Sunday, August 31, 2008

Greg Kelley - Self-Hate Index

Greg Kelley - Shearing Husks

This one was a little hard to get into. Greg Kelley plays the trumpet, but he doesn't play the trumpet the way you or I would play the trumpet. Well, maybe he does, but it sure doesn't sound like it.

Self-Hate Index is a noise record, and although it has it's moments of the power electronics sound, I'd be hesitant to lump it in with that kind of music right away. Greg Kelley is doing something different, something more. Yes, this is an entirely new genre as far as I'm concerned. I shall dub thee "trumpet noise!" Creative, huh? I give you permission to use that whenever you feel like it, as long as you give me credit. Apparently, according to the liner notes, trumpet is the only thing played on this record. That may be true, but I'm positively certain that there is a good deal of electronic wizardry going into manipulating that trumpet.

There are bits of acoustic sounds that you can tell is some dude blowing into something, although not necessarily a trumpet. It's the kind of sound that's full of high pressure air. But that's where this Greg Kelley guy gets smart. He takes one of the most organic sounding things (air) and blurs and pushes the lines so you never really know if you're listening to something electronic or not. Yeah, people have done the analog/digital, nature/machine thing over and over again, but I've never heard something as compelling as this. Not to mention that I often have a hard time actually distinguishing human air and electronic air. That, to me, is a sure sign of success.

Self-Hate Index is pretty scary, with lots of squeaky metal and guy-screaming-for-his-life-about-to-die sounds, all coming from this magical trumpet. Sometimes you can hear Kelley breathing in for the next push, sometimes you hear caustic, thick static that makes you really wonder if it's possible that a trumpet is the source of it.

This is not an easy record to listen to. I'd go so far as to say that Prurient's And Still, Wanting (one of my favorite records this year) is more accessible than this. That had a lot of structure whereas Self-Hate Index is pretty free form. It's all over the place and everything melts together into one long fucked-up-trumpet-athon (there are 7 tracks running just over 45 minutes). This is a chaotic album that requires time and patience. As of right now, I know I haven't given it enough of those things. I love it nonetheless and have every intention of sitting with it to let the intricacies of Kelley's trumpet reveal themselves to me. I know they're there, and I'll be damned if I'm gonna let them hide from me.

Greg Kelley is having the CD Release Party for Self-Hate Index on September 6th at The Piano Factory, along with The Epicureans (who are also doing the CD release thing) and Jed Spear. Semata Productions is putting on the show and releasing both records.

Saturday, August 30, 2008


sBACH - Untitled 5

I love when shit like this happens. You take a guitarist from one amazingly ridiculous band (Spencer Seim of Hella), give him an Atari, and let him go crazy. What you end up with is sBACH (like from Star Trek, get it?).

sBACH is noisy, catchy, 8-bit math rawk. But Seim didn't forsake traditional instruments on this record and that's what makes it so great. He's in fine form and does triple+ duty with drums, guitar, electronics, and who knows what else and it comes out sounding like gold.

It really has to be heard to understand, because I don't think anyone else is really doing anything like this right now. Yeah there's rock bands that incorporate the 8 bit (Anamanguchi, The Depreciation Guild) but it's nothing like this. They're more straight up rock with 8 bit elements. sBACH is like Hella decided to add 3 dudes who's sole purpose was to make video game sounds. We got electronics everywhere, melody, rhythm, and wherever they aren't, real instruments fill in the gaps.

Everything is wicked stuttery, going from full out hyper blast to muddy slow jam and back again within a single song. Some of the songs are fucking epic ("Untitled 5") and some are kinda creepy ("Untitled 9" and "Untitled 13") but they're all awesome and should be played at full volume. If you ever wished Hella and Kid 606 had an 8 bit baby so you could get your dance on, your dreams have come true. Lets hope sBACH isn't just a one-off deal and Seim has enough time to do Hella, The Advantage, sBACH, and whatever else he feels like dipping his hands in.

And here's the video for "Untitled 2" where Seim is in a junkyard, taking apart cars and stuff. Pretty cool.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Seht & Stelzer - Exactly What You Lost

Seht & Stelzer - Untitled 2

I swear, I get scared every time I put this CD on, like I don't know what's coming or something. The first track is some seriously angry shit. That first note just hits you like a needle in the ear but you get used to it after a couple of seconds. It doesn't let up, it's the same notes, just not as startling. You endure the abrasion for almost 3 minutes to be rewarded with some soothing drones afterwards. But that first track is important. It sets the tone. You see, both Stephen Clover (Seht) and Howard Stelzer (Stelzer, duh) had just gone through arduous times with their significant others and decided to do a tape collaboration through the mail (Clover lives in New Zealand and Stelzer in Boston) to make some music indicative of their emotions. So naturally, when you break up with someone, at first you're fucking pissed, hence the nastiness on track 1. And then most people get sad, and that's what follows on the rest of Exactly What You Lost. (See? It helps to know some background info to give the music context. Don't listen to those New Critics. Otherwise that first song would seem really out of place.)

Normally I equate beauty with happiness. You see or hear something beautiful and it usually makes you happy. That's why I think aesthetically pleasing things are so important. But sometimes beauty is also found in sadness. The most immediate thing to come to mind would be William Basinski's Disintegration Loops. Depressing as fuck but still beautiful, right? Well here, on Exactly What You Lost, sadness is abound and track 2 is like a "Disintegration Loop" in reverse. Slow and burning, but instead of decaying into nothingness, it builds, into something both gorgeous and mournful. It's somewhat disorienting, hearing music that makes you sad but sounds so wonderful.

I'm not sure it would do Exactly What You Lost justice to try to describe the music any further. It's something that should be experienced rather than read about. This is a piece that produces strong emotions and is probably best listened to in the company of someone dear to you. That way, you can enjoy the music without getting too depressed. Or maybe you're single, post-breakup, and looking to wallow alone in your bedroom. Well then, my friend, this is exactly what you need.

Exactly What You Lost is out now via Intransitive Recordings (which just so happens to be run by Mr. Stelzer himself). Check out this page for more info on how the music was actually created and to order a copy of the CD.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Toadies - No Deliverance

Toadies - Hell In High Water

I love Toadies. Well, rather, I love Rubberneck (my favorite album from 1994). I never really could get into Hell Below/Stars Above, it was just missing something. And I was hoping that after the 7 years since that came out, they might have something good to say on their newest, No Deliverance. Sadly, that's not the case.

It starts out kind of right. At least, the riff does anyways. But it's just not...weird enough? I don't know. Look, it really pains me to talk about Toadies this way, but I'm not gonna lie. No Deliverance sucks.

One of the problems with No Deliverance is that it's just too clean. Rubberneck was raw and filthy, with production values just shitty enough so you could still understand what was going on. Their new album is crystal clear and it doesn't suit them. Too much is forced on this album, including Todd Lewis' voice. He sounds less like himself and more like him trying to sound like he did 12 years ago. Or maybe somewhere along the line he just became a little too interested in Chris Cornell. Things would be much better if there was just a bit more passion. In the vocals, in the music, in the lyrics, in everything. I mean, "Song I Hate" sounds exactly like a lame Everclear song from 10 years ago. And I'm pretty sure I remember Everclear lacking passion (among other things).

See, I'm proud to listen to Rubberneck, but unfortunately No Deliverance is just kind of embarrassing. There is only one song on here, "Hell In High Water," that I can say that I really enjoy. It's super upbeat, starting out almost like a weird swing song. The guitars are pretty reminiscent of old Toadies, and that's a good thing in this case. Now don't get me wrong, I'm not just looking for Toadies to rehash their old sound. I would love for them to mature and make some new kick ass music. But that's not the case here. They just lost it, at least in the song writing department. I don't know how their live shows hold up (although I will be finding out November 8th at The Paradise).

Here's the thing. If No Deliverance came out in 1994, it would have been buried amongst the rest of the post-grunge refuse. There's nothing remarkable or cool about this album, except that it's made by the same guys who did Rubberneck.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The BSC & Ophibre at The Piano Factory

The BSC at The Piano Factory

Ophibre at The Piano Factory

Last night was my first time at The Piano Factory and for being a gigantic building, that shit is hard to find. Well, finding the room where the show was going down was tough, anyway. Thankfully the security dude at the front office was nice and helpful. Apparently (just for future reference) you have to go around to the back of the building, through the parking lot, down some stairs, through a door propped open with a rock, up some dirty stairs, around the corner and voila! You just found the place where magic happens.

Seriously, The Piano Factory is gonna be the new CBGB's of Boston for experimental music. Take a look at the shit they (they = Ricardo from Semata Productions, who owns/rents the room...or something) got lined up in the next couple of months. I'm not gonna write it all here 'cause it's a lot of stuff, but everything's in the "Shows" section over on the right. Hopefully I'll be able to make it to at least some of those. Like John Wiese. Can't believe he's playing Boston, that's so fucking rad.

But hey ho, onto the show. Last night was awwesoooome. First off, I was like the youngest person there and that was a little weird. There were people there my grandparents age. And that makes those people there the coolest grandparents ever (unless your grandparents are Bjork and Matthew Barney). So I got to talk to Ben (aka Ophibre) before the show. Very cool guy who has good taste in gloves. He went "on stage" and did his thing. It was low end droney stuff that was slightly pulsating, kind of like if an organ had a heartbeat. And then there was this noise on top of it all that sounded like a microphone being dragged through a gravel driveway. Totally awesome. At 20 minutes or so, though, it was a little too short for me. I definitely could've listened to that for another 20 minutes at least. It was one of those things you just want to go on forever.

Then The BSC came on and just blew my mind. Sadly, they were missing two people (Liz Tonne's voice and Mike Bullock's double bass) but being new to the whole BSC thing made it not really matter to me. The first set was really weird because it was a bunch of guys making lots of noise, but it was so quiet. And wonderful. It never once felt chaotic. But oh boy, their second set was nuts, especially compared to the first. They started out full blast, banging and clanking, making a beautiful cacophony. I'm really glad I got to hear both sides of The BSC, it definitely enhanced the experience.

I must say, though, there was a slight downside to seeing them play live. Maybe it was just that I've never heard them before, but it was very difficult for me to absorb the music while watching them play. It was a dark room, with 6 people making all sorts of bizarre sounds with traditional instruments, and I was really focused on figuring out exactly what they were doing. I saw the guitarist doing something with tuning forks, the cellist had weird electronics alongside his cello, and the guys playing the theremin, trumpet, and saxophone were making noises I've never heard come out of those instruments. So yes it was the coolest fucking thing to see live but it also distracted me from the music itself. What this means is that I need to track down some recorded BSC material and throw on the headphones. And when that happens, I will be sure to let you know how amazing it is.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Matthew Robert Cooper - Miniatures

Matthew Robert Cooper - Miniature 1

Eluvium is one my absolute favorite minimal/ambient dudes. I try my hardest to hear everything he makes. And this new record is his first release under his real name, Matthew Robert Cooper, as opposed to a stage name/pseudonym like Eluvium, so obviously I had to have it. I just received it in the mail yesterday and have only been able to listen to it a few times. So while I don't know all of Miniatures' nooks and crannies yet, I was just too excited not to write about it.

So first off, why Matthew Robert Cooper and not Eluvium? Well, because this doesn't sound exactly like Eluvium. Most of it is more pared down and thin. You won't be finding anything like the lush "New Animals From The Air" on here. There are a couple of "Eluvium" sounding songs, but there are very subtle differences that differentiate between Eluvium and MRC. Probably the song that sounds most like Eluvium is the opener, "Miniature 1," and man it is fucking gorgeous. A perfect way to start off a record. There a few piano tracks, like those found on An Accidental Memory In The Case Of Death, but even then it's different. Like on the piano based song "Miniature 7" you can hear a recording of someone writing and turning pages underneath the piano. It reminds me of Max Richter's The Blue Notebooks and that is definitely a good thing.

My only minor complaint right now is cohesiveness. Whereas all previous Eluvium material has a very specific sound, Miniatures seems to be a little more scatter brained (which sounds a little weird when talking about an ambient record). Maybe I'm just having trouble with the combination of traditional piano on some tracks and the layered drones on others. I'm sure everything will fall into place upon further listening, but right now this sounds more like a compilation album than anything. As far as I know, it wasn't meant that way, but if it was, I wouldn't have a problem with it. Because this would probably be the most beautiful compilation ever.

So maybe I should specifically state whether or not I actually like Miniatures. I do. A lot. It's amazing. Not that I expected anything else from a genius. But yes, this record is truly fantastic. I think I'm more partial to music made under the Eluvium name, but that doesn't stop me from loving this. It's only available on vinyl from Gaarden Records, in a limited edition of 2000 copies. The first 1000 come on creme colored vinyl.

Monday, August 25, 2008

MP3: Paza Rahm - Teen Hipster

Paza Rahm - Teen Hipster

I get the feeling that song titles can be pretty random sometimes (see Mogwai). And silly me, I thought that was the case for Paza Rahm's "Teen Hipster" as well. And, yeah, I was really wrong. Not only is this track totally party-worthy, but the last minute of it sounds like it could be the soundtrack to the last dance at a high school graduation party while everyone is having the best time ever just before the cops show up. If there was ever a hipster version of Can't Hardly Wait, I would put money down that this song would end up on the soundtrack. 'Cause hipsters love the 8 bit.

"Teen Hipster" is from Paza Rahm's album The Slaphappy Bee III EP. The entire album can be downloaded for free via 8BitPeoples and I recommend doing so.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Dev/Null - Necrobestial Sadobreaks

Dev/Null - Grind1

Dev/Null - Zombie Sunset

O breakcore, how I love thee. When I'm in the mood, there is no substitute for you. Breakcore is a genre unlike any other. And lucky me, living in the same area as one of my favorite artists, Dev/Null.

Necrobestial Sadobreaks is Dev's latest offering of cut up, fucked up, nasty glitchy electronics. Only this time, the inspiration is metal. FUCK. YES. Count me in.

This album (available on Cock Rock Disco as a free download, do it now) is undeniably awesome. 7 tracks, 16 minutes. 4 of them are really short blasts, lasting only about 40 seconds, and they're numbered "Grind1" through "Grind4." These are some of the best songs on Necro and I'm sure you can guess what they sound like with such names.

The other three tracks are traditional song length (4 to 5 minutes) but are no less brutal. Well, except for "Zombie Sunset." That one kind of shows the sweet side of Dev/Null. It's got this weird spacey/new age stuff going on in the background that sounds like it could be from Ocarina Of Time or something. It's about as melodic and dreamy as breakcore gets. Don't worry, though, it's still unmistakably breakcore and isn't short on ass kicking.

Even if you had to pay for Necrobestial Sadobreaks, I would still highly recommend it. But you don't have to pay for it, it's free. You still should donate at least a couple of bucks through PayPal but either way, this shit is so cool, you have no reason not to listen to it.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Robyn Video

So, uhh, I like Robyn? Like, 1990s "Show Me Love" Robyn? How the fuck did that happen? I don't know. Whatevs. This song is fucking rad and the video is hilarious. I present to you the months old "Konichiwa Bitches."

Friday, August 22, 2008

The BSC ≠ Burning Star Core

So...I'm an idiot. I saw a concert listing on a couple of websites saying something along the lines of "8-26 The BSC, Ophibre at The Piano Factory" and got all excited because I thought The BSC stood for Burning Star Core (even though there's no "the" in front of the latter). Well, I went to make a post just now about the upcoming show, possibly showcasing a video or mp3 of Burning Star Core, only to find out that an entirely different band is playing.

If you happened to be in a similar position to me, let me bring you up to speed. The BSC is a somewhat local, large group of people led by Bhob Rainey (and includes Howard Stelzer, yay!). There doesn't seem to be a lot of info about them. Like, anywhere. Bhob has a website, a MySpace, and a blog (that hasn't been updated since 12-07). The most info I can find is from the Semata Productions blog (the people putting on the show) where it says, "The BSC generates consistently fresh and compelling work through innovative rehearsal techniques and long-standing musical collaborations between individual members of the group."

Well there you have it. This Tuesday night, Ophibre (who recently e-mailed me because he saw me writing about him on my blog, which means I'm famous, again) and The BSC will be playing at The Piano Factory at 791 Tremont Street in Boston. The BSC will be playing two, yes two sets. Sounds like a good time to me. I'll be there. And maybe I'll write about it afterwards.

The best I can do for a song to hear is this sample found on Bhob's website. It's the only track I've found labeled specifically as The BSC (instead of any individual's solo work). So if you like what you hear, maybe you should come to the show. Come on. There's gonna be two sets of awesomeness plus Ophibre. That's pretty hard to pass up.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

A Faulty Chromsome - As An Ex-Anorexic's Six Sicks Exit,...

A Faulty Chromosome - Them Pleasures Of The Flesh

Here's a record that's been constantly in rotation ever since I heard about it from Forest Gospel way back in March. How A Faulty Chromosome has side stepped mainstream indie rock stardom is beyond me because As An Ex-Anorexic's Six Sicks Exit,... is top tier stuff. And I figured there's still not enough people talking about them so I might as well help the cause and maybe shed some light on a truly great band.

Ex-Anorexic is their self released debut record and it's full of everything I love. Super fuzzy, lots of layers, hand claps, lo-fi Casio melodies and beats, hook filled choruses and just enough dance-ability. It's very shoegazey but not straight up shoegaze. And in this case, that's a very very good thing. It's just so wonderful when you hear a record and think to yourself, "I couldn't possibly ask for any more in a band." Every time I put Ex-Anorexic on, I get a smile on my face, even if I doing something shitty like washing dishes (true story. And I fucking hate doing the dishes).

I got a chance to see them play here in Boston a few months back at The Middle East Upstairs (the show that no one came to but I reviewed anyway) and it was a great experience. This isn't necessarily the sort of music you need to hear live, but it definitely makes you want to dance even more than when you're in your living room (which is pretty much the complete opposite of every other band for me).

I'm guessing most of you don't have this record yet, which while understandable (due to lack of exposure) it's totally not understandable because everyone needs to hear this. You can download Ex-Anorexic for free at A Faulty Chromosome's MySpace, although they and I highly recommend donating at least a little bit.

Here's a cool video they made for one of my favorites on the album, "Jackie O." It looks like they filmed a bunch of people dancing at a local concert and it works perfectly with the song. I love the lead singer. That guy has the best moves.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

MP3: Hrvatski - Marbles

Hrvatski - Marbles

I just picked up Marble Madness for the NES a couple days ago. It's easily one of my favorite games ever with some of the best music (also included in that list would be Contra, Double Dragon, Zelda, etc). I grabbed it from the always well stocked Game Zone right down the street from me in Salem. Seriously, I could spend hundreds of dollars in that place and it would only take me 10 minutes. Partially because they have such a great selection of old and new games and also because they're used stuff can be a bit pricey. Dropping $30+ on an NES game is common and they usually have crazy rare stuff to boot. Like right now they have Earthbound ($100) and Super Mario RPG: Legend Of The Seven Stars ($80) and complete-in-box copies of The Punisher for Genesis ($100) and Final Fight Guy for SNES (a Blockbuster exclusive) ($500).

So yes, I used Hrvatski (aka Keith Fullerton Whitman) as an excuse to talk about video games on my music blog. Whatever. Doing a glitch/breakbeat version of video game music is the coolest idea ever. His song "Marbles" is fucking awesome, probably one of the best video game inspired songs that's not strictly a cover I've ever heard. It's based on the music from level 3 in Marble Madness and even has the "Times Up" part where the music stops and goes back to the beginning. This guy is a fucking genius, I tell you. No matter what moniker he uses, he creates amazing music.

"Marbles" can be found on the self released Inedits, but good luck finding a copy. It was a 3" CD-R that he only made 50 copies of 7 years ago. So if you find someone selling it, let me know. 'Cause I want it.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Nudge Video

Nudge made a teaser video for the 2008 Brainwaves Festival. The song is called "Cymatic" and will be found exclusively on the Brainwaves Festival 3 CD compilation. The video is amazing and totally trance-inducing. I have absolutely no idea what is going on, though. No matter, it does it's job and makes me that much more excited about the festival (as if I needed to be).

Blip Festival: Reformat The Planet

I just wrote a review of the movie Blip Festival: Reformat The Planet, a documentary about 8 bit music and the festival exclusively featuring 8 bit musicians. And because this is technically a music blog and it was a movie review, I posted it on my movie blog. Makes sense, right? Anyway, it was a great movie and I highly recommend both it and my review of it (obviously). You can check out the review over on Closet One and (up until the 21st) you can stream the movie at Pitchfork.TV.

Ben Frost - Theory Of Machines

Ben Frost - Theory Of Machines

Ben Frost. Theory Of Machines. Great album. The opening title track, however, is stellar. It starts with fluttery muted piano and some soft guitar drone. Then the low rumbly bass comes in, creating something like a beat, albeit a very slow one. Eventually, an actual beat comes, with snare, cymbals and such. Everything morphs and builds and fades, creating a superb wall of noise, only to drop out into shimmery nothingness. And contrary to how pitiful my words sound in describing "Theory Of Machines," this is truly one of the most gorgeous songs I've heard all year. And for that reason alone, Theory Of Machines is worth every dime spent on it.

But there's still 4 more tracks left to enchant you and they sure do their job. The rest of the album is a bit more industrial sounding than "Theory Of Machines." A little darker and bleaker, with less pretty drones. The majority of the instruments sound like various drum machines and other electronics, with the occasional guitar. But Theory Of Machines does have a nice variety, nothing ever gets tiring. There are both bits of abrasive, scratching distortion and soothing strings and electronic beeps. Plenty to keep you engaged all throughout.

"Stomp" is almost the epitome of the sound found on Theory Of Machines. It's like the kind of song that would be playing while Deckard is searching through sketchy alleys looking for a rogue andy in Blade Runner. Come to think of it, if Vangelis had opted out of doing the soundtrack to Blade Runner, I think Ben Frost would have been a perfect fit (ignoring time lines). And maybe he should do one anyway, in his free time. It would give the movie a much different feeling than from Vangelis' music, but I'm sure it would totally kick ass.

Of course, it's worth mentioning that Ben Frost is from Iceland, mostly because it's always worth mentioning if someone's from Iceland. Speaking in generalities, this is the darkest thing I can ever remember hearing come from Iceland. That is, everything except the last song, "Forgetting You Is Like Breathing Water" (great title, btw). It's totally everything you would expect to hear form Iceland, pretty and filled with strings. It's certainly a strange way to end Theory Of Machines but maybe Frost is trying to say that while machines can go bad and do wrong, eventually everything turns out OK. At least, I hope that's what he's saying, because that would be cool.

Theory Of Machines is out now on Bedroom Community Records and the artwork is really fantastic. The inside sleeve folds out to see (who I assume is) Ben all tied up, hanging upside down. Lots of great photography and liner notes; definitely worthy of purchase.

Monday, August 18, 2008

White Light - For Your Leaves

White Light - I've Been Had

I put this on and the first thing my wife said upon hearing it was, "This sounds like it would be played in an indie book store." And I couldn't agree with her more. White Light has that electro-acoustic bedroom folk-pop thing going on, something that could also have been found on the Garden State Soundtrack without much surprise.

This isn't normally my favorite type of music, mostly because I'm not all that familiar with it and it all tends to sound the same. But I know what I like, regardless of whether or not I'm familiar with a genre, and I like For Your Leaves. It's soft and gentle, very easy going. It's the type of music I could put on in the company of just about anyone and know no one's going to be offended or put off by it. And no matter what stuff you generally listen to, you have to agree that you need to have a least a couple of records like this for when the parents are visiting.

Everything from the male and female vocals on the first half of For Your Leaves to the electronic bloops on the second half are smooth and subdued. Even the traditionally abrasive sounds, like guitar feedback, take on a beautifully serene quality when in the hands of White Light. For Your Leaves is a pleasant album that I probably won't listen to a lot, but I know it will be perfect for those times when I need to sit back and relax, but want something a little more than ambient drone.

Once available on L'Animaux Tryst in a hand numbered limited edition of 50 CD-Rs, For Your Leaves is now sold out through the label. You still may be able to find it through various record stores or if enough of you ask, the label just might make some more.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Best Video Ever

Saw this over on Startling Moniker. And all I want to say is watch this. But then you'll see that it's 10 minutes long and you'll be all like, "Fuck that, I got better things to do." But trust me. You don't have anything better to do than watching this. Need more? The Neverending Story. Xena. John Carpenter. Dan Deacon. Space Invaders. Is that enough? This is one of the best things I've ever seen on the internet. It's that good. And I don't give a shit if it's not purely music related. The music in this is awesome. Like Giorgio Moroder plus 8-bit. Some guy named Pull did it, I guess.

Black Dice & Truman Peyote at MassArt

Black Dice at MassArt

Truman Peyote at MassArt

Peace N Loving at MassArt

Sitting in traffic on 93 for a half an hour made me miss the first band Peace, Loving entirely. I came in just as the lights were turning on and they were packing their stuff up. Oh well. Worse things have happened.

As the next band was setting up, I got to do some people watching. And it was exactly the type of crowd you'd expect to find at a noise show at an art school. The place was filled with about 100 artsy hipsters. That's not supposed to be an insult or anything (I married an art school girl), just an observation.

Now, according to the information found on various websites, Main Fader was supposed to be playing the show. After a quick background check on that guy, it turns out it wasn't just him playing. I believe he was joined by another person and they called themselves Peace N Quiet (as evidenced by the pictures on Main Fader's MySpace page). Anyway, they were cool. They sounded a lot like Fuck Buttons if Fuck Buttons played some real instruments and were more interested in the desert than the jungle.

Next up, Truman Peyote. Great band. Great live show, due in part to their kick ass projections. They took an old overhead projector (the kind from grade school) and put paint and shit on it. It'd be easier to understand if you just watched this video I shot of it.

So Peyote is 3 (surprisingly young) kids playing Animal Collectivey music. Not entirely original, but still a lot of fun and they have a lot of enthusiasm. Thoroughly enjoyable and a great way to get primed for Black Dice.

And immediately after Truman Peyote stopped playing, Black Dice was ready to go. All their shit was set up, but sadly the sound guy wasn't keeping up with them. What would have been a pretty smooth transition turned into another 10 minutes of down time in between sets. No matter, because as soon as Dice went on, everyone was happy. They played the most noisy fucked up, semi-danceable stuff ever and the crowd ate it up.

It's interesting to see how different people absorb music like that. Some rock out, some dance, others sit down, and plenty of people just stand there in awe, either with their eyes closed or their mouths hanging open. Of course, Black Dice didn't fail to impress. The seizure inducing projection mixed with the chest rattling bass and ear blasting squelches made for one awesome fucking show. If you weren't there, you shoulda been.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

MP3: The Boxing Lesson - Muerta

The Boxing Lesson - Muerta

Austin's The Boxing Lesson has a new record out called Wild Streaks & Windy Days, which can be purchased right here on their MySpace page. And while I don't think it's the cat's pajamas, it does have a couple of cool tracks. I especially like the synth heavy ones, in particular "Muerta."

It's got the Goblin-esque creepy synths, sounding like it's from a horror movie, and it's also doing the slow Mexican/Americana thing, which definitely makes for a weird contrast. But it's one that works. Imagine if From Dusk 'Till Dawn came out in the '70s and was directed by John Carpenter. I guarantee "Muerta" would have been found somewhere in that movie. Now that I'm thinking of it, that movie would've kicked so much ass. Why didn't Carpenter make that? I most certainly would've taken that over Assault On Precinct 13.

Anyway, if you needed something else to hook you, I'm pretty sure at one point the singer talks about an octopus who wants to fly. How fucking depressing is that?

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Nightmare Revisited

File this under Top 10 Most Bizarre Compilations Ever. Thanks to Stereogum, I discovered that some of my favorite and, um, not so favorite bands are all going to be creating new music inspired by Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas or doing covers of the original songs.

And just who might be on this record, you ask? None other than Devotchka, The Album Leaf, Amiina, RJD2, Sparklehorse, and many others. The reason I'm only halfway interested in this release is because in addition to those fine fellows, you'll also find bands like Marilyn Manson, All American Rejects, and Korn. Eek. Here's the full tracklist...

01 "Overture" - DeVotchka
02 "Opening" - Danny Elfman
03 "This Is Halloween" - Marilyn Manson
04 "Jack's Lament" - All American Rejects
05 "Doctor Finkelstein/In The Forest" - amiina
06 "What's This?" - Flyleaf
07 "Town Meeting Song" - Polyphonic Spree
08 "Jack And Sally Montage" - The Vitamin String Quartet
09 "Jack's Obsession" - Sparklehorse
10 "Kidnap The Sandy Claws" - Korn
11 "Making Christmas" - Rise Against
12 "Nabbed" - Yoshida Brothers
13 "Sally's Song" - Amy Lee
14 "Christmas Eve Montage" - RJD2
15 "Poor Jack" - Plain White Ts
16 "To The Rescue" - Datarock
17 "Finale/Reprise" - Shiny Toy Guns
18 "Closing" - Danny Elfman
19 "End Title" - The Album Leaf
20 "Oogie Boogie's Song" - Rodrigo y Gabriela

So...yeah. Not exactly gonna run out and pick this up when it comes out on September 30th, but I am kinda curious to see how Rodrigo y Gabriela do on "Oogie Boogie Song." And as much as I'm sure Marilyn Manson is "perfect" for "This Is Halloween" I really would have loved to hear someone, or rather anyone else do it. Especially The Polyphonic Spree. Just someone the complete opposite of Manson. Oh well. Maybe next time.

Njiqahdda - Nji. Njiijn. Njiiijn.

Njiqahdda - Nortil Maatu (excerpt)

This record is friggin' ridiculous. And like most friggin' ridiculous records, this one's pretty tough to peg. Yeah, it could probably be brushed off as just another drop in the black metal bucket but let me assure you, it is much more than that.

Before I get too far into this, I need to make a comparison right up front. Nji. Njiijn. Njiiijn. reminds me a lot of The Heads' Dead In The Water... Like that record, Nji is non-fucking-stop. 4 tracks, all at least 15 minutes long, the entire thing clocking in at 1 hour and 12 minutes.

It's super repetitive, but I mean that in really really good way. The looping quality of Nji is what makes it stand out from the rest of the black metal out there. There are two main elements to Njiqahdda (pronounced nee-gee-kaa-daa): the blackened, growling vocals and the buzzing guitars. Ooooh the guitars. The riffs aren't the sort of thing you'd find Mick Barr doing (not that you really hear him playing a lot of riffs in Orthrelm or Ocrilim. He tends to...actually, I'm not exactly sure what he does.) but when the same riff is played for 10 minutes straight, it takes on a sublime drone quality.

That's another one of the reasons this isn't like your traditional black metal. When everything gets smooshed together, it's beautifully hypnotic. Nothing is crisp, everything sounds at least somewhat warbly and gritty, so it all kind of blends into a dense, crumbling mass of blown out drone. In a perfect world, this record wouldn't end. It would just keep going, the band turning into some kick ass black metal machine that can tear it up ad infinitum. I guess I'll just have to settle for hitting the play button again.

Check out this interview with one of the Njiqahdda guys where he talks about what their name means, their fabricated language, why he'd want to be reincarnated as either a rich dude or a falcon, and who he thinks would get the most out of Nji. Njiijn. Njiiijn.

Black Dice Video

In honor of their upcoming performance at MassART this Friday night, I thought I'd post a Black Dice video. This is "Kokomo" off of Load Blown. Good stuff. The video is a weird brain-fucking-collage type thing. Not unlike a Dan Deacon video.

Click here for some info on the who/where/when of the show on Friday. If I can get down there (or rather, get back home) then I'll probably go. Maybe I'll see one of my many faithful followers there.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Tapes 'N Tapes

Today I spent the majority of my day both procrastinating and being super productive. What I mean is that instead of doing chores (like cleaning the bunnies' litter box or doing the dishes) I transferred the remaining cassettes in my collection to my computer so I can listen to them away from home on my iPod (I don't have a Walkman, sorry). Something I've been meaning to do for quite a while.

Not only was this useful, but also pleasurable as I was able to listen to all of my mostly unlistened-to tapes. What prompted me to do such a thing was the acquisition of those two new ones I found at Time-Lag Records in Portland. Here's a rundown of those fantastic tapes...

Fricara Pacchu - Space Puppet
This is a short tape (15 minutes each side) but full of ass kicking awesomeness. Just like his full length CD that I recently reviewed, Midnight Pyre, it's got bizarre noises that could be interpreted as fucked up Finnish techno. Seriously, though, this guy is officially on my radar and I will be picking up any and all of his previous and future releases that I can. Probably starting with his Stories Of The Old 7" + book from either Forced Exposure or Aquarius.

Ophibre / Adam Sonderberg split
This was a blind buy from Time-Lag, and for 3 bucks, I certainly got my money's worth. Ophibre's side "untitled music for .aiff and magnetic tape" is the better of the two and in fact, I probably won't listen to Sonderberg's side very much, the "untitled music for bell & sine tone." It's a little too piercing for me. But Ophibre's track is wonderful with lots of looped piano.

Evan Caminiti - Buried Light
Intimate, softly beautiful, very droney, somewhat folky. Can you really ask for any more?

Sean McCann - Flutter Oasis
I only got to transfer one side of this one before I had to go into work, but I've listened to the entirety of it previously and it's delicious. Pretty noisy but catchy all at the same time. And it's definitely fluttery, shaking and wobbling all over the place, like some sorta blown out mirage. Hey, that kind of sounds like the album title. Huh. Imagine that.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

One Of The Many Reasons I LOVE Aquarius Records

This is part of their review for Alva Noto's new CD Unitxt:

"Imagine a huge white glass cube filled with robots, all hunkered over computers and drum machines, and synthesizers and equalizers, everything totally automated, huge gears turning, machines pulsing, the robots locked into the same motion over and over, a strange assembly line. At the end, a tiny speaker, facing a huge empty grassy field, a blue sky, nothing in the sky but a single white cloud. Perfectly ovoid. Out of the speaker comes this. That's what we imagine when we listen to Unitxt."

Not only do they review the best shit around but they do it with the best words. You can read the rest of this review on their current New Arrivals list.

The Melvins & Big Business at The Paradise

...was sold out. HORSESHIT.

I watched Dark Days and Being Ron Jeremy instead. Not really a decent substitute, let me tell you.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Back From Maine

Yeah, I was gone for a little while. In Maine. In a cabin. On a lake. It was quite nice, except for the fact that it rained every single day I was there. It was a pleasant respite from work but the best part was what I stumbled upon in Portland on the way home. Waiting for the train ride back to Boston, Elise, her parents, and I ate at a nice restaurant called BiBo's Madd Apple Cafe, where we all ordered the safe soup and sandwich combo (very delicious). Afterwards, we were walking down the street and Elise told me she saw a record store there earlier while they were in town picking me up, so we went looking for it.

Lo and behold, there was Time-Lag Records, one of my favorite online mailorders on the east coast. I was ridiculously fucking excited to actually walk into their store and check out all of the obscure treasures. Due to the in-laws waiting outside, I wasn't able to spend the multiple hours and dollars there that I would have liked to, but I was still able to find a few cool things to pick up. I got two CDs, Quetzolcoatl's Forever Bleeding Canyon Cloud and White Light's For Your Leaves, both of which are great. I also picked up two cassettes that are amazing. I got an Adam Sonderberg and Ophibre split and (this is the best part) I found a Fricara Pacchu tape called Space Puppet for 5 bucks. I didn't even know it existed, and finding something like that it is just so fucking cool. What a great way to end the vacation. If you're ever visiting Portland, Maine, you really should take the time to visit Time-Lag. You won't regret it.

I have a lot of new music to review, I just got my copy of Belong's Same Places (Slow Version) in the mail today, and tonight I'm going to catch The Melvins and Big Business at The Paradise. So hopefully in between all of the hours I'm putting in at work, I'll be able to write some stuff that you'll be interested in reading. And if I'm ever too slow on posting, you can always go check out Forest Gospel. I fucking love those guys and they're always writing new shit.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Fricara Pacchu - Midnight Pyre

Fricara Pacchu - Possessed By Possibilities

Fricara Pacchu is a dude from Finland and Midnight Pyre is his debut full length and boy is it strange. But, as I'm sure you can guess, I mean strange is the best way possible.

It's noisy but not very loud, and has solid beats but not always danceable. I don't know what the hell kind of instruments are used (probably some crazy Finnish stuff) but there's definitely some 8-bit electronics and synthesizers. And that's always a good. Imagine a mix between Fuck Buttons and Shooting Spires, just...more strange. Midnight Pyre is mostly indescribable. Well, lets go with explosive. And I mean explosive in as literal a way possible when talking about music. The second track, "Four Season Of Violins" is a weird dirgey and spacey song, with frequent moments of blown out explosions. Like an actual bomb is going off in the studio. It's the coolest fucking thing. And they show up later on during "Sky Helicopter" as well, in a more integrated way, but I like the disruption they cause on "Four Seasons" better.

"Return Of The Rats" is probably the most fast paced of the bunch and possibly my favorite from the album. It's got this furious drum machine that never lets up, with these lasers shooting around the background while synths play the melody. It's fantastic. And it's kind of a formula they use throughout the album. Lasers, drum machine, synths, that sort of thing. But it never gets old. As soon as Midnight Pyre is over, you want to hit play again.

This is really a record that is all over the place, though. There isn't a single word I could use to sum it up, except weird. Or bizarre. Or any other synonym. And although "Return Of The Rats" one of my faves, it isn't especially indicative of the sound or mood of Midnight Pyre. So I'll put up another one of the cooler tracks, "Possessed By Possibilities."

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Wolf Parade at The Paradise

Photo of Wolf Parade in Barcelona taken by kurren

It started out promising. My friend Rich called me up early in the day, asking me if I want tickets to the Wolf Parade show later that night. I'm not working and my wife is in Maine so I figure, why not. I like Wolf Parade. The doors open at 8, there's 1 band before Wolf Parade, so they'll likely go on around 10. That means I can see them for about 45 minutes before I have to jet out and catch the last Salem train out of North Station at 11:30. That means I can stick around until about 10:45, which is about a 45 minute set. So that's cool.

I get on the train to Boston, and the ticket guy just says to me, "Thanks for waiting" and doesn't charge me. Fuck yeah. Free train ticket. Free concert ticket. I'm liking this. So far, I haven't spent a dime.

I get to The Paradise and ask the door guy what the set times are and he tells me 9:00 and 10:15. Damnit. I just lost 1/3 of the Wolf Parade set right there. Eventually, Rich's friends (guys with the ticket) show up and we go in. The opening band, Wintersleep, doesn't go on until 9:20 or so. What the fuck. I hate that. They have all fucking day to get set up and shit. Nothing is stopping them from going on before 9:00 except the fact that that's when they're scheduled to go on. But no. Dicking around, getting drinks, whatever the hell it is bands do before they go on stage, just cost me half of my remaining time with Wolf Parade.

Wolf Parade goes on about 10:25/30. I see about 5 songs. They open with "You Are A Runner And I Am My Father's Son," they play a few more, and I leave right after "Dear Sons And Daughters Of Hungry Ghosts." Two great songs. And considering I only paid about 10 bucks that evening going to see a sold out show of Wolf Parade, I guess I should be happy. But I just hate when shows start late and I especially hate the goddamn MBTA. The last train on a Saturday night is 11:30? Really? Buncha babies.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Pyha - The Haunted House

Pyha - 노인의 노래 (Song Of The Elderly)

Grim, fucked up, loud, black, metal. Pyha totally destroys. Pyha is a one man black metal band from Korea. And yes, there is a catch. He released this when he was 14. Yeah, he was in 8th grade. Holy shit. I can barely wrap my brain around that. Not only is this one of the best black metal records I've heard but it came from a kid almost 10 years younger than me. And I thought Smoosh was talented. They got nothing on this guy.

Seriously, this is awesome. Super distorted, heavily damaged, and very political. I don't know what the fuck he's singing about (or even what the song titles are, all but one are in Korean) but the inside of the CD case is filled with images of soldiers, mass graves, starving children, and dead bodies. Pyha knows what's going on and needs to express his anger. Thankfully, instead of going on a shooting spree or blowing up some government building, he decided to make some kick ass metal. Lucky us.

I pretty much used all of my metal adjectives in that first sentence up there. So that's what you get. Just listen to the song. This isn't some novelty metal act. "Oh, the cute little kid made some music." No. This shit is for real. And it totally blows me away, regardless of his age. I hope with all my might that someday I have a child who wants to make black metal (and that she's a girl). I will be the most encouraging father ever.