2014: Second Quarter Favorites
Our 20 favorite releases from the second quarter of the year
The Power And The Glory
The Power And The Glory drips with decay; there is simply no escaping it. It’s a beautifully botched scrambling of static, vocal discord, and morbid techno that’s frequently deemed to carry political sentiment. A harrowing, noise-tinted track titled “David & George” bears all sorts of connotations concerning the London-based producer’s stance, but ultimately, it’s about the quality of these tunes as opposed to their inspiration. On his second album as Perc, Ali Wells beckons his audience through a maniacally repetitive ritual of friction and conflict. But instead of kicking against it or struggling through, the most gratifying rewards come upon dwelling in this wretched masterpiece — let it seep into your world instead of the other way around, for thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, now and forever.
Wakng Thrst For Seeping Banhee
What makes Gobby’s Wakng Thrst For Seeping Banhee so enjoyable is its total lack of respect for the apparent rules of music making. Hopping around genres, emotions, and settings with no real regard for continuity, it’s the sound of an artist in complete control of not giving a fuck, of knowing what he wants to do and not worrying about whether or not you like it. Moreover, it’s a confident statement about spilling some milk and seeing what shape that milk takes; not shedding a single tear over it, but reveling in it. Samples and rhythms are the foundation of this funhouse, and the walls are built out of aluminum voices and cardboard percussion. Half of the carpet is covered in petroleum-lubed synths, the other half in chewed-gum bass. The doors are irregular and hang loosely on worn hinges, and the lights only flicker when turned on. It’s a difficult house-tour to take, but if you can make it past its disorienting nature, I think you’ll find Wakng Thrst For Seeping Banhee to be equal parts beautiful, hilarious, and horrifying.
Millie & Andrea
Drop The Vowels
The car that, party that never starts, got there, destinations long ago, screwball’s chance on a narrow straight chase, down on luck rebounds, resounds respect cirumstantial croizened bunches battered to a halt, heaving solemn, sold on semisolid sick on circumstantial, voidal metal filings biting down on the frozen stolen moment, skips significance, gets borderline, sopping surfacing skipping rope, stones, even numbers and flashing forward to standing still, watching water, sprouting hair and hatching nonstarters, killing the lights and humming the tune, motors that only waft and sputter amidst all the heavy lifting. It’s not impossible to make the case that Millie & Andrea’s Drop The Vowels is more of a curious one-off than an AOTY contender, but there’s an amazing thing that happens while listening. One starts to hear a real meeting of the minds (somewhat akin to the “whatever sticks” fun of 2012’s OPN/Tim Hecker project) that just makes a rare kind of sense. Stott’s unrelenting throb is recognizable, as are the skincrawlingly vivid insectoid textures of Demdike Stare. But what emerges is the startling potency that comes only from a classic album (you heard me, VH1!). This one comes over you like an elaborate sweaty fever dream that’s too fascinating not to cling to when it’s all over.
It’s easy to portray Mats Gustafsson’s latest project as a throwback to 60s acid-fried, psych-jamming bands. All the elements are here: a large ensemble playing freeform music, vocalists chanting pseudo-mystical lines (one of them sounds a lot like Grace Slick), and a second half that riffs on The Beatles’ “Tomorrow Never Knows,” harkening back to when Zappa’s Mothers opened their Free For All LP with a deranged version of “Louie Louie.” Yet the comparison fits as far as the band’s sound has evolved in such a direction. Departing from last year’s Exit!, where the Orchestra retained the fiercely avant-jazz foundation of the Fire! Trio despite a tenfold size increase, here we find them developing their compositions on their integral strengths organically. Taking a turn away from Second Exit, where the Orchestra dismissed half its personnel and adopted Agharta-era Miles-Davis echoes, the massive lineup returns here with some surprisingly funky textures: their opening sequence recalls the tutsi-grooved rock of Ginger Baker’s Air Force, while later they mate The Brotherhood of Breath and The Globe Unity Orchestra with magnificent power. With both Second Exit and Enter, the Orchestra has crafted a diptych of mind-melting, soulful tunes, beyond the reach of anyone in the (recent) wave of artists looking for transcendent experiences through mysticism, technology, or otherwise.
Wold’s final(…) statement systematizes a manifold of violence around the form of the inverted pentagram, perhaps the strongest power symbol in the black magic arsenal. Postsocial is an impenetrable but hypnotic ritual set in a remote, occult lodge, in which Fortress Crookedjaw and Obey repeatedly violate every conceivable formula in order to forge their own tools for their assault on the world. The disregard that black metal has historically shown for production quality here contorts into an active destruction of clarity, a violence Wold applies against their own work and the audience’s ears. That twofold violence recurs lyrically, as Crookedjaw assails his vocal cords, spewing at listeners bile-laden lyrics about murder, anti-masonic rites, and ritual sex with an invoked demonic hag. Beneath and throughout, a teeming sonic cesspool conceals defiled signifiers ranging from perversions of early Bathory to sludge-covered Burzum tremolo-picked guitar drones to explosions of Masonn-ic destruction. It’s hard to imagine that a more difficult listen will arise this year, but should anyone attempt it, it’s even more doubtful that 2014 will see Postsocial’s austere violence repeated. Wold’s profane metallurgy has culminated here in this, their greatest weapon. Fuck society.