“I put on the new Artificial Brain album and it ______ my ______” (• melted • face) (• battered • torso region) (• shredded all of • ligaments into goo) (• extracted • brain without anesthesia). To describe music they love, some metal enthusiasts default to expressions of bodily destruction and physical violence. The use of this shorthand does not necessarily betray violent or destructive tendencies in the speaker. Stylized verbal brutality, embellished with gory details, attempts to distill the extreme qualities of the music into a succinct mental image. “Artificial Brain drew in close, sized up my frail little body, and punched me right in the kidney.”
“Whoaaaa whaaat? I didn’t know the dudes in Artificial Brain _____ so ______” (• destroyed • hard) (• could play • fast) (• were • shredtacular) (• slayed • completely). Successful technical death metal projects harness the dexterity of their musicians to overwhelm the listener into a state of ecstatic paralysis. This can verbally manifest in bursts of hyperbole and nonsense intended to match the intensity of the musical experience. Over endless writing sessions and rehearsals, players hone their tightly structured compositions into a state of perfect synchronicity that could still sound to the uninitiated like a torrent of senseless noise. The precision of their performances yields willful insanity. They construct a specific chaos. Having tasted flavors of this chaos over and over, the enthusiast comes to discern and relish in the order beneath it.
Artificial Brain gets there. They stand apart from their tech-death peers by way of jarring tonalities and descents into down-tempo doom. Like forefathers Gorguts, the band regularly abandons a song’s development without notice in favor of mind-rending digressions of riffage. Like antecedents The Faceless, their sci-fi lyrical themes, forays into mutated synthesis, and bonkers album art conflate into an otherworldly atmosphere to complement the physical reality of their performances. Recorded and mastered by terrestrial metal deity Colin Marston, the album’s every blastbeat, intertwined guitar line, rapid-fire bass run, and guttural howl reach your eardrums with clarity. Stream Labyrinth Constellation below and expose all your weak spots for punishment — or order the album on CD from Profound Lore.
Reading like a seismograph, that screen-wide glance into audio-waveform streams on SoundCloud is a warning. How deep does it get? This wall of crests “M4U” from the upcoming ENDO KAME album MUSIC 4 EON GREEN on Beer on the Rug is a dynamics-free descent into the muck. The kind of unrelenting bass sounds uncontainable by any size of output. A gentle hum slowly vibrating along the ceiling like cigarette smoke trapped in the basement. The only change swirling from the slow peaks of high-end whispers. A sudden light through the window, as the sun penetrates between the cracks in silhouettes dotting the horizon, emptying the dark tones like a leak. And we’re back where we began, but the breathe of fresh air tastes like concrete. And techno.
MUSIC 4 EON GREEN is the third Beer on the Rug release of 2014, and thus far, it appears as digital only. Breathe it in over at the label’s Bandcamp page.
“Willow And The Dogwood”
Talk West’s Dylan Aycock is seemingly fascinated by dichotomy between acoustic instrumentation and subtle digital processing. On the project’s most recent album Black Coral Sprig, Aycock blends several simple folk based melodies with various electronics and found sounds to create beautiful drones that blur the line between the organic and the processed.
Album centerpiece, “Willow and the Dogwood” is a particularly interesting example of this process. The track essentially functions as a theme and variation on a minimal guitar figure, but as Aycock gradually introduces new harmonies on top of the initial melody, he increases the decay of each attack as well, which creates a near-organ like tone at times. This, coupled with the delicate white noise that underscores the track, raises the question, “Is what we’re hearing is entirely solo guitar?” The white noise could be amp hum, but it could also be an extremely subtle field recording, just like the accumulation of harmonics towards the end of the piece could be the result of decay or a well-placed synth. These vagaries are what make Aycock’s work endlessly fascinating. The dude is excelling at creating lovely music that continually questions where one sound ends and another begins (if a new sound begins at all), while marrying folk simplicity to sonic complexity.
Black Coral Sprig is available from Preservation now. You can listen to “Willow and the Dogwood” below.
“leave the fiend to his dark design against the tyranny of heaven”
Mmmm this is good. “leave the fiend to his dark design against the tyranny of heaven” reminds me of DeForrest bugging out to music. He and I, and Grant and his wife saw angel 1. play ball at Body Actualized Center last December. And it was nearly paradise.
But lemme pick that music talk back up. Having already (officially) released a cassette this year (Jan. 4) on empire label Beer on the Rug, angel 1. is continuing to make it rain on all sorts of power-ups. Aside from it’s lengthy title, the entire six minutes and 30 seconds of nirvana here is much like our universe. There is no real beginning or end. Boarders and walls and edges just don’t exist. As well, it’s totally like going from a fancy ballroom to the dumpster out back. Nearly seconds between muck-noises and pure HD sound is heard, and all you can do is “Fuck on it.” So fuck on it and stream it below, ‘cause angel 1. is keeping his profit gain in the sound-collision masterpiece that is “leave the fiend to his dark design against the tyranny of heaven.”
Stephen O’Malley has populated the catalog of his Editions Mego imprint Ideologic Organ with extreme music on both ends of the spectrum. Unrelenting black metal, noise, and/or drone opuses (see: WOLD, Sunn O))) rehearsal recordings, Okkyung Lee) coexist alongside rituals of minimal ambience (see: Jessika Kenney & Eyvind Kang, the almighty Phurpa). Lone, the forthcoming LP from Japanese singer-songwriter Ai Aso, casts its quiet beauty into the latter category.
Ai Aso’s music, played live with utter simplicity on guitar and synth, inches toward a state of sublime non-performance. Her hypnotizing vocal melodies crystallize every close mic-ed syllable into a drop of emotional expression. Her stripped-down incarnation of “acid-folk” inverts the earnest performance style of Kazuki Tomokawa and Keiji Haino to its polar opposite: no spit flies, no strings break, no ear plugs are required. Songs emerge as benevolent whispers under the dimmed lights of a café. Many of Lone’s compositions have appeared in previous incarnations on Aso’s severely limited physical releases (like あいだ [Aida], her 2009 album on PSF). Their words and sentiments reach us through this live performance recorded in 2012 as sincere remembrances of her past, at once weighed down and liberated by the passage of time.
On “Date,” streaming below, Aso trades her guitar accompaniment for a narcotic two-chord keyboard progression. In the right mindset, the juxtaposition of her vocals against the shrill oscillations and percussive attacks of her synth notes will lull you into a trance. Concentrate, and let go.
Lone arrives on March 31. You can order it now.
• Ideologic Organ: http://editionsmego.com/releases/ideologic-organ
Willie The Kid & Bronze Nazareth
The Living Daylights
Willie The Kid and Bronze Nazareth both originate from Grand Rapids, MI, and both represent the worldwide Wu-born swarm that is the Killa Beez, but their flight paths to this point are very divergent. While Willie The Kid’s older brother, La The Darkman, was among the first official Wu affiliates outside of New York State, after the release of his classic debut, Heist of the Century, he rose to greater heights not through his ongoing wufilliation, but by becoming DJ Drama’s go-to guest rapper, contributing verses to mixtapes by everyone from Lil Wayne to Gucci Mane. Along the way, La brought his younger brother Willie The Kid into the fold. Therefore, though originally inspired to rhyme by the verbal darts of La and the Wu, Willie came up in the mixtape circuit. Until recently, his craft was a reflection of that, which is not to say he wasn’t nice — he just wasn’t given the platform or the beats to do his dirtiest on until he got with the likes of Alchemist, with whom he released the Masterpiece Theatre EP last year.
Before Bronze Nazareth gained the attention, respect and endorsement of the Wu, he too got started rapping alongside his brother; in this case, the brother was Kevlaar 7, with whom he formed the group The Unknown. Their only album, 2000’s Death’s Birth: The Grip of Behemoths, showcased the two brothers (then known as Half Entity and 50/50, respectively) spitting spoken word-style think pieces over Half Entity’s cinematic, if off-kilter, production, which had not yet fully embraced “the Wu sound.” That evolution would occur after Half Entity met Moroccan wuffiliate Cilvaringz, who has the honor of being the first international Killa Bee. It was Cilvaringz who would crown Half Entity Bronze Nazareth and who would introduce Bronze to 4th Disciple, Killarmy, Sunz of Man, and eventually, RZA himself. From there, Bronze contributed beats to dozens of Wu projects and released several acclaimed solo mixtapes and albums, including Thought for Food Vol. 1-2 and 2006’s The Great Migration. That album’s follow-up, 2011’s School For The Blindmen, was marred by poor mastering and failed to live up to its legacy, but Bronze rebounded two years later with The Blenders EP on Man Bites Dog Records, and it was on this EP, on the song “Malcolm X Manuscripts,” that we first heard Willie The Kid over a Bronze Nazareth beat.
The chemistry between the two was immediately evident, so a full-length collaboration was almost inevitable. Well, it’s here now, with Bronze smartly keeping himself behind the boards this time. There is no denying the emotional depths that Bronze has dug from “Sinuhe’s Impasse” to “The Pain” to “Coming From” (which features his only verse on The Living Daylights), but this strength is not necessarily as easily sold as Willie The Kid’s scholarly gusto. Bronze’s always-infectious production, though, provides the perfect soulful complement to The Kid’s royal gospel. Find out for yourself by streaming The Living Daylights below or purchasing it via iTunes.
• Willie The Kid: http://www.datpiff.com/mixtapes-search.php?criteria=keyword:+willie+the+kid
• Bronze Nazareth: http://bronzenazareth.com