Live in London [CS; Not Not Fun]
The classic splash gracing the cover of Live in London (artfully mimicking the classic album design of RCA albums) is the visual mantra of Brian Pyle’s one-man deconstruction. But on a stage, Pyle is pouring out solitude in 40-minute spurts. Live in London is a man alone in The Vortex, not giving a shit about perception, killing off the old Ensemble Economique one release at a time and wiping his fingerprints from the trigger. Shredding tape loops, shrouding them in a mass of inhumane static until the results are unrecognizable. Aside from the anguished wail of “Do You?” from Sinead O’Connor’s “Nothing Compares 2 U,” much of Live in London is caustic noir. It’s punch-drunk on violence, wildly swinging until it makes contact with the audience. It won’t stop until the pulp has been beaten out of everyone before Pyle washes out the blood stains and goes on destroying what he once held as truth. Pyle’s collecting insurance on a dead entity, using it to build a new identity in a new place, with no remorse for the ruthlessness of obtaining a second life.Links: Ensemble Economique - Not Not Fun
Larvae [CS; Brave Mysteries]
The patience of Larvae is that of actual metamorphosis. It’s a sensual meditation using all the facilities of one man indoctrinated with fantastical mythology. It’s a trip to ruined monuments of historic excess and glorious divination. Hera will sex you up, Zeus will eat your embryo, and Poseidon will make damn sure you are shipwrecked after escaping Sirenum scopuli. Urna hand-feeds you life-giving ambrosia, and to refuse it, to spit in the face of the gods who wish to control your fate, is forgoing knowledge in favor of chance. The mysteries unraveled in the tome of Larvae are yours to absorb, to gulp until you are no longer thirsty. You have it all at your fingertips. Just press play and let the whispered folk tales become your new reality. Television is for the unimaginative, the unworthy. Urna is for the ambitious, the dreamer. Make the proper sacrifice and your godly prize awaits.Links: Brave Mysteries
Alpha Strategy / Projekt Stinka
Muck [12-inch; Ownness]
Alpha Strategy’s side of Muck is like an aging punk rocker slurring over a ramshackle, firecracker-eating band left over from a surf-death party that never actually happened. Effects and scanners warble over the mix like hordes of cockroaches, eating the musicians alive as they sway and swoon. Underneath it all, there is a shuckin’, divin’ rock ‘n’ roll song, and it is called “Append and Divide.” Listen to it. “O Tar Pilous Devout” is up next, and it jumps off the rails immediately. And you thought Sewn Leather was sick; you knew NOTHING! Drum machines and laboratories full of steamy beakers and shit — Arab On Radar were fuckin’ amateurs, man! Project Sinka inhabit the flip side of this warped wax-on wax-off and… the less said about their brand of Spaghetti Eastern the better. Or maybe I like spoken-word-over-accordion more than I think I do. Just maybe, not really. (HIYO?) “Nosohltan” and… that other song, boy; if the excitement from Side A had a cigarette-smoking, bizarro version of itself, Project Stinka would be it. Maybe it’ll grow. But I don’t think it’s going to happen.Links: Ownness
W(REST)LE [CS; Sunshine Ltd.]
In a world flowing with holy men and televangelists, it’s nice to find alternative ways to transcendence. Culled from various religious tombs, W(REST)LE’s experience is far removed from its trappings. Its pulse, though meditative, is faster than its calming surface would have you believe. Accordingly, the end results are just as varied as religion. So much coming from such a small source of history, it’s a whole new hymnal for those who believe in what cures. There is no higher calling, just the voice of the divine. How it’s interpreted is up to the ears that hear its bellow. Rather than hellacious turns of abstract noise, Adams is reaching a hand down from the heavens. He’s pulling the righteous praise and mixing them just outside the gates of St. Peter, then calling to Moses to carve it on tape reels. The only Commandment is ‘Thou cannot ignore.’ Why would you? This is deep, heady prayer from the secular. I am uplifted, and it isn’t by the mangled interpretation of man, but by the Shroud of Adams.Links: Sunshine Ltd.
Watch Yourself [7-inch; Monofonus Press]
A quaint little keyboard jam that reminds me of Papercuts in all the right ways, “Watch Yourself” leads off this single with class, charm, and, most importantly, subtlety. I’m more interested in “The River’s Ridge,” however, because it’s a little more lost and wandering, nothing but a tambourine and a piano to drive the tune home. Quite an accomplishment though; rustic and worn. I thought The Shins would sound like this one day, a long time ago, and they turned to SHIT, so I’m glad Sands Hollow are here to offer this sort of promise/potential/you-know-the-drill. Indie-rock will innovate again! Wandering yet focused, warbling yet precise… is that even possible? Perhaps the answers lie here. I believe this 7-inch previewed a full LP, so look out for that one, as it could be a real gem.
Whispering in Their Presence [CS; Sunshine Ltd.]
I feel as if I need to explain myself, as I now review my third Hakobune tape of the year. Hakobune speaks to me. His gentle guitar strums caress the soul I never knew I had until the first time I heard his work, but lo and behold, it began to stir. I am not redeemed or forgiven. That is not what I ask of Hakobune. All I want is clarity, and once more, it has been granted with Whispering in their Presence. Shivers cascade down my spine. Goosebumps appear. It’s all I can do to not remove this from my Walkman. It crackles, not with the hum of archaic technology, but with warmth. It’s the sensation of night and winter and fall and spring and time and nothingness. It is Zen, and it is chaos. The point of these words are not in review of another beautifully crafted work of space and patience, but a plea that whoever you are — major label lover, casual listener, underground guru — Hakobune should no longer be ignored. He won’t be moving units for those looking to cash in on fad; this is an investment of the mind. Be at peace with stillness.Links: Hakobune - Sunshine Ltd.
It Never Ends [CS; Complicated Dance Steps]
Alexander Heath has come a long way since the early days of Keepbullfighting, traveling a long and circuitous route from South Florida to Los Angeles. Along the road, the project gradually shifted from Commodore 64 dudejams to its current iteration as a one-man cyberpunk blues outfit. Desolate vocoders echo out over television skies. Layers of bitcrushed synths threaten to bury an all-too-human presence that continues to assert itself, an emotive ghost in a self-organizing complex of machines. If bedroom electronic music is the new folk music, It Never Ends is the new Red Hash. The sound of damaged neurons rebuilding themselves. “Version of Reality” features beautifully fingerpicked guitar and blues harp over a faultline of inhuman drones, but the vocals are constantly choked by the smog of technology, and we are left in an existential void. Isolated and claustrophobic to the point of hopelessness, the album nonetheless beckons toward a benevolent psychopathology, a post-apocalyptic horizon in which humanity reasserts itself under a new sun of redemption.Links: Keepbullfighting - Complicated Dance Steps
“Love Song” b/w “Slow Motion” [12-inch; Robot Elephant]
Husband, on upstart UK label Robot Elephant, launch in several directions with “Love Song” b/w “Slow Motion,” which makes even more sense on this 12-inch because they’re being remixed thrice. As far as the source material goes, “Love Song” is a WHY?-ish, groove-is-in-the-heart mix that blends indie and electronic persuasions well. Almost too well. Are dance trax supposed to express emotions? Apparently they are, nowadays at least. My heart says THESE DUDES ARE SAD, while my mind says LISTEN TO THAT FLOOR TOM and CYMBAL BELLS and other percussion ROCK THIS JOINT. “Slow Motion” follows (and is subsequently remixed, to its detriment), and this is where Husband get dangerous, combining throttling riddims, throbbing bass, and menacing chirps and plicks/plucks, not to mention the odd shaker. You could never play this in a club because it’s too fucking good, almost evil in its insistence that what is being done can, in fact, be done. Listen and you’ll know what I mean; the possibilities from here are endless. Super-dark green wax with black smudges = gratitude.Links: Robot Elephant
Another Hard New Age [CS; Rotifer Cassettes]
And as it is, right there in front of here, trickles of “Distant Absence” flutter only senses. Nothing that surreal, or nothing. Just, in a waved motion. Something across — thick, but pure. Not in a gesture, pumping vigorously, light arises, peaking in through “OH!” those fucking cracks, creaking. Wish there was something more clean to “Life Live.” Seeing it right there, like a dream, and you’re not the one whispering because your mouth is clenched. White light tearing through now. Now and right there; here. Half-full, yet flooded already, and most of the time it’s just “Another Hard New Age.” Yet every age, no? How about the rocks and sticks and shit? Their age and grass and air, seeds, water. Prior music and natural sounds. Habitat on habitat, blending and fucking fast for fuss. Fuss and mystery. Mystery for source of light. Ra! Into the future. Again, roughly always and forward. Touch the cleanse. Feel it inside of your inside. Tubular. Everything comes rushing out in colors and streams, nothing solid or concrete, just all evacuation. Retreat//shine\become. Absorb Another Hard New Age.Links: Innercity - Rotifer Cassettes
Smegma / Colour Buk
Split [CS; Weird Forest]
Sometimes it is just too much. Too much noise. Too much action. Too much creativity. Too MUCH. But when it’s not enough, there’s this split from Smegma and Colour Buk. Both masters of din, as collaborators on separate sides of one cassette, madness doesn’t even begin to describe the manic state induced by two sides of oddball festivities. Smegma’s side is from a live show, transcendental childlike states of psychotropic euphoria. It’s any sort of pot and pan being used to make some sort of melody out of chaos, before realizing chaos is far catchier and a better calorie burner. Colour Buk takes it a step further, finding pattern in hording and regurgitating it out of their third-story walkup onto unsuspecting pedestrians on the gray pavement below. Manipulated sounds transform into kid giggles and high-strung hiccups — the pranks of unmusical music, fart noises and oscillating toy notes breaking up the monotony of traditional composition. Oh, Colour Buk and Smegma, how you tease, and in your barbs, we find art like snobbish collectors in need for our next big money fix.Links: Weird Forest