Cut the ties on the scroll bearing glyphs of the Botanist saga and let it unfurl. Since 2011, Bay Area-based multi-instrumentalist Otrebor has steered his one-man avant-black-metal project through a series of concept albums that detail the conquest of humankind at the many tendriled hands of a sentient plant race — weaving scientific, philosophical, and literary research into a rich mythology intractably tethered to his sonic experimentation. Botanist proves his commitment to his extramusical ideas with each baroque album cover, roman numeral-bearing title, and liner note-laden physical product, and has established himself as a singular auteur in a style of music already rife with oversized personas and conceits. But for all its sensational details, Botanist’s thematic transfiguration into a hermit who awaits humanity’s destruction from the safety of his “Verdant Realm” serves as an exercise in humble self-negation, rather than a grandstanding gesture, by virtue of the tenets at the heart of his mythos: respect for the environment, isolation, the insignificance of humanity in the face of nature’s grandeur. Shielded behind two nested monikers (Botanist and Otrebor), the “real” person behind the project sunk into a bed of moss long ago — and we’re lucky enough to bear witness to the music issued from this hideaway.
Our notion of what constitutes black metal continues to evolve with each communique from all the Alcests and Lantlôses and Deafheavens out there, as the signifiers that the genre emphasizes (blastbeats, tremolo picked guitars, howled vocals) stand as reliable signposts within expanding cushions of synth and shoegaze guitar textures. While other artists push deeper into the drift and explore the possibilities of abstraction within an ostensibly “metal” project (as if we can reasonably carry any expectations with that distinction anymore [see for example: WITTR’s recent full-on Popul Vuh-core 2xLP opus, or pretty much every release in The Flenser’s catalog]), Botanist codes a balanced mixture of atmosphere and brutality into the DNA of his unpredictable compositions. “Stargazer,” a cut from the forthcoming VI: Flora premiering below, finds room in its expansive mix for billowing harmonium- or synth-like washes, distorted melodic leads, and bruising drum fills. The track stretches across clattering rhythms and wraith vocalizations on its way to a subdued outro performed on an instrument central to the Botanist sound: the hammered dulcimer, with tightly wound strings quivering like vines ready to snap under the force of human interference.
Pine Hill Haints
So, not only are the Pine Hill Haints a little emotional for me to write about, as they were one of the first bands I covered on TMT, but since I’ve been writing, I’ve been living in the same spot, and JUST NOW found out the laundry mat near me has an original Ms. Pacman machine installed in it. Around the turn of July, I went and dropped $10 in their quarter machine, but only used three, ‘cause Ms. Pacman is my GAME! No crowd gathered. It was a good time alone with me and the hungry little lady. Trick is not to believe in ghosts..
Just wish more bands were as simple as Pine Hill Haints. There ain’t nothing wrong with being a bit spooky, right? And as they teeter between rock-a-billy, waltz, and punk, they fit RIGHT AT HOME on K Records! Featuring “Ms Pacman,” The Magik Sounds of the Pine Hill Haints will be popping on K Records physically this September 30. Be there and stream “Ms Pacman” for a TASTE below:
miraa. x bma
Have you ever had that moment where you’re swimming in the ocean, and a two headed great white shark jumps out of the water, and instead of ripping you to pieces, proceeds to gently bite through your ear? And your ear doesn’t bleed, but rather just starts feeling like pure joy is pouring into it? Well, if so, then you live a pretty interesting life, and we should probably hang out sometime. But, if not, then here’s something for you.
Since we’re in this much-talked-about internet age where you can virtually skate over to France if you’re in, say, Iceland to do a collaboration with another beat-fiend, then why the hell not do that? Well, Icelandic youngin’ beatmachinearon (a.k.a. bma) and France’s very own miraa. did just that, and they knocked it out of the fucking park. Listen to “wavves” below and/or download it here. And I mean it: listen to this. Or else I’ll send that two headed great white shark your way again, and this time it won’t be biting ears…
Good to know Jon Syverson still saddles up on the kit. Last time listeners heard from the fellah (on analog; in an album) was the Daughters’ last album, Daughters, which killed the band it was so good. Anyhow, I’m stoked on what I read on the YouTubes today about Jon Syverson, which was “2014” and “Demos.” Now I’m just tryna find me some adult diapers each play of this video because my seat gets soaked every time.
• Jon Syverson: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jon_Syverson
• Jon Syverson: http://www.discogs.com/artist/1386274-Jon-Syverson
Various Artists: Haord Records
ICP must be making good on their promise, “I can breath the magic mist / And exhale your every wish,” because Haord’s Buncha compilation is more fun than a barrel of monkey men, and my wish was for more fun. It is chock full of desperate, skipped-a-meal, piss-and-vinegar fun. It is a simulacrum of Danny Elfman as a pauper: still struggling to break in, unrecognized; still pumping out colorful numbers, fatigued; still smiling like the devil at the camera, malnourished. His smile’s edges rise into the onset of dementia, as he incants, “Leave your body and soul at the door.”
The purest example of Buncha’s demented and desperate-for-more fun is “Buzzard” by TUMBLEWEAVE. “Buzzard” is buckled in the front seat of the Haord curated wild ride that hardly goes off-track. It is the compilation’s mission statement of mania. It broadcasts spinning color wheels, vocal warps, and impeccably arranged trick sounds. It is the forecast of many amusements to come: “Monkey Man,” “ZOP PLINKO,” “Let Me Tell You A Secret,” “Her Herd,” and other tracks that swirl like racing thoughts, triggering vertigo, leading the formless to the circus. In awe, jaws drop, like Avery’s Wolf, and mouths open, like clowns in a balloon race.
• Haord Records: http://haord.bandcamp.com