Alexandre Navarro
“Effacer le noir”

French minimalist Alexandre Navarro has released his third full-length record, Elements, on his own SEM label. Although Navarro would surely be considered an electronic musician, it’s his gentle guitar playing and sample manipulating that makes his music so emotional and memorable. On this new album, Navarro’s guitar plays a different role, as it echoes tender melodies in the background and serves as a delectable sound to sample and engineer into rich beat-oriented music. Many of the pieces feature more electronic rhythm and percussion than Navarro’s more recent previous releases, but many of the tracks manage to keep in step with his move towards a compositional and even post-rock approach to minimal electronica.

You can hear the whole record on the SEM site , and we are streaming the exceptional track “Effacer le noir” below.

• Alexandre Navarro:
• SEM:

Merzbow Marhaug

“Mer Mar” [excerpt]

If there’s no public bathroom to share with people at your work, then the office will eventually fall apart. Think of it as showers after a sports game. Or the locker room. The more private groups of people form, the more the whole office feels like people are gossiping. Lack of camaraderie comes from little to no neutral physical public submission. Lemme check that. No. Neutral. Physical. Public. Submission. It’s like taking a loud shit, two coworkers coming in to take a leak, and them being cool with the situation because where the fuck else y’all going to take internal business? Thus, this Mer Mar LP by Merzbow Marhaug (on sale meow at Editions Mego) places listeners at both an acceptable distance and neutral submission. It’s more than 45 minutes in length, sounds like tearing apart a body with electronics, and if you listen to it in the world surrounding your world, that means — I think — you’ve just submitted yourself to both the grinding of mantle and walking on dirt. Maybe. Who is this C Monster guy, anyway?

• Merzbow Marhaug:
• Editions Mego:

California X


People living outside California tend to think California is a place inoculated to rage. Sunshine breeds sterility, it seems. Well, while there may be more breathing room along the Bay than in a Manhattan tenement, less brittle air than in a Chicago slum, more mild-mannered Googlers in a West Coast acre than in the entire swath of Baltimore, the truth is that the complacency is maddening, invigorating, combusting. The sunshine and its cults can become ecstatically infuriating. Life isn’t this sunny! Wake up, CA! You Sucker! The same thing everyday! Petrified! You Mummy! Although California X may actually be from Amherst, Maryland, they nailed their name, nailed the sound of physical ecstasy paired with emotional putridity. This writer applauds, being from Virginia at first but now lodged in the Golden State herself. There’re all kinds of afflictions, and each kind needs its own soundtrack. But truly, California aside, “Sucker” is pitch-perfect, every raucous pitch. If you’re craving guitars in these dark digital times, this may be your panacea.

The two-side single “Sucker/Mummy” became available March 12 from The Sounds of Sweet Nothing.

• California X:
• The Sweet Sounds of Nothing:


“The Don”

Fuck that. I ain’t gonna spit on you about his career length or that his voice on this track sounds like Kanye and flow like Ghostface. Moreso, is Nas still killing hip-hop? Uhhh, yeah, have you not played “The Don” yet? Orange circle down below. Click it. It’s proof that when people speak about the death of hip-hop, Nas should replace the phrase “swan song.” If Nas were butter, I’d slather him all over white bread and toast it good. Outcome: delicious. Seriously, I’ve listened to this track more than 40 times now, and my nipples are still hard. AND THE BASS!!!!!!!!! Cops would only pull you over to axe if you legitimately bought this track. Then tell you, “Drive safe. And blast that shit, old man.”

• Nas:
• Def Jam:

Pretty Lightning

“Down With The Moon”

Pretty Lightning hail from the hamlets of Southwestern Germany, but they play the type of scuzzy blues you’d expect to hear in a dusty Arizona biker bar. “Down With The Moon” is roughed-up, Kraut-y goodness, with a catchy folk melody at its core. High above the familiar chugging rhythms float wisps of psychedelia: winding guitar spirals, dreamy falsettos, fuzzy bass.

The album that mothered this cut, There Are Witches in the Woods, was the result of the band shutting itself in a cavernous room to grapple with its sonic visions in full breadth. And yet, listening to “Down With The Moon” produces the opposite effect. It’s liberating, built-for-the-outdoors type stuff, enough to make even the worst cabin-fever metamorphose into a burning desire to take an old pickup truck, grab a few friends, and drive down Route 66 with the radio blasting. Or at least sit out in the sun with a beer.

• Pretty Lightning:
• Fonal:

Mount Eerie

“House Shape”

Phil Elverum, a.k.a. the best thing that’s ever happened to music, has just released the first track off his upcoming album, Clear Moon. Both the album and its forthcoming companion LP, Ocean Roar, were recorded at The Unknown, Elverum’s new recording studio (a “de-sanctified church” in Anacortes, WA). Hear how it all sounds in “House Shape,” and look for Clear Moon on May 22 via P.W. Elverum & Sun.

• P.W. Elverum & Sun:


CHOCOLATE GRINDER is our audio/visual section, with an emphasis on the lesser heard and lesser known. We aim to dig deep, but we'll post any song or video we find interesting, big or small.