woo woo man Aeoliah. Peaceful clouds of synth, piano, harp, flute, and angelic vocals.

Track listing:
1. Heart Flame
2. Fly into Light
3. Twin Flames Rising
4. Universal Consciousness
5. Fallen Mask [bonus]


More new age nirvana:

Thursday, May 5, 2022

Nokemono - From the Black World (1979)


Old-school Japanese heavy metal with 70s hard rock leanings. From the Black World is the only album this band ever made, and it's a crying goddamn shame 'cause they fully delivered the goods.

Track listing:
1. Run Away
2. Terrible Night
3. 閉ざされた街
4. 失われた愛
5. Big Wednesday
6. From the Black World
7. Back Street
8. 灰に消えた過去
9. 蟻地獄
10. Run Away (Part II)


Also listen to:

Monday, May 2, 2022

Kluizenaer - Ein Abbild Der Leere (2022)


More excellent new black metal from Germany. Reverberating drums, queazy guitars, and tortured howls emanating from a cavernous tomb, encased in a thick shroud of ectoplasmic dark ambience. The one-two beat in "Es Verbrennt Sich" makes me want to punch a cave ghost. Free/name your price via bandcamp.

1. Verewigung
2. Es Verbrennt Sich
3. Ölgötze
4. Stylit


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Saturday, April 30, 2022

Digitonal - Save Your Light for Darker Days (2008)


Lush strings (plus a bit of harp and clarinet) meet downtempo beats and glimmering electronics. The second of just four full-lengths that this collaboration-friendly London project has produced over the course of the last two-plus decades.

Track listing:
1. Ana Kata
2. Silver Poetry
3. Wide-Eyed, Wrapped in Love
4. 93 Years On
5. Nothing Left to Say
6. Emberkreiss
7. A Lighter Touch
8. Gone
9. After the First Death
10. The Beating of Her Heart


Similar listening:

Thursday, April 28, 2022

Klaus Schulze - Irrlicht (1972)


Previously on OPIUM HUM:

RIP to Klaus Schulze, the synth GOAT. Schulze changed electronic music, and as a result, the larger musical landscape, by helping to pioneer sounds that would form the basis for not just ambient/progressive electronic music, but trance and techno. He also created some of my all-time favorite records. So to send him off, here's one of them: his very first solo album, and the first one I ever heard. A piece of pure, foreboding, cosmic drone for the ages.

Track listing:
1. Satz: Ebene
2. Satz: Gewitter (Energy Rise - Energy Collaps)
3. Satz: Exil Sils Maria
4. Dungeon [bonus]


Also listen to:

Wednesday, April 27, 2022

Mincer - Demiurge of Gore Abomination (2015)


Wall-of-sound Italian brutal death metal/goregrind. Pitch-shifted growls and clanging drum machines blast away over a writhing mass of dissonant guitars, with dense, distorted production that'll envelop you like a swarm of locusts.

Track listing:
1. In the Realm of Flesh & Blood
2. Addicted to Rotting Abortion
3. Entrapped into Cursed Hive
4. Desaster in a Shapeless Brain
5. Feeded by Perverse Beautiness
6. Blasphemous Sadochistic Sweaty Embrace
7. Demiurge of Gore Abomination
8. The House of Carnivorous Living Dead
9. Engulfed in the Putrid Pit
10. Morbid Incest Possession
11. Coprobaptized in Gore Again
12. Your Pathology Is Called God


If you like this, you should hear:

Monday, April 25, 2022

Lullatone - Little Songs About Raindrops (2004)


Sweet, chiming, minimal electro-acoustic lullabies from a Japanese husband-wife duo. Woke up at 4:30 AM with my mind racing, immediately knew I wasn't getting back to sleep. Came downstairs to try to shake it off, just ended up sitting on the couch with my heart pounding, putting on a new album every 10 minutes because everything was making me more anxious. Two hours later, this record is the only one that's stuck and actually helped to bring me down a bit. It's fitting because supposedly the project started with the husband recording instrumental lullabies while the wife slept, and I'm down here listening to this because I don't want to wake my wife up. (Don't worry, I'm fine, it happens.)

Track listing:
1. My Petit Prelude
2. Yesterday
3. Wake Up Wake Up
4. Leaves Falling
5. Puddles on the Playground
6. Morning Coffee
7. Afternoon Nap (For Pets)
8. Pitter-Patter Interlude
9. Drip Drops Jumping on an Umbrella
10. A Miniature Finale


More like this:

Saturday, April 23, 2022

Darkflight - Perfectly Calm (2008)


Atmospheric symphonic funeral doom with a lightly blackened finish. Drifting strings, majestically mournful leads, reverb-drenched drums, the occasional dramatic brass melody, and hoarse, rasping vocals.

Track listing:
1. Indifferent
2. Dissolving into Nothingness
3. Distant Pain
4. Perfectly Calm
5. Yet Here I Stand
6. Better Than Real
7. Regard d'outre monde
8. L'ether astral


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Wednesday, April 20, 2022

KÁRYYN - The Quanta Series (2019)


A stunning piece of experimental electro-art pop from this LA-based composer-producer. Acrobatic, expressive vocals over abstract, glitchy production. The Quanta Series compiles a series of EPs released throughout 2018, but its flow as an album could not be better. From its depictions of emotional damage ("Ever"), courage ("Purgatory"), love and lust ("Binary"), and dystopian grief ("Cytokinesis"), this record spoke to me through one of the worst periods of my life, and ended up an all-time favorite.

Track listing:
1. Ever
2. Yajna
3. Purgatory
4. Binary
5. Ambets Gorav
6. Un-c2-See
7. Mirror Me
8. Cytokinesis
9. Aleppo
10. Today I Read Your Life Story 11:11
11. Segment & the Line


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Sunday, April 17, 2022

Malaria! - Emotion (1982)


Excellent German coldwave from an all-female group that never really got their due. I've had a number of time-consuming projects over the past few days so I really don't have the energy to do a proper write-up at the moment. But this is what I'm listening to right now, and it's really, really good.

Track listing:
1. Geld - Money
2. Leidenschaft - Passion
3. Eifersucht - Jealousy
4. Einsam - Lonesome
5. Macht - Power
6. Tod - Death
7. Mensch
8. Slave
9. Traum - Dream
10. Gewissen


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Saturday, April 16, 2022

Dope Body - Nupping (2011)


Baltimore noise rock. False-harmonic-heavy anti-riffs, spastic but in-the-pocket drumming, and shouted, chant-like vocals. If Lightning Bolt is a fistful of uppers, Dope Body is a speedball.

Track listing:
1. Enemy Outta Me
2. The Shape of Grunge to Come
3. Bangers & Yos
4. Chain Link
5. Falling Down
6. City Limits
7. Mr. Black
8. 100 Mile
9. Loner Stoner
10. Force Field


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Thursday, April 14, 2022

Apostle - Dusk for Convenience (1999)


Swedish leftist vegan straight-edge death metal. Guest vocals by Rikard Wermén of Deranged.

Track listing:
1. Fallen Angel
2. Carnage Generation
3. Entangled in Disgust
4. Crestfallen
5. Convenience Is the Decay of Morality
6. Code Red
7. The Final Regret

If you like this, check out:

Monday, April 11, 2022

Yair Elazar Glotman & Mats Erlandsson - Negative Chambers (2017)


A collaboration between Yair Elazar Glotman & Mats Erlandsson. On their own, both artists tend towards experimental drone, but this collaboration finds them generating a fascinating, utterly transfixing take on ritualistic, instrumental psych-folk that's as transportive as it is mysterious. Drone still figures heavily into the equation, of course, but it's a fully organic drone filled with chimes, zither, gimli, and more.

Track listing:
1. Cornelian Cities
2. Orchid Sedation
3. Turn Roots in Iodine
4. Aspirations
5. Ceramic Relic
6. Libra Index
7. Desacrelasation
8. Format and Formalize Desire


Other nodding classics:

Friday, April 8, 2022

Tripping Daisy - I Am an Elastic Firecracker (1995)


Previously on OPIUM HUM:

Tripping Daisy and I Am an Elastic Firecracker are irrevocably wrapped up in three major milestones in my life, thus I will always see them through a refracted lens of youthful exploration and awe, and have no ability to gauge the band or album's quality. So this post is going to be much more autobiographical than music-related. 

I met my first "girlfriend" Becca at summer camp over a conversation about "I Got a Girl", Tripping Daisy's one quasi-hit and adult-me's least favorite song on the album. Later that day, things escalated over a game of spin-the-bottle, then that night, I snuck out of my tent and asked her to be my girlfriend while we laid on our backs looking at the stars. She said yes, and we smooched. One of the most magical nights of my life. When camp was over, it turned out that she lived an hour away, so over the course of the next few months, we went on a total of three dates -- one to see Batman Forever, one to see Waterworld, and one to see an Al Gore speech (L O fucking L) -- before she dumped me and I cried for a week.

Somewhere in there, I went to my first show, and you guessed it: Tripping Daisy, motherfucker. Hagfish opened, so technically they were the first band I ever saw live, and it was literally the loudest thing I had ever heard. I was completely overwhelmed, and bought their CD, which I still think is pretty great. But Tripping Daisy blew my fucking mind -- I just remember headbanging the entire time because I thought that's what you did at a show, and getting the sense that the people next to me were making fun of me. Fuck 'em, I kept headbanging. Then Reverend Horton Heat played and we left a couple songs in because even then I could tell that psychobilly was corny af. My ears were still ringing the next day, but I was in the cool club now. (Just googled the show, and unbelievably, there IS evidence of it on the internet courtesy of the Washington Post. 9/23/95 at Lisner Auditorium. I'm reminded that Supersuckers also played, although I have no memory of their set.)

The following spring, my grandmother died. My grandfather on my mom's side had died when I was 5, but this was the first time I'd really had to reckon with death on a meaningful, existential level. One night before bed, I asked my mom what happened when we die, and she told me that no one really knows for sure, but it's probably just like going to sleep and never waking up. Her answer and her obvious unsureness were both very tough pills to swallow. With my limited musical palette, "Motivation" was probably the saddest song I knew, so I just listened to that on repeat for weeks, including on the way to the ashes-scattering ceremony.

So that's a snapshot of the life of a 12-13-year-old DEAR SPIRIT. Listen to the album, too. Sugary alt-rock with splashes of starry psych, possibly of interest to Smashing Pumpkins fans. I threw in their cover of Harry Nilsson's "Jump into the Fire" from The Craft for bonus nostalgia. Also, I'd love to hear your stories of firsts and their musical associations, if you'd care to share them.

Track listing:
1. Rocketpop
2. Bang
3. I Got a Girl
4. Piranha
5. Motivation
6. Same Dress New Day
7. Trip Along
8. Raindrop
9. Step Behind
10. Noose
11. Prick
12. High


More coming-of-age tunes:

Wednesday, April 6, 2022

Clifford White - Spring Fantasy (1987)


Magical new age from London artist Clifford White. Gentle, playful pieces full of whimsy and wonder, built on simple, repeated synth figures.

Track listing:
1. First Born
2. April Showers
3. Daddy Long Legs
4. Anemone
5. Evensong
6. Into the Blue
7. Dandelions
8. The Rainbow Makers
9. Spring Fantasy
10. Merlins Cave
11. Ballet of the Ripple Skaters


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Sunday, April 3, 2022

Purplene - Purplene (2004)


A near-perfect swan song from this short-lived Australian group. Elements of emo, math rock, and post-rock coalesce in a warm, strangely meditative sound powered by tasteful, angular guitar work, understated vocals, skittering drumming, and subtle, thoughtful compositions.

Track listing:
1. Love: Western
2. Swords Down
3. Lyonhardt
4. The Battler
5. Second Shift
6. Scares for Sores
7. Cahoots = 1
8. Watch the Watch


If you like this, you should hear:

Friday, April 1, 2022

Misery - Revel in Blasphemy (1997)


Extremely beefy, dark OSDM from the land down under. Asked my old band's group thread for workout music recommendations, and my dude fucking delivered.

Track listing:
1. Intro
2. Godspeak
3. Act of War
4. Plague of Humanity
5. Dark Inspirations
6. Infinite Hate
7. Morbid Dreams
8. All That Is Evil
9. A Song Before Dying
10. Rememberance
11. Altered States
12. Revel in Blasphemy

Saturday, March 26, 2022

Miss Dinky - Melodìas Venenosas (2001)


Woozy, ambient synth abstractions from Chilean-born, NYC-residing producer Alejandra Iglesias, aka Dinky/Miss Dinky. Melodìas Venenosas is her first album, and it's a definite outlier in her discography, as from here she went in a generally more danceable/techno direction, which I admittedly haven’t really explored, as I just keep coming back to this record.

Track listing:
1. Spring Rolls
2. Perpetuidad
3. Cilantro
4. Sapos
5. Broken Dream
6. Bahia Azul
7. Chili Drama
8. Chinatown Rape
9. Nora
10. Clare de Sangre
11. Sto Domingo Dub
12. Neruda
13. Agualuz
14. Capoeira


Similar listening:

Sunday, March 20, 2022

Morgion - Cloaked by Ages, Crowned in Earth (2004)


At the beginning of the pandemic, I set aside maybe 300 records to sell, figuring it'd be a soothing house project that could end up netting me a few thousand dollars. They've been sitting in my office for almost two years now, and tomorrow I'm finally gonna take a crate down to the ol' punk/metal record store and see what's what. So I've been sorting out some of the more desirable but not particularly valuable ones -- those I'll probably sell on Discogs -- and came across this LP.

Now, I hadn't listened to this album on any format for maybe a decade, and that alone was why it got set aside, but something compelled me to give it one last spin while I folded some laundry, and fuck that, this one stays. Epic, melodic death/doom with a slightly crusty, earthy feel, a spacious, clean-guitar-heavy atmosphere, and beautiful, meditative vocals, all put together as one continuous piece. Goddamn, what other phenomenal LPs am I about to sell?

Track listing:
1. Cloaked by Ages
2. A Slow Succumbing
3. Ebb Tide
4. Trillium Rune
5. The Mourner's Oak
6. Cairn
7. She the Master Covets
8. Crowned in Earth


If you like this, try:

Saturday, March 19, 2022

Bardspec - Hydrogen (2017)

Related:

Abstract, ambient psych from this project of the great Ivar Bjørnson of Enslaved, featuring Steve Austin of Today Is the Day. Churning oceans of crystalline guitars, synth, and trance-inducing percussion for temporary removal from whatever hell you're being dragged through currently.

Track listing:
1. Deposition
2. Bone
3. Fire Tongue
4. Gamma


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Wednesday, March 16, 2022

Festung - Der Turm (2022)


2022 is still young, but it's already seen the release of a nice grip of great black metal records, and Der Turm is one of my favorites of that crop. Following an excellent demo, it's the first album from this German trio, and it's a near-perfect piece of epic atmospheric black metal, somewhere in the same windswept, blast-heavy vein as Paysage d'Hiver, complete with excursions into the desolate lands of dungeon synth and neofolk.

Free/name your price via bandcamp.

Track listing:
1. Mauer
2. Jericho
3. Fallt!
4. Trümmer
5. Lanze
6. Ewig
7. Wahrheit
8. Wehe uns


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Friday, March 11, 2022

Rob Essers - Raincolors (1994)


Related:

Synth time! Rob Essers is from Holland, and in the 90s, he had a big ol' pile of synths, and he used them to make a pair of nerdy-ass Berlin-school records, then he spontaneously combusted, I think.

Track listing:
1. The Ability to Dream
2. A Walk Through...
3. Truceless
4. Sparkles
5. Square One
6. Luscious Feelings
7. Monochromatic
8. Colors of Rain
9. Loosing Chains
10. Electrons
11. The Trivial Round of Life


More like this:

Tuesday, March 8, 2022

Jerry Butler - The Spice of Life (1972)


Soul singer/Impressions founder Jerry Butler's unsung magnum opus. A double album of big-hearted symphonic soul that somehow has yet to be reissued or offered on streaming services. There's no big, overarching theme at work here -- obviously, love comes up a lot, but that's pretty much par for the course for a soul record -- it's just a collection of great songs that wouldn't fit on one LP.

Track listing:
-Disc One-
1. What's So Good About It (You're My Baby)
2. If I Could Remember (Not Ever Having You)
3. I Only Have Eyes for You
4. That's the Way It Is (That's the Way It Was)
5. One Night Affair
6. A Prayer
7. Get on the Case
8. So Far Away
-Disc Two-
1. I Need You
2. You Can't Always Tell
3. Stop Steppin' on My Dreams
4. Baby I'ma Want You
5. (They Long to Be) Close to You
6. Don't Rip Me Off
7. The Masquerade Is Over / Since I Fell for You
8. All Kinds of People


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Thursday, March 3, 2022

Dragobrath - Fra Myrer Taake (2010)


Related:

Coping with my weltschmerz by listening to Ukrainian black metal, including this slice of excellence from a solo project of Yulian Mytsyk, better known as a principle founding member of Kroda. Like so much great Ukrainian black metal, Fra Myrer Taake simultaneously embodies both the majestic beauty and the icy brutality of nature, never letting the listener get too comfortable with either one.

Track listing:
1. Intro
2. Inhaling the Distant Open Far...
3. Nightwings
4. Fra Myrer Taake...
5. Blazes of Starlit Firmament
6. Crimson Leaves Dance
7. Ravenclouds
8. Walk the Path of Sorrow [Satyricon cover]


More from the Ukraine:

Sunday, February 27, 2022

ilkae - Pistachio Island (2001)


Chilled-out sounds released by the great Merck, a Florida-based label that put out tons of great shit over a relatively short run.  Pistachio Island = 45 vignettes of ambient, beat-driven IDM, along with the artist's encouragement to play it on shuffle. This conceptually playful approach feels like a relic of a bygone era of electronic music, but sonically, the record feels like an antecedent to the whole "chill lo-fi beats" thing, only in ADHD form.

I'm not typing all that out; find the track listing here.


If you like this, listen to:

Friday, February 25, 2022

All Sides - Dedalus (2007)


First album by All Sides, a moniker of German artist Nina Kernicke which she has since changed to Allseits. Dedalus evokes vast, dark spaces with minimal bass-lines, throbbing rhythms, and amorphous guitars.

Track listing:
1. The Idea
2. They Come by Night
3. Luv
4. Dedalus
5. The Unfinished End of H.W.
6. Mistake
7. Against the Sun
8. Runaway
9. Icarus
10. Into the Sea
11. Stay


If you like this, try:

Wednesday, February 23, 2022

Escarnium - Interitus (2016)


Dark, punishing Brazilian death metal. I kinda wrote Interitus off at first -- there was so much OSDM-worship coming out at the time, I think I was just burnt-out -- but upon revisiting, it kicks ass. Refreshingly, Escarnium weren't just aping Incantation. In fact, they're not really aping anyone in particular, although they are somewhere in the razor-sharp, subtly cerebral realm of Immolation.

Track listing:
1. The Horror
2. While the Furnace Burns
3. Starvation Death Process
4. Radioactive Doom
5. Omnis Mortuus Est - Inheritus
6. Macabre Rites
7. Genocide Ritual
8. The Gray Kingdon
9. 100 Days of Bloodbath
10. Human Waste


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Sunday, February 20, 2022

Mother Tongue - Open in Obscurity (1988)


A one-off collaboration between Andrew McKenzie (The Hafler Trio), influential experimental/industrial musician Z'EV, and poet/writer Dorothea Franck. Side A is an 18-minute mass of droning, textural musique concrète; Side B incorporates percussion and Franck's voice into the mix. 

Track listing:
1. Geelgalayah
2. Who
3. Wind Carved My Face
4. Lying in the Desert
5. The Humble Man
6. Heart

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Thursday, February 17, 2022

Soultek - Dreaming Under a Starlit Sky (2009)


Related:
Intrusion - The Seduction of Silence (2009)

More immersive dub techno from another one of Chicago producer Steven Hitchell's many aliases. A hypnotic trip through a nocturnal world of echoing, soft-focus synths and pulsing, punchy beats. Once in a while, a harsher element might attempt to break through, but it quickly disperses like rain on a window.

Track listing:
1. Dreaming Under a Starlit Sky
2. Forever Feeling
3. Elektricity
4. Lighter Path
5. Clouds Overhead
6. Lost in Love
7. World of Dreams
8. Glacial Blue


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Monday, February 14, 2022

The Lover Speaks - The Lover Speaks (1986)


Excellent, sophisticated pop rock/new wave from this short-lived English duo. The Lover Speaks were clearly aiming for the fences with their self-titled debut, and artistically, their efforts paid off -- it's what I want Spandau Ballet to be -- but the album's commercial impact was pretty much nil, and the band broke up while recording their second album. Given that they received their first industry boost by Dave Stewart of Eurythmics, it tracks that The Lover Speaks are best remembered for Annie Lennox's cover of their single, "No More 'I Love You's", which I'm pretty sure most people (in America, anyway) don't realize is a cover.

It's worth noting that, while The Lover Speaks had only two official members -- vocalist David Freeman and everything-else-ist Joseph Hughes -- The Lover Speaks was undeniably a group effort. Most significantly, there's vocalist June Miles-Kingston, whose ethereal, Elizabeth Fraser-esque singing is so prominently featured in every song that it's truly awkward that she wasn't billed as an official member.

Track listing:
1. Every Lover's Sign
2. No More "I Love You's"
3. Never to Forget You
4. Face Me and Smile
5. Absent One
6. Love Is: "I Gave You Everything"
7. "This Can't Go On"
8. Still Faking This Art of Love
9. Tremble Dancing
10. Of Tears


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Saturday, February 12, 2022

Hauschka - Substantial (2004)


First album by Hauschka, a pseudonym of German pianist/composer Volker Bertelmann. Breathtaking, minimal piano pieces with the lightest touches of layering -- a field recording here, an electronic texture here, a synth here, a second piano there. Substantial really taps into a deeply melancholic place in my psyche. Like, as far as my conscious brain is concerned, I'm good, but as soon as this record starts playing, I'm contemplating all the different paths my life could have taken, missing friends from high school who I haven't thought of in years, and mulling over all the sweet things that I should say to my loved ones but just can't ever seem to. Not sure that this is coming off like a ringing endorsement of this record, but it's supposed to be.

Track listing:
1. Orange I
2. Vielleicht
3. Golden
4. Dark I
5. Sequence I
6. Fragile
7. Wait
8. Sequence II
9. Cardiff
10. Dark II

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Thursday, February 10, 2022

Strangelove - Love and Other Demons (1996)


A relatively unsung gem from the Britpop era. Love and Other Demons kicks off with the gnarled, discordant guitar squall of "Living with the Human Machines", before settling on a noire, string-laden sound to accompany the album's themes of addiction and alienation. If that description reminds you of Suede, it should: Strangelove opened for Suede on their Dog Man Star tour, and Brett Anderson sings backing vocals on a couple of tracks here. They also opened for Manic Street Preachers just before Richey Edwards' disappearance, and for Radiohead on one of their first major tours. So clearly, they were in rarified Britrock company, and they had the tunes to back up the hype, but vocalist Patrick Duff chose wellness over rock stardom -- he'd been struggling with serious addiction and mental health issues -- and ended the band shortly after their next album came out.

Track listing:
1. Living with the Human Machines
2. Beautiful Alone
3. Sway
4. 20th Century Cold
5. She's Everywhere
6. #1432
7. Casualties
8. Spiders and Flies
9. Elin's Photograph
10. The Sea of Black


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Sunday, February 6, 2022

M.E.S.H. - Piteous Gate (2015)


Dystopian first LP by M.E.S.H., the main project of Berlin-based producer James Whipple. Much of Piteous Gate is spent in an uncomfortable stillness -- harsh, atonal hits reverberating into a web of heavily processed signals, synths, and digital landfill. When an actual beat does enter the mix, it invariably trips over itself, reboots, contorts, and never quite finds its place. Oneohtrix Point Never fans, on the other hand, should feel right at home.

Track listing:
1. Piteous Gate
2. Optimate
3. Thorium
4. The Black Pill
5. Kritikal & X
6. Epithet
7. Jester's Visage
8. Methy Imbiß
9. Azov Seepage
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Wednesday, February 2, 2022

The Mike Theodore Orchestra - High on Mad Mountain (1979)


Unrelenting, funky, immaculately crafted disco from Detroit producer and frequent Dennis Coffey collaborator Mike Theodore. Unlike so many "The (Blank) Orchestra" disco acts, The Mike Theodore Orchestra was, effectively, an actual orchestra -- on Discogs, 66 people, most of them musicians, are credited for working on High on Mad Mountain, including 7 (seven) separate percussionists. Also unlike so many would-be disco epics, these four extended tracks actually earn their sweeping scope through perfectly executed builds, deceptively intricate arrangements, weirdness, and sheer groove.

Track listing:
1. High on Mad Mountain
2. Wonder Man
3. Disco People

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Monday, January 31, 2022

Empire of Rats - Empire of Rats (2013)


Heavy, ridiculously pissed-off metalcore. Ignorant breakdowns, thrash-y solos, gang vocals, and a hoarse screamer going off about everything and everyone he's ever laid eyes on. I have spent so much time pumping iron to this, my muscles practically have a Pavlovian response to start aching when I put it on.

Track listing:
1. Leeches
2. Another Minute in Hell
3. Bottomless Pit
4. Untitled
5. Society's Zero
6. Rats Reign
7. Sinking
8. Little from the World (Cold as Life)
9. We're Dead
10. Exposed
11. Early Mourning


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Wednesday, January 26, 2022

Doc Corbin Dart - Patricia (1990)


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Doc Corbin Dart's only official solo album. Released the year after The Crucifucks split, Patricia marked a sharp departure from that band's abrasive punk into the jangly world of Replacements-esque indie/alt rock -- although his vocals continue to positively drip with animosity and sarcasm. It's also way more personal than any of the Crucifucks stuff, dealing primarily with Doc's neuroses and mental health struggles.

Track listing:
1. Out My Window
2. Falling
3. The Cathedral
4. Don't Look In
5. Little Town, Little People
6. Fear of Abandonment
7. Casket with Flowers
8. Patricia
9. Here for You Now


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Sunday, January 23, 2022

Upward Arrows - Upward Arrows (2010)


The first album from this project of Melbourne-based artist John McCaffrey, who has also released music as Part Timer and Scissors & Sellotape. There are subtle differences between each of these projects -- Scissors & Sellotape is more abstract and piano-based, Part Timer (his 'main gig') is earthier and more rhythmic, and Upwards Arrows flirts with the sounds of contemporary classical -- but they're all cut of the same cloth. To be a bit reductive, McCaffrey's music generally involves a combination of acoustic/organic instrumentation and glitchy textures, and the end results are uniformly beautiful, damaged, and downcast.

For Upwards Arrows, he joined forces with a string quartet and fellow experimental musician William Ryan Fritch (aka Vieo Abiungo). Most of the record is spent in an amorphous cloud of bright, shimmering drone, made up of strings, wordless vocals, and grainy white noise. Certain moments recall the most atmospheric outer-reaches of neofolk; elsewhere, the harsher elements fully take over. Overall, it's probably my favorite record he's made.

Track listing:
1. ^
2. ^^
3. ^^^
4. ^^^^
5. ^^^^^
6. ^^^^^^
7. ^^^^^^^
8. ^^^^^^^^
9. ^^^^^^^^^
10. ^^^^^^^^^^


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Friday, January 21, 2022

Hermann Szobel - Szobel (1976)


The one and only album by the one and only Hermann Szobel. The short version of the story goes: Szobel waltzed into a Roberta Flack recording session and blew away everyone there with his piano-playing, landed (with the help of his famous promoter uncle) a deal with Arista, recorded and released this incredible debut record, had some sort of breakdown while recording the follow-up, and disappeared. And not just from the industry: his mother filed a missing persons report on his behalf in 2002, and information about his whereabouts has remained sketchy at best since. Supposedly, he's alive and living in SF.

Aside from all of this, though, is the album itself, which is a wondrous labyrinth of avant-fusion from top to bottom. Discordant, controlled chaos that jumps effortlessly from cinematic slow-burning to frantic, panic-driven frenzies, often resembling RIO more than fusion. Szobel had some serious musical and compositional chops, and it could have been a brilliant career, but I supposed the music biz just wan't for him. At least he gave us this one gift before going off-grid.

Track listing:
1. Mr. Softee
2. The Szuite
3. Between 7 & 11
4. Transcendental Floss
5. New York City, 6 AM


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Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Sussan Deihim · Richard Horowitz - Desert Equations: Azax Attra (1985)


The beginning of a fruitful collaborative relationship between American composer Richard Horowitz and Iranian vocalist Sussan Deyhim (that's the way she spells her last name everywhere else, I've never known why it's spelled "Deihim" here.) Technically, this is a compilation of two separate works (Desert Equations and Azax/Attra) released as part of Crammed Disc's Composers' Series, but they're both cut of the same cloth: tribal percussion, tasteful electronics/synth, and dense layers of Deyhim's voice in all its many permutations.

Track listing:
1. Ishtar
2. Got Away
3. I'm a Man
4. Tear
5. Azax Attra
6. Jum Jum
7. Armour
8. Desert Equations (For Brion Gysin)


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Sunday, January 16, 2022

GOD - The Anatomy of Addiction (1994)


Related:

GOD was, as far as I know, the project that first put Kevin Martin (The Bug) on the map. The project's sludgy, noise-rock-by-way-of-industrial-metal core sound was certainly indebted to Godflesh, and this similarity was not lost on Justin Broadrick, who produced the first GOD record and played guitar on the rest of them. However, they're no clones, as GOD occupied a generally more expansive, out-there space that also encompassed free jazz, experimental psych, and more.

Track listing:
1. On All Fours
2. Body Horror
3. Tunnel
4. Lazarus
5. Voodoo Head Blows
6. Bloodstream
7. White Pimp Cut Up
8. Driving the Demons Out
9. Gold Teeth
10. Detox


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Thursday, January 13, 2022

Αρλέτα (Arleta) - 2 (1967)


Haunting, sparse folk from Greek musician Arleta. I came to Arleta in an indirect, nerdy way: namely, via the instrumental trio Dirty Three, whose "I Remember a Time When Once You Used to Love Me" is, I discovered only recently, a cover of a song written by Greek composer/lyricist Giannis Spanos and originally performed by, you guessed it, Arleta. So I've learned a bit about her, including her involvement with the Greek neo kyma scene, her longtime low-key association with gay culture, and her passing in 2017.  But I didn't know any of that when I first heard, and was utterly transfixed, by the elusive, nocturnal sounds of 2. It's just her guitar and voice, illuminated by a touch of reverb, and that's all it needs to be.

[Thanks to adgy, the helpful commenter who uploaded 2 in FLAC, the old crappy link has been replaced by a nice, clean, 320 rip. If you'd rather have it in FLAC, have at it.

Track listing:
1. Τα Μικρά Παιδιά
2. Τίποτ’ Άλλο (Τρίπτυχο)
3. Δύο Γλάροι
4. Καβαλάρης Στραφτερός
5. Έτσι Είναι
6. Νάνι Το Γαρούφαλλό Μου
7. Ήταν Καμάρι Της Αυγής
8. Ο Τρελλός Του Χωριού
9. Σαράντα Μέρες
10. Ήτανε Μόνο Ένα Παιδί
11. Οι Σαρανταπέντε
12. Φώναξέ Με


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