“Five Faces of Decay”
While you sleep, the members of Bay Area black metal noise project Sutekh Hexen don’t. Right? How else could they put out 15 releases in three years, tour the US, and, in the case of guitarist/mastermind Kevin Gan Yuen, find time to develop an endless string of eye-popping album designs for everyone from Aidan Baker to Ash Borer? The band embodies the rare combination of a prolific release schedule and a finely tuned sense of quality control, which has won them a metal militia of fans devoted enough to snatch up every release before the casual listener even has a chance to sample the goods. After the more widely available Behind the Throne LP on Magic Bullet and this year’s collaborative album with Andrew Liles, Sutekh Hexen’s profile is higher than ever, but this doesn’t mean that they’re resting on their thorn-laced laurels. More releases on more formats, more shows, more sonic doom, perhaps deeper than ever; the sleepless existence carries on.
After a sold out die-hard collector edition on reel-to-reel tape — the grimmest physical medium? — the Become sessions see a wider release on vinyl via King of the Monsters Records. Check out an excerpt from the EP’s first side, “Five Faces of Decay,” below. Hear a haze of static and low-end drone bury Yuen’s ominous two-chord guitar progression while A.C. Way’s vocal shrieks reach us from what seems to be a bottomless chasm of delay. As the session moves through multiple dynamic movements (each one its own “face of decay,” maybe?), voices and guitar lines funnel down into a layered mire of blackened noise capable of splitting speakers right open at maximum volume. Sutekh Hexen find the middle ground between evil ambience and distorted ferocity, resulting in a side-long composition capable of terrifying and entrancing its audience.
The order page for Become is up on the band’s webstore, but no release date has been listed yet. Keep an eye out in the next couple weeks for the moment to strike.
Back in October 2012, Lil Ugly Mane released two compilations composed of various amateurs’ “first beats / first attempts at making music,” the idea being that there exists a certain purity in one’s initial compulsion to create and, therefore, an otherwise-unattainable degree of realness in an artist’s first recording. This post isn’t about Lil Ugly Mane or his unsupervised doctoral dissertation, though; it’s about Turnbull Green and his new EP, Heady, which Tiny Mix Tapes has the distinct pleasure of premiering to you here and now.
Listening to this five-song set is not unlike listening to the first demo of a talented and tasteful friend who, for years, you’ve been pressuring to record something. It’s raw, spontaneous, and unpredictable in all the right ways. Its mistakes aren’t low points, but happy accidents that steer the song(s) in new directions, adding depth of character and texture. It’s the philosophy of glitch (music) or “experimental punk,” depending on who you ask.
This is not to say that Heady sounds outright amateurish. To the contrary, Turnbull’s take on L.A. Beat-style glitch-hop is clearly the result of much practice and careful consideration. But at its best, the EP seems to grasp, however briefly, the kind of uncompromised integrity one usually only finds in an artist’s first outing — a feat made all the more impressive by the fact that this isn’t Turnbull’s first; his debut LP, The Wolf In You dropped in March on Take A Record/Daylight Curfew.
• Turnbull Green: http://turnbullgreen.com
Celebration of the withering and elderly is moot. As moot as the word moot’s existence in today’s language. And it ticks on into what Nicolas (Esteban Aldrete) provides as home. Comfort in the state of bouldering paranoia and anxiety, he keeps the suspense within the crevices of goose bumps, forever. The phone is ringing and nobody wants to answer. Don’t know if they around or not. Or got the fists or fingers to operate the receiver. Fraught with decisions and too much time, many beckon to the arch when they “Date Cuenta.” Scream it now: “Date Cuenta!”
Soft in suspect, but vast in depth. No. Nicolas, NO! Creep up and crank that dance by the bedpost. Make it more than the music and heavier than the situation. Wake up the neighbors. Stop into their living room. Become thy neighbor. It’s almost too much to take in and all the while exhilarating. Stars and SARS and scars; streaks of the unknown succumb to satiable singularity. Morph of mind and transference of you, you “Date Cuenta.”
Night People creaks the corners with Nicolas on Las Lomas II, and for 45 minutes, it’s all green and brown, flaking lobes and budging globes.
• Night People: http://raccoo-oo-oon.org/np
The Wave Pictures
“The Woods (Live at Toe Rag)”
I feel like some kind of indie rock soothsayer. Having just orchestrated a fictional guitar dual between Steph from Shield Your Eyes and David from the Wave Pictures, I happen to stumble upon a new video by the latter. And it really throws down the gauntlet.
“The Woods” is over six minutes long, featuring two bass solos, and one killer guitar solo; the video a tense one-room boiling pot of tape reels, plaid shirts, and wires. The venue? Hackney’s famous Toe Rag Studios, womb of The White Stripes’ Elephant album and many more.
The Wave Pictures have been tenser, tauter, and angrier for a while now. Gone are the days of “The sun came in like a pack of orange spaniels;” instead, we’re taken to a place where our protagonist snarls about how “the fear is bland like English food and warm like English Beer.” It would take me more hours and words than either of us have time for to delve properly into David’s lyrics here, but I cant remember the last time I heard someone sound so simultaneously eloquent and pissed-off.
The band’s new double album, City Forgiveness, comes out on the 21st of October.
Taking matters deeper than dirty, one reaches the matter of crystal culture, where new ground is constantly being broken by brilliant extensions in all three spatial dimension. Colors vast, not blemished by sunlight, but shining bright from the lava and magma river running below the farm of crystallization. Unseen by any human, these families and cities of euhedral and anhedral structures, mingling between atoms, molecules, or ions, harnessing the healing power of nature to Earth to the flows of life that’s personally unimaginable.
What if these crystals were here and living privately and hidden for a reason? What if they were the balance keeping the Earth at its most calm/now? Preventing nature from turning inside-out? Furthering humans from developing “Échelles Humaines”? Documentaires tells of these dangers and more! Find the Constellation Tatsu. The answers are with Bataille Solaire. Listen closely. This can’t get any easier, right? Keep clicking.
“Black Sea of Trees”
I’ve long believed that adjectives in music criticism are a waste of my time and yours. This is why, in my two years at Tiny Mix Tapes, I’ve deferred (with very questionable success) to lists, theses, and annotations to get the job done. So what might seem like a clever ruse to you is, for me, simply an attempt to avoid telling you what something sounds like and, instead, how it made me think or feel.
And yet, it was after reading Cory’s superlative ridden, Northumbria praise-fest at The Inarguable that my ears perked up. Specifically, it was after reading description after description after description that I thought to myself, “Nathan, you have to hear this band.” So maybe (maybe) I’ve been wrong this entire time. Half-wrong. I don’t know.
Never mind that, though. Because right now I need neither clever ruse nor description to sell you on Northumbria. I need only for you to scroll down to the video below and press play. I need you to venture into the black sea of trees and dwell in your own descriptions. I need you to emerge and tell the world what you experienced. Because this is one band that doesn’t deserve to be lost to obscurity (or my ruses and descriptions), and soon enough, you’ll know it, too.
• Northumbria: http://northumbria.bandcamp.com