Even for someone who is as steeped in obscurity as Lee Stokoe, this is one of his even more obscure outfits. In Bandril he is accompanied by Rob Galpin of the amazing Crochet and they play something like an improvised psych version of Culver. Very lo-fi sounding it starts with several minutes of random but atmospheric synth doodling and then goes on for about 35 minutes of deep sustained hot-air drone accompanied by inconspicuous percussion. Muzak for the hard of hearing? 2011 cdr on Turgid Animal.
Something is rotten in the kingdom of Denmark. So many artists emerge from there, wielding their synths and trying to put us in a state of complete depression. As if (old) Croatian Amor and labels Posh Isolation and Janushoved weren't enough, here comes øjeRum creeping under our skin with a twenty-minute completely addictive track of looped organ melancholy, painting a landscape of complete desolation. What I see is only pure white; everything has died and I just want to crawl in a corner, curl up and fall asleep, but the white is piercing my closed eyelids. Is this true or am I seeing things in the comatose state I am? I totally find this looped melody to be the soundtrack to a person being in coma. I was listening to this two hours ago while helping my baby child burp from his meal, and he fell asleep to it. Should I be worrying about him? On the flipside, the same melody receives a dramatic violin interpretation by Aaron Martin, making things even more apocalyptic and suicidal. 2018 LP on Midira Records.
It was sad to hear that Jim Baljo is no longer a member of Wolf Eyes; his guitar terror was a great addition in recent Wolf Eyes albums; that said, Nate Young and John Olson still keep it real as a duo. In this new shit, they work together with Universal Indians, an early 90s group that featured John Olson, Aaron Dilloway and Gretchen Gonzales-Davidson, so in fact it's like Wolf Eyes together with Dilloway again plus an associate of theirs. Here they go even deeper into jazz territory, with Olson blasting awesome sax screams all over the place. Nate Young doesn't sing at all, but he is handling awesome terrifying electronics with Gonzales-Davidson, while Dilloway evokes some awesome heavy terror drones. Great improvisational music with a nice percussion touch and generous vibes of 1970s psychedelic kosmische music; as if you expected something less than awesome by these guys. 2018 cd on Lower Floor.
Live is where Marzuraan is at it! While in the studio they play very thick sludgy doom, they still sound kinda lukewarm, but in a live environment it sounds appropriately crushing, what with relentless crash cymbal banging and a heavy bass tone by Lee Stokoe to accompany free form guitar apocalypse. 2005 cdr on Traqueto.
Playful and relaxing African music by Toumani Diabate on the harp-like kora, accompanied by Keletigui Diabate on the balafon xylophone and Basekou Kouyate on ngoni, another traditional tring instrument. 1995 cd on Hannibal Records.
Wow just wow. Here Skeldos is collaborating with fellow Lithuanian singer/musician Daina Dieva creating a gorgeous piece of dark ambient/drone in three long tracks; first track is an imposing religious-like hymn with Daina Dieva in a chanting mode similar to older Grouper and Skeldos in background chants while a haunting drone is lying underneath; track 2 is a 21-minute epic with fog-horn heavy drones and dissonant ghostly violins building and building in a Culver-ian climactic fashion as Daina Dieva continues her chants. Track 3 is one of the most captivating tracks I've heard recently; based on a very simple repetitive droning organ sound loop, Daina Dieva offers a completely heartwarming and devastatingly beautiful vocal performance. The fragile beauty and the fleeting string and accordion sounds remind me a lot of Troum, but this has its own distinctive personality. The production is also worth-noting as it showcases a deep church reverb that elevates the atmospheres generated by the two musicians. An absolute must hear. 2015 self-released cd.
The other day I received the most recent Troum/Drone Records newsflash with new additions in the DR catalogue; as usual it starts with personal recommendations by Stefan Knappe/Baraka (H), and one that attracted my attention was his reference to Skeldos, a Lithuanian solo project of Vytenis Eitminavičius of self-described "anxious electronic, industrial, ambient." I definitely don't see the anxious reference here; the musician plays heavy but atmospheric and longing drone/ambient on Lithuanian zither, accordion and acoustic guitar together with organ and synth drones and he also sings in a calming evocative voice in his mother tongue. The result is very close to Troum - therefore Baraka (H)'s recommendation - yet is not derivative, but very personal. The melancholy here is neither too oppressive not gothy-ethereal, it evokes a sense of hope over defeat. 2018 self-released tape.
The two most recent issues of TQ have been among my favorite ones; after a few issues having attained a more retrospective approach on John Peel, kraut rock and TQ's compilation, these two are back packed with interviews and reviews of new underground music that I've been psyched to discover.
#15 sets off with a review of Craig Johnson, head of Invisible City Records and guy behind Death In Scarsdale. ICR from Gateshead is one of the best drone/noise labels around, having released amazing tapes by Witchblood, Culver, Vampyres, Liminal Haze, Posset, Skull Mask, Stuart Chalmers, and many others, and Death In Scarsdale is an exciting new-ish drone project added to the hotbed of drone activities that are so eminent in Gateshead. I've just seen that Depletion has released a new tape on it and I'm listeing to it right now, and it sounds so good.
A second very enlightening interview/feature is that of Luxury Bucket label, whose owner Lewis Duffy also plays as Shit Creek. Thanks to this feature I discovered Ivonne Van Cleef, a psychedelic western/cabaret/twang/surf solo playing woman from California, who has consistently released a number of awesome tapes that need a lot of attention, plus some good stuff by Shit Creek, mainly this live recording based around violin loops that blew my mind and I had on repeat for several days straight.
There's also an interview with weirdo experimental electronic project Ivan The Tolerable, combined with a "best of" cd containing 22 songs of his. Ivan The Tolerable is a versatile music project focusing mainly on synth-based psychedelic compositions that doesn't sound too far away from mid-80s to mid-90s Coil, but doesn't shy away from featuring more rock-sounding or weirdo synth-pop tunes. I've uploaded the cd for you and you can listen to it here.
Current issue #16 came with two cds; the first is Velvet Teethby Chlorine, which features experimental electronics ranging from hypnagogic mystery to chewed-up techno, and I recommend listening; the other is Halo Dragonfly's Ticking Clock, which features sample and dictaphone manipulations and throat splurge similar to Posset and Yol; the person/group is inclined to banging stuff like Posset does, and I think that this is a great likening for a new artist. Xqui is being interviewed, talking about his radical recording techniques (check out his recent releases Heterogeneous and Starchild), along with Liquid Library label from Bristol, which had released an exciting tape by Bristol local improvised jazz punk outfit Iceman Furniss that I really loved, plus a sleep-compelling drone epic by Zero Gravity Tea Ceremony, Vorre. But the most revealing thing in this issue was the short review of A-Sun Amissa's Ceremony In the Stillness, a band I knew nothing of which plays something like the correct rock version of Bohren & Der Club Of Gore (fuck Kilimanjaro Darkjazz Ensemble), that is massive, towering, monumental drone jazz rock, and now I need to look them up closely. Plus, there's a review of Charlie Ulyatt's forthcoming cello album, about which TQ subscribers are offered a discount. Charlie has been covered on this blog, so you know he's good.
Visit TQ's blog for more info and the necessary subscriptions.
Second Relapse album for Australian industrial/noise/sludge duo Halo after the amazing Guattari, and sadly their last release, as they ceased to exist after a series of aborted recordings that they didn't consider satisfactory. The sound is somewhat less chaotic than Guattari and their previous self-released albums, but at the same time sounds more crushing in its more focused approach, making their early Swans and Godflesh influences more prominent (especially in Filling The Empty Spaces With Cash, which could have been a song on Young God). Oppressive music at its best. 2003 cd on Relapse.
I'm not too much a fan of nordic jazz or nordic folk, but this is truly an exceptional release by vocalist/fiddler Lena Willemark and multi-instrumentalist Ale Möller, both hailing from Sweden. This is an exceptionally creative mix of folk music from the North with northern jazz (for those who think this will be tedious Garbarek rehashing, give it a chance), along with eastern influences arising from the extensive use of hammered dulcimer and harp and some of the melodies that are based on Eastern rather than Scandi-folk scales. There's also a sense of drone and pagan ritual music fused with improvised jazz on the awesome Bjornen. Cool stuff. 1996 cd on ECM.
And here's Timebomb's Ovidian metamorphosis from apocalyptic hardcore death metal to political experimental noise pop-punk close to Fugazi, Unwound, The International Noise Conspiracy, with their singer sounding like a more nasal Men At Work vocalist with an Italian accent! Despite being nothing remotely close to their classic discography I still like it! 2001 cd on Cane Records.
On this split cd, Timebomb re-record three tracks from Hymns For a Decaying Empire, playing them tighter and closer to a metalcore sound, which is still good, albeit slightly less apocalyptic. Nonetheless, they still rock on this one, and nothing hinted to the surprise they had in store sometime later. Redemption is another vegan/straight edge band from Italy, and they play what one might call metalcore, with a more melodic edge close to early Caliban and Lifeforce Records, lots of double-bass and a female vocalist with a very cute and lovable voice. Not something amazing, but much better than what metalcore would come to mean a few years later. 1999 cd on War.Ds.
Easily on of the ten best metallic hardcore albums of all time, right up there with Integrity's mid-1990s unholy trinity, Kickback's Forever War, Catharsis, Ringworm's debut, All Out War's For Those Who Were Crucified, Gehenna's The Birth Of Vengeance 7". Rarely has hardcore sounded so majestic and with a sense of mournfulness and desperation, created by the masterly executed black metal-inspired riffs and blastbeats over the hardcore violence. 1998 cd on CrimethInc.
Wow, one of my favorite records of all time, absolutely epic and devastating metallic hardcore with
creative influences (not copying that is) by the melodic moments of early Integrity, Bolt Thrower, and some black metal, but with a hugely personal sound and intense energy and political passion oozing from every note and drum hit. The lyrics are great with references to everyday life under capitalism, antifascist violence and all. Last track is an interview of the band in Italian. 1995 LP on the historical SOA Records.
In a recent post on Die Or DIY about Michael Morley's Gate, it was said that Morley gives the impression that he can't play the guitar and that he's quite good at pretending to not be able to do so. Well, if playing the guitar means soloing like Joe Satriani, let's hope that Morley really is paraplegic when it comes to guitar-playing.
The same impression is also passed by Ash Cooke, Welsh guitar player for Derrero (when it comes to lo-fi indie of the more electric variety, you can't get better than them), guitar/keyboard/whatever torturer of solo project Pulco, and more recently in Chow Mwng, as well as designer for the covers of TQ Zine.
Nunavik was the one release that introduced Ash to me and probably most people, as it was a free giveaway with TQ #7. In this recording he emulates the Canadian Inuit peoples throat singing style to challenge Western-centric notions of what correct music stands for, and he mixes it with maddening improvisations for Casio synth, percussive junk and guitar whateverness. In fact it sounds like a really damaged human beat box on avant-garde overdose. Cool!
Perforation Function. Amazing work. This is Chow's most melodic/real guitar playing, delivering some pretty acoustic jazz guitar arpeggios while also including his usual synth noise, stream-of-consciousness lyrics, and percussive doodlings. There's a nice concept behind it, too, as this has been his response to David Howcroft's Nurse With Wound mail art action, during which he sent out to volunteers a dismantled tape of a NWW Tusk Festival tape, asking them to destroy/deconstruct it as they saw fit. I understand that most people just smashed it, but Chow Mwng made music around it, resulting in this hereby release, where apart from his live improvisations he includes several samples from said NWW recording. Added to that, he's gonna play live while David will be exhibiting the results of his mail art action during this year's Tusk. I absolutely love this music. (Posset has also made a sound response to the NWW action, producing a tape's worth of a loop of the gig).
I have referred a few times to my teen years of metallic hardcore punk adoration and how this had been to a certain extent my gateway both to politics and noise music. One of those bands I was obsessed with apart from Integrity was Timebomb, a brutal metallic hardcore band from Rome with strongly political lyrics and a vegan/straight-edge message, which was however very far away from the tough-guy/exclusivist attitude of middle-class idiots like Earth Crisis. These people were connected to anarchist and communist political movements, and this was evident through the seriousness of their lyrics, their connection to political labels such as CrimethInc., as well as the passion and conviction emanating from their music. In this early 7", they still hadn't fully fleshed out the epic hardcore metal of their later full-lengths and they had a rawer punk edge akin to other Italian classics such as Raw Power, as well as the amazing Society of Jesus, who (if I remember correctly) shared the Timebomb vocalist, whose gruff vocals was one of the trademarks of Timebomb.1994 7" on the inimitable SOA Records.