At the tail-end of Gumshoe’s wonderful “Re-Labeling the Future” feature was a nod to Handmade Birds, a small label based in North Texas. In 2012 alone, HMB released some of my most favorite albums by some of my most favorite artists: Theologian, William Fowler Collins, Sutekh Hexen, Pinkish Black, Circle of Ouroborus, loveliescrushing, Panopticon, and… seriously, the list actually goes on. If you’re wondering what you may have missed last year, or you simply need something to soundtrack this bleakest of winters, I’m certain reviewing HMB’s output would be sufficient. Hey, as we learned, small labels need all the support they can get. Why not support one of the better ones? And while you’re buying Handmade Birds back catalog, why not look to the future, too?
On January 22, Handmade Birds will be releasing a new 7-inch EP (ltd. 500) from the now-Portland (hi, neighbors!) based neo-goth band Soft Kill (ex-Blessure Grave). This EP is the first to collect Soft Kill’s new material since their 2011 album, An Open Door. It contains two songs, “Current” and “Seven Hundred,” and is (predictably) quite good. On top of being “quite good,” or because of it, the EP features Atriarch’s Maximillion Avila on drums, was recorded by Stan Wright of Arctic Flowers, and was mastered by James Plotkin (who, if you didn’t know, also made some seriously great music in 2012).
So, yes! Support Soft Kill, who has another full-length coming in the spring, and support Handmade Birds. Make it your new year’s resolution to not be an asshole who steals music from small bands and small labels. I promise: it will make the real free stuff (see below) all the better!
And she said, “shhhh, mistakes are the sweetest things in the world.” And you look and you fiddled your thumbs. And she wipes its forehead. And the water is warm. And this is totally visual to you. And like HD, right-right. And she’s paying attention, so you pay attention. And your figures pay the bills in which attention is driven to. And the water is hot. And she says “hi” to it. And you keep calling it “it.” And she uses bath salts, lightly. And your eyes rip red. And nah, nah, this shit super sweet, yeah. And your thumb. And her forehead. And it’s only just as big as your hands are together. And OMG, like — that one movie Antichrist, amIriiiite?? And at its most real, you don’t know. And she doesn’t know. And it’s there breathing. And the water is burning. And you feel her. And she feels you. And where do you go from here? And here it is cooking up again. And if you missed it, it’s dangling right here. And your hand. And a little right leg. And a foot no bigger than your thumb. And the visual of it — searing — makes you THAT much more confused. And your glasses fall off onto it. And y’all laugh. And laugh.
Grouper’s 2008 masterpiece, Dragging a Dead Deer Up a Hill, was covered deep in watery, acoustic ambience and lyrics about the ocean, waves, and drowning. So, it seems appropriate her new album of previously unreleased Dragging a Dead Deer Up a Hill-era material is entitled The Man Who Died in His Boat. It’s like the swan song of much of Grouper’s more acoustic-rooted material left down here on the surface of the Earth when she turned her head upward toward the starry night sky with 2011’s two album-release, Dream Loss and Alien Observer.
The Man Who Died in His Boat is out February 4 on Kranky.
• Kranky: http://www.kranky.net
wHYY am I writing about Kendrick Lamar? The only two things I said about him last year were, “With a name like that, the fellah must be Spanish,” and “What’s so important about his new album?” Oh – no, no, I know what it is… it’s the dude in the middle of this jam smoking and singing. Is OTHER PEOPLE what Kendrick Lamar is all about? How many people did he feature on his new album? Am I into this beat? Sure. Well, okay I AM. It’s minimal enough, yeah. And I’m listening to it now, and now — again. Nice. The flow IS nice. Shit! I hate you, Keith. LOVE this switch-back ass bounce in the video too. Good, my innate tie-in here is that every time I see dat ass bounce its way back into this video, I’ll think about Keith. YES!
And right there with it: I LOVE the Eiffel Tower, you know. Like, if I didn’t think it were a giant phallic object in the first place, I thank Kendrick Lamar for telling and not showing, especially in this video. Also, his album is out already and got on almost errrbody’s top album lists of 2012. You be the judge of your own ears!
So it turns out that Holly Herndon is by no means the only person doing utterly obscene things with vocals. Antye Greie-Ripatti has been releasing vocal-based work for around a decade now, studying and working with the path-breaking composer Eliane Radigue. Source Voice, released on Richard Chartier’s LINE imprint, fills the entire frequency spectrum with terrifying squeals, industrial trills, and comically deep sub-bass. The array of sounds on display and the drama with which they are employed allow AGF to sidestep the dangers of academic boredom. This is just as well, because once she has you in her grasp, AGF provides an engaging and at times overwhelming chunk of vocal complexity.
Listen to “Voice Count” here:
The Fourth Wave label is utterly disgusted by the smooth edges overpopulating house music, which is why many of their releases feel like a tangy breath of fresh air. Their standard bearer, the enigmatic and frustratingly young Gerry Read, laughed uproariously in the face of club music cleanliness throughout his Jummy LP. The result was uncompromisingly rugged house, where rhythms were happy to be buried in a slurry of other sounds, remaining all the more intriguing for it.
Thankfully, this year starts in a similarly obnoxious, similarly enticing vein with the label’s newly signed Greek sensation Dimitras Dimas (a.k.a. “∆ ∆” a.k.a. “Delta Delta” a.k.a. “two triangles next to each other”). “You,” cut from an EP due in February, replaces conventional drums with spurts of grit, hosts some heavily driven lung work, and has a nice cowbell. Can you really ask for much more ?
• Fourth Wave: https://soundcloud.com/fourth-wave